“Blackberry heaven”…..

This evening I was tooling around on the 4 wheeler when the kids saw me and wanted a ride. So D rode in front of me and K hopped on the back and we began riding all around the property. We had lots of fun crossing the creek, riding beside the growing corn, standing on the 4 wheeler to pick mulberries and stumbling across a large patch of wild blackberries. The farmers this year have said that it was going to be a great summer for blackberries because it was a “blackberry winter”. Now I don’t know what conditions that means but I do know they are right. Blackberries are just now starting to come into their own and it looks like they have legs to go a while.

And because blackberries are on prickly canes and challenging for smaller hands and arms to reach, I used my 4 wheeler to ride the kids right up to the spots that were teaming with blackberries. They called it “blackberry heaven” and picked the fat, dark berries and plopped them into their mouths. It was like a drive up blackberry stand as we idled from cane to cane picking off the berries and eating them right there. What a great time in the country.

Oh, and goodbye June.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Rout doubt…..

Usually it is my Dad sending me emails that are sometimes reposted and shared here on my blog. But today it is something from Mom. Enjoy!

HOW TO: Rout Doubt
by BENTON PATTERSON

Guideposts Contributing Editor

I had started a business believing I was following God’s plan for my life. I felt confident. After a year and a half, however, the business collapsed, leaving me with not only a pile of debts but also some questions I’d never really pondered before.

The fact of God I never doubted, but I couldn’t help wondering: Does God actually have a plan for each of our lives, for mine in particular? Did He hear me when I talked to Him, and if so, would He do something to help?

While I was struggling for answers, a letter came to me out of the blue, asking if I’d be interested in a job, a very good job, with a magazine I’d never even considered working for before. I took it.

I was convinced that the offer, unsolicited and unexpected, was the Lord’s doing. He still had me in His plan, I felt. He had simply cut new orders for me. All doubt suddenly vanished.

Since that time nearly 20 years ago, in other hours of weakness or defeat, I’ve seen doubt return, like a relentless enemy. But now I don’t wait for a miracle to drive it away; I go to work to overcome it. Here’s what I do and what you too can do:

1. Realize doubt is normal. Despite God’s instructions, Moses doubted that he could get his own people, much less Pharaoh, to listen to him; Gideon doubted God would give him victory; John the Baptist, discouraged and in prison, doubted Jesus was the Messiah; the apostle Thomas doubted Jesus’ resurrection. I remind myself that almost everybody has doubts. And I remember that like so many of God’s people, I too will overcome mine.

2. Go back to the mountaintop. Recall a time when you felt close to God. For example, I often think of that winter night some years ago when a friend called asking me to look up a colleague of his who had recently moved to a town near ours. I didn’t know the man and didn’t know the town, but suddenly I had an urge to contact him as soon as possible. He had no phone, but I had his address.

I got into my car and drove to the town, where I went up one street and down another searching for his street. As the distances between houses began to stretch out, I decided I was heading in the wrong direction, and then, stopping to turn around, I spotted his street. Minutes later I was in his house.

It turned out that he and his wife were having family problems, and he, new to the area, had no one he could turn to for help—until I came. To this day I believe God led me straight to that man at the very time he needed someone.

3. Remember the promises. My father’s death a few years ago was one of the saddest times of my life, the sort of time when I find doubt sneaking into my thoughts. Is this the end of all Pop’s love and goodness? I thought as I sat through the funeral. Is it all over? Then Christ’s words came ringing back: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3). No, it wasn’t the end, not for anyone who belonged to Christ.

4. Look for reinforcement. When you run out of gas, you won’t get much help from anyone whose tank is also empty. You need somebody who has enough to let you siphon some. When I have doubts and my faith is running low, I go to believers—to friends who share their faith with me. Mine is replenished when I see and hear about theirs.

5. Ask for belief. If I need help on my job or around the house, I figure the best way to get it is to ask for it. So when I feel short on faith, I pray the words a desperate father once spoke to Jesus: “I do have faith, but not enough. Help me!” (Mark 9:24, Today’s English Version). Jesus gave that father what he asked for. He does the same for us.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Boys of summer…..

As you saw from my post Friday, my son turned 10. That is one of those milestone ages and he sure is showing it — in a good way. Recently, while I was on a business trip (conveniently I must say) my wife put him on our zero turn mower and showed him how to mow the lawn. Now while he is still getting used to it and can only do straight lines in open spaces, he handles himself very well I must say. I was initially very concerned and skeptical thinking my wife was prematurely exposing him to unnecessary risk. But I was wrong and it has been working out wonderfully. The only downside is that now there are three of us that like to mow and have to fight for time on the Scag.

I have also been spending more time out in the yard with him throwing the ball. It doesn’t matter what ball — baseball, softball, tennis ball, or football. All I know is that he is now at that point where I don’t have to “baby” throw it to him. He still needs to work on his catching and throwing but he is maturing and growing nicely to where we will have a real, full-fledged game of catch soon. I’m sure in a couple of years we will both be a ways away at our max throwing distance. And then, as I get older, he’ll return the favor and start to “baby” me.

As far as kids go, with R, K and D, this sure is an enjoyable season with each of them. I am just soaking it up.

Oh, and another milestone — R successfully passed her driver’s test today and she now has her license. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Chrysalis talk – Christian action…..

While my daughter, R, was serving on the Chrysalis youth support team this week, she also gave one of the many talks that lead and build the Chrysalis caterpillars faith journey with Christ. R has a God given gift of public speaking and communication. She has done several sermons at our old church and is now sharing her perspective with her Chrysalis talk.

I am humbled and privileged to be the dad to such a wise and mature woman of Christ. She is beyond her years in spiritual maturity and is grounded in Christ far beyond what I was at her age. I pray that she continue to be used to share the love of Christ. Below is her talk:

Last summer I went on a trip to Virginia Beach with my youth group. On our last night there we went out to eat. After dinner our youth leader surprised us with a challenge. We were split into groups of three. Each group was given five dollars. Here was the challenge: with five dollars we were to go out and do something kind for people we did not know. In other words we were to perform random acts of kindness to complete strangers.

I remember the group I was in really wanted to stretch our five dollars to try and reach out to as many individuals as possible. First we bought about a dozen lollipops to give out to people. Our first attempt to give out a lollipop kind of failed. After all, we were strangers giving out free candy. But we put a smile on our faces and tried not to be discouraged. I remember there was one girl who was working as a vendor. She had a hurt leg and we were told she had been standing there literally all day. When offered a lollipop, a huge smile appeared on her face. She said that made her day. Seeing smiles appear on these people’s faces made me smile. I was glad I could bring a little more joy to someone’s day.

The next thing we did was buy a few postcards and a pen. On the postcards we wrote encouraging messages such as “smile, Jesus loves you.” We put the postcards in random places as we walked like a statue or ledge for example. We stuck the remaining postcards we had on the windows of cars in a parking garage.

We now had around a dollar left. After some discussion, we decided to buy a necklace. I forget what it looked like but I’m pretty sure the necklace had some spiritual reference. We wrote a note on a post-it, stuck it on the back of the newly purchased necklace, said a prayer, then gave it to the cashier asking her to give it to customer whom she thought might need it.

All that was left of our five dollars was change. We divided that up and each of us held a very small amount of money in our hand. We dropped the coins one by one on our walk back to the car. As I dropped each coin, I said I little prayer for the person that might find that one penny, nickel, or dime.

While I never saw the faces of the people who received the postcards, necklace, or coins, I hope that maybe just maybe my random actions of kindness might help them in some way or brighten their day. Just like in life people come and people may go. It’s your words and actions however that can leave a lasting impression and possibly be what that person needs- whether you know it or not. A simple loving action from a selfless heart can plant a seed in someone. And we all know with a little help and care a seed can grow.

My name is R and the title of this talk is Christian Action.

Just like prayer and study, action is just as important to your spiritual growth. Christian action is the third leg that completes the tripod. This tripod you’ve been hearing about represents what we, as Christians, should be doing in order to fly and spread the love of Christ. Through prayer you offer your heart, through study you offer your mind, and through action you offer your body to Christ. Christ wants you to be an example of Him through your actions.

Christian action is being the hands and feet of Christ; it is allowing Christ to act through us. Everyday you have the opportunity to reach out. Sometimes you just have to open your eyes a little bit more to those chances. I have learned that the greatest accessory I can have is a smile. A simple smile can show care, love, and above all happiness. And often times a smile is contagious. It is also the simple actions that can show care such as holding a door for someone or saying hi as you walk by.

I hope you realize that you don’t have to wait to go on a mission trip or be with a youth group to be Christ-like. While mission trips and youth groups are awesome, Christian action starts where you are. Christ told us to love our neighbors and that doesn’t just mean the people who live next door, nor does it mean to only love your family or specific friends. Just as we all work together as the body of Christ, we must learn to love and help those in need. Being a good neighbor means treating everyone equally. We are all God’s children; we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. In our daily lives one way to show love is by being a Christian friend, so set that example. Continue to be there for friends that you already have, but also be a friend to those who might be lonely. You never know what someone may be going through, so talk to them. You could be the one who plants that seed and helps them grow towards Christ.

I have had the wonderful opportunity of planting seeds in people while on mission trips here in Kentucky. It is so cool to see someone come to Christ. On these mission trips I’ve helped replace whole roofs. During this five-day process of tearing down, rebuilding, and replacing the homeowner is overwhelmed and often tears come to their eyes. They can’t believe that a team of young adults, teenagers, gave up a week of their summer to give them a new roof and asked for nothing in return. Often we pray with the homeowner and have a daily devotional. It is through this way the homeowner may ask about our faith and want to know more. Know that just because you’re young doesn’t mean you’re unable to share your story. As youth, you still have the ability to inspire other people. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no man despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

As Christians we are to pass the love that has grown in us from Christ to others. We can only do that if we live out loud, we can’t just exist. So be active in your everyday life. 1 John 3:18 says, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”

I know in my life my dad has been an example of Christian love and Christian action from the beginning. When I was still a baby, my biological father died of cancer. I call him my daddy in heaven. When I was four, my mom remarried to a wonderful man I call my dad. He accepted me and loved me just the same. At the wedding I was the flower girl and he gave me a little gold necklace, which reads “Daddy’s Little Girl”. In second grade he adopted me and I was officially a ‘family member’. My dad is very strong in his faith and is not afraid to show it. He is always helping others in the church, at home, at work, basically wherever he goes. Everywhere my family travels, he is always finding someone to talk to. I’ve heard many stories of how he met someone and had the chance to talk faith with them. It’s quite amazing how many encounters he’s had with that kind of opportunity.

One thing my dad has done in the past is eat a meal with a homeless person. Instead of offering them money he will offer to them a nice meal and eat with them. As you may have noticed this offers a good opportunity to talk and learn a little about someone. During the meal my dad will chat with this person. He might even end up getting the chance to talk about faith in some aspect. But the main point is he treats this person as a true child of God.

I can definitely learn from my dad’s example. He shines his light on others and I’m sure his actions have helped many. My dad has also shown me that Christ is everywhere. He has helped me to learn that the people are the church, not the building.

My dad is among many people whom with I share a Christ-like relationship with. It is in these relationships where my Christian action is helped to stay encouraged. You see, I have not always been this much-set on fire to share the love of Christ with others. In fact, I only began going to church regularly about five years ago. When I was younger, I only remember going to church a couple times out of the year. I never went to Sunday school mainly because I didn’t want to and thought you needed a vast knowledge of the Bible. I knew there was a God, He was born in a manger, died on a cross, and has been risen from the grave. I thought life was pretty good. Then when I was eleven my family moved from southern California to Kentucky. You can imagine my joy. Not long after the move my family decided we would start going to church on Sundays. After getting into the habit of our new Sunday routine and had been attending Sunday school regularly now, my interest in the Bible slowly began to grow. I wanted to know more about my Jesus. The summer before I started high school was when I went on my first mission trip and had the most amazing time. I think that’s when I was first set on fire for the Lord. Life was no longer just good; it was wonderful and had amazing purpose!

Over the years I’ve created strong friendships within my youth group. This past school year the Lord has also brought some amazing people into my life that encourage me. These friends have helped me grow so much. They have such a positive influence in my life. It is their love for Christ which makes them shine and whenever I see or talk with them a little bit of their light shines on me, giving me the love I need to make it through any difficulty I may be experiencing. The thing that sets these friendships apart from other friendships I’ve had is that we all share a strong love for the Lord. The relationships that have helped me grow are also the ones that keep me going and remind me to live for Christ.

Is there anyone in your life who is a shining example of Christ’s love? More importantly, are you an example of Christ’s love to others? Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Your actions can speak louder than your words. God has given you each an amazing gift- His love. Are you going to share that gift with others through your kind actions? Let me tell you, the Lord has set me on fire for Him and I cannot keep His love to myself. It is far too great to hold it all inside. I want people to know and experience and feel his love, just as I have. But know this; in order for you to truly be Christ in action, you must first have Christ in your heart. You must let Him in and let Him consume you.

If you are a flashlight, then Christ is part of the inner workings that help empower you. And for any flashlight to turn on, it needs batteries. As Disciples of Christ we need two, one battery is called prayer and the other is study. Sound familiar? Without these two batteries the flashlight won’t turn on. But with these two batteries charged the power of Christ can flow through you. When Christ empowers you, it can be easy for others to see your light. Just remember not to shine too brightly. Christ loves everyone the same and we are all His children. Shine just enough for others to see, but don’t blind them.

Like I mentioned earlier, you must want others to know the love of Christ in their lives. Think about all of your friends. Do they truly know the love of Christ? Have you been a shining example to them?

I have these four friends who are all sisters. They are wonderful girls and are some of the sweetest friends I know. However, their family is not religious. My heart yearns for them to know Christ. Whenever I see them, I am the Christian friend as I usually try to be. I can hope my Christian action may spark something in them. I have never really talked about Jesus with them, but they know I am a Christian. I pray someday they might ask or the opportunity would come up where we could talk. I don’t want to be pushy about it or make them feel uncomfortable, so I pray for them. You shouldn’t force Christ on another person. Jesus is everywhere and already in other people’s lives. Christian action is respectful. We are to love and share and let God do the rest. We are to also be accepting. You shouldn’t judge someone or assume they don’t already have a relationship with God. Yet be sensitive to someone’s needs. Also be excited to hear about someone else’s experience with God. Likewise, you should share your stories too.

To help pass on the love of Christ, there are three easy steps you can follow. They are make a friend, be a friend, and bring your friend to Christ. You can make a friend anywhere- at school, at work, in your church, in your community, even when you’re on summer vacation. Remember that this person is a child of God, a unique creation. You should be kind and accepting. Love this person for who they are. And remember to smile. Nothing can be more friendly than a kind face.

Be a friend. After you’ve made a friend, keep that connection. And I don’t mean to just act friendly, really be a friend. Be there for your friend whenever they may need someone. Stand by them. Talk to them, and when you ask the question “How are you?” really mean it. Be caring. Introduce your friend to the ultimate best friend- Jesus Christ. Share with them the one who inspires you and is your joy. Share with them the reason for your Christian action. Keep in mind though that sometimes God will use you to plant a seed in someone and the harvest will be brought in later. While you may not see the results of your planting, you can definitely see the beginnings. Know that God will continue to guide that person which you helped plant a seed in.

So ladies, I challenge you to be the light the world needs. Remember to pack the right batteries of prayer and study and know that Jesus can always recharge your batteries; all you have to do is ask Him. Don’t be afraid to shine your light. Share with others the power source behind your light. With Jesus on your side you have nothing to fear and with God all things are possible. Be bold as you fly. Turn your flashlight on so others can see the light of Christ.

There is a song by Lifehouse called “Everything”. One of the lines in the lyrics is

“how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you
would you tell me how could it be any better than this.”

Those words are so true. How can you know the truth, which is Jesus Christ, and not be moved? How can you not be moved by the ultimate act of love, Jesus? My hope is that all of you will be moved by Jesus and that He moves you so much you feel the passion inside you to show someone else the love of Christ.

Colossians 3:12-17 says what we, as disciples in action are to do. “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Fly with Christ

Be inspired, be obedient and be of action.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Chrysalis Flight #44…..

My oldest daughter, R, has been gone all weekend. She is working as a volunteer for the summer Chrysalis Flight. If you didn’t know, Chrysalis is the high school version of Emmaus and is a huge booster to one’s walk with Christ. It takes a large amount of coordinated work from many very committed volunteers to provide a life changing experience for those on the Chrysalis flight (dubbed “caterpillars”).

They have been in my prayers all weekend but today I ask for prayers from you. The closing ceremony is this evening and these high school youth will return to their “normal” lives. I ask that you pray that their experience from caterpillars to butterflies will blossom and take flight as they strengthen their walk with Christ from this day forward. Pray that they be led; that they be emptied of themselves and filled with the Holy Spirit to be used to further God’s kingdom.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Gift giving karma…..

So last Sunday was Father’s Day and my son thought he was funny with one of the gifts he gave me. It was a pair of my own underwear that had somehow gone through the laundry but made it to his dresser drawer instead of into mine. He wrapped it up and gave it to me as a gift. He thought it was funny.

However, he did not strategically think it through all the way. You see, his birthday was today — very close to Father’s Day. He should have done this on another gift giving occasion that didn’t have another gift giving date so close to it for me to reciprocate. So I used the opportunity to give him the same thing back — a pair of his clean underwear wrapped up. The funny thing is that he was bothered by this more than me because he thought it “counted” as one of his gifts and he felt like he got jipped.

Dad always has the last laugh.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

New perspective…..

I recently saw this very cool educational animation video and it really breaks down some preconceived notions on the typical corporate carrot/stick behavior. I encourage you to watch it…..but only if you are A) in management or B) a worker bee.

By the way, it looks like there are quite a few cool educational animations from the same folks on YouTube. I’m gonna spend some more time checking them out.

And for any of you reading this from my last company, pay very close attention around minute 9:00. If that doesn’t smack you straight between the eyes, I don’t know what will. The emperor has no clothes.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net