Our New Home

Our New Home
I love all the summer greenery around our home!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Do The Barking Dogs Keep You Awake?

So how did your weekend go?  Did you find occasions to be an encouragement to those around you?  My wife has always been an encourager.  Every time we go into a store she will take the opportunity to tell the cashier what a good job they are doing.  It is the funniest thing to observe, for normally the cashiers look kind of dumb founded when my wife speaks to them.  Having worked in the retail trade before, I am positive that most cashiers are not used to being thanked for what they do.  My wife has it down to a science, as she will lean toward the cashier, pause a moment to get their attention and then sincerely tell them of the good job they do.  The cashier will then stand there, rewind in their mind what was just presented and then stutter out a “well, thank you!”  Then my wife gives ‘em that killer smile of hers, nods her head and leaves, while the cashier stands there with a big smile on their face.  I have to admit that I used to get a little embarrassed by my wife’s actions, but once I saw the sincerity on her face and the utter appreciation on the cashiers, I look forward to witnessing the event at each store!  One of the cashiers in a neighborhood store that we frequent (who can be a tough character!) told us the other day that we were her favorite customers!  I think the cashiers look forward to my wife’s encouragement now!

Well, I spent most of the weekend fighting off cold symptoms.  After church on Sunday I was quite exhausted and was looking forward to a rest, although every time I had lain down previously during the weekend I could not sleep due to interruptions by the phone or barking dog.  We seem to have a squirrel who has taken up the hobby of entering one of our patios to collect the acorns and harass the dog! (Of course I’ve been known to sneak up to the sliding door, dog in hand, and then thrust the dog into the patio just to see the squirrel flee in utter terror!).

Anyway, after a quick lunch yesterday I grabbed the dog, had her lay down next to me and was able to sleep for 21/2 hours.  Boy, did that rest feel good!  Then this morning as I was reading my Bible, I came to the fourth chapter of Hebrews where the writer talks about entering into God’s rest.  As I studied this out, I understood that this is talking about the rest that the gospel or the “Good News” of Christ brings into our lives.  My foundation gives me the ability to live free of strife, anxiety, and all the other pressures that life in this world presents to us.  What a thought!  It is like the results of the “rest” that I finally got yesterday.  I felt better, stronger and more confident to go into the week ahead.

Do you have that same assurance?  Are the ringing phones or barking dogs running your life, or do have the foundation that gives you the peace and comfort required to be successful on a daily basis?  Stay tuned, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?” 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Be An Encourager!

Friday morning greetings to everyone!  I thought that I’d get any early start on the posting today.  This day is the dawn of a new weekend, with it’s endless possibilities of good things to come!  As a preamble to my beginning to read the Biblical book of Hebrews, I pulled out my NIV Study Bible and read over the background information to the origins of the book, it’s date, writer, theme, literary form and overall outline.  The book of Hebrews is one of the books in the Bible where the author is not identified.  Many theologians attribute the writing to the apostle Paul, while others point out the marked differences between the writing style and emphasis of the book as compared to Paul’s other letters.  I tend to believe that Paul was not the writer, and lean toward the proposed authorship of Barnabas, another leader and scholar in the church in Paul's time..

Barnabas was known as a man of encouragement throughout the church.  He always spoke words that exhorted, consoled, comforted and encouraged those to whom he spoke.  My study bible even goes so far as to say that the book of Hebrews could be called “the book of better things” (NIV) since the Greek words better and superior occur over 15 times in the letter.

My point to all this today, is to encourage you to be an encourager this weekend.  Think about the words you share with others (and even toward yourself) as this day progresses into Saturday and then Sunday.  Take actions toward others that make them know that you care, and that they are special to you. 

Last week my wife and I were standing in line in the supermarket when the customer in front of us discovered that he was a dollar short of the final tally of the items he needed to purchase.  When he told the cashier that he would have to go find his wife to get the extra money, the cashier sighed and looked questionably at the embarrassed customer.  Without thinking too much about it, I reached into my pocket and pulled out four quarters that I just happened to have and handed them to the cashier.  I then glanced over to the befuddled customer and simply told him to have a blessed day.  He just stared at me with a confused look, mumbled a quick thank you and left.  It all happened so fast that the impact of it didn’t hit me until we left the store.  What I discovered was that it felt good to be able to be an encouragement in that situation.  It may have only been a dollar, but from the look on that man’s face, I know that he will think about it for some time to come.

Be a source of encouragement in the lives of those present in the various events in your life this weekend.  It will not only be good for them, but also for you!  Have a great weekend.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself…”What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Importance Of Friendship

I had to run over to a near by store today to pick some materials that I needed to complete a job I was working on.  While I was there I saw a friend that I used to work with.  As we talked we both admitted that each of us had been thinking about the other for quite a few weeks now.  His comment was that our meeting in the parking lot must have been a “God Thing”, and I’m certain that it was.  My friend had been a big comfort and encouragement to me when my wife’s health began to degenerate about a year ago.  I was struggling to keep up with what seemed like the daily changes that were happening on my job, having to travel as much as an hour and a half one way to the various locations we worked at, and trying to keep up with my wife’s needs all at the same time.  Sometimes my Christian buddy Moses and I would just laugh… and boy, did that feel good!

Meeting with him today for the short period of time that we spent in that parking lot, brought back the pleasant memories of the hours we spent together on the job.  What I decided today was that I was not going to let our friendship drift away into an occasional passing in a store parking lot.  Even though he lives in a city about 45 minutes away, I am committing to get in touch with him and his lovely wife on a regular basis so that my wife and I can fellowship, encourage, and enjoy each other’s company!

What about you?  Do you have friends that you’ve been thinking about, but continually put aside the thoughts of calling them?  There is a scripture that says: “…a loving friend can stick closer than family.”  (Proverbs 18:24 Gods Word©)  I have learned the lesson of this scripture through seeing how different folks have dealt with my wife’s changing health.  I have been surprised and troubled when certain family members whom I thought would draw in with open arms, have instead stayed their distance, finding it very difficult to personally deal with the changes, while many friends accepted the events in stride and have surrounded us with loving kindness and concern.

So I encourage you this day to call a friend that you haven’t seen for awhile.  Make the effort to rekindle the flame of friendship that once burned brightly between you.  Maybe it means that you have to step out of your comfort zone and be the first one to make the move, but believe me, when the chips are down, you’ll be glad that you did!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself…”What am I expecting today?”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dealing With The Unexpected

As my wife and I walked our dog Mandie around the community lake this morning, I could see that there was trouble brewing across the placid waters.  Mr. White and his three Mallard companions were swimming cautiously on the far end of the lake while two large Canadian intruders stood threateningly on the shore near the middle of the lake.  If you listened closely you could almost hear the four permanent residents voicing their indignation at the presence of the 2 visitors!  “Who do they think they are, showing up unannounced and strutting around here like they owned the place…”

Okay, Okay… so maybe they weren’t actually upset about their guests, but the situation struck a cord with me as my wife and I discussed the return of the two Canadian Ducks that had also shown up around this time last year.  It is kind of like when unannounced guests show up at your home.  How do you respond to situations like these?  I can think of times were I was annoyed at the sudden arrival of friends, when I could of simply gone with the flow, walked in love and enjoyed the moment.  What about you?

I believe that the frustration or annoyance that we experience has to do with a fear of not being able to complete the things you were doing at the time of your guest’s arrival.  I John 4:18 says that “…love gets rid of fear.”  (Gods Word©)  Walking in love also helps you to be a blessing to others as well as closing the door to negative reactions and their consequences to you.

So as the ducks on our community lake seem to be comfortably cohabitating with their temporary visitors, while enhancing the experience of those of us who regularly enjoy the lake and its surroundings, you too, by walking in love, can be a blessing to others while enhancing your life by making positive memories for you and your guests!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself…”What are you expecting today?”


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You Never Have To Be Alone

My wife and I just returned from a walk around the little lake that is in the midst of our housing community.  It is a very picturesque area surrounded by tall pine and redwood trees, green lawns, park benches and is complete with a small meandering creek flowing along one side.  The lake is also home to four ducks.  There are three mallards that normally stick together and one large white fellow that at times will venture off by himself to forage on the lawns or along the creek bank.  The white duck seems to have taken on the role of the protector of the flock.  Anytime that we have ventured near the three mallards during our frequent walks, Mr. White will approach us and put on his most ferocious face while hissing loudly at us…  That is unless we have our dog Mandie with us!  When he sees our fifty pound Australian Shepherd approaching, Mr. White does an immediate about face and waddles quickly off into the lake or any other way that will distance him from the black beast!  (The funny part is that Mandie hardly even takes notice of him.  She just keeps on walking, seemingly oblivious to his presence as she sniffs the ground and vegetation along our pathway!)

This regularly repeating scenario got me to thinking about life in general and how others see us.  Sometimes when we walk alone along the paths of life we can become the potential prey of unscrupulous individuals, but when we walk those same paths with someone bigger than ourselves, those who would desire to take advantage of us might just have second thoughts.  As a believer in the Christian faith, my foundation tells me that I never walk alone.  The very last sentence in the first book of the New Testament encourages me to “remember that I am always with you until the end of time.” (Matthew 28:20 Gods Word©) I also have a church family that is there to support and hold me up in times of need.  What about you and your foundation?  Can you say the same thing? 

Now, don’t get me wrong here.  I’m not trying to compare my foundation to my big, black dog, but I think you can get the picture that I’m trying to paint!  When strolling around our lake, I know that I won’t be harassed by the duck when Mandie is with me, but more importantly is the security in knowing that as I traverse the paths of life in this world, that someone greater than me is by my side and I never walk alone.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Super Bowl Attitude...

Okay… Okay!  I know that you’re all chomping at the bit to hear if my wife and I stayed true to our convictions and made it to the coast yesterday.  Well, we did and it was great!  (see the photo!) The weather was warm, the wind was very minimal and scenery, as usual, was breathtaking.  I don’t think that I have ever seen it more crowded though, as everyone had the same idea that my wife and I had, but who cares, we (and all of them) were there to relax and unwind and that is exactly what we did.  How about you?  Did you find a special place where you can escape that is nearby your home?  Let me know what you found or where you currently like to go.  If you sign up for a free account with Google, you should be able to leave a comment or send me an email at pastorjim@whatareyouexpecting.org.

I came across a scripture this morning that gave me a whole new outlook on how to approach the upcoming  week the first thing on a Monday morning.  The verse is found in Psalms 19 and says, in reference to our sun rising in the heavens, “Like a champion, it is eager to run its course.”  (Psalm 19:5 God’s Word©)

Have you had such a great time during the weekend that you were reluctant to let go and return back to your regular weekly routines?  I know that I have.  I can vividly remember a time as a youngster when my family and I went for a weekend visit to some friends of my folks who lived on a large ranch in California’s central valley.  They lived a totally different lifestyle than we did in the city.  They grew peaches, almonds and grapes and lived smack in the middle of one of their orchards.  Being in that atmosphere with the farm equipment, bi-planes dusting the fields (and waking us up early in the morning as one of the pilots was a friend of one the daughters in the family, so he buzzed the house at tree top level a few times!), playing with the ranch dog, dusty trucks and the wonderful aroma of fresh peaches was almost too much fun for a young boy like me to handle.  When we returned home and the harsh reality of getting up Monday for school hit me, I experienced a sudden and prolonged case of self pity!  I can recall the tears welling up as I just wanted the weekend to continue, and not have to face the rigors of school and my normal life.

Now, as an adult, I have also been tempted to not want to face what my regular life has in store for me come Monday mornings, but I have learned to put it aside and go forward.  That scripture verse got me thinking about how we should really face the week.  My foundation gives me the assurance that I should and can approach the upcoming events like a champion who is eager to run his race of life… because I know that come the end of the day, or week, I will win!  How can I be so confident?  Because I whole heartedly follow the words of wisdom that my foundation gives me.  Toward the end of that same Psalm, the writer states that “There is great reward in following them” (Psalm 19:11 God’s Word©).  I’ve been around long enough to know that His Word works, when you obey and put your child-like faith in Him.  How about you?  Are you ready and able to face your new week like a champion?  How do you think that the members of the Steelers and Packers are going to face the next two weeks before the Super Bowl?  They are going into this prep time with the utmost confidence that they will win.  If they didn’t have that attitude, then they might as well pack it up before the game actually begins!

Consider yourself a Super Bowl of Life champion and face your week with every intent on bring home the trophy!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself…”What am I expecting today?”

Friday, January 21, 2011

Free Yourself To Be Adventurous

Well, it’s Friday again and oh… what a glorious day it is!  Do you have any special plans for the weekend?  I have to admit, that I did not follow through on my plans last night to celebrate our recent victory.  But, don’t give up on me yet.  Since the weather is supposed to be real nice through the weekend, my wife and I are planning to pack a lunch and  head out to the coast right after church! 

Our local coast line has always been a bit of a haven for me and our family through the years.  While I am not particularly enthused about camping out there, it has been the locale for many one day respites.  We enjoy it all…the salty air, beautiful waves, fresh crisp smell, and yes… even the pesky seagulls!  I’ve even been known to drive out there by myself with my camera and a note book.  I have written songs while gazing out across the horizon, found solutions to difficult questions, and released a whole lot of stress as I walked between the surging waters that spread up the beach as the successive waves pounded the shoreline.

No matter where you live, there has to be a place where you can steal away for a few moments to regain your mastery over the immediate situations that arise each day.  While living in Oklahoma we discovered a small nature reserve just minutes from our house.  It became a weekly (sometimes daily!) place for us to walk or drive to, in order to simply enjoy the trees and wild life that seemed to be evident everywhere we turned your eyes.

Be free to be adventurous this weekend!  Pull out a local map and search for that special, close by, place of retreat for you and your family to escape to.  While we enjoy the nature scene, you might prefer antique stores, or that funky coffee house at the corner shopping area.  Whatever it is, I challenge you to find it, and then frequent it.  Allow yourself the pleasure of a few minutes of distraction, then suck it in and face your world with a new found resolution!  Stay tuned, and keep asking yourself…”What am I expecting today?"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Celebrate The Victories Along The Way!

In yesterday’s posting I talked about being able to persevere through the rough phases in our individual races in life.  Today I was thinking that I should also mention the high times that occur as we walk the various paths toward the completion of our goals.

 We recently received some very good news that we had been waiting to hear for the last five months.  My wife was finally approved for some benefits based on the illness that she has been dealing with.  Yesterday, as we walked out of the government office with all the completed paperwork in our hands, I felt as though I was in a daze.  I opened the door of the suburban for my wife, walked around the car and climbed into the driver’s seat and found myself just staring off into the distance trying to take some account of what just happened!  While I was experiencing a great sigh of relief and a joy that this goal was met, I immediately started to think about a wide assortment of other things that still needed to come together for us.  Since it was late in the day and I still had to prepare my junior high lesson for the night, I just shoved all those emotions inside, drove home and got ready for the evening service.

This morning as I rose from the bed, padded down the stairs and then sat in the study, I noticed that all the feelings that I had quickly stored inside, the previous afternoon, were beginning to slip out with a renewed sense of urgency.  I found myself reviewing all my next concerns until I finally realized that I hadn’t taken the time to relish and enjoy the victory that had just occurred! 

This is another important step that needs to be respected as all of us follow our dreams, goals and expectations!  I am reminded that the Jewish people in Old Testament times loved to honor God by initiating feasts and celebrations after most of the various victories they had throughout the years.  In past postings, I have mentioned the story in the book of Nehemiah were the children of Israel were allowed to return to their holy city of Jerusalem (while in captivity) to rebuild the city walls. (see Nehemiah chapter 8).  The Jewish governor told the people to not be sad but to rejoice, “eat rich food and drink sweet drinks and to send portions to those who can’t provide for themselves!” (Nehemiah 8:10 God’s Word©).  He was basically telling them to stop and smell the roses for this one-time successful step in their march toward the completion of this goal that they were pursuing as a nation!

We… you and I… need to take the same advice!  I’m not sure yet what it will be, but my wife and I are going to celebrate tonight!  Who knows, maybe will break out a pizza with some cold root beer and laugh through the night!  Whatever works for you… when the victories come, no matter how small or large, take the time to savor them.  This breaks up the pressure of pushing toward the finish of your goal, while rejuvenating your emotions and re-igniting the fire inside that keeps you going!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What are you expecting today?”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Going Through The Rough Phases

Wow… what a beautiful January day here in northern California.  It’s just hard to beat, when you step outside in the morning and are treated to a rich blue sky, fluffy white clouds and 60 degree temperatures!  My wife and I spoke to our daughter in North Carolina last night via Skype, and as she was telling us about the cold weather that they are experiencing, we could see our son in law in the background, donning a heavy coat and scarf as he prepared to take the dogs for a walk.

 It reminded me of the cold winters that we endured in Oklahoma a few years ago.  The first winter was fun because it was so different than what we were used to, but I was ready to pack up come the next two winters that we spent there.  It was really funny when the store I worked for had me spending the majority of my shifts working outdoors in order to prepare the exterior of the garden center for the spring and summer season.  I used to joke with my fellow employees that they (the management) had the California boy (who seldom ever saw snow) working in the snow while everyone else was warm and cozy in the store!  Now that I think about it, they probably knew exactly what they were doing.  I was so naive that they must of figured that I wouldn’t know I was being had… and they were right!

There are times, as we pursue our dreams, where we may have to deal with unpleasant situations for awhile, in order to complete the various phases of our goals in life.  The desire to complete the life time goal I had of attending Bible School was so strong in me, that I was able to overcome any thoughts of quitting and going home.  And believe me, I had lots of opportunities to prematurely pack up and leave.

So, know that there may be some places along your paths where the times aren’t smooth or particularly pleasant.  The key is to keep your resolve strong enough to overcome those testing times.  Like I’ve said before, don’t lose sight of the finish line, “fight the good fight of faith…”  (I Timothy 6:12 King James Version) and depend on the strength of your foundation to support you through the not so comfortable seasons, as you follow your goals to their final bell.  Stay tuned, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

As I look out the windows in our study I can see tall pines from one side of the room and towering redwoods from the other.  These are two of my favorite trees that quickly steal me away, in my mind, to two of my favorite camping locations in the state of California.  With the view of the beautiful pines, I can easily allow myself to drift off and imagine camping at 5500 feet in the pristine Sierra Nevada mountains in Plumas County, staring wistfully up another 2000 feet to the top of Eureka Peak in Plumas Eureka State Park.  The redwood trees bring me back to the myriad of summers as a kid camping with my family along the Eel River in Humboldt County at Richardson’s Grove State Park, along with the more recent memories of camping with my wife and our children along the Avenue Of The Giants just up the road near the booming metropolis of Myers Flat.  To me there is nothing better than waking up early, stepping out into the brisk quiet morning in the campgrounds, starting a fire, making the coffee and then sitting back at the camp table enjoying the quiet solitude, surrounded by the tall green trees, the clear skies, fresh air and all the little critters scurrying around the trees and rocks!  Wow… just thinking about it makes me want to pack the car and head north!

What about you?  Do you have favorite places that you like to go to?  Places that allow you the freedom to release the stress in your life, the opportunity to dream and play, or just sit like I like to do in the crisp quiet mornings and simply soak in the peace of your surroundings.  We all need locations like this in our lives.  For me it’s camping in the mountains, for others it’s the beach, or a hotel in an exotic location.  Rest and recreation are very important elements that we all need to incorporate into our schedules.  I have to admit, that we haven’t been camping for over five years now.  We packed all our equipment and brought it out and home again from Oklahoma without ever unpacking it.  I even sent for and received an entire box chocked full of camping locations within Oklahoma, made lots of plans, but never made the opportunity to follow through on them.  Now that we’ve been home for a couple of years, we still haven’t returned to the familiar trails of our favorite camps!

So, let’s work on this one together.  Let’s both schedule some R&R times in order to rejuvenate the body, mind and soul!  I mean, even Jesus took time off from his busy schedule to relax with his close associates.  

Psalm 23:2 says: “He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me besides peaceful waters.” (Gods Word©)  Ah… the peaceful waters of Little Jamison Creek… trout leaping for my hook (did I ever tell you that my youngest daughter always caught the biggest & most fish whenever we went fishing there!!!), skipping rocks, diving into the freezing, snow melt fed stream…  That’s it… I’m heading for the car… Oh wait a minute, that park is currently under quite a few feet of snow!  Maybe I should think about laying on the beach along the Eel River, floating on an air mattress amongst the gentle rapids…  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Monday, January 17, 2011

"I Have A Dream"

Today we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.  (His real birthday is on the 15th of January.  Today is the observed holiday to honor him) To many of you, he is probably just a historical figure that you studied in school when you were taught about the civil rights movement in America.  He lived for 39 years from 1929 until his assignation in Memphis, Tennessee in1968.  I was in junior high when he died, and although I really didn’t understand the depth of his cause, I did realize that he was fighting for equal rights for all Americans.

Being raised in a mid-sized town in northern California shielded me from the injustices that Reverend King and his movement stood for.  As I grew up I began to have a greater insight into the disparities among the races that existed in other parts of the country.  My dad used to tell the story of when he was drafted during WWII.  Following basic training in California he was sent to a base in the southern states.  He vividly recalled getting off the train and entering a restroom, only to be chased out because he had unknowingly gone into the men’s room set apart for blacks.  So began his exposure to the inequities that did not exist, at that time, in Richmond, California, where he was born and raised.

My quick thought for today concerns what is probably the most well known speech that Martin Luther King Jr. ever made.  It was entitled “I Have A Dream” and he delivered it during “The March On Washington,” in 1963.  In the context of this speech, Reverend King expounded his dream of our American values to include the vision of a color blind society.  He pursued that dream throughout the rest of his life, and was shot and killed on a motel balcony because of it.

How strongly do you desire your expectations and dreams in life?  Are you willing to relentlessly pursue the things you envision for tomorrow?  We have already talked in some detail about the importance and planning for dreams in your life, so we won’t further that discussion here, but I do want to encourage you to stroke the fires of passion in continuing on with your plans for your future.  (read through my past posts if you missed the ones where I discussed dreams and planning for your future) Don’t let the everyday pressures of your world deter you from marching forward.  While Martin Luther King Jr. died in 1968, his dream continued to grow and expand into the reality that we take for granted today in our country.  Let your hard work and determination propel your dreams and visions into your future realities.  Stay tuned, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

PS:  For more information on Martin Luther King go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.#March_on_Washington.2C_1963






Friday, January 14, 2011

Your Words Are Powerful!

For the last couple of days I have been reading the Old Testament accounts of the patriarchs of the Christian faith, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  What has captured my attention in their stories is the importance they put in their words.  When they made a statement, a vow, or bestowed a blessing on someone, there was no going back on it.  From the time the words left their mouths, it was so!  It was a code by which they lived and died.

In reflecting upon this and comparing it to the trends in our modern society, I think we have watered down the standard by which these leaders lived in centuries past.  Have you ever thought about the things that you say.  Do you ever joke about things that you don’t really mean?  Do you sometimes wish that you could take back words you’ve said to others?  I know that there have been times in my life where I wish I could rewind the clock and start certain conversations all over again!  There is a scripture in the Biblical book of Matthew where Jesus said, “Words are powerful; take them seriously.  Words can be your salvation.  Words can also be your damnation.”  (Matthew 12:37 The Message).

That’s a pretty heavy statement....  kind of makes one stand up and listen doesn’t it!  So, with the weekend upon us, why not take take a moment and look inside and think about the words that you share with others.  How do you want people to judge you?  The above scripture says that among other things, we are judged by our words.  I challenge you to stop and think about what you’re going to say.  Speak words that encourage, bring peace, and release joy.  Then your words will be conveyors of salvation to those around you as well as to yourself.  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”







Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stay Aware Of The Things In Front Of You

I was looking at some pictures this morning of a vacation that my wife and I had taken about five years ago, and I noticed something that I had not seen before. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my wife has been diagnosed with a progressive medical problem for a little over 2 years now. What I saw as I fondly gazed at some of the many poses that I had taken of her at that time was that she was beginning to lose weight even back then.  This discovery shook me this morning.  What really sent the shock waves zinging through me was the fact that I never saw it.  I was so involved with the changes and events in my own life that I failed to notice the signs occurring in the one that is the closest to me.  Would it have made a difference if I had been aware of it?  I will never know… and that’s the thought that brought tears to my eyes, and sent me to my knees.

Sure, I was going through some challenging times of my own having been laid off from a great job that I had held for twenty years, followed in a couple more years by the closing of the professional photography store that I had gone to work for.  I was struggling and as I look back now, so was my wife.  We have always had a close relationship, a strong marriage and made (and still do) a smooth operating team that couldn’t be beat.  But, I missed the signs.  I was too busy with myself and my world to reach out to her.

Don’t let this happen to you.  Find the time to be an integral part of the lives of those close to you.  We all go through periods of intense pressure and anxiety, but stay in tune to those around you.  Not only will you be a help to them, but they will be able to assist you and help you to bear your burdens through your tough times.  Don’t allow yourself to miss the warning signs before a catastrophe comes upon you or your loved ones.  In reality, my taking action five years ago would probably not have stopped the problem, but it may have made the road a little smoother in the following years.

Now, my story will have a good ending because I believe in the truth and strength of my foundation.  My Bible says that my God, through the finished work of His son Jesus on the cross, has provided healing for my wife.  (see: I Peter 2:24, Psalm 107:20, Isaiah 53:5) So while we walk a very rocky path that we’ve never taken before, I know that it will eventually smooth out and that our foundation will uphold us and strengthen us along the path to recovery.  Take the time today to look deeply into the eyes of those you care for, give them a hug and assure them of your devotion.  You’ll be happy that you did!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

PS:  As I completed this post today, I went upstairs to see why our dog was barking.  Upon reaching the top of the stairs I burst into laughter as I witnessed her rolling upside down on our bed just barking away and having fun!  Maybe that’s something that we all need to do occasionally… jump on the bed, roll and laugh!... Ah, I needed that, how about you?

*** Check out the picture of our dog Mandie at the bottom of this page! ***

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lessons From The Past

I learned a lesson the other day about the importance of memories.  I’ve tended to be the kind of individual who lives with an eye for the present and near future.  While I have always enjoyed listening to people’s stories about their pasts, what has bothered me is when I see those who are always  talking about the past.  These folks look to live their current lives through their past.  I think that personal history, especially younger days when responsibilities were at a minimum, give folks a sense of security.  Living in the past tends to be a safe route to go because you already know how it turned out!

The positive lesson that I received came during a phone call with my mother during the holidays.  She was telling me about a conversation that she had just completed with a close high school friend who still lives on the east coast.  My mother, who is now in her eighties, married my dad in New York after WWII, and within a few years moved to California, where my dad was from.  In the move, she left all of her family and friends and began a new adventure in life with my dad and my newly born older sister.  While it was quite a shock to adjust to her new life, in a new state, without her family and friends, adjust she did, and within a seemingly short amount of time, our family grew to include my older brother and myself.  During those years my mom’s folks had retired and eventually moved to California, along with her older sister, her husband and family. By then, my mom was well established and home out here, but it was the memories of the many special family times during her childhood, activities in high school, and the adventures of  her first job in New York city that kept her going during the initial years of trials and tribulations after the move.

During our phone conversation, my mother joyfully related to me the many memories she and her friend reminisced about concerning their singing and dancing days in high school.  If I am not mistaken, one of them was voted the best dancer and the other the best singer of their high school class!  Those memories gave my mom a foundation for who she has been all the years of my life.  She has always been a strong, self confident and out going women.  The happy times and accomplishments of her past helped her to step up and succeed whenever times got tough and situations looked bleak.  This, to me, is a very positive way to incorporate your past life’s events into who you are today.  While some have never gone beyond their accomplishments of the past, she used the past to propel her through into the present.  And at eighty plus years, she may have slowed down a little, but she is still the happiest and most positive thinking individual I know!

So… don’t look to me to dish anyone’s memories.  I just encourage each of you to enjoy today, think fondly of the past, and look to combine who you have been, with who God has designed you to be in the years to come!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What are you expecting today?”

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Never Give Up!

Gee, today is 1/11/11.  Seems like there should be some significance to that date!  If you know of any, please add a comment to this posting or send me an email at pastorjim@what areyouexpecting.org.  Whether there is any stated significance or not, I am planning on this to be a special day non-the-less!  It is supposed to rain any moment, and I do not have any outside yard jobs scheduled for my part time yard and garden business.  So I plan to work on the blog, and then spend some precious time with my wife!  Sounds great doesn’t it?

I am also excited today that I get to talk with my daughter in Oklahoma tonight.  For many years throughout her childhood and teens she studied ballet.  When she felt led to go to Bible school, she put her love and ambitions for ballet on hold so she could concentrate on her ministry  studies.  Now that school is complete, she has felt the release to continue on with the development of her dance skills and to see what the future may hold for her in this field.

Have you ever had to put a dream on hold, never to see it come to fruition?  This occurs to many of us.  The events of life seem to take over and before you know it, the dream is just a distant memory.  Don’t let this happen to you.  It is never too late to see your dreams through to completion.  Like my daughter, you may have to put your plans on the shelf for a while, but keep the dream, expectation or vision alive inside of you while you pursue the current priorities in life. 

The Bible says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18 King James Version)  Don’t allow that part of you to perish as you walk along the paths of life.  Write it down and tape it where you can see it everyday.  Another scripture that speaks about having a vision tells the reader to: “…Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run.” (Habakkuk 2:2 “The Message”)  Keep it ever before you and don’t let it go, even if it takes years before it materializes.  I waited 20+ years to go to Bible School, and as I look back now, I can see that it was God’s perfect timing for me and our younger children.  Once again, dream big, write it down, post it in front of your face and NEVER give up on it!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself…”What am I expecting today?”

Monday, January 10, 2011

Look For The Good!

I woke up this morning to a beautiful blue sky filled with puffy white clouds.  It reminded me of our three year stay in Oklahoma when I attended Bible school.  While I am not particularly beholding to the Oklahoma weather, I have to admit that they have some of the most gorgeous blue skies and spectacular cloud formations that I have ever seen… of course, they are usually accompanied by terrific downpours with thunder and lightning storms that can make your hair stand up straight!

You know what… there is a lesson in that.  There is usually something positive that you can find in just about any situation.  Like I said before, I was not very fond of the weather in Oklahoma.  To a guy that’s lived his whole life in temperate northern California, 45 minutes from the beach, Tulsa’s weather was a shock!  Hot and humid during the summer with cold and icy winds in the winter.  Believe me, after three years, I was ready to come home! 

But, today’s picturesque view out our tall window in our stairwell, did stir up fond remembrances of our stay.  It made me think of the wonderful and life changing time at Rhema Bible Training Center, the many good friendships from school and work, that first snow, and of course, the outrageous skies that we hardly see in our part of California.  So even though I was ready to point the car west in a moments notice, that experience is now a vital part of my life that I would not change!

So what am I trying to say… Look for the good in life everyday.  Find something to be happy about and let that memory form a positive outlook in you. Then pass that blessing on to somebody else.  Most people I know like to hang around with positive, happy people.  Who knows?  You just might be that one good thing in somebody’s life today!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today!”

Friday, January 7, 2011

Take Time To Laugh!

Well, I’ve got a quick thought for you to ponder on this dreary Friday afternoon here in northern California  When your day is just kind of mundane, not especially bad but nothing really spectacular happening, try laughing away the blues!  There is a scripture that says: “A joyful heart is good medicine…” (Proverbs 17:22 God’s Word©)

Think about that for a moment.  Free medicine that you always have inside you that you can take whenever you need a dose!  Laughter can be taken as an antidote when times are just so-so, or when things look really bleak.  Is it distasteful to the system?  Not really, but it may seem really strange to start laughing, especially when you don’t feel like it.  It takes a little practice but the rewards are refreshing! 

Now, you may be wondering how I ever got on this subject… we’ll I’ll tell you.  This morning I was reading the story of Abraham and his wife’s encounter with God as He informed them that they were going to have a child.  In case you’re not familiar with the story, Abraham was 99 years old and his wife was not much younger.  When each of them heard the news, they laughed at the naturally impossible proclamation.  God then continued and informed them that they were to name the child Isaac which means "he laughs"…  and a year later the miracle baby boy was born!  (sounds like another miracle birth we discussed a couple of weeks ago, doesn’t it…)

I think God had Abraham and Sarah name that baby “he laughs” because He wanted them to laugh every time they ever thought again about disbelieving what He said to them.  Whenever they had His word on a situation, they could laugh when it looked like things were getting sidetracked.  It’s the reason that I can laugh when my expectations are not yet visible.  My foundation gives me the confidence to move on and laugh to the frustration of whatever, or whoever may be trying to slow me down!

So, when things aren’t going like you think they should… stop and take a moment to stir up a little ho, ho, ho, and keep going until the dam breaks and the laughter starts to flow.  Before you know it, you’ll be feeling better and the sunshine will be poking through the clouds that were surrounding you.  Have a great weekend!  Stay tuned and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”

Thursday, January 6, 2011

You're Doing A Good Job!

Okay everybody, we are six days into the New Year and I was just wondering how you were all doing with your goals for 2011.  Do you still have the enthusiasm and drive to pursue them or has part of the excitement already passed you by.  On the other hand… did you even take the first baby steps on the road to their completion by December 31st?  Well, let me encourage you to pick up the pieces and keep moving on.  Now that reality has hit and you’re back into the flow of your normal world following the holidays, you might want to adjust some of your timelines, or even thin out the list a little.

I ended up setting goals for four different areas in my life for the New Year.  Those areas included physical, spiritual, business and ministry goals.  After almost a week, I am actually doing pretty well, although out of the total of ten goals, there are a few that will need to be looked at again.  I think I was rather aggressive with my timeline with one goal in each of the four sections that I divided my life into.

Make it part of your regular routine to check the progress on your goals on a weekly basis.  Be honest with yourself and make adjustments where necessary.  The main thing is to keep moving forward, even if it is just a tiny step toward the completion of the goal.  Have fun with the process and use wisdom in determining which way to go when you hit a roadblock.  The very last scripture that I read this morning really spoke to my heart about a lot of things in my life including the progression of my goals.  The verse found in Proverbs chapter one verse 33 says: “But whoever listens to me (wisdom) will live without worry and will be free from the dread of disaster.”  (God’s Word©)

What does this mean?  Well, to me, it says to stay the course of your goals, to not get under condemnation when you fall behind in the steps you’ve set, and to seek the wisdom of others and/or from your foundation when questions, problems or impossibilities arise along your daily path.  Following this direction will keep your expectations high and not allow the dread of failure or disaster to cloud your enthusiasm or your judgment.

If you haven’t heard it yet, then let me be the first to tell you that you’re doing a good job, keep it up!  … and let me know how you are doing along the way.  Attach a comment to the blog or send me an email at pastorjim@whatareyouexpecting.org.  By the way, one of my goals is to increase the readership of this blog… and you can help by telling others about it!  Thanks!  In the mean time, stay tuned and keep asking yourself, “What am I expecting today?”


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Expect The Sun To Rise!

I commented to my wife a few days ago, as we walked along the path that rambles through the park like setting of our housing community, about how swiftly the weather can change.  It had been dark, dreary and rainy for the previous couple of days and nights, but when we awoke on that Monday morning the sky was clear, the air was crisp and everything seemed to shimmer in the afterglow of the cleansing rain.

The dramatic change in our surroundings got me thinking about how quickly the situations in our personal lives can also turnaround.  It was a vivid example of why it is so important to not give up when the darkness seems to persist about you.  Psalms 30:5 takes specific aim at situations like this.  The Psalmist wrote: “…Weeping may last for the night, but there is a song of joy in the morning.”

Our foundations help us to walk through the long nights in life, while keeping a watchful eye on the eastern horizon, knowing that the song of joy will arrive in the morning.  Never let the expectancy of that song of joy depart from you.  As I mentioned in a previous post, my Bible says that His  joy is the energy that provides me with the strength to go on, even when everything and everyone says to give up.  Stay tuned, and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Coming Through The Dark Valleys In Life

Yesterday, my wife and I received a year end letter from our daughter in Oklahoma.  It was one that she copied and sent to many of her family and friends.  In the course of the letter she explains all the good things that happened over the time of her stay in Broken Arrow and Tulsa throughout 2010.  She then ended the letter by encouraging all the readers with the statement that “the best is yet to come.”  Following her signature was a P.S. that said “or as my father would say, ‘What are you expecting today!’”

Well, you know what?  As I re –read her letter this morning, I was extremely blessed and highly encouraged by her concluding remarks!  Not only did it send a zing of energy into my day, but it made me proud that my daughter would think it important enough to quote what I have been telling others for the last year!  Ah!  A chip off the old block!

After being led to study along particular vein this morning, I thought it was important to add an addendum to yesterday’s post.  One of the various scriptures that I explored today was the familiar 23rd Psalm.  In particular verse 4, where it states: “Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage.”  (God’s Word©)  In the previous installment of this blog, I spoke of not allowing fear to blind you from exploring new avenues in your future.  The flag that popped up within me as I read the above verse, was the fact that fear does attack us at times in our lives.  It is a real adversary that we have to deal with, and today’s point is how we handle it in order to grow.

It is an interesting to me that the 23rd Psalm is a familiar scripture to many of us because it is regularly read at funerals.  While I can see the application, I firmly believe that this particular verse is better used as an applicable for those of us who are alive and well and facing the everyday issues of life!  You’ll notice it says “even though I walk through the dark valley of death…”  We all enter dark valleys of death (or times of fear) in our journeys through life, but this scripture says that we can go through  them and come out on the other side!  The very next portion of this verse is the key to the successful completion of these times in our lives.  It speaks of the important role that our foundations play in the drama of life.  In speaking of the foundation in which I walk my daily steps, the 23 Psalm continues “…because you are with me, I fear no harm…”  In other words, I do not walk my path alone.  A force greater than myself resides with me, giving me the comfort and courage to move through the storms that arise on the horizons of my life.  So even though the storms may pound down on me, I KNOW  that I can successfully weather them and come out on the other side of the deluge warm and safe.

This is the confidence that a strong foundation can afford one in this life.  You can be assured that troubling times will come upon you, but the right foundation will guarantee the support to keep you steadily progressing along the right path in fulfilling your unique destiny.  Stay tuned, and keep asking yourself, “What am I expecting today?”


Monday, January 3, 2011

Don't Let Fear Blind You!

This morning my wife and I began reading “Daughter of Destiny”, which is the authorized biography of Kathryn Kuhlman, written by Jamie Buckingham.  In case her name does not ring a bell with you, Kathryn Kuhlman was a world renown evangelist from the early 1930’s into the mid seventies.  She had a tremendous healing ministry that was accepted by almost all segments of the church world, in the United States and across the globe.  My wife fondly remembers a meeting of Miss Kuhlman’s that she and her mother attended when she was young girl that was held in our local area.

The first chapter of the book mentioned the name of one of her confidants whom I thought had also written a book about her in recent years.  When we were done reading, I went on to the internet to see if I could discover if this was true.  In perusing the various hits that came up as I goggled the information, I came across an article that was written by an individual that was very negative to many of the things that Miss Kuhlman did during her ministry days.  As I quickly scanned through some of his arguments and the Biblical reasoning that he used to discredit her, I was amazed to see that he had missed many of the clear scriptural examples of the very activities he stated are not in the Bible.

What quickly came to mind was that this individual was seemingly blind to documented examples that went contrary to his fixed beliefs.  As I pondered this, I began to realize how much the fear of something new or different can blind us from moving into new, greater revelations in and for our lives.  How many times has this stopped us from exploring new possibilities in personal growth, travel, friends, doctrines or even trying a new dinner item on the menu!  My paternal Grandmother was a very sweet and intelligent individual, but even well into her eighties, never really accepted her life in the United States, after moving here from Italy as a young women.  One of her most common statements from which she predicated many conversations was “back home…”

As you think about your future at the beginning of this new year, don’t allow a fear of expanding into new areas for your life to stop you from moving on and growing into the individual that your were destined to be!  One of my all time favorite scriptures is found in Philippians 4:13 where the writer, having just described a variety of both good and bad situations that he had been through states, “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.” (God’s Word©)  

Through the years, that scripture has enabled me to go way beyond my comfort zone to conquer new heights and discover new truths that have widely expanded who I am as an individual.  Do you have that same “can do” mentality?  Does your foundation give you the confidence to forge new streams in your life?  Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from becoming all that your are meant to be!  Stay tuned, and keep asking yourself…”What am I expecting today?”