Monday, January 25, 2010

I Seized the Moment

I caught a sunset tonight (Sunday) in Target's parking lot and couldn't resist watching it to the end.  The deep colors took my breath away.

I love how the sun reflected off the water in the parking lot.

Goodbye, sun.  See you tomorrow.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Carpe Diem

"Today is unique! It has never occurred before and it never can be repeated. At midnight it will end, quietly, suddenly, totally. Forever. But the hours now and then are opportunities with eternal possibilities." - Charles R. Swindoll

I had a "ah hah!" moment earlier when I read this quote at the post office.  Have you ever really thought about how each day can only happen once?  I mean, when I was younger, I seriously thought time travel was possible.  (I've always had an over active imagination!)  Therefore, I thought I could go back, "putting things right that once went wrong"; perhaps I watched too much "Quantum Leap"?  Which, by the way, was a great show! 

But think about it for a minute...

How often are we guilty of wishing our life away?  I'm guilty of it just about every day.  What am I doing for Him in the in-between times?  Recently, it's come to my attention (only because I over-analyze everything) that I'm not doing enough for Him.  Sure, I appreciate His beauty in everything.  I'm kind to strangers; even smile when I don't feel like it.  But what am I doing to win souls for Him?  Far too often I'm just busy being busy. 

Philippians 3:13-15 (The Message): "I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back. So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it."

There's a stirring within me that something grand's about to happen.  I've felt this way for all the major events in my life.  I kinda feel like what a snake must feel like when he sheds his skin.  Have you ever watched that happen??  I'm kinda fascinated by it, actually.  When you have some time to kill, check it out on YouTube.  It's really quite amazing especially since they don't have arms.  (Random, but true!)  His old skin looks normal, that is, until you see the new vibrant skin.  (I know, it's actually scales.) I suppose the same could be true in our lives.  When we "shed" our old skin, becoming more like Christ, then we become all shiny and new too; figuratively speaking.

I try to seize the moment as much as possible, especially when it comes to photography.  I LOVE trying to capture God's creation!  It's honesly one of my favorite things in life and always makes me feel so happy and fulfilled.  The other day, it was absolutely gorgeous out!  I was out getting a smoothie for lunch from Smooth King.  I always drive through this really nice and ritzy neighborhood on the way back to work so I can savor my full lunch break.  There are some a-maz-ing trees there that I love looking at.  I always want to stop and take pictures, but don't.  I'm not sure why.  But the other day, my sunroof was open and I just couldn't resist!!  I wanted to share a few of the better ones with you.

Lesson for the day: SEIZE THE DAY!  Make the most of the day, because at midnight it will end.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Plastic Oreos

Adventure tends to follow me everywhere I go.  Sometimes I chase after it, but more often than not, it just happens.  Take tonight for example.  I've been putting off going to Walmart for as long as possible, but if I didn't go tonight, I wouldn't be able to go until this weekend.  I tackle one side (of Super Walmart) at a time.  Last week was food, tonight was non-food stuff (shampoo, tooth paste, etc).  I've been on the lookout and pricing different larger storage containers and finally found exactly what I needed and AND for really cheap ($3.48).  I picked up a lid directly on top of the container.  One might assume they organized them this way on purpose.  It didn't even occur to me test and make sure I'd picked up the right lid.  (Each time I type "lid" I type "lip" and have to erase and start again.)  It wasn't until I got home that I noticed the lid is entirely too large for the container!  The kicker is that there's only one red container, so again, that's why I assumed the lid would be correct.  So, what do I do now?  Take the lid back and ask for an exchange?

Ok, that's not exactly an "adventure" as previously mentioned, but stuff like that happens to me all the time.  Perhaps I should be more aware of what's going on around me?  I do tend to stay in my happy, little world a lot.  For instance, I was wandering down the cereal isle when I realized I was singing "Pant On The Ground"... outloud... and I got a very strange look from another customer.  Oh well.

Have you ever tried the peanut butter stuffed Oreos?  They are delicious and my favorite.  I was at Publix ("where shopping is a pleasure") and got a pack on a whim.  (I had a hankerin'.)  I pulled back the seal and was expecting to find that yummy Oreo smell, but it smelled like plastic.. like Play Doh even.  I didn't think this was a good sign, but took an apprehensive bite and quickly realized it tastes like plastic too!  I spit it out and tried again, but still tasted yucky!  I ended up throwing it away!  Tonight at Walmart, I tried again.  Surely they won't taste like plastic again, right?  After I bring the groceries in and realize I have the wrong lid, I opened the pack up.  Much to my chagrin, I discover it too is tainted by the plastic-grossness.  My question is, are my tastebuds revolting against me or is there "new recipe" yucky!  Let me know if you've had a similar experience.

I haven't written in a while... I'm not even sure I talked about Christmas yet?  Blogging is like a perverbial snowball bumbling down a hill.  If you don't stay on top of it, there's no catching up.  You just have to start fresh and mention things from the past.  I'll work on that post another time. 

Sometimes I feel like I need to be eloquent or say something super Spiritual, but I'm just a goof-ball and need to write about nothing in particular from time to time as well.  I know I enjoy reading other friend's blog when they ramble about life.  I hope it's the same for you.  Since I technically only had ONE lurker de-lurk: My Blue Morning and my Mom (via email), I don't know who reads my blog.  It's funny, the post I think many will comment on, it's like tumble weed blowing through my blog.  While others are super silly and got a lot of traffic.  You never can tell.

Last weekend (not the one that just ended), I mustered up some serious gumption and tackled my 2nd bedroom closet.  I haven't been able to walk in it for at least a year or more.  I started Saturday afternoon and worked for a long, long time.  I lost track of time and got my days and nights a little mixed up as a result.  Though, I was VERY productive!  I took pictures all along the way to catalog my adventure.  Who knows what I might find!  Boy did I find some interesting things!  I also went through thousands of pictures and many, many, many boxes of memories and life stuff.  I'll post some of my finds later. 

I somehow managed to hurt my back last Monday and it put me out of commission to do anything.  I could barely walk or move without groaning.  Thankfully, through the healing power of Jesus and magnets, I'm all better now.

Ok, enough roulette subject blogging.  I've got "Chuck" waiting on me.  Happy trails, friends!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!

January 10th-12th. They're big days in the blogging world. They are officially National Delurking Days.

(Actually, there seems to be some confusion as to whether National Delurking Day is January 10th or January 12th, so I'm just declaring it to be January 10th THROUGH the 12th.)

First, a definition. According to Urban Dictionary….

Lurk - To read without commenting or contributing, therefore effectively invisible to the rest of the group or community.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m quite thankful for my lurkers. According to my stats, over 80% of my readers actually fall into the “lurker” category, so don't feel bad if you're one of them. I love you guys!

However, one of the reasons that I do this whole blog thing is for relationships, and that’s kinda hard to do if one person in the relationship is "effectively invisible".

So….what better day to de-lurk than on National Delurking Day(s), right? It's a day to celebrate you!

But why de-lurk?

Commenting is a very crucial part of the blogging process. It’s kinda like tipping your waitress…it’s appreciated, the value of the service offered is measured by the amount given, you get better service if you do it, but if you don’t do it, someone might spit in your food.

Okay…I won’t spit in your food. But you get the point.

Anyway, say hey. I like you for reading my blog, and I like knowing who I like. I also love reading my reader's blogs, so be sure and let me know if you blog.

So join the fun - because lurking is something that you do in dark alleys, not on overly-patterned and nearly-neurotically-colorful blogs.

If you're new to blog commenting and don't have a Google login, once you click on "# comments" or "post a comment" , you can either select "Name/URL" and just put your name in (you can leave the URL blank if you don't have a blog), or "Anonymous" and sign your name within the comment.

Repost from my friend's Blog: Grasping for Objectivity in my subjective life.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On The Verge

I wrote this... what seems like a lifetime ago. Do you ever feel as though "something" is about to happen? You don't know what, but you can just feel it in your bones? It's like, for me, I can tell when it's going to rain, as my joints ache. Well, in the same way, I'm aching. God's up to something. I can just tell.

Regardless of how I feel in other areas of chaos in my life, I know-without a shadow of a doubt-that my Creator is up to something. He has plans for my life and for yours. I mean, stop and think about that for a minute. The CREATOR of EVERYTHING has a plan for your life! It brings tears to my eyes to even think about it. God, why in the world, would you choose to use me?? I don't understand your love. Unending. Unfailing. Forever. You amaze me. I'm sorry I don't tell You more often just how much you mean to me and how I'm so thankful You chose to save me.

So, I wrote this "poem" during another time in my life, when I felt that "ache". And wowy! Did God every use me. Out of, I don't know how many people, my poem just happen to be picked to be the theme for this youth conference, "The Verge". It almost seems surreal now to think about it.

What amazes me most is that no matter the person, no matter what you've done in your past or how you think you're invisble and no one sees you, your Father in Heaven SEES you. Don't think for one moment you aren't precious in His sight! What's funny to me is that God continues to use me, even when, especially when I don't deserve it.

Again, I'm telling you, God's up to something. I'm excited to see what the next journey for me is. It's never an easy journey. Pilgrim and I have a lot in common sometimes, but oh, the rewards, they are immeasurable. I might not see them until Heaven and then, I'm only going to give them back to Jesus anyway. But the mere fact He desires to use me, blows me away.

I wanted to revisit this poem that quite honestly, changed my life. May it be a blessing to you as well.

On The Verge
Meredith C. Quintana

Do you ever feel as though you’re on the verge of something great?
It’s a restless anxiety
A feeling of impending excitement
Thoughts and ideas run through my brain a million miles a minute
I step out in faith
Is this what I’m supposed to do God?
Is this all right?
I continue walking along the path
Slowly putting one foot in front of the other
Just hoping that greatness is over the next ridge
Off in the distance I see the future
It’s big and grand
Is that my destiny?
Only God knows my future is.
Only He knows the greatness that I could become
But really, as long as I’m in His will, I’m great
As long as I’m walking in faith, shouldn’t that be all that matters?
Not by the worlds standards…
We’ve come so accustomed to living in this world
That we now think like the world
If just for one day, we could see what He sees
Hear what He hears

How often do we stop focusing on ourselves long enough to realize the needs in this world?
People are hurting, blindly roaming around
Seeking hope in a hopeless world
With needs no one sees but Him
Who really cares about me?
Would anyone notice if I were gone?
Where will the hurt end?
When will we realize that we aren’t here to live our lives?
We are here to tell others about Him.
Tell them about His unconditional love
How many people have you told about Him lately?
Have you stopped living selfishly long enough to live selflessly?
What if the next person you met, you told them about your Savior?
What if He blessed you with the ability to listen to peoples spiritual needs?
Would your life be any different?
Would it freak you out enough to think you were going crazy?
Or would you realize what a blessing and a gift He granted you?

What if you woke up tomorrow morning and you had this gift?
How would your life change?
All around you, voices of hopelessness and agony would fill the air
Just looking around at someone, you’d hear their real pains
The things no knows but God… and now you
Would you address their hurt?
Tell them that there really is Someone who loves them unconditionally
Just as they are, no matter their past
Would you seize the Divine appointment He’s brought across your path?
Or would you just go about your daily life, as if nothing was different?
Would you ignore that still soft voice?

"Speak to that man over there. He needs My help."
"But Father", I whisper into the quiet void. "What am I going to say?"
Through the gentle breeze, I hear Him, "With Me all things are possible."

My brain connects the right synapses, which in turn tells my right foot to take a step forward
…then the left…
…and the right…
The next thing I know, I’m standing before this man.

"Excuse me, sir", I say, with shaky confidence. "I know you don’t know who I am but it was impressed upon my heart to share something with you. There’s Someone who loves you unconditionally. No matter what has happened in the past… what you’re doing currently, or what the future holds. I know Someone who will love and care for you regardless."

The man looks at me, and incredulously states, "Look, I don’t know what your deal is, but I’m not interested!" The man abruptly turns around and starts to walk away. Before he goes too far, I say, "You know, I know you feel as though there’s no hope, no reason to go on, no purpose…"

As the words hang in the doubt-filled air, he slowly turns around. Looks at me, almost through me, and with tears brimming in the corner of His eyes, He says in a shaky voice, "That’s exactly what I was just thinking."

"I know", I quietly say.
"But how?" he asks amazed.
"Like I said, Someone impressed upon my heart to come talk to you."
"I sure would like to meet this ‘Someone’."
I point to a bench near by, "Well, I’d love to tell you about Him."

As we sit on the bench and I tell him about this ‘Someone’. The glassy hopelessness begins to recede from his eyes and is replaced with tears of amazement and unworthiness. As his tears continue to stream down his face, he asks, "But why would this man die for me?"

With my own tears filling my eyes, I say, "Because… He loves you that much. If you had been the only one on this whole earth, He still would have suffered and died for your sins, past, present and future." The man, now openly weeping, "What do I have to do to get what you have?"

"Just ask… ask forgiveness for all that you’ve done, turn your back on your old ways of living, and tell others the things that I’ve told you. Tell them how He has changed your life. You know something, right now in Heaven, the angels are rejoicing over one more lost lamb has come to the Father and entered into His kingdom. From this day on, you are a new creature. Your old ways have passed away. You are changed!"

As I bask in the afterglow from this Divine appointment, I thank Him for using me… providing me with the words to say... and most of all, for dying for me as well. I am abundantly aware that He didn’t have to die on that cross, but He did. And I am eternally grateful.

So, as I look around me, on the road they call life. I realize it doesn’t matter what the world thinks about me or the things I do. All that matter is that I’m winning souls for Him.

So, what’s this verge of greatness?
It’s when I hear that still soft voice and decide to obey or not
No matter what occurs, He’ll receive all the honor and glory
But it’s in that moment… that people hang on the verge.

"On The Verge" Written May 2001

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Main Thing

Happy New Year, Friends!  If you're like most of the people, the New Year brings "resolutions".  A desire to change a bad habit or more commonly, lose weight/work out.  However, I resolved not to resolve a year years ago.  I prefer it that way.  I still set goals for myself, but I hate that feeling of failure when I dissapoint myself over whatever I'd resolved. 

That being said, I was on the way home from my parent's the other night when I was lost in thought; reflecting and pondering over the past year.  I've been blessed in so many ways, but my heart still longs for what I don't have.  I was also wondering if I've done enough for Him; used the gifts He's given me to glorify Him.  I definitely feel like I need to do more; be more creative, write, paint, whatever.  I need to do more.  I need to put myself out there and allow Him to use me. 

During my conversation with myself, I had to stop for a pretty long train.  (I don't usually mind trains too much, unless I'm trying to get to somewhere and they just sit on the track or hardly move.  That's just annoying.  But this one was moving.)  Right as I stopped at the crossing, a song by Charlie Hall came on, "One Thing".  The real time analogy made me laugh.  God usually shows me lessons in ways I can't miss.

(If you're reading this on Facebook or by email, please click over to Strength in the Struggle to see the video.)

How often are we stopped at a crossroads in life unsure of what to do next?  What job should I take?  Should I date/marry this person?  Where should I move?  It's far too easy to get bogged down with questions of the 5 W's and 1 H (Who, What, Where, When and How). 

I suppose we're often like Peter, when he was walking on the water to Jesus. (Can you even IMAGINE what that was like??)  As long as his eyes were on Jesus, he was footloose and fancy free, but the second he got freaked out by the huge wave coming, he started to sink.  How much are we like Peter on a day to day basis?  I know I am; more often than I care to admit.  Why don't I trust the Creator (of everything) with my everything?  What gall to think that I know best!  Silly human. 

The thing is, life boils down to one thing (no pun intended):

"All of life comes down
To just one thing
And that's to know You oh Jesus
And make You known"

Someone once said, "The Main Thing is to Keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing."  Simple, but true.  If we keep Jesus the main thing in our life, everything else will fall into place.  This reminds me of a quote from "Elf":

Gimbel's Manager: Why are you smiling like that?
Buddy: I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite
Gimbel's Manager: Make work your favorite. That's your new favorite.
Don't be a cotton-headed ninny-muggins, make Jesus your favorite in 2010!  (Cheesy, I know!  But I think it's a memorable point?)