Friday, May 22, 2015

Three Steps to Connect with God

1) Have a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. People get hung up on religion, but knowing God is all about relationship. Jesus came to earth as a man and died in my place (and yours) on the cross, because I am a sinner. Being a sinner means I’ve missed the mark. If you’ve broken one of the 10 commandments, you’ve probably broken all of them, even in just your thoughts. Jesus said what a man thinks, he does in his heart. "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man." (Mt. 5:19-20)

Tough to hear, but I’m right there with you. Jesus bridged the gap by becoming the ultimate perfect and holy sacrifice to wash away our sins and rising from the dead, He showed He has ultimate power over life and death. 

Recognize you’re a sinner and ask for God’s forgiveness. Receive His gift of grace, that only Jesus can give—forgiveness and salvation, which He paid for. 

That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:7-10)

2) Read the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. The Bible is God’s word given to man. This holy book is God’s side of the conversation and how He communicates with us. Do you need comfort? Read Psalms. Psalms 23 and 103 are good places to start. Do you want to understand the historical and spiritual origins of humankind? How religion/relationship began? Read Genesis. Do you want to better understand who Jesus is and the salvation He brings? Read the Gospel of John. Do you want to learn more about humankind’s destiny? Read Revelation.

Any or all of these books are the proverbial tip of the iceberg. There are 66 books in total, filled with His story, covering the full spectrum of life.

3) Spend time in prayer. Talking to the Lord is our half of the conversation. “Why?” do you ask, if God knows my thoughts, do I need to pray? Parents of young children know what they need and often what they want, but there’s nothing sweeter than hearing these things they wish to confide. The Lord, as well, wants us to come to Him, realizing He is what we need. We are strengthened by our prayers. He inhabits our praises!

Deciding to receiving the Lord into your life, by His grace, is inarguably the most important decision you will ever make—it’s a decision for eternity. He’s always there for you. As in any relationship, we must converse: listen and communicate to maintain our closeness. Will you make a move to connect with God? He’s waiting!

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lily's List of Some Little Used Words

Mom and I have been rereading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and I’ve found a plethora of words nobody uses anymore. I like the sound of that word, plethora. It nearly sounds like there’s a purr in it! Plethora, purrrrr! 

Onto some less used words, in no particular order, and Lilybits’ examples of usage:

panegyric – a public speech or published text in praise of someone or something.
Example: Very seldom will I write a panegyric for Mom’s punctuality in feeding me.

precipitance – a cause of a particular action or event.
Example: Mother’s slowness of anticipating my needs is precipitance of my crabby moods.

celerity – ARCHAIC or POETIC/LITERARY swiftness of movement.
Example: I often attack and claw the great room couch with celerity. I also escape and hide from my mom with much celerity when she chases me. (This is definitely not to be confused with celery, something you eat, or celebrities, those make-up slathered people on the cover of the latest gossip mag.) Okay, Mom says I’m just being obnoxious at this point. Sorry, sort of.

expostulation – express strong disapproval or disagreement.
Example: I whine in expostulation when Mother doesn’t feed me quickly enough.

asperity – harshness or sharpness of tone, temper, or manner; severity; acrimony.
Example: My whining and begging take on a tone of asperity when I’m waiting for my wet food.

Mom has pointed out that I am using these fascinating old-fashioned words to complain too much about my dissatisfaction during my incarceration in this house. However, what are words if they’re not for expressing our innermost thoughts (complaints) and communicating our feelings (anger)?

The above words were from only the first few chapters of Pride and Prejudice. There are many more you can learn to prepare for more lively conversation at teatime. You’re welcome!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Book Review - The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

Life happens, but along the way we can find purpose out of the connections we make and the experiences we have on the journey. This is the essential message of  The Art of Work by Jeff GoinsSimilar to the concept of the hero’s journey in literature, Goins directs the reader to see the possibility of open doors, accidental apprenticeships, and opportunities that may change the direction of your life.

Goins’ goal is to instill in anyone willing to take the chance, a desire to find their life’s calling. To quote from his back cover copy: “A calling is not some special opportunity reserved for an elite class of people. Meaningful work is available to anyone who dares to find it. The path before you is a perilous one, full of difficulty and challenges, but it leads to a legacy the world will not soon forget.” 

This book seeks to motivate you to find and better understand your passion, something that may not be immediately obvious, but with time and guidance can be discovered. He encourages you to learn and grow from your failures and other life experiences. The Art of Work will challenge you to do more than just go through the motions of a job by helping you identify your calling and gain a fresh view of your life. The journey is as individual as each person and that’s what makes it exciting!

Easy to read and inspiring from start to finish, Lilybits and I give The Art of Work four paws up! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Seven Ways to Have a Happier Week . . . Day by Day

Maybe the weather is gray and rainy or your child isn't feeling well today. You aren't able to complete a project at work, because the items you needed aren't there on time. Or this has been a boring week and you don't feel like doing much of anything. Whatever is holding you down, make each day better by trying even one suggestion a day, and before you know it, the days will add up into a better week. Here they are:

1) Set achievable goals for the day ahead. Checking the most important items off your to-do list at the end of the day can give you a sense of accomplishment. Check out Lisa Betz’s article, “Is This Habit Stealing Your Happiness?” which is essentially about how procrastination and lack of direction can rob us of a sense of fulfillment. I know I feel better when I have direction and make better use of my time! Even Moses asked God to help him number his days, so he could apply his heart to wisdom. (Ps. 90:12)

2) Thank someone today. Research has shown that being grateful helps you focus on the positive. If you’re busy thinking about what you have to be thankful for, some of life’s little annoyances seem less important. Take a few minutes to call someone or write them a note to say “thanks.” Take a minute to give God thanks for your blessings.

3) Enhance your mood with color. As far as making you feel happier, the yellows have it! Wearing soft yellows or painting a room with the warm, muted hues of sunshine may possibly perk you up. Greens and blues infused with green are also happy enhancing colors. Besides, what makes you happier than being outside in the spring, with green grass and trees, along with warm golden sunshine.

If anxiety is bringing you down, soft, caressing blues in the environment will help you relax. Wear light blue clothing, or bring the sky inside by adding an inexpensive decorative blue pillow and a comfy throw to your family room furniture to help bring calm.

4) Boost Endorphins with Exercise! Get out there and swing your arms a bit on a walk. This will release chemicals called endorphins in your brain, which give a natural sense of euphoria. Best of all, endorphins are non-addictive, though you may find you enjoy how exercise makes you feel. Warning—you may want to try it again.

Something as easy as walking, yard work, playing with the kids or dog, can be an enjoyable form of exercise. (In my case, it could be playing hide and seek with the cat for 10 minutes—indoors.)

5) Do unto others . . . Think about what you can do today or yet this week, which would be an encouragement to someone else. Take cookies or flowers to a neighbor, wash their car, or hold the door open at the department or grocery store for a young mom coming through with a stroller. Let the elderly person with two items, in the grocery line, go ahead of you and your filled to the brim basket. Then watch them smile! Which brings me to . . .

This made you smile, didn't it?
6) Just smile. Proverbs 15:13 talks about the relationship between smiling and heart attitude:
merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
An article on the science of smiling shares that a genuine smile can make you feel better than eating chocolate or receiving a large amount of cash! Your brain knows when you have a genuine smile, which reaches your eyes. This kind of smile will immediately help you feel happy and relaxed, instead of the quick socially polite smile, which is just an upturned mouth. Even better, you can retrain yourself to have a genuine smile. Think about a good memory, those you love, and well . . . we’re back to counting our blessings! Read this article about “Top Reasons to Make You Smile” if you need more encouragement in that area. Some days I do.

7) Get More Rest. Turn off the television and computer, curl up with a favorite book or take a warm bath before bed. Getting to bed earlier, so you get more sleep will help you feel recharged. It’s just common sense . . . and something I need to work on myself! 

I had fun researching how to help you have a better week, knowing this is advice I can use as well. What helps you have a better day or week?

Tweet this: Did you know that a genuine smile can make you feel better than eating chocolate?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Seeing Through a Lens Darkly, and Someday, Clearly

But I’m too young for cataract surgery! My parents hadn’t had theirs done until they were well into their seventies. I’ve also had glaucoma. I’m not sure why my eyes seem to insist on aging faster than the rest of me. However, when it became evident even a new prescription for my glasses didn’t make it any easier for me to read, the ophthalmologist started coaxing me to think about cataract surgery.

In theory, the likely results sounded great. Since I’m used to mono-vision with my contact lenses, my doctor suggested that I have one intraocular lens placed for close up and one for distance. This sounded all well and good, except for one thing: This would be PERMANENT! And what if I wouldn’t be happy with the results? Besides, who likes pointy things near their eyes while under light sedation? I was wondering just how light the sedation would be and what if it hurt like the laser trabeculoplasty I’d had done for glaucoma in the same eye?

Not many people my age, fifty-mumble years old, have gone through cataract surgery, though I did find a couple of people I knew, some who were older and some who were younger when they had it done. Besides, I kind of liked the idea of keeping the things God made rather than replacing them.

I had prayed that the Lord would close the door if I wasn’t supposed to have the procedure done. A couple of days before my surgery was originally scheduled, I became ill. So I switched my first eye surgery to be done the day my second eye was supposed to be. The Lord knew I wasn’t mentally or emotionally ready.

Come May 6, I was ready, though still a bit nervous, and embarrassed to be having the procedure done at my age. There was no pain during the procedure and I was only slightly aware of people talking and different colored lights from the microscope they used to perform the surgery. Two days later my eye is feeling a little scratchy and is still blurry, but healing a little more each day. I’m not nearly as apprehensive about having the surgery on the other eye in a few weeks.

Image by Frank C. Muller
This is one example of an intraocular lens (IOL).
What has amazed me is although my right eye is still blurry, colors look more vibrant and the light seemed brighter. Of course, that could also be the experience of spring coming to Michigan after emerging from a harshly cold winter. However, I’m looking forward to the crystal clear sight which is coming soon and especially after both eyes are done. This reminds me of I Corinthians 13:12: For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known. In ancient times, Paul was referring to a mirror. Back then a mirror was often made of polished metal, not as clear at the mirrors of today. However, we could look at the imperfect lenses in our bodies the same way. Usually, with exceptions of those who are born with cataracts or develop them at an early age, the lenses within our eyes become cloudy and can cause blindness as we age.

In the same way, we can’t see heaven, the future or God’s face. For we walk by faith, not by sight as it says in 2 Cor. 5:7, but some day we shall truly see Him face to face. All His promises will come to fruition and we will see the place He prepared for us. As we were finishing a study of Revelation in Community Bible Study this week, verses three through five of Chapter 22 were so precious for me to read:
And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign forever and ever.

Eventually my eye will heal completely and I will read without trouble. Once my left eye is done and healed I’ll be able to drive without glasses or a contact lens. How wonderful having crystal clear vision will be. However, nothing will compare to seeing my Lord Jesus clearly, face to face! All our suffering will make sense, we’ll be given an eternal reward, and have forever to enjoy being with our God. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

@kathleenrouser Looking forward to seeing His face.