Posted in Being a Friend, Dealing with Trials, Faith, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Lighting the Way Home

This past weekend my husband, Bob and I took part in a candlelight vigil for our neighbor and friend who went missing on December 16th under suspicious circumstances. The download-1search for clues has reached a feverish pitch for this husband, father of three, and township trustee. In minus degree temperatures, we gathered with his family and about 75 other supporters from our small community to share stories and pray for his safe return. There was such a mix of feelings during that vigil; of desperation and sadness to be certain, but also of hope, that our friend and community member would be safely led home.

This morning as I was reflecting on that event, it made me think about the times we turn away from a relationship with God, and how similarly, He must also desperately grieve knowing we are lost. Luckily, there too is hope. Just as the candles we held during our vigil lent light to the darkness, God gave us his son, Jesus, as light and hope for the world. John 12:46 tells us, I have come into the world as a light so that no one in me should stay in darkness and 1 Peter 1:3 says, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. God gave us Jesus to fulfill our hope, and the clues we seek in finding our way home are written within the truth of His gospel.

Today I pray that if you are feeling lost and don’t yet know God, you would invite him to help you find your way home through His son, Jesus. If you know Him, but something is holding you back from the truth of His love for you, I pray that you would again seek hope through His word. God bless and easy breathing!

Note: If anyone has any information regarding the disappearance of Bryon Macron, please click here for more information.

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Posted in Being a Friend, Being a Mom, Being a Wife, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Womanhood

Keeping Up with the Joneses

TODAY’S FORECAST: Grateful

So today, we cover the final piece of the ten commandments in 100% Chance of CHANGE’s first ever series, GPS of Faith:

You shall not covet your neighbors’ goods.

In lieu of a post today, I want you to check out a website instead, if you would. It is called Who are the Joneses?

DIRECTIONS:

1. Click on the website link or copy and paste it into your web browser. http://whoarethejoneses.org/

2. Do what it says, go ahead and enter your salary (or your total household income), and hit ENTER,  I DARE YOU! 🙂 Read what it says.

2. Click on Nevermind the Joneses

3. Read and follow the prompts.

4. Comment on the blog FB page or on this post what your experience was.

Whatever your walk in life is, I guarantee this will make you think.  Happy Friday and many blessings this weekend to you and yours.

God Bless and Easy Breathing!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Being a Friend, Being a Mom, Being a Wife, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Womanhood

Little White Lies

TODAY’S FORECAST: Honest

Well, it’s been a few days since my last post, so I’ll pick up on where I left off on the GPS of Faith series in reviewing the 10 commandments. Considering I combined multiple commandments on a few of the posts, I just realized that this leaves us at the second-to-last post, so we’re down to the home stretch and then this series will be finished. Congratulations on sticking it out with me, we’ve almost made it! 🙂

Today’s focus commandment is this:

You shall not bear false witness.

I don’t know how anyone could argue that “bearing false witness,” otherwise known as lying, has become almost as natural as breathing in our society. We lie about all sorts of things from falsifying our looks for the sake of youth to telling our kids that they are the very best, brightest and strongest, even if they’re not. I recently read an article published online by Huffpost Healthy Living from September, 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/09/why-we-lie-time-factor-truth_n_1862384.html. The article quoted a Notre Dame Psychology Professor, Anita E. Kelly, Ph.D., as saying “Recent evidence indicates that Americans average about 11 lies per week.” How sad that is. That’s quite a lot of false witnessing right there! I don’t think there’s much then to be argued that this commandment is still applicable today. In the article Dr. Kelly went on to say that, “We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health.” So let me get this straight. Lying is not only wrong in God’s eyes, but can also negatively impact our health? Then why the heck do we do it?

Studies have shown that most of us are not spending those 11 lies a week telling the “really big whoppers,” but the “little white lies” that easily slip into our social banter. We all know that lying is wrong; however, if we are honest with ourselves, we would probably realize that we tell a few too many “little white lies” than we’d openly care to admit. For most of us, telling a lie seems like a simple way of sparing people’s feelings, avoiding conflict, saving ourselves from embarrassment, protecting our kids or inflating our own self-esteem. Have you ever heard yourself saying something like:

“You’ve put on weight? Seriously, where?”

“Of course I would tell you if I was upset with you, we’re friends, aren’t we?”

“That’s funny, I never got that paperwork.”

“Sorry I’m late, traffic was backed up because of an accident.”

“There are no losers, honey, only winners.”

“I shot a 67 on the course last weekend!”

“We can afford the Lexus. We’ll pay this credit card off as soon as you get your next bonus.”

It’s so easy to convince ourselves that lies like these are not only okay, but also a way of survival in this crazy world we live in. So let’s turn the tables for a moment. What if God was the one telling us the “little white lies?” Imagine if He had said:

“That fig leaf ensemble looks fabulous on you, Eve!”

“Cain, your offering wasn’t all that bad, you’re still a winner in My eyes.”

“Why Moses, of course you can part the Red Sea all by yourself. You can do anything you put your mind to.”

“You should have seen it; I sent those Israelites steak and eggs, right down from the heavens!”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Jonah, they’re really not that bad in Nineveh, just a little misguided that’s all.”

“Well Martha, I know Lazarus has been dead for four days, but with you in charge, of course the tomb won’t stink.”

“Mary, you’re highly qualified. This being the “Mother of Jesus” thing will be a snap!”

“It’s okay, Judas, I’m sure you needed the money.”

Sounds ridiculous right? Well, it’s just as ridiculous as the lies we tell each other. Remember folks, the devil is the “father of lies,” the “king of ridiculousness.” He is the one that secretly convinces each of us that we’re not good enough or that if we tell the complete truth, God will not be there to fulfill whatever void we believe is being created. As I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts, he is also the master of subtlety. He doesn’t attempt to take our hearts with the “tall” tales he plants his seed with little untruths. That is why we have to come together and pray that we can guard our hearts against them. Remember, whether we classify them as “big whoppers” or “little white lies” we’re still breaking God’s commandments.

Challenge for the week: Honestly look at the times you “stretch the truth” and see why you do it. Ask God for guidance and forgiveness in this area.

Posted in Being a Friend, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Womanhood

“Killing Me Softly with His Song?” I Think Not.

TODAY’S FORECAST: Penitent

So first off, I want to thank those of you who are new to the blog. I’ve seen a couple of new followers coming through and I want to thank you all for checking out the blog. I hope that you can find something here that’s inspirational, encouraging and most of all that will remind you how much God loves you.

Secondly, many of you seasoned readers who are also members of the blog’s Facebook page know that I have not fallen off the face of the earth, but rather, took a few special vacation days with my family over Spring Break. We took the kids to a water park so I posted a couple of pictures below so you can see what fun we were having while I was politely ignoring all of you. Forgive me!

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Thirdly, onto today’s post. The commandment that I reviewed in my last post was Honor Your Father and Mother. While many of you expressed that you really enjoyed that particular post, aka Sparrow Parenting, I confess that I evidently blocked it from seeping into my brain waves because I had an interaction with my own parents on Easter Sunday that sadly was a lot less than “honoring.”More on that in a bit. Today’s commandment is this:

You shall not kill.

When I was reviewing this commandment I didn’t have to think all that hard of the applicability it holds in our world today. There are reports of killings everywhere from incidents as recent as the student shooting tragedies at Chardon High and Sandy Hook Elementary, as well as the loss of 12 lives and the injury of so many others at the Aurora movie theatre shooting by James Holmes. Folks, if you haven’t noticed, we are living in a very volatile society where violence is quickly becoming the norm instead of the exception. Yet somehow, I don’t think my blog is probably being viewed by too many serial killers or mass murderers, (at least I hope not!), which has left me with the remaining unanswered question of how does this commandment apply to me in current times? The thought just crossed my mind about killing someone’s spirit. Does that apply? For me personally, it most certainly does.

Back to Easter Sunday and the interaction with my parents. I disagreed with mine on a particular subject and who does not disagree with their family members from time to time? It doesn’t mean I love them any less or that I don’t respect what they have to say. On that particular day; however, my temper and impatience got the best of me and instead of sharing my feelings as a respectful child, I threw a major tantrum screaming and yelling, leaving our family open-mouthed and upset. I scared my kids with my anger, upset my parents with my words and left the rest of my family silent and reserved. Ouch. Just how many commandments did I break with that tirade? Certainly I did not honor my parents in the way I should have and put my anger above God, there’s two for sure. I did worse than those though, I killed the spirit of everyone in the room. I left our family feeling as somber as if we were commemorating Good Friday rather than celebrating the Risen Lord on Easter Sunday. No matter what we were in disagreement about, I should’ve handled my point much better than I did with calmness and reasonableness. Yeah, definitely a need to reset the GPS on that one.

So my point is, killing someone’s spirit can sometimes be as dangerous as pulling the trigger. Words and emotions can strike just as painful a blow, and instead of “killing me softly with His (God’s) song” we barrel over someone’s heart. So think about this. Whose spirit have you killed recently? Was it your kids’ because you nag and yell at them so much? Was it a colleague that you gossiped about at the work water cooler? Was it the parent that you were less than patient with? Was it the department store clerk you were rude and cranky to? Was it yourself with words of self-deprecation and self-loathing? Let’s pray that we can all be fillers, not killers in accordance with this commandment.

Posted in Being a Friend, Being a Mom, Dealing with Trials, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Uncategorized

To Bee or Not to Bee?

TODAY’S FORECAST: Thankful for our home

This past weekend our daughter, Meghan, and her 5th grade Medina travel basketball team participated in a weekend tournament in Hudson, Ohio. Hudson, which is about 45 minutes northeast of Medina, actually borders the city of Stow where we used to live. For those of you who are new to the blog, we moved from Stow to Medina a little less than two years ago to build a new home. Due to my increasing health demands, we chose to sell our home in Stow and to build a smaller one that was more accessible, cost efficient and closer to our families. It was a tough transition for all of us. During our time in Stow, we made some amazing friends and our kids were very involved in sports and scouting there. The choice to leave was the right one, but it didn’t make it any less difficult at the time. TEAM00002986

Some of the girls that were on Meghan’s Stow basketball team now also play for the Stow travel basketball team. When the tournament schedules were finalized, we were surprised to find out that not only was Stow going to be at the tournament, but also that Meghan would be playing against some of her old friends. While we looked forward to seeing some of the friends that we still hold so dear to us, there was a little bit of awkwardness in realizing that we would no longer be cheering on the same side of the court. Now that Meghan’s been a Medina Bee for the last two years, we have also bonded with the families of the girls that she plays with now. It was probably my imagination, but I felt like we were under their watchful eyes on game day, wondering if we were fraternizing with the enemy. 🙂

Before the game, I had the opportunity to catch up with one of the Stow moms that I am still close with. She said something to me that was so bittersweet, “There is such a void here without you guys.” It was such an incredibly sweet thing for her to say, but also made my heart ache a little for our old neighbors and friends. After the game, we went to an old favorite restaurant of ours in Stow for dinner.  As we drove by the road that would have taken us “home” in the years before we moved, I cried as my heart longed once again to be close to our neighbors and everything we knew once to be so familiar. While I tried to hide my tears from the kids as we got out of the car at the restaurant, they both knew why I was crying and said as much. Meghan said, “Mom, I thought you said you didn’t miss Stow and that you LOVE Medina.” I had to think about that for a moment. I remember at the time of our move, Bob and I tried desperately hard to make the transition positive for the kids. In the process, had I hid my true feelings? Had I done a disservice to them by not letting them see me hurt and by putting on the “brave” face? Then, a thought passed through my mind, “I will lead, You will follow.”D0009_Medina-Medina_Bees2

Immediately, I felt like events and faces from our past were swirling around me and that like some Sci-Fi time-warp movie I was being jerked back to the present. I was flooded with newer memories and faces of the people who had embraced us during our time in Medina, the wonderful staff at the kids’ elementary school, our current neighbors who have become irreplaceable friends, the parents of the girls on Meghan’s Medina basketball team, parents and coaches we have met through all the kids’ sports and school activities, the friends in my neighboring hometown that I have reconnected with because of the move. I realized in that instant while Stow and our friends who live there will always be in our hearts, God has doubly blessed us with having the opportunity to make more dear friends here in Medina. I later told Meghan that at times while I missed Stow, I am so grateful for all of the wonderful ways God has blessed our family here with friends so dear, a beautiful new home and everything that spells our future. Through God’s grace Medina spells HOME. Thank you Medina for embracing us as you have. We are BEES and we are blessed.

Posted in Being a Friend, Being a Mom, Faith, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Womanhood

Faith In The “Love Fern”

TODAY’S FORECAST: Faithful

I am not a green thumb, far from it. In fact, I have a black thumb, meaning that every plant I try to tend to ends up dead as a doornail! My mom will give me a snippet of a plant she’s had around for the last 30 or so years and tell me it’s the heartiest plant and that I can’t kill it, but I always do. I don’t know what it is, vegetation just doesn’t seem to like me. I wonder if during spring, when Bob and I go down to the greenhouse looking for annuals, if it’s just my imagination that the marigolds, pansies, petunias and impatiens all pull their stems back a little bit when I pass in front of their flats, as if to say, “Please don’t pick us.”

The thing is, I’m surrounded by a family of green thumbs. My mom and dad definitely keep plants and flowers, both indoors and out. My brother and sister-in-law built their own greenhouse where they have been featured by local news outlets for growing non-genetically modified organic produce. My husband’s Mom loves growing flowers and herbs and Bob’s sister is also a grower. So I typically just let them grow their veggies, fruit trees, plants, flowers and admire from afar. Occasionally when there are extras of the fruits of their labors that need to be used up, I unashamedly volunteer.

Recently though, my growing capabilities have experienced a breakthrough. A few weeks ago, my next-door-neighbor had re-potted her African violet. She had split some of it up because it was getting too large for its pot and decided to bring the newly re-planted “baby violet” to give to me. My immediate reaction was the same as every other time I’d received a plant as a gift. Thank you (smile sweetly) and inside my head… “I wonder how long before this one will make it to the garbage can.”

She unknowingly put her faith in me to take care of it, even when I told her I was a self-proclaimed plant killer. She put no pressure on me; saying, “If it makes it great, if not, no biggie.” So I thought I’d give it a shot. I read up about African violets and about how temperamental they can be. They like a lot of light and they like to be watered from the bottom. Seemed simple enough. So I put it on an end table by a window on the back of our house which gets the most sun, watered and waited. For the first couple days the leaves seemed to curl in and droop downward, but once I got the hang of watering it, it seemed to be doing unusually well. One day, a couple of weeks later, my friend who had given it to me stopped back over and exclaimed, “That thing was half dead when I brought it to you and now it’s blooming!” I was so excited! I had actually kept this plant alive for two whole weeks and now I kind of felt I was in a groove with watering it. Maybe I could do this. We joked back and forth about it being our ” love fern” from the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and  she left me promising I wouldn’t let our “love fern” die. We had a good laugh over that.

Today it’s been about five and a half weeks since I’ve had that little violet and it’s continuing to grow and bloom. In fact it’s just getting ready to bloom again which is why I included a picture of it here on the blog today. It’s a daily reminder to me that nothing is impossible with God. I mean, the very word impossible spells out just the opposite, IM POSSIBLE, so there we go. 🙂

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I was definitely a big doubter when I first began caring for this little plant, but with time and a little patience I not only kept it alive but also have it blooming. I guess I was a bit like Sarah in the story of Abraham. Genesis 18:14 tells us that when the three visitors came to see Sarah and Abraham and told them that Sarah was going to have a son even in her old age, Sarah laughed. Kinda like me with my violet, thinking that I’d never be able to keep the thing alive. But the visitors asked them, “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” So it happened. Luke 1:37 tells us that “Nothing is impossible with God.” Who then are we to doubt that we can have the ability to bear a son, grow a violet, heal the deepest wounds, reach the seemingly unattainable? We must trust in God with all of the things in our life from the greatest to the least. You just might surprise yourself in what you can do with His help if you only believe.

Posted in Being a Friend, Faith, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Womanhood

Cleaning Our Hearts

TODAY ‘S FORECAST: Humbled

Our cleaning lady, Tina, was here today. Oh how I love “Tina days!” 🙂 With my more recent health challenges, Tina is a necessity in our lives rather than a “nice-to-have.” She is an essential part of keeping our household running smoothly and germ free. After the six plus years she’s been cleaning for us, she has become much more to us than our cleaning lady, she’s become a good friend. Bob and I attended her and her husband’s wedding. We have shared trials and tribulations as well as celebrations and joy regarding our kids. When I was in the hospital, Tina and her hubby brought me flowers. When my health really started to hit a bad point, she cleaned our house for free for several months. She is very dear to me and I have great respect for her for the obstacles she’s overcome in her life. We also have a mutual respect that’s built on honesty and tact.

Never in the time that Tina has cleaned for us have I ever thought less of her because of her occupation. Even over the years of getting to know her and learning that she has had a very different life than mine, I have never thought of her as “just the cleaning lady.” There is way more to her than that. She knows it, I know it, but not all the people she encounters in her profession do. Just from the little she’s said about her other cleaning engagements (and it’s very little because she is very discreet about her clients), it’s obvious that some have treated her quite poorly. I think of the Cinderella story sometimes where the wicked stepmother and stepsisters are shouting constant demands, “Do this, clean this, iron this, hem this, scrub this, etc.” It made me so sad in realizing that there are people who actually treat Tina and people in all sorts of service professions with this kind of disrespect. Then I looked back at my own life today and realized that while I may not have treated Tina that way, there are probably instances in my life where I’ve said something equally unkind to someone providing a service to me that may have undermined their self-esteem or made them feel less than who they really were. Gulp.

Ephesians 4:29 says, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen and Romans 15:2 says, Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

Both of those verses speak of building people up, not tearing people down. They don’t say that the exception is if you are in position A, you have the right to admonish the person in position B. It just doesn’t work that way. We’re supposed to be kind to everyone, period. In Colossians 3:12 it says, Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Again, there is no exception included in this guidance.

This weekend I would challenge all of you to put on kindness, especially to people who are in a position of serving you in some way. Maybe it’s the young girl at the pizza counter who is not counting the change as fast as you’d like. Maybe it’s the waiter at your favorite restaurant or the janitor at your church. Perhaps it’s the lady at the fast-food drive-in taking your order, your home health aid or nurse, your masseuse, your hair stylist, the guy packing your groceries or even your own cleaning lady. Really think about the words you speak. Are they words that will build up or tear down?

Try to be kind. I’ll do the same. We’ll all learn together, right? 🙂 God bless and easy breathing!