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Archive for January, 2014

The Aroma of Christ

This week one day as I visited our son’s family to welcome our newest grandson into the family, our oldest grandson snuggled on my lap while I had a conversation with someone else.  At one point I felt him looking at me and when I looked at him he smiled and hugged me.  Then he whispered in my ear, “Grandma, you smell like your house.”  Now the way he was tucking his nose into my neck I could only assume that was a good thing in his eyes, but the unexpected comment and whole episode continues to hover in my mind.

Whether by choice or chance, we carry an aroma with us always.  Most all of us enjoy being around a pleasant aroma, but avoid as much as possible an unpleasant one.  And many times an aroma ‘takes us back’ to another place and time—as my odor made my grandson think of our home.

As I’ve been thinking about this these past couple of days since the incident, II Corinthians 2 has been in the forefront of my thoughts.  Verses 14-16 read this way in the NIV:  “But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.  For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.  And who is equal to such a task?”

Honestly, smelling good all the time is a challenge.  After a morning doing yard work in the heat of summer, or even heavy housecleaning, I do not want to be remembered for the way I smell!  And so, I intentionally shower as soon as possible and take care of any offensive odor immediately.  When I was in my early teens, my mother took me aside and had “THE” talk with me which included a gift of a fragrant container of deodorant.  She explained that with my body changes would come issues of odor, and the importance of keeping myself clean and smelling pleasant.  That little talk has always remained with me in that I try to be very careful not to offend in any way, but especially in the way I smell.

Fragrance is a gift.  A good smell can be relaxing and welcoming.  A bad smell can repulse us and keep us away from whatever or whoever is causing the offense.  A friend once told me that her memories of Indiana was from one time when they were driving through and apparently it was spring and the fields had just been spread with manure.  That smell is part of my memory growing up there as well, but for me, growing up there I knew that it was a short-lived offensive smell that would produce some of the best crops grown anywhere and the sweetest sweet corn in the world.  But the important thing is that the smell is what triggers a memory in our hearts.

Such is our reflection of Christ by the ‘fragrance’ we give off (our behavior, actions, reactions, etc.).  Just as my grandson thinks of my home when he smells me, I want my actions to be the ‘aroma of Christ’ to those around me.  I’m far from perfect and have erred much in my lifetime, but I pray those things can be tucked away as I do the smell of manure on an Indiana field, and the resulting maturity and forgiveness in me be seen as a good thing, creating the very fragrance of Christ to the world around me.

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Intentionally Naive

I’m an admitted worrier.  Typically not about circumstances, but almost always about doing things wrong.  What if I hurt someone’s feelings?  What if I should have said…what if someone misunderstood my intentions?  What if what I said was understood to mean something entirely different than what I intended?  What if I should have done…?  What if, what if, what if???

And so, I have made a New Year’s resolution that I have every intention of keeping until it becomes my very lifestyle!  I want to learn to become a forgetter!  Oh, not the car keys and where I put my purse last, but things that I’ve done or said.  My nature is to worry and worry about the possibility of being misunderstood, or of unintentionally having hurt someone.  From now on, I’m leaving that in my Father’s hands!  God knows my heart, and finally I’m going to trust HIM with it!  I still have every intention of being careful of my words and actions, but then I’m letting go!  I will trust the results in God’s hands.  It might seem a bit naïve, but I know my God is capable of making good come from all that I say and do—especially when it’s done and said in His name!

Now this may seem like a no-brainer to you.  But for as long as I can remember, when I wake in the night I suddenly begin re-enacting the day just past, or sometimes things that are in the distant past, and wish I could re-do things I did, re-state things I said, even undo some of the actions I’ve committed.  But the fact is, I can’t!  And stewing about it only makes it bigger and puts wedges between me and others.  It makes me feel insecure and even worthless.

When I feel insecure and worthless, I am of no value to anyone.  I can’t think straight and I can’t and won’t do the things I should.  I just want to hide.  And so…I am refusing to re-think anything.  If I catch myself thinking of something I said or did I will remind myself that I’m forgiven and I plan to immediately put it out of my mind and think about something good that happened TO me.  I’m not even going to think about something good that I did, because that, also, begins to grow out of proportion and a good deed turns into vanity and self-righteousness and pride.  (Oh, Satan is SO subtle!)  No, my New Year’s resolution is to spend my thought-life on things I can do that will help, encourage or uplift, or on God and His goodness to me.  If my mind wanders into these negative waters that I know will quickly become deep and dangerous, I will intentionally change my thoughts.  It makes me think of Philippians 4:8 which says:  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  If we could all put this verse into practice in our lives, a lot of psychiatrists would be out of work!

Yes, “Whatever a man thinks, that he becomes” is true and puts the ball in our own court.  It’s our choice!  Do we want to become maudlin and morose?  Or do we want to be happy and content?  For me, I choose the latter, and starting today, I’m taking control of my mind!  From now on I choose to be intentionally naïve!

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Christmas Past…

The new year is well underway with scrubbed-white skies and mostly stark houses with the Christmas decorations tucked away for another year and gardens yet a dream to come.  Our house is still glowing with the Christmas just past still quite evident, and I loathe the very idea of putting the decorations away this year.  What has changed in me?

Thankfully, I still have one last Christmas tea happening here this afternoon, so I’ve a good reason to keep things ‘merry and bright’ around the house for a bit, but my heart knows the glow will have to go soon.

P1010979I have delightful memories of the merry season.  It has truly been just that for us with grandchildren-a-plenty delighting us with fun memories and lots of guests stopping in for a few hours or days, travels to unfamiliar places to exploP1010995re Christmas in history, and even an hour tucked here and there to sip a hot chocolate and rest and meditate on God’s greatest gift of all.

One of the very fun things that happened this year was a visit from some dear friends for a couple of days over New Year’s Eve P1010990and New Year’s day.  What fun it was for us to spend time with the Brandles, catching up on the past 6 years of their lives, enjoying their talents (Christina was actually my violin teacher in Upland, IN, and Stefan was our boys’ dearlyP1010999-loved computer professor at Taylor University), and simply praising God together for the years past and the years to come and for Who He is.

And so, this morning as I work around the house and feel the quiet once more surrounding me, I gather the warm memories together and cling to them with smiles.  I look at the glowing ChP1010985ristmas trees, the nativity, the greeting cards and pictures and know they must be tucked away soon, but the joy will last.  The memories will filP1010982l my soul with warmth and I’ll face the year ahead with anticipation of many more blessings to come.  God is SO good!

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