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VALENTINE'S DAY ALERT!

2 DAYS UNTIL VALENTINE’S DAY!!!

This public service announcement is not only for those who have a significant other whom you should not forget on this special day.

It is also (perhaps especially) for those who look ahead with dread toward a day that reminds them of what they “have not”.

I know many see Valentine’s Day as an over-commercialized holiday, and perhaps it is. I also know plenty of married people who don’t even celebrate it. They downplay the day insisting it is more important to express love every day, not because the stores are filled with chocolates and roses. This is very true, and we would all do well to live this way.

But the other side of the coin is there are many who really struggle this time of the year. Their struggle is just as real as our attitude that Valentine’s Day is “just another day”. You see, when you struggle with feeling alone and unloved, it can be very difficult to hear those who appear to have what you are lacking tell you that the day of love doesn’t really matter.

Maybe you are one of those people.

Maybe you are sitting next to one.

I spent almost 20 years of my life as a single woman dreading Valentine’s Day. I felt that it wasn’t fair that other women could celebrate the day of love with their mate enjoying a romantic dinner, being surprised with roses or jewelry to commemorate their love for one another while I sat…

Alone

Wallowing

Trying to figure out what was wrong with me

Consuming large amounts of chocolates (that I bought for myself)

No amount of people telling me Valentine’s Day wasn’t important or that it is just another Hallmark holiday made me feel any better. In fact, it made me feel worse!

When I finally got out of my own self-pity I realized there are many others who struggle and could use a reminder that they are loved, And that changed my perspective on Valentine’s Day.

Now when I look toward Valentine’s Day I see many different people:

* I see those who are in love and I pray that they will be blessed with many joyous days together.

*I see those who have lost a mate (through death or divorce) and pray for them, that the Lord would meet them in their aloneness. Maybe I’ll even send a card.

*I see those who are in a struggling marriage or relationship who long for a mate who would tell them they were loved, much less bring them flowers or chocolates and I pray for their relationship to be mended, their love to be rekindled and the Lord to be in their midst.

*I see so many singles who are struggling and pray they will find contentment in each day, whether or not God gives them a mate.

Who do you see around you who might be struggling on Valentine’s Day? Along with praying for them, there are also tangible things you can do to brighten someone’s day.
Here are some ideas:
* Mail Valentine’s to those who are alone.
* Make cookies or cupcakes to share with friends, co-workers or neighbors.
* Pick up small Valentines or some candy and hand it out to people who look like they could use a smile. (I did this one year…got some interesting looks, but also many smiles!)
*Pick up the phone and call someone who might need a friend.

There are so many other options. Pray about what you could do, on your own, with your significant other or as a family.

Whether you are one who struggles this time of year or one whose life is filled with love, I encourage you to reach out. Remember we were not created to live this life alone, and looking outward at how you can brighten someone else’s day will surely bring you joy as well.
It’s not to late to think of something…big or small.

And let us know what you choose! I can’t wait to hear how you all made a difference for others!

I guarantee that as you reach out, God will reach in!!

Blessings and peace…Paula

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I RESOLVE

Happy New Year!

It’s a new year…a new decade and time to make resolutions! What’s that, you don’t make resolutions because you don’t stick to them after the first week or so? I don’t make New Year’s resolutions either. I do tend to set goals at the beginning of a new year but this year I was thinking about resolutions in a different way. As this new year dawns, consider resolving to…

R ejoice – Philippians 4:4 tells us to rejoice in the Lord always. That’s a lofty goal, and easily dismissed as impossible. But what if we started 2020 rejoicing in all the Lord has done in our lives instead of looking back at all the ways we failed?

E xamine – A new year is a good time to examine where we are at with our physical, spiritual and relational health. This year, let’s add the Lord into the equation, and as the Psalmist says in Psalm 26:2, let’s allow the Lord to examine our hearts and minds. See where there’s room for growth, but don’t forget to listen to the positives He finds during the examination as well!

S eek – Matthew 6:31-33 encourages us to seek God’s kingdom and not worldly desires and cares for the coming year. The things of this world are so obvious to us, but focusing on the things in God’s kingdom – faith, hope, love, joy and peace will make all the baggage that comes along with life much easier to handle. It might even help us drop some of those bags!

O ffer – What does God want the most from us in this new year? He wants us – all of us. Romans 12:1-2 encourages us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord, sacrificing our earthly desires to transform our minds to things of Christ. Imagine what great things the new year could hold for us if we changed the way we think!

L ook Ahead – There’s nothing wrong with looking ahead and considering plans and goals for the coming year. Just remember to include the Lord in your plans! Proverbs 16:9 reminds us that the Lord directs the steps of His believers. We make our plans, but He might direct us differently along the way. When that happens – remember the words of Romans 8:37-39, and be encouraged that nothing that happens in this new year can keep us from God!

V alue – This year let’s work on valuing the internal over the external. 1 Peter 3:3-4 instructs us that our beauty comes from our inner selves – a gentle and quiet spirit much more than outward adornments. It can be so easy for me to focus on the external to the point that I push aside the inner self too often. This year I’m going to work on a healthy balance in this area. Join me?

E xpect – What do you expect in this new year ahead of us? Are you expecting good things, or challenges? Let’s join the author of Hebrews and fix our eyes on Jesus, throwing off the things that hold us back and focusing on His presence in our lives. We can expect love and faithfulness to follow us when we plan the good things of God. (see Proverbs 14:22.)

Above all, this new year, may we resolve to love more and look for the peace of God in our journey! May God richly bless you throughout 2020!

Paula

ps – more about goals here: https://pauladavispeace.com/2014/01/11/dreaming-about-goals/ and here: https://pauladavispeace.com/2014/01/18/are-your-goals-s-m-a-r-t/

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What’s so good about Good Friday?

Do you ever find it odd that we call today Good Friday when very little good that happened that day? Jesus started His week entering Jerusalem to shouts of praise and “Hosanna to the King!” but by Friday He stood bruised and beaten before a judge, awaiting His sentence of death.

None of this was a surprise to Jesus. This was the culmination of His mission – His ultimate purpose in coming to earth, but knowing the purpose didn’t make it easy or less painful. Remember Jesus was fully & completely man. He was as human as you and me.

Jesus felt every time the whip hit His skin and broke it open.

The air stung his wounds but they didn’t stop.

Over and over He was lashed.

Jesus felt the thorns press into His scalp, burying themselves into His skin for the duration of the day.

He felt each fist that struck His face

…but He never showed anger towards His enemies. He stood there and took it.

The mocking of the soldiers hurt too. While Jesus had the love of God and knew that the words weren’t true they still impacted Him. Perhaps the worst pain of all was watching each of His disciples flee from those who arrested Him, fearing the same fate for themselves. And then Peter. The friend who just the day before had declared his allegiance to Jesus denied that he knew Him three times.

It’s difficult to comprehend the physical pain Jesus went through, but when I stop and think about it I am so grateful He went through with it all.

He didn’t have to, you know.

Then there was the long walk up the hill towards the place He would die. Think of the pictures and films you’ve seen of Jesus carrying, or perhaps dragging the cross to Golgotha. That cross, likely weighing over 100 pounds, pressed down on an already weakened Christ as He moved toward His last hours. At the top of the hill Jesus stopped walking and allowed nails to be pounded into His hands and feet, hanging Him on that same cross He carried.

Jesus walked that road for you and for me.

At any time Jesus could have called an end to all of this. All the while Jesus hung on the cross people taunted and teased Him to save Himself, or call the angels to take Him down off the cross. What His mockers didn’t realize that Jesus could have. At any moment He could have proven He is God and didn’t have to hang there.

But He didn’t.

When Jesus Christ called out from the cross “It is finished!” He was speaking of death’s curse over the earth. The curse of death came when Adam and Eve chose to sin. From that moment on we have been separated from God’s perfection by sin – our sin. Jesus lived His life on earth without sin, then allowed Himself to be killed as the final sacrifice for each of us.

This is the GOOD that came from Good Friday!!

Any man, woman or child who believes Jesus is Christ our Savior and accepts Him as Leader of his or her life will also conquer death and will live forever in a perfect Heaven.

On this Good Friday, take some time from your Easter preparations to relive the events of Christ’s crucifixion and reflect on the price Jesus paid. He paid that price for you! I’m so grateful He did.

Oh Jesus, how could You have made that long walk to Your death? You were weak from beatings, weary from mocking, and weighed down by both the cross You carried and the sins of every person who ever lived or will live.

I am humbled and so grateful You made the choice to endure this for me and for each one who believes. Thank you hardly seems like enough.

Lord, please never let us forget the price You paid and the pain You endured to save me from eternal death. I can never fully comprehend and thank You seems like hardly enough, but it’s all we have to offer. Thank You for the cross. Thank You for the price You paid. Thank You for loving us more than we can comprehend.

 

As Easter weekend approaches with the Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, and family time, please take some time to consider the price Jesus paid to make this Easter more than a celebration of Spring. If all of this talk of the cross, Jesus’ sacrifice and the free gift of Salvation doesn’t make sense to you, please ask me, or seek out someone who can answer your questions.  Make this Friday the best Friday you’ve ever experienced, and this Easter one you’ll never forget.

Blessings to you all!
Paula

 

 

 

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Color Outside of the Lines!

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2 ESV

Do you like to do paint-by-number or color-by-number pictures? I used to enjoy them when I was a kid, diligently working to make my finished project look like the one on the box. I still enjoy the relaxation that coloring in coloring books brings me. There’s no pressure to decide what I’m going to draw or color, I just fill in the lines. It helps relieve stress I might be carrying and gives me a sense of satisfaction to complete a picture. What I didn’t realize is that I sometimes try to live my life as if it were a picture to be colored or a paint-by-number to be filled in.

Life is not intended to be color-by-number! Romans 12:2 urges us to offer our bodies as sacrifices, not conforming to the pattern of the world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Patterns presented in the form of other people can be helpful guidelines, but God didn’t create me or you to be an exact pattern of another earthly person. Striving to duplicate the life of another only brings us stress and a sense of failure. If you and I don’t allow God to put His unique touch on us, the picture of our lives won’t turn out the way He intended.

Have you ever been to one of those painting places where everybody paints the same picture guided by an instructor? At the end of the class time no one’s painting looks the same although they all worked off of the same example. I believe the Christian life is meant to be similar to this. God has given us commandments to follow and examples in other faithful Christians who came before us, but God never intended for us to be those other Christians. God meant for us to look at the example that they set and how they point back to Him, helping us live and serve God and others better.

When we present ourselves to God day by day and ask for His guidance on how we can best serve Him we will find freedom in being who God created us to be. As we work and play alongside other Christians we will find how we complement each other and can encourage each other through our journey. Our differences can strengthen our relationships as we learn from each other and allow fellow believers to fill in spaces of our pictures where we are lacking color or shading. We will find our lives to be fuller and more satisfying, both to us and the Lord.

I encourage you today friends, don’t try to live your life as an exact duplicate of anyone else but Jesus! Look at who God has placed in your life as positive examples and ask Him how you might add some of what they have to your picture, and don’t be afraid to color outside the lines! Let the Lord show you where you are limiting yourself by trying to conform to a pattern He has not intended for you and push beyond those limits. Watch how your unique strengths and even weaknesses can be used to make you a beautiful picture, pleasing to the Lord and encouraging to others.

Go wild today and paint a beautiful picture!!

Blessings…
Paula

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Saving Daylight?

This morning at 2am, while most of us slept, Daylight Savings Time arrived for another year. I’m not as big a fan of daylight savings as some people are. It’s not that I don’t like the extended daylight at the end of the day. It’s great to have it lighter when I head home from work, and nice to be able to go for a walk or do some work outside after supper. However, more light later in the day means sacrificing light earlier in the morning, and it’s easier to get up at 5am knowing the sun is soon behind me.

No longer. It will be the end of March before the sun rises before 7am and the end of April before it is up before 6am. So it’s an exchange really, we don’t actually gain any daylight when we change the clocks, we just take it off the top of our day to add it to the bottom. But, when I stop grumbling I remember that with this switch also comes hope that Spring will soon arrive, and I begin to think about Spring and Summer activities. I plan for the gardens and flowers I’ll plant. I plan for trips I want to take and waterfalls I want to explore. And as I plan, I try to remember Jesus’ words:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.  James 4:13-16

I don’t think God is against setting goals and making plans for our days. It seems to me that if we are to serve Him effectively we need to think ahead a little. But our plans should always be subject to His revisions or allowing Him to strike them completely. To make the most of our days we should always start with a conversation with the Lord, both talking AND listening to see who He would have us touch and how we can best serve Him.

We also shouldn’t leave that conversation in the morning. We need to be in touch with God all day to adjust our attitudes and actions to match what He would have us do. I often struggle with this one, getting to the end of the day and looking back, seeing too late opportunities I missed because I wasn’t paying attention. That makes me sad. I’m going to work on doing better.

So my friends, whether you like this springing ahead stuff or not, allow yourself to take the time to think about today and what the Lord has for you. Do the good He has for you this day, and go to bed tonight with the peace of knowing you’ve done the best you could for Him.

blessings and peace to you!
Paula

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Valentine’s Day Perspective

How I used to dread Valentine’s Day! For weeks before February 14th I pined and pouted, miserable at every commercial for jewelry and every comment from friends about what they would be doing to celebrate with their sweethearts. I didn’t have a sweetheart and it made me miserable. I wanted to be in love and for someone to be in love with me. I wanted a reason to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Over the years I stopped whining long enough to look around me. What I saw were many others who were alone on Valentine’s Day. Some had never been married like me, but others were alone because of divorce or widowhood. I saw them not only lonely without their loved one on Valentine’s Day but also with bittersweet memories that sometimes made the day even more difficult than mine.

I also discovered something else. While there are many happy marriages with sweethearts rekindling their love each Valentine’s Day there are many married couples who won’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day together. They are struggling to stay together and to rediscover their love for each other.The proclamation of a day of love will not magically fix things between them.

All of this observation has me looking at Valentine’s Day differently. Yes, I still wish I had a sweetheart, but not just for Valentine’s Day. A friend of mine commented the other day that if you’re in love with someone you should show it every day and you shouldn’t need a holiday to tell you to express it. I agree! And this applies not only to a significant other, but all of those whom our lives touch.

Now when I look towards Valentine’s Day I seek ways to brighten the day for others. I think about those around me who will be lonely and without celebration and do what I can to make their day better. For me it’s baking cookies and making valentines or dropping an e-mail or note in the mail. Praying for others is also critical because where I can’t physically touch lives God can through His all-encompassing love.

If you have a sweetheart and look forward to celebrating Valentine’s Day I’m not suggesting you tone down your celebration or don’t share your love with others. Your relationship can be an inspiration to others. But as you look ahead to the big day I ask you to also look around. Find someone who may be alone or lonely in the midst of a relationship and reach out to them. A phone call, note or even a little chocolate heart can make all the difference in their day.

The greatest Valentine any of us can receive is the love of God, and of His Son Jesus Christ who showed the ultimate love by coming to earth and living a perfect life, only to take the sins of all mankind when He died on the cross. If you don’t know this Love I pray that you will give your heart to Jesus and know the love that never fails not only on Valentine’s Day but every day of the year.

Happy Valentine’s Day to each of you. May this year be one of expressing love not only to your sweetheart but to each person you touch. You could be the missing peace to someone’s Valentine’s Day puzzle.

blessings and peace to you…

Paula

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Twinkle Lights

One of my favorite things to do at Christmastime is to sit with all the lights off in the living room except the Christmas tree. It’s a great time to relax and unwind, or in the case of this morning, to wake up gently with the warm glow of colorful lights. It’s also a time to remember. Our tree is filled with ornaments with a story. Some Mom has had since childhood, others acquired through the years at places we’ve visited or to remember a benchmark of our lives. The memories bring to mind all I have for which to be thankful, and also remind me to pray for those I love, or those I may not even know who are not enjoying the beauty I am this season.

This year our tree has twinkle lights. The lights dance through the tree, adding character and dimension. As I study the movement of the lights I realize that they are really just blinking lights scattered throughout the tree, causing a whimsical effect that is rather mesmerizing. Since each light goes out at a different time the tree is never dark and there isn’t an absence of light. In fact, my attention is drawn more to the tree than other years because of the unique pattern.

As I pondered the tree this morning I thought about how God calls us to be like these twinkle lights in a couple different ways. First, we are called to be God’s light to a world so filled with darkness. Jesus directs us to this in Matthew 5:14-16.

You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 14 & 16 (NIV)

How can we be that light? By allowing God’s love and goodness to shine through us. A smile to a stranger, a kind word for a store clerk or a small gesture of assistance or concern to someone you encounter shines a light in the darkness of the world. So often people are concerned with only themselves and in a hurry to get to where they are going or move on to the next agenda item that acts of kindness sometimes get pushed aside. But these acts are never overlooked by those who receive them. Think of a time someone smiled at you when you were navigating your way through a busy store, or allowed you to have a prime parking spot they could have taken. How did that affect the rest of your day? Similarly, not only will the light you shine impact the recipient in the moment, but often it will provide a warm glow for some time.

The other lesson I got from the twinkle lights this morning is the importance of preferring others. If each of the twinkle lights didn’t stop shining for a moment the tree would have a different look to it, and wouldn’t draw my eye to them the same way.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

Similarly, when we step aside, keep our mouths shut and encourage others to shine in the ways they are gifted, it allows God to be more effective in His work. This scripture is not suggesting that we shrink back and belittle our own abilities, but to not always need to be the center of attention or have things done our way. God has created us to work together and He is pleased when we combine our gifts with others to reach more people with the message of His love and salvation. Sometimes God even has a blessing in store from us through someone that will be missed if we don’t let them shine.

We are so close to Christmas, and the days often get more rushed and we may become less thoughtful of others and more centered on ourselves. Let’s remember the lessons from the twinkle lights as we encounter others through the next few days. Be God’s light, and allow others to shine theirs as well.

Blessings and peace to you!
Paula