Observations

I used to think that I should be close to perfect.  At this age.  I should have learned everything I need to know.  I should have made all the mistakes I’m going to make.  I should have made all the friends I would ever need.  I should have saved all the money I need for retirement.  I should have lost all the weight I need to lose.  I should be in the best shape of my life.  I should know when to speak and when to be silent.

But I have found that isn’t always the case.

There are still so many things I just don’t know.  I don’t know how to make a good pie crust.  I don’t know how to knit.  I don’t know how to build a fire.  I don’t know the Bible well enough.  I still make mistakes.  So many mistakes.   I don’t know enough people.  I made a new friend this year.  An old friend may be coming back into the picture.  There is no such thing as too many friends.  There is also no such thing as saving too much for retirement.  I keep saving with the hopes that I don’t outlive my money.  I’ve known for years there are two types of people.  Those who eat to live and those who live to eat.  I confess.  I live to eat.  Food is my friend.  One of my best friends.  I’m always thinking about my next meal.  My doctor asks about my exercise program.  Oh.  That’s a thing?  I stretch every morning.  She doesn’t laugh.  I find I use my words as weapons too often.  I’m not always silent when I should be.  I have said some words that I never should have said.  I have not said some words I should have said.

Yes.  Even at this age, I have much to learn.  I have much to do.  I still have a lot to say.  I’m always on the lookout for friends.  I still need to save more money.  I eat healthy.  I should move more.  And not sit all day.

I’ve found, though, that others have begun to see me as old.  But I don’t see that.  I’m older.  But I’m not old.  Age is all in the mind.  I’ve heard.  I’m told I’m forgetful.  I’m told I’m set in my ways.  I’m told I turn up the tv volume too loud.  I’m told I look too young to have so much gray hair.

I renewed my driver’s license this month.  I changed some information on it.  I updated my address.  I changed my weight.  Yes.  I did.  And I changed my hair color.  All on my driver’s license.  The old has gone.  The new is here.  I might as well be honest about what I know others see in me.


Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!    2 Corinthians 5:17


One thing that has remained the same this year is God’s love for me.  He never gives up on me.  He challenges me to do better.  To be better.  To see others the way he sees them.  To treat others the way he would treat them.  He reminds me to be kind to others.  And to myself.  He reminds me to listen to the words I’m saying as if someone were saying them to me.  How would I feel?  He is the bread of life.  With him, I will never go hungry.  He tells me I need to spend more time in His Word.   Reading.  Studying.  Memorizing.  Getting to know Him even better.  He is the one true friend who is always faithful.  Always there when I need him.   Always loves me.  No matter what.  He knows everything about me.  My past.  My present.  My future.  And he still loves me.

Observations of the year past.  Overall, it’s been a great year.  Gone by far too fast.  I’m looking forward to what the new year holds.

Happy Birthday

Her third pregnancy.  She was bigger than she should have been a month before her due date.  An x-ray was suggested.  There were no ultrasounds in her day.   Two weeks before Christmas, the news was shared.  Twins.  They were having twins.

Early Christmas morning.  A month to go when her water breaks.  Twin girls.  Womb mates.  Born too soon.

There were already two children at home.  A 4-year old and a 2-year old.  Oh. They were wanted.  They were loved.  They were welcome.  Perhaps not by their older brother.  After all.  His Christmas had been ruined.  It was the worst Christmas ever.  That’s what he said.

I can understand.  What kid wants to be dragged out of bed in the middle of the night and go to Grandma’s house.  Especially when he knew the next morning was Christmas.  No time to open the presents under the tree.  No 4-year old would be happy about that.

Identical twins born on Christmas Day was unusual.  The births were announced on the radio.  Celebrations were in order.

So the family celebrated.  Gifts were given.  Double gifts.  Matching clothes.  Two of everything.

They were small babies.  Premature.  They were kept at home for 4 months while they grew.  Oh.  They had visitors.  Curious onlookers.  Friends and family anxious to see twins.  Twin births in the family weren’t unusual.  Twin births seem to be hereditary on both sides of the family.  It was meant to be.

The parents took them home to a small house.  Four kids.  An outdoor bathroom.  It was winter.  Some nights the babies would sleep between their parents, so they could be kept warm.

Two years later, the family had moved.  Farm country.  Again, it was winter.  All day, they smelled smoke but saw nothing.  Until it was too late.   The home engulfed in flames was burned to the ground. Everything they owned was gone.  Fire in the attic, they were told.  The oldest, now six, arrived home from school to find his family homeless.

The father built the family home.  Three more sons were added.  The twins grew.  They left home.  Married men of God.  They faithfully serve where God has planted them.


For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.  The government will rest on his shoulders.  And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  His government and its peace will never end.  He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.  Isaiah 9:6-7

His birth had been predicted. The teenage mother was caught unaware. Oh.  She had heard the prophecies.  Never did she imagine she would be chosen to carry this child.  Virgin birth.   She was engaged.  This pregnancy could end her life.  If she was found guilty of adultery.  How did the man know she was telling the truth?  He thought to divorce her.  Privately.  But God spoke to him.  In a dream.  Marry her.  He said.  She has been faithful to you.  She is mine.  The baby is mine.  Name him Jesus.

It was tax season.  Time to be counted.  Joseph and Mary, heavy with child, arrived in Bethlehem.  Alone and lonely.  Tired and tried.  The stable was empty, save for the animals. Nowhere else to stay.  They sat to rest.  And sleep.  Just the two of them.  The baby arrived.  What had been a quiet night, a night to catch their breath, suddenly became eventful.

If they had dared to question the child’s sovereignty before his birth, they now knew who he was.  He truly was God’s son.  What other explanation could there be for all the strange happenings?

Angels announced his birth.  Shepherds came to worship.  Wise men later brought gifts.  Another dream.  Move the child.  It isn’t safe.  Oh.  They knew he was the savior of the world.  They had heard prophesies about their son.  What he would accomplish.  What he would suffer.  But who knew where they were?  Who was hunting for them?  They must protect their child.  God’s child.  At all costs.

Those in authority felt threatened.  How could a newborn baby be a ruler?  How could a 2-year old overthrow their government?  He must be found and removed.  Along with many boys age 2 and under.  None were exempt.

He became wiser every year.  He grew into a man.  He grew closer to God.  He was well respected.  Until he wasn’t.

He was born to die.  He died for all.

 

 

 

Eye on the Prize

He wears the ring with pride.  He wears the ring with humility.  He earned it.  The ring.  The championship ring.  The ring is big.  It looks heavy.  Pure gold.  Solid.  It’s a prize for having a winning season.  For winning the most important game of the season.  For winning the game of his life.  He played hard.  And he won.

He worked hard for that ring.  Daily workouts.  Weekly games.  Road trips.  Sacrificing time away from family and friends.  He worked for years honing his craft.  Just for a chance to win that ring.  For him.  The hard work paid off.

Oh.  It wasn’t a perfect season.  There were missteps.  There was a loss.  One loss.  That single loss dashed the hopes for a national championship.  They had to settle.  Settle for being less than number one.  There were days when the goal seemed impossible to reach.  There were naysayers.  Those who didn’t believe it was possible.  But he kept going.  Teamwork.  Training.  Determination.  Sacrifice.  Hard work.  Practice.  He still won a ring. He knows the work he put into getting the ring.   He knows the glory the ring stands for.

It’s a prize worthy of pride, for few win it.  It’s a prize worthy of humility, for few have it.  You see.  It wasn’t the top prize.  There was a loss during the season.  One game that didn’t end well.  Mistakes were made.  The price of this one loss was high.  There would be no championship game.  But that ring speaks volumes.  It defines a season of his life.  But it doesn’t define who he is.  It will always be a part of him.  After all.  He earned it fair and square.  He’ll talk about it when asked.


I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.  2 Timothy 4:7-8


We’re all athletes.  Of a sort.  Life is a sport.  Of a sort.   It has many different seasons.  Winning seasons.  Losing seasons.  Good years.  Bad years.  Exciting times.  Humbling times.  We run many races.  Face multiple trials.  Endure hardships.  Suffer staggering losses.  Experience joyful times.  Earn bonuses and awards.  It’s called life.

We’re working for a prize.  A prize that we’ll never see or touch while we’re still on this earth.  The prize we’re working for is eternal.  We’ll receive that prize when we’re face to face with God.  He is our judge and the giver of all good things.

Our Christian race is run much the same as an athlete’s season.  Wins.  Losses.  Mistakes.  Championship seasons.  Awards.  Injuries.  Doesn’t mean we don’t need redemption.  We do.  All we have to do is ask.  We don’t earn it.  It’s freely given.

Oh.  Our heavenly reward will be based on our life record.  If our sins, our mistakes, our failures have been forgiven, they won’t even be on our record.  The slate will be wiped clean.  When we don’t deserve it.  Let’s keep our eye on the prize.  It’s just around the corner.

Opportunity Knocks

She asks me to walk with her to fill her water bottle.  To join her as she heats her lunch.  She says we should walk for 10 minutes each day.  Together.  I want to find excuses not to join her.  I value my time alone.  I enjoy my independence.  She’s an extrovert.  I’m not.

Her personality is strong.  Overly confident.  Pushy.  She’s accustomed to getting her way.  We are polar opposites.

We have huge differences that separate us.  Cultural differences.  She wears a hijab.  She dresses modestly.  She eats halal foods.  She prays five times a day.  She doesn’t believe in Christ.  She lives in darkness.  She needs the light.

She’s new here.  She’s trying to fit in.  Trying to find a friend.  She’s chosen me.  I’m finding it difficult to choose her.  She called me her new bff.  I cringed a little inside.

But when I look at her from the eyes of the one who died on the cross for me, I see her differently.  He died on the cross for her, too.  She needs an opportunity to know Him.  Someone said that she’s drawn to the light.  Coming from darkness, it’s perhaps different and interesting for her to come face to face with the light.  She doesn’t even realize it’s the light that she’s attracted to.  But she’s being drawn to it.  So why am I resisting being the light that she needs?  Why do I want her to look for the light somewhere else?  Perhaps I’m the only Jesus she’ll ever meet.  Why do I resist so?


But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? Romans 10:14-15


I know I need to spend time with her.  How do the lost become saved if the saved don’t spend time with them?  How does one who doesn’t believe in Christ start believing if no one shares the truth?

I read a prayer recently that said, “Lord, give me opportunities to share all that You have taught me with someone who needs You.”  I must confess.  I’m not one who openly shares my faith with strangers.  To me, it would be utter boldness to share my faith uninvited.  The thought of doing so makes me shudder.  I  tend to stand back and listen.  And wait.  Oh.  I know those who confidently share their faith.  For them, it isn’t boldness.  It’s as natural to them as breathing.  I’m a little envious, because they don’t have to work at it.  They just do it.  They know everyone they meet needs their Jesus.  I know it, too, but I can’t get the words out.

I know we all have our own unique strengths and weaknesses.  I’m not saying I shouldn’t share my faith.  I should.  My approach has to be my approach.  Not someone else’s.  But I do need to share when given the opportunity.

I see this opportunity in front of me.  I want to be faithful and obedient.  Even bold.  I don’t think God wants me to be someone I’m not.  But I believe he provides opportunities for all who call on Him to share His love with anyone who crosses our path.  No matter what our differences may be.  We all have one common need.  We all need God.  Heaven have mercy if I fail to do my part when called to do so.

Maybe it’s time for a 10 minute walk.

 

Lesson Learned

It’s been in the news again this week.  Another high profile person going down for treating others disrespectfully.  He got fired.  Others haven’t.  But investigations may or may not prove the truth of what’s being said.

I’m sure there are many others living in fear that their disgusting acts and words will be shared with the world.  Their worst moments will be publicized.  Are they preparing for a fight?  Will they defend themselves even if the proof is undeniable?  Are they really innocent and suffering needlessly?  Only time will tell.

I’ve never understood how people who’ve treated others badly seem to be sorry only when they’ve been caught.  When they’ve been outed to the world.  When the bad acts have perhaps been happening for years?  Why act sorry now?  Are they sorry they hurt someone else?  Did they try to stop themselves?  Did they just move on and find another victim?  Or are they just sorry they got caught?  I always wonder.


Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble. Proverbs 21:23


I never understood that type of behavior.  Until I realized I’m one of them.  Oh.  Not for the same reason.  But I am guilty of doing wrong to another.

I talked about her behind her back.  I was sorry only when I thought she had heard me.

Now I know how those public figures feel when they’ve been outed for their sins.  When their private acts become public knowledge.  They’re sorry now that they’ve been caught.  That’s how I felt.  Sorry that I’d been caught.  Why wasn’t I sorry for speaking ill of someone while I was doing it?  Why didn’t I just stop my words when they became thoughts?  Because I thought she wasn’t sitting near me.  Because I thought she wouldn’t hear.  Because I thought I wouldn’t get caught.

I’m no better than those who have been caught.  I wronged an innocent person.  She did nothing wrong.  She didn’t ask for it.  I was wrong.

It’s a different emotion you feel when you’ve been caught.  Where once you felt in control of the situation, now the situation controls you.  You live in fear.  You’ve been exposed for who you really are.  No longer invincible.  No longer living with integrity.  No longer the trusted friend.

Shame.  Remorse.  Fear.  Dare we hope for forgiveness.  I can see how someone living in the depths of hopelessness might choose to end their life.  When they think they are unforgivable.  When they know the world will learn of their failings.  When they think they’ve lost everything.  I’m not hopeless. I didn’t consider ending my life.  But I wanted to run.  I wanted to run away from the situation and never go back.  I don’t ever again want to have that awful feeling in my gut that I’ve wronged someone else.

No.  There was no inappropriate touching or gestures.  No sleazy suggestions or threats.  But there were words spoken about someone who trusted me.  Someone who days before had called me friend.  Why did I do it?  I was uncomfortable with her friendliness.  Wanting more from me than I could give.  So I spoke about her.  Not against her.  But not for her.

I get it now.  How others must feel when they’ve been exposed.  It feels ugly.  Really ugly.  How do I face her ever again?  How can I look her in the eye?

I’ve graciously been spared from embarrassment this time.  My rude words were left unheard by the victim.  Heartache that could have happened didn’t.  My honor is still intact.  At least, outwardly.  Inwardly, it’s taken a beating.  As it should.  I’ve learned my lesson.