The music that is played during my exercise class fades into the back ground and I’m not consciously aware of it. Occasionally though, a few lyrics demand my attention.
Such was the case recently. Several lines from a song provoked deep thought.
The first words to reach through to me were, “Words are like weapons they wound sometimes.” This was followed by, “I didn’t really mean to hurt you.”
I was reminded how easy it is to use words as weapons. They cut deep and the wounds can last longer than physical ones. I know too well that certain situations can cause these wounds to spring to the surface even many years later. Emotions become raw once again.
Apologies can be made and accepted but the damage of careless words can last a lifetime. In the song Cher sings, “If I could turn back time ….I’d take back all the words that have hurt you.” She was lamenting someone who was no longer part of her life.
Unfortunately, words spoken in haste have the ability to alienate us. Harsh words are like fire; I can’t control or take back the damage they have done.
My intention is not to hurt anyone with my words. In my own strength I have difficulty in taming my tongue. That is why I rely on the Holy Spirit to help me learn self-control. The Spirit reminds me of God’s love so I don’t react in a hurtful manner.
He is the one who enables me to speak gracious words that are sweet to the soul for those hearing them.
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24 NIV)
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:8 NIV)
I was doing a reading from my book Inspirations From the Everyday when someone said, “Read the story about the cloud picture on the cover.” When I answered that I hadn’t written a story about that she replied, “Why not?”
She asked a good question. It was something I hadn’t thought about so promised to write the story. This is for Mary and anyone else who has wondered about that cloud.
My friend Ann is an avid photographer. When I was looking at pictures from her collection one captured my interest immediately. Set against a backdrop of an azure sky was a fluffy white cloud in the shape of a heart. It was just what I wanted for my book cover and she graciously allowed me to use it.
Ann told me she was in her backyard when she saw the cloud. She wasted no time in grabbing her camera to capture this incredible image. Not only was she in the right place at the right time, she took full advantage of the opportunity.
Clouds move with the wind. Their appearance morphs from one shape to another as they travel. Therefore, the shape you see may only appear for a few moments before it changes.
This is like the opportunities that God presents to me on a daily basis. If I don’t take advantage of them when they appear I may not get another chance.
When I keep my focus on God I recognize the possibilities he places before me. There is no need to hesitate when I trust him to lead me to and through these new adventures.
“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. (Jeremiah 17:7 NLT)
My husband and I were getting ready to leave on vacation. I was preparing our home for a family who would spend a few nights there while we were away.
I got clean sheets out to put on the bed and realized they had a few marks on them. They weren’t good enough for company so I put them back and chose another set. As I unfolded them I saw the signs of wear so definitely couldn’t use them. It took several attempts before I found ones nice enough to use.
The sheets I rejected are ones that we use on a regular basis. I had become so used to their imperfections that they were no longer noticed. It was in looking at them through the eyes of a hostess that I could see the obvious.
The parallel of this to my life was clear. I start out clean and fresh and over time some stains appear. Soon I start to fray around the edges. This happens so gradually that I don’t notice. In my mind’s eye nothing has changed.
When the light of the Son shines on me everything is illuminated. Jesus, God’s son lets me see the areas of my life that are no longer fresh and clean. He then lovingly works with me to restore my heart so it is always ready for others to see what lies within.
You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. (Psalm 71:20 NLT)
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. (1 Peter 5:10 NLT)
The exchange rate between the Canadian and U.S. Dollar is a hot topic of conversation lately.
We are used to fluctuations in the value of our currency but not usually to this extreme. The disparity is causing Canadians to cancel vacations to the United States. It’s also a factor in the downturn of business in tourist destinations south of the border.
I recently received a cheque for a story published in a U.S. magazine and the bank gave me an extra 40% when I cashed it. The exchange rate doesn’t normally work in my favour and I appreciated the bonus.
All of this caused me to be grateful that my value never fluctuates in God’s currency. I don’t need to worry that I will be worth less today than last week.
God loves each of us so much that he is continuously watching over us. Even though he knows my every thought, my value in his eyes never wavers. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, I know that he is constant in his love for me.
Jesus has taken my old life and turned it into so much more than I dreamed possible. There will never be a better exchange rate than the one I received the day I gave my life to him.
God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10 GWT)
O LORD, you have examined me, and you know me. You alone know when I sit down and when I get up. You read my thoughts from far away. You watch me when I travel and when I rest. You are familiar with all my ways. (Psalm 139:1-3 GWT)
We had just finished dinner and I put some frozen baking in the microwave to defrost for dessert. There was a strange noise and I opened the door to check inside. Everything seemed fine so the power button was pressed again.
Instantly there was a crackle and smoke started to billow from the top. Quickly we unplugged it and removed it from the house. Our microwave had burned out.
How were we to manage? We’d become accustomed to defrosting, cooking and reheating in a fraction of the time these things once required.
Come to think of it, I’ve been living my life the same way. When I want something, I want it now. Waiting and patience had become things of the past. Shouldn’t everything have results as instant as what I experienced with the microwave?
This appliance burning out reminded me that when I do too much I can burn out as well. Racing around trying to do things at the last minute isn’t working so well for me. It’s time to slow down, think about what needs to be done and plan ahead. The challenge is to balance the busyness with rest and renewal. Both can be scheduled into my day.
Much can be learned from the example of Jesus. He led a busy life but also took time to rest. Jesus not only modeled rest for us, he is also the source of our rest. Following his teachings will ensure that I don’t burn out.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31 NIV)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28,29 NIV)
We woke to the whispered voices of our granddaughters in the next room. It was a dark winter’s morning and they weren’t confident enough of the time to come into our room.
The words were hushed so we couldn’t quite hear the conversation. Occasionally there would be laughter, followed quickly by, “shhh!” They were doing their best not to disturb us.
After a little while, one word kept getting louder. It was, “Hungry.” Soon one of the girls tiptoed into our bedroom, repeating this word as she neared our bed. When we responded, the others joined in asking us for breakfast.
This scenario reminded me of the way I sometimes approach God. I whisper my anxious thoughts, hoping he’ll take notice. Although God hears each word and knows my every thought, he wants me to communicate directly with him.
I need to have the confidence to express whatever is on my mind. Often I feel like what concerns me isn’t important enough to take to God. Maybe I’m taking him away from more important things. The truth is that God is ready and willing to hear from me at any time. These conversations through prayer form the foundation of my relationship with him.
Just because I come to God in prayer doesn’t mean he gives me what I want. Sometimes he tells me to wait and other times he leads me in a different direction. What is most important is the comfort I have in knowing that when I call out to him he will be there for me.
Call to me, and I will answer you. I will tell you great and mysterious things that you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3 GWT)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6 NIV)
It was a surprise to realize how lazy I’d become. I’d been doing the exercise class with the same instructor for several years. The routine was familiar and I could change from one exercise to the next before the instructions were fully given. Although I was participating, my mind often drifted.
Then came the day that some of the exercises were changed. The instructor repeated the instructions more than once before I realized that I was doing something totally different.
This was when I realized I wasn’t working as hard as I thought I’d been. I was merely going through the motions. No wonder I wasn’t getting the desired results from the class.
I questioned if this behavior was repeated in my everyday life. Too often I have put in the minimum effort to get by. This is not the way to reach my goals.
My life is worth more than that. The Bible tells us not to grow weary in doing what is right. God has given me talents and abilities that are to be used for him. These are to be used and not wasted. The extra effort to ensure I am living life to the fullest will have consequences far greater than anything I can comprehend.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9 NLT)
The fresh snowfall had covered our yard with a pristine coat of white. I gazed at its beauty, untouched save for the prints of the hare that frequents our neighbourhood. The few marks left behind by wild creatures did nothing to detract from the fine, icy snowflakes that sparkled in the morning sun. This was nature in its finest fresh and unspoiled state.
The yard stayed this way for days. Then children came to visit. They romped and played in the snow. I watched them lay on their backs to make snow angels. Armfuls of snow were gathered for building structures in other parts of the yard. Their winter playground was thoroughly enjoyed and the scene left behind was anything but pristine.
At first I thought it was a shame the beauty had been disturbed. Then I was struck by how this related to my life.
Each day I start with a clean, fresh canvas, much like that of untouched snow. It is a gift from God and up to me what I do with it. If I want it to remain pristine I cannot step into it. Somehow that seems like a waste. Would I then just be watching life and not participating?
I need to step boldly into the day and use the resources before me. Life won’t always stay neat and tidy but that’s alright. Instead of worrying about the mess I could make I need to use the gifts God has placed before me. It is exciting to see what can be created.
This is how I can make the most out of each precious day I’ve been given. No matter how my day turns out I take great comfort in knowing that God’s mercies are brand new every morning and his love never ends.
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT