Sunday, December 29, 2013

Five Ways To Set Goals for 2014



Five Ways To Set Goals for 2014

It’s over now. All the hoopla, all the excitement, planning of family gatherings, parties for Christmas, food to make, presents to buy, wrap, and open—it’s all over. There’s a sense of relief that the anxiety is gone, but there’s a let down too. We take down the tree and ornaments and our homes go back to “normal.” Our lives go back to normal.

But it’s not over—not really. For many people it’s more of a “Now what?” Maybe that’s where New Year’s resolutions come from. We think about what’s next. What we want to accomplish in the coming year.

Personally, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t want the let down or disappointment of falling short.

I DO believe in setting goals though. If I don’t, I‘ll have no direction and nothing to shoot for. The difference is I won’t beat myself up if I don’t quite get there, recognizing I have made some progress. It also leaves room for my path to change if God wants it to and that happens all the time.
 

So how do we set realistic goals? Perhaps we could follow a few guidelines.

·       Look at the goals we achieved in the past year and see what we did to make that happen.

·       Congratulate ourselves on those achievements and let them spur us on toward new pursuits this year.

·       Examine the goals we didn’t reach. Were they realistic? Perhaps we need to revise our goal(s) and/or set a better, more reasonable timeline to complete them, recognizing our limitations.

·       Become more conscientiousness of how we spend our time, focusing our efforts toward reaching our goals instead of frittering away our time.

·       Have someone keep us accountable. Someone who will check on us and encourage us to stay on track, or to refocus our energy with the goal(s) in mind once again.

These are some of my thoughts. How about you?  Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? What do you do to reach them?  Don’t forget to join the conversation!

 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving


I love Thanksgiving. It’s probably my favorite holiday of the year. It’s the one time of year our extended family gets together to celebrate the day and each other. It’s especially important as the years go by.

 
Our family has traditions surrounding the holiday, including playing charades, children making projects at the craft table, and having breakfast at my cousin’s house the next morning.  And, of course, there are always stories to swap when it’s been so long since we’ve
seen each other.  


How ‘bout you?  What are you most thankful for?  Do you have any traditions or things you look forward to for Thanksgiving?  Share them here. Don’t forget to join the conversation.



Monday, November 18, 2013



Hebrews 11:1

 
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.


 


Hope. It’s that elusive thing we can’t live without.  Like air, we can’t see or touch it, but we can’t live without it.  It’s what keeps us going each day—especially on challenging days.  When I’m overwhelmed and can’t see how negative things can turn around and lead to a positive outcome, we need to remember  that if we persevere,  we may see how and when things turn for the better. Giving up ensures we never will.
 
How do you maintain hope in the midst of trials?  Don't forget to join the conversation.

 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

In the midst of the storm


Life can pull us in many different directions. It’s not just physically, when we need to be in two places at once, but emotionally too. I find the latter much more difficult.

There are many times when our lives are going well. There’s money in the bank, our health is good, and we have friends we can rely on. We enjoy it.

If we remember to, we thank God for these blessings, recognizing He’s provided them for us. But when something happens that changes our lives we’re left wondering why and what to do next.

It could be anything—job loss, health issues, death of a loved one, or any host of other circumstances. What do we do then?

I’ve found I have to hold on to what never changes in this world and that there are three things that meet that criteria: God, God’s Word, and God’s promises. We’re going to take a look at these over the next several weeks. I’d love to hear your feedback in the process.

First, God is love. Everything He does is done out of love for us. Sometimes I find that hard to believe, especially when life doesn’t go the way it should. Or when senseless things happen. Often God doesn’t answer our “why” questions. Sometimes we have to wait. I’ve had to wait for an answer to that question for months in the past, regarding my health. It frustrated me, but I spoke to Him more in that time than usual. Perhaps that was part of the point?  Maybe.

Now it’s your turn. What have you been through when you questioned God? How did you make it through? Share your experience here. Someone will benefit from it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Becoming Like Little Children



Matthew 18:3 And [Jesus] said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

I sat on my front step and looked at the blossoms coming from the euphorbia.


 

 “You bloom?” I asked. (I talk to my plants all the time. I think they appreciate it.)  I had no idea it did. I just knew it had pointed leaves, lasted a long time, and was easy to grow. That’s why I bought it.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

God’s Words To Us

 
I know everything about you
Your strengths and your weaknesses
Remember, I gave them to you.
 
Nothing you do or say
Or think or desire
Will surprise me, for I already know it.
 
Trust me even when you can’t see what
I am doing in your life
I will reveal it when you are ready.
 
 
Persevere, for it increases your character
And character will give you hope and assurance
That you will come out the other side
One day you will see how all the pieces of the puzzles of your life
Fit together to form a beautiful picture I have planned
 
 
I will surround you with all you need
Friends and family, wisdom and knowledge.
You will receive them when you need them.
 
Trust me, for I am not a liar.
I speak only truth.
 
I am the path for you to follow
I am the TRUTH you must hang onto
I am the LIFE that you need.
 
I love you to the ends of the earth and
I will never leave you or forsake you.
I am faithful and will bring about my purposes in your life.
I am working to grow you in ways you cannot see.
And my plans will prevail.
 
You must simply hold fast to what never changes.
You must hold onto me.


God tells us all these things in the Bible. Which one(s) comfort or challenge you most? Don't forget to join the conversation.
 

 

 

 
 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

 
Emmanuel--God is With You

"God is with you.” Christians know this is true, that God is with us because He’s everywhere.  But sometimes we fail to personalize it. “God is with you” means he is with YOU, personally, individually, everywhere you go. And he always will be.  He tells us in Joshua 1:5, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  David also penned these thoughts  toward God in Psalm 139

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me. (Psalm 139:7-10 NASB)

 


It’s easy for us to think God has let us go, that he’s abandoned us when life beats us down. There are times we feel pummeled over and over whether it’s finances, health problems, difficult family relationships, or any host of other hardships we encounter in life. We have to hold onto what’s true. Our circumstances ARE real, they DO matter, and we CAN’T just ignore them.  But, the key is we don’t have to handle it alone. 

God puts people in our lives to walk alongside us. People who will walk alongside us, encourage us, pray for us, and help keep us on the right path toward our goals.
How have you seen God’s presence in your life?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, September 6, 2013


Seeing God in the Midst of Crisis


Two are better than one . . . If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

 “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” A common joke these days but that’s exactly what had happened.  I was walking my dog and on our way home I tripped. Unable to break my fall, I landed flat on my face, blood streaming onto the pavement.
I couldn’t move.  Fearing I’d hurt myself more than I knew, I tried to get up and managed to crawl to the side of the road. 
Within a few minutes, a neighbor pulled to the corner, ready to make a right turn. Seeing me lying on the ground, she jumped out of the SUV and came to my side. “Are you ok?  
I’m a nurse. Let me help you.” She helped me sit up on the curb and wiped some blood from my face.
“I’ll call 9-1-1. They’ll be right here.”  They were just around the corner.  As we waited, five more cars came by, asked if I was ok, and offered to help.  Jen told them EMS was      on their way. One neighbor came, stopped, took my dog, and watched him at his home until I came home from the emergency room.

After I was x-rayed at the ER and sewn up with three stitches, I was released. Another neighbor picked me up and drove me home.
God was clearly at work in this situation. I fell and hurt myself, but the less than five minutes later, a nurse came by to help me.  Several other neighbors stopped to help and one took my dog home to care for him, taking him off my mind. I didn’t know any of these people, but God brought them to my side to care for me when I needed it.  And now as I heal, friends call and offer to shop, drive me places, or just spend time with me.

God sees us in everything we go through and never leaves our side, just as He promised.  He gives us everything we need. We just have to stop and see how He’s provided. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Learning takes Practice


I went to observe a class at Greenville Literacy Association and one of the ladies there showed me her work and when I pointed out a mistake she said, “I always do that. I write how I speak.”  I encouraged her by saying that’s normal and that it takes practice to get better. That the more she does it, the more natural it’ll be. And that it’ll become second nature when she does it enough. 
Photo courtesy www.freedigitalphotos.net and
David Castillo Dominici
 
On my way home I realized my relationship with God is similar to that.  When I first set a specific time to read my Bible, it’s awkward, or I forget.  I have to discipline myself to think about it. But the more I do it, the more comfortable it’ll get until it becomes natural. 

I’m not there yet.  It’ll take time, but with practice and perseverance, it’ll get better and easier.  Maybe someday it’ll be so natural I won’t even think about it when I go about my days. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

LIFE TO THE FULLEST: Pretty Little Weeds

LIFE TO THE FULLEST: Pretty Little Weeds: by Delia Latham During a recent year’s gorgeous early Spring display of nature, I found a lesson hiding in that beauty. It wasn’t a ne...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

God is in everything
 
I was at Stephen Ministry and  this verse reminds where everything in the universe started thousands of years ago. He holds it all together, even to this day. Encouraging when life is so uncertain these days.
 
Colossians 1:15-20
 
We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.
 
 
He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross. (emphasis mine)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013



 We're Not Meant To Do It All
 
Ring around the rosies
Pocket full of posies
Ashes, ashes, we all FALL DOWN!



Courtesy of Ring around the Rosie on Kidoinfo
So goes the nursery rhyme children sing as they face each other, hold hands, and walk in a circle before falling together at the end of the song. It happens in our lives today too, even as adults. I went through it literally, a few months ago. I’d been going about my day until suddenly I was dizzy when I stood up. So dizzy that I couldn’t take one step without falling.  What in the world is wrong with me? I wondered.  I tried to stand again without success. So I crawled on my hands and knees to lie down on the bed, hoping the problem would pass.  Even after half an hour, I still couldn’t stand without falling.
 
 Courtesy of sciencephoto.com
Not one to give up, I determined I would be fine, but after trying to walk five more times, I gave up. I was in trouble, didn’t know why, and couldn’t do a thing about it.  I crawled back across the house to the phone. It seemed silly to call 9-1-1 just because I couldn’t walk, so I called a neighbor who drove me to the ER. Tests didn’t reveal what had happened. The doctor diagnosed me with vertigo and gave me some medication to combat it. Nobody knew why it had happened though.
Life can take so many turns and go so fast we’re caught up in a whirlwind without knowing why or how it even started. 
In today’s world, especially with modern technology that lets is connect instantly, we often find ourselves with little, or no time for ourselves. We allow people to demand more of us than is humanly possible to fulfill and we handle it without a problem. Until it becomes too much and we collapse under the weight of it all.
So what can we do? We have to admit we have limits to how much we can do, set boundaries that give us time to rest and rejuvenate, and hold fast to what we’ve said we can and will do.  Jesus took time to rest during his ministry here on earth.  We certainly should too.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

 
 
 
Who Is God?
 
I was regretting the past
and fearing the future.
 
Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
 
My Name Is I AM
 
He paused.
 
I waited.
 
He continued:
 
"When you live in the past
and its mistakes and regrets,
it is hard.
I am not there. My name is not  I WAS.
 
 
When you live in the future,
with its fears and problems
it is hard.
I am not there.
My name is not I WILL BE.
 
When you live in the  moment
It is not so hard.
I am here.
My name is I AM.
 
                                                              Helen Mallicoat
 
 photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net  and Arvind Balaraman,
 
 


Thursday, May 23, 2013


We're All Part of God's Choir

I ate breakfast on the front porch this morning serenaded by a choir of birds.  Chicadees, purple finches, cardinals, wrens, and mourning doves sang their own songs.










Each was unique and part of the beautiful melody I heard. God’s given each of us individual parts to play in the world too. Each has its own place and together they comprise the arrangement of His song. 



Ask Him what role he has for you and carry it out to the fullest. You’re part of His song. It won’t be complete without you.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Carried

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5

 I followed him up the stairs, sensing something was wrong. When I got in the door, Dad was on the floor, heaving on his side, barely able to breathe. 
“Dad? Can you hear me? Dad!” No response. I tried to think straight, despite my panic. 
“Mom! Mom!  Get in here!” I called out the window. She wasn’t in the side yard.  I ran and opened the front door.
“Mom!  MOM! GET IN HERE!”

“What? What’s wrong?”
“Dad.  He’s on the floor!”
 “Call 9-1-1!”
“I did!”
She and my neighbor rushed in and saw that he was still breathing. “We should put him on his back,” Sharon said. They rolled him over. Moments later, he stopped breathing. “Mouth-to-mouth” Sharon said. Then his heart stopped. “We need to do CPR.”
 “I don’t know CPR” Mom said. Sharon told her to breathe into his mouth and she pushed on his chest until his pulse returned.  They had to do it twice. The paramedics arrived, took over, and got the necessary information before they left.
As awful as that was, I can see how God orchestrated it all perfectly.  I’d watched Dad go in the house and followed him. If I’d brushed it off and stayed outside, no one would’ve known anything was wrong.  And it may have been too late by the time we did.

Sharon had come over to see what we were up to that morning. Because she was there when Dad was down, she helped Mom put him on his back and gave her a crash course in CPR. She contacted the church, so people came to the hospital to support us.
About 10 friends stayed with us in the lobby while we waited for the doctor to come out. They walked through it with us. Over the next few days, Mom and I remarked about how we felt like we’d been carried the whole time.
God’s like that.  We all go through hard times, whether they’re financial, medical, relational or otherwise.  But we don’t go through it alone.  God’s right there with us and will carry us through. The next time tragedy strikes, remember you’re not alone. Call out to God. He’ll be there.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


God’s Love and His Power

Easter fits right in with the series on our God’s character as it shows us both his incredible love for us and his power to overcome having been murdered on a cross. 
On what we call Good Friday, Jesus was forced to carry a rugged, wooden cross on his back to the top of a hill, where men mocked and scorned him, spat on him, and nailed his hands and feet to a cross where he succumbed to death.  God loved us so much he had his son die for us.  Can you imagine doing the same? I can’t.

Photo courtesy of oceandevelopment.com
 
But that wasn’t the end.  God’s incredible power shows up three days later when his friends went to his tomb, only to find it empty!

The empty tomb
Photo courtesy of bigbible.org.uk
They’d seen his body lain in there, so they believed someone had stolen it and began to cry.







Later that day he appeared to them, blowing their minds. He was alive! Unbelievable.  Something only God has the power to do.
 

Photo courtesy of strabuchet.com
 
 










So at Easter God shows us His love for us and his power to overcome any obstacle in life.  That’s why it’s such a celebration for you and me today.  Because He lives. In me. He’ll live in you too, if you ask Him. 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

 God Directs Us

 
 
Life can pull us in all different directions, not just physically, when we need to be in two places at once, but emotionally too. I find the latter is much more difficult. There are many times when our lives are going well. There’s money in the bank, our health is good, and we have friends we can rely on. We enjoy it and, if we remember to, we thank God for them, recognizing He’s provided them for us.

But when something happens that changes our lives, we’re often left wondering why and what to do next. It could be anything—job loss, health issues, death of a loved one, or any host of other circumstances.  What do we do then?

I’ve found we have to hold on to what never changes in this world and that there are three things that meet that criteria: God, God’s Word, and God’s promises.  We’re going to take a look at these over the next several weeks. I’d love to hear your feedback in the process.

First, God is love.  So everything He does is done out of love for us.  Sometimes I find that hard to believe, especially  when life doesn’t go the way it should. When senseless things like someone dying far too young.  Often God doesn’t answer our “why questions.”  Sometimes we have to wait, for a variety of reasons.  I’ve had to wait for an answer to that question for months in the past, regarding my health.  It frustrated me, but I spoke to Him more in that time than usual. Perhaps that was part of the point?   Maybe. 

Now it’s your turn. What have you been through when you questioned God?  How did you make it through?  Share your experience here. Someone will benefit from it.
 
image courtesy of www.freeditigalphotos.net

Saturday, March 2, 2013

 
 
Impending storm
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

“Oh, it’s not cloudy out,” I said, sitting at my computer one morning. I’d thought it was quite stormy when I’d gone outside just a few minutes earlier.




The forecast I’d just read confirmed that it would be cloudy for the next three days. But as I sat at my desk scanning the headlines online, I looked through the blinds and saw the sunlight on the trees.




 A few minutes later it disappeared.  I had assumed the weather would be stormy based on evidence I’d seen and what had been predicted. Yet, a different story lay outside a few minutes later. Then it changed again.
 
Life is like that too. Circumstances can lead us to believe one thing; when then they change, we change our minds. My emotions can be fickle too. If someone compliments me, it makes me feel good. If I’m criticized and given  feedback I don’t like, I may take it personally and believe it’s a failure.

Or my health can change for the worse. Sometimes life feels unfair.  So how do we know what to think if we don’t know what’s true and what’s not? We need to focus on what’s stable, what never changes. One of those things is God’s love and faithfulness to us.
What do find to be stable in your life? Who can you count on when things in your life are flux? 

 
Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Importance of Friendship


In today's society independence is highly valued. So much so that needing or wanting someone to walk alongside you can be seen as a negative thing. I disagree with this mindset. We were never made to walk through life alone. (I Cor. 12).  It's critical we have friends in our lives.
 
               
 
  
                   "Friends"              
 
A friend is a person who will always care
A friend is a person with whom you can share
True friends can be honest about how they feel.
True friends can be open with each other, Real.

A friend always listens to what's going on
A friend will encourage when the road looks long.
Sometimes through a hug, sometimes just a smile,
Friends will help you out when you face life's trials. 

Friends share a lot of things, both good and bad
The joys and the sorrows, the happy and sad
Life's sometimes joyful, sometimes full of pain.
But friends stick together, despite any strain.

The thing about friends is that they always try
To see the other side and understand why.
That's why the bond between friends is so strong;
They love each other; the friendship goes on.