Tuesday, March 24, 2015

3 Ways to Reclaim Balance


Confession: I’m an all or nothing person. It’s easy for me to get so focused on one thing that I lose sight of the other things I’m responsible for. As a result, my life gets out of balance and things can go downhill quickly.

How do we live?

We’re all familiar with the first commandment,
 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3 
But are we careful to live it out on a daily basis? We may not bow down to gods of wood or stone, but anything we put ahead of the one true God becomes an idol in our lives: money, work, things, etc.

God first

The first thing I can do to reclaim balance in my life is to give God His rightful place: first place. I can’t afford to minimize Him, or forget who He is.
…that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no savior. Isaiah 43:10b-11

Family second 


Another thing I can do to regain balance is follow the order God established for the family. God designed the man to be the head of the household with the wife to be his helpmeet.
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; Ephesians 5:22-23,25
Recently, my husband Steve brought a problem to my attention – I was spending the majority of my time pursuing my writing goals. He’s super supportive of my work, but when I began working late into the evenings, and missing quality family time – he mentioned it to me.

My initial reaction was to defend myself, but the Lord allowed me to see things from Steve’s perspective. The truth was that I had let my other responsibilities slip in order to have more time to write. As a result, my family felt neglected adding stress to our relationships. Definitely not what God intended.

Prioritize

Finally, I can revisit how I’m spending my time. Taking a look at the big picture helps me avoid the tendency to devote all of my time to one project. When I know in advance that I have an article to write, bills to pay, laundry to do, dinner to make, and a book to read, I can schedule the necessary amount of time for each task.

The Lord places value on being a good steward of what He’s given us, which includes time:

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Your turn

Does your life lack balance? What step will you take today to regain the balance that’s necessary?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me the importance of a balanced life. Help me evaluate what I’m doing and be willing to change the things I need to. I’m so grateful for your grace and patience with me. Thank You for Your Word that shows me how to live. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Maria I. Morgan was born with an active imagination that shows up in her endearing stories for children. Originally an inspirational author and speaker for adults, Maria has widened her circle to include kids. She lives in the muggy South with her husband, two retrievers, and two Maine Coon kitties – the perfect mix to fuel her creativity for years to come!

(You can find her devotionals and download a free copy of her eBook, God Speaking, at www.mariaimorgan.com)



Sunday, March 22, 2015

Freedom of Speech?


            I had never heard of Charlie Hebdo, until this satirical French weekly set off a firestorm with yet another one of its irreverent attacks on the Muslim faith. This January, terrorists injured and murdered people in the Hebdo offices in a fierce reprisal for the magazine’s latest poke at this ancient faith.

            The world responded immediately with cries of “freedom of speech” and nations of all political stripes locked arms in strident protest against this heinous terrorist response to an offensive attempt at humor.

            But is this, at its core, really about freedom of speech?  Maybe this is a gruesome display of what happens when we ignore Jesus’ command to love (and forgive) our neighbors – and not just the good ‘ol boy next door, but that foreign guy wearing a turban or the woman covered in a burka.

 


 

 It really goes back to Jesus’ injunction to love your enemy, even if your enemy doesn’t love you. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.”  (Matthew 5:44-45 NKJV)

Perhaps we have gotten away from that in today’s world because the world has gotten away from the Word of God.


 

While we have a right to say what is on our minds, isn’t there an obligation to first consider how our speech will affect others?  Not everything that is thought needs to be said. Perhaps we should love before we speak.

“But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it, we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”  (James 3 8-10 NKJV)

            And perhaps there is a payment for this freedom of speech. I may not like what I hear; it may be offensive, hurtful, or just plain wrong. If a person uses freedom of speech to say something I don’t like to hear, it will cost me something to let it go. Am I willing to pay that price?  As someone once said, “I disagree with what you said, but I’ll fight to the death for your right to say it.”

            Do we really believe that?  Can we forgive hurtful, mocking remarks aimed at us or our beliefs in order to honor God and protect freedom of speech?

At the birth of our nation, the founding fathers listed our freedoms in the Constitution and called them “God given.”  If they come from God, shouldn’t they be used in a Godly manner? 


 

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20 NIV)

            Perhaps we all need to relearn how to speak with love and to forgive each other when that doesn’t happen.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Bistro in Ephesians

A few weeks ago when I brought in the mail, I saw that among the bills and flyers, someone had dropped off an envelope, sealed but not stamped, paper clipped to the menu of a local bistro. A handwritten note on the envelope read: Thanks for clearing the driveway last week—nice surprise & very helpful. The note was signed with an illegible scrawl; the name probably began with a J.


I figured that there was a gift certificate in the envelope, but something kept me from opening it: it didn’t specifically have my husband’s name on it, and I didn’t remember him clearing out someone else’s driveway after the recent snowstorm. I had a suspicion that the envelope had been mis-delivered—maybe someone in our neighborhood had plowed the driveway of this bistro, and they’d dropped it off at the wrong mailbox.

Our neighbors to the north only live here on weekends, and usually only in good weather, since their “real” home is in Chicago, almost two hours away. I messaged Jack on Facebook—had they dropped it off? Nope, he said, we haven’t been there since New Year’s Eve.

Our neighbors to the south are also rarely seen, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t remember their names. In my defense, they’re new to the neighborhood. And rarely seen—I mentioned that, right? I peered over at their house; no cars in the driveway, no lights on.

When Ben came home from work that evening, I showed him the envelope. As I thought, he hadn’t cleared anyone’s driveway, and he was sure the envelope was not meant for us.

I’m pretty introverted; the idea of going door-to-door in our neighborhood, asking Did you clear someone else’s driveway? Is this thank you gift maybe for you? filled me with anxiety. Still, I thought it was wrong to just keep it; someone had done a kind deed and had been thanked, and I didn’t want to steal their gift.

After some thought, I had a great idea. I took a photo of the note and “friended” the bistro on Facebook. I sent them a message with the photo attached: did they know who had bought this gift certificate a day or so ago? In just a few minutes I got a response. It was our neighbor to the south—Justin. He’s a manager of the bistro, and he thought Ben had cleared his driveway and had dropped off the gift card as a thank you.

Thanks, Justin, I replied. But Ben didn’t clear your driveway.

He was good-natured about it. Well, he said, have a nice lunch on us, anyway. No big deal.

So…we have a lovely gift that we don’t deserve, given to us for a kind deed that someone else performed.

I’ve been writing these little monthly devotionals for a few years now, and those of you who know me will recognize the pattern—a story from my life, then a spiritual application and a Bible verse. I’m going to divert from the pattern, because I bet you can do the spiritual application all by yourself.

We have a lovely gift...that we don’t deserve...given to us...for a kind deed...that someone else performed.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Worthy Words

Therefore this is what the LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. Jeremiah 15:19 NIV

I love words.

This probably isn't earth-shattering news to most of you. I imagine most writers are at least mildly fond of them. It's rather difficult to write without them, and though much can be communicated with grunts, body language and other such methods, words certainly make life easier when trying to get a precise message across.

Because I love words so much, I use them. A lot. I'm what many call talkative (the polite ones, anyway). And it's amazing what comes out of my mouth. Good, bad, indifferent. Things I wish I could engrave in stone. Words I would do anything take back. Lies. Half-truths. Insults. Words meant to hurt. Those meant to heal. Wonderful words. Worthless ones.

Yet, I am God's child: a witness to and for Him on earth. And what I say to some folks is exactly how they will perceive my God. Someone once said something like this: "You are the only Bible some people will ever read."

God wants me--all of His children, actually--to be His spokesman. But what kind of an advertisement are we for Him when we speak words that harm, when we lie, when our words are worthless?  I would rather NOT be God's spokesman if my words aren't worthy.
Yet, those who know I am His--especially skeptics--will see me that way.
So I must speak worthy words so I can be a worthy spokesman for the One who has done all for me.
And so I pray...
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 NIV
I hope this is your prayer as well.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

You Will Sing Again

You Will Sing Again
By Amy Michelle Wiley



My Beloved,

Many years ago, you professed your love for me and told me you wanted to be with me forever. For the next several years we spent a lot of time together, talking, laughing, singing.

But now, it seems you don’t spend as much time with me. Each day I write you a letter. Sometimes you skim it quickly, then check it off your list of "Things To Do” and don’t give it another thought. But so often anymore, you don’t even look at it. You’re in the middle of something--you’ll get to it later, you say.

You still talk to me often. You talk of the problems you are having, and tell me things you’d like which would make your life easier, you think. But you rarely take the time to listen to me.

Today I painted you a special picture. It was a glorious red and purple sunset. Yet you were busy cleaning in the bathroom and didn’t notice it. Later you complained of how much you have to do, and how tired you are. I offered to help, but you didn’t hear me.

I miss you. I know you miss me, too. Yesterday I saw you crying and saw how lonely and overworked you looked.

I’ll be here, waiting for you when you are ready. We’ll talk and I’ll tell you of many things. I’ll shoulder your burdens and you will have time to watch my sunset.

Then you will sing again.

With Great Love,

God




copyright 2008 Amy Michelle Wiley



Amy is a freelance writer and editor and a professional sign language interpreter. She is the director of Peculiar People--an international collaborative fiction organization. Her website is http://www.sparrowsflight.net

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com-CHRISTIAN WRITER

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Comfort of Friends

Recently my husband, John, was hospitalized for four days. All normal routine was thrown aside to deal with the issue at hand. I hadn’t planned a trip to the hospital. There were still dishes in the sink and the bed was unmade (horrors). But top priority was John’s health.

That’s when our friends gathered ‘round.

A phone call to one neighbor insured that our dog, Charlie, would be fed. Another phone call to the neighbor on the other side and Charlie had a place to spend the night. A third neighbor had already volunteered to be the daily dog walker, so that duty was covered. But he put Charlie in his car and brought him to the hospital for a visit.

Friends began to show up right away, and the stream of caring people continued all day. One took me to lunch. Another volunteered to stay with John (who really was unaware of the world around him that first day) while I took a break and went home. That same friend returned the next day with homemade French onion soup…one of John’s favorites.


When I walked in my door at home, my dishes had been washed and placed on the counter. So thoughtful.

As people volunteered to be with John, other friends took me out to eat. Before the four-day stay ended, 40 friends had been by to chat, hug, help and pray. Flowers were delivered by hand and by florist. Add to that the texts and phone calls. Support flowed from every direction.

What do people do without friends?

As I experienced the receiving end of all that goodness, I thought about the kind of friend I am. What about you?



“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” Proverbs 18:24 (MSG)



Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sub-Zero Blooms



Bloom where you're planted


We've all heard this timeless bit of advice, the idea, being, of course, that we need to shine wherever it is we happen to find ourselves on life's journey.   I'm looking out my window today at the brown earth that is mostly covered in a thick layer of  snow.  Temperatures are way below zero.  It's hard to imagine anything blooming, literally or figuratively.  This is where, as a writer, I should then point out some hardy little plant that has, against all odds, pushed its way through the frozen earth and snow and draw an analogy for my readers.  Be like this fledgling little piece of greenery - beat the odds, defy all obstacles!  Show what you're made of - rah, rah, rah!


Nope.  I don't see a bit of green out there. 


I am in a stage of life right now that feels as cold as the weather outside.  Sudden widowhood has thrust me into a frozen, emotional wasteland.  That sounds very pitiful, but  I can honestly say that not all my days are like this anymore.  Time and the sustaining power of Christ really are great healers.  Still, it's not where I want to be.


Along with widowhood, I have entered the unfamiliar territory of single parenthood.  I definitely don't want to be here, either.  Parenting without a partner is draining, confusing at times, and something that makes me feel like a failure repeatedly.  In addition to stumbling through this rocky and unfamiliar terrain I have six children with fragile hearts that have been broken by their father's death.  The feelings of inadequacy and helplessness are often overwhelming.


In recent months, I have attended a couple of events in our area designed to minister to the single parent.  I've been grateful for these, but at the same time, I have struggled.  My path to single parenthood seems different than most.  I know not all single parents chose this path.  There are ways, besides the death of a spouse, that can result in unwilling single parenthood.  But still...


My pride wars.  I waited to have children until after I was married.  My husband I remained married to each other even during times it would have been easier to walk away.  We chose to follow God's design for the family...and yet, I still ended up as a single mother.  It's not fair!  At one of these events the women at my table were moaning - with good reason - about the various trials they were experiencing that involve lawyers, court dates, visitation hassles, and so on.  One of the women turned to me and commented, "You are so lucky you don't have to deal with any of this!"


 Well, I'm not so sure I'd refer to myself as, "lucky."


But God is nudging my heart.  He reminds me of  what I know already.  My husband's death was a result of the sin-sick world in which we reside.  We all have an eventual date with death.  But more than this, He reminds me that nothing happens in my life without being filtered through His loving hands first.  God has a perfect and good plan for my life and those of my children. 

Right now, that good plan involves single parenthood.  I can fuss about it and complain about my lack of ability, but in the end, it changes nothing.  More than likely, I will be doing this single parenting thing for a long, long time.  All I can choose is my attitude.



I can choose to remember that the God Who held me upright when the sheriff's deputy delivered the terrible news that night my husband died hasn't changed.  I can choose to remember that the God Who gathered me close to Him when I had no more tears and wondered what would happen to all of us still holds me. I can choose to remember that all our needs have been provided for.  I can choose to remember that while single, I will never truly be alone.


I can choose to bloom where I am planted.



Philippians 4:11

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content.



Photo courtesy of nature.deesktopnexus.com

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