Wednesday, October 18, 2017

8 Days or 40 years?

Before beginning today I need to confess something.   This is not original with me.  If you live in Central Virginia and listen to the Journey (88.3) and happened to be listening to Amanda you heard this.

Amanda said her pastor said that it should have taken the people of Israel 8 days to get to the promised land.  I googled it and some people say it should have taken 3-4 days.   Instead it took them 40 years.  The promised land was eight days away and it took 40 YEARS!   Read the story and you will see some of the reasons why.  They complained.  They argued.  They didn’t trust their leaders.  They did a lot of whining.  They lacked faith that God would really get them there.  I’m sure there are many other reasons you could find if you studied that story.

For the sake of applying this to our daily lives, does God have a promised land for you on THIS side of heaven?  Does he have a life that he wants you to live that is full, rich and meaningful?  Is it just eight days from where you are right now?

All of us need to ask God about this land that He has for us.  We need to avoid the pitfalls that the people of Israel were caught up in …. “Throwing off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12).

Would it be an incredible waste of a life to wander around in the desert of selfishness, ingratitude, negativity, conflict, when the life God has promised us is just an eight day walk away?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The One Thing that Never Fails

If I started to name all of the things that fail in life I could sit here all day.   At this very moment, my Fit Bit Blaze is failing to sync to my Iphone and it’s very annoying.   I know i had a good night’s sleep but I want to know JUST how good it was.   I know, I know, #firstworldproblem.

Technology fails, vehicles fail, machines fail, my kids fail their classes, plans fail, friends fail, we fail.   

But love…. that’s the one thing that never fails.  Check out 1 Corinthians 13 and you’ll see how it is described.  Powerful.

If you’re needing something to wake you up this morning, check out this song and pray this prayer.  Your day will be different if God answers your prayer.

Monday, October 16, 2017

See the Resemblance?

Do you know of someone who is so much like one parent or the other that people see an immediate resemblance?  Or are you so much like one of your parents that others recognize instantly that you are related?

This concept was brought up in our Sunday school class yesterday as we were discussing this verse.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

We talked about the difference between peacekeepers and peacemakers.  We discussed different ways that we can be peacemakers:  Bring peace to individuals, lead peaceful protests to bring about peace that comes from social change, and get involved in conflicts between people and help them understand one another. 

But the coolest moment of the class for me was understanding, for the first time, the second part of the verse.   “They shall be called the children of God.”   I asked the question, “Aren’t we all children of God?  Doesn’t He consider all of us His children? 

We came to the conclusion yesterday that maybe it isn’t God that calls us His children when we are peacemakers.  Maybe it’s everyone else who says, “Wow!  That person is a child of God."  Since the very heart of God is peace, could it be the resemblance that people see when we make peace causes them to see us as His Children?

What an amazing thing it would be if someone said of you or me, “Wow!  She looks just like her Father!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday Summary for October 14, 2017

Another week has gone by at the Fletchers and we are all still alive and kicking!

The week started amazingly well for my the grandchildren who live with us.  Salinda, her kids, her friend and his kids all headed to a pumpkin patch.  She knocked it out of the park as a parent all day long.  The kids had a blast.... they came back here, carved their pumpkins, made pumpkin seeds, cleaned up and got the kids ready for bed.  She was saying she was exhausted but then told Gabby, "I'm tired, Gabby but I had a LOT of fun with you today!"  I was so proud of her.  And it made me smile that she is passing on a tradition to her children that we did when she was a child.

Our daughter Mercedes and her fiancĂ© Matt have begun raising money for an upcoming treatment that they are hopeful will resolve his medical issues.  If you are interested, you can read all about it here.  

We had some other interesting moments this week... like the night that Dominyk ran away because he said he prefers homelessness over living with us.  An hour later he was back and we worked everything out.

Thursday was Isaac's 7th birthday.  Can't believe he is that old already!

I spent every night in my Danville bed this week which hasn't happened for a while.  I ended up working from Danville Monday, Lynchburg Tuesday, Roanoke Wednesday, and Danville again on Friday.

I had a chance to share with the folks at Mt. Vernon UMC on Wednesday night.  I prepared a powerpoint that showed how my novel, "Little Did She Know" intersected with our real lives.  I think it went well and I sold lots of books, so THANK YOU MVUMC family!

I travelled yesterday up to Brookneal and Bart went with me!  I had an incredible lunch with a colleague that I really enjoy and then he and I attended a campference where I did the welcome by telling a few funny stories and encouraging the folks to enjoy the weekend.

Work is pretty crazy for me right now because we are in "Smart Goal" season, but it is really fun to be attempting to follow a strategy like the one explained in the book The Four Disciplines of Execution.   It will be cool to see if it makes a difference in how we do our work.  

Bart, Wilson, Dominyk and I are heading to Greensboro for lunch today.  We haven't done anything with those boys for a while and apparently Pokemon Go is on the agenda.  Wish us luck!

Friday, October 13, 2017

God is sick of it!

Have you ever wondered what Jesus thinks about being on a bumper sticker or a billboard?  How do you think God feels about his name being mentioned every time someone sneezes?

I’m not sure that the Almighty God cares much about that stuff, but I can tell you that according to the book of Amos, there are some things He does get tired of.  As translated in the message, Amos 5:21-24 says:

“I can’t stand your religious meetings.
    I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
    your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
    your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
    When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
    I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
    That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

Harsh word?  Maybe.  But I think we get the point.  Justice and fairness.  That’s what God wants us to spend our time on.  Fighting for justice for those who cannot fight for themselves.   

What are you planning to do today?  I hope part of your day is spent doing something that God says He wants — praying for, believing for, working for, and striving for justice and fairness for everyone.

You probably haven’t heard this song, but it is a good one.  If you’ve heard it I’d be interested in where you did.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Anything Going Wrong in Your Life?

What isn’t going right in your life?  I’m sure you can find something that isn’t perfect if you look hard enough (just like you can find good things if you look hard enough.)

We don’t know much about Habbakuk, but I’m guessing based on the way that chapter three ends, that before becoming a prophet he must have been a farmer.   Check out all things that he noticed were going wrong:
 Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
    and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
    and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
    and the cattle barns empty….
See?  He must have been a farmer.  But even when all that stuff happened this was his response:
I’m singing joyful praise to God.    I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,    I take heart and gain strength.I run like a deer.    I feel like I’m king of the mountain!
If I had time today I would love to conjur up some verses that might apply to your work…

Even when the spreadsheets won’t balance…

Even when the kids won’t stop bickering…

Even when we get an important call requiring action at 4:54 p.m.

Even when the phone won’t stop ringing…

Even when there are too many meetings …

Can you make up your own list of things that can go wrong?  But more importantly, can you still respond like Habbakuk?

Can you sing praise, can you turn cartwheels of joy (metaphorically for most of us?)

Can you count on God’s rule to prevail?

Can you take heart and gain strength?

Can you symbolically run like a deer?

And knowing that God is faithful, can you feel like the king of the mountain?

If you can do that, then every Thursday, regardless of what you are going through can be #ThankfulThursday.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Feel all dried up?

You know the story of Ezekiel and the dry bones, right?  If not you can find it in Ezekiel 37.   Basically God sweeps Ezekiel away and shows him a valley full of dry bones.  He asks Ezekiel to speak to the bones and as he does they come alive!  The bones connect together and flesh grows on them and then he God breathes life into them and they become alive.   

God says to Ezekiel in verse 11, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they’re saying: ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there’s nothing left of us."

The God says a few verses later, “When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you’ll realize that I am God. I’ll breathe my life into you and you’ll live.”

God was using the dry bones as a metaphor for the people of God and I offer it to you as a metaphor for what he can do for you and for me.  If we are feeling dried up, our hope gone, like there is nothing left of us that’s just when he steps in.   He comes and makes all things new.  

Monday, October 09, 2017

Seeing God

You've heard it before .... a bunch of times.   "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."   I've spent my life thinking that if I lived a life where I was pure in heart, I would some day see God.  You know, like in heaven....

But as I was preparing to teach Sunday School yesterday, I realized that that may not be it at all.  It may be that the more pure we are in heart, the more of God we see now -- not in the distant future -- and here -- not in heaven someday.

What if the more pure our intentions were, the more transparent, childlike and innocent we were here on earth ... the more we were able to see God today, right here, right now.

What if that meant that we could see Him in us -- in our actions, in our words, in the way we handle others?

What if it meant that we could see Him in creation -- in every star, every blade of grass, every cloud?

What if it meant that we could see Him in others -- the powerful and brilliant, and the poor and downtrodden?

I think that maybe more of what Jesus was saying.  That when our hearts are pure, we see God.   Not some day, but now.  Not somewhere else, but here.

Too see Him more clearly....

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Saturday Summary for October 7, 2017

Today is kind of a dreary day after a week of gorgeous sunshine.   I have a head cold and so I'm feeling as dreary as the weather.  I'll try not to let my mood mess with yours :-)

I forgot to mention last Saturday that on Friday night of last weekend we had dinner with a couple of couples from our church.  I can't believe I forgot it because it was one of the highlights of the week.   The food was awesome and we had great conversation.   Sigh.  I think I must be losing it.

Sundays are getting busier for me.  I have rejoined the first service choir, am playing the piano for the praise band, and am teaching adult Sunday School.  Makes for a packed day.  Last week I headed up to Lynchburg for a "Day of Hope" that one of the ministries I oversee held and it was a great event.  They did a super job.

This week was very uneventful.   It looks like Matt and Sadie are going to be getting married in April of 2019 so we have a long ways to wait for that to happen.  Pray for them as Matt really wants to have a procedure done that might help with his battles with pain.  It's expensive, not covered by insurance, and they really want to try it before they start wedding planning (and saving).

Gabby is going to a birthday party today.  She is very excited.

Dominyk is still jobless so if you want to pray about that you can.  Wilson is struggling too and has pretty much stopped talking to me.  I guess there area lots of things you can pray about, but not much exciting to report.

Overall there is nothing major happening with us -- good or bad, making this a quite boring summary.   There are exciting things in the weeks to come though.... I even know some of them, so don't dismay!

Friday, October 06, 2017


Long commutes give you time to think.  And sometimes I find myself with a "theme of the ride."  This morning for some reason, I got stuck on all the ways that I'm managed to screw up with relationships in the past 20 years.

Up to that point, I thought I had done a pretty good job with people.... but it might be that I was doing a horrible job and not mature enough to realize it.  Or it could be that I wasn't married and didn't have children, giving me less relationships to screw up.  But nevertheless I have a long list of ways that I have non-intentionally screwed up in the past twenty years... and possibly even a few ways where I knew I should have changed and didn't.  

Needless to say, it wasn't a great ride, even in the midst of the beauty of a Virginia fall (where we will hit 83 degrees this afternoon, which makes me smile because it's not going to hit 83 in Minnesota).   But during the ride, I heard a song and this line stuck out to me:  "Unashamed because of mercy."

Mercy -- not getting what we deserve because of our mistakes -- is God's specialty.   So no matter what we do, we don't have to be ashamed.  We can stand.... boldly approach God's throne even, because of God's mercy towards us.

So even though it wasn't fun to take a mental tour of all of my screw ups, it's great to know that I can be unashamed because of mercy.

You can too.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

It starts with the word IF

It seems that we are in quite a season worldwide of multiple tragedies that are co-occuring.  It isn't often that I share the same theme this close together because on September 7th I was talking about the same verse of Scripture.   But if there has ever been a time that we need this verse it is now.

In the Message 2 Chronicles 7:14 says it this way:
If my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health. 
When I look back at the past year I do not see a nation where those who call themselves as God's people  have all acted in humility.   I won't reiterate this point, but you may know some of the issues I'm talking about.

God makes it very clear that if we want our land to be restored to health we have to be humble enough to see another's point of view.  We need to pray and seek God ... His face, His presence.   And if there is anything wicked in us, we need to turn our backs on that wickedness.

The things God promises in this verse -- listening, forgiving, restoring our land to health -- are contingent upon a few things.   After all it all starts with the word IF.

Our praise band (ok, that may be kind of a weird thing to call us, but there are a couple guitars and a beat box) is singing this song in church on Sunday.  We practiced last night and I love how the song turns the verse above into a prayer.  It is now stuck in my head.  I hope it gets stuck in your head, becomes your prayer and blesses you and if you want to come to second service at Mt. Vernon on Sunday, it can bless you there too :-)

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Speak Up!

Are you a person believes that you were placed here on this earth for a particular task?  That God has you hear for a reason?   Do you know what that reason is?

There have a few specific times in my life where I have known, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that God  has wanted me in a particular place or doing a particular thing.  In some of those situations, I came to learn the reason why and in others it was never shown to me.   But regardless if I know why, there are times when God has given me specific guidance to be somewhere "for such a time as this."

Part of having the privilege of God using me is being open to that happening.    Isaiah was used by God because He heard God asking "Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?   We have heard his answer many times, " "Here am I, send me!" many times in sermons over the years.

In the message though, there are two words that jumped out to me in Isaiah 6:

I heard the voice of the Master:
    “Whom shall I send?
    Who will go for us?”
I spoke up,
    “I’ll go.
    Send me!”

God will accomplish His will and His work ... He doesn't need your or me to do it.  But He invites us to be part of it with Him.  He chooses us -- not because He can't do it without us -- but because of the incredible blessing that we can find in joining Him to change the world.  It's the way He planned it -- not for His benefit but for ours.

If you are open to that kind of adventure, speak up.  You never know where you may end up but you can be guaranteed it will be an adventure ... one where God is in control. 


Monday, October 02, 2017

Each Breath.... A Gift

It is very easy to get caught up in our lives and to not recognize that the fact that we are here ... that we are alive ... that we are breathing ... it's all a gift.  We take our health, our situation in life, the luxuries we may have, all for granted.  

I remember back in 1986 I was sitting in one of those ever so annoying touchy feely group bonding exercises at South Dakota State University.  My friend Norb had just come back from burying his father.   We were going around the circle answering questions like, "If you were an animal, which animal would you be"  and "what color describes your personality."  And then came the question, "When do you feel most alive?"

And Norb's response was one I have never forgotten.  He said, "I feel most alive when I am looking at someone who isn't."     I thought it was a bit strange, actually, but as I overhear Bart watching the news of the shooting last night in Vegas, I realize that this is very true.   We recognize that life is a gift when someone that we love dies or when we hear of tragedies where people have lost their lives.  When we hear about someone who isn't alive ... who got up yesterday morning like it was any other Sunday... and by the end of that day had entered eternity -- we realize that we are alive.  

WE ARE ALIVE!  The people we love, the earth God created for us, the tasks of this day are to be embraced.   We should not take a single day for granted.  

The last verse of the books of Psalms says, "Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord!

The words to this song have been running through my mind over and over again today because it explains two things:   1)  It's God's breath in our lungs.  Without him there would be no breath -- because it is His very breath.   Each breath is a gift.

and 2)  When we have this breath, it's our responsibility to pour out our praise.   It's the natural response to having breath -- praise.  

Appreciate, enjoy, even celebrate God's breath in your lungs today by praising Him!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

12 Quick and Dirty Time Mangement Tips from a Mom of 12

If you have a lot on your plate and you're wondering how to get it done, here are some quick and dirty tips off of the top of my head without much forethought or planning.

1)  Don't put a lot of forethought and planning into the things that don't require a lot of forethought or planning.  :-)  If you have a simple task, don't think too much about it.

2)   Decide what time you get your best work done and do it then.   My most productive hours are from whenever I get up until about 7 or eight hours after that.  So I do the most important stuff early in the day and save the less demanding stuff for later.

3)  Ask for help.   Be specific as to what you need and ask whoever you can think of to help.  It's a strength, not a weakness.   Learn to work in your skill set and share or delegate things that aren't there.   My husband and I have done this pretty well over the years (thought he would tell you that he does everything :-)   If I find myself wresting with something that is taking longer than it should, I try to think of who would enjoy doing it who could do it better than me and enjoy it more and then I enlist them.

4)  Learn to ignore things that "really should get done" until you finish what has to be done.   There will always be things that should be done that are trying to grab our attention.  For example, my laptop can barely fit on my desk right now because my grandkids decided it was their desk.  But I am balancing the laptop on the edge of the desk and ignoring that because I have a goal to get this done before I leave for a book signing this morning.

5)  Don't put too many things on your to do list.   Try for three for the whole day.  If you get those done, you'll feel great.  If you can do more, wonderful.  But if your list gets to long you'll just have to copy some of it over again tomorrow.  Pick your top three, do them, and then write three more.

6)  Pick a day of the week to catch up.  I do it on Friday and I call it #FinishWellFriday.  That's my day to take three things that I have been putting them off and get them done before the weekend comes so they aren't hanging over my head.

7)  If you have a lot of "running around to do", be strategic.    Plot out what makes the most sense in regards to time and mile management.    Leaving with a list of errands that are not in order just wastes time.

8)  Spend at least 45 minutes a week doing "Deep Work."    After reading the book I have tried to take 45 minutes a week to set aside all electronics aside and pull out paper and a pen to think, strategize and problem solve.  It can organize thoughts and help you to move forward like nothing else.

9)  Get enough sleep.   Figure out how much you need (usually 7-9 for adults) and then make sure you get it.  Make that a priority.

10)  Break things down into manageable pieces.  Don't try to tackle a huge project all in one setting.  Figure out a way to break it down and do one thing at a time.

11)  Don't over-edit your stuff.   People ask me how I do it all  and I tell them that it's because I don't do it all well.  Pick a few things that need to be perfect and do the rest at 90%.  Most people won't notice and a lot of time needs to be spent to get things from 90 to 100%.  As an example, this blog post has taken me 17 minutes.  You will find errors.  But I think it is good enough.

12)  Laugh.   Break up your tasks with humor and fun.  Short conversations or quick breaks to regroup make it all more enjoyable.   It's ok to enjoy work -- whether you work at home or outside the home.   Everything can be fun if you plan to make it so.

Feedback welcome since I really did write this all in 17 minutes.

Saturday Summary for September 30, 2017

September is coming to a close and yet it is still in the high 80s/low 90s here in Virginia.  It's not bothering me at all that it is still hot.... I can take this weather all the time if it means I don't have to navigate snow all winter!  Last year we had one big storm and I never wore a winter coat once.  I'll take another "winter" like that!

So.... family news?   Nearly every week I hear from most of our kids who don't live with us, but this week I heard in some way from all but two.   Christy is awesome about sending us snapchats of Silas and the twins nearly every day.   Rand checks in weekly when he wants his money transferred.  John and Courtney called this week (they are back together and parenting Isaac together which is really good for Isaac... they seem to be happy together as well right now, which is very cool.  They had been in some pretty rough places and hadn't even been able to communicate in a healthy way for over five years).  I manage Jimmy's money -- and you don't want to hear about how many times that requires a conversation.

I actually heard from Ricardo this week because we need to get his insurance card.  If he gives me his address to send it I'll know where he is.  He flew somewhere to live with a girl but nobody is clear exactly where.... his siblings who took him to the airport think Missouri, but the girl he is "in a relationship with" on Facebook lives in Tennessee.   Mercedes of course is already asking for a guest list for the wedding with no date, and I had to have a conversation with Leon about money this week.

So, other than Tony who is living with birth family and Mike who we seldom hear from, I had connections with all of my kids this week!

The kids who live here are struggling some but you wouldn't want details.  The job for Dominyk fell through so I am his only option as a boss (we pay him to do things around the house) and you can imagine how that goes.

Work continues to be good.  Always challenging, always demanding more skill than I have, but I am constantly working to gain news skills and improve as a leader.  There are days when that seems like it's working and other days when I wonder :-)

If you sign up for my newsletter you will be able to see an exclusive video of my adorable kids Carlos and Gabby on snapchat teaching math.  :-)  It's pretty adorable.

The link to sign up is here.

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Does it hurt?

Were you ever spanked as a child?  I was.   But the point of this post has nothing to do with whether or not my loving dad ever swatted my naughty butt, or whether it is TBRI friendly, legal, or anything along those lines.   (I totally get why spanking is a bad idea).

But the point I want to make is that when I got spanked it hurt.  I remember the last time my Dad tried spanking me -- I was probably about 13 and mouthy as all get out (I know, I know, you're shocked!)  He swatted my butt for being disrespectful and I laughed and told him it didn't hurt.  Probably not the wisest choice.   The next few swats hurt.

Discipline and correction hurt, even when they are done in the most appropriate ways from the most loving of hearts.  My mom, when I was about 48, said over the phone, "Claudia, I must say that I am very disappointed in your language lately.  You were raised better than that!  I have heard you say, "oh my gosh" several times in the last few months!"   (In my home growing up, gosh and gee and darn and heck were just as bad as the real thing).  So, when she was 86 telling me that she was disappointed at my 48 year old "potty mouth", I didn't agree with her and even found it a bit comical ... but it still hurt a little bit to know I had disappointed her.

Discipline or correction hurts when it comes from a supervisor or a coworker when they are honest to share that you have done something that offended, caused stress, or hurt someone's feelings, even if it wasn't your attention.  It doesn't feel good to know that you caused someone pain.

Discipline or correction doesn't feel good when it comes from a well-meaning spouse who shares how your attitude is causing stress for your child, or how your behavior is reminding them of their mother (no, of course, that hasn't happened to me :-), or how you hurt their feelings by something you said or did.

The reason that this kind of "discipline" hurts, maybe even more than a spanking, is because when we feel like we are trying our hardest, it's still not easy to know that we have not yet attained perfection.   We still have a long ways to go.   And it hurts to know we've unintentionally hurt someone else.

But discipline, when applied from pure motives and a loving heart, is what helps us to get better.  It's what gives us another perspective and allows us to make changes that make our families healthier, our friends healthier, and our workplaces healthier.

In addition to all the other discipline and correction we receive from others, God's going to discipline us too!   And it's going to hurt.  Sometimes he uses circumstances.  And sometimes he even uses the people mentioned above... supervisors, spouses, coworkers, even our children.

What should our response be?

I found these words from Proverbs 3:

But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;

 a father’s delight is behind all this.

So that's our set of instructions of how to handle it when God disciplines us, which may be, like it has been for me, almost on a daily basis.

1)  Don't resent it;

2)  Don't sulk;

2)  Remember that His correction is loving;

3)  Recognize that He does it because he loves us --- he wouldn't correct us if he didn't;

4)  Acknowledge that his delight is behind all of this.   That thought is worth a whole new blog post but this is getting long enough as it is.  

So if you, like me,  are in a season of discipline, remember.  It comes from love and your Father's delight is behind it all.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Bad Theology?

This morning before leaving the house I was telling Bart that I had decided that I was going to use the words to the song "So let the sun shine in" as a blog post and I read the words to him.  He said that it was filled with bad theology and wanted to discuss whether or not the devil was omnipresent.  I'm thinking "I ain't got time for all that...." but I participated for a while in the conversation.  Then I decided to let it all go and use the song with bad theology.  It makes me smile, reminds me of my childhood and makes a valid point that I just realized when I was thinking about it last night.

Here are the lyrics (bad theology and all):

Mommy told me something 
a little kid should know. 
It's all about the devil 
and I've learned to hate him so. 
She said he causes trouble 
when you let him in the room. 
He will never ever leave you 
if your heart is filled with gloom. 

So let the sun shine in 
face it with a grin. 
Smilers never lose 
and frowners never win. 
So let the sun shine in 
face it with a grin 
Open up your heart and let the sun shine in. 

When you are unhappy, 
the devil wears a grin 
But oh, he starts to running 
when the light comes pouring in 
I know he'll be unhappy 
'Cause I'll never wear a frown 
Maybe if we keep on smiling 
He'll get tired of hanging 'round. 

If I forget to say my prayers 
the devil wears a grin. 
But he feels so awful awful 
when he sees me on my knees 
So if you're full of trouble 
and you never seem to win, 
Just open up your heart and let the sun shine in. 

So let the sun shine in 
face it with a grin. 
Smilers never lose 
and frowners never win. 
So le the sun shine in 
face it with a grin 
Open up your heart and let the sun shine in.

I know ... the theology doesn't always make sense.   But here was my realization as I laid awake unable to sleep last night.

I have been going back and forth as to how much we can really choose joy and if there are sometimes and some situations in which we really can't choose.  But I'm landing on the side that says that we make deliberate choices on what to focus on, what to allow to permeate our thinking, how were respond to what comes our way.   And when we let the enemy in the room and fill our hearts with gloom, and remain unhappy, and wear a frown, and forget to say our prayers.... we give the enemy a foothold.

And when we just let that sun shine in ... or we could spell it another way ... let the SON shine in, it's hard for darkness and light to be in the same place.

The picture above was taken yesterday morning just a day after this one.  The sun was so bright that I could barely look at it and my phone camera couldn't capture it's intensity.   It was behind the clouds the day before ... and the suddenly BOOM it's there bright and strong.

Maybe it's bad theology that the devil is omnipresent in our lives, but it certainly is truth that we can make conscious choices to recognize the sun when it's there and to open the doors of and windows of our dark places and let it in.

At least that's how I see it.  And apparently Pebbles and Bam Bam Feel the same way!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

There is beauty in the mist...

The picture above was taken this morning.   I love walking out of my apartment in Brookneal and seeing the bright sun.  But I am becoming more and more aware of the fact that there is great beauty in the clouds and in the mist.   What a great and powerful reminder to me this morning of that fact that sometimes the best in life comes to us in the mist.... in the clouds.... in those times where we don't fully see the sunshine, but we know it is there somewhere.

You can't tell by the picture, but the clouds and the mist were actually rolling away.   It reminded me of a song I learned as a child that is not on YouTube ... that's how obscure it is.  Think of it!   It's called "When the Mists are Rolled in Splendor" and the chorus goes like this:

We shall know as we are known, as we are known,  Never more to walk alone, to walk alone.  In the dawning of the morning Of that bright and happy day;  We shall know each other better when the mists have rolled away.
Some day the mists are going to be completely rolled away and we are going to understand and know completely what God was doing.   We are going to be at the end of our life looking back and it's all going to be clear to us.   

So if you are in the midst of the mist right now.... and you can't figure out why God is doing what He is doing remember that some day we are going to fully understand.  And between now and then we just have to claim that we are not God -- that we don't understand it all -- but that one day it's going to make sense.

There's beauty in the mist if you look for it.   

Monday, September 25, 2017

Seek Pleasure! ???

If you are a church attender and went to church yesterday, I'm pretty sure that the sermon was not about going out and finding pleasure in life.  It may have been about self-denial, or taking up your cross, or practicing the spiritual disciplines, or finding joy in the struggles, or, or, or.... you fill in the blank.

We often equate Christianity with suffering -- and there is a great deal of truth in that.  But we forget that God created to have a desire to enjoy life -- to experience pleasure (define as a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment).   God gave us the capacity to experience happiness, pleasure, satisfaction in life and He wants us to do just that.

In fact, in Ecclesiastes 9 in the message in the midst of Solomon's not-always-very-positive thoughts, he says that God takes pleasure in our pleasure and that each day is God's gift.

I encourage you to think of one thing today that gives you pleasure and embrace doing that one thing with gusto -- knowing that God will take pleasure in your pleasure.

And while you're at it, sing a happy song.  Hope this gets stuck in your head all day long!