Alan Shlemon’s family was originally from Baghdad, Iraq. Before they came to this country, they believed that America was a Christian country. Alan explains that over the years of living here, what he found instead was a country with many people who are ‘nominal’ Christians. “They don’t attend services regularly. They don’t know much about […]
It’s hard to remember the last time I was truly joyful. I’m a generally happy, positive person. But when was the last time I truly exuberated joy? I’ve heard the difference between happiness and joy described many ways, but this is one of my favorites: Happiness is an emotion that can disappear as quickly as it comes, but Joy is a choice.
It was amazing how the faux brick surrounding the colorful mural blended in with the surroundings, making the mural itself stand out even more. So, I’m thinking, as human beings, should we be blending in like the “brick” or working to stand out like the mural? It’s so much easier to blend in even when we are forty-something years old and middle school is far behind us. We don’t want to draw attention to ourselves; we don’t want to upset people; we are too busy with our own day to respond to, or even notice, the needs of others. Standing out is difficult. It takes energy. It’s uncomfortable. Yet, that’s exactly what Jesus asks us to do.
Recently I attended a women’s retreat at a campground in the northern part of lower Michigan. The trees were just beginning to turn; as we drove further north, the display of color became more and more amazing. Here and there red leaves and pink, yellows and gold, and brilliant orange peeked out among the greens. As I gazed on the beauty around me, I was appreciative of our Creator God. Then it started to rain.
Light splashes here and there on the windshield became a steady drizzle, then a downpour. Gray clouds turned dark, and fog rolled in as the temperature began dropping. We could no longer see the color because of the darkness. It was still raining when we arrived at camp, and the ground was turning to muck. I thought of the umbrella hanging in my closet at home, and was glad I had packed a hooded, all-weather jacket.
My husband, Sean and I are considered the “sandwich generation”. Our children still require assistance and guidance in their schoolwork, we are involved in their boy scouts, sports teams, youth group, etc. And…we drive them there. Our parents range from 75 to late 80’s so we are assisting them when needed. Recently, my father-in-law suffered a severe infection with complications resulting in his being in and out of the hospital, a step-down rehab facility and finally, trying to regain independence in his own home which is becoming increasingly difficult.
Let it go…let it go. We all recognize these words from a familiar Disney movie. Words that many times are much easier sung than done! How often do we hold on to minor offenses done to us by others…many times unknown by the “offender”? We either become angry and defensive or retreat into ourselves. I am guilty of this a lot, especially the retreating part.