Be Set Apart

You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.

Leviticus 20:26

 

We are commanded by God to be separated unto Him. How are we supposed to do that? Surely He’s asking for more than just our church and prayer time. How do we live a life separate for Him?

The Holy Spirit will nudge us. The Spirit knows the will of God. He will prompt us with His gifts for us and show us what to do.

It is not as difficult as we think to know what gifts the Holy Spirit has given us. We can envision what we do well…what comes naturally. What really gets our juices flowing? That’s usually a sure-fire indicator of our Holy Spirit gifts.

if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:7-9 (NIV)

I believe my spiritual gift is teaching. Two of the Spirit’s gifts are miracles and healings. If anyone possesses these gifts…please email me! Our gifts are meant to be shared with others!

In my book, The Light Through My Tunnel, I write about growing up with 5 brothers and sisters, and how it made me yearn to be different and special. Then I warn to be careful what you pray for. After my traumatic brain injury, I teased with God that having special needs is not the special I was asking for!

God always has my back though. Through my special needs, I discovered my spiritual gift for teaching. I may still have special needs, but through the Spirit, I am able to use them to show others how to move their bodies efficiently with or without special needs!

 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10  (NIV)

Look around! What can we do in our day-to-day life to honor God’s will? We can make someone else’s journey easier. Do for them something that’s challenging for them…but easy for us. Do we have contacts or influence that they don’t? Jesus gave us our gifts to be used for others. How can we use our influence to help others?

Using our gifts is how we can separate ourselves for the Lord.  We need to ask Him how He wants us to use those gifts, making sure we’re using them for Him…not just to satisfy some personal desire.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 8:5  (NIV)

So we discover what we do best to assist others to live a life that is pleasing to God. By doing so, we please Him ourselves! God desires for all of us to live in unity as we help each other to live as He intends for us. Keeping His will in first place should be our main objective in life. That is how we live a life separate unto Him.

 

Dear Lord,

Living our life separate for You is not as hard as we imagine it. Help us to discover our gifts that help others. That is how we stay connected with each other, and even more important…live our life in honor & obedience to You.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

STAY IN THE GAME

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12  (NIV)

 

How often have we found ourselves in a position where we just wanted to give up? Things are not turning out as we planned. We lost something of value. How could anyone expect us to keep going? How can we?

No matter how hard it gets, we need to just dig in and wait for the storm to pass. What if it doesn’t though? We try…and fail, try…and fail. Then we finally pray! What does God want us to do?

He wants us to honor Him right in the middle of our pain. He looks at our attitude and efforts…not our performance. He IS the God of the impossible, but maybe He wants to show us a different way…a better way.

He wants us to STAY IN THE GAME! If we’ve lost something, or SOMEONE of value the game may look different. If we lean into God for direction, that “different” will eventually become “better”.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Psalm 13:1-2  (NIV)

That was how King David cried out to the Lord. Haven’t we all felt that way? I know. I know! Our timing is not God’s timing. We are so impatient! Remember that God sees the big picture though. Perhaps He knows what we’re longing for would ultimately harm us. Then again…perhaps He has a better way in mind.

Remember, it’s not all about us. How can our struggle or problem help someone else? Maybe we can inspire others. We can certainly smile, be positive and inquire about others’ lives. I’ve learned the hard way that complaining about troubles only makes others want to avoid me. If they can’t fix it for me, it only serves to make them feel powerless. Nobody wants to feel powerless, so I’ve learned to stop complaining.

Better yet, complain to God! He knows our struggles better than anybody. He’ll be more patient with us than even a mom or dad. Unlike our family or friends, He is NOT powerless. He has a way of placing others in our life that can truly help us. God also has the power to change our outlook or impression of our woes!

Now that we’ve turned it over to God, we can get back in the game of life! Keep showing up! God can’t help us if we’re cutting ourselves off from the world. We can’t let our troubles take our purpose and passion away.

Our ultimate purpose is to honor God by serving others.  How we serve others may look different from what we expected. It could be easy & natural OR it could feel awkward. Just make it a natural part of the day.  We help by noticing others, by speaking kind words, by encouraging!

Are we really helping though? Did we pray first? I find I make smarter decisions when I seek His direction on how to help. It takes but a moment, but can leave us with a feeling of peace about what He wants us to do…and sometimes NOT do.

My good balance was taken by a traumatic brain injury. What could I possibly do to help others? I was the one always needing the help! God used my constant striving to ‘fix’ my balance, along with my life-long passion for fitness, to prompt me to begin my business, SilverStrength®… helping seniors to get stronger and be more mobile. I’m the perfect instructor to show them how to keep their bodies moving correctly so that they can avoid the balance problems that come with age .

No…that is not how I envisioned myself reaching out to help others. My method of assistance for others is a direct result of what I’ve struggled with for years. Can you turn your struggles into a way to help or inspire others?

I believe God is looking for us to turn our lemons into lemonade. First, we need to get our mind off our problem and imagine how we can encourage others by what we are grappling with. Ask the Lord for direction. Sometimes it shows up in very unexpected places.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31  (NIV)

When God is behind our efforts, we’ll find ourselves doing things almost effortlessly. After we’ve prayed about it…give it to God! He’s the expert in turning our pain, our frustration, our sadness into a triumph that will help others as well as us.

Regardless of our problem, we need to stay in the game to be of any help to God or others.  In the previous blog, Make a Career of It https://mvarga.com/spiritual-insights/make-a-career-of-it/  I used the scripture below.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:21  (NIV)

Do we want God to say, “Well done!” to us? Then stay in the game! We just keep doing the next right thing knowing that He is pleased with our efforts.

 

Dear Lord,

Sometimes we don’t know if what we’re doing helps anyone. Remind us always to take it to You first. You see our motives and we trust You to show us the way.

Our lives can be difficult but we know they are also blessed! Help us to keep showing up even when life gets hard. We know that You will always bless our efforts. We know that You want us to STAY IN THE GAME!

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

New Beginnings

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:6  (NIV)

 

The name of my blog is Life Happens. Many joyful and positive things happen in our life. I’m writing this blog as I contemplate the upcoming nuptials of my niece, Noelle. Marriage is one of the first things that comes to our mind when we think of new beginnings.

The nuptials begin with much excitement. They have finally met the one God provided for them! The preparation…the parties…the family/friends! As beautiful & momentous as a wedding can be, real life will begin rather quickly. That’s when we remember this is God’s union.

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.

Matthew 19:6  (NIV)

 

With the marriage solidified, the next new beginning is children. What a perfect illustration of a couple’s love for each other! A child is so precious and totally dependent on their parents for everything. It becomes hard to imagine what life was like before them.

God asks us to be fruitful and multiply. It’s how He designed us. Raising children is our way of fulfilling His command. Having children is a couple’s gift to God.

 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

John 15:16  (NIV)

 

How can we lead our children to new beginnings? My son rolls his eyes at me when I tell him, “God’s got this!” Like all of us, he wants the answer to his problems NOW! It can be frustrating to remember that God’s timing is not OUR timing.

We can lead our children, or anyone for that matter, by being a living testimony to the life God has called us all to live. We can do something we’re afraid of to show others courage. Emulate compassion by being kind to someone others know we don’t agree with. Bite our tongue instead of lashing out to show an example of humility and patience.

Most importantly, we can pray for others’ new beginning. We can certainly be an example to our children and others by our example of good living. Only God through the Holy Spirit can actually give them their new start. So we need to pray fervently for our children! Pray for others and watch as God begins to act in their life. NOTE: Remember that God’s timing is not our timing. So keep praying!

New beginnings can come in different forms…A new job, a new home, a new school, a new family! They all give us an opportunity to start over…to begin again. Most importantly, we can begin anew by praying God will give us change in our attitude.

 

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19

The Lord gives us that same opportunity each & every day. He’s not expecting us to change jobs or towns. The new you from a new diet program is not what He’s looking for either. He’s looking for a heart transformation. We see the same old things in a new light. We view things from His perspective, not thinking only of our life circumstances.

Sometimes we have to get out of the same old routine. Welcome some new friends into our plans. Try something we’ve never tried before. If we want a new beginning, many times our old way of doing things must change to make room for the new we are seeking.

New beginnings need to come from the inside out! That’s the heart transformation. This transformation happens naturally as we make Christ the center of our life….always contemplating on what He wants us to do.

The marriage of my niece, Noelle will begin a new way of life for her as she commits to living and growing with her husband, Will. We can all begin a new spiritual life by giving Jesus first place in all of our day-to-day affairs.

 

Dear Lord,

You give us opportunities to begin again all the time. We may not be getting married, having a child or moving to another city. Show us how we can start fresh by simply embracing a new outlook on what’s truly important in our life.

Jesus came to make all things new. Help us to turn to Him as we try to figure out how to make our lives a ‘new beginning’ that is pleasing to You.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

LIFE HAPPENS

LIFE HAPPENS

I’m betting that many of you don’t know the name of my blog is Life Happens. You would have to go to the Welcome page of my website mvarga.com to discover that.

You will notice I’ve added a beautiful sunrise to identify Life Happens. You will see it on all future blogs.

It’s my desire to use my blog to share strategies for living a fuller life with you. I’ve also made my books available on mvarga.com to inspire you on your journey.

I am the survivor of a traumatic brain injury in 1997. It has defined my physical life for over 20 years. I am a Christian and a student of the Bible for many years. As I make suggestions for a better life, I will turn to Scriptures frequently to see what God has to say. You could say that I’ve been through the fiery furnace. Perhaps you have, too. Let me show you the ways I’ve found to be happy right in the midst of the flames.

In addition, as a personal trainer and fitness instructor, I believe a fuller life includes a strong and flexible body so that we are able and equipped to lead the life that the Lord has in store for us. So, I will also give tips that will lead to developing a stronger, fitter physique.

So please enjoy my twice monthly blog. I hope it gives you practical ideas for living your best life! Please share your own suggestions with me. That’s the best way for all of us to learn! 

SITTING TOO MUCH?

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Mark 9:35  (NIV)

 

When Jesus sat down, He was trying to make a point. How many of us spend a majority of our day sitting in meetings, sitting in traffic, at the computer, or on zoom calls? Our bodies were not designed to sit for an extended period of time.

So here’s another fitness tip!

It’s challenging to stay in good posture when we sit. Here’s a trick I use when sitting at my laptop zooming or writing. It takes only 2 minutes!

Push your bottom down into the chair you’re sitting on. Hold for a few seconds…then relax. Do this move for 30 seconds.

Next, push your lower back into the back of the chair while squeezing your abdominal muscles. Hold for a few seconds…then relax. Do this 2nd move for 30 seconds.

Next, imagine you’re squeezing a lemon between your shoulder blades. Hold for a few seconds…then relax. Do this 3rd move for 30 seconds.

Finally…put all three moves together for the last 30 seconds. Bottom pushing into the chair, lower back pushing back into chair, with shoulder blades squeezed together. If you do this frequently, you’ll find your body naturally going into this correct form of posture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So much time spent in a sitting position will make our hip flexors (where our trunk meets our thigh muscle) very tight. Below are 3 images of a lying, kneeling and standing hip flexor stretch.

 

 

 

 

In the lying hip flexor stretch, feel the stretch in the hip of your EXTENDED leg. In the kneeling & standing stretch, feel the stretch in the hip of the back leg. Stretch until you can feel it…then hold for 30 seconds.

 

If you have access to a TRX Suspension system at your gym, below is a valuable stretch for your hip flexors AND a great way to tighten your booty!

The below video shows Jennifer DeGrella, a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and TRX instructor at /Baptist /Milestone. Jennifer is also a guest author in my book, the Afflicted Healer. She wrote a chapter, Suspended Motion, about TRX ‘tricks of the trade’.

In this video, Jennifer demonstrates the figure 4, a useful TRX move for those with tight hips, specifically, those with piriformis and tight IT issues. So it will stretch the hips while working your bottom on the other side.

Figure 4 – How to:

. Grab the straps of the TRX. Dig both heals into the floor as you lean your whole body back, letting the straps stabilize you. Arms are fully extended!

. Bend the knee of your left leg, sitting your left ankle on top of your right knee.

. Load your weight into the right hip & leg as you bend the right knee. Then extend the right leg back up, keeping your knee soft.

. This is what works your right booty while opening your left hip.

. Repeat 3-4 times SLOWLY, working up to 8 reps.

. Then switch legs, doing the same with left knee on top of right knee.

 

Dear Lord,

Thank you for giving us fitness instructors and physical therapists to show us how to keep our bodies strong & moving the way You intended them to move.

Give  us the wisdom to seek the proper instruction, then practice moving the right way until it eventually feels natural.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

 

MAKE A CAREER OF IT

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14   (NIV)

 

A parent’s praise or criticism will have a lasting impact on a child’s self image. Even as we get older, with our own children raised, our parents’ words continue to leave an impression.

This was the case with my father when I began my fitness business, SilverStrength® in 2010. Dad told me he was speaking with a friend about my endeavor, saying, “Usually when someone undergoes a personal tragedy, they ultimately make peace with it, and live the best life they can. But not our Mary! She’s going to make a career out of it!”

His remarks gave me such a confident feeling about what I was attempting to do with my business. I believe this is a calling! God wants me to transform what I struggle with everyday to help others. I want to show seniors ways they can maintain their mobility, and ultimately their independence by regularly challenging their bodies with strength and flexibility exercises.

I want them to hear my voice in their head as they bend, twist and stretch reminding them of the correct way to do it. It still gives me ‘goose bumps’ when a classmate remarks on how they can move easier because of the suggestions I give them.

So I guess Dad was right! I have made this a career of sorts. A career is different from a job. A job pays our bills. A career becomes a way of life. It gives us a sense of purpose and meaning. A career is how we give back for the gifts/talents we’ve been given. It’s the way we pass on the lessons we have learned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28  (NIV)

Our ultimate purpose in life is to honor God. Do we devote as much time to that as we do to our earthly career? We don’t have to be a healthcare worker, a teacher or a minister to honor the Lord with our work. We just work to the best of our ability… always concerning ourselves with those we work with and those we serve.

If there’s something we don’t really want to do…, offer it up to God. Offer the whole work day to the Lord! The change in our attitude will make others want to work beside us. If your business is making sales, building products, or serving people…, work in a way that’s pleasing to God. Then feel the peace of knowing God is pleased with our actions.

Wherever we are on our life journey, we can make a career of following Christ. We do that by following His example in how we treat others. Do we encourage? Are we interested? Do we give of our time?

 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

John 15:12  (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most importantly, stay in communication with Him! The realization of God’s presence in life circumstances will remind us He is guiding us. God is always with us. Look for Him in every situation…and every person. Ask Him what you want Him to do…and don’t forget to thank Him when He makes the way clear for us.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:21  (NIV)

 

Well done! That’s what we all desire to hear…from our parents…our children…our spouse…our friends…our boss… What a sublime compliment it is though, when it comes from our Father in heaven!

 

Dear Lord,

We are Your family. You love us completely, just as we are. You ask that we love and honor You by serving others. Show us how we can do that with others in our life.

Whatever our occupation, help us to make a career of following You by seeing Your face in those we serve.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

 

 

The Chosen

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9  (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to give a heartfelt ‘thumbs up’ to the new series on the ministry and followers of Jesus called, The Chosen. Based entirely on the Bible, it is a real life depiction of being the students of a rabbi they come to believe is the promised Messiah. Get a firsthand look at living as an enemy in your own country occupied by Roman military.

There have been many televised specials over the years on the life & ministry of  Jesus Christ. We’ve seen the healings, the sermons, the betrayal, the crucifixion and resurrection. What makes The Chosen any different? The characters are so real! After seeing an episode, it feels like we just had lunch with the apostle Peter, or Matthew, or Thomas. They are so human & realistic, including their special personality quirks.

Meet Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, and many others chosen by Jesus to help him spread his message of love and compassion. As history documents, this will not be an easy road for any of His followers. We tend to take for granted the faith we enjoy today without acknowledging what the early Christians suffered to make it real.

They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

Revelation 17:14

 

The Chosen has its’ own app. Get it at the App Store or Google play…”THE CHOSEN” APP. It is also available on YouTube. It’s completely free. All that’s needed is a smart phone AND a smart T.V. Here’s my special tip though! We’re not ALL tech savvy. I called my nephew to get the app from my phone to my T.V. It took us a little while to figure it out, but now I can watch it whenever I want.

The producers plan to keep it a free series! So before or after viewing the episode, we are prompted to “Pay It Forward”. It’s completely voluntary! Two seasons have already been paid for simply by viewers paying it forward.  People all over the world have chosen to spread the word and share “The Chosen”. With a $14.99 contribution, “The Chosen” is shared with 10 people. It’s a simple way we can ALL spread the word of God!

Below is a link to a very powerful and personal testimony about the virtues of humility and mercy given by Jonathan Roumie. Jonathan is the actor who portrays Jesus in the series, The Chosen. Please wait until you have 30 minutes to devote to watching it,…because once you start, you won’t want to stop!

Dear Lord,

Let us find examples of how you want us to live as we watch the followers of Jesus behaving as normal folks just like us! Thank You for giving us all an opportunity to spread Your word and Your love through such a compelling series as The Chosen.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

FROM TRIAL TO TRIUMPH

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)

 

‘From TriaI to Triumph’… isn’t that what Jesus did when He rose from the dead? This is still the Easter season. What a perfect time to reflect on how wondrous things can come from the most horrific of circumstances. At our Easter celebration, the pastor spoke of how we can’t experience the joyful resurrection without Jesus first enduring the pain, suffering and humiliation of the cross. He had to die before we could experience eternal life with Him.

We’ve all lived through a year where everything in life was different due to COVID. This has become our new normal. Won’t it be wonderful when we can once again go to a sporting event, graduation or concert without social distancing or wearing a mask? I’m looking forward to the day I need to buy another tube of lipstick…because others will be able to see my mouth.

In order to appreciate the normal things, don’t we first have to experience the abnormal? An expectant mother understands why her stomach must expand as the child inside of her grows. The intense pain she must endure while giving birth is soon forgotten when she holds that precious, new life in her arms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

! Peter 1:6  (NIV)

I remember the feelings of joy and excitement when I crossed the finish line of my first New York City marathon. I did it! I actually did it!

When we went out to dinner that night, others would come up and hug or high-five me when they saw my marathon medal. It was easy to forget the countless hours spent training in rain, in heat, in cold. I was on such a high, the post-marathon soreness and fatigue seemed a small price to pay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those are just two real-life examples of how we often times suffer on our way to achieving the prize. Suffering is not fun, but it is real. Why does it seem to be a prerequisite for many of the things we want in life?

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:57  (NIV)

 

Jesus endured the pain and suffering of the cross for the ultimate goal of bringing all who believed in Him into His kingdom. A mother endures the pain and suffering of childbirth to bring new life into the world. Both are in the business of expanding God’s family!

We can also refer to suffering as gut-wrenching work. It’s not pleasant… but we do put our whole heart, soul and body into it. We endure suffering because we know it will lead to an even greater victory that couldn’t be achieved without it.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14  (NIV)

We keep pressing because we see a light at the end of the tunnel. In my book, The Light Through My Tunnel, I give God the glory for standing beside me as I travel the long, sometimes lonely tunnel of physical disability caused by brain injury. He will do the same for any of us! We need to pray for an open, trusting heart…regardless of our circumstances.

 Sometimes we don’t see results with one attempt. We have to reevaluate and try again. Wouldn’t life be grand if we got everything right with our first effort? Waiting, suffering and trying again are a part of life….but so are hard-won victories.

So let’s look at the trials, the adversities and the struggles of our lives as simply stepping-stones to a more triumphant way of managing our lives. We’ll fall sometimes. (So did Jesus!) Sometimes, we’ll have to look at things from a different perspective. But we will develop the perseverance to keep plugging until we reach our goal!

 

Dear Lord,

We know You don’t want any of us to suffer unnecessarily. Going through the trial often seems the only way to enlarge our outlook on our adversity. Make clear to us what You’re trying to show us. Help us to get our mind off of ourselves long enough to perceive how others could be helped through our struggle.

We stand before You broken in some way. We ask You for the wisdom to look at our suffering through Your eyes…the eyes of love.

When You deem the right time to move on our behalf, may we rejoice with You and all the angels that the trial we entrusted to You has now become a TRIUMPH for You and us!

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

The Lord is Risen!

The Lord is Risen!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16  (NIV)

 

I know I promised only one blog every other week, but Easter fell on an off week this year. So consider this date as the beginning of a new blog year. I certainly couldn’t skip over the most important holiday on our church calendar!

I am remembering Easter 2020. We were in full lock down from the corona virus. I sat at my kitchen counter in my sweats watching Easter services from my church virtually on my laptop. Maybe it would’ve felt more celebratory if I’d worn an Easter bonnet. My mother was a big hat fanatic, so Easter bonnets were a necessary part of any Easter services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though I felt sorry that we could not all gather to celebrate this Easter, I woke up that morning feeling happy that we’re able to live the lives we have (locked down or not) knowing that because of this special day, the best is still yet to come!

Christ was mocked, ridiculed and beaten. He died on that cross to ensure we had eternal life waiting for us. That means more to me the older I get. If my family history runs true…I’ll be waiting a few more decades. I can’t help but smile when I think what I have to look forward to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter is celebrated as everything is starting to bloom after a cold, dark winter. So in many ways, it begins a new season of growth. This year churches will once again be holding in-person services. Smaller? …Yes.  Masks?… Yes.

 Yet we will be together to observe this celebration of new life.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Romans 6:4  (NIV)

 

My grandmother’s name was Mary Alice. We called her ‘MawMaw’. She would call every Easter morning proclaiming, “Christ is risen!” Our response was always, “Good morning MawMaw! Happy Easter!”

May we all observe this Easter Sunday as a well-established, yet profoundly joyful celebration of our new life in Christ!

THE LORD IS RISEN!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Lord,

On this holiest of days, may we experience the joy of immense gratitude for what You have done for us.  You have made possible the opportunity to live with You eternally, with no more struggle or suffering.

We praise Your holy name!

 

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Let there Be Light!

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16   (NIV)

What does it mean when someone asks us to be the light? Are we to illumine a dark path by bringing understanding into something confusing? Do we offer hope for a better outcome? Maybe we’re just supposed to be present to offer companionship and encouragement.

I think the ultimate compliment is when others see us as a light just because we are who we are and can be expected to respond to life in a certain way. People with light are the ones we want to be around. They’re joyful! They seem content. We want what they have!

Who brings light into your life? Is it a spouse…a child…a co-worker? My son, Andrew lives in Arkansas. Yet he brings light into my life every time we talk on the phone. No matter what life is throwing at you, there is a real sense of peace and comfort that comes from someone that knows you completely and loves you the same way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew and I frequently engage in very deep, philosophical discussions. It warmed my heart when he gave me the above plaque for Christmas this year. I keep it on my TV stand, so I can see it at night when I relax to watch television. So I’m constantly reminded to ‘Be the Good’ for others. Am I being a light in Andrew’s life? I sure hope so! Sometimes he seems bewildered that I have such a cheerful outlook on life and what’s happening in the world. And yes, he rolls his eyes when I tell him “God’s got this!”

It’s hard to explain how centered my life feels in Jesus Christ. He’s guiding my thoughts as I write this blog right now. Or is that his Holy Spirit?  Both are a constant source of light for me.

 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:4-5   (NIV)

I see Christ love for me on a daily basis as others go out of their way to make my life easier. In my book, The Light Through My Tunnel, I speak of a priest telling me I had been given a great gift. I was giving others a chance to honor God by helping me. Can’t we all do the same thing?

I believe that the best way we can display our love for God is to be a light for others. It doesn’t require a lot of talent and effort to brighten someone’s day. Others just like to be noticed. I know I do! A text, email or phone call is all it takes to let someone know we’re thinking of them. We may not think we are doing anything significant, but God notices.

We never know how our simple actions can brighten someone’s day. It can take our mind off of our concerns for awhile. God smiles when we bring light into others’ lives.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:5  (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Lord,

It’s comforting to know we can always turn to You to bring light into any darkness we’re feeling in life. Show us how You want us to be the light for others. Please let Your spirit give us the words to encourage, motivate and help those who need Your light.

Thank You for placing others in our path who bring that light to us!

 

 

 

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