Recently, a storm came through my area bringing with it gusty winds and heavy rain. Where I live storms are commonplace especially in the spring. That period immediately following a rainstorm is one of my favorite times to go outside. If you have never experienced nature immediately following a rainstorm I strongly suggest you give it a try. Personally, the air seems clearer and fresher, and there is a distinct smell of cleanliness permeating the air. It’s nature's way of cleansing the Earth. When you do venture outside you will most probably notice debris on the ground consisting of dead twigs, branches and anything else that has fallen from the trees. Cleaning up after a strong storm is not typically a favorite pastime of mine, but recently when I was mowing the yard I noticed this pile of dead twigs which had fallen over the course of many storms. I took this picture as the positioning of the twigs gave me pause and a moment of reflection.

I wasn't planning to reflect upon fallen tree limbs and twigs, but after noticing those branches and taking the picture I couldn't help but to reflect on them as I continued to mow…

Read more: Rest Stop (Sat) Lessons from the twigs

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"If I try to fail and succeed, which have I done?" - anonymous

I use the above quote with my college students trying to challenge them to look at life, from a different perspective. In challenging our perspectives, and even our definitions, I am not merely playing semantics as I  firmly believe that words actually do hold meaning. If you aren't sure about the validity of that statement, think of the last time someone's words either caused you joy or caused you pain. Words do have the power to affect our emotions, therefore, by challenging ourselves to look at our own definitions from a new perspective can change how we feel.

How I define success, or how success is defined for me, influences how I feel about myself. Many of us have culturally learned that success is defined by tangible goods and/or wealth. We hear expressions such as “If I have more things than someone else, I am successful”; or, “if I have a title or initials after my name, I am successful”. These cultural statements aside, I hope that people who have worked hard to accomplish what they feel is a level of success take pride in themselves. Yet, the question remains, does…

Read more: Rest Stop (Thurs) ... The 4 Tips on How to Feel Successful

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He is risen! He is not in the tomb! Can this be true? Could Jesus rise from the dead!? This morning is the beginning of a new chapter for the apostles and for those who put faith in the person of Jesus.  The person whom they thought was dead is no longer in the tomb! What does this all mean?!

Can you even imagine the feelings of the apostles?  Just a week ago the twelve apostles, with Jesus, triumphantly entered Jerusalem.  All was right with the world!  What could go wrong?  Then, on Thursday, one of their own, Judas, hands Jesus over to the Romans who then kill him the next day!  But just a few days ago, scared and confused, the apostles are in hiding.  What do we do when we are scared?  Can you understand why the apostles fled and hid?  I'm not trying to justify their actions, but trying to understand them.

Sunday morning, while the apostles are in hiding, some of the women followers excitedly enter their hiding spot screaming that the body of Jesus is missing from the tomb!  Wait, that's not all; they saw an angel who told them Jesus was alive!  What?!

In a matter of days the apostles go from excitement to fear, to despair, to questioning their beliefs, to confusion to cautious optimism.  Wow! Later,…

Read more: Rest Stop (Easter) ... is this real?

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Holy Saturday, the day after the death of Jesus, Christians await, in hope and in faith, for God to show us a sign that Jesus is truly His son. When we think of the emotions of the followers of Jesus, so sure that He was the savior, to experience His death, their heartbreak and confusion must've been unbearable! Were they duped? How were they so wrong to think that Jesus was God? Yet, because of everything that they experienced while with Jesus, there still exists a sense of hope in their hearts. They don't yet understand, and they are questioning, but they haven't yet fully rejected the belief that Jesus is the son of God.

Taken from the Christian prayer-book "The Liturgy of the Hours", here is an ancient sermon attributed to Easter yet prayed on Holy Saturday.  What does this sermon says to you in your life's journey:

"Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept…

Read more: Rest Stop (Holy Saturday) ... grief, hope, faith

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Love; the complete and selfless giving for another; a desire to allow the other to shine and to grow.  On this day, Good Friday, Christians recall Jesus, who out of love, willingly gave Himself to suffer and to die so that we may shine and grow.  Jesus, the night before, agonized and prayed over this decision of suffering and dying, hoping for another way to carry out our salvation. But in the end, in response to the message Jesus hears in prayer, He says "not my will, but Your will be done." In trust, faith and love Jesus freely suffers and dies for us.

How do we express love for others?  Do we, in faith, trust enough to share our love?  When we are suffering and find life difficult, in faith do we turn to Jesus who not only suffered, but who also found life's situations difficult to endure?

Today, in faith and trust, knowing that Jesus understands what it's like to make difficult decisions, to suffer, to feel physical and emotional pain, and to love, do we turn to Him in prayer and ask for guidance, for strength, for hope, for peace, for .....

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Read more: Rest Stop (Good Friday) ... love

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