Shame on Me

>> Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Sunday morning … and I was ready. I entered the church full of gratitude for all of God’s blessings … one of which was with me this morning. My daughter, Lorri, had been with us for Thanksgiving. I found a row toward the front of the church … saved a seat on the aisle for my husband, John, to sit in after he finished his ushering duties … and let Lorri go in the row first.  

As we stood to sing, a man took John’s place beside me. I didn’t realize I would have to put something on the seat to save it for John. I busied myself with asking Lorri to move over (luckily there is room for her to move down) and sliding my coat over one chair. Lorri … bless her heart … leaned over and said, “Mom, shouldn’t we say something to him?” As conviction washed over me, she reached around me and took his hand … welcoming him.  

For the first time since this whole scenario started, I looked at him. As we made eye contact, his words hit me like a brick.  

“Is this a problem? Should I move somewhere else?”  

Shame on me.  

I smiled … took his hand … and assured him all was well … at least between him and me. I wasn’t feeling too well in my soul. During our time of greeting, I discovered this was his first time at our church. I had been his first encounter.  

More shame on me.  

As I asked for forgiveness from God, I prayed for this man beside me … that he could get past me and enjoy his time at our church. At the end of the service, the Elders and their spouses go to the front of the church to be there if anyone needs prayer. As John and I walked to stand by the platform, I thought, How ironic. I’m up here to pray with others when I’m busy with my own failure. I didn’t make it back to my seat in time to say anything more to the man.  

But Lorri did. He was from the Mission … and did enjoy his time with us.  

Our church has a heart for the Mission. On Sunday morning we send a bus there to pick up the people who want to come. He had come on the bus … and gone to the mezzanine, watching the service on the screen up there. When he had decided it was safe enough, he had taken John’s seat.  

Shame on me.

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.

"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'” Matthew 25:35-40 (MSG)




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No Admittance

>> Monday, November 28, 2011

A dog had followed his owner to school. His owner was a fourth grader at a public elementary school. However, when the bell rang, the dog went inside the building and made it all the way to the child's classroom before a teacher noticed and shooed him outside, closing the door behind him. The dog sat down, whimpered and stared at the closed doors. Then God appeared beside the dog, patted his head, and said,  


'Don't feel bad fella'...they won't let ME in either.'  

(Author Unknown) 



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Thanksgiving Traditions - by guest blogger, Lorri

>> Thursday, November 24, 2011

Today’s blog is written by my daughter, Lorri, who is home for Thanksgiving 

Macaroni and cheese. Cupcakes. Beef jerky. Nachos. Chips and dip. What does this food list cause you to imagine? The inventory of a convenience store? A football-watching party? A group of teenagers raiding the refrigerator for a late-night snack? While all of those scenarios would qualify as plausible guesses, you might be surprised to learn that those are some of the foods served during our Thanksgiving dinners throughout the years. On a day which often emphasizes deep-rooted traditions for American families, the Thanksgiving holiday has been remarkably untraditional for us in regard to the menu.  

For as long as I can remember, guests have always been invited to join us for Thanksgiving. In an effort to encourage others to feel included in the celebration, we have always allowed each person who attends the dinner to choose one menu item to be served that day, regardless of what it is. Often, our guests are quite surprised when their requests are honored, as they have never experienced a family that dares to defy tradition in such a bold manner. WHAT? No stuffing, gravy, or mashed potatoes?? Brownies instead of pie? Chicken and noodles? You can almost hear Peppermint Patty, in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, berating Charlie Brown for having the audacity to serve toast, pretzels, jellybeans, and popcorn for the Thanksgiving feast. You call this a Thanksgiving dinner? Apparently, there is a Thanksgiving manual in existence that clearly outlines acceptable menu choices. However, like many other manuals and guidebooks throughout history which have defined respectable behaviors as determined by a group of closed-minded, legalistic individuals, my family has blessedly chosen to dare to be different. For that, I am thankful!  

In many ways, our approach to the Thanksgiving meal parallels our approach to life in general. Include others. Question motives behind decision-making. Don’t allow yourself to be controlled by unwritten rules which limit creativity and self-expression. Advocate for what is important to you regardless of the opinions of others. Dare to be an individual! The other day I was discussing our Thanksgiving tradition with a friend who seemed incredulous in regard to the prospect of going outside the boundaries of tradition. “Come on,” I challenged, “think outside the box!” I was told without hesitation that this would be impossible in her family, and that although she envied our free-spirit attitude, she would never be allowed to deviate from what was expected of her.  

Today, as you sit down to a wonderful meal, I pray that you are blessed through conversations with friends and family, as it is our relationships with others that are more valuable than what is on the menu. If you can touch the life of another person, and make a difference in their life, it doesn’t matter whether you eat turkey and mashed potatoes or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. May God bless you and your family today and every day!  

“Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.” Matthew 15:2 (NLT)  

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Tie Breaker

>> Monday, November 21, 2011

Yesterday I watched the last race of the NASCAR season … to see who the champion would be this year. Usually, the winner of that trophy is so far ahead in points that even though they finish the race back in the pack, the rest of the field cannot make up enough points to overtake them. So a driver wins the race, but no one really notices because all eyes are on the new champion.  

Not so this year. Going into this race, the top two contenders were separated by just a few points … so either Tony or Carl could be champion. They put on quite a show. After a rain delay, they were running 1st and 2nd … Tony leading and Carl behind him. Amazingly, that meant they were tied in points. Whoever won the race claimed the championship.  

They gave it everything they had. Carl could not get past Tony. There was a tie breaker system in place. If the race finished with them tied, then the one who had the most wins would be the champion. Tony was given the trophy.  

As I thought about the tie breaker, my introspection turned to life. Two families can live side by side. They both keep their yards clean, are friendly, go to work, attend church, raise polite children and pay their bills. To the world, it’s a tie between them.  

But as a Christ-follower, we have a tie breaker. Do they know Jesus … and follow Him? At the end of the race, that makes all the difference.  

“I'm about to die, my life an offering on God's altar. This is the only race worth running. I've run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that's left now is the shouting—God's applause! Depend on it, He's an honest judge. He'll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for His coming.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8 (MSG)  


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Going Through the Motions

>> Saturday, November 19, 2011

It was a blustery fall day … with the wind gusting to 35 mph (according to the radio). Leaves swirled down the street as I drove through our neighborhood. Turning right on the main street lined with businesses, I literally stared in amazement at the man in front of the store to my right.  

He was busily removing leaves from the parking lot … using a leaf blower. Did he not get it? No matter how hard he worked, he would never make any progress. His actions were futile. Perhaps it was his business and he wanted to look as good as possible. Maybe he had been hired to clear away the leaves. As long as I could see him in my rearview mirror, he continued going through the motions of blowing away the leaves … a never-ending job.  

I’ve seen Christians like that … and I’ve been one.  

For years I went through the motions of “being” a Christian. Everyone knew a Christian could be identified by what they wore, words they didn’t say, if they carried a Bible, if the ladies wore no makeup or jewelry, and for sure that they went to church “religiously” every time there was a service.  

Oh yes, I used my leaf blower through the wind, rain, sleet and snow. I would show the world I was a Christian. Little did I know that the world looked at me just like I looked at that man. And they probably said to themselves, “Does she not get it? Why would I want to go through life just doing the motions?” But I had a job to do.  

My actions were not only futile, but they caused damage in others.  

I’ve put my leaf blower away. I no longer go through the motions. Since I have a personal relationship with Jesus, I am aware of my world around me. If someone has a need and I can help, then I miss church.  

That’s what Jesus would do.  

“Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.” James 1:26-27 (MSG)


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What I Want in a Man

>> Friday, November 18, 2011

Original List: age (20 something)
1. Handsome
2. Charming
3. Financially successful
4. A caring listener
5. Witty
6.. In good shape
7. Dresses with style
8... Appreciates finer things
9. Full of thoughtful surprises


What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 32)

1. Nice looking
2. Opens car doors, holds chairs
3. Has enough money for a nice dinner
4. Listens more than talks
5. Laughs at my jokes
6. Carries bags of groceries with ease
7. Owns at least one tie
8. Appreciates a good home-cooked meal
9. Remembers birthdays and anniversaries
 

What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 42)

1. Not too ugly
2. Doesn't drive off until I'm in the car
3. Works steady - splurges on dinner out occasionally
4. Nods head when I'm talking
5. Usually remembers punch lines of jokes
6. Is in good enough shape to rearrange the furniture
7. Wears a shirt that covers his stomach
8.. Knows not to buy champagne with screw-top lids
9. Remembers to put the toilet seat down
10. Shaves most weekends

What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 52)

1. Keeps hair in nose and ears trimmed
2. Doesn't belch or scratch in public
3. Can tow a RV or drive a Motor Home
4. Can cook a BBQ
5. Doesn't re-tell the same joke too many times
6. Appreciates a good TV dinner
7.. Helps with the housework


What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 62)
1. Doesn't scare small children
2. Remembers where I have put things
3. Can still tow a van without causing chaos on the road
4. Only snores lightly when asleep
5. Remembers why he's laughing
6. Is in good enough shape to stand up by himself
7. Usually wears some clothes
8. Doesn't notice my facial hair and wrinkles
9. Remembers where he left his teeth
10. Stops trying to tell jokes


What I Want  in a Man, Revised List (age 72)

1.
Breathing.
2. Doesn't miss the toilet.
3. Remembers where we both live.

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My Name is Rose

>> Thursday, November 17, 2011


The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being...

She said, 'Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?'

I laughed and enthusiastically responded; 'Of course you may!' and she gave me a giant squeeze.

'Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?' I asked.

She jokingly replied, 'I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids...'
''No seriously,' I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

'I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one!' she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this 'time machine' as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium... As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, 'I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.'

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, ' We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets. The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.'

She concluded her speech by courageously singing 'The Rose.' She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.  

At the year's end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those months ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late to be all you can possibly be.  

(Author Unknown)


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Irrelevant

>> Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It seemed irrelevant. It was such a small window … and up high on the wall. So when we had window coverings installed in our new home, we placed blinds in every window but that one. During the summer months, I enjoyed looking out at the blue sky … puffy clouds … as I worked at my computer. But now it’s late fall. And I have a problem. A certain time of day, when I sit at my desk, the sun is shining in my face … which makes it impossible to see the screen. I have tried to plan my day around that issue … just not going to the computer during that hour. I finally resorted to placing a box and then a pillow in the window so I could use my computer.  

How do I explain a box and pillow in my window?  

So we had the window covering people come back … measure, order and install a little blind. If the sun begins to shine in my face, I just use the cord hanging down at the side of the blind and shift the slats upward.  

Why did I wait so long to do that?  

Life is like that. Some small action or word can seem irrelevant. We enjoy our world … all the time aware that there is an issue. But it only happens occasionally. Is it really worth the effort to try and remedy it? We alter our day to avoid someone. Or we change our behavior when we are around a certain person. We use boxes and pillows to avoid the issue.  

Why not take care of it? In most cases, a fix is available. It might cost you something … time or money … but it will make a huge difference in your life.  

“You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (MSG)


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Here's a Story Without Words

>> Monday, November 14, 2011

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Time Change

>> Saturday, November 12, 2011

In the spring, when we move our clocks forward one hour, it’s easy. On our non-digital clock, I just take that hour hand and move it clockwise around the face … and we’re done. But in the fall, when we move our clocks back one hour … that’s a whole different story.  

Moving the hour hand counterclockwise would damage the internal workings of the clock. And since it is designed to soften its tone at 10:00 pm and resume the loudness at 6:00 am, that means I have to move the hour hand clockwise full circle 23 times … stopping to allow it to chime each hour.  

Do you know how long that takes?  

As I stood in front of the clock … patiently waiting for another hour to chime … I thought about life. Sometimes change is fairly easy. When we moved to our new home, it was easy to change my route home from work and drive to this house. When the weather gets colder, it’s fairly easy to change the clothes I wear from summer to winter.  

But most personal changes take a lot of time … and require a lot of patience. Sometimes we don’t want to make that effort, so we take the shortcut … move the hand counterclockwise … and end up with a lot of damage to our internal workings. The news headlines are full of stories about people who took the easy way … and thought they would get away with it.  

A marriage hits a rocky place … and the easy way out is a divorce. Working through those issues … one at a time … and waiting patiently until that one is taken care of before moving on to the next issue … takes time. But just as I now have a clock that chimes the correct time on each hour … the couples who work through their issues end up with a strong relationship that keeps them in tune with each other … and a witness to others that it’s worth it to be patient.


“…..You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.” I Corinthians 1:10b (MSG)


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It All Began With An iPhone

>> Friday, November 11, 2011

March was when our son celebrated his 17th birthday. We got him an iPhone. He just loved it. Who wouldn’t?

 I celebrated my birthday in July. My wife made me very happy when she bought me an iPad.

Our daughter’s birthday was in August. We got her an iPod Touch.


My wife celebrated her birthday in September. I got her an iRon.


It was around then that the fight started … What my wife failed to recognize is that the iRon can be integrated into the home network with the iWash, iCook and iClean.

This inevitably activates the iNag reminder service.  

I should be out of the hospital next week!!!


(Author Unknown)


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Patriotism

>> Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I recently read the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand … a true story about World War II. It shares in detail what it was like to be a POW … an unbelievable epic about what the human body and mind can endure.  


As I read the pages, my thoughts turned repeatedly to my own brother. He was in that war, yet I’ve never heard him mention it. This picture was taken when they received word the war was over. My brother is in the middle of the front row. What I learned from him was the strong sense of patriotism I have today.  

No, America does not have it all together. And lately it seems our reputation as a world leader is faltering. There are times I just shake my head in disbelief at some of the activities of the American people. I know all of that. But I still believe in the basic goodness of what we founded our country on.  

It breaks my heart when I watch the news and see the maimed young people returning from war … but they did return. Others gave their lives. Yet when these returnees are interviewed, they tell us they would do it again … fight for their country. One man was recently killed … in his 14th tour of duty. No one made him do that.  

Deep within me … and you … is an allegiance to the concept of freedom. I’ve never been asked to give my life for that belief. Therefore, I acknowledge those who have been willing to go in my place … to protect my freedom.  

Thank you.  

“When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you safely out of Egypt, is with you!” Deuteronomy 20:1 (NLT)  


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