Archives for November 2011

A Taste of Life Notes: The Amazing Race

The deadline is fast approaching (Sunday at noon) to get in on this year’s Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway. Remember one lucky subscriber—either a new one or one already on the list—will receive a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble. Yay, right?! The biggest dilemma for the winner will be whether to spend it on herself or to use it as a Christmas gift for a loved one. I’m glad I won’t be the one making that decision! :)

For those of you who have not yet subscribed to Life Notes, my free quarterly inspirational newsletter/ezine, I thought I’d offer a taste of it here on the blog. Others of you may not have had time to read the current issue yet since it just came out last week. Whatever the case may be, enjoy the lead article here today!

The Amazing Race

Ever watch “The Amazing Race”, the reality show that follows the adventures of several teams of ordinary people racing around the world competing for a million dollar prize? Without really meaning to, I ran my own crazy version of it one holiday season.

No, I didn’t get on a plane, ride a bike, row a boat, or compete in challenges like milking camels or eating unappetizing international foods. I simply went Christmas shopping. Since we have very few places to shop in our small community, I always have a packed schedule when I make my monthly trips to the city. With my holiday shopping added to the mix, I found myself running—not watching—The Amazing Race.

I didn’t have a partner like the teams on the show do. My only competitor was the clock, but that was enough. I went armed with my list of stops and gift ideas, knowing I had only x-amount of time to conquer it all. After making the drive, I parked in front of the first store and pulled out my list. I resolutely put on my game face and started walking. Or maybe I should say sprinting. I move fast on marathon shopping days. Just ask my family. None of them can keep up with me for an entire day when I’m on the move.

During my race that day, I didn’t stand in lines at airport ticket counters, but I endured them at almost every checkout or customer service. I wasn’t required to search through hundreds of assigned items trying to spot a specially marked one, but I certainly scoured shelves in store after store trying to find what I wanted for those on my list.

While driving from place to place, I ate my lunch and plotted new strategies to deal with the roadblocks and detours that presented themselves. There were stores that had moved or closed, discontinued items, out-of-stock items, high prices, wrong color, wrong style, a late afternoon call from my youngest daughter finally giving me a list of ideas . . . You get the picture. My roadblocks and detours differed from those on the show, but they challenged and stressed me just the same.

I didn’t give up, though. I pressed on until I reached the final pit stop, the finish line for my race—the restaurant where I met my friend Jeneal for dinner. I arrived looking rattled and frazzled, but I made it by the appointed time.

The problem? I didn’t accomplish everything on my list. The clock won.

Even so, I had done the best I could, and the trunk of my car was filled with the proof. Proof that left me feeling satisfied with my efforts. I guess sometimes winning is about finishing or about being proud of what I managed to achieve, not necessarily being the first one to reach the goal or beat the clock.

Are you faced with a race of some sort? I encourage you to put on your game face and start walking. You may have to sprint like I did, but don’t give up. Press on. Let determination propel you toward your goal. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll have a friend waiting for you at the finish line, too!

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 NIV

*What kinds of races are you running right now? Any other marathon Christmas shoppers out there? :)

*Flickr photo by dave416, Creative Commons License

*If you’re not already a subscriber, be sure to sign up for Life Notes by noon Sunday (CST) to be included in the drawing. Sign up is free and to the right!

A Lovely Reminder

5821767319_5d902eb286_z“How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty!” Psalm 84:1

One morning when a full, out-of-town day stretched before me, I wanted a taste of God’s Word to begin my day. I decided to open my Bible to a random Psalm and read wherever my eyes landed. I don’t do this often but am so glad I did that day.

I opened to Psalm 84, and as I read the first verse, the taste I desired exploded into a feast. They were familiar words, but in that instant, I saw them in a new light, with a deeper understanding. My drive-through, random reading suddenly felt like a full course meal.

This psalm, this verse, was written in Old Testament times, of course, and the words “dwelling place” referred to the temple of God. But where is His dwelling place—His temple—now? In us! In the hearts of believers. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

So if you’re a believer like me, what does this truth mean for us in the context of this verse? Because He lives in us, friends, we are lovely. And not just an off-hand use of the word lovely, but lovely emphasized—how lovely. In other words, you and I are very lovely. Extremely lovely. Amazing, huh?!

I’ve got to be honest. I don’t usually think of myself as lovely—in the physical or the spiritual sense. Too often I concentrate on the imperfections in both realms. I dwell on the warts of my shortcomings.

I think it’s about time I start seeing myself as God sees me. Redeemed and dearly loved as one of His children. As very lovely because He lives in me. Anyone else need that reminder today?

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

*Flickr photo by Shandi-lee, Creative Commons License

*Deadline for the Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is Nov 13. Details are in my Oct. 16 post and sign-up is to the right. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

Trading Weakness for Strength

Who knew shopping for a sofa and matching chairs would turn out to be the most difficult shopping chore of my life? No, I’m not exaggerating. Just ask my husband Don. I dragged him along each step of the way.

We hadn’t shopped for a sofa for over twenty years, and boy, have things ever changed. Judging by the depth of the seat cushions, you’d think we live in a land of giants. In order to sit in the majority of what’s available now, you have to be propped up by pillows.

Since neither Don nor I wanted to do this, our shopping outings—which began over a year ago and got waylaid by life—took on the air of a serious search rather than a fun shopping task. After finally finding a sofa that would work for us, the next step—selecting a fabric—loomed before me like an unwanted surgery.

Why such dread? I have virtually no ability to envision how something will look if it’s not the finished product. I’m also craft-challenged so just the thought of looking at fabrics and making choices (expensive ones!) nearly sent me into panic mode. To make matters worse, we also needed to find the kind of chairs we wanted to go with the sofa and then select fabric for those—and all of this from squares of fabric samples. I started feeling short of breath just thinking about it all.

Lucky for me—or should I say by God’s grace and perfect timing—I had just read the passage in 2 Corinthians where the Lord tells Paul that His power is made perfect in weakness. Paul then declares “when I am weak, then I am strong.” (12:10b) I knew the same could be true for me and my overwhelming task. I could trade my interior decorating and craft-challenged weaknesses for my God’s perfect power and strength. I just needed to relax about it all and trust in His ability to help me. I decided to do just that.

Did everything go without a hitch? Of course not. Issues always seem to arise. Was making the decisions still difficult? Yes, but at least I was able to function rather than being frozen by fear. In fact, at only one point on decision day did I come close to a melt-down. The Lord helped me and Don each step of the way and even guided us through some unforeseen challenges where the chairs were concerned. His power was made perfect in our weakness, and He provided what we needed.

Do you need to trade some weakness for strength today? I know just where you can get it. And you won’t have to shop your brains out in the process :) Just turn to God. Just trust in Him.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ . . . That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9a, 10

*Flickr photo by kelsey_lovefusionphoto

*The Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is still underway. Details are in my Oct. 16 post and sign-up is to the right. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble.