A Candle in the Wind


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. – Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night, Dylan Thomas

There are a lot of things which can snuff out the light in our lives. One of the most destructive is guilt. We become manipulated into doing and saying things we’d rather not. We lie to others to make them see us a certain way. We even lie to ourselves. “I’m not worthy.” “It’s no big deal.” “They didn’t mean to hurt me.” “They’re only trying to help.” “I owe them.” Relationships are difficult enough without the bitterness of guilt poisoning things. We sometimes just need to be brave enough to be honest with ourselves and others. Head games are for chumps.

So, how does avoiding guilt tie in with all this talk of light and candles, etc? The joy we bring to the journey is our light. It is very difficult to get light from a snuffed candle. Anything we allow in our lives that makes us continually unhappy will logically make it very difficult for us to be a blessing to anyone around us. A candle doesn’t just spontaneously light itself! As tenuous as our feelings of happiness and cheerfulness can be (and we cannot just chase warm fuzzies all the time), we have to take concrete steps to eliminate those nasty candle snuffers as much as possible. The whiny friend, the complaining relative, the gossiping neighbor, the manipulative co-worker; these are all relationships that will snuff out our joy and make us ineffective as lights in this already-dark-enough world.

Be careful with you. You’re the best you that you’ve got!

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:15-16

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Hope Deferred, and Deferred, and Deferred…


“Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.” Eliza Tabor

Where I live, there is a common saying that Spring has not arrived until the snow flattens the daffodils.  Let me tell you, it is as true as it is disappointing.  The lovely, cheerful yellows, oranges, and whites under a blanket of snow is a bittersweet beginning to the end of winter’s long, slow sleep. Winter can seem so long and drear, it is sometimes hard to remember that it lasts only for a time. Winter, however, is only a season, even in the mountains. Everything in nature tells us that nothing lasts forever. Winter eventually turns to spring, every time. The seeds that go into the ground eventually sprout and rise from the soil as young seedlings, already well on their way to become the dreamed-of plants we originally intended to plant in our gardens.

Life, like the natural seasons, has its times of growth, blooming, death, recovery, and most of all, waiting. Sometimes it seems we wait forever, until the day at last arrives when we see the fruit of our labor, tears, prayers, and long, sleepless nights. Our hopes and dreams usually follow a wait, as well as a lot of hard work and planning. We often have to implement a lot of changes and innovations to our old ways of thinking and doing and talking. We make new contacts, buy new things: clothes, tools, buildings, etc.  (Dreams are many and as varied as the people who dream them.) We also often lose weight, start exercising, add rooms on to our homes, build, begin, become.

Days, weeks, and sometimes years pass before we are able to see our dreams come true. Most likely, more time passes than we anticipate. More money is spent than was in our original budget. More work was necessary than our original estimate. Our plans alter as we prioritize and fix our sights on the future and the realization of our hopes and dreams. We do a lot of waiting… “One day”, we think.  “Someday”, we hope. “But when? But how? But how long??” we cry.

“And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” Luke 8:43-48
Twelve years is a long time to wait, especially when an unpleasant situation continues to take its toll. Scorn, ridicule, shame, and more were this woman’s food for thought for twelve long, and exhausting years. Outcast and broken both physically and financially, she encountered Jesus, and followed in his wake until she was able, perhaps during a pause in his gait, to grab hold of just the smallest part of his clothing. She believed that even a brief encounter could change her life and make her whole. She was at first afraid of what she had done, but hoped on in spite of her boldness and the social impropriety of what she had done. Her shocking presumption to touch a man who was not her husband was met, not with a frown or yet more derision, but with the love of a Savior, whose purpose was to seek and save what was lost. (Luke 19:10)
You are probably waiting for something today. You may have been waiting for a really long time. The continued waiting is probably frustrating, wearing, and discouraging to you and the people who wait with you.
Be encouraged. The snow WILL melt. Spring WILL come. One day will eventually be TO-DAY. Your waiting will not last forever.

More Than Fine


TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream ! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real !   Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way ;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant !
Let the dead Past bury its dead !
Act,— act in the living Present !
Heart within, and God o’erhead !

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

The Psalm of Life – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

———————————————————————————

Sometimes we need a reboot. There are situations and circumstances that bring us down. People will disappoint us. We will fail. In life, we have to know there will be good with the bad. It’s all wrapped up together in the package called LIFE. As we adjust ourselves, recuperate, and pick up the pieces, we learn, improve our understanding, and grow. As many people have experienced first-hand in the last few years, financial troubles can lead to desperation, despair, and giving up on dreams once held dear. It’s not that we can’t undergo trials without falling completely to pieces. There are times, however, when the road we attempt to take on the way to our dreams actually leads us nowhere. We actually need these detours to lead us to the places we need to go in order to be ready for the grand dreams we all hold in our hearts.

Maybe you’ve forgotten your dreams, or laid them down due to outside pressure or difficulty. Perhaps you’ve come to the conclusion that real life has no place for your dreams, or maybe even gotten the mistaken idea that the magical fantasy land of your dreams holds no place for you! I need to let you know right now that as long as there is life, there is also hope.

You are not finished. You are not defeated. Every moment is another chance, another choice. Don’t give up. You can do this!

“Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! Come back, God—how long do we have to wait?— and treat your servants with kindness for a change. Surprise us with love at daybreak; then we’ll skip and dance all the day long. Make up for the bad times with some good times; we’ve seen enough evil to last a lifetime. Let your servants see what you’re best at— the ways you rule and bless your children. And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!”

Psalm 90:11-13 (The Message)

The Head and Not the Tail…


“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.”

Mahatma Gandhi (Indian Philosopher, internationally esteemed for his doctrine of nonviolent protest, 1869-1948)

There are times in life when we may need to change our situation for a time in order to fulfill our dreams; this is a common belief, that we need a big location for our big dreams. Some people think that when inspiration hits them, it is meant for them at another time and place. Other people think that they need to BE bigger, more important or more impressive in order for them to live out their big, important, impressive dreams. I used to think this too. Perhaps you do as well. Perhaps you have come to believe that small little you cannot ever see those dreams come true, those dreams that light your days with possibility like the sun and put a sparkle in your eyes.

Let me tell you right now that absolutely, unequivocally, and without a doubt, you are WRONG.

The dreams God plants inside us are, at first, seeds. There is some growing on our part that is necessary, but it is growing on the INSIDE that will actually get us ready for these dreams to come to light. Our outer limits (such as budget, reputation, economic resources, personal beauty, etc.) are much less limiting than we think they are. You see, if the Dream Giver plants a dream, He is well aware of what is needed for that dream to come true. God gives us dreams where we are for a reason. We may have to leave for a time, but we may eventually find ourselves walking familiar paths as we return to old stomping grounds and see the tiny green tips of our dream start to grow.

You are absolutely important enough right now for the dreams you carry in your heart. The reason is: Your dreams are not about you. Your dreams are not even FOR you. Your dreams are for everyone else in the world; and your dreams are all about God, the Dream Giver.

We are entrusted with dreams that require our care and time and patience. God has the resources and the wisdom to bring things to fruition in due time. Our job, then, is not to be billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist, or any such thing. God wants us, the very person with our very personality, experiences, and past, perfected to be the very best us for our very best dream. Nothing less than you will do. Everything else is beside the point.

If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your beasts, the increase of your cattle and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading trough. Blessed shall you be when you come in and blessed shall you be when you go out. The Lord shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The Lord shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouse and in all that you undertake. And He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you. The Lord will establish you as a people holy to Himself, as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. And all people of the earth shall see that you are called by the name [and in the presence of] the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. And the Lord shall make you have a surplus of prosperity, through the fruit of your body, of your livestock, and of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord shall open to you His good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain of your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord shall make you the head, and not the tail; and you shall be above only, and you shall not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day and are watchful to do them. And you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. Deuteronomy 28 : 1-14 (Amplified Bible)

New Every Morning


“That is one good thing about this world. . .there are always sure to be more springs.”

Lucy Maud Montgomery (Canadian writer of Anne of Green Gables 1874-1942)

Just like in the song, there is a time for everything. If you have come to some sort of an acceptance that bad things will, most assuredly, come your way, you need to ALSO realize that good things will also, eventually come your way. Another way to look at it is this: there is always a dawn after a long, dark night, and after every winter comes a spring.

I don’t know what you may be going through, but we all share times of hardship and times of celebration while we walk on this earth. Keep in mind that even though things may seem like it, hard times will not last forever. There is nothing more valuable that I can share with you today. Even I have my struggles. 🙂

“I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.” ~ Lamentations 3:19-26 

Falling, Not IF, but WHEN…


“You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there” – Edwin Louis Cole

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall” – Confucius

“Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.” – Chinese Proverbs

“If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” – Mary Pickford (Canadian born American Actress called America’s Sweetheart during the silent-film era. 1893-1979)

Falling down, making mistakes, getting it wrong, missing the mark……we’ve all done it. Thesaurus.com puts it this way:

Fail

Definition: to be unsuccessful

Synonyms: abort, back wrong horse, backslide, be defeated, be demoted, be found lacking, be in vain, be ruined, blunder, break down, come to naught, come to nothing, decline, deteriorate, fall, fall flat, fall short, fall through, fizzle, flop, flounder, fold, founder, go astray, go down swinging, go down, go downhill, go up in smoke, go wrong, hit bottom, hit the skids, lose control, lose out, lose status, meet with disaster, miscarry, miss, miss the boat, play into, run aground, slip, turn out badly

OUCH!! Unpleasant as it is to face, we will all experience these things over and over again as we walk the road of life. DOUBLE OUCH. This is not happy news. If left as the final word on it, this is downright bleak, discouraging, and somewhat depressing. What is the point of even trying if we are all doomed to eventual failure?

My dear friend and fellow traveler of life’s road, that is NOT all there is to it. Failure is not the end of the sentence; it is merely a comma.

What you did before and, more importantly, what you do AFTER your failures proves your character and determines your final destination more than anything else. Don’t rely only on the temporary circumstances that you face to determine your ultimate destiny and worth. The only people destined for failure were the ones never born. We can ALL rise above our temporary set backs and be the person we long to be. If you are a follower and lover of Christ, then the reason for this does not rest in our own worth or merit, but in the name of HIM to whom we belong. If you are not a follower of Christ, let me assure you that His love extends to everyone. Don’t let the failures and fears of other people turn you from the One who searches through the whole world until he finds the exact one He loves. He searches for YOU, my friend and He will never give up on you. Don’t you give up on yourself.

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
    may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
    and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
    and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart
    and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory
    and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now this I know:
    The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
    with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
    but we rise up and stand firm.
Lord, give victory to the king!
    Answer us when we call!

Psalm 20

The Emerald City, Now What?


Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Who rang that bell?
Dorothy, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Tin Woodsman: [all four together] We did!
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Can’t you read?
Scarecrow: Read what?
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: The notice!
Dorothy: What notice?
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: It’s on the door – as plain as the nose on my face! It… oh…
[does a “tisk tisk tisk” expression, goes inside door for a moment]
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: [Guardian hangs the notice and goes back inside]
Dorothy, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Tin Woodsman: [Reading notice, all together] Bell out of order, please knock.
[Dorothy knocks]
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Well, that’s more like it! Now, state your business!
Dorothy: [Dorothy and friends, all together] We want to see the Wizard!
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: [gasps] The Wizard? But nobody can see the Great Oz! Nobody’s ever seen the Great Oz! Even I’ve never seen him!
Dorothy: Well, then how do you know there is one?
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Oh, you’re wasting my time!
[starts to close the window]
Dorothy: Oh, please! Please, sir! I’ve got to see the Wizard! The Good Witch of the North sent me!
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Prove it!
Scarecrow: She’s wearing the ruby slippers she gave her.
Guardian of the Emerald City Gates: Oh, so she is! Well, bust my buttons! Why didn’t you say that in the first place? That’s a horse of a different color! Come on in!

Well, after some time of persevering and hoping and working and not giving up, you will eventually reach the place where your dreams are taking shape before your eyes. However, this is not where your happily-ever-after starts. You may be rather disappointed (because we have all had this idea in our heads at one point or another) to find out that when our dreams begin to come true, it will mean yet MORE work.

So you’ve gotten that big promotion, but your new office is quite a commute, do you stay put or do you uproot your family and move? So you’ve finally met Mr. or Miss Right, you plan to get married, but they have kids and so do you, as well as a past, families who may or may not approve, etc. Will all of those issues just dissolve when you get married or, along with this captivating soulmate, are you now facing issues you hadn’t anticipated? The list of situations can go on and on beyond these couple of examples. We want things in our lives but we don’t always count the cost to get there or the cost of staying there.

Do you remember when Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Cowardly Lion all got to the Emerald City? They thought their problems were solved, their dreams were fulfilled, and at last they were safe from that dreaded Wicked Witch of the West. To their dismay, they found that, not only was it difficult to get into the Emerald City at all, but the Wizard turned out to be rather frightening, demanding, and asked them to do the very thing they would like to avoid: go back and see the Witch again! What in the world was he thinking?? The Wizard didn’t just want them to pay a polite social call. He knew they would have to sneak into the Witch’s castle, get past the Witch’s guards (and flying monkeys). He knew it would be dangerous and scary, and unfamiliar. He wanted them to bring him back the Witch’s broomstick, which means they would have to kill her! Dorothy and her friends were terrified at the thought of going back to see the witch, but if they wanted the Wizard’s help, and they desperately did, they would have to do as he asked.

There are many times in our lives when our success may seem lopsided. We might have some of our wishes fulfilled, but not all, or not in the order that we had planned. There always seems to be more work involved in winning the prize than we had anticipated, and there are many things from our past (fears, issues, people) that we will again be forced to face. We might begin to wonder if it’s worth it. Wouldn’t it be far easier to just stay as we are, getting by, but not really being challenged, not growing. We’re not excited, we may not even BE exciting to be around anymore because we’ve lost that special spark, but improving our situation and walking through that looooong field of poppies to the Emerald City just seems like too much hassle.

If you have ever felt this way, as I have, let me share with you a gentle reminder: there is no avoiding the Wicked Witch of the West. Eventually, she will find you, and usually when you are least prepared. Isn’t it a better idea to face her and decide for yourself when and how you will do battle? Yes, I said battle. We are all of us in a battle for peace, freedom, happiness and even our very souls. As we march about our daily lives, doing good, working hard to be better men and women, being patient, being kind, forgiving, we are striking out at an age-old enemy who is jealous, who believes we took something we shouldn’t have, who hates us and wants nothing more than our destruction. This enemy has many names, but for now, let’s focus on our story and see what happens…

The friends finally confront the Witch in her castle, and they are completely out-matched by the witch and her forces. Things appear hopeless, but then one brave act of Dorothy’s changes everything. The Witch is defeated, and they have the broomstick with the blessing of the soldiers who for so long have been forced to do the bidding of the Wicked Witch against their will. After more work and searching, and of course walking (does no one even have a ponycart in Oz?), they solve the mystery of the Wizard, who turns out to be very kind, if blustering. He helps them to realize that the seeds of the dreams they hold in their hearts were with them all along and only needed to be cultivated in order to grow big enough to see. Dorothy eventually gets home again, and learns to be thankful for the many people around her who love her, and everyone ends up a little wiser than they began.

Your dreams may sometimes seem like a lot of work and time and trial, but they are just as worth it now that you have realized this as they were when the first glimmer of them sparkled in your eyes. Don’t give up on these dreams. You will never be the person you were meant to be if you decide against the trials and frustrations and hard work in favor of a padded and safe mediocrity. The world will miss out as well, but not as much as you will personally. The Yellow Brick Road may lead through dark forests and dry valleys, but all that is necessary is for you to take one step at a time. Now come on! Put on those Ruby Slippers and join me!!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29 : 11-14

Pressing In and Pressing On….


“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”

Marie Curie (French Physicist, twice winner of the Nobel Prize, 1867-1934)

I hate to bring this up, but life is HARD. It is demanding and relentless and so many times you just feel like giving up. But what would you do then? Are we here on this earth to just feel overwhelmed and frustrated and eventually give up? How can anyone face a future without the possibility of success? What a hopeless way to live!

Is it not better to work out the muscles of our faith and courage until we are able to not only outlast but overcome? We were meant for more than we know now. We were meant to BE more than we are when we begin. Just like a child that is born is not destined to stay as a helpless and senseless newborn, we are all meant to grow and change and become bolder, stronger, and more able to take on the world. We are given dreams and hopes in life that are not just electric rabbits in the race, meant to make us run faster and harder, but without any chance that we will get what we really want. What good is a dream if there is no way to make it come true?

Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”

Hosea 6:2-4

There is no work without a reward. The greater the effort and longer the task, the greater the reward will be. Scooping up an ice cream cone and handing it to someone is not much work nor does it take much time. However, building a mansion takes a lot of time and planning as the rooms are ordered and suited to the people who will be living there. After it is built, the rooms must be finished up (ie: carpeted, painted, furnished, and decorated). It must be inspected and measured at every step along the way. The people must then come to live there and make it their own.

The goal of pressing in is to become more and more a person who resembles Jesus. The things we endure along the way are like the pressure of the cookie cutter, shaping the shapeless, giving purpose to the purposeless. Your life is leading toward great rewards. All your tears and frustration and disappointment mean something. Sticking with it is hard work, but the best things in life are more than worth it.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3 : 13-14

Weathering the Storm That Never Was


“The cyclone had set the house down gently, very gently – for a cyclone—in the midst of a country of marvelous beauty. There were lovely patches of green sward all about, with stately trees bearing rich and luscious fruits. Banks of gorgeous flowers were on every hand, and birds with rare and brilliant plumage sang and fluttered in the trees and bushes. A little way off was a small brook, rushing and sparkling along between green banks, and murmuring in a voice very grateful to a little girl who had lived so long on the dry, gray prairies.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Sometimes, we are beset by very real problems in life, things that tempt us to worry, fret, and fear what tomorrow may hold. Every human has things that they fear. It is only natural. There are, however, things we fear that are harmless, pointless, illogical, and basically all in our heads. I’m talking about those things that we work ourselves up about and when finally faced, turn out to be no big deal. It’s in those cases when the dread beforehand is worse than the actual thing.

Sometimes it could be test results from the doctor, or a confrontation at work, or a family holiday with your least favorite relative. We all have our oh-no-not-agains. Sometimes we begin to act as though the thing we fear is inevitable, and actually cause it to happen. We might treat ourselves badly and squander our health or money or time and have bad news we might not have had if we had been more sensible. We might be belligerent, hostile and plain old hard to get along with at work, which pretty much guarantees us a confrontation with someone. We might even pick a fight with a relative as we think we’re just being defensive of ourselves and our territory, but what if that relative has undergone some major life crises which have altered that abrasive person you once knew them to be?

I have often feared the storms that never came to be. People, it turns out, are on average just as eager to get along and have peace as we are. Most of the time, we make monsters out of mice and make ourselves miserable in the process.

It might not hurt to try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes…no not literally, those stiletto heels are murder. If you can manage to take one someone else’s perspective you may see the situation or issue from an angle you never considered before. You may find a new understanding of them, a new appreciation. You may even find a friend where you anticipated only finding a fiend with claws bared, ready to cut you to ribbons. Take heart, your boss, relative, doctor, grocer, mailman, and neighbor are all just people like you with many hidden layers of hopes dreams and cares behind their greet the day face. Next time, don’t go looking for an opponent where you just might find another teammate.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ” Matthew 6:24-34

Beauty for Ashes


“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crown-less again shall be king.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

These are tough times when many have seen dreams dashed and hopes shattered. There is pain and struggle as people struggle to overcome or re-build their damaged lives. It is really unclear how many people are actually affected, because the hearty, proud and stalwart bread-winners of our country do not like to admit that they cannot help themselves out of a hole when they fall in one. Patience and understanding are at a premium these days, as well as compassion and HOPE.

Today I read an article which broke my heart. It was from a fellow-blogger who was discussing the reasons behind Sesame Street having to cover the issue of food stamps and childhood hunger. (You can read the article here.) The fact that this is even a question for any child SHOULD be heart breaking. Sadly, many of us have become immune to this issue, and many, many others. We give up, we discount our ability to help one, or two, or three or a few. Now, however, the problems are knocking at our own front doors like the Big Bad Wolf. Where do we turn for sympathy? Who do we ask for help?

It is discouraging for many of those who suffer from lost income, surprise medical conditions, crushing debt, hunger, homelessness, and the overwhelming feeling that they might not make it to see the fulfillment of their dreams. It is discouraging for these people to see and hear their more fortunate friends and family relate stories of shopping sprees, vacations, new cars, new houses, and promotions at work. There is so much trouble all around us, our sensitivity is incredibly crucial for those who are facing troubles that genuinely make them wonder how they will pull through this new test.

For those who have or are facing these kinds of trials, there is hope even in the midst of your suffering and confusion, and your dark night will have a dawn. Don’t you dare give up!!

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
     and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.                                                                                     

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
    foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
    you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
    and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice;
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
    and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
    that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations. Psalm 61