An Unquenchable Song

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Oh!  How I try not to be deemed as old-fashioned!

Oh!  How I ache to be at least in touch with the needs, the thoughts and the trends of the younger generation!

Oh! How I desire not to come across as out of date … out of touch … or over that infamous hill.

But let’s face it – at this age – I do indeed have a lot of years of living under my belt.

At this point in my life’s journey – I know a thing or two about life … about marriage … about parenting … about choosing well … about waiting … about wisdom … and about prayer.

At least I hope I do.

I try to dress fashionably youthful yet not come across as that older woman in teen-age clothes.

I like to think that my style is “timeless” rather than “yesterday”.

I sincerely attempt to sprinkle my speech with well-chosen colloquialisms of the day without seeming inconsequential or sarcastic.

I am certainly not “hip” … but neither am I antiquated.

I often read what my 20-something daughters and their friends are reading so that I will keep my fingers on the pulse beat of those incredible people known as “millennials”.

I follow young moms … young authors … young pastors … and young thinkers on all types of social media.

I even know what Reddit and Tumblr are … do you?!

However – I do believe that the place where the numerous years of my life is perhaps the most obvious is in my choice of music.

Sigh …

I am a musician and I have raised all of my children to love music.  Three of my five children majored in music in college.

We McLeods know our music

I will be the first to admit, however, that I am hopelessly outdated, old-fashioned and vintage when it comes to the music that I enjoy.

First of all – I’ll take a waltz over hip-hop, a sonata rather than rap and a concerto over electronica any day of my life!

Chopin, Gershwin and Debussey are on my playlist rather than Beyonce, Maroon 5 and Drake.

(As a matter of fact – I don’t even know who Drake is. I had to look up who had the #1 song on Billboard.)

And, when it comes to Christian music, it’s true …  from time to time I do enjoy Bethel, Hillsong, and gifted contemporary musicians such as Lauren Daigle.

However, the Christian music that truly inspires me is at least decades old!

Music has always had the rare and rich ability to touch my soul in the very deepest place of me.

My heart aches with unmatched joy when I hear these lyrics:

“I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold … I’d rather be His than have riches untold.

I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands:  I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hands.”

I am forced to the altar of my heart as I evaluate those challenging lyrics.  Would I?!  Would I really rather than Jesus than silver or gold?!  Would I truly rather be His than have riches untold?

And the whisper of my heart cries … I would!  I would rather have Jesus than anything!

And then, there are times that I sit and reminisce over the legacy I have been given due to a family that valued the church and loved the Lord. In those sweet moments, I can still hear my father’s voice singing:

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest Name that I know!

Fills my every longing – keeps me singing as I go!” 

Oh, Dad!  You were right!  Jesus is the sweetest Name that I know! He fills my deepest desires and He has never failed to give me an unquenchable song! 

And I must admit that one of the unarguable perquisites in judging a song to be a truly great composition is that it must hold solid theology and undeniable truth in every line –

“Great is Thy Faithfulness – Oh God, my Father.

There is no shadow of turning with Thee!

Thou changest not – Thy compassions they fail not!

As Thou has been thou forever wilt be!” 

I want to know Jesus better because of the songs that I sing.  I want to declare Who He is over my circumstances as I sing my songs of faith that the saints in every generation have sung before me. 

And, finally, who can resist the triumph that springs forth in an ordinary person’s soul when these words are proclaimed with the power of the accompanying melody:

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee! God of glory, God of love!

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the Son above!

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness – drive the dark of doubt away.

Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!” 

You might judge me as “old” due to the music that sings perpetually in my soul … but I believe that it is music that has kept me young!

The unmatched song that continues to dominate the soundtrack of my life has given me a spring in my step and a sparkle in my eyes.

How about you? What is your favorite song?  I’d love to hear from you … and sing a stanza or two together!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

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Have you ever wondered what God’s will for your life is?

Should you go to college?  Get married?  Have children?  Go on the mission field?

Should you spend money or save money?

Should you wear the blue dress or the red one?

Should you call your mom or read a book?

Should you exercise or pray?

Should you change jobs or stay where you are?!

Discovering the will of God for one’s life can be daunting … unless, of course you decide to read your Bible!

I believe that the Bible offers a strategic blueprint for living an abundant life!

I believe that the Bible holds wisdom that is still applicable for our very lives today!

I believe that when the Bible is read daily that it has the potential of giving you the life of your deepest dreams.

I believe that God’s specific will for your singular life is found in the Bible.

I believe in the power of … the wonder of … and the miraculous results of the Bible!

I believe the Bible!

So … now that we have settled that … let me share with you the ‘”guts” of this week’s blog …

One day, several years ago, when I was having my daily quiet time, I read this significant and powerful verse from Ephesians, “Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children.” – Ephesians 5:1

In an instant I realized that this verse was telling me exactly what God’s will was for my personal life!  I was called, by the voice of the Holy Spirit, to imitate the very actions, the thoughts, the words and the emotions of God.

And then, I hunkered down and went digging for the priceless treasure that I was certain to find in this verse.

The word “imitators” is the Greek word “mimetes” from which we derive our English word “mime”.

What God doeswe should imitate.

What God speakswe should echo.

What God thinksshould be our very first thought.

What God feelsshould be our immediate response.

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As believers in Jesus Christ, it is indeed God’s perfect will for each one of our lives, to mimic those things that we see in the character of God.

We are called to carefully and intentionally model our lives after the life of God.

As I pondered and prayed over this verse the following week, I realized that this verse is, in effect, calling me to be an actor and that I am taking on the role of God the Father.  What?!!  How can that be?

When I look into the mirror of God, I should mimic every single thing that He does!

Every single day of our earthly lives, we should be more like God than we were yesterday!  Think about it!

Every event that I encounter … every person that I meet … and every circumstance that I endure … should craft me more and more into being exactly like Him!

I should decrease in me and He should increase in me! (John 3:30)

Difficult people … and adverse conditions … and disappointing events … should only have one influence in my life … they should make me more like Jesus!

It is our goal this side of heaven to imitate God.

It is our reward this side of heaven to become more like Him.

It is our focused life calling to act like Him.

It is our daily assignment to mimic Him.

If you have ever wondered what God’s will for your life is … this is it:  To become like Him!

In order to imitate a person, you must study that person and watch how he or she acts and how he or she reacts.  You must know what this person likes and what this person doesn’t like; you must observe how the person treats people and what this person spends his or her time doing.

 

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Let me get specific …

When I was in college, a woman by the name of Ellen Stamps became my role model.  She had traveled with Corrie ten Boom for 10 years and had then married the beloved chaplain at the Christian university that I attended.

I loved absolutely everything about this blonde-haired, thirty-something Dutch woman!

I spent time studying her and asking her pertinent questions about the Lord, about life, about love and about marriage.

I observed the way that she treated people and how she responded to her husband.

I noticed that she always had fresh flowers in her home and made it a habit to play classical music while she was entertaining guests.

I was amazed that she never seemed flustered by difficult people but handled them with wit and with grace. I drank up her uncommon wisdom and I flourished as her joy splashed on my life.

Even today … over 40 years later … not a day passes by that I don’t ask myself,  “I wonder what Ellen would do in this situation?”

If you long to live in God’s perfect will for your life – you must imitate Him … you must know Him …  you must observe Him … you must listen to His uncommon wisdom and you must splash in the joy of His presence!

As well-loved children, every day we spend on earth, our goal must be to become more like our Dad!

We are constantly in the process of becoming more like God!” – Ephesians 5:1

41 Lessons in 41 Years

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It was a hot, humid, sticky day during the summer of 1977.

I was 22-years-old and had met the man of my dreams! We were going to be married on this glorious Sunday afternoon in the country church in which I had grown up.

The church, that held about 180 people, was filled to overflowing with 250 of our closest friends and family members.

I waited in the tiny women’s bathroom with 8 bridesmaids dressed in all the colors of the rainbow. I was about to become a wife …

I didn’t know that day that we would, over the course of our marriage, experience infertility, cancer, repeated miscarriages, financial challenges and depression.

All I knew that miraculous day was joy… the joy of loving and being loved.  The joy of choosing and being chosen.

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Where has 41 years gone?
  It has disappeared like a vapor in the reality of all that life has brought to us.  I blinked and 4 decades has passed by …

In honor of our 41st. wedding anniversary, I thought that I would share with you 41 tips… 41 words of wisdom!

So here goes…

“41 Ways to Love the Marriage You Have Been Given!”

1 – Forgive frequently and easily.  Craig and I have often said that the first one to forgive is the one that wins!

2 – Find joy in the little things in life.  A shared cup of coffee in the morning … watching a sunset together in the evening … a phone call from a child who lives far away.  This is the stuff of which life is made! The little things in life are actually the big things.

3 – Pray together. Mountains move when a married couple takes the time to pray together for their children, their finances and their concerns.

4 – Serve together. Serving side by side is one of the building blocks of a great marriage.

5 – Listen more than you talk.

6 – Never even allow yourself to think about the “D” word.  If you don’t think it… you will never say it. If you never say it… you will never pursue it. (If you are wondering what word I am talking it… it starts with a “D” and ends with “ivorce”.)

7 – Remind yourself that it is not your job to “change” or “fix” your spouse. Love your spouse exactly the way they are today.

8 – Invest yourself in your spouse’s interests.  When we were first married, I realized that my husband loved watching football on Sunday afternoons.  Rather than feeling second place to a “pigskin,” I began to read the sports section so that I could be prepared for the Sunday afternoon ritual.  He was amazed! I love amazing this man of mine…

9 – Look at each other when you talk.  Make eye contact.

10 – Never raise your voices.

11 – Never call names.

12 – Don’t compare your spouse to anyone else’s spouse.

13 – Believe with all of your heart that this one person is your priority above everything and anyone else.  Then act like it.

14 – Don’t go to bed angry.

15 – Realize that your spouse is not God.  Your husband or your wife can never be to you what only the Lord can be.

16 – Don’t ever talk about your spouse behind his or her back. Only give good reports about your spouse to your parents, his parents, your children and your friends. Be respectful of your spouse – in private and in person.

17 – Say “I love you” often.

18 – Hold hands when you go for a walk.

19 – Say an encouraging word to your spouse when the tension is high.

20 – Choose to be a happy person.  It takes two happy people to build a happy marriage.

21 – Leave the past in the past.  Don’t bring up past failures, mistakes or wounds. It’s like bringing last week’s garbage back into the house.

22 – Read “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and then apply it to your marriage.

23 – Make worshiping the Lord together a priority.

24 – When you are most frustrated with your spouse – that is the moment when you should choose to be the kindest to them.

25 – Be kind to your spouse’s parents and siblings. Include them in holidays and in family gatherings.

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26 – Have devotions together at least once a week.  This doesn’t mean you need to sit down together and read 10 chapters in the Bible together… just talk about the Lord and what He has done for you. Share a thought with your spouse that you had during your personal quiet time. Talk about the things for which you are thankful.

27 – Have your own personal quiet time every day.  This one simple discipline will deliver a strength to your marriage that can never be measured.

28 – Smile at each other across the room.

29 – Share the responsibilities of the home.  Talk about expectations and figure out who gets to do what!

30 – Learn the power of compromise!

31 – Never lie to your spouse. Be a person of honor and tell the truth.

32 – Never correct your spouse in front of other people – especially in front of your children.

33 – Don’t expect your spouse to be perfect because you are not perfect either.  Together you might make a perfect couple… but alone, you are simply not perfect.

34 – Give your spouse the grace that you wish he or she would give to you.

35 – Remember why you fell in love… recall favorite memories… laugh about yesterday’s challenges.

36 – Remember that the covenant you made is not only with each other but it is with God!

37 – Laugh at his jokes even when you have heard them 1,000 times or more!

38 – Remember that your spouse is your partner and not your enemy. You win together and you lose together. When only one spouse wins … marriages loses.

39 – Keep the minor things minor.

40 – Act like adults and not like children.  Tantrums are not allowed!

41 – Choose each other anew every day.

Happy Anniversary, Craig! I love being your wife!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

What it Takes to Make a Difference

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If you have read my blog more than a time or two, you know by now that I am a list-maker … a list-lover … a list-idolizer.

Lists simply help me to organize the thoughts that tumble haphazardly through my brain; they enable me to give boundaries to the roller-coaster emotions that fly helter-skelter through the caverns of my heart.

Lists … I love them.

And may I just say … there are lists in the Bible!  If it’s good enough for the Holy Spirit … it’s good enough for me!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” – Galatians 5:22

This week … I am making yet a new list for you and for me.

And … have I got a list for you!

This is a life-changing, wonder-working, destiny-setting, mind-blowing list that will turn you into the person you always wished that you were but sorely knew how often you fell short.

This list will enable you to become the friend that you always wish you had been … the spouse that you always wish that you had … the parent that you dreamed about becoming … and you might even become the disciple of Jesus’ dreams!

First of all, the reason that I made this list is because I realized that at the core of anyone of us, what we truly desire in life is to make a difference.

Sure … stamps in the passport would be nice … a substantial savings account wouldn’t be turned away … education never hurt anyone … but the most valuable and sustaining desire that any of us have is to simply make a difference.

I long to be remembered after I leave planet earth for a kindness done.

I deeply desire to live beyond the dash in my tombstone with the invisible legacy that I have graciously bestowed in the lives of my family and friends.

I want acquaintances who don’t even know my name to say, “Remember that girl with the smile? Didn’t she just walk in a room and light it up?”

I want to cross my finish line and hear the Lord say, “Carol! You did good!!  You were a blessing to history! You made a difference!”

So … what does it take to make a difference? Do you have to have your picture on the front of a well-known magazine?  Must you be the host or hostess of a daily TV program?

Must you write a book that is a perpetual best-seller in order to be recognized as a truly impactful person

Is it a pre-requisite to travel to China and feed the hungry for in order for you to be considered for induction into history’s “Hall of Fame”?

I think not.  I think that perhaps the quest to make a difference begins with the simple yet eternal habits that one establishes in life.

So … here it is … you asked for it … well … maybe you didn’t ask for it but you are getting it anyway!

What It Takes to Make a Difference : Living Beyond Your Dash

1 – Smile.  The world is aching for someone with your smile.  Smile at babies … at strangers … at your family … at your enemies … at your best friend … at your spouse.

Smile in line at the grocery store … smile at the mailperson … smile at church … smile at stoplights … smile at work.

 

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2 – Say something kind to someone every single day. When you lay your head on the pillow at night, if you haven’t said something kind to someone, get out your phone and text someone a word of encouragement.  Then, turn your phone off and go to sleep!

“What is desirable in a man is his kindness.” – Proverbs 19:22

3 – Be faithful.  If you say you are going to do it, do it.  Don’t make up excuses or try to wrangle your way out of a commitment.  Just do it.

4 – Tell the truth.  Don’t exaggerate, fabricate or fictionalize your words.  Be a man of woman of integrity every day of your life.  You will never regret it.

5 – Give something away once a month.  Buy a mug for friend … a book for a child … a bakery goody for a widow … a gift card for your pastor … a flower for your neighbor.  If you can’t afford to buy it – look through your stuff and find one of your favorite items and give it with joy! Your generosity will out live you!

6 – Laugh often and laugh easily.  Don’t be Scrooge, the Grinch and Cruella deVille all rolled into one prune-faced Christian.  Be a delight to be with! Be the kind of person that others just can’t get enough of.  My friend, John Mason, calls this being a contagious Christian!  I’m in … how about you?!

7 – Don’t talk about yourself.  Ask questions of others. I have learned that others are far more interesting than I will ever be.  Be an involved listener rather than a self-absorbed talker.

8 – Figure out what you do well … and then do it! If you are a writer, write.  If you are a gardener, garden well. If you are a servant, serve others with gladness.  If you are a giver, give liberally. If you are a mentor, gather young friends around you. If you are good with money, help others who aren’t.  Live in your sweet spot in life!

9 – Scatter joy wherever and whenever you goI would much rather be known for having too much joy than too little, wouldn’t you?! When you are going through a trial, it is then that your joy becomes the most valuable commodity that you own.  Don’t let anyone steal your joy!!

 

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10 – Read your Bible every day and apply its principles to your life.  Your Bible is God talking to you!  It is your Creator revealing His heart to you!  It is the will of God unfolded on the written page!  If you want to live a great life … then read the greatest Book ever written!  The Bible is not a “flat” book but it is a Book of miraculous transformation. The miracle begins the instant that you open it and begin to read!

11 – Pray more than you worry. Praying is NOT “worrying on your knees”.  Prayer is worship … it is communication … it is declaring the promises of God!

What’s on your list of how to make a difference?!  I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

The 5-Minute Prayer Experiment

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I have 5 grown children who have all left me!
  The nerve of those kids …

They are now pursuing their gifts and destiny in the only Kingdom that really matters.

They are figuring out life for themselves without their mamma’s daily input or opinions.

They are on a journey of joy … of pain … of challenge … of significance … of success … of failure … of hope … of love.

Now, I certainly hope that what my 5 children learned while living at home has given them some type of road map for the journey of life.

I hope that they haven’t forgotten to pray … to read the Word … to be kind … to sing … to play … to dream … to make meaningful priorities … to be unselfish … to trust God.

That timeless saying is really true –

“A mother holds her children’s hands for just a little while but she holds their hearts forever.”

But … that’s not really what I wanted to talk to you about today.  I actually want to talk to you about prayer.

So – allow me to segue …. Or perhaps I should just begin again!

I have 5 grown children who have all left me!  The nerve of those kids …

The hardest days of the year to be away from all of my children is on the day of each of their births.

(You know – I am not sure that birthdays are for the person who is born on that particular day as much as it is for the mother.)

A mom remembers the joy … the pain … the challenge … the significance of the day of each of her children’s births.

A mom remembers and cries … and smiles … and sighs … and aches … and prays.

My youngest was born when I was standing on the threshold of 40 and she has been one of the greatest miracles of my entire life.

After giving birth to 4 of the most dynamic, energetic and creative human beings ever born, I was given the gift of one more.

Her birthday is May 30 and this year I wasn’t with her on her birthday.  She was celebrating with friends and some of her siblings in the city where she lives which is thousands of miles away from me! (The nerve of my kids!)

What I often do on the day that commemorates the birth of one of my children is to spend extra time in prayer for the one whom my heart is celebrating.

There ain’t no heart like a mama’s heart!

There ain’t no prayer warrior like a mama prayer warrior!

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I pray for the birthday child’s walk with the Lord and for wisdom in all of their life decisions.

I pray that they will be kind and that others will be kind to them.

I pray that they will climb mountains with diligence and experience valleys with humility.

I pray that they will think like God thinks and experience the joy of His presence.

I pray that they will be people of honor and of integrity.

This year, as I was ending my prayer celebration in honor of Joni, my youngest, I began to think about whose birthday was next.  I realized that the next birthday that belonged to a member of the original Clan McLeod was on September 2 … which was basically three months hence.

And then, I had the instant realization, that these two birthdays were separated by a mere 3 months … a little over 90 summer days.

A light bulb went off in my spirit!

The Holy Spirit spoke to me in that moment,

“Carol – what if you prayed for specific needs in all of your children’s lives for 5 minutes a day for the next three months?  It will take you 25 minutes a day – 5 minutes for each of your 5 children.”

The Holy Spirit continued His prompting …

“Carol – would you want to do a “5-Minute Prayer Experiment” with me?!”

I was literally breathless with anticipation to see what I, prayer and the Holy Spirit could accomplish to strengthen my kids’ lives in only 5 minutes a day over a period of roughly 90 days!

The next day – I found one scripture for each of my children that I would be praying over them over the course of the next 2,160 hours.

I was in!!  All the way in!

So … let me tell you how this works …

Every day from May 30 through September 2, 2018, I will spend 25 minutes in prayer; this will consist of 5 bursts of 5 minutes each.

Sometimes it is when I am walking … sometimes it is when I am unloading the dishwasher … sometimes it is when I am folding clothes … sometimes it is when I am driving.

Sometimes I pray out loud and sometimes it is an inner prayer.

I pray the Word over each of my children and I pray for specific needs in their individual lives.

5 minutes a day.  All summer long.  90 days.

The minutes fly by and the presence of the Lord is tangible!

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I am expecting God to intervene in the lives of my children and I am beginning to realize that expectation is the breeding ground for miracles.

A mother’s prayer is a powerful way to impact the lives of their children even after they are grown and gone.

Our grown children can run away from our words but they can never escape our prayers so our strategy should always be to talk less and to pray more!

It’s not too late for you to join me and the Holy Spirit on this journey!  Why don’t you take the month of August and pray 5 minutes a day for your children or for those people that you love the most?

I’d love to hear all about your 5 Minute Prayer Experiment!  And just know .. while you are praying for others … I will be praying for you!

“Prayer is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian.” – Spurgeon

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

Spoiler Alert!

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As most of you know, I have several addictions in life, some of which I am proud and some of which I am sure are fairly unhealthy.

Some of my unhealthy and addictive habits might be but are certainly not limited to….

How many times in one lifetime can a woman tell herself that chocolate is NOT a daily vitamin?!!

If there were an Olympic sport in hitting the snooze button on the morning alarm clock – I would win it.  Hands down.

And don’t even get me started on Target and please don’t ask my husband about that particular drug of choice.

But … now … as I have already stated … not all of my addictions are harmful – some are very healthy, indeed!

Let me share with you one of my healthy addictions –

A singular addiction that has me under lock and key since about the second grade has also benefitted me in ways too numerous to even count.

I am a self-diagnosed, avaricious read-aholic!

In my book – there is no such thing as owning too many books.

Many days of my life I would rather read than breathe … rather read than eat … rather read that talk.

“What is a bookshelf other than a treasure chest for a curious mind?”

Whenever I walk into a bookstore or a library, my blood pressure rises, my heartbeat accelerates and I have to remind myself to “Breathe in … breathe out … breathe in … breathe out!

I am the kind of girl who fantasizes about being locked up in the library overnight!

The books that I have read over the course of my life have helped to mold the person that I am today.  I have traveled through time and have met fascinating people on the pages of a book that I otherwise never would have known.

I have climbed mountains, survived blizzards, experienced poverty, dealt with difficult people, and lived on other continents simply because I opened the pages of a book.

I have been the President of the United States of America … the Queen of England … a housewife during the Dustbowl … and a missionary who gives her life for the cause of Christ … simply because I have opened the pages of a book.

“One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change our lives.”

Because I am so very human, I have even developed a frighteningly bad habit right in the middle of this excellent obsession with reading.  Actually, let me attempt to re-describe the questionable habit that thrives in the midst of a stellar habit –

To me – this particular practice of which I speak is actually not a bad habit at all but a dire necessity to my emotional investment.

However, most of my friends say it is simply a bad habit. A very bad habit.

“What is the habit of controversy?” you may ask.

I am so glad that you asked because I can’t wait to answer you fully!

Whenever I pick up a book – fiction or non-fiction – before I read the first chapter, I always read the last chapter.

That’s not a sin, is it?!

The reason that I do this is because I refuse to give myself wholeheartedly to a book that has a murky ending. I refuse to read a page of a book that comes to erroneous conclusions or communicates that which I consider to be a broken theme.

I refuse.

Other well-meaning bibliophiles may accuse me of spoiling the ending but I think not.  Knowing the ending before the beginning actually stirs my interest in and investment to the book. It is true, this habit removes both fear and suspense from my emotional thermometer – but who needs fear and suspense anyway?!

I love the development of the characters to a deeper and richer degree knowing how it is all going to turn out for them. I feel that I own a sweet secret that I am unable to share with anyone whose life story is being written before my very eyes.

And so I trudge along through my well-set pattern of literary perusal and continue to read the last chapter first.

One particular day, as I was reading the greatest Book ever written, I realized how powerful it is to know exactly what the end of the Bible says!  My heart leaped for absolute joy out of my chest as I embraced the knowledge that I know!

 I know how all of this ends for the people of God!

I know how God will tie it all together!

I know what the final act will look like!

I know who wins!

And I definitely know who loses!

I don’t mean to spoil the ending of the Bible for you … but everything really is going to be o.k.

Go ahead!  I dare you to do it!  Read the last chapter of Revelation and break out in exuberant worship!

God has written the end of your story and it’s a good one … a really good one!

There is no reason for fear or suspense in the life of a believer because the ending to all of our stories is simply out of this world!

God has been to your future and it is good because He is good and He is already there.

God has spent eternity past writing out the details of your life and has made an eternal investment in the ending that will trump all other endings … you win because He has already won!

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them.” – Psalm 139:16

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

Kindness Matters

JoyForTheJourney

We live in a broken world, don’t we?

Politics are a mess … the media doesn’t always tell the truth … people are mistreated … the laws need changing … entertainment is warped … the list could go on and on and on.

We live in a broken world.

Do you want to know what I believe?

I believe that the reason God placed YOU in this world is because it is broken and it needed someone just like you to heal its brokenness.

We all know what John 3:16 days, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

That’s a “WOW!” Scripture of the very best kind!  God loved … He gave … we believe … we live!

However – do you know what John 3:17 says?

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

Jesus didn’t come to judge us … He came to save us!

He came to save us from sin, from politics, from opinions, from waywardness, from confusion, from pain, from hatred, from war, from anger, from sickness and from death.

I also know that often He needs to save me from myself.  Isn’t that the truth?!

He came to save us and to give us a new way of living … of thinking … and of processing life!

You see, when we partner with Him in loving this broken world … miracles happen!

 

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The world doesn’t need another Christian with an opinion – it needs a Christian who will be kind.

The world doesn’t need another religious person to judge it – it needs a gentle word and a loving smile that will serve as a source of encouragement.

This doesn’t mean that we accept the sin and gloss over the compromise – what it means is that we are kind in spite of it.

Your opinions will never change this world – but your joy might change it!

Your judgment will never revolutionize this world – but your heartfelt goodness might do the job!

Your negativity will never deliver this world – but your kindness might make an impact!

Can I tell you a story?

I’ll try to make it short and I really don’t mean to glorify anything that I have done … I just want to remind you that kindness matters.  It matters very, very much.

It was the summer of 1996 and our family home was on a busy street in a small town in North Carolina.  I would often sit on the porch while my boys played basketball in the driveway and while my little girls decorated the sidewalk with all kinds of amazing chalk designs.

One day while we were outside enjoying an August afternoon, I noticed two young men walking up our driveway. I immediately recognized them as Mormons because of the way they were dressed and due to their clean-cut appearance.

I judged them before they even opened up their mouths.

They chatted with my boys for a while about Michael Jordan and about who was going to have the better team that year – UNC or Duke – and then they marveled over my daughters’ sidewalk masterpieces.

I knew that I was next.

As they paused on the front steps, I pondered what to say to these two boys whose belief system was so very different from mine.

They smiled and introduced themselves and asked if they could have a minute of my time.

Being the softie that I am, I said, “Sure! Join me on the porch.”

While they were settling themselves, I went into the house and brought ice-cold lemonade out for my five children and for these two young men.

It also gave me a minute to pray.

After I came out with red plastic cups and with store-bought cookies, I settled myself back on the porch swing and let them take a gulp or two of the refreshing beverage.

I chatted with them for a few minutes about where they were staying, where they were from and how hot it was in North Carolina in the summer time.

I then took a deep breath and then said, “Look – I know that you are Mormons and that you have come to talk to me about your faith and to try to convince me to believe like you do.  But I never will.  I believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and the Savior of the world.  I believe that He died on the cross to forgive me from my sins and that it was a complete work.

I really don’t want to argue or debate with you but I know that you are far away from your moms and I am a mom.  So – if you need anything while you are here – let me know. If you need to do laundry, or need advice or just want to hang out with a rowdy family – you are welcome here.”

One of the boys looked at me and sheepishly said, “Can you give us the name of a dentist? I have a really bad toothache and don’t know what to do about it.”

I got up from the porch and called our family dentist who was also a believer and made an appointment for the young man who was far away from home. I also told the dentist what my strategy was and told him to bill us for the appointment.  My sweet dentist said, “Carol – you can’t afford to do that.  The first appointment will be on me and then we will see what we can work out.”

The young men left that afternoon after shooting a few hoops with my boys and I assured them that they were always welcome to just stop by.

After that afternoon, I often saw them on their bikes, in the grocery store and just around town. They would engage with my children and would always chat for a minute or two with their North Carolina mom.

Then Hurricane Fran hit my small town during the first week of September.

We were without power for over a week while other parts of the community didn’t regain power for nearly a month. My town looked like a war zone with trees scattered all over streets, houses and cars.

One day, shortly after our power came back on, my two young friends from Utah came walking up our driveway.  They looked hot and bedraggled.  When they told me that they still didn’t have power and wondered if they could do a load of laundry, we welcomed them into the cool of our delicious air-conditioned home.

They did their laundry, took showers in the kids’ bathroom and then I fed them dinner right along with our kids.  We didn’t talk about religion or about differences but they told us about their younger brothers and sisters. We laughed and talked and ended the evening with a rousing game of Uno.

Several days later these boys appeared at my front door again with notes from their moms thanking me for being kind to their boys.

I never saw them again. But I was honored to love these boys who were so very different from me.  It was the plan of God for me to be kind to these young men whose worldview was in direct contrast to mine.

I don’t know if they ever came to Christ or not but what I do know is that their world was touched by the love and compassion of a believer.

Oh – I could have argued with them!  I could have put them in their place theologically but I felt called to love them in spite of our differences. Sometimes words are cheap but actions will always be priceless.

This world may seem broken to you and to me but it becomes a place of miracles and of wonder when we respond like Jesus would respond.

 

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So – rather than spew opinions on Facebook this week … just be kind.

Rather than judge your neighbors … be good to them.

Rather than criticize the media … pray for them.

Restore the wonder to this broken world!  It is, after all, what Jesus would do and it is why you are here!

We live in a wonderful world simply because you and Jesus are in it!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!