V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!

An old song form generations past sings out proudly: “V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N in the summer sun!” Sounds like exactly what most all of us would love to be doing – vacationing somewhere in the sun. Whether you’re a beach person or mountain person wouldn’t you just love to take a little getaway right now? I sure would.

Why is it when we get busy and stressed and overwhelmed with life, we just want to escape? Perhaps we feel like we can run away from the problems and hope they will all solve themselves. Or maybe we’re searching for something to fill that emptiness deep inside us. If we aren’t careful we waste the days of our lives by wishing them away in half-hearted living, doing the mundane and longing for the thrill of the getaway to somewhere exotic.

As I’ve read more Christian writers from decades past, I hear in their messages a challenge to make the mundane moments holy, to live every moment with purpose and passion, to seek God wholeheartedly amid the everyday. I struggle with this, but I have found a few things that help. Maybe they will help you too.

  1. Spend 20 minutes a day, alone, doing nothing but listening. Sounds impossible, right? The first day I tried this I knew my attention span was so short that there was no way I could do 20 minutes, so I set my timer for 5 minutes, and you know what? Even that was a struggle. To just sit quietly outside, no phone, no agenda, willing myself not to mull over my issues or To Do list, but to just listen to God’s world and, more importantly, for Him to speak into my heart. From that day I’m developing the habit of listening. And it’s a good thing. My blood pressure is bound to drop, because of the calm that comes to me. God is faithful during these times and stirs my heart with whispers of encouragement and hope.
  2. Fill the emptiness of your soul with scripture. Reading, listening to, writing, or memorizing bits and longer passages of God’s Word brings His peace to my heart. Isaiah 55:11 tells us that God’s Word “will not return to [Him] empty, but will accomplish what [He] desires and achieve the purpose for which [He] sent it.” Holy scripture has a power we cannot comprehend because it is God’s very words breathed out onto paper. We can rest in the fact that anytime we take in scripture it is doing something active in our lives to fill in the empty, broken places and accomplish God’s plans in us.
  3. Have conversations with God. Many of us feel uncomfortable with the “thees” and “thous” of old-timey prayers. Or we feel we don’t know how to pray. So we end up just worrying and not even attempting to pray. I am still learning to pray continually. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) It’s a discipline of the mind to do it because we so easily jump out of prayer back into the what-ifs and worries of life. But 1 Peter 3:12 tells us “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.” So how do we maintain a spirit of prayer throughout our day? K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Silly! Just talk. Talk like you are talking to your girlfriends. If you feel silly, tell Him so. Nothing is too big or too small. “Hey God, I was just thinking…”
  4. Live each moment with purpose. There are no spare moments in life. The ones we don’t use well are lost forever. How many moments have we wasted dwelling on something that never even happened? Wasted moments. How many thoughts do we waste on jealously, bitterness, or anger? Wasted moments. How many moments do we let slip by with our thoughts elsewhere, on a future or past issue, not truly living that moment in time? Wasted moments. I have made it a goal to live in the moment. If my grandson is prattling on about a video game I care nothing about, I try to look intently into his eyes and truly listen. I might not really understand, but he comes away from the moment feeling heard and cared for and loved. I purposefully set my mind to listen to others, to engage, to try to understand. And I set my heart to savor, celebrate, and get every last drop of life out of any moment, even the sad ones. Because to fully live life, we must fully embrace even the sadness, shock, grief or fear.
  5. Make joy where you are. Laugh. Sing. Dance. Play pranks on people. Drink in the sweet aromas around you. Buy the fresh flowers. See the sunset. Get up for the sunrise.

Let’s not seek escape from life. Let’s live it. We have a limited number of days on this earth. Why waste them waiting for a vacation?!

Blessing for Mothers

The Lord bless you and all your little tribe.

Bless your babies and your grown ones, whether gone or by your side.

May your Mama’s heart take courage knowing Jesus is nearby,

And may your memories be filled with joys of days gone by.

~~~~~

May God bless your perfect angels and your little rascals too.

And when one goes astray, may He hold and comfort you.

May your rest in knowing He has a plan, and it’s a good one too.

So never give in to those fiery darts sent to frighten and worry you.

~~~~~

God bless you with holy insight not to judge yourself too hard,

And rightly see perceived failures, so your heart will not be scarred.

Humbly realize that your successes are not your doing either,

But God Himself, in giving grace, has given you a breather.

~~~~~

O little mother, young or old, trust God and God alone,

To get you through those challenging times, you can’t do it on your own.

Receive His blessings with open hands and know He’s watching over

All the good times and the bad, and let His peace and joy take over.

Broken Dreams

Ask a group of 4-year-olds what they want to be when they grow up and you’ll most likely hear things like: a fireman, teacher, doctor, veterinarian, or a giraffe! Even at that early age little people have a picture of what they think their life will look like. Granted, these dreams change over the years.

At 10 they want to be a Youtuber, professional baseball player, ballerina or such. By the time they’re a college freshman they either have a definitive answer or no clue as to what they want to do and be. Four short years later, as they walk across that stage at graduation the blank canvas of life is wide open, yet the beginning of adulting seems a bit overwhelming – the wonder if they can be all they long to be. The plans of life seem at the same time exciting and daunting.

We’ve all had dreams. Some came to be. Some didn’t. The ones that come to be usually bring a sense of accomplishment and reward, they are positive experiences. No trouble there. The tough things to handle are those dreams that didn’t work out the way we had always planned that they would.

In scripture, Joseph had dreams that worked out. They were given to him by God, so of course they did. But his older brothers’ dreams didn’t. They dreamed of being in charge because they were older and higher in the pecking order. Some little rugrat brother was not going to rule over them, and they would certainly never bow down to him. But our plans don’t always pan out. And theirs didn’t. They one day found themselves bowing down to that little brother all grown up and in charge, because their life depended on his help, his authority, his position above them.

Have you found yourself in an I-never-dreamed-it-would-end-up-like-this-life? Perhaps it was youthful dreams of a Cinderella romance that didn’t pan out. Maybe it was a career that went off track and left you floundering. Possibly it was unexpected health or financial issues. It could have even been a derailing of your dreams caused by your own bad choices.

What do we do when that happens, when life takes a detour that wasn’t in our play book? Does it devastate us and stall us out on living? Do we become untrue to our principles and convictions? Bitter and resentful? Or do we find a way to rise above?

I want to encourage you today, that whatever path you find yourself treading, the Lord will bring about His purposes in your life. In Proverbs 19:21 God’s Word tells us, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

We need to lean on Him, to trust Him. But what we often do is try to manipulate and figure it all out with our own fallible wisdom. Or we “phone a friend” and get their answer (human & fallible) to our situation. The book of Proverbs tells us what we should do.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 16:3-4 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end…”

The book of Psalms reminds us where to look for guidance when our life goals seem squashed and our hearts are saddened because things just aren’t working out.

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

Psalm 119:130 “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

So, if today things seem like you’re at a dead end or you really wish you were in a different place, turn to the Father. Go to His Word. Seek Him in prayer. Pour out your heart’s deepest desires and trust Him to be the one to accomplish all that and so much more in your life. Then lay down your plans and look forward to the fertile pasture He will bring you to. You may not get to be the giraffe you had dreamed of being as a 4-year-old, but I guarantee, God is good, He does good, and He has good plans for your life. Sit back and enjoy the adventure. And don’t say “No” if He says he’s taking you to a new place.

Praying on Cruise Control

It had been an unusually busy Sunday afternoon and my time got away from me. I had a meeting at church at 5:45 for a project some of us were working on. I had updated my notes for this meeting but had not printed them. It was time to leave but I had to print my notes. I turned to my computer and clicked print. I heard the printer start up so I ran (walked quickly) for my shoes. The printer was still printing. Ok, purse, folder, phone, keys. What was that? Beep! Beep! Beep! Printer problems. No paper. Ok. I can handle that. I looked at the time. I was really trying to be on time today.

Finally, the pages were printed. I opened the basement door to call to my husband to tell him I was leaving. He called back that he had turned my car around and it was ready to go. How nice. It had been parked in an unusual place that day because of what was going on in the basement. As I pulled out of the driveway, I checked the time. I really don’t like being late.

I hurriedly zipped around the curves on the main road and was making up for lost time when I realized I had not prayed for this meeting before I left home. As I said, “Dear Heavenly Father” I noticed the speed limit sign. Then I glanced at my speed. I can not pray and speed at the same time. God convicted me of that a long time ago. Why did God give me such a lead foot? I began to slow my pace. It took a while but I got my speed back to the speed limit and pressed cruise control. Ah! Now I can pray. “Please forgive me once again for speeding. Thank you for your loving, merciful forgiveness.”

Oooops, There was another speed limit sign. 35 miles per hour. I have trouble driving 35 miles per hour on this road. I know all of the curves and could drive it with my eyes closed. Then the speed dropped to 30 miles per hour. Where did that sign come from? 30 miles per hour? You have got to be kidding me! There was no way I could do that. The cars were already backing up behind me. Nobody drives 30 miles per hour on this road. But I need to pray.

I was almost to the church by now. As I stepped out of my car and grabbed my notes, I thanked God for a safe drive to the church. I have frequently been told that the angels jump off when you go over the speed limit. I cannot find a biblical reference for that but a pastor told me that so it has to be true. As I hurried into the church, I asked God to remind me to pray before I left home the next time.

James 4:17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:9]

Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.