Archives for May 2014

The Wonder of Summer & Family Bonding Challenge, Post #32

Yesterday kicked off 100 glorious days of the summer season. The productive sounds of lawn mowers, joyful children laughing and splashing in nearby pools, the fragrant aroma of meat cooking on the grill,  the lulling sound of katydids chirping at night, the sweet sight of beautiful plants and flowers…my senses are overstimulated with the wonder of summer.

I love that most of our churches, para-church organizations and non-profits curb the meetings and activities during the summer, providing extra time for our intentional rest, recreation, and relaxation.  Before you make your “Summer To Do List,” let’s talk about family reunions.

Does your extended family get together as a reunion, or just for weddings and funerals? Perhaps, with your leadership, this summer will be different.

You might be thinking, “I don’t really like being around my big family. I enjoy hanging out with my friends more.”  Beloved, yes, we get to choose our friends and not our family. No family is perfect. As I heard someone I greatly respect say, “Each family puts the ‘FUN’ in ‘dysFUNction.'” Please focus on the good attributes of each family member and remember that we share the same bloodline. Let’s look in the mirror and remember we all have flaws.

Perhaps plan some activity around some of the interests your family share. For example, my Mom’s family likes to dance, so we plan to have beach music playing and a makeshift dance floor available.

When you get together, please plan to reminisce and capture those priceless family stories, especially from the more senior members of the family. With the easy video-recording on Smartphones these days, it’s a wonderful way to record your family’s memories of your history and “the way things were.”  How did your grandparents/parents meet? What was it like when they were growing up?

This summer, I encourage you to reach out to your grandparents, parents, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and organize a casual, low-key family reunion. Please know it doesn’t have to be fancy, formal, or even cost much money.  It can be in a family member’s backyard or a church fellowship hall. If family is coming from out-of-town, you can have several options available for staying with nearby family or nearby hotels rooms blocked. Some may want to rent a beach-house or mountain home.

Each day is a gift; that’s why it’s called “the present.”  Savor every moment of this summer. Please make the first step to spend some intentional time with your family.  One piece of advice a mentor told me once: “Always treat your friends like family, and your family like friends.”

Reflect:

–What will you do to bring some of your family together this summer? Please comment.

–What are some of the activities you do together as an extended family?

Renew:

–“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” –Psalm 68:5-6 NIV84.

–“Jesus…said, ‘Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.'” –Mark 5:19 NIV84

–“Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” –1 Timothy 5:3-4 NIV84

Recharge:

–This week, please plan to call or contact at least three family members you haven’t spoken to in a long time.

–How did you feel after you called them?

Resource:

In 2006, we organized 30 of my Mom’s family in the majestic NC mountains in Valle Crucis at the Valle Crucis Conference Center. We all stayed in a lovely 1920’s old dormitory, complete with huge stone fireplace downstairs, and perfect hardwood floors for dancing. (only about $60 per person for accommodations and all three daily meals–easy and beautiful 1920s old school dormitory, including rocking chairs on the porch)

http://www.highsouth.com/vallecrucis/

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Different Season, Different Fire, Post #31

This glorious spring weather invigorates me. Invigorates me so much so that I felt the urge to clean out my fireplace this past weekend. It’s the annual spring rite of passage. Many life lessons learned in this tradition…

I love my fireplace. I love even more the warmth and beauty of a wood-burning fire roaring and flickering in that fireplace. After a long, cold winter of cozy fires, all that is left are the ashes, ash-covered iron grate, and the sooty, tiled walls inside the fireplace.

The wonderful spring sunshine and breeze on my face whisper gently. . .winter is over. It’s a different season, time for a different fire.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…He has made everything beautiful in its time.” –Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11 NIV84

I prepare myself for the mess. Placing gloves on my hands, I gather a few plastic bags and double them. Carefully I use the metal ash scooper (you know, the one that comes in the fireplace tool set) and begin scooping the gray, dusty ashes, dumping them in my bag. Gross.

Next comes the heavy iron grate. It fits awkwardly into a plastic bag, and I walk it clumsily outside to the backyard shed, closed away until next autumn. It had done it’s job well.

Scoop by scoop all the ashes are removed from the fireplace.  The blackened, sooty tiled walls and floor of the fireplace remain. With my cleaning spray and cloths, little by little the true color of the tiled walls and floor peak through. The fireplace is ready.

Years ago I bought a mirror and had it cut the dimensions of my fireplace back wall. Retrieving the mirror from the hallway closet, I clean it off, and gingerly place it in the back of the fireplace. It fit perfectly, reflecting the light pouring through the windows across the living room.

My favorite part comes next. Inside the fireplace I insert my old, multi-tiered wrought iron fireplace candle holder. I place the fresh, white pillar candles on each pedestal and commence to lighting each one. Setting the torchiere down, I get off my knees and sit back a few feet. Glorious. Breathtaking. Different season, different fire.  

Oh, how I love candles, not just at springtime but all year. So romantic, so symbolic of God’s Light, of shining, of hope. The candles take my breath away when their sweet light is reflected in the mirror behind them…

Is that not what we are called to do, to shine God’s Light, to be His reflection?

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that Light, so that through him a men might believe. He himself was not the Light; he came only as a witness to the Light. The true Light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”  –-John 1:4-9 NIV84

Are you still sitting in the ashes of the winter’s fires? It’s a different season, time for a different fire from the same Source.

May your soul be reinvigorated to reflect the Light of our Lord. Shine, my friend, Shine!

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives Light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. –Matthew 5:14-16 NIV84

Reflect:

–What can you learn from today’s “spring cleaning” story? Please comment.

–How do you or will you shine and reflect God’s Light?

Renew:

–“The Lord sends poverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.” –1 Samuel 2: 7-8a NIV84

–“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” –1 Thessalonians 5:19 NIV84

–“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heart, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.” –James 1: 23-25 NIV84

Recharge:

–What will you do this week to “let your light shine?”

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Are You a Peacemaker? Post #30

Life comes at us rapidly. We  respond in numerous ways, peacefully or with anxiety. Remember learning in high school Isaac Newton’s Third Law: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Our faith is demonstrated in how we respond to good news or bad news that may surprise us, even blind side us.  This lesson is a hard one for me to learn, and I sure have messed up in the past. I’m trying to be a peacemaker.

We weren’t promised an easy road.  It is comforting to know we WERE promised a Companion in God who overcomes the world.

“- But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered…I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'” –John 16:32a, 33NIV84.

This past week we experienced “trouble” when we found out my co-worker’s young adult child suddenly passed away.  The memorial service is this week. Our office, with much prayer, right now seems peaceful. When she returns to work, our desire is to serve as peacemakers for her and each other, to anyone we meet.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted….Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will called sons of God.” –Matthew 5:4, 9 NIV84

What “trouble” has life placed in your path? How are you reacting? Peace comes from the Holy Spirit and is not accomplished in our own will. God grants us peace.

We are given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Let’s listen twice as much as we speak. When life presents a smooth road or “trouble,” let’s pray about our circumstances. Let’s praise God for our circumstances and pray daily to be a peacemaker.  It may seem difficult to pray that way at first, but I promise, it gets easier. May the “equal and opposite reaction” to life’s actions be peaceful. Be encouraged.

Reflect:

–What are you experiencing today? Do you have peace? Please comment.

Renew:

“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” –Psalm 29:11 NIV84

–“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7 NIV84

Recharge:

–How can your prayers and attitude change to accept your circumstances, becoming more peaceful, more content? Please comment.

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