Adjusting your focus

nathan and meI am married to a wonderful man. He has stuck by my side for almost 33 years, and that is a long time by any standards. Especially since he knows all about me and STILL sticks by my side.

BUT…he is a good source of blog material…and since he has such a great sense of humor, this is going to be ALL ABOUT HIM…

Superman is about 6′ 4″ tall…he seems to have an aversion to that height and tries to knock off a half inch but, I happen to know how tall he really is…;)

He is also only about 185 pounds…pretty thin. See what I mean?

He got a bit concerned about his weight a few months ago because he had inched up on the scale. I think, if we are being honest, his WEIGHT really wasn’t the issue. (He is going to LOVE all the word plays in this blog!!!)

The issue was that he has had angioplasty and a stint, so maintaining a HEALTHY HEART is really far more important than his added pounds, which I think only made him look a little healthier. I just don’t think I should be able to count his ribs through his shirts, do you?

So, my sweet man started working out on the treadmill. Faithfully. And he arranged to listen to the Bible online while he worked out…exercising his faith, his heart and his multi-tasking skills all at the same time. (Multi-tasking is not one of his strengths, unfortunately.)

He was so proud of his progress when he reached that 185 pound mark. And he clearly was feeling a lot more energetic, so that was a good reason to continue his commitment to the contraption in the basement.

But as is so often the case, things happen. And one night, Superman got on the treadmill…wearing the same shirt in the photo above…He started walking, and realized he was getting too warm…So he decided to take off the shirt.

Fine. No problem. As long as you STOP THE TREADMILL AND GET OFF THE THING FIRST! He didn’t want to break his stride…right. Mr. I Can’t Multitask

The next minute we here a loud noise and a bang. I should mention that when a TALL person is on a treadmill, it makes them CLOSER TO THE CEILING. And my husband has unbelievably LONG ARMS. I thought he had reached up through the ceiling and created a shortcut to the basement.

Nope. His shirt had gotten stuck on his head, and he got a little mixed up and kicked a hole in the wall as he stumbled around on the still running treadmill. Aren’t there safety rules about this sort of thing???

Lest I leave you wondering, he was fine. No injuries. That, in itself, is a miracle. You see, he also has a foot full of hardware from a serious fall involving a ladder, a tree and a chainsaw…just imagine the worst and you will be pretty close.

But he was fine. And it got him thinking (maybe he should have done that before attempting his failed attempt). And he realized that there was a really great application that could be applied to the spiritual race we are running.

Runners who get ready for a race have to prepare for it. They train their bodies, increasing their stamina. They wear appropriate clothing that will not interfere with their run. Can you imagine running a race wearing a ball gown and high heels? Or showing up to a marathon wearing a tux? That would be crazy.

How fast do you think you would run if you were carrying all your garbage along with you? At my house, that would be a full can of recycling and a full can of regular trash. I can’t pull both of them up the driveway together, so the idea of RUNNING with that strapped onto my back is just impossible.

But that is exactly what we do in our spiritual walk if we do not prepare for the race. We must shed those things that tangle us and distract us. We must deal with the traps that defeat us. Any sin that is taking hold in our lives must be confessed for what it is.

And our focus needs to be on the right thing.

If a runner looks down while racing instead of ahead, he will fall and he will fail. If a runner looks ahead to the goal, that is where he should finish!

Although none of my football teams won over the weekend, I must say that each team had the same goal–getting that football in the end zone as often as possible. They wanted to WIN. They fought to WIN.

The prize for our race is being with the Lord Jesus in glory, hearing the words, “Well done” and receiving the reward for faithfulness in the race. And because of how gracious our God is, it is never too late to refocus and make the necessary corrections so that we can finish our race well!

Do you need to adjust your focus? Are you tangled up in the tentacles of sin? It isn’t too late. Refocus…run!

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Yes…He Thinks He Can Fly

(Please note: I decided to tweak the original post and re-blog it. 🙂

After over 32 years of marriage, I think I know my husband better than anybody else. But, like most married people, we find that the longer we are together, the more intimately we know each other. That can lead to some VERY interesting learning experiences.

My husband is 6’4″–I am 5’4″. He is thin, I am not. He played basketball, and you must totally believe me when I tell you I did not.

There are those similarities–we both wear glasses, we both have hardware holding the bones together in our left feet. (I know, what are the odds? So did his father…freaky!) We love music.

Even our professions are the same–we “teach”–he teaches high school Spanish and I teach potty training, drinking from a cup, how to share, blah blah blah. We both love what we do.

Where we truly differ is in the gravitational pull and how it affects our sleep.

A few years ago, I was awakened by heavy breathing. Most married people may not find that particularly curious…but I had just been clunked on the head. Nathan was thrashing around–totally asleep.

I started to worry, thinking he was ill or having a seizure or something, so like any good wife, I woke him up. It took some doing, but he finally came around only to tell me that I had interrupted his lay up shot.

Excuse me? Yes, he was making the game winning lay up in a basketball game. It must have been a championship game, because he had never played so well.

After assuring me that he was all right, I tried to get back to sleep, but his dream had made me a bit introspective. I couldn’t remember the last time I even remembered a dream.

As a child, I recall having vivid dreams. I could never sleep with my arm hanging over the side of the bed (still can’t) because I would dream ‘awful snake’ dreams.

I had a recurring funny dream about germs running all over the bathroom and attacking my toothbrush. Those germs looked like really crazy, transparent stick figures with several appendages. Apparently germs made a significant impact on my psyche.

But recently, I had not had any dreams that I could even recall. Hmmmm…what could that mean?

My husband has developed some health issues in the last few years, so I pay closer attention to his sleep patterns now.

He had another one of those “active” episodes the other night. As I tried to analyze his sleeping behavior, many thoughts were tripping all over themselves, trying to get to the front of the line.

I thought…it must be his heart…or maybe that neurological problem is acting up…

So I watched him in the darkness. I listened to his breathing and even took his pulse…of course, his pulse was racing. And he was muttering something I could not make out. I had to waken him.

I shook his shoulder…then I tried nudging him with my elbow…finally I rubbed his chest a little and he woke up.

“I can fly. Let me get back to sleep. I am flying and teaching and it is really cool,” he said, breathlessly. And I sincerely mean, he was out of breath.

“Are you sure you are all right?” I asked him.

“Yes. I just need to get back to this dream.” So he went to sleep, continued his “flight” and I just stayed wide awake.

He thinks he’s superman. My husband actually thinks he can fly.

Now, I do agree that he is a very talented and special man, but this flying was taking us to a whole new level, even for him. And I am not trying to play with my words, either!

I didn’t know if he would remember the dream in the morning. But he remembered his dream very vividly.

FYI–In real life, he teaches pre-school Sunday School. He explained that in this dream he was teaching his Sunday School class, but for some reason was unable to get their full attention, so he began to fly upward, heavenward. The higher he flew, the more the children listened.

(Honestly, wouldn’t you listen if your teacher started to fly?) He must have taught the lesson of his life while flying above those children. I couldn’t begin to tell you the lesson content…I was just trying to reconcile the concept of flying…

I have thought about his dream at length and it has caused me to think a little bit more deeply than just the humorous side of this story.

My husband has had a motto for his life since before we even met–a personal code of sorts. It was as if he carried a balance around in his pocket and whatever the “thing” was, it was put on one side of the balance. The other side of the balance always was the same: Will this count for eternity?

That personal code was what drew me to him when we first met–he had an eternal purpose for his life and he lived (and still lives) every single day with the same question: Will this count for eternity?

I find it comforting and reassuring somehow that even in his subconscious state, he continues living by his code.

I’ll Fly Away

Some glad morning when this life is over,
I’ll fly away.
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O Glory,
I’ll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye,
I’ll fly away.

When the shadows of this life have flown,
I’ll fly away.
Like a bird thrown, driven by the storm,
I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O Glory,
I’ll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye,
I’ll fly away.

Just a few more weary days and then,
I’ll fly away.
To a land where joy shall never end,
I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O Glory,
I’ll fly away.
When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye,
I’ll fly away.

Politics and My Mom

My mom is a very funny lady. I don’t mean a comic…she tells jokes, but sometimes forgets part of the joke…and that is pretty funny all by itself.

My mom used to be addicted to politics. She knew everyone, good and bad, including which reporters could be trusted and which ones were hacks. I think televisions with the picture in a picture were invented for her…C-Span 1 on one channel with C-Span 2 in the little box…

Back when she was a political junkie, she had the radio playing a political program, the tv had something else on, and if I am not mistaken, she also had a transistor radio playing another program…that was back when politics were a little more humorous than they have been in recent years. She has since been rehabilitated and has been released from the “half-way” house for recovering political addiction.

We had dinner together tonight. Just my parents and me. It was great. No little people to talk over, no sports discussions (except the physics behind certain putts  that my dad was describing…scientists…). Just a daughter with her mom and dad.

The conversation was random. We discussed family, Hurricane Sandy and all its devastation, our favorite little people and their silly sayings, and of course the clothes we will be sporting at my nephew’s wedding in about a month.

As I was leaving, we somehow started discussing those annoying political phone polls. I commented that I had not received a SINGLE CALL…apparently if you get your number via a hot spot mobile number you don’t get called???

Anyway, my mother began sharing about a recent polling telephone call that she had answered. It wasn’t with one of those machine robot modern scary mechanisms that somehow know you have answered the phone and orders you to push different buttons to answer.

THIS time it was a L I V E  P E R S O N!!! She was very polite to the man on the other end of the conversation. Knowing my mother, I would expect nothing less. Once she had successfully answered all of his questions, she said she had her own question for him. (Oh I wish I could have videotaped the guy on the other end…)

My mother asked, “If you were to die tonight and stand before God, what reason would you give Him for letting you into Heaven?”

Silence. Followed by more silence. And then he said, “I honestly don’t have an answer for that.”

My mother proceeded to explain to the man that Jesus had died on the cross in full payment for all sin. That the man’s ticket was his for the taking, so to speak, if he believed in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as the only satisfactory payment for sin. No works. No being good enough. Only through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus for sin.

The call came to a close. I have no idea what decision the man made. I can almost assure you, however, that the man has been thinking about “that lady” with her question. And I really pray that he considers his own answer very carefully.

Whoever wins this election will have an opportunity to do things. Important things that impact lives. But none of those decisions, regardless of who the victor is, will be as important as the answer that the man will make regarding his eternal destiny.

No one can make that decision for anyone but himself.

Romans 5:8

 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 3:15-18

That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes in Him is not condemned; but He that believes not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Ephesians 2:1-9

 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…following the course of this world…carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that…he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 

Ugly Treasures

I like to dabble in photography, and I take thousands of pictures, hoping to take that perfect one. Some are special. Some are blurry. Some are awful.

But honestly, I have a really hard time deleting my images. They are kind of like those boxes of mementos that I keep–treasures that somehow are too precious to discard but for some reason are still stuck in a box rather than out on display.

This week, my little buddy Froglegs became so excited and animated because he saw this very large yellow butterfly.

“Hurry, Nana! Get your camera! Come see this butterfly. It’s HUGE!!!”

I obviously have my little buddies well-trained at identifying those picture-worthy subjects. I hurried in to get my camera, hoping not to miss it.

It was a very windy day, and the poor butterfly was really flexing his muscles to hang onto the butterfly bush. (That bush is a topic for another blog post.) I snapped several pictures, but the wind was interfering with my shots.

And then, my battery died. Great. Just great.

Later in the day, I uploaded the photos to my computer to check them out. I felt a mixture of semi-satisfaction and disappointment. I don’t believe a single one of them was clear that didn’t also feature a weed, the neighbor’s trash can, her newspaper or the brand-new asphalt on the road. It didn’t look like any of them were frame-worthy.

Bummed would be an understatement.

I left the photos alone and did nothing. I moped a little. It had been a somewhat unpleasant day and I had a lot of mulling over going on. I had so many thoughts running through my head, and honestly, blurred pictures didn’t stack up too high on my list of significant failures.

But…as the day dragged on, the pictures became an escape for me. I was bound and determined to turn them into something semi-beautiful. After all, it was a gorgeous yellow swallowtail, the loveliest shade of yellow. It was stunning, to be honest.

So I messed around with my Canon photo editing software. I don’t even have Photoshop. As I experimented, God started bringing so many thoughts and verses to mind. And a-tweaking I went.

The mundane and ordinary became sublime. When looking at it through a different set of “eyes” I could see beyond the failures of the photos. Just take a look…

Can you even see the asphalt? Do you see the weeds? Or the garbage can and newspaper?

No. And you know what? These photos are a great example of what the blood of Jesus does to us…God does not see us as those miserable creatures bound by sin. We are not hopeless, ugly wretches.

We are His treasures. Loved and beautiful. Full of life and hope. When we are able to look at our lives through God’s filter of redemption and unconditional love, we can see ourselves as He sees us.

I pray that today, you will see yourself through His eyes of forgiveness and redemption.

Jesus, Draw Me

Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer

I came across a beautifully poignant song while searching for something to comfort my soul. There are those moments in life that defy the comfort of simple thoughts and words, but when coupled with the right melody and instrumentation can speak a far clearer message than mere words unaccompanied.

If you are experiencing grief, or sorrow, or heartache, I pray that these words and their accompaniment will be especially touching to your soul.

Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer

May this journey bring a blessing
May I rise on wings of faith
And at the end of my heart’s testing
With Your likeness let me wake

Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labor thro’ the storm
You have called me to this passage
And I’ll follow tho’ I’m worn

Jesus guide me thro’ the tempest
Keep my spirit staid and sure
When the midnight meets the morning
Let me love You even more

May this journey be a blessing
May I rise on wings of faith
And at the end of my heart’s testing
With Your likeness let me wake

Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go
And at the end of this long passage
Let me leave them at Your throne

Jesus draw me ever nearer
Jesus draw me ever nearer
Jesus draw me ever nearer to You
To You

2002 Modern M. Music (Admin. by Music Services)
Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)

Writer(s): Keith Getty , Margaret Becker

Scripture Reference(s): Psalm 23

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOVGChMsPsg

Redeemed

Redeemed By Big Daddy Weave

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me, “Son
Stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed,
I’m redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”
I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be

Because I don’t have to be the old man inside of me
‘Cause his day is long dead and gone
Because I’ve got a new name, a new life, I’m not the same
And a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, ’cause I’m not who I used to be

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe every stain, yeah, I’m not who I used to be
Oh, God, I’m not who I used to be
Jesus, I’m not who I used to be
‘Cause I am redeemed
Thank God, redeemed

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzGAYNKDyIU