8,000.steps

Just recently I started a walking program.  The daily goal is to have at least 8,000 steps a day.  As I know many people who are already doing this, and doing this well….I’m still getting the hang of it.  As of right now, yesterday was my best day at a little more than 7k.  I’m fairly happy with that, even though it’s short of 8k a day.  Depending on the kind of work you do, the errands you have to run, and how active you are, 8,000 steps is an easy goal for most.  But the other day, I took a quick lap around the lake on my break at work, and while I was huffing in the door headed back to my desk, a co-worker said to me … Candy, getting these steps in every day isn’t that easy, is it?  I admitted that it was not, as I slumped over the kitchen counter to catch my breath.  

Here’s the clincher… Last year I used a similar walking program that counted steps.  But the counter also counted ‘other activity’, which could later be converted to walking steps.  So in some small way, there was a little wiggle room.  Just say I walked 3,000 steps but had 45 minutes of other activity.  I could convert that to maybe 3,000 more steps.  It was great to be able to do this.  It allowed me to cheat.  But with the new system, there is no wiggle room.  There is no cheating allowed. It is….what it is!  You walk 3,000 steps … You get 3,000 steps.  Trust me.  I tried sleeping with the step counter on one night … and the next morning, when my feet hit the floor, it started at “1”.   

I assure you that I will not obsess about this new gadget.  After experiencing some very real health issues, my focus is never just to hit 8k steps, my focus is completely on my health.  Some days I will check in at 7k…others 3k.   And it is…what it is.   And there is no more cheating with converting activity to steps.   If I walk , I get steps…if I don’t walk, I don’t get steps.  After I finished chemo and radiation in 2015, I started asking specialists …what can I do, should I exercise? Should I lift weights?  Should I Diet?  Should I take vitamins?   And more than one specialist said …. Walk!   Walk!   Walk!    No weights, no specific diet plan, no special equipment….just walk.   

So I walk.  And I am constantly reminded of the passage in the bible where Joshua took a city by bringing the wall of the city   of Jericho down.  And how did he do that?   The Lord said to Joshua in chapter 6 “March around the city”.  Just walk…..

And then there is a scripture that has been part of my life for years, “Little by little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou art fruitful, and possess the land.” Exodus 23:30.  “Little by little”….

Deuteronomy 5:33 “You shall walk in the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess”.  “Walk in the ways of the Lord”….

There appears to be a lot of walking that is mentioned in the bible.   And there also appears to be some promises to gain …. 

do.you.believe

So today closes out another year.  And I feel a little bit pressed for time, as I mentioned to a friend yesterday… Because I don’t have a “Word” yet for the New Year.  She lovingly encouraged me with … “There is still time left” …I smiled.

But you don’t understand…I still don’t have a Word.   And if you know me well enough, you know I’m going to need a Word or some  hint to this new season in my life.   I’m going to make a startling confession, I have had some Words before that were so exciting at first, but the journey that followed was not at all what I anticipated.   (That’s all I will say about that for now).  So maybe I am a little resistant.  And then I thought maybe by doing a little writing on this blog, my Word would come to me. But just in case you are wondering…it hasn’t. 🙂

However, I have been pondering one question these days. Almost every day I think about this. The question is this…”Do you believe that I work all things together for your good?”  Romans 8:28.   Hmmm.  Good question.   Makes me scratch my head.   I do believe that!  Don’t I?  But I keep hearing that question, over and over in my spirit.  For a few days now, “Do you believe that I work all things together for your good?”  The answer to that question is obviously yes … I think….well, maybe.   

The phrase that stands out to me is the words “all things”.   That means all things, the good things and the bad things. Yes, I want to believe that all things work together for my good.   I may not know “how they will work out”, or “when they will work out”, but I want to be able to say … Yes, I believe.    

So I’m not jealous (okay, well maybe a little) if you already have a Word for the new year, I am encouraged at what God is speaking into the life of others, so if you feel inclined and are willing to share your Word, please do. And if I do get one Word, instead of my question … I might share it.  Maybe 🙂

But I do look forward to a New Year of wanting to hear what the Lord says…whether it is one Word or a question.   I truly do believe that my question is just as important as one Word.   I am reminded of when Jesus repeatedly ask Peter, “Do you love me?”  Jesus knew the right question to ask.   And I believe whatever way the Lord chooses to speak to me and you…that his promises are yes and amen for us all.

that.bird

I was walking the other day, around a small pond, when I noticed a bird flying above me.  He caught my attention only because he wasn’t flapping his wings to fly.  He was just gliding through the air.  Effortlessly.  I don’t think I have ever stopped to notice a bird just riding on the wind, in that manner.  As I stopped and pointed it out to another person, she said that she was pretty sure it was an eagle.

So I just stood there, amazed at how beautiful it was.  But I was more impressed with its ability to just glide through the sky without very much effort of its own.  By now, you already know where I am headed with this… the passage from Isaiah 40:31 “mounting up with wings as eagles” comes to mind.

Like you…

I’ve read it for myself on paper many times, in the bible.

I’ve listened to it preached many times, from the pulpit.

I’ve heard people quote it many times, in the ministry.

But now I’ve seen it.

I have a first-hand, eye witness version of what that passage means.  What a difference it made for me – to see the work and the Word of God played out in real time.

Right now as I am writing these words, I really don’t remember what kind of day I was having (because it was probably rough in some spots), or how I was feeling that day (because I was probably  tired) or what might have been going wrong (because as you know – there is always something).  The only thing I remember that day was

… that eagle

… that blue sky

… and those wings.

… and I just stood there, gazing up.

That day, God gave me his Word from a new version of the bible … EWV (the eye-witness version).

one.talent

I was recently reading over the account in the bible where the master gives out the talents while he goes away and then he returns.  In giving an account for their talents, two of the servants have settled up their account and made a generous profit.  100%.  That’s right.  They doubled their talents by a whopping 100% each.  See Matthew 25:

          19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 

So who could ask for anything more than 100%?  What an amazing profit, everything increased by 100%.    Now that’s a success story if there ever was one.  Let me point out that we really have no idea what the formula was for how the successful servants doubled their talents either.  We just know that whatever they did…it was very good in the eyes of the master.

But then there’s that one servant, at the end of the story that haunts me.  You know the one … The one who hid that talent…the one who buried it…you know…the one that you can tell is about to mess up the whole story…

I won’t repeat the details, because in the end, things were disastrous for him because he buried the talent.  

So of course I started searching for the silver lining…you know, the place where it all could have gone in the right direction.  The place where things could have worked out well for the last guy too!   It just wasn’t turning out so well…and we all enjoy a good ending, but this wasn’t the case.  But where could things have changed…where could he have set himself in the right direction … and then I saw it.

Right near the end of the story…the key that could have turned it all around…the lesson to learn from…the intersection that can make all the difference in the world…the lazy servant could have turned his whole situation around by “investing”. (To quote …”invested my money with the bankers”).  

So, I pray that I can remember … Even when unsure of what your talent is, what to do with it, or even what the master expects, remember you can never go wrong with a little “investing” in the people around you (family and friends included).  

Even if they don’t take notice of your extra effort,

the Master sure does!   

And it makes the world of a difference.  

And it makes a difference in this world.   

And a little investing makes the Master happy.   

And He’s the one we all want to please.   

I’m.not.the.gardener 

This year as the spring flowers bloom, I have been fascinated by how beautiful the flowers and roses have been.  I guess for some reason, I have noticed them more this year.

Several years ago I attempted to plant a little rose garden in my back yard.  I bought a few plants, fertilizer, plant food, and some soil, and I planted.   Trouble is … I’m not a gardener, so I planted all of my rose bushes in the worst area of the yard.  I planted them near a huge tree, but the dirt around the tree was rock hard, red clay.   

I had a feeling that the red clay was the wrong place, but I planted them anyway.  Pink roses, white roses, coral roses, yellow roses and red roses.   I kept having to buy dirt to mix with the clay so that they would grow.   Believe it or not, for a while …they did. I will have to post pics one day.  I had a few beautiful blooms, but when I stopped pruning, and feeding, and hauling dirt in, they finally were just stems in the hard clay again.   Maybe one bloom would pop up every now and then.  But for the most part, they dwindled away.

Even the tree where I had them planted fell, and had to be taken down.  The dirt around the tree was completely dug up. So I completely forgot about the roses.  I moved on, and gave up on my dream of being a gardener. 

Until yesterday…that is.

Yesterday, I went out my back door, and there was the red rose bush.  Same place I planted it.  I couldn’t believe it.  It had bloomed.  Honestly, how could that be?  I am still shocked that after not attending to it for  years, having planted it in red clay, tearing down the tree on top of it, and grinding up the soil…how did that happen?  How did it survive all that trauma?

I have no idea…honestly…I have no idea.

The thought that stands out in my mind is … if God can cause a rose bush to bloom again under those conditions … What can he do with a man or woman who delights in his Word.

Psalm 1 reads…

“1 Blessed is the one … 2 whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

There are more conditions to this verse of course (read all of verse 1) … But watering yourself in the Word, is a great place to start.  You never know on what day, in what season, under what circumstance … You may be surprised to find yourself blooming again.

casting.lots

Tonight I was reviewing some notes that I made from a little proverb that reads like this …”The lot is cast into the lap, But it’s every decision is from the Lord.” #proverbs16:33 #amplified.

The interesting thing to me about this proverbs was not an original idea, but what the footnotes read in the commentary.   The commentary brought to light that the last time ‘casting lots’ was mentioned in the bible, was in the books of Acts when a replacement for Judas was chosen, Matthias.  Apparently casting lots was some sort of ritual of the times.   It’s sort of like drawing straws or in today’s terms, flipping a coin.  In the New Testament, they cast lots for Jesus’ garments at his crucifixion.  Even in the Old Testament, Jonah was tossed from the ship, by casting lots.  

But here was what caught my eye in the commentary notes … After Acts 2, the Holy Spirit came … and there was no more mention of casting lots.    We know now that the Holy Spirit came to give us guidance, wisdom, and understanding.  No need to make decisions by throwing caution to the wind any longer.   No tossing the coin, heads or tails, rolling the dice, or drawing the short end of the stick.

And yes, sometimes an unexpected lot is cast into our life. But it’s not unexpected by Him. And sometimes it’s  because we made bad choices, and sometimes we made good choices and still somethings happen.  No need in trying to figure it all out, even though we try.  Because right in the middle of that proverb is a “but”.    But now…we have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. But now…we have the Lord to help us.  But now, Jesus has ascended and left us his Spirit.   

I am reminded that even in the void and darkness of Genesis chapter 1 … the Spirit moved, and God spoke … and all these wonderful things were created out of the darkness.  So,  I guess you just have to ask yourself … Out of what appears to be dark places or situations that have been cast into your lap … What is the next move of the Spirit creating ‘in and around’ you?  #justathought.  #creator.  

mary.mother.of.Jesus

Over the Christmas holidays this year, I have enjoyed some good food, family fun, and fellowship with friends.  All the while, not forgetting the reason behind the season.  It’s really not about the gift giving, although we enjoy new things.  It’s really not about all the food, although it taste so very good.  And I feel like I don’t need to state the obvious, but it is about the Savior of our life begin born.  

So it is with every day as well.  Each morning, his mercies are new, and we have new opportunities to experience Jesus Christ in our lives.   We may not notice them as much , but they are still there.  Yesterday, we visited the nursing home only because my mom’s roommate, Ms. Madee is still there.  And my uncle now resides there.  Some of my family had already been to see Madee and brought her gifts and decorated her room.  But it was still special because Madee loved my mom like a sister.  We laughed as we talked about how mom once told us that when she got ready to go to heaven, she was going to take Madee with her.  Looking over at Madee that day, she was shaking her head as if to say ….   I’m not going just yet.   We still laugh to this day, because mom had Madee worried that she and mom would be ‘checking out’ together. Since then, Frances has had to reassure Madee more than once that as powerful of a woman as mom was, and she was powerful, that was not something within her control.  And almost a year later, Madee is still here smiling and laughing with us.  And come to think of it … I don’t know anything about Madee and her life before she became mom’s roommate.  What makes Ms. Madee so special is her relationship to mom.

Which is exactly what I’ve been thinking during these holidays … about Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She is highly esteemed because of the role she was chosen to play in history.  But I don’t know if there is very much known of her before she came on the scene to be the mother  of Jesus.  

And that is so the story of our Savior.  Once he comes on the scenes of our lives, our lives change, and the former life no longer remains.  How interesting that he started erasing histories and transforming futures with the very first person that he touched on this earth … Mary.   Luke 2:5-7.