Saturday, May 21, 2016

Don't Retire ... Refocus

By Andrea Merrell

As the doctor “froze” the crusty place on the back of my hand, I said, “Now, if you could just remove these age spots.”

“Sorry, can’t do anything about birthdays.” Then he smiled and added, “But it’s better than the alternative, right?”

Birthdays seem to come and go so fast these days I can’t keep up. The years continue to pile up and I’m always amazed when I think about my age and that fact that I’m supposed to be retired. I’ve made the statement many times that I might be getting older, but I refuse to get old.

Age is only a number, and it does not define who we are. It’s our mindset and what’s inside that matters—spirit and soul. After all, they say you’re only as young as you feel, and you can always be young at heart. While our bodies might show wear and tear, our spirit can be renewed daily by God’s Word.

I once read that you only become old when you allow your regrets to take the place of your dreams. We’re never too advanced in years to stop moving toward our God-given purpose and destiny. We must never lose sight of the fact that God has a plan for each of us as long as we have life and breath.

Mix the enthusiasm of your youth with the wisdom and knowledge you’ve attained over the years, and share it with others. Be content with who God created you to be. Eternity awaits, but our time on this earth is precious. Let’s not waste a single moment.

When you get to the age where some people stop really living, don’t retire … refocus. Your best days are ahead.

(Photos courtesy of Miles/mrpuen.)


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Monday, May 16, 2016

Writing the Rest of Your Story

By Andrea Merrell

The past has passed. That pretty well says it all. What has happened is done … finished … behind you …etched in stone.

Our past can be full of good memories or bad. Maybe a combination of both. It might be filled with tremendous success or abysmal failure.

The good, positive memories from days gone by will fill us with a sweet sense of peace. But what about the negative ones? Sometimes they scream at us, invading our thoughts and even our dreams. They replay over and over in our mind until we get stuck in the past and feel there’s no way out. We dwell on things we can’t control. History, as they say, cannot be changed. There are no do-overs.

So what’s the answer?

Instead of replaying those negative voices from the past, we must shut them out and begin to rewrite our story from today forward. We can learn from our mistakes and move ahead, following God’s plan and purpose for our life. He will help us write the rest of our story with grace.

Remember: the past is behind and the future lies ahead. Keep your eyes focused on Him and let Him lead you to your God-given destiny. He will be with you every step of the way.

(Photo courtesy of Miles/vectorolie.)


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Monday, May 9, 2016

Don't Hold Back Your Praise

By Andrea Merrell

I was amazed at the instant change in her countenance. Even her personality changed.

After coming to this particular doctor’s office for years, this woman had never been personable—at least not to me. She never smiled and rarely looked me in the eye. It was hard to tell if she was shy, depressed, or hated her job. She was definitely all business.

On one visit, I noticed she had changed the style and color of her hair. She looked very attractive but still sullen. As I waited for her to finish her dialogue with another patient, my eyes kept focusing on her hair. When she finally turned her attention to me, I said “I love your hair. It looks absolutely stunning.”

The difference in her was incredible. Her eyes lit up and she jokingly said she wondered why I had been staring at her. We had a very pleasant and animated conversation about hair before I took my seat. As I waited, I tuned in to her conversation with other patients and coworkers. Again, incredible. She was bubbly and sweet as she joked with people while going about her duties.

That one tiny word of genuine, heart-felt praise transformed her. It was as if someone flipped a switch and the room filled with light.

This scenario made me wonder how many times I have held back my praise and missed the opportunity to bless someone. It’s possible that the person we wrongly judge by their attitude is waiting for a single word of encouragement or approval. I know there have been times in my own life when a simple affirmation spurred a spark of hope and caused me to believe in myself and try a little harder.

Shallow praise is worthless, but sincere words can change a person’s life forever. Look for the good in others and don’t be afraid to tell them. 

(Photos courtesy of Miles/sattva.)


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Monday, May 2, 2016

Thou Shalt Not Be Stupid

By Andrea Merrell

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God,
and he will give it to you.
He will not rebuke you for asking.
James 1:5 NLT

Someone made the comment recently, “Thou shalt not be stupid.” No, it’s not one of the Ten Commandments, but maybe it should be.

We’ve all made mistakes. I’ve certainly made more than my share. Impulsive behavior, selfishness, confusion, and lack of godly counsel can lead to some pretty severe mishaps. We can spend all our time cleaning up our messes and trying to put out the fires we start with our tongue and our actions.

What’s the answer? God tells us if we need wisdom, all we have to do is ask. He is our Shepherd, and He has promised to lead, guide, and protect—as long as we’re willing to hear His voice and follow Him.

God’s ways are perfect. Ours, not so much. I’ve learned that when I need answers and direction, I must ask for His help. I must be obedient and not give in to my own misguided thinking. When I do things His way, the results are always better.

The next time you find yourself tempted to go the wrong direction, remind yourself: Thou shalt not be stupid.

(Photos courtesy of Miles/stockimages.)


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Monday, April 25, 2016

The Spiritual Discipline of Rest

By Andrea Merrell 

The Lord is my shepherd;

    I have all that I need.
 He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.

Psalm 23:1-3 NLT

It happens when I least expect it. After all these years, I should recognize the signs—fatigue, failure, and frustration.

When my body is overly tired, fatigue can lead to failure in whatever I’m doing. Failure leads to frustration. When I’m frustrated, I get discouraged and want to give up and quit.

In reality, exhaustion is not merely physical. It also affects us mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. Jesus knew this truth. That’s why He took the time to rest. When we constantly overdo it and push ourselves, we get stressed out and burned out. But we tend to keep going so no one will view us as lazy or unmotivated. We don’t think resting is spiritual.

I read somewhere that sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is take a break, take a vacation, or just go to bed. When we’re at our best, we can honor God through our normal, daily activities. This is what the Message translation says in Romans 12:1:  So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. 
When we live our lives as unto the Lord and commit ourselves—and everything we do—to Him, He accepts it as an offering of worship.

Begin today to live your life as an act of worship, and develop the spiritual discipline of rest.

(Photos courtesy of Miles.)


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