Lately I’ve been starting my day with a slice of fresh lemon in a mug of hot water. I enjoy the taste, and have also heard this is good for digestion.
The last lemon we purchased had a very thick rind on it. This made the skin to pulp ratio higher and produced a bitter taste. It also meant the slice was bigger and took up more room in my mug.
When I mentioned to my husband that this lemon had a very thick skin, he asked if being thick- skinned was a bad thing. I replied that I prefer my fruit to be thin-skinned but it’s not good for me to be that way.
If I’m referred to as thin-skinned it means that I am oversensitive. My feelings get hurt very easily. Everything becomes about me. This can make life very uncomfortable.
Conversely, being thick-skinned would mean I have set up a barrier between myself and everyone around me. Although I would not be easily offended, the fact that I would be largely unaffected by the needs and feelings of others would not be positive. Again everything would end up being about me.
Neither of these scenarios is where I want to be. I am aware that my life runs much smoother when the needs of others are as important, if not more so, than my own self-interest. Spending regular time in prayer with God will ensure that I don’t become too thick-skinned to follow his direction for my life.
And then what happened? Well, when Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursuing her own self-interest, she didn’t succeed. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy. The “self-interest Israel” became thick-skinned toward God. (Romans 11:7 The Message)
As I walked along the beach I spotted a tide pool ahead. It was filled with shells that appeared to be floating on the surface. Fascinated, I hurried over to have a closer look. What I found surprised me.
The shells were not floating, they were on the bottom. Crystal clear water had magnified them and created a false illusion.
I took a couple of pictures and moved one. The picture that stayed in my mind’s eye brought some serious reflection.
How often, I wondered, do I make assumptions and even decisions based on how things appear from a distance?
When I look at others and think I’d like the wonderful life they have, do I realize that I only see an illusion and not the close up reality?
The same applies when I look at someone who appears to have very little. The peace and contentment this person has may far outweigh anything I could imagine.
The only life I can see clearly into is my own and sometimes even this is a challenge.
God always sees the hearts and knows the minds of his people. This is why I trust in him rather than on my own understanding.
It is better to depend on the Lord than to trust mortals. Psalm 118:8 GWT
During a recent dental check-up the hygienist asked if I was brushing my teeth for a full two minutes. After telling her that I really didn’t know, she gave me a cute little timer. It has a smiling tooth on each end and sand that takes two minutes to flow from the top to the bottom.
This got me to thinking of an hourglass and how it relates to my life.
When I was much younger my only thoughts of hourglass were related to the ideal body shape I wanted to achieve. Since that was not in the realm of possibility I filed this word in the recesses of my mind.
Now that I’m much older, and hopefully a little wiser, I view the hourglass in a totally different way. The sand is representative of the sands of time, slipping away. I have no idea how much time is left but I do know that it is less today than yesterday.
For this reason I need to make the most of each day. Unlike the sand in the hourglass, I can’t turn my day over and get the time back again. I don’t want to watch passively as the sand/time slips away.
No loving words should be left unspoken and no kindness left undone. God has given me a certain number of days and I don’t want to waste them. I need to consciously look for ways to use my time to reflect his light and love.
A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. (Job 14:5 NIV)
Recently I was engaged in an activity I enjoyed. Everything was going along smoothly until someone voiced a few complaints. These were things that I hadn’t noticed previously and that had never interfered with my enjoyment of the activity. Before long I felt my positive attitude slowly being eroded with these negative thoughts.
Things that had never been an issue for me now seemed to be all that I noticed. Instead of focusing on my positive experience I started seeing what could be a negative for others. My peace and enjoyment of the activity slipped into the background.
Looking back on this, I realized anew the effect words have to influence others. It only took a few to change my outlook. If a few words could change my positive thoughts to negative, the reverse must also be true.
That means I need to be very conscious of my words. If I speak in the heat of anger I will regret it later. Instead I need to speak words that will encourage and build others up. On my own, this can prove a difficult task at times. When I stop and pray about my attitude, the words that I speak will be ones that will encourage and build others up. This will ensure that the only way I change someone’s day is to make it more positive.
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29 NLT)
I watched some children playing in the sand. Three were siblings and the other someone they had just met. An elaborate sand castle was being built.
What made this scene special was that three of the children spoke only English while the fourth spoke only French. The fact that they could not communicate with words made little difference to them.
The language they shared was that of working together towards a common goal and having fun. That was all that mattered.
These children reinforced an important lesson for me. When we focus on a common goal, the differences we have are not a concern. It is when we allow ourselves to become distracted by things that aren’t important that we run into problems.
We don’t need to speak the same language as others in order to work, play or get along together. All we need is respect and cooperation. In other words, we need to play nicely with others even though we may not fully understand them.
God has gifted each of us with different talents and abilities. I need to not only share my strengths but also to embrace those of others. In that way everyone will be a winner in the game of life.
To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. (Matthew 25:29 NLT)
The exercise class had just begun but already the instructor was pushing us hard. She shouted out, “Come on, we need to get your hearts warmed up.”
Although I knew what she meant, I couldn’t help but smile to myself. Not long before the class started, my husband and I had parted ways for the day with a hug and a kiss. Then he looked into my eyes, said, “I love you” and flashed me a smile. Yes, my heart had definitely been warmed.
Earlier that morning I had sent a message to someone facing challenges. I’d let her know I was thinking of her and praying she’d have a good day. The appreciative response I received warmed my heart as my message had done for hers.
My husband sending me off with a smile on my face was a good reminder that a few positive words have the ability to let people know that they matter. It only takes a minute and the results can cause a ripple effect that is immeasurable.
Kind words have the comforting effect of a toasty warm blanket on a cold winter night. They can also affirm, encourage and convey love. Giving and receiving them is the best way I’ve found to keep my heart warm.
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25 NIV
I was taking towels out of the dryer when I noticed that one of my favourite sets of hand towels were frayed around the edges. When did that happen? Although I hadn’t noticed it before, the rough edges indicated that this wasn’t a new occurrence.
Thinking back to how long I’d had the towels and the fact they are used and laundered on a weekly basis, I knew I shouldn’t be surprised. The signs of wear and tear must have been so gradual that they could easily be ignored.
As I looked at them I realized that at times my life has become frayed around the edges as well. Just as with the towels, constant demands on my life have caused this. It doesn’t mean that I am no longer needed or loved. What it does mean is that I need to take a step back and think about how to mend those frayed edges before the damage becomes permanent.
Jesus offers me the perfect solution when the hectic pace of life wears me down. When he and his apostles were too busy to even take time to eat, he told them to come with him to a quiet place and rest. That advice is just as valid today. Spending quiet time with Jesus gives me the rest that binds my frayed edges.
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. (Mark 6:31 NLT)
My husband and I have done some traveling lately. The airports we’ve visited have had many announcements concerning baggage.
We are warned not to leave it unattended. There are also cautions on arrival to make sure it’s your baggage you pick up. Many pieces of luggage are similar in appearance so this can sometimes be a challenge.
This rule from the airport is also valid in life. Each of us carries our own baggage. Sometimes it is small, like hand luggage. Other times the volume of hurts and regrets are too heavy to carry on our own. This over-sized baggage needs to be checked.
When I see someone with excess baggage I want to help them. Perhaps by lending a sympathetic ear the burden can be lightened. Although I may want to help carry the baggage of others I’ve learned that taking it on doesn’t help them or me. Similarly, no one else can carry the load that is dragging me down.
The most effective way I’ve found to deal with this is to give it to Jesus. Nothing is too big for him to handle. Spending time talking with him gives me the refreshment and perspective I need to live freely and lightly.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28 The Message)
Technology has changed our vacations. When we were away recently my husband used his smart phone to look up attractions we wanted to visit. I would then put the address into our GPS system and off we’d go. The concession to our former way of travel was the ever present map, which helped keep our bearings.
This system worked well for us. We did a lot of driving as we explored the area and found our way around quite easily. One day while we were walking much farther than intended, my husband used his phone to bring up a map so we could find our way back.
In my everyday life, the road map I use is the Bible. It has all of the information needed to keep me heading in the right direction. I also rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me through unknown territory. These tried and true methods have been working for thousands of years and will always be available for me. It doesn’t matter where I happen to be, the signal guiding me is always strong and reliable.
If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them. James 1:5 GWT
[The Lord says,] “I will instruct you. I will teach you the way that you should go. I will advise you as my eyes watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 GWT