Passionately Pursue

Look at the things that you are seeking first–what do you care most about?–and go to the bottom line: How lasting are they?  How permanent?  Can you depend on them?

And when we answer that question, we come to the conclusion that the only thing worth pursuing is not popularity (what people say and think about us) because we know that changes.  And it’s not money because we know that goes away and we always want and need more. And we know that it’s not some kind of physical pleasure because that only lasts for a moment and usually leaves us with more regret than before…

The truth is we are all going headlong after something. We’re really intensely pursuing, seeking, worried about something…What is it we are so passionate about? …

Let’s passionately pursue God. Let’s seek Him first.  Let’s give Him all the zeal that we give our sports team, and let’s give Him all the love that we give our families, and let’s give Him all the time that we give our stuff. Let’s let God have it all.Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

~ Jacob Hudgins, 2016

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Links to Joy: Mourning

Yes, I know, that’s a strange title for a blog post.  It is an oxymoron that has been on my mind of late, as I have attended several funerals recently with family and friends.

King Solomon stated in the book of Ecclesiastes that “it is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting…”  But how could that be possible?  Who wants to sit around and pout when they could party, instead?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of loved ones who have passed away and about friends who have moved out of state that I no longer get to see frequently.  Sadness and mourning fill my heart at these times, so how could that make me happy?

Look at the rest of the scripture to understand the answer:

SCRIPTURE -- Ecclesiastes 7:2 written on the photo of a teary eye

It’s easy to float through life when things are going smoothly or when you are busy with schedules and/or physical possessions.  Loss and tragedy can make you pause long enough to re-evaluate your life.

Sitting in the crowd during a funeral service, it’s hard not to think that some day I will be the one lying in the box.  It helps me think about and take stock of my life:

  • Why am I here?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • What have I contributed to this world that’s of any value?
  • How many days to I have left on this earth, and am I using them well?

Such sobering thoughts help me organize my priorities and live more conscientiously. This pause for thoughtful self-evaluation is how mourning can lead to a joyous lifestyle and help you develop a meaningful, peaceful life.

When I slow down to examine my life and look around this world, I see the patterns, the complexity, the balance…I see the hand of the Creator.

When I seek His truths in His Word, I find a pattern of living based on relationships, love, and unselfishness.  Walking in His footsteps, I make choices that lead my life down a wonderful path which grows brighter every day.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

~Matthew 5:4

 

One last thought: “We’re all in this together,” as they say, so I encourage you today to pay extra attention to those around you and support them.  Whether you feel like laughing or crying at the moment, “this, too, shall pass;” and like it or not, we need each other.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

~Romans 12:15

Visiting Your Parents

This post impacted me today because I struggle with this one myself.

The business of life has overwhelmed me. I spend day after day frustrated that things always seem to get in the way of me visiting my parents and contacting my friends. It’s time for me to reevaluate and make my actions line up better with my priorities.

When you’re trying to juggle all the parts of life, it’s okay to let some of the less-important parts drop to the floor. I try to do my best on keeping God and relationships first in my life, but I think I am failing in certain respects.

Life flies so quickly…put your loved-ones first. Someday I will be the lonely parent, and what am I teaching my daughter?

Life - Happiness & Joy

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LOVE YOUR PARENTS.  We are so busy growing up, we often forget they are also growing old.  (your daily love emotions on 16 quotes.com)

I remember when my husband and I left Arizona and moved back to Arkansas –  we did not drive the 20 miles to his parents house to visit often enough.  I loved my husband’s parents like they were my own. Jobs, raising kids, and other activities seemed to consume our time.  Both my husband and I regret to this day that we did not spend more time with his parents.  Suddenly, my husband’s parents were old, they became sick, and they left this world.  You think back and you wonder why you did not give 2 older, lonely people more of your time. They often told us when we did go for a visit that we did not stop by enough. What is life about, if…

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Aside

To the Point: The Time Is Now

I just received a message that a friend of mine’s mother passed away this morning.  He already lost his wife and children in a tragic car wreck years ago.

Saturday I’m going to a candlelight memorial for a young couple who were killed while riding a motorcycle last year.  They were on their way home from a bible study about marriage and were excitedly making plans for their upcoming wedding.

We often live like life is guaranteed…but it isn’t.  We waste time, we ignore loved ones, we stay busy with things that aren’t truly most important to us because we plan to do all those important things “later.”

Here’s the point I’d like you to consider:

If you knew for a fact that you were going to die tomorrow, how would you change the way you live today?  Those changes reveal where your priorities should be.

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Photography 101: Treasure

Day 16:  I went treasure hunting today with my camera!  I may not have found what you would deem to be treasure, but as today’s assignment stated:  “In the absence of a wooden chest full of gold doubloons, any object or experience that is deeply meaningful can be a treasure.  Items, places, people — we all cherish something, or someone.”  A tip for this assignment was to focus in on a particular detail of a subject, rather than taking the photo from a typical distance or angle.

As I sat on the couch pondering this topic, I looked to my right and saw my treasure there beside me.  The subject for my photo was as plain as the nose on my face.  Actually, it was the nose on my husband’s face!

half of face in light and half in shadow, with scar on nose

Please allow me to explain my odd photography choice, while being the least disgusting that I can:

Five years ago, my husband’s nose suddenly turned bright red and swelled up on one side, along with part of his face.  We had no idea what was happening to him as we watched the area swiftly changing and spreading.

…(fast forward to the end of the story)…

He was diagnosed with cellulitis, which is basically an infection that goes below the skin and deeper into the body tissues.

At a few points during this story, no one was sure what the outcome would be:  quick recovery? damage to the face? spread of infection into the bloodstream or brain?

A young nurse (who was not good at controlling her surprise or portraying a comforting bedside manner) had us scared that it could lead to serious, permanent damage or even death.

Thankfully, after a round of medicine and accompanying skin treatments (and a few rounds of merciless teasing about his “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer” look), he fully recovered.  Today he has only this scar to show for it.

small scar on the side of a man's nose

I often look at this scar and think of how fragile life is…how easily someone’s life can be radically changed or completely taken away in a moment.  A few vigorous germs can enter a tiny scratch, and 90% of the things you thought were so important are tossed onto the back burner as life suddenly becomes very serious and priorities come into sharp focus.

When I look at that small flaw on my husband’s nose, I remember what a precious treasure he is to me — one that I must not take for granted.

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Teaching Minds and Touching Hearts

Teachers.

What thoughts come to your mind when you read that word?  I’m sure many of us can call to mind certain teachers who were especially memorable; some for good reasons, and others not so much.  Today as I thought of a poem I’d like to share with you, a clear image of one of my high school English teachers came to mind.  My first impression of her was that of an extremely particular lady who gave tons of homework.  By the end of high school, she was a dear friend.

This English teacher constantly had us writing:  free writing journals every day, grammar practice, responses to writing prompts, you name it.  She is the person responsible for me having legible cursive handwriting.  Oh, the frustration of writing twenty perfectly spelled words, and then having points counted off my grade just because a letter F did not loop the right way or a letter A was not completely “closed” at the top!  I was thankful throughout college and adulthood, though, for my quick, neat handwriting.  (Sadly, now that I use a keyboard most of the time, I am losing my handwriting skills.  It’s so much faster and easier to type!)

I believe the most fun we a had in her classes was memorizing, reciting, writing, and analyzing poetry.  Out of the dozens of poems I studied during two years in her classes, here is one I can still recite from memory because of its imagery and message:

 

The Road Not Taken

BY ROBERT FROST

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
.
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
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b&w film copy neg.
photo from the Library of Congress
Aside

To the Point: When?

People can get trapped in the fallacy of future happiness.

“When I turn 18 (or 21 or 30 or some other magical number)…  When I get my house paid off…  When I get that promotion at work…  When I get this weight off…  When my spouse finally understands me…then I’ll have it made!”

How unfortunate to let future aspirations rob you of the joy that comes from appreciating what you have now.