Listen the First Time
When my sons were younger, I often felt it was important to give them choices. I had read numerous parental books on how young ones need to feel they have some control in their lives. Thus, being so much smarter than my toddlers, I would give them “staged” choices when I asked them to do something. To illustrate, my boys had a choice to listen to me the first time and result A would happen, or they could choose to not listen to me and result B would follow. Usually, result B was an appropriate consequence while result A kept family harmony. Moreover, with a keen sense of guidance (or trickery-depending on who you ask: me or them), I discovered a way to give them choices where either option would be acceptable. Some examples: “Would you like chicken or pasta? (flashback: to my days as a Flight Attendant) Do you want to go to the park or pool? Do you love mommy or daddy more”? (Just kidding-making sure you are paying attention).
Wisely, God deals with us in a similar manner. We have free will and many times in our lives, we will be presented with choices: enter the broad/wide gate or choose the narrow/small gate (Matthew 7:13-14); serve God or serve the idols of this world (Joshua 24:15); eat the desirable, forbidden apple or don’t touch it (Genesis 3:6-7).
Recently, I was presented with a choice at work, I clearly heard the Holy Spirit lovingly prompt me to ask a co-worker if I could “shadow” her on the trauma that was coming into the hospital. Since I am a new employee, I had not yet been exposed to one, therefore, it would have been beneficial for me to have an experienced person to follow. In a brief moment of insecurity and fear, I chose not to obey His voice--in fact, I ignored it and silently walked away.
Don’t give up on me yet, the story is not over. God did not let me off the hook so easily. A few days later, as another trauma was arriving, I walked past my nurse manager who directed me to, “Grab a work phone and report downstairs to the trauma.” Yikes! No co-worker, no experience, and NO CHOICE…
God loves us, and we are His children. He is the author (indirectly) of all those parental books I read, and whether we like it or not, there are times when He says, “You can choose to listen to Me the first time, which will be a lot easier for you, or you can find out the hard way”. In the end, He has a plan for each one of us, and in His infinite wisdom, He will find a way to lead us in that direction.
**Answers: Narrow, God, and DON’T! –😊
What’s in Your App?
How many of you have a game App on your phone, ipad, or laptop? Do you (in your free-time) sit and play Candy Crush (Saga or Soda), Clash of Clans (or Clash Royale), Angry Birds, Trivia Crack, or like me: Words with Friends?
These games provide entertainment without much effort and even connect us to other “gamers”. Each day, I find myself opening this mini version of Scrabble and trying to beat several opponents or challenge myself to a solo game versus the computer.
Another App that I find myself opening each day is the YouVersion Bible App. Unlike gaming Apps, it allows me to spend alone time with my Heavenly Father, and it helps me spiritually connect with friends. Whether I share the Verse of the Day, study a topical devotional with another believer, or take a few minutes to read a chapter from the Bible, this App is priceless.
In this world of technology, there are numerous Apps to buy or download for free. Some are for fun; some are for work; some help with our home needs; others give driving direction with traffic warnings and can even alert you to any speed traps ahead (of course, only those who speed need this one – wink/wink); while others are informative like the Weather Channel App for an accurate forecast (although it seems to be very difficult to do these days-LOL). Each day, it seems there is a new “must have” App circulating, or there are several updates needed to improve the ones already on your phone.
I am amazed with the creativity involved in developing some of these Apps. Thus, designing an App sounds exciting, especially since anything can be made into an App. Hence, as I write this blog, a thought (a Holy-Spirit-prompted thought) came to my mind on how I could use preexisting titles to create new Apps that point to God. With just a little twist on words, I can change the meaning to glorify our Creator. Of course, I may have to deal with the consequences of infringing on copyright laws -but, I will worry about that later. Below are just a few examples of My New (Holy) Apps:
Let me know if your brain works the same way as mine. Share a NewVersion of an old App by hitting the comment button and expressing, “What’s in Your App?”
Holy Spirit Bubble Wrap
As a mom of four sons, I have found myself visiting the Emergency Room more times than I would like to admit. Between them, they have had 10 broken bones, more sprains than I can count, dislocations, and of course bumps, cuts (some deep enough to need stitches or medical glue), and lots of bruises. At some point, I realized that I either needed to wrap some type padding around them from head to toe and ignore all the stares it might create from the other parents, or I could pray to God to cover them like a Holy Spirit Bubble.
Choosing the latter, since I did not want to embarrass them, my prayer has always been for the Holy Spirit to continuously cover my boys like a Big Piece (Peace) of Bubble wrap. I envisioned my sons incased in one of those big bubble balls with a Holy Ghost Liner that no one could see – but, I knew it was there.
In addition to my prayer to watch over them emotionally, spiritually, and physically, I recently read the book, Psalms 91 by Peggy Joyce Ruth that my mother-in-law, Nancy gave me. In her book, Ruth explains that Psalms 91 is more than a chapter in the Bible, it is a faithful promise from our Creator. Hence, in my closet are 5 printed copies of this Psalm each of which has a sons’ and my husband’s name inserted in key spots. When I feel anxious or weak in my faith, I confidently walk into my closet, recite this promise, and allow God to calm my fears.
Interestingly, I do not have a copy with my name on it. I guess the “mother” in me worries about everyone else first. Yet, recently, God revealed to me that even though I had not asked for His protection for myself, He still had me covered. To explain, after a frightening experience with a swarm of wasps (a very scary, angry, my-worst-nightmare-come-true, group of wasps) that surrounded my car at a red light (of course, on the only warm sunny day we had in weeks), I realized that the Holy Spirit was blocking my sunroof like a piece of Saran Wrap. Once through the red light, I pulled over about a mile up the road and NOT one irritated hornet had entered my car! This incident gave me even more confidence to continue with my plan to volunteer with surgical mission’s trip and trust God to protect me from . . . snare of the fowler, from deadly pestilence, from the terror of the night, and any arrows (or bees) that fly by my head.
(Your Name) who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. 5 You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge[b]— 10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.
11 For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because (Your Name) holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my Name. 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Be a "SonFlower"
A few months back, I wrote a post on this blog, entitled, “Holy Lens”. It mainly expressed how we can look at the world through Jesus’ lens. When we use a Holy Lens, we filter the events from our daily lives from God’s perspective instead of from our own. In addition to the previous post, I once said my favorite thing as a writer was to create new words. For example, the name of this blog, Christ-a-tarian is an originally designed word by me (in case you didn’t know). Therefore, while playing around with words for this post, I realized I could have entitled that previous post, “Son-glasses”.
Anyways, to display more of my creative word-playing technique, this post’s title is a slight twist on the word Sunflower. By illustrating the same habits of the magnificent Sunflower, we as believers, can be labeled as: “SonFlowers”.
To further illuminate this image, did you know why the Sunflower is even called a Sunflower (scientific name: Helianthus Annuus)? This young plant follows the sun from east to west during the day, and then, returns to the east at night so that it is ready for the Sun’s return in the morning. It amazes me to think that it waits the whole night for the Sun’s life-giving warmth to return, and when it does, the sunflower youngling (for all those Star Wars fans) happily turns its golden-brown face to follow the sun all day - until it disappears over the horizon.
When I read about this beautiful flower’s remarkable habit, two things came to my mind:
1. Christ says, “Follow me” (Found in all 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).
The budding stage of a Sunflower knows what to follow, and we too can know Who to follow. As we embrace the “Sonflower” in us, we will choose to face towards our Lord and Savior all day and every day!
Even more thought-provoking, the Sunflower does not continue this routine as it matures. Since, it has developed a strong base from its early stage, it only needs to face East as the sun awakens the world. In a similar manner, as we mature as Christians, starting our day with Christ every morning helps spiritually carry us throughout the day.
Now, as Pastor Mike would say when he ends a sermon:
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace” (adapted from Numbers 6:24-26).
As He shines upon you, be His “Sonflower” -and then go and shine for others!
Laugh a Little
One of my favorite things to do is make someone laugh. Either through writing, talking, or even having what some call “a blonde moment”. Although I have had more of these moments than I would care to admit, I am still happy if it is the cause of someone’s laughter -even if the person is laughing at me instead of with me 😊.
Laughter has so many positive effects. We all know the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine”; but, below are some quotes that I found to illustrate more benefits associated with laughter.
While there are many more (see link below), there is one quote that I feel reveals the true purpose of God’s design for laughter. “Laughter is God’s blessing”.
Life is full of hardships and trials; thus, other than just pure enjoyment, laughter can also provide relief before a stressful moment becomes all consuming; it can become a much-needed distraction during a time of grieving; and finally, it can offer healing comfort in times of illness.
Recently, I started a new online Bible study entitled, “Making Stress Work for You” and although I use a prewritten curriculum, I also add “extras” to help reinforce the point. One such extra is a video clip I found on YouTube (see below link). In this clip, Colette Carlson humorously recreates the different stresses most of us encounter in our daily lives. As I watched the clip, I was reminded that the Holy Spirit gives individuals the gift to make others laugh. He delights when we feel the belly-rolling joy that comes from hearing a good “clean” joke. So, take a moment – watch the video clip, read the comics, find a comedy-genre movie to enjoy. Or better yet, may you sense His blessings as you glance through some of my past posts that were written with the hope of causing a little chuckle to brighten your day.
Side note: A personal experiences with God’s sense of humor. When I was younger, I talked about wanting to have my kids close together in age. However, I did not realize God was intently listening with a sly smirk upon His Golden face because He choose to separate my first two children by only 30 minutes. . . Not exactly what I meant!
Christ Cake – A New Resolution
After celebrating Christmas, it occurred to me that Christians often refer to the holiday as Jesus Christ’s Birthday. I am sure you have heard the cute childhood song, “Happy Birthday Jesus”. My sons, along with several adorable munchkins (see above photo) sang it one year when they were in the children’s choir at church. As with any other birthday, I think Jesus should get a birthday cake too. However, although this cake is not one that He will eat, it is one that you will have to continually bake. Thus, in 2018, I challenge all who read this blog/post to gather all the ingredients necessary to bake a Jesus Christ Cake.
To begin, many people make a New Year’s resolution to either change something, start something or do a little of both. They often mistakenly think, “If I could just lose weight, eat healthier, find a romantic partner, get a better job, make more money, spend more time relaxing, traveling, or even sleeping, then my life would be good”. Although valuable ideas, adding or subtracting to one’s routine will not bring true happiness. All those items are not ingredients for a happy life; they are just the icing and decorative pieces. To explain, when we realize that our happiness comes from the one Who created us, we finally put on our Holy Spirit aprons and start to bake a Christ Cake. Nothing can truly satisfy us until we find our core in Christ.
Specifically, there are only 2 essential ingredients to building a Christ Cake.
(Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”. Matthew 22: 36-40 KJV).
Once you have the well-rounded, Triple-layered (Trinity plug, of course) “golden” cake, then with God’s guidance, you can begin to adorn it. Each person’s decorations are unique. Do you like vanilla (career choice), chocolate (married or single), or peanut butter (children) icing? Will you add colorful flowers (eating healthy and exercise), vibrant stars (spend/earn money wisely), and/or sprinkle some candied jimmies on top (travel the world or rest/sleep more)?
Remember, with “extra” decorations placed firmly over His solid foundation, your Holy Spirt Cake is sure to win 1st prize at the Heavenly Fair of Eternity.
A Bible Classic
What is your favorite movie? Well, my favorite movie is Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner. It may sound like an odd movie to like as one’s favorite considering there are so many “great classic” movies that have stood the test of time. Although I have enjoyed such classics as: Titanic, Star Wars (all of them), Avatar (the blue Aliens-not the Airbender), The Wizard of Oz, Forest Gump, and It’s a Wonderful Life (cannot make it through a Christmas season without watching this one), I find the elements of a fantastic film have a way of touching my heart; inspiring me to want to take a stand against evil; striking my funny bone with laughter; and allowing me to walk away with a smile on my face from a happy ending.
In the same manner that I have a favorite movie, I also have a favorite Biblical story. The story of Queen Esther. Even though there are so many wonderful stories of the Bible such as, Ruth and Naomi, Moses and the Israelites exodus from Egypt, Christ’s Birth (cannot make it through a Christmas season without this one either) and of course, Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, for me, The Book of Esther just stands a bit above the rest. To explain, below are a few reasons why this story makes it to the top of my list.
Now, I know many of you are focused on Christmas, and with “Jesus as the Reason for the Season”, take a moment and read the book of Esther. As we reflect on Jesus’ birth, it is important to follow the timeline to see the events that occurred prior. Esther played a vital role in God’s wonderful plan for salvation. Due to her courage, she saved her nation and sustained Christ’s bloodline; then, 400 years later, a baby was born in a manger who saved mankind.
***NOTE: After you read the book of Esther, you may be interested in the movie version, “One Night with the King”. (Director:Michael O. Sajbel- Rated- PG)
If you are a parent, you know what it is like to love your child from the moon and back or like Buzz Lightyear (from the movie, Toy Story) would say, "To infinity and beyond". From the time our children are born, we care for them, protect them, and love them. No greater love exists than the love that comes from sacrifice (John 15:13) Therefore, as parents we sacrifice our time, our money, and our sleep! No doubt, our love for our children is strong; yet, the Bible says God's love for us is even stronger.
To illustrate, I recently realized the connection between my love for my sons and God's love for me because every time I told my boys that I loved them, they often responded, "I Love you too". Then, in my infinite wisdom, I would try and outdo them with the comeback, "I love you more". This became such a routine in our lives that I decided to purchase two throw pillows for Corey and Spencer who are away at college. Embedded on these pillows are four simple words, "I love you more". Thus, every time they go to sleep and awake in the morning, they will be reminded of my love for them.
Likewise, I can imagine God when He created Adam and Eve, saying, "I love you" as He provided a spectacular paradise within the Garden of Eden. Thus, it would only seem practical that Adam and Eve probably both responded with, "I love you too". Unfortunately, although they loved God, they sinned, and at that moment all of mankind was separated from our Creator for all eternity. Yet, in His perfect love, He responded, "I Love You More" when He sent His One and Only Son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16).
Even more exciting, God's love story does not end there, since just like my son, Spencer who often replies to my words, "I love you more" with his own reply, "I love you most", God also gave us the Holy Ghost who illustrates daily that His love for us is far beyond the MOST!
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (John 14:26, KJV).
Below are Three Reminders to help you to never doubt His Triune love for you!
Just as a parent, our love for our children reflects God's love for us: love you, love you more, and love you most. He Created us, He Sacrificed for us, and He lives within us---To Infinity and Beyond!
God's creation screams His existence!