Sunday, February 26, 2012


Oxford defines the word choice as” the act of choosing between two or more possibilities”.  As a verb, to choose is “to pick out (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives.

So simple.  Yet, it can be difficult.  God will meet us wherever  we are – no matter the path.  We have to make the choice to open our eyes and ears to Him.

Phillipians 4:19:  Paul writes, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”  (NIV)

All my needs?  Wow.  So simple, yet so difficult to let it go and give it to God.

We are faced with decisions and choices every day.   Minor decisions – what color?  What style?  To major decisions – “Is he the one for me?”  Or, choices in parenting.  Gosh, there are so many choices as a parent.  And, instead of wrestling with all of those decisions, we try to pick our battles.  And, for those of you who have followed the saga, our family increased by 2 on Saturday when we picked up two (yes, two) mice.  There really was no compelling reason not to do it, so we made the choice to move forward with the new pets. 

God has chosen each and every one of us – no matter where we are, what our life has included, or how much we’ve struggled.  He simply wants us to make the choice of responding to Him.

I was grocery shopping with our nine-year-old daughter after church today.  The hostess at the gourmet cooking booth was preparing something tasty, and she called out to me, “Try this.  It is a great choice for an Easter wine.” 

I’ve never even thought about Easter wine.  I think I’ll stick with Welches.

Choose Joy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Desiring God

One of my focuses during my Lenten journey with the Lord is about taking better care of myself.   Top of the list in this category is food.

Sharing a meal with family and friends is a form of fellowship.  Jesus shared a meal with many – from the Pharisees to others that many considered undesirable.  Eating together was a form of acceptance and elevating the so-called undesirables to a level of equality.

Today, meals and snacks are family time.  Anytime people get together, they usually eat.  We joke about functions at the United Methodist Church – they usually include food.  I am involved in the Walk to Emmaus – and retreats and meetings always include way too much food.

But.  There is always a but.  I need to have better control of what I eat and how much I eat.  So, instead of “giving up” one specific food item for Lent, I have altered my eating.  By altering my diet to one that will make me healthier, I have made a lot of changes.

 Most diet plans are for self-glory.  They are to look better by bathing suit season, or a class reunion, or a wedding, or a vacation.  Diets are also about wanting to be healthier, but that is still a personal gain.  That has always been my problem with trying to lose weight before – it was always about me. 

Eating in a healthy and disciplined manner can be done to honor God.  It becomes about God and building a closer relationship with him.

I Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (NIV)

A lot of my problem has been eating out of habit, or boredom, or even reward.  “It’s the weekend – we’ll make Mexican food.”  “It was a long day and I haven’t cooked – let’s order a pizza.”  Instead, by making small changes in planning and preparation, much bigger changes can happen.

The most important one – more time and a closer relationship with God.  Desiring time with God instead of food. 

How awesome is that?

Psalm 73:25-26:
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And earth has nothing I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (NIV)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Outward and Visible Signs

The imposition of ashes is often described as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.  The actual mark of the cross is a sign of repentance.  However, the ashes eventually wear or wash off.  The physical mark is gone.  That is when the inward and spiritual grace in our loves must be evident to the world around us.  It can be through our actions, our commitment or our attitude.
I spent yesterday evening at church, where along with other incredible adults I mentor a group of Middle School kids each week.   My group of ten girls range in age from 11 to 14 years old.  This year, instead of taking the youth to the Ash Wednesday service in our sanctuary, the decision was made to have a youth led service in our Family Life Center.  Prior to the service, we split into our small groups to talk about Ash Wednesday, Lent and what the season means to each of us.

I am continually amazed at how much I learn from these young girls.  Keep in mind – they are experiencing what is probably the most difficult period in their lives – Middle School.  They shared their thoughts on Lent with me and what they thought they might “give up” as a sacrifice to God and as a sign of their willingness to follow and grow.  Several of them also added that they would substitute prayer or Bible study or a devotion to fill the TV or Facebook time – Wow.   I love how their eyes and ears are open to what God wants in their lives. 

After our group time, we moved on to worship.  The service included great music from the high school praise band and very inspiring messages from our middle school and high school youth coordinators.  More than that, though – it included moments.  And these moments were very powerful outward and visible signs.  A group of 15 or so kids circled up in prayer.  Kids praying on their knees before a small cross.  Kids with their arms around each other as they sang the songs of their faith.  These moments were while they were with their church friends and family.   My prayer today is for all of these kids to continually feel God’s presence – especially during this season.

Watch for the outward and visible signs.  Celebrate them – they are God at work.

From The Message -

1 Thessalonians 2:13: 
And now we look back on all this and thank God, an artesian well of thanks! When you got the Message of God we preached, you didn't pass it off as just one more human opinion, but you took it to heart as God's true word to you, which it is, God himself at work in you believers!

Choose Joy!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday & Priorities

Why today?  Why does Ash Wednesday seem like an appropriate day to start a blog?  The United Methodist Church says the following:   "Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection.  In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism.  Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or volunteering and giving of themselves for others."

As a child, I was always fascinated by friends (most of all were Catholic in the small town where I grew up) who "gave something up for Lent."  I truly didn't understand how abstaining from Coke, or chocolate, or a certain TV show could truly make a difference during the Lenten period.  When I reached adulthood, I began to embrace the idea of doing something for Lent, but I wanted it to to have meaning, to matter to my relationship with God, and to be all about Him - not about me and a small sacrifice.  

I truly admire people who can abstain from something (especially food) that they love.  I am quite fond - honestly, too fond - of a variety of foods.  I would feel some sacrifice at giving up any of these foods, but I don't know how doing so would make me feel closer to God.  So, that has never worked for me.  Two years ago, I gave up Facebook during Lent.  I felt some pain from that, but it kept me from sharing with friends and family.  

So, this Lenten season, I'm hoping to approach my preparation for Easter in a different way.  God loves each and every one of us - no matter what.  He meets each and every one of us on our faith journey - no matter where we are.  My Lenten period will be about priorities and looking at myself through God's eyes.  That will be absolutely awesome because God loves me so much more than I love myself.  I will be on the lookout for ways to spend time with God, be a better wife, be a better Mom and take better care of myself.  I will do my best to spend more time and prayer, reflection and devotion.  Mostly, I will listen.  Taking the time I would normally spend doing other stuff (and this would include Facebook!) and truly listen to God. 

This is all about baby steps.  So-called experts vary on their opinions on how long it takes to break a bad habit or form a new one.  Their estimates range from 2 weeks to 66 days (how random is that?)  Forty days of reflection, prayer and looking at myself through God's eyes is an awesome way to start.  A lot of little things can happen in forty days.

From The Message:

Jeremiah 17:7-8:
"But blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
   the woman who sticks with God.
They're like trees replanted in Eden,
   putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
   never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts, 
   bearing fresh fruit every season.

Choose Joy!