Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What Are You Doing With Your Dash?

I was recently looking through a jewelry catalogue.  They sold merchandise that could be personalized.  As I perused the back section, I noted a column of symbols that could be added to one’s medallion.  There was a variety of symbols: sports related, nature, animal, hobbies, religious, feelings related, et cetera.  People identify themselves with areas of devotion or likes and hobbies and use symbols to communicate about who they are.  

Beyond the catalogue, there are a lot of symbols in our world.  Symbols can be used on signs to tell you where to go, symbols can be in each country to signify patriotic allegiance - symbols are all around us.  Some symbols have more significance than others. A flag may hold significance for someone who fought for their country.  When I think about a cross,  I see two lines intersecting and yet, it speaks to a powerful sacrifice and gift for us all.  A cross is a life-changing symbol in my life.

Yet today, my attention was brought to another symbol that bears great significance. The dash.  Typically, I just think of the dash as a part of our grammatical library.  I recently listened to an episode of the Grammar Girl podcast all about dashes.  You can use it in some instances instead of a parenthesis or commas.  But where is significance in that?  The dash holds great significance in one use only - in between two dates.  

Yes, today, I went to a funeral.  I heard the stories and character of a woman, who had lived 90 years.  She did a great deal to make a positive impact on this world, and yet, her life is represented on her tombstone by a dash.  

Maybe we should be engraving dashes on our jewelry instead of a heart or fleur-de-lis.  It could be a reminder to make that dash count.  We should make each day count and live with intentionality.  Remembering the dash may keep us aware that we should put down the phone and play with our kids.  Remembering the dash may protect us from acting on the negative self-talk we hear in our heads.  Remembering the dash may motivate us to write that check to support a child in poverty.  The dash is not just our legacy but its perspective.  Life is a marathon, not a sprint and we need to let the small, petty things go and embrace those things that last.  

All life matters and I don’t believe that the quality of the dash equals the quality of the person.  I do believe we get one shot at life and we need to give it 100%.  So much of my dash speaks to the God I serve because much of what I have accomplished is because he equipped me to do it. What do you want your dash to represent?  If you head out to the cemetery, you will see a lot of dashes and yet all dashes weren’t created equal.   Some dashes were wasted by addiction or selfishness, others were impactful but in a cruel and negative way.  Other dashes brought about positive change or gave more than they took.  Some dashes were loving and kind, full of all that is great in the world.  Isn’t that the dash you want for your life?  Remember the dash and keep living, for one day your life will be summarized by two dates, separated by a dash.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What God Can Do With A Sock?

Last weekend, I was up at Hartland Christian Camp to lead a seminar on Saturday during their weekend Women's Retreat.  I always look forward to the experience because I get to meet and hang out with a lot of great people.  Hartland always has fun activities and games amongst the prayer time, worship, and Bible teachings.  

As we were leaving the service the first night, it was announced that there would be ladies in the back handing out socks.  You were to take one sock, then find the woman that had your sock mate.  When you did, you were to talk until you found something you shared in common.  You could then bring your pair of socks back to the ladies with the baskets.  This exercise would earn you a ticket in the drawings they had going during our time together (I won a great succulent arrangement). 

 I grabbed a brightly colored, striped ankle sock, placed it over my hand like a mitten and began to walk around the room with my hand in the air.  After some time of finding no mate amongst the women, I headed back to the ladies with the baskets and looked inside; my match had yet to be taken out of the basket.  There it lay waiting for someone to grab it.  

I decided to camp out by the basket so that when it was nabbed, I could easily connect with the women who grabbed my match.  After a bit of a time, a women took my sock mate.  Then she spoke and I inwardly screamed like an excited teenage girl, because she had an Australian accent.  Even though I have seen a great part of the world, Australia is my number one desired location to one day experience.  As we began to talk we each went down our list of places we had travelled trying to find something we had in common.  Then it came up - India!  

India, while not my number one lifetime desired destination, is the place God has put on my heart to go to for the last three years or so.  My youth group has a map of India displayed on the wall where we meet so that we might pray for a city each time we meet, or choose a city that starts with our name initial to pray over the next week.  It has deepened my heart for this country.  

Lo and behold, my new friend, Janine, travels to India each year to two different regions in a mission effort to widows and orphans.  That is a people group I have a deep love towards in a region where I want to go, where I do not have a ministry connection; could this be a better match?  

We exchanged our socks for a ticket and got more than a chance to win a prize, we exchanged information and hope to connect later to discuss India and maybe even get to know each other better as sisters in Christ.  Who knew God could use a sock to do all that?! Okay, so I knew he could, but its still fun to experience. Thank you, God!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Two Things That Could Change Your Prayer Life

Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 5:16 to pray without ceasing, but what does that really look like? I will admit that there have been times in my life where that sentence seemed a daunting task. How does one pray all the time? As I have grown in my relationship with God, I can say, I understand that it is more about planning and perspective than anything else. Yes, we are to always be praying but when we are focused on Christ, isn't it easy and simple? There is a lot to pray about, the list really is infinite. It can at times become overwhelming and the overload can cause us to shut down. That is why a plan is so crucial for us to succeed in achieving a prayer life. Last month on my Facebook page I featured thirty-one days of praying for our kids. My mentor, Laurel, provided me with this list of spiritual qualities that the Bible says our kids should obtain. This list includes corresponding scriptures, and its been a great addition to my time with God. It really is too good not to share, so I chose to make a photo for each day of prayer for these qualities in our kids. That is one way to cover our kids in prayer, and the great thing is many of the qualities can be modified as targeted prayers for our spouse, a friend, other family member or even ourselves. Last spring, I got some spiral-bound index cards and fun pens and had the teens in my youth group use them for a prayer project. On one side they wrote a person or subject that needed prayer, and on the back they added bullets of ways they could pray for what was listed on the front. This is another great way to create a plan for your prayers. Another option is a day of the week topic assignment: Monday’s is our family, Tuesday’s is our church, Wednesday’s our neighborhood, Thursday’s our government, etc. However, you want to do it, is fine, but adding some order to your prayer life really covers more ground and ensures you aren’t forgetting anything. I also mentioned perspective because when we put on our prayer goggles, we see situations in spiritual terms. Tonight, after my whole family was in bed, I chose to walk some trash out to the curb to add to our cans for pick up tomorrow. As I was walking back into the house, I looked out along the street and it was quiet. I noted the absence of people out at that hour and I thought, I really should pray for my neighbors. Earlier that evening, my daughter and I went for a walk and I realized that would have been the perfect time to pray. Its seeing a walk as more than just a chance to get out of the house or get exercise, but an opportunity to bring those living closest before the throne of God. A simple act with powerful spiritual impact. That my friend, is perspective. Prayer perspective allows us to see beyond circumstance to the spiritual battle that rages on in the invisible realm. What would this world look like if we prayed with purpose? I can guarantee if each of us sincerely took our job to pray seriously, we would see some major changes in this world. Maybe instead of throwing opinions around on social media sites, we should be on our knees in prayer over the matters that matter most!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

31 Days Of Praying For Your Kids

One day, my mentor, Laurel, brought a resource to me in our biweekly meetings that was (and still is) AMAZING! It was a list of thirty-one traits God desires for kids to embody and a list of corresponding scriptures for each trait.  Then one can take the list and use it to pray for one's kids each day.  It's great because if you miss a day, you can always catch it again next month. 

This was just too good not to share, so last month I turned each day into a photo and invited people to pray with me.  

Here is each photo, may this be a blessing to your prayer life and your family!!!

God bless!!!