Jigsaw Puzzles!

Many of us who don’t have essential jobs are spending a LOT of time at home now.

How are you spending it?

Have you cleaned and organized everything yet?  Read some good books?  Taken some naps?  Spent real quality as well as quantity time with your family?  Good for you!

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One activity I loved growing up – but haven’t taken much time for – has recently made a comeback: Jigsaw puzzles!

Three of my growing-up years were spent in France with no TV.  And this was way before video games or home computers, so we did a lot of hands-on activities.  Jigsaw puzzles was a quiet, shared, cooperative family time that taught me some lessons about life.

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Most enthusiasts have a method to their madness in assembling the replicas of masterpieces, flowery scenes, or cats playing piano.  And I’ve noticed that some take these methods into life.

 

Edge workers: precisely select only the pieces with a straight edge that form the frame or border of the puzzle and work on only that until it’s done.

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In life, people can exhibit this level of concentration on the framework of their lives.  They have the politically correct job and marriage and the socially correct number of children.  They drive the right car, live in the right neighborhood, and may even attend a prestigious church. 

But at the center of their life, where the content, the meaning, the picture should be, there’s nothing – they haven’t gotten around to it yet.  Something is definitely missing.

Theme workers:  gather all the pieces of a particular color or object in the picture and work on that to the exclusion of any other pieces that may go together.

puzzle-2826510_640In life, some people are so focused on one thing almost to the exclusion of everything else.  They may only see themselves as their job, or in a role, defined by the terms of what they do in one aspect of their life.  Or perhaps everything in their life revolves around one interest: a sport, or the children, and they spend a disproportionate amount of time, money and energy in that one area.  Get them off that topic, and they don’t have much to say.

That’s a person who appears extreme, off center, so narrowly focused that the pieces never come together to make a whole life.

Power workers:  MAKE the pieces fit by forcing them and banging them in, regardless of whether they belong there or not.

pieces-of-the-puzzle-592798_640In life, some people work so hard to accomplish something, they forget to really identify whether this is something worthwhile or important in their lives.  Although they attain much, they don’t seem to see or care about what they have to do along the way.  In their minds the ends justify any means.

They often end up with broken pieces, because relationships and other things in life just can’t be forced.

 

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However you work puzzles, be sure you are putting the pieces of your life together.  When you see something that fits – piece it together.

I’ve gotten so good at jigsaws that I don’t even need a picture to work from.  But to put our lives together, we need to keep referencing the picture of the pattern for our lives: Jesus.

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For believers, we want to look like Jesus.  He is our pattern.  And as we live, we want to look more and more like Him.

How do we get that picture?  There were no cameras when He was around.

Read the Bible.  Read what he did.  What He said.  How he related to people.  The parables He told.  The questions He asked.

Offer the pieces of your life to Jesus.  He can take even the broken pieces and mend them with His love.  He has the peace that you’re looking for to make sense of the puzzle of life.

Who wants to be blessed?

Godbless you

And what does that even mean anymore?

When someone sneezes and we say “Bless you!” is it just a conditioned response?  Or are we really conveying a spiritual consecration?

 

 

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In scripture, there was a special blessing spoken over the people of Israel once a year by the High Priest.  A Hebrew teacher who goes by The Rabbi’s son teaches the full meaning behind the 6 verbs that make up 6 separate elements of blessedness in this Aaronic Blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26.

 

As I was growing up, it was sung over me every Sunday in the Military Chapel we attended on the Army bases where we lived.  Whether in Arkansas, Arizona, or France it provided a sense of how constant God’s love and protection was over me.  But I never understood the full breadth of it’s beautiful meaning until studying with this Rabbi’s Son.

Here is a more complete translation of these holy words:

May the Holy One infuse you with unlimited potential and empowerment and release you from restrictions and limitations preventing you from reaching the fullness of your potential to participate in your divine purpose.

May He zealously cherish and treasure you, diligently defending and keeping watch over you to protect and save you.

May the light of His innermost being and essence illuminate you physiologically and spiritually, impacting your body, mind, soul and spirit with His warming, healing, soothing, restorative, empowering and constantly renewing energy.

May the Holy One give you what you really need, not out of pity, benevolence, generosity or some misguided thought that you have earned it, but because He has promised, as the stronger covenant partner, to strengthen you and enable you to reach your potential and enjoy the covenant He entered into with you, when you accepted Him as Savior.

 May He come out of the Holy of Holies to be present with you so you can experience true spiritual reality.

And may He place in and establish in you wholeness, wellness, purposeful living in joy, with abundant provision, harmony, safety, security summed up in the Hebrew word ‘peace.’

 

Perhaps you’ve heard this sung on you tube or facebook recently.  Several performances have been released lately as a response to the pandemic.  Here’s the link to one of my favorites:

Click here.

And if you want to read more about The Rabbi’s Son, go to: https://biblicallifestylecenter.org

Here is the scripture in Hebrew and English:

The “Priestly Blessing”

Y’varechecha Adonai

[May the Holy One bless you]

v’yish’merecha

[and zealously cherish and keep watch over  you]

Ya’er Adonai panav elecha

[May the Holy One’s Face shine upon you]

v’chuneka

[and shower you with grace]

Yisa Adonai panav elecha

[May the Holy One lift up His countenance upon you]

v’yasem lecha shalom

[and may He give you wholeness, wellness, security, abundant provision, and peace].

[Numbers 6:24-26]

 

God Bless You!

Can’t stop Spring!

We all know how different this March and April have been.

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Businesses have been and are still closed down.  Many people are out of work and at home.  Playgrounds are empty and schools are closed with kids of all ages getting their lessons on line at home.

park-closed-5027657_640Restaurants that have been able to stay open and grocery stores are making home deliveries as we are all staying in to minimize our exposure to the coronavirus.

Church services have gone on line.  As have meetings of all sorts.

We’ve all talked about what we miss about this Shelter in Place response to the pandemic:

going to a restaurant or getting coffee with friends,

seeing a movie at the theater,

attending sporting events – or even watching sports on TV,

and most of all visiting with friends, family and loved ones complete with HUGS, HUGS and more HUGS.

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But it’s interesting to me, as I take my short walk around the neighborhood, hands in my pockets, wearing my mask, avoiding every other person but waving from a safe distance; that Spring has not been stopped!

 

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Now that most of our snow is over, there are tulips, jonquils, and daffodils blooming in gorgeous color!

No one told the flowers to “shelter in place” in the ground.  Or to avoid groups of more than 5 or 10.  Buds have appeared on the trees.  And they are not waiting for social restrictions to be lifted before they come out.

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Our rose bushes are sending out runners, and the ground cover is emerging with lush greens and tiny blossoms ready to burst.

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I’ve seen insect life slowly returning, hawks swooping through the yard.  And yesterday, a butterfly!  A sure sign that Spring is here.

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Our pastor spoke today about butterflies.  They spend part of their life cycle sequestered alone in a chrysalis.  During that time, maturity takes place that will serve the pupa well in its life as a butterfly.

We seem to be in a chrysalis of sorts.  How are we investing in our maturity that will benefit us when we are able to be out and about again?

And time is marching on, whether we are participating in our usual activities or not.

So 2 thoughts:

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1– With time marching on, how are you making the most of the time you have on your hands?  Are you finding ways to keep connected with those people and things that are important to you?  Not knowing how long this social distancing is going to last, don’t wait for it all to be over before you reach out to others.

2 – What are you learning and how are you growing in ways that will contribute to your maturity when this stage is over?  What will you take from your chrysalis into the next phase of your life?

Enjoy this Spring.

From a bedroom window, a front door, a back porch, a short walk.

Time marches on…

Don’t miss it!

Happy Easter!

March snow 2016

No doubt this was an Easter unlike any you have ever celebrated.  In Colorado we had snow, which is not unusual.  (this picture is actually from a few years ago – today we only had like 3 inches but more on the way)

But the hustle and bustle was definitely missing.   And seeing family and friends at church.

No new clothes, no egg hunts or even Easter baskets because we’ve done no shopping for several weeks.  We’ve only ordered what we absolutely needed and gratefully tipped delivery people for bringing them to our door.

Some of our family have been able to keep working from home and some have lost their jobs.  Some are very high risk and some are not but have chosen to stay at home to protect the rest.

A couple of us are retired, and feel blessed for that.  But some of us were dealing with additional stresses and barely hanging on even before the coronavirus hit.

grandparents-1131890_640We are connecting, probably like you, with skyping, Zooming and lots of phone calls.  But it isn’t the same.

I have talked with a lot of people who have cleaned, and organized, and started indoor exercise programs.  Others who have begun to read those books they’ve had stacked in the corner for a long time.  Some are on call to help others get groceries and needed supplies or take a neighbor to the hospital.  And some friends have become famous on Facebook for doing videos on gardening and cooking shows, sewing face masks, and encouraging us all.

worship-4088561_640Most of them have brought up that they have made some kind of inspirational re-connection with their spiritual life.  Whether it’s reading the Bible every day now, or making time to pray – especially for good health and friends who are sick or in the hospital – or simply seeking time with their creator to hear from Him through nature or these circumstances.

Let me encourage you to do the same.  Just set aside some time where you can be alone and quiet.  If you need to set the stage by being inside or outside, anywhere you can relax is fine.  Some like a candle with a pleasing aroma.  Some like a water fountain bubbling.  Some like music, others, total quiet.  Some like to start by reading scripture to focus their mind on God or singing a praise song.

Then, when you feel calm, simply ask the Lord to speak to you.  To share something with you.  Ask that He open you spiritual eyes and ears to see and hear whatever He would choose to reveal to you.

I am praying that you will Hear More From God.  And that He will give you the wisdom and discernment to understand what He is communicating to you.

Leaving you with this youtube video of a lighthearted, inspirational take-off of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Written by Kristi Bothur and originally named “How the Virus Stole Easter.

https://youtu.be/-QCRKvpyGsE

 

Another Battle

You call me to the battle once again
enemies abound on every side
I look to see what weapons will avail
the one that speaks the loudest is: Abide

I place Your armor on, it is the best

protecting head to toe and side to side
I take my shield and sword and make my stance
And still the Spirit speaks to me: Abide

My marching orders come and in I go
once again into the battle’s fray
I have no fear of losing for I know

that at the Finish You will win the day

I do not fight alone You send me help
other Mighty Warriors by my side
It’s hand-to-hand and swords are clashing now
and still I hear the word from You: Abide

We make a strong assault and push them back
it seems the enemy faints and runs to hide
and in this show of strength our Battle Cry
continues to encourage us: Abide

The enemy was only gathering strength
and makes a mighty push that sends us back
Some are wounded and they step away
others stagger hurt in the attack

The battle isn’t over; night has come
We pitch our tents and dress our wounds inside
The wind keeps blowing fiercely through the dark
But peace commands our spirits to Abide

We will be strong to fight another day
and into Heaven’s Victory we’ll ride
our Battle Cry will strengthen all the way
For in our Mighty Savior we Abide

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John 15 is the abiding chapter that promises that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will abide in us forever.

It counsels us to abide in Christ as a branch is connected to the vine, giving it life and fruitfulness.

It directs is to abide in Jesus’ love and in His words so that our prayers will be answered.

 

The word Abide means to dwell, to remain or continue, or to wait in preparation.  We will receive protection and power by remaining connected to Jesus Christ. 

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This also speaks of God’s armor, given to us for the fight.  And that we do not fight alone.  We wear the armor of God through our salvation: the Helmet of Salvation, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Belt of Truth, the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace.

And we need to daily take up the Shield of Faith and the Sword of the Spirit – the Word of God, the Bible – to stand and fight together against the fear and discouragement of the world situation now.

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We will be strengthened to be victorious.  As we stand together, we can wield the weapon of prayer against any enemy.

Even the circumstances of this crisis now!

 

 

Pray for your brothers and sisters who are sick to be healed.  Pray for those who are vulnerable to be protected.

Pray for those who are helping to remain healthy and strong and able to do their work. Pray that they would receive our gratitude and thanks for their sacrifice to work and volunteer to care for others.

Pray for needed supplies to be delivered to those who need them.  Pray that anyone hoarding supplies of any kind would have a change of heart.

Pray for those who have lost incomes to be granted grace and favor with those they owe money to, so debts can be forgiven or deadlines extended.

Pray for those in positions of authority to have godly wisdom in making decisions that affect all of us.

 

Pray for all of us to grow strong in the Lord in our time of distanced sheltering in place as this crisis blows over and away from us.  Ask God to give us wisdom in returning to our lives with more kindness and love.

Ask God for personal strength to Abide in Him.  And when victory comes, we will give Him the glory!

John 15:1-17; Ephesians 6:10-18