2013

Eight Slices = One Good Time
April 8, 2013

I joined a few friends for pizza recently and I pondered how we could evenly feed five people with a pizza that had
eight slices. I want everyone to have the same amount of food. I think it comes from being from a family where if you
were late to dinner, you literally were left with a few peas and a crust of bread! My friends didn't seem to be
concerned at all as they all grabbed a slice of pizza. I briefly felt guilty for wanting to grab my second slice right
away - just in case all the extra slices were gone when I was ready for another piece. I took my one slice, as I
pondered whether I should I eat it quickly, grab another slice and hope no one noticed, or should I be polite and let
my friends have the precious three slices left on the plate.

I realized as that the idea of me possibly being deprived of something I wanted, prevented me from enjoying what
was already in my hand. I barely tasted my pizza as I worried that I would not be one of the lucky few to get a
second slice. What I hadn't counted on was one of my friends looking at the crowd and realizing we wouldn't have
enough, so she waved the waitress over and ordered another pizza!

God is like that. He is back in the kitchen making more pizza while we are worried we don't have enough. While we
worry that we will be cheated out of something we really want, he is willing and able to make more. God isn't just
there for the little things, he's there for the big things too. The Bible says that we have not because we ask not. I've
decided my new year's resolution is to ask!

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A Day Like Any Other Except . . .
May 13, 2013

Today was a day like any other except...

The dog ran off while we were at the park and made a bee-line for the busy road.

The toilet decided not to flush and opted to overflow instead.

The neighbors decided to fight outside my bedroom window at 2 in the morning.

And then I threw up.

It's days like this that remind us we aren't in charge of much. We get to decide a few things but there's no
guarantee we actually are going to get what we choose. Life is funny like that.

But we can always take comfort in the words in the Bible that tell us suffering brings us great joy.

Are you kidding me! Why would the Bible say such a thing?

It's taken me a long time to understand what it meant to find "joy" in troubles. Joy is not something you "feel"; it's
something you "become" as you walk closely with Jesus. God is love so there is no sorrow, pain or sadness in God.
So there can only be "good" things that manifest when we have problems. But only when we turn them over to God.

Surely, today was a day like any other day. A chance to experience joy in a different way. A chance to find peace
when there used to be anger and frustration. A chance to see that it could have been worse. And, a chance to
believe and hope that tomorrow will be better.

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Don’t Make Me Learn That
June 10, 2013

I don’t want to learn certain things. Like things I only have to do once. I’m not talking about things I have to do all
the time. Those are worth taking the time to learn them. I’m talking about things that only happen once in 5 years,
30 years or once in a lifetime.

One of those things is doing anything on the computer involving changes. My hard drive on my computer was full. I
deleted files like crazy but it still wasn’t enough. I considered buying a new computer but my cheap nature made me
decide to live with the problem a little longer.

Luckily, I got some great advice instead. Buy a bigger hard drive – it was certainly cheaper! So I picked up a hard
drive relatively cheap and set out to install it.

But after talking to “Leon” of customer support in India for two hours and forty minutes, I still didn’t have more
memory, the sun had set, and I completely understood why people spend ten times as much to buy a new computer
than suffer through a call with Leon!

But, I was not deterred. I’m stubborn that way – difficulties make me want to prove I can do it – so I got on the
Internet and hunted for help. There it was! All laid out in 12 easy steps. It was so clear, so simple, so beautifully
uncomplicated. When I looked at the steps, I realized “Leon” had complicated the process by adding all sorts of
things I didn’t need. Ultimately, he didn’t help me at all.

I realized I do the same thing "Leon" did. I’ve tried to help people without considering where they are. I’ve assumed
they know as much as I do. It rarely benefits either of us. We both end up frustrated and no closer to solving the
problem. Now, I simply say, “I don’t know.” It sure is easier for everyone involved.

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Bill Collectors are Calling
July 8, 2013

Bill collectors are calling. And calling. And calling.

I have a new phone number and I already know more about the people who had the number before me than I want
to know. I know that at least two different people had the number, both for a very short time. Both have bill
collectors pursuing them at all hours of the day and night.

One of these people also worked in the medical field and is registered with a nursing temporary agency – an
agency that calls in the middle of the night to see if this person is available to work when someone calls out sick.

For some reason, I cannot convince any of these bill collectors or temp agencies to remove my number from their
list. The bill collectors are sure I must know where these people are, or worse yet, that I am them. I’ve told them
repeatedly to stop calling me and have even invoked the dreaded credit collection laws to them, but they don’t care.

It made me think about how aggressively a bill collector will pursue someone, but most people who want to “make
something of their lives” won’t even make a half-hearted attempt at their dream.

Apparently the one thing the bill collector understands is that they don’t get paid unless they work and get results.
So my advice for anyone who wants to live their dream is to quit your job so you'll get really uncomfortable with
having no income. You will either get very aggressive about making your dream work or you will realize you didn’t
want that dream as much as you thought you did.

Sometimes we have to get extremely uncomfortable to move from what we don’t want to what we do want. Just how
uncomfortable are you willing to get before you do something?  It’s always better to do something wrong than to
play it safe and do nothing.

Even if the bill collectors start calling, it means you at least tried to make your dream happen. Failure
is an option.
Luckily, it’s not a permanent condition!

Give yourself permission to fail and you’ll start moving into what you want. You will learn to drop what doesn't count
in your life for what does, because most  successful people fail and some fail a lot. They didn’t quit trying. Ironically,
failing removes fear because you learn how tough you really are.

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If You Feed Them They Stay
August 12, 2013

I found a rat in my garage. Eeeeeeek!

Not a dead one, mind you, but a very much alive, running around rat, that scared the pants off me when I opened
the door kind of rat. He ran behind a stack of screens that came off the house when it was painted that had not
been put back on since the 1970's.

Once I knew he was there, I was afraid to go into the garage. I wasn't afraid of him in the traditional sense. I was
afraid of him because he startled me and probably would again. But also I don't like the diseases rats carry and the
fact that they leave "droppings" - who wants more cleaning!

So I started parking my car outside in the driveway, in broiling hot Texas sun. I cursed that rat every time I got into
my car and couldn't touch the steering wheel. I cursed him when I wanted to get the watering can to water my
flowers. I cursed him when I thought of him taking over that space. That rat had to go!

When I was standing in the hardware store looking at three packed shelves of rat elimination products, it dawned
on me that rats are big business! After some consideration that included ruling out anything that might involve
actually touching a rat - glue boards, rat traps and catch cans - I selected a product that says the rat will eat it and
go away to die. Perfect!

I spread the little blocks of poison around the inside of the garage and waited about four days. I checked and all the
poison had been eaten, so I put out twice as much. Four more days. All gone. Four times as much. Four more
days. All gone. COME ON! How much poison does it take to kill a rat?

Then it dawned on me that I probably killed off the one rat, but his relatives had moved in too after they heard there
was free food.

We have people like this in our lives too. I think this free food mentality of the rat is what sinks many would be
entrepreneurs from actually launching that great idea. And stops us from moving on to something more satisfying if
we don't like our lives. And prevents the people closest to us from moving on too.

So who or what are the rats in your life that you need to stop feeding? What's keeping you from using your garage
(dream)?

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New Christians are Like Potatoes
September 9, 2013

The instructions for planting potatoes are pretty simple.

Wait until the danger of heavy frost has passed. Get a potato with “eyes” on it – one ready to sprout but not
already rotten. Cut the potato into sections (one eye per section). Plant the sections 2 or 3 inches deep, about a
foot apart, and wait for something to happen.

The waiting part is hard. You won’t see much going on above the ground. While some of the plant grows above
ground, most of it grows underground – kind of like an iceberg. It doesn’t look like much is happening for a very
long time. The  action is hidden from us.

If it’s your first time growing potatoes, you may wonder if any potatoes are down there. It takes three months to grow
a potato. It takes every last bit of patience you have not to dig up a little soil and take a peek. But if you do that, you
might damage the root of the plant, and the root is the future (potato)!

While waiting on the potatoes in my garden to mature, I realized how much of what God does in our lives is like
waiting on potatoes. Even though we are rotting in sin, God plants us in good ground. We sprout quickly but die if
agitated too soon after being planted in Christ. And, others have to learn to wait patiently to see a harvest in our
lives.  

Something happened recently at my church that made me realize many new Christians have their “roots” exposed
by other Christians who expect them to bear fruit too soon. A new Christian was rightfully upset over something that
happened, but didn’t handle it very well. The others present, all Christians with many years of experience under
their belts, made it worse by going to a place of condemnation with this new Christian, ultimately choosing to ignore
this person until this new Christian was ready to leave the church, and possibly God.

Whether you are a Christian or not, vow to never condemn and shun another person for not living up to your
expectations of how things should be. Even if their behavior is offensive, rude, inappropriate or out-of-line, you
need to behave as Jesus did with "sinners." Jesus showed mercy, grace and love to everyone, even demon
possessed men who yelled curses at him.

You never know where a person has been in their life, what they’ve gone through, how far they’ve come or where
they’ll end up in the future with you as their earthly example of Christ's love.

You can make a conscious decision today not to be critical, judgmental or exclusionary. God loves everyone –
sinner and saint alike.

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Leftovers Again
October 14, 2013

As I searched through the refrigerator for something to eat that was both fast and relatively healthy, my eyes
landed on some leftover meatloaf. I fixed it in my mind that I would warm up the asparagus from last night and nuke
a potato to go with my meatloaf and cut up a peach for dessert. It was the perfect meal until...

I opened the container and saw the white patches growing on the meatloaf. Surely a little mold wasn't going to spoil
my perfect dinner plan. So I headed back to the refrigerator to survey the contents again.

As I looked, my disappointment grew. How could there be mold on my meatloaf? The refrigerator must not be
keeping the temperature right. I was positive I'd made that meatloaf only 3 or 4 days ago. It couldn't go bad that fast.

I began opening lunch meat, cheese, bread, mayonnaise, mustard, grape jelly, yogurt, milk, even the butter,
carefully inspecting each for minute signs of the invader mold. It all looked good except my meatloaf. I tossed the
meatloaf and drummed my fingers on the counter, wondering how something could go bad so quickly.

Life is a lot like leftovers. Something that seemed so perfectly wonderful a few days ago can look distasteful and
downright dangerous a few days later.

Have you ever said things or done things that you regret?

Sometimes we regret them immediately when we say something to hurt someone. Sometimes we don't even realize
how ugly something we've done is until later.

Sin is like that. It draws you in to things that soon look spoiled and rotten. But should we continue to partake of
something that is bad for us. We wouldn't eat  meatloaf once it turned rancid, yet we will continue to take drugs or
drink or lie or steal or cheat even when it leaves us feeling dirty, sick and worthless.

Sometimes you just need to throw the leftovers out.  

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Frankenstein Was a Monster
November 11, 2013

When I was a kid, I loved to watch monster movies. Okay, confession time - I still love to watch monster movies.
There is simplicity to monster movies that you just don't see in movies today. Basically all monster movies have the
same plot. A monster is created from some set of circumstances that go horribly wrong. Society shuns the monster,
making the monster want to lash out at those same people in some horrible monster way. The people fight back
and usually end up killing the monster, feeling perfectly okay with it because, hey, he's a monster!

But Frankenstein was a different kind of monster. Frankenstein wasn't a mutant lizard or a giant ant or a giant
gorilla or a scaly sea creature. He was a human being who was raised from the dead.

Frankenstein wasn't the monster. His creator (another human) was. Most people think Frankenstein was the name
of the monster. But Dr. Frankenstein was the one who went into graveyards in the dead of night and dug up dead
bodies to piece together his creation. He obviously had quite a bit of bad science going on while doing this too,
hence the "monster."

This made me think about how Jesus raised several people from the dead, but they didn't have any problems after
he did it. They were probably better off than when they were alive the first time.

So why can Jesus raise the dead with no ill effects and Dr. F can't?

Jesus is the earthly manifestation of God. God is the Creator of everything (including Mary Shelley, the woman who
wrote the story "Frankenstein"). Since God is the creator, he's literally the only one who can change us or resurrect
our lives when we go astray. Our lives, purpose, joy, career, relationships, children, spouses and finances can
never be too dead for God to bring them back to life. And without creating a monster.

Every day we choose whether we'll let man, and the things of this world, change us into monsters or let God change
us into something better than human!

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Where's Jesus?
December 9, 2013

I spent the evening with several babies, each one under 18 months old. I do this every couple of weeks as my
"punishment" for more than once swearing I would never ever work in the children's nursery at church.

God likes to make us do stuff we don't want to do, and for me being alone with a roomful of babies for an hour and
a half is like being alone with four starving Bengal tigers. They make me nervous because they just watch you the
whole time.

While babies toddle around me, I simultaneously try to change the diapers for two others. All need me constantly
and vie for my attention in ways I could never imagine. It unnerves me sometimes to realize how much these tiny
people need adults. I can't possibly communicate with them. I can't possibly understand their needs. I can't possibly
entertain them, comfort them, change them, or keep them from gouging out each other's eyes. They step on each
other's fingers, trip over toys and crash into all sorts of things. And, there's lots and lots of crying.

It is at times like this that I realize I am without a doubt, in over my head. I wonder where Jesus is. I know he is
laughing.

It was after spending a particularly harrowing nursery shift a few months ago - seven babies all crying at once - that
I realized I needed Jesus to show up and help me. So I placed my hands on the heads of the two closest babies and
started praying blessings over them. Instantly, and I mean instantly, they stopped crying. Just like that! Wow, thanks
Jesus. I quickly prayed over the other five as well with similar results.

It was after that day that I started praying over the babies every time I did nursery duty. Then one night I asked one
of the older babies, "where's Jesus?" And, his little hand flew up and pointed to the ceiling. It was at that moment I
realized that it's true, little children do see Jesus. He knew who Jesus was and where he lived.

I still pray over the babies every time I work in the nursery because I finally understand what it means to have faith
"like a little child." So, "where's Jesus?" Close. Very close.

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