Friday, June 27, 2008

I Found God In a Spelling Test...

When God wants to tell me something, He knows that all He has to do is wreak havoc on my computer. I will stop EVERYTHING to make sure my laptop is functioning properly - specifically my email, Internet, and Paint Shop Pro (PSP). I've just spent 8 hours (straight!) working on a PSP issue... on a day where I was going to be "kid-free" and could "play" on my computer as long as I wanted to, I ended up using up all of my time and energy on trying to fix my computer glitches.

One of methods in my problem-solving is to "Google" my problem and hope that someone has posted somewhere a simliar problem (and solution!). In this case, I Googled "Paint Shop Pro initializing tracker" because one of the problems was that PSP was freezing on start-up while it was trying to "initialize the tracker" (whatever that means). I could not find my specific problem - and several hours and numerous Google-searches later, I stumbled upon a solution for "Initialising Tracker."

WHY didn't this come up the first time.......?

Look closely... "initialising tracker" - the person who had posted the solution had MISSPELLED the word "initializing!" Hours of my time could've been saved if that person had spelled the word correctly... *sigh* Sure I understood what this person was talking about when I read his post... but in my quest to solve a problem... a simple misspelling got in the way of actually finding his solution.

So what is the point of this post? Was God was telling me that I need to spell-check my blog posts? Will one day... some everyday, ordinary person be searching for God, and something I have posted or will post will NEED to be spelled right so they can find it?

Maybe. (That would be cool, wouldn't it?!)


My lesson today is NOT really about spelling...

In grade school, my Mom used to say that "the easiest test in school is a Spelling Test... because you know all of the answers ahead of time." Nowadays, with "spell check" on nearly every computer program or an online dictionary just a "Websters" search away, the only two reasons one might misspell a word is LAZINESS and IGNORANCE. Either that person is too darn lazy to look up the correct spelling... or doesn't actually know that the word is misspelled.

Can you afford to be lazy or ignorant about God?

Do you think that you will have all the time in the world to invite Jesus into your heart? At best, you (and I) have long years ahead of us with a quiet, peaceful end due to "natural causes." Maybe there will be a lingering illness that affords us the time to be introspective and follow a windy, albeit s-l-o-w, road to Christ. But... it's entirely possible that our end will come with a Mack truck and a split-second.... with no 2nd chances.

Ignorance is just plain "not knowing." So if a person has never heard about Jesus at all - he or she doesn't even know to follow. I don't know how God deals with that - I'd like to think that our loving God has a place for people who never had the chance to know Him... not because they chose to turn away, but because they just plain had no idea. However with evangelical Christians and missionaries spread out all over the globe... with the availability of the Internet and the thousands (millions?) of Christian websites... with a Bible in nearly every hotel room you can find... it's hard to find an isolated place to stay ignorant... but I suppose it's possible...

Which leaves us with LAZINESS... and that is another matter altogether. A lazy person has heard of God... has heard of Jesus Christ and the miracles and sacrifice of His life... a lazy person may even attend a church - sitting with her friends, snoozing during the sermon, doodling on the bulletin - but not really taking action to understand or learn more. A lazy person may say, "Hey - I'm a good person... I follow the 10 Commandments... mostly... it's not like I've killed anybody... surely, I'll go to Heaven?" But the lazy person isn't taking the time or making the effort to learn, and understand, and know Christ.

And the lazy person might argue that there are so many different religions in the world, how do I know I'm picking the right one? It's not about YOU picking teams... God already picking YOU when he sent his Son to live on earth and sacrifice Himself for our sins. You've already been chosen... all you have to do is accept. It can't get much more effortless than that!

And as for the argument about "all of the other religions," well...

I would rather live my life as if there IS Christ, and die to find out there isn't...
than live my life as if there isn't, only to die to find out there is.

What's your choice?

The answers have already been given to you... the "cheat sheet" is called the Bible. You can buy one. You can borrow one. You can Google one. You can find one in just about every hotel room in America. Probably, if you just asked, any church would flat-out GIVE you one for free. So the only excuse now not to find out more about what Christianity is all about is laziness.

And, laziness is a poor excuse for not finding salvation.

I wish you peace and answers in your own faith-journey...and I thank you for walking along with me today. Of course, I hope that all of your Google searches are successful... and that you ace any tests where the answers are already given to you... :)

Some interesting links on this topic...

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I've had some requests for subscribing to this blog (Thanks!! It means a lot that you want to know when a new post happens!) - I'd really like the cool widget that allows you to input your email addy, and you'll get an automatic email whenever I post something new... but I don't know how to do that (comments and directions welcome!), so at the moment, you're out of luck... :)

BUT... I added this blog to Feedburner - and a "subscribe link" is on the right with my various links. Hope it works for you!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Found God In Imperfections...

I ran into someone from high school today... *sigh*... not just an "anyone-someone" - a "someone-someone" - one of the handful of people I can think of that if I were to run in to them in public, I am supposed to be my skinniest, most fabulous, put-together self. You know the ones... any ex-boyfriends... any girl that an ex-boyfriend may have dumped you for... a nemisis that haunted the high school halls... or anyone from the "POPULAR" crowd.

Sadly enough... the part about only running in to them when you are your skinniest, most fabulous-put-together self never happens. I Can't

As it was, I run in to this "someone" when I'm wrestling my kids in the fitness center swimming pool... my hair clipped up in a wad... my "Yes-I'm-about-50-lbs-heavier-than-I-was-in-high-school" body... and in a swimsuit, no less. You can't get much more UN-put-together than that!! And of course this someone lounges by the side of the pool in a bikini... *groan*

Why is it that visions of high school (no matter now fun it was), will instantly remind you of all of the insecurities you felt then...? The pressures to "fit in" - even if you had a bunch of friends...? I'm a grown woman... yet I can be instantly transported back to my 16-year old self when I run in to certain people from high school. And while it shouldn't matter anymore what I look like or what I'm doing... somehow, it does.

Fortunately, there is one individual where it DOESN'T matter what I look like or how flawed I'm feeling. God loves me and all of my imperfections... (which also means that He loves those "someone-someones" and all their PERFECTions as well, I guess............... but I digress...). He will not roll his eyes at me (or you!) and talk behind our backs. He will not "accidently forget" your name or be looking for anyone "cooler" to talk to. When you or I talk to God, we have his undivided attention... there's no one "on the other line" distracting Him. He can tune out all of the millions of voices and just be with you or me. Hair in a scrunchy-wad OR in a chignon, we are valued to God. And of all the "someone-someone's," HE is the most important SOMEONE of all.

Relax... you don't have to impress Him... He already knows all of your secrets, your faults, your insecurities... He knows the snarky thoughts that you hide in the darkest corners of your heart... and STILL HE LOVES YOU!

So wad up your hair any way you want - go play in the pool with your kids - and ignore the bikini-clad, popular girls lounging on the side. Compared to God... they are irrelevant to your world.

photo by tamimontano

Happy Swimming,
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I Found God In My Job...

I am "Mom" to my sons, Jack and Luke.
No one else can do that job.
Others can be "dad," "grandma," "grandpa," "aunt," "uncle," or "friend," but no one (not even a step-mom or 2nd-mom or surrogate mom or honorary mom) will ever be THE "Mom" to my kids.

Over the years, my job title has varied from "daughter," "sister," "student," "teacher," "friend," "girlfriend," "wife," "crafter," "blogger," "tech-girl," and more. Often, I multi-task several of these jobs at one time.

But none will carry the life-long impact that my job of "Mom" will carry...

It's a heavy responsibility, for sure.

Now... let us think of Jesus and His job:

Jesus is the Lord.
No other "deity" can do that job.
Others may be Zeus, Allah, Creator, Ishvara, Krishna, Buddha, Aten, whatever.
But the Bible says in John 14:6, "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

NO ONE comes to the Father except through Him.

Nevermind my job... THAT is a heavy responsibility! :)

I'm sad to admit it... but there are days when I grow weary of my job. Even though I love my kids dearly... there are some days when their bickering or whining or complaining is enough to make me want to either hide in my closet...... or hop on I75 and stay there until I reach Florida. There are days when I feel resentment towards the Moms who pop off to "work" and get adult interaction all day... and there are many days when I feel tired... ashamed... defeated... in this critical job that I hold.

That's another important distinction between my job and the work of Jesus. Fortunately, Jesus is never weary of all of the bickering or whining or complaining of His kids... because I'm sure the noise of all the world's problems is deafening!! He knows how overwhelming our days can be... he is with us on the big issues... AND he is with us on the tiny issues that build up on us until we're ready to scream...

God: Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

Psalm 119:114, King James Version

When you are feeling tired and defeated in your job... whether it is the kind that pays in money... of the kind that pays in love and snuggles and sloppy kisses, Psalm 119 is a good one to visit. It's long - 176 verses... but it will bring you comfort to know that Jesus is never "sick-and-tired" of His job of loving you and caring for you. If you feel you are desperate to hide in a closet... or escape to Florida to be relieved of your frustrations...

I'm feeling terrible—I couldn't feel worse!
Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember?
When I told my story, you responded;
train me well in your deep wisdom.
Help me understand these things inside and out
so I can ponder your miracle-wonders.
My sad life's dilapidated, a falling-down barn;
build me up again by your Word.
Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;
grace me with your clear revelation.
I choose the true road to Somewhere,
I post your road signs at every curve and corner.
I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me;
God, don't let me down!
I'll run the course you lay out for me
if you'll just show me how.
Psalm 119:25-32

You can call out to God and He will be there for you - guiding you... calming you... helping you. You have the most powerful being in the universe on your side... Really... how could you fail?!

Have a blessed day,

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Monday, June 23, 2008

I Found God In "Wicked......."

A few months back, we saw the play, Wicked; it was FANTASTIC!!! To be honest, the original Wizard of Oz is one of my LEAST favorite shows (right up there with Sound of Music and Mary Poppins... I know, I'm weird, I guess!), but this parallel story of the "true" events surrounding the Wicked Witch of the West really touched me. I loved the story of friendship between Glinda and Elphaba (the Wicked Witch) - and the surprises of how The Wizaard, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion were weaved into this story.

There is a song at the end of the play entitled "For Good"* - a song between Glinda and Elphaba who realize they will probably never see each other again once they go their separate ways. Here are a portion of the lyrics:

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend:
Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you:
Because I knew you:

I have been changed.......... for good.

The lyrics have a double meaning... it could be read as "I have been changed forever"... or "I have been changed to BE good (vs. evil)" - both meanings are significant to the central characters.

And BOTH meanings could fit with our relationship with God and with the people who enter our lives that influence our Christian Walk.

When it comes to God's power and grace, we ARE "limited" - limited in our abilities to see the whole picture of what's ahead... limited in our understanding of how God's plan for us will unfold. And I think it is absolutely true that "people come into our lives for a reason... bringing something we must learn" - God places some people and situations in our paths very deliberately to help us grow and learn. And sometimes we are placed in someone else's path to aid them in their own journey.

If you consider this song as if it was being sung to the Lord, you'd see other parallels as well... So much of me
Is made of what I learned from You
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know You have re-written mine
By being my Friend...

Once a person has opened up their hearts and minds to God, that person IS forever changed for the better. What a powerful friend we have in God! I can say, that for myself...
Because I know Him...
I have been changed...
for good. :)


*If you are interested in hearing the full song of "For Good" as well as others from the musical, click here:

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

I Found God In the Five People I Met On Earth...

One of my favorite books is Mitch Album's The Five People You Meet In Heaven. I LOVE this book, and when I think of it, I wonder who will be MY five people that I meet in Heaven? And then I wonder if I will be part of someone else's "five?" It truly is a wondeful book - if you haven't yet read, it, I highly recommend it...!

But I also got to thinking about five people that I have already met here on Earth... five people who have been instrumental in my Christian Journey (whether they know it or not). This is what I discovered:

1. Debbie W. -
Debbie has been my best friend for 21 years... since we were 14 years old. She has seen me at my highest points, my darkest days, and my most embarassing moments. When we were in high school, she invited me to her church, Forest Chapel UMC, after I had spent a Saturday night at her house. I didn't want to go - I had given up on church by then and usually I bailed after sleepovers early on Sunday mornings so I didn't have to worry about the "church thing" - but we were friends, and I didn't want to offend her... so I went. It's odd the things I remember about that particular Sunday... that I didn't have anything to "wear" except what I'd packed... black jeans and black high-top boots (it was the 80's...what can you do?!), and I was worried I'd be too casual. I worried that the kids would be weird - or that Debbie would act differently in church than she did around me. But the Sunday was fine - and I even went on other "church-related" things with her at other points during high school. While I resisted her attempts to have me join her for a Bible Study or Sunday church while we roomed together in college, her steadfastness in her own faith made an impact on me. She never pushed - she was just "normal" Debbie - but she, in her own way, witnessed to me. And later, when it came time for my future-husband and I to pick a church to attend and for our wedding... I went back to the only church I'd enjoyed... Debbie's home church. We spent 10 great years at Forest Chapel... with Debbie and her family there as well, of course! :)

2. David B. - My husband... David and I met in college. We both worked at a local J.C. Penney, and I joke that I "picked him up in the Men's Department." David never made it a secret that he was a Christian - a fact that often worried me (because of those "freaky, religious people, remember?!) - but he was... normal... and and real. When we were married, we went church-shopping together to find one that I could feel comfortable in. And even after we picked a church, for the first few years, he adhered to my stringent rule about "one week on and one week off" - attending church only every OTHER Sunday. We've had many, MANY disagreements about various church-y things and hot religious topics over the years... but David has never wavered in his faith. He has continued to grow and learn - joining various Bible Study groups - not letting my resistance interfere with his own Christian journey. For me, he is a rock - a solid and sturdy place that I could lean on as I wobbled like a toddler onto this road of faith. And nearly 13 years of marriage later, our paths are finally parallel... running side-by-side. :)

3. Roberta L. - I met Roberta while I was teaching first grade. I learned a TON about how to interact with 6 & 7-year olds from her. When I count the five most influencial people in my teaching career, Roberta makes this list as well - she was truly gifted with kids. She was also funny, and "normal." She had a great sense of humor. She was honest - she didn't let me get away with anything. Roberta also weaved her faith into her daily life. During playground duty, she often spoke of her prayer group - sometimes just in passing - but it was always there. You always knew that her relationship with God was important to her. I think she prayed for me - that I'd find a peace about religion... That I'd find my own relationship... But she never pushed me. (I think she knew that I'd balk and run the other way!) Like Debbie and David, Roberta seemed to know that "slow and steady" would win the "race" with me when it came to finding God.

4. Bess B. - The latest one... I met Bess at a Scrapbooking Day at our current church. She was sooooooooooo nice and sweet...such a contrast to my acerbic wit! She was telling her story about how God gave her and her husband very clear signs that they were to adopt from China (even though they already had 3 kids). Normally, this would be exactly the weirdo-religous-story that I would shy away from. But, Bess was funny and normal. She was true and genuine - anyone could tell that just by listening to her story. Most importantly, she INVITED me to visit her Sunday School class. WIth that one invitation, I had the courage to drag David (was I really the one dragging this time?!) to Roots, our Adult Bible Fellowship. And, miracle of miracles... everyone there was funny and silly and genuine and just... perfect. It's been nearly 3 years... they're stuck with me now... all thanks to Bess. :)

5. ????? - I leave this one blank for several reasons.... Because I have so many other friends - any one of which could insert their name in this slot - who have influenced my journey in a positive way... Because I'm only 35 - and surely there are people yet to come who will have a significant impact on my Christian Walk... And because in reading my blog, YOU are helping to shape and mold my journey as well. I don't necessarily know your names... some people leave "anonymous" comments (or none at all) - but I do know that your moments here on this blog leave me changed for the better.

What I do see, as I scan over my list are some common threads among my chosen 5... they are all ordinary, everyday people... all "normal," as I would say... whatever "normal" means! While I've had a handful of really truly fantastic pastors in my life, it is the "average Joe" who has impacted my life the most. The ones who are flawed... but who continue to chug along life trying their best. I wrote in my last post about finding God in "authenticity" - and these people are among the most authentic people I've met...

...So if YOU think your everyday actions go unnoticed, think again - because you just never know just how much your everyday faith, your small words of encouragement, your quiet actions will impact others.

I am blessed. Thank you, my friends. :)

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I Found God In Authenticity...

I was distracted writing the post before this one because full text of Matthew 6:1-4 had me thinking about authentic Christians:

The World Is Not a Stage: Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure—'playactors' I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get. When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
Pray with Simplicity: And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

I stayed away from church for a long time during high school and college - partly because I didn't "feel" God when I was there... and partly because I was so leary of what I called "freaky, religious people." You know the ones - like in the movie, Leap Of Faith, where Steve Martin's preacher-character is knocking people in the heads "healing" them, making a big show of being "saved..." while stealing their money at the same time. Some so-called "religious" people are, in actuality, false... faking their faith on Sundays and then cheating, or lying, or whatever during the rest of the week.

Over the years, I've had my share of false people in my life just as I'm sure you have as well. People who pretend to be good... pretend to be faithful... and in their pious attitude, condemn the rest of us who aren't living up to their standard. It makes me so angry when I know that their Sunday behavior is just a carefully constructed facade created to hide their sins or flaws.... and in their theatrics, they can cause the rest of us to feel unworthy...

So, I am very committed to surrounding myself with "authentic" people. People who don't just raise up their hands or close their eyes during Worship because it "looks good" - but because they are truly feeling, at that moment, moved by the Spirit... People who don't pretend to be sinless or perfect, or better than everyone else. And we have been so lucky to have found so many authentic people within our current church and within our circle of friends.

Now, as I started writing this post, I did a Google search for this phrase "Bible behaving one way on Sundays," I remembered a sermon our Pastor did a short time ago, and he had a quote from the Bible that would have worked very well for this post... if I could have remembered it!

But, my search led me to this article about Christians Behaving Badly by Holly Vicente Robaina. She is discussing the behavior of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) after the passing of the actor, Heath Ledger, and she says this:
Stories such as this one embarrass me.
They make me want to disassociate—Well, I’m not like “those Christians.”
But I’ve started to wonder: Do any of my actions make me seem like them?
Do others ever perceive me as one of “them”?
“Those Christians” make me uncomfortable because
their actions cause me to consider my own.

When I'm writing on this blog, I sometimes feel so "wise..." so filled with knowledge... so eager to impart what I've learned on any who read this. And 15 minutes ago when I started this post, I was smug in the knowledge that I was authentic, myself. But God warns us about pride...
Proverbs 16:18 - First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.

When it comes to authenticity, this is what I know about myself:
  • I am flawed.
  • I am ordinary.
  • I struggle in this Christian walk - to be true to myself AND true to God's Word.
  • I want to inspire others, and I crave affirmation that I'm doing it.
  • I am impatient, and needy, and sometimes prideful.
  • I screw up all the time...

I am honest (sometimes to a fault!).
I am true.
And I am trying... trying hard each day to be a better person, wife, mother, daughter, and friend today than I was yesterday.

You don't have to be a Saint. You don't have to be perfect. You don't even have to "pretend" to be those things... God doesn't view us though "beer-goggles;" he sees us clearly to our very core... In our actions, in our thoughts, in our hearts. He knows whether we are authentic or not.

But PEOPLE are not that gifted - they can only see your actions and hear your words. They make assumptions based on what limited information they receive from you. So I challenge you to speak and behave as an authentic Christian. To be "real" - in your interactions with others - and in your heart. You don't have to pretend to have all of the answers. You don't have to give the illusion that you have it all figured out. But like the Little Engine That Could, you do need to keep chugging along everyday... continuing in your own Christian Walk... learning more and more each day... and showing authentic Christian behavior in your words and deeds... becauses you never know who is watching you and learning from you.

What lessons are you teaching them?

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Everyday Places Link Added To Footprints Site... aka "I Found God In Humility..."

After linking to the Mary Stevenson Footprints site in the last post, I took a moment to surf their site and learned a lot more about the famous poem... its origins and the four authors who claim authorship to it. It's a rather interesting set of circumstances; you ought to stop by their site as well. Anyway, while I was there, I submitted this blog to their Links page... and I found out this week that it was accepted! *pause to jump up and down in praise... Whoo-Hoo!*

I know it's small... but I was so thrilled to have someone "official" like this blog enough to "recommend" it on their Links list. Maybe they'll take anyone who asks, but I prefer to think they are highly discriminatory on where they will refer their site traffic...! :)

And the thrill I feel to have the link "published" somewhere else... and the yearning to share the news with anyone who will listen reminded me of part of a passage I read once in Matthew 6:1 & 4:

Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it....Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

It's the "do it - quietly and unobtrusively" that gets me everytime!! :( In Gary Chapman's book, The Five Love Languages, I'd be the one who needs "Words of Affirmation" the most. Maybe it's from being that "kick-me-kid" in elementary school.... Maybe it's a need to be an attention-hog... Who knows?! I do know that I was the one who needed my name listed clearly on the Honor Roll (not just the A on my report card), who needed my name in the "credits" for my submissions to the yearbook, who wanted that recognition for accomplishments. I've heard of people who drop off a dinner "anonymously" for a family in need or a friend having a hard time. Sadly, I'm not sure I could ever do that...! I'd be happy to drop off the dinner... but I'd need to add a note saying "thinking of you... From MAGGIE BUCKLEY!" *sigh*

Philippians 2:3 says "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."

In light of the blog add, I'm hoping to separate "selfish ambition" from "honest praise to God for inspiring me to write this blog and getting it noticed and read by other people on the .Net and not just my friends!" :)

But I think there is a difference between "pride in your work" from "pride in oneself." I am so proud of this blog and hope it touches everyday, ordinary people who are looking for answers on their own Christian journey, B U T, I know that my best writing comes when I am truly inspired by God. When I have listened closely and written the stories He wants me to share, those have been the best posts! Yet, there have been many-a-post where I started off on my own tangent... only to delete it after I realized that I wasn't making any sense!

Proverbs 29:23 says Pride lands you flat on your face; humility prepares you for honors. Yet, already, I AM honored... honored to write this blog... and honored to share it with you.

Have a great day,

:) Mags

Of course, old habits die hard.. so feel free to throw the needy, affirmation girl a bone and leave a comment on the blog! :)

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

I Found God In The Garbage Truck...

I'm not sure we all fully appreciate our garbage collectors... We drag out all of our trash: our smelly food leftovers, broken down boxes discarded from fun packages, wrappings and trappings from holiday gifts, crushed sodapop cans, snotty Kleenexes... a whole assortment of stuff that we just want someone to "make go away." Our garbage collectors come (for a fee, of course, but when you really think about what they are gathering up, it's probably not near enough!) and take all of that garbage away. You don't have to think about where it's going (unless you are hyper-environmentally-conscious). You don't have to worry if it will come back and appear strewn all over your front lawn. In a few moments (they really are quick!), all of your trash has disappeared... gone... *POOF!*

What if someone could do that for our mental garbage? Wouldn't that be amazing?! What if Someone could slip in to our minds and lift the burden of our worries, our anxieties, our pain, our past, our frustrations, our quirks, and all the little annoyances that plague us daily? What if that Someone would come to us... not just once a week like our garbage collectors... but daily... even each moment if we asked. This Someone would be at our beck-and-call to collect the trash that has built up in our heart and soul. Even better - the cost of this garbage collecting service would be my personal favorite price: FREE!!!

How amazing would that be?! Like a mini-trash can waiting on our shoulder to collect all the stuff that beats us down.

When you are Christian... you have that Someone. His name is Jesus Christ; He is Lord. He is both the Father and the Son - the creator of Heaven and Earth and has lived in human form. For Someone to accomplish that miracle... don't you think he can help you purge the garbage from your mind, heart, and soul?

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. ~Matthew 6:34

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ~Matthew 11:28

In 1936, Mary Stevenson also described God's power to carry us through our toughest times:

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?"

The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you."

If you have too much garbage in your heart... too much baggage in your mind... too much trash in your soul, consider calling the ultimate Garage Collector to come and take your burdens away. He will help lift you. He will empower you. He will save you. You will be able to feel lighter - and able to conquer the things that have driven you down. Whether it is something small and petty... or large and cumbersome... God can help you. Sometimes, I try to handle everything in my life all by myself. I get angry, frustrated, and tired. In the times that I truly S T O P and ask for help from God, it is then that I feel less aggravated, less weary. He will help you as well... and all you have to do is ask. The service is free... the rewards are heavenly...! :)

Have a blessed day,

:) Mags

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Found God In Patience...

Don't get me wrong... I don't actually have any patience left! It's only been 5 days since school let out for the summer and my kids are driving each other (and me!) c-r-a-z-y! If you've ever seen the cartoon, Tom & Jerry, those two characters are the epitome of my kids... 90% of the time they are at each others' throats while the 10% of the time, they are working together in peace and harmony... albeit to gang up on someone else...!

The hard thing about summertime, is that there is too much "dead" time during the day. We do household chores, read books, visit the library, run errands, have "screen" time, go swimming, attend various camps and vacation Bible schools, etc., but there are still HOURS left in some days where there isn't an activity planned... and that's when the whining starts....

"Mom.... Can I.......?"

"Mom... He's wrecking my train track...!"

"Mom... Can I play DS (again)?"

"Mom... He's hitting me...!"

"MOM...! He hit me first...!"





Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! If someone ever invented a kid-mute button, he/she would be one rich inventor, for sure! Sometimes, I'd just like to envelope my kids in an entire "Mute Bubble" where they could make all the noise they want... but I wouldn't hear it! *wink!*

Of course, I feel guilty as all get-out for even thinking that... let alone typing it on a public blog for the whole world to read!! But it's true... there are days, when I'm really, really, REALLY weary of all the whining, fighting, complaining, and general noise...!

And I wonder if God ever feels the same way? I guess, because he's the LORD, and all, that he doesn't get weary of our non-stop voices in his ear... Our whining, complaining, berating... our thinking that "if WE were God, we'd do it THIS way..." Our tears, our boo-boo's, our admonishments, our wailing, our overall NEEDINESS!

Did you ever see the movie, Bruce Almighty? Jim Carrey gets a chance to "be" God, and the cacophony of voices in his head - the prayers, the begging, the praises, the requests, the noise from everyone in the world - is too much for him to handle let alone decipher and answer! Fortunately, it's not too much for God.

One of my favorite Christian songs is by Matt Redmon entitled "Never Let Go." The lyrics of the chorus are these:
Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

God will never let go of you - or send you away - or tell you that you are annoying Him. He can handle your joys, your sorrows, your highs, your lows, your complaints, your desperation, your fears, your tears. God hears you when you beg for help... or forgiveness... or mercy... or peace. Maybe it might be nice for Him to hear you quietly say (in a moment when it's true!) that "All is well, God. I'm good right now. Thanks!" Maybe He'd appreciate sharing a moment of your peace and quiet with you.... because He is the Father of us all.... And all of HIs kids talking at once sure makes a lot of noise!! :-)

Have a blessed day,
:) Mags
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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I Found God In "The City..."

Blushy 2 Don't think less of me, but I went to see Sex In The City with some girlfriends last night. It must be a testament to God's power because in the midst of a movie filled with broken commandments (coveting, adultry, lying, lust, etc.), He was able to carve out a small niche with a message about forgiveness.

Without giving anything away, I'll tell you that in the movie, Miranda is angry at her husband, Steve, and has not spoken to him in about 6 months for a betrayal. For a separate reason, Carrie becomes angry at Miranda, and after 3 days, Miranda is begging Carrie to forgive her for what she has done to hurt her best friend...

Carrie asks
"WHY? WHY should I forgive you after only 3 days when you haven't forgiven your own husband after 6 months?"

Miranda tries to counter with
"It's not the same thing..."

...To which Carries replies
"Forgiveness is forgiveness!"

Forgiveness. Is. Forgiveness.

That can be so hard for us, can't it? We put "weight" on sin all the time... a little white lie isn't as bad as a bold-faced lie... Lusting after another in your heart and mind isn't as bad as cheating with your body... Dishonoring your parent because he/she really deserves it is oooooo-kay....

But in the eyes of God, sin is sin... and forgiveness is forgiveness.

There is a story about forgiveness in Matthew, Chapter 18. Peter asks Jesus, "How many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?" Jesus replies,
"Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven."

Our pastor once said that Jesus isn't telling us to only forgive 490 times and then on the 491th transgression, give up. He's really telling us that we must forgive our neighbor again and again... as much as it takes for the forgiveness to be authentic. Sometimes, that even means forgiving someone all over again, each day, until you feel it in your heart.

*Sigh*... that's so hard!!! :(

But before I start whining about how "that is too hard to do..." or "that person doesn't DESERVE my forgiveness...," perhaps I should think about how hard it was for Jesus to endure the suffering he did even before he was nailed to a wooden cross... the pain he endured, the humiliation he suffered... all so that you...

and you...

and you...

and me...

could have everlasting life in Heaven. Did I deserve that gift? Do I behave in a way every day that shows I DESERVE that sacrifice? I just told you that I spend nearly 3-hours watching a movie glorifying gratutitous sex, didn't I?! No excuses here - I wanted to see the movie. I'm a super-flawed individual who's trying each day to be a better person tomorrow that I was today (which means based on yesterday's activities, I have no where to go but up, right?!).

The One Writing The Message Is Winking

Lucky for us - God's forgiveness doesn't come wtih contingencies or restrictions... all we have to do is ask Him. And if we are behaving in a Godly manner, all another person should have to do to receive our forgiveness... is ask.

It's not easy... but worth it. Do you have someone in your life who needs your forgiveness?

Have a blessed day,
:) Mags

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Monday, June 2, 2008

I Found God In Persistence...

If you've been reading my blog, you know that I'm a "techie girl" - I LOVE technology... I love my computer (most of my friends live in it!), I love my iPod (all of my music is in it), I love our DVR (all of the dumb shows I watch are saved in it!). So of course, when Mother's Day rolled around, and my DH (dear husband) said he'd get me a new phone, I was ecstatic!

Phone Shocker
Forget diamonds or pearls, my favorite "bling-bling" stores are Best Buy and Cincinnati Bell Wireless! Hmmmmmmm.... smell the fire wire.... hear the ringing of new phones... feel vibrations of gigabytes working... see the flat screens... taste the, er, never mind... nothing to taste in the electronics store! But, you see what I mean... I'll take a 17" Dell laptop over a new bracelet any day! Give me a flat screen TV over a ruby ring in minute! Unroll me a 10" USB cable instead of a 14" gold chain any day of the week!

So when we ventured into the phone store, I was giddy with excitement - I could upgrade from the simple flippy/camera phone to something with some extra bells and whistles. After lots of hemming and hawing and ooh-ing and ahh-ing, I settled on the Blackberry Pearl 8100 in dark gray and silver. AHHHHHHHHHHHH... It was supposed to sync all of my contacts (complete addresses, phone numbers, and email addys) as well as sync my calendar, tasks, and a memo pad with Microsoft Outlook. Even though I use Incredimail for my email program (I want the fun stationery and smileys in all of my emails), I was willing to type in the details of every person I've ever met into Outlook just to have my own custom "white pages" at my fingertips!

Day 1 - Unwrap phone. Immediately email the picture I want as the screen background to my phone. Attempt to email the Buffy The Vampire Slayer theme to set as my ringtone. That part doesn't work. Install software on my computer. Type in nearly 200 contacts into Outlook.

Day 2 - Buy mini SD card for holding photos and ringtones. Load said "stuff" onto the card. Transfer it to the phone. Set ringtone (Yeah... Buffy!!). Try to sync Outlook. Contacts show up but incomplete. Try a multitude of syncing options. Upgrade software via website. Makes it worse - now contacts are showing up as first names only and it's syncing from Outlook Express instead of Outlook. 4 hours later, I'm no closer to an answer. I'll try again tomorrow.

Day 3 - Try to sync Outlook again. Join four different Blackberry forums to gain an answer. Post queries on eBay Techie thread. Uninstall software and reinstall it. Outlook stops being an option on the Blackberry desktop manager at all. Syncing through a .CSV file only causes more problems. Send off aggravated email to the dude who sold us the phone asking for help (no reply...ever, of course). Contemplate tossing phone out the window and writing all of my contacts down on notebook paper. Pray for help. Go to bed.

Day 4 - Deep breath. Start over. Completely remove any software, program, or file with the name "BLACKBERRY" associated with it from my computer. Insert disk. Re-install. Try again. Somehow, a whole new screen appears with lots of syncing options (I swear - I NEVER saw this over the past four days!) - including Microsoft Outlook. Tentatively, holding my breath, I press sync. I pick up my phone, click on "Contacts," and view the results... IT WORKED! WHOO-HOO!!


Names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails are all there! Phone rings the Buffy theme when someone calls me! Background says "MAGS" (so there's no mistaking that it's MY phone!).

And I'm reminded of a quote I once saw by Calvin Coolidge:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”

God tells us to Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4 NIV)

I'm not sure I felt "joyful" as I was struggling to fix my techie-issue. But, I can say that I felt an immense feeling of satisfaction ( was more of a gloating "I BEAT YOU, BLACKBERRY!") at solving this problem without hiring an expert...! While I would have preferred it to work properly the first day, sometimes the fruit of our efforts is all the sweeter when we have to work for it. God didn't drop a boat down to Noah - he told him to build it himself! Likewise, when we put in some extra sweat (and sometimes tears!), we can accomplish great things - and when we include God in our efforts... those great things become miraculous.

In April, our church, along with another church, built two house frames for Habitat for Humanity. A couple hundred volunteers of all ages came and helped build the walls that would frame two four-bedroom houses for two needy families. The effort was immense - but the rewards were greater. The planning started months before. Even our Children's Ministry got involved with their Sunday offerings (which yielded enough money to build more than 2 walls!). The result was two fully-framed homes ready to be transported to their sites!

God will reward your persistence... your job is to never give up!

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I Found God In Some Dumb Bunnies...

My first grade son came home with a poster he'd created for Language Arts. It was a book report on a book called "The Dumb Bunnies." He had to write what the theme or central message was; this is what he wrote:

I think the author's message is if you're too dumb,
you can get in a lot of trouble!"

No kidding!! :)
You could say that when we are "dumb" - that is, when we make decisions separate from God or choices that go against God's Word, we can land ourselves in a heap of trouble. For example...
  • Adam and Eve - who disobeyed God's only order, ate from The Tree, and opened a whole can of worms for the rest of us!
  • Jonah - who was gobbled up by a big fish and spit back out on the beach when he tried to hide from God.
  • Sarah - who did not believe God when he said she would become pregnant.
  • Egypt's Pharoah - who held captive the Israelites and endured plagues upon plagues until he finally believed Moses and set them free.
  • The Prodigal Son - who thought he knew better, and squandered his inheritance only to return, shamed, penniless, and asking for forgiveness.
  • Samson - who, in a weak moment of lust, gives away the secret of his strength - only to have it used against him.
  • Lot's Wife - who disobeyed and looked back at the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah... and was turned into a pillar of salt.
  • Judas - who betrayed Jesus which leads to his crucifixion

There are countless others - in fact, my husband is sitting beside me as I type this post listing off more and more!! :)

The Bible tells us lots of things about choices and wisdom; here are just a few I found in Proverbs (The Message translation):

Proverbs 16:16 - Get wisdom - it's worth more than money. Choose insight over income every time.

Proverbs 16:21 - A wise person gets known for insight; gracious words add to one's reputation.

Proverbs 16:22 - True intelligence is a pring of fresh water, while fools sweat it out the hard way.

Proverbs 17:21 - Having a fool for a child is misery; its no fun being the parent of a dolt!

Proverbs 17:28 - Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise; as long as they keep their mouths shut, they're smart!

Making a wise decision requires being informed. You wouldn't go out and buy a house or a car without doing the necessary research, would you? When you buy a house, you interview mortgage lenders, do home inspections, check out the neighborhood. You test-drive a potential car, get reviews from friends who've owned that model, read Consumer Reports. In everything you do, being informed will help you make the best possible decision. And when it comes to living the best possible life, being informed means knowing the guidelines God has set forth for you - it means knowing what's in the Bible.

People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, so why does God always get blamed?
(Proverbs 19:3)

It's easy to blame God when things go wrong. But, when things go wrong, is there any possibility that some decision you made was on a pathway apart from God? Certainly, that's not always the case - BUT, if so, you need to gather yourself up, and reset yourself along the right path, and start again.

Being a "dumb bunny" only leads to trouble, remorse, heartache, and misery. Following God's Word will not totally exempt us from those things - BUT, it will certainly help make things easier for us! Don't have time to read the WHOLE BIBLE...? Start with Proverbs - it's packed with tidbits of wisdom that will help you lead a better life...

To ask a moron to quote a proverb is like putting a scalpel in the hands of a drunk. 26:9

Hire a fool or a drunk and you'll shoot yourself in the foot. 26:10

As a dog eats its own vomit, so fools recycle silliness. 26:11

Discipline your children; you'll be glad you did - they'll turn out delightful to live with. 29:17

A fool lets it all hang out; a sage quietly mulls it over. 29:11

An honest answer is like a warm hug 24:26

I hope you found some honest answers today!

:) Mags

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