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Reviewing & Reviving Resolutions

“I want to look back on 2017 and see that I’m living an abundant life, using the gifts God has given me and blessing people. Not knowing exactly what that will look like, I resolve to keep my eyes and ears open to how the Lord wants me to live each day.” Those were the last words of my January 3, 2017, blog post.  January 2018 has arrived and I have dared to allow thoughts shared last year to hold me accountable. One year ago I told of five ways I had grown in 2016 and then resolved to continue in that growth.  I haven’t been consistent in all five areas. Perhaps you can relate and will decide to join me in reviewing and possibly reviving our resolutions.

Reviewed Progress:

  1.  Playing the piano: I’m not sure I improved as a pianist, but I did keep at it sporadically. During December, I played from a lesson book of Christmas carols. Then, after our little family finished our gift exchange, I sat down to play “Silent Night” for them. They seemed to appreciate it, so I continued with more carols, played quite imperfectly.  The music prevented that little let-down that comes when there are no more gifts to open.
  2. Memorizing the book of James:  I’ve reviewed James often enough to keep most of it and also put Psalm 103 to heart.
  3. Helping my future daughter-in-law choose her dress: On April 1, she wore that dress as she became Eric’s wife. We have grown closer during holiday gatherings, Easter at their home and Christmas at ours. My husband and I are blessed to be able to worship and eat with them in Columbus from time to time.
  4. Continue to blog: The first anniversary of Thoughts Collected by Lisa came in August. I signed on for one more year and kept writing, completing my 75th post on December 27. I’ve added some pages, including Fruit of the Spirit and Printables.
  5. Connect with neighbors at Christmas time: I picked a date and invited the ladies who live on each side of me and across the street to a Christmas brunch. All were available!  I’m thankful for a season when it becomes a priority to visit with friends and family.

I wouldn’t give myself an A+, but progress is progress. In looking through other posts from 2017, I noticed some additional and perhaps more meaningful ways in which I challenged myself and my readers. Putting resolutions in writing increases the likelihood of carrying them out as does sharing the goals with someone else. I’ve realized that posting the commitments on the internet adds an extra sense of responsibility to follow through.

Revived Resolutions:

This list could completely overwhelm me if I sought to complete it in my own strength. In January 2017, I shared the story of a couple who walked In Perfect Step. Seeing their synchronized movement helped me to understand the role and power of the Holy Spirit in my life. My part is to “focus on where He wants to lead, as well as when and how fast we are to move.” My resolutions can be summed up as follows: “link elbows with the Holy Spirit, walk in step with Him, and bear the fruit that is uniquely Christian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Card Post Script

The cost of a stamp keeps rising, it takes a lot of time, and technology offers other ways of sending greetings. Nevertheless, we continue to send Christmas cards to many people. I do not, however, hand address each envelope since my husband figured out how to make a list, check it twice, and print the addresses from the computer. One reason the tradition lives on is my love of finding boxes of cards during the After-Christmas sale season.  In the last days of 2016, I was in a drug store hoping to find our 2017 Christmas Card in the post-season mess. We needed several boxes and the selection was limited, but I was determined. Therefore, I settled for a nice, sentimental design, brought the cards home, and stashed them away in a closet.

Thanksgiving passed and I pulled the boxes out for post office preparation. They were strange. I had a hard time opening the card and had to make a crease in each one prior to signing our names. In addition, while the sentiment was nice, there was no mention of Christ, no nativity image and no scripture verse. Instead, the card displayed a whimsical row of townhouses and the words, May you have love in your home and peace in your heart…Let Christmas be a joyous time right from the very start! We do want our loved ones to have love, peace, and joy, but I felt that the words were a bit trite. After considering the time it would take to add a meaningful verse to each, I signed, sealed, and mailed them as is.

I’m not apologizing. And some of our friends and family did receive Christian Christmas cards because we ran out of this year’s design. I’m simply taking this opportunity to add a P.S. regarding “love in your home” today and hoping to add a P.P.S. regarding “peace in your heart” tomorrow.

Love In Your Home

  • The Source: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  1 John 4:7-11
  • The Description: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Merry Christmas!

With love,

Dave and Lisa

 

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Come as You Are

When I looked in the mirror this morning, the thought crossed my mind that I might not go to church today. The last thing I wanted was to have people notice the big, ugly cold sore on my face. The tingling pain began on Wednesday, and this morning I faced the impossibility of hiding the raw sore. Still, I wanted to be in church and knew that I would regret missing the worship service.

I remembered a woman cancelling  a meeting with me because her face was swollen from a bee sting and she was embarrassed about being seen. I started thinking of reasons why someone might not come to church because of embarrassment. Perhaps they fear stares because of their clothes, or tattoos, or weight, or blood shot eyes. Maybe their name was in the newspaper or their mugshot on the TV screen. Or it could be that their child has gotten into trouble or their spouse has left them. Maybe they can’t read, or don’t drive a nice car. Perhaps they’re heartbroken and don’t want people to see them cry. The list goes on and on. And it makes me sad.

Here I am with unstyled hair, no makeup, and the cold sore.

I can’t deny that at times it does take courage to go to church. Some have experienced painful encounters in church. Others have the idea that the people there will judge them. I wish I could say that is never the case. Sadly, though, it is possible that an unloving word may be said or that no word will be said. I would be dishonest if I pretended that I’ve never witnessed conflict or unfairness within the church. Please consider, though, that it is very easy for us insecure human beings to assume that others are looking down on us or that we don’t fit in, when that is not the case.

Here’s an encouraging word! Christmas is the celebration of God’s love being demonstrated with the gift of his Son, Jesus, to the undeserving world. When I read the gospel books of the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), I see that Jesus noticed the outcasts in society. He made a point to speak to and even eat with the ones who were looked down upon, including Zacchaeus.  When Jesus went to the temple, his compassionate attention fell on a poor widow (Luke 22:1-4), a man with a shriveled hand (Luke 6:6-11), and even the demon possessed (Luke 4:31-37). Think of the blessing each one would have missed if they had stayed away, fearing the opinions of the rich and powerful people there.

Today, I’m reminded of two points made in the Bible:

  1. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Jesus made this clear in a story he told about a religious man whose way of praying revealed his pride and a humble tax collector who received mercy.  (Luke 18:9-14)
  2. Every person who has ever lived, excepting Jesus, is sinful. We each have an ugly sore spot that we cannot heal. Unlike my cold sore, sin will not go away with time. By God’s amazing grace, those who believe in Jesus can be cleansed from sin and made acceptable to God. Even Christians sometimes feel like hiding when life gets painful, but the support of a church “family” is worth the risk of being known.

I have one last thought to share today. It is not the action of going to church, whether it be once or twice a year or every single Sunday, that saves us. Yes, you can find and commune with God in other settings, and, yes, you may encounter hypocrites at church. People do tend to look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. For me, church is a wonderful place to belong; to be encouraged, taught, and prayed for; and to participate in serving others.

Here is what I looked like after a shower, with blow-dried hair and makeup. I’m sure that folks I talked to did notice the cold sore. Still, I’m glad that I did not allow my embarrassment or pride to keep me from being there to sing Christmas carols, see people that I care about, and hear a wonderful message about the Holy Spirit. I hope that you’ll choose to come to church as you are. There is a song from Sidewalk Prophets that may encourage you. You can listen here.

 

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My Cringe-worthy County Fair Memory

Born and raised in Ohio, my husband and I both looked forward to our respective county fairs.  One of my earliest memories from my family’s trips to the fair is picking out a souvenir as we were leaving. I managed to find an e-bay picture of one that I chose, a furry monkey attached to a stick with elastic – creepy.

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I remember riding the pony ride and the Ferris wheel  and gobbling up fair food, particularly the sweet, crispy waffles – tasty.

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The fair in Wyandot County ( Where I Come From) is held in mid-September. I remember it being really hot on some days and pretty darn chilly on others. Whether it was hot or cold, rainy or dry, the fair was the place to be, especially for those of us in 4-H clubs.  I focused on sewing, photography, and crafts and have often appreciated learning to mend and sew. Here’s one of my sewing projects from the 70s – bright.

I remember helping my 4-H advisor decorate our fair booth. My right hand blistered and ached from cutting out corrugated cardboard four-leaf clovers – painful.

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Four leaves for Head, Hands, Heart, and Health.

I remember going to the fair with my girlfriends and walking around with the hope of seeing certain boys.  It was usually pretty fun. But one night I got myself into quite a predicament – cringe-worthy.

In thinking about what happened that night, two song lyrics come to mind – “I am fifteen going on sixteen.” and “Why must I be a teenager in love?”

It was county fair time during September of my junior year of high school. I was still desperately wanting to reunite with the guy I had dated in the spring. He was moving on. I needed to get his attention.

I happened to be at the fair on the evening when 4-H lambs were being judged, and was hanging out with a girlfriend who had lambs. We were in the sheep barn talking about personal stuff before her time to show her lambs for judging. Realizing that a certain guy might also be in the vicinity, a plan was hatched. I have a hard time thinking that it was my idea, so it must have been hers.

As I mentioned, I took sewing 4-H projects, never animals. My only experience with sheep had been adoring the tiny bottle-fed lambs at my grandma’s house and occasionally touching a sheep at a petting zoo. Still, my fifteen-year-old mind, prompted by my broken teenage heart, agreed to TAKE ONE OF HER LAMBS INTO THE ARENA FOR JUDGING. She made it sound easy. It was not.

I guess I assumed that the sheep would know what to do. It either did not, or it somehow realized that I was not its shepherd.  When a 95 lb. girl tries to control an 80 lb. lamb in front of judges and an audience that possibly contains a certain guy, she finds herself wanting to disappear. Hope arose when I spotted another guy from my church youth group helping with the judging. I can’t even imagine what he thought when I begged him to help me. There wasn’t much he could do. I either managed to stay on my feet and fake some semblance of doing what the judge asked or have blocked out an incident of being dragged around by a lamb. I don’t remember how we got out of the ring. I also did not see the faces of anyone in the stands.

Later, when I asked my friend what her project score was, she told me that she expected that pen of lambs to get a B anyway. She’s a good friend. No one else ever mentioned the incident to me.

So why would I tell  you about it? It just seemed good to keep my post light this week. There are still a lot of serious thoughts rolling around in my head, thoughts that may be collected and shared soon. But for now, you can laugh a little and know that while at that time I felt certain that the two of should be reunited, God had a wonderful plan for me to meet and marry my husband.

And there’s another song lyric. “God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.” He’s a much better shepherd than I am.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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