My Prayer for You

 “It is for this reason that I bow my knees before the Father, after whom all families in heaven above and on earth below receive their names, and pray:

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings” (Ephesians 3:14-19, The Voice).

This is my prayer for all of you tonight, as originally prayed by the Apostle Paul.

More Lessons from Lent

It’s been a week since I gave up social media for Lent and so far, I’ve managed to stay away. I’m also trying not to be super-legalistic about it, but I’ve done well so far.

I do miss seeing what everyone’s up to and what their kids and pets are doing. I do feel quite a bit out of the loop when I’m away from social media. I also feel like I’m actually participating in my own life again.

I got to see a good friend of mine in what looks to me like the beginning stages of a dating relationship. I’m to the point now where I can be completely happy and supportive of both of them.

I also was blessed to celebrate the transition of Kairos  leadership from Mike Glenn to Chris Brooks. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of change (as I may have mentioned in passing in a few other blogs), I know that better things are in store for Kairos.

Maybe I’ll actually get back to that novel I started back in December but haven’t been able to get around to in 2016. Imagine that. Reading actual books. It boggles the mind.

I still hope to have more face-to-face conversations and do more of that real life stuff that I’ve been hearing so much about. From what little I’ve seen, I really think I’m going to like it.

In three days, my teenaged geriatric cat turns 16. I almost feel like a parent, wondering where the time has gone from when she was a wee little kitten barely bigger than my hand.

I think at some point in the future, I’d like to take a week or so where I go off the grid completely. No electronics, no phones, TV. Just me getting back to nature and (hopefully) getting my internal clock reset.

I also want to get back to living out of a sense of wonderment. I want to enjoy the moments and give thanks to the Creator not only of the grand universe but also of the smallest details.

There will be more updates as Lent progresses. If you’re pining away without me on social media, you can always reach me at gmendel72@icloud.com (because I get so few actual emails from actual people these days).

 

This Is The Voice!

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First of all, I bet you just sang those words. Especially if you’ve watched NBC’s The Voice, a reality singing competition. But this blog has nothing to do with that.

Here, The Voice refers to a new translation of the Bible that I’ve chosen for my annual read through the Bible campaign. So far, I’m up to Leviticus. Not bad for me getting a late start this year.

So far, I’m vividly reminded that those pesky Israelites never quite got it right. Even from the start, they were bowing down to idols, sleeping around, and whining like my cat.

Then I’m reminded that I’m a LOT like that. I may not bow down to little wooden statues, but I do have mixed-up priorities where other things and people get put ahead of God. I may not sleep around, but I’ve harbored a few lustful thoughts in my head from time to time.

And I do complain. Maybe not always out loud, but I do get grumpy occasionally and have bad attitudes every now and then (as in every other day).

I’m also reminded that God stuck with His people through all their growing pains and bad choices and outright rebellion. He kept His word, not because they were so faithful but because He was– and still is.

Side note: I’m extremely thankful I’m not bound to offer sacrifices every time I sin. For one, I don’t keep a flock of sheep, goats, and bulls in my backyard. Also, it’s a very messy affair. All that slaughtering and sprinkling blood and burning organs grosses me out a bit.

That reminds me that 1) the cost of my sin is never cheap and 2) the price Jesus paid for my sin was way too high, more than I deserved by a long shot. I should never ever ever take my sin lightly.

I recommend that if you read through the Bible every year that you vary it up and read different translations and different styles of translations. Maybe read a word-for-word version like the NASB one year then read a looser version like the NIV the next. Or possibly even The Message.

More to come on my Bible reading progress. . .

The Continuing Saga of Me Watching Downton Abbey

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Yes. I admit it. I am addicted to Downton Abbey.

It’s a lot like Dark Shadows, except that everyone is English. And there are no vampires. Yet. But it does have that melodramatic soap opera feel to it sometimes. But the characters are so richly realized and the dialogue is (mostly) authentic and witty and moving.

To my count, they’ve already killed off at least five cast members. One more vanished mysteriously in the dead of night. And oh yeah, I should probably have thrown in a spoiler alert notice before I told you all that.

It makes me want to go back to the Biltmore Estate (which is the closest to a castle this side of the Pond). Either that or I win the freakin’ lottery so I can afford to go check out Highclere Castle in jolly ol’ England.

But more than anything, I really and truly cherish the honest portrayal in the relationships on the show. It makes me want to strive for that authenticity in my own relationships.

Most of all, a part of me likes to see the bad guy get what’s coming to him and see those who try to do right finally rewarded for all their efforts.

If I were to make a spiritual analogy, I’d say that I’m glad to know that in Jesus the bad guys do get their comeuppance and those good guys win in the end. I’d also say that none of us are really good on our own but the love of Jesus as displayed on the cross makes us so.

That is, if I were to make a spiritual analogy out of Downton Abbey.

I Believe, I Believe. It’s Silly, But I Believe

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I love the little girl in Miracle on 34th Street. She’s like me and so many others who really and truly want to believe but seem to be running low on faith.

Sometimes, faith IS believing in things when common sense tells you not to. Faith really is the art of believing still even after circumstances and life events haven’t gone your way.

Maybe you’re single with no hope of a spouse in sight, yet you cling tenaciously to a slender thread of faith.

Maybe you’re married to an unbelieving spouse and it’s all you can do to mouth the words ” All things are possible” when it comes to your mate’s salvation.

Maybe it’s a wayward prodigal child or an illness that lingerd. Maybe it’s a dead end job that makes you feel like you’re living a dead end life. Maybe it’s just a general sense of hopelessness and despair.

There’s wisdom in that little girl’s mantra. Good things come to those who keep waiting and hoping. God’s best comes to those who refuse to quit despite everyone else telling them to give up.

I don’t know your specifics or your situation, but I do know God. He hasn’t broken a promise yet or failed to keep His Word. Ever.

Faith isn’t so much holding on to God, but being firmly convinced that He’s holding on to you with everything He’s got and He won’t let go.

We believe, Lord. Help our unbelief.

Amen.

Another Boxing Day Has Come and Gone

It’s Boxing Day. At least for another 53 minutes.

All I know of this holiday is that it is celebrated in Canada and that it involves leaving gifts for those in need, or alms, in boxes outside our homes. I would look it up on Wikipedia, but I am beyond sleepy and not inclined for that much brain activity.

I had another great night in downtown Franklin. I ate at McCreary’s Irish Pub, which almost feels like a home away from home because the people who work there seem almost like a second family.

I finally got to see The Sound of Music on a big screen, Franklin Theatre-style. That was worth way more than $5.50.

I took lots of pictures with my iPhone. They’re all posted on my Facebook page, so look me up and see all my pics there.

As you might have already guessed, I’m running low on creativity tonight. I supposed I’m all boxed out. Ha.

On a day when most people have already moved on from Christmas, I’m still listening to Christmas music. I finally found my Ultimate Christmas MP3 CD with over 13 hours of hand-picked favorites. Apparently, I have way too many favorites.

I’m still thankful for the Baby born in a manger, whether it was actually on December 25 (which is highly doubtful) or in the spring (which is more likely). What matters isn’t when He came, but who He came for– you and me.

It’s good to be reminded again that I mattered enough to Someone for Him to come into my world and find me and save me from myself and my sins and my mess.

That’s all for now.

What I Did for Thanksgiving This Year

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What did I get for Thanksgiving this year? Fat. I got fat.

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Seriously, it was a low-key day, even by Thanksgiving standards.

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Me and the fam dined at Cracker Barrel, then I went home and finished my top 50 favorite Christmas movie list. If you want to see it, you’ll have to find me on Instagram.

I kicked off my annual holiday movie fest with the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street. There’s the whole Thanksgiving parade tie-in which makes it the appropriate choice for today. And the parade in the movie was way less creepy than the real-life parade I witnessed on TV today.

For once, there was no football of any kind involved. I just didn’t feel like it.

Tomorrow is Black Friday, which I will honor by sleeping in and dreaming of great deals. On a side note, if you see a great deal on the new iPad Air or a MacBook laptop and feel led by the Spirit to buy one for me, I will give you a shout-out on here. Just sayin’.

I’m thankful for tasty turkey, family, friends, chocolate, warm beds, fleece scarfs, and grace. Maybe not in that order but definitely all of the above and then some.

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Joy on a Rainy, Yucky Sunday

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I had an amazing time dining at Chuy’s with some friends old and new. And by that I mean friends that I’ve known for a while and friends I met today. Compared to me, they were all young whippersnappers.

I had my standard taco salad with both chicken and steak. I had my water with both lemon and lime. I figure why should you be an either/or person when you can be a both/and person? Life’s much more fun that way.

Life’s also more fun when you see the sun behind all those grey clouds and joy in the midst of difficulties and hardships. It’s not like the sun went AWOL during all this rain. It’s still there, behind the clouds and waiting to be unveiled at just the right moment.

Joy’s like that. It’s always there. There’s never a moment without a blessing or a place with no joy to be found. You just have to see with eyes of thanksgiving and gratitude to find the blessings and the joy. Even in the darkest of times, you can always find light if you know where to look.

Later on, I’m celebrating Thanksgiving with some more friends. This year, it’s more than a lot of turkey and dressing. It’s about being truly alive and counting all my gifts that I once took for granted. It’s about celebrating the people in my life who are helping me find and love out my miracle.

Truly, life is good, God is great, and I am still blessed.

Mo-vember Madness and More

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It’s officially “Mo-vember” and this time I am doing my part (or at least trying to). I am attempting to be all manly and grow a beard. So far, it’s going . . . very slowly.

This Mo-vember, or November as it is called by the non-bearded populace, has been cold. As in “I can see my breath” and “I can’t feel my hands” cold. That made for a shorter than usual downtown Franklin night.

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I started it all off with some fantastic Lobster Mac and Cheese at Grey’s on Main, the swanky new dive on Main Street. It was pricey, but the atmosphere is very hip and trendy. Like me. 😁

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I visited my usual favorite spots: Frothy Monkey, St. Paul’s, and Sweet CeCe’s. I took in all the very early Christmas decorations (does anybody remember that little holiday in November called Thanksgiving? Anyone?)

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I almost forgot to mention one of the best sunsets I’ve seen in a while. I tried to capture it with my iPhone but the real thing was much better than what ended up on my screen. No matter how good camera technology gets, nothing will ever beat seeing sunsets with your own two eyes.

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I took quite a few pictures of the festive decorations and multicolored leaves. I got a great shot of the lit-up Grey’s sign from my table right at the second floor window. It looks like something out of one of those old 40’s film noir classics. Except it’s in color.

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Life is so much better and so much more fun when you focus on what you have and how much you’re blessed. I think Ann Voskamp said something to the effect that gratitude makes what you have enough. While comparison kills joy, gratitude makes it blossom and grow.

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I’ll be back in downtown Franklin next Thursday, so look for more pictures and more life lessons learned and more hijinks and antics shared.

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Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive

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Sometimes, life will hand you lemons. You could make them into lemonade, but without sugar and water to go with it, your lemonade is really going to suck. Or you could freeze those lemons and throw them at all those people who really annoy you. Just a thought.

Maybe it’s a friend who really disappointed you and wasn’t around when you needed them. Maybe it’s a long work week where you seem to have not only two left feet but two left hands as well. Maybe it’s just a general sense of discouragement at where you find yourself compared to so many others.

Here’s the cure. Focus on the good things in your life, or as the old song says. accentuate the positive.

Here are some of my positives which may or may not inspire you to find your own (or you could just steal mine if you like):

1) I woke up this morning and got out of bed and got dressed and went to work. It may not seem like much, but I know a lot of people who didn’t get that privilege today.

2) I greet on Tuesdays at Kairos (a young adult worship experience) with some of the most amazing people, each of whom I am blessed to know and to call friends.

3) The three C’s essential to any early morning– coffee, chocolate, and caffeine. All three are marvelous.

4) I can pull out my Bible (or pull out my iPhone or my iPad and bring up my Bible app) and instantly be encouraged and motivated and strengthen at any time of day or night.

5) Instead of lamenting about how far I am from where I need to be, I can celebrate how far I’ve already come and who I am now versus who I used to be.

6) If I look through eyes of faith, I can always find blessings and joys stashed throughout my week and choose to live out Eucharisteo in every moment.

7) No matter how bad my day may suck, it will never last more than 24 hours. No matter how bad the week seems, it will never have more than 7 days. And that includes Friday and Saturday.

8) My cat Lucy is always happy to see me when I come home and loves to tell me how her day went. Ok, not really. She’s more the silent type, but still her presence is a great comfort to me.

9) I love seeing how my nephews and niece are discovering this great big world and their place in it. They are becoming who God made them to be and I love the previews I get of what that will look like.

10) I have my favorite places that always make me happy: my corner of the couch in the morning, downtown Franklin, serving at Kairos and Room in the Inn, and being around my family and friends.

Joy is a choice that I must make every single day. If I want my life to matter and if I want the people I live with and work with and play with to see a difference in me, the only way is me living out of joy and gratitude and thanksgiving at the never ending goodness and mercy and steadfast love of God.

And there’s those three C’s.