Cycling Class….

Image from Baby to Boomer Lifestyles

Thursday mornings are so much fun because I offer a Cycling class at the best gym in the world. Class preparation is pretty basic: show up early and get your bike; wheel it into place; make some adjustments to the seat and handle bars; strap in and get those legs moving. At this point, the lights are on in the studio; some are grumbling about sore, tired bodies; some are wiping the sleep from their eyes; caps are pulled down low; and most people are moving pretty slow.

But, something magical happens at 8:30 when the lights go off and the music cranks up. You can feel the mood of the room shift, heads down and focused, minds shifting to the task at hand, legs finding the cadence of the beat. About thirty minutes in, people are out of the saddle, sweat is pouring and mouths are grunting as we climb that second hill. You can feel the class riding together, catching their second wind, and giving it their best effort. And when that post-aerobic cool down comes and we find our way back to flat road, you can see the look of satisfaction at the determined effort. We conquered yet another mountain, together, victorious!

Each morning poses the same opportunity in life as my Thursday morning Cycling class. All we have to do is show up, drag ourselves out of bed and get ready for the task God has given us for the day. We need to put on the proper gear and wipe that sleep from our eyes. And the ride is so much smoother when we strap in and gear up with the power of His Word, minds in prayer and the shield of His love and protection surrounding us.

Before we know it, we are out of the saddle, pumping hard, surrounded by our fellow Warriors in Christ in this dark world, giving it our best effort because He is worth it. He is worth every ounce of blood, sweat and tears we have to offer because Jesus offered His blood, sweat and tears for us first.

And before we know it, the angel chorus will explode and we will be greeted with the sweetest satisfaction in Him, knowing that we conquered this mountain called life together, victorious.

Ride hard today! And be joyful!

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6‭-‬8 NIV

Mine, Mine, Mine!

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Image from pixshark.com

When my mom brought me home from the hospital, my brother met us at the car, exclaiming “my baby, my baby, my baby.” (He was an extremely intelligent boy and knew greatness when he saw it. 🙂 ) I carried my “blankee” for much longer than I will ever admit and it was definitely my property and mine alone. Try and take food away from my daughter and see what happens to you. How often have we witnessed children grab a toy away from someone else’s hands all the while exclaiming, “mine”?

We sure do like to lay claim to our possessions, don’t we? I have noticed a pattern developing culturally that seems similar. More and more often, I hear people refer to their own “truth” or they might comment about another person saying something like, “that’s her truth.” I hear things like, “do you girl” or “look at what I made” when it comes to our children. I recently used hash tags under a picture of my own daughter laying claim to her softball status: #lovemynumber6 and #thatsmygirl. I know, you are probably thinking that these are innocent claims that come from an innocuous place. But, I think that they might speak to a larger issue that comes from our self-absorbed, self obsessed nature or as my Pastor likes to say, “Me-ville.”

Jesus answered, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). Jesus also said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) We see God say to Moses in Exodus 3:14, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.'” It seems to me that we need to be very careful when it comes to “truth” and laying claim. The only truth that stands firm in this world is Jesus. It is not my truth or your truth, it is His Truth. And the truth of the matter is that anything good or right or fair that flows from our lives is simply a reflection of God working through us. Further, any possession or gift or talent that we lay claim to was entrusted to us by our Father. This includes our children.

Thank God that He shouted, “mine, mine, mine” and sent His Son to save us. Thank God that Jesus shouted, “mine, mine, mine” when He gave up his last breath and conquered death, rising victorious for us. Thank God that His Holy Spirit shouts, “mine, mine, mine” as His very life pours into our very being. Glory Father, your truth is everything! You must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. (John 3:30 NLT)

So, this weekend, I dare you to claim “His Truth” in your life and instead of “doing you”, let’s “do God”. He is the only Truth that matters.

Be joyful!

If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all be myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”–well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors–as it is today. Deuteronomy 8:17-18 MSG

Humility…

This one word packs such a powerful punch! God has been working on me in this area of my life. I am finding that He is offering lots of opportunity for me to practice humility, as well as my daughter and husband right now. I must admit watching my daughter navigate this one lately has been incredibly difficult. But, the lessons that God is teaching are beyond important. They are life changing.

Webster’s Dictionary defines humility as “a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.” Yes, I agree. That is one hard pill to swallow, especially in this generation of self. We are hard pressed and often rewarded when we practice the exact opposite of humility. It’s no wonder that antonyms for humility are words like pride, arrogance, self-importance, egoism. The world teaches us that we actually should have the highest opinion of self. We should put ourselves above all other things: our desires, our thoughts, our opinions, our success. And the world tells us that it doesn’t matter who or what we need to step on in order to get ahead. We can cheat, lie, steal, gossip and take any advantage possible to put self ahead. No offense here folks, but isn’t the beloved “selfie” about as narcissistic as it gets?

God knew that we would need a fresh reminder about the importance of humility throughout each generation, which is why He reminds us over and over again in scripture to humble ourselves before our Father and to humble ourselves in our relationship with one another. In Philippians 2:3, God tells us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above self.” God reminds us in Proverbs 11:2 that “when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 15:33 also tells us that “wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor.” Ephesians 4:2 shares with us to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” And finally, God boldly proclaims in 1 Peter 5:6 “humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

We are called to swallow our pride and practice humility always. Jesus is the Author and Perfector of humility. He laid down His life for me: for my pride, arrogance, self-importance, egoism. In contrast, He is the only one who has the right and reason to hold a high opinion of Himself. Yet, we see Him practice the opposite, not just practice but teach and equip us to do the same. With our humble obedience, He will give us wisdom, honor and He will lift us up in His perfect time. (Can I get an hallelujah from the back row?)

Yes, the lessons God are teaching are beyond important. They are life changing. If I will simply get my “self” out of the way.

Be joyful and humble!

“But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Mark 10:31 NIV

It’s Time to Make the Donuts…

I showed the students at our Leopards for Christ meeting this morning a very popular Dunkin’ Donuts commercial from the eighties. This commercial showed Fred, the Baker leaving his house morning and night, in all kinds of weather, to make the donuts. At the very end of the commercial, Fred actually finds himself running into himself. You see, the monotony of the daily task left him blurry eyed, confused and half brain dead. He couldn’t remember whether he was coming or going, let alone whether he actually made the donuts!

Much of daily life is the same for us. The paper work, the laundry basket, the car pool, the dead lines, the yard work, our studies, the gym, conversations, and even our time with God can fall into drudgery. Before we know it, we find ourselves simply going through the motions and finding little motivation, let alone joy in our daily tasks.

Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” I can’t think of a better way to combat the mundane tasks that confront us in every day life. When our focus shifts from going through the motion of the task to trusting God to pattern our steps and guide our understanding, everything changes! We find a revitalized soul and a purpose. (Even when it means scrubbing the toilet for the 100th time.)  Seeking God’s will each and every day, makes the day seem limitless in possibility and wonder. Our obedience to the minutiae that every day life requires can actually bring blessings we could never imagine.

When it’s time to make the donuts again, trust that God has a bigger purpose. Even the smallest of tasks can result in the greatest rewards. By simply fixing your eyes and heart on Jesus, those donuts start to look and smell amazing. And before you know it, you find yourself taking a big, ‘ole bite, thanking God for each delicious morsel of life!

Be joyful!

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” Mark 12:30 NLT

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A Kit Kat…

My husband and I laughed so hard at the family Easter Egg hunt in our back yard yesterday. You have never seen grown people act such a fool over hidden plastic eggs! My daughter’s beloved Nana actually tossed a plastic bowl at her head to try and distract her at one point. I’ll put it this way, we have a very competitive family!

The angel dog was also part of the hunt, barking and cheering on the hunters. And he was close by when each participant went through their eggs. He proudly brought a small Kit Kat candy bar back to me and was very proud of his found treasure. Before I knew it, he was eating his treasure, wrapper and all. I immediately told him to “drop it”, which made him choke it down even faster. You see, he wanted that candy bar even though it was not good for him.

We have so many similar temptations in life, don’t we? We find ourselves caught up in the moment and before we know it, we have gobbled down that thing that is not good for us. Even when we hear our Father telling us to “drop it”, we quickly devour it in hopes that it won’t hurt too bad this time.

Thank God that we have a Father that understands and was willing to send his Son, Jesus, to conquer death and sin. So when we find ourselves with a mouthful of sin, wrapper and all, we can repent and bask in his forgiveness. He also provides a way for us to stand up against that temptation the next time, even if it is a yummy Kit Kat candy bar!

I hope each of you delighted this Easter in the overwhelming sweetness of that empty tomb and all that it means for you. And I do hope that you enjoyed a little something sweet to eat, minus the wrapper of course!

Be joyful!

“The angel spoke to the women: ‘There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.'” Matthew 28:5‭-‬6 MSG

A Seizure…

20180329_124330The angel dog had a seizure yesterday. It is the second tine this has happened to him. The first seizure was at least three years ago. The truth is that it has been so long since the first one that I had forgotten what they looked like. We were laying on my bed late afternoon and I was working on my laptop. One of my first blogs, “Early Mornings with the Angel Dog” was about our morning ritual, which depicted how the angel dog loves to snuggle under the covers each morning with his momma. Yesterday afternoon, he began scratching like he wanted under the covers. When I lifted the comforter so he could go under, I noticed that something was wrong. He was squirming on his belly and it seemed like he didn’t know how to get under the covers. I jumped up and put my hand on him and called his name. He again was squirming and seemed unable to stand up.

My husband works for a company that allows him to work remotely. So, his office is actually in a barn in our back yard. I called him and told him to please come in because something was wrong with angel dog. In the time that it took him to walk across our yard into the house, angel dog seemed to be calming down and was now trying to squirm his way closer to me.  I laid my body over his and kept whispering over and over that it was going to be okay. We called the vet and headed to the vet clinic. Angel dog was already feeling better and actually ran to the truck and hopped up ready to go for a ride, which is one of his favorite things. (My sweet husband prayed for the angel dog on our way to the vet clinic, which made me fall a little deeper in love with him.) Everything checked out at the vet clinic and the vet confirmed that it was a seizure and that often mild seizures in dogs are more traumatic for the owners than the animal.

I want you to know that I was completely calm, cool and collected throughout this incident. And if you believe that, I have some swamp land that I would like to sell you in my home state of Florida. I was so shaken that I called the wrong vet clinic. Then, was crying so hard that its no wonder how the poor woman who answered the phone at our vet clinic even understood who we were and what was happening. Fear had taken a firm grip on me.

I remembered a time about a decade ago when fear also took a firm grip on me. This time, the recipient of my phone call was my mother and I told her through choked back tears that my first husband wanted a divorce. What followed for months after were cries to my Father in heaven asking Him to put the pieces back together. Sometimes those prayers were with words; but, often those prayers were silent cries where the words simply wouldn’t come. Through all of it, Jesus laid his body over mine and whispered that it was going to be okay. And it was eventually okay. In fact, because of His grace, forgiveness, mercy and peace it became more than better. I found myself able to run again and hop up in the truck ready for a ride!

Maybe you need to be reminded this Easter that God is active and present. That He is capable of conquering death and resurrecting life. That we never go through life’s storms, life’s heart breaks or life’s fears without Him. He can and will, in His timing, make things good again. Make things great in fact! He will not leave you in the darkness of Good Friday….to borrow a well known quote…”Sunday is coming”! Hallelujah!

Be joyful!

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 NLT

 

Miracles Still Happen…

I witnessed a miracle this past weekend. My daughter’s friend was in a car accident. She actually flipped her car five times, over a barbed wire fence and landed halfway out her front window. For all intensive purposes, she should be in heaven with Jesus. No, not the case here. God has things left for her to do. Her part of His story is simply not finished. So, she walked, painfully, away from the accident with five fractured vertebrae and several contusions to her lungs. She will heal in a back brace. Her injuries did not require surgery. And she found herself at home the day after her accident to start the healing process. It was nothing short of a miracle. God’s grace and mercy on display for us to witness.

And what a better time to witness God perform a miracle than the week leading up to Easter, this Holy Week. The same God who turned water into wine; made the blind man see; and raised Lazarus from the dead just moved in this young girl’s life. His power, His glory, His mercy, His grace on full display.

The same God whose Son, Jesus, faced the brutality of the Cross and who gave up His final breath for each of us. Jesus, who three days later, left the tomb empty, completely victorious and alive, so that each one of us can have eternal life with our Father in heaven. Yes, this same God stood in the gap of this accident and spared this young girl’s life.

What is there left to say? Thank you Father. You are truly an awesome God. You are good. You are powerful. You are merciful. To You be all the Praise and all the Glory. Forever. Amen.

Be joyful and in awe!

“For even the Son of man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 NLT