Sunday, June 25, 2017

Birds of a Feather


Birds of a feather flock together may be a truer saying than we humans want to admit. People are into their independence these days, and it's harder to gather a flock.

Calling for a meeting does not guarantee a "meeting of the minds." Lack of unity may show up when people meet to:

  • discuss an issue and propose a solution
  • compare viewpoints, then vote to follow through on a plan, or
  • agree to disagree and table the discussion until later
Outdoors, we often see birds flocking together in "V" formation. Sometimes they are flying north, sometimes south, but they are unified in goal and purpose. Simply put, they are following their leader, but there is a deeper dynamic.

There is no drag as they fly through the sky together. Each bird contributes to the power of the group's aerodynamics. On the ground, they hunt individually for food. Taking care of themselves at that point is good for the flock later on. As King Solomon might say, "There is a time to be separate and a time to come together."

A meeting can be two or more people. I remember a particular Sunday night meeting in a small church. My husband and I, plus one other singer, had rehearsed carefully to present a patriotic musical. We had also put time into arranging slides to illustrate the songs. They were shown on a large rear projection screen.

In spite of community and church advertising, one person showed up, in addition to the other musician's husband. So, what did we do? A meeting had been called so, in spite of low response, we followed through on what had been promised.

That was a special event, but there's some good advice for regular meetings as a congregation or in small groups. Hebrews 10:25 says we are not to be "giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing." I find it interesting that when I miss a meeting, someone will say, "Were you there? I was looking for you." 

Have you ever stopped to consider how your presence is an encouragement even if you don't say a word? Consider also the impact of group singing. Whether it's in a choir, a congregation, or a worship team, it's an assembling of ourselves together in a common bond.

It's interesting that scripture never says how many people are required for a meeting. Have you ever been encouraged in a small group of two? How about a group of ten? Fifty? A thousand?

I've been in churches big and small. In each setting, we were flying in formation toward a common goal. Unity was the wind beneath our wings whether in worship, prayer, study of the Word, world missions or community service.

Birds of a feather flock together is a common saying, but for people it's not just happenstance. Purposely choose your flock and get behind the leader. Then assist the dynamics by doing your part to help arrive at common goals.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

From One Life to Another


It was while caring for my father that I began to study books about writing. All the writing prompts and challenges taught me a lot.

Moving from the Arizona desert to Dad's small house in the pines was one challenge. The other was becoming a full time caregiver. Writing was a way of escape, as well as a creative challenge. There wasn't room to lay out craft projects or do scrap booking like in the past.

Space was cleared for a desk in a corner of the living area, but with Dad watching TV I would often go to my bedroom to write. One of my first instructive books was YOUR LIFE AS STORY by Tristine Rainer. Memoir written in a literary manner is also known as Creative Non-Fiction. It was my first venture into personal short stories.

In the summer, it was fun to sit out on the deck with another book: PEN ON FIRE by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett. It had short chapters about writing plus challenges which could be done in fifteen minutes. Nothing was polished, of course. The author just wanted to prove we could capture ideas quickly and perfect them later.

God Had A Plan
The other day I shared with a friend, "God knew what He was doing when He brought me to Prescott to care for Dad. It's a town filled with writers and opportunities for writers. I would never have thought of choosing such a place."

A couple of verses by the Psalmist covers the experience of my past few years: "The LORD is my shepherd . . . He guides me along the right paths for His name's sake" (Psalm 23:1, 3). In God's plan, He continues to give me creative inspirational ideas and scriptures to share and I continue to write.

Three years ago, my husband encouraged me to share my stories by email. The response was positive. In fact, a couple of readers sponsored my first book: REFLECTIONS: Inspirational stories from Everyday Life. I entered it in the annual Oregon Christian Writer's Contest this year. I'm happy to say it earned 274 points out of a possible 300, though it was not in the top three.

Poetry comes easy for some people, but not me. REFLECTIONS, however, has a short poem that was fun to write. I always enjoy hearing from my readers, and one recently sent this note: "I keep coming across Brainy Machine. So few words, and yet it says so much. I have a hard time remembering that I can control my thoughts, I can calm myself down, and I can focus on what's truly important if I just take the time, and discipline."

Influence is Shared from One Life to Another. 
I may not always know who reads my book or subscribes to my stories, but my life has touched yours as you've read this. Now my prayer is that your life will touch others as you encourage them to subscribe to New Day by Darlis.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Neutral Clock


Our town has a lovely Pioneer Home available to people who have lived in Arizona fifty years or more. I have a friend there in her nineties who enjoys their full calendar of activities. One day I dropped in when she was at an ice cream social.

When I entered the room, there was a man singing ballads and old songs with an electric guitar. The songs may have brought back memories for the seniors, but most of them were new to me. It was rather hot in the back of the room, so I decided to wait in the hallway

I couldn't hear what the man was singing, but I was startled by one song. I heard the seniors sing loudly "and the clock stopped, never to run again when the old man died." It must have affected me more than the seniors, because each time they sang they weren't timid about it. I, on the other hand, wondered what they really thought each time that refrain rolled around.


In this senior setting, I pictured a big grandfather clock. They always have a pendulum that swings left and right to keep the clock going. I think they are beautiful furniture pieces, but my favorite clock is digital. It has nice big numbers that consistently change to keep me informed of the time

Clocks of any kind keep time in a neutral manner. It doesn't matter to them if we work ourselves to death or squander our days with nothing to show for our time.

I'm always fascinated by Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Solomon starts by saying, "There is a time for everything." Then he swings the pendulum left and right to make his point.

A few of his examples are:
  • A time to be born and a time to die
  • A time to tear down and a time to build
  • A time to be silent and a time to speak
  • A time for war and a time for peace

Solomon made the pendulum swing fourteen times. On the other hand, Einstein made his point by saying, "The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." Sometimes we're so stressed it seems like Einstein was wrong, but time is neutral. Clocks don't follow us around threatening to bop us on the head if we don't use time wisely. They're simply available if we choose to notice them.

Time is Now

I'm amazed at how many things Solomon writes about time. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom."

One of these days the clock will stop swinging its pendulum for us and we'll be free of time forever. But until then time is neutral. It's up to us what we will do with it.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

On or Off


We live in a marvelous day of electricity. At the flick of a switch a wide variety of wattage is available. Power awaits our choice, turn it ON or leave it OFF.

Sometimes we desire a small night light, just enough to avoid stubbing our toe in the dark. Other times we need a lamp with good light for reading. There are times when the whole room needs to be lit up, like a gym for a basketball game. And let’s not forget those huge floodlights that turn night into day for construction crews.

The power in each of these lights is consistent in that it’s always ready and waiting to be used. I see God’s word that way, too. Always powerful, always ready to be “turned on.”

How Much Light Do You Want? 
Bible “wattage” can vary. Do you need a verse for the day? How about a chapter for meditation? There are proverbs for lifetime guidance and scriptures that shed light on the future.

The Bible is like a rheostat. When we can’t handle full light in a room, we dim down the wattage. Full power does not go away, it’s still there waiting to be turned back up. Trying to read the whole Bible at once is like full light. Dimming it down to concentrate on one book at a time might be just what we need. One verse at a time would be like a nightlight, just enough brightness to avoid trouble.
Psalm 119:130 (NKJV) says, “The entrance of your words gives light,” but that’s not all. It also says, “It gives understanding to the simple.” You’re not a great Bible scholar? According to this verse you don’t have to be. Simply turn on God’s light by reading His word. The power will be there.

Even a little light is better than none. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” In modern times that could mean a flashlight of some kind.

The Choice is Yours
If you’ve ever browsed a lighting store, you know there are endless choices. We live in a time when Bible light comes in a variety of styles, too. There are different translations from the Hebrew (Old Testament) and the Greek (New Testament) into modern English. Bibles are available in leather, hardcover or softcover. Listen to it on CD’s or download an app for your cellphone.

If you have a Bible, turn it ON! Open it up and let the light flow out. If you don’t have a Bible, look for one. Turn it ON or leave it OFF, the choice is yours. But even a little light is better than none. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Attitude is Altitude

Attitude is Altitude

Though I haven't flown very often, one flight I will never forget. Close friends had promised us a night flight over San Diego, California as a Christmas gift.

They drove us to a small airport in a suburb to the east. The husband was a trained pilot, so we waited while he checked out the plane.

At his direction, we four piled in and he taxied down the runway. A low mountain seemed to be looming ahead of us. The pilot kept pulling on a lever which we later learned was to give more lift.

Let's Get Some Lift
In aeronautics, lift is the position of the aircraft in relation to a given plane. It was quiet in the cabin as we stared at the mountain. What a relief to see it go under us.

We were now going higher and could look down on the lights of the metropolitan area. The night seemed exceptionally clear and beautiful. It was easy to distinguish the city and the suburbs, the bay and the mountains.

In the air, there was a feeling of peace, no turbulence or hesitation. No need for more lift. We later learned the plane had been fueled with more than the requested amount. The pilot knew about lift, but we were clueless. Our trust was totally in him.

The landing went smoothly The beauty we had seen gave us a lot to talk about. There were also happy memories to tuck away

I've never been on such a small plane again, though I've been on larger planes for longer flights. In daylight hours I've enjoyed clouds, sunshine, ocean, mountains, desert and river views. But my night flight over San Diego has always been special.

Up and Over
Life is kind of like that evening flight. You know it's coming and you prepare for it the best you can. Then suddenly you're staring into a mountain and must pull a lever for some lift.

One pull . . . a scripture verse. It helped, but you need to go higher. Another pull . .  prayer. Good choice, but you need to go higher. More scripture . . . good. More prayer .  . higher.

Faith is the lift that keeps you in flight. Soon the mountain is under you. Then it's behind you. You are flying like an eagle. Isaiah 40:31 says, "Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength . . . They will soar on wings like eagles . . ."

Just remember attitude is altitude and faith is the lift that can get you soaring.