28 February 2014
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
- Galatians 6.4-5
We all have a serious challenge set before us, don't we? We are charged with the big responsibility of finding who we are and then using those talents to the best creative ability of ourselves. It is quite a journey to undertake, and so full of goodness because it is about finding what you are best at and discovering ways to do good with it.
Then the warning comes. The reminder of our frailties. Do not compare yourself with others, which is the trap we so easily fall into. Nothing good will come of comparing yourself to another person. There truly is no way to win in comparison. Your paths are so different. Your talents vary. Your strengths are not the same. Don't compare yourself with others, but expand beyond yourself so that you appreciate other people's strengths, successes, and dreams, knowing that you have your own as well.
You were given specific qualities and talents. Sink yourself into those, thinking about how you can utilize each quality in your every day to help or encourage others. If you compare yourself to others, you are too busy looking at yourself and what you don't have rather than looking toward those out there who can use someone like you.
Let encouragement be our initial response and not comparison.
27 February 2014
While I was out and about on the weekend meeting up with my friend and relaxing at home, my boss and his wife were in my office, re-decorating. Little elves working during the night. Okay, not really. But we recently moved into a new office building, and I bought some new decorations to make my office cozy, but hadn't had the chance to thoughtfully place things (we have been more than a little bit busy).
And that's where the dynamic duo, Colin and Cayla, set to work, using my decorations to rearrange and display everything in such a beautiful way. I stepped into my office on Monday with the best surprise of the coziest office space fresh and new. I mean, don't you want to work in here?
The time and the effort they took, using my items to decorate is so special. I am very thankful for such a caring boss and his wife who enjoy doing kind things for me like this. Every day is a good day!
25 February 2014
Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right. "The person who believes God, is set right by God - and that's the real life."
- Galatians 3.12
The infinite grace of God is already upon us who believes in Him. We sometimes act as if we still need to win Him over, though. We feel guilty for missing church or not being able to take part in something asked of us. I am not saying we shouldn't go to church or shouldn't take part in activities of church, but if works we are doing are in hopes of getting on God's "good side" we have missed something critical.
Paul tells us we are already loved by God and there's nothing we can do to be more loved. We are called to do something so simple, and yet it is so difficult for us. To accept and believe in God with our whole heart. At that point life is changed. Instead of living selfishly, our outlook is altered to looking toward the good of others, with a love we had never known before because it never lived in us. To love God is to live a new life.
Isn't it a joy to behold? Nothing we have done and nothing we could do dictates God's love! We don't have to be successful or have a big house with a pool or have 500 friends. We do have to be ourselves - exactly as God created you to be - and to believe in Him and let Him dwell in our hearts.
I love that I can be me, through and through. He loves me for who I am, including all the quirks that make me so different from others.
I rejoice in that.
24 February 2014
For some reason, a little hint of a Southwest style has been making its way into my attire and decor. It is not something I was drawn to before, but there is something charming in it, a sense of history, and a connection to earthy tones. Not to mention it represents a dry desert climate, which is very different from what I am used to, which is fun to me.
The geometric designs are eye-catching. Mix that with earth tones that I already like and you have something very attractive to me. Perhaps the organizational and structured presence of the designs are also quite appealing to me.
My moccasins are some of my most comfortable shoes, and I would wear them everyday if I could. I am most definitely a fan.
Cacti are my new favourite plants. They barely need any watering and don't need pruning. They just need sunlight.
Well, I daresay you'll be seeing some snapshots of more Southwest styles on here from time to time.
21 February 2014
Sometimes I just want some answers to spill over the silence and provide some details of clarification. Do you ever wish you had more answers to questions you have about life that keep showing up in your mind? Those prickly questions that are always there? Each scenario has its own complexities and we just want a simple answer.
Maybe we aren't ready for the answer.
I remind myself that it is okay to live the unanswered questions. Just keep going. Move forward toward a goal, a dream, an opportunity. Don't let the prickly questions stop you from enjoying life right in front of you. I believe if something is meant to happen, God will pave a way for you to follow. And if a door is slammed, there is a reason for that.
But if that happens, move forward and brush the dust off your feet.
Thin shrouds cover the situations and it is almost as if you can see through it to the truth, but it comes to be another layer of questions.
Move onward. Whatever the situation, we all go through dry seasons where it seems like no rain is on the horizon. But there is. That season is temporary.
Someday the answer may spill over the cup and into the saucer, and there you can swirl in the meaning.
I don't think we are always meant to know everything right away. God's not keeping you in the dark, but He is showing you the way and leading you in His light so you emerge from that darkness.
20 February 2014
You groped your way through the murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true - these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please God, and then do it.
- Ephesians 5. 8-10
Maybe some mornings are better left open for coffee brewing, yogurt, and space for thoughts to rustle as they wake up. Let the sunshine stream through the thin, white curtains casting a soft glow in the kitchen.
I love mornings and the freshness they have. Elements of the new encourage thinking of all the day's possibilities. A good night's sleep brings me into the new day with open eyes. It is because I have been going to bed earlier as I have been so tired.
White porcelain adorns my table. Fresh and clean looks. I will admit to you here, that I am a sucker for dishes. It is hard for me to resist them when in a store, especially when they are very affordable.
My morning scenes are full of light and white. My home is cozy and quiet. Most of my neighbors go to work before me. Birds chirp outside and I even hear the owl who hangs out in the neighborhood.
I am so thankful for my morning scenes. They start my day off with a glowing beginning.
18 February 2014
....I have allowed my words to get carried away and my hand is getting tired. Ever does my hand rush hurriedly across the pages with words pouring out of my heart like a dam opening. And ever does my journal catch these words that flow forth.
But as eager as my hand is, some words and thoughts escape through the cracks in the wall and some linger awhile as I dwell in them.
Hastening myself with writing I sometimes do not realize what is truly in my mind until it flows outward by way of my pen onto a blank page. I know myself better by the end of each page, and as the ink fills up the next page my mind opens wider to the realm of journaling and all the creative possibilities that summoned my soul. It is like entering a good story that, as a reader, engrosses you so deeply that you do not realize how much time has been dedicated to the story and being drawn into it.
That is what happens to me when I get going in my journal. A particular destination is not always clear, but the act of starting and letting thoughts oscillate a little bit until they pour out as words, sometimes revealing something I had not seen before.
To have eyes open, one must first open the imagination and cast aside the limitations we set on ourselves. Scripture tells many stories of the impossible becoming possible through God. All these wonderful things we do and create and build are not a result of our own greatness. It is because God gave us the knowledge, wisdom, and creative mind to dare to dream and then move toward those dreams. We can benefit others by putting our talents in use. Where would we all be if someone had not dared to dream of making a flying craft?
So, I sit here with my quiet talents and my love of writing and I scribble away on blank pages with words that may never be read by anyone and yet I know this love of the written word wasn't gifted to me as a throw-away item. It is something that is meant to be tended to, to grow, and become more articulate and insightful. Also, for sharing. It doesn't do any good tucked away, and if it brings light to one person's day, my task is fulfilled. I do it because I love it, but bringing it to others brings the joy.
We're not all going to be able to reach a thousand thousand other people with our talents, but we are supposed to be generous with our talents and use them for others. That is what matters. God will take care of the rest.
17 February 2014
Because sometimes you just need to get out of town by borrowing your brother's car (since mine is questionable at the moment) and buying a cactus (or two, or four) and getting your favourite boba tea. Just because.
These little cacti are going to soak in the sun and the moisture and hold it for safe keeping, for when the environment gets dry. Through periods of our own dryness, sometimes we need to dig deep inside for that hope and positive outlook. Because it's stored in there somewhere. Each of our lives are full of many blessings. Step into the light, and let it soak in.
14 February 2014
And for those who love love, Happy Valentine's Day!
I almost forgot that it was Valentine's Day. Until I was thinking about what today's date is. Does anyone else feel like time is flying by? I mean, how can it be the middle of February already?
It's been a coffee-break-in-the-afternoon kind of week. I'll express my love on this commercialized day of love to the delicious lattes that have filled my afternoons with some extra caffeine to be more productive. Last week I was on an afternoon tea kick. Every afternoon I was brewing a pot of loose leaf tea and drinking almost the whole pot each time. Hey, insanely busy days call for little rewards. That is how I function well. I should have added a reward of a nap in my cozy chair.....but not really. I cannot sleep sitting in chairs. That's my defect and why I cannot sleep in planes or cars.
This is all silliness. I do not love coffee. I am fond of drinking coffee. Love is a word that shouldn't be used as much as we do these days, especially about things that do not retain any attachment to us. We may love a person, but we do not love an object, no matter how tasty (coffee) it might be. And love has much more to do with an action, than a feeling.
But enough semantics. I cannot help it -- language and meaning fascinate me. But it is almost the weekend and I love this weather (I mean, I fancy this weather). It adds a nice chilly layer to my whimsical Friday mood.
13 February 2014
The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity, or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on our traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Reading this book has caused me to muse about life and how blessed we are to live in such a time. We are not immune to the atrocities of WWII happening again, and so I feel this story should be heard (and read if everyone could read this 600+ page book!). After reading Bonhoeffer, one comes out changed. Sure, we all know what happened in WWII, but to experience it through a German Christian who stood up to the Nazis and took part in the conspiracy to kill Hitler, and to read about what he sacrificed and what he went through is quite another thing. It is not just history in a text book. It's a story of daring, dangerous living for God. And it's all real.
The choices Bonhoeffer made were sacrificial and he moved forward in confidence that God was with him. The bravery he displayed was astounding. Just imagine a time when Nazis, who showed no mercy and followed one of the most evil men in history, could find you and kill you for whatever reason. The laws and rules were changing all the time. Bonhoeffer had a target on his back because he was a pastor who preached openly against what was going on in Germany. Many times his radio broadcasts were cut off, or his sermons were stopped in the middle, by Nazis trying to stifle his voice.
It is frightening to read about how many people went along with Hitler or shrugged off his actions, not seeing the evil he was playing with. How he manipulated the government and the laws over several years to basically take all of it over, making everything he did 'legal.' How blind can we be? Are we like this today?
But even working against evil, Bonhoeffer always showed kindness to others, and was generous again and again. He loved to play piano and sing. He loved his family dearly. He won over his prison guards with his gentleness and kindness. How can we be more like that? How can we recognize evil, stand up to it, but show mercy and grace to others?
Reading about his example is eye-opening. I don't see how anyone can read this story and not think differently about the value of life, the reality of the atrocity of evil, and the love of God that can truly shine light in the darkest of places.
12 February 2014
Spring was floating, drifting
through the air today;
A loveliness devoured the hours
in the realm.
Stirring a gentle, pleasant air,
the sun was warm.
Agent of changes to join us
slowly, each day,
coming like a soft drip
of a soothing fountain,
easing into the fresh,
and the new.
The air has been woken up to a warmth of Spring around here. Trees are blooming. Early Spring colours are bursting forth. Pollen is raining down. The signs of Spring are here. You can tell by the colourful little blooms that emerge out of nowhere. It is a pleasant time. Sitting in the garden shade left me chilly. But inch out into the sun and it warms the skin.
I am not sure who I am kidding, though. Our Florida Winters are very much reminiscent of Spring for many northern states. I cannot pretend to know what it is like to endue a long, bitterly cold Winter. But I am not ready to say goodbye to the nice chilly days we get here in Florida (which would be balmy to most of you). I want to hold onto them as long as possible. So, I will pretend this is just a preview of what is to come in a little while. Until then, I look toward the end of the week for some chillier weather to come back.
11 February 2014
But exhort one another
everyday, as long as it is
that none of you may be
hardened by the
deceitfulness of sin.
For we share in Christ,
if indeed we hold
our original confidence
firm to the end.
- Hebrews 3.13-14
I want my story to be meaningful. I want every word I speak or write to be full of truth and sprinkled with kindness. I don't ever want to grow weary of doing good. For all good things, all gifts, come from the Father and in Him there is no darkness, no shadow, no weariness. No veering off the narrow course. It is a long road ahead of us if we do not encourage one another in Christ.
Light triumphs over dark. Always, love does what we could not even imagine. Truth shines forth and exposes the corrupt. There is no reason for me not to do good.
Doing good expands beyond the reach of our own hands to branch out far and wide in ways we may never see. Even the smallest thing. Something said. A gesture. A reaction. It is all about the choice to do good, or not. The people that I have utmost respect for are full of choices everyday. Choices that could easily cause one to deviate from loving others. And yet I watch them choose to do good, rather than act solely for the betterment of themselves. I am inspired when I see that.
I never want to grow weary of doing good.
10 February 2014
I realize that grey, snowy looking clouds are not felicitous to most people, but to me, it was the prelude to what was to come...gently falling snow.
While in St. Louis for work, I got to enjoy some cold weather. I was the only giddy one, but it did snow for me, late on the last evening there, which is what I was hoping for.
But don't worry. Back in Florida we are feeling like Spring. We took advantage of such sunny skies with a visit to the garden with my beautiful niece.
06 February 2014
I recently finished reading C.S. Lewis' diary from the years 1922 - 1927. During these years, of course, he was an atheist. While he rejects Christianity and has debates about it with friends at Oxford, every once-in-a-while something would hit him while he was out on a walk or resting under a tree. It was a sense or a glimmer of joy. He even called it joy. But in a flash it was gone. And he didn't know how to get it back, but he realized how it usually occurred while he was out in nature observing the gentle sloping hills or the opening of flowers. He thought nature brought him joy, but it was the great Maker of nature that he missed seeing for a long time.
Here in these small moments, I think he is getting the inkling of something more, but he just isn't ready to look that deep into what he had rejected for so many years. Not until a few years later when his friends (including Tolkien) helped him see that Christianity is not just a myth. It is actually the only myth that is real.
I read this book with my friend, Amber, who lives overseas, and we would talk about various passages as we went along. We usually mentioned passages Lewis wrote about nature, and how we loved his descriptions and feeling from that passage. He wrote the details of the scene so vividly. Or, the other passages we would talk about were all his descriptions of people. He had a way of describing quirks of people with a serious sarcasm that would make us laugh out loud.
I don't think the general public would enjoy reading this (it is 400 + pages of a diary after all), but any great admirer of Lewis will enjoy reading of his early days and catching some of the influences that show up later down the road in his stories.
05 February 2014
To understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
- Proverbs 1.6
I am blessed beyond belief. I don't want to lose sight of that. Sure I don't have all that I want or desire. Do any of us, really? Even the most rich never have all they want. There is always something missing, it seems. And yet I have ALL that I need, and more. It is really easy to slide into the train the thought that takes off down the rail tending to bend toward what we do not have, all the while missing all the treasures that sit under our noses.
In this new year (that is already flying by -- how did it get to be February already?) I want to be more observant of what I have now and to hear the words of wisdom and absorb it more meaningfully than I ever have. To gain not just knowledge, but understanding. To treasure it all deeply because this time is a blessing.
Every sunrise is a gift. Every smile. Every morning when I wake and dress from my abundant closet and make coffee. Each day I get to be a part of something bigger than myself at work. Every time my skills and talents are used. And all the moments in between the moments.
04 February 2014
I am here to answer the question you all have been waiting for. Did it snow for me in St. Louis? Yes, it did! Though it was only a dusting of snow (see the first and second photos). But beggars cannot be choosers. It was freezing cold all week, lows getting down to 13 (maybe lower) and highs only in the 30s. But on the last night, we had a company dinner, company trivia, and dancing night at a restaurant downtown, and at the end of the evening as we walked downstairs to head outside, Colin pointed at the window. I paused on the stairs and saw what he was pointing at -- the snow gently falling outside. My face lit up. I suddenly had the urge to walk around outside and let the snow shuffle under my feet. There were some big flakes falling and it was lovely. It fell all the way home and left some snow in the morning. I think I was the only person there who was excited about the snow (I can't help it!).
All in all, the week was really good. I don't think anyone got enough sleep, though. I really love my company and my job. It's not an easy job but it is the people that make this company so special. I learned many things last week, took pages of notes and ideas, met a lot of people and got to know some people better, which is great. I am an introvert, so being in many social situations everyday is challenging for me, but I push myself to always take part because it is good to grow. We had some hilarious entertainment when all the advisers hosted a dinner (serving all of us) and then put on an energetic show and dance (to the song "What Does the Fox Say?"). We had a formal dinner and awards on another night. We served a homeless shelter the next morning, helping with many projects around the building.
I am so thankful that I am part of such an amazing company. If you want to learn a little more about my company, watch a video HERE, which asks "Who is Larson Financial?"