Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
The pressure to conform. C’mon – you feel it too, don’t you? I’m not just talking about the pressures of trends and society. I’m talking about the pressures of those who we live among and walk among. It’s hard to be different.
It’s especially hard to stand out when you feel that no one understands why you are the way you are – why you do what you do. But what if you feel two pressures in your life? One pressure from the “others” and one pressure from God? Who do you listen to?
God’s callings on our lives don’t always make sense. They aren’t always easy and comfortable, and most certainly; they aren’t always accepted by those we love and live among. In fact, it can make others very uncomfortable.
God said “in this world you will have troubles…and many.” I don’t think He was just referring to a bad economy, illnesses, or crime (although those are certainly a part of the picture). I think He was also referring to relationships and people. In fact, I’d venture to say that sometimes our biggest stressors in life come from relational issues. They can put such undue weight on our shoulders.
No one can solve your relationship issues for you. We can’t convince someone else that what we are doing with our life is indeed what God wants. We can’t tell someone to back off or to support us, for we each have our own will and choices to make in life. So if you feel very strongly that without a doubt, God has called you to make certain choices and decisions in your life – you need to be willing to pay the price of possibly having damaged relationships. Sometimes it’s just the cost of the call. It’s never fun and it’s never easy. But sometimes there is a great toll to be paid in order to fight for God’s kingdom.
Keep the faith, if you find yourself in one of these situations. Satan likes to cause a lot of chaos and stress in the lives of believers who are willing to step forward; fighting as one of God’s warriors. There are many Christians out there, but not all of them are utilizing their heritage or God-given right to truly be on the front lines for the Lord. Whether “front lines” for you is being a missionary, selling your house so you can work as a social welfare worker, taking care of foster child after foster child, or sending all your paychecks to others who need them more… the front lines are different for everyone. Don’t let other people discourage you simply because they don’t understand.
Not everyone has the courage and the sensitivity to go against the grain in this life. Not everyone is intuitive enough to know when God is clearly speaking to them. If you are, you have received a special gift; regardless of who sees it. Hold it closely.
Friday, August 26, 2011
It was going to be a great day. I was excited about the prospect of something. Something that I felt was a “God-thing.” It would have been a change, but would have added some energy into my life. Energy I was seeking.
Then just as quickly as the excitement wafted in, it was sucked back out. The “thing” was not to be. Not this time anyways.
It took me all day. All day to try and shake away the disappointment I was feeling inside. The day was beautiful. Nothing else went wrong and in fact, I enjoyed my time with my kids. Still – this inward “blue” feeling could not be shaken. It stuck with me. Like glue.
I laughed. Still it lurked inside of me. I smiled. Still it lay underneath. I tried to mentally “let it go.” Yet, it remained. Why, I’m not sure. It’s not like the prospect of what I was hoping for was life-altering. At least I didn’t think so. And I’m not quite sure why sometimes it feels as if God is bringing something to the plate just to have us step up to it; then have it pulled out from under us. Just not sure.
But I trust.
I trust in His heart. And I trust in His will.
That trust – that belief – that love – has to be enough to help me shake the blues when they slide in and don’t want to stay temporarily…but rather try to live and reside with me for an extended stay.
They just aren’t welcome.
I have to make a choice to move on. To look for that next brass ring that’s out there. I have to trust that God sometimes moves me from “okay” so that I can instead get “fabulous.” And even if I don’t see it right away, I have to believe that some things just wouldn’t be right for me.
The process of acceptance isn’t always an easy one. Sometimes little things end up to be too big in our hearts and big things can downright take over. But in order to move on, we’ve got to dust off. We have to. For feeling “blue” is a time-stealer. A life-stealer. A dream-stealer.
It’s okay to be disappointed. Even frustrated or confused. But we need to realize when it’s time to tell them to get lost so that we can look for what it is that God wants us to see – to do – and to be for Him. I think if we do, we will see in hindsight just why plans were laid out the way they were. And we’ll understand why we were pricked the way we were. It will be like giving birth to a baby. The pain will be all worth it. The long nights worth it. The feeling like you’ll never get there. ALL WORTH IT.
At least that’s what I’m believing.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
There are several character qualities that are important to me. Integrity is very, very important to me. It pretty much sums up who you are as a person and what you value in life. Empathy is important to me – to know how to understand what someone else might be feeling or going through. And then there’s gentleness. Gentleness is very important to me.
I believe God was gentle. He was gentle with all children. He was gentle with sinners who screwed up. He was gentle with His followers who messed up. He was gentle in how He spoke and in how He touched someone physically. I believe gentleness was important to Him.
I think people forget how to be gentle. As they grow up, they get hurt. So they toughen up, grow more critical, judgmental, and bitter. It’s like we have gotten so afraid of being who we truly are, that we develop a tough skin in order to protect ourselves JUST IN CASE someone might hurt us. Just in case.
There is a risk in being gentle. You can be taken advantage of. Let’s face it. If people know you are a kind, gentle person and they have needs in their life; they just might hit you up – often – to help them out. And if you are gentle, people can also ignore you thinking that your gentleness must mean that you have no backbone. But they are often wrong.
Remember when I said God spoke and touched gently? But I also believe my God was STRONG. He was WISE. And He was FOCUSED. He wasn’t weak or foolish. He wasn’t wishy-washy. He just made a choice. To be gentle. To love gently.
And that is my choice too. I believe gentleness can soften a hardened heart. I believe gentleness can diffuse anger. I believe gentleness can win a wayward soul and I believe gentleness can teach.
I think our world desperately needs more gentleness. We need gentleness not to coddle us or bail us out of our own bad choices. But rather we need it to soothe our stressed-out and weary souls. We need it to love all over us and give us strength and courage to make the right choices and head in the right direction. We need gentleness to heal us.
To be gentle. It’s a fruit of the spirit and God valued it highly.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
You make me a better person when you sit and listen to my hurts.
You make me a better person with your love of adventure and the need you have to go see the world – yet wanting me with you.
You make me a better person by encouraging my love to write and minister to others.
You make me a better person when you empty the dishwasher, fold the clothes, or pick up the house because you know I’m feeling overwhelmed.
You make me a better person by challenging me to think bigger, broader, and to pick my battles.
You make me a better person when you gently remind me that I’ve lost my temper with the kids and that it will be okay.
You make me a better person because you like to go fast and I like to go slow. You stretch me when I’d so often remain in my comfort zone.
You make me a better person by loving me despite my flaws showing me that to be loveable doesn’t mean you have to be perfect.
You make me a better person because of the deep questions you ask about life, love, and God.
God knew my life would be richer, deeper, stronger because of you in it. You – Make – Me – a – Better – Me.
Happy Anniversary to My "Warrior." (17 years! Aug 20)
Friday, August 19, 2011
It is with a very tender heart that I want to let you know that I am stepping down from my Emphasis On Moms Ministry. It has been such a blessing in my life. I have loved it dearly. I have loved my subscribers dearly. But as greatly as I have loved Emphasis On Moms, I love my Lord more. And with my whole heart, I feel that He is asking me to release my grip on that ministry.
Life is about change. Nothing stays the same. There is a time and a season for everything. I’m actually very excited about this season of change in my writing. I will be focusing more on my blog here at Beauty in the Storm and on my freelance writing. I hope to be given a platform at some point to reach many, many more moms and women with the hope and love of God.
I also am excited personally – because I can relax a little bit more as I throw myself into my two girls’ increasing social calendar. After all, I’ve always said that family comes first! And as I see my children growing up, I want to soak in every moment I can with them.
I remember the first day I mailed out my Emphasis On Moms Newsletter. I sent it through the mail at that time before it went online. And I remember as I put those newsletters in the mailbox, I prayed. I asked God to bless this ministry and to be in charge of it. Ultimately, it was HIS ministry – not mine. I tried so hard not to forget that along the way. What a thrill for me to be allowed to have it for as long as I did. Do you know that I started Emphasis On Moms in October of 1997?? That’s 14 years! What a blessing. What a part of my life it has become.
Now. Now I guess God is calling me to move on a little bit. To shift gears slightly. And I’m positive, hopeful, and excited. Mostly – just excited.
I will still be around. I will still be writing my blog and like I said - hopefully expand to more freelance opportunities. The Emphasis On Moms website and ministry will always be a part of my heart. And hopefully it will still live on – just a little differently.
To those of you who have been with me on this journey, thank you. I have treasured every moment of it.
Please continue to pray for me as I open myself up to new opportunities and make myself available for new ways God might see fit to use me in ministry for Him.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
What are some of your favorite childhood memories? If you could pick out one or two moments spent with your mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, etc what one or two moments would you choose as your most treasured?
One of my favorite memories of a moment shared with my mom was when I didn’t pass my driver’s test in high school. I know – not a highlight. That’s exactly why this particular moment is a favorite of mine. I was really crushed and disappointed. I remember being in my room sitting on the floor next to my bed and my mom sat there with me just holding me with her arms wrapped around me. She – just – held – me. I’m sure she encouraged me as well, but I don’t remember the words. I remember the feeling.
I’d pick the times I rode with my dad in his pickup truck as some of my favorite memories spent with him. I would just revel in being in his presence and having his attention. Time spent together that I cherish.
You see, it’s not always what we say that creates some of the strongest memories with our children. Although our words DO matter, it’s often an image that we call to our minds when thinking of the past. It’s being in the presence of those we love. That’s why the time we spend with our children is so priceless.
What will your children remember about you? Will they remember the moments you shared together or will they have an image of you being too busy or hurried to spend time with them? What image will they call to their minds and hold tightly to their hearts?
Our presence matters. We don’t have to have something profound to say when our children have a bad day at school. We don’t have to create some huge spectacle for them. We simply need to be with them. They may act like they don’t want us there, or they may not even let us know how they feel about us being there – but the fact that we ARE there is what matters the most.
I’m just as guilty as the next person of getting caught up in my projects, plans, and “to-do’s.” But I am constantly working at setting those things aside (for they will always be there needing my attention) and focusing instead on two precious girls who are growing quicker than I can blink. And every moment I spend with them is a moment invested into who they are becoming as young women. When they look back, I hope they will draw from many, many moments where my presence mattered to them.
Every single person can give the gift of his or her presence to someone else. So who will get the gift of your presence today? Just remember… every time you give yourself away – you’re creating a memory. A memory that just may be treasured.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
God requires a lot of bending from me. In fact, I sometimes feel like I will forever be in a “bent” posture. (I know this isn’t so – but it feels that way.)
My pride so often needs to be bent. My dreams need to be bent. My will. My wishes. My planning. My control. All need to bend. To make room for God to work.
Bending is painful. It’s not fun. Even if it’s not painful, it’s painful emotionally because a lot of times you are crying over what you feel is unfair. Unspoken. Unmet.
It’s about sacrifice. Letting go. Giving in. Giving up.
And this is life we are talking about here. Not everything has a fairy tale ending. Just because you bend and give something up doesn’t mean a better outcome will take its place. No. Sometimes things are still left unfair. Unsettled.
But I’ve learned that it’s far better to bend – than to break. Especially out of disobedience.
If I hear God whispering to my heart; prompting me and I ignore Him? He will bring me to my knees quicker than I can say my own name. He’s so good at that. Humbling me. Making me see that obedience is far better than willful stubbornness.
I can hold onto my own agenda. My own control. My own loss. But it gets me nowhere.
So I bend. Sometimes out of love for my Lord. Sometimes out of fear. Sometimes because I know I have no alternative. Sometimes bending is a last resort for me. And then I see how I wish I would have come to it much sooner.
A piece of glass that is bent turns into a beautiful piece of artwork. As am I. I am God’s artwork. Only He can see the results of the process.
I might not get what I humanly want. But yet I’m still richer inside. Softer. Genuine. Generous. I gain more than I lose when I bend. For it’s about my soul. My eternity. And maybe someone else’s as well.
If I can only take my eyes off of myself. The bending would come so much more naturally. Freely.
So I continue to learn in my bending. And I continue to bend. For there is no other way if I want God to be Lord of my life.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
That kind of mentality can keep you on the straight path. It can keep you from getting into trouble. You can get very hard on yourself for any flaws or mistakes you make in life – for regrets aren’t something you are proud of …or used to.
Yet the older I’ve gotten the more I’ve realized that although being obedient is important (especially when it comes to God’s commands) it can also strangle the freedom out of a life. The creativity can’t always flow when there is so much structure in a heart.
The last few years I’ve been trying to “re-train” myself. I’ve been trying to teach myself how to think outside of the box, dream outside of the norm, color outside of the lines. It’s not an easy task. It’s not easy to tell yourself to go ahead and go against the flow when your personality bent is to do what is expected of you and do it well. No. It’s not easy at all.
But I’ve been learning.
I’ve been learning that to stand out from the crowd can sometimes be lonely, but it can be freeing. You can see things in a different light and you can often go farther down the road because you are willing to try different approaches to things.
God has also been revealing to me how often He didn’t do what was expected of Him. He worked through the “uncommon” – how about a trumpet blast that brings down city walls? Or a boy who kills a giant with a slingshot? No, God didn’t go the “predictable” route.
I don’t want to be a rebel in the way that people often think of. I don’t want to cause harm, think only of myself, be disrespectful, or truant. However, I do want to be a rebel when it comes to society shaping and molding me into a follower. We have this saying in my family when we are at any sort of public event and we see people doing what everyone else is doing when that’s not necessarily the better way. We say, “they’re being sheep.” Just following the masses when the masses could be wrong.
I want to be a rebel when I’m expected to conform. I want to continue to retrain my brain and heart to think outside of the box. Look for new ways to deal with problems and allow myself the freedom to be different. To color outside of the lines when I see a picture that is waiting to be revealed. I don’t want to do and say the right thing because I’m expected to – but because I have the freedom to. And because I choose to.
And sometimes I want to run off of the path into the field because it’s simply more fun. I want to feel the wind blow through my hair and the laughter bubble out of my chest.
God gave me this mind and this heart. I want to use them and feel them to the utmost – with no limits and boundaries placed on them.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Life is hard. Heck, we’re all dealing with something or another. We all make mistakes and we certainly all feel down and blue at times.
Someone once told me ‘thank you’ for my “always encouraging words.” And it caused me to pause and think a little bit about why more people aren’t encouraging. And why exactly do I feel such a strong need to encourage?
I can’t answer the question as to why more people don’t choose to take the time and effort to build others up. I can only answer why I do it.
- Because of God’s love in my heart. His love motivates me to love others. His grace motivates me to give grace to others.
- I’ve been in the pit of hurt. I’ve felt deep pain. I’ve messed up royally. I’ve put my foot in my mouth. I’ve needed encouragement, hope, forgiveness. That’s why I offer it to others.
How can we not offer to others, what we ourselves seek and need so often? How can we deny other people the love, support, and encouragement they need when we know what it feels like to not get it?
You see, each one of us has been in a point in our lives where we’ve felt like we were all alone. We’ve wondered if anyone understood us or if anyone even cares! We’ve doubted ourselves and we’ve been hard on ourselves. (That’s Satan, by the way.) So each one of us should understand how vital it is to encourage each other.
People can be so critical. So judgmental. They can so easily forget what it feels like to make the wrong choice or decision. They can forget what it feels like to want a clean slate or to simply want to hear someone say, “hang in there. It’ll get better!” You don’t always have to endorse the action someone took to encourage them. Sometimes all it takes is a “I’m a good listener,” or “I’m praying for you – let me know how it goes.”
We are all each other has. The world will chew us up and spit us out, so it’s important for us to back each other up and build each other up in this battle of life.
If God is truly in our hearts: His overwhelming and overflowing love for us should spill out and onto those around us. Is it?
Sunday, August 7, 2011
I am who I am today because of my friends in elementary school. I’m also who I am today because of my friends and acquaintances at church growing up. I’m who I am because of the friends I had after high school and into my first few years of marriage. Each one of them that has come into my life has affected who I am, how I see myself, and how God has chosen to mold me. They have rubbed off on me and helped shape who I am as an individual.
I wish I could say that all of the friends who came into my life helped make me stronger. But some of them chipped away at my self esteem, my courage, and my ability to use my gifts. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right friends in our lives. I see it in my children. I see how the friends who come into their lives affect them and start influencing their views of themselves and the world. Those friends will always be a part of them as they rub off on them in one way or another.
God created women to be social. We need one another and rely on one another. The friendships we have or don’t have in our lives are critical in guiding and supporting us as we navigate this crazy world. Each one leaves a new layer of dimension in our heart and soul. Each one adding or taking away a piece of our character and make-up as a person.
Some people can scoff at the importance of friendships, but they are really a crucial and critical part of our lives. Be wise and choose the right ones who help make you stronger, better, more compassionate, more invested in others, and more confident in yourself.
Friday, August 5, 2011
We are children of God. We are HIS. Once we accept God into our hearts – we are His children forever. Isn’t that such a reassuring thought? To know that you can’t lose your salvation? Sure, we can screw up our Christian walk from time to time and we can wreck our reputation. But if God’s in our heart – He’s in our heart. That saving faith means Satan can never have US. Body, soul, spirit.
I promise you, you won’t lose.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
I’m dropping certain things off my agenda to make room for anything new He might want to introduce into my life.