ONE WAY

We all face struggles, trials, and problems in this world. They are a part of life.

Have you ever noticed how some people handle those things better than others?  Maybe you know some people who always complain, find fault, are negative?  And maybe you know some that just seem to handle adversity differently….maybe they are still positive and look at the bright side of life.

There is one way to make it through the struggles, trials and problems of this world victoriously–truly knowing Jesus with our heart. It is the difference between night and day, darkness and light, famine and feast.

When we truly know Christ with our heart, we can have a peace that surpasses all human understanding. That peace is rooted deep down in our heart and rises within to sustain us even when the most trying of circumstances arise.

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Joy as wide as an ocean can be ours each day. This joy is based on knowing that Jesus is with us every step of the way and will never leave us, rather than based on the immediate situation. True joy is ours when God’s promises are real in our lives.

To sum it up, no matter how many problems and struggles we have, we can live victoriously! Nobody can take away the peace and joy we can have by knowing Jesus as our Lord!

 

The Lord is my strength and shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to Him in song.  –Psalm 28:7  (NIV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  –John 14:27  (NIV)

DETOURS

A few months ago I started a new position in a new location from my prior job. It actually has shortened my commute and it is an easier drive as it is mostly a straight shot on the highway and then just two other fairly short roads to travel.

About two weeks into this commute, they started construction on the first road after the highway. I was afraid there was going to be a detour that would make it more difficult to get to work. The original road was a two lane divided road. I was happy to see that they closed one whole side of the road and on the other side reduced it to one lane; one for each direction of traffic. Doing this alleviated the need to really put a detour into people’s travels.

As a side note, it was actually a bit unnerving at first driving with just the two lanes of traffic and on the “wrong” side of the road. Right away I thought that one should pay close attention to make sure no one was driving in the wrong lane, something that would be easy to do with the different traffic pattern.  It would be so easy to have a head on collision occur. I actually did see at two different times, cars driving in the wrong lane! Thankfully, they both noticed before long and were able to get in the correct lane.

 

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I thought this sign on the last road of my commute right near the construction was perfect.

 

Last week, on that same road, the intersection where I need to turn to get to the third road was blocked off too, so there is now a detour! The detour takes me further away and adds about three minutes onto the commute.

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The other day while at a baseball tournament in Hershey, PA with our youngest son, I went for a walk while waiting for the game to start; something I tend to do frequently since there is usually an hour of practice ahead of time and I have to drop him off.

The school, the Milton Hershey School, where this tournament was held was huge; it actually felt more like a college campus. It was interesting looking up the history of the school which originated as a boarding school for male orphans back in 1909. Today it has both males and females of different backgrounds.

So, I started walking around the campus observing the beauty of the landscape, the huge buildings, and athletic complexes around the area. Before I knew it, I decided to turn around but then I couldn’t remember all the turns that I made! Suddenly, nothing looked familiar and there were so many paths I didn’t know which way I was suppose to go to get back to the ball field!

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A path at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, PA.

 

I had to chuckle to myself, thinking what a God-incident, because at the same time, I was listening to this song entitled, Faith, a new single by Colin Dyer. //widget.cdbaby.com/45bc3d0d-81c7-4c0f-ba71-ffaf25d9e08a/mini/dark/opaque  The words from the song that stuck foremost in mind, while trying to find my way back to the ball field, was “Ya gotta have a little faith.”  For me, at that moment, it was having faith to find my way back before the end of the game!

I called my husband, once I could hear him after finally discovering I still had the head phones plugged in but not on my ears, jokingly asking him if he could track me from my cell phone! At that same time, I finally saw two people walking that said they were from the area. The gentleman pointed to the building I should go near and he said go left around there.  At the moment, I thought they were my “angels” in disguise.

Unfortunately, I followed his instructions to go left around that building and continued walking for a long time! The next day, I retraced my path and found if I had gone to the RIGHT of that building, I would have arrived quickly right at the ball field!  I sure had a nice, long tour of the campus; my 20 minute walk turned out to be more than an hour. I ended up missing 35 minutes of the ball game too!

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Both of these events in my life led me to reflect and think about detours in our lives.

What are some detours relating to your walk with the Lord that you have experienced in your life?

….Maybe a calling from the Lord that you knew at a young age, but didn’t come to fruition until you were older when it was fanned into flame through a series of events in your life?

…Maybe living years ignoring the Lord calling you to live for Him instead of for worldly desires?

…Maybe starting either a college path or career path one way then realizing you needed to follow the Lord’s leading which lead you down a different path?

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Photo credit by Emilio Labrador under Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0)

 

What are some things we can learn from detours in our lives?

…It is really okay to have detours in our lives.

…We need to keep pressing on to the end result.

…We need to be patient and not panic.

…We should enjoy the scenery and the ride.

…Even if for a time you are lost in your way, keep seeking the way.

…That detours can end up being the greatest blessings.

…Keep the final destination as the goal…it is not so important how we get there,  but that we get there!

Things don’t always go the way WE think they should. Remember that it is God who is in control if we let Him, not us.

 

When we get to that final destination, we will arrive with….

…True happiness

…Contentment

…Success

..Knowing in your heart, it is what you were called to do or where you are suppose to be.

 

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.  –Exodus 13:17-18  (NIV)

 

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  –Philippians 1:6  (NIV)

GOD-INCIDENTS

Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in the “worldly” happenings and in our day-to-day chores—working, running the kids here and there, rushing to meetings, doing “church” things—that we tend to forget how near the Lord is and how He is working in our lives.

I think it is important that through all these activities, we still keep God foremost and see Him work in our lives…even in the “little” things. Isn’t it good to look at all the things in our lives as really “God-incidents?”

Isn’t it true that everything that happens is really under God’s control?  That is why I prefer to call these perfectly timed interactions “God-incidents” not co-incidences.

                Stop and think—

                Think about all the “God-incidents” that happen in your life in just one single day…..

                Think about that special friend the Lord gave you—the one you can talk to so easily about anything—the one who knows how you feel without even saying anything.

                Think about the person the Lord put in your path when you had a problem on your hands—the one who helped when you had a flat tire or car trouble.

                  Think about the time you were in a hurry, needed a close parking spot to run into the store quick, and you saw someone ready to pull out at the exact time.

                   Think about the time you really needed prayer, you sent a text to a friend, and they responded right away to tell you they are praying for you.

                Think about the deadline at work or the household chores you thought would never get done timely or work out, but did.

                Think about that beautiful sunrise or rainbow you may have seen, right when you were feeling so helpless, or some creature in nature that brought you a breath-taking moment.

                 Think about the time you and your spouse both thought at the same time that you should do a “pay it forward” to a young couple who were eating lunch with a newborn.

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Photo credit by BK under Creative Commons License (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

In all these, it really is the Lord who is there working things out for our best and prompting us to act.  How great it is to stop and reflect on the Lord working in our lives.

Everything that happens is a God-incident…not merely a co-incidence! 

It is also important to share these God-incidents with others to give glory to God, increase other’s faith and to share the goodness of the Lord.

Trust in Him—He is faithful and true to us!

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”  –Daniel 4:35  (NIV)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts….So is my word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  –Isaiah 55:8-9; 11  (NIV)

BATTLES

As I was watching my son get physical therapy, it made me stop and think about how all the people there were fighting their own personal battle with some type of physical ailment.
By looking at most of the people, you wouldn’t know they were fighting a battle. If you met the person at the store, you would not realize they had some physical issue.  I thought about the validity of the saying,
“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” 

There were people of all ages and walks of life on this day that was particularly busy.  The youngest was probably about 10 years old, who was a gymnast recovering from a wrist injury, and the oldest around 80 years old, along with a mix of all ages in between.

A variety of physical battles were being fought that day….some for their legs, wrist, elbows, and in the case of my son, his shoulder.
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One particular teen girl caught my eye the different times we have been there.  Her work ethic is commendable; she is putting in the hard work to get victory over her battle. She knows exactly what she needs to do and does it so faithfully. If she is unsure about something, she will ask and then do it.
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What are some battles that you are fighting in your life?

Spiritual
Emotional
Eating disorders
Sticking to an exercise regiment
Trying to be the best at a sport
Family discord
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What are some things I thought about from observing people fighting their physical battle at the Physical Therapy office that day?  That we….
Need to admit there is a problem
Need to show up ready to fight
Need to put the work in to fight the battle
Need to do what we are told when “experts” try to help us
Need to take advantage of the things available to help us–both people and “tools”
Can be victorious
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YOUR MOUNTAIN, OUR JOURNEY
This saying can be found in two places at this particular Physical Therapy office. Quite an appropriate slogan for a place called Peak Performance. I find comfort in that saying and think it shows that the staff recognizes their commitment in helping their patients fight their personal physical battles.
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Along with the sign, you will find pictures of people in frames….people that conquered their physical battle in their life. There are different sport people who had injuries and recovered and even made it to college level or beyond in their sport.  The physical therapist informed my son that one day my son’s picture will be framed and on that wall when he gets back to top form for baseball, the sport that he loves the most.
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For whatever battle you are currently fighting…..
….I want to encourage you to keep fighting through until you are victorious; keep putting in the work.
…Know that you are never alone…God is always with you cheering you on.
….Share your battle with a friend or two whom you trust. They can support you, offer an encouraging word, and even hold you accountable to help you gain victory.
You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet.  –Psalm 18:39 (NIV)
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  –James 1:12  (NIV) 

SIGNS OF HIS LOVE

It seems hard to believe it was about 25 years ago when I was standing in a cemetery, at the graves of my grandparents and great-aunt, and couldn’t help but be engulfed in the Lord’s presence—

—all of nature was just “being”—so bright and beautiful. 

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Up in the sky, floated big, puffy, cotton-like clouds—giving me a sense of awesomeness and wonder.  Behind the clouds, the sky was a beautiful shade of blue—so bright and cheerful—

—reminding me of crystal clear blue water…maybe even the Crystal Sea in heaven.

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The big, round hills in the distance were bearing many, many trees with their green leaves in many shades.  I am always amazed at all the trees on the hills and all the beauty they bring though no one takes care of them—

—reminding me how God takes care of ALL of His creation.

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Then there stood tall pine cone-shaped trees with such a deep green color. They were so perfectly shaped—

—reminding me of how the Lord prunes every one of us molding us and shaping us into His own image.

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Many kinds of flowers dotted the scene—some real, some artificial.  I thought of the people who brought them to honor their special family and friends—

—reminding me that the flowers were brought in love, reflecting a little of ourselves—in the many types and colors.

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The birds filled the air with praise—singing their songs and chirping constantly—a sign of beauty too—

—reminding me that the Lord takes care of even the littlest bird—how much more He takes care of us.

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The earth was illuminated so brightly by the sun—its heat penetrated deep into my body—

—reminding me of God’s warming love for each of us.

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To top off all this beauty, there was a gentle, warm breeze blowing—

—reminding me of the Holy Spirit—the gift God gave us to guide us and help us everyday.

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We are truly always surrounded by signs of His love for each of us….

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Signs of His love in—

—nature,

—animals,

—plants,

—flowers,

—and the people God puts in our path.

Take time to see the signs of His love and share that love with all you meet.  Give thanks, and praise Him continually for His goodness!

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.  –Psalm 19:1-4  (NIV)

THE BEAUTY OF THE SUN

Have you ever looked at the sun when it is shining so gloriously and been so mesmerized by the sight?
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Sunrise over Virginia Beach (my all time favorite picture!)
If you know me at all, you probably know that happens to me almost everyday that the sun is shining!  Yes, I am forever taking pictures of the sun because it is just so beautiful and reminds me of the presence of the SON in our lives.
How I love to see……
…..the beautiful sunrise
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Sunrise at Virginia Beach
…..the sun shining bright in the sky during the day
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The sun shining in Conklin, NY
…..the serene sunset to close out the day.
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Sunset at Marco Island, FL
Some places I am so blessed to see the sun shining forth is….
….over the ocean waters
….peeking through the awesome cloud formations
….over the mountains and hills
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Beautiful sun and clouds Apalachin, NY
….over the horizon
….through the tall, sturdy trees.
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Sunset in Apalachin, NY
What makes the sun so mesmerizing to me?
….How it lights up the whole sky and shines down on the earth
…..I love the glowing ball of the sun that sometimes radiates the amazing streaks of rays
….all the different colors that fill the sky with the sun–sometimes reds, pinks, purples even
….Seeing how the sunrise starts on the horizon, raises up in the sky during the day, and sets at the end of the day back to the horizon.
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The sunrise above the clouds from an airplane en route to Virginia
Things the shining sun reminds me of…..
…that we are enveloped in the Son’s presence all day, everyday
….the love and peace that the Son grants us
….the mercies of the Lord that are new every day
…how the Son needs to shine and radiate to all we meet in our lives
…the beauty of world that the Lord created
…the beauty of all of God’s children
…how the Son fills our lives
…how the Son is everywhere
…how the Son starts as a little light in our hearts and grows to a huge light
…how the Son is always present in our lives.
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Sunset at One’ula Beach, HI
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.  –Psalm 113:3 (NIV)
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.  –Psalm 84:11  (NIV)

CHRIST’S REFLECTION

As Christians, we have the responsibility and honor to reflect and be Christ to one another—no matter what our age, lot in life or condition.
When you look in the mirror, do you see Christ’s reflection in yourself?
Just as each of us is unique and different from everyone else, so is the form that Christ takes in each of us.
We are not all meant to reflect Christ in the same way since we all have different gifts. As a side note, it is important to remember that ALL gifts are just as important. That is something I’ve had to remind myself of recently. In our humanness, I think it’s easy to think that one gift is more important than another.
Did you ever get caught up trying to find Christ in others the same way you feel you are Christ to others?
If we stop to think about it, someone else might reflect Christ to us in a whole different way, enabling us to possibly grow in how we might then reflect Christ in a new way.
Have you stopped to think about how you see Christ’s reflection in others?
Or how you reflect Christ to others in your life?
When I go work at the soup kitchen once a month, I see Christ’s reflection in the people who plan and organize the food for the meal, go get the food from the food bank, prepare and serve it.
I see Christ’s reflection in the gentleman who faithfully serves the drinks each month despite his physical set backs.
When I volunteer at a school once a week, I see Christ’s reflection in the teachers who are so patient with the students, addressing kindly every issue a child has.
When I go to church, I see Christ’s reflection in the music minister who has served faithfully in the same position for over 28 years coordinating and providing worship music.
When I go to run an errand, I see Christ’s reflection in the cashier who wishes me a nice day.
When I go to visit someone who is home bound, I see Christ’s reflection in the way they gracefully keep positive and ask about how my family is doing being genuinely concerned.
When I meet a friend for breakfast, I see Christ’s reflection in the fact that they’ve cared to keep in touch and even gift me with an inspiring book.
When I reach out to a friend for a specific prayer request, I see Christ’s reflection when they respond back and say they are praying.
When I reach out to my editor or a friend asking for an honest opinion on my thoughts, I see Christ’s reflection when they give constructive input which makes the ideas come together even better.
Christ reflection
Sunrise at Virginia Beach, VA  Photo credit: Christine Fisher
Have you ever gone to visit someone to reflect Christ to them, and you end up seeing Christ’s reflection in them? How is it that they ended up ministering to you–just through their attitude or their outlook with their situation? I am always blessed in seeing Christ’s reflection in those that I go to minister to…they truly reflect Christ to me through their life and example.
There is only one Christ–the same Christ that can work through each one of us in different ways, reflecting Him to all we meet, if we allow Him. We are each needed to make the Body of Christ and reflect Him in all we do.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  –2 Cori 3:18