Spending Dirty Money: A Lesson in Usefulness

Spending Dirty Money: A Lesson in Usefulness via https://teresatysinger.com

Last week I lost track of the days and didn’t get September’s newsletter out on time. I’ve also been off-schedule a bit with posting here. I promised last week that I’d get out the September newsletter over the weekend. If you’re a subscriber, you’ll notice that didn’t happen. My heart hasn’t been in it to create. But I’m a writer. Creating with words is what I do. It’s how I contribute — why I’ve carved out this little area of the universe. Continue reading

Surviving Disappointment

disappointment

Just in the past few weeks, an epidemic of disappointment has spread around me. In my life and in the lives of those I love, it has threatened to steal joy, extinguish dreams, and plant seeds of self-doubt. It seems the perfect time to consider weapons at our disposal to survive the inevitable force of disappointment. Continue reading

Yearning for Christmas

I posted this photo and caption on Instagram last night after decorating our Christmas tree earlier than ever this year. I’ve noticed a lot of others commenting that they felt pulled to decorate early, too. What is making us yearn for Christmas this year? Whatever it is, I’m so grateful. I’ll look forward to visiting with you after Thanksgiving. Blessings, friends!

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The Not-So-Secret Recipe

 

recipe

Preparing to marry my groom over thirteen years ago and start a household of my own, I approached my mom and excitedly asked her if I could finally have her famous pumpkin pie recipe. Through giggles, she leaned close and whispered, “Just follow the recipe on the back of a can of Libby’s Pumpkin Puree.” Imagine my surprise!

All those years, all those holidays. Family, friends, and co-workers clamored for one of her pies. What was her trick? Secret ingredient? All that time, no secret at all.

As the holidays approach, like every other year, I think back to this silly moment shared with my mom and my heart smiles.

But you know what dawns on me today? If we’re not careful, our faith is much like this recipe my mom held. She chose not to share, but it was available and accessible to all. Please don’t get me wrong — I am in no way comparing my mom’s fun “secret keeping” to choosing not to share her faith. She’s a great example of living out her faith every day through service and kindness to others.

But am I keeping secret the best recipe for grace, salvation, never-ending love? Imagine a similar conversation to the one I had as a bride with my mom:

Friend who doesn’t know Jesus: “Your life is so good, so happy. Can I have the recipe?”

Me: (Giggle) “Just open the pages of your Bible. It’s all right there.”

Wow. Right?

Chances are, someone won’t likely come up to you so readily and offer you the chance to share the recipe for eternal life in Christ. Am I allowing people to witness my life but not have access to the ingredients I know make up the best, most satisfying dish out there? Salvation.

I pray that God shows me each and every opportunity to pass along the not-so-secret recipe he’s shown me. And that I do so before someone has to ask for it.

Maybe through my writing (I pray). Maybe through my friendships (I pray). Maybe through my smiles to strangers (I pray).

But what more can I do? What can you do? May these holidays be full of recipe sharing of all kinds!

NO-vember

november

Two years ago I participated in National Novel Writer’s Month. Participants of NaNoWriMo commit to writing a 50,000+ word novel during the month of November. A few days early, I celebrated having written my first novel. Today, that novel is in the hands of agents who may be able to help me see it on book shelves one day. It was an experience I’ll never forget. NaNoWriMo pushed me to accomplish a dream I never thought possible as a mom of a youngster and a wife of a husband who worked really long hours. Continue reading

Scared of the Dark

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At work, I park on the side of our large building and, upon leaving, usually make a stop in the seldom-used restroom near that side door. Today before leaving for lunch, I used the same restroom and flicked the light switch off as I left. Remembering I left my keys on the bench outside the stalls, I went back in without turning the light on. The door closed most of the way behind me and darkness enveloped me. Continue reading

Life on the Midway

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My family and I are venturing out to the Texas State Fair this evening. With Big Tex, big rides, big food, and even bigger crowds, it’s outfitted with all the makings of your typical American fair (and some over-the-top Texas extras).

bigtexThis morning I got to thinking about the silly games on the midway. It’s hard to see the actual games for all the prizes hanging overhead…neon pink monkeys that Dad will have to lug around, inflated crayons that spring a leak before you make it home, or rubber balls that get lost in the sea of people and have you praying people don’t start tumbling in front of you like bowling pins. The average adult fair goer knows the games are pretty much rigged. Chances are good that you’ll walk away a dollar poorer (at least) with nothing to show for it but a few laughs.

Don’t get me wrong. The laughs are worth something. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll get to witness the joy on your daughter’s face when she makes even ONE ping pong ball into a small fish bowl. But, truth be told, these games are a lesson in investment choices.

Life, much like the fair offering these games, presents us with choices every day as to where we’re going to make investments. How will we spend our time? Our money? Our skills?

My life feels like the fair right now. Loud noises and bright lights pulling my attention in dozens of places at once. It’s more crucial than ever to discern which choices will yield the most return. Otherwise, my reserves won’t last long. I’m confident that many of you, too, feel your time reserves often suffer the most. There’s simply not enough time. Choices get harder. They also become more important. (And, the pressure builds.)

Though we’re all friends here, it’s hard to admit that I struggle with self-discipline. When I don’t know which way to look amidst all the sounds and lights, I shut my eyes and wait for it all to pass. Except that when we wait for life to pass us by the danger is that it WILL. We risk missing out on opportunities to use our skills, grow our ideas, bless others, and see God.

Right now, my life involves agreeing to the the leader of my daughter’s Daisy Troop, needing to prepare my book proposal, volunteering at the school, obtaining a new accreditation at work, etc. I’ve not completed more than one consecutive morning walks or devotions in months. I have calls from friends I’ve not returned in weeks. We’ve averaged more meals out than usual. Not that my commitments aren’t important. The Daisy Troop will provide countless great things for the girls. The book proposal will hopefully one day lead to getting my book’s hopeful message to readers. But I’ve chosen not to invest in daily reflection on God’s word. I’ve not invested in my own health, and can feel the effects in too-tight clothing and fatigue. I am closing my eyes to the needs of my friends, simply hoping they’ll understand when it’s convenient for me to call.

I have no answers for this metaphor of life on the midway. Maybe you do? But I do know that I want to invest in the things that matter most. I heard someone recite a 12-step program principle. “When this year’s sobriety is too daunting to consider, worry about this month’s. When this month’s sobriety (task/goal/fear/hope) is too daunting to consider, worry about today’s. When today’s sobriety is too daunting, worry about this hour’s, then this minute’s. You can do anything for one minute.” Brilliant.

Today, I’m praying that through the many noises and bright lights of life calling out to you for your attention, you seek God’s guidance to choose the things that offer the biggest return. I know, I hope to. One day at a time. One minute at a time.

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.  — Matthew 6:33-34