Come for all things are ready

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I was waiting for the call, the invite, the day, the time and place.

A group of old friends, some of us knowing each other from kindergarten through high school, reconnected and a dinner date was in the works.

The woman organizing the evening promised to call me as soon as all the arrangements were in place.

A few weeks went by and one day while scrolling down my facebook news feed I saw them — all of them sitting around a table, having dinner together.

Oh the curse of facebook.  We see things that, once upon time, came to our attention through the grapevine.

It’s the good, the bad and the ugly of the social media craze.

Did I miss a text, an email, a phone call?  I checked.  Nope.

I was forgotten.  Skipped over.

You know those feelings of rejection you got in junior high when your friends went to a party without you and afterwards you found out about it?  Well, those long, long ago feelings paid me a visit and I felt like a foolish junior higher with left-out and rejected emotions coursing through me.

They had dinner together and I wasn’t invited? 

It bothered me for a while and then my friend’s text came — “Mea Culpa” — I googled those words, there was more communication between us and forgiveness extended.

There have been more serious rejections and painful situations in my life than the story that I just shared.  I think it’s safe to say that you’ve experienced them too.

We’ve all been there, feeling rejected, excluded, forgotten, ignored at one time or another.

But there’s one table – a banquet table – where there aren’t any exclusions. It’s an open invitation and we’re all invited.

Jesus set the table and it’s a table where we can bring all our baggage, rejections, hurt, pain, frustration and lay out our sin.  It’s not for the perfect or for those dressed a certain way, those of the right ethnic background, social status, the VIP, or the prestigious.   No, it’s all-inclusive.

He welcomes all with open arms to his banquet table.  It’s a place to feast on his goodness and receive his gifts.  The gifts of grace, mercy, forgiveness and love.

He sends out the invitation: “Come, for everything is now ready.”  (Luke 14: 17)  But not everyone accepts the invitation.

Sometimes the excuses we make to decline his invitation seem sensible.  We ignore the invitation because we’re busy with life–family, jobs, financial obligations, to do lists, bucket lists or whatever else consumes our time.

At his table there’s great love, we learn and grow in our relationship with him –it’s the discipleship process–we grasp the depth of his love that came through a horrific sacrifice–and through it came grace.  It was all about grace.

His grace is lavish.  It’s an astonishing grace but it’s not cheap grace.  It was never cheap.  There was a cost and that brings us to another table.

On that night so long ago, the night before his death, he broke the bread and lifted the cup — a symbol of his broken body and spilled out blood.

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It should have been me, it should have been you but he took the pain and suffered the cross so we wouldn’t have to.  It cost him his life.

Thankfully it didn’t end there, because 3 days after Jesus’ death he rose and is alive and he’s waiting at the BIG BANQUET TABLE that he’s preparing for those who will meet him face to face.  It’s another table, for another time and will be the biggest most beautiful celebration of all.

But until that day his table (on this side of heaven) is set, the invitations are out, you’re invited, I’m invited.

And he says, Come for all things are ready…


Read about the feast and banquet table here:  Luke 14: 15-24

The last supper:  Matthew 26: 17-30 / Luke 22: 14-24

Happy Easter!

Nancy Janiga

Savoring Moments Through My Lens

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The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 
Psalm 19:1

I walked toward the shore and marveled at the sight.  There pressed against the backdrop of a colorful sky was a crescent moon with Venus glowing bright and Mars faintly seen above it. Knowing this breathtaking site wouldn’t last long, I grabbed my camera to record the moment.

(in response to the Daily Post’s photo challenge, Ephemeral)

Blessings!

Nancy

Hydrate!

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I never thought I’d be that woman.  The one dehydrated and hooked to an IV, EKG, blood pressure machine, and God only knows what else all those wires were.

My family would be the first to tell you that I’m a health nut when it comes to the foods I eat but they could also tell you that they have spoken these three words to me often, “Drink more water!”

It was just a few days of being active in the sun to deplete me.

My husband and I took a break from our snow-covered state and entered a warmer climate and I was ecstatic about shedding the parka’s and boots for tennis shoes and shorts.

Coffee in the morning, a sip of water (here and there), coffee in the afternoon, a sip of water (here and there) and wine with dinner didn’t add up to enough liquid to sustain me through the hikes and all of our outdoor activities in a warmer climate.

By the way, the nurse informed me that neither coffee nor wine counts!  They are diuretics.

So there I sat for half a day in the emergency room while the doctor on staff ordered tests to determine why I collapsed that morning.

Long story short, they hooked up a bag of fluids and pumped it through me.

I was back…ready to put my hiking shoes on and go…

I’ve gulped down water like crazy everyday since and I’m feeling great.  Infusing the water with citrus helps too.

I was a woman in need of water.  I was thirsty and didn’t even know it.

infused water 2x - Copy wdpThere’s another woman who was thirsty and didn’t know it.  Let me tell you about her.

She was trying to fill the empty places in her life with temporary solutions but the solutions weren’t quenching her deepest soul-thirst.

When the women in town went to collect water from the well in the morning, she stayed back.  Maybe they didn’t want to associate with her and she knew it.

Most likely an outcast and shunned by the people in her town, she waited until noon (the hottest part of the day) knowing others wouldn’t be around to fill their jars in the heat.  That way she could avoid their glaring stares.

She was, most likely, ashamed but didn’t know how to solve her problem.

But Jesus knew and He cared.  So one day at noon He met her at the well.

Jewish people would steer clear of Samaria and take the long way around to get to their destinations.  The Samaritans were not full-blooded Jewish.  They were a mixed race and considered unclean by the Jews but Jesus thought differently.

On His way to Galilee, Jesus went through Samaria and stopped at the well to rest.

He waited for the Samaritan woman and asked her for a drink.  What a surprise that was.  First of all she was a woman.  Men didn’t talk to women in public.  Secondly she was a Samaritan (considered a half-breed and despised by the Jews) and Jesus was asking her for a drink of water?  That was unheard of!

But Jesus always surprised people and went to places others refused to go and spoke to people whom others wouldn’t think of talking to.

Jesus reached out to her and ultimately offered her a drink from His Spiritual well–the well that never runs dry and even bubbles up to eternal life.

Jesus set up that divine appointment.  He knew she was coming and made sure He was there right on time.  Jesus never misses an appointment.

He confronted the woman with her lifestyle by simply saying, “Go, call your husband and come back.”  “I don’t have a husband,” she replied.

Jesus tells her that she is right and goes on to reveal the truth about her life.

She was a woman who had 5 husbands and the man she was living with then wasn’t her husband and Jesus offered her the solution to escape her circumstances.  The solution was Him.  He offered her His Living Water so she would never be Spiritually thirsty again.

The thing is we don’t really know why she had five husbands or why she was living the way she was.  It could have been by choice.  Maybe there was abuse in her past and she didn’t know what a healthy relationship was.  It could have been that she was left by her first husband and then tossed from man to man.   Women were completely dependent on men to care for them, in those days, or they wouldn’t survive.  Maybe she held out hope that someday the right man would meet her deepest needs and solve her loneliness.

We don’t know the back story, but what we do know is that Jesus cared enough to go to Samaria to meet her and offer her true love and hope and the best part of the story is that she accepted it.

She not only accepted it but she left her earthly jar behind and ran into town with her Spiritual Living Water splashing joy on others and many believed because of her testimony.

It’s truly amazing and the story reveals the depth of Jesus’ love for everyone and His willingness to go out of His way to find one lost soul.

We can’t fill our lives with temporal things and think that it will satisfy our Spiritual thirst.  There’s no person, place or thing that can take the place of God.  As much as we try, our divine thirst cannot be quenched by anything but Living Water.  That Living Water is the Holy Spirit.

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”  By this he meant the Spirit…   John 7: 37-39

I need water to survive physically and if I’m not hydrated my body lets me know.  Ignoring my physical thirst or thinking something else (like coffee or wine) will satisfy my thirst can result in a medical emergency.

But just as important, I need to quench my Spiritual thirst daily too.  If I don’t drink deeply from the well that never runs dry and ignore my need for the Living Water of Jesus, I will collapse Spiritually.

I’m staying hydrated physically now but my recent trip to the hospital reminds me that my Spiritual thirst is just as important and I need to have Spiritual Living Water running through me daily too.

And like the Samaritan woman I hope I will always be just as excited to lay down my earthly jars and run and tell others about the Living Water of Jesus that Spiritually hydrates me.

If you click this link:  John 4: 1-42 you can read the amazing story of the woman at the well and Jesus’ encounter with her.

Blessings!

Nancy

Expressions of Love

heart sunset 2 - Copy wdp“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.”  Sarah Kay


I’m not sure why I was having a bad day.  It was several years ago.  All I remember was there were tears and I wanted a little slice of time to myself.
Bob left the house and returned later with a box of Good and Plenty, handed it to me and said, “I thought this might make you feel a little better.”
I smiled, opened the box and we went for a walk while I ate my candy.
And you know what?  That simple gesture of love lifted my spirits.
He could have brought home a dozen roses, a box of chocolates and a diamond ring and it wouldn’t have had the same effect.
I’m not saying those gifts would be meaningless but there’s a time and place for everything.
The little box of Good and Plenty was perfect.
Why?  Because it came from someone who has studied me, therefore knows me and my husband picked a simple, thoughtful gift for that day.  Knowing that Good and Plenty was one of my favorite childhood candies, he went out and bought a box.
It was just an ordinary day, with me needing a little encouragement and my husband decided that Good and Plenty may do the trick.  I couldn’t remember how long it had been since I ate that candy–it was many years ago so it was a special surprise.
Silly, huh?  But you know what?  It’s often the simplest gestures of love that mean the most.
As hard as I try to remember, I can’t recall why I was so sad that day and either does Bob but we both remember the gift of Good and Plenty and how it made me feel.
That’s important information for many of us to remember, especially during the month of February when images of love abound as we approach Valentine’s Day.
We can start by studying our loved ones, making mental notes of their likes and favorite things, listening for clues of what may lift their spirits, bring them joy, put a smile on their face and then follow through with a simple gift.
It doesn’t have to happen on Valentine’s Day.  Actually, an unexpected gift expressing love on any day has even more meaning and impact.  However, Valentine’s Day is as good a day as any to express our love to a spouse, child, friend and even a stranger with a random act of kindness.
Sometimes bigger isn’t better and less really is more.  One simple rose (in a favorite color) placed in beautiful vase instead of a dozen roses — a box or boxes of favorite childhood candy instead of a box of expensive chocolates — think, study, explore, put thought into purchasing a simple gift and then share your love.

I took the photo of the sunset, at the top of this post, on February 13, 2014 in Florida on the Gulf of Mexico.  My husband and I were walking the shoreline when we noticed that the sparkling reflection of the sun on the sand looked like a heart.
I refer to that photo as the night that God kissed the shore with a heart for us just in time for Valentine’s Day–a reminder of his love for us.
His love cost everything he had — his only son and his very life.  That’s truly the only BIG GIFT worth receiving, because that’s how we learn how to love even in the smallest of ways.
We love because he first loved us.  (1 John 4:19)
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
The greatest gift is LOVE–go out and express it in creative ways and give someone a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Blessings!  Nancy ❤    © 2015

Daddy, Carry Me

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“Daddy, I can’t go.  I’m tired.”  Her hands reach up, “Daddy carry me. I’m scared.  It’s getting dark.  I can’t see.”

Like a good daddy he whisks her up into his arms and gently places her on his shoulders.

The evening is fading and the sun begins to withdraw behind the horizon.  Darkness isn’t far behind.

But she’s safe; secure in her father’s embrace and her fear subsides.

He sprints across the shore with confidence because he knows the way and she trusts him.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will         strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.            Isaiah 41:10

Blessings!  Nancy ❤

BE.YOU.TIFUL

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Like a carnival barker the woman summoned me to the store entrance.  I glanced in her direction as she held out a sample of moisturizer explaining, “We’re sharing a few of our skin care products today.”  I hesitated.  She continued, “It’s free.”  I thought, Oh what the heck.  I took the small foil pack, thanked her and turned to walk away.

“Wait, I have one more thing for you.  It’s a sample of our non-surgical eye lift serum.”  “No thank you,”  I responded.

Before I knew it I left my husband, Bob, standing in the mall and I was sitting in a chair facing a mirror.  How did this happen?  I never fall for this sort of thing, I thought.

But there I was in a spa–as she called it–at the mall getting a trial non-surgical eye lift from the carnival (like) barker.  Her name was Lily.  As Lily applied the potions, I kept telling her, “I’m not purchasing anything.”

All of a sudden Bob appeared with a look on his face that said, “For real?”  I shrugged my shoulders and smiled.  “No no, don’t smile, don’t move,”  Lily commanded.  I sat up straight, threw my shoulders back and froze to attention.

She applied a gel substance under my eyes, smoothed it, fanned my face with a piece of paper and explained to me that the routine would have to be done a couple of times a week.  She added that I should notice amazing results in just a few applications.

“There,” she swung my chair toward Bob.  “What do you think?  This is just one treatment and look how amazing she looks.  Imagine what this will do with long-term applications?  This is like Botox in a bottle at an affordable price.”

Bob studied my face, nods and says,  “Yes, she looks great.  I see the difference.”

I started to say, “Really?”  But Lily stopped me at ‘real’ and instructed me not to move the muscles around my eyes.   She said, “Like Botox, it’s working on relaxing all your muscles.”  I looked in the mirror.  The skin around my eyes did appear smooth but only if I didn’t move any part of my face.

Lily offers Bob the same treatment stating that men use it too.  Bob declines saying, “I don’t need it.”   That’s when I thought, Hmm…but I do?

Lily informs me of the cost of Botox and then shares the price of the eye treatment indicating how affordable it would be.

Bob’s stunned look and my squirming to get out of the chair must have signaled to Lily that we were done.  She whipped out a cleanser, moisturizer, exfoliate scrub and said that the package was worth over $800.00 but for that day she’d give it to us for the price of the eye lift serum which was $400.00.

“We’re hungry, it’s time for lunch,”  I looked toward Bob and we start to leave.

Lily throws in a nail care package thinking that would seal the deal.

As we head for the exit, Lily follows us waving her business card and I see two women purchasing the products from another carnival (like) barker.  Now we’re really stunned.

Bob and I break free and make a run for the nearest restaurant.  On our way, I must have made some facial expressions, because I caught a glimpse of myself in the lady’s room mirror at the restaurant.  I leaned in closer and saw dried gel serum crackling in the lines around my eyes making me appear to have double the wrinkles.  Then I noticed flaking white stuff hanging from my skin.

I threw on some sun glasses.  We ate and ended up at Starbucks after lunch to talk about the experience and to search for reviews on our phones.

Never mind the reviews on the products.  I have to review the truth.

The truth is simple–we live in a culture caught up with outward appearance.  Aging is viewed as something to be ashamed of.  We can’t run from the anti-aging messages.  They’re all around us–telling us to tweak this, tuck that, shift this, improve that.  Anti-aging.  It insinuates that we have to be against aging and something must be done about it.  Stat!

Today I’m reviewing the real truth.  It’s found all through God’s word and it reveals what He thinks about us.  He knows we’re flawed.  He sees the creases, outwardly and inwardly and He loves us anyway, but he’s more concerned about our inward flaws.  Those are the flaws that nobody else can see but I’m reminded that they get shed slowly over time.  Those of us who are Christians are works in progress.

  • Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.   (1 Peter 3: 3-4)
  • Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  (2 Corinthians 4: 16)

Being renewed day by day means that our inner glow gets brighter the more we grow in our faith.  No matter what our circumstances are, or what our age is, we will radiate outwardly what is happening inwardly and that’s true beauty.

Written by:  Nancy Janiga ©2015

Along Right Paths

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Along Right Paths

Lord, let me hear You whisper
And recognize Your voice,
For I am at the crossroads
And need to make a choice.
There are so many pathways,
But only one is right.
Point me in Your way, Lord,
I’ll let You be my light.
Allow the path to shine
And illuminate with You,
As Your presence goes before me
And shows me what to do.
May each step I take be grounded
in the knowledge that You care,
And that I can have confidence
Because You’re always there.
No road is too long or hard
When it’s you who leads the way.
I’ll follow Your footsteps, Lord,
On the path I walk this day.

…He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23:3

Nancy Janiga