Thursday, December 29, 2022

How's Your Posture? (a New Year’s reflection)

Recently I read some article that popped up on the internet, as I was browsing for something else, that led with the following headline:


In the next sentence the author asked me to examine my current posture. 

Have to admit, I failed the test as the questions were asked.

No doubt, you read the word "posture" above, and immediately self-corrected.


Take a minute and evaluate what it was like before you sat up a bit straighter and pulled your shoulders back: 

What's your typical posture? 

What's the bearing of your body as you sit at your desk, on the couch watching television, or as you walk?

Are you slumped over? Back rounded? 

What about your shoulders? 

Does your head lean to the side or fall forward?

What about your abdomen muscles? Are they tight toward the spine, or pooch out? 

Do your arms cross your chest or do they hang relaxed at your sides? 

Without good posture, we suffer back pain, spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration, rounded shoulders, pot bellies, a lack of muscle flexibility, and the list goes on...

As we age, the more we need to work on our posture. 

Anyway, as mentioned, I failed the test, but soon declared to prepare for better posture in 2023. 

The concept of physical posture made me realize that I ought to take a look at my current spiritual posture!

Truly, if physical posture matters, so does the spiritual!

In a couple days, we transition into a new year. 

What a great time to declare that you will prepare, not just to improve how we enter the year physically, but even more importantly, how we begin 2023 spiritually...

So, I've come up with a list of questions I am asking myself (you are welcome to borrow them):

What was my spiritual posture in 2022? 

How well did I exercise my spiritual muscles?

Did I discipline myself for the purpose of godliness? 

What lessons can I learn from this past year that will help strengthen me for a new year?

Are there specific spiritual practices I neglected that have left me in a "slump"...and, how did I handle relationships, projects, goals?

What were some personally defining moments that positively impacted my spiritual health...things I can and want to carry into a new year? 

Am I standing strong, and walking upright?

With these things in mind, I plan to prepare for 2023 with a declaration of intent, as I answer these two questions:

In what ways can I improve my soul health (this can be expanded, of course, to physical, emotional, mental, social, occupational health, as well)?

What action steps can I take (even just one baby step can make a huge difference)?

My spiritual posture matters!

Without it, muscle fatigue sets in and pretty soon our souls will atrophy to spiritual concerns. 

Sadly, this seems to be an area that gets placed on the back burner of priorities for many of us....

Spiritual posture matters in light of eternity!

Monday, December 19, 2022

Tis the Season to Remember...Presents

Yep...I've been thinking about Christmas' past....and presents (as in gifts). 

What's the best Christmas present you ever pulled out from under your Christmas tree?

How about the most useless? 

Nothing beats the morning I woke up to a brand new Schwinn bicycle! 

I was, of course, pink ruled the best of colors, and, it wouldn't have been complete without basket, streamers on the handles, and a bell - to let everyone know I was in the neighborhood (I think that was the year everyone within a block of Ocean Drive voted for us to move). 

I also remember the most useless gift.

All 16-year-olds NEED music, right?

I happened to grow up in the radio-and-turntable era (yep 45's with a song on each side and 33.3's with at least 6 songs/side)...

There came a day, though, when transistor radios took over and I could go almost anywhere with the week's countdown. 

THEN, it was 8-track tapes (oh, my!)...

But, did you know that for a very few short weeks, between transistors and 8-tracks, someone invented a 4-track player?

I couldn't even find one on the internet to show you. 

My dad frequently took advantage of these 15-day-free-trial offers that came through the mail (an advantage of being postmaster? I don't know). 

So, one Christmas, thinking this little four track could take over the music world, he bought me one for Christmas. 

It came with two tapes (the BeeGee's and a Classical Variety). 

I loved it! Thought it the best thing EVER...

Until within a month, 8-tracks became the rage, and you couldn't even buy other tapes for the tape player I now owned. 

What I'd enjoyed for a few weeks, no doubt, eventually went in the trash. 


But, that's the thing. 

Almost all gifts have a life span. 

Some certainly longer than others, but, at some point they all go into the trash bin.


That is the gift we'll celebrate over the coming weekend. 

A gift that sometimes gets shoved to the back of the tree, instead of standing front and center. 

The gift God gave us in His only Son!

The reason for the season.

The gift that gives and gives and gives and will continue to give until eternity.

The gift that fills us with HOPE, PEACE, JOY, LOVE all year...


The cross has always overshadowed the manger.

We can't have one without the other.

So, my pondering has shifted this Advent from all that might one day end up in the garbage to the gift that has no expiration date: salvation by none other than the Son of God, who:

Humbled Himself to be born as a man

Lived a servant's life

Died a vicious criminal death

Bore my sins upon the cross

Borrowed a tomb for His temporary burial

Visited hell

Released prisoners

Reminded the devil of his demise

Then victoriously rose 

Ascended to heaven

Paved the way for His followers to join Him 

And, is currently preparing our eternity with Him

What a Christmas gift! 

No other compares!!!

There's only One Way to receive that gift...

It's only found in that One Babe, who gave ALL so generously and sacrificially...


Good News! Great Joy! All People!

There is only one response to that gift. 

It's the response of every one who came to the manger:

"...and going in...they fell down and worshipped Him (Matthew 2:11)."







How do we worship Him? 

With whole hearts surrendered to Him - holding back nothing! 

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Tis the Season to Remember....Laundry, Jesus, and Joy

He is Immanuel - God With Us

This week I chatted on the phone with a dear friend in California, who moved away from Pagosa several years ago.

Let me share with you how dear of a friend she is.

Many years ago, when I had very little life, because I was teaching school full time, helping run a youth center (full time), chasing my kids around to sporting events (yes, full time), and still filling the "wife-role,"  I often felt snowed under all the little odds and ends that come with each assignment.

Some things had to drop by the way-side, and for me, it was the laundry.

The one chore I dislike more than most chores.

So, one morning, I sorted the laundry in piles on the floor in front of my washing machine. 

I kid you not, the entire floor was covered with piles....BIG PILES (like the one above).

I threw in one load, and left the rest for when I got home from school, in between watching my son and youngest daughter play basketball.

BUT...those piles of laundry weighed heavy on me.

I felt a little desperate, as if someone buried me underneath suffocating!

So, I began my day as if carrying the weight of the world, dragging my feet, which meant my soul was dragging, too. 

Someone once said: 

When clutter reigns in your home, it's an indication of a cluttered life.


Well..........that was me this particular morning, and I DON'T DO CLUTTER WELL (at all!).

So, when I arrived at school, I couldn't help complaining about the laundry piles to my part-time, co-teacher (this dear friend).

Some things just have to be shared, and it was common for us to talk about the ups and downs of our lives.

Smile (that's what dear friends are for, right?)...

That afternoon, after I'd finished all things school, I headed for home dreading the laundry I needed to face, before going to the gym.

However, when I arrived at home, a laundry-elf had been there...

The floor was empty of piles.

The washer and dryer empty of clothes.

Everything had been washed, folded, stacked, and waited patiently to be delivered to their proper home. 

THAT'S HOW DEAR THIS FRIEND IS...she and her husband both had the afternoon free. Instead of spending time doing something fun, they spent their day washing, drying, folding MY LAUNDRY.

I can't begin to tell you the release from bondage I felt. 

The fullness of joy that replaced my slavery to laundry! 

I truly sat down and wept over the freedom from endless hours of work and the fresh start I'd been given.

Of course, as you are quite aware, there is a spiritual analogy here...

That's what Jesus came to deliver us, not from the bondage of dirty laundry, but from the slavery of our sinful selves. 

The manger was just the beginning -

We needed the manger, so we could have the cross and, ultimately, the resurrection.

The manger is unique and special.

The cross and the resurrection are life transformational.


if having my laundry problem swept clean brought me such joy, how much greater having my sin problem swept clean? 

We've passed the third Sunday in Advent.

The JOY-candle has been lit.

If you can't tell, I'm contemplating the incredible gift of Jesus that fills my heart with astonishing JOY!

Slow down.

Don't drop baby Jesus...

But! Don't forget the reason for the season...


Feel the joy of Christmas!


Thursday, December 8, 2022

Tis the Season to Remember...Peace

My infinitesimally small and narrow mind could never have imagined the Advent of Jesus.

From the manger where YOU were born, to the angels heralding your birth-announcement to SHEPHERDS (Seriously!?!- of all people!!! they didn't reach the bottom rung of the social ladder!!!), to parents poor and of low estate... ?

To have God the Son leave the side of God-the-Father in Heaven, set aside His rights as God, and become a servant (Phil 2:5-11)... ?

To know before emptying the throne at the right side of the Father that You would have to die a criminal's death, yet still come to earth... ?

The whole PLAN, God, totally shatters the way I WOULD HAVE DONE IT (smile).

Even though Your ways are marvelous and mysterious....

"They are music to our ears (David Mathis);" because the unexpected of the expected means that the gospel is for us ALL (not just a select few; the ridiculously rich; or polluted, powerful politicians; or the wisest of the wise).

Your whole arrangement, Lord, is what makes the Christmas story so meaningful...

It's what makes this season so magical...

It's what causes Advent to be so PeRsOnAl...

And, why, in its simplicity, it is MIRACULOUS and hard to fathom.

In fact, Paul Tripp has said,

"The Christmas story is so miraculous in EVERY WAY that it could have only come out of the mind of God-in-eternity before the foundations of the earth were laid down by His mighty hand. It is a gorgeous mystery of Sovereign Grace."


The truth is we don't ponder the significance of Christmas enough (well, let me speak for myself, "I don't ponder the significance of Christmas enough!")

The calendar fills up day by day.

The to-do-list lengthens.

The "hopes and fears" of tomorrow overwhelm.

The preparations for this party and that company consume the in-between-minutes.

Instead of freeing up space in my mind to treasure the Advent of a little babe oh-so-long-ago and the implications of that birth, I crowd in Hallmark movies (guilty) and Christmas lists (also, guilty).

When I forget to free up space and simplify MY LIFE, chaos reigns.

Brothers and sisters, this should not be...

We just lit the second candle of the Advent wreaths adorning a number of church altars.

It symbolically stands for PEACE.

Advent is a vivid reminder that the Lord intends for His people to find rest for their souls, spiritual renewal, and peace amidst the pieces of our lives.

It's why Jesus still invites,

Come to Me...

“Are you tired? 

Worn out? 

Burned out on religion? 

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 rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 

Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

What a great way to do Christmas...

To spend time pondering the season...

To not "drop baby Jesus." (link to an old blog)

There's still time; it's only December 8th.

Let's re-adjust.

Let's #simplycelebrateJesus.