STReeetch Armstrong

Do you remember the old action figure stretch Armstrong? His arms and legs could be stretched out to incredible lengths. I’m still not sure why, since as soon as you let go, he would return to normal size. As far as stretching goes though, it can be a good thing. We all know we should stretch before running or working out and after we go for a run or work out. It’s good stretching. So is the creations of the heavens as described in Isaiah 42: 5; “This is what God the LORD says– the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:” (NIV). But…… There is the bad stretching too. Years ago when my youngest was still an infant I injured my MCL. The therapists said I stretched it, which in his opinion was more worse then a tear. He compared the ligaments of the knee to a rubber band. When they are stretched too far, it takes much longer for them to return to normal. It would have been better for them to have torn and have them repaired surgically.It took about two years to fully heal, although bike riding still bothers me.

     Right now, I am somewhere between a good stretch and a bad one that might need time to recover, to spring back to normal. It is good to be stretched a times- to do more than you thought you could- to be challenged by professors and new situations that are unfamiliar and strange. But as I mentioned in an earlier post, there is time to pause to Selah and think about that- I find myself needing to take my own advice. I am in a season of contemplating whether the stretching in my life is good or the not so good. -I’ll keep you posted- until then.. God Bless -Nancy

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

Here’s a question for you to consider… Have you ever walked into a room at the tail end of a joke? When everyone is laughing, but you? And you wondered what the joke was? Or maybe it’s worse than that.. You hear two people talking and you can make out bits and pieces of the conversation, but as you approach they suddenly begin whispering. Ever wonder if they were talking about you? We all have had those thoughts at times and unless we ask them to repeat the joke or ask what or whom they were talking about, our minds tend to fill in the blanks. We make up the rest of the story. The parts we didn’t hear. We become our own fiction writers.

I admit it.. I am a big Hallmark movie fan. Currently my husband and I have been binge watching Hallmark movies. We watched all the fall themed movies and now we are watching the Christmas Hallmark movies. Yikes! Why so early with the Christmas movies Hallmark? It isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. Well, anyway, we all know the basic story line. Guy and Gal are dating for several years. They are happy, maybe a little complacent, when the girl is asked to travel out of town for work. (Guy can also be substituted here). When she travels from her hometown and her guy, she suddenly falls for the handsome stranger in the course of 1.5 days. Handsome stranger falls in love and somehow in the 1.5 days of their acknowledgement of each other he buys a ring and thinks about asking her to marry him, or go out on a date or something. Meanwhile guy in hometown shows up just as handsome stranger is going to propose and declare his love for the gal. But… the guy from hometown suddenly decides HE will propose to our gal. The handsome stranger is waiting just far enough away to see the hometown guy drop a knee, BUT what he doesn’t see as he hurries away is our gal’s decline. And a misunderstanding follows, which allows for ALL those commercials during the last fifteen minutes of the movie- Hey Hallmark needs to pay for the movies somehow, besides selling cards! Anyway, once the misunderstanding is corrected our happy new couples lives happily ever after- lights fade- roll credits.

So is life like that? Well as I described before kind of. Recently, I overheard my husband in the other room. I thought he was talking to me- I mean we are the only two in the house. But in reality he was speaking out-loud about another matter. I created a fictional conversation in my mind, that included me. Needless to say I had misunderstood. After I had stewed for a day, we finally realized what he was saying hadn’t been for me, but for something else. But it had ruined a good day. The Bible says we are to guard our heart for “Everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV). Luke 6: 45 confirms the important connection between the heart and words when he writes, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks ( ESV). Ouch, we have all been there, we say something we shouldn’t. And sometimes we are overheard. We also shouldn’t jump to conclusions. It causes confusion and even hurt feelings. Good communication is important in friendships and relationships. It can be the difference in moving forward or holding on to misunderstandings and grudges. The next time you over hear a conversation and are unsure if they were talking about- stick with non-fiction- ask them to clarify their conversations. Now back to the binge watching- God Bless Nancy

Reboot

Uuugh. Have you ever had one of those moments when your life came to a halt? Everything appeared to be moving in slow motion or completely frozen and lifeless. Yes, I am talking about my computer. What did you think I was talking about? Recently I was in a situation in which several of us were working together when we lost the internet. So, we could do the only high tech solution that works- resetting the router. This simple solution solves many issues. So does rebooting our computers and turning our mobile phones off and turning them back on resets these devices. We all live in the age of handheld devices and connection and communication through the internet. When the connections fail, we cannot communicate. Sometimes its our router, sometimes our internet provider and sometimes our devices. But, whatever the reason, it needs a reset. While our devices and routers are coming back online there is a wait, a pause if you will. We must sit there and wait until the technology catches up. What do we do with that time?  It depends on the person. Some will bang the keys or frantically touch the screen, hoping that through their repetition, the waiting will be shortened. Others might stare blankly at the screens, believing they can mind control light and life back into their screens.

A pause is good for us. It forces us to take a break and slow down. It forces us to think and reflect. Resting and pausing is a good thing. The Bible talks quite about rest as it does working. We are instructed to rest on the Sabbath, but we are also told to avoid laziness. The Psalms are full of pauses. There are many different interpretations for the term Selah. If you have one of the Bible versions that includes this word at the end of paragraphs in Psalm 66, I encourage you to take a look at this passage. The definition I have heard about Selah is that it was used as a pause in between singing that roughly means, “Pause and calmly think about that”.  I thought of that this week as I took a few days pause from writing this blog. If you’ve been following my blogs, you know that I generally write at the beginning of the week. I was using a paused time to reflect and consider and think about what to write. Such pauses are helpful. They allow us to stop and think about what we are doing and what we have already done. So next time your internet crashes- remember Selah- pause and think. It may be that God has given you a break to think. God Bless -Nancy

 

(Dis) Appointments

Have you ever been let down by someone? You expected the best of them and yet they disappointed you? I’m sure you have felt this way before, it’s part of being human. We are a bunch of imperfect people- even Christians- though some might attempt to convince you otherwise. We all let each other down at times and can be let down by others. But, I want to focus this week not on others disappointing us but on God. Have you honestly ever been disappointed in Him? Or missed appointed? Let me explain..

Last weekend I was reminded how God protects my loved ones through missed appointments. Now, please don’t be too technical here on the wording. Maybe you’ve heard the term God appointments in church before- those situations and timings that could only have come from God. But, what I’m thinking of are those missed things- those tragic circumstances that God has kept you from- those missed appointments. Have you had one of those? See, last weekend my youngest  was supposed to be working the closing shift at a fast food restaurant. A shift that puts him on the road back to his dorm late at night. However, he had gotten food poisoning the night before, so he was unable to work his shift. Sunday morning I read of a tragic auto accident that happened on the road he would have been traveling had he worked. The vehicle crossed the median and had landed in the oncoming traffic lane- the lane my youngest would have been on. I know if you ask him, he would tell you he did not particularly like throwing up, etc, but after I told him what had happened, he too realized it was a God missed appointment.

I could give you a list of other times that we have found ourselves in moments that were frustrating, but ultimately were for our protection. Children who just HAD to stop one more time at a rest stop, long red lights, wrong turns, children who refuse to get back into their car seats after a stop. Things that delay your trip, but save your life. The times when God’s hand of protection is clearly visible, when you understand what He did. In Joshua 1:5 there is an awesome promise that God gave Joshua “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (NIV) It’s a promise for Joshua to affirm that God would be with him as he led the Israelites into the promise land. But I believe it’s also a good promise for us all. God is with us. He doesn’t let us down.

Now, I don’t want to sound unrealistic here. God is with us, even when He is walking us through the most difficult of times. As a Christian, it doesn’t mean I will never have a difficult situation come my way or a tragedy, or a terminal illness. It does mean God is with us through it all. When we are in the middle of a difficult situation we can’t see into the future. All we see is our current conditions. My son couldn’t see anything good past feeling awful. He didn’t know what God was keeping him from. It all seems bad and wrong, not good and beneficial. That’s where many people find themselves. In a difficult situation and they feel let down by God. There are no easy answers to many of the difficulties we face in life. We can’t always see how God is there with us or what kind of good can come from it. But He is. We might not ever fully understand what He is doing, but He can be trusted. Don’t miss your opportunity to trust Him. -God Bless -Nancy

Now Hear This…..

Originally I thought about titling this week’s blog “Reaping What You Sow”  but decided against it since it is more about listening and choosing to listen. Recently I watched a video in which a young mother is interrogating grandma over her failure to follow the mom’s rule book -a thick book full of appropriate bed times and allowable snacks. The grandmother had been babysitting and had broken all the rules. Now she was being interrogated. In her responses the grandmother was sweet, kind and offered bribes such as homemade cookies to her young parents and even offered to buy a cute outfit for the grandchild.

My blog today is kind of aimed toward parents, but can be applied to everyone. So here goes. As a parent have you ever broken the rules? I have. I mean there are no “real” rule books for parents, but  those of you who claim the title know what I mean. So, in my rule book, parents aren’t supposed to be scared. I mean we can be scared for our kids and even obsessively worry over them. But generally we are supposed to be strong and of good courage when it comes to ourselves. So recently I was in a situation in which I found myself scared and indecisive. And yes, of course, I prayed and sought God’s direction and His peace, but honestly we all want to be sure we are making the right decision. So often I ask others for their thoughts. Usually my soundest advice comes from my husband. But this time it also came from my children. Well my young adults. They are adults who have this adulting thing down pat. After calling each one up individually, I couldn’t believe my ears. Each one repeated back to me something I had said to them. Their comments were all similar and basically said “You got this! Go do it!, Do it afraid, but do it!, You gotta start somewhere!” There it was! Everything I had been saying to them for the past three decades. They HAD been listening! Even through those uncertain teen years when I would usually hear, “I KNOW mom, you don’t have to tell me” or “I THOUGHT you said…” So there it is; the reaping and sowing part of today’s blog.  Galatians 6:7 reminds the reader that we reap what we sow. If we plant strawberries we will get strawberries in other words. What I had sown before in the form of advice and encouragement to my kids when they were younger was now yielding fruits of advice and encouragement in my life. Just when I needed it most.

I think much can be learned from listening to those younger than us. Sadly, I think too many adults with many years under their belt, fail to listen to those younger. Maybe we’re afraid they might be right and they would prove us wrong. Or maybe we don’t want to take our own advice when we hear it coming back to us. My challenge for both parents and children is this; be willing to listen. Sow good seeds and you will reap good fruit. And remember what your parents said, and share it with them when they need it most. We are all in this thing called life together. There are NO generation gaps when we are all using the same book, the BIBLE. -God Bless -Nancy

Let Go

Last time I shared with you the need to press on and how that looks sometimes. People won’t always believe in what you are trying to do. There will be obstacles to moving forward. We took at look at Philippians 3:12. This week I have been reminded that sometimes we need to let go of things in the past that hold us back. Paul wrote to the Philippians about all his religious standings and experiences that should have given him confidence and something to boast about, but he chose not to rest on these laurels for he felt he had not arrived at a place of maturity or perfection. In verse 13 he tells them “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (NIV).

I bring that up because its a great verse, but one not to be taken out of context. Paul was forgetting those things that gave him tremendous credibility among the Jew and Gentile believers. What I have been challenged to do this week is to leave behind and forget the ugly things of life. The mistakes I’ve made in the past, the unkind words or actions of others, you know THOSE things. If you are like me, you are much harder on yourself than on others. And if you’re like me it is easy to remember when someone has hurt you. It is easy to hold on to unforgiveness and to let others know how you’ve been wronged. The more you repeat it, the more difficult it is to forget it and move on. The same is true of ourselves. The more we think about our shortcomings and mistakes of the past, the more they will bother us and steal our confidence for the future. It is true we can’t change the past, but we can live for the future.Every day is a new day to get up and move forward. Paul compares it to straining or reaching, like a runner towards the finish line. For my football fans, think of it as stretching the ball across the end zone with all you’ve got, while being pummeled by twenty other players. You got this, just let go and move forward. – God Bless -Nancy

Handling The Press

What do you think of when you hear the word press? Probing news reporters asking pointed questions trying to trip up or incriminate a politician? Or maybe you picture the paparazzi trying to catch a scandalous photo of the Hollywood celeb. We’ve all seen the tabloid pictures staring at us at the grocery store check out lines. There is always a picture of a celebrity donning a hat and sunglasses out an about in public without hair and makeup done to perfection. They are usually trying to avoid having their photo taken.

But, the press I want to discuss today is the press necessary to keep moving forward. Not long ago I heard a message on the subject of Paul’s pressing on as found in the Book of Philippians. When Paul wrote this letter to the church he had established there ten years prior, he himself was in prison in Rome. He had gotten word that the church he had planted there was still meeting and growing. They had, however been facing opposition, but not from where you would have thought-the secular world. Instead it was from fellow believers who were attempting to make the new believers follow the customs of the Jewish synagogue. Paul’s letter to the church was to encourage them and use his own life as an example for them. Paul wrote “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12b, NIV). He had explained his standing as a firm Jewish leader prior to his conversion and how now he considered it rubbish. He left that all behind and much like a runner in a race he was pushing himself toward the finish line.

Without an object to press against there would be no effort, no pressure required. For Christians today as in Paul’s day, there will always be a pressing on needed. We will all experience opposition in our faith walk. And unfortunately, that will sometimes come from others in the church. What kept Paul looking forward? Many scholars believe he had experienced a near-death or death experience in which he saw Heaven. We know form the Book of Acts, that the resurrected Jesus appeared to him. He had seen the future and was certain of it, so the momentary discomforts and sufferings were not as difficult. They still required pressing against, but he kept his focus on the goal, on the finish line.

We likewise can keep our eyes on the goal and keep pressing forward whenever we face pressure. There will always be naysayers, trying to discourage us or trying to get us to change our goals to become more like their’s, but we can handle the press, when we keep our focus on Jesus and what he has called us to do. But, just like diamonds that only form when lumps of carbon are put under pressure, we too can become diamonds for God as we press on.-God Bless-Nancy