Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Broken Faith

A faith-buddy gave me a cherished gift which adorned my powder room sink for many years. It was a ceramic knickknack of the word “FAITH” written in all capitals, painted a cheery lavender and adorned with yellow and white daisies around each letter.

I was extra klutzy one day and, not surprisingly, dropped it on the hard tile floor of the powder room. It split cleanly into two pieces, “FAI” in one piece with the emphatic “TH” separated from it. Broken faith still contains the components of faith, I thought. I just needed to put it back together. One dose of hot glue and it dried back into one piece, with only a fine line separating the ‘I’ and the T’ evidencing the damage.

I think life is like this sometimes. My faith gets broken and needs repair. Sometimes the repair line is noticeable, but hopefully, most of the time, it is not.

I had been working on a submission for “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” but had a dragging, nagging, sagging day and felt my little roots of doubt settling in. I wondered if my ideas were interesting, or if my writing was valuable, or if I should be writing at all. I hadn’t experienced a hefty dose of self-doubt in, say, two or three days, so I was due for this episode. Regardless, I managed to spend time working through and completing the article.

The next day I planned to review, edit and send the article to the Chicken Soup folks. A dark cloud of self-doubt promised to accompany me each step of the way. I started my day as usual, with my steaming cup of coffee, bible and journal. I asked God for guidance and maybe a shot of confidence to go with it.

My doorbell rang. It was a neighbor, handing me a brightly-wrapped red and white package, with a note taped to the top. “This is for you,” she said. “I saw it and thought of you.”

It was a copy of Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul.

Faith repaired is still faith.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What Goes In A Nativity Scene?

For many years, our family had a nativity set which consisted of MOST of the required pieces.

There was a stable, with its scattered straw, and the porcelain figures of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. The angel, shepherd, cow, and two of the three wise men finished the scene. Somewhere along the way we lost a wise man and a donkey. Odd.

Well, not so odd. It was me, not my children, who dropped and broke the missing pieces. At least I didn’t drop baby Jesus.

This year, we finally replaced our nativity set. As I was packing up our Christmas decorations (yes, it’s always a letdown, huh?) I discovered an extra visitor in our nativity scene.


How did the chocolate Santa get there?

I found another notable nativity scene this year in Cape May, New Jersey. I wanted to take a picture because it seemed so big and complete.




It was more than complete. If you take a close look inside the stable door, my reflection appeared in the photograph, too.

My kids’ response: “Gee, I didn’t think you were THAT old.”  

What doesn’t get old, though, is enjoying these traditional nativity scenes to remind me just what Christmas is all about. God with us, in infant form, to give us hope in a sometimes messy world. Even today, more than 2,000 years later, it’s still a messy world. It helps to peek through the stable door and remember the hope I found in the form of an infant bundle.  

Now that’s even better than a chocolate Santa.



Friday, January 9, 2015

New Year's Resolution...Resolved

Another new year, another new year’s resolution to lose weight.

I penned this line ten years ago for the first time and almost every January 1st since.

Wow, ten years…? Good thing God is patient. Finally I see differently.

God doesn’t want another new year’s resolution. It’s just my made-up way to perform so I feel like I am pleasing Him. No, God already loves me and is pleased with me (most of the time, at least). However, God does want me to have discipline and in that regard I know taking care of my health and weight are important. But they are not to be the gods of themselves. God is to be the God of Himself. This means God is to be my priority and focus, and practicing discipline in eating can result from having God first.

What does this look like?

Take this morning for instance.

I worked out for a half hour. Check. Then came breakfast. I measured and wrote down my Weight Watchers’ allotment for the day. Check. I packed a baggie of veggies and a bottle of water to have later this morning. Check. Most importantly, though, I sat down and read my Bible, prayed, and gave myself time to be still in God’s presence before I left the house. Check. Check. Check.

Spending time with God is my key to weight loss. It’s how I can know God loves me and has plans for me. It’s the boost to my health, not just spiritual, but my physical and emotional health, too.

How do I know this is important? I recited a memory verse I hadn’t thought about in months:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will always provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

This verse has been my lifeline for many years and is familiar to me. But today I noticed the next verse, too. Check it out:

1 Corinthians 10:14 (NIV)
“Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.”

To me, it was a way of God telling me to make sure my goal of losing weight itself doesn’t become more important than Him. To make sure the Weight Watcher plan isn’t an idol. To make sure my exercise program isn’t an idol. To make sure my own new year’s resolution doesn’t become an idol.

The first and second of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 speak about worshipping only God. If these are the first two of the Ten Most Important Rules written by God Himself, I must have to pay attention, huh? When I am worshipping God, my obedience to Him in discipline and self-control can then follow naturally. It’s not about the “after” photo, it’s about the “after” life. Life with God in eternity where I want to hear Him say “Well done, Lisa.”

Headed to the coffee shop, I knew in advance I'd order only coffee. Those muffins and cookies wouldn’t be a problem for me. At least not for today.