Define productivity…??

wood 2One of my bloggish buddies, Enthusiastically Dawn (yes, how could I not like someone who’s name is also Dawn?!?  I wonder if she’s a morning person like me?) is an avid journalist.  No, I mean, she writes the journal on journaling.  And her journals aren’t just the five-and-dime variety, they are, themselves, works of art, that she further turns into works of art with her both her prose and poetry.  Even her blog site is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l and her Instagram feed gives us frequent vids of the ocean (ahhhhh….that soothing sound of waves….here in Missouri we get tornado sirens.)

So, what’s more inviting to a writer/poet/artist than a blank folio? (Unless, of course, you have writer’s block, which I doubt my buddy ever does, bless her!) That clean unqualified availability just pulls the pen to the page, or if it’s my almost three-year-old granddaughter, the crayon.  Or better yet, as when we moved into this old house, we knew we were going to strip the wall paper off and repaint, so guess what we let our children do with their crayons?  Don’t you think those blank walls were inviting!?!

I’m thinking this same kind of opportunity caught Jesus’ eye as well~~

“One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God.  He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets.  Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.”

Availability.  I can imagine that an empty, waiting boat would have been more inviting than a boat with a bunch of slippery fish in it.  This doesn’t mean totally tanking our responsibilities to clear our schedule, but it will most probably mean a severe reordering of priorities.

Of course, what happened next surprised everyone, Peter most of all.  After finishing His sermon, Jesus decides to take Peter on a little fishing trip right there, in his own boat.  Peter objects.  He’s been up all night (he’s a bit tired and hungry, hasn’t even had his morning java yet), he’s already lent this guy his boat when he’d rather be sleeping, and now he’s being told to fish waters he already “knows” is a waste of time (this is his own profession, after all.  Sheesh.  Who does this guy think he is?)

“And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear!  A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.”

The point is, Peter’s availability proceeded his productivity.  Of course, then his product line changed to a slightly higher order…

I guess I should be prepared for that as well.

Luke 5: 1-3,6,7  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

In other words…

squirrel

In other words…Galatians 6:9

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

Thanks to Nancy Ruegg for this quote!  Check out Nancy’s site!
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

I’m decidedly mono-lingual

wood 2When my husband was in grad school at Indiana University, we lived in married student housing as a cost effective measure since we had three young’uns in tow.  Bob used to call it “the finest in institutional living”, and my dad got a kick out of referring to our “mini-United Nations” since we lived in a college community with other student-families from around the globe. 

It was truly a great experience, but communication could be interesting at times.  Not so much for me, since I’m from the USA and I.U. is clearly American (unless you ask someone from Purdue, like me, then you might get a decidedly different opinion.)

Because of this multi-cultural makeup, I had the crazy opportunity to learn new languages—

–and I totally blew it.  Sure, I was working different shifts to put Bob through school, tending to three growing children, Girl Scouts, you name it.  But I lost a potential gift of actually being able to converse on a different level.

Here’s an example of two wonderful ladies, one who desperately wanted to communicate, and the teacher who went to great lengths to find a way—

I’m so exquisitely glad that Helen Keller didn’t miss her opportunity.

God also has all kinds of creative ways of communicating with us.  He can find what is just the right kind of lingo/leverage to get through.  But one thing even God has difficulty with (by His own decision) is our unwillingness to believe Him, to believe what He says is actually true.  The first appointment is to accept the Doctor’s diagnosis and treatment—sinful nature, repentance, faith.

Now, Christians get that one, being as how it’s the definition of Christianity and all.  But we tend to get a little hung up on the next part of the communique:

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

We get caught up in our mistakes, our lack of progress.  Or as my bloggish friend, Dan Ledwith, puts it in his book Rest in the Shadow of the Almighty:

 “We can stop worrying that grace is going to run out. We can admit our mistakes, failings, and shortcomings. They don’t define who we are. We can learn from the past instead of languishing in the past. We don’t have to worry about failing, and falling. We can let go of hurts that others have done to us. God paid for it at the cross. There is no debt remaining to be paid.”

God has made the (supreme) effort to get through to us on every level of existence.  It behooves us not the miss the opportunity to learn (and accept) His communication.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Ledwith, Daniel (2011-01-27). Rest in the Shadow of the Almighty: Discover the Joy that Is found Living Under the Sovereignty of God (p. 167). CreateSpace. Kindle Edition.

Take a hike (no really, I mean it.)

Road to Emmaus by Robert Zund, copied from saltandlight.org 

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

He who hesitates is lost.

The early bird gets the worm.

Our vocabulary is replete with idioms encouraging us to not procrastinate or make excuses as to why we didn’t do something we should have done.  I shudder to think of the missed opportunities and potential open doors that God may have had for me that no longer exist due to my desire for personal comfort and convenience.

This comes through to me highlighted in yellow with neon exclamation points in the story of the two V-E-R-Y disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus.  The back story finds these two friends downcast and discouraged in that the one they thought was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel had just been (evidently) defeated and crucified by the Roman government at the behest of the Jewish high council.  Finish line.  Period.  Shelf that book and find a new one.

Well….not quite.  As they’re walking away from Jerusalem, where this tragedy just occurred, to the neighboring town of Emmaus, they were met by a fellow traveler who asked why they were so glum, whereupon a conversation ensues ending with the stranger being persuaded to eat dinner with them and stay the night, since it was getting late.  Sitting down to dinner, the stranger prayed over the repast, whereupon the two friends’ “eyes were opened” and they recognized this Stranger as no stranger at all, but in fact this was Jesus who had just died, and was now right before them more alive than ever!  Just as suddenly, Jesus disappeared and the two stunned disciples sat holding their bread, starring at an empty seat…

Not a finish line, but a starting block.  Not a period, just a comma.  Same book, new chapter.

It’s a great recount, read it many times, one of my husband’s faves.  But here’s where the yellow marker comes in.  Luke puts it this way in his book, chapter 24, starting in verse 33: 

“Within the hour” (NLT)

“Rising up that very hour”  (Amplified)

“They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem.” (NIV)

Here’s the one I really like—

“They didn’t waste a minute.” (The Message)

Nuts to the meal, never mind that it was getting toward nighttime, that they were physically tired from a full day’s activity, not to mention emotionally hung out to dry from the events of the past week, maybe looking over their shoulders to see if the Romans had the two of them in their crosshairs.  They “didn’t waste a minute” to begin the seven and a half mile trek back to the very place of their earlier disappointment and confusion.

Why? Because that’s where they would find Jesus again.

Now, if they had decided their feet were too tired (they didn’t have Cabelas boots back then) and they’ll start tomorrow, or maybe they would  get it figured out after a good meal, or they would just let things settle down back in Jerusalem a little before heading back (which never happened, BTW), or any number of other reasons and excuses, this is what they might have missed:

  1. The two now very animated disciples arrived right before Jesus (personally, I’m thinking Jesus was waiting for them to get there, since He knew they were on their way). They were recounting to the other disciples what had transpired over the dinner they had left back on the table, and suddenly—

 While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be to you. (1)

 Had they waited, they would have missed seeing Jesus again, Who went on to prove His physically existence by eating food, and allowing them to touch His scars and wounds, proof that they would need to sustain them in the troubled times ahead.

  1. Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures”(2)—because just reading the Bible is not enough.  We need God Himself to enlighten and apply it to our specific situations and our individual lives.  We must have interaction with God as we read.
  1. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (3) Jesus began to unfold His specific strategy to His friends, a strategy that included a powerful Agent to help them to complete the task at hand.

Each of those points have a full sermon in them, but the idea for me here is this: When convenience, disappointment, or fear are attempting to dissuade me from seeking Jesus, the correct response is to get moving and follow Him anyway.  Because I don’t want to miss the opportunity to see Jesus in the special way He wants to reveal Himself to me; I have to tap into the power that only He can give me; and I need His strategy for my life. 

Even if He’s calling me back the way I came.  Even if there is potential pain. 

Even if it means leaving the bread on the table. 

  1. Luke 24:36 (NASB)
  2. Luke 24:45 (NASB)
  3. Luke 24:49 (NASB)

#CarpeDiem …. but I’m gonna need a little help.

Adding to the normal rendition of carpe diem, i.e., seize the day, I like the literal Latin which translates “pluck the day”.  (This is one time I will choose to trust the internet, since I don’t speak Latin.)  I rather like that.  It makes me think of picking apples when they’re ripe to use for homemade pie, or apple sauce, or just plain good snacking.  That is, opposed to letting them fall to the ground and rot.  The apples won’t wait forever to be eaten, so best to pluck while the pluckin’s good.

Opportunities—same way.  Most adults can pretty well relate to that.  But here’s one opportunity that challenges me…constantly. 

Like most working people, I live out of what my brother-in-law calls “two buckets”.  There’s the work bucket, my paying job that helps keep food on the table and clothes on our backs.  Then when I get home, I have other jobs, you know, shopping to keep the food coming and laundry to keep those clothes clean, all that.   Adult life is a life of responsibilities, some of which are chosen, some perhaps not.  Then there’s the fun bucket.  Not much definition needed for this one.  Whether it’s taking a nap on a Sunday afternoon, riding my bike, watching a movie on TV, or a full blown vacation in the Rockies, it matters not—it’s all about one’s own definition.

Now, the really fortunate people (and I suspect they are pretty rare) have these buckets mystically combined, or else the buckets constantly slosh over into each other with no change in water quality.  At this moment in time for me, that is not the case. 

Back to the challenge: I can either fuss about getting water-logged with prune-y skin while treading to keep my nose above sea level in the work bucket, OR I can intentionally ladle some of the fun bucket over…every day. 

So…..

I decided to declare my own celebration for each day of the traditional work week.  Check out my personal festivities at the Carpe Diem/Pluck the Day category, and please share some that you come up with as well.  That way maybe we can splash some fun into each other’s work buckets!

Thanks for reading………..dawnlizjones