What’s My Agenda?

agendaMy husband bought a magazine recently that came with a bonus. Also inside the wrapper was a purse-sized calendar. Across the front of this little booklet was written 2015 Agenda. I knew that this little calendar was to keep track of appointments but I still looked at these words with a different mindset.

Agenda and calendar are synonymous. That’s why agenda was written on the cover of the calendar. There is also another meaning for this word. Merriam-Webster defines agenda as a plan or goal that guides someone’s behavior and that is often kept secret.

My thoughts were of the agenda or plan I have for my life this year. Do I have lofty goals? Is there an action plan to bring them to fruition? How focused do I need to be?

Maybe I’m happy with where I am and have no desire for change. In that case, my life is planned so that things will stay the same.

No matter where I am in life it’s pretty much certain that I will have a personal agenda. There are things I want to see, do, or accomplish. The problem comes when the plan that guides my behavior becomes all consuming. If this is all I look for, I will not see the other opportunities that the Lord presents to me.

By focusing only on my own agenda and not on the people and situations around me I will miss so much. God has a wonderful plan for my life and to fully reap the benefit of that I need to focus on him and not my own agenda.

A person may plan his own journey, but the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 GWT)

Band-Aid Repairs

forgiveness, Jesus, emotional wound,When we packed for our vacation my husband put a new tube of toothpaste in his toiletries bag. After checking into our hotel and unpacking we realized that the tube had been punctured. I cleaned the mess in his bag while he did a quick repair on the tube by putting a band-aid on it.

Looking at the toothpaste tube I found it amusing to see the words repair and protect on the tube that had a band-aid wrapped around it. We don’t know how long this temporary measure will last but it serves the purpose for now.

Later I pondered the deeper meaning in this. There have been situation in my life where an emotional wound has been caused. Repairing it properly is more than I want to deal with at the time, so I apply a temporary fix. This band-aid approach seems to work. It’s quick, easy and I don’t have to examine the wound.

What I have failed to realize is that these wounds fester not properly cleaned fester under the surface and flare up at unexpected moments. When someone has hurt me I have a choice. I can turn my back on them, thus using the band-aid solution, or I can choose forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the tougher choice but the only one that will enable me to be whole and healthy again. This is not a quick fix but something I man need to do over and over until the process is complete.

It is also a biblical principle. Jesus tells us to repeatedly forgive. He set the example and is the one that can guide me through this process.

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! Matthew 18:21-22 NLT

Windshield Washer Thinking

prayer, God, Holy SpiritThe morning after a light snowfall, my husband and I were driving on a major highway. The sanding of the road combined with warming temperature had made the road a sloppy mess. We needed to constantly use our windshield washer to ensure visibility was not obstructed.

At one point I remarked to him, “I’m thankful for windshield washer fluid this morning.” Then, I started thinking how this could be an analogy for life.

Life is not always sunny skies and clear roads. Sometimes there is muck that flies up at us. A little here and there is easy to deal with and I carry on unaware that I’m not seeing clearly any more.

If this is not dealt with my vision of things around me becomes so clouded that it becomes difficult to see what is right in front of me.

This is where prayer and reliance on God and the Holy Spirit comes in. God always sees clearly the direction that is best for me. He hears me when I call out to him in prayer. The problem is that I often forge ahead, thinking I can handle things on my own.

God sent his son Jesus so we might have life and have it abundantly. Jesus gave his life for us. When he died he promised to leave us a helper, the Holy Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit that can clear my vision. In my analogy, he is the washer fluid for my windshield. By calling out to him and relying on his guidance, I can be lead safely along the road that has been set out for me to travel on.

However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything. He will remind you of everything that I have ever told you. John 14:26 GWT

Birthday Cake Overload

appreciation, God, blessingsMy son’s birthday was on a Friday and his family celebrated with a birthday cake that evening. The next day our granddaughters attended a birthday party for a friend and of course there was cake.

We had a birthday dinner for our son that evening. Naturally we ended the meal with a birthday cake. The next day their family went to celebrate the other grandfather’s birthday and more cake was served.

When company dropped into their home the following day, the remaining cake was brought out. The girls looked at it and said, “Not more cake.” These children who normally loved cake had had their fill. It was no longer a treat.

The saying too much of a good thing comes to mind. Even something that normally causes excitement loses its interest when it is always available.

This is true in all life circumstances. I have learned that when something is plentiful there is a tendency to take it for granted. The appreciation I once held is no longer there. God provides many blessings in my life. Instead of grumbling like the Israelites that I want something different, I need to thank him for what I have. He is the one that can satisfy all of my needs.

Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Deuteronomy 8:3 NLT

Out of My Control

prayer, God, inspiration
image from bing.com
In the early morning hours, we drove to an airport shuttle service. We entered the lot and followed another vehicle to the appointed row. After parking and unloading our luggage we walked stand by the couple from the other car.

The husband was removing the luggage and the wife paced anxiously behind him. We said, “Good Morning,” to them and the only response came from her. She said, “We’re running late. I hope we don’t miss our flight.”

The shuttle bus slowly worked its way down our row, picking up groups of people along the way. The woman became more agitated, constantly muttering about missing the flight.

A few more such comments were made as she took her seat on the bus. Just before we exited the lot, she realized that her purse wasn’t with her. Calling out to the driver, she said she had left her purse in the car and we needed to go back. The driver obliged but of course this delayed all of us in getting to the airport.
We were flying on different airlines so don’t know if she ended up missing her flight. What I do know is that she reminded me of a very important lesson.

It serves no purpose to worry about things I have no control over. What I need to do is to take care of the small details that are within my control. In this way I will cause less stress not only in my own life but also in those around me. When I do my part and then leave the rest up to God, life runs much smoother.

A wise man once told me, “It’s no use laying awake at night worrying about your problems. God’s up anyway so give them to him.” This advice has served me well. It is amazing how much better I feel when I pray and leave the things out of my control in the hands of my heavenly father.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Luke 12:25 NIV

Concealed Weapons

attitude, gratitude, God
image from www.bing.com
My husband and I were going through airport security when the man in front of us caught our attention. What struck us was the force he used when putting items in the scanning bins. Nothing was simply placed in the bins. Everything was noisily thrown in.

When he finally stopped, the official asked if he had still had anything metal with him. Grudgingly he reached into his pockets, extracted some coins and threw them into the tray. Stating he had nothing else, he lifted his shirt to expose the waist of his pants, just to prove his point.

His belt had a large metal buckle, but what the customs official focused on was something strapped to the belt. “What is that,” she asked? He replied, “It’s my knife.”

He saw no issue with boarding the airplane with a knife strapped to his waist and was not happy to have it confiscated.

My first thought when I saw this man was how unhappy he was. His whole demeanor was one that could suck the joy out of those around him. I wondered what had caused this and felt sad for him.

Upon observing the exchange with the knife, I reflected on weapons we carry without realizing the danger we pose to others. Toxic attitudes are high on this list.
If I’m not careful, my bad attitude can infect those around me. Its ripple effect may cause an epidemic of vast proportions.

The best antidote I’ve found for this is to consciously practice and share gratitude. I can’t maintain a poor attitude when I am focusing on the positive and being thankful for what I have. God has provided many blessings in my life. When I think about them, my words will be positive and not weapons.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT

Extreme Dot to Dot

God, inspiration, orderMy daughter handed me an extreme dot to dot puzzle to complete. It was overwhelming with almost 500 dots to connect. Later I found out she’d given me one of the easier ones.

When I started the puzzle I had trouble locating dot number one, so found the lowest number I could and started there. Every time I got stuck I found a new place to start from. Eventually all of the dots were connected.

At times I had to focus intently to keep things in the right order. I found I was tempted to go to the dots close by rather than look a little farther for the correct ones. It would have been easy to go from 245 to 256, but that wouldn’t have produced the intended picture.

Once all the dots were connected, I had difficulty in seeing the picture that had been created. All I could see were dots andextreme dot to dot completed lines. I neededextreme dot to dot completed to step back to see the overall picture.

As I was working on this I thought of how it related to my life. There have been many times I have not known where to begin. I would be paralyzed, unable to move ahead. What I needed to do was to pick a spot and start. Any missing details could be filled in later.

Sometimes the next step I need to take is farther away than I anticipated and I’m tempted to go for a closer one. This would only serve to distort my life picture.
Even when all of the dots have been connected, often I’m too close to the situation to see what has been produced. I need to step back in order to see the whole picture.

I am so thankful that I know the one who always sees the big picture for my life. God has a plan for me and as long as I pay attention to the steps he wants me to take, the results will be much better than anything I could create on my own.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Are You a Winner?

quote, God, evluate lifeWhile walking through a store I spotted a sign that said, “Are you a winner?” Although it was referring to lottery tickets, it did cause me to stop and evaluate my life.

As I enter a new calendar year with anticipation of what is to come, I felt this was something I should take a closer look at. First I need to define what it means to me to be a winner. Is it coming in first in a contest? While this would be nice, I need to go deeper.

It isn’t prestige, awards or monetary abundance that makes me a winner. To define myself in that way, I must be making a difference in my sphere of influence. Am I a positive role model? Will I actively seek ways to make my part of the world a better place? Do I serve others unselfishly?

I found a quote by Edward Hale, author and clergyman that sums this up for me. It says, “I am only one, but still I am one; I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

God knows me and sees what is in my heart. When I live as though everything I do is for the Lord, I am pleasing Him. That is the way I can describe myself as a winner.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 NLT

Happy New Year

God, strength, inspiration
picture from 123newyear.com
As we end one year and embark upon another I’d like to share with you a poem that was given to me many years ago. Every year I read it and appreciate what it has to say. Unfortunately I don’t know who the author is. My prayer is that each of you will be blessed this way in 2015.


May God make your year a happy one,
Not by shielding you from sorrow and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, if it comes.
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy enough to travel any path.
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking all cowardice and fear from your heart.
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows.
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you where man and his cause need you most,
And by making you anxious to be there, and to help.

Author unknown

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