Respect {9.25.17}

respect sign.jpgRespect – Where has it gone? Aretha Franklin sang about it. We used to see it lived out around us. It seems these days as I watch and listen, that everyone wants it but few are willing to give it. When I was growing up, we were taught respect. Respect for Self, Respect for Others (persons), and Respect for Property (that of ours and others). It wasn’t a class we took in school, it was a life lesson that we learned by example, direction and correction. Instead of all the “I” and “me” that is heard today demanding respect, “we” learned it, taught it, and gave it.

Respect is not just for the person or persons who we feel deserve it. It’s not just for the “greatest of these” but also for the “least of these”. It’s for the positions those people hold, the parents, elders, teachers, veterans, law enforcement, neighbors, firefighters, grocery clerks, etc. etc. It’s for those lying in Arlington National Cemetery who fought and died for our great nation. It’s for the office of President of these United States – the great country we call ours. It’s the “golden rule” of living – treat others as we would like to be treated. The United States of America. United States – not Divided States.

One Nation Under God. Under God – not Above God.

Its’ not for the “me” but for the “we” that should draw usin God we trust back to our roots. If you have ever had the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., you will see that our country was founded “under GOD” and with His principles and values. When you visit the monuments, you will see many words written and God’s hand in them. Take a look at our currency. It says, “In God We Trust”. No matter what or in whom you believe, the facts are there. “In the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) and in the beginning of our great country, GOD blessed, guided, directed and protected. Our country was not founded upon the god of “self”!

We’re not a perfect people or a perfect country but I notice many trying to get in. However, I see no lines of people trying to get out. For those who won’t stand for our country, I wonder why. If they hate it so much, why don’t they leave for a country they feel would treat them better. Or better yet, why don’t they try to treat their country better by giving it respect. Then maybe they would feel better treated by it.

respectLet’s get back to a “we” focus instead of a “me” focus. Let’s get back to “united” instead of “divided”. Let’s look to the good of all instead of the desires of one. Let’s give a little respect and hopefully we will get a little in return. Let’s stand firm for our country and not bow down to self-indulgence. Let’s pledge allegiance to our flag and sing our national anthem (The Star-Spangled Banner” loudly and proudly.

Like another song says, “I’m Proud to be an American”!

Unexpected Kindness {9.20.17}

kindness quoteI recently witnessed an unexpected kindness in an unusual place. I was standing in line to return something at a department store. There were two registers, one in front of me and one to my right. At the register in front of me stood a young mother with a newborn baby. I could not see the baby but I did see his or her tiny feet as the mother was holding the baby while trying to conduct her business. Evidently the baby had been a bit fussy because she had a cart next to her with the baby’s empty car seat in it. As I kept watching (hoping for a glimpse of the little one), she finished her transaction and the clerk was filling a rather large bag for her. Then I heard the clerk say something that surprised me. baby feetShe asked if the young mother would like help out with her things. Then she got on her pager/phone or whatever it was attached to her shirt and asked for assistance. Then she answered the same device and said that the manager would be up in a minute. She also said that he is a great guy and always ready to lend a helping hand. Well, my turn was next at the register to my right so I didn’t see her help arrive or them leave the store. But, when I was walking out, the manager was walking in – smiling. I thanked him for the sweet service he had just given and went about my day smiling as well. Some might say that was a very small thing. However, how was she going to get that cart back into the store (no cart corrals in the parking lot at these stores). I’m sure she was struggling with that thought in her mind. Then came the unexpected blessing. Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that make the most impact. His act of kindness made an impact on me that day.

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

kindness rockWe could use a little more kindness in our world today, couldn’t we? I’m going to try to spread a little. After all, good intentions never helped anyone.

I like this quote I recently found in a book I was reading: “True worth is doing each day some little good, not dreaming of great things to do by and by.”

Bumper Car Navigation {9.6.17}

Do you ever feel like your life has been bumping you around like a bumper car ride in a carnival? Just when you get your eyes focused in one direction – BAM! You’re bumped into another. Then just when it feels kind of safe – BAM! You get blind-sided and off you go again in a direction you had not been headed. This was not your plan. This was not your road map. This was not your career path. I never did like bumper car rides. I like to play it safe.

I am studying the book of Esther with a wonderful group of ladies and this morning as I woke up, she was on my mind. bumper carsGod began to show me how her life and ours sometimes feels just like that – a bumper car ride.

Let’s take a look at Esther’s life. She was a child with a father and mother. No worries – right? Then – BAM! Both parents died and she was an orphan. Then, the Bible tells us her male cousin took her as his own daughter and raised her. I’m sure that was quite different from being raised by a mother and father (especially as a girl) – BAM! Another bump in her road. Well, then come her teenage years (enough in itself – right?) and – BAM! Here come the king’s commissioners who are searching for beautiful girls to bring (parade really) before the king so he can select a new queen from among them. Now she’s uprooted once more and taken away from her home to go with all the other young ladies to the king’s palace. Of course they don’t really go right from their homes to see the king. Not only are they forced from their homes into this “program of sorts” – a year-long beauty treatment program, but they are now in competition with each other. Yikes! That would be hard to even form real and true friendships. How lonely they must have felt. Well, after a year, Esther is presented before the king and she finds favor in his eyes. Then, you guessed it – BAM! The king likes Esther and she’s made queen and presented with a crown. Now things are going along as you would expect when all of a sudden after a few years (5, I think), the king doesn’t call for her any longer. It’s been a month since she’s been in his presence. [She can’t speak or see him unless he requests her. – Can you imagine?] Now, another crisis arises and her male cousin asks her to go before the king and make a request of him (which when not summoned could and probably would cost her life) – BAM! Another bumper car hit her. This time so hard she got whiplash. Well, there is so much to this story – you have to read it yourself but it made me think of my life and probably most of us. Things happen that we never in a million years expected. How do we handle them?

In Proverbs 3:5-6, God tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.”straight and narrow path

It seems to me that my path is never straight for very long. How about you? What I think this really means is that even with all the bumps, turns, stops and starts, if we trust in God, He will be doing the navigating for us. Those bumps and turns just may be his GPS system directing us to our destination. The thing is, we have to trust Him and make sure we are keeping our eyes on Him. Only God knows the entire plan and sees the entire picture. We have to wait for hind-sight to see how He worked it all together for good.

Years ago I did a study by Henry Blackaby called Experiencing God. I don’t have the book in front of me but if I remember correctly, in that study I believe he called all those “bumps” a crisis of belief. Do we believe God really can do anything – even with us and in this situation? If so, we must pray, seek and trust Him and then step out in faith. As a friend once told me, we need to Let Go and Let God!

We’re in the ride of our lives and we only get one shot. When we get bumped around, let’s make sure we keep our eyes on Jesus, hang on and ride it out. As long as we are following God, we will be on the right (straight and narrow) path – even if it seems pretty bumpy and jagged.

Have a great ride!