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Thank you for doing what you do

So, I’m in the shower this morning enjoying what I thought was my opportunity for 15 minutes alone when all of a sudden it was incredibly crowded in there.

I bought a new kind of body wash yesterday and it occurred to me that somewhere someone did a very fine job of engineering this particular version of creamy cleaner. I then went on to think about how many people it must have taken to get that soapy goodness to my shower this morning. All of the people in package design, the person who wrote the words for the bottle and the person who approved them, the color selectors and the bottle design people, the procurement department who made sure the production line people had not only the raw materials but the proper equipment to produce that bottle, not to mention the maintenance people who keep the production line running and the factory clean. Then all of the people in distribution, the account manager who made it possible for my store to carry it, the person at my store’s corporate office who decided to give it shelf space, the stock boy who unpacked the box that came off the truck from the warehouse who filled the order correctly. Then there are all the people at the magazine who did the research to determine that this body wash was going to get their stamp of approval, which only carries weight because of the reputation others built before them that opened the door for them to be on the morning television program that I have watched for years because of all the content they have produced so consistently.

Which brings me to you, dear reader. As all of these people came flooding to my mind in the shower, my thoughts turned to you. I wanted to remind you how incredibly connected you are to the lives of millions of total strangers going about their day doing what they do and never realizing their efforts brought me to a point of gratitude for you.

Because of soap, today, I am thanking God for the blessings you are in my life. May the efforts of your hands and heart today impact lives in ways you may never know and bring joy.

Now I’m off to get a cup of coffee. I can only begin to imagine what that took!

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The gift giver

Lana is a gift giver. I say that because she does it in so many forms. Her heart is filled with love and out of it comes mindfulness, prayer, and so much more.  I first met her in person at Denny’s on the Vegas Strip where we laughed and cried over so many shared stories. I left that restaurant with so much because Lana at her core is a gift. One of my favorite Proverbs, 18:16 tells us “a gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.” and I am inspired to be giving in my own life by those that gift well. Seth Godin explores this concept in his book Linchpin and blogged about it in The hidden power of a gift. Recently Lana and her husband Matt sent our office a special gift, a money tree. As we unpacked it I could not help but think that they had much more in mind than just a plant. She knew that this package would continue to give both metaphorically and physically. Our company was established on solid values that place at the top human dignity, love for God, excellence in our work and art. I can only imagine as the tree grows, how we will continue to look at it and remember how fitting Lana’s gift is as well as those values. Lana is a very wealthy woman and it shows.

 

A few weeks ago I asked some of my blogger friends to guest blog for me. John said he would if I promised to post whatever he wrote. Since he is also on the Admin list for my site today he dropped this off. Since I promised to post it, here it is unedited and with tears flowing. Thanks, John.

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Ain’t Got Rhythm

One of the things I used to love about fall was getting my rhythm back. Hubby off to work in the morning, drop favorite tween off at school, run an errand or two, come home and make my rounds, back to pick up from school, homework, start dinner, hubby home, quiet evening, 10 o’clock news and off to bed to do it all over again Monday through Friday.

A couple of years ago that all changed. We enrolled our daughter in a school that involved much more parent interaction in the class room. Part of my routine was now shortened by 6 hours a week. Then my husband got laid off and the morning routine was changed. He’s back a work with a very flexable schedule now.

Half way through last year we decided to pull our daughter out of the public school system and home school. Actually, what we’re doing is called Independent Study. It’s through the school district and we get lots of support from them. All of the books are provided and we have a check in meeting once a month. There are also 2 6 hour school days for her on the first two Mondays of the month. Add a rotating schedule of band at the neighborhood Jr. High and her own private harp and voice lessons and you can see why this feels like my theme song this year….

 

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Thursday Thought From Thumper

Some of the most profound changes are very simple to say and remember. But, oh so, hard to implement. How much easier is it to frown than to smile a genuine smile? How much easier is criticism than compassion? How much easier is it to talk than to listen? How much easier is it to rush than to wait?

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Things Change

Yesterday some things changed. And there’s a good possibility something happened today that was different. Tomorrow is pretty much up for grabs. I’ve heard it said that the only constant is change. So why do we find it so difficult to accept? Why do we dig our heels in and resist?

There are whole departments in companies who’s sole focus is to create something new and different. Medical research is devoted to changing the human condition. Research and Development think tanks devote years to devise a better widget.

Is this moment, the way things are so great that you want to preserve it? Don’t get me wrong. Some moments are much better than others. But to be stuck there…I don’t think so. As great as your wedding day might have been if you stayed in that day you would have missed the birth of your child. As great as holding that precious child was, if they never changed you would still be changing diapers. Everything changes!

Even our memory changes. I used to listen to my father in law tell stories. He could recite the same story the same way over dinner every night for a week. He remembered the story but forgot he told it last night and the night before. It was on his mind and he wanted to share it. I learned after listening for a while that if I broke into his recitation and asked him a question the story changed. He remembered other details and the story expanded. Things he had forgotten came back to him. Not by the recitation but by the questions.

It’s the questions that generate the change. Why is it doing that? How can we fix the problem? Where can I help? Who needs me?

And when you embrace the questions you learn to embrace the change.

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Poser 9

Not sure how this slipped into my main inbox

this morning

but it certainly caught my attention.

In just a few words, designed to entice the shopper to purchase this software I saw the “Old Lie” so clearly.

Inexpensive…Powerful…Easy-to-use…

The Poser is a cheap facade compared to original glory.

Power…an illusion of ability and protection.

Easy-to-use…too easy. And, oh so, difficult to shake.

And at 20% off how can you pass up an opportunity like that?

Poser…

Being authentic is expensive.

It may cost you friends, jobs, and much more.

But it’s worth it.

Be authentic.

Power…for what?

To deceive people?

To trick them into thinking you are something or someone you are not.

“When The Holy Spirit comes upon you, you shall be My witnesses….”

Now that’s authentic power.

Easy-to-use…

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle

than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

In many ways faith is simple, but it never claims to be easy.

What will you create?

 

 

 

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30 Years

Today I celebrate the 30 years that are my son’s life.  He is a talented artist going to college and living in a small apartment near campus. He gets terribly embarrassed when I brag about his talent.

Yesterday we had a b-b-que to celebrate. It was good to see the people who love him come together. Friends from the Lion’s Club, the blind center he volunteers at, from college and even his Sunday School teachers from when he was in the 1st grade came together to talk and laugh and share stories about how he has touched their lives. It was a very good day.

It was an answer to so many prayers over so many years. If you ever wonder if prayer works, I can tell you….it does.

Danny with his Great-great grandmother.

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Tiffany Gaskin

 

 Every now and then you run across someone who makes you think “I could be friends with her”. Tiffany is that girl. You”ll wish she lived down the street and could drop in for coffee more often. This mother of 4, with another on the way, is friendly, funny and inspiring just being herself and living the life God’s given her. 

 

Building Walls 

Many of my acquaintances do not know this, but I am a master mason. I excel at building walls. Brick by brick, stone by stone, I set myself up in a cozy tower of walls, built for one. But being alone surrounded by a staggering height of stones can become claustrophobic. It can be stifling. They are much harder to tear down than to build, yet I continually build them up just to destroy them later.

That is where I am at right now…in the demolition process. I hate tearing down walls. It is a messy and dusty business. Of course, it is my own fault for building them to begin with. That is my one major vice: wall construction. Some of you may understand how easy it is for a wall to go up. For others, I will try to explain.

The evolution of the wall begins where everyone starts-on a foundation. The foundation can be different  per person or even per wall. Some are built on sinking sand and tumble sooner than others, or they may be stacked high on a rock solid surface. I am afraid most of mine settle on the rock, a loathsome material I have been carrying around all my life called self-reliance or even selfishness. Yes, there it is, I said it. I admitted it. I am a selfish person. I have this part of me (the hermit part) that enjoys solitude so I shut myself off to the world. I dodge calls, skip replying to emails, and hide from my neighbors. This isn’t just some much needed downtime. My break from society starts as a single snowflake of a missed email and turns into an avalanche of months of not wanting to be around people. It is disgusting, I know. It is a nasty habit that goes against what I stand for as a Christian. It is something I battle on a daily basis. Brick by brick.

The current wall I am tearing down reached a staggering height, acquiring stones and mortar over the span of eight months or more. It began with our abrupt move to Ohio. I frantically scrambled for bricks in a need to protect myself against this sudden change. I had to protect my heart which, as those closest to me know, can be very tender when exposed. I had to secure my need for the familiar which only seemed to be my own self at the time.  So as each day passed, I laid another brick on the wall.  Another excuse to not talk to my neighbor. Another reason to just say a platitude and move on to those at church or even in my family.  Another moment of feeling resentment, being neglectful, and harboring fear. Another day when I slowly turned from seeking God’s word and truth to seek out my own. Foolish, I know.

A few weeks ago I was overwhelmed by a sudden sense of loss and loneliness. I was alone. My only company was the hard, cold stone surrounding my now withered heart. Having blocked out most of the light, what else could my heart do but shrivel up? I was killing myself under the weight of my own protection. I carried around a burdensome weight in my chest. Know the feeling? The despair of experiencing those walls closing in around you? The worst part was that I had put them there. It is a bad habit of mine and I should have recognized the signs immediately and took action to prevent it. But a part of me reasoned that I needed familiarity and comfort in that tumultuous change. So, like a fool, I allowed myself to be cornered.

The most tedious part of any construction job is demolition. The removal of the old, rotten parts is never something to be taken lightly. It involves too many upheavals….and emotions. Cutting away the dead flesh never feels good. So, as I endeavor to break out of the tower for one, I find myself growing weary. The only thing that is keeping me going, keeping me energized is the small light I see at the top of the wall. The light of the Spirit. The light of Christ. He is the only who can tear down these walls. I am willing and He has been ready. The process will be long and will take much effort on my part. My need for air, love, and the light of God will keep me motivated to demolish the brick and mortar from my life.  I am praying that I will soon retire from being a master mason.

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David Felts

Today’s guest blogger is an old friend. I first met him around a “campfire” in a land of Warriors and Beauties far, far away. The wonder of the internet makes such things possible. On the eve of releasing his first book I ask you, dear readers, to get a big cup of coffee and settle in to read the story and heart of David Felts, God’s 1st Knight.

Change, Life’s Little Surprise Bringer

 

You know there is one thing in this life that shouldn’t surprise us, and that is that change is inevitable.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at a picture of yourself when you were younger and then go look in the mirror.  No matter how much we whine, cry or complain, change is coming for us, so we better just embrace it and make the most of it.

In the past 47 years, I’ve experienced quite a bit of change, some of it great and some of it not so great.  The one constant thing regardless of whatever life has brought me, which I have, really only come to realize in the past 20 some years, is that Jesus is my Lord and Savior.  And regardless of whatever happens, He never changes.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  (Hebrews 13:8) Of course it is what “we” do with change that will either makes us or breaks us.

 As a way of showing you what I mean, let me share one of my stories about change with you.  The day was Tuesday, April 6, 2010.  My bride of 23 years and I were preparing to facilitate a class about marriage at our church that evening, something the two of us were very excited to have the opportunity to do.  She had returned home from work to pick up our two children, April (15) and Noah (13).  The plan was for them to babysit any kids that came with their parents that night.

When Cheryl arrived home, she went into the house and called for the kids.  My daughter came out of her bedroom and was asked where Noah was.  She said she didn’t know, and they both went outside to look for him.  He loves climbing trees, so they thought he might be up in one.  When they couldn’t find him, they became a little concerned, and going back into the house, Cheryl stepped into his bedroom, where she found that he had hung himself in his closet.

The next couple of days are a blur in my memory.  This is not to say that I don’t remember every vivid detail, and at times certain things will bring them flooding back to my remembrance with a vengeance.  Suffice it to say, change had come to the Felts family, and there was nothing good about this change.  Let me explain to you here also, that Noah was not depressed, nor were there any warning signs leading up to the decision to end his life.  In a moment of extreme emotional turmoil, Noah made a rash decision and then acted on it.  All of it happening in just a few minutes.  He never thought his actions through to their conclusion; otherwise he would not have done it.

I know beyond a shadow of doubt that my son Noah is in Heaven with Jesus.  And yes, that does bring a little comfort, but I’m here to tell you if it had not been for Jesus and my relationship with Him I don’t think that any of us would have made it through that horrible, awful time.  The devil is a punk, and I know that one day he will pay for the destruction he brought to our family and many, many others just like ours.  And please, if you are reading this and you feel that there is no other way out except for suicide, let me tell you now that the damage you will bring to your family and friends is not worth it.  Talk to someone right now and if you don’t have anyone, call me.  (918-636-0049)

Listen, change can be difficult if you choose to let it be.  What most people spend their lives doing is trying to figure out what happened, and why the change showed up, or they just run from it.  I understand those desires, I’ve experienced them, but what I’ve learned is more important than that, is the knowledge that we have a choice to make, and what we decide to do with that choice is what will help us to overcome or be defeated.

I’m reminded of this scene from the movie “The Lion King”.  It’s where Rafiki shows up to help Simba find the path back to his rightful place in the circle of life, and to stop living only for himself.  Here is the transcript of that interaction:

Rafiki:             “Ahh, change is good.”

Simba:           “Yeah, but it’s not easy.  I know what I have to do…but going back means that I’ll have to face my past.  I’ve been running from it for so long.”

Rafiki:             [Whacks Simba on the head with his staff.]

Simba:           “Ow!  Jeez, what was that for?”

Rafiki:             “It doesn’t matter.  It’s in the past.  Ha ha ha!”

Simba:           “Yeah but it still hurts.”

Rafiki:             “Oh, yes, the past can hurt.  But the way I see it, you can either run from it…or learn from it.”  [Swings staff and this time Simba ducks.]

“Ah – you see?  So, what are you going to do?”

Simba:           “First, I’m gonna take your stick.”

Rafiki:             No, no, no, no!  Not the stick!  Hey where are you going?”

Simba:           “I’m going back!”

 

That is how we need to be in life.  When change comes, we need to learn from it and then apply those lessons we have learned to help us walk away from the change better people, ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us.  And I’m living proof that it is possible.  People tell me all the time that what my family has gone through is the toughest of all possible things.  I don’t deny that, but the only reason this change didn’t destroy us, is because of our relationship with Jesus and the knowledge that God is only “for” us and not against us.

In John 10:10, Jesus states it pretty plainly that our enemy, the enemy of all mankind, the devil is only out to steal, kill and destroy.  He follows that thought with the fact that He (Jesus) has come to bring us life and that life is to be full.  There are your job descriptions for Jesus and the devil.  If anything is stolen, killed or destroyed in your life, it is because of the devil.  And if there is anything good in your life, it is because of Jesus.  That’s a pretty simplistic view of things, but you know, that is what gave me the ability to live through the death of my son and not be crushed.

If you have experienced some change in your life that didn’t make sense, then I hope that my writing has helped to bring you a little more clarity.  And if change didn’t cause you to be confused, it is my prayer that I was able to add to what you already believe to be true.  Regardless of where you are at, it is my prayer that you meet this Jesus that I talked about.  Deciding to make Him my Lord was the best thing I’ve ever done, and I’d love to tell you more about Him.

If you would like to know more about Jesus, I would be happy to send you information, just email me at godsfirstknight@yahoo.com and I’ll send you some materials.  Thanks to Lana Vaughan for allowing me this opportunity to guest write for her blog.  Strength and honor for the Kingdom and the King!

 

You can order David’s new book “God’s 1st Knight: In Service For The King” directly from David’s website and

you can follow David’s blog at http://allinaknightswork.blogspot.com.

Don’t miss what God’s saying through His knight! 

 

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Lisa Tuttle

Today’s guest blogger is my someone you’ve already met on my blogs. She has recently taken on the role of un-official driver and chief motivator on The Blogger’s Bus. You can catch her daily at Hey Sparky! What Time Is It? Lisa is the person most likely to be on the receiving end of my impulsive mailing habit. 

 

I’ve lived a lot of different places in my life, each one with its own vibe.  I was born and raised in small town Ohio, however, and though I can assimilate into almost any American culture, it would be fair to say that for the most part I am Midwestern to the core.

You know “Midwestern”, right?  Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.  Respect your elders.  Meat and potatoes.  4H projects.  Go to church.  Do the right thing.  And above all…be nice.

Be nice.  There’s probably some Midwestern anthem, and the totality of its lyrics are “be nice”.  In my mind I can hear it, set to the tune of the Hallelujah Chorus:

BEEEee NIIccee!!  BEEEee NIIicce!  BE NICE! BE NICE! BEE NIIIice!

That tune played loudly in my brain most of my life.  When someone else behaves badly, be nice.  When you are hurt, be nice.  When you don’t get what you want, be nice.  When someone disagrees with you, or is just plain disagreeable, be nice.  When your relatives give you underwear for your birthday, be nice.  Being nice was the answer to everything from muddy footprints on your floor to poorly seasoned food to dealing with jerks.

I was well into adulthood when I started to realize that being nice wasn’t quite serving me the way it seemed it should.  It had its perks, but not to the extent a dedicated Nice Person would hope.  And somehow, I felt vaguely off kilter.  As if something was missing, something crucial.  As if I wasn’t quite the person I was designed to be.

The answer came to me through scripture, as answers often do.  I didn’t see it for years, though it was there in every single translation I visited.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;

against such things there is no law.  -Galations 5: 22, 23

This is a list of the attributes and qualities that grow in you when the Holy Spirit is active in your life.  Look how high nice is on the list!

What?  You mean nice isn’t even on the list?

I was a bit shocked when I discovered this.  Even more so when I realized that nice was actually an act of human flesh and will, which means that the Spirit hadn’t been manufacturing the nice in me.  I had!

But then relief began to flood through me as the lights turned on.  God doesn’t want me to be nice; He wants me to be kind!  God doesn’t want me to be nice; He wants me to love!  God doesn’t want me to be nice; He wants me to live in peace!  And even better—He’s going to produce all this stuff in me Himself!  Being nice is small compared to having God’s attributes in me so big and strong that they flow out of me and onto others.

I also began to understand why being nice was so unsatisfying.  Being nice blocked my entrance into the life God had for me.  It kept me from being fully me as He intended me to be.  I am wired to see and speak things that are offensive to nice.   I am to speak them plainly in love.  Not in nice.  In kindness, but not in nice.  In gentleness, but not in nice.   Given room to play, nice will water down love every time.  It will fake kindness and produce false peace.  Nice is too afraid to really speak truth.  Nice means well but is never real or lasting.  Only that which is produced by the Spirit is real and lasting.

It’s easy to bring the past into your present and assume it’s good.  But is it?  What if it’s just nice?  What if you have a core value that actually opposes what God wants to grow in you, but you’ve assumed He’s cool with it because it’s nice?

Let that tweak your brain for a while.

 

 

 

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