Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Balancing Act

Our pastor of worship arts gave a great message over the weekend.  I've been pondering his words for the past few days. 

He spoke about Christians living in a bubble and how we need to step out from that bubble.  And when we step out of that bubble, how are we perceived? 

I think it's a matter of finding the balance.  We need our "Christian bubble" for encouragement, support, to learn and grow as Christians, and to go deep in our friendships. We need that fellowship.

But with our jobs, our hobbies, heck, even at the grocery store, we're going to run into people of different faiths, different lifestyles and some who very decidedly are not Christians.

So, how do these other people perceive us?  If you think about the perception of Christians in general, do you think that perception is positive?  I think we all know the answer to that.

Growing up, I remember a song from church: "They will know we are Christians by our love..."

What's one of the most well-known verses in the Bible: "Love one another."

Are we missing that message these days?  If you run across someone living a lifestyle you know is contrary to God's word, how do you treat them? 

You may immediately counter with how we are being treated.  That's not the point.  In all our dealings with people in our lives, we should be courteous, kind and most of all respectful.  Whether you agree or disagree with their views, actions, lifestyle, religion -- don't you think we'll get farther in our relationships and in our ability to plant some seeds, if they are planted with kindness and respect?

I know Christians are supposed to share the good news of the Bible.  Yet, our calling may not be to change people right there on the spot. For me personally, I believe that I plant more seeds, show Christ's love more abundantly by how I live my life and how I treat others.

If I am kind, considerate and respectful -- won't that give a better image of "Christian" than showving my views down someone's throat?  I don't like when someone shoves their views at me.  How do you want to be treated?

Again, it's a balance.  And it's a thin tightrope to walk.  But I believe in the old saying "Kill 'em with kindness."

Personally, I want someone to know "we are Christians by our love." 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cycles of Life

It's been an interesting week.  I'm seeing the cycles of life, so to speak.  We received word that my aunt, who is in poor health, had taken a turn for the worst. Her kids and family were gathering around to spend time with her.  

A few days later, my husband and I attended a wedding – the joyous celebration of a young couple beginning their new life together. At the wedding, we spent time with friends that we don't see often enough, unfortunately.

This year, we've enjoyed having a new member of our family, my niece's son, born in January.  He's my brother's first grandchild, and my parents first great-grandchild.

Last weekend, my husband and I babysat our 2-year-old great nephew and had a blast.

Our son and his wife have moved to a new city, starting a new phase in their married life and with their careers.

The cycle of life is going strong right now. How many do we know that are fighting cancer, illness, financial difficulties, or celebrating weddings, pregnancies, births, and more?

It all makes me thoughtful and hopefully motivated to live each day to the fullest. None of us know how long we have on this earth. So, we need to spend it doing what God wants us to do, making time and spending time with friends, loving our families and not wasting a moment.

So when the various cycles of life hit, you can celebrate the highs, and have loved ones to cling to during the lows.

What are you doing to appreciate the little things in life? Do you have a church group or neighbors you are close to?  Is it time to call that friend and go have lunch or a cup of coffee? Share your thoughts on the highs and lows and how to make time for the important things.

Meanwhile, live life well… enjoy every moment.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Running Away from Home

Was there ever a time in your childhood that you felt like running away from home?  That seems so silly looking back, because as Dorothy Gale said, "There's no place like home."

Even as adults, we sometimes want to run away from home. Take my husband and I a few weeks ago: We're in a place in our lives where are kids our grown, gone and married. We're empty-nesters, enjoying the quiet that comes before the arrival of grandchildren. (And no, there are no grandchildren on the way...that we know about!).

But on this particular Saturday, we woke up restless. The weather was cold and cloudy... and we just needed to get out of town!  September had been very hectic and there hadn't been a lot of down time.

Normally, when you say "let's get up and go somewhere," you rarely do it. And on this day, I thought that would be the case for us.  My husband had some minor repairs to do on his truck and I said to myself that was it. He'd get stuck in the garage, buried in his car repairs and we wouldn't go anywhere. Maybe we'd have time to see a movie or something later.

He headed for the garage and I thought I'd dig out a craft project to work on. Well, he made his repairs, and came back in the house and announced that he needed to road test the truck.

"Pack an overnight bag, just in case," he told me. 

Really?  I couldn't believe it.  I leapt up and packed quickly.  My mood lifted and I kept smiling as I threw things into a bag.

Even if we didn't spend the night anywhere, just to take a drive was a marvelous idea. Instead of just talking about it, we were actually going!  On a whim, with no thought, no reservations, no real destination (though we had an idea).

We drove about three hours, and stayed near a state park at a hotel on a lake. It was wonderful!  We spent the night and returned home the next day. It was a fast trip, but it felt so good just to get away, to walk along the lake right before a thunderstorm rolled in. Watching the deer the surrounded the lake property... just being together, anywhere except at home.

I think the best part was that we did it so spontaneously.  At our age, (not that I claim we're old!) it seemed like our spontaneous days were behind us  -- that was something for the young.

But for one weekend, we felt young, and carefree.  What a great feeling.

So maybe the next time we're restless, we won't even hesitate. We'll throw some things in a bag and get in the car and go!

What about you?  What's the last spontaneous thing you did?  Have you ever gone out of town on a whim?

I'd love to hear your stories.  And when appropriate, I hope you find your moment to run away from home!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Family Ties

Families can be complicated, can't they?  We feel lost if we don't have them, yet sometimes, well…

Recently, my family had our annual Cousin Reunion.  A reunion of cousins, you may ask?  Yep.  You see, there are a whole bunch of us.  56 first cousins.  There are 50 of us left, and a few years ago we started gathering together to celebrate "family." 
Twenty-three first cousins - Sept. 2013

Originally we had 13 aunts and uncles. Today there are only four of the aunts and uncles left and the days of the big family reunions seemed to be of a bygone era.

But thankfully, we've revived this tradition. 

We all know families can be complicated – sometimes we can't get along without them, and sometimes they can seem like a necessary evil.

I'm thankful to say that I love my family. I love these reunions with my cousins. For a lot of us, our cousins were not only our first friends, but sometimes, our only friends growing up.

So, what's the purpose of my thoughts today?  I think my brother said it best: after this reunion he felt refreshed.  We had a weekend to love, hug, laugh, and appreciate our history and our ancestors.  

Being with each other unites us and grounds us.  We're part of something special.

And every once in a while it's good to reminded of how special our family ties are.