Having It All!

Topic on TV…can women have it all? Got me thinking… Better question…can we stop judging each other on career/family choices?

Some stay home, some are in school, some work part time, some full time, and some even rely on the system to a large degree to provide support….both with and without the support of a spouse and/family. Some experience different scenarios at different stages in life. As long as we’re doing our best with the situation or circumstances we find ourselves in and love and nurture our children, I don’t think much else matters.

A quick read of Proverbs 31 shows the many faces of a great woman. She had it going on. Reminds me of lots of great women at various stages of life that I’ve known and admired….juggling, praying, doing business, loving their spouse, volunteering, running a household, investing and loving and supporting their children.

Bottom line – do what’s best for your family and don’t worry about the opinions of others! It’s easy to “judge” someone else’s situation, but until we’ve walked in their shoes and had their specific set of circumstances, we really need to keep our opinions to ourselves.

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Forget It!

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 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 wasteland.” — Isaiah 43:18 (NIV)

Observation: Wisdom

Observation…I’m generally very positive and love positive motivation, but let’s face it, sometimes we need a good dose of reality and cold hard facts. Just read Proverbs 6 again. This chapter is FILLED with very blunt and strong warnings about what bad behavior will do for us. We tend to gloss over bad behavior and habits, make excuses and turn our heads. But, there are real consequences for the choices we make.

Our faith journey is not all sunshine, flowers, acceptance and excuses. We need to call a spade a spade in our lives and turn from our sin and at least strive to live a holy life. We tend to overlook pride, lying, a corrupt mouth or troublemaking. Sometimes, we also need to speak the truth to ourselves or in love to others in our lives. Be warned, the truth isn’t always popular.

Proverbs is considered the book of wisdom. A wise friend once told me if you read a chapter a day, you can finish in a month and will have picked up some wisdom along the way.

Take a few minutes and look up the entire chapter. I find myself coming back to this portion on a regular basis. It speaks because it is such a common problem. We love to point out the big, glaring sins of others but forget just how ugly and damaging this list can be to others AND God hates these seven things! That’s convicting and strong! Check up time.

Proverbs 6:12‭-‬19 ESV

A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Prayer:

Lord, please help us to see ourselves and our actions in light of your word. Help us to check ourselves when we find ourselves haughty (prideful): lying (even leaving out facts or telling half the story to save face); shedding innocent blood (may we be whole life in our support of the innocent); may we seek you and forgiveness over vengeance and evil plans; watch our mouths when speaking about others (remind us not to gossip and destroy others with our tongues); and may we never be guilty of sewing discord or seen as troublemakers who separate friends, families and churches. We need your help to avoid these ugly traps and to avoid sudden calamity. Thank you for giving us your word as a reminder. Amen!

God So Loved the World | “Enemies of God”

Daniel Barta

God So Loved the World is a devotional study on John 3:16.  If you missed this is the second devotion of the first week.  If you missed the first devotion you can find it HERE.  Also, is you follow danielbarta.blog you will automatically recieve new devotions directly in your e-mail.  I pray the following will serve your joy in Christ!

The World: Enemies of God

Week One | Devotion #2

Jn. 3.19 and Jn. 7.7Now that we know God loves the world and the world includes the whole of humanity, we can begin to examine what is true about the world.  If you are unfamiliar with the Scriptures, you may be shocked and even offended by Jesus’ description of the world and of you.  However, it is important we know what God says about us.  Only when we learn the truth about the world, will we see the truth about God’s love.

In…

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New Study |God So Loved the World

Daniel Barta

Recently God brought a couple of amazing writers into my life, and we have had the privilege of writing a study on the cross of Christ.  Thank you Penny Oesterling and JoAnn Whittaker for your willingness to partner with me in this work!  We hope God will use this study to fix your mind on the cross of Christ as we approach Easter!

You can follow along by getting the devotions e-mailed directly to you by following me at danielbarta.blog

Check out Week One| Devotion #1 | “The World:  All of Humanity”


Overview

In John 3:16, we find the most comprehensive explanation of Christ’s cross – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…”  This statement, though simple, contains enough majesty and glory to occupy the believer’s thoughts and fuel the believer’s worship for all of eternity (Rev. 5:13-14).

John 3.16 Script

In this short study, we will consider…

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Friendship!

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A friend I haven’t talked to in a while contacted me yesterday. We reminisced about one of the best friends we’ve both ever had.  What a joy to wake up to more sweet memories this morning!

Lynn, Deborah and Me

As spring arrives, memories of Deborah Smith flood my mind and my memories on Social Media. Pictures of the time she challenged me to do the Cooper River Bridge Run and our wonderful mission trip to Ecuador showed up this very week. She loved spring, plants, the great outdoors, the beach, get togethers, travel, friends, families, church and mission trips. My yard and home constantly remind me of her impact on me as I have her gift of plants around me and pictures and paintings from our travels displayed.

Deborah and Shannon in Africa

This is something I wrote and shared on Facebook in 2014 that I still find relevant and helpful. Friendships are important. Good reminder for me and hope you find it helpful!

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 17:17 ESV

Been reflecting on friendship this week and read a few things about friendship. Still sorting out my thoughts, but here are a few:

1) Those we are closest to greatly influence our lives and either lead us closer to God, good and our goals or further away. Choose wisely. You can love and pray for someone from a distance if what they have going on is too negative, a drain, harmful, wrong or too drama filled for you to be in the middle of the situation. But, tell them the truth!

2) Friendship doesn’t mean that the other person TOTALLY supports your every move in life, but that they are honest enough to give you an honest answer when you ask, whether you like it or not. Some of the toughest, but BEST advice I’ve ever received has come from friends who told me the cold, hard truth.

3) Friendship doesn’t mean constant communication and companionship. Sometimes everyday life and responsibilities require our greatest attention. Doesn’t mean we don’t love our friends or don’t think about them, but does mean we have responsibilities and desires outside that friendship and that friendship shouldn’t consume us. People have spouses, children, responsibilities and jobs. The one you write off for not being there may be in the biggest crisis of their lives and you know nothing about it.

4) The best friends are those who weave in and out of your life and you just pick right back up where you left off.

5) If you only call or need me when you have a problem, I’m not your friend, I’m either your counselor or your enabler. If you’re always the one doing the talking and never the listening, again, that’s not true friendship.

6) Things change and people drift apart. No foul on either part – just happens. Let it go.

7) New friends come along and like spring flowers, just make you smile and are a new beginning and a blessing. : )

8) Some people are acquaintances – we serve a purpose in each others lives, have a few good conversations, something in common or a situation in common. Enjoy those but don’t worry if it just ebbs and flows.

9) Some people are in your live for a season and even if it ends poorly, remember the good times and learn the lesson.

10) Friends from childhood that remain, are usually your cousins! : ) If you truly have one deep friendship that lasts throughout your life, it is rare and you’re truly blessed.

11) Enjoy friendship with the people in your circle where you spend the most time. Some of the people I love the most are former co-workers of mine.

12) Sometimes those we were tight with for one reason or another disappoint or hurt us deeply. Forgive and move on.

13) As Jim Rohn says, you are a combination of the five people you spend the most time with…choose carefully.

14) Cut friends slack who are in new relationships, going through a breakup or divorce, having a hard time of some sort and especially if they’ve lost someone close to them.

15) If you’re the friend in the hard time or crisis, find a friend that you can share openly with, but don’t consume ALL their time and only whine about things. Share the GOOD, the bad and the ugly, not just the bad and the ugly. Honestly, this may be the time to seek good counseling or a support group of people who understand you situation and can help you heal.

16) And, finally, if you don’t have friends, maybe a look in the mirror and some reflecting would be in order. Are you a good friend? Trustworthy? Kind? Always needy? Negative? Maybe it is time to make a few changes and be more friendly!

The good news is most of us have a large number of friends from different areas and walks and that’s what makes the world go around. Don’t get hung up on those that are in a different place right now. Cherish the friendships you have right now, build some new ones and be a good friend.

Elton John and Hard Words!

I can’t help it! I think in song lyrics. My love of all things music over almost six decades comes in handy sometimes for making sense out of life. I just never know what genre’ is going to pop in and drive home a point or a story or a memory. This time, it is Elton John!

The past month has been kind of rough and a little distressing. I won’t get in the mud with the details. Three situations hit me square in the face and left me reeling. Everyone who inquires about your life or opinion isn’t listening to understand, but sometimes listening to repeat or to use our trust and knowledge for their benefit/agenda. Sometimes we think we’re helping, but we’re not. And finally, what we think is not offensive terribly offends others. And, in all of the situations, thinking twice, a couple of questions and a little honesty and removing the personal on all sides would have gone a long way in bringing about reconciliation and peace and avoiding misunderstanding.

In the past few years, our conversations as well as social media have become highly toxic. Soft and kind words are becoming rare. I decided to log off social media for a few days to gain some time, reflect and bring some balance and value back to my life. I thought about it all long and hard and then went to bed and slept well knowing at that moment there was absolutely nothing else I could do except hand it all over to God.

Morning brings fresh perspective!

My email brought a nice devotional from Rick Warren on Timothy 1:7 and our fear of what others think/say/do and ways we withdraw to avoid conflict. BUSTED! I am the QUEEN of withdrawing when people come at me. You don’t like me or my opinions? Fine, I’ll take my toys and go home. I have my husband, kids, close friends, books, coffee and Jesus. I’m good! However, this is not the only world we live in. We still have our church, community, workplaces, restaurants, meetings and even Wal-Mart where we have to interact with people! It “feels” safer to withdraw, but it doesn’t solve anything. Operating in peacemaker mode (do what makes it right, not what shuts it up), is a sometimes difficult process with varying degrees of what we would call success. However, it is always the right thing to do. Withdrawal generally adds to the problem. Although sometimes it truly is needed for self preservation in dangerous or difficult situations.

Do we sometimes face unfair criticism and actions from others?Yes, we do. Are we responsible for the other person’s actions and words? No, we aren’t. Can we seek peace as much as is possible on our part? Yes, we can. Is it always safe or necessary? No, it truly isn’t.Sometimes we need to move closer and sometimes we really do need to move further away. I always think of the time David went to a cave to escape Saul who was truly trying to destroy him.Well, there goes another song lyric – “you gotta know when to hold em’, know when to fold em’, know when to walk away, know when to run”. That’s where discernment and prayer come in and then the waiting on the wisdom of God to direct us to work it out, stay, walk or run.

So, back to Elton John and his song lyrics. The line that popped into my mind was:

Sorry seems to be the hardest word!”

Interesting enough, if you read the lyrics in totality, it almost looks like co-dependency. He sure is worried about “making” the other person love him. But, he does get one thing right – saying sorry can be hard! We have to humble ourselves and be willing to be soft enough to care about where the other person is coming from. Most of the time, we wait for the other person to be sorry and let us know just how wrong they were!!! But, maybe we should reflect on our role in the conflict. Could we have done something different? Can we do something different? I’m also hearing this old saying in my head – just because they did something, doesn’t mean you should do it too. Retaliation rarely leads to a good place! Bottom line, we’re responsible for our actions, but we’re not responsible for the actions of others. We are called to peace though. In the scenarios I faced, here’s what I could have done better:

Since I already had trust issues with a couple of people in my life, I could have chosen not to share with them in the first place. I let my guard down. I knew better! This is one of many reasons we’re told to guard our hearts and mouths!

Sometimes in trying to help someone, they don’t want our help. I had to cross a boundary to help them. I can either ask upfront if they want my help or mind my own business and let it go.

I try REALLY hard to post only positively on Social Media. However, when we’re dealing with people it is extremely hard to know what hurt or issues others are facing or how they may take a particular post. Plus, it is so acceptable now to let people know exactly what we think or feel which leads to offering up way too much information to be misunderstood in a public arena. It is also difficult to know how people will react, especially when we have hundreds of “friends” and “family”, many who really don’t know us at all (but sometimes they think they do) or don’t really know our hearts or intent. It is difficult to wrap a theology, opinion or life stance around a small snippet on social media. We are all so guilty of reading WAY too much into things and need to be more restrained in our reactions on social media. Healthy discussion is one thing. Arguing and blasting to be “right”, put down or hurt others is entirely another thing. I try to practice the pause. I once worked with a guy who would dictate a blistering letter when upset and then keep it overnight and usually end up throwing it away or toning it way down. That was wise! Let’s all give each other the benefit of the doubt and learn to keep scrolling.

While disagreements seem to be inevitable on Social Media and even outside it, there are things we can do to try and avoid the conflict. I will continue to be careful on what I post as my audience consists of people of all walks of life – from almost strangers to deep, close friends. And, I truly care about honoring God with my social media content. When the occasional person does goes off, I will either delete the post (if appropriate), hid or delete the comment in order to keep the peace and my sharing positive. And, if led, will take the matter to a private conversation. I do not look for things to offend others with and I constantly remind myself to let things go and not be offended when I see what I consider to be inappropriate. If I know the person well and trust their heart, I may let them know if they’ve posted something that is untrue. There is much untruth out there. We should all care about the truth of our shares. I also remind myself that I’m only responsible for my posts and comments and respect the others right to free speech, even if I don’t agree or like it. For continual negative spewing that impacts my heart, I use the delete or hid button.Life is much sweeter without the constant barrage of negativity.

I went to bed feeling sad, so sad!However, morning brings new mercies! I’m not going to make my sorry hard. I want to have a soft and tender heart of mercy. After all, scripture reminds us that mercy triumphs judgement and love covers a multitude of sins. It’s our job to encourage and build each other up and to watch our mouths.

I’m offering forgiveness as lack of forgiveness hinders my heart, my walk and my relationship with God.A fresh perspective and a word from scripture and I’m good to go again!

I’m truly sorry if you’ve ever been offended by me in person or on social media. If you wish to talk about a specific issue, let me know privately please and we can discuss.

See, that wasn’t so hard! It’s a new day! Who can we say a heart felt sorry to today?

Digust or Delight!

This scripture recently spoke to me:

Basically, it’s not “our” boasting or pride in our intelligence, strength, power or money that produces anything for God. But, it’s our heart for God, relationship with him and trust in him. He invites us to work along with him in what delights him. Sharing His steadfast love, justice and righteousness with the Earth to bring him glory! That’s what delights Him!

A few weeks ago I read about what disgusted/angered/grieved God in Psalm 95. It has stayed in my mind and I’ve gone back to it several times.

This really got me thinking about the warning not to follow their example. In my humble opinion, my generation is very self absorbed and constantly bickering and complaining. This leads to God’s anger and no rest.

The passage referred back to Exodus and the children of Israel. They spent a lot of time whining, complaining, wanting to return to the past and to their former place of captivity. They also fussed a lot about their food and drink! They were disobedient. They bucked authority! They went astray! This resulted in idol worship and complaining/rebelling against their spiritual leader. They also failed to remember all that God had done for them. The children of Israel were one ungrateful crowd. Not that we’re any different! We love our “that’s the way we’ve always done it”! And our references to the way it use to be. Even miserable can be comfortable when faced with change or heading in a new direction. When we act in fear instead of trusting God, we will have the same resulting restlessness. They did not enter into his rest and spent years wondering around in the wilderness. We sure waste a lot of valuable time being sinfully stubborn, complaining and rebeling. And, the result is never good.

So, before me is a choice. I can choose to disgust God or delight the Lord. Delight requires me to trust Him and his mercy and goodness and walk humbly in his ways. I can surrender, know and follow him and his path for me. This delights the Lord!

The direct opposite relies on me, what I want, what I can do and what I think. I can follow my own heart and take matters into my own hands, disregard his instruction and direction and deal with the consequences.

I prayerful ask that the Lord will remind me of this lesson every single time I’m tempted to go my own way. I also want to practice remembering and being thankful for all his love and provision.

I’m very thankful when asking for direction that he gives it freely through great insight and direction from his word! I just need to listen, seek to understand, seek to know him more and follow him!

Well, Shut My Mouth!

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Lately, I’ve felt the need to be much quieter, reflective and thoughtful. Maybe this is the result of all the noise we hear every single day in the public and even the private forum.

Seems that everyone has a very loud opinion about everything! Seems no one is discussing to understand or even looking for facts or considering they could, just possibly, be wrong. We want our own way and we loudly and proudly present our opinions with no regard for the damage we may be doing or the message we’re sending.

Maybe it’s our snippet mentality. Most of what we see in our news, friends, politics, social media is fast moving, shallow and lacking in understanding or depth. We’re quickly moving on to the next thing. Maybe it’s the speed at which were operating.

Almost without fail, comments on public posts offer little worth the time it took to read. More common than not, the comments are mostly about being snarky, opinionated and mean and prove that the article they’re attached to wasn’t even read.

The loud, angry voices always seem to draw the most attention. But, rarely are they the actual majority.

So, how do those of us that want to make a true difference move forward in a good way? Here’s some things I’ve done or I’m working on:

* Reduced social media time.

* Thinking twice before posting. What is my purpose in sharing this? Will it help or hurt?

* Finding reasons to laugh!

* Cut off the steady flow of news.

* Unfollowed, unliked and hid sites and people who increase my stress level.

* Added more positive, hope-filled sites and people.

* Making “that’s not my story to tell” a part of my thinking and stating it to reduce gossip.

* Educating myself on the truth of a topic or cause that affects, bothers or interests me in an effort to understand better.

* Let things go. Refusing to be offended as quickly as possible when I find it building.

* Practicing agree to disagree and giving up proving a point when it harms relationships.

* Thinking about the impact my words and actions may have on others.

* Praying for my mouth and the mouths of others.

* Trying to take my thoughts captive sooner.

* Weighing my opinions against scripture and the character of Jesus. (thus, shut my mouth)

* Doing word searches on the Bible app to check myself. Example – stirring “strife” is one of the things God hates. Looking through scripture about the words we speak and use is very convicting.

* Stepping away from those who constantly stir up strife.

* Cultivating personal relationships and meeting in person for coffee, lunch, dinner.

* Read more. Talk less.

* Noticing good and commenting on it.

* Encouraging others, including strangers.

* Having conversations with those who provide customer service in stores, restaurants and businesses in a positive and thankful way.

* Looking for the good in any situation.

* Smiling more! 😁

Maybe it’s time we were all known more for what we love and less for what we hate! Maybe we can take our lives back and shine more light in a dark world. What can we do TODAY to help?

I’m working on it!

Agree to Disagree!

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“I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you.” Anthony Bourdain

Photo includes books from my beloved x-mother-in-laws collection (who passed away in 2018) and my ancestry collection.

I love to read! I love quotes! I love scripture! My curiosity and research nature sends me digging on a daily basis. My ancestry obsession has given me a new love for all things history and the intricacies of human nature.

In 1967 I entered first grade at the same elementary school attend by my father and grandfather. It contained six large classrooms and an extremely wide hallway lined with bookcases. I remember being SO excited to be able to check out books. The sixth grader who checked me out couldn’t believe I could already read chapter books and made me read from Little House on the Prairie out loud first. I took the book home.

Both of my parents encouraged me to read, study and make good grades. My dad was a child of the late 1930’s growing up on a cotton farm. He dropped out of school and never learned to read and write. But he ran a successful business, worked hard and had four children graduate!

And, read I did!

My first teacher was a missionary on furlough from work in Africa who read us Bible stories everyday. I also had two uncle’s serving in Vietnam during my elementary years which opened my little eyes to world events and war. Later, in 6th grade our Social Studies teacher gave us a list of biography books and we were required to pick two and write essays that year. My choices were Hitler and Martin Luther King, Jr. These occurrences and influences definitely set the foundation for my worldview!

I also like to try and understand where people are coming from that I don’t necessarily agree with on everything single issue. I’m not afraid to like, read or share from people that share “A Truth” even if I don’t totally agree with everything they have to say. Heck, I don’t always agree with myself. I also think it is important to study history and read about those that we totally disagree with so we don’t repeat the evil.

I’ve had a few folks on social media call me out for sharing quotes from everyone from the Pope to Whitney Houston because of who said it, who they represent, what they supposedly believe or mistakes they’ve made. I honestly didn’t realize people in general are SO judgemental about it until I recently attended a meeting where some I have read and respect were discredited as writers and speakers. One writer in particular was very instrumental in my love of missions and stepping outside the box. Having lived half a century, I guess I missed the lesson on writing people off in totality for not holding the exact same opinion as me on any host of minor issues. Kinda like the old saying… “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater

But, back to the positive! Biographies have always been a favorite. Reading about Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, David Livingstone, Chuck Colson and Corrie ten Boom greatly influenced my faith journey.

Cookbooks are also among my favorites! The old church ones are the best! They just happen to be in storage at the moment.

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Personally, I think we could all benefit from reading more. It is good to challenge ourselves to read outside our box. I sometimes read biologies of people I don’t necessarily agree with but find interesting. I’ve never been disappointed. My latest love is well researched historical fiction. My most current read was Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan Henry (love story of Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis) and also Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate that dealt with a horrid period in the history of Memphis and an orphanage run by the evil Georgia Tann.

My favorite read of 2018 was Everybody Always by Bob Goff. The pure joy and love in his stories, warmed my heart, challenged me and literally made me gasp and cry when reading about Tanzania. Beautiful and complex Tanzania. In a full circle, only God could do that way, I ended up in Africa on a mission trip a few years back, speaking to elementary school children in the very town where explorer and missionary David Livingstone had his post!

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I have a stack competing for my attention. A friend loaned me Becoming by Michelle Obama. So far, it is well written, personal and even relatable as a child of the 60’s. I’m also reading Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson, a podcaster, blogger and pastor’s wife who is published by Moody Press. Recently attended a writing conference of hers and she is quickly becoming a favorite. Hamilton is sitting on my coffee table. I’ve started it but need some serious down time to really get into it since it is small print and over 800 pages. I also have my Psalms Life Group study and a stack of books on the Cross leading up to Easter (Tozer, Spurgeon and Lucado). Varina by Charles Frazier is waiting on my Kindle. O’Reilly’s Killing England was fantastic! Doing several devotionals on the Bible app including David Platt’s Radical, one on the Hope of the Cross by Max Lucado and another by the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. And, yesterday, my Southern Living magazine arrived!

So, yes, I’m an avid reader of many things by all kinds of authors. I will continue to read good books and blogs,quote good quotes, and share things I find meaningful and try my best to be understanding. ♥️

Challenge yourself! Read something outside your norm by an author you’ve never read; join a book club; go hear an author speak; pick an online devotional; read something a younger or older person loved and recommends. I won’t judge you for it! And here’s is to hoping you won’t judge me.

Just read! Hope we can all agree on that!