by Lisa Harris
Thank you, Lord, for my eyes! There's nothing like the possibility of losing your eyesight to make you start considering the precious gift God has given to us. I've had issues with dry eye for quite some time now. It's treatable, thank goodness, with a good washing, lubrication, and taking lutein on a daily basis for eye and vision health. My issues are nothing compared to my mom's. She had dry socket macular degeneration. The doctor explained this disease is like having a ball of yarn in your eye. The core of the ball is wound very tightly, letting no light through, but the edges of the ball are very loosely wound, letting in bits and pieces of light. Mom could see a distortion of things on the peripheral—to the left and right, up and down—but she could see nothing straight ahead. As time progressed, the ball became more compacted and the ability to see became less and less. I watched her struggle with diminishing sight on a daily basis. Of course, I'm concerned my dry eye condition may develop into something more and I, too, may suffer the devastation of the inability to see.
As I pondered my mom’s life with diminishing sight, I began considering how and what I see in my world on a daily basis—the view out my bedroom window, the printed word on a page, the faces of my grandchildren. It came to me that eyesight—the ability to see, vision—is more than just being able to see out of my eyes. What's inside my heart and mind determines the view from my eyes, whether it's distorted and clouded or clear and bright. In Ephesians 1:18 NASB, Paul prays for the people, "...that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling...." What is in my heart influences—colors, gives perspective, helps me to understand—what I see through my eyes. Matthew tells us, "...for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" Matthew 6:21 ESV. If that is true, then how do I keep the eyes of my heart in good health? Can I wash, lubricate, and take a pill? Of course, not! If only it were that easy. We are bombarded with all sorts of stuff every day that blurs our heart’s vision: TV, radio, Face Book, books, Internet, gossip, busyness, unhealthy relationships. Then there are prejudices, impatience, self-centeredness, skepticism, unforgiveness, and bitterness. Whew! What a mess!
When I think about all the junk coming at me that I can't control, I'm drawn back to one of my favorite scriptures:
Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart] Philippians 4:8 AMP.
And there it is, the prescription for keeping the eyes of my heart in good health!
It's such an old thing. One of those tried and true, old-fashioned remedies that always works, like Grandma's poison ivy potion that nothing on the market today can beat. It took time and effort for her to hunt down the sumac root, cut it up, cook it down, and then mix up that salve. But in today's world I usually look first for a new thing, an easy fix, something that makes my life easier and I don't have to work so hard. The daily monitoring of what I see and hear is not an easy fix. It takes time and effort to bring my body and mind into subjection. Sometimes I'm just too lazy to turn the TV off or to switch the radio to another station. Sometimes I don't make time in my day to read God's Word. And I can't give you a good excuse for why I may not always acknowledge God in all my ways. Yes, I am human and not perfect, and He knows me better than I know myself.
I'm so grateful to God's Spirit for reminding me what is right and true, and always bringing me back around to what I must do so I can see clearly with the eyes of my heart. Knowing the right thing to do is only half the prescription. It is the doing—putting that knowledge into action—that makes the difference. And that's up to me!
What clouds your vision? What do you do to keep the eyes of your heart in good health?
Lisa Harris is the wife of one minister husband, mother to three married children and grandma to nine grandchildren. She and Jerry have been in the pastor and missionary business for over 30 years. They now oversee Reach Missouri Network for church planting and Lisa is enjoying her new vocation as a librarian.
by Pamela J. Morton
A friend of mine recently reminded me of my zeal for New Year's resolutions. I think the word "reminded" might be a bit generous...maybe "mocked," "scoffed," "laughed hysterically followed by eye rolling" would be better descriptors. It seems that a few years ago I had joined a group of my friends around a lunch table in order to spend some time discussing our goals for the coming year. It sounded like a great idea.
We talked and ate then finally settled in for the purpose of the get together. I retrieved my tote and pulled out my handy-dandy portfolio complete with my ledger pad and color-coordinated pen. I waited for everyone else to follow. No one moved. "Oh, maybe they want to wait until it's their turn," I thought.
One by one, each friend began listing their goals. Some were straightforward things like, "I want to read my Bible more”, and others a bit more complex like "I want to show more patience with my children." Then (of course) the ever elusive, yet always present goal of "losing weight" with varying dates of achievement.
"This is good," I smiled. "Now we'll get into the nuts and bolts of each one." With my ledger pad in hand, I waited for the cue to begin. My friend looked at me and said, "That's a mighty big notepad you've got there, Pam. What's it for?"
I looked incredulous. "What's it for? What's it for! My goals of course. My hopes. My dreams. My aspirations. Everything that this year could possible contain is listed in beautiful headings, subheadings, points and sub-points. Where should I begin?"
Each person at the table now had what I could only describe as a severe smirk on their faces. "What did I say?" I pondered. "Surely, they have something similar." I was wrong. Very wrong. They said something to the effect, "I would like to keep a cleaner house."
I had written:
V. Fully, Organized and Beautifully Functional Home that Glistens and Glossens [sic] Every Moment of the Day
A. Living Room
1. Fluffy, Soft, Perfect Carpet
a. vacuum every other day
b. cleaned professionally twice a year
2. Sparkling Furniture
a. dust every other day
b. polish once a week
3. Tasteful Decos
a. keep dusted every other day
b. rotate items seasonally
c. dispose of any unnecessary clutter
I could list more, but you get the idea. I had pages of these little beauties. As I read them, the smirks turned to mouths dropped open, to full bellied laughter, to head shaking back, to laughing so hard someone had to excuse herself to go to the bathroom.
Was I really that much over the top? I've come to discover that "yes," I am. So the million-dollar question is: "So how did the rest of the year go with such lofty ideals?" Some went really well and others...well, let's just say that I believe the "Lose Weight" category may be on the recurring list for years to come. But I was never without some sort of goal for improvement!
This year, I'm stepping back a bit and praying for general areas of my life and asking God to lead me day by day. Lists aren't bad as long as I don't become a slave to them allowing them to rob me of the joy and purpose that God has for my life in that particular moment. Still, I can't help but looking longingly at my big yellow notepad and sigh...
7 Tips for Setting Goals
1. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Set small goals that are manageable.
2. Talk with a friend or two and see if they agree with you or provide additional insight.
3. Stagger the start date for some of your goals. Begin some in January while others could begin in summer or autumn.
4. Prioritize what is truly important.
5. Plan goals of fun as well. This is your life. Make the most of it.
6. Pray and ask the Lord to help you understand what His leading is.
7. After you write your goals, spend a week praying over them and then move forward.
Pam Morton, her husband, John, and two teenaged daughters packed up their fulfilling, understood Midwestern life and moved to Cairo, Egypt in 2009. Her dream of serving overseas became a shocking reality of daily cultural encounters that often left her wondering if she’d actually landed on Mars instead! From Cairo to Khartoum to Upper Egypt to deserts unknown, Pam continues to learn, live and thrive in a sandy, sweaty, hospitable land.
An author, global worker, teacher trainer and self-proclaimed “professional luncher,” Pam wants to share laughter, life and hope with her dear Arab neighbors while providing insight into Middle Eastern customs and everyday life with her friends in the West. www.pamelajmorton.com
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