Faithinflipflops

Living simply, loving deeply!

Archive for the month “November, 2014”

Let Your Light Shine

Last year I wrote a blog entitled,  The Tale of a Recovering Scrooge. In it I explain why Christmas has not been my favorite holiday since my mom passed away when I was 17.

I hesitate sharing another reason that this holiday is not my favorite. I hesitate because the last thing I want is for people to feel sorry for me and/or to give a false view of my life. I am incredibly grateful for where I am in life. I love what I do and whom I do it with. I am incredibly blessed. With all of that being said, Christmas is not the friendliest of holidays for singles. There is no one to open presents with on Christmas morning, no one to buy you Christmas presents (I cringe as I type this because it sounds terrible and incredibly selfish). I have chosen not to get married up to this point. And I have definitely chosen not to have children. There are positives and negatives to each choice we make in life. In the blessing that my life is, this is one negative. It doesn’t make me sad, it just reminds me of the seriousness of following Jesus in my life. People who say you can have it all, are not being honest.

Last year after a grieving through the holiday workshop at our church, I realized that I had to stop skipping Christmas. That it was time to re-engage in the celebration of the birth of Christ. I made some steps last year. This year I decided that I would hang some Christmas lights. Not a lot…. just a few.

In the past, during the summer I would hang flip-flop lights on the outside of my house. My house is pretty much decorated like a summer beach cottage and so in the summer I would hang lights.

A few weeks ago while working in my yard and cleaning out gutters, I started hanging a few Christmas lights. While I was doing this, my neighbor came over to talk to me. Six years ago, he lost his daughter to cancer and three years ago, he lost his wife to cancer. I had officiated both services.

As we stood in my front yard, with tears streaming down his face he told me how in his wife’s last days, she would have him hold her up so she could look out their back door to see my flip-flop lights. She thought they were so beautiful. And it brought her joy in her final days. He then proceeded to tell me that his 18-year-old grandson had just tragically died the week before. I had no idea. He was broken. As I hugged my neighbor in my front yard, mourning with him over his loss, I determined that I was going to go all out with Christmas lights this year. There is also a nursing home directly across the street from my house.

I had been so selfish for years, thinking how Christmas affected me and not noticing others around me. And I thought of Jesus, the whole reason for the season, who gave up Heaven, to be born as a baby so that He could show me the way to the Father. He gave up everything to die a brutal death on a Cross for me. So that I could serve God without fear and have this abundant life that I am currently living! So that I could love people more fully.

And all out I have gone! I now understand Clark Griswold’s motivation in National Lampoon’s Vacation. And it has been a financial sacrifice. I had to start from scratch with lights. And I have no idea how much my light bill will be but it is worth it. A friend of mine from church who works at the nursing home texted me last week and told me that one of the residents commented on how beautiful my lights were.

As I stood back and look at my lit house when I was finished, I remember the words of Jesus when He said to “let your light so shine before others so, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). I am taking it literally this year.

They are bright.

They are bright.

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Love my pink flamingo

Love my pink flamingo

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Nothing is Wasted

I have been getting coached for the past 6 months. I have had to look again at what my dreams are, what I value, what is important to me, dream busters, etc. Yesterday was our last conference call. We wrote our life’s mission statement. It has been a fun and challenging process.

At the same time, I have been leading Beth Moore’s Bible study, Believing God, with two different groups of women from my church. It has been one of the best Bible studies I have ever done. It has really challenged me in my walk with Jesus. I believe it has changed me. As part of the study, she makes you look back at your life and see how God has been at work in your life from the time you were born. We are now in the midst of creating timelines of our lives and recognizing how God has been with us, even in the not so good times. We have been doing this as we have studied the life of Joshua.

All of this reminded me of a seminar that I did back in 2000 called Focused Living. At the time I was living in Virginia and serving as the interim Senior Pastor. The District asked me if I was interested in permanently leading the church. The Pastor (my boss) had just stepped down. I honestly did not know if I wanted to senior pastor at that point in my life. So they sent me to this seminar. It was an intense two-day process of looking back at your life and the lessons you learned along the way. During this process I had to write a Personal Life Mission Statement. God used this process to show me that I was not called to senior pastor in that season. The process, though painful (I had to look at a lot of hard stuff I went through growing up), really did focus me.

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I came home a couple of weeks ago and pulled out the big poster of my life that I had to do during the Focused Living Seminar. It fit so well with what God was showing me through coaching and the Bible Study. On this poster, I had it broken up into segments. I was 30 when I did this and it fell into 3, 10 year segments. The first 10 years was entitled “Turmoil”, the second 10 years was entitled “Preparation” and the third 10 years was entitled “Gaining Experience”. And I had life events under each of them. Good and bad. I also had life lessons that I had learned through my experiences of my first 30 years of life. As I read them, I realized that I still live by the lessons I had learned to articulate in the Focused Living process.  The purpose of this blog is to share my life lessons of my first 30 years of life. I am 44 now. I feel strongly that God, through the coaching and the Bible study, is having me go through the same process that I went through with Focused Living 14 years ago. So I have been looking back at the past 14 years and identifying what has happened,  what God has been doing and what season of life I am in now, where He is leading me and the lessons have I learned. I shared some of this with my pastor and he asked me “What would I entitle the past 14 plus years since I last did this?” I was surprised that an answer quickly rolled off my tongue in response. I will share that in another blog.

Here are the 15 lessons I learned from my first 30 years of life:

life-lessons

  1. God will never leave me.
  2. God can take the ugliest things and situations and make something beautiful come out of it.
  3. Nothing is wasted if you allow God to bring healing.
  4. I learned to be faithful in ALL things (as a lay person, as a manager, and with my family).
  5. You can never ask someone to do something that you are not willing to do yourself (leadership).
  6. People need to be treated with kindness and respect.
  7. I learned that false humility will keep me from reaching my full potential.
  8. When I say I can’t do something, I am limiting the power of God.
  9. I learned perseverance. When God calls you to do something – hold on and obey. It will come to pass.
  10. I learned to walk in forgiveness and let hurts and wrongs go quickly.
  11. Cracked pot vision – God shines through the broken areas of our lives.
  12. Anyone can fall. And people will let us down. It could happen to me so err on side of showing grace and compassion when people fall. Treat people how I would want to be treated if I fell.
  13. Jesus came to bring life. I should be enjoying the life He has given me and what He has called me to do.
  14. No matter if your heart is breaking, you serve God. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
  15. My health. I have one body to accomplish the good works God has prepared for me so I need to take of my soul, body, spirit and mind.

 

Veteran’s Day: WWII in Pictures

One of the greatest treasures my dad left behind were his pictures he had from World War II. He served in the army during World War II. I wrote about him in a previous blog  Lessons from the Greatest Generation. I came across them again a few months back. I thought I would share some of them in honor of my dad and Veteran’s Day. He wrote on the back of many of his pictures. I wish he would have written on more of them! I hope you enjoy these pictures as much I do. It captures a piece of my dad’s life and many soldiers from WWII.

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My dad is the middle guy in the top row.

My dad is the middle guy in the top row.

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Written on the back of the picture "Ray and myself. These hats we have on are our oversees caps.

Written on the back of the picture “Ray and myself. These hats we have on are our oversees caps.

My dad...I think in Italy

My dad…I think in Italy

This is my favorite picture. A soldier reading a letter from home.

This is my favorite picture. A soldier reading a letter from home.

On the back my dad wrote "Close up. Taken in Venice."

On the back my dad wrote “Close up. Taken in Venice.”

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"Two drunks. Jack & myself" is what my dad wrote on the back of this picture.

“Two drunks. Jack & myself” is what my dad wrote on the back of this picture.

My dad

September 10,1944 written on the back

my dad is on the left and his best friend, Ollie on the right. They talked every week on the phone until Ollie passed away 5 years before my dad.

my dad is on the left and his best friend, Ollie on the right. They talked every week on the phone until Ollie passed away 5 years before my dad.

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My dad in Rome or Venice. And note the kids photobombing. 🙂 Photobombing has always been a thing

"Note - myself milking the cow. We very seldom get fresh milk but when we run into a milk cow we help ourselves." What my dad had written on the back. You can see him milking the cow.

“Note – myself milking the cow. We very seldom get fresh milk but when we run into a milk cow we help ourselves.” What my dad had written on the back. You can see him milking the cow.

September 1944. And of course my dad had a dog.

September 1944. And of course my dad had a dog.

Gun Crew was written on the back along with every person's first and last name and where they  were from.

Gun Crew was written on the back along with every person’s first and last name and where they were from.

"German prisoners. I am sitting in the front." Written on the back.

“German prisoners. I am sitting in the front.” Written on the back.

"German Prisoners"

“German Prisoners”

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My dad

My dad

I think this was in Northern Africa

I think this was in Northern Africa

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My dad and Stan

The only colored picture my dad had. Probably the Alps. On the back was his dad's address...

The only colored picture my dad had. Probably the Alps. On the back was his dad’s address…

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Another favorite. On the back it says "This is one of the dinkiest they have over here. They say when this train looks as big as one in the States it's time to go home."

Another favorite. On the back it says “This is one of the dinkiest they have over here. They say when this train looks as big as one in the States it’s time to go home.”

Dated September 10, 1944 "myself laying in the haystack."

Dated September 10, 1944 “myself laying in the haystack.”

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Another northern Africa pic.

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My dad. Never saw him smoke a pipe in my life!

My dad. Handsome. Never saw him smoke a pipe in my life! Cigarettes on the other hand 😉

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy

kitchen

kitchen

Cold. Alps again I believe

Cold. Alps again I believe

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