B is for Beatitudes

The Beatitudes are central to my faith as a Christian.  They can be found in two Gospels  Matthew 5:3–12 and  Luke 6:20–22.

Here is the version from Matthew:

 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Here is the version from Luke

‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.

‘Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.

I love the beatitudes because they remind me over and over again that we live in an upside down world.  Over and over again we are told that we have to be pretty, strong, smart, successful, rich, funny, and good looking.  If you are not these things, some people will tell you that God is punishing you!!  Let me be clear, that is not true.  What the beatitudes tell us, what God tells us is that we are perfect just the way we are.  Sure, we should read books to be more educated, we should work out to be healthy, we should save more money than we spend so we can live a comfortable life.  However, if we don’t that does not mean God loves us any less.

In fact, what Jesus is doing in both Matthew and Luke is blessing people.  All kinds of people.  Jesus does not say “all the rich people come over here, where are all the good looking people at?”  In fact not only is Jesus calling out to everyone, but he points out that those who are down-and-out, extremely vulnerable, and at the bottom of the ladder people should be at the front of the line.

Why?

Because God ALWAYS shows us where we least expect to see God, even in blessings.  God is with the poor, the sad, the meek, and the peacemakers.  This is not where citizens of the ancient world look for God and, quite frankly, it’s not where we first look either. If God shows up here, with the weak and the vulnerable, then God will be everywhere.

I don’t believe we always hear this message.  In fact, I don’t believe we always feel blessed by God when we feel weak and vulnerable   These are the times that we feel God is furthest away.  I want you to know right here and right now…….God loves and adores you, God wants the very best for you, not only is God with you when you feel hurt, lost abandoned or poor, but those are the times God is closest to you.

As you read the words of the Beatitudes also hear the words of blessing.  Whenever you feel down and out and in need of prayer, remember these words:

The Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make his face shine on you,

and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face towards you

and give you peace;

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Ask the Right Questions

Sometimes my daughter comes up to me and says “Daddy can I have a snack please?”  When she asks this I usually look at her with a straight face and say “I don’t know can you?”  She hates it when I do that!!

Maybe your father has done this to you, it is one of those things that we are told to do in the Dad’s handbook.

It is tough to know how to ask the right questions.  It is tough to know what the questions are that will help you change your life, to change your focus from a negative to a positive.

As some point in our lives we are faced with a difficult situation   We may feel down in the dumps with no real direction to fix our problems.  Then someone comes along and says “What’s wrong?”  There are those times when we clam up because we don’t know what to say.  Then there are other times when we may go on for awhile with a list of problem, after problem, after problem.  In the end there is no real solution, or even a possibility for a solution.

If you are interested finding solutions to problems rather than becoming bogged down in them, here is a suggestion that will help.

Ask the right questions.

For example, if you ask someone, “What’s wrong?” you will get an answer – often a long one – which will focus on the problem. But if you ask, “What do you want?” or “How would you like to change things?” You have redirected the conversation from the problem to the solution.

When we do have a problem or an issue that we are trying to work thought we do have a desirable outcome.  I believe that to achieve this outcome we need to avoid asking the question “why” and instead choose to phrase it in a way where we say “how” or “what” instead.

For example, instead of asking your child why he is failing History, ask him what he needs to help him bring his grade up. Instead of asking your boss why you didn’t get a raise, ask your boss what you need to do in order to justify a salary increase. Instead of asking God why your prayers were not answered, ask yourself why do you think your prayers were not answered and what you think God has planned for you?

I know that it is hard to change the way we ask questions, but if we do — I believe we will get to the answers we need to hear.  I will continue to make my daughter think about this when she asks me a question, no matter how many times she rolls her eyes at me.

My Little Girl Turns Six

I can’t believe another year has passed and my daughter turns six years old!!! Every day I am amazed at the growth of her personality, confidence and love.

At one you made me worry because you were so little.

At two you captured my heart.

At three you drove me crazy but at the same time you kept me sane.

At four you made my heart melt every time you called me “Daddy”

At five you amazed me with how smart and loving you are.

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iPhone Pinewood Derby Car

We have had some interesting pinewood derby cars over the years.  All with mixed results.

Year one we did a bakugan car.  We caved out a hole in the car for the bakugan to sit in and it had enough room for the wings to expand.  It is the only car I can’t find a picture of.  It was our first car together and it turned out okay.  The car actually ran quite well and finished in the top half of the pack.

                                                                                                                           Pinewood Car 2011

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The second year we decided to do a Lego inspired car.  This car was not as fast as the first one but it won a prize.  It was declared the “Most Unique Car” of the entire pack!

We learned some interesting lessons from this car.  First is that wheels are important.  It is important to sand, and polish the axles of the car.  Friction is your worst enemy in a pinewood car.  Also most Pinewood Derby cars will fishtail as they roll down the track. Fishtailing slows the car down by increasing friction. You can reduce fishtailing by sanding the front of the car so that the wheels on the front are slightly closer together. Then as the car goes down the track, only the front wheels will touch the center guide rail.

Pinewood Derby 2012

428992_445878204994_1580794302_n We decided to go Army for 2012.  I was pretty proud of this design because we cut in a little bunker for the army men and then sides of the car were actually the weights.  This was 100% done by Logan and myself.  Again we were in the top half of the pack but did not win any awards.

This year we learned more about the weight of the car.   Five ounces is the magic weight. The closer you can get to five ounces, the faster your Pinewood Derby car should fly down the track.

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