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Don’t Miss the Moments

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I watched my middle-aged neighbors as they cuddled together in a water tube in front of their lake house.  I couldn’t hear their conversation, but it was apparent they were enjoying each other’s company as the cooling waves splashed around them on a hot summer day.

It was a moment.

I couldn’t help but notice the man who clutched a bible in his hand as he raised his arms in praise during the church service today. He seemed overcome with a tenacious desire to give glory and thanks to the redeemer of his soul. Or, the young married couple, radically covered in tattoos, whose arms were lifted up to worship the God who had rescued them from their addictions.

It was a moment.

A good friend today, along with so many others, asked Jesus to be the Shepherd of his life and was baptized in the lake waters. It was so unplanned and genuinely sincere that it brought tears to my eyes.

It was a moment.

At the end of our pastor’s message today, my husband took my hand in his, gently squeezed it, and softly kissed my lips. I felt loved.

It was a moment.

A friend shared how much my devotional inspired them; a community member appreciated the donated gift, a client thanked me for a job well done.

It was a moment.

A family member called just to talk, a man waited to hold the door for me; the struggling, single mom who is a cashier at the corner store never fails to smile and ask how I am doing.

It was a moment.

One of the lines in the song Dream Small by Josh Wilson is…

…dream small. Don’t buy the lie “you’ve gotta do it all.”
Just let Jesus use you where you are one day
[one moment] at a time.

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Prayer for today:

It is the sum totals of simple moments that make up our life. Ordinary moments can change the world if we allow you to empower them with your greatness.  Make our moments count. It may be with a smile, a kiss or kind word. It could be opening a door for someone, visiting the elderly, conversing with family at the dinner table. Help me see that every moment is part of a bigger dream when seen through the eyes of God.

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A Funny Thing Happened: Life

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Life happens in the most unusual places and the most inappropriate times. It could be in a grocery store, it might be while chaperoning your child’s school field trip, or picking up pet waste in your backyard. Life is funny that way. It doesn’t wait for you, it just happens.

Scenario One:

I decide to go fishing with my nine-year old grandson. How difficult is that? Bait a hook and cast the line off the shore line. BINGO, BANGO, BONGO something is tugging at my line. The pole bends beneath the weight of my catch and the bobber sinks into the water. The adrenaline pumps through my veins and I know I’ve got a live one.

And then life happens. I pull my line from the water only to discover I’ve caught an empty pop can that is entangled in a massive amount of lake weeds. My annoyance level grows when I realize the only wacky worm bait I own is at the bottom of the lake.

It’s in my power to make it a SH@# or SUGAR moment. What to do?

Scenario Two:

It’s Saturday morning.  With a shopping list in hand and three kids in tow, I am grocery store bound. It should be a flawless outing. But then life happens. Pulling the cart into the checkout lane I realize it’s not my cart. Oops! Thank you, grandson, for assuming the cart belonged to us because you saw Fruity Pebbles and strawberry pop tarts.

I can either make it a SH!# or SUGAR moment. What to do?

Yep! The odds of life going amiss are high.

When faced with life happen moments we are presented with two choices:  See the humor or get angry.

I’ve opted for the anger route more times than I care to admit and could author a book on How to Get Angry When Life Happens. Unfortunately, the last page of the book would be a repeat of the first page. Why? Because anger spawns a repeat cycle of past mistakes. Nothing is learned through anger and we end up in the same place we started.

When we allow humor to kick start a life happens moment the page turn reads differently.  Let’s backtrack to the first scenario and consider the options.

My fishing line is tangled and an aluminum can is the only catch of the day. The vile profanities perched on my tongue are but one breath away. My nine-year old grandson watches as I reel my catch onto the shore. He’s waiting to see how Neenee will react to this hot mess attached to her life happens fishing line.

“Run up to the house and bring back the biggest platter you can find,” I called out.

“Why,” he questioned.

“Stop with the questions and just go,” I said.

A few minutes later he returns with a cookie sheet. “That’s perfect buddy! Why don’t you pack up our fishing gear and head back to the house. Tell Poppy to set the table for dinner and I’ll be there shortly.”

I quickly cut the tangled fishing line from the pole and carefully arrange my catch of the day on the baking sheet and walk to the house.

“Wash your hands because dinner is almost ready.”  I walked into the kitchen and plopped the cookie sheet in the center of the table.

“No way, Neenee,” laughs my grandson. “We’re not eating that.”

“No buddy, we aren’t. The restaurant up the road is bringing us their fresh catch of the day. They felt bad that they caught all the fish in the lake today and the only thing left was aluminum cans.”

Yes, a funny thing happened: Life.

Oh how I wish I had understood in my youth that humor is the best Band-aid for so many day-to-day life happens moments.

Just for Today Prayer:

Jesus, life happens and not always as planned, but even then, those unplanned moments are purposely designed by you. It offers us an opportunity to grow in you in humorous ways we never thought possible.  Remind me that,

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)

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Finally…

finallyI tend to live my life in ‘finally’ mode where moments and events are crossed off a mental checklist. It’s like running a marathon to an unknown finish line. There are pit stops along the way, but instead of savoring the moment, I can’t wait until I can finally be on my way again so I can finally arrive at a future moment and finally reach the unattainable finish line.

It’s a destination to destination lifestyle that never takes pleasure in getting there.

The well-known idiom ‘getting there is half the fun’ doesn’t apply to me. I prefer being emailed or beamed to my destination; to heck with stops along the way. I’ll enjoy the trip when I finally get there which translates: OK, we’re finally here, let’s get a move on.

To operate in finally mode robs us of any opportunities to interface with life’s daily moments. There are no exclamation points between each finally, only a trail of dots. Jesus spent his earthly life journeying from one destination to another and a myriad of exclamation points followed Him because He never lost sight of His purpose.

So what is God’s purpose for me and you?

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

We can opt to chase the dots to our next destination, but if the journey isn’t divinely appointed, it’ meaningless.

God purpose for us is to have an intimate relationship with Him based on faith, worship and a heart that desires spiritual growth and a Christ-like character. Short and sweet, God wants to be the blueprint for our temporary residence on earth.

When I find my direction in life disoriented by the finally mode, I know it’s time to slow down and partner myself to the One who guides my steps according to His purpose. Our daily moment’s become anointed as we allow God’s purpose to navigate our life.

When life is finally over, I want God to say WELL DONE (followed by a multitude of exclamation points).

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Call in the Dump Truck

Garage_JunkMy husband, Chris (also known as Poppy), has been unable to park his car in the garage all summer due to my unending collection of soon-to-be re-purposed furniture. So, yesterday, when Poppy purchased a newer car, I asked my oldest grandson, Carson, to help me clear a space in the garage for Poppy’s homecoming.

We swept the concrete floor and moved my massive furniture collection into a truck for a future Goodwill drop. At day’s end, drenched in sweat and dirt covered clothes, the garage door was lowered with a sense of accomplishment. The once cluttered space had been cleared for something of greater value than my curbside finds.

I can’t count the number of times my spiritual life, like my garage, has accumulated things of no value. Life travels present us with plenty of opportunity to pick up curbside finds. With no forethought, we purpose grandiose ideas of how these discarded items can be salvaged or repurposed into something of value. And so, like the stockpile of stuff in my garage, we fill our life with things that serve no purpose.

In an attempt to save the masses (curbside finds), we clutter our life with other people’s problems (curbside garbage).

When Chris arrived home with his new ride and opened the garage, he was amazed at the transformation. Carson and I had cleared a space for something of value. There were a few furniture pieces that we kept, but our selection was reserved to items that showed a promise of restoration.

As Christians, there are occasions we need to call in God’s dump truck and empty the accumulated garbage that prohibits spiritual growth and crowds God out of our life. It might be:

• Addictions
• Work
• Anger
• Pleasure
• Busyness
• Relationships

At the end of the day, when you lower the door of your life, will you have a sense of accomplishment or frustration?

God longs to eliminate the clutter in our spiritual life and replace it with things of value. Are you are ready to open the door to God’s spiritual dump truck and unload your curbside finds?

One thing I can promise, when you ask God to clear a space for Him to park within your life, that space will be filled with things of eternal value; things of purpose.

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HOW TO OUTSMART A SQUIRREL

peskysquirrelI jumped from my chair as I heard something crash to the ground outside my office window. My eyes followed a long strand of twine being dragged across the deck by a small squirrel. He had gnawed through the twine that held my wine bottle vases in place along the upper deck rails. The crashing sound was the bottle as it hit the concrete below.

I shouted out, “Get out of here and don’t you even think about coming back!” The critter scurried off and I resumed my office work. It wasn’t long before I heard another bottle drop from the deck and then another.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I muttered under my breath. This squirrel was on a mission of destruction and my decoupage wine vases were like soldiers under attack. I had spent countless hours decorating these bottles and this squirrel was showing total disrespect; and for what, a piece of gnarly twine?

The pesky little squirrel had declared war and I was not to be defeated. As he proudly perched next to his latest victory our eyes locked. “You are going down,” I said. With a ball of wadded twine in his mouth he made unidentifiable vocal noises and ran in a westward direction.

Squirrel was making a very comfortable, luxurious and rent free condo at my expense. A building permit or squatter rights had never been granted. This infringement had to be stopped and I had a hot game plan to make it happen.

I mixed my hot pepper concoction on the stove and put it into a spray bottle. “Taste this, you little squatter,” I said as I sprayed the twine with the fiery jalapeno mixture. Did it work? You bet. Squirrel discovered a whole new meaning to the term squatter rights.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with a devotional blog; let me share.

Every day our enemy, Satan, is on a mission to seek and destroy our life. He continually gnaws on the very thing that secures us to God; our faith and he makes every effort to claim squatter rights to our soul. He is determined to break the ties that bind us to God’s grace and finds great pleasure when we fall.

When the enemy starts to gnaws at your life, take action and apply God’s fiery concoction of His Holy Spirit peppered with the Word of God. Satan is defeated when you apply God’s Word to your heart and mind.

As for the pesky little squirrel, I haven’t seen him since he tasted my fiery concoction. I guess he decided to not come back for seconds.

“In your loving kindness scatter my enemies, and destroy all those that afflict my soul; for I am your servant.” Psalms 143:12

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WHEN MEMORIES TAKE LEAVE

on-emptyI sat in the squeaky backyard swing with my great-grandma and watched grandpa as he dumped dry ice into the chest freezer in the garage. My great-grandparents were cotton farmers in the South, but their age now limited them to a small garden plot next to their house.

It’s odd the things we remember from our childhood. Unlike my sister, I never seem to remember the important things. Nope, I remember things that are trivial like squeaky swings and dry ice being dumped in an old freezer box. I remember the color of my grandma’s Avon bag from 1965 and the exact shape and color of the Avon Topaz cologne on her bathroom vanity; yet, have no memory of more important and relevant things. It leaves me to question if my brain wasn’t damaged by forceps at birth.

How we experience and remember life is different for each of us. The things I will remember about my upcoming trip to Italy will be much different than my analytical husband. He will remember the name of every cathedral and monument we visit. I will remember the color of the roses in the flower gardens and how our dinner napkins were folded. As a visual/tactile person I categorize life moments in snapshots and by touch; and that’s OK.

I love that God has created us so divinely and uniquely different from each other. Yet, when we come together and share our life experiences, memories and journeys those differences complement each other and the diversity unites us to see life through the eyes of another.

And so, I will continue to remember crazy stuff like my home phone number from 45 years ago, the pink and white checked swimsuit I wore my first time on water skis or the material I picked out for my 7th grade home-economic sewing project.

I am certain my memory will continue to fail me on things of importance, but one thing I will never forget is that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it.” Psalms 139:14 (TLB)

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GOING TOPLESS

topless driving“I’m headed to the grocery store,” I shouted to my husband, “I think I’ll go topless today. “
“Great idea,” he replied, “I would join you if I didn’t have to mow the lawn.”

I grinned as I walked out the door; I knew going anywhere topless was a favorite for my husband. Throwing my handbag onto the passenger seat, I put on my favorite sunglasses and applied sunscreen in anticipation of my topless drive.

Seated in the driver’s seat, the top was removed, the parking brake disengaged and the shift stick positioned into first gear. I was ready to rock some tunes in the open air with no barriers between me and the warm sunshine; every pore of my body was tantalized by the freedom of going topless.

I circled the grocery store parking lot and found a spot near the entrance. As I exited the car, an older gentleman called out, “You might want to pull up the top, you know…just in case.”
“In case of what,” I queried, it’s a beautiful day to be topless. I clicked the remote to lock the car, grabbed a shopping cart and entered the store.

With grocery bags loaded in the trunk and still feeling adventurous, I entered the freeway for a short, topless joy ride home. My husband greeted me in the driveway to help carry in the groceries.

“How was the topless drive?” he asked as he pulled up the convertible top of our roadster. “Invigorating, as usual,” I replied. We clasped hands, brushed lips and walked into the house knowing that ‘going topless’ was a private joke between us. Eyebrows are raised and intrigue ignited whenever we speak of our topless driving excursions and the sense of freedom we experience each time we drop our top.

To my husband and I, the expression ‘going topless’ is our way of saying we are going to take our BMW roadster for a drive with the rag top down. Of course, there are those who perceive our conversation in a much different way.

In the New Testament, the Pharisees are a good example of how others can seek to misinterpret the true meaning of our words. The Pharisees listened to Jesus, but not without preconceived ideas about the message He conveyed. Ruled by human nature, they twisted His Words to fit their agenda and cause.

When human nature rules, we stand ready to discredit and fault anyone or anything that opposes our mindset. On the other hand, when ruled by our spiritual nature, we seek to comprehend, understand, and accept others in the same way Christ accepts us; we forgo assumptions.

The next time you are privy to a conversation, a sermon, or directives you don’t quite understand, I invite you to step back and listen with the heart. Digest the words spoken without judgment; you might be surprised at how wrong you are in your assumptions; I speak from experience.

“Be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance (superficially and by appearances); but judge fairly and righteously.” John 7:24 AMP