Plate spinning

Spinning Plates Act Photo 2Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Do you remember the guy in the circus or on the Ed Sullivan Show who would spin a bunch of plates on rods? He would get one going, then another, then another, then another, and keep adding more plates, then he’d have to run back to the first ones and give them another spin. He was forever running back and forth between plates, keeping them all spinning, and trying to avoid one smashing on the floor. At the end, he gracefully catches each plate and stacks them with a flourish – how amazing!

Sometimes, I feel like my life is that way (except the amazing flourish at the end)! My life is filled with busyness, I have so many things going on: My husband, our five children and three married one’s spouses, 3 grandchildren, my husband’s 3-4 businesses (that I do the bookwork and running for), my 2 businesses, two classes I teach, the house, the yard, the laundry, cooking, banking, exercising, travel, etcetera, etcetera. It’s all good things, and I enjoy it all, but sometimes I feel like I’m spinning plates, and I am afraid I will forget something important and a plate will crash to the floor.

Because I think I am in control of it all…

Sometimes I feel like I need a rest!

That’s when I need to take a deep breath, breathe a prayer, and remember that God’s got this! My job is to do what is in my little circle of responsibility: To love God first, and to love and help others as His Holy Spirit prompts me. I need to draw near to Him and “yoke up” with Him—like when you see two oxen bound together with a yoke and pulling a load side-by-side, which makes it so much easier than one ox doing it by himself. Yoke of oxen

When I choose to “yoke up” to Him, He takes the load and gives rest to my soul. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?—“rest unto your souls”—that’s what Jesus promises, and that’s what Jesus gives us, if we will allow Him.

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

That’s easy to say, but HOW do I cast it on Him. Well, this is what I try to do: I say out loud, “Lord, I am handing this to you, you know how to take care of it so much better than I do. Let it be done according to Your Will.” And then I have faith in Him to work it all together for my good and His glory. I try not to take it back, I try not to worry about it, and I keep reminding myself that God’s got this! I don’t need to keep spinning those plates. That’s not my job. That’s God’s job. Colossians 1:17 is speaking of the Lord Jesus and says, “…by Him all things consist”. The word “consist” in this verse can also be translated “are held together”. (Kind of like in baking when you mix things together and they have a “consistency” – they are held together!) So, if Jesus is keeping it all together, then it is His responsibility, not mine. Of course, I mustn’t shirk my responsibilities, but I shouldn’t worry about everything. Worry is a sin, and it will steal your joy, just like all the other sins.

I always claimed Matthew 11:28 when I was at the hospital in labor with each of my children. I know that is not really what it means, but at the time I was literally one of them “that labour and are heavy laden”, so I felt that it applied :). And He did help me with my labor!

So, let’s practice “yoking up” with the Lord, and casting all our cares on Him. Instead of running around like chickens with our heads cut off, spinning plates, and missing out on the blessings of the present that is right in front of us.

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Never get too busy making a living that you forget to make a life

Bad Attitudes are Contagious!

flat tireBe not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

One day a few years ago one of my daughters was going to babysit for her nephew and nieces (my wonderful, charming, angelic grandchildren). She planned activities and crafts fun things to do –she was so excited!. They were excited too! They kept asking their mother, “How many sleeps til she comes??” The day came and my daughter went over there and they played games, did crafts, baked, and were having a wonderful time, they were singing her praises –she’s their favorite aunt!

Then… it happened:

There was a lull in the activity and the oldest grandchild pipes up: “I’m not having any fun, I thought this was going to be fun!”

Then the second eldest suddenly goes: “Yeah I’m not having fun, either!”

The youngest who is about two at the time, crossed her arms made a pouty face and said: “No fun!

Wow! How quickly the atmosphere changed. One minute she was the greatest, and the next she was the worst! All because of one child’s bad attitude that the others picked up on. Bad attitudes are contagious!

Have you ever experienced that? How one person can change the atmosphere in a room?

Have you ever been the person who changed the atmosphere in a room?

The Amplified Bible translates 1 Corinthians 15:33 this way: “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.”

This is one of those “be not deceived” passages. Those passages I feel must be important because the Lord does not want us to be deceived by the alternative. So, what would the alternative be?

I’m thinking it’s something like, “Don’t let someone tell you that who you hang around with

won’t affect you at all.”

Attitudes, both good and bad are contagious!

So, then we should make sure we have good attitudes. What does a good attitude look like? Well, the Bible tells us that it looks like the Lord Jesus: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who… made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and…humbled Himself, and became obedient …” (Philippians 2:5-8)

What does that mean? Now, I’m no Bible scholar, but here’s my idea:

Let this mind be in you” – Think this way:

No reputation” – Not proud or arrogant!

Form of a servant” – Servant-like.

Humbled Himself” – Know who we are and Who God is.

Became obedient” – Obedient to God’s commands.

THAT’S the attitude we should have, and THAT attitude can be contagious, too! Imagine if everyone acted that way! If attitudes are contagious, is yours (and mine) worth catching?

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

A bad attitude is like a flat tire, you can’t go anywhere until you fix it!

The Vending machine

vending-machine“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

Imagine one day I was hungry for some crispy, chocolatey goodness, and I walked up to a vending machine, put in my quarters, and pushed the button for a KitKat® (gimme a break ♫♪, gimme a break ♫♪), I pushed “E5”, and much to my chagrin out popped a Snickers®! I was so disappointed and angry! And, I had a “conniption”- I became so angry at that machine for not giving me what I wanted! But I wanted a KitKat®! I don’t want to have to deal with all those nuts!!”

How silly? Over a bar of chocolate! It was just a mechanical malfunction.

But, isn’t that what we do to the Lord sometimes? We put in our “quarters” of praying, reading our Bible, working in the nursery, teaching a class, being kind, doing a good deed, etc., and we expect God to “gimme a break!” But oftentimes just the opposite happens — we have to deal with a bunch of nuts!!

Well, obviously our Sovereign Lord has a plan, He is not a vending machine with a short circuit. He is our loving Father Who knows what’s best for us, especially when we think we know what is best, and what should drop out the bottom of the vending machine when we put in all our “good works” – which, by the way — the Lord calls “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). He knows that sometimes we need to go through some fiery trials, we need to deal with some nuts, and “when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold”.

We need to learn to be thankful for the nuts! That’s what makes us grow in our faith, and eventually makes us perfect, or mature in our walk with the Lord:

Knowing this , that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:3-4)

Remember this next time you think of God as a “vending machine.”

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Life is like chocolate, sometimes you’ve gotta deal with nuts!

Much Ado About “NOTHING”

1 Corinthians 13 4-7.jpgThough I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

This past Sunday evening, our Pastor gave a message on 1 Corinthians 13. He went through all the attributes of love listed in the first eight verses, and although I have read that passage MANY times, something struck me anew this time:

Without love, we have NOTHING!!

To paraphrase the beginning of the chapter:  If I speak eloquently and intelligently, while making good talking points, and philanthropically give generously and often, but don’t do it with love – IT IS WORTH NOTHING!

NOTHING!

Wow! Don’t we all wish that we could speak well in front of people, that we could actually SAY all those things we rehearsed so expressively to ourselves earlier in the car, that others would admire our ability to speak and teach, and that we could give lots of money away to various charities? Why is that? Is it so we have the applause of men? It’s really pride and selfishness that makes us want to look good to others, that’s Much Ado. About NOTHING.

Well, without love, God’s Word tells us that those things are worthless!

We all have the most valuable gift within each of us. If you are born-again, you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you, and the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE (Galatians 5:22). We can choose to be loving in our speech and actions, and THAT is more valuable than being able to speak well or give generously.

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”(1 John 3:18)

How about that! We had it all along! We had the SOMETHING that we need. We can all choose to love, and THAT is SOMETHING!

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Nothing is impossible with God

Window Washing

window-smear7And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41,42

I have a confession to make:

I don’t really like washing windows.

No matter how much elbow grease I put into it, they always seem smeared. I have to keep going back and forth to each side, because once I think I have it clean on one side I see a smear and rub and rub, but then realize it’s on the other side, and so on, and so on…

(That’s why I usually pay my kids to do them!)

I once heard a speaker on the radio say, “finding fault is like washing windows – all the dirt always seems to be on the other side!” Isn’t that the truth?

It is so easy to see other people’s character flaws, annoying habits, and just downright sinful behavior. But, it is so easy to overlook our own, excuse it away and act like it’s no big deal, and it doesn’t really hurt anyone else, anyways. Right?? WRONG!! Sin always hurts ourselves as well as the others around us!

We have heard the above passage so many times about the mote and the beam, where Jesus is using a practical, physical occurrence to drive home a spiritual principal. It sure makes sense, though: If you have a two-by-four sticking out of your face, how in the world can you see to pick out a little speck in someone else’s eye?? You’ve gotta get rid of that log in your eye first! Don’t even think about trying to help someone else when you have such an obvious issue of your own.

It is the same with finding faults in others. Make sure that you have asked God: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23,24) Once you have humbled yourself, repented, and confessed of your own sin, they you can ‘see your way clear’ to help that other person. Confide in them that you struggle with some sins of your own and that you understand this battle we all have with our flesh. Encourage them, restore them: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Galatians 6.1)

If a brother or sister is battling sin in their life, the LAST thing they need is some self-righteous, pompous person pointing out the obvious (their eye-problem) and berating them for not wearing the proper protective eye-gear, and for being so stupid as to let something get in in the first place!! No. They need someone to be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) to them, gently taking them by the hand, telling them it will be okay, and that restoration and forgiveness is possible – “Let me help you get that out –I’ll go with you to the eye Doctor, I’ll put the drops in your eyes if you can’t do it yourself”. (By the way, my husband is the biggest baby when it comes to putting drops in his eyes, I literally have to sit on him on the couch, hold his head back and force his eye open so I can put them in –thankfully, he doesn’t need it very often!) THAT’S loving others. THAT’S loving God by loving his other children.

Now, go wash those windows –both sides!!

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Some people find fault like there’s a reward for it” (Zig Ziglar)

Our Spiritual GPS

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

I recently spent some time in Wisconsin taking one of my daughters back to school, and I got to sit in on my son’s teaching (*Bragging Mom Alert!!*). He is in Seminary at Maranatha Baptist University and as a Graduate Assistant he teaches an Old Testament Survey class, and since I was there, I decided to sit in the back and observe, he did a great job if I may say so myself!! The following analogy came from his class, I get no credit for it, I am merely passing on some good stuff:

Most new cars today are equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS), if your car doesn’t have one, then you probably have one suction-cupped to your windshield (like I do), or you usegps your phone, some people still like the old-fashioned paper maps, but not so many anymore. Well, my super-spiritual, intelligent son says that:

GOD’S WORD IS LIKE A SPIRITUAL GPS:

If you look at 2 Timothy 3:16, it tells us Four things that God’s Word does for us, it is like a spiritual GPS that gets us to our destination of “Righteousness Path” through the process of sanctification as we go on the “road of life”.

So, first we set our GPS to our final destination – “Righteousness Path” (Spiritually, this is Christian maturity), and we set off. Everything is going well, we are following the purple arrow on the GPS that is telling us the right way to go

~This is Doctrine – the right way to live, what pleases God

But then we get hungry and/or thirsty and need to use the restroom, so we pull off an exit to get something to eat and drink. (Spiritually, this is when we get off-track and choose the path of sin). The GPS doesn’t like this, if you have yours set to talk it will say “RECALCULATING!”, sometimes it seems like she has a bit of an attitude –if you have it set to a British voice, imagine her saying “what are you doing? Where are you going? You’re not going where I told you to go!”

~This is Reproof – what is wrong with the path you are headed on

Now we’re done with our pit-stop, and need to figure out how to get back on the road we were on (Spiritually, this is repentance). The GPS tells us how to get back on our original path – sometimes it will say “turn left in 1.5 miles”, or, “make a legal U-turn as soon as possible.”

~This is Correctionhow to get back on the right path after we have sinned

Finally, when we are back on the right path, and following that purple arrow again, the GPS will say something like “stay on this route for the next 350 miles, your destination will be on the right.

~This is Instruction in Righteousness –Now that you are back on track, this is what you need to do to stay on the right path

God’s Word doesn’t leave us wandering around aimlessly trying to find our way like a man without a map. God wants us to be successful in life, and He makes it clear how:

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)

Next time you consult your GPS as you are heading to a destination, be reminded that God’s Word is our GPS to help us get to our Spiritual Destination and we need only read it to find help in times of trouble.

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Don’t be a sap, look at the Map!

Twelfth Night

wise-menNow when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2

Good evening, Dear Readers,

I wanted to write you a quick message about today, January 5th. In England it is called “Twelfth Night” because it is the 12th night after the Lord Jesus was born on Christmas Eve. Traditionally, it is the day we take our Christmas tree down, and it is bad luck to take it down before (confession: mine is already down!). In other countries, January 6th is celebrated as Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day – celebrating the day that the three “kings” (actually Magi or wise men) came and visited Jesus as a young child. Especially in Hispanic countries, it is a big celebration. According to Wikipedia:

In Christianity, the Epiphany refers to a realization that Christ is the Son of God. Western churches generally celebrate the Visit of the Magi as the revelation of the Incarnation of the infant Christ, and commemorate the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6.

I remember as a child, the adults talking about Twelfth night, and Epiphany as a religious holiday of some sort, but mostly it was the day we took our Christmas tree down.

When I was reading through the Christmas story this year, I was struck by the following verses about the Magi:

“When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy” Matthew 2:9-11

These men followed a star from far away in the East, knowing that it would lead them to a great King. They asked Herod, King of the Jews at that time in Jerusalem where this new King of the Jews would be born, and he in turn asked his chief priests and scribes, and they told him what scriptures said – in Bethlehem of Judaea. Now Herod was a proud evil king, and did not want to share his glory with anyone, so he had all the baby boys under the age of 2 killed in order to prevent this new King from taking over his position of power. What he didn’t realize is that he cannot thwart God’s perfect plan. He chose to reject Jesus and tried to destroy Him!! The Magi, on the other hand, hurried to follow the star to Bethlehem, and when they saw Jesus “they rejoiced with exceeding great joy” – they were overjoyed at seeing the new King!! Can you imagine a King so great that a special star was created by God just for Him, and that it led these wise men to the place where He was? No wonder they were so excited!! They chose to accept Jesus – they were struck by the Epiphany (definition: “manifestation or striking appearance”) of Emmanuel – God in the flesh! They loved Him and worshiped Him, and gave Him their treasures—gold, frankincense, and myrrh – gifts fitting for a King.

So, who are you like? Herod who rejected and destroyed? Or the Magi, who loved and worshiped?

The choice is still ours today.

~Graced and Grateful Grammy

Wise men still seek Him