The Eyes Have It–Looking Up

green-eye-afghan-girl-national-geographic

National Geographic

Recently I have noticed more and more how those of us shopping in stores, standing in check-out lines, and meandering through airports don’t seem to make eye contact much anymore. We all seem to be looking down at our SmartPhones or talking on them.  I am guilty of it also. Pitiful.

My Mom brought it to my attention. Mom loves to look people in the eye and smile. I observed her making this sweet effort repeatedly. When we have traveled together, as we made our way through the airport, to our gate, onto the  airplane, then to our seats, she would smile at anyone who made eye contact with her. When we sat down, she made the comment that hardly anyone seems to look up anymore and notice what’s going on around them. Ouch. It’s so true. I’m often one of them.

Also, any military person or police officer in uniform Mom saw who made eye contact with her, she would thank him for his service to our country. What encouragement. I will do that from now on also. Encouragement was given in that brief moment when eye contact was made.

Who might we give encouragement to by making eye contact? Whose encouragement might we be missing by not making eye contact?  Eye contact equals more acts of kindness.

“My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he whose walk is blameless will minister to me.” –Psalm 101:6 NIV

Years ago a pastor said he was reading an article while his child was trying to talk with him. Finally this child took her Daddy’s face in her hands and said, “Daddy, please listen with your face.” 

May we all be reminded today to “listen with our face,” to look up, make eye contact, and smile. We may give the only eye contact and smile someone receives all day.

Reflect:

How does this message resonate with you?

Do you want to change any habits?

Renew:

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” –Psalm 119:18 NIV

“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your Word.” –Psalm 119:37 NIV

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.” –Matthew 6:22 NIV

Recharge:

How will you change your habits to look up, “listen with your face,” make eye contact and smile at others?

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Are You For Real?

It is so refreshing to be around authentic people. How real, how authentic would you say you are? Do you find that you act differently around different people? You may have answered yes to that question.  I’m embarrassed to say that my answer was yes.

A well-respected Christian leader said that she wanted to strive to be the same person 24 hours a day, seven days a week, no matter where she is or who she is around. Wow. That statement sets the bar pretty high. That is the standard I pray to reach one day… one day. The journey is long.

I feel blessed to surround myself intentionally with authentic friends and mentors. You know–those people who are unpretentious, humble, can laugh at themselves, have servant hearts. People who talk the same about you to your face as behind your back. When these people/friends give you feedback, it’s mostly positive and uplifting, and even when it’s needed constructive criticism, it is uttered to your face and not only behind your back.

Have you ever overheard someone speaking positively about you? What a sweet treat. Now, have you overheard someone speaking negatively about you?  How did it make you feel?

Today is a new day. Let’s get real. What does “getting real” mean, you might ask? I heard a mentor say that success is treating our friends like family and our family like friends.  To me, that is what being real, being authentic means.

Reflect:

–Who are some people in your life who are real/authentic? Please comment.

–Who are you when no one is around?

–Who is the REAL, authentic you?

Renew:

–“Therefore, encourage each other and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” –1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

“Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” –Titus 2:6-9 NIV

–“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear gifts? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. –James 3:9-12 NIV

 Recharge:

–What will you do be more real? Please comment on some ways to be more real.

–Call an authentic friend/mentor with whom to spend some intentional time this week.

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The IN-Keeper: Have I Made Room?

The Inn-keeper in the Bible Story of Jesus’ birth intrigues me. Not much is written about him. Leaves much to our imagination. With the census going on for the entire Roman World, you know his inn must have stayed jam-packed at 100 percent occupancy. He was truthful to Mary and Joseph. He certainly wasn’t a mean man. In fact, I can sympathize with him. Guests checked out, then more guests with reservations checked in.  He was trying his best to be hospitable by offering a stable and manger out back.

Little did he know he was too busy and lacked room in his life for the Savior of the World’s birth. Ouch. Doesn’t that hit close to home?

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” –Luke 2:7 NIV

Anything of value in our lives requires us to make room.

We make room in our time schedules, our budgets, our hearts for a new relationship we value. Even for Christmas we make room, don’t we?

To bring in my new wonderfully-smelling fraser fir tree, I moved over my upholstered comfy chair and reading lamp. Box after box of Christmas decorations require me to move my year-round décor and replace it with my valued Christmas festive decor.

In the Bible Story of Jesus’ birth, the Inn-Keeper had no room for Jesus. Mary and Joseph resorted to a hay-filled stable, along with the animals. Our Savior of the World Jesus was born in a tiny manger. The tiny manger was plenty of room for the King of Kings and was truly the first King-Size Bed. 

The big question is: Do I make room for Jesus? So often I don’t with my hurried schedule, my shortened quiet time, quick prayers.

Jesus is our only “In” to eternal life. We who believe are all “IN-Keepers.” How much room am I making in my schedule, my budget, my heart for Jesus, the Savior of the World, my Savior?

Forgive me, Lord, for being too busy. For not making room for you. Take my whole heart, Lord. Lord Jesus, move everything else out to make all the room You want and need in my heart. You are the only way IN to eternal life. I desire to be a true “IN-Keeper.”

 Reflect:

–“Make room for us in your hearts.” –2 Corinthians 7:2a NIV

–“ ‘Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’” –Mark 14:14-15 NIV

–“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” –John 21:25

Renew:

–How can I make more room in my life for Jesus?

–Who else may I be pushing out because “there’s no room in the IN?”

Resource:

-“But this I do know. My own true love. All your life long, you wait for your own true love to come–we all of us do–our destiny, our joy, our heart’s desire. So how am I to say it, gentlemen? When He came, I missed Him. Pray for me, brothers and sisters. Pray for the Inn-Keeper. Pray for me, and for us all, my own true love.” –from the Inn-Keeper’s perspective, taken from Frederick Buechner’s  “The Birth.” Magnificent Defeat.

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