Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Things That Don't Have to be Perfect

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Perfection is an ideal that has many caught in its trap; it is an illusion that is unattainable.There's a false pride associated with trying to do everything to perfection which dulls the spirit and irritates many. As a parent I sometimes see my offspring place unrealistically high expectations on themselves (sometimes I wonder if I played a part in this); but be that as it may, I try to let them know that while it's OK to have goals it's crippling to be so hard on oneself.

In the spirit of dispelling the myth of perfectionism and for those of you that struggle with being perfect here's a list of things that don't have to be perfect:

a hairstyle
an outfit
a Christmas tree
Christmas cake or cookies
Decorations
a cover letter
a presentation
an interview
job performance
a report
a gift wrapped present
friendships
a meal - breakfast, lunch, or dinner
your children
your spouse
you!

What can you add to this list? Do you struggle with perfectionism?
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I wanted to end this post with a scripture like I typically do, but I couldn't find the perfect one for this post. I was stuck. So instead of delaying this further, I decided to follow my own advice - this post doesn't have to be perfect either. I hope it gets the point across that most things do not have to be done to perfection to be worthwhile; and if you think of the perfect verse for this post, please share it with me.  Blessings.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Terrain

Ever run in to a goat while running?
Sometimes when I run the road is rough, sometimes it's hilly, and sometimes it's smooth. If I'm running the same route I always I know what to anticipate in terms of the terrain.  However if I'm running on a new route I never know what to expect.

Sometimes the terrain works with me and sometimes it doesn't.

It works with me when I'm going faster than I anticipated with minimal effort. This usually happens on a flat piece of land or if I'm going downhill.

It works against me when I'm going uphill or there's lots of crevices in the sidewalk. I have never had an easy time going uphill and don't think I ever will because hills aren't meant to be easy.

Life is analogous to the terrain we run. Sometimes it's hard and sometimes it's easy. As a runner, regardless of the terrain, because I know how to run I keep running.  We give it more effort when we're going uphill and coast when we are going downhill. We are more aware on uneven sidewalks but breathe more easily on smooth trails. We don't quit, we adjust. We are grateful for the downhills but just as grateful for the uphills.  The steep inclines really help us appreciate the down hills. When you've gone through a rough time, the fact is you have gone through and are grateful to have made it to the other side. As a runner, how I make it to smooth terrain is almost irrelevant. Being able to pump my arms, breathe and whisper to myself "you can do it," gets me to smoother terrain. 

If we can do this while running, we can do this as we face various challenges in life. For the longer you are in the is race the more experience you gain in navigating the terrain.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)
Don't quit; keep doing what you have been trained to do.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Attention To Detail



"The devil is in the details." This phrase is often used when we've planned, but have overlooked a minute factor that can cause our plans to fail. Because our plans fail, hence the phrase.
Human nature tends to be big picture – we don't want to think of the minutiae, as it's too mind-boggling.

So it is always amazing to me that God cares about everything in our lives - from the trivial to the grand. When God told Moses how to build the Tabernacle and its accouterments He provided minuscule detail. God was the first architect and he provided a clear blueprint as to how the Tabernacle should be built.

In Exodus 24:18, Moses went up to Mount Sinai and communed with God for forty days and nights. At this time God provided Moses with instructions for the building of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was a place where God's people would worship him. Every physical detail listed in the book of Exodus has some spiritual correlation, but I am in awe when I observe how God spells out the physical aspect.

In stark detail, God conveyed to Moses the following:

The Tabernacle and it's building materials. The Lord specified that gold, silver, bronze, blue and purple linen, oil and precious stones be used to build the Tabernacle. These would come as an offering from the Israelites (Exodus 25:3-7).
Accouterments for the Tabernacle - The Ark of the Covenant – The Ark was to contain the tables of the law and was to be kept in the holiest place: The Holy of Holies. God provided the measurements, the materials and the design (Exodus 25:10-22).
The Table of Showbread – a table to constantly display bread. This table symbolizes how God nourishes us all the time. Again, God provided Moses with measurements, materials and design (Exodus 25:23-30).
The Golden Lamp stand – provided constant light for the Tabernacle and was resplendent. The Lamp stand is a type of Christ. It was to have 6 branches, 3 on each side and one stand in the middle. God specified that it be made with a talent of pure gold, and provided Moses with the specifications for the shape of the lamp stand (Exodus 25:31-40).
Curtains of Linen – The curtains were to be hung throughout the Tabernacle in three colors – blue, purple and scarlet. The linen curtains symbolize Christ's righteousness. God told Moses the length, how they should be folded, where the selvedge should be located (did you know God was a seamstress?), the loops, and the clasps for the curtains (Exodus 26:1-9).
Other items are also specified for the Tabernacle and are laid out in astonishing detail. There are: the Curtain of Goats Hair, the Covering of Rams Skin, the Boards & Sockets, the Inner Veil, the Outer Veil, the Gate of the Court and Oil for the Lamp (Exodus 26).
Since God leaves nothing to chance, He then delineated the priestly garments: (breastplate, robe, ephod, embroidered coat, miter and a girdle), how the priests should be consecrated, the types of sacrifices, food for the priests and finally who may worship (Exodus 28,29).

Once God provided Moses with the layout of the Tabernacle, God recognized that he would need knowledgeable people to build the Tabernacle. Moses didn't have to scratch his head for too long, because God then provided spirit filled craftsmen, contractors who were good at their work. They had a talent for working with their hands that God used and blessed. He provided Bezaliel and Oholiab who had knowledge in all manner of workmanship (Exodus 31:1-6). According to all that the Lord commanded, they did (Exodus 31:11).

Ultimately, the Tabernacle was a place of worship and adoration to God Himself. It was also a place for mercy and atonement.

In the same way God provided an exact blueprint for the Tabernacle, he has a blueprint for each of our lives, right down to what we would consider inconsequential.

The next time you have a quandary in your life, commune with God. Set aside a time to talk and listen to what He has to say. God is detail oriented as evidenced throughout His word, but in particular in providing the specifications for the Tabernacle. God leaves nothing to chance, He is aware of every situation. He cares about every aspect of your life. Listen, and He will provide all the necessary details for your life. He will even send the right people along to assist you, individuals who have exactly what you need, when you need it, blessed by God.

Your plans won't fail if God is in the details.

Do you invite God in to every aspect of your life?

P.S. I wrote this many years ago, but only decided to share it today.






Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Staying Young

It's Thanksgiving break and the Little One said "Let's run a mile tomorrow." I was shocked but said yes as I have recently decided to take it easy.  After our run, we were on our way back home and I saw my neighbor. My neighbor Sal is a very interesting man with a lifetime of stories. He loves to talk, or at least when he starts talking to me, the conversation is very interesting. Somehow we got to talking about memories and how he sometimes forget things but remembers things that happened a long time ago so vividly.

He then proceeds to tell me this story. Sal said, "I remember my two little sisters. They would be on the balcony and would pop their faces out and say, 'Salvador, where are you? Where are you?' During WWII in 1943 the Germans bombed Naples and his house was bombed and his sisters did not survive. His mother made it out but she kept calling for her two young daughters. She was in a state of shock for a while. His dad was a Socialist, was arrested and taken to a concentration camp. He survived the concentration camp but he too was never the same. His dad was injured or tortured while he was in the camp and a doctor from Norway befriended him and took care of him. Many years later this doctor was in Italy and Sal's dad recognized the doctor. They were able to talk. His dad told the doctor the story of his sisters and how his mother was suffering and he asked the doctor what could be done for his mother. The doctor suggested that they have another baby. Sal says it worked and he remembers his mother walking around and hugging his little brother." Sal says laughter and being thankful keeps him young even though he forgets. His current doctor reassures him that he's doing well and it's a function of age.

Talking to Sal on this Thanksgiving Eve made me realize that we all have a choice in how we deal with the things that happen to us. Talking to Sal makes me realize that many have dealt with racism and injustice, not just those that are my skin color. I'm not always thankful even though I know I should be. Sometimes I want to have a pity party or believe that there's nothing good happening for me but nothing could be farther from the truth. So thanksgiving eve is a great time to reflect on the goodness of life in spite of all the horrible things that are happening. To realize that the simple pleasures are what makes life worthwhile - fellowshipping with friends and family, being able to enjoy a meal, watching the generations grow and listening to the elders.

I don't have a HouseBeautiful house; but I do have a beautiful heart thanks to the One I serve; hopefully as I interact with others they can see what makes me beautiful.

Have a wonderful thanksgiving and remember to give thanks.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)
There's ALWAYS something to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Circles

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One morning as is our habit, the Little One and I were reading the Bible. We were reading this passage and as I read verse 22 she blurted out:

"Circles.  Circles!!

The Earth is round. Circles mean the earth is round.

Why did Columbus think the earth was flat? Why did anyone think the earth was flat?

All they had to do was read the Bible; it's right there."

It was right there all the time. I guess we could save ourselves a lot of trouble and gain so much if we would take the time to read the Bible and process what we read.

God sits above the circle of the earth. The people below seem like grasshoppers to him! He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them. Isaiah 40:22 NLT

Do you read the Bible?