Being Committed

January 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

Ah, the New Year. A time to look over past achievements and set goals for the future. A good friend of mine once asked, “If I’ve accomplished all my New Year’s Resolutions by January 9th, did I set my goals too low?”

Maybe.

I hate making goals. They mock me. As soon as I make one, all of life seems to conjoin to keep me from accomplishing it. If I say I’m going to lose weight, then strangers start throwing chocolate my way. If I promise I’m going to write a certain amount of words each day, then my computer freezes or my zip drive gets lost. If I commit to a quiet time in Bible study and prayer, then every telemarketer from here to Mumbai calls for that exact hour.

Instead of “goals” I prefer lists. They’re a little less formal. More laid back. A list invites me to accomplish it, rather than demanding my participation. I can check things off at my leisure. There’s no deadline. No obligation.

This kind of attitude doesn’t work in my walk with God, however. Not if I want to grow in any measurable way. God doesn’t demand that I seek Him, but He certainly rewards those who are faithful. If I’m putting my relationship with God on some kind of checklist, then there’s a good chance I’m taking it too lightly. Treating it too casually. There’s a saying, the difference between being involved with someone and being committed to them is like a ham and eggs breakfast. The chicken is involved with the meal. The pig is committed.

This year I’m setting one goal. I’m going to strive to be more committed to my relationship to God. Intentional in the time I spend with Him. Not out of obligation, or because He’s on my list of “things to do,” but because I long to have the kind of faith that He desires for me.

The great thing about this resolution is I can’t set a deadline for when I have to have it accomplished. There is no actual “goal.” I will never be perfect or sinless. I can never know all there is to know about God. He will never run out of ways to surprise me. Although I can never fulfill this resolution, I can never fail at it either, because as long as I am seeking to know more about Him, I’ll be successful.

Blinded by the Light

December 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

For years, as the rest of the world succumbed to the lure of smaller, shinier and showier mobile devices, I resisted change. The last of my friends to get a cell phone, when I did, I made sure it was already archaic.

“Nothing fancy,” I told the guy at the store. “I just want to make calls, not microwave my dinner.”

I hung on to that dinosaur for as long as I could. Until it developed a mind of its own—shutting down and turning off at will. Randomly calling people when I hadn’t pressed their number. When the keyboard got so sticky I couldn’t send texts (the only way my kids communicate with me now) I broke down and entered the technologically advanced age of the smartphone (but only because anything less is now considered a museum quality antique).

And what I feared would happen, has happened.

I am constantly distracted by the shiny.

In my defense, the screen saver shot is of my adorable puppy dog.
How can I not stop to peek at her beautiful brown eyes when they appear on my phone?

And, look there! The little message face is smiling! It means I have a new text! Someone loves me! (Or they want me to pick up milk when I’m out, but the subtext is they care).

I’m not the only one. I’m sure you’ve noticed how everyone seems to keep their heads down as they type away on their mobile devices. No one has a conversation anymore without also checking their email, their Facebook page or crushing some candy. We’ve lost the art of face-to-face communication and instead find our BFFs in chat rooms and social networking sites.

But that’s not where real relationships are found.

Those are found in undistracted quiet times over a cup of coffee while you let a friend rant about a difficult job situation. They also develop in the silences that occur on long walks before the day begins, when the world, and your friend, are just waking up. Hastily written texts can’t take the place of a comforting hug. A Facebook post isn’t the same as a handwritten note.

The same is true of God. If I want a real relationship with Him, a deeper relationship, it means I have to spend time with Him. It means making myself stop playing another round of “Words with Friends” and opening up my Bible. It means not posting a picture of the great lunch I’m eating, but remembering to thank the one who provided it for me. These were things I used to do, but I’ve let myself get blinded by the lights. If I have one resolution for this coming New Year, it’s that I return to the less shiny days of my past and reconnect with God.

My “friends” on Facebook might start to wonder where I’ve gone, but God will know exactly where I am.

Satisfaction

November 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

It’s tough to be satisfied in our crazy world.

We stop at a restaurant for a light lunch and somehow get talked into ordering a triple bacon deluxe with extra cheese and super-sized fries.

We invest in a new computer, only to be disappointed the following week when its next generation arrives on the shelves with ten times the previous processing speed, 100% more storage and new technology so it’ll pay all your bills while it cooks your dinner.

My husband’s mother was recently singing his praises to family members we hadn’t seen in years. “John performs with his band around Omaha. He’s really good. You should hear the songs he’s written for Kim.”

My husband’s cousin, Cathy, turned to her spouse in mock reproach. “You’ve never written me a song.”

My mother-in-law continued, “John’s written Kim lots of songs! Funny ones. Romantic ones. They’re all wonderful.”

Cathy playfully smacked her husband Todd on the arm. “How come you’ve never written me a song?”

John, embarrassed by his mother’s attention, jumped to Todd’s defense. “He built you a house! I think that’s enough!”

“Yeah!” Todd laughed, thankful for the back-up.

It’s true. The deck we were sitting on had been designed and built by Todd. Not to mention the entire beautiful house.

In Cathy’s defense, we all tend to forget the blessings of the past because we are constantly bombarded with the message that to be happy, we need something new. How much time do we spend asking God for more; instead of thanking Him for all he has already provided in our lives?

Psalm 90:14 says, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days”(NIV). It’s my goal to wake up each day, rejoicing in all God has given me, instead of striving each day for more.

Stepping on a Crunchy Leaf

October 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

There are two types of people in this world. Those who can simply walk down a sidewalk of fallen leaves, and those who must step on the crunchy ones.

I fall in the second category. I anticipate the opportunity each autumn brings to scuffle through the brightly colored foliage and listen to the rustle every step makes. Nothing makes me happier than spying a particularly puffy dried leaf and going out of my way to step on it. I love listening to its satisfying pop as I help it make its way back to the earth a little quicker. I refuse to be labeled a sadist, I am simply helping to complete the circle of life.

I know there are others like me. A friend of my daughter’s shared that her best and worst fall experience happened at the same time. Walking across the college campus on a particularly bright and brisk autumn day, she spied a huge pile of leaves. Overcome by their siren call, she raced toward the pile and jumped. Her happiness was quickly snuffed when she pulled herself out of the mass of foliage, only to spy a groundskeeper with a leaf blower, glowering down at her.

Alas, some people do not have a sense of humor.

Fall, more than any other season, brings out the kid in me. I long for hot apple cider and soft hooded sweatshirts. Pumpkin muffins and corn stalks. Warm blankets on chilly afternoons. I don’t know why this season, more than any other, speaks to my inner child, but it does. And for that I’m grateful.

Maybe it’s because the days are shorter that I seem to treasure them more. I pay attention to the color of the leaves and the sky, when at other times of the year, I am simply too wrapped up in my own thoughts to notice God’s creation.

Maybe it’s because I know I’ll soon be cocooned inside my house for the long winter, that I now find time to take an afternoon walk and thank Him for the gift of this world.

Perhaps it’s because, each autumn, I’m reminded of God’s unlimited grace. We live in a fallen world. One where our lives can often feel as bleak and gray as a rainy September day. But there is always the promise of the coming spring, just as there is always hope for our futures in God’s love.

So today, I shall walk outside and step on a crunchy leaf. And when I do, I will rejoice that I serve a merciful, loving, and gracious God.

A Cup of Patience

August 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kim Stokely –

It was stupid. I know it was. It was an extravagant little item that I didn’t need.

But I wanted it.

I wanted it bad.

What, pray tell, had captured my attention and aroused my desire?

A teapot.

Yup. A tiny silver teapot. But it wasn’t only a teapot. The dainty beauty sat upon its own little cup and it contained its own little diffuser. It beckoned to me like an island oasis. “Buy me,” it whispered. “Fill me with extravagant tea leaves from exotic lands, and when you sip the liquid from my brew, I will take you there!”

Okay. Maybe it wasn’t quite as specific as that, but the pot definitely spoke to me of relaxing cups of tasty tea sipped over the pages of a good book. I checked the price of this diminutive treasure. Not too expensive, but I still didn’t feel as if I could justify the purchase. It was, however, close to my birthday. I suggested to my mother-in-law, browsing beside me, that she could drop a hint to my kids that this would be the perfect gift. As we were out- of-town, I knew my children only had a small window of opportunity to buy it.

I watched them the following day.

They never left the house.

That night, the entire family gathered at a restaurant just around the corner from the shop where my obsession sat waiting for me. Since I knew my kids hadn’t bought the teapot for me, I decided to walk to the store after dinner and buy it myself. My mother-in-law stopped me. Rather emphatically.

I figured she planned to buy the tea pot and send it to me for my birthday. I waited, like an impatient child at Christmas, for my package to arrive in the mail. As the days ticked down to my birthday, I jumped at the sound of every truck coming along the street, fully expecting the UPS man to deliver my desire.

But he never came.

Instead, the mailman unceremoniously stuck a large envelope in our mailbox. It squished when I pulled it out. My heart sunk when I read the return address and realized that it was from my in-laws. It wasn’t my tea pot. It contained a beautiful scarf necklace. The perfect complement to the new outfit I’d bought with a gift card from my mother.

But it wasn’t the teapot.

I argued with myself that I didn’t need the teapot. That my birthday had been most pleasant even without the gift I’d wanted. As the day wore on, it was harder to convince myself.

But then, just before the day ended, my daughter presented me with a cylindrical box decorated with a bow. I knew without opening it what it contained. My kids had given money to my sister-in-law who’d slipped out, bought the teapot, and snuck it to my children while I wasn’t looking.

Now when I sip my tea, I don’t think about exotic places. I think about how I almost let my frustration rob me of my happiness. The teapot has become a symbol of my walk with Christ. I am reminded that God has a good and perfect will for my life, but sometimes I have to wait for His perfect time. His gifts may not come when I think they should, but I think that’s so I will appreciate them even more when they do arrive.

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