Prayer for Guidance

Lord, even as I get older life still has its ups and downs.  I’ve been working really hard trying to get two houses ready, one that we are buying and one which is being sold, or that is my hope.

Today I received a call from the realtor that the house appraised for $210,000 and that the buyer was willing to pay $215,000.  I noticed that ours was appraised at least $10 a square foot cheaper than any comparable houses even though we have a beautiful backyard with pool and hot tub.

Right now I’m feeling that if we can’t get close to our asking price and the appraiser does not change the appraisal that we’ll keep the house.  That will be tough, 3 houses in High Point to keep up but why sell a beautiful house for less than it is worth?  Better to rent it?  that’s my feeling today at least.

Lord, I know that you have control over the situation.  Help me to be open to what you want, not what I feel is right.  Let me be responsible and not make any rush decisions.  Let me learn to trust you and see your working in my life.

I’ve spent so little time with you recently.  No excuses.  Just an acknowledgment that I’ve felt overwhelmed with everything I’ve been doing.  There is still time to pray, no matter how busy I might be.

We are a community

I’ve lived too long without opening up to people around me and that has been a mistake.  I don’t mean your life should be an open book shared with everyone, but that you should pick your friends wisely.   Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and feelings with those friends and be open when they share their lives with you.

It is easy to get caught up in life and not take time for your friends.  It happens without much thought.  Your responsibilities at work go from 40 to 60 hours a week.  Friends that you used to have in-depth talks with are now a Facebook “friend” or message on snap chat.  Social media is a poor substitute for a deep friendship.

couple-on-smartphonesWhen we finally get time to spend some one on one time our phones are probably right beside us.  How many times have you replayed the picture to the right?   I challenge you to put your phone away.  Let the person you are talking with know that they are important.  Practice listening undistracted by the barrage of social media played out on your smartphone every second.

dont-let-me-goOne of my favorite books is Don’t Let Me Go by Katherine Hyde.  It is a powerful book about a young girl who is in trouble because her mom is on drugs.  The neighbors all pull together to help her and by doing so find that love transforms their lives as well.  When I am writing this Audible offers one book free for trying them out.  This is a good book to take their free offer up on.

Someone asked Jesus:  Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied:  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself

Life really is about love and giving yourself in love to God and others.  It makes no sense but if you do that you’ll experience a life that is filled with God, power and joy that you’ll find hard to explain.

Don’t forget kindness and love

I was talking with a new friend of mine today who was telling her story of moving to North Carolina.  Her granddaughter at age 3 became really sick and the doctors were not sure she was going to live.

kindness-and-love

Linda’s granddaughter had been going to the preschool at Jamestown Presbyterian Church when she became sick. Linda was not looking for God before the sickness, but the love and kindness her granddaughter was shown had an effect on her life.

We all have opportunities to touch the lives of other people.  You may be afraid and shy away since that is what the majority will do, but that’s not the life God calls us to live.  Be the one that takes action, that shows love, that is willing to take a stand and touch the lives of others.

I can tell you it is going to make your life more complicated.  Having others in our life is always more complex that just doing our own thing, never worrying about others, but when you open up your life to others, you’ll find God at work in a powerful way.

A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you,  so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. – John 12:34-35

Father, each of us will go through pain and loss that we did not ask for and do not want.   Help us to look beyond ourselves, to love and share our lives with others.

Can we pray

Sometimes children say things that make you cry. This morning was one of those days. My granddaughter, Autumn climed into my lap and said “can we pray?”

At first I did not understand what she was saying. At three she talks well. She should, she has certainly practiced enough, but I don’t always pick up everything she says and this was one of those times. 

I’m not really sure what made her say that either. We’ve prayed together but not so much that she would think of praying when she saw me, especially not in the morning. 

This one simple act made a difference in my life today. I prayed more today and looked at people from Jesus’ view. Words, they can destroy a day or a life or transform it into something wonderful. 

Today Autumn Raelee Smith you changed my day. May I change yours as we walk through life together. I love you. 

When bad things happen to you

Avianna, Autumn, Auria, Roman and Tehya,  Life can be tough. There are bad things that are going to happen that you did not expect and could not have prepared for.  It’s tough and unfair and it happens to every single one of us. 

When they happen to you, what do you do?  There is no magic answer but the best I have found is don’t give up. Jesus said in John:  “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Finding a Purpose in Life

Why am I here?  What is my purpose?  What should I do with my life?

purpose of life

These questions are in our minds from early childhood. If you are over the age of five you’ve probably been asked what do you want to be when you grow up. The questions will swirl through your head for much of your life as you compare your real life to the life you dreamed of as a young child. The questions will guide your education and lead you on a path that is sometimes foggy and filled with many detours.

Few people are laser focused on what they want out of life  yet it is important if you want to accomplish anything that is difficult.  Knowing what you want to accomplish and not being willing to settle for less will help you overcome all the setbacks and obstacles that are  coming your way.  I’ll give my thoughts on what goals to pursue later on in this article.

So how do you find that kind of focus?

know-thyself

This Ancient Greek saying “know thyself” is as important today as it was four thousand years ago but probably harder to achieve.  As little as one hundred years ago it was easier to know yourself because it was easier to find quiet time for study and reflection.  Today, every moment of every day can be filled with noise and distractions ensuring that you never think about what you want to accomplish nor how to get there.  You’re in a flurry of activity but missing time to think about what is really important.

Think about it, your life is filled with so many distractions:  TV, radio, internet and smartphone, which sends a constant stream of text messages, email, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even phone calls providing a steady stream of distractions.  If that was not enough your phone has instant access to the world:  YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and the web are only seconds away, ready to distract you from your quiet time.

In order to know yourself the first thing you need to do is turn everything that off.  Be still and take time to think.  Even God says “be still and know that I am God.”  Psalms 46:10

So how do you be still and take the time to get to know you and your creator?  Unplug.  Turn off the TV and radio and put your phone on airplane mode.  Get away from anything that might cause a distraction.  Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple liked to take walks.  It gave him time to think through what was going on and helped him stay focused on his goals.  There were many other “walkers” who made a significant contribution including John Quincy Adams and Stonewall Jackson.

Take time to read and think.  Think about what is really going to make a difference in your life and spend time there.  Books are an incredible way to clarify your goals in life.  Pick books by people who lived a focused life and made a difference in the world.  If you are not big on reading, audio books are available at places like Audible.com.   Here are a few of my favorite books:

  • Bible. Written by various authors over 2,000 years the Bible is the story of God working in people’s lives with an invitation to have him work in your life also.  The book of Proverbs is filled with wisdom and advice for young and old.  If you have a smartphone the Bible is available as a free download.   Spend 30 minutes a day reading and praying with no distractions and you’ll find your life changed.
  • heather-metheny-post
  • Crazy Love by Francis Chan – This book challenges us to live a life totally committed to following Jesus.
  • Keep Moving by Dick Van Dyke – The older I get the more I appreciate people who share what they’ve learned over the years.  Dick Van Dyke’s book was written when he was 90 and is a reflection on living life.
  • Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruz. – We do such a terrible job educating our children on financial matters that I think this book should be required reading in school.
  • Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin – The story of Abraham Lincoln.  Actually many books on history would be on my list.  They help us understand what life was like just a couple hundred years ago and the courage and determination that our forefathers had to make life better for all of us.

How do you know what is really important?

My decisions are based on how long the decision will have an effect on me.  Eating an ice cream sundae?  Short term.  If it tastes good and I’m in the mood, go for it.  No long term benefit or consequences.  Eating an ice cream sundae every day?  You need to think about the calories and other potential consequences.

Decision:  Whether to spend time with your kids or on with work, friends, at the bar or whatever else you might be interested in.  The results with everything other than your kids is questionable.  You could work 80 hours a week and still lose your job or business but the time with your kids can never be replaced.  Those moments are gone forever.  You can still have a strong relationship with your children at a later time but you’ll never have today with them again.

There are decisions that have eternal consequences.  Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life.  No man comes to the father (God) except through me and John 3:16 says for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes him shall never die but have eternal life.

Living a life following Jesus means we are no longer pursuing our own interests but our interests become the same as those of Jesus.  Our goals of accumulating money and power fade away replaced by a desire to love God and love people.

Someone approached Jesus and asked him:  Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment.  The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.”  All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets[a] are based on these two commandments.  – Matthew 22:36-40

Jesus claimed that he was God which either makes him a liar, not to be listened to or he really was God and the most important figure every to live on earth.  After spending much time reading the Bible, praying and checking out Jesus words and his life I concluded that he was who he said he was and that I need to follow him.

I’ll close with this video by Francis Chan.  He gives an excellent example of spending our time on things that really matter.

Why this blog

Why I started this blog

It is unlikely that the world needs another blog, but I needed it.  I’ve thought about writing down my thoughts, feelings and ideas over the past 20+ years, have started, stopped and started again.

This time, I decided to take the leap and publish it online.  I’m thinking mostly of my grandchildren when I write or create a video.  I wanted a way to let them know what I’ve learned in the hopes that maybe it will help them avoid some of the mistakes and give guidance in living.

avianna-autumn-aria

This blog is for you Avianna, Autumn and Auria.  If anyone else wonders across the blog, that’s an added benefit.  I also want a place to write my thoughts about what’s going on in the world.  Many people say that the world is in decline, but I love history and from my perspective, we could not be living in a better time.

Yes, there are still wars and killings and lots of bad stuff going on but compared to prior generations, life is pretty good.  More people are living longer, have better health, eat better, can communicate with people all over the world.