Life is a refining process. Our response to it determines whether we'll be ground down or polished up. On a piano, one person sits down and plays sonatas, while another merely bangs away at "Chopsticks." The piano is not responsible. It's how you touch the keys that makes the difference. It's how you play what life gives you that determines your joy and shine.
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A thin line separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt. Our lives constantly walk that line. When we slip off on one side or the other, we're taken by surprise. But who said there wouldn't be surprises? Knowing God just means that all the rules will be fair; at the end of our life drama, we'll see that. We never know how things will turn out, but if we know with certainty they will make sense regardless of how they turn out, we're on to something.
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God never gives up on us no matter how hard we try to get ourselves loose. God does not let go. That doesn't mean he controls everything we do. It doesn't mean he puts a bridle on us and leads us by the nose. He gives each one of us free will and common sense and a spirit that can communicate with his. When we go through afflictions, he allows us to choose our response. But no matter what our response may be, he sticks around to the bitter end.
Teaching literature is teaching how to read. How to notice things in a text that a speed-reading culture is trained to disregard, overcome, edit out, or explain away; how to read what the language is doing, not guess what the author was thinking; how to take evidence from a page, not seek a reality to substitute for it.
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When you live in the present moment, time stands still. Accept your circumstances and live them. If there is an experience ahead of you, have it! But if worries stand in your way, put them off until tomorrow. Give yourself a day off from worry. You deserve it. Some people live with a low-grade anxiety tugging at their spirit all day long. They go to sleep with it, wake up with it, carry it around at home, in town, to church, and with friends. Here's a remedy: Take the present moment and find something to laugh at. People who laugh, last.
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Whatever it is probably won't go away, so we might as well live and laugh through it. When we double over laughing, we're bending so we won't break. If you think your particular troubles are too heavy and too traumatic to laugh about, remember that laughing is like changing a baby's diaper. It doesn't solve any problems permanently, but it makes things more acceptable for awhile.
Time mellows people as it mellows wine, as long as the grapes are good. You may set out to be a businesswoman or businessman but in the course of time end up caring for a dying parent, orphaned niece, or disabled brother. You may encounter illness yourself and end up being a writer, touching the heartstrings, not the purse strings of other people. That's why it's best to always be true to yourself and God and to be flexible within His will. He will use you.
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If things are tough, remember that every flower had to go through a whole lot of dirt to get there. So do not grieve about a bitter experience. The present is slipping by while you are regretting the past and worrying about the future. Regret will not prevent tomorrow's sorrows; it will only rob today of its strength.
Once a reporter stood in front of a fire as it consumed a house and then he turned to see the homeowners and their little son watching it burn. The reporter, fishing for a human interest angle, said to the boy, "Son, it looks like you don't have a home anymore." The little boy promptly answered, "Oh, yes, we have a home. We just don't have a house to put it in."
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Live every day to fulfill your personal mission. God has a reason for whatever season you are living through right now. A season of loss or blessing? A season of activity or hibernation? A season of growth or incubation? You may think you're on a detour, but God knows the best way for you to reach your destination.
Forgiveness is a stunning principal, your ticket out of hate and fear and chaos. I know what regret feels like; I've earned my credentials. But I also know what forgiveness feels like, because God has so graciously forgiven me. Forgiveness frees you of the past so you can make good choices today.