Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You Need Only To Be Still

I don’t like to wait. I’m not very patient. When I get excited about something, I want it to happen NOW. When I’m upset about something, I want it to be resolved NOW.

One day as I was talking to God about a struggle/battle going on in my life – He showed me a verse that either I don’t recall seeing before or that maybe just didn’t resonate with me in the past.

"The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still." Exodus 14:14

You need only to be still.

Sometimes I just run to action. I want to solve things, research things, etc. when what I really need to be doing is to go on bended knee, pray, and be still before my God.

You see – I think that sometimes when I fly to action, I’m taking the power into my own hands instead of placing it in God’s. I’m not giving Him the chance to fight for me or to bless me. I take that away from Him. And that’s the last thing I want to do.

All of my life I’ve wanted to let the Holy Spirit work in my life never realizing that the very reason I don’t see Him work sometimes is my own squelching of His powers by me running ahead of Him.

You need only to be still.

Something so simple and yet so hard to do. To be still.

But I’m ready. I’m ready to see God fight for me. I’m ready to pause and wait – and discover that God’s got everything safely in His hands and that He will take care of me perfectly in the process.

I just need to be still.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Childhood Memories

When I was a child, life seemed so simple – so innocent and carefree. I have great memories of my childhood….

~ I remember wanting and then LOVING my big wheel. I road it up and down the sidewalk every time the sun shone when I was 5.

~ I remember when I got older riding my bicycle up and down the street a lot. Helmets weren’t a law and my hair would blow in the breeze.

~ I remember juice in wax bottles. You’d bite off the top and then drink out the sweet syrup inside.

~ I remember pop in bottles! I loved to go visit my dad at work and he’d take me and my sister back to their “pop stash.” I’d get to pick out a flavor – all in glass bottles.

~ I remember going to Taco Bell in Medford, OR and it had outside seating right by these berry bushes that came up out of the side of the river. We could feed the squirrels our leftover taco fillings. That was before someone must have complained and a sign got put up that said “Please don’t feed the squirrels.”

~ I remember going up to Howard Prairie Lake every summer. We’d take walks in the woods, go down to the dock, get ice cream at the lodge, drive out at dusk and look for deer, find walking sticks, and go over to Hyatt Lodge for taco night.

~ I remember sleeping in with my sister in her bedroom every Christmas Eve so that we could get up together and look at our stockings before mom and dad were up. Sometimes we’d draw on each other’s backs making designs with our fingers.

~ I remember watching Gilligan’s Island, Love Boat, the Donny and Marie Show, Little House on the Prairie and Emergency!

~ I remember going over to my Aunt’s house to swim in her swimming pool. It was so nice that someone we knew had a pool! I was always a little scared of her electric pool cleaner that would rotate the pool though.

~ I remember having BBQ’s outside on a charcoal grill.

~ I remember eating dinner outside on our back patio on our picnic table.

~ I remember going up in the woods as a family to get a Christmas tree in the snow. We’d make sandwiches and have hot chocolate in a thermos. A fresh tree!

~ I remember Gunny Sax dresses and jumpsuits. I loved them both.

~ I remember jelly shoes. I can’t fathom for the life of me why I liked them! They weren’t even comfortable!

~ I remember my Michael Jackson notebook that I had.

~ I remember taking my lunch to school in an actual lunchbox that was made of tin and had your favorite celebrity or show on the outside of it.

~ I remember when we had a tv that had no remote control.

~ I remember when we first got a microwave.

~ I remember taping my favorite tunes off of the radio onto a cassette tape.

~ I remember when my dad owned a corvette and only two people could ride in it. I felt so “uptown” when they’d pick me up from school in it!

~ I remember cutting models out of the JC Penney catalog and making them my paper dolls complete with written names on them.

~ I remember making friendship bracelets and pins.

~ I remember asking for a typewriter. Do they even make those anymore?

~ I remember having a Tom Selleck poster on my wall.

~ I remember getting a perm out of a box. Not a good idea.

~ I remember in school if a boy and girl liked each other and wanted to be considered an “item” they would call it “going with” that person. Now I have to explain to my daughter what that meant.

~ I remember when boys wore tails in their hair. And for the record, I never liked that trend either.

~ I remember going to aerobics.

~ I remember buying some kind of a chocolate drop candy that came in a cardboard tube. I loved those. They kind of resembled a huge chocolate chip.

~ I remember cameras with film. That you had to wait months to see because it took you forever to finish a roll.

~ I remember ghetoblasters. I loved mine!

I’m sure I remember a lot more. What do you remember from your childhood?

There is something to be said for simple living. I know I cherish those days and they will always make up a part of who I am.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's All a Matter of Perspective

It’s all a matter of perspective.

God showed me that one morning. I was feeling really discouraged and frustrated over a certain situation. Then he sent me an email from someone who had encouraging words for me on the very issue I was dealing with: worry. She had read one of my articles. I went back and reread my own words and do you know what? God used my own article to minister to my heart. I had had no clue as to what I would be feeling over a certain situation when I wrote those words, but God did. He knew the timing I would release the article and he knew I would need to be reminded of a few things.

Someone told me that that’s the Holy Spirit at work.

When I heard those words, I got tears in my eyes. Because if it’s not one thing I crave most in my life, it’s to hear God’s voice and to know He is present with me – to feel Him.

Yes, my God is amazing.

I went from feeling like giving up on this particular morning and reconciling to myself that I was not going to win this battle; to feeling a renewed trust in my God that He was walking with me through this tough time. And like Queen Esther - “If I perish, I perish” became my theme. Not in a “woe is me” way but in a “this must be done” way. In a “God knows what He’s doing way” and "I’m giving myself over to His plan."

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Whether we have the courage and strength to walk through something or whether we crumple and fall victim to life’s harsh lessons – is all a matter of perspective.

I’m so thankful that God listened to my prayers during many stronger times where I’d asked Him to “not let me go.” He held on, He drew near, and He spoke.

That’s what I needed the most.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Are You Stuck?

"Would somebody please do something?" - he asks in the video.

Sometimes, we just need to help ourselves.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Attack On Our Progress

Confidence. It’s something I’ve struggled with from time to time. I think that most people (especially women) have the same struggles as I do. Sometimes I will be feeling really strong in who I am and other times I doubt everything about myself.

One thing I’ve noticed is that every time it seems like I’m gaining ground on a certain stronghold that pulls me down in life, Satan likes to sneak in and attack. I know this because of how circumstances play out. There was a certain situation I was finally overcoming in my heart and my head. I was finally getting to a point where I could be “me,” without feeling insecure, inept, or unsure of myself. I wasn’t getting cocky, but healthy. It had been a long road and I was really excited as I saw the progress in my own life and knew I was getting to a place where I could really spread my wings. It didn’t last long for Satan and his cronies flew in and hit me right where they knew it would matter the most. And yes, I felt that hit with all the vibrations that came with it.

I’m always surprised how surprised I am when this happens. I should start to prepare and see it coming knowing that Satan never wants to see any progress in my life. He does not want me overcoming internal struggles or battles and he certainly doesn’t want me to have a healthy confidence in my life where God can use me! Yet, time and time again I’ve failed to put up the shield to protect myself and I’ve gotten wounded in the battle for my own soul.

This last time though? This last time I got wounded but I feel I’d made enough progress and God had brought me far enough along in the healing process that I was able to quickly see what was going on and that helped a lot in my perspective and my ability to gage the situation and how it was going to affect me long-term. Yes, I hurt. Yes, I wish it hadn’t happened. Yes, it wasn’t an overnight fix. But it was a huge motivator in finally showing me that if I was going to truly change this area of my life, I was going to do it despite arrows being flung my way.

You see, you can’t simply walk and grow in life when there are green pastures and blue skies in your life. Yes, those times are welcomed and embraced. Sometimes those times are needed to refuel us and heal us. But we have to decide that we are going to be who we are going to be regardless of what is going on around us. We’ve got to decide that we want to continue to move forward instead of living back in that pit of self-doubt all the time. We’ve got to decide that we want to become healthy enough to know that we are going to mess up, make mistakes, have regrets, and need forgiveness at times without letting it break us. We just need to let those times fuel us towards learning and growing.

I’ve lived life with confidence and without confidence. I want to live with the freedom that God gives me through His strength, love, and joy. I want to keep moving forward in life step-by-step, day by day. I want to get to a point where Satan regrets ever messing with me because he knows I’m wearing my armor and I plan on using it.

So I may have taken a hit in this particular battle, but you can bet that I will be a stronger warrior because of it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

You're Not Just a Face

Have you ever felt like a number? Sure you have. Countless doctors offices, restaurants, or even being on jury duty where you actually are GIVEN a number – all remind you you’re just one of many.

Have you ever felt like just another face? You go to church and people smile and say “hi” but they don’t take the time to dig deeper. They don’t really know what you’re feeling.

I love the reassurance that I’m not just a face to my Lord. God says in Psalms 56:8 that He keeps my tears in a bottle and a record of them in His book. And in Matthew, He says that He knows just how many hairs are on our head. So, if He knows these details – I know that He also knows the expression on my face. Even when I place a smile there, He knows that my heart weighs heavily over a concern or an issue. He knows when I’m lonely and when I’m disappointed.

God knows my personality – my likes and dislikes. For He created me to be this exact way! So I can find reassurance in the fact that I’m not “weird” or “strange” for my distinct tastes and preferences. They were formed to fit me.

God delights in knowing what I think. He wants to be the One to listen to my cares – my hopes, my dreams. He is never in too much of a hurry to stop and be attentive to my needs. Never tired of me – never bored. In fact, the Bible says He delights in me. He longs to spend time with me.

When I feel “average” to others or as if I’m nothing really “special” I believe God would disagree. He gave His son on the cross – just – for – me. That’s how special I am.

No. I’m not just a face. Others may be blinded or not see what it is that God sees in us – but that doesn’t mean we don’t matter. In fact, we matter a lot.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

If I Were On Television....

I crack up sometimes at television shows and movies. They just don’t really show life the way it is. I mean they do try. But oftentimes I have a hard time getting past certain issues or inconsistencies. For example:

If I were ever on a tv series or in a movie…..

… I wouldn’t wake up in bed with all of my makeup on.

….I wouldn’t start a conversation before I got in a car, then wait until the car had arrived at the next location (scene) before I finished the conversation.

…I would wear the same outfit more than once.

…I wouldn’t enter someone’s house through the back door. No matter how good of friends we supposedly were. Nobody I know does that.

…I wouldn’t always send my kids to their rooms when I wanted to have a private conversation with someone. More than that, they wouldn’t just willingly run out of the room and go!

…I’d rearrange. My living room wouldn’t always look the same nor would my bedroom or kitchen counters.

…I would get sick sometimes. I mean, geez, I don’t always feel well! Sometimes I might have a cold, pms cramps, or even a sinus infection.

…I wouldn’t have “eternal breath.” I mean, if I were swimming underwater to get away from my assassins I wouldn’t be able to hold my breath for 10 minutes. No, I’d have to go up and gasp for air and they’d probably catch me.

…My children’s rooms wouldn’t be huge. In all reality, most bedrooms are half the size of what is shown on tv. (Unless we’re talking about more upscale living arrangements).

…I’d do chores. You might catch me cleaning out the frig, ironing clothes, or even scooping out the cat litter box.

…My TV family would move. You wouldn’t catch us living in the same house for the show’s duration. Families often move across town or even to other states. And hey – that would mean my living room wouldn’t have to look the same! J

…Sometimes it might actually be pitch black during the night. The moon can’t always shine through the bedroom windows.

…If I was having a private conversation with someone or telling them something confidential, I wouldn’t do it three feet away from other people.

…Breakfast would often consist of a granola bar, pop tarts, or a bowl of cereal in the morning. There isn’t always time for a big breakfast before school starts.

…My kids would have homework. And not just a little bit. Sometimes they would have to work on it all night in order to get it done. Especially in junior high and high school!

Life may seem easier, funnier, or better when the media films it. Maybe that’s because they leave out a lot of the very “real” day-to-day facts.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Two Words

What do you do when you’re called to “more” but you don’t know what that “more” is?

What do you do when you know deep inside that you were meant for more than you’re living for now? When you know you want to be in ministry full-time but not sure where you fit in?

What do you do when you feel like God is stirring your heart? When you sense Him preparing you for something and that kind of scares you?

What do you do when you want to be used by Him but you feel like certain conditions need to be applied and that makes you feel guilty?

How can you find just what it is (and possibly where) that He wants for you? What if you think it’s one scenario but it’s another?

How do you “wish” the perfect solution for a whole family? Different personalities - different dreams? How do you line them all up?

If everything in you wants to help others, love on others, and use your gifts for others full-time – what do you do when you don’t see how that will work out?

I ask you, what do you do when you want something for your life? When you want to live LARGER for Him and you just don’t see how you will ever be able to do it?

Two words.

Prayer – and – faith.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Individual or One of the Crowd?

When have you gone against a trend? I’ve noticed something so prevalent today that I was just wondering – have you ever decided it would be okay to not be one of the crowd even if that made you the odd man out?

Image seems SO important today. It seems like everywhere I look people are having to watch that “in” show, wear that “in” trend, get that “in” look, read that “in” book… and on it goes. I don’t see a lot of individuality anymore. It seems as if people are trying to express their individuality by “sameness.” By being one of the crowd – one of the acceptable.

So I just pose this question for you – since when does having a different opinion or style mean you’re unacceptable?

I don’t know. I just feel like image is everything anymore. It’s almost become a priority for us. We place it up high in our lives. Whether it’s the image of our homes, what we wear, who we listen to in music, or what we watch – we just seem to have to be “in the know” or we’re laughed at, ridiculed, and looked at strangely.

I want to be thought of as “acceptable.” Of course I do. But I’m here to tell you that I’ve never watched “Lost” or “24.” I’ve only caught the “Office” once or twice. I have no desire to pierce my nose or naval and the only tattoo I plan on getting will be removable. I don’t plan on reading “the Shack” because I don’t believe it’s Biblically sound and I’ve been known to buy a shirt or two at Wal-Mart from time to time because the price fits my budget. Call me “uncool.” But I’ve never been one to wear a brand just to show off the name. If I like something – I buy it! Doesn’t matter if it’s at Kohl’s, Target, or K-Mart.

Now I’m not here to condemn those of you who do those things. I do watch “American Idol” which is a huge “trend” right now. But I do it because of my own personal enjoyment and interest not because it’s a trend or because I want to fit in. And that’s all I’m saying. That we need to truly know what we think and feel about things instead of participating simply to be part of a larger crowd.

I do care very strongly about my image. I work hard at my reputation. But I also am somewhat of a rebel. To me – edgy means bucking the system. It means saying I won’t be a part of the crowd but I will stand out from it. It means staying true to who I want to be whether or not society thinks that’s “in” at the moment.

Trends come and go. What was once “in” will someday be very “out.” I don’t plan on coming in and out with the tide but hopefully have enough of a backbone to forge my own path. And if that’s unacceptable – well then, I guess that’s okay. Because in a few years, I’ll be totally “in” and everyone else will still be trying to figure out who they are.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

There Is Nothing I Cannot Do

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NAS)

“You can do it” is a common chant we give one another when it comes to our dreams. We hear that without God, there is nothing we cannot do. So we strive to become doctors, lawyers, and whatever else we deem is a “successful” person. We hope and pray that God will give wings to our dreams.

There is nothing we cannot do without God. He gives us our strength.

So if that is true, and God can guide us straight to our heart’s wishes and dreams – what about what the rest of the world views as “small stuff?” Can He also give us the strength to overcome those? I emphatically think, “yes.” And I wonder why we don’t ask.

God can give us the strength to get on that airplane when we’re afraid of flying.

God can help us speak up and greet a new friend when we are painfully shy.

God can help us lose weight when we really love to eat.

God can help us forgive when we really don’t want to. He can help us swallow our pride in an argument and let it go. God can help us learn how to save money when we’re much more gifted at spending.

There is nothing He can’t do. For in our weaknesses – if we ask Him to be – He can be our strength.

His strength can shine in those little daily moments that we struggle with. Those times when we battle deep insecurities, long-lived bad habits, and fears that others find quite silly. And yet I find it so interesting that we forget to ask Him in those moments. It’s often only the “big” things that we turn to God for. We forget that He sees every detail of our lives. And more importantly, He cares about them. So why don’t we ask for His guidance, strength, and help in those moments?

I pray that I can challenge myself to share more of my life with the Lord. Not just the awful stuff or the big stuff – but the small and “little” stuff too. For it’s not always little to me. And I’d love to tap into His strength when I’m feeling fearful driving on a scary road or trying to bite my tongue against overreacting or saying the wrong thing. I want to allow Him to work in me and to help me defeat those little moments that creep their way into my heart and mind – soon taking over like weeds that refuse to stop growing.

I want God to be my everything. I want Him to set me free. For with Him, there is NOTHING I cannot do.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Slipper Shoes

I don’t like the new trend of “slipper shoes.” Have you seen them? They are a shoe but basically a slipper. Confused? I know.

My daughter keeps trying to point them out to me in order for me to buy her a pair. She’ll try them on and I’ll say, “That looks like a slipper!” To which she’ll reply, “It’s a slipper-SHOE, mom!” Sheesh. I think she wishes I would just get it.

The thing is… I do get it. And I don’t like it.

Call me old fashioned but a shoe doesn’t look like bed-wear to me.

I think the need to be so casual during our day isn’t necessarily a good thing. What happened to dressing up and taking pride in our appearance? Now it’s all about comfort. And I’m into comfort just like the next person but I also believe that how we dress affects how we act. We tend to treat others better when we look and appear more like ladies and gentlemen. Just something I’ve observed.

So for me? I’m going to hope that this “Slipper-Shoe” fad goes away soon before my daughter catches me in a weak moment and convinces me to buy her a pair.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Words of Regret

Have you ever said something you regretted? I have. I talk to my children a lot about saying things they will regret when they are arguing or upset with each other. I have told them that you have to be careful because words hurt and you can’t take them back. Once they are said, they are out there to churn inside someone’s heart over and over again.

So it pains me, that I make the same mistake I warn them against. I try so hard to devote myself to encouraging others and building them up. I hate that something I may have said (whether or not it was in a moment of frustration) would hurt or wound someone else. I hate that and it saddens my heart. It’s the last thing I’d ever want.

I hope that just as my children learn from painful mistakes, that I too, can learn from them. I hope that somehow – over time – someone I’ve hurt will be able to see my true heart and know that I messed up…. Just as we all do from time to time.

The older I get, the more I’m learning how important it is to offer one another grace, mercy, and compassion. I know that I’ve needed my fair share of those offered to me, so I should be able to dole them out just as readily. Forgiveness is something that all of us need to learn to embrace more often.

I can protect my family and I can stand up for what is right. But I can do it with class and integrity. I desire that for my own life and for my children’s lives as well.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Accept What Is, Accept What Isn't

A long time ago I learned that life doesn’t often turn out the way you dreamed it would. Very few people probably set out on the exact path that they thought they would. In the wake of so many unrealized dreams, the question begs to be asked, “How do people deal with it?”

There seems to me, to be hundreds of unrealized dreams in a person’s life and only a few realized ones. Sometimes we can lessen the impact or joy those little ones have in our lives because we are pining away so deeply for the loss of the other ones. I also think that as time goes on, sometimes we can glamorize the past or remember people in a different light than actually should have been shed on them. We alter things in our minds because somehow what “wasn’t” seems like it would have been better for us or would have made us happier.

What a lie.

Our paths go down certain roads for a very real reason. We waste so much joy and happiness to be had in our lives by simply wishing and longing for something that didn’t happen. We can get so focused on regrets that we fail to take hold of the love and life that sits right in front of us.

I’ve been learning that one of the best things I can do for myself is to accept what is, and accept what isn’t. You can’t go back in time. You can’t redo the crossroads of life. But you CAN make the most of today so that it doesn’t become another “slipped” opportunity. It starts with some deep internal talking. I think we can only move forward when we truly come to terms and accept what is and isn’t in our life. It can be a very healing time and one that sets us free and releases us from many things in many ways – unmet expectations, unrealized dreams, undone tasks, unsaid words…..

Life is today. Our yesterdays do make up a part of who we are but the action and living part of life is today. We need to live it and not waste any more moments pining, longing, wishing, or reliving what is done with. Every part of our lives has its time. What is it time to do today in your life?

No more regretting. Make peace with what is. Accept it and accept what isn’t. It’s one of the best gifts we can give ourselves.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What Then?

Some people are driven. They are driven by one goal in their life. Maybe it’s to achieve stardom as a singer or in a band. Maybe they are driven to visit all the “7 Wonders of the World” or they are driven to adopt. Some people are driven to overcome. They are driven to not be like their parents or driven to be philanthropists. None of these in and of themselves is bad. In fact, many are very admirable goals.

I wonder what happens once a goal has been achieved? I mean, is it really fulfilling or does that satisfaction only last for a little while? I would think it would almost feel weird once the elation of reaching a lifetime achievement has ended. And end it will. I mean, if you have worked your whole life to receive an award in something – what happens to the rest of your life once you’ve done that? What is left for you?

I would imagine that some people can almost feel despair and emptiness. I would imagine that a sense of feeling “lost” might creep in. It would be tough to continue living without having to work, work, work for that one goal anymore.

I think it’s important for us to have goals and dreams in our lives. I mean, you are listening to a bonafide dreamer here so I can really relate to the need for dreams! But, I also think it’s important to keep goals and dreams in context. I think it’s important that those desires don’t become who we are, for when they are achieved, what then are we left with? What then do we do with our time?

You see; life is not about achievement. It’s about interaction. We can do everything under the sun and go everywhere on the map but it won’t fulfill our hearts in the long run and we certainly can’t take “achievement” to heaven! But we CAN take people. We can invest in others and how we make an impact on their hearts and who they are – that DOES matter for eternity.

It’s good to enjoy life. It’s good to have dreams. What child doesn’t dream of becoming an NBA basketball player or a doctor? But there needs to be more than that inside of them. There needs to be something in them that defines who they are – not the career or the label of what they do. For if that is taken away at some point, they need to be able to continue to find meaning and joy in life aside from achievement.

I often think about what I would do if I couldn’t write. What do I do when my children are grown? Is there more to me? Would I feel validated, important, satisfied with life? I hope so. I hope that there is something more substantial inside of me that isn’t defined by what I do but in who I am and how I live life. There is so much “life” to be had. It would be so sad if we limited ourselves to our own tunnel vision of what it should be about.


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