Archive | March 2011

In Pursuit of Lasting Results

I have a friend who refuses to iron more than one piece of clothing at a time. She believes that dying with a closet full of clean, pressed clothes would be testimony to a wasted life. Why bother ironing something you may never get the chance to wear?

“I”d much rather spend my time mowing the lawn,” my friend confides. I assume she just enjoys being out in the fresh air and sunshine, but no, she explains, the reason she likes cutting the grass is because she knows it won’t need to be cut again for a full week — or at least five or six days. Not so with any other domestic task.

I can see her point. You can knock yourself out scrubbing bathrooms, mopping floors, or washing windows, and the results can be completely undone in a matter of minutes. (And the more young children that share your household, the more likely your efforts to keep it clean will be thwarted.)

Even a home-cooked meal is summarily demolished once it’s been brought to the table. No sooner do you wash and dry the last dish from one meal than your famished family is back in the kitchen, asking when they may expect the next and begging for a snack.

But a freshly-mown lawn? Once that job’s done, you can take a well-earned break and enjoy it for awhile. There is something very gratifying about that fact.

As a wife and mother, I must deal with an endless barrage of demands upon my time and energy, of which there is a very limited supply. If I do not choose wisely, I will end up squandering it to achieve results that are fleeting rather than investing it in something longer lasting.  I want to make taking care of people, not possessions, my focus.

Of course, at some point, the laundry does have to be washed, the meals prepared, the floors swept. Life has always been a balancing act and always will be. The challenge is to tend to the temporal duties in such a way that we achieve lasting results. Not that the same chores won’t have to be done all over again tomorrow, but that in the doing, we are training children, teaching teamwork, showing appreciation, offering encouragement, modeling diligence, radiating joy, building character, and making memories together.

That kind of time investment will yield results that endure.

The Chance of a Lifetime

Have you ever received a phone call from someone you haven’t seen in years? Didn’t you feel flattered that your friend would look you up? Grateful for the opportunity to reconnect? Curious about what prompted the call?

If your experience is anything like mine, those feelings were fleeting, because the conversation quickly evolved into a sales pitch. Your long-lost friend has become involved in a multi-level marketing plan that is going to make him rich. And he’s calling to offer you a chance to get in on the ground floor! Every trace of excitement you formerly felt about hearing from this person drains away as you attempt to politely convince him you are not interested in joining the team.

What if, instead of a pyramid scheme, your friend really were presenting you with the chance of a lifetime? Wouldn’t that warrant a bit of earnest enthusiasm? What if he had, say, discovered some vast, untapped source of free, renewable energy? Or invented a cure for cancer? Could you blame him for not wanting to keep such news to himself?

Now ponder this for a moment: If we have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, then we know the sole Source of eternal life and forgiveness for sin. Jesus died to save us! This is the kind of vital information that begs to be shared.  Shouldn’t we be doing so with fervor, zeal, and persistence?

Too often, we hesitate. We don’t wish to offend, don’t want to seem like a pushy, over-exubrant salesman trying to expand his downline. Yet all around us, people are dying while we hold the cure. Can’t we find a way to communicate that fact in a way that reflects genuine love and concern for the lost, rather than some half-hearted attempt to add a few notches to our evangelical belt?

Stick to the Path

Stick to the Path |“How can we understand the road we travel? It is the Lord who directs our steps.” (Proverbs 20:24, New Living Translation)

If we consider a hike through the woods as a metaphor for the Christian walk, it is easy to understand our need to stay on the narrow way. To leave that path is to risk danger, disorientation, and destruction. That makes sense. We get it.

What is surprising is that we can sometimes feel lost and alone, even when we’ve been careful to stick to the path and not wander off. Sometimes life’s circumstances deal heavy blows, and we cannot begin to imagine God’s purpose in allowing such things. We feel abandoned.

I remember taking my children on an outing to the park many years ago. We packed a picnic and ate in the cool shade of the woods surrounding the playground. After we had finished our lunch, I gave the kids permission to play among the trees, provided they stay where I could see them. They enjoyed a rousing game of tag with friends while moms visited nearby.

After a while, I noticed my third-born, who was only four or five at the time, standing next to a tree with his hands over his face. At first I assumed the children had moved on to hide-n-seek and that David was “it,” but as I watched, it became apparent my little one wasn’t counting — he was crying. Although my eyes had been on him the entire time, he’d lost sight of me and had become frightened. I ran to comfort and reassure him that just because he couldn’t see me didn’t mean I had quit watching him.

I like to reflect on that distant afternoon as I travel along life’s path, especially when the way seems dark or threatening. We may not always know what lies around the next bend, we may not fully perceive God’s abiding presence, we may not understand the route He asks us to follow, but we can rest assured that He loves us, that He guides our steps, and that His eyes are upon us the entire way.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he falls, he will not be cast down, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)

Twelve Things I Love About Spring

1. The smell of pine bark mulch

2. Sunshine on my shoulders

3. Daffodils

4. Bird nests full of eggs

5. Digging in the dirt

6. Tulips

7. Going barefoot

8. Porch swings

9. The sound of rain on the roof

10. Azalea belles

11. Longer daylight hours

12. Flagstone paths

Have You Hugged Your Kids Today?

If you haven’t already hugged your kids today, here are ten good reasons to do so now. And if you have, here’s a bunch of good excuses to hug them again.

10 Good Reasons to Hug Your Kids Daily1. Hugs are nice.

2. Hugs give you a good feeling inside.

3. Kids need hugs to stay healthy. I once read — although I cannot for the life of me remember where — that for optimal health, kids need a minimum of seven hugs a day.

4. So do parents.

5. Hugs mean “I love you.”

6. Hugs get you close enough to actually whisper “I love you”  right in their ear.

7. Hugs also make it easier to pat them on the back and tell them how proud you are of them.

8. Hugs can sometimes lead to tickling, which leads to laughter, which is also good medicine.

9. Hugs are fun.

10. Kids grow up fast. Once they leave home, you won’t be able to just hug them anytime you feel like it. So you’d better hug them now while you’ve got the chance. Especially the teenaged ones.

And while you are doling out hugs, be sure to give a few to your spouse, as well. You’ll want to be well-practiced for when your nest is empty. Otherwise, you may have a hard time keeping up with that seven-per-day quota.

My Sunday “To-Do” List

Do you ever daydream during worship services? Even as your lips sing the words to the songs and hymns, does your mind flit to memories from the past week or plans for the next?

Ecclesiastes 5:1 commands, “As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouths shut! Don’t be a fool who doesn’t realize that mindless offerings to God are evil.” (NLT)

I sometimes feel a vague sense of guilt when the last amen is said, and I realize I haven’t heard a word of the sermon. But I’ve never regarded my tendency to daydream as being particularly evil. That’s a pretty harsh term!

Yet God says that we are fools if we think He is pleased with mindless offerings. When we go through the motions of worship while our minds wander far astray, we miss the entire point. God wants us to love and serve and worship Him with our whole heart and our full attention. His strong words to the hypocritical pharisees should prove that He is not impressed by the external trappings:

Mark 7:6-7 – “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”

So I’ve made myself a very short “to do” list for tomorrow:

1. Go to church.

2. Arrive on time.

3. Pay attention while I’m there.

Not in an effort to earn my salvation. Not to be bound by the rules of men. Only because I love the Lord and want to worship Him with my ears and my heart wide open.

My Sunday To-Do List