Winter in Minnesota can be feel long. It actually is the same time as anywhere else. It certainly is not as boring as those warm places. But we needed to do something different, so we went to the beach.
It looked a little different than it does in the summer. We managed to only fall a few times on the ice. There were no injuries. We then went for a hike. I noticed that my son was still in his pajamas. Well, at least he had a jacket on. For whatever reason they do not want to wear jackets anymore. Perhaps a resolution for the new year.
The trail is just as icy as the lake. But it was a brisk walk (literally)
We did see some deer. Actually there were like 10 of them here. They didn’t seem at all threatened by us. We had lulled them to sleep with our calm. (we were in the pick up)
So for those that wonder how we manage to survive here. I would say, we do more than survive. We even go to the beach in February!
Weeknights can be stressful. It seems like the moment the kids come home from school the universe is set on a collision course with itself. No that doesn’t make sense. They get home and need food because the three block walk from school wipes them out and they must eat right now! Okay, I guess it has more to do with their early lunch time. Hey, let me tell the story. Anyway, then they unpack their backpacks and papers are strewn about. You need to sign this. I need this money for the school activity. Some nights there are sports or other activities. But there is always time for homework and then next best thing, complaining about homework.
Tonight I was feeling the tension. The kids were fighting. Then a couple of them were playing some random game that involved barking and marbles. No, I did not understand it, but they were getting along. That seemed to be going okay until they broke the glass jar. Then there were tears. In the next room homework was going on. That was no going so well. The way they are teaching math now is like a foreign language to me. My attitude was going south quickly. And then the suggestion: “Let’s play telephone”
How long has it been since I played telephone? I mean that would never have been a suggestion I would have made. Okay. Let’s see what happens. The kids started to come up with their phrases. “The barn is green and yellow.” Then there was something about ice cream and kibbles. We were quickly laughing. It is amazing how quickly the tension was gone. There was no more fighting as the kids now tried to think of fun things to say. Looks like the kids figured out a way to bring some life to the boredom and tension of the evening. My suggestion for you: play a game of telephone and see what happens. Lighten up a bit and mix it up. You will be glad you did. I know I am.
After a tough start to winter this year, we finally had some days where we could go outside and not have the wind freeze our flesh. It was quite the treat. As I walked around the yard I noticed that the snow was deeper than I remembered it being and that getting that snow in your boots is cold. Over on one side of the yard sat the Christmas tree, waiting in line to be burned in the fire pit during the summer. It still looks really green, but is not as nice as it was in the living room. In my hands were Christmas lights that for whatever reason decided to stop working, ironically just like my preteen son. And then it hit me: I would sure hate to be January.
December gets all the hype, fun lights, gifts, movies,elves, and sweet treats. November gets Thanksgiving which takes food and football and merges them together in merriment. What does January get? Dark days and nights. Cold temperatures. Frozen pipes. Cars that won’t start. Ice covered roads. Garage doors that break. (yes, the replacement of the aforementioned door is happening this week– could be a blog post in that) All of this and the let down emotionally that Christmas has now come and gone once again. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the seasons of the year. I look foward to them in fact. It is just that January seems to get left out of the fun, like that one friend that nobody thinks to call and invite to the movie. Thankfully February shares candy hearts early with everyone, which makes us look forward to spring and February 15th when they get marked down to 50% off.
Yet, as I thought about this I realized that there is a lot of joy to be had in January. Life is full of adventure and experiences. Winter sports are in full swing. Movie nights in the warmth of the living room are a nice treat that does not happen in the summer. Getting out the skis is a fun activity that even the littlest among us can figure out pretty quickly. (I mean how can you look at her and not smile?)
Yes, I guess there is joy to be found in every month of the year. It takes looking for something that will brighten your day and doing that. For me it might be getting a cup of coffee and staring out the window for a while. At other times I enjoy pulling my daughter around the yard in the sled or working on some project. Whatever it is for you, get out and enjoy each day because each day is a true gift from God. Yes, even January.
After I wrote yesterday’s post, I remembered something. Actually, I was just about ready to fall asleep and I had a thought pop into my brain. As a side note, that is a strange place for that to happen for me, usually it is when I am taking a shower that I think the clearest. But anyway, I got to thinking about how in many different places in my life I have been told to “leave it better than you found it.” This is easy to understand when you are given something to borrow, or you are in someone’s home. But what about if we thought the same about the people we encountered everyday?
I was at a hotel with my family some months ago and I noticed an older couple strolling around the lobby. The older man was in a wheelchair and his wife was pushing him around. Immediately I had compassion for them because they looked tired to me. She loved him and would do anything for him. He had some sort of health problem that limited him to the wheelchair. I noticed they wanted to go into the pool area to see what was going on in there, but holding the door was challenging. I went over a held the door so they could come in and then when they left again. They both smiled at me and thanked me for my help. I didn’t do much, but I hope I left them better than I found them.
Words have the power to hurt and heal. Of course working with people can be a challenge. If I chose to be negative or grumble about others, I will just add negativity to an already negative situation. People don’t always do things like I do them. Sometimes I make mistakes, sometimes other people make mistakes. We are all human. One thing that helps make things better is gratitude. I can say thank you. In fact, I have found that one way to counteract negativity in the workplace or in the home is to say thank you, even to that person that can rub you wrong. Actually, this is probably something we all can do better at. It doesn’t hurt and it is free.
What can you do today to leave them better than you found them? Someone needs you to lift them up today.
Have you ever been so tired that you couldn’t keep your eyes open or really move very quickly? So much of our life is about doing something that it can be very difficult to find time to rest. But it is critical to your life. James 1:21 says, “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”
The Word of God is not an optional part of the life of a believer. This is not just any other word that has been written down on paper. This is the word that is implanted in you as you trust Christ and can save you. This is life for your soul. Take a drink and be refreshed! It is one thing to feed the physical body, but it is another thing to feed the spiritual. You need food for your physical body to live and you need food for your soul to live. This food is from the Word of God.
The Word of God is as essential to our spiritual life. So if you go from Sunday to Sunday without opening up the Word on your own, it is like holding your breath for 7 days. You are harming yourself when you do not open this book up and sit under its teaching and authority in your life. The Word of God is life for your soul and is the most valuable thing there is beyond God himself.
Take off moral filth
The word therefore indicates a conclusion based on what was just said. So if you look there you see that if we are talking and determining in our own minds and hearts what is right and wrong, we are never going to challenge moral filth in our lives. But if we sit under the authority of God’s Word, it is hard to wiggle out of it.
But it isn’t just taking off the moral filth, but it is replacing it with something else.
Put on the Word of God
It says to humbly receive the word of God. It is a picture of a father and a child, as the father imparts something to the child and the child listens intently to what the father is telling him or her. My kids like to do a lot of fishing with me and naturally that means we are keeping all kinds of fish to fillet. Of all my kids, the one most interested in this process is my daughter. She will sit with me, poke the fish, talk to them and ask me questions about everything. What is that? Why is the fish making that noise? What does the fish eat? And she is very, very interested in what I have to say. She will take whatever I have to say as truth because she has no reason to believe otherwise. This is how we receive the Word. The difference is that this Word can save you. This Word can help you make sense of the chaos in the world.
So take time in the Word today and everyday. You will find new life for your tired soul.
My daughter got a hamster for her birthday this year. This hamster is probably the most well-loved hamster that has ever lived. She talks to him, sings to him and reads here Bible to him. If hamsters could know Jesus, Peanut would be a follower of Jesus by now. Often we will be just sitting in the other room and she will say “I am going to go sing to peanut” and off she goes. She will sing “Jesus loves me, this I know” over and over again to Peanut. Anyone who comes to the house has to see Peanut. Everyone she sees has to hear about Peanut. She is glad we moved to a place that has a pet store so she could get a hamster. Her hamster is loved!
There is something refreshing about hearing my 4 year old daughter talk to her hamster about Jesus. This is just a natural way she loves him. I think it is an important link to make for us ‘older’ people. Psalm 76:1 says that in Judah God is known; that His name was great. The reason? Because God was there and His people worshiped Him. Worship naturally leads other people to God. My daughter is learning to make Jesus known; she is practicing what it means to make His name great! That is such a treasure for me to have her being able to articulate that.
Worship is more than just Sunday mornings. Worship is all day and worship is everyday. And it seems to me that the more we practice this, the more natural it becomes to just praise God in every circumstance.