Beauty for Ashes

 

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             “God makes all everything beautiful in his time.”  ( Ecclesiastics 3:11)

The Bible tells us that God wants to take our struggles and make something beautiful from them. His plans are good for us even in the mist of a storm.  Jeremiah 29:11  tells us “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

If 2016 brought you disappointment, sorrow, or discouragement, this post is for you. None of us are immune to pain. It is part of His plan. But the beautiful part is that he:

Consoles those who mourn in Zion,

to give them beauty for ashes,

The oil of joy for mourning,

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

That they may be called trees of righteousness,

The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

( Isaiah 61:3)

Have you made a New Year’s Resolution? I have and its based on this verse. May God bring beauty from the ashes in my life. I’m trusting this verse to bring me the joy, peace, and love that I desire in 2017.

Why do we go through the fire?

Psalm 84:6 tells us that As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools.”  

Those of us that go through times of mourning and weeping we make a well, so the next person has water to drink from. Their pain is not as hurtful. We are able to encourage, help ,and love on those that are mourning.

If you haven’t thought of a word or phrase to define your journey into 2017 join me in this phrase based on God’s promises!

beauty-for-ashes

 

Linking up with: Coffee for your heart 

A Single Act of Kindness

Kindness

What does it cost to be kind?

In a world full of hurt sometimes it may feel as though we can’t make a difference.

But we can!

Love suffers long and is kind…

kindness2

 

The love and generosity from our heart is an unending resource that we can tap into every day. As we are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit we can be a sweet smelling aroma as we interact with one another in a world that is without hope apart from God.

What does it cost to be kind? Of course, the answer is nothing. In a fast paced world  filled with busy schedules–including phone calls, emails, twitter accounts, and texts–have we forgotten the importance  of kindness amongest strangers?

Do we ignore the people around us at the grocery store, laundry mat, and even, dare I say, bible study? Do we do this because we are glued to our cell phones, tablets and other technology?

Life is not about rushing from one task to the next. But it is about enjoying the people and places we are at in at the moment.

How can we unwrap God’s gift of the present if we are worried about tomorrow or we are stuck in the past.

light of the world

Life is so much sweeter when we choice to open our eyes and interact with one another. Jesus said:

“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 14:6 )

Every day we have a choice to wear a smile on our face and to be a light that shines. Whether that means asking someone about their day and truly meaning it or helping a homeless man or woman on the street. However small or big the act of kindness may be it is always seen in God’s eyes.

God says, “We are the light of the world. ” (Matthew 5: 14)  God is calling us to be his ambassadors for good. Sometimes we might not even know what that could mean.But in every way I know that it does mean to choose to be kind.

In the mist of the darkness if our words could be used to help someone who is faint of heart or is losing hope, we have done a beautiful deed unto the Lord.

Beauty lies in many shapes and forms. For example, we perceive beauty through all of our senses, like feeling the sun on our face, hearing the rippling water in a clear creek, and smelling the pleasant aroma of flowers. Yet, what is just as beautiful as God’s natural creations surrounding us, are you and I.

We were made for community. We were never  meant to travel alone through valleys and mountaintops–highs and lows. In the cities that we live, and the places that we go, we were made to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

People, were what mattered to God, and that is what should matter to us too. He invested his time in people not material items but eternal matters. Because our relationships are not jut meant for this lifetime but for eternity.

Jesus had compassion  for people. He was not only interested in the spiritual well-being of others, but their physical and emotional needs too.

In the gospel of Matthew, God performs a miracle by feeding 5,000 people. It also says that he was “moved with compassion”  (Matthew 14:14). I think we all have the power to perform a miracle. Jesus shows us that by taking five loaves of bread and two fish, from a small  boy, and making something more. Jesus thanked God for this small amount of food and then a miracle accord. There baskets were overflowing with food. The bible tells us that after everyone ate,  twelve baskets of food were left over.

Ephesians 3:20 tells us, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”  Just like the miracle of feeding 5,000 people from a small amount of fish and bread, God can do great things in, and through, us if we place our faith in him.

Don’t ever doubt that you might be the miracle that someone needs today.

We should open our heart and mind to the opportunities that God might have prepared for us to show a simple act of kindness.

We may not be able to feed 5,000 people but we can feed one.

We may not be able to lend an ear to all our friends and family, but we can listen with patience and understanding sometimes.

We may not be a newscaster on television speaking to an audience of millions, but we can make a difference even if its to an audience of one.

Pity is defined in Webster’s dictionary as:  A strong feeling of sadness or sympathy for someone or something.

Empathy  is defined  in Webster’s dictionary: As the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.

Do you see the difference? When we pity someone we may know just enough about their situation or plight to feel sadness, but it doesn’t necessary move us to action– but  the word empathy  does.

We all feel pity in some degree watching the news, a neighbor, a friend, a co-worker, or family member. But it is not enough. We need to get involved. Empathy  is sharing another person’s experience when we are up close and personal, instead of standing at a distance.

When we have empathy we understand  another person’s situation. And this often prompts us to make a difference on their behalf by acting in a positive manner. You never know where someone has been until you have walked a mile in their shoes. Don’t just assume they are just fine. Speak life into their heart and  mind by being their  friend even if it only for a moment.

The bible says in 2 Chronicles 16:9:

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him that the Lord looks to and fro looking for someone that he can use on his behalf.”

So often we think of sin as an act that we commit against God or another, which is absolutely true. However, we don’t discuss enough the sin of omission. That means when we fail to do what we know we should– this is a sin as well. Simply put, if we see someone going through hard times and we can do something to help and we don’t, we are sinning.

It’s a lot to think about. It’s enough to make me remember that I was made for a purpose–to love and serve others. God  want to use us!  He wants us to take part in good works because when we bless others we are blessed too. He wants us to experience love through helping others. And allowing us the opportunity to be the miracle in another person’s life.

My plan is to try  not to pass up the opportunity to be kind, because I  just don’t know the impact I might have on someone’s life. And, I believe that I might even be the miracle that someone has been praying and waiting for.

Whoever says that they don’t have the power to change the world…has never tried. We can with one kind act at a time.

Do you have the power to change the world? Sure you do. Even if you make a difference in one person’s life you have made the world a better place for both you and I.

Music to Soothe the Soul

The song “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong comforts me much like a warm and fuzzy coat on a cold winter day. I am refreshed by the calmness and stillness that the song  brings forth, like the sound of soft bubbling waters in a brook. It feels inviting and soulful. The song opens with a majestic sound from the trombone accompanied by the piano and clarinet. The audience is overjoyed  which is apparent from the overwhelming  applause. After just a few breathtaking notes, they  know that they are about to hear something truly special. It is pure joy. Life is so sweet through the voice of Louis Armstrong. His depiction sends a message of hope, love, and friendship. It truly resonates with ones heart, mind, and soul.

 What Wonderful World

by: Louis Armstrong

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world. I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you.

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I wish I  could say that I had this vision for the world. I don’t always see people and places in this genuinely lovely light.  As he sings “The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky/ Are also on the faces of people going by …” we get a picture of his loving nature towards others.

I love his analogy comparing the colors of the rainbow  to people in the world. It’s  truly astonishing.  To me it means that just like each color has its own strength and personality, he feels that same warmth and expectation in the people that he meets in passing everyday. His lyrics put me to shame, because I don’t see people in shades of color.( Or, in other words, as unique individuals that I am eager to greet and  meet).

 I admit that I often see people stereotypically…or in “black and white.” They are one-dimensional at best.  And I don’t intend to meet their acquaintance.  On a good day, I could say that I see others in gray, which means I am not stereotyping–but I am not operating in love either.

In Matthew 22: 37 -39 God calls us as believers to “Love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind.” And to “Love are neighbor as our self.” This was Jesus’s response when asked what the greatest commandment was to fulfill the law. It’s amazing to think that “on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

As I listen to the lyrics in this song, I have a better understanding of how to love God and love others. I can appreciate what God has given me, as Louis does describing  “trees of green, red roses too,”  “skies of blue and clouds of white, ” and ” dark sacred nights.” And I can look for opportunities to show goodness to my neighbor even if it just means showing love by passing by  and simple saying  a genuine “hello” and” how are you.” Just as it is  suggested in the lyrics, “I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do/ They’re really saying I love you.”

Love is often spoken of but not demonstrated, articulated well, or understood.  Yet, in this song, I know what love should look like. The message of love is so crystal clear.

But  the best description of love is described in  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

I hope and pray that I can learn to love like this. “Love never fails” because it is necessary for heaven. In heaven our lives will be without suffering and hurting, and we will no longer in need of things such as knowledge, faith, and hope. But we will need love. Because heaven is a real place and we need to be a people of love when we reside past heaven’s gate. The song “What a Wonderful World” shows me a glimmer of what love looks like and through these lyrics I see a small slice of heaven.

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

I Corinthians 13:13

A Father’s Day Benediction

Spiritual Father's Dy photo kid and dad

Dear Jesus,

I know that the definition of a father in our culture most often is referred to as the biological connection between a father and son. Yet, I know so many men that may not have bore a child of their own but are deserving of this title even more so then those that may have a biological child. My husband is a great mentor to kids that come from a poor neighborhood. As a teacher, he is concerned about their academic success. He plans lessons diligently and with care to best meet the needs of all the students in his classroom including ethnicity, socioeconomic background, gender, etc. He provides them a safe nurturing environment for them to play games in his classroom after-school, on his own time, taking into consideration the skills he can teach them on a mathematical-logical level in his choice of games. I love him dearly and I honor him as well. I know that he is a dad to so many for a short season as he is investing so much into their development as future leaders. Lord, I ask that you would please bless my Husband on this day for all he does because in my eyes he is a dad!

Sincerely,

A Loving Wife

Spiritual Father's Day