tree branches in silhouette with sun and sky

To Speak or Not to Speak …

tree branches in silhouette with sun and sky

… That is the question. 

I’ve always liked to talk…a lot.

But I’ve also needed to learn along the way to talk less, or when it is appropriate to hold my tongue.

There are many Bible verses about our speech. It is clear that too much talking, or not speaking in an encouraging and positive way is damaging both to ourselves and others.

Consider James 3.

I also tend to be a bit “shy” when I’m in the presence of those I’m not as close to or don’t know as well. So while I may talk a blue streak in a group I’m comfortable with, or even speak in front of a crowd, I am naturally repelled by making others feel uncomfortable.

In short, I care too much what others think about me. So there are times I should have spoken up but chose to be quiet.

The tongue is a powerful little tool.

It can drive the course of one’s day or even one’s life.

It strongly affects our own thoughts and actions and is keenly felt by those around us.

Words spoken in anger, frustration, fear or haste can be damaging, while words spoken with love, wisdom, thought and guidance can bring life.

 

“Those who control their tongue will have a long life;
    opening your mouth can ruin everything.” – Proverbs 13:3, NLT

Gentle words are a tree of life;
    a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” – Proverbs 15:4, NLT

 

It may not come naturally, but my goal is to speak less, think more before I speak, and be more purposeful about how and when and what I speak.

I want my words to be a positive force in my own life and all those I come into contact with.

*****

Today’s post has been written for the Five Minute Friday link-up word of the day, speak.

 

Sky and treetops near Algonquin Park

Try

Today’s short, unedited post was produced for the link-up at Five Minute Friday (even though it’s Monday). 🙂

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Sky and treetops near Algonquin Park

So often in life I waste precious time and emotional energy saying, “I’ll try”.

I’ll try to get to bed earlier. I’ll try not to waste money. I’ll try to use my time better. I’ll try to work harder, be a better wife and mother, pray more and complain less. I’ll try not to worry.

I’ll try not to sin. I’ll try to hit the target; not to miss the mark.

The problem is, trying often feels like striving.

I don’t know about you, but the longer I live, the longer I try, I seem to keep coming up short.

I can work hard, will myself and determine to do something to an extent, learn from my mistakes and grow through hard times, but I cannot do any of this successfully on my own.

My strength falters, my determination gives way, I get tired and weak, and I sometimes fail miserably.

This is not to suggest that we cannot learn tips and strategies for growth and being more productive, or even use tools to help ourselves do better at many of our actions and responsibilities in life. We can and must make commitments to ourselves and others as well.

But after more than 51 years, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am human.

I am imperfect and weak.

But I am fashioned after Someone who is strong, perfect and never misses the mark.

I am lovingly designed and especially created to be the only “me” in this crazy world.

There is grace and forgiveness for sin and help when we are weak.

And I don’t need to try anything to receive God’s amazing love for me.

I can rest in the assurance that he loves me as I am, faults and all.

He wants me to lean on him and draw from his strength.

I can have peace and give my fears to the One who made me.

I don’t have to continually struggle and try.

He is enough, so I am enough.

 

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT

 

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT

*****

 

Adirondack chair on dock at cabin

Inspire

Adirondack chair on dock at cabin

Today’s post is on the prompt, “inspire“. I’m joining some fine folks at Five Minute Friday to write for five minutes, adding my (mostly) unedited thoughts to the variety of writing of many other bloggers today. Join me as we pause, write and/or read today.

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When I browse for the meaning of “inspire”, I find it rather inspirational.

According to the dictionary, one of the meanings of “inspire” is:

“fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative”

It comes from a Latin word, meaning “breath or blow into” or to infuse (with something, such as life) by breathing, and was originally used of a divine or supernatural being.

 

I know that for me, many things inspire me.

Nature, for sure, is one of my main sources of inspiration, and worship music, to be sure.

When I take the opportunity to simply soak in the beauty around me, I find my soul replenished.

On a recent vacation, just being out in nature, especially on the water, was incredibly peaceful and inspiring. It made me catch my breath on many an occasion. It’s inspiring to stop & observe God’s handiwork.

Oxtongue Lake boat neighbour dock & boat in mist

 

Oxtonge Lake bridge and sunset.

 

sunny day canoeing on the lake

 

river at Big Bend Lookout

 

When I see the result of someone’s creativity, or especially when I apply my own imagination and talent to a work of art or a craft of some sort, I feel inspired.

In a church service, when we are singing praises to God or listening to good teaching that encourages our spirits and enlightens our minds, I also find inspiration.

When I’m sitting in the quiet, whether at my computer desk with a cup of warm coffee nearby, at a lakeside or on a mountain trail, or enjoying the crackle and warmth of a fire, I feel a peace that inspires.

It’s amazing to see a person acting in their God-given talents and abilities, whether it be preaching or singing in church, creating art, or simply building, teaching, planning, helping, cooking, serving, encouraging or loving others.

I love to be inspired, and pray that my life will bring at least some small inspiration to others.

When we tap into the deepest places within us and share it with others, it can be life-giving both to us and to those around us.

If we take the time to stop, look and listen to the world around us, whether it be in a wilderness or nature setting, or in the middle of a crowd of unique individuals, we will find inspiration.

Let’s be intentional about setting aside the time and space we need to be inspired.

Let’s be open to sharing our lives and our hearts with those around us.

Life is so much more full when we inspire and are ourselves inspired.

*****

What do you find inspiring? Do you find yourself inspiring others, either intentionally or without knowing it? How can we purpose ourselves to both give and receive inspiration?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

public pay telephone

Calling Collect

Today’s short, unedited post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday, and the prompt of the day is collect.

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public pay telephone

 

Do you remember using these? And how about calling someone collect?

I’m probably dating myself, as now I guess with the use of cell-phones, payphones probably aren’t used nearly as much as when I was young, and collect calls have drastically declined. Some of you “youngins” may not even know what I’m talking about, much less have used this calling method yourself.

 

According to Wikipedia:

“A collect call in Canada, Pakistan, and the United States, also known as a reverse charge call in other parts of the English-speaking world, is a telephone call in which the calling party wants to place a call at the called party’s expense. In the past, collect calls were only possible as an operator-assisted call, but with the introduction of computer-based telephone dialing equipment, it is now possible to place a collect call without using an operator, which is called automated operator services (AOS) as opposed to Home Country Direct (HCD). Several companies offer services to place collect calls that compete with local service providers. Collect calls can be made from almost any public pay telephone in the world by following directions posted on or near the phone. Collect calling has been in constant decline since the advent of cellular phones and VOIP products, which can offer cheaper international rates.”

 

So to call collect meant that we had to ask the person receiving our call if they would foot the bill. They had a choice as to whether or not to accept the charges.

My most common experience with collect calls is when a young person was short on cash (or possibly in trouble), and needed to reach their parents. It’s a humbling experience, but probably saved a lot of young lives (or at least saved them some money) when Mom or Dad would pay for their call (and often supply help).

Well, there is one collect call that can be made and will always be accepted.

Anyone can call upon God in prayer and he has already paid the price through Christ.

We can boldly come before a perfect heavenly father, because our sins and shortcomings have been covered and paid for in full by Jesus’ death on the cross.

There’s no need to even ask if he will accept the charges…….the debt has already been paid.

So go ahead and make the call.

Take a step and try talking to God.

He’s already accepted your charges.

So what are you waiting for?

*****

 

 

 

coffee and computer

YouVersion Half Year Challenge 2017

coffee and computer

 

Do you need a little encouragement to read the Bible? Are you feeling like your quiet time has felt a little stale? Or perhaps you just wish to try a new devotional to change things up a little?

Well, you’re in luck! YouVersion just started a challenge to help us along the way.

All we have to do is complete 7 consecutive days of any of their wonderful Bible plans to participate.

You can use any existing plan (no need to start over), start a new plan or plans (one or more than one). Just be sure to check off each day that you’ve completed the day’s reading and be sure to share using the hashtag #HalfYearResolution (and be sure to change your settings to “pubic” for the share to social media).

There are prizes to be won (just follow the simple instructions to share), and a badge to add to your YouVersion accomplishments.

I realize that there are many good ways to spend time reading and studying the Bible, but I love the Bible app to remind me each day with a daily scripture and many different plans to help me to be more consistent in reading my Bible each day.

I hope you will join me in this year’s YouVersion 2017 Half Year Challenge, and jump-start your Bible reading today.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

blue evening sky with clouds and trees

Expect

blue evening sky with clouds and trees

Welcome to another Five Minute Friday post, where a bunch of writers write for five minutes on a chosen prompt, without over-thinking or editing.

While I admit that I usually go a little over the five minute time suggestion, and perform a few minor edits, it’s still been a great exercise for someone who naturally tends to be too detailed and a bit of a perfectionist. Because I am learning to allow myself to not be perfect, this is why I have refrained from using a strict timer, or marking on the post where I’ve started and finished.

Join me today as we ponder the prompt, “expect”.

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What exactly do I expect?

It’s natural and not necessarily bad to have expectations.

I have expectations for my life and those of my family. Our youngest son just graduated from high school and our oldest son is already in college, so our thoughts and feelings have been more about their futures and what they will bring.

I am still on the long road to finger recovery since my recent knife mishap, and I tend to easily be concerned about how all that will turn out.

I like to look forward to things, but often find that people and events often do not live up to my expectations. I most surely do not always live up to my own expectations.

But what if I were to let go of expectations and hold on to hope?

The Bible informs me that hope does not disappoint.

 

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

– Romans 5:3-5, NLT

 

 

I also read many great stories of faith in Hebrews 11.  Those who live by faith have put their hope in a sure place, or namely the person of God.

 

 

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

– Hebrews 11:1, NLT

 

 

So rather than cling to my feeble thoughts of what my life should look like, instead of living in fear that things will not turn out the way I planned for my family, rather than constantly finding myself in a state of disappointment because people don’t do what I think they should, I will choose to hope.

Hope allows me to look forward with expectation, but helps me to trust in the One who cares for me most, even when difficult or unknown circumstances ensue.

Hope causes me to extend grace to those around me, and pray for their growth and peace.

When I live in hope, I can give grace to myself, as well.

I no longer have to worry about all the things I expect, but can live in the peace of entrusting all to God, who cares for me.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

less is more with injured finger tendon

Empty

less is more with injured finger tendon

So this is what happened on a Friday afternoon almost two weeks ago…..

I cut my index finger right at the joint while attempting to cut some watermelon with my sharp knife. After a stressful trip and several hours at the ER, I came home with a small splint, three stitches, and orders to return first thing Monday morning for surgery to repair my severed tendon.

I admit I am not good with medical procedures and emergencies.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a tendency to feel faint or go into mild shock when dealing with an injury. I don’t like this about myself, have worked and prayed my way through many situations, and have grown much, I think, but it still seems to be a weakness I must continue to deal with.

What makes it worse, is that I know that this is just a minor situation compared to what others have dealt with.

There are much more serious medical conditions and diseases (such as my friends and family members who have gone or are going through cancer), and many people I know have suffered great losses and pain of a more serious nature.

I have repeatedly wondered why I seem so weak.

I’ve come up feeling rather empty.

And this is the word prompt from last week for Five Minute Friday. I’m finally feeling enough strength today to write (typing with one hand), and link up with some wonderful fellow bloggers, squeaking in just under the wire before this weak’s new prompt.

I’ve been thinking about this all week, and really wanted to write.

Last weekend all over the world, Christians celebrated Easter. We remembered the life, suffering and death of God’s only Son, and rejoiced together in his victorious resurrection. (If you are not a believer, these amazing claims at least bear some serious contemplation.)

And the victory of Christ can help me in my weakness.

I know that in my brokenness, Christ can become strong in me.

Because the grave is also empty, I can find healing for both my body and my soul. Even my thoughts and fickle emotions can learn to be at peace.

I guess it’s not so bad to feel empty.

 

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:8b-10

 

So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 5:21

 

He personally carried our sins
    in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
    and live for what is right.
By his wounds
    you are healed. – 1 Peter 2:24

*****

 

 

 

One God and Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus

Enough Already

One God and Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus

 

Today’s post will be linked up with my friends over at Five Minute Friday, where different authors and bloggers all join together to write their five-minute’s-worth of thoughts on a common theme. Today’s prompt is “enough“.

*****

This morning I awoke to sun. Shiny, bright and inviting; after a week of cold rain and clouds, it brought immediate help to my weary bones and heart.

I have no major complaints; I am thankful to say that life is not too difficult right now.

But some days it’s still a struggle for all of us.

I clicked on Facebook for a few minutes and saw that my dear sister posted a photo of the snow covering they awoke to today. Then another faraway friend stated the same…..the roads were worse than ever, and the snow-clearing machinery may have already been put away.

So my first thoughts when I saw the prompt for today’s writing was, “ENOUGH ALREADY!”

I know there are so much deeper and meaningful things about which to write, but that’s where I was at first.

I proceeded to get my (phone) camera and try to capture photos of the beauty around me, in order to share online with my weather-weary friends.

Then a little treat: a fluffy little bird, bathing happily in my birdbath, with other birds flitting about. I immediately started a rough video and shared that instead.

Next, I proceeded to start my quiet time. I looked at my scripture of the day, 1 Timothy 2:5-6,

For,

There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.

This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.”

I chose a new devotional (from YouVersion), which led me to one which included music and an Easter theme.

 

Here is the song that was written about today:

 

 

So, in the end, I am writing about something more serious.

Something I believe is so important, so vital to the heart, soul and lives of myself and those around me.

The Church is already in the season of Lent, and will soon be sharing in many celebrations of Easter, the culmination of the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

It bears some serious thought, whether you are a believer or not.

I remember an Easter sermon given by my former pastor a few years back, in which he showed us a diagram, a graph sort of image that represented what happened to the world at the time when Christians claim that Jesus died and rose again.

No matter what you think about it, something happened.

The world was definitely changed.

People have testified not only to walking and speaking with him in person after his death, but for thousands of years, men and women have claimed that their lives have been changed forever by their acceptance of that single, horrible, then victorious gift.

We cannot ignore the sacrifice nor the celebration.

And it is enough, already.

*****

 

 

Inspirational mugs

Choose What Defines You

It’s Five Minute Friday time, and the prompt for this week is, “define”. Join me as we consider this word today.

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Inspirational mugs

 

What defines me?

According to Dictionary.com, two meanings for the word, “define” are:

“to explain or identify the nature or essential qualities of; describe”,

and

“to determine or fix the boundaries or extent of”

We can be defined by a lot of different things. Events, circumstances, feelings, opinions all affect how I define my life.

These self-definitions help describe who we are and who we want to be. How we define ourselves can also set up boundaries (both positive and negative) that will be difficult to cross.

 

I can live in the past … and never move forward or plan and change my life for the better.

I can live for the future … and forget the formative events and people who have served to make me who I am today.

I can listen to the words of those around me, both positive and negative … and forget the words of the One who made me.

I can rely on my fickle emotions … and refuse to believe the truth beyond what I can feel.

I can base my value on what I do, how much I achieve or produce, what I own, how much money I have, how talented I am, the grades and recognition I may or may not receive, and what others think (or what I think they think) about me … all the while ignoring the truth which is often disguised by the way things look on the surface.

Some folks even prefer to define themselves by their difficult circumstances … because they don’t know anything else and are afraid to change.

 

We have a choice about what defines us. 

 

I’ll never forget a little story I read many years ago in a Readers’ Digest article.

It was about two men who were brothers of an alcoholic father. One went on to be a responsible adult with a good job and family. The other made nothing of himself and may have become an alcoholic himself.

When asked about why they turned out the way they did, each man had the same answer:

 

What would you expect with a father like mine?”

It’s not always easy, but we always have a choice.

I chose to listen to the truth.

I can find the truth when I believe the the good words of those who care about me.

I can find the best truth when I believe the words of a God who not only made me, but designed me for a beautiful and unique purpose.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!

– Psalm 139:13-18a, NLT

You can choose what defines you.

Choose to believe, and act upon … the truth.

*****

 

 

 

 

friends on Facebook

Friend Me

This post has been written to add to the Five Minute Friday link-up, where the prompt for the day is, “friend”.

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friends on Facebook

 

Friend me.”

This is a phrase that would have made a lot less sense when I was a little girl.

Social media was not a thing; in fact, I still remember the first computers (that weren’t the size of a room, and that “regular” people could own in their homes). Yes, I may be dating myself, but that’s OK.

But it’s a common request these days, connecting us to those we know on Facebook and other social media.

I am fairly careful who I friend. It’s good to be safe online and in real life and use godly caution.

But let’s not live in so much fear that we shut real people out.

I know that online relationships and acquaintances can never take the place of spending time with flesh and blood people, but I do find it engaging and a wonderful way to keep up with those I do know and love but can’t always be with due to miles or time constraints.

There are several wonderful ladies I’m getting to know only online. I have never met them in person, but if I walked into a room and they were there, I would give them hugs.

I believe that real friendships can be made, renewed or rekindled, or just maintained partly by interacting online. I even wrote a whole blog post on that premise.

But let’s not forget to get off of our technology and out into the real world.

Let’s make time to get together with those we love and those we wish to know better.

Don’t just pass by those people with whom you go to church, those neighbors you wish you knew better, or the colleagues you see at work, without touching them somehow.

Be the person who is not afraid to smile at a stranger, stop to help a passerby, or even offer a word of encouragement or friendship to those we meet.

Let’s cherish the ones we love and not take these moments for granted.

Because the hearts of everyone around us are saying, “friend me“.

And my heart needs to be a friend, too.

*****