Live For The Eternal

As I visited with my ailing relative today, I was reminded again of how sweet heaven will be when we are all there together. There will be no more sickness and no more pain. Our loved ones will never die, and we will never worry about crises, heartaches, destruction or even the threats of such. We will say no more goodbyes, and the trivial things of this world will have all been lost.

If I had but one piece of advice to give, it would be this: No matter what you seek in this life, all things will eventually fade away, only those things which are eternal will remain. Never allow the temporary pleasures to blind you from the eternal treasures. Live for those who matter, and let all the rest simply fade with the time of life’s journey. Recognize and acknowledge your reality. Cherish the ins of value, and make sure you are both ready for the other side; so together, you might worship your King in eternity…

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More Valuable Than Gold

 

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I wonder, sometimes, what do we truly value in this life? There is a story in the Bible, in the book of Luke, that tells the story of a woman who lost one silver coin out of ten that she had. She lit a lamp and frantically searched the whole house for the coin, even going so far as to sweep the whole house in her search. Then, once it had been found, she called all her friends and neighbors to celebrate the goodness she had found. This parable is in reference to salvation, and the truth revealed in God loving us so much that His search for us when we are lost is even more so than this woman.

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!” Luke 15:8-10

However, the parable also brings to mind the thoughts of what we hold valuable in our lives, what we hold dear and precious to our hearts, and what would bring us to the point of extreme desperation at the loss of it. What we consider of value displays our true character. What we value sets our priorities in place and determines our perspective of significance.

I wonder what it might be in your life?

I wonder what it is that you hold cherished and valued in your life?

Is it your children? your job? your money? your possessions? What is it that sets your priorities in right order? What might it be that places your perspective and your ponderings on a particular sight, person or concept?

Those of us who call on the name of Jesus as Lord should pause a moment and consider the truth of this reality. Is it really the message of Jesus that we hold dear? Do we cherish Him as a treasure? Do we consider Him that valuable? Do we seek Him as expensive gold? Do we place everything aside simply to be with Him and to know Him more each and every day?

Do we share Him with those around us as the good news we have found?

Questions to Ponder

   
 I saw a list of questions today on a delightful blog post here, and as easy as the questions seemed while reading, I began to ponder them for myself, and I realized they’re not as easy as they first appear. I’d like to share them with you now and see if you might want to share your answers as well…

If you had a shelf for your three most special possessions (NOT including photos, electronic devices and things stored on then, or people or animals) what would you put there?

I don’t consider myself a real materialistic kind of gal; so, this question took me a little bit of time, because my first thoughts were of my family, all the photos I cherish, and one special book that I treasure. Since, I wasn’t allowed to include people or photos, my list shortened, and since my treasured book will be placed in the ‘happiness’ box below, I was back to square one. I, then, thought of my wedding band, but I could never leave that on a shelf, I would always be wearing it; so, again, I pondered. The next three things I treasure in life would be these: my journals, my camera and my gun. That may seem like a very strange combination, but let me explain…my journals for all of my writings of thoughts, goals, dreams, feelings and agonies of life. Here is where I work out my emotions and seek out the depths of my heart…my camera for all the many photographs I take to try and capture the moment and document the memories forever…my gun for a sense of security and protection, for if this world goes crazy one day, I will protect my family with everything I have and more. 

If you had a box labeled ‘happiness,’ what would you put in it?

This one was pretty easy for me to decide, because I believe true happiness can never come from a thing or even a person. True happiness can only come from within, and it can only be found, and be found everlasting, within the joy of the Lord. The One True God is the only one who can bring us perfect peace in a storm, beauty from ashes and joy through morning. So, my Bible would go inside this box, but it would be opened everyday; so, I might read, listen, learn and commune with my Heavenly Father. 

  
What do you want more of in this life?

There’s really not a whole lot more that I want more of. I feel like I have been blessed so much that I don’t really have a right to ask for anything more. I guess, if I had to choose, I’d say I’d like to, personally, have more discipline and confidence I my life. I get so frustrated with myself when I get lazy and when I back up or hesitate due to a lack of confidence. 

Daily Life List:  What do you do on an average day? Make a list of your usual activities that you do each day.

When I read Paardje’s daily life list, I have to admit I was quite jealous of her disciplined routine. I cannot say I am that precise in my daily agenda; even though, I so long to become that way. My daily life list is more like this:

1. 6:30am Wake up call

2. Devotions/Bible reading

3.  New found exercise routine (Mmm, working on the consistency of this one…As of this post, Day 5 in progress)

5. Shower and get ready

6. 3 days a week – Make sure the boys are up and getting ready for school…make sure they have lunches, and take them to school (2 days a week are home days; so, it’s a focus of schoolwork during morning hours)

7. While the boys are in school: 2 days of the weeks, we have a staff meeting and a prayer meeting, both ending around lunch time … And 1 day, I either work at the church or stay home to take care of “home stuff,” depending on the week and what the needs are 

8. Lunch with hubby

9. Pick up boys from school 

10. Run errands or return home and straighten/clean as needed

11. Dinner 

12. Evenings vary but are usually centered around family activities or down time

13. 8pm All video games and devices off…Tv/movies allowed if doing together

14. 9pm Boys to their rooms to read and settle down for bed…All electronics off and put up 

15. 9:30/10pm Lights Out for boys 😴

16. Bedtime varies for me… unfortunately, I am a night owl attempting to go to bed at earlier hours these days. 😁

Bonus Question: What are you grateful for from this last week? – and what are you looking forward to in this coming week?

This last week, I am grateful for the beautiful patches of snow we have had. It wasn’t much to speak of, only a dusting really, but I just love snow so much that even a little white dusting makes me feel like a kid again! 

This coming week, Sunday, is Valentine’s Day. My husband always says I’m a “sucker for love;” so, naturally, VDay is always a fun day for us! 😊❤️

I do hope you’ve enjoyed my little “heart and soul adventure,” and I do hope you’ll send me a few responses on some of your own answers. Or, maybe like me, it will inspire you to write up your own blog with your answers to these pondering questions. Please, be sure to link my blog; so, I can venture over to read! I’d love to learn more about you and what makes you who you are! 😊  I hope you have a great day today!!

The Christmas List

  
Thanksgiving is next week. Black Friday is right after that. Christmas is only 38 days away. We will usher in the New Year in just 45 days…that’s about the average amount of time you take to close on a house. There will be endless get togethers, shopping trips, holiday parties and cards to be sent between now and then…Life can get so busy at this time of year!

 
I feel like more and more, time just speeds up the closer we get to the end of the year. There are so many things I want to do, especially for the holidays, with my family and friends. I can feel my agenda of events starting to take over and consume my calendar. If I try to hold tightly to the time, like sand in an hour glass, it simply starts trickling through my fingers. There’s simply not enough time. 

No, wait, there’s no less time than there was 20-30 years ago. There’s no less hours in my day today than there were last year or the year before. Time hasn’t changed, my calendar has, my priorities have. Now, I have a husband, two lively boys, a growing church family and many more added responsibilities than I did those 20-30 years ago, when all I had to worry about was getting home on time for curfew, getting the next 5-page paper done, or what I planned to wear for a night out with friends. 

Yes, there are more things required of me in this day and time; however, these things should not distract me from those things which are of high importance in my life before the holiday season hits. My list may adjust some, but those top 3-5 things shouldn’t alter simply because I have added desires and agendas during Christmas time. 

My list may not be exactly like yours, and, honestly, if it were, I might wonder why…we have different family dynamics; we live different lives. Yet, we all have a purpose, and we all commitments we have made. We must set our priorities in such a way that we keep those important things, and those important people, at the top. 

Even during this very busy season, my God, my family, and our staff and church family are the most important things on that list. These things don’t change, simply, because it’s a new season, a more hectic time. These things can’t take a backseat simply because I’d like to add a few more items to my list. I simply have to become more disciplined and deliberate in my approach to them. I have to become more aware of my intentions, my agendas and my follow through, and sometimes, I have to learn to say no to something I’d like to do “on a whim” to stay consistent in doing something that I’ve made a commitment to do. 

Sometimes, our family can be placed on hold simply because we’re working more hours to accommodate the Christmas wish list, when, maybe, we just need to get back to the simpler things of life. Sometimes, our commitments can be delayed simply because we had an act of spontaneity due to the holiday season, when it would have been better to stay consistent in those promises we once made. Sometimes, we need to hold onto those things (or people) of tradition and value and not forsake them for “the newest and the brightest” things found to be on the shelf. This isn’t going to be true for everyone, and there will be endless variables to this equation; however, if we are truly honest with that face that stares back at us in the mirroe, we know when we’ve let a priority slip by the wayside. We know when we’ve excuses away a commitment we should’ve held dear. 

This holiday season, let’s make a point to remember the things that are on top of the list; those things of importance and meaning. It doesn’t mean we can enjoy the fun events of the holiday, and it doesn’t mean we have to miss out on something new and fun to do, but let’s not forsake one to grasp hold of another! Let’s learn to balance and prioritize on the important once so that we can maximize our efforts! 😊

Life Is So Short…Stop.

Friday, some good friends of ours lost two of their nephews in a tragic car accident. Today, another family will be saying goodbye to their father, grandfather and husband, whom they lost suddenly about a week ago, and yet, another family just laid to rest their family matriarch, yesterday, after her sudden illness in just the last few days. There are several more I could mention who are going through a season of grief or who are just on the verge of it. Sometimes, when it rains, it pours.

Life is so short. It slows down for no one. Stop. Inhale. Breathe. Make the Moments Last. Cherish those you love longer. Treasure those around you, even when you feel like they’ll be there forever. Don’t let those memories be lost, simply, because you haven’t the time to remember. Don’t brush away the tears, simply, because you don’t want them to see. Pause and ponder. Look up and wonder. Gaze into the eyes of a child, and remember what matters most.

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Sometimes, life can be a fierce reminder of what can be lost in an instant. We are never guaranteed tomorrow. We are never promised our next breath. This why it’s so important to savor the dimming light in a sunset, to treasure those last embers around the campfire. We never know what may be around the next bin or beyond the next horizon. How we handle “right now” may determine our regrets and our joys for tomorrow.

We can live our lives letting life happen, or we can choose to make life happen. We can roll on, allowing life to impact us in whatever fashion it comes, or we can choose to make an impact on the life around us. We can be a victim, or we can be the victor. What we do with the time we are given may very well become our anthem or our lament.

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share with you what King Solomon said about this in Ecclesiastes 3…

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
A time of war,
    And a time of peace.    

…(14) I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever.

From the wisest King who ever lived, we are given confirmation that time never stops; there are seasons for everything, and that whatever God does, that is what will last forever. So, I leave you with this question, ” What things or people do you hold so dear, and for whom are you living your life today?”

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Blessed Heart and Home

I read this article the other day, and it really hit home…

18 Things That Are Hard to Explain to Third World Country Friends

Please, know I’m not bragging at all, but I have to say, I consider myself an incredibly blessed person. God has blessed our family so much that, many times, I am simply overwhelmed to tears because of the favor and blessings we have. Please understand, I’m not going to be one of those “prosperity preachers” who claim you will always have favor, you will always be blessed if you just do (blank) and (blank). No, you don’t give to get.

That’s not how God works, but He does honor obedience. He does give wisdom, and when you walk in it, you find blessings. He does honor prayers when you diligently seek Him, and, sometimes, He simply blesses; so you can, in turn, bless another. I can’t tell you all the reasons our family is blessed; I’m sure I could write another post on that later, and I won’t tell you that I’ve never gone through sufferings and pain. That, too, can be saved for another post…and another, and another… but all I am saying is I count myself a very blessed woman.

With that being noted, I really try to keep a grateful heart at all times, and I guess I do pretty good most of the times, but there are moments in life when I forget to be thankful. I forget to remember there are greater struggles in this life than the ones I am facing. There are people in this world who do not know from where their next meal will come, or even, if it will come. There are those who don’t even have a roof over their head, much, much less, an abundance of stuff that they’re needing to throw out!

I read this article the other day, and what the author described reminded me, again, of how very blessed I am…

Each of our family members sleep in their own beds every night.

When I’m hungry, I simply walk over to our refrigerator and decide what I’d like to eat.

When I’m cold, I put on a jacket, cover up with a blanket, or turn the heat up.

When I’m hot, I pour a glass of ice water, go outside and feel the cool breeze, or in the summertime, go stick my feet in a creek or waterfall.

Both of our boys have all the clothes they need, food they can eat, and even too much of material things they want.

When I want to go to the store, I simply jump in my car and drive over to the nearest store.

If we want to travel, we drive the car, fly in a plane, rent a boat, or ride in a train.

I take all the pictures my heart desires on my little smartphone and download them onto a “cloud” program to be retrieved at a later time.

When I want to share with the world what’s going on in mine, I simply sit here at my desk and begin to type, clicking the little blue button when I am finished.

When compared to our daily lives in America, these things I’ve listed seem like little, meaningless things, things that we each take for granted. Yet when compared to the daily lives of those from a third world country who don’t even live at the level of poverty, these simple things seem monumental. We all have something for which to be grateful. We all have someone for whom we can be thankful.

Can we take a few moments today to remember what and who those might be?

Appreciate the things you have. They are just things, and we should never be obsessive nor materialistic; yet, we can acknowledge the ease those things bring to our lives. We can enjoy them and not take them for granted.

Cherish those whom you have in your life. You never know which moment may be the last. Never let the sun go down on your wrath, and never let a moment to be cherished be one forgotten. Live. Love. Laugh, and remember what and who is most important. ❤

I’ll Grow Old with You

In light of this being our anniversary week, I hope you will forgive me for not posting something yesterday, and I hope you might indulge me today as I repost something I blogged a little while back for my sweetheart (as you will see by the “info” given). We celebrate 19 years this week, and I am more in love today than I’ve ever been! 😉 

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We sat in the empty house, the boys away for the evening. He sat at the computer playing chess. I sat in a chair opposite him, reading on my Kindle. He said, “Ya know, this is what old people do. This (silence) is what it sounds like to get old. … What are we gonna do when little bit goes off to college?” I said to him, “Cry…..Cry a lot.”
This started me thinking…

We’ve been together for over 22 years now…8,079 days of my life.

We’ve been married for 18 1/2 of those…over half of my lifetime.

We’ve lived in 2 states and, together, visited 10.

We’ve worked at 5 churches and gone to 2 colleges.

We have 2 sons, numerous “spiritual kids” and no daughters or grandkids.

We are both Southern born and bred, in 2 (technically 3) different states,

and we’re both very proud of it!

I love you more today than that first day I met you,

and even more than the day I said, “I do.”

Yet, I love you less today than I will love you tomorrow or even this time next year.

In a world where the rings come off too quickly, and the marriage vows become negotiable, I have decided our love is here to stay, and even if you wanted, you couldn’t get rid of me without a fight.

This love we have was birthed in wonder and refined in distance and time. All those years we said, “hello” each day, but only held hands once a week, deepened our commitments rather than making them shallow. This love we share has stood the test of time, and even though, I know that test will be retaken again and again during this lifetime, I believe we will remain true. For I don’t belong to you, and you don’t belong to me. We belong to the One who holds this thing together. He is the only One who will see us through.

So, I gladly look to tomorrow and cherish our yesterdays. I hold onto the present and love like it’s only the beginning. I treasure our times together and laugh at our silly mishaps. I glance over your failings and pray you’ll do the same as we reach together, hand over hand, to move beyond what could destroy and stretch our hearts toward the One who would restructure what could have been lost.

Love is not a feeling. It cannot be bought or borrowed or even stolen. Love is a choice that we each choose to uphold and to protect. Love is a choice that we can choose to embrace when we look past our own selfish ways and desires. Love must be cultivated, cherished and cared for. Love must be allowed to bloom.

Blooms do not happen instantaneously. Growth does not happen overnight. Love takes years of tenacity in trials, forgiveness of flaws, blindness to annoyances, perseverance with the little things that really matter. Love doesn’t fail when it is the love from the One who created love. Love lasts forever when it is the love of the Father.

So, today, I say, ‘YES.’

Yes, I will choose to love. Yes, I will choose to forgive.

Yes, I will choose to laugh. Yes, I will choose to cherish.

Yes, I will choose to live. Yes, I will choose to treasure.

Yes, I will choose embrace. Yes, I will choose to uphold.

Yes, I will choose to cultivate, nurture and protect this love.

Yes, I will choose you for life, for love, for laughter.

…Yes… I’ll grow old with you.

 

Wednesday’s Ode #8

Today, I’d like to give tribute to my grandmother. She and I share the same birthday this month, and since today is April first (and I’m not so crazy about April Fool’s Day), I think she is a much better subject to talk about! 😉

I absolutely love my grandmother! Many people say we’re a lot alike, and I take that as a huge compliment. She is a very loving, peaceful, pleasant, elegant, loyal, diligent, dependable, and noble woman. She is fiesty at times, yet, incredibly feminine. She is enthusiastic and always ready to have a good time; yet, she’s quiet and as easy going as the day is long. 

She fiercely loved her husband of almost 59 years, and she loves him to this day; although, she had to say goodbye to him almost 13 years ago. They were best friends, confidantes, business partners and lovers. Together, they faced and survived being married at the young ages of 14 and 17, the death of their only son, several miscarriages, running a business together, politics and even cancer. She stayed by his side, through thick and thin, until the very end.   

At four foot eleven inches, she is a strong, independent woman; yet, she is there when you need her, and she loves deeply. She is quick to smile and always the first to shed a tear of joy or sorrow. She is kind and gracious, and she is a woman of deep character and deep faith. She trusts in her God to take care of her, and she gives Him praise in the tiniest of blessings. She always looks to the brighter side of things and is able to keep a positive attitude through some life’s toughest storms. She reads her Bible and prays everyday and, even, many times throughout her day. She is faithful to her church family; even when she’s out of town visiting me (or others), she spends some time connecting with those back at home. 

She can spruce up the dullest of rooms or ceremonies with her elegant Victorian ways, and she can bake a “mean” pound cake, fried shrimp, fried mullet and even Thanksgiving dressing! She, also, makes an awesome sweet potato casserole for me during the holidays, and she doesn’t even eat sweet potatoes! She loves to decorate for every season of the year and even keeps a Christmas tree up in her rec room, which is transformed into a “whatever holiday it is” tree throughout the year. …yes, that tree has been a snowman,  an Easter bunny and a pumpkin man! Haha. 

I stayed with her and my grandfather many times, as a youngster, and I cherish every memory I have with her. Oh, and she’s definitely got “young genes!” She sure doesn’t look like she’s about to celebrate her 86th birthday! (…this picture was taken two years ago!)

I am thankful that God saw fit to have me born on the day of her birth, and I will always cherish this honor and this blessing. I pray that I can carry on the legacy she has set before me.