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Blinded by a Critical Eye

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) / Pixabay

I’ve been given the gift of seeing life through a critical eye. It’s allowed me to create balance with color in my artwork, improve writing by discovering hidden mistakes and places that need revising, and to analyze my students’ work to determine where my teaching had fallen short. Even decorating my home is easier with a critical eye, as it enables me to know just where to hang things on the wall without the need of a tape measure or level.  My favorite thing about seeing through a critical eye? I think it’s that my view of the world around me comes in bits and pieces, minute details that can be easily missed.  Recognizing those little nuances gives me a greater appreciation for the intricacies of nature, helps me perceive unspoken needs and emotions in those around me, and often it offers me a clear vision when problem solving.  Sounds great doesn’t it?

Recently, my eyes were opened to recognize how blind I really am!  You see, as positive as my critical eye may be, it also can plunge me into the dark, short-sighted practice of criticism. And while hearing that wasn’t easy and as much as I wanted to defend myself, I’m ashamed to say I know it’s true.  I’m not sure where it comes from, insecurity I suppose, but it’s way too easy for my critical eye to focus on and pick apart the most insignificant things in others: the way they dress, their manner of speech, what they do or don’t do, and unfortunately the list goes on.  In hindsight, I recognize, however unintentional it’s been, being blinded by my critical eye has caused me to hurt those I care most about. In diagnosing my critical eye blindness, I’ve bumped into another realization: the vision I have of myself is also blurred. As hard as I am on those around me, I’m even harder on myself.  I tend to set my sight on my imperfections, mistakes, and failures until those are all I see.  Maybe you can relate.

So what’s a blind critical eyed gal to do? I read some very wise words this week over at http://www.CindyKrall.com 

She wrote, “Self-talk can be empowering or defeating.  Many of us are careful about what we say with regards to others, but we can fall short when it comes to the way we treat ourselves.  This verse (“No longer will there be any curse.” Revelation 22:3) reminds me that we can “curse” ourselves, sometimes without meaning to.  Christ nailed those kind of curses to the cross as well.” 

I think Cindy’s words apply not only to what we say, but to what we see in ourselves and in others, as well.

No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket.  Instead, it is put on a lamp stand to give light to all who enter the room.  You eye is a lamp for your body.  A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul.  But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness.  Make sure that the light you think you have is not really darkness.  If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight is shining on you.” Luke 11:33-36 (NLT)

Christ! The One who nailed curses to the cross, caused the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and is the same One who came so the Blind. Could. See. I can’t navigate this life with the limited sight I have on my own.  Fixing my eyes on God, trying to see things from His point of view, is the only way to cure my vision problem.

I’m not big on making resolutions, however…. not just for the new year but for life, I want to resolve to use my critical eye to see the intricacies of others and myself the way God sees us;  no longer looking for ways to tear down but instead, with loving eyes, to shine a light  that encourages and uplifts! It will take work, patience, and a lot of prayer (yours are appreciated); but hopefully, I’ll be seeing more clearly very soon!

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now, I See!
~John Newton~

 

 

 

 

 

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Overcome ~ 27/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

It’s the final countdown of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes challenge. I have enjoyed seeing where the Lord’s lead me with each prompt and it’s been fun to write everyday! If you’d like to read what others have written click on over to http://www.fiveminutefriday.com

Time Starts Now!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) / Pixabay

I have to have an MRI tomorrow. Gallstones have reared their ugly little heads.  As if the discomfort and apprehension of an attack aren’t enough, I now have to enter a small tube and stay there!

“People have MRI’s everyday,” I hear you say. And I know that’s true, however for me to slide into a small, confined space, I must first overcome my fear of being there. Elevators, caves, little rooms…you name it, if it’s small I. Don’t. Like. It. My breathing quickens, I begin to sweat, and my frantic search for an escape begins.

What’s a panicked gal to do? The only thing I know to do…….PRAY!  And so, I’m praying for peace, for calm, for logic, and for success in completing the test (without making a fool of myself). I’ve also asked family and friends to pray for me and it’s working!  Today, my fears have lessened and my confidence has grown.   I believe that I’ll be able to do what’s needed to get these crazy gallstones taken care of.

Tomorrow when the test is complete and I emerge from the place I once dreaded, I will remind myself that I did not overcome my fear; prayer did! 

Time’s up.

What are you facing today that you need to overcome? May I pray for you?

 

 

 

 

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Give ~ 21/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

Weekends are always a challenge for me where writing is concerned, so once again I’m a little behind on my 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes…… I’m going to “give” it a try to get caught up!

Time Starts Now!

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. Ezekiel 36:26 / Pixabay

Have you ever considered giving up everything you’ve known and are comfortable with in order to follow God’s call?  My friend Marilyn did exactly that.  After a mission trip to teach gardening skills, Marilyn came home, left her Principal position, sold her house, truck, and most of her possessions so she could get on a plane that took her to a new life in Bungoma, Kenya and eventually to establishing Living Hope High School.  Getting there took miracle after miracle and Marilyn’s journey is inspiring beyond belief!  (you can read her entire story here at myseaofthought) 

As much as I admire Marilyn and all she’s accomplished, I cannot see myself giving in that same way! Can you? That being said, I know that if God has a plan like that for my life or yours; He’ll prepare and give us what we need to be willing to go where He leads.  But, here’s an amazing thing about God; He doesn’t gift us all with the same things or lead us on the same paths.  Each of us has our own unique way to answer God’s call.

I wish I could say that I know exactly what mission God has for me, but I don’t.  I do believe though, that each of our journeys begin with us giving our whole heart over to God.  Not just the parts we’re comfortable with (I’m sure guilty of that) but to be willing to offer every fiber of who we are to Him to use as He wills.  I don’t know about you, but that’s scary to me!  At the same time it’s exciting to see what He can accomplish through this hesitant gal! So, are we willing to give up everything for God?  I pray we are. After all, long ago, He gave up His “Everything” on a cross, Just. For.You. And. Me.

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Discover ~ 20/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

Linking up today on http://www.fiveminutefridays.com

The prompt for 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes/Five Minute Friday is “discover”. I’m looking forward to seeing where that leads!

Time starts now!

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.”Psalm 23:1-2 (NIV) The Big Muskie Bucket

I used to be a “take the shortest, quickest route to get me there” kinda gal.  Life was busy.  My schedule full.  I didn’t want to meander my moments away. Funny how time changes things!  Now, you’ll find me on a quest to discover every two-lane back road to travel on, not worried about the minutes or miles it adds to the trip.

To visit my family in Michigan, we’ve driven on the highways through Ohio many times, but not long ago, my husband and I decided to take a jaunt on the country roads instead.  Was it a slower trip? Yes!  Take longer? Yep! Did we enjoy every minute? Most definitely!  On that relaxed journey we delighted in the fall countryside, the pristine farmland, and quaint small towns. We also discovered two extremes:  the smallest church in Ohio and the Big Muskie Bucket!  To this day, that leisurely , scenic drive is one of our fondest memories!

My grandparents always told me that the older you get, the faster time goes by. They weren’t kidding!  Life still get busy and my schedule full, but I’m learning to slow down in the midst of it all to discover and savor the gifts God is presenting me in those moments!  Maybe it’s as simple as the smile of a stranger, light reflecting on the dew, a leaf twirling on the breeze, or as precious as a grandchild’s touch: things we easily miss when we focus on our shortest, quickest route to take us from one day to the next. We can’t go back but I wish I’d realized sooner that discovering the little things tucked inside the big things are much more important than the tasks on my to-do list.  So now, big or small, I’m anxious to discover all God has in store for this “take it slower, enjoy the scenery, soak in the moments” kinda gal!

 

 

 

Grow 17/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

Still playing catch up over at http://www.fiveminutefridays.com

for 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes. Getting closer tho…..

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV)/ Pixabay

I’ve spent a lot of time lately watching grass grow.  Now you know how exciting (or not) my life really is!  It may not sound exciting to you, but when your yard has been dry, hard dirt for months, spotting those tiny green shoots of life breaking through is definitely worthy of celebration!

It’s the same with my growth as a Christian.  With a heart that can be dry, hard, and desolate, any small sprout of life is worthy to be praised!  Just as our new blades of grass have required tender care so do our souls.  Regular contact with the Living Water refreshes the parched areas of our hearts.  Ridding ourselves of “weeds” that threaten to spread and choke our progress toward becoming all we can, is vital to lush growth.  And as unpleasant as it may be, a trimming every now and then promotes a fuller, stronger result.

 I’ve helped care for, encourage, and protect our new lawn from the first hidden seeds to the now flourishing green grass. We’re not on our own in our development as Christians, either.  To cultivate us, the “Master Gardener” knows and watches over each hair on our head.  He’s our guard against the advances of sin, winnowing when needed.  He places others in our path to inspire us at just the right moment.  Seeing growth takes time but inch by inch, step by step, we are closer to becoming what God always knew was there! Now THAT’S worth celebrating!

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Listen ~ 11/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

I am continuing with 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes which means I’m writing for five minutes on a prompt each day in October.  I’d love for you to follow along with me on this journey or better yet, join in at http://www.fiveminutefridays.com

 

I’ve had a little trouble with this prompt today.  Setting the timer I headed in several directions, with nothing coming together.  Stepping away from my computer, discouraged, I sat quietly and these lines began to flow.  Again, I passed my five minute limit but I feel this is what I was supposed to write all along. Hope you’ll forgive me.

“Come near, you nations, and listen; pay attention, you peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world, and all that comes out of it!” Isaiah 34:1 (NIV) / Pixabay

Listen

The world is full of clamor and noise.

Satan uses it as one of his ploys.

Listen!

TV, sirens, phone calls and chatter

We can’t hear the things that really matter.

Listen!

Music is playing wherever we go

Engines roar, tires squeal, horns blow.

Listen!

Video games, commercials, newscasters blare

The louder the better. What do they care?

Listen!

Debate, protest, march, riot

We want them to hear us. We can’t be quiet.

Stop!

Step out of the tumult and into His peace

Bow your head, breathe deeply of His sweet release.

Listen!

Can you hear it on the wind, a baby’s soft coo?

God’s voice beckons, He’s calling to you!

Will you listen?

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Plan ~ 9/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

I am continuing with 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes which means I’m writing for five minutes on a prompt each day in October.  I’d love for you to follow along with me on this journey or better yet, join in at http://www.fiveminutefridays.com

Time starts now!

“You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21 (NLT)

It’s been almost a year since we moved into our new house.  To prepare I had to sort, pack, toss, and  give away.  Our 115 year old house needed to be torn down. We moved into temporary quarters and stayed there until our new house was finally ready.  Needless to say it required a lot of plan making!  Some plans were easy; others more complicated.  But through it all we had the goal of finally living in a beautiful, new house to keep us going.

I like to make plans. No, I actually LOVE to make plans.  Being spontaneous is something I wish I was, but alas I’m more comfortable knowing what to expect.  Going through the new house process was stressful.  It was fun.  It was frustrating.  It was slow at times and I had moments where I thought it would never happen.  But, here I am sitting at my new table, in my new dining room, in my new house. Plans came together, a dream came true, and our life changed!

Yes, I like to make plans…. I’m so good at it I sometimes think I know what’s best and I tell God step by step just what I need to do or where I need to be.  Did you get that? I tell God MY plans! Friends, you know what happens when I try and be God’s day-planner, don’t you?  Things. Fall. Apart!

Letting go of the plan isn’t easy for me (it could require a planner intervention), but I’m learning that God’s plan for my life and your life is far better than any we make ever could be.  When God’s plans come together not only does life change but LIVES change and instead of falling apart, things and people come TOGETHER! This planner thinks that sounds like a dream come true!

Time’s up!

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Truth ~ 8/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

I am continuing with 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes which means I’m writing for five minutes on a prompt each day in October. I’d love for you to follow along with me on this journey or better yet, join in at http://www.fiveminutefridays.com

Time starts now:

“when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:21-22a, 23-24 (NIV) / Pixabay

I’ve been accused of stretching the truth from time to time.  Not in a bad way but to make a story more exciting or entertaining. A word here. A phrase there. Soon, my tale takes on a new life. From then on, it changes with each new telling and its sometimes difficult to remember the story in its original form.

We can make the stories of our own lives like that, too.  The parts we share with others on social media, in the work place, at church for that matter, tend to be the enhanced versions. A name dropped here. A fashion label there. We let the world see the embellished form of ourselves; the more exciting and entertaining versions and soon, we forget who we really are. Have you been there? I think we all have.

The older I get the more I value those around me that I can tell the truth about myself to.  Those friends who see me at my worst. Family who love me despite my shortcomings. A church family who prays for me when I am weak. Exposed. Vulnerable. Real. Being who I am in my original form is scary.  It’s uncomfortable. But it’s also freeing!

The truth is:  God never intended for us to hide behind fig leaves or anything else.  He formed us just exactly as He wanted us to be and knew it was good. No. Embellishing. Needed. So, let’s take off our masks, get reacquainted with our authentic selves, and introduce them to the world.  After all, sharing the truth is the greatest story we can ever tell!

Time is up!

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Hold ~ 7/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

I am continuing with 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes at http://www.fiveminutefriday.com

where I’m writing for five minutes on a prompt each day in October.  I’d love for you to follow along with me on this journey or better yet, join in!

Time starts now!

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:9-10 (NIV)

There’s a line in the song “Sound a Dream Makes” by Gordon Mote that says: “Just when you think a quiet house is where the story ends, your baby has a baby and the dream begins again.” It’s so true!  I am now a “MiMi” and I love every minute of it…well, almost every minute. It’s hard to watch the bumps and bruises, the needed discipline, learning the hard way, and the disappointments all over again.  I just want to hold my grandsons’ hands to keep them safe and let them know I’m always here when they need me!

Do you know something?  That’s what God wants us to know about Him too!  No matter where we are or what we’re going through, we can find comfort in the fact that we’re not alone.  Bumps and bruises?  You bet!  Disappointments? Part of life for sure. But, as much as I cherish my precious grandchildren (and I do); God treasures each one of us so much more!

Feeling those little hands cradled in mine causes my heart to overflow with love and I don’t want to let them go. Unfortunately, as much as I want to, I can’t be with my grandchildren every step of the way; but I know someone who can.  God is waiting for them (and you and I) to reach out and hold tightly to His hand that will “guide”, “hold fast”, and with unending love never let us go.

Time’s up!

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Trust ~5/31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.” Psalm 56:3 (NASB) / Pixabay

While traveling along this journey we call life, I often veer off in the wrong direction; especially during  times of trial! My initial reactions usually include hand wringing, imagining all sorts of horrible endings, whining….well you get the picture and it’s not pretty.  It’s certainly not a picture of trust.

Trust for me has always been a rocky road.  While I “know” that I can put my trust in God’s plan, I somehow bump right over the peace that trusting God brings and land directly into the pit of despair I bring on myself!  Fears: real and imagined, stall me right in my tracks.

I wish I could say that I have my path all mapped out toward a life where I’m no longer afraid and that trusting God is how I now navigate each situation that arises, unfortunately I can’t.  What I can say however, is how grateful I am that I’m headed in the right direction following the only One who can get me to where I’m truly meant to be!

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