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Thursday, 07 April 2022 16:46

Let Spring Erupt!

Embrace_Spring.png

Each March the chorus frogs song usher in spring.  April arrived and we still haven’t heard our frogs. Spring continues to lay dormant. It is a bit irritating. I like snow in February but not April! So, we wait, because we know it will come. It always comes.

Spring reflects the promise we hold dear, new life. It symbolizes Jesus, our hope of life reborn, not just in heaven be on earth as well. (Matthew 6:10) As we wait, we know even when God appears quiet, He is working. After a dark season, it is important to remember that promise. New life is developing in our mind, soul, and body as we learn to love Him more.

The world has tarnished and dented our designed. The Holy Spirit however is at work resurrecting us back to the initial plan. 2 Corinthians 3:18 reminds us, “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” Transformation polishes our imperfections, removing sin's damage from both our soul and spirit. 

Transition is ongoing. Funny how we can see the need to change in others, but we miss our own need for growth. Improvement continues in the process of life, a slow development into Christlikeness. Embrace the process and yield to Him. Be transformed back to His image, our true self, as we were created.

We cry out, "refine us to reflect Jesus." We stretch to react the way He would in each and every situation with humility, love, and truth. 

We wait. We notice it when change is drastic but are frustrated when we don’t see progress. As time and change crawls forward, we need patience. If you are like me, that is hard. I’d rather not see the flaws that remind of the lack of progress. Then I need to go back to my earlier statement, life is a process. Recognize He is good, press into the Lord and let His refining work continue.

The Spirit lives right here, dwelling in us.

Speaking to us.

Molding us.

Changing us.

All while loving us.

We simply respond by listening, yielding to His crafting, embrace the change and love Him back.

Spring is coming. Soon we will see our backyards turn to green, the birds will sing, and the frogs will call. A new season buds, reminding us He makes all things new.  Let spring erupt inside of us, as we witness its return to the world around us. 

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Tuesday, 01 February 2022 13:51

Reaching Up

Reaching

Reaching Up

Amusement parks are an important part of our family fun. Taking our kids on their first roller coaster ride became a rite of passage. Nervously our middle child waited in line with me. She tried to grasp what this ride entailed, keeping up an excited chatter as we moved slowly forward. As our turn approached, her little hand grasped mine. I promised she would love it.

During the ride, uncertainty dominated her countenance. Her grip on the shoulder harness matched the grimace on her face. Later, I learned her inability to predict the experience overshadowed the ride. Yet, afterwards, she shared her delight and wanted more.

This is how I feel about the last few years. Except, I’m not enjoying the ride. Twists and turns have not brought thrills but pain. With both community and personal tragedies, I’m holding on tight. My ongoing effort to find fun needs to be a healthy adventure. Not to avoid the pain but to invigorate my life again. 

Proverbs 14:13 reminds us “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.” I am not seeking fun to conceal my pain. If we do that the pain will fester like an untreated wound. I don’t want a puss filled heart. I know, gross, but we must face the sadness and dissatisfaction to live a life of freedom. When sad moments creep in remember that Jesus “heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3) Enhance your life by facing your grief and releasing it to the Lord.

The Psalmist understood grief. They wrote about it in repeatedly. I love that God allows these emotions to be expressed in His word. It encourages me to know that I am not the only one who felt this way. Psalm 42:5-6 “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.” A key to the relief of our despair is worship. Praising God reminds us of who God is and He is in charge. It relieves our stress to know He is always there for us.

We need to ask ourselves the same questions posed by the Psalmist. What is the source of my downcast heart? Am I dealing with a real-life trauma or is this feeling wrapped in my self-worth? When we feel discarded, it can lead to depression. Like our Psalmist friend we need to turn to God in worship. He is not done with us! In trauma, God promises to be with us. Isaiah wrote “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand’” (Isaiah 41:10).

After turning to Jesus, turn to a friend. Confide your struggle to someone you trust. Don’t hesitate to seek counseling if you continue suffer. God provides wisdom and compassion through trained professionals. Healing will come, God desires to give it to you.  God is carrying us; we need to remember to each up and hold on.

Published in Devotionals
Wednesday, 03 November 2021 13:27

Linked to Last

Struggling to fit rest into my schedule, I turn to activities to distract me, but they don’t fill me. I didn’t recognize it right away, but I know I need a change. There is nothing wrong with distractions like TV, books, and social media but when I turn to them for true rest, they fail.
Sitting still remains hard for me. Friends of mine, sit in God’s presence for hours, soaking Him in. I can emulate this practice, but it takes discipline and that is not always restful. The beauty is we have freedom to seek the Father, through Jesus, in the way we are wired. I love that about God. Today, I started my morning with a hot bath, resting in its warmth and the love of the Father. Tomorrow it will look different, but the point is to seek the rest and just "BE".
The Sabbath was introduced to the Jews in the 4th Commandment, found in the book of Exodus. Scripture reminds us to keep it holy – set apart. We are instructed schedule sacred day of rest.
Over the years, many rules and regulations became associated with this term. That is not the Sabbath I am referencing. Sabbath is a time and place where we can "be" and no longer must go. The word Sabbatical reflects the modern way to Sabbath. According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, sabbatical means "of or suited to the Sabbath, bringing a period of rest that occurs in regular cycles." This is our time to be rejuvenated. We are refueled so that we can "go" and do.
During most of the year, my daily mini sabbatical is found in walking. I love this time; it invigorates my body and frees my mind and spirit to pray. The beauty of the nature around me invites me to worship my Creator. The peace in my neighborhood allows me to speak to my Heavenly Father and to hear Him speaking to me.
Rest looks different for different people. I love to walk to relax, my daughter loves to swim. She loves the sensation of the water surrounding her entire body. As the water envelopes her, it limits her senses. The stresses of her life are dampened as her brain no longer receives information from her eyes and ears. She simply feels the comfort of the water and her body relaxes. I love this picture of Sabbath, the water represents the Holy Spirit, who revitalizes and refocuses us. However, we choose to rest, environmental noise decreases as we invite the Spirit of God to surround us. In His presence, we relax, restore, and rejuvenate.
In Jesus’ gentle and humble presence, we are safe (Matthew 11:29). Yes, we receive direction but also, we receive acceptance. I love the idea of seeking this place of security. I am thankful no matter how long we have been away, we can run back to Jesus. Words escape me as I ponder this, oh God that all would know this wonder! Jesus ends this verse with this promise. In this manner, you will find rest. Take a sabbatical with Him. Let the Holy Spirit gently and humbly restore you and He will show you, His rest.

Published in Devotionals
Saturday, 31 July 2021 14:38

Beauty Hunting

I learned a new phrase the other day: beauty hunting. It’s active pursuit of discovering beauty in the world around you. Isn’t that great?

Francis Bacon wrote “Beauty itself is but the sensible image of the Infinite”. Beauty, in all its forms, inhabits the world around us. Maybe you are stuck and don’t know how to move past the pain of the past year. It’s okay to grieve losses and celebrate beauty at the same time. God promised us beauty for ashes in Isaiah 61, it must be around to find. Looking for delightful moments allows us to peek at the limitless creation around us, and it redirects out minds to hope and restoration.

As a new empty nester, I need some hope and restoration. Actually, the first thing I’m doing is retiring the word empty from empty nest, because empty evokes hopeless emotions. But we are far from hopeless. We are ready to thrive! Transformative nest doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but it’s a better description. There’s a fresh life full of adventure – and beauty – waiting for each of us. For many, life slows down, and you can finally take a deep breath, look around and take in all sorts of lovely things and moments. Beaty hunting!

In this new season of life, I’m looking for fun to rejuvenate my spirit. So, let’s make a game of this. When you are out and about, see if you can observe beauty with all five of your senses. For example:

  • I see an older couple holding hands.
  • I hear the giggle of a child. (Isn’t that the best?)
  • I smell freshly baked bread.
  • I feel the cool breeze after a thunderstorm.
  • I taste the wonder of a pour over coffee.

Beauty promotes joy and elicits wonder, reminding us our creator put good in the world for us to enjoy. Beauty permeates all of life, spilling out of the ordinary. Allow it to seep into your soul and redirect our sensory input from the negative to the positive. Don’t ignore difficulties, but let beauty keep them in balance.

Beauty hunting creates memorable moments in a normal day. Broaden the scope of its impact by describing why something is beautiful to you. What we see as beautiful often comes from experience.  That older couple mentioned above represents resiliency in marriage. They remind me of my parents who shared 57 years together before my dad passed away. Time tested they remain together with a bond that cannot be broken. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s true about that random couple I saw but to me, that’s what they represent. Continue with the list and ruminate on each beautiful observation. Linger over the details.  

Beauty hunting can look however you want. You can do it alone or with a group; it starts great conversations! It can be used when out to dinner and the conversation wanes or on a walk through a familiar neighborhood. Our souls yearn for the lovely in our lives to touch us deeply and produces joy and peace.

Try it and email me your observations! Everyone needs a little beauty.

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Published in Devotionals
Friday, 21 May 2021 15:21

Build Bridges

Enjoy this guest post from Nita Wilkinson. She shares her story of briding Generation Z to Traditionalists! Such an encouraging story! - Leslie

“It has been said that when everyone is certain that something can’t be accomplished, someone goes ahead and does it anyway.” Ira Thut, Manager of West Liberty Homes 1977

It all started with a bake sale. The small town of West Liberty had a dream of a “senior citizen village” that would allow them to age with purpose and dignity. The financing of $1 million had the dream fading. But a women’s sewing circle refused to give up. They planned a bake sale that netted $2,232, and the dream was taking shape. Seven years later, a legacy was formed.

“Our purpose is to meet the total needs – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – of the older person, to offer a secure environment, a sense of dignity, and to help him retain his lifestyle. We believe in a ministry to the aging whose personal needs we have special concern. We believe in a ministry with the aging as we seek to involve them as partners in the total program. And we believe in a ministry of the aging in which their special gifts of maturity, understanding, vision, concern, and experience is recognized and utilized.”

Those words are so progressive. More than 40 years ago, in 1972, they spoke in terms that many aging services providers strive to live by today. Those words have driven the culture at Green Hills for 45 years.

That progressive thinking continues at Green Hills today with the Techy Teens Savvy Seniors program. The original objectives were to create an intergenerational mentoring program with the teens mentoring the seniors on technology. What happened was so much bigger than any of us imagined.

In the first meeting, there was some nervousness and shyness on both sides. As they met and learned about each other, there was just a great connection. The teens and seniors hit it off and formed close relationships that none of us anticipated. It originally was planned for once a month, but the teens begged to come more, so we did twice a month.

While the seniors happily learned about e-readers, smartphones, and social media, the teens quickly realized that these elders were a wealth of knowledge and experience. The teens wanted to build on the technology and the value of the elders, so they created many social media challenges that paired a senior with a teen. There were scavenger hunts, carpool karaoke, and the favorite activity; teaching the elders the whip and the nae nae.

When the new program was announced to the seniors, there was a lot of excitement. Many of them had smartphones and e-readers that they knew offered more than just phone calls. Marjorie couldn’t wait to learn how to send the same email to all her sisters. She was retyping the whole email for all 4 of them! One of the teens fixed her question the first day, and she was thrilled at how easy it was.

Ruth came to my office a couple of days after we announced the new program was coming. She had a brand new iPad, still in the box with the wrapper on it. She asked if the teens would help her figure out “what this thing was.” Her grandson proudly gave it to her for Christmas but didn’t advise her on using it. She took it to her next family Christmas with books, games, and social media on it.

The biggest surprise was how quickly the teens understood the value and experience the elders had. They were soon doing videos with interviews about their proms, their sports, and how the seniors navigated the computer era coming to their jobs that had always been paper.

The teens invited the seniors to a basketball game since several of the kids played or cheered for the local high school. The athletic director set up a VIP section for the seniors and gave them snacks “on the house” all evening. The teens also did a pizza “tailgate” with them before the game. The conversation filled the room with laughter and friendly banter.

Nancy, one of the elders, shared a memory of playing girls basketball when she was in high school. She reminisced and told Liz, a star girls basketball player and a techy teen, how she wished they could have played full court. Liz was appalled and said she would have fought it. Nancy explained that they were lucky even to get to play; no one even thought of asking for more. This was such an awesome moment as the kids realized how Nancy’s generation started opening doors, so they have so much available to them today.

The teens also put together a prom for the seniors at Green Hills, including those in the nursing center and assisted living. The young men dressed up and escorted the women in. (Even those in wheelchairs). They crowned a king and queen and fed them lunch.

What started as a simple program grew into life-long friendships. The teens invited their favorite seniors to their grad parties. And all of the savvy seniors were invited to the teen's graduation. The school once again embraced them by giving them special places to sit and immediately access the teens after the ceremony.

Several of the teens did a presentation about the program for a DECA competition and couldn't hold back tears during that presentation because they knew their time was coming to an end.

The techy-teens, savvy-seniors was beneficial to both generations in so many ways. They have all learned the value of others and how we learn from each other.

The relationships that formed were lasting. I never in my wildest dreams thought they would grow so close and continue to communicate long after the first round of teens graduated.
They understood how other generations live and that they both have so much to offer. The seniors learned how responsible the teens are as they handle jobs, get good grades, and still do extracurricular activities. And they have learned so much from each other.
Green Hills has benefitted from the energy and creativity of the teens. Many of them have become volunteers for events for all of Green Hills.
Bellefontaine High School has benefited from the experience and knowledge of the residents.

The world tells us teens are irresponsible and selfish and that elders are antiquated and useless. The Techy-Teens, Savvy Seniors will say to the world there is value in both generations and extra joy and love when you allow them to partner and share.

Ira Tuth would have loved to see these folks going ahead and doing it anyway!

Published in Devotionals
Sunday, 31 January 2021 19:59

Restore the Broken House of God

 

Are you frustrated with the fractured society that has infiltrated the church? Anger, conflict, and division ripped through our country this last year. People were categorized allowing us to dehumanize them. BUT they are human - created in the image of God. We need to see each person as individuals. Young people look to their elders for example and accuse us of apparent hypocrisy. Jesus calls us to restore others – repairers of the breach in the King James. Isaiah 58:12 NLT Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes. 

As I scroll through social media, my stomach flipflops to see the vitriol written. Brutal critiques of the “other side” continue to flow. Criticism from younger people bring tears to my eyes because they are partially correct. Offensive words put us on the defense, but I implore you to look beyond the acidic words and see the pain behind. 

Together we can open an amicable discourse that encourages freedom to respectfully express opinions. We can each be the repairer of the breach we see in our communities. Where do we begin? 

  1. We repent of any offense we are carrying. Ideologies divide our theology and that must stop. Humbly we go before our Lord and admit we do not have all the answers. Young and old in the church disagree about important topics but not the Gospel. If Jesus is Lord, we belong to the same family. We pray and live Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. NLT 
  2. Listen to those that disagree with you. Not online, but in person or on the phone. Listen to the heart behind the opinion, the depth of knowledge behind it may surprise you. Our goal becomes understanding, building relationship and trust. Proverbs 12:15 Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. NLT
  3. Instead of correcting their opinion, tell them why they are important to you and your community. Ask them how you can pray for them. Where are they struggling, how can you be an answer to their needs? Encourage them through Scripture, not to correct but to grow together. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. NLT 
  4.  Throughout your discourse, clearly state your mutual faith in Jesus. Our unity rests on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the nonnegotiable center of the relationship; Jesus is the Lord of our life. Centered on Him nothing else matters, let Him teach each of us to be more like Him. Galatians 1:11-12 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. NLT 
  5. Respectfully disagree if you feel it necessary. Make it clear, all opinions can be discussed if they are stated respectfully both by you and your young friend. No opinion should be held so tight that it damages the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Proverbs 18:2 Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. NLT 

 Each generation holds important characteristics to cherish in one another. Combining them together, the Holy Spirit interweaves us in ways beyond our understanding. 

  1.     Traditionalists bring wisdom of their experience. 
  2.     Baby Boomers get it done with their strong work ethic. 
  3.     Generation X join us with their ability to problem solve. 
  4.     Millennials strong desire to care for their community empower us to reach out. 
  5.     Generation Z’s pragmatic approach to life help us to ease into working in a diverse workforce. 

 It is true that Jesus said He would bring division (Luke 12:51-53) but the division occurs in recognizing the deity of Christ. We are divided by believers of the Gospel and those that reject it. Within the faith we need each other and we need to initiate the restoration of our church homes.

 

Published in Devotionals