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Climbing Stairs to Nowhere

30 Dec

One of the funniest things I pass on a regular basis is a set of stairs that leads nowhere. It’s near my husband’s office at the seminary where he works. There likely was a door there once, or plans for one, but the stairs just look odd there now. I smile every time I pass them.

thestairstonowhere_lolwithgodAs I approach a new year, I’m thinking back over my life and ministry and trying to figure out what has been the most productive things I’ve accomplished over the past year.

There were some great things, but in at least one case, I was “climbing,” but ending up nowhere. I wasn’t lazy, but there was no “fruit” for my labors in that area—nothing I can point to and say, “That was worth my time.” 

I don’t want that to happen next year.

I’m sitting down to consider where I want to end up so I can make wise strategies to get there.

Ephesians 2:10 says,

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

God not only created me, He gave me new life in Christ; and with that new life He also created work projects for me. It’s my responsibility to pray and listen so I can discover those good works He has prepared for me to accomplish.

Life is too short to miss what God has planned for me to do. 

The older I get, the more I am struck by the brevity of life. The Bible makes this so clear:

“… our days on earth are like a shadow…” (1 Chronicles 29:15).

“…my days are swifter than a runner; they flee away…” (Job 9:25).

I am like “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14).

I found myself praying today:

Lord, teach me to consider my days so I can grow in wisdom. Remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered and fleeting. Help me make the best use of the time You have given me. (Psalm 90:12; 39:4; Ephesians 5:16)

I don’t want to end up on a stairway to nowhere.

Do you?

What are you doing to evaluate your life before you head into a new year?

~ Dawn

A Simple Blessing after Christmas

27 Dec
I always think of Christmas as a time of blessing, but I read these “Christmas Facts”* from the United Kingdom (written after Christmas, 2009), and said, “Oh my!”
Here are just a few of those facts:
  • Hospitals in the UK reported four broken arms after “cracker pulling” accidents. [I cannot imagineChristmasCrackers_FreeFoto this… holiday crackers (see right) look so benign!]
  • Three people die each year testing to see if a 9-volt battery works on their tongue.
  • Thirty-one people died (since 1996) by watering their Christmas tree while the tree lights were plugged in. (The UK apparently calls them “fairy lights.”)
  • Nineteen people died within a three-year period, believing that Christmas decorations were chocolate. (Huh?)
  • One hundred and one people (since 1997) had to have broken parts of plastic toys pulled out of the soles of their feet.
  • One hundred and forty two people were injured, just in 1998, by not removing all pins from new shirts.

May your Christmases always be accident free … especially from those silly things!

I’ll keep this short. Christmas is over and you’re probably exhausted from church and family events. But your heart is full, right?

But if your house is like mine, after the holidays, my house feels a bit chaotic. I keep wishing one of my Christmas gifts was a housekeeper!

HeadingInto2015

I want to share a simple blessing I read in Dianne Barker‘s great book about organizing for the maximum life. **

“When life becomes hectic and harried,

   may you find calm in the chaos.

If your floors don’t sparkle,

   may the glory of the Lord light your face.

If grime streaks your bathroom sink,

   may it never corrode your heart.

If you’re racing the clock and losing,

   may you choose the important over the urgent.”

What a great way to head into the New Year – (1) embracing a calm perspective (by focusing on the  peace of God), and (2) living for God’s glory with (3) a pure heart and (4) right priorities.

[Simple scriptures for meditation on these points: Philippians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 10:31 & Ephesians 1:12; Matthew 5:8; Matthew 6:33]

Take a moment to think about your life right now. Which of those four areas needs a little work today?

Working on even one of them over the next few days might prepare you for the New Year a lot better than a list of resolutions.

– Dawn

Photo of Christmas Cracker: Image Supplied by FreeFoto.com.

* “Christmas Facts” from Sparkpeople.com, 12-26-09

** Book by Dianne Barker: I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! (Crossroad Books, 2014),p. 179.

 

5 Ways to Encourage “Resolution” Success

2 Jan

By now, you may have made some New Year’s resolutions. It seems that resolutions change through the years.

  • 2007: I will get my weight down below 160 pounds and get into my new red dress.What's Your Resolution
  • 2008: I will count my calories until I get below 170 pounds and fit into my sweater.
  • 2009: OK… I will follow my new diet until I get below 210 pounds and maybe I’ll buy some new slippers.
  • 2010: I will talk to a counselor about developing a realistic attitude about my weight and appearance.
  • 2011: At my doctor’s suggestion, I will work out five days a week at my gym.
  • 2012: I will drive past the gym once a week … and if I have my gym bag in the car, I’ll go in. And if I don’t, I will take that as a sign that I should go to the Dairy Queen next door.

The most common New Year’s Resolutions are, according to studies, “losing weight, exercising more, and quitting smoking,” but other popular resolutions include “managing debt, saving money, getting a better job or education, reducing stress, taking a trip, or volunteering.” (1)

Although some studies say making a resolution increases the likelihood of achieving a goal, making a resolution ~ in and of itself ~ isn’t really enough.

I’ve found that New Year’s resolutions don’t work unless people work at making resolutions stick.  Otherwise, by February 1st or sooner, the resolutions are a dim memory. The same old frustrations or longings linger.

ResolutionsMany resolutions are made after periods of indulgence. For example, we give ourselves “permission” to go crazy over the holidays, but then we feel guilty, or we don’t like it that our clothes no longer fit.

Resolutions are our way of convincing ourselves we will eventually take control. At first, we feel pretty confident that we’ll win out… but then those feelings of discomfort and stress return. If we haven’t developed a new habit or acquired the character quality of self-discipline, we aren’t likely to keep those resolutions.  Or, when our “results” take longer than we expect, or we find that our new choices haven’t made us any happier, we tend to give up.

But here are five ways to encourage success with “resolutions.” Continue reading

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