Repentance and Refreshment

I sure appreciate readers of “There’s a Blog in My Eye,” because you regularly  have enough faith to read my blog even though you haven’t a clue what the topic will be. Thank-you. Here’s a secret: a few days before Friday’s deadline, I must muster a little faith too. Many Mondays I’m blog topic clueless and have to ask myself, “What is hitting the eye, over and over again?” This past week the whammies came—about five in a row on the out-of-fashion topic of REPENTANCE. Please read on, because the flip side of repentance is REFRESHMENT. Who doesn’t like that?

The Problem

Dr. Mateen Elass, head and shoulder short of middle aged man, round face, cropped, thick hair, and green eyes, smiling with mouth closed.
Dr. Mateen Elass

I was at a spiritual retreat last Saturday with a wise theologian, Mateen Elass. He spoke on what it means to be created in God’s image. Dr. Elass had a q. and a., and I popped out the question, “Where does repentance fit into the creation and redemption story? I mean, how do I incorporate repentance in my life as well as in my community? It’s difficult, because we live in a culture where that word ‘repentance’ seems almost obsolete.”

Dr. Elass quoted Jesus’s words in Mark 9:29: “This kind does not come out without prayer and fasting.” I was teary-eyed. He was succinct and right.

Distraught man kneels in mud and asks for forgiveness from those around him.
Repentance and forgiveness in the 1986 movie The Mission.

A Child’s Story

Children's book cover shows a cartoonish white rooster leaning against a tree next to a red barn in the mountains with evergreen trees in background. Rumor Rooster by Jessica Johnson are printed on cover. Rumor wears brown cowboy boots.
Both this art and the above one of Rumor Rooster’s skeleton are use with permission from Jessica Johnson.

Following the retreat I drove to Golden, Colorado, for the Rocky Mountain Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ annual conference. Among highlights, I had dinner with writer/artist Jessica Johnson. Jessica gave me her cute children’s book: Rumor Rooster. Rumor lives up to his name, spreading lies about the barnyard kitty. Then, Rumor doesn’t feel well, and Wise Woodpecker nails the problem: “Maybe you opened your mouth just a little too much, Rumor! What hurts is not your nose, not your toes, not your bones, but your heart.”

Rumor Rooster is a great little parable about confessing wrong,  turning away from it, and making right. Although Jessica doesn’t use the word repentance, the story was a neon light for me.

Pastor Tim’s Message

Arriving home from the writer’s conference late Sunday my husband told me I missed a great message at church.

“What was Pastor Tim’s topic?” I asked.

“Repentance,” my BFF said.

Hmmmm.

Monday, I listened to Dr. Timothy McConnell’s message online.

Dr. Timothy McConnell has a friendly, open smile at camera. He has black hair parted on side, dark eyes, is caucasian. He wears a dark blue jacket and light blue open button shirt. Blurry green folliage is behind him.
Dr. Timothy McConnell

In a nutshell, he, with Apostle Peter, teaches that repentance brings refreshment. Tim advises the first step is to be truthful with Jesus. Then, leave behind what trips you up. Repentance means turning around in the other direction. Tim said:

“Jesus doesn’t need perfect; he needs penitent; he doesn’t need powerful; he needs prayerful….Peter learned Jesus doesn’t need force; he needs faith.”

Pastor Tim pointed out that Peter knew the agitated Jerusalem crowd he preached to on Pentecost could experience what he had received. Fearlessly, Peter told them:

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” (Acts 3:19, NIV).

Time for a Little Refreshment

There have been other neon signs this week about repentance, but I thought you might find value in the ones mentioned. Have you ever thought that personal repentance can lead to refreshment? I had never put those two words together, but they fit.

As Pastors Mateen and Tim advised, I will do some penitent prayer and fasting. Perhaps you will commit to doing so too–to the best of your ability. Then, together, we will experience times of refreshing, and that will be very good.

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Jessica Johnson’s website: www.jessicapublishing.com

Dr. Mateen Elass’s website:   https://mateenelass.wordpress.com/about/

Click and then scroll to the minute number 44 for Dr. Timothy McConnell’s September 18, 2016, sermon: http://www.first-pres.org/index.cfm/PageID/1123/index.html

Finally, enjoy two songs about repentance and refreshment: “Clean” from Natalie Grant at:

 https://youtu.be/ulf4PXuNV3w

And, “How Can It Be” from Lauren Daigle:

Keeping the “Fair” Promise

A Proverb says if we don’t keep our promises we are like clouds without rain. When gardens are the children in our lives, those rain clouds are needed regularly for good growth. I made a fair promise to a five-year-old, and I let her down. I was a cloud without rain. Here is what happened.

FullSizeRender

A Simple Promise?

Five-year-old girl stands beside her ceramic vase of pink, white, brown, aqua and yellow with an orange lid
A five-year-old finishes her masterpiece

It started out simple enough. The five-year-old, her seven-old sister, and I went to a ceramic store to paint. Looking at all the pottery on the shelves reminded me of ribbon-awarded crafts at the county fair years ago. Since the seven-year-old had just started guitar lessons, I thought the 5-year-old could use a boost of attention. Besides, she spent twice as much time on her ceramic project as her sister did on her masterpiece. It seemed fair.

“You know we could enter your vase in the county fair,” I told her. “You may or may not win a ribbon, but you never know until you try.”

“What colors are the ribbons?” she asked with bright eyes.

“Blue ribbons are for first place winners, red ribbons for second place, and white ribbons for third. Sometimes, a giant purple ribbon is given for best of show.”

She was hooked. In the months that transformed spring into summer she asked several times when I was going to enter her vase.

“The fair happens at harvest time,” I explained. “The rules aren’t up on the website yet. They will probably put something up in July.”

I Missed the Deadline!

Unfortunately, I didn’t keep checking the website until July when I discovered I missed the entry deadline by two days! Immediately, I left a voice message to see if the County Fair Powers had any mercy.

My plaintive call was never returned. I was devastated for breaking a promise.

When needing help, James 1:5 has rescued me numerous times: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” In faith, I asked for wisdom to handle this broken promise.

An Idea To Repair a Broken Promise

Entrance to Colorado State Fair includes a green sign with white letters that say, "State Fair," and a red and white sign above it that advertises Loaf 'N Jug in red and white. There is a couple leaving the brick entrance flanked by two ticket windows and a large old fashioned lamp post.
Entrance to the Colorado State Fair, Pueblo

I was surprised how quickly an idea came. Maybe the deadline had not passed for the Colorado State Fair craft exhibits. Of course, it would be more difficult to win, and I didn’t think every child received a ribbon, but just maybe….

I looked up the details on the Colorado State Fair website. Sure enough, the rules were the same—just send in $5 and bring or mail the item by a certain date.

“There’s bad news and good news,” I told the little girl who had just turned six. She was very forgiving and ran and got her vase for me to enter. She filled out the paper work with a little help.

“Will I still get a ribbon?” she asked.

“Maybe. We won’t know unless we try,” I said.

Judgment Day

As it turned out my granddaughter was in school the day the vase was judged. If there is such a thing as a helicopter grandma, I was one that day. I drove an hour to the fairgrounds and submitted the vase. Three hours later I returned to the exhibit hall to find out whether the little vase won any ribbon at all.

But, “I can’t find my granddaughter’s vase,” I moaned to the fair lady with a zillion keys jingling on her waistband as she halted me from going into the judging area.

“I just want to know if she won anything,” I said.

The lady with a zillion keys was compassionate to this crazy woman. She found the vase and held it up through a makeshift fence (to keep out thieves and grandmas).

There on the registration card was a blue dot!

A close up of a shiny polka dot vase of brown, purple, green, yellow and white with a speckled orange top. Taped underneath the vase is a string with a white label identifying vase. The label also has a blue dot sticker on it.
Blue dot says it all!

“Oh! Oh! All she wanted was to win any ribbon! This is wonderful!” I babbled to the fair judges, who have probably handed out a zillion ribbons in their careers and didn’t understand the magnitude of this blue dot.

Ribbon Finale

Blue ribbon now hangs on the vase. It is so big it covers up most of the vase and draped down the shelf. Gold letters are on the blue ribbon which say "Amateur Arts, Colorado State Fair."
Promise fulfilled!

Two weeks later, the vase was put on display and a blue ribbon hung around its neck. The extra good news was blue ribbon winners received $15, and all exhibitors could take five pounds of flour when they picked up their wares. My granddaughter got her ribbon and cash, but I kept the flour for making three trips to the Colorado State Fairgrounds—to enter the vase, to see the vase displayed, and to retrieve that blue ribbon beauty and put it into the hands of one happy child.

A six-year-old girl has gape-tooth smile with her large blue ribbon pinned on her sleeveless blue, purple and white shirt, and her one hand touching her vase.
Winning smile on the blue ribbon winner
A five-pound bag of Hungarian Flour
The possessor of this free fair flour is on a mountain air high.

“A person who promises a gift but doesn’t give it is like clouds and wind that bring no rain”(Proverbs 25:14 NIV).

Photos of other winners at the 2016 Colorado State Fair and a photo of the impressive Chainsaw Mama!

Chainsaw Mama works on horse.
Chainsaw Mama at Colorado State Fair

Award Winning Quilts

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Bald Eagles border and take center stage in this red, white and blue quilt with a star pattern around edge. The center is three ferocious bald eagle heads with two flags flying behind them in a cloudy blue scene.

 

Blue ribbon quilt is done in browns and treys and whites with adorable African animal heads in each of the 12 squares.img_4585

A white ribbon hangs on this baby quilt of light green and white border with farm animals appliquéd in pastel colors on each of the nine squares.
One of my favorites–a baby quilt

Children Chefs Can Bake

Blue ribbon is beside David Jordan's tag and his chocolate cake with white frosting set on a silver foil circle. A slice has been cut out so the judges could see the even two layered cake.
Good for Baker David!
These both look good to me, but I guess the white ribbon one needs high altitude flour.
These both look good to me, but I guess the white ribbon one needs high altitude flour.

A row of four plates of muffins and cookies sit on a shelve with three red ribbons and one blue ribbon behind them.

Fair Livestock

White rooster with red comb in cage with a blue ribbon on cage.
My cocka-doodle do is exhausted. Do you have throat lozenges?
It takes practice to milk a cow.
Oops, missed the milk bucket.

 

 

 

 

 

Black-faced sheep is tied up in pen, wearing a pink halter and a white canvas coat.
The flies aren’t so bad with this coat.
A black steer with white face and hooves looks at camera from his pen. Above him is a sign that says "Reserve Champion Steer."
Sorry, fine fellow!
A pink and black spotted pig lies in corner of cage, spread out and sleeping.
Where’s Charlotte?
Two boys and two girls in blue jeans and western shirts stand in a row holding their sheep heads as a judge evaluates the animals in a barn ring.
Future ranchers learn how to compete.

 

Take me home! I will be your BFF!
Take me home! I will be your BFF!

Dog Louie Teaches and Practices “Being”

Businesswoman and writer Danise DiStasi is my guest blogger this week on the topic of “being.”  Danise has learned so much from faithful dog Louie that she has written a book on Beagle wisdom: Louie’s Leadership Lessons (found on Amazon). Danise also blogs about Louie at:

http://03a8685.netsolhost.com/WordPress/2016/06/07/how-to-just-be/ 

Rest, Louie, Rest

By Danise DiStasi

I was sitting outside working on my computer: writing, emailing, information gathering, compiling reports—all the necessary tasks for an entrepreneur. It was a beautiful morning, and I was feeling quite proud of my productivity. During this flurry of activity, I noticed one constant being that didn’t flinch the entire time I was working—Louie!

It wasn’t that he was asleep and motionless, or that he was gazing into the trees for some creature who would dare to walk across his kingdom.  No, not this time. Louie was just being! He was serenely experiencing every bit of beauty that nature offered. I have no doubt that he thought it was all for his pleasure alone.

Louie the dog understands being by resting and being content.
Louie wants you to “stay” (photo by Danise DiStasi).

More! More! More!

As I watched him, I couldn’t help but think, “It must be nice to be my dog and relax on the deck while I work to provide a nice home and good food.”

Then I had to laugh. Louie was teaching me a lesson that took me years to grasp and yet is still so easy to forget—the lesson of how to “just be.” We get caught up in the mode of I’ve got to do more, work more, network more, socialize more, Facebook more, more, more, more. Help—let me off this merry-go-round!

I’m not sure what Louie was thinking as he quietly enjoyed nature, but he inspired me to close my computer and experience the stillness as well. Ahhh, there it was, something I had been missing—peacefulness. Most of us never take the time to practice being still and emptying our minds of the stuff that clutters our thinking and clouds our wellbeing. The ability to just be is crucial to our ability to lead well.

Practicing Being

There is an assumption that sitting quietly means you’re not doing anything. But that may be our most productive time of creativity or processing a difficult issue, or praying about how to respond to something important.

Recently, my peacefulness was disturbed by an offense against someone who is close to me. While my initial reaction was to clear up the wrong and let everyone know the information being spread was a lie, I decided to do what Louie does and just be. I took a few moments to process, and I did NOT jump on social media to see what all the craziness was about. I actually practiced being still and not reacting out of indignant anger. Instead, I focused my energy on encouraging the person who was wronged. I know that, given time, the truth always prevails.

Try Solitude

I know other leaders who demonstrate the leadership quality of “being.” In Lead Like Jesus, Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges share five leadership habits of Jesus. The first one is Solitude. They write, “Jesus modeled solitude as an integral, strategic component of His leadership. In solitude and prayer, away from the hopes and hurts of those who looked to Him with high and compelling expectations, Jesus again received instructions on the best use of the next day from the Father.”

This intentional and regular solitude also gave Jesus the strength to stand up to others who gossiped, mocked, and eventually crucified him. He didn’t draw a sword nor did he spew angry words, yet his quiet spirit shook people to the very core of their being. Now that’s power!

Just being is necessary for us to make good decisions that positively affect our lives and those around us. Be intentional about being still.

Below is a link to Jonny Diaz’s song “Just Breathe,” which reminds us to pause and be.