Summer is in full swing…finally! And it is Saturday! What a great combination!!

Read: Ecclesiastes 3:9-13

Today enjoy the fruit of your labor in some way! Allow yourself to sit back, relax and experience God in a fresh way.

Read: Isaiah 26:3, 7-9a

I am sure I have read these verses before but when I read them again today I had to pause. My first response was, “Huh?” Seems to me that somedays my way has been rough and steep. So I reread them.

My second response was, “Hm!” And I thought, “Do I really know?” Maybe without Him by my side, the way would have been different.

And I pondered it some more. Certainly life is filled with difficulty and the way does seem rough and steep at times. Finances are low, emotions run high, sickness visits, accidents happen, death comes. That is the stuff life is made of for everyone.

Read: John 16:33

These two passages sound strangely similar to me. In the one, we fix our eyes on the Lord and he gives us perfect peace. As we trust in him, he smooths the way out before us. In the other, Jesus promises peace even though life is filled with trouble and sorrow.

I had to conclude that I don’t know what trouble and sorrow without Jesus is like. I put my trust in him when I was six years old and continue to look to him every day, my heart filled with the desire to bring glory to Him. I am grateful today that even in the darkest of times, he has been my companion.

In what or whom have you placed your trust? Does your way seem rough and steep, filled with obstacles? Consider placing your trust in Jesus. The way will still have trouble and sorrow, but your heart will be filled with the peace that only Jesus can give. And what better way to scale the heights than with Jesus by your side!

Perspective. In eighth grade art class, I learned to draw a house in perspective. You know, so it looked three dimensional instead of just flat. I felt clever and accomplished.

Perspective. It is what we need every day to keep ourselves from swirling out of control. In the fall of 1990, Dave and I built our first house. We had been married five years, we didn’t have a lot of extra money and we had two children. I was a stay at home mom with a garden the size of Texas.

Building the house is only the beginning of making a plot of land a home. There is yard to seed, bushes and trees to plant, walls to decorate. The house is just the beginning.

The summer of 1991, I spent a lot of time on our front porch (it seemed like anyway) snapping green beans to preserve for winter. (That was when I canned and preserved a lot of stuff.) As I sat there and snapped my beans, I looked at our unfinished landscaping. The ground was hard as rock, the weeds were tall as the house and I was a disillusioned home owner. I wanted to get this finished! I spent a lot of time that summer stewing that there were weeds rather than bushes and flowers!

Perspective. From the vantage point of time, I can see it wasn’t worth the energy I gave it to be upset that the landscaping wasn’t finished in my time frame. And to be honest, I could have taken more initiative to pull weeds and keep it looking clean until we had the time and resources to do the job properly.

Read: Ecclesiastes 6:9

Sometimes I ask myself if there is anything I wish I would have done differently along the way. In this situation, I wish I would have been more content. I wish I had enjoyed the process as much as the end result.

Is there anything robbing your perspective today? Does something eat at you and keep you from embracing this moment? Enjoy where you are today! Enjoy the process of the next steps as much as the finished product!

I am restless today. The restlessness is in my body, not my mind. My mind is at peace. It’s an odd combination for me.

Read: Isaiah 26:3-4

What did I do today with a restless body and a peaceful mind? I helped my daughter. Her baby is just a bit over four weeks old and didn’t sleep well last night. So, I went over today and cleaned her bathrooms and then worked outside in her landscaping. It kept my body busy.

The scripture reading for today has always been a favorite, but prior to this moment, it has been something I wanted to experience. Perfect peace! And somehow it always eluded me. But today, I confess that my God in whom I trust, has brought me to a place of perfect peace.

How about you? What needs to change in order for you to experience perfect peace? How can you fix your thoughts today on the Lord God who is our eternal Rock?

Tonight I am watching the Chicago Cubs play the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field in Chicago. It is “authentic Cub fan night” and you are invited to send in your picture to be used later in the evening on the big screen. That is if you show yourself to be an authentic fan!

Saturday evening we were at a wedding reception for a really special couple and I chatted with some close friends about what it means to be authentic in community.

Tonight I read a blogger I follow and she talked about what it means to be authentic in her life.

All day I have been pondering what I want to write tonight. I kept swirling around the same ideas – all are off shoots of AUTHENTICITY!

To be authentic is to be true to your own nature or beliefs, true to yourself and who you are. It is knowing yourself and then representing what you know in a truthful and open manner.

I have not always been authentic. There have been times when I was hesitant to share my feelings for fear they would not be reciprocated. There have been times when I waited to share an opinion on a topic until I ascertained what others were thinking. And there have been times when I fell silent rather than speaking up when I perceived I would be standing alone on an issue.

Perhaps that is why I find Jesus so attractive. He was authentic to the core. He didn’t wait for anyone to give him their approval (John 2:24) And when they did, he didn’t trust it anyway. (John 4:41) He also knew exactly why he was here and he never wavered! (John 12:49-50) Guided by the knowledge that his purpose was to glorify his Father, Jesus said and did whatever his Father told him to do. Wow! To live with that kind of confidence is my dream!

But too often I act like many of the people who encountered Jesus and believed but lived in constant fear of being exposed. (John 12:42-43) My dream is to live boldly, but it’s so easy to be distracted by the praise of humans.

But more and more I grow immune to what others might think or say. I find myself less concerned with what is “right” and more focused on what is loving. I worry less, smile more and enjoy the twists of life.

Today as I mowed my lawn – you know, so many great ideas are birthed during a lawn mowing session – I pondered what I wanted to be true of me in this season of life. How do I want to be more authentic? Two traits came to mind. I want to continue to develop as a parent to adult children. I want to know how to do that well. We never stop being parents, but our tactics and responsibilities change. I want to be always learning in that regard.

And I want to grow as an authentic listener. I am a good talker and I often have great things to say. But I want to listen in such a way that others go away feeling valued, understood and heard.

John 13:3 says this: “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table…” Jesus lived confidently from a place of knowing. That is authenticity.

Are you confident in your purpose? In what ways do you need to grow in authenticity? Who is already present in your life to help you take next steps?

Until next time…

May the Lord bless you and protect you.

May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

Thanks for walking down memory lane with me the last few days. It’s been fun to call to mind events from the past that have shaped and molded who I have become.

As I remember, I see two benefits. First, remembering helps me see how God is present in my life. I see how he was with me in difficult times, I see how he preserved my life, I see how he guided my activity.

Secondly, I see the beautiful times when he said no. I know. It sounds strange. I recently finished a book entitled “The Beautiful No” by Sheri Salata. When life hands us a “NO,” we often wriggle and squirm and look for the yes. But looking back later, we find that the “NO” was the best gift we could have received at the time. It opened the door for another, more beautiful yes.

A few years ago I constructed a life timeline with memorable events, both good and bad. I was surprised to find that the most momentous yeses in my life followed traumatic noes. My conclusion: A beautiful no made room for an even more splendid yes to come my way.

As you have remembered, did you find there were traumatic noes? Did you wonder what place they had? Why are they there? Go back, and look for the way they cleared the way for a beautiful yes later!

Traditions. We started last week looking at my tradition of camping. What traditions do you value? How has remembering this week helped to spur you toward good traditions?

Sunday observance is a tradition I value. I love my day of voluntary suspension of laborious activity. Nothing is more pleasurable to me than knowing that I can read, nap, rest with no guilt or compulsion to be productive.

Today will not be as restful as some Sundays for me. Clean up from camping will happen, but a restful week energizes me for the couple of hours of clean up.

Spend time today slowing down in some way. Your body, mind and soul will thank you.

Camping with children is hard work, but rewarding. Bikes are a necessity especially if the campground has adequate trails/roads that are safe for the kids on bikes.

For many years, we camped with our children at a local campground. Always going with several other families, our children spent hours riding bikes up and down the trails. At this particular campground, there was a road through the camp that provided a great downhill slope allowing riders to gain quite a bit of speed.

One afternoon, Emily, our oldest daughter, was riding an old banana seat bike with brakes on the pedals – you pushed them backward to stop. As she sped down the hill, she attempted to slow herself to turn the corner by pedaling backward, but was unsuccessful. Her bike continued down the hill at full speed, her handle bars hit two trees and wedged against them, causing her to fly over the handles, between the trees and onto the ground. It was an abrupt end to her ride.

Another year, I was riding my bike around the same area of the campground when I came to a sudden stop and I was tossed off my bike. This time, I didn’t hit a tree. There was a malfunction with my brakes and for some reason they applied pressure to my back tire, causing me to stop abruptly which in turn caused me to be thrown off the bike.

Brakes are there for a reason. They are intended to keep us safe. When they don’t work, it is harmful to the body. When they malfunction, it is harmful to the body.

Read: Titus 2:11-14

The grace of God is the safety feature in our relationship with others. It helps us to say no to harmful activity and enables us to say yes to self-controlled living. When it is applied properly, all is well. When it is ignored or not working, the body of Christ is harmed. And so is the individual.

Practice using the grace of God today to say no to anything that will disrupt your life and to say yes to habits that bring health to your body and to others.

Read: Philippians 4:11-13

My husband and I started camping when we were first married. Surprisingly, although my husband worked in the RV (recreational vehicle) industry, we didn’t own a camper. Our first experience was in a tent.

I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and not feeling great much of the time. We packed our clothes in totes and our food in coolers and valiantly set up our tent. I am from Montana and we often camped in primitive situations. I believed I was up for this. Dave was a good sport. (His idea of camping was Holiday Inn.)

That night it rained. It really rained. By morning the camp site was muddy, our clothes were damp, our beds were damp, we were damp. Dave and Bev plus damp is not a pleasant scenario. I remember not being very happy about my situation.

Looking back, I wish I had been more grateful. I had everything I needed, even if it was wet. Dampness is temporary. Learning to find joy in every situation is a skill that requires effort. May your effort today to find joy in your situation be blessed with success. May we learn to say with Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Read: Proverbs 15:1-4

One summer our family and my uncle’s family piled into our campers and went to Beverly Beach in Washington to meet up with our cousins from Oregon.

This was a fancy campground with a store filled with enticing treats for a young girl. My cousins and I regularly made our way to the store with our coin purses to purchase candy and gum. One afternoon I bought bubble gum and, of course, chewed it. Apparently, it was a sticky type of gum because when I blew bubbles, they burst and stuck to my face.

I couldn’t get it off so I improvised. I don’t know how I learned this, but I was in possession of the knowledge that Fuller Brush foot spray took gum off surfaces. I decided to give it a try. So, I used the foot spray and scrubbed my mouth to get the gum loosened. It worked all right, but the long lasting effects of that action were not pleasant. It created a burning sensation on my lips that lasted a very long time.

It’s important how we use our mouths. With them we speak words of life or words of harm. Choose words that breathe life and grace to others. The effects of harsh words or deceptive speech is long lasting and unpleasant.

Today make an effort to care for your mouth and use pleasant, honest words!