Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rubies of Love

                I love my husband. He always remembers my birthday, our anniversary, and special holidays. He talks to me, and he listens to me. He wants to make me happy. We have a great relationship of knowing when something is more important to the other and knowing when to give and take. He is supportive and would gladly stand between me and harm’s way. He stands strong in His faith. His love for me is patient, kind, sharing, hopeful, enduring, and he has promised to love me forever. Sound like the perfect guy? Sorry, he’s taken. He’s mine.
                The color red is a symbol of love. We see red in hearts at Valentine’s Day, a dozen red roses,  and red I Love You scripts on birthday and anniversary cards. We’ve all heard the familiar poem, “Rubies are red, violets are blue . . .” which usually ends with I love you. Rubies are red, and rubies signify love. 
                My husband likes to give me jewelry. He likes to find different types of stones with matching ring, necklace, and earrings. It’s ironic that one of the stones he hasn’t chosen yet is rubies. Maybe he will read this post and come up with a good idea for Christmas.
                Despite everything good I can say about my husband, neither of us is perfect. As much as my husband loves me, his love doesn’t compare to God’s love. God’s love is perfect. It casts out fear. God’s love never fails. Even when I don’t deserve it, God loves me. Even when I hurt God’s feelings, he loves me. Even when I forget to talk to Him or acknowledge Him, God loves me. If I ignored Him for a year, He would still love me. Every time I sin, I mess up fellowship with God; but He loves me, and He is ready and waiting for me to turn back to Him.
                God has given me rubies. He has given me every precious stone. They are like gifts all neatly wrapped and waiting to be opened. All I have to do is open them by spending time with Him in His word. What is stopping me from filling my spiritual jewelry box? What is stopping you?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Diamonds are Forever

                When you get married, you pledge to love each other forever. A diamond is a symbol of that forever love. It is supposed to be endless, constant, infinite, limitless, immeasurable; but it doesn’t always work out that way. People disappoint. We become disheartened. Our feelings and emotions get in the way and cloud our thinking. People hurt each other.
                God’s love never fails. It never ends. It is truly forever.  According to scripture, “Riches do not last forever” (Proverbs 27:24). Scripture also tells us, “the word of the Lord remains forever” (I Peter 1:25). Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” The things of this earth will pass away, but God’s love, His Word, His Son are the only things that last forever. When the riches of this world are gone, God’s Word will still remain.
                When I look at the diamonds in my wedding ring, I am reminded of the love that my husband and I share. I am also reminded of God’s perfect love. His love for me is greater than the love my husband and I can show each other, and His love is forever.
                Fill your spiritual jewelry box with diamonds from His Word. These precious stones will truly last forever.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Diamonds - A Girl's Best Friend?

           What makes a good best friend? Is it someone that shares what’s going on in your life or someone that knows your secrets? Is it someone that’s there for you in good times and bad? Does your best friend know everything about you? Do you share the same friends and enemies? There are no secrets among best friends.  A best friend will listen. A best friend forgives.
So what makes diamonds a girl’s best friend? According to the song, diamonds are reliable. They don’t grow cold or lose their shape or lose their charm. When others disappoint, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
I remember singing a different song as a child that said, “My best friend is Jesus.” If Jesus is my best friend, then wouldn’t we share the same friends and enemies? James 4:4 says “friendship with the world is enmity with God” and “whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
If Jesus is my best friend, then He would share what He knows with me, and I would share with Him. In John 15:12-15 Jesus talks about friends. Verse 15 says, “. . . I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” He has shared with us. Are we sharing with Him?
I love how all He heard from the Father, He made known to us. These words are free and readily available. They are the diamonds of our friendship with Jesus. They are the precious stones in His Word. He is speaking from scripture, but you can’t hear if you’re not there.
Talk to Jesus today, and place the diamonds of a true best friend inside your jewelry box.

Monday, August 20, 2012

What Did You Forget?

            Do you ever leave home feeling like you have forgotten something? Every time I have this feeling, it’s true. I have forgotten something. It might be my lunch in the refrigerator, a grocery list, a dry cleaning coupon, or my shoes (for real--but that’s another story). What about time with God? Does the time you spend with God in the mornings have an impact that would cause you to have this same feeling if you missed it?
            It’s amazing how starting your day with God makes a difference in your attitude and expectancy for the day. Someone sent me an email today at work with a quote at the bottom. The quote was about being prepared for opportunities that could become our finest hour. The best way I know to prepare is to begin each day with God.
            Proverbs 20:15 (ESV) says, “There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.” The word for knowledge in this verse means discernment, understanding, or wisdom. There is a lot to learn in life, an abundance, but the precious jewels come in discernment and understanding.
            I can read scripture and even memorize a verse, but the treasure comes in unlocking the wisdom in that scripture. I want that wisdom. I want to understand what God has for me. The Holy Spirit provides the key to unlock these treasures as we spend time alone with God. Ask Him to unlock the treasures of His word and fill your spiritual jewelry box with precious jewels. Begin your day with an open jewelry box waiting to be filled.
            What’s in your spiritual jewelry box?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Look at that Rock!

Have you ever heard someone say “look at that rock” when referring to a large diamond someone is wearing? We are impressed by large diamonds. They are expensive and rare. Diamonds are rated based on the 4 C’s: cut, color, clarity, and carat.
I compare diamonds in my physical jewelry box to diamonds of faith in my spiritual jewelry box. These diamonds are founded on the 4 C’s: conviction (of sin), cross (Christ’s payment), confession (understanding), and confidence (in promise of salvation). These 4 C’s are what open our spiritual jewelry box. From there we lay a foundation for life based on our faith in God’s word.
Jesus said those who hear his words but don’t do them are like a foolish man that built his house on the sand. When the rains came, the house fell. He contrasted this with those who hear his words and do them. They are like the wise man that built his house upon the rock. When the rains came, the house stood firm. The foundation was stable. It was founded on the rock.
Our foundation needs to be founded on the rock, the Word of God, His words. Building a strong foundation of faith is like a diamond. It is expensive (it costs your time and effort) and rare (not many are committed).
James 4:17 (ESV) says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” I sometimes think more of my sins fall into the category of not doing what I know I should versus doing what I know I shouldn’t. Placing diamonds of faith in my jewelry box gives me the strength to do the right things that I know to do. This also helps me understand when James talks about faith and works. We must first have faith in order to do the good works that we are called to do.
I want people to look at my life and say “look at her rock” referring to the rock of my salvation. I want my faith in Christ to be reflected in how I live life based on His words. I want others to want what I have, so I can share Christ with them.
What about you? How’s that spiritual jewelry box looking?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Precious Stones

Last year my husband and I took a trip to Arkansas and stopped at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. It had rained recently, so it was extremely muddy and pretty chilly the day we were there. We rented buckets, shovels, and screens and learned how to screen for diamonds. I would love to say we found several large diamonds, paid off our house, and soon retired from our jobs; but that didn’t happen.
I was sure I had found a diamond right on top of the ground, which after recent rains is “possible”. When I had it looked at by the experts, I was told it was a piece of glass. Of course that would have been too easy, as most people have to dig to find the real treasures. It takes time and effort, and few stumble upon such treasure without a little effort. While we didn’t find any diamonds, we did have fun.
Most things in life that are worthwhile are like looking for diamonds. It takes time and effort. It takes commitment and determination. And sometimes, most times, you have to dig.
There are four gemstones we refer to as precious stones: diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Part of what makes a stone precious is the Mohs hardness rating or the ability to resist abrasion or scratching. On a scale of 1 – 10, diamonds are a 10, rubies and sapphires are a 9, and emeralds are an 8.
                Life is similar. There are gems in our lives that protect us and give us the ability to resist abrasion or scratching. Do you have what you need to stay strong and resist abrasion? Some days you need diamonds of faith, some days rubies of God’s love and healing, some days sapphires of courage or discipline, and some days emeralds of hope.  What you put into your spiritual jewelry box is what you can then take out. God’s precious stones give us what we need; but sometimes, most times, we have to dig into scripture for them.
                Which of these precious stones do you need most right now?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to School

It’s August, and it’s hot in Texas. Summer break is almost over. My children are grown, but I remember when they spent their summers indulging in a life of leisure while I was at work. They stayed up late and slept late. They snacked all day and weren’t hungry for dinner with the family. They expected to be shuttled to friend’s houses, movies, malls, and the like the minute I walked in the door. As the summer would come to a close, I would always think, “I can’t wait for school to start.”
I remember one year in particular when the calendar for the coming year was filled with activities for three teenagers (none yet able to drive). Two weeks before school started we went shopping for school clothes, shoes, athletic items, backpacks, and supplies. My younger son played football and soccer with daily practice and a game every week and weekend. My older son was involved in Taekwondo three times a week, tournaments, and computer classes every afternoon. My daughter was part of the high school drill team with daily practice, Friday night games, activities on the weekend, and out of town competitions. Everything was lined out nicely on the calendar. They would hardly ever be home to mess up the house and complain.
There were bus schedules to review, car pools to coordinate, and rides to barter. It would prove to be a busy year that needing a lot of planning, but that was a welcome challenge after the laziness of summer.
They would also have homework, driver’s ed, school projects, parties, dances, part-time jobs, church activities, etc. My coordination skills would be tested and my patience taxed as I would become a passenger in my own car with two teenagers learning to drive. I looked forward to growing closer to each of my children individually by shuttling them around, but family time together would be at a premium.
 The lazy days of summer would soon be gone. I wouldn’t miss those lazy days. Summertime. The kids were always glad to see me when I got home if for no other reason than to tell on each other. They slept late, but they actually got to sleep. They snacked during the day, but I filled the house with healthy snacks. They wanted to be shuttled around, but I had the option to say NO because it wasn’t a required function. I could actually sleep later than 5:00 am on Saturdays because there were no soccer games, taekwondo meets, or drill team classes. There were fewer doctor visits for sprained ankles, busted elbows, and broken bones due to limited sports activities. We could go on vacation. The laziness of summer was less structured. With just two weeks left until school started and the calendar full, and after looking forward to the beginning of another school year, I soon found myself thinking, “I can’t wait for school to be out!”
How about you? Are you ready for school to start?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Making Headlines


85 years ago today -- or any day . . . something happened. Something happens every day, but not everything makes the headlines. Birthdays are a fun time to look up what headlines were made on the day you were born. For instance today in 1846 the Smithsonian Institution was created. On this day in 1990, the Magellan spacecraft began its orbit of Venus.

Birthdays are on my mind since my family had so many last month.  My husband’s birthday is one day after mine. He is a year older than me, which makes us the same age for one day each year. This year the night before my birthday I asked him what it felt like to be old since he was already there. He didn’t appreciate that too much.

As we get older, birthdays can be a time of reflection on how we have spent our years so far and also a time of planning for what we hope to accomplish in the future.

What do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime, and what kind of impact are you making on your world? How many years have already passed – 25, 35, 45, 65, 85?  Maybe the best question to ask is: What impact did you make on others TODAY? Live today to its fullest. Impact the future instead of focusing on the past. I welcome your thoughts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Makeover Time

            I always thought it would be fun to have a full makeover similar to what I’ve seen on television or in magazines. When I turned 50, I decided to treat myself to a makeover with an Image Consultant in Fort Worth, Texas. The makeover included facial skin care, makeup, hairstyle, a color analysis, and a full body analysis. They removed my current makeup, pulled back my hair, analyzed my skin and facial complexion, poked and prodded, and then measured every inch of my body. They pampered me and reapplied my makeup providing a custom blended foundation created just for me.
At the end of the day, I was sent home with new makeup, a new hairstyle, a custom color swatch with my best colors, and an analysis of the best clothing styles for my body type. I had a lot of fun that day, and I still use this information. The professional consultation and time spent actually changed some of my preconceived ideas that I thought would never change. I have come to terms with the fact that while black may be slimming, it really isn’t my best color. I paid to have my outside image remade, but who I was on the inside wasn’t changed.
            So what’s the price for an inside makeover? I like to think of God as my own personal image consultant. He is there every day giving the guidance needed for each decision regarding inner beauty. One of the great things about my own personal image consultant is that He is free. Jesus paid the price. In the beginning, man was made in God’s image. There was a spiritual relationship with God. Sin broke the relationship, but Jesus was God’s gift to restore it. We are born once physically and then born once again spiritually through Christ. Our inner beauty is enhanced as we spend time with our image consultant.
In the book of Acts, Peter and John were arrested for preaching about Jesus. When they were brought before the Sanhedrin, Peter spoke boldly proclaiming salvation through Jesus Christ. Acts 4:13 tells us, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” Can people tell that you have been with Jesus? If not, could it be that you haven’t been spending time with your image consultant?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Autopilot

Every Monday through Friday and occasionally on Saturday I get in my car, pull out of the driveway onto the street, and turn left to go to work. Every Sunday morning my husband and I get in the car together, pull out of the driveway onto the street, and turn left to go to church. Every time we get in the car to go to the drug store, the mall, the office supply store, the plant store, the doctor, or the veterinarian, we pull out of the driveway onto the street, and we turn left.
Once a week I get in my car, pull out of the driveway onto the street, and turn right to go to the grocery store. Sometimes I get in the car to go to the grocery store, but I automatically turn left instead of right. Part way down the street, I realize my error.
Have you ever gotten in your car to go somewhere and realized you had turned the wrong direction? Sometimes I drive home from work and don’t even remember passing certain landmarks. It’s because I’m on autopilot.
If we aren’t alert, we can also go on autopilot with our prayers. We can pray for the day and go through our lists without really paying attention. Remember to focus and be intentional with your prayer life. Don’t autopilot your prayers.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tuning Out

            Have you ever tuned someone out when they were talking to you? As soon as my daughter learned to talk, it seemed as though she never stopped. I remember a trip to the shoe store to buy shoes for my son when he was a toddler. My daughter was not quite four years old. Since I wasn’t trying shoes on her, she plopped into the chair next to a man at the store and began talking to him. She gave him her entire life story, all close to four years of it. He didn’t have to say a word. She did all the talking.
            She was always talking to everyone whether they listened or not. Sometimes driving down the road, she would be talking and talking to no one in particular. I became so used to her constant chatter that many times I tuned her out. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision to stop listening. I wasn’t unwilling to listen. I would be thinking about other things or listening to the radio and not think I was missing anything important. I’m not worried this will offend her, because I think she is the same way now with her oldest son.
            Sometimes we are like this with God. We drive down the road of life thinking about other things and not really listening for His voice. It’s not that we consciously decide to stop listing. It’s not that we are unwilling to listen. We are thinking about other things and don’t think we are missing anything important.
            Slow down, step on the brake, and listen for what God has to say to you today.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chicken or Beef

                Today was Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. My Facebook News Feed was filled with posts about chicken. There were comments and articles listing reasons to support this event and comments and articles listing reasons not to support it. I was surprised by some people that I thought would be supportive that were not and also surprised by some that I thought would not be supportive that were.
                I’m sure that I support businesses every week that do not completely share my views and values. There are probably only a handful of businesses (if that many) that if I really pursued accurate information would I find held similar views as mine in every area. Listening to the media to obtain accurate information is not always best, and many will agree or disagree about the true statements and reasoning behind today’s event.
                Today I chose to eat at Chick-fil-A. My decision was based on both support for Chick-fil-A to be able to express their support for traditional marriage values and at the same time to stand against those that are intolerant of Chick-fil-A’s right to do so.
                As Americans we have freedom of speech, but many times that only seems to apply to those protesting for liberal views and not to those standing for conservative values. It’s okay to disagree with me on this. That is your right.
                If I have offended anyone because I decided to eat chicken today instead of a hamburger or a taco, I am not apologetic. I am also not attacking your right to choose differently, so don’t attack my right to stand by my conservative Christian Biblical values.
                I support traditional marriage between a man and a woman only. I do. No apologies. You don’t have to agree with me. I saw posts today about loving your neighbor whether they are Christian or Jewish or Muslim, black or white or brown, homeless or affluent, and homosexual or heterosexual. I wholeheartedly agree. I believe I am called to love my neighbors including those that are different from me and those that don’t agree with me. I believe that real love is sharing God’s love. Jesus showed God’s perfect love to all, and He also offended those that did not agree with Him.
                As today draws to a close and Chick-fil-A closes for the night, we will find it was not about eating chicken. It was about the right to stand by our convictions. It is time that Christians realize they can stand up for their convictions just like everyone else.  I support no hate or guile, but I do pray for strong Christian convictions to be heard. I pray for a spiritual awakening in America.
                My convictions are not based on what feels good to me or the trend of the times. I strive to keep my beliefs aligned with the Word of God, but don’t take my word for anything. I invite you to read the Bible yourself, but I will warn you. You may get offended. If you do, take it up with God. He wrote the book.