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Embrace Defining Moments


In my reading this morning, These Days – Daily Devotionals for Living by Faith, I was inspired by the commentary of Robin Gallaher Branch of Memphis, Tennessee. The scripture that motivated her thoughts was from Ezekiel 1-2:1

The word of the Lord came to the priest Ezekiel,
son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans
by the river Chebar, and the hand of the Lord
was on him there.

What Does That Scripture Mean?

Study that painting. Obviously artists have been inspired by this scripture. But somehow, as I read it again, the depth of its meaning escaped me. I was not quite sure what to make of it. Robin Branch, on the other hand, saw “A Vision is a Divine Interruption.”

She wrote, “I tell my students this: Expect Divine Interruptions.”

Why? Because they occur regularly in the Bible.

And that is what she understood was happening to Ezekiel in this passage. She wrote, “He was minding his own business when the heavens suddenly opened.”

Another artist depicted the scene this way:

Wow! Robin Branch describes it in words, “He saw four living creatures in human-like forms. Each had four faces: those of human being, lion, ox, and eagle… When the creatures moved, their wings sounded like mighty waters.”

What did he do? Ezekiel’s response was, “I fell on my face.” (verse 28)

God Interrupts Our Lives

Ezekiel shows us what to do when God interrupts our lives with a vision, a dream, or an angelic encounter. Worship and wait to be addressed!

But, how many of us have had God present Himself to us in a vision or a dream or an angelic encounter?

Maybe more of us than we realize! Do we open our eyes and hearts to recognize those defining moments? Do we see the angels in our midst? Do we know God makes divine appointments with us? Do we feel His presence?

Live in Expectancy

Do you live in a state of expectation, looking to see God in others? Do you know God is making broken things brand new? I see God in you! I see God in the defining moments of my life.

Daily Word, a Unity Publication, provides a daily word (or words) to ponder. It has a short devotional to enhance the word. Today’s word was “Expectation.” In the commentary, the title was, “Expectation keeps my mind positive and my heart full.

“Living in a state of expectancy kindles a quiet excitement in my heart, keeping me passionate about life.”

If I live in expectancy, I encounter defining moments …

Moments that define us are often not recognized until years later.

What are Defining Moments?

Jan & Bob
1962

Of course, if you are married happily, you know a defining moment in your life is your wedding. That one is easy to recognize.

Defining moments are those that impact you, change your direction, or reinforce it. They change your thinking. They wake you up to an Ah-hah moment, or they sit quietly in your subconscious – ready for the day you are prepared to recognize their impact and put their lesson to work in your life.

I asked Bob, as we were together in our sanctuary this morning, doing our Bible Study and devotionals, “What are the defining moments of your life?”

Right away, he said, “Our wedding day.”

See, I told you.. that one’s a given. Especially for folks like us who have stuck it out through thick and thin for 59 years!

Not All Are Positive

Not all of your defining moments are going to be the mountaintop experiences. Some are experienced in the valleys of our lives.

One of mine was when I had a burst appendix. I thought I was constipated and that’s why I ached so much. I tried laxatives. I tried a therapeutic massage. It just got worse. Finally the pain was so intense, I couldn’t sleep and I was crying out. Bob took me at midnight to the emergency room in the hospital just 5 minutes from home. They ran a bunch of tests, took x-rays, thought it was diverticulitis. Sent the x-rays to the larger hospital in Bozeman (an hour’s drive away). The doctors there looked at them and called to say, “Get that lady in here right now! She has a burst appendix.”

Why was this a “defining moment”? A dear lady (one of our medical center volunteers named Donna) road with me in the ambulance to Bozeman held my hand and prayed with me the whole way. She was an angel on earth! She helped me survive the painful ride to the hospital. Once there, the doctors told me I could have died. At my age (I was 79 or 80), many don’t survive such an ordeal.

I learned:

  • it’s probably not a good idea to ignore excruciating pain or self-medicate
  • it’s not wise to diagnose your own ailment
  • a prayer angel can make all the difference between life/death and comfort/agony

Some Defining Moments are Very Positive

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

A mountaintop defining moment for me occurred when I was only 16 years old. It was the summer between my junior and senior years in high school. I was attending a summer “Music Therapy Clinic” at the College of the Pacific. One of our participants was a little boy named Jeremy. He about 4 years old and had never spoken. He had a voice. He could scream when he was upset. He could moan. He could whimper. But he had not spoken any words.

My music therapy counselor/teacher, Mrs. Harbert, was playing the piano. We all were sitting on the floor in a circle. Each of us had a child in our lap. Mine was Jeremy. Mrs. Harbert was playing a non-sensical, very rhythmic song. Its only word was “Hospodipomilwi.”

Hoss-poe-dee-poe-meal-wee

Hos-po-de-po-mil-we

Hos-po-di-po-mil-wi

I bounced Jeremy on my lap and sang quietly in his ear.

All of a sudden, Jeremy began to sing!! “Hospodipomilwi”

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

A year or so later, I saw Jeremy and his mom when I was shopping near the college. She said, “I can’t believe I used to pray for him to speak. Now I can’t get him to stop talking!”

I learned:

  • There is no greater thrill than to help a needy child
  • Music is magical
  • I wanted a career where I could work with children and music

God’s Divine Interruptions Change Us

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

We were living in California. Bob was still working as a beekeeper. I was retired. He wasn’t sure he was ready to retire yet, but we talked about it. We didn’t know where we wanted to live after his retirement, but we were pretty sure we didn’t want to stay in California. The state was growing in population faster than the the infra-structure could handle the numbers.

Then he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Life changed. We changed.

I won’t take you through the whole three year process, just suffice to say, it was a defining moment! His cancer caused us to reevaluate where we were, who we were, and where we wanted to be.

It is the reason we now live in this place we call God’s Country, Ennis Montana.

The Road of Life is Filled with Defining Moments

The road of life is filled with highs, lows,
mountaintops and valleys,
potholes and gravel.

When life knocks you down,
when you are going along
minding your own business
and the heavens open up,
or the bridge collapses
and you fall into a crevice,
remember Ezekiel.

He fell on his face.
He called out to God.
He waited for God to direct him.

Let God’s still small voice direct you.
Like my Donna,
watch for the angels all around you.

Let His strength illuminate your path.
Like Josh Williams, see God in others
and let their strength encourage you.


Let the defining moments speak to you.
Like Jeremy, find your voice
and sing!
Hos-po-di-po-mil-wi

Embrace Defining Moments



What are YOUR defining moments?

Embrace ExpectationS


Yesterday I posted a question,
“What do you expect
When you hear Expectation?”
Today I added an S to the word.

What does that do to the meaning for you?
Derrick Knight responded yesterday saying,
“Expectation can sometimes be a touch optimistic.”
The picture of the pregnant gal shows such optimism to me.

She is probably more than “a touch” optimistic!

Photo by Laura Garcia on Pexels.com

Expectation to me is personal.
It is what I am looking forward to – or not.
But the added S causes it to take on a different nuance.
“Expectations” often come from others in my mind.


In Luke 21:26, the expectation the men felt was the “or not.”

“… men fainting
from fear and the expectation
of the things which are coming upon the world;
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

Photo by Aaron Kittredge on Pexels.com

But in Philippians, the expectation is that optimistic viewpoint Derrick was talking about:

Philippians 1:20

As it is my eager expectation and hope
that I will not be at all ashamed,
but that with full courage now as always
Christ will be honored in my body,
whether by life or by death.

Expectations from others can often produce stress. People sometimes put pressure on us to be more than we feel capable of being.

On the other hand, expectations can be motivating. Is someone expecting you to perform right now? Is that person an encourager, telling you, “You can do this! You’re strong enough… smart enough… capable enough”?

Embrace those expectations!
Believe those accolades.
Let that encouragement motivate you.
You are not given more than you can do…
… with God’s help!

I just listened to a podcast with Bob Goff interviewing Anne Lamott.
She touched on this topic of “given more than you can do.”
Quite interesting!
Her take is different, but equally as valid.
You may want to go and hear that podcast.
(I hope this link will take you there)
https://dreambigframework.com/podcast-1/326anne?utm_term=0_be8b3e9633-80b1855f1d-132966261

In yesterday’s Daily Word,
the word for March 30, 2021 was “Expectation.”
The statement at the top of the page was,

“Expectation keeps me passionate about my life.”

In the article expounding on the subject, the message emphasized was:

“Expectation keeps me in a state of gratitude…
I claim peace, prosperity, and joy in prayer.
I carry a confident expectation into my daily life.”

In the midst of this pandemic, with social distancing, mask-wearing, and the administration of vaccines becoming more and more politicized, it is sometimes difficult to follow the advice of that Daily Word message. Sometimes when the expectations of the world weigh us down, when dissension and divisiveness try to bury our joy, it is easy to fall into a dark mood.

So, the message today is to take those expectations
And color them brightly with the promises of Easter.
Remember that today marks the day that Jesus was
Honored with a flask of expensive perfume poured on him.

The disciples who were scornful were reminded
To keep their focus on the expectations of Christ:
He knew He would die, be buried, and rise again.
My expectation is to do the same – due to His sacrifice.

I am planted today with the expectation
That I will grow from the Sea of Expectations
To rise in encouragement and hope-
So that I can spread that optimism to others.

EMBRACE POSITIVE EXPECTATIONS

Have a Happy, Meaningful Holy Week.
Whatever you are being called to do,
believe you can, expect that you will.
Get on with it!

Thanks for visiting JanBeek

I expect to
See ya tomorrow!

Creating Hope in a Conflicted World


adult background beach blue

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

 

How to Create Hope in a World of Conflict

 

Today is the day Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed for a life-time appointment to the Supreme Court of the USA.  It is a day of deep national divide. Many are feeling relief that our right to be “innocent until proven guilty” has been affirmed. Others are feeling emotional despair. On this day of huge chasms, how can we create, maintain and foster a spirit of hope?

Here are three ideas for creating hope in this, our own personal, world of conflict:

1. Let Go

In a heartfelt article in this month’s Daily Word, a devotional published by Unity, I was encouraged today to “let go of trying to change things…, take some deep breaths, and rest in tranquility for a while.”

The devotional referred me to Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” I really need that gentle rest for my soul today!

I decided to look and see how that passage was translated in The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.  His Study Bible often gives me an insight that the King James or the NIV (New International Version) don’t. Sure enough, in our more modern vocabulary, The Message in Matt. 11:29-30 begins, “Are you tired? Worn out?”

Wow! Yes, after a few days of being drawn into conflicting testimonies, angry shouting, accusations and denials, and crowds protesting, I am tired. I am worn out. I am deeply troubled. I am looking for harmony!

The Message version goes on to say, “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythm of grace… Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

That’s what we all need! We need to live freely and lightly. We need to enter each day in an unforced rhythm of grace. We need live each day with a renewed sense of hope. Let go!

2. Be Nuts!

This month’s National Geographic magazine had a timely, pertinent article by Anne Lamott titled, “Despite Perils, Decide to Hope.” Her beginning sentence reads, “You would almost have to be nuts to be filled with hope in a world so rife with hunger, hatred, climate change, pollution, and pestilence, let alone the self-destruction or severely annoying behavior of certain people.” But she goes on to tell us that she lives in a state of “boundless hope” most of the time. She must be nuts then, right? How does she do it? She says she lives in hope by being optimistic, trusting, and confident that those she loves will be okay, no matter what.

That’s what we all need! We need to be more optimistic. We need to be more trusting. We need to be more confident that everything is ultimately going to be okay. Let go of what we cannot control. Focus on what we have the ability to change. Start with our own attitudes.

3. Take Action

In this week’s Guideposts magazine there is an article titled, “Heartfelt.” It tells about a Salvation Army crafts project – sewing red hearts. Called “Others,” it began in Bangladesh in 1997 with the goal of helping single women become financially able to support themselves and their children without prostituting themselves. Since its onset, “Others” has helped 1600 women in Bangladesh come out of human trafficking and step into a brighter future. The article was so compelling that I went to the website: guideposts.org/hearts-for-others and donated to the cause. For $10. or more, OTHERS will send you two handmade hearts. My donation will help other women find hope where there is despair.

With the internet and its world-wide reach, there are literally millions of places we can reach out to take action for causes in which we believe – issues for which we feel a deep compassion. Additionally, within our own communities there are dozens of places we can volunteer to offer our services.

Volunteering was one of Ann Lamott’s thrusts in her National Geographic article. She said, “Create goodness in the world and that gives us hope… ” Her examples include helping with school labs, with building water wells, cleaning up estuaries and water sheds. She said by volunteering, we wake “to the momentousness of life – the power of loving hearts.”

In my little town of Ennis with less than a thousand people, I volunteer at our local Food Bank (distributing food to the less fortunate), our Senior Center (working as a sous chef to prepare meals for folks 55 and over who come for nourishment and camaraderie), and at the Madison Valley Medical Center (greeting, answering phones, guiding patients to needed services, fund raising for needed hospital equipment, etc.).  Volunteering does indeed give me the opportunity to make a difference where I can … and focus on the areas where I have the power to create goodness.

Creating Hope in a World of Despair

So, how can we adopt an attitude of hope, of optimism, trust, and confidence in a world of conflict? We don’t do it by pointing fingers. We don’t do it by accusations and finding someone else to blame. We don’t do it by closing ourselves in a closet and avoiding exposure. We don’t do it by looking out for #1 and to Hell with the rest of the world! We do it, I believe, by following the greatest commandment. It is the sub-title of my JanBeek blog: Love One Another.

Look for the good. Acknowledge it. Embrace it. Emulate it. Praise it. Tell people how much they matter. Treat others with respect. Listen. Value one another. Give others hope and encouragement. Serve with kindness. Focus on being compassionate. Find your niche. Let your cup overflow. Love One Another. Spill out HOPE!

Tell me one thing you can do this day or this week… just one thing…  to create HOPE in our desperate world. Let Go. Be Nuts. Take Action. How will you reach out?

Words and Music


What do words and music have in common?

In this week’s Time magazine, Yo-Yo Ma made several interesting points. “Music is organized sound…” he said. And he continued by adding, “…just as words are organized alphabet.” We could go on to see that writing is organized words, and profound literature is carefully organized thought. Without organization, there would be chaos. Disorganized notes are noise. Words disorganized are meaningless.

Like music, words must be varied to create beauty. In today’s Daily Word devotional, the message said, “… harmony cannot be achieved if we are all singing the same note. When we add our own uniqueness to everything we do, we add depth and meaning.” Our individuality shines through our words, thoughts, and actions, as well as our music.

Music needs all eight notes on the scale and every sharp and flat in between to create great symphonies, exquisite melodies, pleasing harmonies. Likewise, our voices, whether sharp or flat, congruous or dissonant, need to be heard. Our thoughts need to weigh in.

Yo-Yo Ma said our world demands discussion if there ever is hope for harmony. Discussion can resolve discord. Democracy demands discussion. Life demands organized sound, notes of harmony, organized words, civil discourse, if we ever are to have peace.

Ponder those thoughts and join me in prayer: “Almighty Creator, may our words and our music add rich depth and meaning and peace to our world!”

Amen?

Let your words weigh in. Which of your blogs added to peace in our blogging world recently? Is that one of your goals?

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