Archive | February 2013

Roller Coaster Rides

Can you remember your favorite ride at the amusement park or carnival? Mine was the roller coaster. I can remember bubbling with excitement as I’d get into the car and finding it difficult to contain my anticipation as I waited for the other cars to fill so the ride could begin. I could hardly sit still, yet I had to wait until the ride operator made his rounds checking to see everyone had fastened their seat belts. In the meantime, I pictured myself flying at break-neck speeds with the wind blasting in my face. I focused on the fun I’d experience and certainly gave no thought to the seatbelt. Surely I wouldn’t need it.  Seatbelts? They were merely a proactive measure to avoid liability, something you were supposed to do, a necessary evil.

roller coaster maverick_airtime1Finally our cavalcade began to move, slowly at first and then increasing to gain momentum to climb. By the time I reached the top of the steep incline, I had no time to do anything but hold on tight and scream with emotions racing between fear and delight. It was so much fun. Even after experiencing several episodes of these peaks and valleys eventually leading back to the starting point, I lacked appreciation for the protection my seatbelt provided. It never crossed my mind. I took it for granted, yet had it not been securely in place, I’d have been flying through the air, all right, but not with the greatest of ease.

Don’t you sometimes feel like life is like a roller coaster ride? You start out at the bottom, learn a few things, gain momentum then all of a sudden you’re going in a different direction, and it feels like that path is headed down. Change is like that. It hits you smack in the face – sometimes without warning and the cycle is often repeated many times before the ride is over. The ups and downs aren’t much fun, and you begin to ask yourself, “What measures have I put into place to keep me secure as I hang on for dear life?”

If you have made wise choices along the way, especially placing your faith in the Lord, you will have the security and perspective you need to focus on the voyage and not the ups and downs. Reflecting on your selections and making adjustments to compensate for the change will help you to have joy in the journey like I did on the roller coaster ride.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

tullips t11z104aNo doubt Hallmark, FTD Florist and Hershey Chocolate stocks are up today as millions of men and women seek to honor their special someone with a Valentine. Other retailers and restaurants will also increase their business, yet these displays of affection beg the question, will my significant other feel loved as a result? In other words, does the gift given match the person’s personality and help them to feel loved?

My husband loves roses and though I don’t send him flowers for Valentine’s Day, he knows that I enjoy them, and he lovingly sent me some (Thanks, Honey! J). Valentine tradition says roses are the perfect flower to say, “I love you” and spark romance. Although I too adore their beauty, this time of year I’m looking for spring, and a bouquet of tulips perk me up. My dear husband looked at what I liked rather than what he liked and selected an appropriate gift. And, he chose my favorite color.

Dr. Gary D. Chapman contends that each person has a predominant love language that speaks volumes to his/her heart and when another person speaks their language, they feel totally satisfied. It’s like their gas tank is full and their engine is purring like a kitten. It makes sense. If someone tried to speak to you in Portuguese or Russian, you’d have little idea what they were trying to say, even if the message were critically important. Chapman lists the five languages as

  • 5 love languages communication04Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

Although each person has a combination of preferences, usually they have two that stand out. If the needs in these areas are met, the person flourishes and grows. Chapman has provided a free online assessment so that you can discover your own love language or that of your spouse or children. It’s especially crucial for teens. Check it out to see if you can find your spouse, kids as well as your own special love language. Be sure to let others know what it is so that they can fill your love tank appropriately.

By the way, have a super Happy Valentine’s Day!

Don’t sign up for that class

Mean teacher 17607What do a teacher and a headache have in common?

If you return to your school days, regardless of level of education, you’ll likely find one or two teachers you deemed a headache because they were either unrealistic in their expectations or ambiguous in their approach. Those aren’t the ones I mean. I’m talking about learning from a real, physical headache.

If a teacher is someone or something from which you learn, then my headache qualifies. But before I tell you how I learned, I need to clarify that this is not just head knowledge – no pun intended. I’m talking about the information that you obtain, process, and act upon as opposed to the kind of information you understand but park away in the recesses of your mind rather than apply it.

For years I’ve heard that I should drink water. “It’s good for you,” said both my parents and doctor. But in my younger years, I thought it worked better as cleansing agent for dirty feet. It had no flavor. As I grew older and understood the health benefits, I tried to incorporate more of the liquid into my diet, and it ever so slowly moved from tolerable to refreshing. That said it was still not a priority if coffee, tea or some other flavored beverage were available.

Benefits-of-Drinking-Water-Mind-MapNext I had to overcome my frugal nature – nice way to say cheap. I began purchasing bottled water but more for my husband than for me personally, until, that is, we had a real cold spell where we had to crank up the heat in the house. That’s when the headaches started. I tried all of the normal over0the-counter pain remedies, but they failed. Thanks to the internet, I discovered I was dehydrated. With only a couple of bottles of water, the headaches disappeared and did not return.

So the moral of the story is this. Make drinking water a priority in your life. Don’t wait until you are thirsty or have headaches.  Headaches can be very effective teachers, but I recommend you don’t sign up for that class.

February’s Facination with Phil

Groundhog Day 2013It’s really quite clever when you stop to think about it – taking an otherwise common nuisance and transforming him into a local hero with a win-win message. Not only does he promote goodwill but he also brings people to a place where without him, they would never go! I’m talking about Punxsutawney Phil, the hero of Groundhog Day.

Each February 2, folks come from all over to see the Punxsutawney, PA dignitaries don their top hats and with ceremonious accord, drag this otherwise vile creature from his winter’s nap in the old oak on Gobblers Knob. If he sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter will remain, but if not, spring will follow right around the corner. Either way, you can’t lose as the time frame between the two is negligible. (Actually, Phil’s prognostications have only been correct 39% of the time.)

To view the 2013 event, click here. Caution: You’ll have to bear with a TV ad for just a few seconds prior to watching Phil make his debut.)

Whoever thought about capitalizing on this local tradition put a rural Pennsylvania town on the map. Yet, when you think about it, isn’t that what God does to us? We’re just like this ignoble woodchuck. When left to his own resources, his deeds are far from wholesome as he forages a destructive path through farmers’ fields and wreaks havoc in homeowners’ gardens. We are all sinners, both by birth and by choice. Though the level of damage each of us makes will vary, we cannot escape this fact that makes it impossible for us to enter heaven.

Punxsutawney Phil’s transformation from an ugly despised creature to the town hero results from a strong hope for resurrection from the desolation of winter. We also, when we take God’s message of redemption that Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection come as payment for our sin, are saved, and in accepting this truth for ourselves, we are permitted to enter His glorious Heaven. We become new creatures in Christ and a harbinger of the true Gospel message that does not change from year to year but remains unchanging for eternity.

I wonder if whoever came up with Groundhog Day knew he had copied God’s plan and message.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. I Corinthians 15:3 – 4

Which do I want — a donut or a radish?

I have always found teens to be fantastic people, which is one of the reasons I so loved teaching in our local Christian high school. Of course these students still struggled with growing pains in lots of areas, but I loved to listen to their ideas and offer resources to help them reach their potential. Yet there ensued a problem in these conversations.  The students came to know me as well, maybe too well.

Donuts anyone?

jelly-donuts-11299689394INgFrom our more light-hearted conversations, it did not take long for them to discover I had a penchant for donuts, especially cream or jelly filled ones. On holidays, they’d often bring me a whole box of these fried and sugared cakes oozing with various jellies to take home. I remember my mouth watering at the thought of devouring these delicacies. I could not wait to dive into them. They were that good. Fortunately for my figure, I had teenagers of my own at home who helped to polish them off.

During those years, we lived in a rural area with no Yum Yum or Dunkin Donut shops within a 45 mile radius so when you got a real donut, it truly was a treat. Later when we moved to the suburbs of a larger metropolitan area, you could find a donut den on almost every corner. Now I could indulge more frequently. Alas, you know what happens to those sweet snacks that are so delicious on the lips. Yes, they end up on your hips. So as I dieted to try to lose weight and even as I strove to eat healthier – reduced sugar, natural fruits and vegetables, just because I should – I gave them up but the donuts still called my name. More times than not, I could pass them by, but they had not lost their appeal until just the other day.

What’s up with the radish?

bunch-of-radishesThat day I ran into the grocery store on a mission – trying to find the soursop fruit.  As I headed to the produce aisle, a bunch of the largest, most beautiful radishes caught my eye. And whoa! They called my name, just like the donuts used to, and I REALLY wanted those radishes. You will be proud of me as I did wait until I purchased them and returned home before eating them, but they really were GOOD and not just something good for me.

Moral of the story

This experience was really strange, but I think I can find a moral to this story. The more I focused my eyes on the right foods and chose them over the sugary unhealthy ones, the less attractive the empty calorie items became until I really desired the good ones. Can you imagine the transformation in my life if I fix my eyes on Jesus? Wow.