The Boredom of Sameness

The boredom of sameness or the outcome of predictability. Is your life the same day after day? Do you find yourself doing everything by rote? On auto-pilot? Get to work and can’t remember the past 20 minutes?

May I suggest? GET A LIFE!!!

Oh, my.. sorry, lost my head!

Whether or not we get stuck in that aforementioned rut where things are ho-hum, we all have moments like that. As for myself, I have lots of moments like that. When those moments, though, are all we can remember, I think it’s time we went looking for our passion. If you can’t remember what your passion is, where it went, or when it left, or if you ever had something called passion- don’t feel bad. Been there, too!

A change of scenery may be what is called for. Not necessarily a physical change; perhaps, only a change of the internal scenery in the way we look at things and the things we are looking at.

Our world is changing so quickly, I believe that our perspectives can’t keep up; so we retreat into sameness, into a predictable life pattern out of self defense. We retreat to our comfort zone because anything more than that requires a lot more energy and focus.

 

You know how it goes: wake to the alarm, shower, dress, hair, makeup- if you use it- ;>), breakfast or coffee, grab what you need for work and out the door. Drive to work, same route, get to work, turn on the computer, scan the email, look for critical issues to be addressed at once, then for the first cup of the day at work.. A meeting here, a meeting there, phone calls, discussions, then lunch. Return to work, complete answering email, take more calls, make more calls, get memos out, write letters to several, etc. then the day is over and you drive home, same route, same congestion on the way. Get home, get the mail, sort the mail, look in the fridge for something to fix to eat for self and/or others, find there’s nothing, decide whether its the grocery or call for take away. throw a load in the wash, prep clothes for tomorrow, make personal calls and emails. check the tube for whatever might be on this evening. Have a personal interchange with whoever else is in the house, get ready for bed, prep the coffee pot for tomorrow morning. go to bed. sleep and repeat.

 

So after all this, there’s time for thinking; let alone discovering wherever you left your passion?  in my case- NOT

 

I have now retired from the above schedule. Of course, that schedule is an abbreviated list of what actually happens during a day in the life. And, if your line of work does not include an office, I’m sure that you can insert whatever your day looks like to you.

 

When I was working I discovered that I had indeed lost my passion, my calling and had forgotten what God had already taught me long ago:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3

 

When we lose sight of the object of our focus- The Lord Jesus Christ- we lose sight of our calling-that which He has purposed for us to do. We lose the passion that infuses our lives when our focus is on Jesus.

I am discovering again, that my passion includes a love for life and those around me and that it will grow again by His Grace- certainly not by my own energy! In other words, I had allowed the world to come crashing in on me and, because of this, I lost my focus on the Word.

This may sound a bit simplistic to you and you may be thinking-“lady, have you got it wrong! My life is much more complicated that yours ever could be!” Believe me I understand! I could make your ears burn! I think had someone said these things to me when I was in the middle of a crisis I wouldn’t even have given them the time it took to laugh in his or her face. And yes, I have distilled it down to the simplest common denominator; however, I believe that it’s the key to everything- our focus and where it’s directed. So, please, check your coffee pot then stop and ponder a while where you are. See if you can discover or re-discover the Source of your passion and calling.

May His Grace and Mercy be upon you and may He restore your passion through His Purpose and may you never lose focus on the Author and Perfector of our faith.

What Reflection do I see?

I’ve been thinking recently, dangerous I know… Bear with me on this because what I’ve been thinking about may leave you as bemused as I have been. When I was younger, I wore slogan t-shirts-the ultimate personal statement and walking adverts for whatever or whoever you like. 

Now, there’s Jewelry, coffee mugs, notebooks; you name it, it has a slogan. Most of this is innocuous and just what it says it is: advertising. As a believer, I’m not sure just how this fits into what I understand and believe about God and His Word. 

Does God want, need, or approve of our blazoning announcements claiming “God is my co-pilot”, “WWJD”, “Peter’s bait and tackle shop-we are fishers of men”, etc. ? Or has our focus become trivialized? And, if so, has that trivialized our faith? Watered it down so to speak; given us a crutch to excuse the lack of a verbal witness?

The more I read in Scripture, the more I begin to think about how we represent Him to others; and the more I begin to think, the more I wonder about how our culture fits into His design for us. I’ve worn the t-shirts that proclaimed my belief. I thought at the time that I was making a statement of who I am and what I believe.  Not once did those shirts spark up an interest from the public to ask me about them – an interaction involving a verbal witness to another person did not occur. I was a “silent” witness, but a walking advert. 

BUT, being myself and being the best reflection of Christ to a fallen world that I can be is easier said than done. Putting on those shirts, carrying a mug or notebook, sticker on the car- we all can do those things. However, being an intentional, walking, talking reflection of Jesus….

News flash, Nancy- if I claim to be a Christian, I am already reflecting Jesus to the world whether I realize it or not. 

 

OUCH

 

Paul, in his letter to the Philippians said this: Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Philippians 1:27a

Earlier in chapter one, he also said the following in reference to the news that there were people out there pretending to be Christians, I suppose, to get attention:

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Philippians 1:18  

There’s the answer to my original question, one that I was not actively looking for, but God supplied. Regardless of how or why Jesus is presented to the world He will take care of how it’s received. In other words, MYOB, God will protect His Name. So there it is, course correction required. Stop with the critical thinking already, Nancy, and start living! 

Reflect Jesus to the world and He will be glorified!

more to come on this…

True Love

Do you remember the moment you realized that God loves you? Or when and how you responded when you understood just what God and Jesus were all about? 

I came to belief at a very young age. My earliest memories of Jesus are of me in nursery school (that’s what pre-school was called) when I was 3 years old. I was sitting in my teacher’s lap and she was teaching me the names of the disciples. From there “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and other songs relayed to me Who Jesus is and What He’s all about.  I grew up, having made my “public profession of faith” when I was seven. Even then satan was using the one person I loved and trusted- my grandmother- to hold me back. When I told her that I was ready to tell the world I believed, she stopped me that Sunday morning saying I was too young to understand. But, the next week, she physically tried to catch my arm when I slipped out of the pew that week. I fairly rushed down to the pastor waiting at the front of the church. 

Had I enough time I could tell you what a tumultuous life I had growing up. But that’s not the point here. 

Every step I’ve taken He’s been with me, watching over me as a child, protecting me; sometimes He was my only companion and I’ve always trusted Him. 

To His Glory – not mine. 

As I grew up, I had those moments when I questioned what I was going through. And, as an adult, there have been times when I’ve been like Job- wanting to know “Why” and “How long?”.  There have been those times when I’ve felt far from God; wanting to know what I was doing wandering around in the wilderness with no end in sight and why He had allowed me to be there. 

In the middle of the wilderness, I had an experience which I am relaying here- the moment when I knew God truly loved ME. Me, the individual, not me, one of many in a world He created. 

I was working as a school nurse and was in a Bible study that met once a week (BSF, if you are curious). The study involves reading a portion of scripture daily and answering questions pertaining to that scripture. One afternoon when I was working on my study, I was sitting on the bed with my bible, questions and my study notebook spread out in front of me. I began having contact lens problems and in the process of trying to extract it, suddenly it popped out (hard lens) and landed I knew not where. I looked for over an hour for it- on the bed, on the floor, in my papers, Bible, my clothes, everywhere to no avail. Those of you who know what that’s like can identify, I’m sure. 

The loss of that contact was traumatic to me at the time. My contacts were expensive to replace and in a time where we were struggling to keep three growing kiddos in ever changing shoe sizes this was an almost insurmountable challenge. I was virtually blind without contacts. So, I was lucky, I still had one contact! It would be at least 3 weeks before I would be able to purchase a replacement. 

I was a desperate woman.

I managed with one contact, drove only when I had to, wore my old glasses at home. Two weeks had gone by,  and again I was studying  my lesson for BSF. I turned the page to get to my questions in my notebook and there before my pitiful eyes was my contact. 

I fell apart.

The God I was studying and trying to discern how to apply His wisdom to my life and the One I was asking those questions of “Why” and “How long?” had answered without a word the unspoken question that was lingering in the back of my heart- “If He loved me, truly loved me what purpose did the things I was going through have for me and when would I have relief?”

In that blink of an eye, that split second, any doubt I have ever had about God was answered- He Loves ME. I don’t have the words to express the emotions that went blazing through my heart and still go through me when I think about this. 

Maybe if I explain what was going on in my life at that time- My elderly mother- in her 80’s – (the grandmother in the earlier part of the story) had decided to finally moved closer to where we lived so I could be of help if she needed anything. Her life could be the subject of a book as could my life with her…. She was what I call functionally insane.  Two of my children were in high school and one was attending school with me every day. My husband was spending three hours a day on the highway getting to and from work. He was exhausted when he came home as was I. We were struggling to just keep the family on an even keel. So the expense of the contact would have been a serious dent- much more than we had available to us.

For God to provide what we could not and in the way He did- the notebook where the contact was lost and subsequently found-had been with me in and out of the car, to church, school, band practices, ball games, virtually everywhere- since I used every available free moment to work on my study. It had been opened and closed countless times in those two weeks.  

He is so faithful, He provided what I needed when I needed it most. Granted, I went half-blind for a couple of weeks; but I wouldn’t change the experience for anything. It galvanized my faith like nothing else could. You see, I had always lived wondering if I was really loved by anyone (sorry, sweetheart, even by you at times). But in this moment I truly understood the the words to the old hymn “Love Lifted Me”- when nothing else could help, Love lifted me! 

and I know what He meant when He told His children in captivity:

Isaiah 3:4-5-

For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. 

Path of Gold

The beauty of a sunrise just melts my heart! The colors that can never really be recreated by man. When I was still at work, the one thing that was really worth getting up in the morning was the scene that greeted me in the sky as I drove eastward. Below are my thoughts on those mornings:

 

Mornings crossing the lake bring a vision to mind. The sun rising slowly. It is as slow as I am getting up most days, sending a liquid golden path across the lake. Inviting me to leave the drab, gray, concrete road and take up the path of gold; to move from the real and “concrete” to the imagined and dreamed. 

 

Some days the path of gold shimmers quietly; so still that one could almost skate across it. On others, the path is undulating and one must step carefully to avoid the unseen pitfalls. And on still others, there are marked hills and valleys in the golden path that are so sharp and jagged that they scream “caution!” at you.

It makes me think that life is like that reflection on the lake. We never know what path our lives will take each day as we rise with that sun. Each day we rise is different and there are easy ones: ones that are smooth as glass, some that are bumpy and others that are downright treacherous. On those days, we fall asleep gratefully, knowing that- a particular danger is past, if only for the moments we sleep.

 

Each morning going to work, I cross the lake with my car pointed in an easterly direction. And on each morning, I am given a gift so beautiful and intangible that it can only be a gift wrought by the hand of God. The sunrises are always spectacular and singular in their color, form and beauty. I look at them and know that they were painted by the unseen hand, Who, in Love, has given me this gift to start my day. Even if nothing else goes well during the day, I know I am loved by the picture painted for me in the sky each day.

 

On those days that some call dark and dreary, I rejoice in the deep hues of blue, grey and purple with a hint of green. We all need those dark colors in our lives – they make the pastel pinks, lavenders, oranges, yellows and turquoises that much more spectacular. And, truth be told, if all we had was the bright and beautiful we would become immune to their beauty after a while and cease to appreciate them.

The most special moment is that second, or few seconds, when God stays his hand and holds the sun just below the horizon so that all I see is the reflected glow streaming over the morning sky. The beauty and anticipation in that scene reveal so much to me of His preparation for me: I am on this side waiting to get there and He is here with me giving me a glimpse of what it will be like when I get there. I am hoping that every day in Paradise will begin as the days here do. Perhaps, they will start with even more breathtaking colors. But I can’t help feeling that in this one moment every morning I am being allowed a glimpse of perfection in this imperfect world. A masterpiece from the hand of God. 

 

It’s like I can see the painting as it is being created in the sky; the swirl of colors and layers of reflection in the movements of the clouds. His finger stirring up the paint pots and placing the colors in the exact spots he wants them so that they produce such an incredible sight. All I see is joy all over the heavens.

 

I used to feel sad I lived on the western shore of the lake and wanted a house on the eastern shore instead so that I could sit and watch the sun as it slowly went to sleep each night. Now, I find that I look forward to what I will see each morning and I am glad that I’m on this western shore and that He knows the mornings are tough and that he has provided the one thing that He knows will pull me through and put me in a grateful frame of mind to prepare me for the day. Thank you, Lord.

 

(I am retired now and living on the eastern shore and am beginning to appreciate the sunsets I see as I look out the back; where I can just barely see the lake- more on that when I’ve digested a few more of those sunsets.)

“To Infinity and Beyond”

I was driving my husband’s Mini today, and from the back seat I suddenly heard those words when I hit a bump- nearly jumped out of my skin. Realizing that Clara had left Buzz Lightyear to go along for the ride, I relaxed and laughed every time I hit a bump and sometimes when I hit several in a row, Buzz quipped multiple phrases.

As I was driving along, this phrase in particular began to take hold.

“To infinity and beyond!”… what does this mean? 

According to the dictionary, infinity means:

1. the quality or state of being infinite.
2. something that is infinite.
3. infinite space, time, or quantity.
4. an infinite extent, amount, or number.
5. an indefinitely great amount or number.
6. Mathematics. 

a. the assumed limit of a sequence, series, etc., that increases without bound.
b. infinite distance or an infinitely distant part of space.
7. Photography 

a. a distance between a subject and the camera so great that rays of light reflected from the subject may be regarded as parallel.
b. a distance setting of the camera lens beyond which everything is in focus.

So, is it time, distance, place, quantity?

To most of us, infinity would land us just beyond Jupiter because we can’t imagine being much farther in distance. And, time would land us just after our last breath. Place? Where would that be? Quantity? How much is too much?

To me, being as I’m a believer (no, not the Monkees’ song! stop! stop! stop! don’t go there!), I live every day in infinity of time, distance, place and quantity. I live in infinity!

Personally, I like the definition of infinite, infinitely better- hmm….

 

 1. immeasurably great: an infinite capacity for forgiveness. 

2. indefinitely or exceedingly great: infinite sums of money. 

3. unlimited or unmeasurable in extent of space, duration of time, etc.: the infinite nature of outer space. 

4. unbounded or unlimited; boundless; endless: God’s infinite mercy. (yes, the dictionary actually said this)

 

Limitless, unbounded, unmeasurable, indefinitely, and- wait for it….

 

ENDLESS. 

 

We know that our spirit lives forever, we know that we will get to Heaven and never leave, and we know that we will be by His side forever and that nothing can separate us. That just about covers it, don’t you think?

Psalm 23:6: 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

 

Food for thought: Life in this bone house has a finite moving day. We will move someday to an infinite home with no more moves. A permanent, forever, endless, address. Definitely to infinity and beyond!

Vacation and Sacrifice

Hmm, have you ever gotten ready to go on vacation and the closer it gets the more you dread going?

I do.

Sometimes, when it’s not a place I’ve been before, I get cold pricklies about going and making everyone else miserable. That would be Dougie. He works hard and deserves to have a nice, interesting time away without me being in the doldrums.

So, this time, even though I dreaded it, I was determined to enjoy all of it, even down to the coffee!

And, you know what?

I did.

Even the rainy days!

The east coast of New England was beautiful, the leaves in New England were just beginning to turn, we saw beautiful old houses and places that have incredible meaning for us Americans.

To think that the farmers in Concord were the catalyst that led to the Declaration of Independence a mere 15 months later; that where we are is dependent on where we came from. That this country is what it became due to a few good people determined to have freedom- of speech, religion, to protect themselves and their property.  That this country is still the guardian of those freedoms thanks to the lives of many service men and women who have voluntarily given their lives to protect the rest of us and the freedoms we have come to expect.

We came upon this memorial to the service men and women who lost their lives in Afganistan and Iraq as we were walking in Boston from Paul Revere’s home to the Old North Church. It took my breath away and I had to give the camera to Douglas to take the picture- I wanted to touch each one, to tell each name thank you, to pray for their families. It felt like I had come upon the graves of my own children. These young men and women personified Jesus’ words in John 15:12-14:

 

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

 

They didn’t even know me and they chose to serve and protect this country- including me. The thought is overwhelming. I can’t dig very deeply or I’m immobilized by humility and grief. All I can say is Thank You, and God forgive me for taking this life for granted.