What’d You Get Me?

Jerry and I have most of our gift giving occasions between October – December.  That is the timeframe of both of our birthdays, our anniversary and of course Christmas.  The following post was written late in December several years ago, but the truth of it remains in my heart and mind–especially this Christmas day.
My husband and I have this game that we play around birthdays, Christmas or any other gift giving occasions.  It goes like this, “So what did you get me?”  Sometimes it’s said once in passing, sometimes it’s repeated over and over in rapid succession to try to wear the giver down to sharing some clue.  Yes, I know this sounds rather childish for two wellintomiddleagedadults to engage in, but I think it’s one of the casualties of not having children – we sometimes have to play that role in the family.
The morning of December 23 I was having a delightful quiet time with my Lord.  I finished my reading and my pondering, and was just about to put my pen down after recording the last word in my journal when I heard it . . .

“So what did you get me?”
 

I paused and listened to the voice
– but it wasn’t that of my husband.  It was my other beloved’s voice – Jesus!  As I tuned in to His voice I heard, “It’s my birthday soon you know, I’ve seen the gifts you’ve gotten for everyone else, what did you get for me?” 
When I shared this with my husband his response was “Isn’t that just like God to speak to us in our own game and language?”
For the remainder of that day, and the next several days I spent time pondering what I would give Jesus for his birthday. The better question was – had I even planned to give Him anything for his birthday?  If I hadn’t, why not?  And if I was, it was getting late, so I better decide quickly. 

What do you get the Lord of the Universe, who
owns everything and can create anything out of nothing?
The only response I could think of was “to obey is better than sacrifice.”  I think what Jesus was asking for was more of me. All of me in fact.  No need to spend time trying to figure out the hottest gift to give Him but to “just do it!”  To surrender myself and obey what He has already shown me. 
Funny several years later, I think this is still the gift He wants and the one I need to give.
So what about you? What are you giving to Jesus for His Birthday?

Walk Like They’re Always Watching!

Man with Binoculars

Conversation at lunch today turned to a virtual reality game that is making a lot of headlines (a topic I NEVER thought I’d talk or write about – it means nothing to me!).  A couple coworkers were discussing what they know of the phenomenon.   One person said, “it’s a little creepy how much ‘they’ know about us.  It’s like we are always being watched.”

That’s when the thought that has been buzzing around my head for ages just had to come out. . .  I don’t get it when I hear those kinds of statements about being watched and how bothersome it can be to many.  Why are we surprised?

Isn’t that how we are told to live as Christians?  To know that both our Heavenly Father knows and sees all?    And beyond that to live with the knowledge that the world watches us whether we realize it or not.  “They” are seeing if our lives match up with what we say.

I like the way Ephesians 5 is labeled (bold titles) in the New King James Version, and particularly verse 15.

Walk in Love
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know,[a] that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.

Walk in Light
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit[b] is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:

“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”

Walk in Wisdom
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.[c]

My Summer Community

It’s funny what happens when one says “yes” to God!

A couple days ago I came home from the pool and mentioned to Jerry that I had overlooked the community that exists there.  There are groups who meet to walk the pool together, or share a lane for laps.   Most of all of us sit in the same area of the deck each day.  While I  typically nod a pleasant hello at those I pass by I tend to choose a chair or bench by myself where I immediately bury my nose in a book or my phone then swim my laps, dry off and head home.  I hear the conversations around me, but don’t engage.  When I see people I know I chat a few minutes, then quickly reenter my world!

I think the idea of community struck home when I asked the pool manager about a man (whose name I never knew) I have not seen at the pool this year (and he was ALWAYS there in the past).  She told me that he had passed away.  It struck me that he was  a “regular” of sorts in my life and I knew nothing about him.

I told God that if He opened doors I would engage with “my summer peeps.”

Today a man I have seen for several years at the pool commented about how he didn’t spend very long in the pool doing laps today.  I replied that I did a few less laps today also, after all, it’s Sunday and a day of rest.

That one comment opened the door!  He sat down and one comment led to another and soon we were talking about church, and some challenges he is facing.  We discovered we had some commonality in our church history (funny, because over the years I was pretty convinced that he would be one person at the pool who had no interest in faith or related topics; boy was I wrong!)

As we continued to talk he asked if my husband and I had ever considered missions work.  I told him we have, and asked if he ever heard of Joni Eareckson Tada.  His jaw dropped as he told me all the ways Joni’s radio programs have encouraged him over the years.  He was not aware of our local ministry.

When I came home and told Jerry it’s amazing what happens when you say yes to God, he asked me , “who is coming to dinner?”  Well, no one yet . . .  but as we were reminded in church this morning that we are to BLESS:                                                                                     Begin with prayer
Listen to the stories of others
Eat with others
Serve
Share an appropriate part of your story

I think this summer community is ripe for blessing!

Living by the Gauges

I was privy to a conversation this weekend that turned to cars.  Sharing about his hybrid car, one of the men commented how his driving habits have changed since getting this car.  The reason?  The gauges provide constant real time feedback about how his driving affects his fuel usage.  In fact his wife said sometimes she asks if he really wants to get to their destination, because he won’t drive more than 55 mph on the freeway!  Apparently this is a big change from his driving style prior to the hybrid.  1208_fusion_hybrid

As I listened to the conversation I thought of the corollary to my life.  How would my daily interactions, my choices, the messages I tell myself be different if I had real time consistent feedback that I could see on a gauge in front of me (or even an app on my phone)?  I think I may be appalled at how I am not living my life as “efficiently” (translated obediently) as I would like.

My actions and self talk don’t always reflect my desire to live fully committed to Christ and His truth.  I am not always mindful that the thought I just entertained opened a toe hold for the enemy, or how the scores of other “little” things that I may do or not do affect myself and those around me.

Though I may not always see a gauge right in front of my view, I have something (someone) even better – the Holy Spirit living within prompting and empowering me with the truth of  God’s Word.

 

. . . .let me be revived by following your regulations.  Psalm 119:149b NLT

 

 

A Break to Refocus

If you have followed my blog for some time, you know that I have sometimes had a gap of time in between posts. Let me tell you about this last one.

I enjoy writing. It is a way that I can process experiences and thoughts. It is also a way for me to keep record of the ways God has moved and worked, or things He has taught me. I have been an on again off again journaler. By putting much of my journaling into an electronic format I can have it almost anywhere I am, and I don’t have to recall which of the several journals I’ve started but not completed contain what I am looking for. So the bottom line is I began to blog because it was helpful to me.

Sometime along the line others began to read some of what I wrote and I began to get some encouraging comments. I am grateful for those, and they do truly encourage me (though I am not so naïve as to believe that everything I write people will agree with!). This has caused me to want to invest more time into writing, and to periodically pursue a contest or seminar to improve my skills.

That is all well and good, but it’s also where the not so good part crept in. I began to place my value on how many people liked or commented on a post. Furthermore, when a post I thought was one of my best received little to no readership or feedback I would get mopey and begin to beat myself up.

I played for a time in those murky waters, before God redirected my focus. If truly I was writing to record for myself (and anyone else who cared to read) about His faithfulness and goodness then why did likes and feedback from others matter?   Were the lessons still as valuable to me? Of course!IMG_5530

So I took a break from writing publically to adjust my attitude personally and spiritually. I think I am ready to be back on track now. This seems to be a theme of something God is teaching me in a variety of ways in recent months – through multiple Scriptures – to keep my eyes/focus on Him!

If you are blessed or encouraged by anything I write, I thank God for that. I would also ask you to pray for me, that in all I do and say, I keep my eyes on Jesus!