Luke 2:19 “but Mary kept all these things in her heart…”

Luke2_19b

image from 4catholiceducators.com

In my Bible study this morning, as I was reading through the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke, chapter 2, I was struck by verse 19:

“…but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” ~Luke 2:19b NLT

And then again by verse 51:

“And his mother stored all these things in her heart.” ~Luke 2:51b NLT

My role as a mother has changed as my children have grown into adulthood; however, my concerns and love for them has only deepened through the years…if that’s even possible.

I’ve always prayed for and over my children; for their health, well-being and happiness, for them to grow up strong and confident, for them to be righteous, honest, people of integrity, contributing members of society, for them to realize God’s purpose for their lives, for them to lean on their faith in times of difficulty or trouble and to be grateful in the good times, for them to know that I love them unconditionally and so much more.

So much I have stored and pondered in my heart. So much I will continue to store and ponder in my heart.

So much like Mary.

God has instructed us to pray; I believe this “storing and pondering” is prayer. I love that prayer is my touchstone and conversation with God. And one of the most important jobs I have as a mother.

I’m thankful that while my children are grown and discovering all that life has in store for them, I can continue to pray over them…even though it’s no longer at their bedside each night. It’s my gift as their mother.

YOLO!

Jan

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New traditions…

Change. It’s never easy.

christmas tree lot

(photo credit: Steven Dipolo/Flickr)

Today a BIG change in our Christmas tradition happened.

My family will probably think I’m silly and overreacting about such a seemingly minor change. But I don’t care. I’m mourning the change…despite the fact that it’s medically necessary. Yes…I’m still bummed.

Here’s the deal…we’ve always had a REAL Christmas tree. For 32 years. Beginning with the “charlie brown” Christmas tree we had for our very first Christmas in New Orleans. Seriously, it was pitiful…but it was beautiful to me. We were far away from family…in our new home and simply couldn’t afford a big beautiful tree. My sweet husband had to work Christmas Eve; he stopped on the way home and picked up a free, leftover tree. It was small with bare branches. We didn’t even decorate it. It was perfect!

Shopping for our Christmas tree came to symbolize (for me) the beginning of our Christmas celebration. Through the years we shopped at various tree lots, Boy Scout lots, commercially owned lots, “whoever has the best price” lots. We’ve shopped in in the warm and cold, rain and snow, daylight and dark. We used to be a family of 4 scouring the lot for the perfect tree. We’ve had flocked and evergreen. As the kids have grown into adulthood, we’ve transitioned back to just hubby and I on the hunt. Memories of the anticipation, excitement, temperature, sights, smells, sounds, lights, fires in metal drums, sawdust mixed with evergreen boughs on the ground hold a special place in my memory and heart.

Last year we discovered a new reality. Within just a couple of hours of bringing the chosen tree into our home, my hubby came down with what would become a raging sinus infection. He was perfectly healthy prior to the tree entering our home. He has a history of some pretty nasty, seasonal sinus infections often progressing to bronchitis. We had just never noticed it in relation to the Christmas tree before….but it was crystal clear. The tree was definitely a trigger. So out it went! Immediately!

This weekend, after some supportive, comparison shopping with my daughter…we finally decided on an artificial tree. Purchasing it in a big box…bringing it home to the garage…just didn’t have the same “holiday feel” as picking out the perfect tree on a tree lot. My son helped get it out of the jeep and into the garage; so technically, we ALL were involved in picking THIS tree and bringing it into our home.

tree_jeep

 

New traditions. I sense there are memorable new traditions yet to develop. And hopefully, my husband will NOT be sick over the holidays this year or into the future. Healthy holidays are the plan!

Disclaimer: Christmas is clearly NOT about the tree. I know that. I value that the celebration of Christmas is about the birth of Christ. The Christmas tree in our home is merely a seasonal symbol. I value the traditions which encourage us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Thanks for “listening”…I’m feeling better already! That was a fun trip down memory lane. Perhaps some new ornaments and holiday decor will help with the transition…

YOLO!

Jan

 

 

 

 

 

Chili day…

Today started with an awesome day at church, hugs from friends (a favorite perk), wonderful music and the Christmas message was unlike any I’ve heard before. It really touched my soul…has made me think all day…bottom line…all was NOT peaceful, silent and right with the world when Jesus was born. Yet he brought hope to this world. I need to listen to the podcast to absorb more of that message – I’ll see if I can post a link here when it’s available.

The Last Minute Toy Store began today; Rich and I have volunteered for several years. I won’t be able to spend time working there this year; however, I’m cooking chili today to send to help feed the volunteers on Tuesday. I’ve loved putting the chili together and stirring it with love every 15 minutes for 3 hours now. I hope it’s very yummy and warms and nourishes some hardworking volunteers who are serving so that thousands of Nashville children will have Christmas gifts. It’s an incredible experience to serve at this annual event. I encourage you to learn more about this wonderful ministry!

While my Last Minute Toy Store pot of chili (required recipe) simmers on the stove, I’m making another pot of chili for my family. Since we been focusing on eating more organic foods, I’m making my “traditional” black bean, beef chili with a few modifications. I’ll post the recipe separately if you’re interested.

I hope you’re enjoying this week leading up to Christmas. Take some time for yourself. Reflect on the year past. Reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Enjoy time with your family. Love and be loved.

Blessings!

YOLO,

Jan

Pressing On

“Pressing on to the higher calling of my Lord”

The service today at Highland Park Church, really struck a chord with me…it’s ALWAYS meaningful, some days the music and message just seem specifically targeted for me. Isn’t it amazing how God works?

First the music – “Pressing On”, a Bob Dylan song and “Power of Love”…WOW! I was rocking in my seat – probably annoying the people around me…it was all I could do to stay seated and not fully rock out with the band!!

Then the message, delivered by Dale Robble…bottom line…we all have a purpose here. If you are going to follow God’s plan, you WILL have naysayers.  We need to learn to listen to the RIGHT voices  in our lives. You’ve got to learn to ignore what “they” say…practice selective hearing, selective reading and learn to tune out doubt.

Jesus doesn’t see a death, He sees an opportunity for a resurrection. Jesus doesn’t see your situation the way YOU see your situation.

God’s not panicking about your situation. Why are you mourning over a situation that God has the ability to resurrect?

Why bother? Because the impossible it JUST around the corner.

Just keep on PRESSING ON!

HPC Band

Blessings to you!

YOLO!

Jan

“Hug it Forward”

Good Friday is all about love. Jesus died on the cross because he loved us. It’s the PERFECT time to think about spreading the love.

Tomorrow, I’ll be giving out FREE HUGS to help spread the love and change the world for Hug it Forward. I’ll be at Highland Park Church’s “Easter Eggstravanganza” from 1-3pm. 5710 Knob Road, Nashville, TN. We’ll be doing some serious hugging!

For every hug we give and YOU register online, $1 will be raised to build bottle schools. How many hugs can I give?? Can I hug 200 people???

If you are not in Nashville, you can still participate. I’ve included an image of the Hug Bucks I’ll be giving away tomorrow. Consider yourself virtually hugged by me…because after all, if you were here or I were there, I WOULD hug you!!

Hug Buck

You can use your smartphone to capture the QR code which will take you to the registration page – it’ll ask you if you were hugged by Jan Orga – enter your zip code – and click the link to register your hug – that’s it!! You MUST register the hug for the sponsors to donate the REAL MOOH-LAH!!  Next time I see you – I WILL hug you in person!!

OR simply go to http://hugitforward.com and register as hugged by “spiritofyolo” and enter your zip – fill out the register the hug area – it’s that easy!!

Please….HUG ME!!! Watch this video about how YOUR hug WILL help change the world!!

With ((((hugs)))) and the Spirit of YOLO!
Jan

My Awesome Adventure – Days 2 & 3

Well…I was so wrapped up in the events of my personal “awesome adventure” that I missed blogging yesterday. I am not focusing on that…rather I am focusing on what I was doing that caused me to miss the day of blogging.

We had another wonderous day of bible study led by the most awesome “Bible Babe” of all – Penny! She has such incredible insight and listening skills to hear and discern where she is being led. We all were in awe of how she lit the path we needed to be lit. When our needs demanded…yes, at times, we demanded…that she change her path…she did it graciously and met us where we needed to be. Lighting another path. Just an incredible gift she has.

I had planned to stay at the “noisy” cabin for the free time on Saturday evening. I ended up shaking my groove thing for hours in the game room with a wonderful group of new friends. We had an awesome DJ emerge from our group, a well stocked jukebox, pool table, air hockey table, a couple of favorite video games, card table and PLENTY of dancing space!!! There is nothing more refreshing after a couple days of intensive studying and digging into self than to let your hair down and DANCE!! Try it some time!

We also celebrated the announcement of one of our HPC sisters being cancer free at this retreat; she had announced her diagnosis last year during the retreat. It was a very special moment as she was presented with a beautiful princess cake created by another HPC sister, Nayeli of the Itty Bitty Cake Shop. What a special occasion it was!!!

This morning we wrapped up the session with Holy Communion, followed by a spontaneous session of signing each other’s journals – remember signing yearbooks in high school – well, yes, it was like that! It was beautiful to see all the women celebrating new friendships by making their loving mark in each other’s journals. It was a beautiful closing to a most incredible weekend. I definitely plan to attend next year!

Have you ever attended a spiritually focused retreat? I highly recommend the experience!

God bless!

YOLO!!

Jan

 

Cake by the Itty Bitty Cake Shop

Itty Bitty Cake Shop

Highland Park Church

Spiritual Renewal Day: Scheduling Margin

Last week I blogged about “Margin” – you can read it here. Our Pastor, Dale Robble, with Highland Park Church is doing a series inspired by the book Margin, Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard A. Swenson, MD.

Margin is defined as: the amount available beyond what is necessary. The difference between what you have and what you need. This could be time, money, relationships, food, meetings…you get the point.

So how do you schedule margin? How do we schedule WISELY?

We need to learn to say “NO” to many GOOD things, so we can say “YES” to the BEST things!

Read that again…absorb it. Yes! Sometimes we need to say NO to something GOOD so we can say YES to something BETTER!

“Busy”ness does NOT equal productivity. Boy…this is a lesson that’s been reinforced many times over to me. I am learning to focus my own “busy”ness with the goal of increasing my productivity by diligently using a consistent to-do list. When my children were young and very busy with extracurricular activities, in addition to driving the Mom-taxi, I was also a working mother, my husband was growing our retail business…I thought I was a great multi-tasker. In fact, I was phenomenal!

I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. ~Bill Cosby

What I have since learned is that multi-tasking is a myth. It’s literally impossible to give your full and undivided attention to more than one task at a time. Sure, I was doing a lot. I was accomplishing much. But was I doing ANY of it to the best of my abilities? I bet NOT!

I remember in the ’70’s when personal computers were being developed and envisioned with awe by many…we were told that our lives would become so much simpler. We’d be able to accomplish MORE in LESS time.

In fact, today, I’ll argue that the reverse is our current reality. The bar of expected productivity has been raised. And raised HIGH. We now have multiple computers in our homes, we have cell phones, most people have smart phones, our jobs often expect us to be accessible 24/7 . We are yoked constantly to the electronic gadgets which were supposed to bring us REST!

I have learned through experience that I cannot be all things to all people. And if I try, I will certainly fail. Instead of being a source of support, light, energy and love…I become a drain. And that is not fun for anyone involved. Me included.

So back to Dale’s lesson…too many people are being robbed from a life of meaning NOT because they are UNCOMMITTED, but because they are OVERCOMMITTED.

Some thoughts:

  • Just because you COULD do something…does not mean you SHOULD do something.
  • “No” – IS a complete sentence…I love this!! You don’t have to say it rudely…just smile and say “No”.
  • You HAVE time for what you CHOOSE to have time for!

Finally…there are two things that are phenomenally important to your success and your relationship with God…and we are nothing without our relationship with God.

  1. We must have intimate TIME with God.
  2. We must have intentional times of REST.

Again…I amazed at how the universe (God for me) is speaking to us all the time. We have but to listen. In all of the self-development work I’ve been doing with mentors such as Anthony Robbins, Dave & Yvette Ulloa, Rich German…I’ve been learning the importance of spending time in prayer and meditation. This time of bible study, intercessory prayer, mental and physical quiet…allows me to listen and rest. It’s very centering.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear; and the burden I give you is light”.   ~Matthew 11:28-30

God wants us to live a life of peace and rest. Even God worked 6 days and rested on the 7th. Jesus took time for Himself when he was on this earth. He spent time in prayer. He got away from the crowds. He found rest.

Dale challenged us to spend 10 minutes a day in quiet communion with God. I have been spending time in prayer and meditation on an inconsistent basis. I will be adding this to my to-do list. I WILL be scheduling this time. I CHOOSE to find the time.

I choose to yoke myself to my God instead of all my electronic gadgets.

I encourage you to do the same. Let me know how it goes for you…

And remember,

YOLO!

Jan

Spiritual Renewal Day:A Beginning Lesson in Margins

Today, Pastor Dale Robble at Highland Park Church, spoke about “margins”.

Margin: the amount available beyond what is necessary. Some examples:

  • the difference between what you have and what you need
  • having distance between you and temptation
  • having the emotional capacity to deal with problems
  • having significant time with God
  • overload is fatigue, margin is energy
  • overload is red ink, margin is black ink
  • overload is hurry, margin is calm
  • overload is anxiety, margin is security

Most people have NO margin for the most important priorities in their lives. Pastor Dale really caught my attention when he said that for him…the best things in life happen in the margins. I’ve been thinking about this all day…it’s a concept that I will explore and apply to my life immediately! It’s TIME to increase the MARGINS!

We live in a culture that encourages us to push ourselves to the limits. Most of us are convinced that the way we are living is necessary and right. It’s NOT!!

God wants us to have healthy margins. Consider:

  • Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
  • Matthew 11:28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
  • Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God!
  • Isaiah 58:11 The Lord will guide you continually…

In doing my weekly review of my 2011 goals and priorities, I am reminded that one of my spiritual “goals” is to increase my meditation and prayer time.

I continue to find myself in awe at how the universe responds when you focus on something. What you focus on increases. I am constantly finding this reinforced in my life. The message today at HPC was totally in keeping with my goals. I am looking forward to the rest of this series and learning more about creating healthy margins.

What can YOU do to increase the margins in YOUR life?

YOLO,

Jan

PS – The HPC series is based in part, on the book: Margin, Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson.