I will follow Him

“Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” ~ Mark 4:40

Dispute Resolution

The first time I heard about dispute resolution was way back when my son was in law school. Here’s the definition via Google:

Dispute resolution is the process of resolving disputes between parties. The term dispute resolution is sometimes used interchangeably with conflict resolution, although conflicts are generally more deep-rooted and lengthy than disputes.”

Google’s definition of conflict resolution:

Conflict resolution is a way for two or more parties to find a peaceful solution to a disagreement among them. The disagreement may be personal, financial, political, or emotional. When a dispute arises, often the best course of action is negotiation to resolve the disagreement.”

Looking at the world around us, I truly believe that we all would benefit from taking a class or two to learn how to address differences in opinion – because we truly don’t know how to talk about it or how to properly receive it.

Friends, we are failing in so many ways. We are taking things out of context to back us up when we take a stand when we shouldn’t, and we’re being quiet when we should be making Scripture or God’s Wisdom known. Seriously, what a screwed up world we live in!

No wonder young children don’t know how to handle a simple situation like when a classmate removes a toy from his hands. Some say he should turn the other cheek and that it shouldn’t be a big deal, while others say he needs to learn to stand up for himself and grab the toy back. And then there’s the third – go to someone (teacher or parent) who can intervene and help both sides see what needs to take place. A child quickly learns what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve watched many children throw fits because of the above – and I’m sure the tantrums are their way of expressing ‘I’m mad, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do to change what happened’. Isn’t that what we are witnessing on the news with the riots?

I agree 1000% that things need to change. People need to treat others with respect. We need to do a better job of listening. However, I feel it all comes down to the heart. Who is on the throne of your life? Who do you love most? Reputation? Self? Politics? President? Pride? History? Or, is it God? Whomever it is, I’m sure your words and actions reveal it.

Endurance

Romans 5:3-4 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Pain and suffering. What do those words mean to you? Are you living in fear because of something painful you are experiencing? If not, perhaps someone who’s close to you comes to mind.

En-dur-ance – “the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.” ~Dictionary via Google

We recently talked about endurance in a Bible study, and one of the ladies opened up about her pain – emotional and physical pain that just won’t stop. Not long ago, she lost several people who were close to her in a short amount of time. In addition to grieving, she learned that she had a painful disease – one without a cure.

As she fought back her tears, what I read between the lines is that what bothered her most was that she didn’t see an end in sight – her pain will last the rest of her earthly life.

A memory came to mind when I listened to my friend talk about her experience. About 29 years ago, we were getting closer to our 3rd child’s due date. My first two came quickly and a few days early, so I was expecting this one to do the same. Perhaps faster!

To my surprise, labor ended up being totally different the third time around. Oh, he was definitely early – 3 and 1/2 weeks early. However, he definitely wasn’t in a hurry to be born. After walking the halls in the hospital, hoping that would help speed things up, I remember thinking ‘I can’t do this anymore ! – not for this length of time’.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted that baby more than anything, but I didn’t think I had the strength to cope with the pain and the uncertainty. When I finally began having hard labor, I requested an epidural because I was exhausted. Unfortunately, I was told that I couldn’t have one. I don’t recall exactly why, but I think it had something to do with the location of the baby – or something like that. I just wanted to be numb.

When our son finally made his way into this world, we discovered that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. Something unexpected, and something that explained why things happened the way they did and maybe why he came early. The pain was worth getting to hold our baby boy.

If you’re struggling with pain – any kind of pain, and don’t see how you can continue because you feel overwhelmed or weak, please know that God will step in and give you what you need so that you can face another day, another hour, another minute. Rather than looking for something to numb your pain, reach out to the Great Physician. He’s just waiting for you to call on His name and trust Him. Step aside, and let Him in.

But Jesus reprimanded them. “Why are you gripped with fear? Where is your faith?” Then he stood up and rebuked the storm and said, “Be still!” And instantly it became perfectly calm. The disciples were astonished by this miracle and said to one another, “Who is this Man? Even the wind and waves obey his Word.” Matthew 8:26-27

Be-You-tiful

My favorite class in college was a photography class. I only took one, and how I wish I had taken more. Back then, we didn’t have the opportunity to preview the photos we took before they were developed/printed. One of the frustrating steps in the process was removing the film from the camera in the dark. If you exposed it to the light, the pictures were ruined for life. Believe me, I had my share of messing things up and had to start over several times. Not only did it teach me that a photography class wasn’t easy, it revealed a lot about myself.

My absolute favorite part of the class was developing – when you put blank photo paper into a chemical and watch an image slowly appear. It was like magic. I loved (and hated) the anticipation. If the picture turned out the way you wanted for the assignment, it was the most exhilarating moment, ever! If it was a bust, then you knew you had to trash it and head back out with your camera. You just never knew.

I’ve always loved to take pictures. If you’re reading this, you most likely love photography, too. Capturing a special moment in time is the best feeling, ever. Sunsets and sunrises have been my forever go-to. You just never know what kind of display you’re going to see.

I’m learning, however, that there’s more to capture in this world! I’m trying my best to look all around me for His beautiful design and truly appreciate it.

We have all of the zinnias in our garden, and I decided to bring some into our home to enjoy. I’ve recently learned how to make bouquets, and tried putting on my thinking cap so that I could think of some other display ideas. I (reluctantly) cut off some stems and put the bloom in a vase that’s filled with water. When I took a picture of the floating flower, I thought it was beautiful. Naturally, the details of the flower are stunning. However, something that I didn’t plan on was that the vase pulled in some colors from the top I was wearing. It was such a sweet surprise when I looked at the photo.

If you enjoy taking pictures for fun like I do, stop trying to be like every other photographer out there. Just be you and capture what you love. You won’t be disappointed.

Hope for you

We planted sunflowers and zinnias in our garden this year. Still waiting on the sunflowers to bloom. However, the zinnias are absolutely beautiful. I love all the different colors and details that make them all so unique.

I recently decided to gather a few and make a bouquet. I’m not very experienced with this, so I searched YouTube for advice from so-called experts who give you all sorts of tips. (By the way, the tips were great!) Although my goal was to learn the proper or best way to put flowers together – like approximately how many you should use so that it doesn’t look too crowded and how many different lengths are best, there was a piece of information that stood out – the meaning behind a zinnia.

First, it’s a symbol of endurance. The reason behind this is most likely because It blooms from mid-summer until the first frost. Second, it is a symbol of a lasting friendship. Let me tell you what, with everything we have experienced the last few months — like all the restrictions due to COVID-19, the constant bickering about masks, people destroying property because they want justice, riots and removing statues, and the ongoing battle about politics, we all need what this flower stands for – endurance and lasting friendships!

The only thing missing is Jesus – and without Him, we have nothing.Thankful for the hope and peace that He provides when we put our trust in Him.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Why I love Indiana

Timeless Gift of Time

I have several friends who have mentioned over the years that they never know what to buy their dad for birthdays, Father’s Day, or Christmas. I remember struggling with the same thing when I was young – so my usual go-to was something exciting like socks, underwear, a tie or cologne. As ridiculous as that may sound, I honestly didn’t know what else to buy him. Unfortunately, he never told me what he needed or what he would like. I have learned that most dads just want to spend time with their children because time just seems to evaporate and none of us will live forever.

The same is true with our Heavenly Father. How much time and effort do we give or show that we love Him? Don’t get me wrong, I know He already knows our thoughts and what’s in our heart – there’s no pretending with Him. He KNOWS if we truly love Him. The thing is, we are bold enough to make statements like “He’s my Savior. I’m a born again Christian. I LOVE Jesus. I don’t know how I did life without Him!” and then fall short when it comes to spending time with Him. As a matter of fact, many “believers” don’t even think about Him unless something has gone wrong and they lift up a prayer because, you know, that’s His job. (*sarcasm)

Jesus is more than that, friends. If that’s where you are – seeking Jesus only when you need something, you’re missing the boat. You’re missing out on experiencing the best relationship you can possibly have – with anyone! How do I know? I’ve been there!

Salvation doesn’t depend on works. However, our relationship with the Heavenly Father is going to be pretty shallow if the only time we think of Him or do something for Him is on Sunday morning – or when we’re suddenly thrust into a crisis and plead with Him to please help. Parents, can you relate to this? Does it feel like the only time your child wants you is when they need something from you?

I remember when I went out on a limb and asked Jesus to show me that He is real. I didn’t ask for a sign, per se, but I wanted to hear it from Him. Here’s what I found: When I opened up my bible and spent time reading (and not just hoping one verse would pop up for an “a-ha!” revelation), He reveals the truth. He touches your heart with words that aren’t just an opinion or happen chance. That’s where you will discover Jesus. That’s when your relationship will grow.

“Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

“My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.” Proverbs 4:20-22

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:8-13

Create in me a clean heart

Part of my family lives in Minnesota, so you can understand why what happened there recently really hit home. {For those of you who aren’t familiar with what’s going on in the states, here it is…

George Floyd was a 46-year old black man suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill. He died after a white officer held him down on the ground with the officer’s knee pressing down on Floyd’s neck. Floyd pleaded with him – stating that he couldn’t breath. He died after being held down for approximately nine minutes. This was all caught on video and has been shared via news media and the internet. The officer was first fired, then later charged. Protests have taken place everywhere – some peaceful, some are not.

As the days have gone by since that day, there’s something that really pierced my heart. Not to deny that there is a racial problem, but this is what consumes my thoughts: The way the police officer held down George Floyd, and the fact that the other officers stood there watching reflects an attitude or belief that life doesn’t matter when someone has done something wrong. Maybe that’s not true for every one of them that stood by, however, it’s the message that was sent.

Friends, where would we be now if God handled us in such a way? Time after time I have sinned – we ALL have, yet He still loves us. There are consequences to our actions, but there is also hope for tomorrow. Better yet – forgiveness. I still have to do my part and repent and stop doing whatever it is I’m doing wrong, but God continues to give me the tools that I need to overcome.

How did we develop this attitude that WE are the judge? All you have to do is look at the comments after a FB post is made.

For example, have you known someone who was arrested for drugs, underage drinking, or for stealing? Did you think ‘they’ll never change’ or did your heart fill up with compassion and pray to our creator for that person and their family? Have you tried to come up with solutions that would help those who struggle with addiction etc., or do you write them off as losers and find yourself muttering these words: They’ll never amount to anything.

There is a place where we all can find the wisdom, hope, and encouragement that we need for today – and that’s in God’s Word. People sin – and their selfishness, pride and jealousy causes them to hurt people – physically and/or mentally. Look what happened to Joseph. His brothers were jealous of their own brother – so they sold him into slavery. He later had the opportunity to destroy them, and yet he chose to forgive them. Instead of developing a bitter heart, he saved them and many others. When we allow the love of Christ to dwell in our hearts and stop judging, love wins. Change happens.

There’s one more story that I have to share. It was about a man who was betrayed by his own friends, falsely accused by others, and was tortured to death as many stood by – cheering. He was an innocent man. You might have heard about him – his name was Jesus.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

”Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

”Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command:Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” 1 John 4:20-21

Does Jesus Still Perform Miracles?

“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “it was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.” John 9:1-7

What an amazing story, right? A miracle. I can’t imagine what the blind man experienced the moment he realized he could see! Did he wonder why Jesus healed him? Did he wonder why it took so long? Why now? Or – was he so amazed at everything he saw that he didn’t question anything.

I recently heard a sermon on the above scriptures from the book of John. I love how people have that gift to explain scripture in such a way that we can see how it provides important lessons for us today.

How about you? Are you like me and get so wrapped up in something that’s painful that you miss seeing the obvious that God is making something right?

Whatever it is that you’re going through, God is up to something.

Reflection: Is there something in your life that has changed that would glorify God? Perhaps that’s your miracle.

A New Life

In this time of uncertainty, I long for God’s presence more than ever.

What seemed so real and dependable, you know – those things that filled our time up with memories, are now suddenly gone. Vanished into thin air. So now we experience the emptiness of life and we grieve the loss of our normal. There’s no hiding the truth that this transition hurts. It’s difficult. It’s confusing. It’s convicting.

The encouraging truth is, however, we need not suffer from hopelessness – because our God lives. And He’s taking us to a new land. A new life. We just need to trust Him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6