Letting Go of “Selfie”

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less”—John 3:30 (TLB).

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The word “selfie” gained international recognition in 2013 when it was named the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year. Their definition follows: “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

Selfies abound on social media, especially Facebook.  Although the younger generation is more likely to post self-portraits, I’ve seen others, from their 50s on up, post photos, not of their faces necessarily, but of wounds they’ve accrued through accidents or after surgery.

The first “selfie,” according to different websites I checked out, was posted on Facebook by a 22-year-old Australian man who had suffered a busted lip after tripping and falling face-first at a party. The man apologized for the somewhat blurry photo of his lower lip when he said, “Sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

Two words in his statement jumped out at me when I read the story—focus and selfie. Looking at these two words through spiritual eyes, we are reminded through various scriptures not to focus on ourselves, but God and others.

Paid in Full with One Glass of Milk

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

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On a spring day in Pennsylvania, a poor boy was selling goods to pay his way through school. The year was 1863, and the boy was going door-to-door to meet his goal. While traveling through the countryside, he became hungry. He only had a dime left, so he decided to ask for food at the next house.

However, he lost his nerve to ask the young woman who answered the door for a meal. Instead, he asked for a drink of water. Thinking he looked hungry, the woman brought him a large glass of milk.  After he slowly savored the nourishment, he asked her, “How much do I owe you?”

The young woman replied, “You don’t owe me anything. Our mother taught us never to accept payment for a kindness.”

The boy said, “Then, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

As the young man walked away, he not only felt physically stronger, but his faith in God and man was strengthened also. He had been ready to give up.

Make Commitments in 2018, not New Year’s Resolutions

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans”— Proverbs 16:3 (NIV).

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How many of us make New Year’s resolutions but fail to follow through? We resolve to lose weight and get healthy. We promise ourselves we’ll pay off debt and save money. We plan to give up habits detrimental to our well-being. Most of the time, most of us don’t accomplish what we yearn to do.

Why do we begin a New Year full of hope and promise, only to fall back on old habits and ways of thinking? Is it because we’re trying to accomplish our goals without the help of the One who has our best interests at heart?

Instead of resolutions, what if we made commitments? What would that look like for each of us? What if we saw ourselves through the eyes of God’s Holy Word? Would that make a difference?

Make spiritual growth a commitment

What if our first commitment was to grow spiritually? Would that lead to healthier physical and fiscal habits? Would we drop pounds and fatten our bank accounts so we were physically and fiscally able to help others?

Living in Anticipation and Hope at Christmas

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”—Isaiah 7:14 (ESV).

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Anticipation, according to the dictionary, means “realization in advance; foretaste; expectation or hope.”

Hope is a four-letter word loaded with meaning. While the dictionary offers several definitions, the one fitting to Christ’s birth is “a person or thing in which expectations are centered.”

Approximately 700 years passed between the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 and the birth of the Christ child. Another word closely associated with anticipation and hope is the word, “wait.”

Does anyone like waiting?

Does anyone like waiting? We wait for the traffic light to turn green. In our rush, we sigh as we wait in the long check-out lines, especially at this time of year. We wait in frustration when we are put on hold and have to listen to elevator music.

The waiting time continues while we anticipate the arrival of a beloved family member or an important package in the mail. We count the days until a milestone birthday or other event.

Disliking the cold and darker days of winter, many count off the months until the arrival of spring and more daylight hours. We wait and wait and wonder.

Good news: 13-year-old donates toys to hospital

For six years, a 13-year-old Columbus, Ohio, boy has been raising money to buy toys to give away at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This year, Caleb Silvia raised $5,000 to buy 500 toys for those who are hospitalized at Christmas.

Caleb, who founded Caleb Cares 4 Kids, which is an Ohio nonprofit LLC,  knows what it’s like to experience hospital smells and lie in a hospital bed. For Caleb, his fundraising and helping others is personal.

When Caleb was 2-years-old, he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called Kawasaki Disease and spent time at Nationwide where he recalls the toy cart. Although he’s been free of the disease for years now, he recalls what it’s like to be in the hospital.

At 8 years of age, Caleb decided to donate some toys to the children in the hospital at Christmas. Now, his efforts have grown. Recently, Caleb and his family brought two vans overflowing with toys. They were met at the door by hospital employees who helped load up the carts and distribute the toys.

Says Caleb, “The ability to give back to a place close to my heart … it’s just something I feel passionate about.”

 

Living a Life of Extravagant Love

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Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that”—Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)

Dressing for a doctor’s appointment, I felt led to slip on a seldom-worn bracelet, a gift from a dear friend. The sparkling jewelry was adorned with the symbol for breast cancer awareness. As I drove to my appointment, the charm dangled from my wrist, reminding me of how blessed I am. My cancer was caught early and my treatment was minimal.

Before entering the doors of the cancer center that hot July morning, I glanced again at the bracelet. A still, small voice said, “Give it away.”

Walking through the center, I searched the faces of those who were there for treatment. I was there for my yearly follow-up exam. Again, I was declared cancer-free.

The comfort of faith

Others were just beginning their journey. Some of their faces reflected fear while a peace surrounded those who, like me, had been declared cancer-free or understood the comfort of their faith. My heart ached for those who appeared lost. I prayed, “God, you want me to give this bracelet away. Show me who needs it the most.”

I searched the faces, praying for the right person to receive the bracelet. I’d almost given up hope, thinking I’d misunderstood God’s direction, when I recognized an older couple seated in the hallway outside one of the exam rooms. I feared one of them had been diagnosed with cancer.

After hugging both, I asked, “Are you okay?”

Deviled eggs and working for the Lord

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”— Colossians 3:23 (NIV).

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Grumbling, I cracked the shell of another hard-boiled egg. Just like the others, it spidered into a web of tiny cracks, meaning I’d be dislodging tiny pieces of the shell while risking the tearing of the white part of the egg.

While making a dozen deviled eggs doesn’t bother me, I’d been asked to make three dozen for our large family Thanksgiving gathering. Attending would be in-laws, cousins and a host of aunts, uncles and grandparents.

My history with deviled eggs

I knew my history with making deviled eggs. They might taste good, but their appearance wouldn’t win a culinary beauty contest. Since this was the first time for me to attempt this many eggs, I looked on the Internet two days before Thanksgiving for instructions to make the hard-boiled eggs easier to peel. I’d heard of different methods but couldn’t recall any.