I remembered the last place I had my wedding bands and engagement ring. It was yesterday, early afternoon, in a store parking lot. So early this morning, before the stores opened, I retraced my steps to that lot. And sure enough, there in the parking lot on the ground, were two of the bands. The solitaire diamond engagement ring of fourteen years and the other band nowhere to be found. I called all the managers of the shops in that plaza. They were so kind and understanding. I called the police to file a missing-property report, and the empathizing operator said she’d say a prayer. I knew all day long, as I prayed for my rings, that a blog post would ensue. But I was hoping by the time I posted this, it would be an answered-prayer post. It’s not. What do you MENTALLY do when you lose something special? I’m learning there are two things to PRAY and one thing to not DO. The one thing I won’t do is let this trial become everybody’s drama. It’s my carelessness, my ring, my loss. And though I shared this with a couple people today, I tried hard to keep boundaries on my emotions and perspective on my circumstances. Two things I prayed (and am still praying) were, “God, please help me find these rings,” and “God, if it’s not meant to be found, please let it land in the hands of someone who really needs it.” I wish I had a happy ending. But if you’ve lost something recently (and I emphasis “someTHING” not “someONE”) I pray this encourages you today.
There’s a 2nd grader named Christian who got called Today Show’s Matt Lauer’s, “new favorite kid.” Christian felt bad for kids in his class who had no one to play with on the playground, so he asked his principal to help him make a buddy bench. “The way the buddy bench works is if students feel lonely on the playground without anything to do, they can go to the buddy bench, and another student will come to the bench and ask if they want to play or talk. If two people are sitting at the bench, they could ask each other if they want to play.” This melted my heart and stayed on my mind all day. The bible says, “Two are better off than one,” in Ecclesiastes 4:9. Christian probably didn’t know he was living out a nudge God has put in all of us–to not do life alone–but I bet God smiled at Christian’s response to it. If God has always existed in a commune of three (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and if, in the beginning, God created a friend for Adam, and if Solomon exhorted (4000 years ago) that two are better than one, then it makes a pretty solid case that we need each other. This Christmas, my prayer is for people who feel alone. I know the Buddy Bench is for kids and school. But truly, it is also for adults and church. I pray that lonely people who enter God’s House are greeted by people who are there, waiting…to call them friend. And I pray that as they take a seat when service is about to start, that God bring a buddy to their bench.
My favorite Christmas song–unparalleled–is “O Holy Night.” The one line gets me every time, “Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!“ Falling on your knees is not a comfortable posture. And it isn’t attractive. And we don’t see if often. Perhaps because it shows humility and desperation. Awhile back, I spent several months praying on my knees. I was hurting and my morning quiet time became unproductive because I couldn’t muster up words to write in my prayer journal. So I stopped journaling and started praying on my knees. It was weird but I found it to be the most comforting & calming moment in my day. Sometimes, the sun’s rays would beam just the right way through the shutters in my office and I could feel the rays on my back as I was on my knees. As if God was using them to hug me. This Christmas, my heart goes out to people who are not singing “Fa La La La La, La La La La” with “Deck the Halls,” because they are hurting and struggling. But I pray they try “falling on their knees.” The holiday might be a tough time, but it can also be the most comforting time between you and your Holy Dad.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) This verse is often used during Christmas. I love it when little Linus recites it in the Peanuts Christmas movie. Let’s break it down: Are you at a circumstantial fork in the road? He is your Wonderful Counselor. He can counsel you in your confusion and set you on the right path. Do you feel like if any more weight is put on your back, the ice beneath you will break? He is your Mighty God. He will hold you up with His right hand, you may tremble on the rock, but the rock will never tremble on you. Do you have crowds but no companionship? He is your Everlasting Father. He wants you to come to Him, and He will be your friend, your father, your family. You will never feel alone when He walks beside you. Are you disheartened because there is nothing but turmoil on your calendar? He is your Prince of Peace. He is the author, the creator, the designer of a peaceful heart. And since pure peace is His, if He is a part of you, His perfect peace is too. He lives in you so that you may live joyfully by day and sleep restfully by night. I pray this Christmas verse becomes a daily verse….for who you are and for what you need.
Almost one year ago, the senseless tragedy of a coward killing children in their classroom raised the question: “where is God when it hurts?” Thankfully, Philip Yancey poignantly and powerfully answers that in his book, “Where is God When it Hurts,” And I highly recommend it. But I think there is another question. I find myself asking, “Where am I when others hurt?” I ask myself, “what can I do? where can I be? who can I help?” There are two things I can do when others hurt. One, I pray intentionally, frequently and emotionally. When the tragedy in Newtown occurred, I prayed for people I didn’t know…but who God knows. And I couldn’t be where they were, but God could. And I don’t understand their pain, but God does. So I pray and I ask God to meet their needs, tend to their pain and send his angels to surround the places where they are. The other thing I do is I join my Church in what it is doing for those who are hurting. Whether we gather for a vigil, send money, deploy volunteers…whatever our Church is doing, I am joining them in it. Our planet is not well. God is the Healer. The Church is the hospital. And I can be a part of what it is doing to help the hurting and heal the ailing. Wherever you are, if you find yourself asking “Where am I when others hurt?” I hope you are praying and joining the Church in what it is doing. God bless.
How many times would you pray for something? If you are single, how many times will you pray for a mate? If you are unemployed, how many times will you pray for a job? If you are in a fading marriage, how many times will you pray for a spark? If you are lonely, how many times will you pray for a friend? If you are confused in parenting, how many times will you pray for wisdom? Since April, I’ve prayed every day for something–that’s like 240 days so that’s like 240 prayers. It hasn’t been answered. So at what point do I stop praying? At this point, I don’t. The bible doesn’t quantify prayer. It doesn’t give us a list of how many times, based on how big the need. The bible does say this, “Never stop praying.” As long as I have this prayer request, I will keep praying for it. Why not? I don’t believe in wishing on a star. I do believe in God answering prayers. So I’ll keep praying to Him. Hope this encourages someone today.
Sometimes we are so downcast by the cloud above our head that we miss the panorama of the sun and sky beyond it. Yes, all of us have a cloud above our head. For some, it is dark, ominous and even dangerous. For others, it is merely a thin cloud passing through. But we all have something. However, we all have something above our cloud too–God, the sun, the sky, the Heavens. We all have something to be thankful for. If I had no shelter, no food, no friends, but I had God, I’d have everything I need, thus, something to be thankful for. Sometimes, one of the best therapies I’ve had in the middle of ominous clouds of depression is to make myself find something I am thankful for, for every letter of the alphabet. It isn’t always easy. But I wouldn’t know unless I tried. I’ll give it a shot, and maybe you can try, too. A – Andy Palacios; B – Blogging; C – Church by the Glades; D – DJ Palacios; E – Encouragement; F – Freedom; G – Glades Christian Academy; H – the Hughes; I – Ice Cream; J – Journaling; K – Keurig; L – Lambs; M – Magnolias; N – Newspaper; O – Otis; P – Pie; Q – Quiet moments; R – Raul; S – Sunrises, Sunsets; T – Tropical Trees; U – United States; V – Victories; W – Workouts; X – healthy X-rays; Y – YouVersion; Z – Zoos
This morning, we were expecting to see the bathroom tile-layer around 9. Instead, we got a phone call. He wouldn’t be coming. He had died from a heart attack. The last thing I said to him on Saturday as he was cleaning up was “Thanks for everything you’re doing.” He would die that night. Several times today, I glanced at the unfinished bathroom and thought of him. I also thought of our unfinished bathroom. Not that it wasn’t going to get done, but the bigger picture it represented. The picture that would include all of our business we’d leave unfinished, if we died unexpectedly. I don’t know if you have unfinished business with a relationship? A promise? An impending commitment to Jesus? An apology? Today is the day to do everything. Yesterday can’t be repeated, tomorrow can’t be predicted. Today is the day. Today is the day to forgive. Today is the day to love. Today is the day to bless. Today is the day to know you know where you’re going if you don’t get tomorrow. Of course we’ll all have unfinished business when we die. But hopefully it’s only something small like unfinished tile. Today is the day. Today is YOUR day.
Today at the beginning of our 11:45 service I noticed a little green thing on the floor about a foot in front of me (see pic). It was a peanut M&M. If you’ve been around me for any meal, you know I have a ginormous sweet tooth/teeth. So this one stupid M&M had the power to distract me. My mouth literally started watering. I actually had a fleeting thought of reaching for it–lest anyone trip over it and injure themselves. One stupid peanut M&M. Able to tempt and distract. Temptation is one thing I look forward to not having to deal with in heaven. Nonetheless, I had an epiphany. If I were to succumb to this M&M’s temptation, I’d pacify my salivating sweet tooth, but I would look like a fool. Temptation dangles like a carrot in front of us, but one good question to ask before we give in to it is: do I want to look like a fool? If I watch porn, am I OK looking like a fool if I get caught? If I give in to the affair, cheat on a test, steal that money, whatever “it” may be…if I get caught…am I OK with the embarrassment being a fool? Admittedly, this M&M illustration is cheesy. More seriously, if you’re being tempted, I leave you with a verse that has truly encouraged me when I’m tempted: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Friend, you got this.
Unbeknownst to me, instead of DJ eating his cheeseburger, he was making faces with it. Normally this would warrant a “talking to” but since it inspired a blog post, he’ll get away with it. When I was in high-school & college, I was mean. I justified it by saying, “it’s just the way I am.” When I was in my 20s and 30s, I softened a little–I learned to curb verbal outbursts, but still spoke volumes through mean facial expressions. And then, one day, the table turned. In a united assault, I had three people be mean to me. It was ugly and painful, and with a fragility for mental illness, spiraled me into depression. This year, I entered a new decade and I hope to leave mean actions, mean words & a mean heart behind. I’ve wasted almost half a life being mean & learning from the pain of it. I hope the other half of my life is about being kind, so that one day, someone might be able to say, “she started mean, but finished kind.” If you have the propensity to be mean, don’t accept that. God didn’t make you that way. We lie to ourselves when we say “it’s just the way I am.” God is kind. We are made in God’s image. So WE can be kind. Kindness IS a virtue that God has put in you. Sometimes, some of us just need a lil’ extra help unleashing it.