The Future of A Norvell Note

Oops. Pushed the publish button too soon. First time in twenty years anything like that has happened. HA! You know better, I hope. 

Hello friends,

I’ve been writing and publishing A Norvell Note for almost twenty years. Beginning next week I will be offering an opportunity for you to participate in a practical and VERY inexpensive manner as I make plans to continue and expand the writing of A Norvell Notes. Please think and pray concerning this opportunity and I’ll share more information in the next few days.

Thanks for reading

A Norvell Note

Oops. Pushed the publish button too soon. First time in twenty years anything like that has happened. HA! You know better, I hope. 

Hello friends,

I’ve been writing and publishing A Norvell Note for almost twenty years. Beginning next week I will be offering an opportunity for you to participate in a practical and VERY inexpensive manner as I make plans to continue and expand the writing of A Norvell Notes. Please think and pray concerning this opportunity and I’ll share more information in the next few days.

Thanks for reading

Tom

A Prayer for you this Holiday Season

Vol. 19 No. 47 | November 26, 2017

You survived the week of Thanksgiving- the family gatherings and countless television commercials reminding you of the happiness you are supposed to feel when you set down at the table. Now it’s time to endure all the ads promising you the things you buy will make the holidays great. Almost every waking moment you are bombarded with advertisements, posters, commercials, Christmas movies, and musical specials, all promising this will be the best holiday season ever.

But, what if it’s not?

What if your Thanksgiving was awful…again? What if the thought of another Christmas season and listening to one more version of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” makes you want to physically choke the cashier at the department store. What if you feel lonely, sad and too tired to keep going?

I suspect some of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about, or you know someone who does. I wish I had an easy solution to make the dread and sadness go away that could be wrapped up in ‘pretty paper and ribbons of blue.’ I don’t, but I do have one simple prayer to offer that has helped me and many others struggling to keep going.

Father, please give me the desire to have the desire to try.

For the father or mother who is tired of feeling like a failure:

Father, please give him or her the desire to have the desire to try.

For the sons or daughters who feel they have disappointed their parents too many times:

Father, please give them the desire to have the desire to try.

For the couple who feels they have done everything they can do to save their marriage:

Father, please give them the desire to have the desire to try.

For the man who feels like he has messed up his life so badly, he is unworthy of God’s forgiveness:

Father, please give him the desire to have the desire to try.

For the woman who has suffered pain of abuse for so long, she wonders if she will ever know how it feels to be loved:

Father, please give her the desire to have the desire to try.

For the church leader who is weary and broken and disappointed:

Father, please give him or her the desire to have the desire to try.

For the artist who wonders if his work will ever be accepted or appreciated:

Father, please give him or her the desire to have the desire to try.

For all of you reading these words who wonder if there really is a reason to keep hoping and trying:

May these words reach you and help you have the desire to have the desire to keep hoping and trying...

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2017 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved

A Thanksgiving Conversation

You can now subscribe to A Norvell Note directly from the website by visiting www.anorvellnote.net.

This article was originally shared during Thanksgiving week in 2008. There was a lot going on at time…not so different from today.

Vol. 19 No. 46 | November 19, 2017

FOLLOWER: Lord, I was reading your words the other day and came across this. It’s in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

GOD: Yes, I remember. I asked my servant Paul to write that. Is there a problem?

FOLLOWER: Well yeah, I mean I try to do that, but it’s hard. I try to be as cheerful as I can. And I pray as much as I can. Almost all the time. Even over little stuff, like the ability to help me speak well on Your behalf, and even the words to write these articles.

GOD: That’s good. I’m proud of you. That’s what I hope for you.

FOLLOWER: Thanks, but that’s not really what the problem is. The problem I’m having is with that last part.

GOD: You mean the part about how I want you to live?

FOLLOWER: Yeah, and the part right before that, “thank God no matter what happens.” That’s not so easy, either.

GOD: Can you explain what you mean?

FOLLOWER: Well, for instance, I visited someone in the hospital the other day who just found out she has cancer. She and her husband have a great attitude about the treatment and seem very courageous. I prayed for them, for the ability to help them, and I tried to be as cheerful as I could. But how can I be thankful about cancer?

GOD: I understand, go on.

FOLLOWER: Okay, I’m working with several couples, trying to help them salvage their marriages. Some of them are in really rough situations. Some had terrible things happen to them in their past, which makes it hard for them handle their differences with kindness and treat each other in a loving way. They are unhappy and hurting. So what is there to be thankful for about unhappy and hurting?

GOD: I understand. Is there anything else?

FOLLOWER: Well yes. I mean, look at this world we are living in. It’s a mess. We are living in constant fear of an economic collapse. People are losing their homes, their jobs, their retirements, and their savings.  And it’s only a matter of time before the next terrorist attack or school shooting. It all feels like sheer chaos. What is there to be thankful for about sheer chaos?

GOD: You do have a point. Are you finished?

FOLLOWER: I guess. So, can you help me understand all this?

GOD: I’ll be glad to help. That’s what I do. First, that lady with the cancer…

I understand that cancer is a horrible and terrifying disease. I was with them before you got there, whe the doctor told them the news. They were scared, but I comforted them and assured them I would see them through this. They made a promise that, no matter what happens, they will live to honor me. I believe they both meant what they said. So although you can’t see this happening behind the scenes, when they demonstrate their faith in me, there is another couple watching them who will be encouraged by their example. Whether this woman lives another week or another thirty years, how she lives her remaining days and the way in which her husband loves and supports her will be beautiful examples of courage and devotion. I’m thankful for that. What about you?

FOLLOWER: Okay, I can see that.

GOD: Now, about those couples with marriage problems…

Some of them will not make it, no matter how hard they try or how hard you try to help. For some, maybe too much damage has been done. Or maybe they just aren’t willing to listen to our counsel. Or maybe they will decide it really is in everyone’s best interest to part ways. But there are some couples who will listen and do the work. And there are others who will part ways and find healthier, happier relationships. I’m thankful for all couples who find happiness in their relationships, aren’t you?

FOLLOWER: Absolutely! But, the ones that can’t make it work truly do break my heart.

GOD: That’s because you care so much about them, and I’m thankful for the way you love and care for them.

GOD: Now, let’s talk about the world. You are right, there is terrible suffering going on. People can be selfish, cruel and greedy. Many are destructive and determined to do things their way, not mine.

But don’t you also see so many people shining during these dark times? Isn’t it in times like these that churches finally get beyond their petty arguments and focus on helping to heal the sick, the lonely, and the broken? You are going to see people open their hearts and demonstrate kindness, generosity, and hospitality. You are going to see some surprising examples of people who will begin to truly love like they never realized they could. So as dark as these times appear to be, you are going to see amazing things happen. Just keep watching and have faith.

Does that help at all?

FOLLOWER: It absolutely does. I’ve never thought about things in that light and from that perspective. Thank you.

GOD: Oh, I think you would have come to some of these realizations eventually, but because you asked me to help you understand today…well, I heard you. You see, even though you don’t always feel cheerful or like you are truly grateful, you don’t stop trying to find joy, and you don’t stop praying. As long as you do those things, you will always find plenty of things to be thankful for.

FOLLOWER: Thank you for letting me ask these questions, for listening to me, and for helping me understand.

GOD: See? There you go again, being thankful.

And by the way, thank you for loving me.

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2008 and 2017 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved

Whatever Comes

Vol. 19 No. 45 | November 12, 2017

The first words I wrote when starting my journal entry this week were… First, I need words for my article. My fingers immediately started typing Matthew 6:25-34. Wow, I thought, that was quite possibly the quickest response ever. Thank You.

Now you know the origin of many of my articles- a specific prayer for the perfect words to convey my message for the week. The answer is not always so quickly revealed, nor does it always apply so directly to me as this passage did from Jesus.

Please take a couple of minutes to read it for yourself, and then I will share a couple of thoughts on why it is so meaningful to me this week.

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. (Matthew 25-26)

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. (Matthew 27-29)

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (Matthew 6:30-33)

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (Matthew 6:25-34, MSG)

I have never been one to worry too much about what I am going to eat; food has always been plentiful. I have never worried too much about what I will drink (unless I don’t have access to a good cup of coffee on some mornings); I have always been able to find something to quench my thirst. And clothes? Just this week I made another attempt at culling out some of my clothing. (Yes, you can, in fact, have too many t-shirts.) Since I have been blessed to always have enough, I have never been overly preoccupied or felt any sense of guilt when I read the words above. I can honestly say, without hesitation, that God has always provided, and I do my best to express my gratitude regularly for all his provisions.

But this time, the part of Jesus’ message that stood out was the last two sentences. I read it from several versions and translations and specifically selected the Message for the way these two lines are written:

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

As I read these words, I realized that although I rarely get worked up about anything, I do lean towards the side of perfectionism and have a slight tendency to make sure everything in my life is in order. So, when I read, “and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow”, I realized, oh… He is talking to me.

Of course, my inner critic often reminds me that I should have figured this message out by now. Obviously, I have not. My brain is constantly processing how I will handle or control this or that when it happens, so I will be 100% prepared for whatever comes my way.

As a result, I am in danger of not giving my entire attention to what God is doing right now. (My inner critic loves it when I do this). So, I have to keep reminding myself…

God will help me deal with whatever comes up when the time comes.

Thank You, Father, for directing me to this passage today as a reminder that You always do and say what needs to be done and said at the perfect time. Thank You for reminding me that You are always doing something glorious and mind-blowing, and if I will allow myself to look and listen and observe, I will be astonished. Then hopefully I can relax and truly live today knowing that You are way ahead of me at making the world a better place, and all I have to do is to enter into that process with You. Thank You, Father, for Your words that speak so clearly to me and maybe to someone else who needs to hear them.

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2017 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved

A Wisp of Fog

Vol. 19 No. 44 | November 5, 2017

We received another reminder this week of how quickly life can change or end when Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov drove his truck along a bike path on the West Side of Lower Manhattan, killing eight and injuring twelve. These twenty people were simply enjoying a beautiful afternoon when, without warning, their lives were changed forever.

As the reality of yet another senseless act of violence sank in, my thoughts once again returned to these verses from the writings of James chapter 4:13-15.

And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.’ (The Message)

It would seem that after all these years and all the reminders, ‘being but a wisp of fog’ would be imbedded firmly in my brain. But it’s not. Whether it’s another terrorist attack, another death of an elderly mentor, a death resulting from an alcohol-related automobile accident, the shooting of another teenager, or another child succumbing to cancer, the shock is always there. The news of a life coming to an end is always a painful and unsettling reminder that we really are…nothing but a wisp of fog.

My intention is not to elicit guilt for the time that has passed or insinuate that any of it has been wasted, or do I want to instill panic that you have little of it left. I just want you to think about what you are doing with this little wisp of fog God has given you.

As you read these words, you are healthy, wealthy and wise. You are full of life, your heart is strong, your brain is clear. You have plans and you are making more. You have dreams and you will keep dreaming more. So as your mist floats along, I offer these suggestions.

Enjoy it!

Jesus said, “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” (John 10:10, The Message) No need to wait until the end of your life for eternal life to appear. Enjoy it now! Live fully. Live abundantly. Live lavishly. Live completely.

Spice it up!

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5:13, NIV) As the salt, God wants you to preserve what is good, “You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.” (The Message) Have fun along the way and encourage others to have fun. Be generous when others are being selfish. Be gracious and kind when others are rude and discourteous. As Tim McGraw sings, “Always be humble and kind.” (Actually, I think Jesus said and lived that first.)

Light it up!

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV) Do good deeds so God will be glorified. If someone sees you do something and praises you for it, don’t worry about it. You are His tool to bring light into darkness. Just do good and don’t expect anything in return.

If you make it your aim to enjoy life in this very moment, an interesting thing happens. You will automatically spice it up, and by doing that, you will light it up, brightening the path for other mists of fog…and who doesn’t enjoy that?!

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2017 Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved