she started it!

Ginny is just a little over three now and her vocabulary has gone supernova on us.  She uses words like “technically” and  “actually” and insists on the proper names being given to animals…  “that’s not a chicken mama.  He doesn’t lay eggs.  That is actually a rooster”   This was as we were setting out the fisher price nativity set (Which I strongly recommend for anyone with kids.  Put away the fragile sets for a few years and use this one.   Your child can play with each item and you will find yourself interacting with your kids as you play act the story over and over again.  Not just on Christmas morning)

Given her increased vocabulary,  playing word-association with Ginny is very fun and interesting.  It gives me a window into what she thinks is important. That window opened wide as Ginny and I played word-association last night for almost 15 minutes. 

The only rule for Ginny is “nope you can’t use that word, you said Georgia already”   Otherwise she can say anything she wants.  Even without anyone explaining the rules, Ginny is only going to throw out a word that DOES have some connection (however tenuous) to the previous word   I had a personal rule for myself  that my words had to relate in some real, logical way to Ginny’s previous word and it needed to be something that Ginny had a shot at least of relating to.  So if she said “George”  I couldn’t say “Burns”  instead I said “curious”  

Of course none of this was explained or spelled out as such.   Some games you just don’t have to explain.

The fun thing is that I didn’t start it.  Ginny did.  She was pretend flying and doing a lot of dancing and bouncing around the living room last night.  Suddenly she came to a halt, perched on an ottoman and said “Sandwich!”  and then looked at me expectantly….

It was clear that she wasn’t asking for a sandwich, so I said “Peanut butter”

She responded with “Marmalade!”

And we went from there.  Topics we covered ranged from sports to dance, from ice skating to relatives, from holidays to food, and from furniture to movies. 

She made some really interesting leaps of logic.  At one point I said “ice skating” and she said “Georgia” which is actually the name of a little girl at the rink.  Georgia is about 7 years old  and she is doing double jumps and lands her axle beautifully. Anyway, I’ve pointed her out to Ginny a couple of times and Ginny has said Hi, but I had no idea that she would make that direct association. Especially since it has been well over a month since Ginny has even been in the rink at all. 

Don’t know why I’m posting this, except that it was a fun family moment with Ginny and I wanted to share. What fun things happen in your family with no planning that turn out to be precious memories?  At the very least write them down.  Consider sharing them.  Don’t let yourself forget.  This is treasure.  This is gold.  This is what will last.

staring at cheesecake

What would happen if  I spent all my time focusing on cheesecake.

If I made sure to have cheesecake  in front of me every minute, how successful do you imagine I would be in maintaining a healthy diet? or in working out? or doing anything other than thinking about the cheesecake I was giving up.  The cheesecake I can’t have.  The cheesecake other people get to have.  The cheesecake I want….

It seems pretty simple doesn’t it?

Instead, I need to focus on the things I should desire – yummy fresh vegetables, nice lean tasty meats and fish.  The endorphin rush of a good, long bike ride.  Or the adrenaline surge from a really good day of ice skating.

Focusing on those things will make the cheesecake …fade away into insignificance.  This is not rocket science.  It all seems pretty obvious, right?  Yet when it comes time for stewardship campaigns in churches across America what do we all do?

We focus, intently, on the checkbook.

We go to money management seminars and read materials on how to be more God-centered in our budgeting.  We pray about our budget asking God “What do you want me to give this year?”  We listen to sermons on how to put God first and how to teach children the value of tithing.

Don’t you see?

We are focusing on the cheesecake!

What if, instead of focusing on our money (which really isn’t ours to begin with, since everything on earth belongs to our creator) we chose to

GET EXCITED ABOUT WHAT GOD IS DOING
and

GET INVOLVED

If giving to the General Fund of your church doesn’t excite you, try reading up on what the “General Fund” covers.  The programs in your church it feeds into.  If your church is anything like mine you will find a list of endless community outreach, mission trips and special items all hiding under that umbrella of “General Fund” 

Still not excited?  Don’t feel like you have found the project that God wants you to invest in?  Call the church office or visit the church website. Look around you.  What project or outreach needs an infusion of cash or volunteers?

We all need to stop focusing on the money we are “giving up”   and instead focus on the adrenaline rush of being a conduit of blessing from God to those around us.

the written word

Do you cherish nice things people say about you? or to you?

Do you save the occasional email that has words of encouragement or praise?

Perhaps I’m strange, but I do this.  I save these things so that sometime in the future, when I may be having a bad day or going through a difficult time I can open them up, read them and feel encouraged, or blessed.

I lead a pretty blessed life.  I have a job that I enjoy, plenty of food, clothing and shelter. My parents live nearby.  My husband and daughter are both healthy, wonderful, amazing people.  And I get to do things that I really enjoy, just for fun.

For many people on our planet, what I just described looks like a life of ease and luxury.  They spend their time scraping to come up with enough food, they live in conditions that you wouldn’t put your worst enemy from 5th grade through.  they have no access at all to safe water.  Never mind clean or clear, let’s just settle for “safe”…nope.  can’t find any.  Their daughters are prey to the sex trade and they have no access to legal re-dress.  They wouldn’t even know where to start.

If an encouraging word is a cherished possession for someone like me, can you imagine how important it could be for children growing up in environments like that ?

If you sponsor a child through  Compassion International (or some other agency) write to them.    Bless them with words of encouragement. 

Give them a gift that they can literally pull out of their pocket and read.  Over and over and over again.  Anytime they need it, your voice can be there.

But only if you write.

renewal

In this fall season, renewal is not a primary focus, but something just jumped out of a verse at me this morning and I wanted to share.

I am having a rough day at work.  Actually the last two days have been rough.  And when this situation began I reacted poorly.  Not as poorly as I have in the past, but not perfectly either.

A spirit of fear, defensiveness and anger took hold of me.

This morning, as the tension mounted…..I found myself winding tighter and tighter.  In desperation I looked around my cubicle walls and started reading the scripture memory team cards posted there.

Those who look to the LORD are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
Psalm 34:5

Well, that doesn’t help.  It only makes me feel worse, since I didn’t keep my eyes on God.

Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things
Colossians 3:2

*sigh* here again, I didn’t keep my mind focused where it needed to be.  I feel like a failure.  And then my eyes found the verse that delivered the help I needed after a failure…

Create in me a clean heart oh God, and RENEW a right spirit within me
Psalm 51:10

The word RENEW jumped out at me in a way it never had before.

I had always thought of this verse as a plea for God to create a clean heart and right spirit in me and then I was supposed to be able to keep it clean and pure and right.  Through my own human effort.

But the truth is that I simply can’t.  I can’t keep a clean heart and right spirit on my own. 

I need to be renewed….probably about once a minute or so.

Even the psalmist felt the need to have a right spirit renewed.  So logically we can conclude that even the psalmist failed to continually have a right spirit.  He had, at least occasionally, a wrong spirit.  And yet he had complete confidence in God’s love for him and willingness to rescue him.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Though I don’t normally advocate deriving comfort from the failures of others, today I found a great deal of comfort in the failures of the psalmist.

let blessings abound

In this season when “blessings” are on everyone’s minds thought I’d share a few thoughts I’ve had recently on the subject.  Just to throw my hat into the ring, so to speak.

A co-worker of mine has come up with a fabulous idea for her next birthday party

She is getting a big group together, coordinating them through facebook, to go serve in a local soup kitchen together.  I think they will be going out afterwards too.

Isn’t that a cool idea? 

I asked Trenadia what prompted her to come up with this idea.  What was the trigger?  This was her answer;

“Well I just decided that I wanted to promote giving back. So I’m just inviting friends out to  volunteer at the Atlanta Food Bank.   Because it’s about who I am.  On a personal note; over the past two years, I have had to use a few of the services as well as people who have giving hearts, to maintain everyday life…not only from family or people I know, but strangers as well. Giving back helps us remember that ‘WE ARE ALL ONE’.”

My life changed in one day, from one of comfort and privilege to the exact opposite.  I have  always volunteered but during this time, I volunteered a lot and it helped me get through my hard times.When you help others, you truly help yourself.”

Bravo Trenadia.  And I quite agree, we are all blessed in order to BE a blessing.  If your blessing today is hands that can lift, sort and pass food out to those in need, do it.  If your blessing today is some extra cash in your grocery budget, drop off some food at your local food pantry.  If your blessing for today is just a smile that you can share, then share it.

And if your blessing is that you always have too many friends who want to come to your birthday party, consider organizing a joyful giving party. 

Let the blessings abound!