There are many interesting sculptures along the waterfront walkway in Puerto Vallarta. One in particular captured my attention.
It was in two parts. One was a large figure with outstretched arms. In front of this was a ladder with two other figures climbing it. There were each holding onto the ladder with one hand reaching out with the other.
Upon speaking to a local, I found out that this statue was called Looking for Reason. It is also known as Looking for the Answers.
This was a vivid portrayal of something most of us spend our lives doing. I know that I have often looked for the reason behind events in life. It would be nice to have the answers and not speculate at the outcome.
As in the figures on the ladder, I have held onto what is secure with one hand while reaching for the unknown with the other.
In hindsight I’m grateful that I didn’t know ahead of time what was in store for me. Many experiences would have been lost by my not wanting to face what preceded them.
This is where faith comes into play. My faith in Jesus allows me to trust in him for the outcome. I don’t need to know the answers when I’m holding on to him. Jesus knows my life from beginning to end. Every event I encounter will bring me closer to the purpose he has for me. That’s all the reason I need.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)
Anyone who has travelled to a Mexican tourist destination understands the persistence of people trying to convince them to attend a time share presentation.
On a recent vacation we faced this many times each day. When walking down the streets of the city it felt as though we were constantly being offered gifts in exchange for an hour of our time to attend a presentation. We knew from experience that the hours we’d have to spend and the pressure we’d face were not worth it for us.
I felt rude when we ignored the people and kept on walking. The few times we did stop to be polite the offers were sweetened when we declined. We were offered tickets, tours and cash. My husband would politely but firmly refuse all offers, saying he wasn’t willing to share his vacation time with them.
We talked about this later and said that the greatest time share is the one Jesus offers us. It doesn’t give us a week or two a year, but guarantees eternity with him. His offer never changes and no pressure is applied. I won’t be given more rewards if I hold out. There has never been a better offer than his and never will be. I am so grateful that because of my relationship with Jesus I will be sharing my time in eternity with him.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (John 14:1-3 NLT)
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11-12 NIV)
Dry leaves crunch underfoot and blow across the yards as the trees release them during their preparation for winter. The majority of trees in our area now have bare branches. As if in protest of the season, the tree in our front yard is the exception.
After a strong wind during the night, I expected to find our lawn littered with leaves the next morning. Our tree, however was still hanging onto most of them.
When I mentioned this to my husband, he said that maybe it just wasn’t ready to let go of them yet.
Immediately I thought of habits and behaviours I’ve hung onto because I wasn’t ready to let go of them. Although I knew the letting go was inevitable, I hung on as long as possible.
Change is not always comfortable but it is necessary in order to grow.
As the seasons of my life fade from one to the next I need to let go of the things that no longer serve me well. The new season has much to offer but I can’t receive it I’m still holding onto the last one.
When my roots go deep into the word of God, he will sustain me through periods of growth and times of change. He is only able to do this when I am willing to let go of what I think I need and enter into the adventure he has in store for me.
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1NLT)
I was one of millions who watched the Toronto Blue Jays come from behind to win their division series last week. It was a game that will be talked about for years to come.
You don’t have to be a baseball fan to appreciate their accomplishment. Despite a play that delayed the game, was ruled against them and put the other team in the lead, the Blue Jays didn’t give up. During the second half of an historic seventh inning they fought back, took the lead and ended up winning the game and the series.
One player, when asked about the play that had the potential to defeat them, said that it created an opportunity for them to do something better. That was a statement that inspired me.
The potential these words hold is staggering. Instead of being discouraged and giving up when life throws me a curve ball, I could look at the situation as an opportunity to do something better.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” He also said to take heart because he has overcome the world. The troubles I face will not defeat me if I face them together with him. With his guidance they will provide me the opportunity to do something so much better than I could accomplish on my own.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
Sometimes it takes an unusual situation to show me that I’ve been focusing on the wrong thing. A recent experience pointed this out.
I had arrived at work one morning to find it unusually cold inside. I put the heat on and waited. Hours later it was only a degree or two warmer.
I called my employer to let her know of the problem. She gave me suggestions on dealing with our sometimes finicky heating system.
Nothing seemed to make a difference. Periodically through the day I tried again and was always frustrated at the lack of heat.
The next day I received a message from my employer saying that the reason the heat didn’t work was because the switch on the thermostat had been turned to “off”. It seems that the problem was with the operator and not the equipment.
Wanting to create value in this situation, I looked for the lesson. It wasn’t as difficult to find as the off switch had been!
There have been times when the discomfort I was experiencing was something I had control over. When my focus was solely on the problem that was all I could see. It was the solution I needed to focus on.
Often I forget where my solution lies. My knowledge and resources are limited. It’s God that sees the whole picture and is able to direct me. He cares about every aspect of my life. I need to continually focus on him and trust that he will provide what I need.
Those who know your name trust you, O Lord, because you have never deserted those who seek your help. (Psalm 9:10 GWT)
I’m taking Thanksgiving off and sharing a post I wrote in 2013. Happy Thanksgiving to all.
The calendar tells us that it is Thanksgiving, and once again I reflect on the meaning behind this holiday. For some it is merely a paid day off or a day to enjoy a turkey dinner with loved ones. For others, it is as the name suggests, a day to give thanks.
If it truly is a day to give thanks, what is it that I’m thankful for? Although I appreciate the opportunity to enjoy a turkey dinner with loved ones, there is more to it than that. I need to dig much deeper.
While I’m at it, I need to realize that being thankful is something to practice consistently through each and every day. A wise friend told me once that there is no such thing as an entirely bad day. There is always something to be thankful for. Many in the world would be overjoyed to have some of the things that I tend to take for granted. A comfortable home with electricity and running water come to mind. My nightly habit is to pick up my gratitude journal and write down 5 things that I was grateful for that day. Looking for and focusing on the positive has changed my life.
Part of this is not just giving thanks, but who I am giving thanks to. God has blessed me, not just with material things, but with his loving presence. Even during the trying times, he is there leading and guiding me. He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for the wrongs I have done. Now I can look forward to everlasting life with him. Now that is something to give thanks for.
.. always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 (NIV)
The cheerful image of sunflowers adorns many items. I’ve always admired them from a distance but this year, for the first time, I had some growing in my yard.
While watching their progress I realized they had a few important lessons to teach me.
Lesson one was to keep on growing. Although fall was closing in and the nighttime temperatures were dipping to the freezing mark, these flowers kept on growing. They taught me that I don’t have to have ideal conditions to grow. Personal growth is achievable in all seasons of my life.
The second lesson was to keep my head high. No matter what happens, it’s important to keep looking up. Even though I make mistakes, God can redeem them. I can’t be used by him if I’m standing in despair with my head hung in shame. It’s God’s plan and not my own that I need to trust in.
The next lesson was to spread seeds of happiness. I’ve learned that one sunflower can have up to 2,000 seeds. The black seeds make oil and the striped ones are for snacking. This taught me that I don’t have to be the same as everyone else in order to spread seeds of happiness. I can do this through words of support and encouragement, through acts of service, a smile or a hug. The positive effects get passed on and the results can be far reaching.
Lesson four was to focus on the sunny side. Sunflowers turn their heads to face the sun. Helen Keller said “Keep your face to the sun and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” I like that thought. For me it means to keep my eyes on the Lord and let his light shine on me. When I find myself temporarily in the shadows, I have faith that he will lead me through them and into the sun once again.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)
I was sitting in a friend’s living room amid a group of her friends. We were enjoying a time of book readings and discussion as part of my first Coffee Time With Tandy event.
The daylight had been slowly fading when the hostess turned on a light behind me so I could read more easily. I remarked that the transition had been so gradual I didn’t realize I’d been in the dark until the light shone upon me once again.
We carried on with our evening as I tucked those words in the back of my mind, knowing I would examine them more fully at another time.
Later I thought about the times in my life when I was walking in the shadows. The darkness seeped in so quietly and gradually that it wasn’t noticed. One day I was surprised to realize how gloomy my vision had become.
The antidote was simple. Jesus is the light of the world. He has promised that those who follow him will never walk in darkness. When I am basking in his light and love I am also able to reflect this to those around me. This is the best way I can think of to keep my light from fading.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)
Have you ever seen something that made you stop in your tracks and pay attention? It happened to me while wandering through a produce market. There, on a display of eggplants was a sign that made me laugh because I saw deeper meaning in it.
Eggplants are a vegetable I’ve never purchased. Their deep purple, glossy beauty has attracted me but being unsure of the taste; I’ve always passed them by. Judging by the sign with this vegetable I’d assume they are quite bland in flavor.
Even so, the advice on how to enhance its dull presence struck me as amusing.
Perhaps I could use a sign like that. On days I’m feeling dull and boring I could have a sign letting people know what they could do to enhance my personality. Chocolate always helps!
On the other hand, do I want to go around announcing that I’m feeling dull? Even a shiny exterior won’t attract people for long if the inside is dull.
The best personality enhancement I’ve found comes from a life lived for Jesus. When I start the day asking him to direct my life he brings unexpected delights. By actively seeking these gifts I allow the love and light of Jesus to shine through me. Bland is not an option when I walk closely with him.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11 NIV)