Posts Tagged ‘my faith zone’
We worry. We fret. We stay frozen in the starting blocks too fearful to move because we can’t get a clear view of what’s ahead.
In my experience, most of what we worry about never comes to pass. We watch opportunities pass us–ones we could have seized. Some are gone forever, but don’t panic. Ours is a God of more than enough, of expertise in making crooked paths straight. When no way exists, He’ll create one. We need only believe.
When troubles or concerns threaten, assess, but do so knowing that while we aren’t aware of the view ahead, and we don’t know what will happen, God does. He knew the end from the beginning. Our refuge is in knowing it. In trusting Him.
We know He is steadfast. That He will not abandon us, falter or fail us. So whatever happens, even the hard stuff, is all good. Sometimes you have to kiss toads to recognize a prince. Sometimes toads aren’t toads, but opportunities in and of themselves.
So fear not. He’s with you. He’s with all of us–even those who choose not to acknowledge Him. Do your part: assess, trust, and believe. Your path might be a mystery to you and while your view is limited, nothing about you or your future is a mystery to Him. His view is unlimited, and His mind set on your greatest good.
Today is my day to post on Christians Read. I chose to share an article on Amish novels and why I believe they hold such appeal to readers.
You can read the article in its entirety by clicking on the Christians Read icon:
I blogged today at Christians Read and wanted to invite you to read the post. The situation: a divorced couple are at odds over the baptism of their child. What happened next has one parent likely going to jail…
Read the article here.
I blogged at Christians Read today. You can view the post on Worth, at: http://christiansread.wordpress.com.
An election is coming and we’ve all got our concerns. I wish I could say that all sides will be open and honest and fair, but I can’t because history disputes it and expecting that to change between now and then . . . well, we believers pray on it, but apparently it’s not yet God’s perfect time. When it is, He’ll let us know. Until then, we muddle on, trying to decipher what’s said and compare it to what’s done and work through the maze to find truth. It’s not easy.
But America has never been easy. It’s always been a place where the liberties enjoyed jeopardize us, too. We get huge doses of the ying and the yang. It’s still the best thing going. And I still dare to dream of a day when public servants actually serve the public and aren’t self-serving, preserving or enhancing their personal positons or careers.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments on the most major piece of legislation in many, many years. It impacts us all. And I wonder if personal partisanship will outweigh the Constitution. I wonder how much liberty we’ll lose before we say, “Enough.”
The pros and cons are significant and the impact of all that’s going on is significant. Not just to you and me but to all. All who are, all who will be. I pray a lot for our country, for our leaders, and for those following in our footsteps who will deal with the consequences of our actions or inactions. I pray for the greatest good, for wisdom and wise counsel. I pray for peace—with the world, within our nation, within our people.
All too often, the quote that runs through my mind is the one from the Bible about a house divided. Some would say our nation is truly a nation divided. But if you look closely, that which binds us is bigger and broader and runs deeper than that which divides us. It’s a small percentage in truth—a very vocal but small percentage—that is on the fringe. According to our laws, they have the right to be there, so we shouldn’t judge them or fault them for their opinions. That’s easier said than done at times, I know, but it’s right.
A short while ago, I spent some time investigating. While I love my country dearly and am concerned about its future for all the reasons everyone is worried about its future, and while I sorely want my grands to enjoy freedom and liberty and, yes, to grow up in a better place than my generation did, I still realize that even the longest life here is but a twinkling of time. Eternity lasts far longer. And so it is those issues, the ones that are directly relative to eternity and how we live here and prepare for that eternity that have supreme importance to me.
There is an attack on religious freedom in this country. It’s evident to any who choose to look, and one can’t help but wonder why. Our nation came to be because people sought refuge here from religious persecution. Now there are those among us participating in it. And they’re doing so despite the fact that no one is required to participate in religious activity, to express faith, or to follow the precepts of any religion. This, I don’t understand.
Yet we see these things happen over and again. It’s a sad state of affairs, in my humble opinion, fostered by the misconception that being violent and/or destructive can effect change. It might, but it isn’t the kind of change you want. It isn’t constructive change. How can being destructive render constructive anything?
There is a respect for civility infesting us that is contributing to our decay. Until we reclaim it, we’ll continue in this downward spiral that is, again in my opinion, breaking the threads that weave our nation into a fine tapestry. Just as with the examples cited, we have to choose—and staying out of it and doing nothing is a choice. We can accept the downward spiral as our new norm and reality or we can say, no, this isn’t right and I’m not contributing to it. Either way, we will get exactly what we choose. We will reap what we sow.
So many are uninterested and clueless. They have no idea of our history, of the sacrifices made to give us all we have. Shoot, many can’t even tell you the names of those holding the highest offices in the land. That’s troubling . . . and irresponsible. It shows a lack of understandin
g about how most of the world lives and what a blessing it is that we don’t live that way. But as we’ve heard so many times, freedom isn’t free, and we truly are a single generation away from the loss ofliberty. That’s just a fact. It’s been a fact since the inception of this country.
The Bible tells us that if we turn to God He will heal our land. A group of moms pray for this every day. I hope you’ll join us. You have a stake in this. Your children and grandchildren do too.
Particular verses in the Bible speak to us at specific times in our life. The verse that’s been on my desktop for weeks that’s shouting at me is Jeremiah 29:11. The NIV version of it reads: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
If we do our part, God will do His part. We have his promise.
Either way, we will reap what we sow.
Vicki© 2012, Vicki Hinze
5 TIPS FOR A BETTER 2012© 2012, Vicki Hinze Warning: This is a no-edit zone…
Start 2012 with a positive and constructive message—to yourself:
1. Awaken each day with a sense of gratitude for all the good in your life. Things might be tough, times hard, but there are good things too. Focus on them.
2. Acknowledge your problems but give your attention to solutions to the problems. Solutions heal challenges. Griping about problems doesn’t.
3. Be specific about what you want and don’t lose sight of it. Put a note on your bathroom mirror so you see it when you brush your teeth. Put a photo that represents this want to you where you see it often. Keep reminding yourself what it is you want and why.
4. Choose an area of self-improvement and actively seek ways of helping yourself with it. For example, if your temper gets the best of you, then find a way to turn that temper around so that you’re taking a calm, reasoned approach to resolve an issue or a conflict. You’ll be happier and so will those who are on the receiving end of your temper.
5. Monitor your self-talk. One of the most destructive things I see is others who talk negatively about themselves, their lives, their families, their friends. They see what’s wrong and bad and broken and what needs to be fixed. But they fail to see the good. They fail to appreciate the goodness in these others and fail to see and/or appreciate what is right. Then they wonder why they feel so discontent and dissatisfied. Is it any wonder? How can you feel anything but, hauling around an attitude like that? See, appreciate and acknowledge the good. These are gems in your life. Notice the sparkle. Whenever you think something negative, automatically rephrase it into a positive. (Thanks for the added insight, for revealing the truth. Or maybe the thought is that someone is selfish. Immediately rephrase it in your mind. Thanks for letting me see what selfish looks like. I don’t want it, so now I can avoid it. Or maybe that person is selfish about this. But s/he is wonderful about something else.)
My personal pet peeve was an individual announcing that she was brain-dead. Listen, we all have synapse misfires, moments of forgetfulness. But brain dead? What a horrible thing to say about yourself. And why, I ask, would anyone wish to hear a lecture by someone who considers him or herself brain dead? So this negativity also calls any credibility into question. Is that loving yourself? Valuing your gifts? Honoring the Giver of your gifts? This comment was not made in jest, but even if it were, it’d still be devaluing something precious, and is that really funny?
Christ said to ask in His name and it will be given to you. He said to appreciate your portion. He said He came so that we might live life more abundantly. He didn’t mean we’d live with an abundance of negativity, anger, upset, oppression or fits of temper.
He said that those things we desire, to express the gratitude warranted as if we already have them. Why? Because that reaction from us expresses a trust in Him. We believe His words. “Ask and it shall be given to you.” Either we believe him, or we don’t. Either we trust God or we don’t. You can indulge in a lot of gyrations, but when you wind down to the bottom line, that’s it. Your faith in Him is expressed in your belief.
We should be content where we are but also strive to be “perfect.” Perfect, as in more Christ-like. I loved the “WWJD” bracelets and notes and, well, all the items because they were visual reminders of the ultimate aspiration.
If the whole duty of man is to love one another and the first Commandment is to love God above all, then it is essential that we know what love is so that we understand it.
We learn through experience. Our own and the experiences of others. Yet too often self-love is confused with self-conceit. They’re totally different. It’s essential to love ourselves, and this we must do to love God and love others. But conceit is to be avoided. Why?
Loving ourselves acknowledges God’s gifts to us. The glory and honor is His. We’re grateful for those gifts, we love those gifts, but we recognize and acknowledge that they are gifts from Him to us.
With self-conceit we don’t. Our gifts are ours. Our accomplishments are ours. Our wins are our wins. We don’t honor God, we honor ourselves.
Conceit falls flat every time. There’s no foundation to sustain it. No rock under it upon which its tenets rest. It’s all on us, and we’re fallible, often mistaken, flawed human beings. Our best will never be perfect. At most, we’re half-informed, often misguided works-in-progress.
But love, loving doesn’t require perfection. In acknowledging our part, honoring Him and His part, we draw on His authority and His perfection. We have His tools—all tools—all of Him available to us. And that is amazing and awesome and humbling. Humility and self-conceit simply do not co-exist.
Love yourself, honor God, and have a wonderful 2012!
The World Can’t Take Away Anything the World Did Not Give© 2011, Vicki Hinze WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
At certain times of the year, we think more about life in general and our lives specifically than at other times. We remember Christmases past, we remember many of our “firsts,” we remember those we love dearly who are no longer with us.
We recall traditions and funny events, we recall specific situations or circumstances, and we recall the glory days of the way things once were but are no more.
This year, many of us are in a mess. We’ve lost our jobs, our homes, the lives and lifestyles we worked hard to build. We also face an uncertain future. For many, this is an era of times that try men’s souls—and women’s and children’s souls, too.
But we know from experience that circumstances change, eras come and go, and our present will soon become part of our past. Our future is yet to be determined, and yet when we’re mired in muck, we have a hard time remembering that we are the masters of that destiny.
We get caught up in the ways of the world, following the hierarchy of needs, and forget that the planning and preparing we do today go a long way toward manifesting the future we have tomorrow. We forget that while attitude won’t fill an empty belly or put shelter over a head, it will create a circumstance where we can fill our bellies and shelter our heads. Attitude matters.
When we’re soaring and things are going well, we don’t often stop to think about our basic needs. But when those basic needs are threatened or taken or lost, we think about little else.
It is in the troubled times that we have the greatest opportunities. We can hit the reset button without fear of losing much—it’s already gone. We can dare to take risks, to follow a dream, to consider ourselves positioned for a grand adventure. We can start fresh. Maybe the life we created was comfortable but unfulfilling. Maybe we felt more like we were stuck on a treadmill or in a mouse’s maze but thought we had too much to lose to suffer the discomforts of starting over fresh in something that to us represents the brass ring.
There is no one brass ring. Ten people have ten brass rings. It’s unique and individual to each of us, just as our own definition of success is unique to us. That is a blessing because it takes us all, it takes all our brass rings to create the whole we all enjoy.
When the world takes things away, remember that what it takes is limited. The world can’t take what it doesn’t give. It can’t take what is yours by right, endowed on you by your Creator.
The ways of the world are not God’s ways. We’re told it, reminded of it, and if we imprint it on our hearts, we’ll have the tools we need to come out of crisis. When bad things happen, we blame fate, blame others, blame entities. But the truth is, that while others and entities might have contributed to our challenges, we embraced them.
We bought the home that stretched our budget, maxed out the credit card on things we couldn’t afford, elected to stay laid off for the maximum time we drew unemployment benefits. Maybe we weren’t totally aware of the path to destruction we were walking, but we did choose to walk it. We didn’t realize that by drawing those benefits so long we’d render ourselves unmarketable and need new skills. That the interest on that credit card would soar and grow to a seemingly bottomless pit.
Perhaps others weren’t as forthright as they could have been, but we were active participants and since this is our life, we are ultimately responsible for it. It isn’t fate or others or entities who suffer the consequences. It is us. And therefore, we learn that in all endeavors, before we participate, we should ask ourselves if things go well or wrong, who suffers the greatest consequences.
If we’re in a tough spot, and so many of us are, we realize that simple truth now, and we’re struggling to find a way to a better future. But before we focus on that future, we should focus on our present. On the things that remain when the world has taken all it can take from us.
What do we have left?
We have Life. Where there is life, there is hope. That didn’t get to be a common saying for the sake of itself but because it is true. Life carries hope because so long life exists, change is possible. We can change. We can start over, start fresh, begin again.
We have Faith. God rejoices with us when we make wise choices, and weeps with and carries us when we make bad choices. He never abandons us, even if we have ignored Him for years—or forever. He eagerly awaits us turning to Him and longs for us to return to Him. When we walk with God, we might falter, but He does not. He guides our path and is with us even when we deny Him. He remains. In good or bad times, or times when we’re so mired and lost we don’t even know what to ask for or what we need to find our way. God knows. Faith sustains us and fosters whatever we need to find our way.
We have Knowledge. Of wrongs we’ve committed, errors we’ve made, flaws in us and in others that we gave authority in our lives. And because we have knowledge, we have the chance for fresh starts—not just today, but every day. Any minute of any day we can choose to start over. Every minute, every day. We have the opportunity and the wisdom to begin again.
We have Humility. We know now we can break because we have broken. But we also know that we can survive breaking and we can heal. God specializes in healing the broken and in making crooked places straight, and He loves nothing more than us. We look back through our lives and say that He won’t bother; we’ve broken ourselves so many times before, but wisdom and knowledge dispute that. He remains forever. We can break and break and break—no matter how many times we break—He is always with us and because there is no greater love than His love for us, He is the way, the truth and the light. We can trust Him in all things, and He will always be there for us. No step we take or move we make is made without Him. Sometimes we walk in His grace, sometimes we walk in our free will choices, but He is there.
We have gratitude. Gratitude for all that remains. Gratitude for dignity, self-respect, honor, courage, bravery. Gratitude for the ability to endure and suffer and grow wiser and stronger. Gratitude for being broken, because in having done so, we know we have the ability to patch ourselves together, heal, pick ourselves up and begin again—this time, wiser and stronger and more armed with all the things we now know remain and can’t be taken away unless we choose to give them away. Gratitude for experience.
The world can’t take any of these things or many others, nor can it take our thoughts and dreams and our willingness to humble ourselves before God and men. The world can’t take any of these things because it doesn’t own them. Neither did the world bestow them on us.
These things are divine gifts, as are our special abilities and skills. Our purpose. And with divine gifts, even when we are in turmoil, we also know contentment and peace. We know trust.
If in exercising our free will, we trust God, then He directs our steps on a new path. A better path. On that leads to a life better than the one that shattered and left us broken. An everlasting life. Eternal life.
And we take that path knowing we are never alone.
That, dear friends, is grace. Grace in action. And grace is the most sacred of all the gifts bestowed on us by the Divine that the world can’t touch much less take away because the world didn’t give it. It is a gift of the heart from a loving Father and it is ours forever.
THE MEANING OF THANKSGIVING is a national treasure, one that is worth recalling and reflecting on so that we don’t take it for granted or simply come to think of it as the day before Black Friday. What is offered in the day of Thanksgiving to our nation and its people is far more precious.
When we seek the truth about the holiday, there is no one better to explain it than the source, the father and first elected president of our nation.
Here, in his own words, is what President George Washington had to say about it:
“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
“Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
May the traditional spirit of Thanksgiving be a blessing to you and yours. And in these times that try souls and make us weary, may we remember to hold fast to an attitude of gratitude. For all our flaws and challenges, ours is an exceptional nation. At times, we lose our way, and we forget who we are. But we have the opportunity to remember today.
My special Thanksgiving prayer is that we read the words of our founder and recall who we are and, most importantly, whose we are.
WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
We’re believers. We do believe. We praise. We pray. We appreciate God’s investing in us and in the details of our lives. We understand that His investment isn’t lip service, His love is unconditional and He wants to be involved in all of our lives—the big things and the little details.
Some spend most of their lives looking for security only to discover it doesn’t exist. But believers know it does exist—in Him, and it’s the kind of security that lasts longer than a lifetime, which on the grand scale of things is a twinkling.
I used to wonder why Christians didn’t get all bent out of shape about things going on in the world. It seemed to me they should be more verbal and involved and aggressive. There’s a part of me that still feels that way, to be honest. (Judgment in action.) But that part is tempered by the part of me that grasps they’re way ahead of me on the spiritual ladder. They’ve gotten it—that twinkling and that while life is a treasure and valuable, eternity is a lot longer and most valuable. But I digress.
What’s really on my mind today is that we petition God for many things, big and small. We do so for ourselves, our families, our friends and strangers. Often for people we haven’t seen before and never will again. Maybe it’s a look in their eyes, or a slump in their shoulder, and we gather that they feel burdened or worried or afraid. Maybe overwhelmed or under appreciated. We petition for blessings for many reasons.
What I wonder if we petition for enough is to be a blessing.
As foot soldiers, we each have the opportunity to be a blessing to others. Sometimes we seize that opportunity, sometimes we let it pass by, thinking we’re being silly or overly dramatic or maybe we’re disheartened by all the bad things we see happening around us.
It’s hard to see everything going on in the world—the corruption and hateful and just downright absurd behavior that flies in the face of all we hold dear—and not be disheartened. So we see many opportunities to be blessings to others and for any of a number of reasons, we ignore them.
One of those reasons that happens often is when we have a chance to say or do something that could be a blessing to someone else but we don’t take it because we think it’s such a small thing, it couldn’t possibly matter.
What’s a smile worth, anyway? What does saying thank you matter? Does a sincere compliment really qualify as a blessing?
It depends on the receiver. How badly do you need to see a smile? Hear a thank you? Need a compliment?
Frankly, some days any of those things are nice but not necessary. But there are times when any of the three might change an attitude or make your day. Might totally alter your perspective from one that is borderline despair to one of hope.
One thing I’ve noticed a lot in people is that for all our technology and social networking, there are tons of people suffering acute loneliness. Not just lonely people. Acute loneliness.
Their friends are all online people they’ve never met. Their sense of community is in cyberspace. When something horrific or wonderful happens, they look around and realize there’s no one “local” with whom to mourn or celebrate.
Don’t misunderstand. Online friendships are a treasure. A cyberspace community can be a real blessing. But we need real live interaction with others and in our communities, too. We need balance.
When we don’t have it, we will inevitably suffer bouts of acute loneliness. Doubt it?
How many times have you read where someone was dead for three days or a week in their own home before anyone knew it? You can bet that person had bouts of acute loneliness.
How much do think a smile or a kind word or a few minutes of conversation would have meant to him or her?
A smile is never just a smile, and a kind word is never just a kind word. And that’s my point. Outreach is important, yes. But so are the little blessings that can totally change a person’s day or their frame of mind. Smile at someone who feels the world has forgotten them, and you’ve been a blessing.
Little things, seemingly insignificant things, aren’t insignificant and they do matter. And standing on the other side of the fence, it’s hard to tell when they most matter.
So in asking for blessings, whether for others or ourselves, it seems important to also ask to be a blessing. We don’t always know the difference we make to others, but He knows. If we’ll act when urged, no matter how silly or small a thing it seems, He will guide us and use us to show His love to others, and we’ll be more balanced. That’s a win/win situation.
Bottom line, it’s a blessing to ask to be blessed and to ask to be a blessing. There’s a special joy in doing something good for another that you never experience doing for yourself.
So today I’m asking. Let me be a blessing…