Saturday, December 26, 2020

Caring For Others

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:4

 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Philippians 2:4

I just found out that I have been exposed to COVID. It may not be the first time, but it's the first time I've been aware of an exposure. Last Wednesday, I had my hair done. My hairdresser is amazing and I've gone to her for years. I always leave my hair appointments feeling like a new person.

Safety Protocols In Place

With the pandemic, she's been very careful to follow CDC guidelines, always wearing a mask, disinfecting all surfaces between clients and scheduling clients so there is only one person in her work space at a time.

The closest thing to being cared for is to care for someone else. Carson McCullers
I was surprised, then, when I got a text from her today, saying she'd tested positive. I know she feels horrible that she has exposed others to the virus, but I don't think she could have been any more careful.

And she's been following safety procedures for herself as well. As a breast cancer survivor, she's at a higher risk and so she's been avoiding most enclosed places and large gatherings.

And that's the awful truth about this insidious virus. It can make its way in, even with the strictest adherence to safety protocol.  

Should I Be Worried That I Have COVID?

I'm thankful that she notified me as soon as she knew so I can be mindful of my behavior as well. The last thing I want to do is unknowingly spread it to someone else.

I am absolutely not worried about the possibility of contracting the virus. Not because I think it won't happen, but because I've taken all reasonable precautions. If I do end up with it, I'll look to God for healing. I think very few people are actually fearful of getting the virus and their resolve to wear masks and take other precautions is showing respect for others rather than fear for themselves.

Respect for Others

Love each other with genuine affection,[a] and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10
As Christians, we should always be mindful of how are actions affect others. I'm not saying that we should roll over and let others do whatever they want (even though Jesus did tell us to turn the other cheek), but we should always be respectful.

Likewise, I feel that wearing a mask in public and limiting groups of people that I'm with to 10 or less is more a sign of respect for others than protection for myself. I would feel horrible if I unknowingly passed the virus on to someone else and so I have modified those little things to help protect them.

I mean, really, what other simple actions can show more love than that?

Without a sense of caring there can be no sense of community

Sense of Community

I am really tired of hearing "we're all in this together", but it's true. None of us live in a vacuum and our actions, no matter how big or small, affect others in some way.

It reminds me of an illustration that was used years ago in a training I attended. The trainer had a mobile - the kind that hangs over a baby's crib. She showed that, no matter how gently she pulled on one item hanging from the mobile, the other parts of the mobile moved as well.

And so it is with each of us. We are all part of a community, whether it be at work or church or our neighborhood or even just our family. Jesus wants us to care for the members of our community. Wearing a mask or isolating if exposed to the virus (as I will be for the next several days) is one way we can care for the members of our community.

I pray that you all stay safe from any harm and continue to grow in God's grace. 

As always, the graphics created by Dances in the Light are free to use by churches and non-profits.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Lead a Life Worthy of Your Calling

lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Ephesians 4:1

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, 
for you have been called by God. Ephesians 4:1

A few years ago, a friend gave me one of those Jesus Fish decals for my car. I love it and display it proudly for all to see. I have a feeling that Jesus slyly put the idea of creating such a car decal into someone's head - and probably prodded my friend to buy it for me - because He knew that it would affect my behavior. My driving behavior, to be specific.

I don't think I'm a bad driver (don't ask my husband, though) and I have never experienced road rage, but I do get annoyed with other drivers. Especially those who go too slow. Nothing drives me more crazy than having to follow behind Mr. Poke-a-long. I have been known to tailgate and honk at drivers going the speed limit or less. Come on already! Yes, I know we're supposed to embrace the journey, not the destination, but when I'm just going to the grocery store, there's not much of a journey to embrace!

But that decal has changed things. Because I truly don't want other drivers seeing that decal and thinking "So that's how Christians behave!" I have to be a good example for all Christians everywhere. It's like Jesus is sitting in my backseat and I have to behave All. The. Time.

So, what does that look like? Paul gives us some good guidance in Ephesians 4: Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

And Ephesians 4:25-29 tells us So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

These are all good words of advice. If I just keep them in mind at all times, I shouldn't have to worry too much about Jesus sitting there in the back seat.


Friday, December 18, 2020

His Mercy Flows in Waves - Luke 1:50

His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him. Luke 1:50

 His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him.
Luke 1:50

I love going to the Gulf beaches that are so close to our home. Even on the hottest summer days, the breeze that comes off the water is refreshing. The sights, sounds and smells are a symphony of senses that rejuvenate the soul. I can be lulled to sleep by the waves that come, one after another, onto the white sand beach. An afternoon at water's edge always calms me while giving me energy, if that is possible.

So it is with God's mercy. Just as the waves flow onto the beach, again and again unending, God's mercy flows over us continuously. And, oh boy, do I need it! Like All. The. Time! Honestly, I try to always do my best but I am human. I am flawed with weaknesses that sometimes are too hard to overcome. 

But His mercy is like a day on the beach. It calms me, knowing that, even though I don't deserve it, I have God's love and forgiveness. It also energizes me to work harder to be a better person and to use my talents to further His kingdom.

Do you think you're beyond help? That your past choices have pushed you too far away from God's mercy and grace? Don't believe those lies. Nobody is too far away from God that He won't hear even a whispered prayer and come rushing to your side. You may be too far gone for people, but God is always close by, just waiting for you to open your heart. Do it today. It's not too late. 💖

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Fail Forward Into Success


Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement.
One fails forward toward success.

C.S. Lewis

I am trying to learn Spanish using an app on my phone. It's definitely a challenge for me, especially because the app tries to mimic how you would learn through immersion. When it first introduces a concept or vocabulary, it doesn't give a lot of information about grammar or when you use usted instead of tú, for example. As a result, I make a lot of mistakes and it can get very frustrating.

Sometimes I feel like I'm not learning anything as I repeat the same mistakes again and again. But then, the lightbulb finally comes on and I get it! And, when reviewing what I've learned, I feel a sense of pride in my progress. 

Those points of former frustration are like finger posts on my road to achievement. I can look back on them and smile and how far I've come.

So it is with just about everything in life. Most things don't come easily to us and so we are bound to fail at first. That's not cause for quitting or browbeating ourselves. Think about how we react when a baby first stands on its own. The baby is standing on wobbly little legs and will inevitably fall down at first. Do we berate the baby for its failure? Of course not! We applaud and exclaim with glee over the astounding feat.

So it should be with our own failed attempts. Sometimes we just need to practice to learn a new skill (like me trying to roll my r's!) and sometimes we need to try different approaches to gain new knowledge. We learn something new with each attempt. And if we're learning, how can that be a failure?

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Best Is Yet To Come

The manger dares us to believe the best is yet to come. Max Lucado

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

And by "the world", John means you. Yes, YOU! God loves YOU so much that He sent Jesus to earth to show you how to live, both on earth and in heaven. All you have to do is believe and trust it to be true.

John doesn't say that only those who are rich will get into heaven. He doesn't say that you have to do lots of good works to have eternal life. There's no mention that you even have to go to church. All you have to do is believe that Jesus came to earth to give you eternal life.

So, just come as you are and receive the love that God so wants to give you!

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Hope in Jesus

Come, Lord Jesus. My hope is in you.

 Use this Advent season as a time to renew and strengthen your relationship with Jesus. He truly is our only hope.

I had several ideas for graphics for this text and so I did a few. Take your pick! 😄

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Don't Quit!


The process may be slow, but quitting won't speed it up.

I have little patience for just about anything. It's that one thing that's a constant on my prayer list for myself. Yes, I've even said, "Lord, please give me patience and give it to me RIGHT NOW!" So I have to admit that I have quit endeavors because it just takes too long to master... or even reach a point of "so-so"ness.

I used to work at a university that offered free tuition to its employees. I used that wonderful benefit to earn my graduate degree and I often encouraged my employees to further their education. Almost every time, the employee balked at the idea of going to school part time for two or five or ten years because that would be too long of time to devote. My response was always, "the time is going to pass anyway, why not use it to gain something that can never be taken away?"

So, when you are facing a long-term challenge - earning a degree, mastering a skill, losing weight, or whatever - just put one foot in front of the other and take one day at a time. It won't make the time go any faster, but neither will quitting.
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