Archive for Spiritual Growth Articles
I have been pondering a delicate question this week. Why is it I can only do one thing at a time? If only I could do several things at a time, I could get more accomplished.
The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is an expert when it comes to multitasking. Although I have lived with her for over 45 years, I still do not know how she does it. She is better than a circus juggler and can juggle a dozen tasks at the same time.
Not me, that is for sure!
I like to do many things, but I have to do them in order and one at a time. That is how I have always done things even though I have tried to juggle two things at one time but it has never been successful. Usually, both of them fall to the floor and I have to start all over again.
Every day I make a list of things I need to do and start working on them one by one. I am looking forward to the day when I will be able to accomplish everything on my list.
Maybe I am just trying to do too much.
Like the other day, I needed to go across town to pick up something at one of the office supply stores. Usually, I am not allowed to go into the grocery store by myself. However, when my wife found out I was going to go across town, she asked me if I would stop at the grocery store and pick up a few things. Then she handed me a list, and said, “Get everything on the list and only those things on the list.”
Then she gave me one of “those looks.”
It is hard for me to go into a grocery store and not pick up a few things that I want. I have never seen any ice cream that I did not want. However, when I am on strict orders with a shopping list, I don’t have any leeway at all.
It started out rather well. She handed me the list and I put it in my pocket and headed for the front door. As I was going out, I heard her say, “Remember, only those things on the list.” Read More→
Meek & mild. Calm, cool, and collected.
These are all words that I wish described me.
But they don’t. At all. Just ask my family or friends. I would get they would use words more like stressed out and energetic (said somewhat sarcastically. Sarcasm runs in our family).
I have always carried a deep desire to be like Mary. To sit at the feet of Jesus and listen. To sit and soak up the wisdom of the Jesus-like women in my life.
However, I am truly bad at sitting to listen. The sitting aspect I have down – it’s just the sitting AND listening that I can’t seem to manage. I’m more like Martha – I need to be DOING.
Maybe I’m uncomfortable with the solitude necessary at times to hear what God is trying to tell me. Maybe I’m trying to avoid the conviction of the Holy Spirit, so I keep moving, moving, moving; hoping I can DO more, BE more, and prove myself worthy.
I have tried to stuff myself into a meek and mild skin many times. However, it just never sticks. I tell myself that the next time such-and-such situation arises, I’m going to handle it with calm reserve. And then the situation comes to pass and I FREAK OUT and start doing, managing, organizing. The calm reserve I promised myself has flown out the window and I feel like I’ve blown it yet again.
Just As I Am
Recently I was watching some videos online of two Christian women speakers. The first was quiet and meek, the epitome of a Mary in my mind. That’s what I need to be like, I thought. I started a fresh list of personality changes to get to work on that would make me more like this woman that I admired.
Then, the next speaker stood up, and took center stage. She loudly announced that she was about to get all fired up. Oh here we go, I thought. This gal is like me. My eyes were rolling before she even had a chance to get started. I assumed that if she was loud and excited she couldn’t possibly be a good teacher, because that is how I feel about myself. However, as she spoke, something within my was drawn to her. Her excitement was catching, her passion was inspiring, and it was obvious that she was God’s woman through-and-through. Even though she was loud and a little zany and … a little like me.
I saw myself in her. But, more importantly, I saw Jesus in her.
And I realized that God can use me exactly as I am. Don’t get me wrong, He’s continually making changes within me. But my personality, who He created me to be, is EXACTLY what He meant it to be.
He can use my crazy, kooky, loud personality to glorify Him, just as he can use a mild-mannered sweet girl. It’s not our presentation that matters. It’s our hearts.
That realization has given me freedom in a whole new area. The freedom to be myself, to share Jesus in my own kooky, zany way. That realization has brought me JOY as I realize that God truly loves me and uses me just as I am.
Sing to the Lord a new song,
His praise in the assembly of the godly.
Let Israel celebrate its Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise His name with dancing
and make music to Him with tambourine and lyre.
For Yahweh takes pleasure in His people;
He adorns the humble with salvation.
Living in Florida my idea of winter is anytime the temperature drops below 60°. At that point, I do the shiver-me-timbers dance. You don’t want to know!
I have a rare disease called Coldaphobia. As far as I know, there is no cure for this except escaping to Florida. Even here, cold will manage to sometimes poke its nose into my business. All I can do at the time is sneeze, hoping it will scare the cold away.
Experiencing a rather cold afternoon this past week, I queried the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage on this subject.
“Why,” I asked rather philosophically, “did God give us winter?”
There are times when I do muse philosophically with a far-off look.
In this mode, I sometimes think about that philosophical question, “How many angels can dance on the point of a needle?” I’ve often mused on this question, but the problem is I do not know how big angels are and if they really can dance.
I guess it is in the same category as the question, “If a tree fell in the middle of a forest and nobody’s around, does it make a sound?”
I like to think along those lines because there is no correct answer to any of them. So, my answer is right, which makes me feel good about myself. If there is anything I want to do, it is to feel good about myself. After all, nobody else feels good about me so it might as well be me.
With all that in mind, the question that I posed to my wife deserved an answer. “Why did God give us winter?”
My wife was busy in the kitchen at the time, but she turned around, put both hands on her hips and said, “So you could go out and buy a new sweater.” Then she went back to her kitchen activity.
Of course, it did not really answer my question. Why is God interested in my sweaters? Why can’t he allow me to have a climate that eliminates the use of sweaters? I could handle that.
Then my wife interrupted my muse session and said, “God gave us winter so that we would appreciate summer when it came.” Then she went back to her kitchen work.
As I thought about that, I had to admit that she is right. Read More→
A few years ago I had one of those “lightning bolt” moments. Each year I sit down to write out goals and dreams for my business. This particular year, as I sat and thought through what I hoped to accomplish in the upcoming year, how I hoped to help people, it hit me. Where does God fit in to all of this? Does He fit comfortably in the “Spiritual” categories or is He a part of everything that CWAHM is and does?
Whoa. Talk about a challenging question.
As I wrestled with this I came to realization that God wants to invade our lives – and that means our businesses, too. In the gospels we see Jesus meeting people right where they were. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and taught the seeking. He met their physical needs as well as their spiritual needs.
He wanted to be a part of their everyday lives, not just the days they went to the temple (the Old Testament equivalent of church). He wasn’t afraid to hang out with the sick, the hurting, the “sinners.”
He wants to be a part of our everyday life, too. He wants to invade our families, our marriages, our businesses. He wants to show us that there is a different way of doing things. A better way. A way that points to the divine even in the midst of most basic business task.
He wants to be in:
* The decision to be kind to the difficult customer.
* The decision to give a sale price when we could charge full price to someone who isn’t aware of the sale.
* The decision to give a product away to someone we know is struggling or hurting.
It’s our choice. We can choose to do business with Jesus. Or we can choose to do things our own way…usually the way we’ve been taught by people who seem to know how to “do” business, how to make money. And yet, in the end … is really about making money?
“So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work…” Ecclesiastes 3:22, NCV
Where does God fit in your business?
About The Author
Jill Hart’s entrepreneurial career began in her teens when she spent a summer working with her father who ran his own business. When he put her in charge of a Coke machine and allowed her to keep the profits, she saw the benefits of being her own boss. She is the founder of the popular Christian work-at-home website, CWAHM.com. Jill has articles published in In Touch Magazine and P31 Woman magazine, as well as across the web on sites like DrLaura.com. She is the author of So You Want To Be a Work-at-Home Mom and speaks to audiences around the country about faith, business and leadership topics.
A friend of mine has a saying, “I’m going to get as old as I possibly can get.” From what I can tell, he has. I must agree with his sentiment. Of course, the alternative is… well you know. Another friend of mine likes to tell me, “Brother, you’re only as old as you feel.” I am not sure how old feels or if wrinkles are involved. But, I am feeling quite fine, thank you.
Just the other day the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage came in from her workshop, sat down on the couch and said, “Whew, I feel like a hundred.”
At the time, I did not know if she was talking about dollars, pounds or years. Being the old fogey that I am, I know there are times when silence is golden and this was one of those golden moments. But, what does a hundred feel like? Is there some special sensation that pulsates through the body when a person reaches that age level? Or, is it the absence of anything pulsating through your body?
Just this morning I got up with a sore knee and could hardly walk to the bathroom. I complained about it to my wife, who has no compunction about expressing her opinions, said, “Well, you are older than when you went to bed last night.”
I did not know I was aging so rapidly. If this keeps up, I will change from an old fogey into an old geezer before I know it. The difference between an old fogey and an old geezer is, an old fogey walks around in a fog while the old geezer cannot get up from his chair and wheezes a lot.
I was musing on the idea that getting old was a lot of trouble with a lot of pain involved. Then I remembered what a lot of trouble and pain it was to be young. As a youngster, I thought many times, “Oh, I can’t wait to get old.” I thought getting older was the panacea for all of my problems.
I remember thinking that when I got older nobody would boss me around. I would do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. I could not wait for that time to come. I dreamed of that mystical land. No parents to boss me around; no teachers to tell me what to do and when to do it; no siblings interfering with my plans for the day. What a life I would lead when I got older. I lived each day hoping to get older which, in my thinking, was the door into that area. Read More→
Many things in life have me in a tangle of confusion. I try to put on a good face so that nobody knows how confused I am at the time. I think I get away with it, at least most of the time.
The only person I cannot fool is the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. According to her evaluation, I am confused all the time. I would like to set her straight sometime, but I am really confused as to when would be the right time.
If I do not pick the right time, my confusion will be accelerated to the point of no return.
There is one thing, despite my professional confusion, I have not been able to understand. And it just bugs me to no end. Why are some things more confusing than others?
There is a positive side to confusion.
For example, someone is trying to explain to me something that is rather boring I can say, “That’s too confusing for me.”
What that does is help the other person think that he’s a lot better than I am which is not a bad thing to get out of some boring situation at the time. Believe it or not, this is not too confusing for me.
Another side of this would be, somebody wants me to explain something and I am not really in the mood to do a lot of explaining, I say many confusing things and the person comes to the point where he says, “That’s too confusing for me.”
Winning is so wonderful.
Not long ago, I overheard somebody say, “Is that cup half full or half empty?”
For some reason I just cannot get that out of my head and it has confused me like nothing else in my life.
If, for example, a cup is half-full is it not also half-empty? And, if it is half-empty is it also half-full?
I do not know if this is intentional confusion or if it is not supposed to make any sense at all. Read More→
It hardly seems possible that another Christmas has come and gone. I think it comes quicker than it goes, but then that is just my opinion.
We were sitting for the last time around the Christmas tree which was about to be disassembled and I happen to say, “I can’t believe Christmas is over. Where does the time go?”
To that, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage looked at me and said, “The older you get, the faster time goes.”
I remember as if it was yesterday when without thinking, which is usually dangerous for me, I once responded, “You must know.”
I got the “stare” that encouraged me not to respond in that vein ever again.
However, and you didn’t hear it from me, she is right. She is always right. The older I get, the faster time seems to go. I cannot believe that not only is Christmas past, but the whole year is passed. It is all just history now.
But, oh, what history it was.
Sometimes it is interesting to think back over the past year and remember some of the great occasions. By great occasions, I mean the minuses and the pluses. Some memories are good and some memories are, well, you know.
This is the genius of getting older. Now that I have another Christmas under my belt, I can mesh together two or three Christmases as though it was one Christmas occasion. After all, who is going to know, apart from the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage?
Whenever I begin the phrase, “I remember a Christmas when…” I need to look at my wife to see if she is listening. Of course, if she is not listening, I can go along and invent my own Christmas tree story. I like to do that.
There was the time when I first did this without noticing my wife was listening and at every turn of my story, she corrected me. By the time I was done telling “our” story, I did not remember what I said. Read More→
One word defines Christmas. It is the word “merry.” I never tire of wishing people a Merry Christmas. Although, for some, it may not be politically correct, but for the rest of us who have at least two gray cells working, it is wonderful.
I was relaxing one afternoon this past week when the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage approached me with a request. It is very difficult for me to deny her request, even though it goes against my current energy status.
“Would you,” she said so very sweetly, “go to the mall and pick up a gift that I had ordered?”
Being married to GMP for more years than I can remember, is very difficult for me to say no. Actually, even when I do say no, someone on the other end of the conversation is not listening.
I should be rather grateful, because of all of the husbands she has, I am the only one she asks to do favors. Through the years, I have gathered that I must be her favorite husband. So, in a really grateful frame of mind, not to mention merry, I headed for the mall to get her purchase.
I am not sure if there is another place in the whole world that I hate worse than going to a shopping mall. If there is, I haven’t got there yet. Every time I walk into a shopping mall, I get nervous because everybody is looking at me, especially at my wallet. Even my wallet shivers when we walk through the opening door.
Just getting inside the shopping mall is a drain on my “merry” attitude. I figured before I really get started I should grab a cup of coffee and go sit down in a lounge chair.
There was a coffee shop in the mall and I got a $0.79 cup of coffee for $7.90. I guess where you put the decimal is really important. Personally, I would have enjoyed a $0.79 cup of coffee more.
I got my coffee, sat down in one of the lounge chairs, took a deep breath, a nice gentle sip of hot coffee and started to relax. Christmas music was being played in the background, which contributed to my relaxing attitude.
The mall was rather crowded, people were hurrying here and there, in the background Merry Christmas music was being played and I thought I would just take the time and enjoy the moment.
After I got through about half of my coffee, I happened to look around carefully watching the people coming and going. There was such a rat race going on that I could hardly believe it. I looked around trying to find some Merry Christmas faces. Unfortunately, there was not any in the direction I was looking.
“I hope they don’t run out of this before I get there,” I heard someone complaining.
“I hope I have enough money to cover this,” someone else complained.
“I hope I can get it in time to get to the party tonight,” complained another person.
I listen to all of this and was simply amazed. Where in the world was this merry spirit that Christmas is most noted for? Everybody was hoping for something, but their hope did not seem too realistic from my point of view.
At the merriest time of the year sitting in a place where people were buying Christmas presents, it was very disconcerting to realize there were not that many merry people in the mall. Everyone seemed to be under some kind of pressure and aggravation.
A thought began to jingle in my mind. What would it take for some people to really experience a Merry Christmas? What would make them merry?
Taking another sip of this expensive “Merry Christmas” coffee, I began to think about life in general. Am I really living a merry life? Or, am I all caught up with the holiday season?
Just because someone says, “Merry Christmas” does not mean in fact that they are experiencing anything quite near to merry.
Watching people scramble here and there in the shopping mall, I realized that merry had nothing to do with Christmas. For so many people, Christmas is a time when you are so busy trying to get things to make other people “merry” that the whole spirit escapes.
What we really need during this particular holiday season is what I call, The Merrification of Christmas. Christmas is what it is, but there is the possibility of really having a Merry Christmas if you understand what the attitude of merry is all about.
It is not about gifts, or parties, or traveling. It is something more substantial than that. In order for me to Merrificate my life, I need something more than just the holiday spirit.
Weaving through the crowd at the mall, I picked up the item my wife sent me to pick up and headed for the parking lot. As I was going, I realized why I really did not like the mall, especially during the holiday season. Too many people are struggling with anxiety and frustration in trying to keep up with the Christmas Joneses.
I thought of what Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
The key ingredient of “Merry” is rest and only Jesus can give the rest that creates a merry spirit.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, Ocala, FL 34483, where he lives with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. E-mail email@example.com. Website is www.jamessnyderministries.com.
I will grant I have a few eccentricities. But, far less than the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage has avowed through the years. Listening to her, a person might come to believe my eccentricities are without limit. It is simply not the case.
I firmly believe one man’s eccentricity is another man’s way of doing something. After all, everybody has a way of doing everything they do. If that is eccentric, we all have a lot of ‘plaining to do.
If the tables were turned, I could make an equally infinite list of eccentricities associated with my wife. Since she set the table, who am I to turn it? I keep this as a secret stash to revel in occasionally when I am feeling a little poorly about myself. The secret will go no further.
An example might best illustrate my point. My wife thinks I am a little eccentric when it comes to pens. But, not so. I am just particular when it comes to using a writing instrument. After all, I am a writer and writers are experts when it comes to writing instruments. I could not play a musical instrument, but let me have a writing instrument and I can play all day long.
When it comes to writing instruments, I have my preferences. When I say that, I must confess, I have never seen a pen I did not want to own. The pen, any pen for that matter, has something of an alluring draw for me. I sometimes go into an office-supply store just to worship before the array of pens they have. Rarely do I walk away without taking one pen to the checkout counter and rescue it from obscurity.
I possess pens of every shape, color and purpose. As far as I am concerned, every pen has a particular purpose. I always carry on my person a variety of pens with a diversity of ink colors because you never know what you are going to write doing the day. It would be beneath my dignity to use a pen for a purpose other than its intended task. Read More→
Noise has become a daily experience for many people today. From morning until night, we are surrounded by noise of all kinds. People have gotten accustomed to an atmosphere of noise. For my part, I am just a little bit tired of all the noise. What would life be like if there was silence?
The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I were relaxing on the back porch after supper, drinking our coffee and enjoying the evening. Nothing quite compares to drinking coffee on the back porch after a hard day. Then my wife said something that startled me.
“Do you hear that?”
I listened and strained my ears but I could not hear anything. If my wife says there is something to hear, then there is something to hear. I strained my ears as much as possible, but to no effect.
“Don’t you hear that?” She said once more.
For the life of me, I did not hear anything and was beginning to think she was trying to pull one over on me. She does that occasionally and catches me. She thinks it’s rather funny, although I laugh along with her, I am not laughing on the inside.
Finally, I said, “What are you talking about? I don’t hear anything.”
She was staring across the backyard as though she was looking at something.
“Don’t you hear that silence?”
Personally, I did not know you could hear silence, but I was not going to argue with her at the time. I stared in the direction she was staring and still could not figure out what she was talking about.
Then it came to me.
Across our backyard several crickets were chirping. Normally I do not hear those crickets, but I could hear them loud and clear from where I was setting. What they were singing I am not quite sure, but I enjoyed listening to them at the time. It sounded so serene and peaceful.
Sometimes our life is so crowded with other things that we do not hear some of the more quiet things. The noise around us crowds out some of the quietness in our life.
“Okay,” I said with a grin, “I hear the silence now.”
I suppose crickets chirp all the time, particularly the ones in our backyard, but I do not always hear it. For the next hour, my wife and I quietly listened to those crickets chirping and we enjoyed every moment of it. Read More→