Love… again

While I’m still working on the topic of “Agape Love” I thought I’d let a little more overflow here… and as I was writing about road rage, while taking a short break, I checked my Facebook page and what popped up but a post by a friend who had just witnessed a case of road rage. How timely was that!!

Maybe you are a “perfect” driver and never make a misdemeanour on the road? Or you’re so well organised that you’re never in a hurry? If so, you’re certainly one in a million!  But I am like most of the rest of us and I’m sure I turn in front of other cars when I’ve mis-judged their speed (occasionally), and sometimes I leave for an appointment just a couple of minutes later than I intended and get annoyed at all the red lights… yes… you too? Okay, if your day has already been “bad”, I understand the frustration is compounded.

BUT… it is NOT the other person’s fault!  Understand that we are all human and we do all make mistakes… Some of our population is older that the rest of us and older folk do lose their ability to react quickly… One day young ones will be “oldies” too!

So, my lesson here… don’t be easily provoked.  It doesn’t do any good to anyone!

And what about our “me first” attitude? From an early age our children are taught to seek the best – for themselves.  Now, that is fine in itself, but is it at the cost of others? Surely the world would be a better place is we put others first preferring the good of others before our own desires.

This begins from a polite “You go ahead” at the supermarket or “Can I help?” Years ago when I often caught a bus we were taught to give our seat to women or older commuters if there were no vacant seats. I wonder how often this is done today?

In my study on love I have found myself wanting in many ways, but as I continue to read and absorb I am very aware of aspects in my life that can show improvement… have I given you food for thought, too?  I certainly hope so!

We can make the world a better place – one step, one action and one day at a time!

Love

I’m taking a break from my “Blogging” today as I have been preparing a talk on “Love” and just feel to share some thoughts here.  Specifically, my talk is about the agape love of God but please don’t stop reading just because you “don’t believe in God” or believe in a different God to me… as an old song sung by Christopher Cross says “love is love in any language”.

But the thing that has struck me as I’ve been reading and meditating and reflecting is that  (and hey! – here’s another song)… “What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love”

(What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.)

I don’t know that there’s “too little of…” but it sure is true that it’s something everyone needs. And not only needs for ourselves but needs to give.

My study has focussed on the “love”chapter in the Bible – 1 Corinthians 13.  Many of you will have heard that read at weddings, or maybe even had it read at you own wedding.  Unfortunately, often at times like that, it’s just words. But when we take note of those words, what a powerful difference it could make in our lives and those of folk we know, work with, love, or even just meet at the supermarket.

I love the concept of “paying it forward” where one good deed is passed on to the next person and that recipient then passes it on and this continues (forever would be lovely!). What do you think stops the “paying it forward”? Selfishness? “I can’t afford to pay for the next person’s coffee…” “I haven’t got the resources/time/money to help…”?? Don’t let that stop you… share a little bit of generosity with someone real soon!

One aspect that “kills” love is the way we tend to keep a record of wrongs.  “But I emptied the dishwasher last time…. “; “It’s her turn to set the table…” Familiar comments from your children? And these sentiments continue into adulthood.  Okay, I understand that sharing is great, especially sharing of mundane tasks, but imagine if children could be taught that it is wonderful to serve even in the mundane things no matter how many times siblings have or have not also done so.

One final aspect of “love” I want to share today is how the media (and so frequently us) tend to “celebrate” the sins or downfall of others.  For some reason we get excited when we hear of the latest scandal amongst celebrities or politicians. The public buy magazines to see photos of their “idols” or “heroes” caught out by the paparazzi. Why? Because if we can be disgusted by famous figures we feel morally superior. If they are so bad, we can’t be…

So to sum it up …

  1. Look for the good in others and help whenever possible… “Can I take a photo of all of you?” when the person behind the lens is being excluded.
  2. Be polite…”You go first…” We all learnt as children that pushing in was rude.
  3. Help… “Let me do that…” no matter how many times you have done it previously.
  4. Don’t listen to gossip, no matter how spectacular … or go a bit further and pray for the “sinner”… Not one of us is perfect!

One little act at a time … wouldn’t it be wonderful to overcome the hatred that exists today by sharing a little love each and every day??

Halloween… or not!

October 31st… Halloween… ghosts, goblins, skeletons, “trick or treat”, ugly, bloody, basically anything gross!  I just had to take this opportunity to voice what I know many believe… that Halloween is NOT a day/night to be celebrated.  And why not?

Firstly, do you know what “halloween” actually means? According to Wikipedia it is “Hallowed evening” or “Holy evening” – “a day dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.” . Now, that to me is not such a bad thing but what has society, the media, commercialism turned the day into? “Faithful departed believers” do not become ghosts and ghouls!

Secondly, “trick or treating”…. where does this come from? Another version of Halloween stems from the belief that supernatural beings, or the souls of the dead, roamed the earth at this time and needed to be appeased. This custom has “evolved” over time to the present day where if one does not hand out a “treat” on opening the door to a stranger, as likely as not, a trick will be played on the door-opener. Is it really okay to teach a child that it’s acceptable to go and knock on a stranger’s door and “demand” a gift?  And if that gift isn’t forthcoming then it’s acceptable to play a trick on that stranger?  I recall one Halloween evening a few years ago when I declined to give a “gift” (in fact, I think I just didn’t open the door) and had a raw egg smashed against the side of my house…. did that encourage me to give a gift to the next caller?  I think not! My concern was what the egg-thrower had been taught was acceptable in today’s society.

Thirdly, how much money is spent on Halloween advertising and products?  I know we live in a material world and we’re “entitled” to some fun and enjoyment… but for something as hollow and disposable as another mask or costume or, …I actually don’t know what is sold under the halloween guise? Surely there are folk in all our communities, wherever in the world we live, that could do with a helping hand financially rather than further lining the pockets of major commercial companies!

Fourthly, I am appalled by the number of Christian schools and churches (in America anyway) that foster the “Halloween spirit.” In New Zealand, Christian Schools and churches, that I am aware of, thankfully, don’t.  In fact, many churches put on “Light Parties” for children as an alternative where “things bright and beautiful” are celebrated rather than things “dark and ugly”. We see enough of the sad, destructive, evil influences in this world on television news every night… does this need to be added to and encouraged?

And now I have got that off my chest I will go and spread some joy on a gloomy day ….

“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. “

Friends

I have reason to do a little reflecting today… in a couple of days I will be sharing a few thoughts about choosing friends, taking care of friendships and making memories with friends.  I believe these thoughts are worth sharing with you also…

Proverbs 12:26 tells us that “The righteous chose their friends carefully…” Now I don’t think it really matters who the “righteous” are at this stage… we all need to chose our friends carefully! Friends are those folk who will help you in times of need, uplift you when you’re feeling down, have fun and enjoy the good times, and encourage you with a word in season.  To chose a friend carefully, one needs to look, not so much as where they have been, but the direction in which they are heading. We have all made mistakes in life – it’s what we learn from these mistakes that is important.  Are your friends moving on, overcoming past handicaps, blunders and failures? Do you share common beliefs and interests? Are you comfortable in their presence without needing to fill every space with words?

My
My “old” friendships were formed in the pre-digital era so I don’t have photos to upload but this is one of the holiday destinations where many memories were created.

I think of my close friends – daily, weekly, monthly or even six-monthly communication is not relevant – it’s what we share whenever we do have contact that is important.  Once, a few years ago, we lived in the same city.  Now we are spread all over New Zealand – none of these “old” friends living in the city in which I live.  But, because we established such close bonds when we were in close proximity, we have many memories to reflect on and a solid base on which our friendships are grounded.

There have been many more friends who have come and gone, and with the advent of social media, some of these have been re-ignited to a degree – and I am thankful for that contact. But some friends are “special” because of memories and times spent together…

But how are such bonds formed? It is by sharing the good times, caring during the not-so-good times and creating memories.  Several years ago when a birthday of one of three close single-mum friends and me had to be celebrated the non-birthday friends arranged a surprise – tea in a park, a ride in a Tuk-tuk (small motorised cart), “letter” party, mystery destination for tea, cryptic dinner… with four birthday surprises each year the imagination was stretched over the years and we had other folk coming to us looking for ideas! When one of our four single mums was turned down for a job because she apparently didn’t like men we consoled her by throwing a “battered women” afternoon tea where we dressed up as jilted brides.  Probably not at all “PC” but we lifted this friend out of her misery.  Our children still talk of the holidays we shared and the camping trips we embarked on.

Many years later, with children all having children of their own now, these memories are to be treasured … but if you are “young”, seeking new friendships, looking for lasting relationships, do seek wisely and consider …

Doubts

Today is Day 29 of my “30 day challenge”… and I’m about to fulfil Day 23… not too bad, I think!  I have spent the last couple of hours, give or take 30 minutes here and there, sifting through blogs and forums and blogging sites and goodness what on this marvellous world-wide-web!  Oh, the information is endless, overwhelming and totally mind-boggling! But my challenge today is to “write a blog post on a subject that is similar to what another blogger in your niche has already written about.” Sounded so easy but with information overload it is not!  And then what happens… doubt creeps in…

Can I do this?

Should I be spending my time doing this?

Is this really worth writing?

Is this really worth reading?

Does this even make sense?

Is this whole exercise a total waste of time?

And so on…

So what shall I do about it?  ( I realise that most writers share these thoughts often during their writing pursuits … this is encouraging!)

So… I will keep writing … Why?…

Because I love to write!

Because I do believe I have something to share!

Because I do want to encourage, inspire and uplift people!

Because I believe God has given me this desire and encouraged me to use it!

Because I have been encouraged by others to write also!

So I will continue; I will write;  I do believe God will find me my audience; and one day I will author, not only a few blog posts, but a book… or two or three!

And, guess what? I have just completed today’s challenge…

Whatever it is that you believe God has put on your heart to do, keep at it until God says “Stop”.

I love this scripture:

Matthew 21:21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 

Believe in yourself but, more importantly, believe what God has planted in you!

Let’s celebrate!

I am still giggling to myself… my wonderful hubby does remember my birthday… and he can’t forget Christmas Day… but beyond that – “special” days are just not uploaded into his memory bank!!  I bet many of you can identify!!

Yesterday was one of the “special” days in our calendar. I must admit I have forgotten it in the past, on the day, but I do know the actual date which is more than I can say for wonderful hubby! So yesterday I decided that, seeing I am now a “kept woman” and have time at home each day, I would surprise said hubby on his arrival home after a week at work.

Surprise!
Surprise!

I went to the supermarket to buy a few little treats that I know he enjoys and set them on the table that he sees when he walks up the stairs to the living area. I just happened to have a photo handy taken at our wedding 16 years previously so that sat in front of the flowers I bought that I knew he would have bought if he’d remembered!

Well, I should have had the camera handy – the look on his face was priceless! He had totally forgotten our  wedding anniversary! But he was so delighted and chuffed at my thoughtfulness…

Now my point in sharing this with you is to encourage you to overcome any disappointments you may have in life (e.g. forgotten anniversaries) by reversing the pleasure and bringing a blessing or some joy to another person.  There is so much sadness and grief around us in the world today that we need to celebrate the little things – not add small grudges to our account. And if you don’t have anything to “celebrate” just bring a blessing to someone for no real reason at all – I guarantee you will be equally blessed!

 “While we are living in the present, we must celebrate life every day, knowing that we are becoming history with every work, every action, every deed.” (Mattie Stepanek – peace advocate & motional speaker)

Blessings indeed!

Do you remember that old song “Count your many blessings, name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done” (see below)? When I sit in my bed enjoying my breakfast (oh yes, confession time here – I bring my breakfast to bed to eat because the view is wonderful, and why shouldn’t I?) and look at that view I can’t help but count my blessings.  Oh, no, things haven’t always gone smoothly for me in my life’s journey – has anyone travelled a path that is free from bumps and potholes? But His blessings throughout my journey are paramount and surely worth counting!

Yesterday I wrote a couple of short blogs on my family history.  I am one of the “older generation” now – I have one aunt left in this world. And when I look at my forefathers and mothers and read into their history it becomes obvious that they have passed on a wonderful Christian heritage. I believe that it is largely due to this heritage that I can count my blessings.

Rainbow over Redcliffs
Rainbow over Redcliffs

Another song just came to my mind, “I can see clearly now” – so I listened to it (isn’t YouTube wonderful for some things!). What great words :
I can see clearly now the rain is gone.
I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
bright (bright) sunshiny day.

Oh, yes I can make it now the pain is gone.
All of the bad feelings have disappeared.
Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for.
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
bright (bright) sunshiny day.

(ooh…) Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies.
Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies.

If you are going through a time when you don’t feel the blessings are flowing, stop and count. Yes, I know this is easy for me to say as I sit and look at the at the sea with clouds rolling by overhead, but my journey to this view was not easy in many ways. And even as I have sat and enjoyed the view I have had times when I have had to remind myself to “count my blessings.”

When we fly in a plane we rise above the clouds to blue sky; when the clouds roll away we know there is blue sky… if you are going through a time of testing or trial at present look for the rainbow and count your blessings – know that there is blue sky above the clouds and take a leaf from my mother’s book – on a cloudy day she would always look for that patch of blue sky & believe that it would spread!

Blue skies over Lake Tekapo
Blue skies over Lake Tekapo

Count Your Blessings

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done. 

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

A thought for you to consider today: My thoughts are filled with positivity and my life is plentiful with prosperity.