A New Year’s Resolution

“When we grow closer to God, we do not become more spiritual, but more loving.” 

I am not sure who said this, but I have it printed on a card sitting on my desk at work. It is a constant reminder that when we are rooted in God’s love, it transforms us into more accepting, tender and tolerant people. Unconditional acceptance of others becomes effortless because we suddenly see them through God’s eyes. We are called to let God be God and we are to simply step back and embrace each other—not only as a body of believers, but as fellow travelers.

I know this isn’t an easy concept to grasp, even harder to actually live. When I look across my classroom at those 25 children, I want to see them the way God does. When I look at my family and friends, I want to see them as God does. When I look at myself, I want to see me as God does (this is a hard one). When I look at the Walmart cashier, I want to see her has God does. So, I ask myself—how can I get to this place. I refer back to the quote. In order to love people more, I must know God better.

As I look to the new year with resolve, it seems I need to bypass the “normal” resolutions and think of those which are rooted in more practical terms. I am not fond of resolutions perhaps because I am Type-A personality and feel like when I make a resolution and fall short then I have failed. So this year I am going to make a different type of resolution, one which I can perhaps attain. So here it goes: I am determined to continue on this life journey with a new resolve – to give more and take less; to love more and hurt less; to sing more and complain less; and to pray more and worry less. Most of all—I resolve to know God in a way that requires me to love more.

This I know for sure….

A Disclaimer!

Perhaps I need to take a break from blogging for awhile—seems that whenever I write a blog, it is like God says “lets see if she really lives this”. Now, I know that isn’t true, but every time I write—there seems to be a test of faith that follows. You shouldn’t write anything you aren’t able to back up— 

This I know for sure….

Season of Peace

For He himself is our peace… Ephesians 2:14

Resting in the peace that God feely gives is often difficult. The season of Christmas represents peace—peace beyond our understanding. It is at this time of year we discuss the need for peace, yet seldom do we seize it. As I travel this path that has become my calling, I have a heightened realization that I desperately need God. My weaknesses are magnified and my strengths haven’t mattered—this has made me totally reliant on the peace that God gives. Even through the desolation that accompanies difficulties, blossoms of peace peek through the desert of life. These blossoms of peace grow from the seeds of moments in our lives resembling – a kind word, a song, a new relationship, the laughter of children, hope for a future, or a feeling of self-confidence that has been long lost. We just have to be present to claim these gifts.

I have found God’s greatest work tends to be exemplified when life seems the hardest. Needing God has made me well aware of the fact that I am unable to travel alone. Even my strengths fail me through the journey without the empowerment of a heavenly father—my weaknesses seem to be magnified and my security wanes. Peace becomes a confidence I must act upon through the promises God has given. 

When life seems too difficult to tolerate, when circumstances seem beyond what we can handle, when we are too tired to take the next step on our journey—Christ becomes our peace. It is at this point that we must begin to claim the promise that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39). This is real peace.

Nothing in life is predictable. Life is often chaotic, but He is our Peace all we have to do — is claim it.

This I know for sure….

The Gifts of the Season!

It is that holiday time of the year. I am forced, as a public school teacher, to remain benign to the “Christmas Spirit”. Everything I send home must say “holiday” not “Christmas” and must never contain anything that might be construed as religious in nature. This got me thinking about the most wonderful CHRISTMAS gifts I have ever received. I remember getting the Chrissy Doll with hair that actually grew—of course I cut it within a week and never played with her again. I remember getting a Viewmaster slide projector as a gift from the church in St. Louis—wow, I loved that and played with it for almost two weeks before putting it in the corner of my room. There are very few gifts I have actually used or appreciated long after they were given. My husband knew that if it plugged in—it wasn’t a gift—what a smart man. The gifts I truly cherish are those not wrapped and placed under the tree, but given with love by those who have experienced this life journey with me.

Tom Paine stated in 1791 “and the slavery of fear made man afraid to think”—I am so very thankful for the gift of free thought that was not only embraced, but encouraged by my family. It is a gift that continues to give as we grow together and appreciate the thought processes we so eagerly mock within each other. 

The gift of friendship so freely given, is one I treasure. When I think of Christ and his close friendships, I feel I am luckier than he. I have had friends stick by me through tremendous heartache—no one has denied me or even given up on me. I read in many books not to expect my friendships to remain in tact through the grieving process; apparently, my friends beat the odds—they have not only stayed, but loved through it all and now they share in my joys as I regain a new normal. The gift of new relationships is also something I value this year. It is amazing to me how God provides just what we need.

According to Nelson Algren, “the journey is all”. I actually appreciate the gift of “the journey”. I am grateful that there is a God who loves and cares for me and wants the best for my life. I value the one who leads me through the maze of life’s decisions. I am not sure where I would be at this point if it weren’t for extreme faith, but I DO know where I would be without it.

Supportive family is a gift I am fortunate to have received. Not only am I blessed with amazing parents who, after 40+ years are still in love each other, I am also blessed with brothers who mean the world to me and sister-in-laws who are equally a part of my heart. I am fortunate that my family has loved me through these past months with intensity and resolve to see me through to the other side.

The love of my children is a gift I treasure beyond words. They love so completely and so meaningfully. I honor who they are and who they will become. They have so much of their earthly father within them that I know they have tender hearts. They have enough of their mother that I know they have some “spunk”. I am truly privileged to be their mother. 

I am thankful for the promise of tomorrow. I am forever grateful for the hope of a future and an openness of love that is always there for the taking. I am opening the gift of hope—hope that our lives with be stronger and that love will one day fill our home again. God is so faithful to complete all we ask and hope for.

Finally, I am grateful for the gift of Jesus Christ. The hope that his birth represents is simply astounding. I am normally a big Easter fan (it is my favorite holiday), but if it weren’t for the amazing birth, there would never have been a resurrection and without the resurrection there would never be hope. This is the HOPE that insures all of us a future filled with confidence and anticipation.

Throughout this holiday season……

THIS I know for sure….

A Lesson in Need

It is the season for spreading joy throughout the land, right? It is the time for helping those less fortunate—I am all for that—I am all about helping others. It makes your load lighter and creates within you this awesome sense of gratitude and goodwill. Today I received an email from an organization, of which I am involved, that included the following message:

“This year we have adopted two…. families who are in need. We are collecting money as well as gifts. Below are some items we are seeking for these two families..” What you will find following is a condensed (very condensed) list of the items submitted by this needy family. Marsha commentary will be in italics and bold.

On the list were some very reasonable items including: Uno Spin, The Game of Life, earrings, necklace, Old Navy gift card etc.. I have no problem with these items. They are expected to be on the list of someone less fortunate.However, the list didn’t end there. Here are some of the “other” items on the list: Ipod Stereo that fits an Ipod Nano – seriously—they have ipods how horrible life must be since they only have a Nano and not a 30 gig video ipod?; Lion King 1 ½ (DVD full screen) – what happens if I buy the regular screen version; Mario baseball for Gamecube, NGC Pokeman TD gale (game for gamecube) – GAMECUBE are they kiddin’; Silver Ipod Nano – oh, one of them doesn’t have an ipod—ok I am going to stop here except for one other interjection so as not to become too overly sarcastic; Coach, Luis Vuitton or Guess brand purse – sure—let me run out and purchase a $400-$700 purse for the needy – seriously.

When did we get to this point? When did a family in need require an “Epson Stylus Photo R340 Printer”? Could it possibly be that we no longer have a distinguishable line between what we want and what we need? My brother related a story he heard about a father trying to instill the concept of “need” in his son. The son wanted a pair of $100.00 Air Jordan tennis shoes. His father said “Son, I have $40.00. You WANT a pair of Air Jodan shoes. Seems to me you NEED—–$60.00.” Funny as that maybe—it hits the mark. Truth be told, the son didn’t really NEED the shoes at all.

I will confess—I have not had much success instilling within my own children a sense of gratitude for what they are so fortunate to have, but you can bet that is at the top of my Christmas wish list now. I want them to understand the difference between want and need. I wish for them to know that we have far more than most folks in the universe and for that we should be extremely grateful. I also want them to know that there are those TRULY less fortunate who wake up every morning with empty stomachs and wonder where they will sleep for the evening. I want them to understand that in Jesus’s words “Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God”. I yearn for them to grasp that it matters very little what we possess, but life’s riches are measured by the relationships we develop and the love we share. For myself, I desire a spirit that truly gets what being poor means and a gracious heart that is content with what I already possess. Living in the land of plenty we lack much in the way of gratitude.

This I know for sure….