Your Best Friend

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Give me 8 full hours of your day and I’ll return to you dividends that no other can.

I’ll refresh you, restore your spirit, heal your body, I am your best friend.

I’ll cause your mind to be alert so that you can learn, work, produce,  and take care of those close to you.

I’ll give you physical strength and wit and cause you to be a fun loving person.

Don’t rob me of your time with you.  It will cost you dearly in years of life, peace, health and happiness.

Take heed, though, if you spend too much time with me you’ll come lethargic and lazy.

Treat me right and I’ll be your best friend for life – I am sleep.

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

 

What is Real Love Anyway?

 

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All God really asks of us is that we love Him with all our heart and love each other as ourselves.    Sounds so simple, yet why is that so hard to do?  Humans beings have been fighting each other ever since the beginning of time.  History reveals one war after another and it continues today.  You can’t turn on the news without hearing about  murders, terrorist attacks, wars or slanderous assaults on one another.

Social media wars have become rampant with people posting comments expressing their opinions in sometimes the nastiest of tones.  In the midst of it all, we hear a lot of talk about love and tolerance, yet it seems like the people who scream tolerance the loudest have the least amount of it to offer others.

Do we even know how to love each other any more?  As Christians what should we tolerate and where do we draw the line in order to stand true to our own beliefs and convictions yet continue to show the love of Christ to those whose beliefs are different?

What does real love look like?

While no one would argue that hurting someone physically or emotionally is unloving, telling someone the actions they are taking are good and right, when you know deep down those activities will actually eventually destroy them, is one of the most unloving things we can do.

Who is a friend and who is really showing love? The one who goes along with us no matter what choices we make or the one who challenges us to think differently, considering that there might be a better path to a more abundant life?  A true friend speaks truth in love even though that truth may be painful in the moment.

I don’t mean condemnation.  Those who condemn have no interest in helping others and seldom do.  I’m talking about people who care for one another speaking truth into the life of another person because they care for them as a family member, friend or fellow human being.

I personally am thankful for the teachings and convictions that have helped me get back on the right track in my life when I’ve strayed down the wrong road.   They may not have been pleasant words to hear at the time, but I would not be enjoying the abundant life I now live without some warnings, conviction and course directions from God, His Word,  and  people who genuinely care.

I want to know the truth.  Is this activity going to bring abundance to my life or destruction?  It is always a question worth asking.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  John 10:10 NKJ

Apple Cider Vinegar, Epson Salts, and Salvation

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What does apple cider vinegar and Epson salts have in common?  They are both cheap, simple fixes for some common ailments. So cheap and so simple it’s hard to believe they actually work.

My dad used to swear by epson salts.  Whenever I had sore muscles he’d say, “Soak in epson salts and it will make you feel so much better!”   I thought that was just a wives tale and really didn’t believe him, until I got older and wiser and actually tried it.  Turns out Dad did know a thing or two about life.  Now I find myself encouraging my family and friends to soak away their tired, sore muscles the same way.  One cup in hot bath will relieve stress, relax the muscles, decrease pain and rejuvenate you.

The Apple Cider Vinegar trick

A few years ago, a friend told me that if you take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar each day it will relieve indigestion.  I took her advice with a grain of salt because, frankly, that seemed too cheap and simple of a remedy.  After all, my indigestion was really bad and at that time I was taking 2 Nexium a day which were costing me $1 each.  Then recently my son blurted out at dinner one night. “You know I’ve been taking a drink with apple cider vinegar, lemon, and honey each money and my stomach problems have completely gone away.”

That got my attention, because I knew he had always struggled with stomach issues.  So I tried it starting the next day and my indigestion and stomach pains went away almost immediately.  Now I’m a faithful drinker of the solution each morning as well.

I was reluctant to try these remedies because they seemed too simple and too cheap – just too easy! Even the experts disagree on if they really work or not and how.  But they are currently working for me so I’ll keep bathing and drinking while the experts continue to debate the issue.

What’s that got to do with salvation?

I think sometimes our spiritual life is that way.  Jesus said “Whosoever will” come to me and I will give him eternal life.  What?  Give freely?  It seems too easy.  Surely we must do more than that!  There’s got to be a high price to pay for forgiveness of our sins and getting to spend eternity in heaven.    Well, there is … and Jesus has already paid it on the cross!

Just because it’s simple and free doesn’t mean it’s not true.

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.   Revelation 22:17

White Privilege

We hear a lot about white privilege these days.  The essence is that somehow someone is privileged because they were born white.  Well, I am here to say that I am white and I am privileged.  However,  I am not privileged because I am white, but because I am a child of a king.  King Jesus that is!

There are a lot of privileges that come with being a child of the king.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and as a good father He loves to give good gifts to his children. (Matthew 7:11). I have been a recipient of many of those gifts.

Is that to say that my life is or ever has been or ever will be without trials.  I wish!  Rather, I had tragedies, sickness, death, atrocities, disappointments, injustices and heart break  to deal with just like everyone who spends any time here in this fallen world.

Most I’ve brought on myself, but not all.  Sometimes injustices and bad things just happen to us.  Jesus even promised that they would.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.  John 16:33b (KJV) Even in tribulation we are still privileged.  Why?  Because Jesus said basically “I’ve got this!” I can attest that he has seen me though every last one of my trials and turned every injustice and even my own  sins and bad decisions and ultimately used them for my good.  Not without penalty, of course.  After all, a good father always disciplines his children.  He desires for us to be holy, but thankfully he’s there to help and guide us even when we are not.

Kinds of Privileges 

One privilege we have today is that we have the word of God readily available to us as a reference to life.  It is filled with truths,  insights and promises that help us navigate our time here on earth and prepare us for our life in eternity as well.  All we have to do is read it to discover its truths.  What a privilege that is to have at our fingertips.

We have the privilege to approach the throne of God with our request.  Last summer my husband and I took a tour of  Buckingham Palace in England.  We were only able to tour the inside  of that magnificent castle because the queen was residing in Scotland at the time.  If she had been at the palace, there was no way we would have been permitted to enter, much less approach her throne.  While I may never have the opportunity to approach any king or queen or even the president of the United States, I can come boldly to the throne of God through prayer and bring any request I want.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16

God may not always grant my request, but the cool thing is that many times He does!  And it always blows my mind, that the God of the universe who created this whole world  would  consider a request from little ole me even once and make it happen.

Who can obtain this privilege

The best thing about this privilege is that it is open to anyone and everyone.  It doesn’t matter if you are white, black, brown, red, yellow, blue, green or purple.  Jesus died for all of us making way for our redemption and all we have to do to become a privileged child of this king is accept  and confess him as such and commit our lives to follow him.  There is plenty of God to go around. Don’t miss out!

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance -II Peter 3:9 (NKJV)

Family Ties

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Every year my husband and I, along with our four children and their spouses plus all the grandkids, take off for a winter get-a-way in the smoky mountains on MLK weekend.  We’ll get a large five bedroom cabin in the woods, hang out, play games , hike, ride go-carts (the grand-kid’s favorite) see some of the attractions and cook and eat some delicious family meals.  It’s my  favorite weekend of the year!

After our last trip I posted a picture on Facebook that we took with the entire family–all fifteen of us. One of my friends commented “I love that you do that, don’t ever stop!” I love that thought, but the truth is that, unfortunately, we will stop one day.  Not because we want to but because nothing on this earth last forever, especially people.

Most of us have a very small nucleus of people that we get to go through life with in a tiny window of time allotted us on earth.   While we may have lots of acquaintances, we have very few family and friends that we can always count on in life, no matter the circumstance.   Those who will be there in good times and bad.  For me, these are those people.

I heard a pastor once say that when you die, there will be room around your bed for approximately eight people and those are the eight people you should always make a priority in your life.   I think that is good advice.  Of course, even those eight will change through the years.

My dad’s favorite saying whenever I was fretting over some teenage drama was “Don’t worry about it.  In one hundred years it won’t make any difference.”  While his statement frustrated me at the time, now remembering that helps me keep a lot of things in perspective.

Looking at the picture of my family, the fifteen people closest to me in the world,  I know that in one hundred years, we will most likely all be gone from earth to our new home in heaven.  One by on, we will each pass away.  Even the cute little babies will have died of old age by that time and their sons and daughters will be the patriarch and matriarch of their own families.

But right now, I’m not worried about 100 years from now.  I’m enjoying this present time that God has graciously given to me and my family on this earth and am looking forward to next year when, if all goes well, there will be sixteen of us in that picture as my youngest daughter and her husband are expecting their first child in June!

Keep ‘um coming, folks!

There is a time for everything, and a season for everything under the heavens.  A time to be born and a time to die.  Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2a

Defenseless Army

It began in 1973

This war on our defenseless army

Who are these robed men

From where comes their power

To say we’re unworthy to live in this hour

At first we thought this war we could win

After all what person would stoop to such sin

But now oh how we have cried

That over 58 million have died

Our mothers were deceived

They bought into the lie

When society told them

It’s for the best that your child die

We were created for greatness

That’s always God’s plan

Never for spare parts

Lying cold in a pan

Who will help us

Who will stand in our stead

It seems that no one cares

Now that so many have bled

Are your hearts so cold

Is evil that great

That you can’t even see

How we’ve  been betrayed

We are innocent, vulnerable

Depending on you

If God touches your heart

Please help to see us through

How Gratitude affects attitude

 

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Gratitude makes for a great attitude

Last year I made a commitment to stop whining about winter.   I dreaded winter every year because I don’t like the cold, dark days it brings.  I prefer the warm, long, sunny days of summer.  God began to convict me of my sour attitude and I vowed to change.  After all, He made winter and it has its purpose.  Who was I to grumble about it?  So I made a list of everything that was special about winter and even blogged about it here on my site.

This year, as winter rolled around, to my surprise,  I wasn’t dreading it!  While in years past, I became depressed because of the approaching winter, this year I’m naturally accepting it and am even looking forward to those cozy evenings by candlelight.

What a difference a change of attitude makes

By forcing myself to think about and appreciate the wonderful attributes of winter, my mindset has changed and now I naturally appreciate it – without a struggle! I’m no longer dreading the cold or even the sometimes endless gray days that December through February bring.

I wonder where else in my life that I need to make the mental change from complaining to appreciating.

If you find yourself constantly complaining or dreading something or someone in your life, especially if it is something you cannot change, try listing out all the good that that situation or person brings to your life and focus on that instead.  Be grateful and thank God for those things.  Perhaps you too will be surprised at how much your attitude will change toward that person or situation.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  Philippians 4:8

Moments in Time

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Time is moments once spent never to be returned again.    We may be at the same physical location and even with the same people, but each day and every moment within that day is unique to its own.
One summer my husband and I met up with my daughter while she was in Orlando for a business trip.  The three of us drove over to Daytona Beach for a few days of relaxation before she was to head back to London where she was lives.
Since we don’t see her a lot, we treasure each moment we have together.  We had a great time just hanging out, walking the beach, catching up on happenings going on with our family and each other.
How beautiful she looked standing against the ocean backdrop for a picture.  Her soft white coverup flowing in the wind, wearing a straw hat and that gorgeous smile.
 The next day after she had left, while sitting on our balcony overlooking that same spot on the beach, that particular image was still so fresh in my mind that it felt like I could reach out and touch her.  But that moment had fled.   She was now across that vast Atlantic in another part of the world.  My husband and I were still there, the beach was the same as well as the condo, but the moments the three of us enjoyed together those two days were gone forever.
Oh, there would be more moments.  We were already looking forward to her return to visit us at our home in Tennessee in October with the rest of our family and my husband and I were looking forward to our remaining two days on the beach as a couple; yet those two special days would never return again.
I often think back to my childhood.  I can see my mother standing on the front porch of our small frame house.   Some of the sights and sounds  of that simpler time are etched so vividly in my mind that I feel I could go back there.  It was a real place, a real time, but it is no more.  The house is still there,  though aged from weather and time, but mother has passed on and I’m no longer that child.
Looking back on home movies when our children were small brings  back a lot of laughs, and tears.   Those little kids with their cute, smiling faces are now all grown up and passionately perusing their careers and raising their own families.  Those special days too, are lost forever and remain only a memory.
Lord, help me to treasure every day as the gift from you that it truly is.  Never taking anything for granted and always appreciating whatever unique blessings or trails that  today may bring. For every day is unique, a special blessing to be spent wisely and treasured for the gifts it alone offers.
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

Hiking

I’ve never thought of hiking as a dangerous sport.  You’re just walking through the woods right?  Yet, for one day in this past summer, that proved surprisingly not true.

Middle Tennessee has so many beautiful parks with mountain trails that are just challenging enough for a good workout.  The trees are gorgeous any time of year, budding with new life and colorful flowers in the spring, lush and green in the summer, and filled with amazing oranges, yellow and reds in the fall.  Even in the winter time when the trees are bare, sometimes its warm enough to put on  a light jacket and enjoy even greater views of the barren forest.

This was a particularly hot and sunny summer day with not a cloud in the blue sky.  In fact we couldn’t decide if we wanted to go to the pool that Saturday or hike.  Finally we decided we’d go hiking to get some exercise and then go relax at the pool.  Even though it was very hot that day, it seemed a little cooler up among the shade of the trees than out in the open sunlight.

We were walking along the dirt trail talking about life, our goals and dreams as we often do on our hikes.    My husband was out in front as we made out way down the mountain.

Then it happened.   I didn’t pick my foot up enough and tripped over a root in the ground flipping me forward. In a nano second my head hit the ground with the left side of my face splatted firmly against the hard dirt.  I had no time to break the fall and I’d never hit my head that hard in my life.  I thought I had broken out every tooth on the left side of my head and I felt like my left eyeball had exploded.

“Teresa, are you alright?” I heard my husband scream as I lay on the ground.  “No, I exclaimed, as I lay there unable to get up.  He came over and helped me to my feet.  There had been a small jagged tree stump sticking up and the tip of it had sliced my skin open right beneath my eye.”  Blood was running down my face and my eye had already began to swell.  Realizing how close I had some to putting my eye out by the jagged tree stump, he was thankful it missed my eye, yet extremely concerned that I needed to get to the ER for stitches.

My vision was blurred, My head was excruciating, my face was bleeding and then suddenly out of nowhere came a torrential  downpour.  What?   How could this be happening.  There was not a cloud in the blue sky when we started out.  How could it be raining like this now? Where did this rain come from?  We were at the top of the mountain and on the back side.  It would take us at least 30 to 45 minutes to get down.  I kept my hand over the cut the best I could to try and keep the rain from hitting it but it was coming down so hard, my efforts were futile.  I couldn’t see and now it was hard to breath, too, with the rain falling in my face.

God, did you have to let it rain just now, I thought?  Surely, you saw what just happened to me and now I have to deal with this rain on top of it.   It was a miserable hike to the bottom and by the time we got there our clothes and  shoes  were soaked throughout.  We got into the car and then immediately it stopped raining.  Are you kidding me?

Fortunately,   we had beach towels in the car since we had planned on going swimming later that day.   Bobby pulled out his backpack and said, “You know, I don’t know why but for some reason I put two shirts in here this morning.”  Normally he would just bring one to put on after swimming.  I changed my shirt right there in the car and we headed to the hospital.

After a brief visit they sent me away with an antibiotic, and a few pain pills.  Turns out I didn’t need stitches after all, but  had a mild concussion had fractured my orbit.  I didn’t even know I had an orbit, but learned it is the bone that holds the eye in place.

Later that day when my thinking became clearer, I realized that the rain that I had despised, had actually been a blessing.  The cold water had surely helped keep the swelling down from the broken bone and kept me cool as well.  As hot and humid as it was that day, I could have easily passed out on top of that mountain.

It reminded me that we shouldn’t be so quick to judge God when things happen we don’t understand or expect.  We see in part, but He sees the whole picture.  Our heavenly father is always looking out for us, even when we don’t realize it.

The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand.  Psalm 121:5

Things I’ve learned

When I was a child every day when I got off the school bus my mother would ask me what I learned that day.  Looking back, I probably didn’t give her very good answers.  Sometimes I would say “nothing,” which surely couldn’t have been true.   I was just done thinking about school for the day and  wanted to go play  outside or watch The Match Game.

Today as an adult I see the benefit of learning  something every day.  It’s a big, interesting  world out there and God designed our brains so that they are never full.  We can always take in more information or learn a new concept or skill.   My mom is not around to ask me what I’ve learned at the end of the day, but I can ask myself.

I love lists.  They are a great at helping us remember to do something or be something.   Of Opinions blog on list making inspired me to  start a list of  one most important thing I learned each  day.

I love to learn from other people’s experiences and knowledge through reading, listening to podcasts, etc. and hardly a day goes by that I don’t read something  that enriches my life;  however, when I started this list, the most note worthy addition seemed to come from something I had experienced that day.    Although I have been tempted to throw in a few of my favorite new quotes from other sources, it seems life’s most lasting  lessons come from our experiences.

It makes me wonder if Solomon in all his wisdom didn’t write some of those amazing Proverbs from personal experience.  For instance, when he wrote,”If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit.” (Proverbs 25:16)   He probably gorged himself on it one day and suffered the consequences.  I can see him eagerly chomping down on the sweet honeycomb and afterward feeling extremely nauseous and possibly saying to himself,  “I need to warn people about this.”

Not that I’m in any way comparing my humble list to the wisdom of Proverbs, but here are few  things I’ve learned or been reminded of recently.

  1. If you drive through a subdivision where construction is going on, you could very possibly get nails in your tires.
  2. If you follow a link from a text message offering an unbelievable  sale, it is probably not a trusted site.
  3. The more outgoing and friendly you are to others, the more friendly they will be with you.
  4. When things aren’t communicated well, confusion, misunderstandings and hurt feelings can result.
  5. You are much happier when you are thankful for what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have.
  6. When you have a change in attitude that causes you to act differently than people are accustomed, it can upset them, even if it is a positive change.
  7. Two weeks is the perfect vacation time.  After one week, you’re sad it’s over, but with two you’re ready to get back to routine and work.
  8. Sometimes you just need to take a day and dedicate it to a project you’ve been putting off.
  9. A heating pad and whirlpool really helps lower back pain
  10. Its easy to slip away from a close your walk with the Lord.  The Isralites did it often and so can we if we don’t continually guard our heart.