The Sixth Swing

Picture2I have asked a guest blogger, Niki, to write today. More information about Niki is at the end of the article

 The sun was finally shining again after several days of wintry bliss.  A gentle breeze was blowing just enough to make one entertain the idea of kite flying and the hint of spring brushed the air.  The playground was filled with smiling children grateful at last for a chance to be outdoors. Laughter saturated the air with a happy melody promising that winter soon would give way to sunnier days.

Her eyes met mine and a smile quickly spread across her face when she recognized me.  Her hand shot up in the air and back down again as if she became embarrassed midway through her greeting.   She darted around the slide out of sight and I began explaining to my daughters who the little girl was.

Several times she walked briskly in front of our family jabbering with a friend about the last time we had seen each other.  Then she would run to the woman who had brought her to the park.  I presumed she was telling her about us because of the vigorous pointing in our direction.

Sometime later as we were swinging and Daddy was giving “monster pushes” to our five kids, I noticed she occupied the sixth swing.  The girlish chatter was gone along with the giggles and grins I’d seen from her moments before.  She sat motionless in the swing, her small hand clutching the chain and her cheek resting against her knuckles.   She seemed to stare at nothing in particular though I caught her stealing frequent glances at our family.  She was momentarily oblivious to her friend’s pleas to join her on the slide again.

My heart broke as I watched her and replayed what I knew of her tragic story in my mind.  She had two sisters; her mommy and daddy were no longer married to each other; her daddy’s new girlfriend was the one who had brought her to the park; and her friend was the new girlfriend’s daughter.

Watching her sit motionless on the swing, I imagined her looking at our family and wishing she could have what we have.  A year ago, she did.  Now her little world was turned upside down and broken, and she was left to pick up the pieces and to try to make sense of it all.

Tears filled my eyes as I realized she had joined the ranks of so many other little boys and girls of our world today whose lives and homes were broken.  For some, the selfish effects of divorce have become common place, but never to those who suffer from its reality.

Once the infection of selfishness becomes obvious, changing one’s behavior is difficult, almost impossible.  The cure requires a heart transplant strengthened by daily Bible reading and prayer time to counteract the symptoms.

It has been said that marriage problems are simply “me” problems.  If I could learn how to get “me” out of the way, I could have a successful, thriving marriage; and therefore, raise healthy, thriving children.

Is my marriage immune to the disease of selfishness? Have I always been perfectly unselfish?  Don’t let me mislead you.  My husband and I have had our fair amount of struggles, often stemming from selfishness.  But for the grace of God, it would be my own little girl sitting idly in that swing wishing she wasn’t a statistic, inwardly longing for a “perfect” family. 

No family is perfect; there are no easy marriages.  Every couple must make a decision to love unconditionally– a love that is not subject to one condition or any condition.

Unfaithfulness, harmful addictions, and even “falling out of love” are symptoms of the condition of marriages and the raging disease of selfishness.  Sadly, selfishness has affected all mankind which is evidenced by the number of broken homes and failed marriages. 

The lives of children are impacted negatively by Mommy and Daddy’s decision to divorce simply because it’s too hard to learn how to live together and love each other unselfishly.  Physically, the child’s heart races and their stomachs sicken when they hear Mommy and Daddy fighting for their own selfish rights.  They wonder what they did to cause this or if they could be good enough to keep it from happening.  The enemy seizes the opportunity to ruin another soul because the parents think they are entitled to fulfilling their own selfish desires.

What can be done to keep the disease of selfishness from infecting our marriages and keep our little ones from being left alone on a swing longing to have a family life that only their parents working together through Jesus Christ can give? 

The antidote for the disease of selfishness is found in Philippians 2:3-4 where we are told to count others more significant than ourselves and to look to the interests of others.  Another antidote, found in Galatians 5:26 cautions that we should not become conceited, provoking or envying one another.   More importantly, we can live I Corinthians 13:4-6: Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. This will ensure that we not only keep our little ones from the sorrow of a broken family, we can provide a thriving one for them!

I challenge you to immediately take the first steps in relieving the symptoms of selfishness in your life.  Don’t wait for your spouse to start the process.  Be the change in your marriage today!  Do what it takes to ensure that your child never occupies the sixth swing.

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Niki enjoys homeschooling her five children, homemaking, sewing, and creating inspirational art for the home. She has been married for twenty years to her best friend, Steve. They have two precious blessings resting in the arms of Jesus. Their family has enjoyed working together in children’s ministry since 1992 and Niki is currently working towards getting her first children’s book published. She is the blog author of For Journey’s Sake and can also be found on face book writing about her passion to mentor and encourage women and girls on their journey to becoming Proverbs 31 virtuous women.

It Couldn’t Be Done

IT COULDN’T BE DONE

4581Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, as he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one we know has done it.”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you,
one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle right in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That cannot be done, and you’ll do it.

By: Edgar Guest

New Book by blogger Josh Hood

3d_j_250x400I am introducing a new book by my good friend, Josh Hood.
 
What circumstances in your life right now would you call “bad”?
 
Maybe it’s a health condition. The doctor walked in and rocked your world with three little words: “You have cancer.” Or maybe a heart attack left you flat on your back saying, “Oh, that’s not good.”
 
Maybe it’s a financial need. You lost your job and you sit at a kitchen table littered with bills and invoices, running your fingers through your hair, and thinking, “Oh, that’s not good.”
Maybe it’s a strained relationship. A friendship you never thought would fall apart did. A marriage you thought was strong wasn’t. Your heart is broken, your cheeks are tear stained, and you’re crying out, “Oh, that’s not good!”
 
But maybe it’s not health, finances, or relational issues that are making you unhappy.
 
Maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is, it’s the part of your life that would not have been written this way if you were writing the story.
 
We look at these parts of our lives and label them “bad.” But I’ve discovered you and I are terrible at evaluating what is good or bad.
 
Some of God’s greatest blessings in your life are the times He has messed up your plans. Maybe you should write that down and stick it on your refrigerator, on your desk, or in your car.
 
That way, when things don’t go the way you planned and you’re tempted to label something bad, you can remember this truth.
 
God doesn’t mess up your plans out of vengeance or spite. He does it out of mercy.
Sometimes the worst things that happen to you are the best things that happen to you.
 
Blessings in Disguise is a reminder of God’s infinite sovereignty, even in the midst of pain, problems, and unwanted circumstances.
I hope you laugh. I hope you cry. But most of all, I hope you never see your problems the same way again.
 
Read his blogs here www.joshuamhood.com
 

Fasting from Social Media

For as long as I remember the first month of January has always been a time of personal reflection, goal setting, extended prayer and fasting. Fasting is defined as an abstinence of food but I have broadened the meaning, personally, to abstain from extra curricular activities, reading anything other than inspirational or spiritual content, and social media. Doing without these “daily” activities has been the highlight of the year. Even though the first few days of going without food, reading content and social media, is difficult, it has been extremely rewarding.

Before you quit reading, please, let me explain. Practicing the Daniel Fast for 21 days has been better for me physically and mentally. Daniel, in the Bible, ate only fruits and vegetables for 10 days. later, he entered into another fast continuing for 21 days. The 21 day fast consists of eating only fruit, vegetables and grains, especially abstaining from sugar, fat, and chemically induced foods.

Reading material consists of inspirational materials only, basically, not reading the news, (which usually I do every day). Starting a Bible reading plan has been fundamental and writing regularly in my prayer journal during these 21 days, has been paramount. A prayer journal has been a record of prayers, thoughts and ideas during the 21 days, however, writing occasionally through the year has been a regular practice also. Sometimes picking up a devotional book has been invigorating, pick up a copy of Highpoint Book, for your 21 day Daniel Fast.

Through the last ten years a 4 to 5 day stay in a cabin or condo has been the highlight of the 21 day Daniel fast. Staying alone writing, praying, jogging, thinking, goal setting, and prioritizing has been a true delight. Working harder with greater determination without a time of rest, reflection and relaxation only wearies the spirit and damages our thinking.

Abstaining from social media has been a retreat from blogging, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. Checking email becomes less frequent. Sorry if I don’t acknowledge your birthday, update my status or send out a Tweet of something I just read but a 21 day break will enhance my social media later.  I have set some automatic Tweets and may send out some automatic blogs but my next written blog will be towards the end of January.

Why would anyone want to do so a grueling task? Before you count me as a legalist, I have no force, duty, work or command obligating me to this 21 day fast. Fasting for 21 days is a joy, a love, a complete step of “knowing what is best.” Many may start a diet, a budget, or “turn over a new leaf,” but for me starting the year off with a 21 day fast has a long list of benefits.

Focus is increased To see clear – clutter must be removed. While subtracting lesser elements from my life the important comes to the top. Priorities are maximized in my life.

Writing is clearer Clarity is grasped by every writer. Clarity is best when you have eaten right, prayed well, and removed less meaningful tasks from your schedule.

Prayer is richer You are no closer to God than when you pray. Prayer is intensified and enriched.

Bible reading is enlightening While not striving to be a scholar the love for the word of God has naturally increased during the 21 day Daniel fast. The Holy Bible is a mirror of who I am and a testimony to who Jesus really is.

Thinking is clear Just eating the right foods can clear your mind but withdrawing from the clutter of life can expand your vision. If you are trying to find the will of God, the purpose of God for your life or the reflection of God’s character in your life, the 21 day Daniel Fast may be for you.

Life becomes sweeter It isn’t because troubles go away but the courage to face them has been the reward of spending more time with God. Worries become dim, complaints don’t sting as much and steadiness abounds.

Time is fulfilling Finally feeling the benefits of a day well done is an outstanding reward of abstinence. Goals are achieved, time is invested rather than spent, the day finishes with contentment.

God’s presence is near Finding a closeness to God is the real reason behind the entire 21 days.

Comment: What would you add to this list of benefits?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author

Two Things I Know About God

freeA Highpoint in life is knowing God and knowing what God wants from me. God is delicately, intrinsically and especially interested in my life. I could not and wish not to be an atheist or an agnostic because He has done so much for me I cannot tell it all. It is virtually impossible to say my life was a series of consequences, chances and fate while others are doomed to a life of misery, pain and emptiness. My choice for a better life was settled when Jesus Christ came into my life as a young man, I have never been the same. I have learned two things about God while growing in this faith: He desires for me to walk in His will and to totally, completely trust in Him.

The mother eagle nudges the small fledging eaglet to the edge of the nest, It is time to learn how to fly. You can’t stay in the nest forever, You were born to fly. She nudges the new-born bird closer to the edge. It appears to be a hateful, murderous act. To fall from this height to the gorge below would splatter the young bird upon the hard rocks below. this can’t be right. The mother bird works with a mandate, a mission and this time succeeds, the eaglet falls out of the nest, flapping its young wings against the rushing air, quickly making his way to a dreadful demise, death is imminent.

He can’t fly but the mother bird wanted him to try, she never leaves her eyes off of her young, she perches on the edge of the nest, she leaps. Flying downward at breathtaking speed, the eaglet flounders aimlessly to the ground but the mother bird scoops the young bird upon her back and rises, taking the eaglet back to the nest. God can come to me faster than I can fall and He desires I learn to live by faith. Two things God desires of me: to learn to fly (walk each day in God’s will) and to trust Him.

Maybe pain, emptiness, and wrong has been pushed upon you, you have fallen aimlessly to your own demise but call upon God today, He gives life, He can come to you faster than you can fall.

Order the book, Highpoints, For those Who Dare to Climb, at www.highpointbook.com

Comment: Have you ever fallen and found God was quick to catch you?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author