The Gift of Another Day


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Psalm 90:12

Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.

Once every four years the calendar gives us an extra day. There’s a scientific reason – the earth rotates around the sun every 365 ¼ days. Those who created our calendar added an extra day every fourth year to make up for this. There’s actually more to it than my brief explanation, but you get the idea – we have the gift of another day this year.

How will we use the extra day?

We take so much of life for granted, especially those of us blessed with families, jobs, and good health. We race to get our commitments completed, then complain that we have too much to do – work, errands, children’s activities and the like. We don’t stop often enough to enjoy or appreciate life’s many blessings. I am guilty of rushing through life like there is always tomorrow.

But life is brief. We don’t know how much time we have. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Our extra day falls on a Monday this year, so how about celebrating our “leap day” this weekend? Leave your watch in a drawer and unplug for the day. Think about how you can enjoy – really appreciate – the many blessings our God has given to us. Connect with your friends and family and hold them tight. Savor each moment with them. Go on an outing. Gaze at a landscape, or a sunset. Take a nature walk. Stop to really look at flowers, or a lake, or the clouds. Become aware of the gifts we so often overlook. Live.

Psalm 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Blessings on your “leap day.”

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com (The Living Bible Translation)

Images: google images

An Ash Wednesday Prayer


Ash Wednesday

Dear Heavenly Father,

Today we begin a season of self-examination and inner reflection. Open our hearts to see the truth of our words and our actions so that we see our lives through your eyes. We open our souls to your presence and ask you to change what needs to be changed. Lord, grant us the grace to emerge from the season of Lent with a more profound understanding of Your mercy and grace. Let your love wash over us, and seep deep into the broken places, healing and restoring our souls. Prepare our hearts for the joyous celebration of Easter.

Amen

Fat Tuesday Does Not Make Sense To Me


Mardi Gras; Rex Parade

Quite a party is going on right now, in New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro and other cities around the world. It’s called Mardi Gras which is French for Fat Tuesday. It is the last day of a season called Carnival. The Carnival season is filled with merrymaking, dancing, and eating to excess among other activities. Fat Tuesday is the culmination of these festivities, featuring celebrations, parades, masquerades, and also, sadly, drunkenness and shameless behavior.

The day after Fat Tuesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Season of Lent. Lent is a 40-day period of fasting and repentance, and a preparation for the celebration of Easter. Carnival is the indulgence of bad behavior before the fast, or a binge prior to asking for forgiveness. Participants in Fat Tuesday celebrations act as if you can do whatever you want during Carnival, as long as you attend Ash Wednesday services, repent and ask for forgiveness.

I fail to understand the purpose of sinning deliberately, then asking God for forgiveness. The practice is totally unscriptural. The Bible forbids drunkenness and shameless behavior (Romans 13:13-14 and Galatians 5:19-21), and encourages us to think about what is good and pure (Philippians 4:8). If we have a relationship with God, then we shouldn’t want to participate in activities that grieve Him.

God wants us to have fun (Luke 15:3:10 and Luke 15:23-24.) God even commanded celebrations (Exodus 12:14, Deuteronomy 16). Jesus attended a wedding in Cana (John 2:1-12). Celebrations even occur in heaven (Luke 15:7-10) and we await the greatest celebration of all, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9).

God has showered me with many blessings. So I’ll skip the carousing and merrymaking and take my queues from Scripture. I’ll reserve my celebrations for remembering all that our great God has done for us.

Blessings on your day.

 

Reblogged from February 17, 2015

image: google images

Developing Patience


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 Psalm 37:7-9

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

“Patience may be the trait we are most lacking.” Pastor David Alexander, First United Methodist Church, Mansfield, Texas

The other day I was listening to a previously recorded sermon as part of my quiet time. The above quote convicted me to the point I knew it was time to do something about my lack of patience because I don’t always display this beautiful trait. In fact, I think I usually fail in the patience category. Frequently, I’ve been short with my husband and kids. I’ve been impatient in traffic and people standing before me in line. I’ve been impatient waiting at the doctor’s office. The list goes on, and on…

Although we live in an instant gratification culture it doesn’t mean we have to live like everyone else. I decided it was time to develop this very necessary skill. What is patience and how can I develop it? Dictionary.com tells us patience is “an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay and the ability to bear provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, irritation or the like.” The word willingness is key. It means I have control. I also noticed where the word patience is in the Love Chapter. Notice 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Patience is an act of love.

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Now the question becomes, “How can I develop patience?” There are probably dozens of suggestions, but these are the ones I came up with:

  • Recognize that there are some things you simply cannot control.
  • Recognize the things that make you act on impulse, and either avoid them or think about the reasons for your reactions
  • Look at the other person’s point of view
  • Slow down and practice delaying gratification.
  • Think before you speak. It may be as simple as counting to 10 before your respond.
  • Ask yourself, why are you in such a hurry? Will hurrying change anything?
  • Identify triggers that make you feel impatient and plan to avoid them.
  • Remind yourself that things do take time.
  • Remember that for every minute you are angry, you lose a minute of joy and peace.
  • Create space or margin in your life knowing that you will need the extra time to deal with the inevitable.

How about you?  Do you have any suggestions for developing patience? I would love to hear from you.

 Blessings on your day.

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Scripture: www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

Acts of Kindness (and 100 Acts of Kindness Ideas)


 

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 Proverbs 21:21

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.

 Proverbs 11:17

A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.

My life has been touched many, many times by simple, unexpected acts of kindness. Those instances include receiving unexpected notes from friends, flowers, and meals when I was a young mother. There was the couple who helped me with my bags when I was traveling alone, and countless times someone has held the door for me. There was the time someone stopped to help me change a flat tire and the time I was not charged for a service call. Such a simple gestures can really add to someone’s day. One simple act of kindness can spur another on to do the same thing.

The opposite is also true – it’s easy to aggravate someone by being thoughtless, rude, or just insisting on our own way. Maybe it’s because we are in a hurry, or are thinking too highly of ourselves, or perhaps we are reacting to a bad situation – but there is really no excuse for being rude. Sometimes we just don’t show emotion because we don’t know someone we are interacting with – like a cashier. Keep in mind that a simple act of kindness can derail a thoughtless act.

Yesterday, someone bought lunch for everyone in my office. What a pleasant surprise! I watched how faces lit up when given the news. Everyone was smiling and enjoyed pleasant conversation with the welcome diversion from our usual busy Friday afternoon. Later I noticed one of the lunch recipients holding the door for not one, but three coworkers. Someone else held the elevator door. The lunch act of kindness was passed on.

God expects us to act with kindness towards one another. Kindness is a Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). It is also mentioned several other places in the Bible. Consider the Prophet Zechariah’s words: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” (Zechariah 7:9-10). We are commanded to act kindly toward each other.

If we listen to the news it would be easy to become cynical and assume no one is kind to each other anymore. However, we have all experienced acts of kindness at some point. Pass it on.

 Micah 6:8

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

 The following list is just a few ideas to show kindness to someone. It’s so easy. I’m challenging myself to act more kindly to others, especially those I don’t know.

  1. It all starts with a smile. Look people in the eye and give them a big smile.
  2. Open the door for someone.
  3. Bring flowers to a friend or neighbor.
  4. Buy a co-worker their favorite soda or treat. Leave it on his or her desk with a smiley face sticky note.
  5. Drop off toys, a game, or stuffed animals at a homeless shelter.
  6. Introduce yourself to neighbors and bring baked goods or sweets.
  7. Pay the toll for the car behind you.
  8. Wash someone’s car for them.
  9. Send a card or handwritten note to someone you hardly know.
  10. Help an elderly person cross the street.
  11. Help someone carrying a lot of stuff.
  12. Pay someone a sincere compliment.
  13. Leave a nice note for your spouse/child/friend.
  14. Open the door for someone.
  15. Help a younger sibling with homework.
  16. Let a car merge in front of you and do it with a smile.
  17. Participate in a park or beach cleanup.
  18. Exercise patience.
  19. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
  20. Help someone with their bags or luggage.
  21. Offer to take a picture for tourists.
  22. Pay for the coffee for the person behind you.
  23. Share your class notes with a classmate.
  24. Help a friend move.
  25. Strike up a conversation with a stranger.
  26. Make your sibling/child/roommate’s bed for them.
  27. Help a lost tourist find his or her way
  28. Mentor someone.
  29. Give a generous tip to your waiter.
  30. Bring a welcome gift to new neighbors.
  31. Befriend a lonely person.
  32. Reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
  33. Compliment a stranger.
  34. Let someone take your parking spot.
  35. Don’t honk at cars (or people).
  36. Bring baked goods to the office to share.
  37. Donate your blood at a blood drive.
  38. Sit with someone who is eating alone.
  39. Go visit strangers in a nursing home. Read to them.
  40. Let someone go in front of you at the cashier.
  41. Bake cookies for the firemen.
  42. Donate clothes and shoes to the needy.
  43. Clean up after someone in the lunchroom or cafeteria.
  44. Recommend your favorite restaurant to a tourist.
  45. Do your sibling’s or roommate’s household chore.
  46. Praise a child to the parents while the child is present.
  47. Hold the elevator door for others.
  48. Text a friend to say you’re thinking of them.
  49. Offer someone a piece of gum or a mint.
  50. Bring misplaced shopping carts back to the designated area.
  51. Organize a study session for your classmates.
  52. Offer to babysit your friends’ kids for free.
  53. Donate your locks of hair.
  54. Tell someone you’ve fought with that you’re sorry and that you forgive them.
  55. Sign up to be an organ donor.
  56. Leave extra time in a parking meter.
  57. Pay for your friend’s tab.
  58. Give a blanket or umbrella to a homeless person.
  59. Be kind to someone you dislike.
  60. Encourage someone who is working hard at the gym.
  61. Vacuum the floor for your roommate.
  62. Take a shorter shower to save the hot water.
  63. Make a donation to a charity you care about.
  64. Bring homemade food to a new mom or single mom.
  65. Teach a child how to ride a bike.
  66. Bring a homeless person some food and a drink.
  67. Send a care package to someone in the military.
  68. Email your boss or professor and tell them how much you love learning from them.
  69. Be sure to say “good morning” and “thank you” to all service workers (bus drivers, police officers, mail carriers, and firefighters).
  70. Help a friend look for a job.
  71. Let your friend vent and listen to her problems.
  72. Make a playlist for your friends.
  73. Let someone else take your seat on public transportation.
  74. Praise the work of others.
  75. Let someone cut in front of you in line.
  76. Donate $1 to the next tip jar you see.
  77. Tell a street performer how amazing he or she is.
  78. Share your umbrella with someone who didn’t bring one.
  79. Help someone carry groceries to the car.
  80. Offer to work late for a co-worker who needs to leave early
  81. Donate books to the local shelter or hospital.
  82. Volunteer at an animal shelter during adoption events.
  83. Sponsor a child in a developing country.
  84. Write a letter to your former schoolteachers and tell them how much they influenced you.
  85. Help someone change their tire.
  86. Sign up for a bone marrow donation.
  87. Volunteer at a disabled student’s learning center.
  88. Shovel someone’s walk or driveway.
  89. Rake your neighbor’s leaves.
  90. Bring in a neighbor’s trash bins.
  91. Offer your seat on a plane so a family or couple can sit together.
  92. Support your own and your friends’ kids at their recitals and games
  93. Participate in a fund-raiser or donation.
  94. Offer to pick up your friend’s children after school.
  95. Offer to pet-sit for your friend for free.
  96. Pay someone a compliment.
  97. Bring a treat to share with your coworkers.
  98. Send someone a small gift anonymously.
  99. Leave a nice comment on a blog.
  100. For no particular reason, hug someone you love like you mean it.

Colossians 3:12

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience

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Love Is In The Air


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1 Corinthians 16:14

Let all that you do be done in love.

It’s the time of year when we find boxes of pink and red heart decorated candy and trinkets just about everywhere. You also find little stuffed animals and greeting cards expressing love. These tokens of love and friendship line the seasonal section of many retailers. Grocery stores set up portable tents to house fresh rose bouquets so you can drive though to pick up a gift for your sweetie. It’s still January, but reminders of Valentine’s Day are everywhere. It’s an 18 billion dollar business.[i] For just one day!

Couples will go out to a fancy dinner and express their love to each other. Children exchange little valentines in class parties. Millions of women will receive flowers and jewelry from their loved ones on one specific day. Why do we celebrate expressions of love and friendship on select days of the year? Why can’t we express love more often?

I think we can, but often times we don’t, because by nature, we are selfish creatures. Most often, we live for ourselves. Just take a look at the career you chose, your home, your bank account, and your pastimes. These are all expressions of ourselves; our own interests. We often live for ourselves at the expense of other people. We have to make a decision to show love. Holidays remind us to do that.

Deep down, we understand God created us to love others. So we turn to books and relationship experts explaining how to love your mate or family better, or how to express love in general. We should be turning to the good book for help expressing love. The Bible has a great deal to say about the subject. One of the most quoted passages on love is found in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13:4-7. It’s succinct.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

We tend to think of love as a feeling, but according to 1 Corinthians 13 love is a behavior. It’s an act. When I think of that, I have to remember how I acted to certain people, mostly my family. Have I acted like I truly loved each one of them, or did I hurry them through homework, dinner, chores, and afterschool activities? What about the times I’ve been short tempered, or worse, uninterested? What about the times I was not available for a friend who truly needed me?

I’ll still remember my loved ones as Valentine’s Day approaches, but I’m committed to acting like I love my family and friends, expressing love every single day, in every act. It’s not always going to be easy. I need to learn more patience, to be more interested, more aware, and tolerant. I am grateful for the guidance given me in the Scriptures.

John 13:34-35

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Blessings on your day.

Scripture:  www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images

[i] http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/13/living/valentines-day-statistics-btn/