Monday, November 23, 2015

Fly in Me Face

There's a fly in my office that's driving me crazy.



It's the kind that seems to buzz all around your head and then, when you least expect it, flies straight into your face!

I'm usually pretty good at killing flies, but this sucker keeps getting away. 

It has become my purpose in life--at least for 9 hours a day--to get this darned fly! Especially after I saw him perching on the rim of my coffee cup.

And finally, I did!

But just when I breathed a sigh of relief, another one flew in my face! Then another! Three flies???

I've yet to get the other two, but it's certainly not for lack of trying. I've just got better things to do. Higher priorities than killing flies.

The weirdest thing is that I had only noticed one fly at a time. Did they take turns pestering me?

It reminds me of how satan and his minions work. 

Temptation is a distraction--like that pesky fly. Its starts with your simply noticing it--"Ew, there's a fly in here/Oh, that cookie looks good."


You go on with your work, but then it starts buzzing around your head.

"I'm kinda hungry...that cookie sure looked good. Maybe just a bite."

Then, when you least expect it, the darned thing flies straight at your face--the cookie lands right in your mouth!

You vow to do better next time.

The next day, that pesky thing is still going strong, buzzing around your head, getting downright obnoxious. You struggle to concentrate, but you're so aware of the fly/temptation that it's hard to notice anything else.

Then you grab your holy fly swatter--and you take authority over that temptation before it turns into sin (not that eating a cookie is sinful...I'm just using that as an example). You've had enough. 

"In the name of Jesus, be gone!"

SWAT! 

Splat! 

That bloody fly (and he was bloody too--sorry, TMI) is dead.

But just when you think you've got a handle on things, two more come in and pick up where their former ally left off, taking turns picking on you.

Demons rarely travel alone. Nor does temptation.

Think about the emotions that accompany that temptation, especially after it's turned into sin:

Self-pity
Guilt
Condemnation
Blame
Shame
Insecurity
Disgust
Anger
Fear
Pride
And many more...

Flies.

Pesky, annoying, dirty flies that become the focus of our attention.

Outward signs of inner turmoil.

But the thing is...

They're just flies. They're pesky, but harmless.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4)

We often overspiritualize or overemphasize our struggles, temptations, or situations. Yes, spiritual warfare is real, and can only be waged in the heavenly realm. 

But sometimes we give too much credit to our enemy--the devil-and his minions. Sometimes it's our own battle, not a spiritual one, and we blame it on "the enemy (that's a subject matter for another blog)."


And that's what he wants. Whatever way he can get attention, he'll take it.


But if God is greater...and He is...then we can ignore the flies and they will eventually die. Similarly, since God is greater, we can choose to ignore the temptation, and the accompanying feelings will go away.

Ignoring the temptations and struggles isn't always easy, but we can do everything with the help of Christ because He gives us strength (Phil 4:13). 

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped (Psalm 28:7)

On a lighter note,here's a fun song for you to enjoy. 

Carly Simon--De Bat (Fly in Me Face)


What about you?

  • What "flies" are you allowing to distract you today? 
  • What temptation and its minions are flying in your face? 
  • Are you blaming something on "the enemy" and not taking responsibility for your lack of wanting to deal with the situation?
Remember, the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Go forth and destroy the flies!

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Just a Test

This is just a test.

If this were an actual emergency, I wouldn't have wasted time writing about it.

I would have just screamed.

At any rate, you're probably wondering what on earth this is all about.

It's truly just a test.

For some reason, Facebook has decided that SonRiseInsights.blogspot.com is a threat of some sort, because it has recently begun to refuse to allow any of my blog posts to upload. Even through Networked Blogs, which automatically uploads my posts to Facebook after the post has gone live.

It's frustrating to say the least.

So I figured I would write a test post just to see what happens.

Sorry for the inconvenience, the extra email, the ridiculous drivel. 

Thank you for tuning in.


We now return to our regularly scheduled program already in progress...Lassie...


...where Timmy has fallen in the well and Lassie has gone to get Mom, who is baking chocolate chip cookies.





(There really is an episode where Timmy falls in the well, except that his name is Jeff--it's the early Lassie days--and he's not the one who falls in the well. So who does??? Tune in to find out!)

Blessings!
Mare

Thanks for humoring me.

Ruby for Women Holiday Issue

Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Years. It all seems to blend together, doesn't it? Don't you just long for some down time? Let's face it...if you want it, you've got to make time for it. 


Seek peace and pursue it.  
Psalm 34:14

Ruby for Women (RubyforWomen.com) is wonderful online magazine for Christian women, and I'm deeply honored to be a contributing part of the team. And guess what else?

The Holiday issue (Thanksgiving and Christmas) has just been published!

You'll find devotionals, inspirational articles, humorous stories, yummy recipes, easy craft projects, beautiful artwork and pictures, fun puzzles, book reviews, poetry to ponder, and more.

So why not grab a cuppa your favorite beverage, prop your feet up, forget about the vacuuming for a while and enjoy a good read? 

Oh, and speaking of vacuuming, while you're over at the Ruby website, you can enter to win a Eureka Brushroll Clean Vacuum AND $200 to spend in PayPal!  

Seek peace and pursue it. Treat yourself to a half hour of down time.

All you have to do is click on the icon below. And if you like what you read, maybe you'll consider sharing it with your friends. 

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare

Monday, November 16, 2015

My Great Cloud of Witnesses

I ran my first 5K today (Sunday) and had a great run, aside from the fact that I keep pulling the same muscle in my calf, so my leg was hurting a little (and hurts a lot more now). By the way, that's 3.1 miles in case you were wondering.

I wore this sweatshirt (and was prepared to give a witness, should I be asked. I wasn't). 
















You're not seeing the whole me because the picture was taken right after the race and I truly looked like crap. Not putting that picture up for all to see.

Here's the back:



My time was 34:50. And I placed 4th (out of 6) in my age group (Not too bad for a woman of a certain age who hasn't run since high school 25...okay 35...okay 40 years ago!).

Hubbles had set up his camp chair not far from the starting line and hunkered down with the Sunday paper and his iPad. As I passed, he yelled out, "Good pace, Sweetie!" What an encouraging guy!

As the finish line came into view, all I could see was a crowd. And I could hear them cheering. Hubbles' white head stood out, taller than the others, and his big lobster claw waved in the wind. He saw me from far away--he told me later than I looked lost, like I was looking for him where he'd set up camp. I didn't even realize I was looking for my support!

But there he was. And there they were. My great cloud of witnesses. Okay, they weren't cheering for me, but they were. Everyone at the finish line was cheering for everyone getting close to the finish line.

And suddenly, I had this very spiritual experience. I saw the crowd and heard the encouraging cheers, and they really did become a great cloud of witnesses (and the fact that I wasn't wearing my glasses caused the blur of the crowd to look more like a cloud!). 

God gave me a glimpse into heaven for that moment. I saw these spectators, these people at the finish line as those who have gone before us--the martyrs, the saints, the people of faith--those who have endured the same things we are enduring or have endured.

It really was an amazing experience. I tried to take a picture without slowing down, but it was impossible. I turned off my music and took out my headphones. It had to be experienced without distraction.

My physical fatigue toward the end of that race was not so different from the spiritual fatigue we face when we're caught up in that which keeps us from being Christ-like or entangled in sin. Persevering in the race marked out for us is easier when there is "a great cloud of witnesses" encouraging us, cheering us on, pointing us toward the finish line.

As I got closer, I heard the encouraging cheers more clearly. I'm not sure if they were for me or someone else, or just for everyone coming in, but they spurred me on. The hill at the end was a climb, but I saw that clock with the time ticking and heard the cheers, and my legs started to sprint (I use that word, "sprint," very loosely, as it was done as well as a 55 year old woman can.). 

Then I saw him. 

He was the only one who mattered. He stood out from the rest of the crowd, and both arms were directing me, both hands pointing toward the finish line. I saw the clock, but honestly didn't know where I was supposed to go (and didn't want to look stupid as a first-timer). All I saw was a bunch of people and a clock.

My husband, my support, the loudest and biggest spectator was right there in the midst of everyone else, but right out in front as if no one but me mattered, because no one did. He pointed me toward the finish line--the race marked out for me--with an energy and intensity that stood apart from the rest. 

He was all I saw.

Isn't that what Jesus does?

When we get tired, we look for Him where we'd last seen Him, where we thought He'd set up camp when we'd first begun the race.

When He's not there, we begin looking frantically around.

Where is He? 

Then we see that great cloud of witnesses. We hear them cheering us on, giving us strength to persevere.

Then suddenly, we see Him!

He's right there, in the midst of that great cloud of witnesses, standing taller than the rest, waving his arms. 

Here I AM!

Our eyes fix on Him. HE becomes the finish line.

He runs out into the front with an energy and intensity that is unmatched by any other spectator because no one else loves us like He does. He directs us with both arms, points with both hands.

This is the way. Keep going. You're almost there. 

And suddenly, we find the strength and energy to sprint (however that may look) toward the goal to win the prize to which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Run the race, however that may look for you, knowing that Jesus is at the beginning, the middle, and the end. You may be surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, but the crowd parts for Him when He runs in front to spur you on to the finish line.

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Fix Your Eyes on What Lies Before You

This Sunday I will be running my very first ever 5K.

I'm a little nervous, although I really don't know why. I'm not in it for the race. It's a personal thing. My daily runs are typically a little over 3 miles, so I know I can run the race. Maybe I'm nervous because there will be a LOT of other runners there. Although why that should matter, I have no idea. Maybe it's because this is "an athletic event," and I am so not an athlete.

We recently watched the movie, Unbroken. Honestly, I had no idea what it was about except that a man survived in a lifeboat for like 50 something days. It was a lot more than that. A LOT more.

I liked it right away because he was a runner, like I've become (I'm actually a jogger--I don't "run," but jogger sounds so, I don't know...eighties...runner just sounds better).

This guy was actually an Olympic athlete. (I am far from that!). But when he first started running as a young kid, he had the belief that he couldn't do it, that he was a nobody. He'd never make the track team.

His brother said to him, "If you can take it, you can make it."

That became his mantra and kept him going through the horrific things that he was made to endure (so much worse than being adrift in the sea in a lifeboat!).

What a marvelous story. If you haven't seen it, watch it! I won't spoil it for you, like I did with Inside Out.

I still marvel at the fact that I can actually run 3 miles. Every time I run, I think, "I can't believe I am actually running." It's really kind of funny---even though I have been doing this for months now, I have this thought EVERY TIME. I think I've said it before:

I hated running. HATED, HATED, HATED!

Just couldn't do it.

Swore I was allergic to exercise.

But something, no someONE was so in this that it's hard to deny. It wasn't simply my willpower saying, "If I can take it, I can make it."

Every time I ran, and every time I still run, I feel like God is behind me encouraging me to press on. He's in front of me, urging me to keep my eye on the goal, and He's beside me, whispering in my ear, "Tighten your core and press on up over that hill, then you're almost there. You can do it!"



If I can take it, I can make it is a great "mantra" but I prefer to dwell on scripture to "make it."

This is the one that has become my "mantra" (for lack of better word):

Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:14).

What are you struggling with today? What is it that you keep telling yourself you can't do? What if you just forgot what you believed in the past and decided to believe that you can do anything, no...all things through Christ, who gives you strength (Phil 4:13)?


Forget the former things! Don't dwell on what you believed in the past because God will do a "new thing" in you if you are open to it (Isaiah 43:17,18). He did in me. And He can in you, if you're willing.

If you're in Christ, the old has gone and the new is here (2 Cor 5:17), so maybe it's time to stop dwelling on your past beliefs, your past excuses, your old ways and step out in faith, trust, and determination to take hold of the new creation that God has purposed you to be. 

That doesn't mean you have to physically run. It simply means that it's time to pay attention to that nudging, that thing that you've been avoiding that you know God is trying to get your attention about. Stop believing the old lies that you've told yourself for years---the ones that say, "I can't."

It's time to forget what's behind and strain toward what is ahead (yes, straining is sometimes painful and difficult--that's why it's called straining). 

Press on!

Like a 5K race, there is a prize at the end. Only this one is for all eternity--Christ Jesus.

Run the race with perseverance--like my sweatshirt that I'm hoping to wear at the race (if it's cool enough) states:


Blessings Along the Path,
Mare

PS: Be sure to check back on Monday-I'll post pictures from the race.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Treasure the Journey

Hubbles and I went for a hike on Saturday that took us "down the shore" as we call it here in New Jersey. The Manasquan Reservoir has a wonderful meandering cinder path that amounts to a 5.4 mile walk around said reservoir. 

There was a bench at the Environmental center where we started, which had a plaque that said this:



It made me think about my writing journey.

Like so many bloggers, I am writing a book. Well, more like two or three. And like five more in my head. I started writing one, then I got busy writing my blog last month (31 Days of Intentional Joy) and this whole personified Joy thing that I wrote about last month took shape as a book idea, so I veered off the Overcoming Negativity book trail to follow this trail. 

Meanwhile, between working full time and all the other stuff that goes on in a day, it's becoming increasingly difficult to decide: "Do I focus my writing time on the blog or the book?"

Always a dilemma. 

The blog usually wins. 

Then there's all the social media. I won't even go there. I posted something on my personal Facebook page the other day about how I sometimes feel strangled by the "necessity" of social media for a writer, when I just want to write, and someone posted this encouraging comment:

Maybe you need to take a small break from the public part of writing and just write for yourself for a little bit. The stuff you want to say that's just for you...you are very talented and doing it out of love. You will find YOUR path to be heard.

Writing to write. Not to publish. Not to the specifications of any publisher, editor, agent, or well-meaning coach, fellow writer, or friend.

As Julia Cameron says in her book, The Right to Write:

We can either demand that we write well or we can settle more comfortably into writing down what seems to want to come through us--good, bad, or indifferent. 

Kind of like treasuring the journey. It's not getting a book published that counts--it's not even about finishing it. It's about what I discover along the way. It's about treasuring the journey of writing as much as I treasure the journey of walking in the woods around the reservoir. As much as I treasure discovering new things about myself as I journey through this phase of my life. As much as I treasure the gift of life itself.

It's about writing what I feel God is leading me to write, whether anyone else ever reads it or not. What's in my heart, on the edge of my brain, at the tips of my fingers.

Somehow, it all comes back to joy. 

It's all about finding joy in what we do, in the journey of what we do. And treasuring it. Taking it in. Holding it. Experiencing it. Exploring it. Enjoying it!

In our journey, whatever it may be, sometimes the path is wide and straight, covered with fallen leaves. We can't see the path, but we know it's there, and it's pretty clear where to go.

Other times, it can be confusing, even comical, trying to read signs that don't make sense (The sign in the picture below says, "Overflow parking area...tough to get a car through there, though).



Or, perhaps the signs are pretty clear. And maybe we ignore them and press on to continue down the path we were going--the wrong one. 



But if we listen to the Holy Spirit (who, by the way, speaks to us sometimes through other people) we might find a blessing in taking another direction, one that may not seem or feel quite right or good. But IS right and good.

Regardless of where our journey takes us, it is always...always necessary to stop along the way to reassess our route and mostly, to admire God's handiwork. I spent the summer doing just that:





As I stand at the top looking out over the treetops and the valley of where I've come, I ask myself, and my God, "What now?"

I keep going back to what my friend said. Maybe I need to take a small break from the public part of writing, and just write for myself. Ultimately, it will be for others, but right now, I just can't keep doing it all. Because when we try to do it all, something inevitably suffers and we often feel resentful. I've come to far in my joy journey to let that happen.

I love my readers, and I love blogging--it's my outlet. But that October Write 31 Days was crazy! I can't keep that pace up! So, my new plan is to continue to blog once a week and concentrate on my other writing--the stuff out of the public eye--the rest of the time.


Look for my blog posts on a Monday or Tuesday. It's hard to stay away, so perhaps I'll throw another one in later in the week at times. But the every day blog? Not gonna happen right now.

Where are you in your journey? Are you following the wide and straight path? Are you confused by signs right now? Have you gone down the wrong path (don't worry, you CAN turn around!)? Do you need to make some adjustments? Reassess the route? Change the direction? 

Or maybe you just need to rest and admire God's handiwork. Recharge. Refuel. Renew.

Wherever you are in your journey, remember this:

It's not getting there that counts. 
It's what you discover along the way.Treasure the Journey

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Art of Juggling

I woke up this morning thinking about juggling.

Yeah, I know. Weird. I have no idea why, but it prompted me to think about how we "juggle" things in our lives.

I decided to do a little research on how to juggle.

WikiHow (How to Juggle) lists the steps of juggling that make it look so easy (although it takes a lot of practice). Here are a few:

1. Choose suitable balls.
WikiHow suggests beanbags because they won't roll away when dropped.

How many times have you heard people say, "I'm trying to juggle a full-time job, parenting, ministry, etc."? Or maybe you've said that yourself. Maybe you're in the midst of juggling a lot of things---a lot of heavy things.



If you're "dropping some of the balls," maybe you're simply not choosing suitable juggling material. Things like a job and family are obviously not optional juggling material, but could it be that these are your bean bags, your suitable juggling balls--the ones that won't roll away when dropped, and you're throwing in a ball or a plate--or a boulder? 

Could it be that you're taking on too much? Is it possible to let something go?

2.  Toss one ball for awhile to get the feel of juggling
Have you ever actually tried juggling without really knowing how to do it? I have. I just threw three balls up and they all came down. I wondered why I couldn't even catch one. 

Apparently, your hands are not supposed to move much when you juggle. 

Ever notice that when you're juggling several jobs, responsibilities or obligations you feel like an octopus? You might say, "I wish I had a third arm," or "I wish I could clone myself."


Taking on a second job, a third responsibility and a fourth ministry may seem noble, but if you haven't gotten that first ball figured out, it may result in a constant feeling of trying to catch up, or dropped balls.

There are, of course, more steps, which would take up way too much space on this blog, and too much of your reading time. I did, however, find some useful tips. Read these tips as they may relate to your current juggling. 


  • Begin juggling with your better hand.
  • Try to find a pattern that works best for you. That way, you can juggle with ease.
  • Relax, breathe, and don't get frustrated.
  • Remember to juggle objects that all weigh the same amount. This will be much, much easier.
  • If you find yourself constantly dropping the juggling balls, stop for a moment and refocus.

    And finally, my favorite:
    • A bed or a couch is useful for catching dropped balls.
    Absolutely! When all else fails, take to your bed!

    Are you trying to keep too many balls in the air? Have you started juggling too many things before you've gotten the hang of the first thing? Is there something that perhaps you could let go of--even, let it drop? 

    In case you're actually interested in the real hobby of juggling, here's a great video to get you started.




    Blessings Along the Path,
    Mare

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    photo credit (Clown) pixabay

    Monday, November 2, 2015

    It's Not About the Shoes

    Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (I Thess 5:11)

    If you are of a certain age, you might remember the Keds commercial--the one that promised that Keds would make you "run faster and jump higher." 

    I bought some real running shoes the other day. 



    They promised nothing, but I assumed that since they were "real" running shoes as opposed to sneakers that I thought might be running shoes, they might make me run faster and...well, I don't jump at this age, so I'd settle for the run faster.

    They didn't.

    In fact, I had the most cruddy run I've had since I've gotten to the point where I can run the whole time and not walk. But I really couldn't blame it on the shoes.

    I don't know why, but I just had a really hard time. I had to stop and walk. I tried changing the music, and started running again when suddenly I heard what sounding like extra running. Seconds later, she passed me. That woman. The one who runs all the time.

    She must run a 7 minute mile (as opposed to my 12+). She has to be a marathon runner. I think she runs to work and runs home. Or maybe she just runs all day every day. She's always running---fast. 

    I checked her shoes. They were not Keds and they were not the same as mine. I would have asked her what brand they are so I could get some, but she flew by so fast.

    But here's the thing---

    Watching her in front of me actually encouraged me to keep going. Keeping my eye on someone more experienced helped me want to keep running the race.

    So it goes with our Christian walk. 


    There are times when we feel alone, forgotten, or confused. There are times when we get discouraged or disappointed and feel displaced. These are the times that we need to look at the ones who have gone before us. The more spiritually mature. The ones who have the wisdom and experience of running the same race we're running. 

    When we watch how they train, how they persevere, how they handle trials and hardships, we are encouraged to continue. We find a strength we didn't know we had because we discover that we want to emulate the more experienced "runners." We aspire to be like them.

    Now, here's the other thing--

    She turned around before I did, so before I knew it, she'd disappeared. I no longer had my "coach" to focus on, so I once again became tired and wanted to just give up. The truth was, I WAS tired, and I needed to walk. Sometimes, I'm just too hard on myself.

    When our mentor is no longer there to guide us, to coach us, to be an inspiration for us, it's easy for us to lose our momentum and focus. 

    Paul told us to encourage one another. We need encouragement from those who are further in their journey, but at the same time, we need to look down, back or around us to see who we can encourage. 

    Believe it or not, someone is watching you. Someone is desiring to emulate you, aspiring to be like you. You may think otherwise, but unless you live in a hole, you are communicating and  interacting with a variety of people every day. You are influencing people, often without even knowing it. Trust me, someone is watching you with admiration.

    That's why we need to remember this:

    Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

    Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
    Phil 3:12-14

    Are you a coach, a mentor, a teacher--encouraging those behind you to press on? 

    Or are you a trainee, a student, a disciple--learning from those with more wisdom, experience, and faith?

    Look around--open your eyes and ears up to see and hear who might be looking to you for what you're looking to others for. While you're at it, you just might discover something you can learn from someone who is not as far in their journey as you are. You're never one or the other. You're both. Always.

    By the way, the shoes aren't what make you ran faster or jump higher. It's the spirit of motivation inside the shoes. You are more capable than you think you are.

    Remember Dorothy? It wasn't the Ruby slippers that took her home--it was her determination, her memory of home, her desire. Because ruby slippers on their own do nothing. It's the person wearing the ruby slippers that makes them magic.

    Keep running your race, whatever it may look like!

    Blessings Along the Path,
    Mare