Tag Archives: Significance

LOOK UP!

Seriously. Look up, especially if there are currently others near you. You’ll find it doesn’t take much effort to direct the attention of others in the direction you look. Don’t believe me? Do it. Look up!

As I explained this concept to my younger sons, it was easy to see that they they didn’t believe that they have the power to direct anyone’s attention in any direction. So tonight I assigned them *homework* while they are at school tomorrow. All they need to do is look up while with someone. I’m confident that they will find that they are indeed capable of directing attention. In fact, even animals can direct our attention!

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It doesn’t seem very important, does it? But it carries much more weight than a simple sociology experiment carried out in the classroom of an elementary school by my children.  We’re always being observed … by our boss, colleague, teacher, peer, parent, friend  and yes, even by our foe. Those observations carry with them incredible opportunities, but if we lack awareness, they will be missed.

With the choices I make personally, I have opportunities to influence someone in either a positive or negative manner. That choice will cause others to at least momentarily direct their attention my way.

So what do I want others to see in me?

  • I want them to see someone that works hard and plays hard;
  • I want them to see someone who is trustworthy;
  • I want them to see someone that is both kind and loving;
  • I want them to see someone that lives courageously;
  • I want them to see someone who is grateful; and most importantly
  • I want them to see Christ, not really me.

That imparts so much more significance to our choices, yes? While others look at me, I need to be looking up!  I need to be Christ-centered, demonstrating godliness in my actions, behaviors, and choices because others are watching me. I want them to have what I have, to know Who I know, to love and be loved by Him.

It’s such a simple concept bearing more power than we often realize.

Look up! Others are watching you.

Colossians 3:23

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.

Counting Up

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Today I begin. I begin to live with an attitude of gratitude. I tell my kids to be thankful all the time.  Then I wonder, do they need to be told …. or do they need to be shown?  Is gratitude something that is taught? ….. or caught?

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily to-do list around the house, running errands, wiping little noses, getting swept up in the scurry of BLESSINGS that are no longer counted as such.

That cluttered countertop? Be thankful. It means you have the blessings of modern appliances, the postal system as a means of communication, the funds to purchase coffee, and yes, toys for the kids.

Take a look around you. What do you see as you are seated in the comfort of your home? What does it tell you …. really, what does it tell you when you start seeing it as a blessing? It tells me I am blessed abundantly, beyond measure.

Today I begin.  May I challenge you, Reader, to start counting your blessings too? There are still 293 days left in 2013. Begin today. Count just three blessings a day and you will amass nearly 1000 blessings before the end of the year!  1000 blessings! So very much to be thankful for. Start.  Today.  Do it.

  1. 3/13/13:  I’m thankful for the blessing of the beautiful, bright sun filling my house with natural light  and warmth.
  2.  3/13/13: I’m thankful for the blessing of friends – near and far – who are there for me and with me as I navigate this wonderful life.  Hope to see you all in the next life!
  3. 3/13/13: OK. The clutter. Yes, I’ll be thankful for the blessing of the clutter too, because it tells me I lead a very FULL life.
  4. 3/13/13: And today I’ll be thankful for the time I’m given to CLEAN the clutter. I am a stay at home mom, afforded this time, and it is a blessing indeed!
  5. Just before the stroke of midnight on 3/14/13:  I am blessed beyond measure with an automobile that navigates well in the MN winters!
  6. 3/14/13:  I am oh-so-thankful for the gift of our 9 month old puppy, Dutch. He is a counter-surfer extraordinaire, but he loves us all, all the time – even when we are unlovable.
  7. 3/14/13: And today I am thankful for effective allergy meds since I’m not sure I’d manage well without them!
  8. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for the seasons and the gorgeous flaming fall leaves that dot the landscape.
  9. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for a loving husband who adores me and tries his very best to understand me.
  10. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for the ability to homeschool my youngest kiddos this year! We are having so much fun and they are seriously enjoying the learning process.
  11. 10/7/14: I so thankful to be part of a church that is alive, well, and proclaiming the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ!
  12. 10/7/14: I thankful for the unusually warm weather that we have had this fall.  The cold and snow are inevitable, but being able to hold them at bay for a while is absolutely wonderful!
  13. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for good friends in every walk of life!
  14. 10/7/14: I’m really thankful for my new pink and lime green (yes, you read that correctly) Bible! 🙂
  15. 10/7/14: I’m thankful that Halloween candy is not available year round. Those *fun sizes* can get me into so much trouble!
  16. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for the life of my littlest man, who actually didn’t make it through the birth process, but was later revived. We celebrate him on his birthday … in just a bit more than a week from now.
  17. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for the quiet of the late nights. It gives me time to reflect on and savor all my gifts in this life!
  18. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for my 18yo son and his quick wit. He keeps me in my toes, but in a happy way!
  19. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for the academic ability of my 20yo son. At just 18 years of age, he was halfway through his college career, having amassed 72 college credits.
  20. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for the caring heart of my 3rd born son. The love he shows others far outshines his quick temper!
  21. 10/7/14: I’m so thankful to have found a martial arts family that our family can embrace. We have received a gift in the new friendships that we have developed over the past three years.
  22. 10/7/14: With the GIFT of a smartphone this year, I am SO thankful that I am now beginning to feel organized! I’m missing fewer appointments … AND I can keep the littles entertained while AT the appointments! A double blessing!
  23. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for the new/used leather sofa that we found on Craigslist for only $20.
  24. 10/7/14: I’m so thankful that we got our tire replaced for free when I drove over a screw in the road two weeks ago.
  25. 10/7/14: I’m thankful that I still have eight healthy fingers after having broken two of them within six weeks at karate.
  26. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for our new homeschool co-op, River of Life in Lindstrom, where our children are establishing healthy friendships with other like-minded kids.
  27. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for my Bonsai Tree bought for me with love by my husband. Maybe this is one I won’t unintentionally kill. He demonstrates his faith in my each time he brings home a live plant!
  28. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for extended family. While I always wish I had more time to spend with them, I know they love me, near or far.
  29. 10/7/14: I’m so thankful for the abundance of books that we have, for it means we will never have to experience a dull moment.
  30. 10/7/14: I’m so very, very thankful for my new Vitamix Blender. We have had so many enjoyable smoothies in the past three months!
  31. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for my membership with our local food buying co-op. Because of that, our family is able to eat mostly organic food at very affordable prices.
  32. 10/7/14: I’m incredibly thankful for my new hobby – knitting – and my knitting friends.
  33. 10/7/14: I’m thankful that I have yarn (MUCH yarn) with which to create wonderful knit projects!
  34. 10/7/14: Did I mention my incredible Addi Turbo Click knitting needles? I’m really thankful for those. They make knitting so very enjoyable!
  35. 10/7/14: I’m thankful for WordPress.com – My avenue to my creative expression!

The Stepping Stone in the Journey

Minnesotans … We’re a people known for our extended goodbyes. We start saying goodbye in the living room, lumber through the dining room remembering missed conversations, progress slowly to the entryway discussing plans for tomorrow, follow the guests out the the driveway while providing armfuls of hugs and ample driving advice, and then wave unceasingly as the guests drive out of view. Eventually we walk back inside and turn off the lights, resigning ourselves to the fact that our guests have left.

I’m in the process of saying goodbye now and it is tough. Incredibly tough.

I’ve had the same neighbor for over 20 years now. Rob has been a friend, a confident and quite often a role model to my children. For 18 of those 20 years, he has consistently beaten back the cancer monster. He would go into remission time and time again, only to have it rear it’s ugly head in some other form, but Rob was a fighter and no one ever thought that cancer could overcome him.

As I sat inside Rob’s living room, perched on the couch next to his bed, I made light conversation with him, hoping that he was able to hear and process at least some of the things I spoke to him. Occasionally he would open his eyes and I would see him in there, looking at me, wanting to talk but unable.

“The Cowboys won last night. It was a close game, but they pulled it off in the end.”

“You’ve been the best of neighbors. I couldn’t have asked for better.”

“Thanks for always being there when we needed you. We appreciate you.”

“We’ll be here to help JoAnne out. Don’t worry about her at all.”

“It won’t be long now and your body will be restored; healed.”

“I love you. You will be missed.”

While Rob slept on and off, I gently held his hand and talked to his wife seated across the other side of his bed.  We talked about his childhood memories, his kind nature, his football allegiances, his squirrel-shooting hobby, the length of his illness, and his incredibly valiant efforts to survive his odds.

“He didn’t deserve this.” she said.  I nodded in agreement. He so did not deserve this.

“This isn’t what it’s about. Life is just a stepping stone for what follows.” she continued.

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Bird’s Feather Stepping Stone

Amen. I could not have said that better myself. A stepping stone … intricately designed before being carefully set in place, then lovingly positioned into just the right spot, placed to   provide both direction and confidence of footing on the journey. Once established in its given path, it quickly becomes dirty with use and time, yet is easily restored to its initial beauty with one sweeping motion.

A stepping stone … just a small part of a journey along a much longer path. Over time it wears down. Through the hot sun, the brisk winds, and the seasonal storms, it gradually erodes – an unavoidable process that begins at the exact moment it is laid in place. Amid the dirt of life and the inevitable erosion, the One who laid that stone is enthralled with its beauty while understanding its very temporary nature.  Quite often, time itself will cause that stone’s mere existence to cease. Other times, there will be situations that expedite the process.  One day there may even come those that have never known of the stone’s existence.  And yet, fragments will continue to be carried along in the sands, leaving an indelible footprint; proof of its time here on earth.

It looked painfully obvious to me that Rob needed to be moving on from this life. His stepping stone had been well-utilized, but was now wearing so very thin.  Even though Rob wasn’t a Minnesota native, he (not unlike myself) had mastered the long goodbye – both in everyday life and in leaving for the next life. Now, however, was my turn to linger. In my heart, I knew this was probably my very last earthly goodbye to my friend and walking out his door was extremely difficult. I kissed my dear friend on the head, gently hugged his frail body, and told him I loved him one last time.

Today Rob’s stepping stone has served its purpose; his earthly journey complete.

A light has gone out indicating that one of earth’s guests has gone home.

God speed, my friend. You will be so very missed.

Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It CAN Always Get Worse!

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How was your week? Mine felt unbearably long and there were many times I was sure Friday evening would never arrive – or if it did, I would somehow miss it amid the chaos of life. The proverbial nail was driven into the casket this evening as my six year old spilled his milk on the peanuts I had just spent two hours shelling while our four month old puppy pounced excitedly between his rawhide bone and the sweet, dripping kitchen table unsure which way to run in the 1.5 square feet of space available. Admittedly, bedtime could not come soon enough – if not for the young ones, for me.

OK. It can always get worse. When I’m tempted to feel tapped, I try to remind myself of that fact. For example, Rasputin, the iconic Russian religious advisor to the Romanov family, definitely dealt with greater grievances. Hated by many in a country where he held significant influence and power (not an unusual feat in and of itself), he experienced trials and tribulations beyond what I’d wish on my worst enemy. Rasputin was stabbed, poisoned, shot three times, clubbed, and drowned – and with the exception of the stabbing, it all happened in one evening!

I can’t top that. More importantly I don’t even want to try! Incomplete homework assignments, piles of laundry, sticky floors, dinner dishes, spilled milk, and puppy poo all plague my week, but I can tackle those consistent challenges that attempt to derail my days. And much like Rasputin, I don’t go down without a good fight. But his life, and subsequent death, serve as a stark reminder that it can always get worse!

So how did you say your week went?

I’m Normal. What Are You?

After a full day of playing with Legos, Matchbox Cars, Wii, and various outdoor toys, the time had come for Owen’s best friend, Alex, to go home. As we  entered the van for the fourteen mile drive, Alex chose to sit in the far reaches, the very back seat – because providing additional challenges in a conversation can make it extra interesting, right? As I chatted with Alex over the expanse of empty seats, our conversations flowed easily, especially considering Alex is only five years old and doesn’t really know me very well. We were, however, trying our best to listen to each other over the noise of both the engine and the road.

When Alex told me he was learning Spanish, my curiosity was piqued.  See, Alex is Asian – but beyond knowing THAT, I have no idea what Alex’s heritage is, so the following conversation ensued:

Me (trying to peer into the rear view mirror to occasionally establish eye contact):  That’s really cool that you’re learning Spanish, Alex.  What is your ancestry?

Alex (pausing, not quite sure of the meaning of the word):  Ummmm ….. I don’t know.

Me (trying to help him out with both an explanation and a prompt): Ancestry means lineage or where your parents and grandparents came from. Are you Korean?

Alex (quickly): No.

Me: Are you Chinese?

Alex: No.

Me: Are you Vietnamese?

Alex: No.

Me (now floundering as I was running out of options): Japanese?

Alex: No.

[Since Alex was so sure these options were not part of his ancestry, it struck me that Alex might KNOW his ancestry and I need only quit prompting him. So I continued my line of questions in a new manner:]

Me: If none of those are part of your lineage, then what ARE you, Alex?

[Alex’s reply was quick as a wink and sure as a boy could be, causing me to really hear his answer.]

Alex (simply):  I’m normal.

Touche, Alex.

Pause for consideration, Reader. How do you see YOURself? It occurs to me that we all too often view our differences in a manner that set us apart from others, in both a positive and negative manner. If you’re seated across from a potential employer in a job interview, that may be a necessity to secure employment.  More often, however, we need to look for commonalities that enable us to be ONE with each other.  At the tender age of five, Alex seemed to understand that commonalities make for both a confident person and a more peaceful community. Additionally, it is what Christ calls us to do.

1 Cor 12: 24-26:  But God has so composed the body … 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Are you normal, Reader? It IS a more excellent way!

When the Written Word is Clearer

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We’ve all said it …

“E-mail is a tough way to communicate since we can’t read tone or intent.”

That’s true – in some cases.  However, in other instances, the written word stands in stark contrast to that statement. Given the time that an e-mail affords when responding to a discussion can often save us from the potential of arguments, embarrassment and frustration due to a quick and thoughtless response such as that required in an actual conversation. Additionally, the written word becomes both necessary and effective in areas such as the transfer of title when purchasing a car, writing statutes governing a locality, state, or nation, and recording historically significant events.

Of greatest importance, however, is THE Written Word. The Bible, one of the top selling books of all time, was written that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:30), that our joy might be complete (1 John 1:4), and that we might KNOW that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13). The Bible is clear in tone, intent, and transmission of the message of Good News of Christ.

God could have chosen to hand these significant events down to us orally, from generation to generation, but in His infinite wisdom, He chose to write it down, that we might carry it with us not only in our arms but in our hearts as well. It’s His very effective conversation with us, His love letter to us. He promises us that we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart (Jer 29:13).

We all have the Written Word readily available to us. Are you reading it? Are you seeking Him?  If not, what stops you? Great rewards await you within the pages of the Greatest Book!

Go Beyond Saturated

Saturated. What comes to mind when you read the word saturated?

  • For mothers of young children, it might be a droopy diaper on the occasionally overlooked offspring;
  • Students might feel saturated after enduring a lengthy Latin lesson;
  • It’s a descriptive word for my soaking wet socks after unintentionally finding a puppy puddle on the floor;
  • For the chemist, it simply means singly bonded to an atom;
  • The health-conscious might immediately think negatively of fats on a food nutrition label;
  • It expresses the water content of a swim suit upon departing from the pool or lake;
  • It defines the roaring sound filling the Minnesota Twin’s Stadium in their first World Series games;
  • For the naturalist, it might be the feel of the grass underfoot after a heavy rainfall;
  • It describes the paper towels used by the Kindergarten teacher to clean up juice spills in her bustling classroom;
  • For the pet owner, it is likely the wet dog as it vigorously shakes off the excessive water from his thick fur coat;
  • And for photographers, it depicts the highest intensity of hue in a picture.

Although the definitions for saturated are finite, it can take on varied meanings depending on WHO we are and WHERE we are in any given moment.

While it really only comes down to meaning “filled to capacity,” all too often we mistakenly interpret the word as “filled beyond capacity.” Consider the saturated diaper. The mind automatically conjures up an image depicting a diaper that is too full. That lengthy Latin lesson? It was too long. I feel that my soaking wet socks are too wet, although I’d argue that any moisture contained in my socks is too much!

The question is whether something can actually go beyond saturation. A diaper can be saturated or filled to capacity. But once it is actually filled, any additional input would simply flow out from the boundaries. Most parents can attest to this based on first-hand experience! The student who reaches brain-overload will often shut down, unable to absorb additional information for that class. My socks will reach a point where they will be unable to suck up any added puppy puddles. In many cases, it is not possible to go beyond the saturation point.

However, there are other instances in life where over-saturation is not only possible but preferable. As I contemplated this, various verses from the Bible sprung to mind as I began to realize that God desires our lives to be more than saturated with both His love abounding and His bountiful blessings.  He wants to fill us with joy and peace so that we can experience His overflowing hope.

Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

David, the shepherd boy, proclaims the bounty that he experiences from the Lord. His reference to a cup that overflows further indicates the blessings beyond full measure that the Lord intends for us.

Psalm 23:5 – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

God never intended us to live a mediocre life. He didn’t ordain our days that we should proclaim, “Enough! I’m full!” He wants so much more than that for each of us.

When we fully experience God, we can experience a life beyond saturation. But as with any other relationship, communication is required for bountiful fellowship with God. It is our willingness to go beyond saturation in His Word that will help us develop and deepen our relationship with Him and come to appreciate all that He has already given us and all that he intends for our future.

Reader, do you feel saturated in the Word of God? If so, that’s not enough. Go beyond saturation, go beyond full. Be yourself overflowing with thanksgiving and praise so you can fully experience His abundance, His extravagance, His lavish love, His plentiful power. He awaits you today.