How ‘Ya Doin’?

imageA smile.  A ‘Hello’.  A short question of ‘How are you today?”

Have you ever answered a grocery clerks question of ‘How’s your day going?” with a ‘Good’ and followed by a “How’s your day going?”  Have you ever watched their face when you’ve asked that?  They look up at you, right at you. Most have a surprised expression or one of shock.  They don’t expect a response.  They don’t expect anyone to care how they might be doing.

Questions.  Comments.  Greetings.  They all fall into the same category: the gift of encouragement.  I learned how important this was when my husband and I went down to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina’s devastating flood.  Hellos weren’t nearly enough.  People wanted someone to sit and talk with them, pray with them, listen to them, show compassion to them, listen as they answered the question, “How are you doing today/”

A few months ago, I posted an article on my Parkinson’s website about a drug that is life threatening to people with PD.  It received a couple of comments, the biggest one being from a man who had just lost his father in-law who had PD and they mistakenly gave him this drug.  The son in-law was writing to say thank you for the information and only wished he might have found it sooner.

That comment came at a critical time for me, as I was beginning to question whether what I write really does make a difference.  It did for him.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this –

We are all basically the same – we hurt, we feel pain, we feel sad, we get down and we sometimes want our exit from this world to come sooner than later.  But then – we go to the supermarket and someone says hi or smiles.  Or maybe we go home and water our flowerbeds and the neighbor walks over and asks us how our day is going and sticks around to find out.  Perhaps we turn on our computers to check out websites and someone has left an encouraging comment on a post we wrote.  And most likely, after being greeted, asked how we’re doing, or reading an encouraging comment after a blog post, we begin to feel better.  All because someone took time to go a little further to show they really did care.

If just a small gesture can break up the dark clouds in someone’s day, I don’t want to hold back.  I want to be saying my hellos, listening to the responses to my ‘how ‘ya doin’’ questions, and leaving a comment when I’ve been encouraged or inspired.  It’s not hard to do – you just have to care a little bit.

Running Into Purity and Holiness

image“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
​​-Philippians 3:7-8

The following is taken from The Set of the Sail, by A.W. Tozer:

“Our most pressing obligation today is to do all in our power to obtain a revival that will result in a reformed, revitalized, purified church. It is of far greater importance that we have better Christians than that we have more of them. Each generation of Christians is the seed of the next, and degenerate seed is sure to produce a degenerate harvest not a little better than but a little worse than the seed from which it sprang. Thus the direction will be down until vigorous, effective means are taken to improve the seed.…

“To carry on these activities [evangelism, missions] scripturally the church should be walking in fullness of power, separated, purified and ready at any moment to give up everything, even life itself, for the greater glory of Christ. For a worldly, weak, decadent church to make converts is but to bring forth after her own kind and extend her weakness and decadence a bit further out…

“So vitally important is spiritual quality that it is hardly too much to suggest that attempts to grow larger might well be suspended until we have become better.”
​Could it be that we have overlooked a basic truth of the gospel, so simple that we forget that we are called to obey its word? The truth that we are to love one another, encourage one another, cheer one another on into purity and holiness?

​It seems that so often we are intent on bringing others to Christ that once they have come, we leave them standing at the starting line, having not a clue as to how to run the race they just entered. Or we encourage them on but we forget the aspect of purity and holiness we told them about. We forget to inform them that they must change from the old, worn out and ‘holey’-of-another-sort loafers they wear and must now wear shoes that will allow them to run with endurance the new race that has been set before them. We forget that we may need to actually tighten our laces as well and begin running beside of them on those first quests, teaching them new routes, obstacles that lay ahead and how best to avoid them. We forget they haven’t run this path before.

How easy it can be to forget what it felt like to be new in Christ— to be full of joy and hunger and if we were truly blessed, to have an earthly coach available to help and guide us in those first days, months, years. Some new Christians come to Christ, not knowing anyone who will help them through the first days and often not even knowing they need someone to help them through those first laps of their race. Without a teammate, they can easily end up walking from the starting line, straight back into the stands, to once again become a spectator. There was no one to pull the trigger at the start of the race, no one to shout to them words of encouragement as they begun the race set before them. And all too often, there is no one to run alongside and to cheer them on when their life mimics worship or to encourage them when they stumble or help them up when they fall.they have picked themselves up from the rut they have fallen. Because of this, they can easily fall back into their old ways, not knowing that they are to continually grow in purity and holiness. They don’t know, because they may have never been taught that the new race, the purity and holiness is a life-long process.

​Are we intent on bringing others to Christ? We well should be for that is the message of the gospel but let’s not forget that once someone has become a believer, it is our responsibility to teach them to grow, to often run alongside of them, and be cheering them on in their race. Jesus taught us this truth with his own disciples, teaching them 24-7 for over three years. He produced seed that in turn, produced an abundant harvest.

Iron sharpens iron—it’s an old proverb with great truth. Will we be a generation that produces seeds of growing Christians or seeds that fall away?

Let us pray, “Lord, I don’t hear much today of the ‘greater importance that we have better Christians than that we have more of them.’ Help us in our seeker-orientation not to water down the message and make the teaching so shallow that we don’t challenge our people to holy
living. Amen.”

Enthusiasm… Get Yourself Some

imageFinn is my youngest grandson. Finn is nine months – okay, almost ten months old. Finn is a very happy baby.

In fact, my “Little Monkey” is happy (no exaggeration) 95% of the time. The only time I have seen him unhappy is when he’s been teething or has tummy problems and even then you can get him to smile – at the least.

The other day I was thinking about Finn and his vivacious attitude toward life. We are all different. Some of us are naturally skeptical toward life. Some are cautious. Some are fearful. Some have abundant joy and overflow with happiness. Are we born like that – skeptical, cautious, full of fear, joyful or otherwise – or do we learn it according to our life experiences? Maybe a little of both?

Jesus said, “Unless you become like a child, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” If I take that to mean that I must have unwavering trust, then I believe that a child is born into this world free of worry, fearless, trusting. They have the ability to smile because they trust someone greater, though they may not understand it.  It is the circumstances and experiences of life that changes us.

When I was thinking about what a happy baby Finn is, it made me wonder why it is so difficult for so many of us to have that same kind of joy. That same happiness.

It’s funny how often you hear “What are you so happy about?” when you’re smiling or laughing or acting silly. Finn smiles. Finn laughs and giggles. Finn acts silly. Finn doesn’t have a care in the world. Because Finn, without knowing it, trusts. But no one asks him, “What are you so happy about?” because you would most likely expect a baby to be naturally happy.

We know the benefit of trust and still we choose to fear, to be skeptical, to worry. Wouldn’t it be great if we learned to trust like Finn, even while knowing there is always going to be something vying for our joy and seeking to bring us down, someone wanting us to take a nap? Wouldn’t it be great if we could go back to being little and trusting “like a child”, having an enthusiasm for life?

Enthusiasm comes from the Latin word, enthusiasmus, which comes from the Greek word enthusiasmos, which comes from the word entheos. In Greek, the word theos means “God“. To make a long lecture short, the word enthusiasm generates from the word entheos.

If, then, theos means “God” and en, the first part of the word enthusiasm, means in or within, then like doing math, God plus en equals God in us, God within us – God with us. Sound familiar?

God with us. In Matthew 1:23, we are told that the Christ-child that Mary carries shall be called “Immanuel“, meaning God with us.

God with us brings us hope. Peace. Comfort. Healing. But it takes trust – faith as a little child – to believe it. If you have that faith, then enthusiasm for life – no matter what the circumstances – is yours for the taking.

Want some?


IMG_9910.JPGI am so grateful for life.  Life is hard – so very hard – but I am thankful for life.  Little things can make it so worth the pain…

a little smile when the day has been long
or a soft but definite ‘hello’ when you’re feeling alone

a helpful hand when you’re tired
a glass of water when you’re thirsty

a drop of rain on a very hot day
or a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day

a plate of cookies when you think you’ve been forgotten
a bouquet of flowers left on your doorstep

a remembrance of your favorite verse at just the right time
and the sound of a child’s innocent giggle

the sound of a river rushing to the ocean
or a creek as it finds its way through the hills

the feeling inside when you finally finish
and the excitement of finally beginning

the shapes and colors of each different rose
and the thorns that protect each one

the way a caterpillar waddles up a stem
curls up tight and comes out a beautiful butterfly

a father playing with his children
and enjoying it more than his children

Isn’t it funny how life seems so hard and yet, when you dwell on the good things, life is still hard but it isn’t so overwhelming, after all?

Running Into His Arms

IMG_7318.JPGWhen my son was born, until the age of almost three, he had constant ear infections. After the third or fourth time, it became easier to identify that another was coming on and I could get him to the doctor before it became too painful. Most of the time.

I do recall one experience, having that motherly instinct of knowing he was getting another and taking him in to the doctor. His regular doctor was out and another doctor saw him. He assured me after checking him briefly that there was no cause for worry. I wanted to assure him that I was most certain he was wrong.

At twelve o’clock that night, my son woke up screaming, his ear filled with pain. I did everything I could to help him. I gave him Tylenol. I held him. I rocked him. I cried with him. He screamed in pain until morning.

A few weeks ago, I had an ear infection. It began with a gradual achiness followed by intense pain and pressure for about five days, at which time I felt it was going to burst and to be quite honest, I almost wanted it to just to relieve the pain and the pressure.

No one ever gave me Tylenol. No one held or rocked me or saw me crying in the dark when I could not sleep because the pain was so intense, but then, they did not know because I was not crying out in agony.

This is what I learned…

When my son, at the age of two, was in pain, he writhed in discomfort and screamed for release from the grip of his ear infection. Oh how I wanted to comfort him and hold him tight so that he knew he was not alone. I rocked him to try to soothe him and as I held him closely, I cried with him, wanting badly to be able to take his pain away.

When I was in pain a few weeks ago, for the most part, I kept it inside. No one else needed to hear how much it really hurt. No one could rock me and comfort me and it made me think… Isn’t that what God wants us to do with him? Yet, we try to keep the pain in our lives and the heartache we experience hidden deep inside, when all the while He is waiting for us to cry out to Him for help.

A friend was saying that another of her friends was not going to be able to do an event that they had planned for this year. She said the other person had been having some recent struggles and had to cancel. Then she withdrew and ‘disappeared’ (not literally) from her network of friends. My friend made a comment that went something like this: “I’ve told her there’s still a spot for her on the team, but she’s got to walk through the door.”

I liked that.

Do I sit and suffer, failing to run through the door crying out to God for relief? The only One who can truly subside the pain? Do I writhe in pain when it hurts so bad inside that I think I cannot tolerate it for another minute or do I run quickly, first, to the One whose arms are always open wide and waiting? The pain of life can come in a foreclosure on the only home you have known. A divorce. An illness. The loss of a loved one. You lose your job. The list goes on.

Sometimes that is the only thing we can and should do. Sometimes that is the best thing to do. To become like a child and run into the arms God and just let Him hold you and rock you. Let Him soothe you and wipe the tears as He wraps you safely in His arms.

He is waiting to love you. Are you ready to be loved as only He can do? Then… Run!

writing to live. living to write. all for Him.