Owners Manual

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This fall we gave our youngest daughter our decade old mid-sized sedan to take to college and purchased a replacement vehicle for lucky me.  We ended up with an SUV but because I am a farm gal I like calling it a truck instead which sounds farmish. We chose it in part because Farmer Jay drives a truck and it was hard for the old man (I can say this because he is eight years my senior and qualifies for Medicare on his next birthday) to get in and out of the sedan, but mostly because I fell for it the minute I got behind the wheel.  This rig is six years newer than my old car and a lot has changed in that small span of time.   The common-sense things haven’t changed take for instance when we (we meaning Farmer Jay) changes the oil we replace it with oil, not orange juice.   That would be dumb and ruin the motor.  And listen, I for one, don’t need to know the whys of how it all works, I turn the key and it starts and that serves me just right.  But there are plenty of things I do need to understand to get the most out of my relationship with my automobile. Therefore, I decided to read the owner’s manual.  Can you believe it?  You know what I am talking about and just why do I hate to read the owner’s manuals anyway? After all the manufacturer included it for me so I could have a better experience.  

By today’s standards the fanciest part of my previous car is the satellite radio and seat heaters. But with my new wheels things aren’t as simple.  The owner’s manual told me about all the important things and the fluff stuff it can do.  I won’t remember it all, so I know that I will be referring to it again and again.  One thing I will remember is the lane control button. It beeps at me if I slip out of my lane.  I kept it turned on until Farmer Jay said it would help remind him about my bad driving.  Then I promptly shut it off. But, that feature may help save my life if I take my eyes off the road, so I think I will turn it back on, regardless of my dear husband’s snarky comments.   In fact, it probably would be best if I continue to refer to the manual in order to reduce the likely hood of serious trouble in the future.

 I too came with an owner’s manual. The Bible, AKA the Holy Word of God and golly, since He is my (yours too!) manufacturer and He dictated it for all of us to read; wouldn’t it make sense to read it?  That way we might have not only a better relationship with ourselves but with Him and with other humans.   A few years back when I was younger, life was simpler.  Today it’s more complicated.  And my foolish pride is the only reason I didn’t read and trust in the Owner’s Manual. I spent far too much time looking left or right or at other human beings instead of up and down and in The Book to operate my life.  And it shows.  

Thank goodness, I finally did because it was there and only there I found complete truth.  I won’t remember it all so I need to refer to it again and again. It has the instructions I need to be sure my soul returns to the factory (Heaven) once my body ends up in the boneyard.  Not only that, I live in enemy (Satan) occupied territory here on earth and boy do I need to know the important stuff and the fluff stuff so I can keep my eyes on Jesus. That way I am less likely to wander out of my lane (the narrow road) and crash into someone else.   Joseph Stalin once said that America is like a healthy body with God as the head.  But somewhere along the line we chopped off the head. Instead of checking the Manufacturer’s Owner’s Manual in our confused attempt to play little g gods, we make up our own rules and/or make the rules our god. Which causes us to stumble along like the blind leading the blind rather than admitting that our Big G God – our Manufacturer -Creator – know what’s best for us.  We are substituting orange juice for oil and the end result is ruination.

The old line no God, no peace holds true and I see it all around us in the world today. Just so, the second part of the line: Know God, know peace is true in the midst of the world’s chaos. And there is only one place to get to know Him, the Bible, and only Christianity promotes a personal relationship with the God of the Universe and folks that is accomplished by believing and following Jesus Christ.   I have found it is not enough to simply believe in God, I must believe God.

 Honestly, I don’t know how my truck works and I don’t know how God works either and frankly I don’t care because since I began reading and following, my life is so much better.  Not trouble free, but fear free!  And joy filled despite the troubles that do come.   But I do know this, if I continue to refer to and trust in the Manufacturer Owner’s Manual, I will reduce the likely hood of serious trouble in the future.  © 

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in Him.  Nahum 1:7 KJV 

Happy reading and you will be:

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

The Harvest is Plentiful

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In the opening line in his 1889 book On the Wall, Rudyard Kipling, best known for writing The Jungle Book, is credited with dubbing prostitution the oldest profession in the world. I wonder where on earth he came up with that notion, and why the world has believed it ever since.  According to the world’s oldest and longest running bestseller but least read book, The Bible, which was inspired by the world’s oldest Author, God – Farming appears to be the most ancient of occupations.  And my husband Jay is a farmer.

This truth was born not long after the fall of man, when the serpent and Adam and Eve had their come to Jesus moment, in the garden of Eden. Genesis chapter three tells us Adam was demoted to farming for his part in the fall after following his wife Eve’s advice. Ouch.

 I am a farmer’s wife but I don’t farm. I would call myself more of an armchair quarterback farmers wife.  I grew up on a farm and I have been a farmer’s wife for thirty-four years, but I don’t farm.  Ask me how to live the fitness lifestyle, that I can help you with.  But don’t ask me which corn hybrid to buy.  That is Farmer Jay’s job.   I figured out early on in our marriage that if claim that I can do something, I may be recruited to do it.   So, there are certain things I play dumb with, like farm work.  But there are a few things I have learned by listening and through close observation over the years.  

 Invest in good seed. Plant early. Harvest is a marathon. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Oh yeah, Jesus said that last line. Farmer Jay invests in good seed. In fact, a few years back he counted the cost and made the decision to put all his eggs in one basket and buy one brand of seed. The price was high and there was risk involved, but he has never looked back.  Jay makes every effort to get seed in the ground early, so he can begin harvest early, knowing sowing and reaping are directly related.  All the in between watering and growing is left to the Good Lord.

Harvest is a marathon and a race against time and here in Iowa, and finding people to help with harvest is difficult.  Once you get to Thanksgiving, the weather can turn nasty quickly which can hurt yields. No farmer wants that.

And neither does Jesus.

Remember we reap what we sow. And if we want to reap a harvest of leading others into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we must sow good seed.  Jesus himself gives us the best seed for planting during the Sermon on the Mount. And don’t miss this, because I did for years, just before he launches into this message he looks at his disciples and the he says, “blessed are the poor in spirit.”   Did you get that?  He wasn’t talking to everyone at the time, but just those who had chosen to take a risk and put all their eggs in his basket.  His disciples, or followers. The big crowds weren’t yet all in for Jesus and so for them to hear this deep spiritual wisdom would have sounded just like “Wak! Wak! Wak!”. I know.   I gave my life to Christ at about the age of eight.   But I wasn’t an all-in follower until just a few years ago, when I got that wonderful blessing of desperation in the middle of a storm in my life, a time where I needed Jesus every hour.   Up until that time I would say I was more of a fan, sitting in the stands watching Jesus from a distance. Today, I absolutely know for certain, that when we get off the bleacher seats and get in the field he gives the best seed for sowing him into human hearts which is the seed of unconditional love.   That’s what changes the world. Jesus said it, Love God, Love self, love neighbor, Paul said it, the greatest of these is love…. the fruit of the spirit is love.  And since I chose to follow Jesus I have to live a radically different life than the world around me.   Did you know the root of the word saint means different? I used to think it meant you were nearly perfect.  But I like different better, because perfect, I am not.

Just before he tells his disciples that the harvest is plentiful and the workers few, Jesus looks around and his heart hurts.  He sees all these lost, wandering sheep and he knows he needs help to bring people back into right relationship with God and the best harvest begins with loving on folks, most especially those who don’t deserve it.   I did it wrong for so long, I wanted to bring people to Jesus by making them feel bad about who they were or what they had done or by beating them over the head with my Bible and I never liked it when others did that to me. Most of the time people don’t want our opinion, they want our unconditional love.

Like Farmer Jay, Jesus sends his disciples out for a test drive in the field with this good seed.  He tells them to take nothing with them, travel light.   As a woman that notion alone terrifies me.   But, I want you to know I have practiced this concept and the kitchen sink no longer goes in the travel bag.  Listen, Jesus wants them, and us, to depend on the seed (the Gospel=good  news=grace=unconditional love) and God.  Like Farmer Jay, once the seed is in the ground he wants us to let go and let him do the watering and the growing.  That was hard for me because for the longest time I lived under the illusion that it was my job to fix, manage and control other people.  I found I was suffering from Savior syndrome and that is above my pay grade.   It’s my job to love them, and God will take care of the rest.   

The workers are few.  Jesus taught us how to bring people to him and it is critical that we pay that forward.   It’s up to us to get out among the harassed and hapless crowds that surround us on every side and show them what being a Jesus follower looks like. Be the light.  Love unconditionally.   Together let’s change the world.  

The harvest is plentiful, the workers are few. ©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

 

Barking and Biting

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Since we lost our yellow lab Ali a few years back our dog Bandit is now a lonely only. Bandit misses other dogs and when he and I take our daily walk into town he knows all the houses with dogs and watches for them with excitement and anticipation as we walk.  I on the other hand, dread passing these particular homes because despite the fact our lovely little town has dog ordinances and leash laws, many dog owners just ignore them and let their dogs run loose. Most days we walk to my office and there are at least three houses in the fifteen-minute walk where dogs are unrestrained by fence (either visible or invisible) or by leash when they are out of doors.  One day Bandit wasn’t even with me and a canine rushed me barking and snarling startling the skin right off me. Someday I may show up to the office with this dog’s teeth attached to my leg or to some other body segment. When we encounter dogs such as this, I remind Mr. Bandit not to listen to or engage with them or it could end in a barking and biting brawl.

Our family has been blessed by our good friend Denise who has helped to train up Bandit.  He can walk, sit, and stay on leash which makes walking him much more enjoyable because he isn’t walking me; pulling my arm out of the socket or dragging me hither and yon.  His training is ongoing we and keep practicing, day after day, year after year, which takes focus, commitment and practice.  I don’t speak dog and therefore I don’t know what these doggies are barking to Bandit but I do know if left to himself he eventually would do what the other dogs do- bark, charge, and maybe bite- and some days I just have to remind him not to pay attention or listen to the other dogs, but to keep his eyes on me.  

And that goes for me too. Like pooches, people are pack animals, and though we may like to isolate ourselves and be lonely onlys, we do have to get out from time to time and encounter other human beings. Despite the fact our lovely little world has universal and absolute moral codes of behavior, we are incapable of keeping these codes and many human beings frankly just ignore them. I know I can’t climb the stairway to heaven by being good, we only get there by God’s grace and our acceptance of that.  But that doesn’t give me or you license to verbally or physically go after somebody. And folks, when you really understand grace at a heart level – because we certainly can’t at a head level – after a while, the desire to bark and bite simply goes away.

As long as I keep my eyes on Jesus I am good to go. Like Bandit, left to myself I would eventually do what the human beings around me do. I can’t be looking and listening to the world for my cues on behavior and I most certainly can no longer be engaging in it.   I have to day after day, year after year keep my eyes on the author and perfecter of my faith, which takes focus, commitment and practice.  If following Jesus doesn’t turn me upside down and change me from the inside out, I simply remain part of the problem and I’d rather be part of the solution.  Jesus reminds me as He walks with me through life I need to pay attention to Him so you all don’t end up with my teeth in your leg or some other body segment.  ©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

Caged

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Our pre-school aged granddaughter MacKayla recently graduated to a “big girl bed.”  Free of the restrictions of her crib it wasn’t long before she took advantage of the situation. Instead of taking her midday nap which is very important -not just for the child but equally important for the mother (I speak from experience here folks)- she began to roam about her room.  The lack of rest created some difficulties in the family such as a tired and cranky toddler.  The unintended consequences of her moving from crib to bed affected not only MacKayla, but her family members as well.  After a while her mother decided it best for all involved to return the youngster to the crib or as they refer to it, her “bird cage.”. The truth of the matter is MacKayla can’t be trusted with her freedom.

 And neither can I.

Much of the time I don’t handle my freedom any better than this precious, precocious preschooler. As far back as I can remember I have longed to be free. As a child I wanted to be free from the restraints of living on a farm so far from town, from the rules of my parents, church and school.  Like MacKayla, when I became free from the restrictions of what or whomever I began to roam and take advantage of the situation, I just didn’t want to be caged in.  As I look back I think I confused freedom with rebellion.  I had it wrong from the git go thinking my folks and others (but especially God) were trying to box me in, when in fact they were giving me boundaries to ensure my freedom (not to mention my safety and joy). Oftentimes the more rope I got the more I hung myself with it. Wandering outside of the boundaries, like sweet little MacKayla, created difficulties for myself and others. Worst of all many of the choices I made did nothing to fill the craving for the something that I was searching for that I could couldn’t name and that seemed perpetually just beyond my grasp, which today I can identify as a personal relationship with God.  

Like my preschool aged granddaughter, I had (have) not a clue what was (is) best for me. Paul said it best in one of his letters to the Corinthians, “all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. “I tend to confuse the truth for a lie. It’s not the boundaries that cage me in, it is the pleasures and things of this world and the freedom to assert my own will.   Don’t misunderstand me please, pleasures aren’t bad. But they are the things that can and do trap and keep us in a box.  Here is a brief list: food, drugs, alcohol, things, money, sugar, handbags (my personal favorite), relationships, gambling, sex, social media, freedom to say and do as I wish without regard for consequence and so on and so forth. Choice is at the same time both a wonderful and a terrible gift.  Like snowflakes we are alike, and yet we are all different.  We crave the space be the unique creations that we are and to be free to be ourselves. And yet, deep down inside at a heart level, like little children we crave the very boundaries we fight against. In the end I have concluded going my own way keeps me caged and freedom is found in obedience to the unenforceable.

 At last report, MacKayla is launching the diaper she is supposed to be wearing across the room in rebellion from the “bird cage.”  ©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

Invested

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I walked into my investment adviser’s office and informed him I wanted to move my investments out of the stock market.  I listed various and sundry reasons for coming to this conclusion.   Mark is good at what he does and I trust him. He encouraged me to stay invested backing his opinion with solid evidence. But what struck me most (in addition to the fact I was making money) was that people who are successful at investing stay invested for the long haul, recognizing there will be both up and down periods, and that is just part of the gig.  After sharing his opinion, he asked me to consider all the options and let him know what I decide.  I conclude that my initial reasons to pull out were based on fear; so, I decide not only to stay invested, but to invest regularly or as Mark says,” to put hay in the barn.” I have not regretted my decision. This gave me pause to consider what I have invested in for the long haul.  I came up with what I call the big three.  Time, money and relationships.

Where I spend my time defines what’s important to me. Sometimes.  Unfortunately, I make the all too common mistake of thinking I have more time than I really do.  Bad idea. Time, like money is spent once.  Time is finite and should be one of our most precious possessions; but I find myself wasting it.  What’s up with that?  I work better with a time budget, using deadlines and lists. Too much free time and my productivity decreases.   And here is a mind-blowing thought, just because I am busy, doesn’t mean I am productive. Busyness often makes me feel better about myself at that moment, but the danger is that it becomes a distraction from what is important, which is usually something I am avoiding doing, which may be the thing I need to do most. Like serving someone other than self. Time spent loving on others is never time wasted.  And yet there is a balance to be struck, human beings are not simply human doings and it is beneficial for us to simply be. We of faith are commanded (it wasn’t suggested) by our Creator to take a day of rest. Then we are investing in resting which is a good thing. Time is precious, I must remember to invest it well.  

How I spend my money defines what is important to me.   JC said, “where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  What’s do I treasure?   My shiny new car?  My house, clothes, jewelry, bank account?  My loved ones? Supporting spreading the good news of Jesus Christ?  Helping the poor and needy? Things are not bad, in and of themselves, but  begs the question, do I really walk the walk or just talk the talk when it comes to how I spend my hard earn bucks?  Why do I not hesitate to drop fifty bucks on something I want and hesitate to donate to yet another worthy cause?  Jesus Christ talked more about money than anything else because he knew how invested our hearts get in stuff.   He knew things would be his greatest competition as savior. I’d be lying if I didn’t say at least half of my sleepless nights have been money related, because I was invested in the idea that money would save me, it had become my God, my savior. Bad idea. I can’t take my money or my things with me when I die. But I will take Jesus Christ with me, if I have invested in a relationship with Him for the long haul.  Money is helpful on this earth, but it will never save me. When I invest my heart in my things, the stock market of my soul is bound to crash.    

 Who and what I spend my time with defines what relationships are important to me.   I have relationships with loved ones, food, money, time, friends, places, things, with myself and with my work.  Most of my life I chose not to invest in and ignored the most important personal relationship of all, my relationship with God. It is no wonder my life was out of kilter. When asked what was the most important commandment, Jesus replied, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30). Yup, all of me.   That is the most important, and most neglected I dare say, of all our relationships. And if we are not right in this relationship, all others will be disordered to some degree. And like my financial adviser, God gives me solid evidence for staying fully invested for the long haul.  History proves that those who put hay in this barn while staying invested for the long haul, through life’s inevitable up and down periods- which are just part of the gig- have the best return on investment. God is good at what He does and I trust Him.  The payoff being better relationships with everything and everyone; peace that passes all understanding and eternal life in the presence of  Almighty God.  All He asks is that we consider all the options and decide for ourselves.  The choice is yours to make.  

Time waits for no one.   

How much hay is in your barn?

Invest for the long haul. ©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

The Broad Road

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While on vacation I noticed what appeared to be a well maintained trail alongside the canal adjacent to our hotel.  I decided to check it out and bright and early the next morning I set out on foot. When I arrived at the “trail head” low and behold I was greeted by a sign that read:

” NO TRESPASSING. VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED.”                         

Well alrighty then. I decide that it must be a private road not a public trail.  Glancing across the canal I spy a weedy, much less used path which I conclude is the public trail. It looked as though few people rarely if ever used it.  I look back to the nice, broad road in front of me, and I think, “What the heck” and start down the road. About twenty five yards out I meet a fellow and his loyal canine companion returning from their morning walk down the road neither one of us are supposed to be on and I stop and ask myself, “what am I doing?”  I turn right around and I head the other direction.

Crossing the sidewalk over the canal I hike on down to the scruffy, narrow trail and take my walk.  All the while I see person after person on the broad road clearly marked “No Trespassing”.  I meet no one on the “legal” trail.  After a while the “illegal” road comes to a dead end at a locked gate.  My trail takes a turn and after a time brings me to a nice road with a sidewalk.

It made me sad, because it is a reflection of  life on earth.

In Matthew 7:13 Jesus Christ tells us, “Broad is the road that leads to destruction.”  

Destruction.  That’s a harsh word. Translated: NO TRESSPASSING! Violators will be PROSECUTED!   We’ve been properly warned about that road with the dead end, and I mean dead end and yet we all, yes, you too, say “what the heck” and head down it anyway.  Some wake up in time and turn around.  Most spend their whole life on it.  I  wasted a fair amount of my life there and  did the things I was warned not to do and ended up empty and lost in my soul.  Ugh.

The good news is that I made a decision. That is all it takes.  A decision to turn around and get off that road, to repent.   The word repent means to change direction after all.  I chose a different direction and I chose somebody other than the world around me to follow.   I am following a new leader.  Jesus the Christ.   

Jesus said that he is the only way to God and “narrow is the way that leads to life and few people find it. (Matthew 7:14).  That makes me sad.   

Simple directions, but not easy to follow.  A change of direction suggested.

 A change of heart required.  ©

 

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

Trash or Treasure

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I have a plant growing in abundance in my garden I didn’t plant.  I asked my farmer husband what kind of a weed it was, he didn’t know.  I asked him how to get rid of it; he said to pull it out.  Not the answers I was looking for.  

I assign my clients to read about various types in foods in a particular book and just the week before I had assigned a reading on onions. (I suggest you readers check out the humble onion, it is a pretty amazing vegetable!) A client walked in the day after my conversation with Jay telling me how much she enjoyed reading about onions.  When we last spoke, she and I also had a discussion on the benefits of dandelion greens, yes, that annoying weed; which is actually a nutrient dense leafy green vegetable I suggest you read up on as well.   But this day she was quite excited about another plant called purslane and when she opened up the book to show me, low and behold it was the very “weed” I had hoped to eradicate of my garden!  And guess what, it is a highly nutritious vegetable.  God has a great sense of humor; I guess He would since He created it.  It’s been on my salad ever since and I have plenty of that vegetable to spare if you’d like some stop by and try some.

 Don’t you just love it?   Here was something that was trash to me, and all along it was a treasure. Isn’t that how it rolls, the best things in life are right here with us all along and in our ignorance we are ready to call a treasure trash.

Take for instance our parents.  Why is it when we get to a certain age we cease to appreciate them and their opinions, experience and who they are (were) as people and we look to every one else (except them and God who know us better than anyone else for pity’s sake) for direction and guidance.  I remember being eighteen and thinking they know nothing and I knew it all. And God, well He was just a fun hater. Neither gave me the answers I was looking for or wanted to hear.  Ugh.  Boy did I have it wrong. Luckily, after going through the school of hard knocks I came around to appreciate and understand that next to God, nobody loved me more than they did. I didn’t see either for the treasure they were.   I get fact that there are some unfit parents out there, but I think the majority of people’s folks are pretty decent; we all too often lose sight of that fact or have flat out forgotten to be grateful for their quiet presence and constancy in our lives.

And then there is our Heavenly Father.  Who has given us everything that we have!  Yes, that’s right, everything, including the life giving breath in our nostrils.  The ever present presence that is the greatest treasure and power available to each and every human  being here on this puny planet.  Who, most of the time we don’t even acknowledge or worse yet, we look at as some sort of weed in our life, who wants to take over the garden of our soul.   Well, he is waiting to take over the garden of our soul, but He is certainly is no weed. Like the purslane in my garden, he is a hidden treasure, not trash, and if I choose to harvest the gift of His presence, love and offer of salvation, I will come to understand He is the richest source of nutrients for my soul. The choice  is mine to make which way I will see Him;  as trash or treasure.   

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “Matthew 6:21 KJV©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

Don’t Run and Hide

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The other day Bandit the dog and I were waiting outside for a friend to stop by, when suddenly he went nuts!  His nose hard at work, he made a bee line for the garage walk in door which happened to be propped open. Low and behold, hidden behind an old milk can was a small ground hog.  Quick as a wink, I grabbed Bandit and took him back into the house. He was beside himself and barking his head off but was of no help at all. By then my friend showed up and I opened all the garage doors in hopes the frightened critter might just make a run for it.  

No such luck.   

When my friend and I finished our meeting, I decided Bandit was going to drive me mad as he was still barking and barking. I had to develop a plan; I didn’t want to turn him loose on the poor little guy – not only because I am a softie,  but I know ground hogs have very sharp teeth and a trip to the vet with my dog was not on my agenda or in my budget.   So, I recruited my husband from the farm shop and he grabbed a pitchfork to prod the little guy along.  

Naturally, the first thing the scared little intruder did was run right under our upright freezer.  Jay slid it out only to have him dart under my car, even though both garage doors and walk in doors were wide open.  He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and he was making matters worse with each and every choice he made. The poor little thing was terrified, he couldn’t understand our language or appreciate we were trying to help set him free so he just kept running, in the wrong direction.   Jay shooed him out from under the car and he ran under the work bench. Finally, getting the tines behind him, he was able to give him a gentle shove and off he went at a dead run out the big garage door and down the driveway to freedom.

I have found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. There were times when I would just hunker down while someone barked their head off at me until finally, God showed up and tried to help me but His help sounded like an altogether different language that I was too scared to understand so I just hunkered down in my little corner.  I couldn’t appreciate that God was just trying to help set me free. Generally my troubles were due to my own bad choices but instead of heading in the direction of freedom I just kept running and hiding in all the wrong places.   Luckily, He persisted, finally giving me a gentle shove (or a much needed kick in the pants) in the right direction

Friends, if you are in caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and The Good Lord is trying to help you, don’t run and hide, let Him.  Let go of your self reliance and hold up the white flag of surrender; don’t  just keep on  running and hiding.  Believe you me, you won’t regret it. Really, you won’t. ©

“The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me; because he hath appointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.  Isaiah 60:1 KJV

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

 

Love with Boundaries

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Let’s take a look at the definition of love.  I think to truly love is to look beyond a persons appearance and behavior to their highest good; or better yet- especially when a person seems unlovable.  If you don’t follow Christ or believe in God, you can formulate your own set of thoughts here or simply stop reading, but for those of us that claim we do, we are duty bound to remember that all human beings are created in God’s image, and yes that includes the person of the other political persuasion or the one who just gave you the middle finger wave on the freeway or the guy or gal who recently broke your heart.  And because Jesus is God with skin on, maybe we just ought to sit up and pay attention to what he says and does and imitate him instead of shooting from the hip which is what happens most of the time. While on earth Jesus looked for the highest good in all people and he loved (still does) the lost, but he wasn’t was a doormat. Jesus loved with boundaries; he understood and showed us that boundaries protect ourselves and others.

Love with boundaries allows others the dignity to make their own mistakes and to learn from them. It is also the flip side of that coin; it doesn’t rescue others from the consequences of their choices.  It treats others as we would wish to be treated in any situation; it doesn’t fix, manage and control but minds its own business. It accepts life on life’s terms; prays for folks instead of talking about them behind their backs, which, by the way is gossip and it doesn’t belittle people.  Love with boundaries serves others without being servile; sacrifices time, talent and energy for the good of others without losing our self.  Love with boundaries can say no or detach in love when needed; doesn’t do for others what they should be doing for themselves. Love with boundaries drops the rope in the tug of war in a no win argument; remembers others may be soul sick human beings not bad people and loves without smothering – remembering each one of us are individuals, even when we are in close, intimate relationships. Love with boundaries looks at the log jutting out of our own eye not the stick in our neighbors’ eye.

Life is a made up of relationships and relationship is where love is made manifest and boundaries are found. We have relationships with family, friends, schoolmates, teachers,  ourselves,  strangers we come into contact with like other drivers and store clerks.  We have relationships with our work, co workers, our bodies, food, just about everything really.   If we don’t have a biblical based worldview (and sometimes even if we do!) we usually don’t learn to love with boundaries in our relationships until they begin to unravel. Far too often we confuse setting boundaries with building walls, shutting people or life out,  living in a state of denial about the reality of things.  Love with boundaries is a healthy way of learning to protect ourselves and others. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5,6 and 7) is the foundation of the house and lays out the tools we need while reminding us when we imitate him and live by his standards we are  light in a dark world. 

 In this life, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional when we learn to follow the leader Jesus Christ and to love with boundaries. “For God so loved the world.” John 3:16. ©

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

 

 

Commencement

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Last month our youngest child graduated from high school. During the graduation exercises I was thinking about the word commencement.  Commencement means a beginning or to start something.  Somehow commencement suits the occasion better than just the word graduation which means to complete a course of study and receive a certificate or diploma. Finishing high school is considered to be one of the big three life events; marriage and the birth a child being the other two.  In all three cases in order for something new to begin something else usually ends and oftentimes others are affected as well; the beginning of something for one person can mean the end of something  for someone else.

Fortunately, we don’t do life alone and even though we may not think so, what we do generally affects those around us, especially those closest to us. For Maggie, her high school and living at home days are coming to a close and university days are just around the corner.   It’s an exciting time in her life for her to stretch her wings. For her mother and father, the child raising days are drawing to an end and empty nest days are the next leg of the journey, it’s also time for us to stretch our wings.  It got me to reminiscing  about the time I left home after high school.  I was pretty self centered and rebellious at eighteen and I don’t think it ever once crossed my mind that  my leaving the house may have an effect on my folks (Like Maggie, I was the youngest child in my family of origin).  When I took my solo flight into adulthood it was pretty much all about me.  I know today that my self centered choices and decisions sometimes caused pain to those closest to me.  Thank goodness I am no longer that same person and I don’t have to live that way any more.   That’s a good thing not only for me but for those around me,  because even though it is my life,  it’s not just about me, at least it isn’t if I  claim to follow Christ. Following Christ means a person begins a new way of living life leaving the old way of life behind.  In a couple months, when Maggie goes off to school I get another shot at more independence in my life and I have a chance at a do over!  And, I can safely say that I won’t be pulling in to the old self service lane I once chose.

Thanks to God’s amazing grace, I have had a bunch of do over’s in my life, many chances at new beginnings.  That’s a God thing because God’s business is second chances. Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us, “22Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (NIV).

Yup, that’s the truth, and it is because  his great love is coupled with the fact he won’t throw me under the bus even if I deserve it as long as I turn back toward him. And that draws me to follow him and to want to love and serve him.  So if you are reading this and the God of your understanding is an angry, vengeful God, you have my permission to fire that God. Or if you have no God at all I would like to offer to lend you to mine for a free, no obligation, money back guarantee, ninety day trial.  And if you decide at the end of the trial period you don’t want to continue the relationship, He’ll gladly refund your misery. 

So what do you say, care to commence a new life?  

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

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