Goals, Smoke, and Truth

As the New Year begins, we all make big goals and resolutions, but how many folks have actually opened their Bible to read about God’s plan and the plan that He has for us?
I am guilty of not reading the scriptures and listening to the still voice of God. Instead, I rush headlong into planning big goals, little goals and selfish goals for the year. Like most folks, I start out at the gate running, running with all my might. As I reach the fifty-yard goal, my mind and body sputter and clamor, and collapse. Drained of all energy, worn out, dispirited, my goals remain in the distant land of make believe. Yes, make believe. I made myself believe I could do all things, but in actuality, I am human; therefore, I cannot do all things.
We may strive for perfection, and we may know folks that appear to have it all … reached their goals and surpassed their goals. In essence, what we see is Smoke and mirrors. We are manipulated into seeing what we are supposed to see, not the truth.
Truth. What is truth? How do we know whose truth to believe? Truth means: something factual, a true statement, and generally believed. To be believed, the truth is backed up by something factual; thus, we research, study and compare reports and facts.
You may wonder how I have made the leap from: New Year, goals, smoke and mirrors and the truth. It’s simple … Instead of jumping into the relay of life headlong, stop and research God’s Words. Meditate, and pray. God will clear the smoke, the mirrors, and the fog blocking your mind, heart and soul from the truth.
Personally, I have not made any New Years Resolutions other than striving to read and listen to God’s truth; therefore, I have made a concentrated effort in discerning what is guiding me throughout the year … God’s truth, or human’s truth.
Human’s truth, is what we human’s perceive to be true, and not relying on God’s word. Honestly, it’s a fine line to traverse.
You and I may read the same passage in the Bible and walk away with a totally different meaning. A number of folks may take God’s word out of context and use their smoke and mirrors to lead you astray. Conversely, there are folks that may take God’s word literally and become the whip and chain punishing folks for not walking in the truth. Shaky ground to be sure, but God will clear the smoke and turn the mirrors away from the false witnesses and guide you along the road to the finish line.
My challenge for you this year- read God’s word, listen not only with your ears, but also with your heart and soul. Eradicate the smoke and mirrors, so you may see the truth. Permit the truth to guide you throughout the year when faced with making decisions, goals or confronted with the depth of despair. With God one can conquer hurdles placed in the paths of life~TL

Worldy Views Versus Pollyanna

Some days the weight of the world can be a burden. Starving children, homeless families, lives lost in war, death and illness of family and friends. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
It would be so easy to turn the television off, quit reading the newspaper and put our blinders on … shielding ourselves from feeling sad or depressed.
Is this really what we should do? Should we pretend that everything is beautiful, fun and joyful? If we do this, how do we help folks? How do we make a difference in the world? In the lives of the starving folks, or even help our friends and family members?
Personally, I feel sad for all the pain I see, but I try to find a glimmer of beauty in God’s world.

I may not be able to help solve all the issues of the world, but I can pray, I can donate money or time to help the needy, provide food, clothing or a bit of financial help to my family and friends during the low ebb in their lives.
Giving time, or money is a gift from the heart that I have been entrusted with – a steward for The Lord if you will.
Don’t hide your heads, but find one thing you can do to help make someone’s life easier. Pray for our soldiers, the orphans and our seniors. Money cannot help resolve all issues. God hears our prayers and knows when we are sincere and unable to help in any other fashion.

Yes, it realize it may sound a little “Pollyanna,” but trusting God to work and not relying on self is a brave thing to do.
Just remember you cannot cure or help everyone in the world; therefore, take time each day to focus and pray for one folks in crisis.

Being positive and putting the blinders on, and being up beat is a fantastic, but, there are days when I am bitter and disillusioned about all the pain in the world and total ineptness of our politicians, but these words always put things in perspective for me, “It Could be Worse.”
I urge you, to take time to count your blessings today and do one act of kindness, or pray for our country, our government, our preachers, teachers, families-whatever you choose, do make sure your heart and motives are sincere.

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Snowflakes and the Library

For many years I lived a couple of blocks from the old library in Beardstown. My favorite time to walk to the library was in the early evening, during a fresh snow.
I loved the feel of the snowflakes when they gently landed on my face. The walking path took me by the Lutheran church. The brick church sparkled and looked inviting sitting in the folds of the glistening snow. The air felt so cool, refreshing and invigorating. I loved leaving my footprints dotted along the sidewalk as I ambled slowly toward the next street. As I turned the corner on Washington and Third Street, the park came into view. The park held the bandstand, old tall craggy trees, evergreens, a cannon and the beautiful water fountain. The park looked magical in the bejeweled blanket of snow. Across the street stood the library with its huge picture windows. The curtains were open and you could see shelves stacked with books. The soft glow of the lights lent an inviting presence that whispered, “come in and rest a bit, allowing your body and soul to thaw among the warmth of the books.”

The Skinny Tree

When I got divorced Round 2003, funds were tight and I moved into a new apartment based on my income. My apartment was small, but cozy. I didn’t have room to put up a big tree, nor did I have money to splurge on, and buy a new tree.
One day while shopping in Springfield, I stopped in the Jeffery Allan’s store. I told myself I was
“window shopping.” As I came around the last aisle, I saw IT … a narrow, skinny tree with tiny colored lights. I fell in love.
The store clerk came over to ask me if I needed help. I asked her how much the tree cost. Sadly, it was a display tree and pretty expensive. I told the clerk thank you and slowly started up the aisle to head out of the store.
The clerk must have seen something in my eyes and before I knew what was going on, the store clerk and her manager were heading my way. The manager said I could purchase the tree, “as is.” I was honored, proud and a bit giddy. I couldn’t believe that I would have a tree for my very first year in the apartment- my new home. At the time, the tree cost me $40.00. Even then, it was a lot of money when you were counting your pennies.
Through out the years my daughter and friends have made ornaments for my little tree. When Mara got older and started working, she saved her money and would buy Boyd Bear Ornaments for my Christmas gifts.
So you see, it’s not about the money. Nope! My memory tree is made outta love

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Chocolate Pie and Assumptions

When I was in sixth grade I joined 4-H. My subjects of interest were sewing and cooking. After learning the basics of cooking, I had the chance to do make anything I desired. Chocolate Meringue Pie was my favorite desert, so that’s what I choose to make.

I measured and poured ingredients into bowls, rolled out the dough, poured the cooked filling into the piecrust and topped it with Meringue. Carefully, I put the pie in the oven and anxiously waited for the pie to bake.

After an hour or so, I took the pie out set it on the table and admired my work. The pie was beautiful. The meringue was tall, golden brown and picture perfect. I was so proud of my baking skills!

Excitedly, I called my mom in to see my beautiful creation. Mom was so surprised at how pretty it looked. Gingerly, she cut into the pie and took a bite-her face contorted into weird apparitions, her mouth was open, but no words were coming out. I reached for a fork and scooped up a piece of pie, and quickly put it into my mouth. I coughed and gagged; it was so salty that I could barely swallow the food. It didn’t take too long to figure out that I had put a ¼ cup of salt into the pie, instead of a ¼ teaspoon.

Sometimes in life – we may look at a person, or at a home and think I wish were as beautiful as she is, and I wish my home looked perfect and beautiful. The truth of the matter … when we step into a house we thought was beautiful, and when we meet the individual whom we perceived to be beautiful- the truth is exposed. The real person or home is facade or an illusion.

Life is like that at times, not exactly what we pictured; thus, we need to remember what goes on behind the facade isn’t always the truth. The truth may be worse than we could imagine. Behind the closed doors that beautiful person may be living in a world of hurt, abuse, sadness, and loneliness and financial ruin.

This is an age-old story, but one that needs to be retold, so that when we feel ugly, or life is throwing us stones-we are not alone. Someone out there is experiencing the same heartache and loneliness that we may be feeling. Remember, if it looks beautiful on the outside it may be a jumble on the inside. Seek to understand and not be judgmental of folks because, they may need to talk to, or seek out a friend, in order to hear God loves them … even when life appears to be a jumbled mess of hopeless.

As a Christian and a human being, judging friends, neighbors, and strangers is easy regardless of our level of faith in God; consequently, we show traits of human characteristics that aren’t beautiful.
When professing to love folks, do you judge them, or turn away from them, before stopping and really looking at them? If so, you may be missing out on a chance to be a beacon of God’s love and understanding. Perhaps, where you see beauty, they see ugliness and darkness. If we stop and examine each person and situation, we will learn God has a bigger plan than could ever be imagined.
Thus, we need to be ready to taste the dessert, and go beyond the bitterness to find the sweetness.