Today is Going to be a Good Day

I loved elementary school.  I had friends and life was good.

But middle school was different.  Five different elementary schools funneled into our middle school.

Middle school is generally when bullying starts and that’s what happened with me.

Then I went to high school where five middle schools funneled in, and there was just a total indifference.  It was like being invisible. It’s not that I had no friends in high school, I did but there was a definite division between groups and ours was the odd group out. Strangely enough one of my classroom friends moved to California and went on to become a famous actress in Hollywood!

College was the best because in college you started with a clean slate.  No one knew that you were unpopular in middle school and high school.  They just became your friend because either they lived down the hall from you or you were in the same class and they simply accepted you for who you were.

A few weeks ago, I saw a play called “Dear Evan Hanson”.  It was a story about a boy in high school who was pretty much ignored by the other students.  He only had one friend and that was his cousin, who he said really was forced to be his friend by his mother.

So, Evan suffered from anxiety, and because of this, his mother had him seeing a psychologist to work out his issues.  The psychologist gave Evan and assignment to write a letter to himself every day and here is how it would start:

Dear Evan Hanson,

Today is going to be a good day and here’s why……

Then he was instructed to list why the day would be good.

This assignment didn’t help him and at one point he ends up writing a letter about why the day is not good.  A troubled high school boy ends up stealing the letter and then he commits suicide. The letter is mistaken by the adults who find it as a letter written by the boy who commits suicide to Evan Hanson.  Then the story unfolds from there with the adults thinking Evan and this boy were friends and Evan now getting attention and enjoying it, fabricates a friendship with the dead boy.  Of course, it gets him in trouble, but the audience is rooting for Evan the whole time because your heart really goes out to him.  It’s a story every young person who struggles should see, but it’s also a story of courage, strength and the redemptive power of forgiveness.

The basic premise of telling yourself today is going to be a good day really isn’t a bad one.

No one wants to have a bad day and routinely we wish people a good day.

But wishing to have a good day or wishing someone else a good day doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a good day.

Each day comes with troubles of its own, the key is not to focus on the troubles but instead to focus on the blessing of each day.

I too, struggle with anxiety.

So, my thought today was to take the word “anxious” and restructure it.

  • A and
  • N now
  • X (anxiety)
  • I is
  • outcast
  • U ultimately
  • S (and) securely

 

Why?  Because Jesus has me, God holds me, and the Holy Spirit guides me.

Nothing is going to happen today that I cannot handle through the power of three in me.

God is omniscient over my anxiety.  He knows everything.  He knows exactly what’s going to happen today.

Jesus’ death on the cross was omnipotent, God gave Him the power to take away the sin of the world which includes my sin of anxiety.

The Holy Spirit is omnipresent, God gave the Holy Spirit as a helper to overcome my anxiety.

We are to be anxious for nothing.  So here’s my letter to myself.

Dear Lynn,

Today is going to be a good day and here’s why:

The Lord is with you.

God sustains you.

The spirit guides you.

Go and share this knowledge and the love of God with others!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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True Transformation

I stand on the street corner looking at a house for sale today.  It’s a magnificent looking house that has been totally transformed.

To understand why it intrigues me I need to provide some background information.

Many years ago, this same house was a storage house.  The owner lived elsewhere but stored her stuff in this house.  And by stuff, I mean this house was filled top to bottom.

So, the house stood empty but was full of stuff.

There came a time when the woman’s boyfriend died, and she, having nowhere to go, moved into the storage house.

A POD soon arrived for additional storage in the driveway.  Then multiple coolers appeared on the driveway, and near the front door of the house.  I later learned that the woman was storing meat in those coolers.

Eventually a smell started to surround the storage house which had now become a home for her and her two children.

Several neighbors called the police to complain but the police said there was nothing they could do.

This went on for over 10 years.

Finally, due to an inability to pay taxes the woman was removed, and the house was sold.

So, there stood this dilapidated house, almost in ruins.  Green streaks ran down the siding.  Windows were ill fitting due to having been open much of the year, possibly due to the stench and animals were living inside.

Oddly, the house sold fairly, quickly.  It did not sell to a family, but rather to a rehab company.

I’ve watched this house be transformed over the course of a year and the transformation is truly amazing!

While I expected the company to wash and paint the house, and spruce up the inside a little bit, that’s not what happened.

The entire inside of the house was gutted.  The walls came down and only bare studs remained.

They trenched around the basement and removed all of the mature trees leaving a barren yard with broken concrete on the driveway.

Then something surprising happened!

The contractor began new construction putting an addition on to the house!

I couldn’t believe it!

This is going to be an expensive project I thought.

Daily I walked by this house and watched in delight as each new project was completed.

New drywall went inside the house with fresh paint.

On the outside the new addition came to completion and the house took on a totally new design.

It no longer looked like the same house.

Next came a new roof.  Then new siding and gutters, and then it stood for a while.  It looked a little plain to me, but eventually new shutters were placed on the house and a stone façade was added to the front entrance.  Now the house was beginning to take on a personality of its own!

Then something sad happened.  The new deck they had put on the back of the house had to be partially removed so they could trench around the basement for a second time.

I guess there was some type of leak in the foundation and the foundation is the very heart of a home.

As I continued to walk past this house daily, I would look at the disheveled yard and wondered if the contractor had plans to landscape.

Again, the house stood for a while when suddenly a new driveway and fence were added.

Then the final touch, new shrubs and grass were planted.

Now as I stand and look at the house, I see the sprinklers watering and the grass growing.

This house now looks like a home.

I don’t know if any of us in the neighborhood ever thought it was possible for this house to be transformed in this way.

I think we would all have been happy to see the house get a new paint job and sell to a nice family.

But the contractor knew something we didn’t.

The contractor knew the damage that had been done and he also knew what needed to be done to fix the brokenness of this house.

He didn’t cut corners.  He worked until the house was restored.

God does that with us too.

God doesn’t cut corners.

He doesn’t give up on us.

He knows our needs and he alone knows how to address them.

He gives us his word as a firm foundation.

And when we stand on his word, he builds us into the people we should be.

When we make mistakes, God rebukes us.

He may trench around us and keep us solitary for a given time until we learn to trust and lean on him as our sole support.

And when the time is right God begins to build us.

He allows us to stand tall under adversity.

Like the addition on the house he builds us in community with others.

With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit our face shines so that we no longer reflect the old person, but the new person God has called us to be and in his likeness we reflect his love to others.

And God provides the landscape on which we will walk, each according to the path God has chosen for us.

When we are made new in Christ, we can truly pray not my will be done, but your will be done, as it is in heaven.

To pray the Lord’s pray is to recognize that for God’s will to be done on earth it may be necessary for us to change our thoughts, and patterns and to be renewed by the indwelling of His spirit, so that God’s will in heaven is replicated here on earth.

God has a will for each one of us today.

I remember over the 10 years that the storage house was in disarray I prayed daily for the woman and her children inside that house.  We only spoke briefly once. I wonder what became of them.

I do know she was offered help, however, she declined, saying she was happy with her living situation.  It’s so sad when we are blinded to the truth.

But now, the old has gone, the new has come.

Soon the house will have new residents that likely will never know the history of that house.

Future is more important than history anyway.  The past is the past and it cannot be changed, but what can we do in the here and now?

How can we put off the old and put on the new?

Just like that house was transformed, we can each be transformed, but only if we are willing to let God work in us and through us and give God the final Amen!

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  Romans 12:2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blending with God’s Power

Remember those old- fashioned blenders?  You know the kind I mean.  They had between 8 and 14 speeds and held promises that they could chop, grind, grate, puree, mince, blend, and more with the simple touch of a button.  The only problem was that no matter which button you pushed the blades would spin but whatever was in the blender never reached its desired consistency.

Those small blades would either sit just below your ingredients and spin wildly catching only a portion of the contents or as in the case of the chopped ice button the blades would immediately get stuck in the ice cubes and stay there!   The blades just didn’t match the motor of those blenders.

I tried buying a new blender thinking technology had improved but this blender was no better.  The blades were still small, and I got the same results.  All these years later those small blade blenders still can’t deliver on the promises of the manufacturer.

And those newer blenders, you know the kind that produce smoothies in one minute are just so expensive I couldn’t bring myself to purchase one.

That is until last fall when I found a Ninja on clearance.  What a find!  I just had to try it!

The Ninja has three stacked blades that reach up the sides of the blender container.  The power of the Ninja is good and the blades are sharp, but it’s the design that makes it work well.

When we try to power through the demands of life under our own power, we can often get stuck because we weren’t designed to go through life alone.

As much as we try to muscle through under our own strength, we are like that old-fashioned blender, with our blade spinning wildly or getting stuck, but not accomplishing our desired outcome.  A single blade simply cannot accomplish what a trifold blade can.

When the Ninja powers up it has three blades, so what the first blade doesn’t catch, the second blade can, and if the second blade doesn’t catch it, then there is a third blade to complete the task.

That’s the power of three.

On my personal manifesto statement, I state that I have the power of three living in me, the father, son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Ninja reminds me just how strong the power of three can be because of its design.

We were not designed to struggle and go it alone under our own strength yet that is what we so often do.

We rev up our tiny little blade only to be cut down by our circumstances and once cut down we are robbed of our potential.

The potential that is God given, is God driven.

When we realize our potential, God can use us for his glory.

And as we step out in faith and our little blade begins to turn, we have the power of God to lift and support us no matter what!

Our container may be filled to the brim, but God is in the heart of the matter and will bring us to an overflowing joy in Him.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

 

 

 

 

 

Contentment

What does it mean to be content?  I have pondered this for a while and wonder if we find contentment, or if contentment finds us?  The dictionary definition of contentment is satisfied or happy.  When my son was six years old, we had a birthday party for him.  He invited several boys from his kindergarten class.  What I still remember is one young boy was so overjoyed to be at my son’s party.  Before he left, he said excitedly, “This is the best house, and this has been the best day!”  It was simply a birthday party, but to him it was so very special because he was included in the celebration.

When my daughter was five, she had her first birthday party.  She pouted through the entire party.  She did not want to blow out her candles; she was unappreciative of her presents and she scowled when we sang happy birthday to her.  She really had no interest in attending her own party!

What a contrast between a boy who was overjoyed just to be a guest at someone else’s birthday party, and a girl who was underwhelmed to have her birthday celebrated.

Just like my daughter, I often feel discontented with my circumstances. What I long for; what I really want is to be able to experience the jubilation our little guest felt when he was included in my son’s birthday celebration.

So, what is the key to establishing contentment within our hearts?  More often, than not, I have experienced discontentment in relationships, and the circumstances of my life.  From childhood I was identified as a quiet and shy by my mother.  In later years, my sister would mention that other family members regarded me as aloof and “stuck up.”

I was one of three children of great age disparity. My sister, fifteen years older than me left the house when I was four years old.   My brother eight years older than me was in middle school when I was a preschooler. We had little in common except that our birthdays were two days apart.  He went to college when I was eight.

I had a mother who worried incessantly, and she passed that on to me. I was always to be cautious, to be ever cognizant of my surroundings and to be in control of every situation.  I was to be my own savior and the savior of others in my path.

Over the years, I have learned a great many things, but there is always more to learn.

I have learned that there is more to life than being good, obedient and respectful, but if you start with these three, you have a pretty, good foundation to accomplish more; if you lack these three you have nothing to build upon.  Goodness is an act of kindness while obedience is a response to authority and respectfulness is showing concern for others.

Goodness, obedience, and respectfulness are good choices to make on the path to contentment.

I rejoiced greatly in the LORD that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:10-13

The Lord is Near

 

I’ve been traveling for work for the past three weeks.  It’s part of my job which I do every summer.  It’s not long- distance travel, mainly travel in the Northeast Ohio area.

Over the past 10 years I’ve done this I really haven’t had any problems. But this year has been different.

The first week my travel GPS died.

It was an old one so I guess I should have figured this was coming, but it was the one device I counted on to get me where I was going.  It attached to my windshield so I could see clearly the route I was to follow.

Of course, being a bit overly cautious I have always printed a Mapquest printout, just in case.

The Mapquest came in very handy one year when I was directed by the GPS to exit the highway and then immediately directed to get back on the highway.  Well I knew that couldn’t be right, so I pulled over and started examining my map directions.  It took me a while to figure out what was going on.  As it turns out I needed to go into the shopping center parking lot and exit out the back to reach the road to the facility I needed to visit.  That was weird.

So last week when I needed to make a visit, I looked at my map and then loaded the GPS on my phone.  Yes, that’s what most folks do.  The problem was that the directions from the GPS were different than my map.  I immediately recognized that my phone GPS wanted me to go down a highway that was very busy with morning traffic.  I opted instead to follow my map to the Turnpike for a more leisurely ride that morning.

However, when I left the first facility I was visiting that morning, my map told me to go one direction while my phone GPS selected again a different way while telling me it was to avoid a road closure.  With that additional information, I bet you can guess, this time I followed the GPS!

During my second week of travel I began a trip to a facility that I had visited before.  It wasn’t too far away, and I anticipated an easy drive that morning, that is until I heard what sounded like a gunshot and my car lurched forward, overheated and I had to call for help.  Well I didn’t see that one coming!  Luckily, I wasn’t too far from home and my husband was able to come and switch cars with me so that I wasn’t too late for my visit.

After last week I became more apprehensive about driving especially since my drives to sites that were further away were scheduled for later that week and this week.

For some reason I really didn’t want to make my longest distance travel this morning at all.

Something just felt off.  So, before leaving I prayed “Lord be with me today.  Give me safe travel.”

Then I got in my car, entered the address and headed off.

Moments later the phone said it had no GPS service.  Oh. No.  I thought.

I pulled over and pulled up a second program on my phone.

It said,  “Let’s take route 422….”  Great I thought and I headed off again.  Only moments later I saw the route was not changing.  This program too had lost GPS connection.  As I was fiddling with the phone, I realized that I might get into an accident trying to re-enter the address so instead I reached for my paper map, rather nervously.

Gosh!  I thought.  I really have no idea where I am going.  I have never visited this site before because our program had never used this site before, and it was over an hour away.  I clutched my paper.  You’ve got to do this, I said to myself. There is no other option.

So, I looked at the map, and memorized the first three turns and entered the highway.

Oddly as I drove, I remained calm.

I say oddly because this is not the norm for me.  Usually I would be very anxious, but not today, I thought, because the Lord is near, and he is here with you now.

When I exited the highway, I just continued to read the directions and follow them.  When I entered a one way access road to get me to the next highway, I was a little concerned because it was at this point that I knew I would not be able to go back the way I had come, and all I had was my paper map.

Oh well, I thought, perhaps my GPS will work on the way back.  At any rate there was no turning back now, I had to get to my destination because people were waiting for me.

And I did get there, and when I entered the security guard knew my name and was waiting for me, as was the site supervisor.  I was so relieved to have arrived and to have arrived on time!

After my visit was concluded I went back to my car and turned on my phone, which had lost almost all of its power on the drive over.  But luckily having anticipated this I had a battery backup.  Boy, did that come in handy.

But even better when I turned the phone on the GPS recognized immediately where I was!

What a relief!

It did not bring me back the way I had gone.  No, in fact it took me completely a different way!

But I wasn’t concerned because the GPS knew where I was and was giving me directions to get me back home.

Sometimes we have no idea where we are going, but we must trust that we will reach our destination.

And sometimes we reach our destination by different ways.  Just like today I went to my destination on one route, but was directed to return home by a different route.  In both instances I reached my destination, but the path I followed to get there was totally different, relying on the technology that knew the way allowed me to arrive safely.

It reminds me of the story of the three wise men from the Nativity story.  Having been warned in a dream not to return the way they had come, they returned by a different route.  They relied on God and trusted his word.

Our routes may change but our destination remains the same.

And oh, how funny, when I arrived back to my hometown, I was stopped at a light behind a vehicle that had a bumper sticker that read, “There’s no place like home.”

I had to laugh at that.

“Nope, there isn’t.”  I said.

And someday Jesus will lead me on that final road to my eternal home because he knows the way.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. Psalm 73:23

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Miss an Opportunity for a Miracle

 

I was walking my dog the other day when a young woman came down her driveway looking for the mail carrier.  She was sad that she had missed her.

I just happened to be walking by and said hello before moving on.

Then I heard her behind me again.  She had followed me around the corner from her house and was still talking to me, so I stopped.

She told me how the mail carrier was her hero.  The mail carrier was a uterine and breast cancer survivor and the woman wanted to see her to ask how her current scans went.  She then proceeded to tell me that she herself, was scheduled to have a hysterectomy, and that she had a mass in her breast.  Oh, and her mother had just fallen the day before and was scheduled for surgery for her broken wrist!

This is a lot of information to share with someone who is basically a stranger.  But wait there was more.  She told me she and her husband were separated and she had recently moved back home.

I knew she needed prayers, but generally I am hesitant to bring up the topic of God with strangers.  Still she was in such great need as evidenced by her sharing her personal situation with me that I felt God placed me there on that corner for a reason.  I said to her “You need prayers, what’s your name?  She told me her name and I told her mine.

I told her I would be praying for her and her mother and their upcoming surgeries.

I hesitated but said, “God will give you the strength you need.”  to which she replied, “God must think I’m superwoman and she smiled and walked back toward her house.

I really couldn’t believe God’s timing in all of this.  I walk past that house all the time, but I never see anyone.

Two days later I wrote out a card for her and walked down to put it in her mailbox.

As I placed the card in the mailbox, I noticed a car coming down the street.  The car slowed to a stop and a woman yelled out the window at me.  I didn’t recognize her at first since she had driven right past her own driveway. But she asked if I remembered her.  How could I forget her since she had been on my heart and in my prayers for the last two days.

I told her “Yes, I remember you, I just left you a card.  I thought you had your surgery yesterday.   She then introduced me to her mother who was in the car, her arm in a cast and sling, it was her mother’s surgery that had been the day before and her surgery was in two days.

We talked for a short time and I told her I had been praying for her and I leaned in and told her mother that I had been praying for her as well.   Her mother thanked me, and her daughter was brought to tears while thanking me so much for my prayers.  I explained that the card was a little premature.  She laughed and said, “That’s ok, I’ll wait to open it.”  Then she shared with me that her husband was moving in to take care of them.  “He’s going to take care of us.” She said.  “Even though he needs to be taken care of himself, having suffered three traumatic brain injuries during his three tours in Iraq.” She said.

God has a way of moving to restore all things, from broken wrists, to broken relationships. Sometimes God uses the most difficult circumstances to heal hearts.

Sometimes God provides a moment, just one moment in which we can reflect his presence to others.  We need to be very careful we don’t miss those moments, because it is in those moments that we may see a miracle.

I was blessed to have this young woman cross my path twice in the span of two days.  I say blessed because I really wanted her to know that I was really praying for her and that I truly cared about her.  Very often we may have a conversation with someone and end by saying we will pray for them.  It’s often a common response.  But I wonder how often folks wonder if we truly do offer that prayer for them.  I confess that sometimes I say I will pray and then due to being overly busy, I forget until it crosses my mind again later and I think Oh, yes, I was going to pray about that.

Now with the busyness of life when I say I will pray I make sure to do it immediately.

Jesus didn’t miss an opportunity to do his father’s will.  When he was tired from his travels and rested at a well, Jesus took time to minister to a Samaritan, women. Meanwhile his disciples were so intent on getting something to eat that they missed the miracle of the moment.  So afterward Jesus had to redirect them to the mission at hand, that of doing the Father’s will.  “I tell you open your eyes and look at the fields!  They are ripe for harvest. John 4:35

God is watching us.  He has his hand on us and he is directing our path for his eternal purpose.

There is a plan.  We are part of it.  But it’s not about us.

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out (Proverbs 20:5).

 

 

 

Impediment or Accent?

 

The other day I talked about accents and how we may judge people according to their accent by calling them a foreigner and even possibly having some preconceived notions associated with that.

I had a speech problem when I was younger which lasted into early adulthood.

In elementary school I had speech therapy, but my speech did not improve.

I hated going to speech class.  Everyone else was getting dismissed and I still hadn’t made any progress.  When I entered 7th grade the speech teacher sent for me.  I was embarrassed and when I got home, I told my mother I didn’t want to go to speech anymore.  Really, I said, if they hadn’t been able to correct my speech since second grade was anything really going to change?

Then one day on the way home from school a boy I didn’t know came up and started making fun of me,  it could have been for my speech, or my crooked front teeth which made me look like Dracula, but he grabbed my scarf, twisted it around my neck and picked me up in the air.   I literally couldn’t breathe!   I hoped that my friend would see that I was struggling, and she did.  She yelled at the boy, but he wouldn’t put me down.  I struggled but I couldn’t get away.  Finally, my friend kicked the boy in the knee, and he dropped me and ran off.   I loosened the scarf and we walked home.  That was the day that I realized something was different about me and that difference was not good.

When I got to college my intent was to be an occupational therapist but after failing chemistry, I had to change majors.  When I switched to speech, I was told they would love to have me in the major, but I would need speech therapy first to correct my lateral /s/. Here we go again I thought, but it was free, so I decided to give it another try.

I made a correct /s/ sound in my very first session!  All those previous years in speech therapy the speech therapist had not been able to accurately tell me what to do to correct my speech. Each time she would give me the same instructions, bite your teeth together, even though it never worked.  But in college they told me something completely different. They never told me to make an /s/ sound, instead they told me to say /t/, and hold it until I sounded like a tea kettle, and it worked!

I’ve been a speech pathologist for 37 years now and I can’t say this technique works for everyone because everyone is different and of course, that wasn’t the end of it. It wasn’t just, make a /t/ sound and now you’ll produce /s/ correctly in every word.  No, it took a concerted effort on my part to focus on the sound and continue to say the sound correctly.  To do this I had to talk slower and over the course of 3 weeks I finally got it.  It became a new habit for me.

I can’t say my family was thrilled for me because no one in my family seemed to notice a difference in my speech.  But one day, an old boyfriend called me and asked to meet me.  When we met, he said my speech sounded different.  I told him I had been working on my /s/ sound and he said I sounded much better.  Wow!  Someone finally noticed how hard I was working on trying to change my speech!

Sometimes it’s the people we don’t even know that notice something different about us by the way we speak. It may not be an impediment or an accent. It may just be the peace we exhibit from the presence of God dwelling within us.  But that peace doesn’t come naturally, it is something we need to practice daily until it becomes a new habit.

When our speech reflects the love and joy of knowing the Lord, and being in the Spirit in that moment, we can speak not with an impediment or from an old habit, but with an accent of God’s grace which we graciously extend to others.

 

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man. Colossians 3:16

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Accent?

My bible reading today lead me to Luke 22:47-62, the time of Jesus’ arrest and Peter’s denial.
Peter was recognized by his speech in the courtyard when Jesus was standing before the chief priests. A servant girl recognized Peter by his Galilean accent and identified Peter as a companion of Jesus. Peter not wanting to be known, denied his relationship with Christ three times until the rooster crowed at which time Jesus looked directly at Peter, confirming what Jesus had said earlier, “Before the cock crows you will have denied me 3 times.”
A foreigner is identified and often judged by their accent. I find these verses particularly interesting because I work with non-native English speakers on accent reduction.
Just yesterday I was speaking with a man from Egypt with an Arabic accent who was referred to our clinic for services. We talked for a while and since I have visited Egypt, I was able to engage him in conversation about his country. At the end of our conversation he asked if I had understood what he said. I replied that for the most part I could, however, he needed to understand that I converse with non-native speakers daily, so I have a better understanding of their speech differences. He is studying to be a podiatrist so of course he needs to be clearly understood by his patients, many of whom are elderly.
A second client I have acquired is an English speaker who needs to be clearly understood by nurses and other medical staff when he completes his residency. His speech sounds a bit like an East coast accent, however it’s really a distorted /r/ which affects his intelligibility for English listeners.
Each of these men sought out our services which is good because it means they will work hard to achieve their goal.
This is not the case of all the clients I serve. Most of my clients are required to attend our clinic due to University requirements of classroom instructors needing to be clearly understood before teaching. Some of them appreciate our services, some tolerate our services, and some are resistant to our services.
I remember some years back when I had my first Arabic client. He was required to come by his department, and he was giving us “attitude.” I was a new supervisor and wasn’t sure how to respond. When I mentioned it to the clinic coordinator, her response was, “Oh, an Arabic male giving you attitude, huh? Well give him some attitude right back!” I didn’t think that was permissible, but I did it and it worked! He started to give us 100% cooperation.
So, in reading the Luke passage today I was thinking about how my accent is in relation to others. How does my speech come across to others? Do I speak with care? Do I show respect? Is my speech representative of what God would have me say, or is it more representative of what I feel people need to hear?
Is my speech tempered with love and patience or, it is dominated by pride in my ability?
Do I want to share God’s story by abiding in him as my true vine or am I more concerned about sharing my story and my experience?
Do I approach someone by appreciating their perspective or do I push my own perspective because as I see it my perspective is the true perspective?
In the case of Peter, denying and trying to hide his identify resulted in distancing himself from Christ.
There he was on his own, no vine to cling to any longer, and he wept bitterly.
In a later story we know that Jesus forgave Peter but not without challenging him regarding his love for Christ. Three times he asked Peter, “Do you love me?” until Peter was hurt by the question he asked.
When we speak to others, we need to ask ourselves the same question. “Do I love this person?” It doesn’t matter who the person is, the question is still “Do I love this person?”
For it’s not our love that we extend but the love of Christ, so in all instances our answer needs to be “Yes!”
Then since we are approaching the person through the love of Christ, we can be assured that our speech will be accented with what God wants that person to hear in the way they should hear it. What’s on our agenda no longer matters. When we allow the Spirit to guide our words we act as ambassadors for Christ and reflect his love to others.
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Luke 6:45

Taste and See

I’m on a new diet. I incorporated all my doctor’s suggestions for diet modification and after three months nothing much changed. So, I’ve moved to less conventional ways over the past two weeks.
Everyone knows they should reduce or eliminate sugar but finding substitutions for flour is a bit more difficult and sometimes the combinations seem a bit wonky!
I’ve made oatmeal pancakes, no flour. A one cup blueberry muffin, with flaxseed and chia seed, and boy is it tasty!

Flaxmeal, Almond flour and coconut flour are good flour substitutes. Some of the food combinations I put together do not seem like they would be appetizing much less that they would combine to conform to conventional recipes but they do,  and with added health benefits to boot!

Food is appealing to everyone.  Who can’t wait to sink their teeth into a big piece of chocolate cake or better yet that gooey chocolate chip cookie?

God wants us to enjoy our food.  That’s why we have taste buds.  God never meant for us to eat bland, boring meals, but it also was never his plan for us to over indulge and eat what is not good for us.

It’s interesting that God also invites us to taste his word and see if it is as appetizing  or more appetizing than that chocolate chip cookie!

God’s word says we must taste and see that the Lord is good.
If we never spend time with the Lord, we won’t get to experience his goodness.
Some people have participated in taste tests. You taste a little bit of something and give an opinion. Kind of like appetizers, they wet the taste buds for something more.
God’s word is like that but not for everybody.
There are those who won’t open a bible.
They miss the taste experience.
There are those who open the bible but don’t understand what it says so rather than to ask God to open their eyes to see, they simply close the bible.
There are those who read the bible religiously but don’t do what it says.

“Anyone who reads the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”  James 1:23

Taste is sampling but seeing is much more.

There are those who taste the bible.
They are samplers. They look for the verses that appeal to them and apply those while excusing themselves from other verses, even though all scripture is God breathed and applies to everyone. Those who see, not only taste but look deeper into what God’s word says.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Tasting and seeing are two of our senses.
What might be revealed to us when we taste?
A tasting of scripture reveals that God is good, God is faithful, God is trustworthy, God is gracious, God is welcoming.
But when we enter into God’s presence we use our sense of seeing that God is:

our refuge,

God is our present help in times of trouble,

God is our resting place,

God is our sanctuary,

God is our creator,

God is our Father,

God is our helper,

God is our deliver,

God is our redeemer,

God is our shield,

God is our light and salvation.
When we taste the Lord, we see how he has ordered our days, structured our path, and protected our ways.

When we see the Lord we see God’s presence and power in our lives.
We can think of a past event and see how God orchestrated it.
Even past hurtful events, God can use to mold us into the person he wants us to be.

He shows us our faults but never leaves us to flounder alone. He always provides a way out of harmful circumstances and give us the strength we need to stand under oppression.
We may not see in the moment what God’s plans are, but because we have tasted of the Lord and know that he is good, as his plan for us unfolds we can see that he covers us with his feathers every step of the way until our wings are strong enough to fly.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.  Psalm 34:8

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

 

Here to Hear

 

I recently completed training on suicide prevention.  I really didn’t think I was qualified for this but as it turns out everyone is qualified for this.  They sent me a sticker for my door, “Here to Hear”.  Since my door leads to our clinic and is in a main hallway, anyone may come in at any time if they feel they need to talk.

When I received my door sticker, I thought it was well done. Someone in here is here to hear what you have to say.  No judgement, no advice, just safety.

One of my colleagues has told me the same story several times over about a fellow colleague that upset her over two years ago.  She still voices it, and I still listen.

Why?  Because that’s what she needs from me.

No one else would listen to her, nor would she share it with anyone else because it would show weakness on her part.  But with me she knows it is safe to share.

And that’s what the “Here to Hear” program is all about.  It lets students know that this is a safe person to share your thoughts with.

I was watching a TV show in which a young woman found out something about a coworker and said, “I didn’t know that?”  His reply was, “You didn’t know because I chose not to tell you.”  She said, “Well it would have been nice to know since you know so much about me.”  He replied, “Yes, I know a lot of about you because you are an over-sharer.”

I thought about it for a moment and thought, gee, is that what I am too, an over-sharer?

I do share my feelings and my thoughts but only with those I trust.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as over-sharing.  I think those who share are showing their vulnerability and trust in us.

Whoever or whenever someone comes through my door and needs to be heard, they will be able to share whatever they need to share because a listening ear will be there.

And if need be, I’ll make the right referral for them while they are there so they will be safe.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all had a listening ear like that?

Who in your life needs to have your listening ear?

Are you willing to give it?

Will you listen with care and not judgement?

Everyone is qualified to be a listener.

 

The ears of those who hear, will listen.  Isaiah 32:3