Category Archives: Spiritual

Under The Dogwood Tree

When I was a little girl, I remember playing under the dogwood trees in my grandmother’s yard.  12825772_s

Every spring, they would bloom so beautifully.  My grandmother was a kindergarten teacher and so she would always find teachable moments.  The dogwood blossom was the opportunity to remind us of the true meaning of Easter….Christ’s death and resurrection.

The white blossom has 4 petals in the shape of a cross.
The petals have blood colored stains at each tip and a marking like the nail prints in the hands and feet of Jesus.
The crown of green buds in the center of the blossom represents the crown of thorns placed upon Jesus head. Read the rest of this entry

Christmas Time Is Near

It’s the final week before Christmas….       

There’s a pep in my step, and a twinkle in my eye.

What is it that I love so much about Christmas?

I love the lights, the music, the decorations, the celebrations.
I love picking out Christmas cards, and mailing them to loved ones.
I love selecting a fresh tree, and bringing it home.
I love decorating the tree and putting the angel on top.
I love sitting in the dark and watching the Christmas lights sparkle.
I love wrapping gifts in pretty paper and arranging them under the tree.
I love the focus on baby Jesus and the nativity scenes displayed.

But what really makes it special?  What really makes it all seem so exhilarating?
It’s togetherness.
The togetherness of family getting together to do things with each other and for each other.
It’s connection.
The connection to total strangers who wish you Merry Christmas and good cheer.
It’s compassion.
Compassion for others shown in the gifts given, the time spent, and yes, even when we comfort those who are sad and lonely during the Holiday Season.

How wonderful this Earth would be if the Christmas spirit lasted all year through.  And yet, it can.
Jesus is the Christmas spirit, the wonder of togetherness, giving, caring, reaching out to others.
Jesus is connection.  He wants us to always seek connection to one another, to cherish our memories as we create them, and not just later.
Jesus is compassion….there is no greater compassion than His gift of life to us.

Don’t you think He would want us to be in a Christmas frame of mind all year?

As you put away your Christmas decorations this year, don’t put Christmas out of your heart.
Merry Christmas!!!

 

 

Children Capture His Heart.

Jesus came to us as a baby, innocent and new.  As he walked the Earth, he shared a special concern and love for children.

 But Jesus called them to him, and said, Suffer little children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.  Luke 18:16 

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.  Matthew 18: 1-5

How wonderful to hear a child talk about Jesus.   How strong and trusting is their faith.  How well they can grasp the concepts of the Bible.
Following is the Christmas story told in a special way by a group of children in New Zealand.  I think it will touch your heart, and make you smile.


Sharing Baby Jesus

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.   And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.   Isaiah 9:6

My 7 year old had a very specific request a few weeks ago.  “I want a baby Jesus that I can take out of the manger.”
I had some nativity scene decorations but I didn’t have a nativity with a baby Jesus that could be taken out of the manger, and I knew I had to find one just for her.  I remembered the one that I had played with as a young child and I knew how special it had been to me.  I loved taking the baby Jesus in and out of the manger when I was her age too.
So my teenager and I went Christmas shopping and I looked and looked for that special request but couldn’t find one anywhere.  I even looked online.  Sadly, I told my teenager I was giving up.  And then she said to me,  “she can have my baby Jesus.”  I was delighted as I remembered that my mom gave her the baby Jesus (or one just like it) that I played with as a little girl, and realized that she had kept it as one of the few things from her childhood she still cherished.  That she would pass it on to her little sister said worlds to me.   That the same baby Jesus was still around to warm another’s heart and add to her Christmas childhood memories meant so much to me.

And I also thought…..that’s what Christmas is all about…..that we give our baby Jesus to others.

This Christmas, may you remember that God’s most awesome work was done through the frailty of his Son.  May you cherish that the baby Jesus brought hope to you and your family…..and share your baby Jesus with others so they can know the wonder of his love, the hope of his salvation, and the promise of eternal life.  May baby Jesus be the center of your Christmas focus and may each generation pass that hope to the next.

And please do remember to take that  baby Jesus out of the manger….and put him in your heart.


 

Like Stars in the Universe

Phil 2: 14 – 15 Do everything without complaining or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.
Shine Like Stars in the Universe…..
Does it make a difference when we have a grateful heart?,

a positive attitude?
When we don’t complain?
GOD SAYS IT DOES.
He says that it’s what makes us stand out in a crooked and depraved generation.

Does that mean in everything?
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

As this Thanksgiving season draws near, let us remember that it does matter how we view the circumstances of our life, and how we respond to those circumstances.  It does matter how we carry out our responsibilities, and how we serve others.    Cleaning toilets, washing clothes, running errands, cooking food, all the mundane little duties of our jobs at work and at home.  Yes, in ALL things.

You may not realize who observes you as you go about your daily business, or who is impacted by your example.  But even if no one on Earth applauds your efforts or even seems to care…. what you do is noticed, and more importantly the attitude and gratitude with which you do it is noticed by your Heavenly Father.   
Do we want him to notice you?……then be thankful, don’t complain, and you will SHINE in His eyes….. like the stars in the universe!!!!!
PRAYER for you this Thanksgiving season:  
May you have a grateful heart, and a thankful spirit.  May you shine bright in a dark world.
 

The Blame Game

The Blame Game has been around for a long time.
Genesis 3:12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
Genesis 3:13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
Genesis 4:9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?

In fact, it is prevalent throughout the Bible, and is still a well played game today.  Children use it frequently because they naturally want  to rationalize  wrong behaviors and get out of trouble.  It is easy to recognize when a child uses it…but what about when we use it ourselves?  We may not even be aware that we are doing it.

I was sitting through a webinar at my job a few weeks ago.  The webinar was about improving the relationships between nurses and therapists.  They began talking about how one group will blame the other and refered to the idiom of “throwing someone under the bus.” The problem identified was how that always keeps the pot stirred and creates separation,  “us vs them”.    As I heard the examples used, I thought, how justified those statements were, and I use them myself in pointing a finger at the other discipline as a group.  So, I really had to dig through my rationalization to see the errors of my ways.  Example “Nursing doesn’t care about the patient.  It’s just a job to them.”  I’ve felt that way many times and have been quick to verbalize it to others.  But is that fair?  Or am I throwing them under the bus without really knowing the circumstances.  Maybe I am wrong in my assumptions and they do care.  Maybe there are aspects of their jobs that I don’t understand.  Maybe the stresses of performing their jobs give the wrong impression.  Maybe they are doing the best they can.
God convicted me, no doubt.  And I am working on changing this wrong behavior.  To throw someone under the bus is equivalent to using others as a scapegoat.
 The origin of the scapegoat is a goat over the head of which the high priest of the ancient Jews confessed the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement, after which it was allowed to escape: Lev. 16:7-26.  Don’t we want our wrong doings to run away?  Don’t we want to vent our frustrations when something is not how we want it to be?  How convenient to place them on someone else.
Challenge:  May I challenge you to pay attention to how many times you use a group or individual as a scapegoat. Pay attention to how you defend yourself and make sure you don’t throw someone under the bus in the process.  The Bible says:   2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  Instead of looking for that scapegoat, let’s try to find a different solution and work on building each other up, working together to solve problems instead of blaming.
Images above:Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

 

Touch ME

  Do you remember this picture?

This is a picture from an article called “The Rescue Hug”.
The article details the first week of a set of twins.
Apparently, each were in their respective incubators,
and one was not expected to live.
A hospital nurse fought against the hospital rules
and placed the babies in one incubator.

When they were placed together, the healthier of the twins
reached out an arm over the sister in an endearing embrace.
The smaller baby’s heart stabilized and her temperature rose to normal.
(Verified by Snopes as true).

Both of these babies survived, and the story is a touching example of how important human touch is, and how God designed us to need it for survival, for life.

How comfortable are you with touch? American culture is typically very “hands off” and touch starved.  I would like to encourage you to examine your own comfort level with touch and being touched as a means of communication with those around you.  Touch doesn’t have to be sexual, and it is a very important communication tool.

A touch can convey:  I am thinking about you.   I noticed you.  I want to show I care.  You are important.  I empathize with your situation.  I want you to feel better.  I am happy to see you.  I am happy to be with you.  I sense your suffering.  I want to comfort you.  I see you.

Touch can have healing power:  comfort, decreased anxiety,  decreased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, decreased pain, decreased tension, decreased restlessness, decrease in stress hormones, improved circulation, relaxation, increase in chemicals and hormones that promote a good immune system and promote emotional and mental well being.

Challenge: Reach out and connect with the people in your life via touch….a gentle hand on a shoulder, a gentle press of another’s hand in yours, a hug, a massage.  Let your kids lay on you, snuggle with you, give them hugs and affectionate touches.  Give your husband hugs and kisses, massages, and snuggles.    Connect even with strangers as opportunity presents itself with gentle touches that bestow friendliness, caring.

Touch and be touched.

A Touching Prayer for you:  May you become more and more comfortable with the life giving connection of touch….as God meant for it to be shared with others as an important expression of His love and concern.  May you give and receive many touches in your lifetime.

For More Information on the Importance of Touch:
5 Benefits of the Human Touch:  http://www.modernmom.com/article/5-benefits-of-the-human-touch
The Healing Power of Touch:   http://www.odemagazine.com/blogs/readers_blog/13878/the_healing_power_of_touch
The Healing Power of Touch Reduces Anxiety and Tension:   http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0675/is_n6_v9/ai_11489808/
The Healing Power of Touch: http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/womens_health/83603
The Power of the Human Touch-How Important is the Touch?:   http://veronicaallen.hubpages.com/hub/The-Power-Of-The-Human-Touch
 The Power of Touch: http://scrubsmag.com/the-power-of-touch/

Information Overload

I have a theory about the human mind. A brain is a lot like a computer. It will only take so many facts, and then it will go on overload and blow up.   Erma Bombeck

I get saturated”, my husband said, as we began to discuss why we had a blow-up argument earlier that morning.  ” I can only take so much information, and my emotions can only take so much and then I just feel overwhelmed”.

Do you ever experience someone displaying an unexpectedly emotional, defensive, or even angry outburst to cause a sudden end to a conversation?

Do you ever feel as if you had a conversation with your spouse, or one of the kids, etc.  and they interacted back enough to fool you into thinking they were processing as well as retaining the information…and then later you realize they have no recollection of the conversation, and you might as well have carried on the conversation with the wall?

Maybe the culprit is information overload.  In our current technological world, we are inundated with enormous pieces of information in a day….from TV, radio, emails, text messages, advertisements, browsing as well as working on our computers. Information overload is a problem with growing exposure and also an area of new and promising research.  It is a proven fact that our brains can only hold so much, and then they have to let some information go to make room for new information.  The brain can become overwhelmed with trying to decide what to hold on to and what to ignore.  Too much info has a negative impact on our ability to think, reason, and cope.

In our daily interactions with our spouses, this can certainly impact how well they can attend to our expressed needs.  As Christian wives, I think it is an important skill to recognize when our husbands are showing signs of saturation.  If we keep pressuring them to continue a discussion, for example, when their inner sponge is full, there is going to be overflow…and not typically of a positive nature.

Some suggestions for the household.
1) When discussing issues with our spouse, learn to control any emotional compulsion to have closure to an issue in that moment….trust God and learn to LET IT GO!.. It can always be revisited at a later, more appropriate time.
2) If there is important information that needs to be conveyed, figure out what each person best attends to for retaining that information (ie repeating it back to you, having it in written form, having a “check-in” time during the day when you touch base with each other)
3) Ask for some time when you can have undivided attention of the person you are needing to inform…make sure you have eye contact.  Keep the conversation as brief as you can to ensure they do not become too overwhelmed with the information and begin to tune out.
4) Work and re-work the scenarios that go wrong to figure out what can be done differently next time to improve the communication.

Prayer for your communication:  May you become more adept at recognizing information overload interfering with the relationships around you.  May God grant you the patience and wisdom to know how to keep it from causing discord in your home.
  Have you noticed signs of information overload in your home or workplace?  What techniques have worked for you? Do you notice how information overload affects you negatively too?

Other Resources:
 Watching the Human Brain Process Information:  http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reportsitem.aspx?id=102399 
Death By Information Overload:  http://www.dailygood.org/view.php?qid=3899
Information Overload and the Art of Communication:  http://advancedlifeskills.com/blog/information-overload-the-art-of-communication/
10 Ways to Overcome Information Overload :  http://www.teamhealth.com/wellness/mentalhealthmatters/overcomeoverload.pdf
Are You Disconnected From Your Spouse?:  http://www.crosswalk.com/family/marriage/are-you-disconnected-from-your-spouse-11603424.html
10 Ways to Recover and Reconnect With Your Spouse:  http://www.crosswalk.com/family/marriage/10-ways-to-recover-and-reconnect-with-your-spouse-1315531.html
Marathon Arguing:   http://www.marriagemissions.com/marathon-arguing/

 

This Little Light of Mine

I’ve been so excited about the Making Your Home a Haven challenge that is being offered on WomenLivingWell.org.  The first step in the challenge was to light a candle everyday in a central focal area of the home, and then to pray for peace whenever your eye caught the light of the candle.  Monday was the first day, and sadly, my candle never got lit….too much chaos with everyone in my household off in different directions.  There never really was a time for us as a family that first night and I felt like I had failed… I decided to not despair, however, and make the most of Day 2 when all would be home with no pressing obligations.
I finished my day of work and got off at a decent time.  I drove to daycare with excitement about a good night at home.  I walked to the playground and looked around for my 7 year old.  Neither I nor the daycare person could find her at first.  We kept calling, and slowly a dirt covered object rose as if from the dead out of the sand at the back of the playground.  My daughter had let other children bury her up to the neck in sand.  She also had a note from school about misbehavior (after many warnings the note said).  ugh! I thought…this can’t be a good night, and where has this behavior come from when she has been doing so good. My car was filled with sand.  My bathroom floor was filled with sand…but I kept it together.  I thought, a quick shower and all will be ok, but NO…in the shower my child proceeded to misbehave.  When I asked her what’s wrong, and why are you acting this way, she said “Because I want to do what I want to do!”   She is at least brutally honest..no sugar coating or rationalizing for her. Her father came in and was informed about the days misconduct and when he began to talk to her she argued with him (very brave I might add!) and her sassy mouth went in to overdrive.  Uh oh! I thought….there goes my haven.  Of course my child was given consequences for her behaviors, and as soon as her father left, she said “I hate having parents who are not nice.  You are not nice parents.”  I have never heard such words from my child before.  All of these behaviors were so bizarre, even for her.
But I kept my focus.  I went and lit my candle, and I prayed.  As the flame flickered, I saw life glowing and my hope was renewed.  You know my heart, Lord, I said.  I give what’s left of this night to you.
I called my 7 year old to the kitchen to sit and start her homework while I prepared supper.  I helped her with her homework and tried to make it fun.  Immediately she calmed down and a peace settled over the remainder of the night.  She focused and minded.  Her father returned about an hour before her bedtime and commended her for changing her behaviors.  My teenager volunteered to make some white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.. “and by the way mom, I like the candle”, she said.  As I sat with my 7 year old and we finished our cookies, I asked her what she had learned today…and very sweetly, she said..”to mind, and to think about what I’m doing, and to do the right thing.”  And she gave me a hug.  I thanked God for answered prayer, and the peaceful end to what started out so chaotic.
And I leaned over and blew out my candle with peace in my heart.
( Image above:  Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos)



HOME: A Safe Harbor

Women Living Well is starting a Fall Challenge called Making Your Home A Haven… I am excited about this.  Who wouldn’t want their home to be a haven? Definition of Haven: A harbor or anchorage, a port A place sought for rest, refuge, shelter, protection. I though about my home as a port, a harbor for the ships ( my family ) to sail to and from in their daily journeys.  How wonderful it would be if they looked forward to coming home because it felt safe, comforting, nourishing, and they knew it would be a place where their souls could find renewal. Look!
Here comes my teenager home from a long, frustrating day at school.  She is the first to arrive home, and she feels like life has taken pot shots at her all day.  She had a pop quiz in one of her classes that she didn’t feel prepared for.  One of her teachers was upset because someone poured glue on the floor of his classroom and he punished the whole class since no one would confess to the crime.  She also had to sit 3 to a seat on the crowded, sweat permeated, hot bus ride home.  She is glad no one is home so she can have some time to herself to just unwind from her stressful day…as she rests, time slips away….

Next to arrive is my husband.  He hasn’t had any unpleasant occurrences during his work day, but he has been very busy and he is weary from the circumstances of his work day.  He is also hurting from an old injury in his ankle, and the pain causes him to limp from the garage into the door.  He just wants a cool glass of tea and to prop up his feet a few minutes before he tackles some grass cutting.  He walks in the door and gets upset because his daughter, the teenager noted above has forgotten to pay attention to the time and has not made tea which is one of her daily duties.  Of course, without even thinking about how her day may have gone, he immediately bombards her with demands and criticisms because he is denied his cool drink of tea.   A negative tone in the household is set…


Now I am coming home after working a long day at the hospital.  I too am weary from dealing with patients, their families, meetings, and from doing hours of documentation.  I am looking forward to just being home, but I don’t know the tension that awaits me in those who have already arrived.  Thinking about the myriad of things that I need to do when I get home….supper, check the mail, check emails, help my youngest with homework, etc….I am likely to walk through the door in get er done mode….which won’t help.

But before I get home, I have to pick up one more weary vessel…  My youngest is at daycare….a noisy, busy place and her energy is overflowing….She has had an adventurous day and she wants to tell me all about it.  She is non-stop chatter and excitement all the way home.  She wants to know if she can watch TV, ride her bike, will I play a game with her, will I read a story, etc.  She also has homework to do ….and, oh yeah, mom, I forgot to tell you I got in trouble at school for talking in class, and I have a note about it you need to sign…Whew!  5 minutes home starts to feel like an hour.

This is a glimpse into a typical day in the oceans that my family sails.  How much each vessel needs a safe place to dock…How much each vessel needs the understanding of the others, and a conscious effort to make the home a haven. I am excited to try the Women Living Well Challenge…and I encourage you to do the same.  A Christian home SHOULD BE A HAVEN….but only with Christ is this possible, our ultimate haven and refuge from the storms.
I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.  Psalm 61:3-5
Images above courtesy of: Copyright (c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>
 

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