Holy Week

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This is Holy Week for those of us who believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Many years ago yesterday,  Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to cheers on what we now call Palm Sunday. Thursday night is when He had his last supper with the disciples. Friday is when He was nailed to a cross and died. Sunday, Easter Sunday, is when His followers discovered the empty tomb signifying that He is alive. Powerful week that defines our hope and our salvation. If you don’t yet know Jesus, take some time this week to explore who He is (I say is because He is still alive today). Visit church this week. There are services almost daily. It’s a safe time to try it because many visitors will be in attendance. You won’t be singled out.

As a believer, I’d like to say my week is scheduled to be reflective and filled with times to connect with God. It’s a normal week. We have a sports banquet to attend, kids have youth group, my eldest it taking a school trip abroad, and all the normal stuff of the week is still being done. I don’t feel bummed or even ashamed by how our week looks. The reason being, I celebrate Jesus and my love for Him whether it’s Holy Week or not.

I may pop into a few extra services this week at church since they are offered. However, I plan to spend my daily time with God like I do on normal weeks. I will pray before our dinner. I’ll spend time praying for others. I’ll meet with friends to encourage one another and just to laugh. I’ll do laundry and make dinner and wash dishes. It’s part of normal life on earth and part of my role and ministry to my family.

I’m grateful for Holy Week. It does make it easier to bring up my faith with acquaintances. It’s part of the conversation in line at the store while buying my Easter Peeps. As a believer, though, every week is Holy Week. Every week we celebrate our risen Savior. Every week we get to draw near to God and receive His love. Every week is Easter for those who love the Lord.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

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Blackjack

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My dad taught me to play Blackjack at a young age. I loved numbers and it helped me with counting. He also taught me the table of rules you are to follow when you play the game. If the dealer is showing an 8 and you have 12, assume he has 18 so you have to hit. I love playing games, especially card games. Blackjack is so fast paced and you can win big and lose big quickly. I’m not promoting gambling (although I used to play when I went to Vegas in my 20s). This is a fun game to play at home with M&Ms or Skittles for your chips.

As I grew up though, I stopped playing by the table of Blackjack rules my dad taught me. I decided to play by the heart, by instinct. My dad thinks I’m crazy. Sometimes I do it just to watch him freak out. I love it when it pays off. When it doesn’t, he proudly proclaims the table of rules wins again.

So how do you live life – by the rules or by the heart? I heard a sermon the other day where the pastor said, “you need to follow what God tells you not what man tells you.” (Caveat – if you are pursuing things in your life that are in direct contradiction to God’s word, that is not OK. We are to follow God’s rules and laws as He has laid out in the Bible.) There are times when you feel God calling you to something new. Something that to the outside world seems a bit of a risk or crazy. If it isn’t against God’s word and you aren’t harming anyone, move forward. People will nay-say you and tell you to stick to the rules. But if God is leading, go for it.

People say all the time “follow your heart.” I am saying “follow God’s heart for you.” He has great plans. When we play it safe and don’t listen to His prompting, we are missing out of His best for us. We need to step out in His will, His way.  Do you have a heart prompting from God in your life that you have been ignoring? Start listening. Seek wise counsel but rely on God’s will ultimately. Pray. Sit in it. Listen some more. Then act! Let God open a new door in your life.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Waiting for Rain

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The promise of a big storm this weekend pretty much disappointed all. When the rain did arrive, it was at night. I personally like sipping tea and watching the rain. Nighttime rain does nothing for me. I spent most of Saturday waiting for the storm. I stayed home and kept making tea. I finally gave up and ran a few errands. When it arrived, disappointment set it.

How often do we wait for something to happen before we can start living? When we are single, we wait to be married because we think then life can really start. When we are married, we wait for kids for life to really start. Once we have kids, we wait for the empty nest, and so on. We are always waiting for something in life. The wait stinks! It robs us of moving forward and living. Saturday was mostly a wasted day for me because I kept waiting for the rain. When 1:30 rolled around and still no significant rain, I moved onto living my day. What are you waiting for in your life that is preventing you from really living?

How about living in the wait? How do we do that? We run errands while we wait for the rain. We take classes to further our skills or interests while we wait. We purchase items we always wanted, even though we thought we’d purchase them with a spouse. We embrace the season our kids are in and not rush them to college. Waiting is life. Waiting is reality. Waiting is most of what we do. Live in the waiting. Don’t wait to live.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Oscars

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I had my annual Oscars party last night. We completed a ballot. Had a food contest. Our winner was a Lady Bird chicken salad (because a chicken is a lady bird – loved the pun). Our runner-up was a mushroom omelet tart for Phantom Thread (you need to see it to understand). It was a fun night as we watched the 3 hour and 45 + minutes of the telecast. My party appeals to the movie lover and the non-movie lover. It’s just girlfriends enjoying good food, lots of laughter and an award show on in the background. We stop talking at each award presentation and for the songs. It is a fun night.

I have always loved movies. I grew up in a TV family where we always had the TV on. Movies drew me in more than TV (although I enjoy a good sitcom or drama). I love to watch a story unfold. I embrace getting lost in another person’s life for a few hours. I want to understand people and how they think and act. Obviously watching Dumb and Dumber isn’t going to do that for me. However, a few of the best picture nominees did that this year.

The Darkest Hour educated me not only on British history (actually world history), but on the person of Winston Churchill. He’s a fascinating man with many quirks. His eloquence with words saved the world. Truly it did. This movie showed the power and influence we can have. Our words and how we use them can make a huge difference in lives. As a writer and speaker, I strive to influence others to grow in their walk with God. The boldness of Churchill inspired me.

Lady Bird gave me a glimpse into the world of a high school senior in a specific demographic. I was plunged into her world in this movie. I related to some of the mother daughter dynamics. I heard the heart of this daughter throughout the movie. I am motivated to listen to my kids more. To respond with less knee-jerk reactions to my kids. I want to be a part of their dreams coming true and part of their fan base. I don’t want to be a naysayer in their world as this mom was to her daughter.

Phantom Thread is a weird movie with beautiful costumes. Daniel Day-Lewis is an amazing actor. The movie was weird though. It didn’t lead me to any conclusions or changes in my life. Other than, avoid people who act like these people.

3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri showed me the depth of hate and bitterness. It truly deserved to be up for best picture. The snapshot of the lives of people in pain rocked me. I felt it. I found myself praying for the characters in the movie, that is how in-depth the characters were portrayed. The bitterness and grief of the mom in this movie drove her to crazy action. When we bring our pain to God, we find mercy. We find comfort. We find hope. We may need to do it hourly, or even every minute, but we find it. Eventually we internalize the hope God provides. To have no hope, is ugly. This movie shows that. Hope is what sustains us. I don’t judge or blame a mom who has to live through the kind of grief this character did. I want to bring her Jesus. I want to sit with her in her pain and help her find hope.

I don’t want to recommend, or not recommend, these movies to you. There is a lot of language, some sex and extreme content in the movies I mentioned. I personally like to learn how others live and view the world. Movies give me that perspective. I am a better person because of the movies I mentioned (except Phantom Thread). I feel that I found mercy and understanding from my application of these shows in my life. God teaches me in unique ways. I hope you allow Him to infiltrate all areas of your life. You may just find that old movie you love to watch over and over, will draw you closer to God if you listen for His voice in it.

Dream Big! Pray Big!