Parable

 

A man invested in Home Depot and Apple stocks early on. Some people called him lucky-they were just jealous. The man was really smart and knew these companies would be successful.

Pride began to take over. He didn’t need help from anyone, and he was not about to help others with his “hard earned” money. If he had done this, they could too.

After a few years, the man quit his job and thought he would just take it easy. He deserved it! It was tough work managing his money and cashing those dividend checks. That was a full time job itself!

People would ask him for money, but he just scoffed at them. Everyone wanted a hand out. Well, he was no sucker! Slowly, he cut off the rest of the world.

The man decided to buy some land in the country and build a big house. He put a big fence around it and changed his phone number. He even stopped speaking to his family. They acted like they were concerned about him, but, really, they just wanted his money.

Over time, the man left his house less and less. He had groceries delivered. He ate all his meals alone at a big table meant to be used by family.

There was no laughter, no tears. There was no human connection, only silence. When sadness crept into the man’s heart, he pushed it away and reminded himself that people would just want his money.

After living like this for years and years, the man died and no one knew. All that money he worked so hard to keep was wasted.

Another man also invested heavily in Home Depot and Apple stocks. When it payed off, he realized how much he had been given and wanted to make the most of it.

This man helped out friends and strangers who needed it. He understood that this was a gift and he must be wise with it. He was given this opportunity to bless others.

He worked hard for many years and volunteered his time for causes he felt important. His family always knew they could count on him and knew he loved them.

This second man built a modest house for himself and kept investing in the lives of others. The whole community ate dinner at his house at one time or another. There was always room for one more at his table.

He had a wife who felt appreciated, kids who knew their father would always love them, and eventually, grandchildren to spend time with. He made them each feel like they were the most special person in the world.

When he died, thousands of lives had been touched. His funeral was full of hundreds of people who admired and respected him.

Which do you want to be like? Start now.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Linking with Holley Gerth

 

Nothing to Fear

You wake me up in the morning.

Air fills my lungs and goes back out

Without me thinking about it.

You allow my eyes to see and ears to hear

The wonders You placed around me.

My heart continuously pumps blood

Throughout my body.

My brain processes what it perceives

And files it away for later.

My stomach tells me when to eat

And my feet take me to food.

My hands find work to do

For Your glory.

Everything You put in me is synchronized

To Your will and by Your timing.

Nothing is out of place

And nothing happens to me without Your knowledge.

You created me perfectly

And know me better than anyone.

Until you take me to be with You

I will keep waking each morning.

Others Above Ourselves

Humility. Now there is a word we all want to claim but not when it comes to action. Our world is hurting, and we can each do so much. Not ONLY so much, but REALLY so much. We each influence so many more people on a daily basis than we realize.

Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Those are powerful verses. Do we really do this? Do we show people that we value their comfort above our own? That we value their safety above our own? What would it look like if we did?

Our older generation would be treated with dignity and admiration. We would listen to them and show them that we value their opinion. We would care for them and put their needs ahead of our own, like they once did for us.

Our military men and women would be shown the proper honor they deserve. We would show them we appreciate their service and dedication and that we have not forgotten all they have sacrificed for our freedom.

Our neighbors would know they could count on us anytime, night or day. They would never question that if they had a need, we would be there to help them.

Our children would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they come before work, play, sleep, or even food. They would realize that we give them the best and first of everything. They would know they are special gifts who have changed our lives forever, and we don’t want it any other way.

Our spouses would see us honor the commitment we made to cherish them. They would get the best of us, not the worst. They would feel special and cared for. They would know that there is no place we would rather be than by their side. Distractions would be put away when we are in their presence.

This treatment goes for ourselves too. Let’s remember that no matter what we do or how far we stray, nothing will take us too far that God’s love can’t bring us back. Let’s live our lives secure in the knowledge that there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less. Only when we understand this can we go out and love like Him. Only this knowledge will help us make the world around us a better place.

We can do better, but it will take us laying ourselves aside so we can help others. If we take the time to lift others up, it will be noticed. It will be appreciated and the world will be better for it.

Linking with Holley Gerth

 

Pray Daily for Help

We have a new year and a chance to evaluate where we are in life. Even though we can do this any time of year, it often occurs to us at the beginning of the year. Times of reflection are so necessary, especially with the busyness life brings. This last year has done wonders for my heart. After decades of being a worrier, I am learning to identify when it is happening and deal with it instead of stewing in it.

Lately my mind has found something new to wonder about. I was told this week, “You just can’t think about that!” Yes, the future is unknown to me so I tend to let my mind go to it and just sit. I was dwelling there instead of briefly visiting. Sometimes I just have to be told not to think about something!

That same day, I saw the quote, “Everything is simpler than you think and at the same time more complex than you imagine.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)  I apparently like to complicate things. I wish I could be one of those people who just go along and don’t overthink.

Whether I worry about something or not, the outcome will be the same. My worrying does nothing for anyone, least of all myself. When I hash out what could possibly happen, I am just digging deeper into a hole that I then have to climb out of. Who has time or energy for that?

Behind the scenes are a million variables that will fall into place by the time I get there. Life is simple because I can only deal with the part that is in front of me and then move on. It is complex in that all of the other people that are affected have to do their part. I only see the tree in front of me, not the forest all around. That is the way it should be. When I get ahead of life, I can’t see any of it clearly. It is all blurry because none of it has happened yet.

Why do I worry about the future? Good question. God has it firmly in His hands, and that is where I need to leave it. He has never left me or forsaken me and He never will. He has gone before me and gotten me this far in life. I need to get out of my own way and let God do the heavy lifting. Once I tell Him I am ready for the next step, I need to be all in.

Over the past year I have grown tremendously in this area. Every night I prayed for a peaceful heart. After a few months, I began to notice a calm settling over me. I think I realized it is truly a day by day issue that can be conquered with God’s help. I don’t plan to ever stop praying for peace every day, because that would be making assumptions that I don’t need help anymore or that I am “cured.” Neither are true. I will always need God’s help because this is a weak area for me.

Do you have a weak area in your life that you have not been able to conquer on your own? I challenge you to begin praying daily for help. God will step in and move on your behalf. You don’t have to go through life alone!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Community

This year our family started a new Christmas tradition! We had a Christmas Eve brunch for anyone who didn’t have family in town or someone to spend it with. The idea excited all four of us, and it didn’t matter that only one person came. Our guest made it feel like a full party. 🙂

Christmas Eve eve, my husband finished and brought in a new table for us to replace our old tiny one. Years ago, my family had a tree cut down at my Mimi and Papaw’s house and Mom saved the wood and had it planed. We have some of the wood, so James used that wood for the table top. It is big and beautiful and the best Christmas gift he could have given me.

On Christmas Eve, the 5 of us sat around the table for 2 hours laughing and talking. It was so much fun! We got to know each other better than the short conversations at church. Our guest, Steve, said he felt unconditional love, and don’t we all need that?

Our brunch was so successful that I want to do that more. I haven’t exactly picked a word for 2017, but the word community keeps coming to mind. Now more than ever, we need to get back to the basics. Social media is great, but it keeps us isolated and even lonely. We feel like we know people, but we are mostly seeing their good parts of life. Jealousy kicks its way in, and suddenly our life seems pathetic and theirs seems shiny. Everyone else has it all together, except us.

If we are going to understand each other better, it will require effort. Our family has gotten accustomed to staying in our little bubble and associating with each other and a few people. We are comfortable but need to stretch outside of our comfort zone. I have to learn that the house doesn’t have to be perfect, just full of love. The food doesn’t have to be gourmet, as long as it tastes good. The most important part of the whole thing is that we reach out. We make people feel at home, where they are made to feel special and appreciated.

So, as I wrap up 2016 and look to the future, I see us laughing at that table for years to come. The girls will have friends over for pizza and eventually, gulp, boyfriends. We will get to know neighbors better and acquaintances and anyone else God brings to our hearts. I want to listen to the stories of their lives and really hear. I want to reach out and show others how special they are.

You are special and loved. May you be reminded of that in 2017. Happy New Year!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Honest Christmas Letter

Dear loved ones, (and people we feel obligated to communicate with once a year),

What a year this has been! It feels like we have accomplished a lot, but looking back, it is clear we haven’t.

Kaitlyn is 8 and full of life. Our little blond haired, blue eyed girl has learned new words in third grade. One she pulls out frequently is “bruh.”  (As in, “seriously, bruh?”) She throws it into conversation and is always met with laughter from her mom. Kaitlyn still wants to be a cat lady one day (or maybe a cat groomer) and says she knows more than 80 cat sounds. Don’t make her use them! Seriously, please don’t. We are tired of them. She has played in 2 piano recitals this year, songs that we now all hear in our sleep.

Lauren is 10 and is a deep thinker. Whatever she attempts, she accomplishes. In the girls’ first year of swim team, Lauren surprised us by how good a swimmer she is. Definitely got her father’s genes there! In May, she decided she wanted to learn cartwheels and hand stands and she taught herself how to do them. At least when we hear a thud coming from her room, we know what it is. Lauren still wants to work for NASA one day, but she will need to pull up her math grades for that. She has lost all of her baby teeth, a fact which made her mom very sad. There isn’t much baby left in her, which is probably a good thing for middle school coming up.

Sarah is in her second year as a school lunch lady. She loves her job and loves to be around adults as well as the sweet kids. The kids at this school are so polite that it is more surprising to not hear “thank you” as to hear it. She still writes her blog and tries to hawk her Intentional Spending book. After school, she helps the girls with homework and makes dinner. Nothing but excitement around here!

James was promoted to senior manager and got his own office. Don’t ask us what he does besides go to meetings and build databases or you will get a blank stare. After all these years at Depot, we think he has finally settled in. He loves to play tennis, which is good since our neighborhood has about 3,782 teams that are pretty much always playing.

When we are together, we like to be sarcastic and sing. Usually 80’s songs. The girls are in Praise Team at church, and James and Sarah are still teaching second grade Sunday School. We finished our Food for the Poor project (finally) by offering our babysitting services. Sarah realized how much harder it is to run around after toddlers in your late thirties than in your twenties. Luckily, Lauren is an awesome babysitter.

There really is no point in sending this out since most of you are on Facebook, but we must keep the Christmas letter industry alive. We hope this letter finds you well enough to open it.

Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you!

Linking with Holley Gerth