Apr 22

SHINE LIKE THE S.K.Y.

 

sky-3335585_1920This year, my focus word is shine. Through that word, God has already taught me something about wisdom and being in His presence.

Recently, He has been nudging me in a new direction.

As I age, I recognize that this ‘ole bod needs more care than it used to. Last week I climbed up onto the scale and then hobbled into the kitchen for coffee as usual. As I wait for the coffee to dribble into the pot, I renewed my commitment to more consistent exercise and better eating habits—as I do most mornings. Unfortunately, most evenings I conclude that I have failed with that commitment.

That morning last week, an acronym popped into my head: S.K.Y. It stands for

Stop
Killing
Yourself

Ouch. Not: do better; keep trying or even do what’s right.

Stop. Killing. Yourself.

It was a reminder that I may not be doing what or all of the things I should be doing to regain or maintain my health. But more than that, it was a reminder that I should stop doing some things that are making my health worse.

Like eating too many carbs and not enough good protein.

Like not eating enough vegies and too many carbs.

Wait…I said the carb thing already.

And not paying attention to portion control.

And sitting too much of the day without breaks for short walks to get my muscles, joints and bones moving.

I now say the word SKY many times during the day. It’s a handy reminder. But there’s more…

Immediately after the acronym popped into my head last week, my daily reading led me to Daniel 12:3. (Coincidently, Daniel was a biggie on healthful eating.)

And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above (Daniel 12:3).

My take away? Be wise about health and stop killing yourself. The result is not only increased health but also that I can shine brightly.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Are there things you are doing that may be hindering your good health? Is there something you should start doing? Stop doing? Do more of? Do less of?

 

Image by Gerd Altmann at Pixabay.com

 

Apr 17

EASTER IS A HOLY DAY THAT HAPPENED IN SPRINGTIME

Easter

Several years ago, I was part of an online regional group of children’s writers. An announcement was posted about an upcoming Easter event and asked for children’s writers who might like to read their picture books at the event. The announcement cautioned that no religious references in books would be allowed. Rather, the coordinators were looking only for books about springtime.

Merriam-Webster defines Easter as a feast that commemorates Christ’s resurrection. Easter has no other definition than a purely religious reference.

That Easter children’s event, however, didn’t want to recognize the truth that Easter was a Christian holy day.

Imagine writers whose very profession involves words, ignoring the meaning of a word in order to take advantage of how they could professionally benefit from a holy season without being bothered by a truth.

No one appreciated my pointing out the fact that you can’t have an Easter event without Jesus.

This week—Holy Week—commemorates the final week of Jesus’ earthly life before His crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. Remembering that past experience points out that often people don’t want to face the truth about Jesus; but instead seek to change focus.

It has happened with most other Christian holy days.

St. Valentine’s Day. No longer do most of our calendars include the title of Saint on the February 15 box. The reference to the observance of a person who lived a life for Jesus Christ is barely even known today. Instead we celebrate hearts and fat, naked babies with wings.

St. Patrick’s Day. The title Saint is still on most calendars, but the reference to a life lived for Jesus is barely remembered. Rather the emphasis is on wearing green and drinking alcohol in abundance.

Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras celebrates the day before Lent—the 40 days before Easter as a time to remember the impact of Jesus’ resurrection. Mardi Gras’ variations are celebrated around the world (Carnevale, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Fastnacht, Fastelavn, and Maslenitsa), but mostly as a time for wild and raucous behavior.

Halloween. The evening (e’en) before All Hallows (holy) Day. Translation from old English terminology: Halloween is the evening before All Saints Day—the day the Church recognizes the lives of every Christian person (saint) living or dead.

Most of the world still realizes that Easter and Christmas are holy days. But if Easter becomes a time only to celebrate spring and Christmas focuses solely on presents and Santa, how long will it be before all of our Christian holy days are no longer seen as celebrations of our Savior?

Maybe we can use this opportunity not only to celebrate our own faith but to remind others of the true meanings behind the holy days.

♦♦♦

Holy Week began with Palm Sunday, the day Jesus entered Jerusalem and was hailed as King, fulfilling ancient prophesies about the Messiah (Zechariah 9:9).

Maundy Thursday is the day Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples—His last supper; after which Judas betrayed Him to the Sanhedrin where he was tried by the Jewish council.

Good Friday is the day Jesus was tried, mocked, beaten and sentenced to death by crucifixion. He physically died near 3 pm that day and was placed in a tomb. Good Friday constitutes Day 1 of the 3 days in the tomb prophesized in Scripture.

Holy Saturday, is the day Jesus spent in the tomb, guarded by Roman soldiers. Because the day was a Sabbath, when work by Jews was prohibited, at 6 pm on Saturday, when Sabbath ended, Jesus’ body was ceremonially treated with spices purchased by Nicodemus. Holy Saturday constitutes Day 2 of the 3 days in the tomb prophesized in Scripture.

Resurrection Sunday (Easter), is the day Jesus was resurrected. When several women went to the tomb to treat Jesus’ body with spices, not knowing it had already been done, they found the empty tomb along with an angel who announced that Jesus has risen from the dead. That day, Jesus made appearances to Mary Magdalene, Peter, two disciples on the road to Emmaus and then in a house, to all of the other disciples except Thomas. The early part of Easter Sunday constitutes Day 3 of the 3 days in the tomb prophesized in Scripture.

I pray you will be blessed this Holy Week and join me in celebrating Jesus’ eternal gift for each of us. The meaning of Easter is the meaning of the Gospel—the Good News about Jesus and His gift of salvation for us. Spread the Good News!

Apr 15

CELEBRATION DAY

Tax day

 

It was the middle of the night. Mom and Dad piled us into the car and we headed into the chilly April fog. At eight years old, the drive signaled an adventure. A short adventure it turned out, when Dad soon pulled in behind a long line of cars. Every few minutes, the cars inched closer until we stopped.

Dad cranked down his window and I glimpsed the single postal box.  Its blue and white distinctiveness was barely recognizable beneath the haze of the street light flickering through the fog, standing resolutely in front of the main Post Office in town. Another line—pedestrians only—wound around the Post Office building, trudging their way up the steps one at a time, to be swallowed behind the heavy glass doors.

Everyone there had the same goal: to have their packets post marked before midnight, April 15.

Dad slipped his two envelopes into the mail slot and released the metal swinging door. The door’s bang woke my brother. I jerked my head away from the back-seat cushion. Mom clapped. Dad laughed.

Taxes were done for another year.

That night was over a half century ago, but it is fresh in my mind—not just the nighttime adventure but the sense of celebration once Dad slid the envelopes into the box.

Now I use online forms and click a button to file our tax returns electronically, receiving emails within minutes confirming that they have been received by the IRS and the State of Idaho.

No more heading out into the night.

But just like it was for Mom and Dad, the sense of relief when the tax returns are completed and filed is palpable. Done for another year.

I will skip a discussion of our government’s money management skills. Instead I rejoice over being financially blessed enough to be required to pay taxes.  I also acknowledge with gratitude that the money we citizens pay as taxes can be combined so that it goes further than if I tried to build roads and house the homeless on my own.

Paying taxes is also a reminder of how our tithes and offerings can be combined in a similar manner to accomplish what we could not do on our own to share God’s love in a tangible way we can’t achieve individually.

And then we are blessed by doing so with a tidy and much appreciated tax deduction! (Because while it’s a blessing to have to pay taxes, it’s also a blessing not to pay too much.)

April 15. It’s a time for celebration.

And we don’t even have to leave the house in the middle of the night.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Now that the day has arrived and (hopefully) tax returns are done and filed, how do you feel?

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