Monday, October 31, 2016

Take Time To Taste The Coffee

While trying to ignore workmen shouting loudly over nail gun fire when the nail gun machine recharged with air pressure, I was surprised to be wooed by the still small voice of the Lord. Now is a good time to write. Take time to smell the roses.

I replied without speaking. God, "How about smelling the coffee? No, better yet - tasting the coffee!"

See, I am on Day 24 of a 30 Day Cleanse. No coffee, no vino, no dairy, or carbs or even so much as a nut, seed or unhealthy fat. However, for all those workmen in the other room I have set the coffee pot brewing and enjoyed the smell even though I knew I would never taste a drop. I have been smelling coffee but not tasting it for 24 days. I do have time to smell the coffee. Just not taste it.

Smelling roses is not something which appeals to me right now but that which I am forbidden to taste calls me from the darkness!

Such is life. God gives us time. He also allows temptation as well. We are told to take time to enjoy life but do not sin. How often do we not take the work break because we have too much to do? This can fall into sin in the way of believing the lie that we can be in control. We need to accept the fact that our Heavenly Father is in control and not us or Father Time.

Not only could we have taken a break, but we had a chance to pray for someone during our break. That would have been going beyond the smell right into the taste of redeeming the day.

In Psalm 34:8 (ESV) God tells us Taste and See...

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Those are 2 senses which I love to combine. When you go to a winery, you swirl the glass and you look at the "legs" of the wine even though we often don't even know what that measures! And then we taste. And it is good!

My sister Sandy one year while on her exciting international work travels, brought me back a container of Rose Tea from Hong Kong. It looked like pink roses and smelled divine! I was thinking about how I would be able to drink a rose. But, my oh my! You gotta try it!

Although the rose petals were diced - when I added the boiling water, they shriveled up into a beautiful fuchsia mass which was like a huge fuchsia explosion in a cup! Since it was bulk tea I should have grabbed a tea ball (what is wrong with me? lol)! But, what I remember most about the first time ever drinking that tea is that I first saw the tea as I placed it into the cup then smelled it even before the hot water hit it. I tasted it and it was even rosier than words can describe. Touch was interesting in that it had very little substance. It felt like a very thin onion skin. Hearing was not part of the experience.

What I am getting at is that I did not take time to just smell the roses, but tasted, touched, and saw the roses!

This experience led me to wondering what experiences in life do I experience all 5 senses at one time? And this is humbling, but right now as I hear the workers work in my home, and I look out my office window at the palm fronds moving slowly in the breeze I taste this wonderful smoothie I blended with coconut milk and raspberries. I touch the keyboard as my fingers do the dancing. I smell the fragrance of the Holy Spirit as I inhale His Goodness.

Taste and See that the Lord is good...

Beloved, be reminded that though you may not be in a "Zen" experience like a hot rock massage or sticking a flag into frozen ground on Mt. Everest, or even something so enjoyable as being given a very large shopping spree - know that having all 5 senses and being able to enjoy the gifts God has given you to use are better than smelling only! Taste the coffee, taste the roses, taste the victory, taste the answered prayer, the Perfect Attendance reward, the 20 Year Anniversary, the paying off of the student loan or even something so simple as finding the last organic Baby Bok Choy in Fresh Market (that would be me).

I have to say that I have not blogged recently as my home is under siege with workers (yeah, already mentioned that lol) and since we moved from our last home, my writer's den has not confessed itself yet. I even bought a Logitech keyboard to use with my new laptop which does not inspire me. All this, and I still did not surrender to the Holy Spirit ideas I could have easily blogged - until today.

What is different about today, Lord?

And He so patiently and lovingly replied, Today,  you have not tasted coffee, but you have tasted My presence. You have made room for Me today. This is why today is different.

Lord, make me lie down in green pastures. Psalm 23:2

And yes, the coffee perking and perked will be inhaled - and tasted on the morning of November 8th. But it will pale in comparison to the realization today with knowing I can have all 5 senses working  - - - - at any time. I just need to take the time to smell, taste, see, hear and touch. And then to thank the Lord of my life, my Savior Jesus Christ. For He is good and worthy to be praised.........

Monday, March 21, 2016

No One Else Will

I finally did it. My challenge: find the ugliest shirt dress on eBay in my size and bid on it one time only and win. I chose the cheapest, ugliest deal within my reach and decided to bid once and only once. I fulfilled my mission. I won!

Did I think I would be the sole bidder? Yes. I did - because this medium sized orange ugly v neck shirt dress was that hideous. I wanted to win. I wanted the power. I wanted to be the one and only bid and win because I could.

It arrived today. I saw the seller's name on the return address on the unopened packet and smiled. I smiled because knew I would give this gaudy Chinese inspired top (which was too short for a dress) a home and wear it proudly for the mere fact that I knew no one else would. Bidding on it and winning it did not hurt my budget as it was merely $1.00 including shipping and handling. Lately, I have dabbled in wearing "outfits" which I consider fun to wear such as bohemian styles, ballet inspired workout gear, beach garb as well as Victorian wear hairstyle and all. Why not?

Not prepared was I for the beautiful color (coral meets tomato red meets raspberry and blueberry combined with a kiss of gold) which welcomed me as I opened the package. I was taken aback as I realized the eBay seller did not have a clue about how to advertise this item. For the color in the auction picture looked like an ugly pumpkin meets fiery sun yellow in the eBay ad. The v neck looked strangely set in black and white checkers along with a strange dark blue stitched Chinese inspired flower design which looked cheaply adhered in an odd placement in the picture.

In person the v neck checks were black with an antique golden yellow thread. The embroidery was beautiful black flowers set against the coral meets tomato red meets raspberry and blueberry combined with a kiss of gold lightweight comfortable fabric. What not to love? Breathtakingly beautiful and unique!

And so, I sat down and took it all in. Lord, this is a reminder to me of not judging by a first glance of what a situation seems to be. I mockingly chose this item because I challenged the premise of being the only one to offer wearing this homely top. I appointed myself the role of feeling special and being able to shock others all at first glance. Pride. Mockery. Power.

Of course, I considered this item to be a good beach coverup for summer and just merely toyed with the idea of wearing it out in public (pride). But I did figure wearing it in the privacy of my own home knowing it was ugly and I was the only bidder - somehow gave me great satisfaction.

And then conviction sunk in. Did the seller of this item enjoy this item? Need the money that a high bid would yield but which never surfaced as a result of a bad image? Sacrificed this potential favorite item to feed his/her family but only received a dollar for? Thoughts crept through my mind as I held this angelically soft, newly laundered and beautifully colored flowery scented item.

I am so sorry God. I judged a "book by its cover." I made a decision without all the facts. I exerted my influence in another  person's weak situation. I almost felt like returning this item in this moment of discovery. I did not feel worthy of enjoying this beautiful find.

If you saw the color of this garment, you would agree with me that it is special and beautiful. The fabric is a comfortable gauze and a warm kiss to my shoulders. I have never seen let alone owned such a beautiful item. I somehow feel this possession should not belong to me. Someone else should own it and wear it and enjoy it. Not me. I gained and the seller lost.

But God as He so easily does, reminded me, "You were born for royalty. For the unexpected gifts I want to give you. The plans you made, and wrote in pencil - these plans I erased. I wrote in pen - the color of coral meets tomato red meets raspberry and blueberry combined with a kiss of gold - just so you knew I was behind the surprise. I hand stitched flowers of black thread on not just the front but the back of the frock. I also remembered to stitch a 5 petal black flower on the back left shoulder for others to see merely because you are as beautiful coming as you are going. You are that beautiful and deserving and so much more."

Tears flow as I sit here and write all the while looking down at my beautifully embellished shirt dress which only God could have provided. I pray for the seller and throw a grateful prayer his or her way. I will never know the owner of this $1.00 item. No one else will understand how beautiful I feel, how special or how undeserving as I am humbly sit typing this devo adorned in the opposite of an ugly pumpkin fiery yellow sun color outfit. I happily sit in coral meets tomato red meets raspberry and blueberry combined with a kiss of gold. I am adorned in this outfit only because God knew no one else would be willing to save the "ugly duckling" from everyone else. I operated in pride but ended in humility and now God is rewarding me.

I know that I am loved. I know that only God would use an outfit to teach me more about myself than I could have ever learned on my own. I am grateful to know that God will teach me and guide me and come alongside me as I navigate through life - all the while resplendent in coral meets tomato red meets raspberry and blueberry combined with a kiss of gold. Not only that but with 5 black embroidered petal flowers on my back left shoulder. God will go above and beyond to let you know He is crazy about you. God cares about everything! Take time to be corrected and He will adorn you this side of Heaven in colors you never knew existed. No one else will. But God will. And I am proof!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Shirt Off My Back

Almost 20 years ago, I found the Lord at a small church in Pompano Beach, Florida. Because it was a traditional hometown church, I was encouraged to join the Women's Bible Study. I showed up that first morning and was embraced by one woman who had cut out a bunch of Bible verses and had magazines and papers for me. At the end of the Bible Study (almost everything went right over my head because I had very little understanding at that time), one elderly woman announced that their dear sister who had just passed had instructed in her last will and testament that she wanted the women of this church to enjoy her possessions.

I did not know this woman who had passed, but I was the first to approach the mountain of clothes. So many colors and beautiful accessories! I do not remember much about that day except the itens I was given. I do remember one woman commenting that their friend would have been happy knowing that I had joy in seeing all of her wonderful blouses, sweaters, scarves and handbags. I did take several items home that day because this woman knew how to accessorize!

The gifts that day long ago made an impression upon me not just in a materialistic way but because the event became less about the clothes and more about the character of the woman that had passed. I watched as the women cried and laughed and then laughed and cried as they held each item up. They remembered different events in which this saint had worn these items. These women remembered!

This memory caused me pause today as I packed up our mountain of Christmas ornaments (yes - Christmas was 2 months ago and this mountain represented procrastination!)

I realized today that I can also give my items to the women in my Bible Study. Check. I can see their faces now! Laughing about this and that and just having fun being alive. My friends are much younger than the women were at my first church. Those women were a bit reserved but got a bit rowdy at times and they also were enjoying my vim and vigor (I was the only one without gray hair) at seeing all of these fun items in one place there for the taking.

I felt good knowing this would be possible for me to arrange as well. However, I began to brainstorm about other areas of my life in which I could bless someone long after I entered Glory. Imagine opening my box of Christmas ornaments and seeing a Scripture and a note about the item! Imagine a note to the person opening the box! Inviting them to enjoy the items and passing them along to their children! A note about the $14.00 (including shipping) artificial Christmas Tree that I bought on Ebay one year and proudly decorated on into my 70's!

I thought about other areas of my every day living. And my pondering led to the Lord's still small voice convicting me of my procrastination with my paperwork and cluttered areas of my closets and my office. Do you live every day as if it is your last? Do you live every day as if your legacy would give joy if someone stumbled upon these things? Do you spend time in making your day count?

Ahhh Lord! I do not. I do not act when You prompt me to act. I do not knock on that door when I feel like being a couch potato. I avoid that situation because it may become painful. I do the comfortable lazy things and put off the To Do's for another day. I am truly sorry. Please change, mold me and make me more like You.

Relief. Cleansing. God's Holy Spirit shower of love....

After confessing this, I remembered another situation in which someone had blessed me almost 20 years ago as well. I had spoken to my neighbor Linda about not having silverware or dishes. I am not sure why I didn't have these items but I mentioned this to her. I opened my front door the next morning and there were stacks and stacks of plates, a box of silverware, mugs, monkey dishes and little knick knacks and fun things! She did not even tell me that she left those items there but I eventually found out and was blessed in so many ways by her kindness. She told me that the very next day after I had mentioned this to her these items came to her. I remember seeing the excitement in her eyes as she shared how she came upon the very items that I had told her I needed and she knew these items were for me. I understand now that she had seen God in this situation and so in faith she followed through and delivered these items to my front door. I get it now.

She was a Christian. She seemed like such a kind person and  yet I did not engage with her too much as I was in transition stepping closer to the Lord and not yet aware of the legacy she had left me. I still have the white monkey dishes in my cabinet. Every time I use them I smile because these dishes represent Linda. Her act of kindness continues today because of the memory she gave me!

On a more somber note. Some would pity me in not having children to leave my items to and I understand this. I lived a pity party every day for many many years. But, I have overcome this sad reality and am now choosing to live a life of blooming where I am planted. I will bless others because God has planned this for me to do even before the foundation of the world. I am no longer kicking and screaming at the goads because of not having children, but dwelling in obedience. Had to kick the goads first tho!

I take so much joy in knowing that God had me go into my garage today and decide to plow through the mountain of ornaments. I am truly going to make a special blessing for someone who opens that box. I have other inspiration plans in motion now as well.

One day I will give not only the shirt off my back, but my shoes, my handbags, all of my jewelry, my home, our car, our animals and so much more! I hope whomever receives these worldly possessions will take joy in the gifts I plan to give. I hope my legacy will ignite in someone else the same legacy which that woman I never met did and the same joy my neighbor Linda did. You just never know who you will affect by living your life for God. Giving the shirt off your back and so much more will leave marks on hearts you may never meet and on neighbors you will never run into again! Do it! Joy is to be shared.

Gotta go now and tackle that mountain of paperwork in my office (no one will want me to leave them my bills and accounting paperwork to file). Hmmm possibly I can leave a note on each year's tax return about God meeting our financial needs. The possibilities are truly endless....

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Stranger Danger

A Stranger. Stranger danger. Beware of eye contact on a plane when you are traveling alone. Keep your wallet in your front pocket just in case. Always look over your shoulder before entering your car. The warnings rattle around in our heads 24/7. The warnings become a part of who we are.

Strangers. They are all around us. The world would have us be fearful, look away, and protect our person and our possessions when among "Strangers." Wise. And yet, what does God's Word have to say about strangers?

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ESV" - Hebrews 13:2

43 Bible Verses about Strangers:

Recently I have come to understand the need for hiring a Stranger. A Visiting Angel sits with a man so that his wife can get a respite from the arduous task of caring for her husband who recently became a victim of dementia. He actually thinks his wife is a Stranger and works for a government agency. He has convinced himself she wants to take eminent domain of his residence. She has become a Stranger to him even after 50+ years of marriage.

The Visiting Angel - a Stranger who has instantly gained access into his world of darkness and insanity has quickly become a trusted confidante and a shoulder for this woman to cry on. The Visiting Angel had quickly accepted her role in the life of a man who capably raised 4 children and dreamed about the day he would celebrate his Golden Years. No doubt he envisioned sitting in the sun and reaping the rewards of a job well done. He surely couldn't wait to tinker in his garage and tend to his herb garden as he guided his grand children into adulthood. That plan was not to be. But a Visiting Angel entered a Stranger one day and easily left a friend the very same day.That was her role and she played that role well.

Strangers pretend you are invisible as they pass you by. I remember when I was a child as I walked alongside my Mother Strangers would smile at us. I mimicked my Mom and began smiling back. It wasn't until many years later when I had gum surgery and could not smile at Strangers that I realized the reason Strangers smiled at my Mom and then later me.  I realized my Mom had been smiling at Strangers and then they smiled back. The smile was ignited as we made eye contact. This was a chain reaction which occurred and which I had learned from my Mom. What a gift she had given me!

As a result of not being able to smile because of gum surgery when I was 42 I realized the power of the smile chain reaction. The gum surgery and inability to smile made me sad and so I struggled to then share a smile with just my eyes. It did not work. Because my smile did not happen a smile was not returned. My world was not the same until I could smile again...

Being almost 50 now, I realized this week that I smile less. With all of the ills of this world and the lack of love I see around me, I have begun to frown more than I smile. I looked in the mirror the other day and realized I had tiny frown lines beginning to form. I had never seen those marks before. Just for fun I smiled and then my entire face became beautiful again! In that moment I vowed to smile even when no one is around. Who wants jowls and frown lines? Besides, practicing a smile never did a body harm.

A Stranger can return a smile. He or she will still be a Stranger but will become a Stranger with a smile. One of my favorite Bible stories is the Good Samaritan. There was no smile in store for the Samaritan. He did the right thing because he knew the wrong thing was to walk by and remain a Stranger. In that story, the Stranger Danger was walking by and doing  nothing. And God in His Goodness has given us that story to remind us that Strangers are people placed in our path to provoke us to not just smile but to be the hands and feet of Christ.

My hope this year is to engage. To look for the need, to hear the woman 4 stalls away sobbing and to not only leave vowing to pray but asking if this Stranger is okay. The danger is in not asking to help. The danger is regretting to respond to that orchestrated situation in which God placed me to help, to love, to be the salt and light in a dying world.

How many Strangers have you pretended were invisible as you walked by today? Dare to step out of your comfort zone. Try some eye contact. Try a smile, a hello, a hint of a greeting. Be wise but be bold.

These are the days in which we cannot faint, fall, or follow anything or anyone which does not lead us closer to the Cross! After all, we truly are just Strangers ourselves - in a strange land.  So why not roll up your sleeves and smile? It's a start! And it is contagious! More smiles = less frowns and the grand total of this equation is a whole lot more LOVE. And at the end of the day Love is what Jesus did for us on the Cross and Love is what this world needs more of.  

Drop me a line and let me know about your Stranger story today! I will cheer as I smile a big smile because I can! If ya got it - use it!!