Chasing The Wind

Ecclesiastes 1:14 I have seen all the works that are under the sun, and behold, all is vanity, a chasing of the wind.

My car was a brand new Honda Accord Coupe and it was the first new car I had ever owned. I had struggled for years to pay off bad debts and increase my credit score. I guess you could say my car was the trophy for all my efforts.

After my car was a few months old, I found myself in a financial bind with the new car payment, rent and raising two children on a single income. Turns out my trophy was more of a bad decision, a burden on my already tight finances.

The days were becoming stressful, yet I was reading more scripture and trying to rely on God’s faithfulness. The more difficult life became, the more I delve into my bible, trying to find words from God that would give me hope and strength.

That’s when the book of Ecclesiastes came to my heart. The story of a king who had everything he could ever want (money, women, power and every pleasure known to man), yet he had an unexplainable void in his life.

In Ecclesiastes 2:17-18 the king says, “So I hated life because what is done under the son was grievous to me; for all is vanity and a striving after the wind and feeding on it….”

Two days after I read this book, I left my evening shift at work to find someone had slammed into my brand new car and drove away. They didn’t leave a note, just a huge dent on the side of my car.

I filed a police report and went home sobbing. My prayers to God that evening were prayers of frustration and anger.

“Why God? After all the trouble I went through to pay off my debts and buy something nice for myself – how could you let this happen?”

The next day I called the insurance company to report the hit-and-run. They sent out a claims advisor to do an appraisal on the repair. When all the paperwork was done, he said that the amount insurance would pay me was $1300. The damage to my vehicle was $1800 but I had a $500 deductible!

Again, I called out to God, “WHY??”

I couldn’t even afford to pay my rent, how was I going to come up with the money to get my car fixed.

With a subtle voice, God reminded me of the book of Ecclesiastes – a king searching for fulfillment in worldly things and never being satisfied. Then he showed me how I had allowed my car to become more important to me that it should have been – my image, my material things.

Three days later, I received the $1300 check from insurance. It was then that I realized God had turned a bad situation into a blessing in my life. When I didn’t have enough money to pay my bills, he provided. With the check, I was able to pay my rent, pay my utilities AND buy groceries for my children!!

God doesn’t answer prayers the way we always want Him too, but he DOES answer prayers! When I received that check, I thought about the king again. How he chased after all those material things and was never satisfied. I became satisfied in God’s amazing wisdom and plan for my life.

The hit-and-run was over seven years ago. Since then, I’ve had plenty of financial opportunity to get the dent fixed, but chose not to. Every time I walk towards my car and see the dent, I am reminded of how faithful God is, how he took care of me when I couldn’t do it myself, how he turned a bad situation into a blessing.

What are some interesting and surprising ways God has worked in your life? Please comment below, I would love to hear some of your stories.

Thanks for stopping by, Rene’

Christians Are Like Vegetarians

Recently, my husband and I went into Cabela’s (a hunting/fishing/gaming store). When we walked in, I was shocked at all the taxidermy animals. Deer, beavers, bears, large birds and many other critters. All posed in life-like stances with a setting of trees and rocks. As we made it to the back of the store, I became fixated on a huge buffalo above my head. Frozen in my steps, I just looked into his eyes (well, the plastic ones) and imagined him out in nature living his life, minding his own business.

As I tend to do, my thoughts started to get away from me and I began to imagine him with his family. I wondered if he had little ones that were left behind when a hunter came along and took his life.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this post is not an anti-hunting PETA kind of post. I am just giving a little background on where this story is going. Please read on …..

My husband came to me and asked, “why the tears?” snapping me out of my thoughts.

We left the store and I couldn’t get the image of that buffalo out of my mind. I was flooded with memories of cute animals. A video where this guy was playing a trombone and all the cows came to listen……. Cows drawn to music!! Then another video of a cow playing with a ball. I felt very convicted, like I just couldn’t eat meat anymore.

So I stopped……. Just like that, I became a vegetarian.

After two weeks, I noticed that I began to feel healthier and I had even lost a couple pounds. And what do we do (those of us on Social Media) when we have exciting news? I posted it on Facebook!!

My first response was from my uncle who said, “SO, what will you do with all those left-over Beef Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini HAHAHA”

I also received a few private messages. One asked me how I would continue with the recipe part of my blog – would it become only vegetarian? Another person asked me how I (as a vegetarian) and my husband (a “carnivore”) could comfortably co-exist?

Without even thinking, these words came out, “it’s simple, being a vegetarian is kind of like being a Christian.”

“Hahahaha, ok???”

“Well, I have my faith and my religious beliefs but I don’t force them upon anyone, right? My eating habits are the same thing. I’ve made changes for myself and (just like my faith), I will share with others that want to listen, but I wont judge anyone that doesn’t agree.”

As Christians, we walk through our days in the presence of non-believers. Just as vegetarians walk in the presence of meat eaters. We co-exist with people different than us. We walk through life setting examples, hoping someone will want what we have.

Maybe someone will see me and think, “wow, her skin looks great” or “she’s lost weight, how did she do it”.. Then I can share my new lifestyle change and maybe someone will want to change their lifestyle because of the example I set.

Isn’t our Christian faith the same?

By our example we can bring others to Christianity. I’ve had people say to me, “you seem so peaceful and happy, what’s your secret?” I’ve been able to share my faith and talk about God. Telling people how He changed my life and how He brings peace to every situation because I know HE is in control.

What kind of examples are you setting in your life? Do people want what you have?

I saw an episode of “Wife Swap” (where two polar opposite wife’s are swapped for two weeks – in the hopes that each wife can teach another family a different way of doing things). Now I don’t watch television very often, but this one I had to watch. A Christian wife was swapped with an Atheist wife. Each wife tried to teach the other family a new way of doing things. By the end, a few minor things changed for each family, but neither had adopted a new way of living.

During the final interview when each spouse was confronted by the other family, the Atheist father had tears in his eyes and said, “you wanna know the hardest part of my lifestyle? It’s being faced with judgmental Christians who look down on me for not being like them. It hurts because I am a good hearted, hard working man”.

That moment was burned into my memory. I thought, “how can we bring people to Christianity if we are judging them for the lives they currently live?” Why would an Atheist want to be a Judgmental Christian? It made me sad.

Imagine if all the Atheist of the world were confronted with Christians that just loved them, cared for them, prayed for them (without rubbing their noses in it). What kind of an impact could we have if we just spread joy, kindness, an unconditional love (like Jesus shares with us).

We can’t force people to adopt our way of life. All we can do is live by example, by our actions, by our unconditional love – God will do the rest 🙂

Thanks for stopping by. See you soon, Rene’

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*by the way, if you are following for the great recipes, stay tuned for some amazing vegetarian surprises (I will still be posting meaty deliciousness as well – hubby still has to eat 🙂

The Bank of Time: Time Is An Investment

Welcome back for Part Two of my series on Time. If you missed Part One (Time is a Treasure) click HERE. Read about how to treasure time as a valuable commodity, cherishing every moment.

Today we move on to discuss how time can be spent and invested, but it cannot be saved.

The I in TIME is for Investment.

In the early 1970’s Jim Croce wrote a song with these lyrics, “If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do …… is to save every day ’til eternity passes away, just to spend them with you”

Wouldn’t it be SO cool if we could bottle up time for all the fun things like vacations or important things like family? Unfortunately, no matter how technologically advanced we become, this will never be possible. Each day only has 24 hours. We can’t purchase more hours, but we can spend them. We can’t save them, but we can waste them.

As I was writing Time is a Treasure, I thought about how people say, “I just don’t have enough time.”

Think about it …… There are 168 golden hours in each week. The average person will spend about 56 of those hours sleeping, about 24 of those hours on eating and personal hygiene, about 50 hours working (and commuting), and about 8 hours for chores (grocery shopping, laundry, etc.) That’s a total of 138 hours per week, leaving 30 hours of free time!!

That’s an average of 5 hours a day!!

How much of that time is invested into mental health, physical health, spiritual health, and quality time with family?

Quality Time Invested in Family

When my children were younger I was a single mother working two jobs. I was tormented with guilt because I didn’t get to spend enough quality time with my boys. One day I made a decision to prioritize my time a little better. I couldn’t get any extra time in the day, but I could choose how to spend that time.

Instead of spending time “bugging” my boys to clean their rooms, I chose to use the only hour I had with them to enjoy being in their presence. We enjoyed dinners as a family and we cleaned the dishes as a family. We would start a game of Monopoly and play for 30 minutes a day. One game could last 3 weeks!!!

My point is this. If there is only an hour in a day to spend with your loved ones, make sure you invest that time doing what they will remember. My boys don’t remember whether their rooms were clean or dirty, but they remember the Monopoly game which lasted a month (the one Mom lost!!).

*if you’re a mom who thinks having a clean room is a top priority, I’m not saying that is wrong. I’m only saying there needs to be a balance between all the chores and quality time. For me, I didn’t have time for both, so made a choice to let the rooms go until the weekends 🙂

Quality Time Invested in Spiritual and Physical Health

I’m not here to preach and tell you to do bible studies every day or go to church every Sunday. What I do want to tell you is there should be regular time invested for spiritual support.

Let me explain. My bible studies are usually pretty regular, but I am guilty of slacking at times because I get busy. It never fails that when I slack for too long, my husband will notice. I become a little shorter with my temper, I get agitated a little easier and I lose some of the peace that my studies fill my heart with. My husband will say, “I think you need to go to church” or “”maybe you need to do a bible study”. And he isn’t saying it spitefully, he is genuinely telling me that he see’s my heart is out of balance. Inevitably, when I listen to him and invest time with my bible, I begin to feel peace right away.

Balance is the key. If your schedule only allows for 5 minutes a day, or one study a week, that’s ok!!

The same goes for physical health. I have a bad back from a car accident 18 years ago. Sometimes I just want to sit around and do nothing. You know those Saturdays when you stay in your jammies and watch movies all day. The problem is, if I do that too long, my back seizes up and it takes me weeks to recover. So whether I feel like it or not, I need to invest a little time every day walking because it keeps my back loose.

Quality Time Invested in Mental Health

When I think about mental health, I think about taking time for myself to rejuvenate and relax. There was a time in my life when I didn’t know how to do this. My evenings were filled with swirling thoughts that gave me insomnia. When I finally did fall asleep, I dreamt about work. When I was a waitress so I would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, “I forgot to take that guy his cup of coffee!!!” When I was a Care Aide serving seniors, I dreamt about how Betty needed help with her pantyhose and Charles needed his glasses fixed. On my days off, I wanted to go visit them to see if they needed anything!! I spent  way to much time thinking about others and not enough thinking about myself.

At some point, I realized that I couldn’t be the best mother (or Care Aide) if I didn’t take care of myself first. I started giving myself permission to do nice things for myself. A 20 minute bubble bath. Walk in the park. Reading a book. Sitting on the deck in the sun, doing nothing at all.

Can I tell you something? As soon as I started doing this, a little voice in my head would tell me that I was being a bad mother, and I began to feel guilty!!!

“well, the kids need …..”

“the bathroom needs to be cleaned…”

“Joe at work needs me to ……”

Do you know that no matter how much you do, there will ALWAYS be something that needs to be done!??

Through time, I’ve learned that no matter what life throws at me or how busy I get, slowing down and investing time in me is at the top of my priority list. When I allot time for self-care, I am more relaxed, thoughtful and kind.

TimeInvestment

In closing, I would like to challenge you to think of how are you investing your time? Does the time you invest bear good fruit? Will your loved ones remember you through the legacy of wonderful memories you shared with them?

John 15:8 (AMP) When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of mine.

The Bank of Time: Treasure is a Treasure

Years ago, I listened to a bible sermon called The Bank of time. It was a message on how to utilize time as a precious commodity. I took extensive notes and recently stumbled across my book of notes! This message was so inspiring that I wanted to share it with you.

First, let me say that I tried to find the original Minister who gave this message but was unsuccessful. I have also looked online to try and give credit where credit is due. The original idea for this message came from the sermon and the rest of it is my own interpretation. If you have stumbled across this post and I have missed giving credit to the proper people, this was unintentional and I would love for you to send an email.

Now, with that out of the way………The Bank of Time (this is a 4 part series)

The T in TIME is a Treasure!!

There was a poem written (by an unknown writer) titled Realize the Value of Time. I have taken this poem and expanded on it just a bit.

To realize the value of one year, ask a student who failed a grade in school and was held back while all his friends moved forward.

To realize the value of one month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of one week, ask the grad student who missed out on grad week while all her friends participated in dances, photos and celebrations.

To realize the value of one hour, ask the business man who’s plane was delayed and he missed out on the deal of a lifetime because he didn’t make the meeting.

To realize the value of one minute, ask the man who just had a heart attack and there happened to be a paramedic nearby who did CPR and saved his life.

To realize the value of a second, ask the mother who missed being in a head on collision with an on-coming car (because of a split second turn of the wheel).

To realize the value of a second, ask the Olympic swimmer who missed qualifying because of one-sixth of a second.

Have you ever thought of time like this before, considering that every moment of time has significant value ……. every year, every day, every second?

A.W. Tozer wrote: “Time is a resource that is nonrenewable and nontransferable. You cannot store it, slow it up, hold it up, divide it or give it up. You can’t hoard it up or save it for a raiy day – when it’s lost it’s unrecoverable. When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection.”

When Farrah Fawcett was in her last stages of terminal cancer, she was asked, if there was anything she could change, what would it be? Her response was that she would just “Live”. With all the money and financial security, with all the fame, with everything that she experienced as a star, she made it to the end of her life and felt as if she had never “lived”.

A while back, I attended a support group with a few other women. I commented that I wasn’t feeling very pretty and having a hard time with body image. One of the women said, “My daughter said the same thing to me before she passed away. I wish she would have seen how beautiful she was. Do you want to get to the end of your life and realize you never liked yourself?”

That really touched me!!

I have moments of insecurity, but I never really thought of it like that. For every day I was feeling insecure or in self-pity, I was wasting away this precious time God has given to me, this precious life I’ve been blessed with.

What are you experiencing today? Are you embracing each moment  as a gift or is time passing you by? Do you struggle to hold onto faith that tomorrow will be a better day?

I will tell you what my angel friend told me. Love yourself. Love your life. Cherish every moment as if its the only one that matters. Don’t let one moment pass you by and disappear into the past. You wont get it back. Treasure every moment you have breath!

Psalm 139 13:16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Please share how you make the best of all your “moments” in the comment section below..

Thanks for stopping by, Rene’

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Spreading Kindness

Have you ever heard the saying, “hurting people hurt people”?

It’s when someone is hurting so badly that their pain seeps out into the people around them through criticism, rudeness, resentment, and so on.

My first experience with this was years ago in a restaurant where I was a waitress. The staff and I got along well and had a fun time at work until this new woman started working. For unknown reasons, she would go out of her way to be rude to me.

We would walk around the same corner and she would just stand there and say, “move!”. She made deliberate attempts to get in my way and eventually stopped saying “move” but just gave me a mean look. After about two weeks, human nature kicked in and I began to participate with negative responses. I felt justified in my behavior (well, she started it, right?).

Until this day…….

It was the holiday season and I was baking cookies to share with my neighbors and family. A feeling came over me that I should take a plate of cookies to my not-so-nice co-worker.

Do you ever get that little nudge from God asking you to do something you don’t understand? (or worse, a nudge from God to do something you REALLY don’t want to do)?

This was one of those moments for me. Why would God ask me to do something nice for someone who was never nice to me from the beginning? I figured if I took her cookies, she would probably just laugh at me, humiliate me, or not even accept my gift. My mind told me I was putting myself in a vulnerable situation, yet my heart was telling me to listen to the words God was whispering in my ear.

I lined a paper plate with some colorful tissue paper and chose the prettiest cookies. Then I wrapped the plate in clear tissue paper and tied it all together with holiday ribbon. It looked so professional and inviting.

Anxiously, I brought my plate of cookies to work (praying on the way for the right words). When I saw her, I asked if she would come outside for a minute. I didn’t want to put her on the spot and give her cookies in front of other people. If she was going to reject my offer, I wanted it done in private!!

When she came out, I said, “You may think I am strange, but I brought you some holiday cookies. I hope you enjoy them.”

Immediately, tears began to stream down her face. She responded, “No one has done anything nice for me in so long. I moved here from Florida with my boyfriend and he broke up with me a month ago. I’m here all alone”.

It was an eye-opening moment for me. God was showing me that hurting people really do hurt people. She was so full of pain that it seeped out as anger and frustration.

God was showing me that as faithful Christians we are not to take those acts personal, but instead, share acts of Gods loving kindness. Think about it………… When Jesus was on the cross he was asking the Father to forgive them “for they know not what they do”. If Jesus can overlook what the Roman’s did to Him, then we can overlook someone having a bad day, right?

Is there someone in your life who is hurting, someone unpleasant to be around?

My mission for this post is to encourage as many people as I can to put negativity, justifications and pride aside. Replace those things with random acts of kindness, encouraging words and God’s unconditional love (for no other reason than to just spread God’s love to a hurting world).

Here are some ideas to get you started…

  • My number one way of showing people I care is to give food made from the heart. Cookies and treats to neighbors. Chicken noodle soup to someone who’s sick. Cooking a few freezer meals like lasagna, for someone who just lost a loved one and doesn’t have the energy to cook. Fresh fruit for the homeless.
  • A woman at my church always has candy in her purse. She greets everyone with a smile and a piece of her yummy candy.
  • Take a co-worker a cup of coffee or a bagel in the morning.
  • Share some of your garden harvest with neighbors.
  • Hold the door for someone who has their hands full.
  • Offer to babysit for an hour so a single mother can have a little break.
  • Ask the grocery store clerk how her day is going (and thank her for ringing up your groceries), even if she was slow. She could be in training or maybe she was up all night with a sick baby.
  • Offer a cold drink to the garbage collector on a hot day.
  • Put runaway grocery carts (near someone’s car) back in the stall, even if it isn’t your cart.
  • Leave a random sticky note on someone’s desk to say “Hey, hope you’re having a nice day”.
  • Smile at everyone.. Someone once told me that a smile is free to give away, but could mean the world to the receiver.

Kindness is infectious!!

Feel free to comment below. How do you share kindness to the people around you? How has someone else’s act of kindness been a blessing in your life?

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