Birds of a Feather…

A woman went to a pet shop and immediately spotted a large, beautiful parrot.
There was a sign on the cage that said $50.00.

“Why so little?” she asked the pet store owner.

The owner looked at her and said, “Look, I should tell you first that this bird used to live in a house of prostitution, and sometimes it says some pretty vulgar stuff.”

The woman thought about this, but decided she had to have the bird anyway.

She took it home and hung the bird’s cage up in her living room and waited for it to say something.

The bird looked around the room, then at her, and said, “new house, new madam.”

The woman was a bit shocked at the implication, but then thought “that’s really not so bad.”

When her teenage daughter returned from school, the bird saw her and said, “New house, new madam, new girl.”

The girl and the woman were a bit offended but then began to laugh about the situation
considering how and where the parrot had been raised.

Moments later, the woman’s husband Karl came home from work.

The bird looked at him and said, “Hi Karl.”

‘What’s the moral to this story?

No, it’s not that it’s best to habit an establishment without a talking parrot if you want to keep your business secret.

The moral is: Be sure, your sins will find you out.*

 

*Numbers 32:23

(I’ve no idea where this story originated or with whom.  I received it via a forwarded email.)

God, Who Knows Best

It’s Thursday morning as I type this.  Between now and the time this post goes live, two full days will pass.

I can’t see into the future and I don’t know what the next 48 hours hold.

But, I know someone who does. And, I believe I can trust Him to know best concerning it all.

DAMAGING WIND GUSTS AND HAIL WILL BE POSSIBLE AS A COLD FRONT
PASSES THROUGH THE MID STATE FRIDAY NIGHT. THE MAIN AREA OF
CONCERN IS ALONG AND SOUTH OF INTERSTATE 40. MIDDLE TENNESSEE
RESIDENTS WILL WANT TO MONITOR FUTURE FORECASTS FOR THE LATEST ON
THIS DEVELOPING WEATHER SITUATION.

March has not been a rocky month so far.  I wouldn’t say it followed the saying: March came in like a lion and out like a lamb.

As I type this I’ve no idea if all will be well when I awake Saturday morning – or if all is lost in the storm that’s forecast for Friday night.

We can hope, we can plan, we can move forward in doing what we can – but we only live in the present..the now…right now.  That’s all we have.

God, however, is present in the past, the present and the future.  God sees where I was…knows where I am…is already at work in my future.

What worries you about the future?  Why?

What can you do to ensure things work out as you desire?

Do what you can in the present to move things in the right direction and trust God with the rest.

Pearls before Swine

24 days into Lent – the farther in I go, the more I realize how far I have to yet to go.

40 days is not going to be enough time.  I don’t think 80 would.

I’m not even sure 40 years would be enough time.

Choosing that which pleases and honors God (instead of others/myself) should be an easy thing.  But old habits die hard.

Perhaps if I could take these 40 days of Lent and go off by myself to meditate uninterruptedly and away from life as I know it…perhaps then….

No…I doubt even then.

My mind and my life seem so cluttered with inconsequential thoughts and things.  These occupy more time than they should and distract me when focus should be on more important things.

Scripture says …cast not pearls before swine….

Pearls before swine….

I wonder if I’m casting my pearls before swine.  Ha – before I asked the question I knew the answer was “YES!”

Maybe there’s more to this verse* than is immediately implied by the context – don’t give what’s holy to dogs or cast your pearls before swine or they will trample them underfoot and turn and tear you to pieces.

Pearls before swine.

What would I consider my pearls?  And, what would be “swine” in my life?

Pearls would be that which is truly precious and of value to me and to others…that which has the power/ability to do the greatest good and accomplish the most to benefit self and others.

What about swine?  What piggy things do I focus on that gulp my time and resources and leave me hurting/anxious/messed up in some way?

Perhaps I need to make a list of my pearls (precious/valuable/worthy of the time and effort devoted) and a list of the swine (time wasters, emotion gobblers, resource devourers) in my life.

Jesus said that we are not to cast our pearls before swine.  He also said why – they will trample our pearls underfoot with no appreciation for what’s offered and then they will turn on us in attack…tearing us apart.

Swine don’t appreciate the value of what’s given or understand the sacrifice of what’s offered.  They see no good in it (can’t eat it) or benefit to themselves, so they turn on the giver in an attack that seeks to destroy and devour.

Hmm….

Do you feel fragmented…scattered…torn into pieces…ragged…frustrated…? Do you find that there are “swine” in your life that eat up your resources and offer you little, if anything, in return?

Perhaps, like me, it’s PBS (Pearls Before Swine) related.

  • Define your pearls.
  • Define the swine.
  • Figure out what’s tearing you apart and stop casting your pearls there.
  • Let your priority be: pearls before swine.  Take care of the important things first, those that move you forward, that add value to your life and meaning to your actions.
  • Understand that swine, IF you allow them to be a part of your life, are there for a reason and one reason only – to benefit you in some way…bacon, pork chops, ham, BBQ….

Take care of pearls before swine and make certain you don’t cast any pearls their way.  It’s a total waste of good you, if you do.

Jesus said so.

 

*Matthew 7:6

 

 

23 Days into Lent = Fail

Here it is…5 a.m. and I’m up and on the computer well before my usual time.

Driven from bed by a mind that wouldn’t quiet once awakened, I welcome the solitude of an alone awakening.

I need this opportunity to be silent before God and to reflect upon where I am and why I am…and how I got here.

My jaw clenches and I am unaware until a dull ache begins in my left ear and extends along my jaw, toward my chin.

I’m angry.  Tense. Stressed. Tired.

Here I am 23 days into Lent and I find myself off track…way off track.  Hey, I’ll be honest – I’ve jumped track.

I’m supposed to be seeking to please God and not people.  I’ve got the “not people” thing down as far as “other” people go.  But, I’ve slipped into pleasing myself…doing what seems right in my own eyes instead of doing what is right in God’s eyes.

Wow.  There’s only one word to describe my Lenten experience at this moment.

FAIL

I’m halfway into Lent and I’ve run myself off track and about as far away from the goal as I could possibly be.  I’ve turned from God’s way to my own.

In my boundary setting, I allowed myself the luxury of anger.  It was easy to adopt a “serves them right” attitude as I took steps to distance myself from negative, stress-filled, idiotic situations and the people who perpetrate and perpetuate them.

Pleasing myself became more important than pausing to see what would please God.

I would be the master of my destiny, the ruler of my kingdom. Forget what people thought…or if they even liked my thoughts, words, or me. They would respect me and would not dare encroach upon me or mine with their stupidity…. I would rule.

What an angry, self-centered ruler I am.

For the past week my focus has been on pleasing myself.  How did I get so far afield…?

Perhaps I focused on what I felt instead of what I should be feeling.

Perhaps I focused on self and not on God.

For whatever reason(s), I went astray.

All we like sheep have gone astray.  We have turned – every one – to his own way. But, the Lord has laid on him the iniquity (sins) of us all. Isaiah 53:6.

This morning, as I sat up in bed and swung my feet over the edge, my mind cried out for relief.

“I want to let go of it!” she cried out in the darkness.

I’m tired…tense…stressed…angry…confused and uncertain.  So much is coming at me that I cannot process it before the next surge.  I feel like a child caught in the surf.  One wave hits and knocks me off balance and then before I can right myself and get my footing, another comes along and takes me down. And, while I’m down, another pounds down upon me….

My focus is so intent on all that’s swirling around me…all the concerns I carry…that I cannot still myself and focus on the One I need to see.

Anger is my reaction.  Love should be my action.

Forgive me, Father, for my righteous indignation.  You alone are righteous and you alone have the right to become indignant. Forgive me for my anger and for seeking my will and not Yours. Forgive my anxious thoughts and my lack of faith. Bless me with Your forgiveness…Your peace, for I have sinned against you…I know this and I am deeply sorry and repent.

Repent – that means to turn around and go the other way.

Peace – that was our pastor’s sermon Sunday.  God’s peace. I took copious notes…wonderful notes and watched in dismay as my ipad deleted them .  I need those notes this morning.

I need God’s peace.

Wait…I have God’s Spirit within me.  God’s Spirit – the Comforter – the Teacher who brings all things we’ve learned of God and from His word to mind.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6,7 NLT)

God’s peace begins at the cross of Jesus.

Spring’s Tease

A couple days of warm sunny weather teased me into thinking Winter had packed up and slipped out.

All to quickly, I was ready to haul out the plants I’d stored in the garage and shop for tomato plants.

A walk around my neighborhood provides a needed reminder that Spring may have arrived on the calendar but Winter has not yet released its grip.

Bradford Pear trees are in full bloom.  I suppose the cold snap we just experienced corresponds to them. Dare I call it Bradford Pear Winter?? 😉  (Mom says it’s Redbud Winter because Redbuds are just beginning to break bud.  I’ll stick with pear…when redbuds are in full bloom we will have another cold snap….)

Ahead of us lie Redbud Winter, Dogwood Winter, Locust Winter, Blackberry Winter…Cotton Britches Winter –  no, Winter is not yet done with us.

After spending over 30 years in South Georgia, I still expect Spring-like weather to be deeply entrenched by now and for Summer to be just around the corner.  I grew up here and lived in Tennessee for over 20 years – and have been back for a year and a half.  But, still I find myself reacting as though I’m in the rush to get it all done by April 1.

I need to slow down…breathe easy.  Relax.  Spring is only a few days old. There are still frosts, freezes and even the possibility of snow before all is said and done (and planted and pruned).

Providing myself time to simply enjoy the season and my place in it is important.

Perhaps…as important as all I might accomplish.

Forgiveness and Boundaries

When someone offends us…harms us in some way, what’s our response?

Dismay / confusion?

Emotional outburst / anger?

Strike back / attack?

Pull back / disengage?

Set boundaries / protect?

Forgive / show mercy?

Perhaps, like me, you often experience this full list.

As a Christian, I often find it difficult to know how to respond…how to react when surprised by an untoward comment, a hurtful action, an intended injury.

Jesus said we are to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile.  He also said we are to love and give and be willing to forgive**.

I know what it is to turn the other cheek.  And, I also know what it’s like to be slapped again on the cheek offered.  I’ve gone the extra mile and found that with some people the extra mile offered is never enough.  I’ve offered kindness and had my head handed to me on a platter.

We are to live peacefully with all people as much as it is within our power to do so.

This is where boundaries come in. They offer protection when we live and work within them. Laws tell us what we can do and what others cannot do to us. The Bible teaches us that we are to live within the law and honor our government.

These laws as well as Jesus’ teachings instruct us and give us permission to have personal boundaries*.

Jesus said, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Matthew 7:6)  That sounds like a boundary to me – what do you think?

Having healthy boundaries and maintaining them can prevent a lot of the drama we find ourselves drawn into  So can respecting the boundaries of others.

We set boundaries to define where we stop and another begins. Our boundaries identify us.

Jesus had boundaries, too. Scan through any of the Gospel books and you will find Jesus identified by His boundaries.

But, unlike with us – His boundaries didn’t keep people out.  His boundaries invited the true seeker in while filtering out all the nonsense. (Oh, to be able to filter out all the nonsense!)

Jesus’ boundaries defined Him.

Jesus was beaten, mocked, scourged, spit on, abused physically and mentally – and He threw up no boundaries to protect Himself.  He offered no defense, did not take up arms.  No – through it all Jesus begged God to forgive his abusers.  Forgive them, forgive them, forgive them…don’t zap them, don’t pulverize them, don’t stop them, don’t punish them…. Forgive them.

Why? Because he looked beyond His pain and saw my need.  He saw my need of a Savior.  And, the only way that need could be met was to see things through. To forgive and move forward – to the cross, in death, by resurrecting….

Jesus forgave those who hurt him because of His great love – for me…for you…for all of us.

Jesus’ boundaries give us a clear view of His identity.

What do your boundaries tell others about you?

*More about personal boundaries

**More about forgiveness

(This marks my 21st day into my Lenten journey.)

The Remedy for Gossip

Did you hear about…?

Did you hear what______did?

Did you know that…?

When’s the last time you shared something negative about a person, an event, or a situation?

Why did you?

What was the purpose of sharing it?

What benefit did you receive in the sharing of it?

Before you quickly say you didn’t get anything out of sharing that little tidbit with someone, think carefully.

Why did you pass the information on?  To whom did you pass it? And, what did you get from sharing it?

  • Was it an emotional high?
  • Did it make you feel better about yourself?
  • Was it to ask the other person to “pray”…?
  • Was it to do harm?
  • Were you bored?
  • Was it to elicit a response in another?
  • Did self-righteousness play into it?
  • Did it affirm your connection to/acceptance by another?
  • Was it to better wrap your mind around the matter?
  • Was it out of genuine concern for the welfare of another?

Instead of talking about, why not talk to?

Yes! Become involved in such a way that brings about positive change.

Talk is cheap and gossip is sleazy.

Time is precious – invest in ways that matter and make a priceless choice with potential to do great good.

Celebrating Me

When’s the last time you celebrated?

I don’t mean celebrated an occasion, or a date, or a happening, or someone you know.

When’s the last time you celebrated…YOU?

You’re pretty awesome, you know?  Look at all you do, at who you are…at all who love you.  You do so much for others.

Take time to celebrate you!

YES! You’re worth celebrating!

If you disagree with me, take a moment and imagine your world without you in it.  Snuff you out and see what a hole your absence would make in the lives of those around you.

Celebrate the life God’s given you – celebrate your uniqueness.  Celebrate YOU!

Today I advance a number in age.  Happy Birthday to me!

And, yes!  I’m going to celebrate!

(It’s okay to love yourself, to appreciate who you are, and to celebrate life and the living of it.)

Go ahead – celebrate you!

Spring sprang, or has it sprung?

Can it be?

Are we already two days into Spring?

Winter has been cold and long…Spring seems late in some ways…early in others.

I’ve watched the buds on trees swell to near bursting. I’ve counted the days and kept a check on night temperatures.

Spring’s arrival signals the rapid march toward Summer.

I ask myself, “Am I ready?”

Physically? Mentally? No!  I’m not prepared.  I’m not ready.

I need Spring to wait…another week or two.

Slow down. Chill out.  I’m…not…ready…yet!!

Got a long to-do list and can’t get it done if time continues to march on.

March. That’s a good name for the month that ushers in Spring!

Excuse me while I put on my yard shoes. Gotta check the peach trees…three sprayings to prevent worms…gotta catch the blooms at just the right time…. Slow down, Spring!  Give me time to tie my shoes!