Heaven’s Warriors – God’s Mighty Army of Angels

Little Church House in Woodburn, OR

Today I saw an angel. It was sitting on a bench in someone’s backyard under a flowering cherry tree. With wings fastened securely to his back and legs crossed, he was looking down at the grass below. He looked peaceful and serene and almost life-like except for the fact that this angel was made of cement.

But it made me wonder how many angels we pass by each day or who are standing with us and we are oblivious to them. For example, we have the angel of the Lord encamped around us and he delivers us from our troubles. (Ps. 34:7) And the Lord says that He has commanded his angels concerning us to guard us in all our ways; to lift us up in their hands, to keep us from harm (Ps. 91:11) Children have angels in heaven that have the divine attention of God Almighty (Matthew 18:10)! We have angels that are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:13). And haven’t we all heard the verse which tells us to not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels unaware (Hebrews 13:2)?

After seeing that cement angel, I passed by another house, seemingly empty. But was it? I looked at the front porch where it was still. If a bbeliever resides in that home, it is more than probable that there stands a mighty warrior at the door post, ready for battle should harm beckon at the front steps.

I love the verse in Psalm 91, where it says, the LORD says that HE has commanded his angels concerning us to guard us in all our ways; to lift us up in their hands, to keep us from harm. Did you get that? God Almighty, the creator of the heavens and the earth has commanded – commanded – his angels. There’s no choice. He has given an order and they are to carry it out. And it concerns us! He has told them to guard us in all our ways – in all we do, wherever we are. To guard us – to stand as a sentry and protect us, defend us, be a shield, to stand watch over us and be a shelter.

Can’t you just see that? Dangers, toils and snares – and there are the Lord’s angels, hovering over you, covering you with their mighty wings so that no harm will come to you. And what’s more, they are there to not only guard you, but to lift you up in their hands. Picture that!

I love the story in the Old Testament about Nehemiah rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. He talks about how the wall is half built and then Sanballat hears about it and isn’t too keen on the whole idea. And neither are some other people who live in Judah or the Ammonites, the Arabs and more. Nehemiah hears about their plans to attack and so he stations people behind the lowest points of the wall. He encourages them to remember that God is great and to fight for their brothers, son, daughters – their families.

Nehemiah goes on to say that from that day on, the day that their enemies plans had been thwarted, half of his men did the work rebuilding the wall while the other half were equipped with every kind of weapon, ready for battle. Nehemiah tells the people that there’s a lot of work to be done but God would fight for them should the trumpet sound for battle.

That makes me think of heaven’s warriors. They are stationed at the lowest points of the walls around us. While they are encamped about us, we need to stand firm and remember that we are still called to fight as well. We are to stand guard, equipped with every kind of weapon (the armor of God). Our battle trumpet is sounding and God is fighting for us. There’s still much work to be done, but we don’t do it alone. We have mighty angels keeping us from harm in the palm of their hands. Children have their own personal angels, capturing the attention of God concerning them. We have angels who are sent to serve us. Ministering angels. Angels that are there to care for us, look after us, comfort, tend to and, again, to guard us.

Angels don’t sit out in the garden with their legs crossed, staring at the grass. They stand near us, ready to fight. They are heaven’s warriors, sent personally by God to care for us. Those whom they lift up in the palm of their hands.

Do you believe in angels?

Just One Rose

Just Peachy
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

A  woman who wanted affirmation from God that He did, indeed, hear her desperate prayers. She had been raised to believe that laying a fleece before Him was taboo, but at this point in her life, she didn’t know what else to do. Her bitterness and sorrow were growing day by day.

She approached the throne of God and made her request known. She asked her heavenly Father that  if He was listening, to send her a red or a yellow rose.

She awoke the next morning, dressed, and headed off to work. All was usual. Even the co-worker that came into her office. And, this wasn’t just any co-worker, but the one that annoyed her due to his perky, joyful attitude. He was too happy and that annoyed her for one simple reason. She wasn’t.

As usual, he was his regular self – full of perk and joy. And full of the smiles she had come to nearly despise. This particular day he greeted her, hands behind his back. She wasn’t in the mood for smiling or merriment. Somehow he had sensed that from her lately and on this particular day he brought her a gift. “A little something,” he felt prompted to explain, “that I thought would cheer you up. The red one is to remind you that you are cherished by a big God and the yellow one is to remind you that He is in control and wants you to be at peace.”

Before he could finish, tears were streaming down her face. The years of sorrow and loss that had turned to bitterness and despair, washed away with the tears that ran down her face that day. God had been listening and answered not just with one rose, but two.

After reading her post, I sat at my computer, staring at the screen. Tears rolled down my cheeks. It was at that very moment that I, too, prayed for a rose. A fleece in the form of a scented bloom. I would not be so bold as to be specific as to color. Any rose would do. I wasn’t picky.

While in the process of moving, packing up our too many belongings, putting them in storage and heading who knows where, we are, I guess one might say – temporarily ‘homeless’. Unable to meet our financial demands in our current place of residence, we are seeking God’s will for the next placement, while not knowing what that looks like or where it is.

With each box that is taped and labeled, the question remains in the back of my mind as to when these boxes of mementoes, memories and more will be opened. The bigger question that haunts me is whether or not we are doing the right thing. Believing we are and at the same time, feeling like we’ve gone absolutely crazy.

So, sitting there before the computer, I laid a fleece before the throne of God. I asked for affirmation that we were making the right choices and doing the right thing. I didn’t need to know where He was taking us or when or how. I just wanted to know we were being obedient and not on some crazy path made of our own accord.

The next day my son was visiting and I was in the other room when the doorbell rang. He answered it and I could hear him talking to someone. By the time I got upstairs, the visitor had left. I asked him who was at the door and he said it was one of my friends. She had brought something for me and he had put it on the kitchen counter. I turned around and looking into the kitchen, there on the counter stood six perfect, as beautiful as I’ve ever seen, red roses from her garden.

I am overwhelmed at the goodness of God. He doesn’t just answer our prayers, but goes beyond what we could have imagined, assuring us that he is indeed listening and answering in abundance.

In the Midst of Sorrow and Suffering

 A man is taken to the ER for breathing issues and is looked after in the ER and sent home the same night. After being at home for a time, he has breathing problems again, this time accompanied by a headache. He closes his eyes to get some rest and passes quietly that evening in his sleep.

A young woman is making wedding plans, only to come home the other evening and find that her fiancé has taken his life.

A mom, 32, goes to ER for the flu. She is a wife and mother of two little girls under three years. She never went home.

A tornado hits in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It claims three lives and destroys much of the William Carey University where a friend is attending. She says that the chapel is heavily damaged but inside, there still stands, in its regular place, the word of God. The tempest has not been able to destroy the Book or its message. The president announces that its pages, after the winds have blown them hither and yon, lay open to Psalm 46. A message God wants all to remember. Desires all to hear.

“Listen to me… you whom I have upheld since your birth,
 and have carried since you were born.

“Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
 I have made you and I will carry you;
  I will sustain you and I will rescue you…

“Remember this, keep it in mind…

Remember the former things, those of long ago;
 I am God, and there is no other;
  I am God, and there is none like me.

I make known the end from the beginning,
 from ancient times, what is still to come. 
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
 and I will do all that I please.’

…What I have said, that I will bring about;
    what I have planned, that I will do.

Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted,
    you who are now far from my righteousness.

I am bringing my righteousness near,
 it is not far away;
 and my salvation will not be delayed.
I will grant salvation to Zion,
 my splendor to Israel.”

Coincidence?

For those who have lost loved ones, to those who are grieving, to those who are deeply hurting, to those who carry sorrow that is weighing them down…

His righteousness near. It is not faraway. His salvation will not be delayed. He is God. There is no other – no one like Him. He will sustain you. He made you and He will carry you. He will sustain and rescue you.

He will. He will.

He will.

 

What Jesus Knew and Peter Forgot

The Son is Always There
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

He tells them to get into the boat. He tells them to go on ahead. Go to the other side and He will would dismiss the crowd.
He knows what he was doing.

The crowd, little by little disperses. Some continue to hang around and chat. Ponder collectively over what they had just heard. The words that had just tickled their ears. Spoke to their heart. Changed their lives.

While some remain, pondering His words, He hikes up the side of the mountain. Alone. To pray.

The air begins to cool. The sun begins to set. And there He is. Sitting, kneeling on that mountainside, alone, praying to his Father.

In the meantime, the boat, now a good distance away from the shore, begins to rock back and forth. Those inside that vessel grow fearful.

Meanwhile, up on the mountainside, He continues to pray. The cool breezes began to blow past Him.

He knows. He is God and, He knows.

He knows who is in that boat which sways more fervently with each sharp gust of wind. It bites at their flesh. The cold water washes over them, drenching their hopes for a safe return. It threatens to fill the hull that holds them in what little refuge they have. It mocks them. Its intent is to sink them. Sink bury their hopes. Their faith. Their trust. Their belief for a better way. If it has its way, it will leave them for dead.

And He knows this.

It is the fourth watch of the night. It is almost sunrise. They have battled through the night with a ship destined for destruction. He has battled all night in prayer. Were His prayers for their faith to increase and their fears to subside?

There are boats by the shore. He could probably get a ride. But instead, He walks. Right onto the water and the waves lap around His ankles.

He. walks.

On. the. water.

How many times do we read stories from the Bible – hear stories from the Bible – that they’ve become commonplace seem to bring nothing into our humdrum lives?

“Oh yes. I’ve read that one – Jesus brought a little girl back to life. Pretty cool.”

Cool? COOL? It’s miraculous! It’s incredible. Incredibly miraculous. And if I think about it for any length of time, at any depth, I realize – it isn’t cool, it’s unfathomable.

And so He walks. And fear rocks each disciple as the waves rock the boat. Then they spot Him. When that fear has clawed its razor sharp talons into the depths of their beings – they see Him. But through fear-tinted glasses they don’t really see Him.

They see a man.

They see a figure.

They see…

“Peter! It’s. a. ghost.!!!”

But He is not a ghost. He is the One who will save them. Now, at this moment. And three years later. And every day after that.

Immediately He calls out. “Guys – it’s okay. Don’t be afraid. It’s me – Jesus.”

Peter gathers his thoughts.

“Lord, if it’s really you then…”

Should he risk it? Should he sound and look foolish should it really be a ghost? Will his request make him look brave so that when he appears foolish in three years on that day of denial, his companions may overlook his shame?

He risks it.

“Lord, if it is you, then tell me to come out there to you on the water.”

Does Peter, at this point in time, have an inkling as to who Jesus really is?

There is no bravery here. There is no foolishness. There is relief. Relief that Help has come. But still the winds toss the boat about. And in the tossing and the rocking and the swaying, Jesus says, “Come.”

At this point, Peter may have wished it was a ghost he had seen for now he had to show by works what his faith meant to him. Could he walk over to Jesus, who had been coming to them but now waited for Peter to come to Him?

I don’t think Peter jumped. I think it was more like he wanted to jump ship as he slowly, cautiously, put one leg over the boat and then the next and then with both hands anchored tightly to the rim on the side the boat, with eyes closed, he lets loose. And… he. is .standing.

I can imagine his suprise. He. really. is. standing!

He probably smiles a sheepish grin to no one in particular and turns around and begins walking toward Jesus. You couldn’t wipe that grin off his face. You couldn’t squelch that pride that coursed through his very being.

His shoulders are broad and he could have moved a mountain. If only the waves at his feet would settle. If only the wind would calm. But, as he looks at the waves and feels their sting against his legs, and looks to the horizon and watches the clouds rush toward him, the faith flees and fear fills him once again and… he begins to sink.

Because that’s what fear does.

It pulls you down and makes you feel like you’re sinking. That the storms in life are pounding down so hard upon you that you will drown and no one can save you.

But Jesus knew. He knew what was going on in that boat while he was in prayer up on that mountain. He knew what they were thinking while he was intervening. He knew their battle with fear while he was battling for souls. And He knew what Peter would do.

“Lord, save me,” Peter cried out as he began to sink.

Jesus knew.

He knew the very second Peter quit looking at Him, is the very second Peter would begin to sink.

Peter didn’t sink immediately, but instead, “when he saw the wind”, we’re told he began sinking and cried out for Jesus to save him. And what did Jesus do?

Immediately He reached out and caught him. Not down, not under the water, but out. It shows Jesus was ready for that moment. Because He knew – before he even sent those boys across the lake, before he spent the entire night in prayer – He knew what was going to happen. Peter didn’t have time to sink because Jesus was in the process of saving him before Peter knew he needed saving. Before he cried out, “Lord, save me,” Jesus was in the process of reaching out before Peter had time to go under.

And Jesus meets Peters fears and faltering faith with tenderness.

With an arm around Peter’s shoulder and steadying his weak knees, Jesus asks, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

What do you say to that?

What could Peter say? What could he do? He said nothing.

The story goes on…

‘When they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.’

The wind died. In the mere presence of Jesus, the wind died. Not a word was spoken.

And, as the wind died, the disciples were saved. As the wind died, their faith grew. As the wind died, they began to live. Really live. And in their living, they worshipped Him. Why? Because they realized who they were hanging around with. They knew this Jesus – their Jesus – wasn’t some mystical, magical being that appeared as a ghost upon stormy seas. They knew this was the Son of God. The One that had the power to change hearts and minds. To change lives. To turn fear into faith and worry into worship.

There are a hundred and one things I could list that could cause me to worry. And fear. And many things on my list I have granted permission to cause fear and worry. Health issues. Financial issues. Family issues. Failures. On and on.

But God doesn’t want us to live there. We can’t live there for Jesus showed us that to live in fear is to sink in the storm. And His way is much safer: keep my eyes on Him, reach for His hand, and trust Him.

Above all, trust Him.

Prayer -Just Do It

Pearl’s Red Peony
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

There have been times when I’ve gotten frustrated with all the books on prayer that seem to be available to anyone who is considering deepening their prayer life. It seems such a simple thing – to pray. After all, weren’t we given instructions by Christ personally, on how to pray. Doesn’t it seem obvious then, that all that is left to do is… just pray?

Yes. And, no.

If we are seasoned in the habit of prayer, then yes. We can get down to business and pray. We can come before the throne of God in faith and with confidence and present our requests, worship Him, repent of our sins, give Him thanks for all He has done and does still. We have been there at His feet often. We have learned the importance, the necessity, the need to pray. The key thought here however, is that we have already formed a habit of prayer. A routine of and a dependence on conversations with God. We have become (one might say) addicted to prayer.

However, I have found that just because we may think of ourselves as seasoned in prayer, it seems that it’s quite easy to become, if we haven’t already done so, ‘unseasoned’ in the area of prayer.

Instead of forming a habit or starting a routine or becoming dependent on meeting with our heavenly Father, we’ve somehow, somewhere along the way, allowed ourselves to easily become addicted to other things that take us away from that precious time with the Lord. So perhaps a few of those books on prayer might get a wayward prayer warrior back on track. Perhaps they will inspire and create a newness of spirit toward the act of prayer. Maybe we will become like a Nike runner and just do it… Just pray.

Lord, help me not become distracted so that other things take the place of being with You…

You’ve spoken all the words
time and time again,
voiced everything,
in every way you know how.
How do you utter a word
when it seems you can’t pray?
How do you reach into the darkness,
way down,
deep inside
longing to voice the pain
you find hiding there?
The aches and the wounds
have robbed you of words.
The burden you carry
has left you raw and weak.
Yet, still you kneel at your bedside,
holding your heart in your hands,
vulnerable and exposed
and admitting your weakness
you cry for help.

You need to talk to someone –
Is there anybody –
just one somebody who understands?

Your heart
pierced
you have nothing left to give
as your tears mix with the salt of the ocean
where you stand standing at the water’s edge
contemplating your fate.

Yet somewhere within your weakened spirit
Someone calls you by name
and in the silence of the present
you hear the Voice once more,
and you weep.

In the dark of your desperation
you cry out
expressing the anguish
the heartache you’ve held for so long within.

When words begin to flow
the feeling of loneliness
the ache in your life subsides
as hope you’ve known before now
begins to surface once more
and a healing balm soothes you deep inside.

There is a God who cares
though at times
hard to see,
or to feel,
or to touch,
or to hear.

He waits
longing to meet with you
with me
in the dark places
where we’ve thought
and felt
He’s left us –
without Him.

You hold onto His promise:
He will never leave you –
a promise He gave from His heart

and in the times
when words can’t be found,
His spirit intercedes
and speaks for you.

While He already knows
the depth of your pain
the source of your tears
He also knows
you need to tell Him –
you need to say the words
few though they may be
they will cleanse you inside out
and heal from within

and let Him do
His most holy work
to restore
​to renew
​to refresh
​​your life
as broken
and bruised
and beaten
though it may be

He can
and He will
do it.

For He is

Abba Father.
Daddy.
Our Lord God.

What Christmas Is All About

img_2746What is Christmas?
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…
You better watch out, you better not cry…
Jingle bells…
The Annual Family Christmas Tree Outing…
Silent night, holy night…
Santa Claus…
Rudolph and his clan…
Caroling…
The Christmas story told in various and assorted versions…
Watching “A Christmas Story” about Ralphie and his Red Rider BB Gun…
Giving, receiving, and opening gifts…

In high school I memorized Clement C. Moore’s “Twas the Night before Christmas” for part of a speech and debate class, which crazily enough took me to a Speech and Debate Meet where I won something for some category. Funny thing is, I didn’t even believe in Santa Claus. I did as a child and he came personally each year, making a surprise visit in a red velvet suit, trimmed with white ‘fur’ and topped with a matching hat, a pair of black boots and a wide, black belt. He was the real deal. Or so I thought. The year I was six, cousin Dave whispered otherwise.

As Santa rounded the hall corner, cousin Dave, who had also anxiously been awaiting Santa’s grand entrance said, with great disappointment , “That’s not Santa. That’s grandpa.” How he could see past the curly white beard is beyond me, but he was right. I’m not sure if anyone else stopped believing that year or not because I’m not sure if anyone else heard him, but I sure did.

Yes, that was the moment I quit believing in Santa. It had been a deception that I didn’t want to accept: Santa wasn’t real. Santa was my grandpa. Santa was still the man in red, but he didn’t live up at the North Pole. He didn’t have elves such as I had believed. His elves had the same names as my mom and dad and aunts and uncles. He didn’t have a sleigh but instead drove a Buick and he didn’t have a reindeer, but a toy poodle named Prince. I was devastated.

That year Christmas meant that not all people tell the truth.

A few years later, my mom bought the most beautiful doll I had ever seen. The first time I saw it, it was sitting on the top shelf in her closet. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to see it. I had been sitting on her bed, waiting for her to finish her shower and the closet door happened to be open and there it sat, sitting up there in its unopened box, all by itself, staring at me. I wasn’t snooping. It was just there – beckoning to come down and play. When my mom came out, I asked her why it was there and she said it was for my cousin—for Christmas. I didn’t understand that. I had never had a beautiful doll like that one. Well, okay I had beautiful dolls. Just not that one. And so I begged my mother for it and finally, after my persistence and annoying whining and pleas coated with how I didn’t have a doll like that, she gave it to me. Every time I held that doll, I felt selfishly guilty. I don’t think my mother realized that she gave me the gift of learning to be unselfish that year, because that year I learned it’s much better to give than to receive.

A few years later, I learned more about what Christmas meant. I learned what the meaning of Christmas was really all about.
Since the beginning of time, most of us have heard that ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son.’ In other words, God loved us so much, that He had to do something to give us hope in this crazy place and save us from ourselves. Hope for situations in which we had been deceived and forgiveness for our own selfish ways. And so, he gave us His son.

He put him on this earth as a little baby who grew up, much the same as you and I. However, the difference between us and Him? He didn’t deceive others. He always told the truth. He taught that the Truth would set us free. He didn’t try to manipulate people into giving him what he wanted but came to give what they needed.

He never pushed to get his way. He showed the world that it was better to give than to receive. He didn’t stand in crazy lines that wrapped around store aisles but stood on the stones of a temple courtyard where He was sentenced to die a sinner’s death.

The day had come for Him to go. If he stayed, hope would become a word without meaning. He showed the world once—and for all—the value of a gift when He held out his arms on the cross, similarly as his mother did some years earlier. She held out her arms to embrace the Son of God on that first Christmas night, only to watch Him embrace the world as He held open His arms on the cross.

That is what Christmas means to me – to open my arms to the world. To offer all that I have to those who have nothing – physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually. To embrace those who are alone and need someone to comfort them, listen to them, be a friend. To forsake what I think I need and give to another, learning that I have all I need.

The holidays can be so crazy—focusing on wants and desires. The desire for this or that. The desire to give the best gift. The desire for the best deals.

My desire is to focus on that little boy. To please him in my offering of gifts that I bring. And I want to bring to him everything. I no longer want to be the little girl, vying for a plastic doll or to tell Santa my secrets, but I want to scan the faces of humanity and see who needs a gift more than I do.

What is Christmas? Christmas isn’t about me. It’s all about Him.

Prying the Lid Off of My Bucket

Lithia Park Photo by Sherri Woodbridge
Lithia Park
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

I’ve been trying to get organized.  Decluttering. Simplifying life. SIfting through my bucket box.

To others, it could translate a little differently, like: Getting your ‘affairs’ in order.  Making a new (‘life’) plan.  Cutting stress.  Starting a new habit (or two) or breaking an old one.  Cutting clutter.  Going through ‘stuff’. Methodizing ‘things’.  Putting things in ‘order’.  Making a ‘power productivity program’.  Designating time.  FREEDOM.  Spring cleaning. Setting goals.  Cleaning out.  Sorting through junk.

I’m sure you could come up with more.  For me, it’s been a bit of spring cleaning (trying to get a head start so I can finish before summer this time), setting some goals, sorting through things, cleaning out other things, and/or putting things in order

Another thing I’m doing is trying to fill and empty my bucket, or box.  I have a little box covered rather primitively and given to me by a very special person who hid a packet of soup in it when once I thanked her for the delicious meal she made for her sister and I. I loved the box and was elated to find out it was a mix so I could make it!  The box became (and still is) my ‘bucket’ box.  It holds ideas of things to do, to make, to write.  I am good at filling it.  I slack off on opening the lid to actually doing what I put in there.

In his book, Unfair and Unbalance: The Lunatic Magniloquence of Henry E. Panky, the author, Patrick M. Carlisle, makes the statement that, “a Great Man, in his querulous twilight years, who doesn’t want to go gently into that blacky black night, [will] cut loose, dance on the razor’s edge, pry the lid off his bucket list!”  I don’t wish to be querulous now or in my ‘twilight’ years, but I am ready to cut loose, dance on the razor’s edge and pry the lid back on my bucket box.  Perhaps live a little more – or a lot.

I think when you have a chronic or a terminal illness (or intimately know or live with someone who does), you tend to look at life differently. It becomes more valuable as you realize in one way or another, your time is limited.  Limited by days or mobility, functionality or abilities.  You tend to see things in a new light and what was once was not, now becomes a possibility.
For me, to make things more possible, involves being more organized and de-cluttering my ‘life’.  That is all materially, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

I guess you could say I owe this enlightenment to my daughter.
She and her husband came up for Christmas this past December and one evening (in front of her husband, no less) said to me, “Mom, you’ve really got a lot of stuff – a lot of clutter – laying around (yes, she used that word).  You’ve really started becoming a pack rat.”  The shameless boldness to speak to her mother with such truth. Hmph!

The actual truth is – I think I’ve always been a pack rat.  I’ve just organized (or hidden) it well.  So – she doesn’t know it but, her comment lit a fire under me.  January 1st, I made a decision to get organized AND clean out (two different things).  I think what has happened is, I started cleaning out (de-cluttering) and the organization started happening.  When the organization began coming back (I was once super organized), I began to feel less stress and ‘free’. I began thinking of setting goals and designating time anew.  I began thinking about what to take out of my bucket box and doing something about those ideas, whether they be something to make, do, or to visit.
When I began to think of goals, designating time naturally came into play.
Yesterday I heard a woman say, “I realized that I have spent more time thinking about food than thinking about God.”  Shouldn’t that be the other way around (and she was getting to that, I realized as I stood talking to her)?

So, as my life becomes and continues to be reordered, reprioritized, reorganized, I am hoping to get it to look something like this:

~God first in deed, speech, and thought.  What does that look like for me?  He comes first in my attention and affection.  If He truly is the most important, He will get the best of both ~ quantity and quality of time and love.  If that is working well, all the other areas of my life seemto work  well, no matter the circumstance.

Everyone is a child of God and deserves to be treated as such.  There are no exceptions.  What does that look like?  Forgiveness.  Unconditonal love.  Random acts of kindness.  Phone calls/notes to friends and family.  If they matter, it should be obvious.  I have a responsibility to love like Jesus.  If I truly love Him and follow Him, I’ll act like Him and others won’t ever have to question if I love them or if they matter.  My words, my thoughts, and my actions will reflect this.

~De-cluttered.  What does that look like for me?
Thoughts can tend to change as the old thoughts are no longer welcome and I let them go. I believe this stems from the desire to put God back in His right place in my life: first place.  When I give  Him priority in all things, I easily see what needs to go.

Are there material things that you hold on to that are a reminder of past hurt?  Emotional memories that keep you from experiencing true freedom and joy?  Maybe it’s time to de-clutter our inner lives, too.

~Open the bucket box and take something out. I love new dieas.  Something new to try.   Going somewhere new.  Sometimes, however, I get so distracted with new ideas that they stay just that – ideas.  I want to begin to take these ideas out and do something with them, even if it’s to throw them away.  After all, what am I going to do with a note that says, “3 clothespins and yellow paper with Josh”?  (A note I quickly jotted to remind me of some sort of a craft to do with my youngest son when he was five.  What do I do with 3 clothespins, yellow paper, and a five year old?)

What was that quote?  I am ready to “cut loose, …dance on the razor’s edge and pry the lid off my bucket box.