Sunday, June 30, 2019

French Fries and Onion Rings


Eat Fries While They're Hot
My husband and I were visiting his family when Dad came in and said, “Who was eating French fries in my truck?” There was silence as the rest of us in the room looked at each other.

Mom never drove the truck, and neither my husband nor I could remember eating French fries. So, not getting the satisfaction of an answer, Dad went out to finish cleaning up his pickup.

The incident reminded me of a quote by American humorist Erma Bombeck: Onion rings in the car cushions do not improve with time.

Whether onion rings or French fries, hidden scraps lose their charm. Cold and greasy, they’re about as appealing as jellybeans to a chocolate lover.

We like the idea of nice hot fries or rings, so we plunge ahead and place an order. When they arrive, we dig in and enjoy both aroma and taste. But as we get full, we slow down and lose interest.

Good Ideas Light Up Our World
Every day people come up with good ideas to help others. Some even research ways to develop them. But enthusiasm does not always carry a project to completion. You might hear a conversation like this:

“Hey, what happened to that project you were working on?”

“Which project?” you ask, stalling for time.

 “You know, the one for the homeless."

It’s been months since you worked on that project. Why are they asking now? Feeling awkward you say, “I raised some funds over Christmas, but then I got interested in another project.”

“Oh? The needs were met then? No more need?”

The crumbs of your neglect have been uncovered; now you’re squirming. “No, the need is still there but so are many others. I made a little difference at least. How about you? Any helpful projects on your list?”

Your goal, if you can’t change the subject, is to at least move the spotlight away.

Simple to Order
Ideas and goals are like fresh orders of fries or rings. They have great appeal. Placing the order may be easy, but can you finish them?

Jesus gave some great advice in Luke 14:28-33: Count the cost BEFORE you start something.

Life may be more satisfying if you avoid the crumbs of good intentions.   

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Enhance Your Compassion


Are you familiar with the term Good Samaritan? Perhaps you have lived near a Good Samaritan Hospital or Retirement Center. But what is the story behind the name?

The story of the Good Samaritan was one of Jesus’ most well-known parables (Luke 10:25-37).

A Country Road to Travel
In this story three men were traveling on the same road, each focused on their goals for the day. On the road was a man who had been robbed and severely wounded.

The first two men who passed by saw a needy person, but simply moved to the other side of the road. Unfortunately, each was a religious leader but compassion was sadly lacking. It would seem they had an out of sight, out of mind attitude.

Jesus was telling this story in an area where Samaritans were looked down upon. Yet He made one a hero.

I always think of The Samaritan as a traveling business man. He treated the man’s wounds, placed him on his own donkey and took him to an inn.

He could have let it go at that, but he didn’t. He gave the inn keeper some money and said, “Take care of this man and, when I return, I’ll pay more as needed.”

He could have looked at the man in need, simply felt sorry for him, and continued his journey. But Jesus made a strong point about enhanced compassion.

Another Road to Travel
Good Samaritans are known as people who come to the aid of another. Plenty of people can see a need and feel compassion . . . but . . . there is no desire for personal involvement.

Each of the three men on the road were alone with their feelings. No one was there to force them into action. The Good Samaritan volunteered himself to help another.

It’s the same with you and me. When we feel compassion, how will we act on it? Or will we act at all?

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sleep? How?


Time to go to bed

Have you ever been really sleepy until your head hit the pillow? What's with that, anyhow? I know the reason for one sleepless season in my life, and I found a cure.

My husband had taken a part-time job with a nighttime cleaning service. We needed the extra income, but the place we lived did not feel secure.

Each night I would stay up as late as I could, then to go to bed hoping to fall asleep, but sleep eluded me.

Being in ministry, part of our salary included housing on church property. It was set quite close to the street and there was no separation from the driveway into the church parking lot.

I was glad for the streetlight out front, but the parsonage felt more public than private to me. 
What's that noise?

After midnight one night, I heard angry voices outside my bedroom window. I got up and carefully pulled back the curtains to peek out.

The shouting continued, then a car door opened and a woman was pushed out. She gained her balance but the car sped off. She walked on after it.

Even as an observer I found this unsettling. In our family you might argue but never shout, and physical abuse was never an option.

I had been alone a lot over the years. The new twist was that this was my husband's first night job.

I began to wonder is there a scripture I could use to help me sleep? I knew Psalm 23 very well, but that didn't seem exactly what I needed.
Sleep is so refreshing

In a Bible Concordance I looked up the word sleep. I found Psalm 4:8. The New King James translation puts it this way: I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Wow! The promise of two things I needed . . . peace and sleep! Every night I would turn my fears over to the Lord as I lay down and quoted that verse.

I slept because I believe God's Word is true. An ancient scripture in Isaiah 55:11 (NIV) says God will not let His Word "return empty." Instead, it will "achieve the purpose" for which He sent it.

There have been other times over the years I have quoted this scripture, believing God to keep His word.

Should you choose to believe Him, He can do it for you, too.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Blowing in the Wind


I’m sitting in one of my favorite eating places. High on a hill, its floor-to-ceiling windows overlook our valley town. Today I’m fascinated by things blowing in the wind.

A stormy day can be fascinating.
A few years ago, new landscaping was done outside the big windows. Improvements included a nice walkway and a large variety of desert plants.

I chose to have brunch here so I could watch a storm blow in. Dark clouds hovered over the mountains to the west and heavy rain had been predicted.

While eating, I saw rain clouds drop their load over the far side of the valley. But not once did a drop of rain come near me. The clouds always moved northward.

Picture this as a quivering green desert plant.
The only constant was the wind! Most of the plants outside reacted strongly to its force.

The least reaction was in plants which together created a hedge. But even when the wind calmed down, thin-spiked pom-shaped plants caught my attention. They never stopped quivering.  

Observing the reactions of the plants and bushes, I began to think about the winds of adversity. People react in different ways, just like plants.

It seems to me that people who stick together, like the bushes outside, have less severe reaction to adversity. In times of personal stress, I have been thankful for the hedge-like support of family and friends.

The quivering poms each stood alone. I kept thinking they’ll stop quivering when the wind calms down, but they never did.

In the winds of adversity how will I react?
There’s no doubt that high winds can cause a great deal of damage. Personal winds of adversity can do the same. But consider the example of the hedge.

Planted next to each other, the hedge did not eliminate the wind, it only softened the blow. In our lives that kind of support can keep us grounded.

We humans will always be blown about by winds of adversity. 

Do you want to plant yourself as a stand-alone pom? Or would you rather grow as part of a supportive hedge?

Sunday, June 2, 2019

An Everyday Challenge


Days, Weeks, Months, Years . . . All Time
Our days are filled with many responsibilities and job requirements. Our biggest challenge? Time. 

Why? Perhaps because it requires choosing priorities. That's not something that always comes easy.

For example, how does one balance the roles of husband, father, wife, mother, caregiver and/or provider? If these don't fit you, make up your own list. You may notice that you are expected to be a team player and not just a solo act.

Three basic ideas can help us make better use of time. Put them to work and you might discover a new sense of satisfaction.

(1 ) There is a time for everything: King Solomon wrote varied examples of our use of time in chapter three of Ecclesiastes. There have been times when I have stopped to read this list because I felt overwhelmed with what I felt was a shortage of time. Sometimes it's important to regain some perspective.

We are all in the race of time.
(2) The race is won at the finish: Picture a major race with spectators cheering you on. Then you mess up and fall down. Their mournful “oh-h-h-h, no-o-o-o” matches your feelings exactly. Now what? Give up? Or get up and finish the race? Be brave. Public admiration is fine, but the most satisfying reward is personal. Give yourself a heartfelt “hurrah” when you persevere under pressure.

(3) If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well: Have you ever tried to think of a situation where that didn’t apply? I have, and I haven’t come up with anything yet. Why do something if it’s not worth doing in the first place? Frustration can come when we try to do things well, but fail to meet others' expectations. The important thing is to be honest with ourselves and keep on trying. The personal inner glow of a job well done can be very satisfying.
Life is lived one day at a time.

Solomon said, “There is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live” (Ecclesiastes 3:12 NIV).

Use of time is an everyday challenge, but you can be a winner. The underlined affirmations can help.