Help!


In the season I’m in,

It’s just help I need.

School is now in session,

And it’s like a steed.

I climbed it last Thursday;

It took me dashing

Through the very first day,

My thoughts all flashing.

What was his name again?

What does she study?

That starts at eleven?

My mind is all muddy!

Where do I go from here?

How do I get there?

I’ll be tardy I fear;

Should I take the stair?

Oh someone please help me

In all of this stress!

I can’t even half-see

This whole ‘college’ mess!

But in all this worry

Have I thought of me?

My life is a hurry

To find who I’ll be.

But maybe I am not

Who I need to help.

Maybe I’m to be wrought 

As I hear their help.

More than any other time in my life, I can truly say, “I need help.”

I started college, and I need help with homework. I need help with balance. I need help with my thoughts. I need help with my dreams. I just need help.

And also, more than any other time, I am given numerous opportunities to get help. Questions to professors and other students are rarely treated as insignificant. Often they are answered gladly and promptly.  

But as I seek and take all this help for myself and my future, I am forced to think of how much I am helping others. How am I helping others? How am I encouraging others and assisting them in becoming the great people they want to and can be?

So, no matter what your situation or season, help others. You are never too busy to give away even just a little bit of what you are given so freely.

“Don’t forget to do good. Don’t forget to share with others. God is pleased with those kinds of offerings.”

(Hebrews‬ ‭13:16‬)

Cell Phony?

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You can be here,

But also there.

It’s what I fear

To do you dare.

If you are here,

Do not be there.

For if you’re here

You can’t be there;

You can’t be here

And also there.

How often do you get onto your phone, computer, tablet, or any other electronic device?

Once or twice a day?

No.

Several times a day?

Probably not.

Much more?

I would guess that most people do so at least dozens of times a day.  Some may even come close to hundreds of times.

I use my electronics fairly often.

When I wonder what time it is, I look at my phone.  When I check my email, I often pull out my phone to do so.  When I blog, I crack open my laptop.

Seconds turn into minutes, and minutes turn into hours.  Then suddenly, we have spent the majority of the day glued to some technological display.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I like technology.  It is incredibly useful and increasingly versatile.  But it can also be an enormous distraction.

There are times when the use of electronics is mandatory or very necessary.  But that is not always the case.

It is not always a good time to check that screen of yours.

Sometimes it pays to just listen to others or talk to those surrounding you instead of the ones who are on your device.

The famous martyr Jim Elliot once said,

Wherever you are – be all there.

 

courtesy of brainyquote

If you are with someone else, be all there.

Don’t “phone snub” them; listen to them.

“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

(Philippians 2:4 NLT)

Don’t Be a Heifer

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Once upon a time

Cows could show emotion.

Sometimes they did rhyme

And cause some commotion.

They would write and speak

To express how they felt.

Some were bold, some meek;

But others’ hearts they’d melt.

Frowning and scoffing

They went all through their days.

Smiling and laughing

Is how they used to graze.

Because they showed them,

Does not mean they were good

Heifers to the brim.

Sometimes in grief they stood.

But despite all this,

They were all better off.

They weren’t all amiss;

They all shared the same trough.

Such days are far gone.

The beasts rarely do place

Another face on

Which they let warmth encase.

Why has this ended?

Why do they refuse to

Show undefended

Feelings to just a few?

 

Just think with me for a moment.

Have you ever seen a cow make another face aside from a blank stare of inescapable boredom?  

I have not.

They seem like miserable creatures, never changing, never revealing what they are thinking or feeling.

In this way we are much like them.  To often we pass by dozens, scores, hundreds of people without changing.  We never reveal our true emotions because we have the false idea in our minds that we must appear perfectly calm.

We think we have to look like we have it all together.

Many see tears as a sign of weakness.  They see problems as abnormal or imperfect.

But let me just tell you right now: No one is without problems.

We are all imperfect creatures that need each other to make it through this crazy world.  We all need that person we can go to with our true emotions.  We all need to have that person who comes to us with their honest feelings and struggles.

So I say, “Don’t be a heifer; be a human.”

It will do us all some good.

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2 (NLT)

Peach Perfect

 

tuscany-grape-field-nature-51947.jpegFor the last several years my family has been searching for a piece of land, a bit of acreage, a simple homestead, or anything else that would give us some freedom from the dreaded Home Owners Association.  Periodically one of us would come across a property for sale, ranging anywhere from ten to nearly one hundred acres, and suggest we go check it out.  Many times we quickly ruled them out, but sometimes we took much longer to pass up a deal.

Our land-purchasing excursions were sometimes more frequent and other times more sporadic.  We would be sure we wanted to move out of our neighborhood, but then we would question that desire.

Eventually, our zeal for life in the country died down.  We somewhat gave up on our property hunt.

Then, suddenly, after a very quick and surprising opportunity arose, we purchased a twenty-acre, peach orchard.  

No, we didn’t know anything about orchards or peaches or what it takes to run a successful farm, but we pressed on in faith.

Soon after the transaction, my brother began remodels on a small farm house that sat on the farm.  Our parents then started plans for a custom home to build on another portion of the property.  Meanwhile, we were thrown into the middle of our first peach season with no knowledge of how to grow the fruit.

Before we began harvesting, we did some research on peach trees and growing fruit.  But, even equipped with this limited amount of knowledge, we were practically clueless when it came to running an orchard.  Even so, we pressed on.

Although we were overwhelmed with the preparatory work, we were probably most surprised at the amount of peaches we had to pick in the first week of harvesting.  

Then we had our first sale day.

I’m not the most outgoing person when it comes to strangers, but selling peaches made me have to try to be.  Dozens of people of all types came to our farm in search of the soft, sweet fruit, and I was often made to speak to them.

I think I did a descent job of this, but I didn’t do it as passionately until I realized something.  Our orchard–our peach sales–could be a form of ministry.

Sporting our custom t-shirts that read,

“Love, Joy, and Peaches

Fruitful Family Farms”

we were proudly displaying our beliefs in a subtle way.  Although we did not shake a Bible and shout at our customers as they drove by, we were still ministering.

We openly spoke about our faith if it was brought up in conversation, but we did not force it on anyone.  We smiled at everyone as they walked up.

One particular man that visited our farm touched me and drastically changed my viewpoint of orchard work.  He came and purchased a small number of peaches, thanking us with a smile on his face as he began to walk away.  Then, in a way that I can’t quite recall, his wife was brought up.

She was in the Hospital; doctors had only given her a few days to live.

This was his current predicament, yet he still came to us smiling.  My dad said he would pray for him, and that seemed to bring the stranger a bit of joy.  He then got into his car and drove away.

We were all disheartened to hear the man’s story, but I was also given a sense of purpose in my farm work.

Later, my dad said he regretted not offering to pray with the man immediately.  I felt the same way.  Why had we hesitated? What difference could we make in even just one person’s life if we just prayed for them?  It wouldn’t have to be intricate; it could be simple.  So, as peach season is coming to a close, I realize that even selling peaches on a small farm in Tulsa, Oklahoma can be a ministry.

What do you already do that you can use as a ministry?

 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

(Acts 1:8 NIV)

Don’t Worry About a Thing

Life is tough.

I’m almost positive that everyone in the world would agree with this statement in some form.

There is sickness, war, death, grief, despair, hunger, poverty, and so many more things that mar our world.  I don’t go a single day without coming into contact with one or more of these things.  They are unavoidable.

And although everyone must react to these facts of our world, not everyone reacts to them in the same way.  Some get angry; some get depressed.  But, especially in America, one of the most common responses to the trials of this earth is worry.

People worry about what others think.  They worry about what they should wear and how they should talk. People worry about what they should do and what they should eat.  They worry about how much money they make and how big their house is.

People worry about everything.

I worry about a lot of things–a lot more than I am proud to say.

But what would life be like if we stopped worrying–if we stopped stressing out about the things we can’t control and started doing something about the things we can control?

What if we stopped worrying about how “cool” our caption is and just started being ourselves all the time?

What if we stopped worrying about having the newest gadget or the nicest car and started enjoying the simple things in life?

What if we stopped worrying about how much we “have” to work and started spending quality time with family and friends?

Life would be less stressful if we would just quit worrying.  And if there is something crazy, something bad happening to you, you have another option besides worrying about it.

You don’t have to worry.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

(Phillipians 4:6-7 NLT)

Look Like a Child

Once there was a fairy

Who had a little tale.

It was literary–

A story authors hail.

All full of magic things,

It was beloved by kids.

And even now it brings

The joy that age “forbids”.

For children grow quickly,

And some grow out of joy.

They seem much more sickly

Than when a girl or boy.

They have lost the wonder

That surrounded their youth.

But some still do plunder

The mines of glad untruth.

All still have kids inside;

Some have just misplaced them.

But those whose kids don’t hide

Are not those to condemn.

Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel–these are just a few of the many classic fairy tales.  These stories cultivate imaginations with their whimsy and magic.  There is always a happy ending; and no matter how old you are, you can still enjoy a fairy tale.

Disney has been banking on these stories for decades, and they still show no signs of stopping.  Why would they?

They work.  They still draw crowds of people to the box office.  All ages can enjoy these timeless tales.

No matter how hard someone may try, there is a part of every one of us that wants to be a child again.  We all want to believe in happy endings.  We want to see the world through the optimistic eyes of a child.  We long for the simple life of adolescence, because the adult world can be a dark, cruel place.

Some people are immersed in the discord of the world and are always dwelling on the horrors of this life.  People that used to watch sitcoms now watch drama.  The main place that television is light-hearted is on channels geared toward younger generations.

It is as if culture says we must leave our happy endings and innocent stories behind when we grow up.  But I disagree.

Children can teach us so much about life.  They can teach us about faith, family, love, forgiveness, happiness, joy.

While children may cry more than adults do, they also laugh more.  They always bounce back.  One moment they are balling their eyes out and the next they are grinning and singing.  They don’t have to have much to have joy, and they have to have even less to spread it.

Imagine a world where people looked through the eyes of children.  If even just for a moment, look at the world and see it as a child does.  It is much more beautiful that way.

Who says you can’t still be a child sometimes?

Pablo Picasso said,

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

So paint like a child!  Your life will be much more colorful!

“Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 18:4

Smile


Crack your lips;

Reveal a treasure.

Show your teeth 

To give one pleasure.

You know not

What they are feeling,

But you can

Bring them some healing.

Those white stones

Fill one with gladness,

Even one

Who’s filled with sadness.

So show them

When you get the chance.

Make them glad

With a friendly glance.

You never know what someone is going through. You don’t always know the backstory.  

The person who cuts you off going twenty over the speed limit may have just found out that a loved one is in the closing days of a short life.

The cashier who acts put out by your presence and annoyed by your desire to purchase something may be struggling with the relatively new idea that her parents are divorced.

The child who seems like he was raised by wild animals and terrorizes you at the mall may just be hungry for some sort of attention, because his single mom hardly has time to give him any.

A smile is a seed that nestles itself deep into one’s soul. Just like with seeds, the more you plant the more fruit you will see. When a smile-seed is cared for, the fruits of joy and hope are bound to come later.

You may not see the fruit or be able to enjoy it in its maturity, but you can plant it. You can plant it for others to harvest and enjoy.

You never know what one simple grin or a gentle smile could do in someone’s day.  

So smile today. Smile at someone you know or someone you don’t. Just smile.

“Always be joyful.”‭‭

1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16‬

Money Can’t Buy You Love


Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy movies with special effects.

Without today’s technology, some of the greatest films ever would have never been created. But, I also love the movies made in the simpler decades of film-making. Many of them are true works of literary art, but so many people overlook this because they deem them boring or old.

Last week I had the opportunity to watch a film from 1938. The film, called You Can’t Take It With You, is just one of the movies in my family’s ever-growing collection of flicks. It is a black and white movie crafted before the birth of CGI, when films relied heavily on plot rather than on special effects to be successful.  

Although this was not my first viewing of the movie, I was once again completely entertained by the story and its message.  

The film follows the lives of two young adults who have fallen in love. The man (Tony Kirby) is the Vice President of a large company owned by his rich, high-society father. The woman (Alice Sycamore) is the man’s secretary and belongs to an eccentric family whose members are all involved in numerous, eclectic vocations (or rather activities).  

After each meeting the other’s family, the two decide it is time for their families to meet each other. Alice, somewhat nervous for the Kirby’s to meet her family, tries to plan an elegant, uptight party to match Tony’s high-society upbringing and hide her strange roots. But Tony has other plans. He tells his parents the wrong night for the gathering. Evidently, his family joins the Sycamore’s on a normal evening at home.

Alice’s grandfather and Tony’s father don’t get along very well. They have very different priorities and views. Grandpa Sycamore opposes Mr. Kirby’s greediness and says to him at one point:

“Maybe it’ll stop you trying to be so desperate about making more money than you can ever use? You can’t take it with you, Mr. Kirby. So what good is it? As near as I can see, the only thing you can take with you is the love of your friends.”

Shmoop Editorial Team. “You Can’t Take It With You: Quotes about Wealth Page 1.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 24 Jul. 2017.

And this is where the theme of the movie is most evident. Both the Sycamore’s and the Kirby’s thought they had life figured out. The Kirby’s were focused on wealth and image while the Sycamore’s were focused on less material things like friends and family. Instead of worrying about living a lavish existence, the Sycamore’s did what made them happy. They did what they loved.  

From writing plays to dancing to making fireworks, Alice’s family did what pleased them. And they all loved their lives.

This message about the futility of pursuing wealth is also portrayed in Hebrews 13:5 where it says,

“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.””

In other words, trust God with what you have. Trust Him to provide for you in the future. Don’t just let that phrase on our money be some clever saying; let it be what you live by.

In God We Trust.

By the end of the film, the Sycamore’s convince the Kirby’s that there is more to life than money, that the only thing you can take with you is love. And in the last scene, Grandpa Sycamore gives a humble, trusting Prayer over their meal.

“…Well, sir, here we are again. We’ve had quite a time of it lately, but it seems that the worst of it is over. Course, the fireworks all blew up, but we can’t very well blame that on you. Anyway, everything’s turned out fine, as it usually does. Alice is going to marry Tony; Mr. Kirby, who’s turned out to be a very good egg, sold us back our house—he’ll probably forget all about big deals for a while. Nobody on our block has to move and, with the right handling, I think we can even thaw out Mrs. Kirby here. We’ve all got our health; as far as anything else is concerned, we still leave that up to you. Thank you…”

Shmoop Editorial Team. “You Can’t Take It With You: Quotes about Dreams, Hopes, and Plans Page 2.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 24 Jul. 2017.

Instead of fretting over the things they couldn’t control, the Sycamore’s trusted God to provide for them and to keep them healthy and safe.  

So today I challenge you to stop worrying about money. Do what you enjoy. Love your friends and family, and trust God. 

We are all clocks

Tick tock tick tick tock

‘Tis the strange sound of time.

Tick tock goes the clock

The subject of this rhyme

“Time: it is money”

Some people do mutter,

And it’s not a runny

Stream in the gutter.

It will stand like stone

Or a person in youth.

It has stood and shone

Like a beacon of truth.

But I say it’s more

Than mere silver or gold;

‘Tis heavenly ore

That’s sent for you to mold.

One works it a while

‘Till he makes it a mess.

Then he sees it vile

And free of all success.

He wastes his shining

Time just thinking there’s more,

But with repining

He’s reached his final shore.

For time is unknown.

Some get a long river,

Others are just thrown

A watery sliver.

It does not cost you,

But people do run out.

It can’t be bought new;

It you can’t live without.

When it’s gone you’re done—

No more gazing at trees

Or the brilliant sun.

You’re one no one sees.

It cannot be seen

But yes! It is still there,

And it’s not serene

When some don’t get “fair” share.

It’s invisible

To the bare eyes of men,

But it’s visible

To the Clock-man and ken.

He knows just how far

He’s wound each face of ours,

And knows who we are

Who’ll tick the final hours.

So don’t get so low;

You’re wasting so much time.

Will it be fast? Slow?

I can’t tell you in rhyme.

I can’t at all

Tell you how many days

You have left to call

Yours before life’s last phase.

But the ticks and tocks,

They all matter so much.

So listen all you clocks;

Your time is here to clutch.

No one knows what time they have left.  We are all living lives with limited lengths.

Time is one of the greatest treasures on earth, but it is also one of the greatest mysteries.

We all have freedom to do what we choose with our time, but the question is:

What will you do with your time?

Do not waste your time.

Even more importantly than that, do not waste your time with others.  You never know when your time with them will end.  And unlike wasting your own precious time, you will be around to see the effects of wasting your time with others.

Time with others could end in a death, a change in circumstance, or even a change in location.  But whatever it is, you may not see it coming.

So live life to the fullest.  Savor moments, don’t just document them.  Make great memories, not just great posts.  And most of all love others!

 “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-8‬

Hope


Everywhere you look today, you see apparently hopeless people.

The incarcerated man with no hope for a future life beyond a cell.

The single mom with no hope for her children’s success.

The cancer patient with no hope for a cure.

The invalid with no hope of hugging someone back.

The teenager with no hope to live for.

Hopelessness is all around us.

The news channels broadcast stories of death and disaster, painting a gloomy picture of our world. Nations are in discord with each other, and citizens are opposing their governments. Poverty strikes the masses, and hunger plagues the poor.

The only hope these people could truly grasp is one of a better, different life in the future.

Meanwhile, in America, schools seem to think the world’s current hopelessness is not enough. So they fill the heads of our nation’s children with ideas that don’t allow for hope to exist. They completely cut out all thoughts of optimism.

They tell students that they are nothing more than the product of a chance occurrence between a few particles, millions of years ago. They say that there is nothing beyond this life. When we die we are completely finished and simply absorbed into the depths of the ground.

If their current lives are in turmoil, that is just how it happened to play out. Some people are given good lives, while others are given miserable ones. There is no equalizer, no fairness. The laws of science are cold and merciless.

So when all we see seems hopeless, why would we want to pour more hopelessness into our minds. Why would we craft an origin story that only creates a meaningless existence.

C. S. Lewis once said,

“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”

Today I want you to know that the universe has meaning! You have meaning! You were not an accident, some chance-happening!

“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:27‬