When Everything Seems to Go Wrong

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”— John 16:33(NIV).

https://saddleback.com

Pulling up to the intercom to place my order at a fast food place, I noticed something amiss. Normally, the vehicles waiting in line would have pulled up a ramp to the window to pay for and pick up their meal. However, they were bypassing the usual route and parking next to the ramp.

Before I could figure out what was happening, the employee taking orders explained. “We have a problem with a car blocking the exit. You can still order and follow the line in front of you or come inside.”

After placing my order, I drove forward where I could finally get a glimpse of the vehicle interfering with traffic. When I looked closer, I realized—and felt sorry for—the young man who had evidently tried to exit the ramp too soon, leaving his car straddling the concrete barrier to his right. I’m sure he was not only embarrassed, but his car was probably going to require some major work.

To minimize the delay, restaurant employees were scrambling outside to collect customers’ payments and then returning with their orders. Even though their usual routine had been disrupted, they were taking the challenge in stride without complaint. They even apologized for the delay.

Have you ever had one of those days when everything that could go wrong does?  Maybe you’ve been moving forward, following God’s directions, when you make a wrong turn. You wonder, “Where did I go wrong?”

The Paradox of Generosity

“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered”—Proverbs 11:24-25 (ESV).

https://upliftconnect.com

The first time I was nudged by the Holy Spirit to give away a prized possession, I admit to reluctantly obeying. However, I can attest to the overwhelming joy I received when the woman, who was the recipient of the necklace I gave her, began to cry.

For me, it was the start of a lifelong habit to begin paying more attention to that still, small voice to be more generous with my time, my money and my possessions. The necklace I mentioned above was a gift from my sister. On the simple silver chain was a small cross. The woman who had admired it worked at a fast food chain. I learned later she worked two jobs to support herself and her family.

While I treasured the gift from my sister, I know God treasured my generosity more. But, I received a greater gift when I gave the necklace away. It’s a paradox many don’t understand.

According to dictionary.com, a paradox is “a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.” Synonyms, or words that mean the same or almost the same, include contradiction, absurdity, inconsistency and mystery.  But that’s the mystery of generosity, at least for those who don’t understand God’s economy.

In an article by Michael O. Garvey, he discusses the “empirical evidence in support of the biblical admonition” that it is more blessed to give than to receive. According to Garvey’s article, a study by University of Notre Dame sociologists revealed “through analysis of measurable data, people who are generous with their money, time and associations are happier, healthier and more resilient than their less generous counterparts.”

Don’t Forget to Write It Down

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope”—Romans 15:4 (ESV).

http://serenityfrance.com

A recent Facebook post by a former student of mine led to responses from people of all ages. The post asked the following: “Without saying your age, what is something you remember from your childhood that a younger person would not understand?”

Many of the posts focused on memories before inventions made our life easier and technology ran amuck. There were mentions of telephone party lines, rotary dial phones and phones with cords that stretched across a room. Some mentioned specific stories associated with the history of these obsolete items.

One woman responded to the post with a story of being in labor with her first child. She was trying to call for help via a party line but a young neighbor wouldn’t hang up the phone, in spite of the nervous soon-to-be mother’s pleas.

The Disappearance of Small Town Places

Others in this small community mentioned places no longer in existence. Small restaurants, full-service gas stations, mom and pop grocery stores and other businesses that had closed their doors for various reasons—health, deaths, progress, the economy.

Mentions were made of events native to the local culture. One woman said, “I wasn’t raised here but it sure sounds wonderful! Mayberry USA.”

Another said, “Amazing how many generations of memories that are being shared here.”

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).

https://spreadingthefame.com

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?

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).

www.goodhousekeeping.com

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.

Finding Blessings in Everyday Living

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness”— Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV).

photo by Carol Round

Varying hues of red, gold and orange decorate my lawn. That’s why autumn is my favorite season. Watching the leaves change colors and drift to the ground is a reminder to count my blessings. If I couldn’t see, I would miss out on one of God’s gifts. I’m thankful for my eyesight.

Walking across my lawn, I hear the crackle of the shriveled brown oak leaves. While they’re not a thing of beauty, and the mess they create causes more work for me, they are a reminder of the blessings of hearing and an able body.

When I take a daily walk through my lakeside neighborhood, I continue to count my blessings. I love the scent of the neighbor’s burning leaves. I am thankful for the sense of smell.

Inhaling all God has to offer us in nature and being thankful each day for the simple things we often take for granted has made me more aware of how much He loves His children. When I stop by the cove near my house, I am in awe of the variety of birds He created. How could anyone not believe in a Creator God when viewing the diversity of wildlife, trees and flowers?

The Sound of Brokenness

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds”—Psalm 147:3 (NIV).

https://threeboysandamom.org

The sound of breaking glass made me cringe. I’d just broken my favorite pitcher because I was careless. I’d paid less than five dollars for it a yard sale. Its beauty had drawn me to part with my money.

Frustrated by my carelessness, I sighed as I cleaned up the mess of broken glass and spilled iced tea. When I cut my finger on a piece of the glass, I almost cried. I was tired. A lack of quality sleep the night before multiplied the incident into a disaster in my mind, until I reminded myself it was only a pitcher.

Later that day, I’d forgotten the pitcher, already tossed into the trash and ready for disposal. Then, I broke something else. I was digging in the dirt in preparation for some stepping stones in front of my backyard gate when I hit something solid. I bent down to remove several rocks and also encountered some tree roots. As I was hacking away at them with my shovel, I hit something else. Upon further examination, I realized I’d just severed my Internet line.

“Just great,” I thought. After cleaning up the mess, I called my Internet provider who informed me it would be the following Monday before it could be repaired. While I’d have to wait five days for the line to be fixed, the other bad news was the cost of the repair. I cringed when the company agent said, “It’ll be $149.”

“Oh well,” I said to myself, “there goes the three-day road trip I’d planned for the following week with my sister.”