Monday, September 22, 2008
I am at a point in my life that seems to be the lowest it has ever been. I go to bed at night crying and take my morning shower with a downpour of my own tears. Life doesn't seem fair. Troubles and fears are overwhelming. And at times... I literally hate myself. Do you ever feel like that? Don't we all have those points in our lives?
One of the things that God had so laid on my heart is that I am his baby girl. And let me tell you, I have been crying like a baby these days. At some points I get bitter, cause I no longer have a spouse to partner with me, to comfort me, to take some of the load. There is no one that truly understands the extent of what I am going through.. and the few who do, have a life of their own chaos I don't want to intrude on. Satan is really good at filling my mind of insecurities and grudges.
BUT.... I am still God's baby girl. When NO ONE ELSE is here to hold me when I cry... HE does!!! In the moments I am alone and want to just escape and get wasted or run to the first man that will give me that "release" I am so desperately craving... GOD IS THERE. I don't necessarily feel Him, but the fact that I have the strength to resist those harmful desires in my life... means HE IS HERE!!!
I should be at work already this morning. I want to crawl in the bed and disappear. Two minutes ago, I almost went for a drink just to calm my nerves.. and honestly, I still feel like I might.... but God does have me under control. He is my strength! He is my fortress! He is my EVER PRESENT help in trouble! And when EVERYTHING ELSE in life fails... HE REMAINS.
I may not FEEL the best. I may even feel like I am not a Christian... haven't read like I should, haven't kept commitments like I should, not moved by spiritual things like others.... but I am still God's baby girl crawled up in His lap with His great big arms holding me. Sometimes it is hard to remember, but it is true.
If you are struggling with anything today. Someone else has been there. You are NOT the only one even though you feel like the entire world is against you. I would love to quote scripture and give you physical proof that God is there.. but I can't.. not today. I am just too tired... and that is ok. We all have those kind of days. But let me assure you that GOD LOVES YOU..... let me remind myself that GOD LOVES ME! Sink your little head into his arms and let HIM be the one to comfort you today. I know that I would not be able to even write this without His existence and love.
Will I be crying today? Yes. Will I still be discouraged today? More than likely. Will I have to deal with hurts, bitterness, insecurity? For sure. BUT.... will God fail me? NO WAY! I need to remember that, and apparently someone that is going to read this needs to know it too.
My life verse has been Joshua 1:9 and maybe I need to be reminded of it today.
"Have I not commanded you? Be not afraid; neither be thou dismayed for the Lord thy God is with you withersoever thou goest."
God is with me through every trial... and He can be there with you too!
Saturday, August 30, 2008
If you are one who has followed the SHINE blogs, you will know that the posts have been far and few between lately. One commitment made when starting this “ministry” of sorts is that there wouldn’t be a post made unless it was God given. And lately, there hasn’t been any giving. This could be attributed to distracting situations, or stress. The fact is, it just hasn’t happened.
As SHINE is in development, we will all be growing together. It is very important for you to know this is for REAL women and REAL women go through “FUNKS”. We all have days we just don’t feel it...or it just isn't there.
Also, realize that when we are struggling with the desires of perfection; being hard on ourselves; and letting ourselves find excuses not to be all we can; God is still at work in our lives. The most important thing to do is to remember that we NEED to spend time with Him.
FUNK or no FUNK, perfection or procrastination, depression or absolute joy...we need God in the midst of it all. Whether you FEEL like God is evident in your life or not...He WILL ALWAYS be there for you. He WANTS you to spend time with Him, even if just for a moment to cry your eyes out.
You may not want to hear it, but NO ONE is perfect. So give yourself a break and just relax a little today.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I love fashion and design. If I am watching TV it will normally be one of the popular design shows like Project Runway, How Do I Look, or some other design show. Recently I have been caught up in the What Not to Wear craze. Can you imagine having $5000 to spend on clothing? Both of my vehicles together cost me less than that!
Follow the scenario with me... your best friend sends Stacy and Clinton secret video of you in, of course, your worst attire. Whether it be headed to the store, out playing with the kids, or off to work; no matter, you know it will be the busiest day with the worst hair and when you waited to put on your makeup until you got in the car. Of course, there was probably a rain storm and your hair is flat from the downpour!
They show your embarrassing video to the entire nation and surprise you on the street corner. Letting you know you are a bad dresser and could look SO MUCH MORE BEAUTIFUL if they put their expert touch on you. And of course, you get that all powerful $5000 bankcard... who could resist that? All you have to do is agree to throw away your old hideous wardrobe. No problem! Right?
HAVE YOU SEEN THE RESISTANCE FROM THOSE PEOPLE?!?! In the end, they always come out looking classy and hip, with the latest most expensive labels (may I add), with beautiful hair and makeup. The new clothes are all tailored, fit just right no matter what the body type. When you head home, everyone waits to greet the NEW YOU and are marveled at the transformation.
Are you with me? How many of you are thinking... Man, I need that?
Well, God showed me a new WHAT NOT TO WEAR this morning as I was having my devotions. And honestly... I want to resist throwing away those old clothes, just like the individuals headed for makeovers. It isn't always easy making changes, even if they are for the better and you'll feel better in the long run.
I challenge you to read Colossians 3 out of the Message. Look over the list of things TO wear and think about WHAT NOT TO WEAR spiritually speaking. Prepare yourself for a spiritual makeover this week. I'll share my thoughts and some other things God showed me throughout the week.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Do you have a favorite blanket, quilt, or comforter? I think we all can admit to favoring one blanket, even if we don’t call it our “blankie.” We laugh at toddlers carrying around their blankies, sucking their thumbs; but honestly, they have just found something that gives them comfort, something that makes them feel secure.
The bible talks about God being our Comforter. This morning as I was thinking about God comforting, I thought about my “blankie.” What an awesome picture! Can’t you just see yourself as a little toddler walking around sucking your thumb with your favorite blanket in your arm? What if we start thinking about God as that kind of comforter? What if we think of Him as something we always have with us, making us feel more secure and comfortable?
I never really thought of God as that kind of comforter before, but when I do, I instantly feel warm and cozy… just like I do when I have my “blankie.” When God is by my side, I sleep better because I know He has his arms wrapped around me keeping me secure.
II Corinthians 1:2-7 states it all so well. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”
The reason God is our comfort is so that we can comfort others. Don’t just think as God as your “blankie,’ but think of how you can wrap yourself around someone else who is struggling. Maybe you can be a comfort to them as well.
I don’t know about you, but on this rainy day, I am encouraged to know that I will have my “blankie” with me all day. And the Comforter I am talking about can do way more than that favorite blanket from my grandmother.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
The past few weeks have been a personal challenge for me. I have struggled. Not just spiritually, but in many areas of my life: finances, discipline, self-control, self-image, work…just about everything. I have sat and cried, went to work exhausted, and pouted of things in my life that just don’t seem to be fair.
As I was praying over what to put in the blog for today, I read something I wrote in my bible back in May. It says, “Forget about all the things that shouldn’t have happened in my life- God is in the process of rewriting the text of my life.”
I wrote that after reading Psalm 18:20-24 where it talks about God making life complete. What did it take to make it complete? Don’t we all want to be completed? Feel like we have a finished product for once? Actually know what the end of the story is going to say? What does it take for all that?
There are five things that scripture says happened in order for God to rewrite the text of our life. 1.) Place all the pieces of my life before Him. (Hand it over to God.) 2.) Get my act together. (Take personal responsibility.) 3.) Don’t take God for granted. (I think this means praising Him.) 4.) Review the way He works EVERYDAY. (Couldn’t this have something to do with daily devotions?) 5.) Open the book of your heart to His eyes. (Let God examine your life.)
It is often easy to look at our life and just complain about where we are. Depression sets in; we become dissatisfied with everything around us; we get cranky with out husbands and kids; work isn’t fulfilling any more. If you aren’t happy with the story your life is turning out to be, how about letting God take the editors pen. Follow the 5 steps above and really open the book of your heart to His eyes. Let God openly edit the areas of your life that need to be rewritten.
It isn’t always easy to face the things in our life that need changed. Change is hard. But God is the author of perfection, let him create a wonderful story for your life.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
As I was thinking about that this morning, God gave me some insight to where I have been in my life at times. I have grown to my full potential where I was at. There was nowhere else for me to grow. I came to the point that my roots were on the verge of being root-bound.
I have known for over a month that my plant needed repotted. I have put it off. I like that little pot. It fits perfectly in that little spot where I put it. I don’t want to have to go through the trouble of finding another pot, buying potting soil, repotting it, and finding a new place for it to grow like it has in its current location.
Isn’t that like us? When God has grown us to potential and then decides we are ready to be planted somewhere else… we resist. I like it here God. I know I can grow in this location. I don’t want to have to search for a new pot that I like. I won’t feel as comfortable in a new pot I have to grow into. I don’t like change.
Sometimes we have to make a choice to change. Change isn’t always easy. It means picking up and replanting ourselves. Sometimes it means moving to a new location we aren’t familiar with. Sometimes it means being a little small for the place that gives us room to grow.
Remember, a plan that is root bound won’t grow any more. If God is asking to replant you, let Him do His work. He is the best gardener around. If you haven’t seen any blossoms lately, maybe it is time to be replanted and let God put you where you can have room to take root again.
Friday, August 1, 2008
The girls thought it was so cool as I would turn the vine away from the sun in the morning only to find it growing right back in that direction by the end of the day. It has been cool to watch it start to wilt on the days I forget to water it, then come back to life after it gets a few good gulps from watering. Today we saw the first few buds pop out. It seems like it just grew over night.
I could say the same about my kids. My son, now taller than me, seems like he has grown 6 inches in the past year. I guess that may have something to do with why it feels like he is eating me out of house and home at times. I look at pictures from just a year or so ago and wonder what happened to my little boy. My little boy looks like a man. He likes the idea, but mama isn’t exactly thrilled when 16 year old girls ask for him to stop by and visit them at work.
On the other hand, my baby girl has been crying at night. Her feet hurt and the middle daughter complains of her legs hurting. We all know of these infamous “growing pains.” I remember spending nights as a little girl rubbing my legs because the hurt so bad from the bones and muscles stretching with growth.
Growth does amazing things to plants, teenage boys, and pretty little girls. Growth also does some neat things to this mama’s spiritual growth. Funny… I have growth spurts and lots of growing pains in my spiritual growth.
This week has been full of growing pains. I have had to face feelings, emotions, and circumstances that have just been downright painful. I have had to “put on my big girl panties” -as a good friend calls it- and deal with life. Sometimes these things are spiritual and sometimes they are just part of life in general.
One thing I have learned is that no matter what you are facing in life, if you are a Christian, it is going to carry over into your spiritual life. What I have to realize is that these pains are part of the growth process. Just like I tell my little girl when she cries with her legs at night, there isn’t much I can do about it, it is just part of growing up.
I was enlightened about growth spurts too. Just like that plant in the window that withers when it isn’t getting watered. If I am not drinking from my fountain of life, I get weak and puny. But, as I begin to grow, I get hungry. I have realized that just as my 13 year old son eats and eats when he is growing, I grow and grow when I am eating from God’s word. The more I am feeding on scripture, the faster I seem to grow.
Growth is an amazing thing. It doesn’t matter if you are a little plant stuck in a kitchen sink, or a huge oak in a forest of trees. If you have the right water, food, and sunlight… you are going to grow! Sometimes that growth happens in quick spurts, and sometimes that growth is painful. The thing that matters is YOU’RE GROWING! Take a few minutes to enjoy where you are at in your own growth process today.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
I have been SLOWLY getting some flower beds planted. Now I am not a green thumb and I have NO idea what I am really doing. I have had a few friends give me advice and help me along the way. But honestly, I know NOTHING.
One friend suggested that along with the special dirt I bought, you know that exspensive potting soil, that I get some compost to mix in the dirt. Now you and I know that is just a big bag of crap! As someone that isn't well informed on the processes and science of gardening I initially would think, "Why in the world should I pay $10 for a bag of seasoned soil to ruin it with a $1.50 bag of crap?" Now, I am not that ignorant and I grew up enough in the country to know that somehow that bag of crap acts as fertilizer and inspires growth.
Now I know that word sounds crude the longer I say it. But I want to make a point. What kind of crap do you have in your life? What compost do you want to get rid of? What things have you experienced that just really stink? Why mix the crap of our lives with the good soil? Why not just flush it all down the toilet and forget about it? (Oh my mother is going to have to fuss about this one! LOL She really didn't raise me to be this crude!)
Back to the question... why is the crap in our lives still important?
Isaiah 58:12 says, " You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past." This verse has become so important in my christian growth. God has shown me that a big part of my growth as a woman of God is because of the crap in my life. I am to rebuild on it. Just like we plant flowers in dirt mixed with compost, the ruins from our life help fertilize us and inspire our growth.
We all have a lot of crap...stuff that stinks...in our past. But as I am seeing daily, that stuff is what nurtures our growth and helps not only our growth, but the growth of others with whom we are willing to share the stories. How about thanking God today for the crap in your life! I know it sounds horrible.. but it is what makes your growth so significant.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Not only do pot holes leave me with lipstick across my face and soda dribbling down my shirt, they can also cause some major damage to my car. Little pot holes aren't normally too bad, but the big ones… those can really mess up the alignment. My tires wear quicker and the steering gets all screwed up wanting to pull to the wrong direction. If I would just keep my eyes on the road and swerve around those pot holes, life would be much easier. And, my car would be in better shape - not to mention the money I could save on alignments and tires.
Have you ever thought about the pot holes in life? This week has been full of pot holes on my journey toward what God is calling me. Earlier in the week I read Philippians 2:14 which says, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” Do you know how much I complained that day? But, I was aware of it and having that verse fresh in my mind kept me so much more aware.
I was able to control my complaining from being as hateful as it could have been. I had to wait for 40 extra minutes at the pharmacy because of someone else’s mistake. I was angry, and I complained, but remembering that verse brought me into check and I was able to swerve from the pot hole of smarting off to the cashier.
Last night I was vulnerable. I have missed the affection and intimacy that goes along with married life. Not only have I gotten communication from an old temptation all week, but someone popped online at my weakest moment last night ready to “take care of my needs” and let me “take care of his”.
Normally, since this is my area of biggest temptation at this point of my life, I may not have been strong. But God is so faithful! I had read Ephesians 4:19-20 that says, “They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ.” I had been watching my path and saw the HUGE pot hole Satan was trying to get me to hit dead on.
Pot holes in our life cause destruction. If we don’t keep our eyes focused on God, His Word, and His direction in our life… it doesn’t take but a moment to be distracted. Once distracted, we tend to hit the pot holes dead on. Sometimes it is because we were looking another direction; other times it is cause we are just driving way too fast.
Pot holes cause damage. The jerking causes us to mess up our lipstick (leave visual reminders of the mistake); spill soda down our shirts (leave stains that won’t come out); wear out our tires too soon (make us weary); get our alignment all screwed up (makes steering the right direction so much harder). I am so thankful that I have recently had a new alignment. And, I am thankful that spending time with God made me aware and helped me keep my eyes on the road. If not, things may have turned out differently this week.
Maybe you are in need of a good alignment. Time to make an appointment with the mechanic. Make an appointment with God and ask Him to get you lined up with His purposes again. I guarantee it will make it so much easier to steer straight again.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
This weekend was a bit bittersweet for me as I attended my cousins wedding. She FINALLY, as we all joked, got married. The reason for the length of her single life was not because of any fault of her own. She is extremely picky and knew exactly what she wanted and wasn’t willing to settle for anything less. She may have married later than some of us, but she decided she wasn’t going to marry anyone that wouldn’t complete her.
How can that be bittersweet you may ask? As I rejoiced in her happiness, I was reminded of my own failed marriage. I saw the love in her now new hubby’s eyes as she walked down the aisle and longed for someone to love me and look at me the same way. It is only natural for us all to want someone to love us, validate us, and complete us in a way no other can.
At the reception, the normal bouquet and garter toss was followed by a neat way to acknowledge the celebration of marriage. All the married couples were asked to come to the floor for a dance. It was beautiful to see the entire dance floor with couples arm in arm. Some were laughing; some were exchanging stares of endearment; some were being dragged out there by their spouse, but they all were celebrating the fact that they had someone in their life that is supposed to complete them. I am sure they all didn’t quite feel that way about one another, but the symbolism of completeness was beautiful.
As I was thinking about love, I was reminded of the Love Chapter in the bible and decided to read through it again. Love is so beautiful. We all want someone to “complete” us, to love us in the ways stated in Corinthians. We all want a love that “never fails”, “never dies”, a love that “endures all things.
However, this time when I read, I decided to go a little further. I love how the Message states the last idea of this passage:
“We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.” -I Corinthians 13:10
I was thinking about my own search for someone to complete me. I had no idea that my life would end up where it is today. I had no idea that I would still be searching for someone that TRULY completes me. When my cousin found her groom, all those that she dated before, all those that left her feeling incomplete… the thoughts of them were canceled when she joined herself with her groom.
We have one COMPLETE. Jesus is the groom that completes us. When he truly arrives in our lives; when we dedicate our love COMPLETELY to Him and no other; that is when our feeling of being incomplete will be canceled. I know I will still be looking for that man in my life to one day complete me; but maybe what I need to focus on more is to let the Groom, Jesus, complete me. Maybe I should remember that HE “never fails”, “never gives up”, and “endures forever.
I suggest that if you are searching for someone to complete you, you do as I am going to do this week. Pray that God will give you an overwhelming feeling of completeness in Him. Let him cancel all the incompletes in your life. That will be the best love story of all.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I know today why I wasn’t supposed to have a post for Tuesday. It is really amazing how God works. In order to better illustrate my point, I will share a bit of my own personal experience with you.
For about three weeks now, I have had a gentleman calling. (Oh the joys of single life! LOL) I know that about a certain time in the evening the norm is to receive a phone call. I enjoy the communication. I like getting to know him. We talk about all kinds of things and are getting to know each other little by little. In the three weeks (give or take) he has been calling, there have only been two evenings he didn’t call. Those evenings, when the phone didn’t ring, there was a little sink in my heart. I missed that opportunity to get to know him better. Every moment is precious in building a new friendship and potential relationship.
Just as you may have missed a post yesterday; just as I missed my “friend” calling; Jesus misses us when we skip a day of communication with Him. Jeremiah 24:7 says, “And I’ll give them a heart to know me, God. They’ll be my people and I’ll be their God, for they’ll have returned to me with all their hearts.” God wants us to return to Him each and every day. He wants us in daily communication with Him. Take time to communicate with the man who should be your BEST FRIEND today.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Five minutes later, a repeat. Five more, five more, five more. Before I realize that extra hour I had decided to give myself is gone. GREAT! Now I am behind. Running late. Screaming at kids. Feeling pushed. There is NO WAY I will get everything done. Why didn’t I just get up and get going? It would have been so much easier.
Have you ever felt that way? You may not be one to push a snooze button over and over again for an hour. But I am sure you have been there at least once or so in your life. That feeling of warm covers, being comfortable where you are, not wanting to face the challenges of the day ahead. Life would be so much easier sometimes if you just didn’t have to face it! Are you with me on this one?
This morning as I pushed my snooze button for the (well who’s counting) time, I had a gentle inspiration for today’s devotion/article. How often does God wake us up with his alarm and we put Him off? Fortunately, God is probably gentler that that annoying digital beep that comes from your digital alarm clock. But let’s really think about the implications of hitting the snooze button on God.
When I set my alarm for today, I sat it earlier than normal, because I had some things I knew I wanted to do to better prepare for the day. By pressing snooze for an hour, I have ended up almost two hours behind my intended schedule. When we know there are things God is waking us up to do, how often do we ask him to let us stay comfortable for a little while longer? We jump up long enough to slam the snooze button and climb right back over the blankets and cover up our head. Over and over again we ignore what we need to be doing, wanting to relish the comfort for just a few more minutes.
Then, we finally decide that there isn’t time left to be comfortable anymore. There will be consequences if we don’t get up and get up NOW! A rush around the house scrambling for things we need, skipping breakfast, hateful to those around us, a mad dash for the business of the day. When I think of the same spiritual implications of the result of pushing the snooze button on God; I am deeply convicted. When it is almost too late, when I rush the things God has called me to do, when I skip my meals with him…I end up being more hateful and rush the things He has called me to do. And sadly enough, I am not productive like I need to be.
There are so many things we could relate between our everyday attempts to push snooze for just one more minute of comfort and our relationship to God trying to wake us up for His day of business, His calling on our life. If there is something in your life that God is calling you to do, quit pushing snooze! Stop pulling the covers over your head in the area of comfort you know so well. Get up, put your feet on the cold floor, and face what He has for you with joy and determination! We all know that facing the day with plenty of preparation is so much more beneficial than barely making it out the door.
I have a visual of two different women: One has half wet hair, wrinkled clothes, a briefcase with papers falling out, kids with uncombed hair and screaming they are hungry, running around the house looking for keys. The other has every hair in place, her clothes neatly pressed, briefcase neatly packed and organized with the day’s agenda, kids fed and smartly dressed, key and a nice cup of coffee in hand, and yes, with a smile on her face.
Which woman do you want to be for God? Think about those two women the next time God asks you to do something. Quit pressing SNOOZE on God, it will be worth the effort to GET UP and GET GOING!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!
Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly.
Make sure you understand what the Master wants.”
- Ephesians 5:16-17
The girls in the office and I laugh at our indecisiveness when it comes to decisions about where to get lunch from day today. For some reason, none of us want to be the one to choose. We feel like the vultures on the Jungle Book throwing around the decision of what to do. Funny thing about it, we all normally have a place we would favor, but I think we are afraid it isn’t what the others want.
I tend to have the same problem in other areas of decision making. I have something I want to do; but I am always worried it may not be the right decision- or even worse- it may not be the decision God wants me to make. I know how important decisions can be. Even small choices can impact the rest of your life!
Ephesians validates the importance of making right decisions. “These are desperate times!” Sometimes I am so desperate for an answer or guidance, that I forget to even think about “what the Master wants.” So how do I know if I am making a wise decision or not? How does an insecure woman- a woman who has failed one too many times- a spontaneous woman- how does she gain wisdom to make the RIGHT, GOD HONORING choices?
First of all we must do as it says in the verse above. USE YOUR HEAD! God didn’t give us brains not to use them. I see so many Christians using their “feelings and emotions monitor” to determine whether or not to do something. They use their emotions as a false leading of the Holy Spirit. God made us in His image and that included brains.
The next thing is to make sure we know what God wants. I know, that is SO hard to do at times. We all know what to do when it comes to things that are sins… JUST SAY NO! However, life is full of decisions that have nothing to do with choosing right or wrong, but more about choosing what’s best.
Do I go on a date with this person? Do I buy that new house or wait a year? Do I let my children go to that birthday function? These all seem like little choices, but it is the outside factors that sometimes worry us into whether we are making the right decision or not. The person you are going to go out with may have a trait you just aren’t sure about. Buying the new house could keep you a little too short on cash and put added stress on your marriage. Your kids may be around a not so great influence, but get to spend extra time with their dad. So what do you do?!?!?!
A co-worker came across this scripture yesterday and shared it with me. It is James 3:17 and says, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” This verse is the key to making wise decisions. I looked up the verses in a couple different versions and made an easy reference chart to help me when making decisions.
I think if you use this as a guide for future decisions, you fill find you will make better choices. Don’t forget the most important thing… PRAY. Make sure you know what the Master wants before making any decision.
“Dear Lord, help us to rely more on you when making decisions.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Can you imagine giving your life up for someone? I mean, we would all like to think we could. But if it REALLY came down to sacrificing your own life for someone else’s, could you do it? I don’t think I could. I know there are countless heroes that have been able to make that call in the heat of a battle; mothers who have been found sheltering their kids under their bodies in natural disasters, and best friends willing to sacrifice an organ and possibly die in surgery to save a friend. Friends, I hate to tell you- but if you are looking for that kind of friend- I am probably NOT it!
Shame on me! Didn’t I just read that scripture verse? It was about all that greater love and friendship stuff. I love my friends, but I don’t know that I could give up my life for them. What about my kids? Would it be fair to them? I have dreams and ambitions. Could I put a screeching halt to my life for someone else? Jesus did….. OUCH!!!
As I thought about the verse in John last night, it hit me differently than ever before. What if Jesus wasn’t talking about laying down life like we imagine? What if He wasn’t talking about having to literally die for a friend? Of course, that is the greatest love and the greatest gift. That is why Jesus is the salvation of the world. But what if He was talking about laying down your life in a different context?
Some synonyms for “lay” are put down, place, rest, arrange and position. What if Jesus meant we need to show love to our friends by arranging time with them? What if He meant to show love we need to arrange our friends’ lives ahead of our own? What if He meant that the best way to show a friend love was to prioritize them… to lay down the aspects of our own life and just be there (even if it does seem uncomfortable or like an inconvenience).
Our ladies group talked about what it takes to be a true friend. Some in the group were worried about hurting as they faced a sick friend; some felt a bit neglected and unloved; but one thing we all agreed on was how loved we felt when someone else puts their life on hold for us.
Maybe what Jesus was talking about in John 15:13 is that the greatest love we can have is by putting others first. Isn’t that what Jesus did? Not just when He died on the cross, but His entire ministry. He took the time out of His busy schedule to let little children sit on His lap; to spend time talking to the woman at the well, and to even let a doubting disciple place hands on His freshly made scars.
The next time a friend calls wanting to grab a coffee, needing a babysitter, or wanting a break from their wayward teen… ask yourself if you are willing to LAY DOWN YOUR LIFE for your friend. I think the more we practice this kind of sacrifice, the more love will grow for our friends; and the more we’ll become like Jesus.
Lord, you know in our hearts whether we could literally give our life to another.
Help us to examine our relationships with friends and
make it a point to give something up for a friend this week.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
-Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
Fear is paralyzing. I know good and well there is nothing in the five steps from our back door to the car that can harm them; but in their mind, one step could change their lives forever. What could be out there? Who could be standing in the corner to snatch them away? What might catch them by surprise? All they can do when they think about the journey from the back door to the car is all the unexpected things that could happen to them.
If I was the mom I should be, I would get up, hold their hand and reassure them I that there is not only nothing to be afraid of; but that I am also right there beside them, protecting them, leading their way. Isn’t it nice that God isn’t lazy like I am? Isn’t it nice that he isn’t glued to something more important at the moment? Isn’t it nice that even though He knows, we really don’t have anything to fear, He will be beside us anyway?
Being strong isn’t just something God asks us to do; He commands it. Have you ever noticed that every time God gives a command He also gives a promise? Seek and you shall find…knock and it will be answered….trust with all your heart and He will direct your paths.
God wants us to be strong and courageous. He doesn’t want us to be ruled by fear or terror. He doesn’t want us to be timid. He doesn’t want us to be discouraged. He commands us to get rid of all those things. Not only does He tell us to get rid of those things, but he promises to be there with us each step of the way. WHEREVER we go, with EVERY step.
What are you afraid of today? Is it a geographical move? Is it an area of your emotions that has been unchartered? Is it just taking a first step into the unknown? What is the darkness set before you?
My girls never have a problem running to the car when it is light outside. They can see what is ahead of them. There are no shadows or unknowns on those five little steps to the car. God is our light; with Him nothing can take us by surprise. No one can keep snatch us away. Remember that God is always right there by your side, no matter what darkness or fear you are facing today.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Our introduction to SHINE states, “This is a ministry for real women. This is a place for you to be whoever you are in the moment, perfect or not.” So, I have decided to just be real. I’m going to be me… right now, in this moment, and it is definitely NOT perfect!
Opening up my life to this point scares me half to death. I could talk myself out easily debating how not only I may be viewed, must my methods to ministry as well. SO WHAT! God has called me to be real, and that is what I am going to be! I by no means want to offend anyone, step on anyone’s toes, or hinder anyone’s spiritual growth. My goal is to be real, open, honest, and sincere. My goal is to live life striving for the best and letting God shine through the areas where I screw up.
We all screw up. We all have areas where we are weak. We all do things that other Christians may or may not agree with. We are each individuals of God’s creation; and thankfully, He is not a boring creator!
Now the next part of what I am going to say is a bit harder. I have written three paragraphs and trashed them all because I am just having a hard time knowing how to put it. What I want to say is, “We all want to impress those around us to some extent.” Some do it more than others. Some will claim it is because they don’t want to offend. But, ultimately, we all seek a bit of fellow approval. So at the risk of losing approval… here I go…
As I was sitting in the bed, having my journaling time, drinking a Smirnoff, (YES… I said it!) I was praying about what to write in today’s blog. No, I wasn’t convicted about the drink of choice. There I go. I have just deleted three sentences of defense. That is between God and I, and I know where I stand.
Anyway, as I sat in my bed, a friend popped up online and asked if it would be ok to call. I could tell from the urgency that this was important. My friend needed someone. (We will assume it is a female just to make references easier.) She called and proceeded to tell me how she has been struggling with drinking. IMAGINE THAT… drinking! It had become an extreme issue for her because it was taking over her life.
We discussed all the stresses she was under. She totally has faced more sorrow in the past year than one person should have to face in a life time. She was obviously depressed, mad at herself, and weak. There was NO way I knew what she was really dealing with. But, I listened, and I shared my weaknesses with her. She was so ashamed of her problem, but just didn’t seem to know how to get the strength to overcome.
How many of us deal with that? You see, drinking may be your obsession and not mine. I may be able to have a drink once every six months and you may depend on it to make it through another stressful day. You may be able to chat to friends online all night long, but if I start chatting online, Satan quickly leads me to a shameful life of sexual immorality. Each of us has our area of weakness.
Matthew 5 is well known by many Christians as the Beatitudes. I want you to read the entire chapter, but listen especially to this:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. (Hmm… that sounds like struggling with sin) With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
You’re blessed when you feel like you have lost what is most dear to you. (Could that be your reputation?) Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are (weaknesses and all) - no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”
Do you see what Jesus is saying here? We are blessed when we are willing to let HIM SHINE through us, imperfections and all. He wants to use us. Yes, He wants to change us; make us better; create in us a new likeness of Him. But… IN OUR WEAKNESS HE IS MADE STRONG! The thing to remember is that we still always need to constantly be striving for better in our lives so that we don’t become stagnate or lukewarm.
We ended our conversation in prayer and I am trusting God to do a work of encouragement in her life. Not to mention… God gave me a gentle reminder. I too need to be careful. There are many things that are innocent in the beginning and Satan can quickly turn them into traps to keep us from God’s full blessings in our life. I challenge you to share your weakness with someone today. Just as my friend and I laughed over my friend’s fear to tell me she had a drinking problem as I was taking a sip myself… God uses those kinds of things to let us touch others for Him.
Monday, July 7, 2008
I don’t know about you, but photographs never seem to capture me as the person I see in the mirror. I am always fatter, with three chins showing rather than two. One eye may be squinted. And of course, that zit that I only get once a year…shines like Rudolph’s nose. How can these women have such flawless bodies? They must be towers of confidence.
As I started thinking about all this perfection, I was reminded of an episode of Tyra Banks I watched one day. I found it interesting because I was taking a class in Photoshop and was learning how amazing an airbrush was in photography. I had been having fun turning photos of my less than perfect friends into flawless figures. Tyra had taken a picture from one of her ad campaigns and blown it up for the audience to see. She looked amazing… perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect body, etc. Then she told the audience how important it was for the young girls not to compare themselves with that image.
Why in the world would she do that? Because, that perfect image had been touched by a master in Photoshop. She showed her REAL picture and the audience gasped! Her booty was about 5 inches bigger than the touched up photo. Her hair wasn’t nearly as shiny; and the blemishes on her face were extremely apparent.
As I have read my bible over the past couple of years God has made it personal to me. Every time I read the word “Zion,” it is like God calls me by name his “baby girl.” Psalm 50:2 says, “From Zion (from my baby girls), perfect in beauty, God shines forth.
Isn’t it great to think God sees us as perfect in beauty? He made us, why shouldn’t He? You’ve heard the adage, “God don’t make junk!” Well that is true with His daughters. When we give the flawed photos of our lives, the imperfect relationships, the messed up choices, the scars of life…when we hand those over to the Master; he can do an airbrushing on our lives like no one else. He may not take 5 inches off our booty, but he ads value to ever aspect of our lives. He shines through our imperfections to make us beautiful!
Real beauty comes when we allow God to shine forth in our lives. Start looking through the pages of your life and see how He has turned you in to an object of beauty.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
The burdens, trials, and tribulations women face are "hiding us under a bushel," a bushel of busyness, exhaustion, responsiblities, hurts, rubble from broken lives and sin. Life is piling up on us and we are not shining through the load.
SHINE is a God given vision that has been years in the making. This is a ministry for real women. This is a place for you to be whoever you are in the moment, perfect or not. SHINE is here for you to share your stories; help each other understand and deal with current and past issues; inspire those around you; nurture those who are hurting; and educate yourself not only on God's direction in your life, but how to succeed in every are of life so you can SHINE for Him.