Unwelcome Cross

A court ordered mandate enforced the removal of a cross from the top of a Christmas tree in Indiana this week. The man that filed the lawsuit said it caused him “irreparable harm”. Just seeing the cross as he drove was a source of “unwelcome contact.” It was so unwelcome by him that he went through legal proceedings to have it removed. Imagine the harm Jesus actually endured on the cross for you, for me, and for the man insisting the cross be removed. Jesus is so gracious. His response to the man would be something like, “Father forgive him, for he knows not what he is doing.” He’s way more grace filled than I am. I can think of a lot more colorful, defensive, self-righteous responses. But, thank you Jesus for the Holy Spirit, which enables us to do what we can not do on our own strength. Often He helps us do and say nothing. Phew! Keeping our mouths closed takes divine intervention.😉

The thought of us “not knowing what we are doing” percolated through my mind as I considered the cross. My first thought was, Jesus how can you claim that we don’t know what we are doing? I mean seriously, did the Roman guards not know it was barbaric to beat you, whip you, hurl insults at you, while leading you to a torturous death on the cross? How could they not know??? How brainless did they have to be not to know that kind of behavior is wrong….even if you weren’t the Son of God? But you were…and they did. And Jesus, seriously, how can that man not know getting a court order to remove a small cross from a big tree is…wrong…and lame? Oh, but then the conviction set in. In the words of John Bradford, “There but for the grace of God, go I”.

The thing is, there was a time I was completely blinded to the truth….spiritually blind. I remember rolling my eyes at Christian friends as a teen; laughing at their pursuit of this unknown God. The cross carried no value for me until I met Jesus. In fact, I was agitated by it and felt antagonist toward it…though there was no rational explanation for my feelings. I truly did not know what I was doing.

Even while walking with Jesus, I’ve gotten lost along the journey, and needed Him to set me back on track. I get uncomfortable with the cross too, like the man in the article. It confronts my own behavior, selfishness, judgements and offenses. So much about the cross makes me uncomfortable, but the Bible says to pick up our crosses and follow Him.

When we carry our crosses, we can’t carry much else. There was so much love demonstrated on His cross, such selflessness. At times I’m so overwhelmed by His love that I’m eager to pick mine up. Other days, I’m ashamed to admit, I’d rather remove the cross from the tree, so I can focus on how offended I feel, how wrong someone else is, and throw myself a little pity party. Yet, Jesus so willingly gave it all for me and you, that there isn’t room for petty offenses, grudges, or self-righteous behavior in light of His love. Though my humanness tries to persuade me to speak out, get angry, push back when offended, I can lay the offense down knowing He called me to a different way of living; to carry my cross.

How do you handle the offenses of others? It’s going to happen, a lot, especially this time of year. Christmas can bring about lots of expectations while visiting with family; fuel for big offenses to occur. We have in our minds how things should be, people should speak and behave. Here’s what I know for sure; an offense + a defense = a relational train wreck. If we choose to get defensive and offended by every offense we encounter, we are headed to a very un-merry Christmas.

Our closest friends and family can often feel like our biggest offenders, since their opinions tend to carry greater value than strangers or acquaintances. Great expectations can leave us feeling greatly offended. We expect that they are going to speak and behave differently than last year, but they don’t. We expect they will offer concern, care, or even just a little kindness to us, wrong again. We expect everyone will get along, enjoying all the food and festivities, much of which took weeks to prepare, but that awkward tension remains….it’s like cutting through caramel, only not as sweet. 😬

I’ve felt offended and unknowingly have offended family and friends more times than can be remembered. Unfortunately, I have a pretty good memory, so offenses can often be churned again and again in my mind, leaving a curdled mess in my heart. Nothing good comes from sour thinking.

Jesus set an amazing example for us when it comes to feeling offended. He laid down his life for us while we were still sinners. Think about how offended and defensive He could have been. He was perfect, and yet constantly accused. He offended people by loving them, healing them, working on his day off, caring for the marginalized in society, waiting on His Father’s timing, and claiming to be who He was….God. The gossip train was out of control when Jesus walked the earth, and yet, Jesus refused to hop on. He did not get defensive, wasting energy on what wouldn’t change. He stayed on course; headed toward His Father’s will; a pain filled, arduous journey that no one else could endure. His love fueled that train which lead to His death as He welcomed the cross.

Are you prepared for the possible “unwelcome contact” you might have with family over the next couple of weeks? Will you collide with your offenders, offering up defenses, finding flaw in them, hurling insults, withdrawing emotionally, or starting your own gossip train? There’s a better way. Offer grace, offer forgiveness, offer Jesus in those moments. It will keep you on track and you will be blessed beyond the circumstance by remaining close to the conductor of your soul. You’re bound to have moments of feeling offended this Christmas…just remember the cross atop of the tree. He is why we celebrate. Let Him be why you forgive, offer grace, and understanding. The offense is just a blip on your travel plans. Offer your loved ones the greatest gift, His unconditional love. They don’t need your stuff, wrapped in pretty packaging. They need His grace and if you know Him, you have it to give. Let’s carry our crosses into Christmas. You can do all things through Him!

Luke 23:34~Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Matt. 16:24~Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
1Peter 4:8~Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Proverbs 19:11~Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Posture Pain Relief

What brings you comfort? My “go to” is usually bread or frozen yogurt. When my day has been overwhelming and their are no easy answers, you will often find me at the Yogurt Mill drive-thru. A good frosty dose of sugar or a buttery baguette gives temporary relief from my angst, and yet it doesn’t bring lasting peace or perspective. There isn’t a yogurt cup big enough to drown my sorrows in. There is only one source for what my heart truly craves and that is Jesus.

People throughout the ages have turned to all kinds of idols seeking comfort, some more harmful than others. Zechariah 10:2 says, “The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain.” Idols give us a sense of comfort, but it is empty comfort that won’t last. They lie to us about what we really need, which is to maintain a posture of surrender to Jesus. The pain that draws us to our own personal idols is the very pain God wants to use to draw us to Himself.

My daughter, Meghan, has been having pain in her neck. I took her to the doctor yesterday seeking advice as we’ve discovered the bone at the top of her vertebrae is actually pertruding unnaturally. The doctors advice was for Meghan to work on her posture. She is often hunched over her computer for school work or playing the piano and that posture is causing her pain. Its actually uncomfortable for her to sit straight and takes focused effort for her to do so. Meghan will have to be intentional in sitting up straight, pushing her shoulders back and keeping her chin lifted to help alleviate her discomfort. We need to do the same thing spiritually; change our posture to one of kneeling in prayer or arms raised in surrender to God’s will, not our own. It doesn’t feel natural because it isn’t. We are prone to wanting and doing things our own way, but it just causes us more pain in the end. The pain we encounter causes alarm sensors in our spirit to seek out comfort, leading us to idols, or Jesus. Rather than seeking out temporary comfort in the arms of another, at the end of a bottle, in the pursuit of more money, with the purchase of more stuff, or binging on junk food….ask God to meet the hunger in your soul.

How is your posture toward God right now? Are you seeking His will, or yours? Ask Him to give you His perspective about the emotional pain or struggle you are having. So often we think we know the answer, which usually entails others having to change, when in reality, God sees it much differently. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. We are selfish by nature and our idols are often ourselves. Our selfishness can lead to bad spiritual posture, weighing us down and luring us to look within, rather than looking to Jesus. Seek Jesus and you will find Him…and He will give you what you truly need. Maintain a posture of prayer and praise. It’s the best remedy for your pain, worry, anxiety, heartache, hopes, dreams, longings….Are you listening? You can do all things through Him!🙏💪

Jer.29:13~You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Isaiah 55:8~For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
Psalm 119:76~May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.
2 Cor. 1:4,6~God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things.”

Grow With The No

I’ve never liked the word ‘no’. It seems to carry a measure of negativity and disapproval. ‘Yes’ feels approving, positive, uplifting and welcoming. I’ve joked about being the “Yes Woman” at church, since it easily falls from my lips when asked questions. Being that I’m a Pastor’s wife and a worship leader, people often come to me with questions. What is particularly comical about this is I usually don’t know the answer to what is being asked, but I enjoy saying yes, and so I do.😉

But, I’ve learned and am still learning, that ‘No’ can be a healthier, faith based, peace-filled answer. ‘No’ protects our time, guards our hearts and can be God honoring. Sometimes a no can be useful for setting boundaries with family and friends. This can be particularly helpful around the holidays, when we need to say no to over committing or risk being burnt out for what is most important, saying yes to Jesus call on our lives.

Jesus said no, a lot. No, it wasn’t His time yet. His family and closest friends anxiously anticipated the moment of truth; when His glory would be revealed. No, He wouldn’t use violence to overthrow the Roman Empire. His kingdom would be lead by love. No, He couldn’t stay with His disciples any longer, for He had a greater call on His life. He knew His purpose and nothing would stop it from coming to fruition. Jesus was not about bringing us happiness, but holiness.

This morning I was reading in Luke 12 and Jesus warns about division we will face while on this earth. Yuck, I don’t like division. I much prefer unity, where everyone gets along, works together, and plays nice. Why can’t we all just get along, like an episode of Friends; where every issue is resolved in a 30 minute TV show? Jesus answers this simply, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? NO, I tell you, but division”. What? Another no? I thought Jesus is the Prince of Peace? Well yes, He is, but the peace He offers is internal, not always external.

Jesus comes into our hearts, when invited, and offers peace when there is chaos swirling around us in our lives. We don’t get to live in a perpetual Disneyland, where we live happily ever after all the time, but we can tap into the Prince of Peace, when everything and everyone around us seems out of whack. He is our peace that surpasses understanding, when the trials we face are anything but peace-filled. But experiencing His peace often starts with a NO.

No, we won’t always have peace in our relationships with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, if we are saying YES to Jesus. The very nature of following Him will lead us through troubled waters. It requires laying down our lives for His purpose and plans…that is going to rub people in your life like sand paper. Often, friends and family won’t even know why our faith annoys them, but it will. It’s going to cause friction and some pain; maybe a lot of pain. Don’t lose heart my friends, that sand paper is going to refine you into a finely crafted masterpiece for Jesus. How lovely and exquisite you will be to your Heavenly Father as He watches you persevere through the trials you face. He won’t just be a casual observer; He will be with you, carrying you when necessary.

Has God told you ‘no’ recently? You want peace in a relationship and He’s saying no. He’s doing a work in you and/or in them and you just can’t see it yet. Hold onto Jesus and trust Him to get you through the unknown. No, you can’t have that promotion or job, because God’s got grander plans for you. No, you won’t have the physical healing you desire, but He will give you spiritual strength and passion that will inspire many people to follow Jesus; making you a redwood tree among a field of ferns. Ferns are pretty, but they can’t withstand drought and they will never grow tall; there is no distinguishing between them. You’re going to stand out. Think of the remarkable view you will have, stretching to new heights, as you experience growth like that. The pain of the no will be worth it with immeasurable growth as you press into Jesus.

No, don’t settle for less than His best, not in relationships, not in your work, not in your heart, not in your life! Don’t lose heart with the ‘No’s’. Thank Him for what He is doing through the No….He’s got great plans! God is preparing you for what is right around the corner from that no. Grow with the no. You can do all things through Him!

Luke 12:51~”Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? NO, I tell you, but division”.
John 16:33~33 “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.”
Jer.29:11~For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Avoid The Race

On your mark, get set….the tension is mounting, do you feel it? The Christmas decor is beckoning to be dusted off from attics and storage. Carols are playing, filling our senses with joy, memories, and anxiety for all that needs to be purchased, baked, wrapped, and given. Our days seem shorter and our lists seem longer. What ever happened to Thanksgiving? That day of being grateful for all we have  so generously been blessed with…it’s become a day for the race to begin…..ready….GO!

Martha understood the frenzy. People were coming to her house for dinner, not just “people”, but Jesus! How thrilling, overwhelming and exhausting. I can only imagine what she must have been feeling as she “opened her home to Him.” What an honor. What a blessing. What a frenzied ball of nerves she must have been, like a turkey avoiding the dinner plate. Everything must be in place for such an honored guest. But then, that annoying sister….

Mary, Martha’s sister, “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.” She just sat there! How rude. Martha is racing around preparing for their distinguished guest and her sister is just sitting, effortlessly at Jesus feet. How lazy, how wrong, how blind Mary was to poor Martha’s full blown anxiety attack. So, like many sisters would do, Martha tattles. She runs to Jesus, like a child, whining of how unfair life seems and demands a change. Commanding Jesus.   It’s like when our kids run to us demanding we reprimand their sibling for whatever alarming offense just occurred. Likely, there is blame to share.

Jesus response touches my own anxious heart. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better…”. Can you hear the gentleness in His voice, the tenderness? He doesn’t scold her or seem indifferent to her temper tantrum. He sees her anxiety and reminds her of what she really needs. She only needs ONE thing…and that is Him.

Oh to sit at the feet of Jesus, enjoying the company of our Father who adores and delights in us. To stop running about with our long lists, checking them twice, trying to be nice…but at the end of the day feeling worn out and more like Scrooge. What if we just sit and linger with Jesus? He is our source of joy, peace and love. Those are the gifts that our family and friends REALLY need, and we have it to offer, IF we receive it ourselves.

Thanksgiving is this Thursday. Don’t race past it my friends. When your internal alarms start sounding, feeling the tension of all that needs to be done, remember Mary. Choose what is better. Wake up in the morning and sit at Jesus feet. Drink in the goodness of time spent with Him so you can pour it out on your family and friends. Don’t put all your hopes into the perfect dinner, or expect perfect behavior from your family, setting yourself up to be perfectly disappointed. Put your hope in the perfect One, who brings perfect peace. You can do all things through Him!

May His peace flood your homes this Thanksgiving. Enjoy your family, friends, food and fellowship. What a blessed life we have been given!

Luke 10:38-42~38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Distortion Glasses

“I see J-Lo.” I can only imagine how challenging it must have been for her to keep a straight face when I said that. The corners of her mouth were doing tug-of-war with the knowledge that this was not a moment for laughter. Honestly, as I think back to that moment, I laugh at myself. It’s like I was wearing distortion glasses; seeing my image in front of a fun house carnival mirror. Sin scrambles the brain.

Yesterday I was at the gym in my Muvz class and the instructor made a random comment,”this is what J-Lo does every morning.” (We were doing a routine full of squats and lunges, to a J-Lo song.) It’s crazy how our memories can get jarred by a simple statement. A memory flickered across my mind in the middle of class. Suddenly I was back in my counselors office 15 years ago, explaining to her that I didn’t want to have a….uhhh, ummm, errrr, J-Lo behind. 😳 I’m embarrassed to admit this conversation, but it’s a reflection of how warped my thinking was at that time.

My brain had been distorted by my own sin. I no longer viewed my own body image, or anyone else’s, in the same way God does. It became my goal to be the perfect weight and shape….a non-existent possibility. The counselor helping me was a wonderful, Jesus follower who had faced her own body image distortion years prior, so she knew all the tricks and blind spots. She had me draw my perceived body shape on butcher paper that was taped to a wall. When I was done she asked me what I thought was wrong with the outline I had drawn…that’s where the J-Lo comment happened. 😬 The only thing I saw on my drawing was a very large, round….well you know. 😉 Apparently, not even J-Lo’s body was perfect enough in my mind. Crazy, I know.

Our minds can get warped and out of alignment with God’s word and we don’t even know it. At the time I believed that I was loving Jesus and worshiping Him from the platform at church almost every Sunday, and yet I was literally dying in my own stinking thinking.

Once I realized I had a problem, I got down to business and did the hard work of cleaning out the garbage I had believed, making room for God’s word to be firmly planted in my mind and heart. It took years to fully embrace my new way of thinking. There are no quick fixes in our healing and growth.  It starts by taking one step in the right direction, and then another step, and then another….until one day you realize that sin no longer has any grip on your life….then you can run freely without any baggage. Not to say that I never tripped and fell along the way. Having partners in this race is vital to finishing well. If I fall, someone is there to help me up and encourage me along the way; reminding me of what is true.

Do you have stinking thinking? Ideas and beliefs that aren’t congruent with God’s word? Maybe you are stuck in a rut and you don’t know it; looking through your own fun house mirrors, unaware of how distorted your vision has become. Pray, ask Him to reveal if there is any offensive way in you. Be sure to check your thoughts with God’s word. These “offensive ways” will lead you down a dark path, unintentionally hurting you and those in your life. To be honest, I thought it felt good to be hungry. It didn’t bother me one bit, though it was hurting my marriage and my body. We can be fooled by our own selfish desires and foolish thinking. The longer you walk in the dark, the harder it gets to distinguish God’s perfect plan and will for your life. You can know Jesus, but not be able to walk in His footsteps…it’s hard to see footsteps when the lights are out.
Cry out to Him, He will set you free, and set you back on track. You don’t have to figure it all out in a day, just take the first step. The first step is always the hardest. You can do it! I’m rooting for you and so is Jesus! You can do ALL things through Him!

Colossians 2:6-7~Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

Psalm 139:24~See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

1John 1:7~But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Wrong Rights

I LOVE peanut M&M’s. They bring delight to my tastebuds and they are colorful morsels of happiness. On a bad day, like tax preparation day, I have my yellow bag on standby.😉 Now, I know they are not good for me. In fact, there have been articles written about the health hazards of eating to many. Occasionally, I have justified my indulgence by thinking, well, they have peanuts in them, and that’s a protein. Since protein is good for me, I can eat what I want. You could say, it is my right to eat peanut M&M’s, all day, every day, should I choose to.

The interesting thing about “rights” is they can be so very wrong. My body would revolt after awhile, if I chose only to partake in my little round, happy, chocolates. While they do contain  protein, they also have lots of ingredients that I can’t even pronounce; some of which have been linked to cancer.😳 I’ve considered laying down my rights to M&M’s altogether because of the health risks, but I’m a work in progress. 😉

In recent news and social media I have heard a lot about “rights”; women’s rights, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, African American rights, rights to guns, rights of free speech, rights to protest….the list goes on and on. Many of my Christian friends have participated in discussions about “rights”, which has caused me to pray and seek Jesus and His perspective.

In reality, there is a peanut of truth to the discussions about rights.  These discussions are labeled as rights, but I think the desire behind the dialogue is more about value.  Do we all have equal value?  The answer is a resounding YES.  Jesus is about equality of all people as evidenced in scripture, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”(Gal.3:28) Incidentally, this scripture isn’t absolving gender identity or the fact that we are born of different cultures.  Rather, it is demonstrating that every life has equal worth, through Christ Jesus.  He is the great equalizer.  We don’t need anyone else to tell us we are valued in order for it to be true…it’s true because Jesus says so. No person or circumstance can lessen our value.  Period.

Jesus also points out our equal need for a Savior.  He openly admitted we all fall short of God’s glory and are in desperate need of His grace and forgiveness. Every person, including Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, need Him.  Though they have differing views on political policies, they both equally need grace and forgiveness.

Honest dialogue about perceived inequality can be good and healing.  However, there seems to be more behind some of the social media discussions of “rights”; ingredients that are unhealthy for the soul.  There is an angry tone, a loathing, a disgust, an entitlement simmering that is damaging.  There is one who comes to kill and steal away our joy…we have a real enemy, and it isn’t each other.

As a Jesus follower, it is my right and privilege, to lay my life down, pick up my cross and follow Jesus; loving God and loving people.  His ways are often different than popular opinion…especially those displayed in the media.  The news and much of social media has been offering up a lot of spiritual junk food.  It’s of little value and we should be careful about absorbing to much of it.  Allowing ourselves to get caught up in angry finger pointing, is like eating to many M&M’s….it tastes good in the moment but makes you feel awful after. There is no value to it, since it solves nothing, just fans the flames of anger and hostility.

Brothers and sisters of the faith, remember we no longer fight for our rights, but for God’s. We no longer live for us, but for Him and His plans. What ‘right’ do we have to anything?  Is it possible for us to feel entitled to anything more  when God has given us everything in Him? If anyone could have felt entitled, it should have been Jesus.  Being the only perfect person to ever walk the earth, He had that right, but He waved His rights, out of His great love for us. Such humility and grace, I can hardly take it in.

I don’t even have the right to my next breath, unless He gives it to me.  There is no guarantee of tomorrow, or even 10 minutes from now.  Every moment we have on this lovely earth is a gift given from our Father above.  Rather than investing our limited time on endless discussions about ‘rights’, what if we savored each moment, appreciating the people placed in our lives and enjoying our blessings?

Jesus is our model for living and He didn’t debate much, and rarely got angry; leading me to believe we get into the wrong kinds of discussions.  As Jesus followers we need  to be careful that our pride doesn’t swell, leading us to have an unhealthy perspective of “rights” and entitlement.  We ought to get on our knees in prayer, seek Him and maintain a posture of surrender to His will.  We are living  in times that  will challenge our faith like never before.  Be leery of your own feelings which can lead to emotional outbursts; laying down your cross, and hurling stones at one another. Pick up your cross, and follow in His footsteps. He reached out to people in love, humility, grace and truth. If people throw stones at you for expressing love, in truth, He will be your shield and protector. Don’t be discouraged or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you. Keep looking in the mirror and asking God how you can be the best YOU for Jesus, then be the change you hope to see in the world.    We are shining His light, and the enemy would love to snuff us out, giving the impression we are outdated and irrelevant. Don’t fall prey to the lies of the enemy.

Lets choose a healthier diet of “rights” by  loving tirelessly, giving generously, and letting  grace abound. Filter through the spiritually sick ingredients that are being force fed to us through news and social media, and check those ingredients with His word. If the ingredients don’t match scripture, don’t eat them! Throw them out and stand firm in His truth. Don’t look for a loophole, absorbing what is bad for your soul. Accepting what is popular and ‘feels good’ can be the path of least resistance, but there is NO growth in that. It’s just a diet of peanut M&M’s; slowly malnourishing our spiritual health.  Pretty soon, all the absorbed loopholes we’ve ingested cause our lights to dim, and we are no longer distinguishable to the world around us.  Jesus stood out in a crowd.

We will all be accountable for what we did with Jesus. He laid down His very life for each of us….there is no greater love than His. No politician, no civil rights groups, no protestors, no sports figures, no celebrities, no peanut M&M’s will satisfy the hunger we have for true love, value, and justice. Jesus gives it freely and fully.  He hands out healthy love by the bucketfuls, if we are open to receiving it. Recieve the free gift of His love daily and then give it out to those around you.  Don’t get sidetracked by discussions meant to keep you on a merry-go-round to nowhere.  Grab His hand And walk with Him, even though you will stand out and may get insulted or even assaulted. You no longer live for yourself, you live for Him. You can do ALL things through Him! 🙏

John 15:13~Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Gal 2:20~I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Luke 9:23~Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Isaiah 41:40~So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Crazy Cushions

The waiting and wondering can rob our joy of oxygen. When our thoughts are in constant motion of playing out scenarios of which we have little control, it can leave us feeling drained. We change NOTHING by worrying, but worry can be an assertive invader.
It was such an incidental moment, but it struck me funny, and the laughter couldn’t be controlled. Yesterday, Randy was sitting on the couch, scrolling through his phone, when he accidentally dropped it, fitting perfectly between the cushion and arm rest. He tried to reach it but after several failed attempts he asked me to reach in and grab the phone, knowing my arms would fit. However, not even my long, skinny arms could free it. The phone was wedged. We were forced to remove all the cushions and pull out the sleeper sofa. Finally, after much effort and maneuvering, I was able to free the phone. We both commented on what a big ordeal it turned out to be for something so simple. That was only the beginning.

Randy tried to put the sleeper sofa back together, only it wouldn’t work. The cushions refused to cooperate. 😉 He tried various placement of the odd shaped cushions, but none worked. They wouldn’t lay flat and kept falling to the floor. He would rearrange, stand back and realize, it still wasn’t right! It became amusing to watch him juggling pillows and cushions. To see them falling again and again nudged my funny bone. The more they fell, the more I laughed. Not just laughed, but side-splitting, breathless, squealing kind of laughter, that can’t me managed. Fortunately, my hubby has a good sense of humor and he enjoys my random outbursts. My laughter was contagious and before we knew it, we were both laughing hysterically, all because of some crazy cushions.😉

To be clear, I wasn’t laughing at him, just the ridiculousness of the entire scene. Trust me, you would have laughed too. 😆 Once the laughter slowed, it dawned on me that we were no longer fretting over the stress of the day. Our day had been preoccupied with concern and worry, but laughter had quieted the nervous tension. Now we were enjoying the moment…even the stubborn cushions. 😆

Laughter is such a gift. It’s a stress reliever like no other. It changes moods, relaxes tension, clears flooded minds and is like a breath of fresh air to an overwhelmed heart.

I’m quite certain that part of God working all things to the good is in moments like the wedged phone. We got to choose how we would respond to the inconvenience, and we chose laughter. What a gift we got to open.

Do you feel worn down, stressed out, and overwhelmed? Sometimes we can take life so seriously and it feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, but it isn’t! God has already overcome. We can rest in that fact.  Our emotions can respond in direct opposition to that truth, as we let them run wild in cirlces.  Take your thoughts captive, so they won’t steal your life away.  We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow….or even today, so why waste it on worry?  Eternity with Jesus is our guarantee.

When you start to feel weighed down by life, PRAY. Pray for perspective and ask God to take your burden and give you moments of relief, then look for gifts of laughter. Open them up and share it with others. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. You can do ALL things through Him!

Proverbs31:25~She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
Luke 12:25~Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?
Romans 8:28~And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.