Pressing On Toward The Goal

The Library tables were covered with stacks and stacks of books for purchase during the Malesus Elementary School Book Fair. The books were all shapes and sizes, with vivid cover graphics. The bounty was mostly hardcover, displayed on easels, shelves, and on table tops, just waiting for eager young minds to take them home and explore the new world that waited behind every page.

I can remember the smell of the ink on the pages and how the spine popped when you opened a new book for the very first time. I can remember walking along the tables and grabbing my first copy of Ludwig Bemelmans’, “Madeline”.  I was mesmerized! I loved how the story was told in poetic consequences…”Madeline was in his arms, in a blanket safe and warm”.

If you’ve read any of my blog posts you’ll find a similar poetic style wrapped around much of my work as well. I love telling a story through poetry. I was spellbound at the Book Fair when I was in the Second Grade in Elementary School and I’m still drawn to books and the creative world of writing to this day.

I think the adventures of Madeline spoke to the fearless, and feisty side of my young personality. Madeline was gutsy, spunky and a bit mischievous…and so was I.

The Adventures of Pippy Longstocking, The Hardy Boys Mystery Series, and Little House on the Prairie were  some of my first purchases at the Book Fair that day too. I can remember reading each book and  loved being transported  to a different world. I was captivated when my mind took me to places that my feet had never traveled, it was glorious!

Since that time, I’ve always enjoyed reading. I’ve also had a deep desire to write and create that same experience for others. I believe that God put the desire to write in my heart during that Book Fair some 45 years ago, and I’m still working towards that dream!

Reminiscing about that day at the Book Fair led me to do a little research on my old elementary school, so I visited their website to find that they are still encouraging young kids to read. Their studies have shown that 20 minutes of reading 4 nights a week will total over a million words read during the school year. Wow! That is a phenomenal accomplishment for grammar school children!

My Grandmother, “Miss Nina”  taught Second Grade at Malesus Elementary School back in those days. My brother and sisters and I were fortunate to live next door to Grandma and right across our back lot from the school. We were blessed to be able to walk to school everyday with my Grandmother. She instilled an excitement in me and my siblings, along with all of her students, for the learning process and reading was at the top of that list. “Miss Nina” would be proud of us all!

So,  I continue to read and press on toward the dream that God placed in my heart to write. I want to write a book and continue to share my struggles through poetry,  articles and devotionals; in the hopes that it might lead others away from the things that caused me to stumble and lead them to the abundant life in Christ Jesus. I’m not there yet, but I continue to press on and I’m excited to see where God will take me on this journey!

Is there a dream in your heart? Are you working diligently to see it come to fruition? It was placed there by God you know. Pray about it and ask for His guidance. I promise He will see you through to completion.

Philippians 3:13-14 – Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

And The Winner Is…

I watched The Grammy Awards the other night and this poem was born out of what I witnessed during prime time television…

Is it a shame what Hollywood has become
Has stardom ruined the bright minds of our young
Where is the talent in all its glory
That won’t stoop to foul language to tell its story
Pop artists and rappers weave masterful tales
“Wrecking ball” havoc…just for the sales
Record execs clamor over the latest ingenue
Will she succumb to debauchery too
Where are the young actors like Hepburn and Gable
That took us to places our feet weren’t able
Is nothing ever left to the imagination
Flesh exposed on every prime time station
Are our morals twisted and is society hell-bent
Is there anything left with a valued content
The new Country artist sings go smoke a joint
And follow your arrow wherever it points
But who will stand up for what is right
Turn off the channel and say good night
To this so-called “entertainment” they’re feeding you and me
Have we become immune to all that we see
When the spotlight dims
And the envelope rips
Do you really care
Who the winner is
A bitter pill is
Hard to swallow
If it’s fed to your mind
Your heart will follow

The Enduring City

Hebrews 13:14
For here we do not have an enduring city, but are looking for the city that is to come.

Traveling far and wide
Searching side to side
For a place to call our own
A city to call our home

Walking on foot, driving by car
Searching for a city near and far
For a home we think is best
A place for family, a place to rest

Yet we search both night and day
For a home in which to stay
While poverty creeps in and steals the sleep
Unfortunate ones live in the street

No roof above, no floor below
No bed to sleep, no place to go
No special place to call their own
No enduring city to call their home

Yet if we think about it long
Believers too can sing this song
For this earth is not our own
This place not meant to be our home

For we were never meant to stay
This earth will too soon pass away
Yet we still look for that enduring city
Coming on that glorious day

When the trumpets sound
And the sleeping rise
When we meet our Lord Jesus
Up in the skies

The place He prepared
We will finally see
The Enduring City
Built for you and for me

Eternal Use of Temporary Time

What time is it? What time do we need to be there? What time do we need to leave? It’s about time! Time, is a funny thing. It may not seem to be there, especially when you are running out of it! But it ticks softly away in the background of each day, just waiting for us to use it wisely.

So, how do you spend your time? How do you plan your day?

If your organized like me, you probably have one or more “To-Do-Lists” that you use to keep you on track and on time. If your old school, you might jot down the things that need to be done for the day with pen and paper or in a daily planner. The techie types may use their smart phone to record similar tasks.

I prefer the paper versions and use a colorful array of sticky notes for errands that need to be run after work; a separate sticky for grocery shopping on Saturday mornings, with an asterisk by the note to pick up the dry cleaning! There is also the unending colorful array of Post-It-Notes on my desktop and files at work; and there never seems to be enough time in a day to get all those tasks completed!

In the midst of all the sticky notes and to-do-list madness, when you think about your life and the “time” you spend here on earth, are you investing your time solely on the temporary things of this world, or is there “time” marked out of your day to spend in relationship with the one who created you?

I struggled with making quiet time with Jesus a part of my daily routine when I was younger. I was too busy checking off my to-do-lists and didn’t have too much time left over. The time that was left was used toward temporal things. I missed out on precious time that could have been spent in relationship with my Heavenly Father, and I’m certain that whatever I was doing was of no greater importance!

Through the years I’ve come to learn that my day is more focused and centered when I start out talking with Jesus. I set my alarm to get up 30 mins earlier each day, so I can spend it in prayer and relationship with my Lord. It’s become a routine and one that I greatly miss if I conscientiously decide to sleep in. That’s why getting to bed at a descent hour is also important to me, so I can get up when the alarm goes off.

Although I have a writing desk where I do most of my blogging, I have a separate area in my den where a comfy chair, a bright reading lamp, my Bible, a journal and my devotional books, pens and highlighters all sit quietly awaiting my arrival each morning. And yes God is there too! He is there every morning whether I show up or not.

I am disappointed in myself when I oversleep or willingly choose to miss that precious time with Him now. Granted I can talk to Him throughout my busy day and I do but there is nothing better than that time I spend early in the morning with no distractions. It’s just my time with God. I am amazed at how He speaks directly to me too, when I take the time to listen.

The book of Ecclesiastes is quoted often for its verses about “time”.

There is a time for everything and a season for everything under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace

The Teacher quoted in Ecclesiastes spends his time searching all of life’s questions, trying to find some reasoning as to the “why’s of life”; why we do the things we do, why we work so hard for material things that will only be left to someone else after we die.

The Teacher researches our work, our pleasures, the striving for advancement and riches; even wisdom and folly. His findings reveal that all of our efforts are meaningless and merely a chasing after the wind. He discerns through all of his study that the only thing in this life that matters is to fear God and keep His commands!

I am reminded as I read through these verses just how quickly “time” passes us by. We don’t often realize the beauty of the season until it is over. We spend countless hours, tending to monumental “to-do-lists” and Post-It-Note reminders, that in the grand scheme of things are meaningless!

Our time here on earth should be spent in preparation for where we will spend eternity…where the clock never stops ticking. Maybe we should strive to carve out some time to study God’s word, finding time to spend alone with Him in prayer, being ever mindful that our time here on earth is only temporary, but has a much greater eternal consequence.

Won’t you join me and spend time today thanking and praising God for all He has done for you? Maybe you prefer to talk to God before you go to sleep each night. The time of day is not important, as long as, the time is set aside for this purpose.

If you think your To-Do-List is just too full and you can’t squeeze in some quiet time, I would suggest to start with just 5 minutes. It is amazing how quickly a few minutes time will turn into half an hour or even longer when you put your focus on Jesus, thanking and praising Him for all He has done for us!

Prayer for today:
Lord Jesus: We thank You today for the awareness of time. Help us to plan our days knowing that they are numbered. We thank you too Lord, for teaching us to carve out time to spend in prayer, reading and studying Your Word, knowing that this is the most important time of the day. We look forward to our time together now and throughout all eternity! Amen

A Giving Heart Brims Over With New Wine

Our family took a leap of faith this past year, expecting The Lord to provide our financial commitment to our Church through our tithe. It was an interesting year to say the least.

Lee’s travels took him all over the continental US, while I labored here at home through the merger of my former employer of 25 years, with another financial institution on April 1, 2013. I witnessed many of my colleagues lose their jobs and others move on to new opportunities.

I was blessed to keep my job but the former management liaison role I held was given to the counter-party within the newly merged firm. I lost substantial bonus income with that change but gained a new position which moved me into the sales force. The new position required me to give up my base salary and work on straight commission.

My payroll dates were also changed during the restructuring of both companies; formerly being paid on “Trade Date” with my old employer, to not getting paid until “Settlement Date” with the new firm. I will explain below why I mention this fact.

I work with a sales team partnership that trades “Forward” settling mortgage securities, where trades done today, may not settle with the client for 90 days out. In the course of that payroll restructuring and the time it took for all the former trades where I had been compensated “on trade date” on the old platform, to roll off, so my payroll dates would align with the new platform would take about 120 days. Thus, I did not receive a paycheck for almost 4 months, though I worked every day! And like most families, we are a two income family and needed both incomes to meet our household expenses.

However, due to our faithful giving to our Church and other charities the previous year, our income tax return received on April 21, 2013 was more than enough to carry us through that 4 month period, until the payroll platform began a normal pay schedule for me again in September 2013.

The income tax return allowed for us to continue our tithe, meet our household budget, to keep our son in College and we never had to dip into our savings and still had money left over for entertainment! Praise God!

Now our CPA would tell you that it is best to try to manage your finances so your tax is flat at the end of the year and we might agree from a business standpoint. But…we truly believe that because our hearts were open to giving and because we had been faithful stewards with the income The Lord had entrusted to us in times past, that The Lord covered us in our time of need through that specific tax return!

As believer’s, we know that the area of our finances is the only area of the Bible where The Lord tells us to test Him!

Malachi 3:10
New Living Translation (NLT)
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!

Our God is so good! He continues to provide and it was with cheerful hearts that we were able to fulfill the total financial commitment we made to our Church by the end the year in 2013!

We get so much joy out of little opportunities that the Lord lays on our hearts too, like picking up the lunch tab for a stranger, tipping the grocery boy that helps take groceries to your car, putting an extra $20 bill in the Salvation Army kettle. Helping family and friends in times of need provides an almost indescribable gift to us in return. It warms our hearts in such a way that we long to experience it over and over and over again!

I challenge you today to find opportunities to give. Your heart will brim over and you will not be able to contain the blessing you will receive in return!

Power Verse:
Proverbs 3:9-10 (NIV))
Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the first fruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

Time Is Ticking

Time is ticking softly
in the background of your dreams
Time it waits for no one
Always out of time it seems

Time passes like a vapor
Life on earth is but a mist
Time is promised to no one
Does time even exist?

Time is of the essence
Time is drifting away
Time never stands still
Time in place can’t stay

Time lingers on sometime
For some it’s never enough
Time with a love can be sublime
Alone it can be tough

Be aware of time
And how you spend it
Time can’t be borrowed
And you can’t lend it

Our days are numbered
Our time is set
So live your life
Not to regret

How you spent your time
In this physical state
Did you worship the King?
It’s still not too late

Time is of the essence
Time is drifting away
Time never stands still
Time in place can’t stay

Make a decision today
It’s all up to you
To spend temporary time
For an Eternal use

This Chip

This chip has no chocolate decadence
This chip not off the old block
This chip holds no micro intelligence
This chip weighs you down like a rock

This chip not a tasty potato
This chip not a broken front tooth
This chip no brilliant white diamond
Still stumped by my little chip spoof?

This chip sits tight on your shoulder
This chip not good for your soul
This chip if carried ’til older
This chip over you has control

This chip makes others the villain
This chip changes attitudes and minds
This chip no value is given
This chip no recipe you’ll find

This chip will sour your outlook
This chip on your shoulder you see
This chip when removed will enlighten
This chip God created you to be