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Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing By Sharon Sheppard

A couple of years ago, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of my husband’s death, I invited my son and daughter and their families to my condo for an evening of tacos and reminiscences. I wanted our five grandsons to know the family stories—the fun and funny and serious—so they would never forget who their grandpa was and what he was like.

The grandsons joined in with their own stories about what they remembered and loved most about their grandfather, and at the end of the evening, I asked my son and daughter to tell their sons one thing they had learned from their dad that they wanted their children to know.

My husband was a can-do person, and our son said he learned so many varied skills from his dad because he instilled in him the idea that he could accomplish whatever he set his heart and mind on.

Our daughter said one of the most important things that has helped her in life and in managing her own business was her dad’s philosophy: Do the Right Thing: don’t cheat on your income taxes, don’t take unethical short-cuts. Be trustworthy.

During these past few months on the thewisejourney, we have been reflecting on the biblical Fruits of the Spirit (from Galatians 5:22-23). This month we are focusing on the trait of Faithfulness.

What comes to your mind when you hear the term Faithful?

An old and trusted employee? A favorite dog? A geyser in Yellowstone National Park?

Think of some of the characteristics you value in a close friend, a spouse, or an employee.

Probably words like loyalty, trustworthiness, and dependability come to mind. A faithful friend or family member is someone you can count to keep a confidence when you share personal concerns. Someone who will stand by you when things fall apart. Someone who always has your best interests at heart.

Certainly in a spouse we look for someone who takes wedding vows seriously, and who will be faithful “in sickness or in health, for better or worse. . .”

And ultimately, if we belong to God, we will take His Word seriously and try to apply it to our daily living.

As you think about how you might measure up in the area of faithfulness, how do you think your spouse, your boss, your kids, your friends, and God would rank you on this one?

What it pretty much boils down to is this: Do the Right Thing.

The Faithful Favor of God

The Faithful Favor of God – By Mary Zigan

We can’t ignore that we are STILL in lockdown from this horrible pandemic! In my little downtown that is usually bustling, streets are nearly bare, schools are still closed, church is by livestreaming only, retailers and salons have CLOSED signs on every door. And I need a haircut badly!

Sorrow hangs over us like a thick cloud as we grieve the loss of so many lives that have been taken. Fear, anxiety, and uncertainty still plague us. We would like to help, but we feel stuck and out of touch with NORMAL. But do we really want our normal back as we have known it? Someone recently said to me, “I don’t want to get back to normal. I want to get back to NEW . . . a life where we are more aware of others.”

In this cosmos we live between good and evil. How can we become more consistently aware of our faith walk?

  • Do we want Jesus only if He provides the American Dream for us?
  • Do we want God’s blessings but not Him?
  • Do we want His provisions and promises . . . but without the persecution?
  • Do we want Him to follow us instead of the other way around?

What if faith is putting God between us and our circumstances? 

Scripture states, “Everything we can comprehend through faith’s vision belongs to us.”

All we long to do for God is within the possibilities of faith. No desire will ever be placed in us by the Holy Spirit unless He intends to fulfill it. In Philippians 2:13 the Apostle Paul says, “It is God who works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose.” All this happens through the power and love of the Holy Spirit.

By faith we get to choose between life and death. God loves us so much that He died for us that we might live for Him.” Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.” How great is that?!

If you feel weak and wounded today, take hold of God’s promises and provisions. He is faithful and will never fail you.

Peace vs. Pandemic

Peace vs. Pandemic By Mary Zigan

As I write this month’s blog post we are undergoing a pandemic with the coronavirus.  Fear is rampant, people are frantic, groceries are flying off the shelves, public places, are closing by the minute. We have had plans one day, and the next day they are gone, taken away from us.  Strangely, or not so strangely, this month we are looking at the character trait of peace, and we look to Jesus Christ, who is Perfect Peace. I recall today the promise in Isaiah as I remember memorizing this verse as a child from in my King James Bible:

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is 

stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3 KJV)

What does it mean to “have our minds stayed?” Webster defines it like a strong rope, a support to steady us, to keep up in the race, to fix or rest in reliance. We keep up in the race by remembering whose we are. Fear cannot overwhelm us when we are filling our minds with this truth, Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, our support to steady us. He can rest in this promise.

If you are not in the habit of lifting up your heart in prayer, I encourage you this month to begin the habit. We pray to demonstrate our faith in God, that He will do as He has promised in His Word and bless our lives abundantly more than we could ask or hope for (Ephesians 3:20). Prayer is our primary means of seeing God work in others’ lives. We have His promise that the fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much (James 5:16-18). Another good reminder if you happen to feel inadequate in prayer is, (Romans 8:26) which states; The Spirit helps us in our praying. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us.

May God glorify His name in your lives as you go on your way, may Peace go with you.

Mary Z.

Life Is Filled with Unexpected Events

Life Is Filled with Unexpected Events . . .

Like the First Easter, for Example.   By Sharon Sheppard

This morning I pulled on my sweats, poured a cup of coffee, and without taking time to put on makeup or give a second thought to how I looked, I attended our Sunday morning worship service.

It was a whole different experience because today I participated while sitting at my kitchen counter, staring at the screen of my Mac, as our church’s Sunday morning service streamed live. Due to the coronavirus restrictions imposed by our Governor, it had just become illegal for more than ten people to assemble in one place—a law we never would have dreamed of three short months ago.

I was pleasantly surprised by what an uplifting, worshipful experience it was to sing along from home to Martin Luther’s words from “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”: 

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also. 

The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still. 

His kingdom is forever.

Luther wrote these words in 1529 following the lethal bubonic plague (a disease far more deadly than the coronavirus, since it claimed millions of lives throughout Europe.)

As we look forward to Resurrection Sunday, we can only imagine what an astonishing worship event took place after Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James came to anoint the body of the dead Jesus with spices. These were women who had followed him and believed he was the Messiah—only to have their hopes dashed to bits as they watched him die a slow, agonizing death on the cross.

They were stewing around about how they were going slide that huge stone away from the entrance of the tomb, when a couple of men in dazzling garments quietly said to them, “Don’t be alarmed. He’s not here anymore. Remember how he told you he was going to be crucified by evil men, but that he was going to rise from the dead on the third day?”

 Then they remembered.

“That same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, 

“Peace be with you.’”  John 20:19, NKJV

 This was and is the pivotal event in all of history. It’s the event that gives us hope for our own life after death if we embrace what He offered when He gave His life as an atonement for our sins.

Happy, HAPPY Resurrection Day!

Creamy Lemony Vegetable Pasta Salad

March is the month most of us are really, really, ready for Spring.  And, in Minnesota, it is often a long time in coming! We are anxious to shed our three layers of clothing and enjoy some of the wonderful warm days ahead. Also, we find ourselves digging out our healthy recipes that will help us face the drudges of what the brutal long winter sometimes does to our bodies. Therefore, I thought I would share this delicious, nutritious, recipe full of veggies and a cinch to make. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Pasta (any variety) 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • Garlic clove minced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • Veggies of your choice, I like peas, corn and broccoli
  • 1/2 cup nuts (optional) I like almonds

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta as directed on the box
  2. Whisk the mayo, oil, and lemon juice and zest, salt & pepper in a large bowl
  3. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water until completely cooled.
  4. Add the pasta and vegetables of choice to the mayo mixture. Taste and adjust your seasonings to your liking.
  5. Can be refrigerated up to four days or enjoy immediately!

JOY: My Word for the Year

JOY: My Word for the Year By Mary Zigan 

Like many of you who have adopted the “ONE WORD’ concept-choosing One Word you hold dear for a year, then seeing how that one word weaves itself into many circumstances of your life throughout the year–this is something I have personally practiced for several years. 

And since we at The Wise Journey have for the past months been featuring The Fruit of the Spirit: Attributes of God that we would like Him to develop more fully in our own lives, and since this month’s attribute is Joy, which is the one word I had chosen for the year, it seemed like a good time for me to reflect on Joy. 

The noun JOY is defined as gladness not based on circumstances. Joy comes from a deep conviction within us and is eternal. 

For the Scripture declares: “When the glory of the Lord rises upon us, our hearts are radiant and will throb and swell with joy.” How exciting it is to be a part of spreading joy all around us. I encourage you to read the 60th chapter of Isaiah. I also encourage you this month of March to feed on Scripture verses pertaining to joy or choose one or two of the following quotes I’ve included here to hold close to your heart. You will find yourself radiant with joy! 

  • Find a place inside where there is joy, and Joy will burn out the pain.
    -Joseph Campbell 
  •  Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. 
    -Mother Teresa
  • If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment. 
    -Carlos Santana 
  • Joy is the serious business of heaven.
    -C.S. Lewis
  • Find ecstasy in life: the mere sense of living is joy enough.
    -Emily Dickenson
  • To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide Joy with.
    -Mark Twain

JOY? In a World Like This?

Joy? In a World Like This? You’ve Gotta’ Be Kidding! 

By Sharon Sheppard 

No doubt about it—joy seems like a pretty scarce commodity these days. 

As the political arena heats up, insults fly, tempers flare, and so much of the news is contentious. Add to this scenario issues like poverty, homelessness, global warming, the coronavirus, and so many other concerns, and the picture can look grim. 

Joy seems unattainable. Unless we start looking for it in the right places. 

I’m frequently reminded of the way my Dad began every. Each morning he would look out the window to see what the weather was like. And whether the temperature hovered at 40 degrees below zero or had climbed to a humid 80 degrees above, Dad would daily quote this verse: “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will be glad and rejoice in it.” (Psalm 118:24) 

Recently I was asked the question: “What brings you joy?”: 

I didn’t have to think twice about that one. Virtually every day I sit down at the piano and play. Sometimes it’s just five minutes. Sometimes it’s an hour. My fingers wander over the keyboard as I experiment with chords and different progressions. Sometimes I pull out a hymnal or my old 59 PIANO SOLOS book from college piano lesson days. I love everything from classical music to jazz, and making music lifts my spirits and gives me joy. 

There are many other things that bring me joy, too. Meaningful conversations with dear friends. The beauty and fragrance of flowers. Settling in with a really good book. 

Laughter lightens my heart. I still love hearing my son and daughter laugh when they get together at family gatherings. I love it when my grandsons tease me, because I’m good at giving it right back at them. (I’ve had lots of practice at this, having grown up as the only girl among three brothers.) 

Fortunately, joy doesn’t depend on having all the circumstances of our lives line up in the Favorable column at the same time. Joy is more of an attitude, an act of the will. It’s a habit worth cultivating. Savor the little things in life. And the big things. 

Talking to the God who created the Universe brings awe and a sense of peace and assurance that we can know the One who is in control. 

As we celebrate JOY in this month’s blog remember that”…the JOY of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) 

Love is in the Air

Love Is in the Air . . . by Sharon Sheppard

If you were to Google Ideas for Celebrating Valentine’s Day, you’d get a long list of suggestions ranging from tacky to boring to erotic. All, of course, are geared for couples: 40 Amazing Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day / Romantic Ways to Propose to the Woman of Your Dreams / Creative Ways to Celebrate with Your Spouse on a Budget, etc.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer in marital romance. As a speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), my most frequently requested topics are “Is there romance after marriage?” or “How to fall in love with your husband all over again.” 

But since the specific Fruit of the Spirit we are emphasizing this month is LOVE, and the Bible commands us to “Love one another” (John 13:34), I’ve been thinking about people who may not feel particularly loved right now. While the media spew forth a barrage of products and entertainment options for romantic dates and gifts, many people who are not part of a couple feel their aloneness more acutely at this season of the year. 

People in nursing homes come to my mind. People who live alone. People who no longer have partners. I have a sister-in-law and a brother-in-law who each lost a spouse during the past year. And three women from my church lost their husbands between this past Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know they are all hurting. I’m asking God to help me know how to comfort them.

Is there someone you know who might be feeling particularly lonely during this season when so much of the buzz is about lovers? Somebody who no longer feels special to anyone anymore?

How about surprising a lonely someone by dropping by a care center to deliver a chocolate heart and a hug? Or giving a co-worker some genuine encouragement.

Charlie Brown of comic strip fame says, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

Be on the lookout for lonely hearts . . . 

I’ve Discovered The Secret to Happiness!

I’ve Discovered The Secret to Happiness!

By Sharon Sheppard

It’s found in I Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Okay, so it isn’t necessarily easy to be joyful 24/7.  But I find it does wonders for my morale when I choose joy instead of complaints.  

And pray continually?  I doubt that the Apostle Paul meant we should spend day and night on our knees. But it’s a comfort to know that God invites us to approach Him at any time, about any concern or any thoughts we want to share with Him. He won’t scold us for coming to Him too often. 

And, about giving thanks, we don’t have to wait until November 28 to do it. 

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!!!

Mary and Sharon

Meditations on Practicing Kindness

Meditations on Practicing Kindness ~ Mary Zigan

Kindness is caring for others, even when they may not care for you. 

The act of kindness is often its own reward.

Kindness is having the ability to speak with love, listen with patience and act with compassion.

Kindness can make a bad day good, and a good day better.

Kindness is a powerful reminder that behind all the negativity and malice, there lies goodness that has the power to change the world.

 Be kind to others. Your random act of kindness might become someone’s best lifetime memory.

 Sometimes, a single random act of kindness can become the spark that ignites a revolution.

 Kindness is never wasted. Kindness always makes a difference, blessing the one who receives it, and the giver.