Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Quickest Way to Get Rid of Junk Mail

I probably get 10-20 new e-mails a day.  Most of the e-mails I get are split between advertising or marketing and articles to read.  Do you have the same thing happen?  Or, are you the kind of person who gets 95% of your paper mail as “junk mail”, and an occasional bill just to spice it up?

And what happens to this mail?  Most of it gets deleted or trashed before it’s opened.  No, I don’t need new tires again this week, nor do I need to get another coupon deal to the local ant watching exhibit. 

Delete.  Shred.  Trash. {insert an old Batman exclamation here}

But then… then you see it.  That old friend sent you a card in the mail.  A new friend decided to e-mail you a personal message.  What joy and jubilation!  Well, I certainly delight in that event.  I’m like the person walking away from the mail box with a pile of junk mail left at the base of the post, carefully peeling back the envelope to my friend’s letter to preserve the sanctity of a real piece of postage.

The letter was addressed to "Auntie Crystal"!!
Blessed my socks right off.  :)

Sounds silly, right? But the fact is, letters are important to me.  I consider the time it takes a person to write them, what they may have sacrificed from their day to put a pen to paper or their fingers to a keyboard.  I consider the inflection in the person’s voice and their facial expressions as I read what they wrote.  I smile at their humor or tear up to their grief.  I look forward to the event that I was invited to.  I relish in them: soak them in like sunshine.  They bring me such joy that I tend to go over them again-and-again.  Do you do the same thing??

Several years ago I received an amazing book of letters: the Bible.  They are like a collection of treasures all written down in one book for me to soak in: the letters from God.  One verse at a time, I see His intentionality and His consistency through the thread of history.  One word at a time I see more of His personality and His beauty. Each time I pour over them, I’m reminded that I still don’t know Him completely, and it compels me to keep going back. 

Consider this today: How we perceive God will determine how we receive His letters.  Just as an informal advertisement goes to the garbage, if we see God as an informal God, we will discard His letters.  If we see God, though, as a loyal friend who delights in us, and in whom we can delight in, we will see His letters as a treasure and keep pouring over them.

My hope and challenge to you is this: delight in God’s Word (the Bible) as you would an unexpected surprise letter from one of your closest friends and see what He wants to show you.  I am confident you will find a depth to Him like you have never known, and you will grow in peace and understanding as you dwell on His words all day long

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Finding Opportunity in Boundaries

Several weeks ago I had the chance to visit a friend of mine.  We try to get together every few months and it's a fabulous time of reciprocal encouragement.  My friend, Phyllis, just recently was told by her doctors to switch to a new diet to see if it is beneficial for her.

In despair, Phyllis told me about this new diet restriction.  She lived most of her life in the Midwest as a farmer's wife, working hard to till the land, plant seed, cultivate, and harvest.  She knows mashed potatoes and fried chicken like breathing.  She knows all the goodness of a fresh apple pie and the buttery delight of warm biscuits and gravy.  But she's been told "no" to all of that.

Even with the food changes being made in this generation, change is never easy.  I understood Phyllis' frustration and yet I had to believe there was a better opportunity in this new diet challenge.  As we sat there, Phyllis showed me her list of ingredients that were "safe" and that she could eat on her new eating plan.  We concocted a recipe and went to the kitchen to start making it.

An inviting aroma wafted through the small kitchen as we started to cook the vegetables.  We talked about new ideas for recipe's that could be made with these same ingredients and we laughed at, truly, the opportunities that are revealed within this dietary restriction.

You see, if Phyllis had never been told to limit herself of what was comfortable, she never would have come up with these new ideas.  She never would have found out that she actually liked other things.


Often, God does this for us, doesn't He?  He takes us from what we know, what we're comfortable with, and He closes that door of opportunity.  We respond with frustration, usually; heartbroken at the reality that He has removed something we loved so much from our life.

What if....

What if He was actually cutting out those things that were toxic to us, that we could not tell were toxic??

What if He was actually moving us to a place where we could see an abundance of blessing that we have been missing all along??

Do you see where I'm going with this?  Let's take a new approach.  Let's purposefully look for the God-viewpoint and stay in that place.  It may mean coming across as insensitive at times, but done in love, it can be a gift second only to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Let's explore the boundaries that God has given us with fresh excitement: He's not through with lavishing His love on us yet!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Finding a Little Bit of Light

I've got some family friends that travel every so often and ask me to house and dog-sit for them.  They live about an hour away from where my home is, so I make it into my own little retreat and look forward to the time with their tiny Yorkie's.

As I fall asleep at night, silky fur snuggled around me, I can look up and see a skylight in the roof of the adjoining bathroom.  It's a small one - maybe one foot across - but it lets in a good amount of moonlight for it's size.

Earlier in the night, though, I was taking care of things around the house, and I couldn't tell that any light was coming through at all.  Of course, the lights in the house were on, so there was not enough contrast to tell.  But when the lights were out, that moonlight glowed enough to not turn on anything else, and still see where I was going.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a dark spot.  We don't really like to be there.  We usually pray, begging God to bring us into the light, as we should!  But so often, we get discouraged or downcast in the the darkness.

Let me encourage you today: look for the skylight.  Look for that shimmer in the darkness and ask God to let your eyes adjust a little.  God will never abandon you, but sometimes our sense of fear is heightened in those dark times.  Let Him show you things with that little shimmer - just enough to get you through until morning.

There's a sunrise coming.