Friday, August 30, 2013

Too Much Time To Think




I don’t like being left alone with my own thoughts for extended periods of time. Don’t get me wrong. I need alone time. I crave it, actually. But only for brief periods between “non-alone” time.  Only to clear my head, refocus, regroup, and breathe. Any more than that and well…I start thinking too much.

It’s so easy when you have too much time with only yourself to start over-thinking things. To think about the awful, the fearsome, and the dreaded. It’s too easy to entertain thoughts that take you away from all that is good and joyful. You’d think it would be the other way around. You’d think that the more time you have alone, the more contented you would be. But the problem with “more time alone” is that it’s ALONE.

You have time to think about your mortality. Your weaknesses. Your flaws. You observe others who seem to be living a very full and vibrant life and you feel yourself fall so short in comparison. You watch the news and take it in – the “what if’s.” And you start to feel so mortal. So inept.

The thing about having too much time alone to think is that you start forgetting what it’s like to really live. You forget how to live and engage without thinking about every corner you might have to go around first. You forget how to instead of graphing out the costs, just riding them as you get to them. You may know you have weaknesses, but instead of dwelling on them, you focus on helping others because you are engaged in their lives and invested in their well-being.

Yes, time to think is good. Needed, at times. Vital. But too much time? The pendulum starts swinging the other way and you can think things are bigger than they are. Stronger. More powerful. And you end up feeling so very small.

God did give us wonderful brains. But we need to be careful that our input doesn’t outweigh the output. And we have so much output to give!

Give yourself time to think once in awhile. Then just live and love. And leave the over-thinking to the One who holds your live in His hands. Your mind will thank you.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Not Now....




Challenges never seem to come at a good time. I don’t think we ever seem to be prepared to battle them. In fact, it seems like a lot of the times, we are already feeling overwhelmed in life for one reason or another.

The timing feels all wrong for us. We have this illusion inside that if a particular challenge came on at a different time, on a different day, or in a different way, that we’d be stronger to tackle it.

We look up at God and we say, “Not now….please!”

But “Now” it is.  The hurdles come, the challenges sweep in, the adversities pounce, and we have to deal with them one way or another.

I was facing one particular challenge in my life and I was feeling so overwhelmed. My emotions were pretty raw and maxed out as I was tackling one big life change while all of a sudden out of nowhere, another adversity reared its face right in front of me. I begged it to wait – but it came in my “now.”

I won’t lie to you. It was hard. It hurt. I cried. I lost sleep. But I made it through. God gave me the strength I needed and somehow I walked through it all and came out the other side a little bit changed because of it.

There is no right time for adversity and trials. There is never going to be a “later” that we will be fully equipped to handle. Our “not now’s” will continue to come and they will continue to invade our lives. We will continue to have to wade through things we dread and would rather avoid – it’s part of living.

How will you walk through those moments and days? Will you let those times make you better, stronger? Will you lean on and draw close to  those who try to come alongside and understand and love you? Will you let yourself be molded and shaped in a good way – not a bitter one?

Those are very big questions for very big moments
. It’s good for us to decide them ahead of time so that in our weak times, our prior vows can arm and strengthen us just when we need it the most.

There will be those rare occasions when we will be spared. Our plea of “not now,” will indeed be answered. And at those junctures, we can feel blessed, knowing another day will come when we aren’t spared and we can’t avoid the hurdle in front of us. For climbing is as much a part of our life as breathing.  You do what you have to do to survive.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Afraid To Let Our Kids Hurt





Rules. It seems like we hate rules. Yet we live in a world that keeps creating more rules. New rules. All the time.

I see it in our government and I see it in our own neighborhoods. In our schools. In our restaurants.

Everywhere.

I can handle most rules. I realize they are there for a reason. I’m a “rule-follower” by nature. But even I have a problem with a trend I see happening.  I see the trend of rules being implemented because we are afraid someone might get hurt.

Do you remember teeter totters? I loved them. They aren’t around much anymore because…well…kids got hurt on them.

And does your child go to a school where they have to wear a school uniform? You know that started so that children would all look alike (or so they said.) So that no one would feel left out because of their financial or social status in life.

When I was growing up, we had a Taco Bell by a river. It had lots of cute squirrels that we could feed. I loved going there – mainly because I wanted to feed my leftover cheese and taco stuffings to the squirrels! But one day it stopped and there was a sign that said “please do not feed the squirrels.” Why? Because someone got bit.

Do you know what? You only get strong when you’ve been hurt. If you never get hurt, how do you expect to gain inner strength?  Yet we seem so afraid of letting our children get hurt!

Of course, no one wants their child to fall off the monkey bars. No one wants someone to suffer. But on the other hand, if someone feeds a squirrel and gets bit, don’t you think they will think twice before putting their hand too closely to the squirrel again?

Sometimes getting hurt is necessary.

Everyone CAN’T be included in everything. Everyone DOESN’T deserve an award for playing a sport. It’s okay to pick a couple out of the bunch for their achievements! If we don’t, what other incentive is there for our children to work harder?

I believe in guidelines, fairness, and boundaries. But sometimes we just take it too far. It hurts when those we love hurt – especially our children. But, I’d rather have my children get hurt a little bit and grow stronger, wiser, and kinder for it…than never get hurt at all and have a selfish, entitled, weak spirit.

We are so afraid of pain. Yet sometimes it’s the hurt and pain in our lives that have taught us the most.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

When You Feel Worthless


Someone very close to me recently went through a tough situation. They basically discovered something that made them feel totally unappreciated.

It caused them to feel pretty low about themselves.

I tried to encourage them and remind them that the world doesn’t say who we are – God does. But it was a tough struggle for them. Their self esteem took a big hit.

It caused me to think about all the similar times I’d been through where my own self worth was damaged because of someone else’s thoughts, actions (or inactions) towards me. How easily satan can use those times in our life to make us feel small and worthless.  He’s really good at doing that.

But, if we go around feeling worthless; aren’t we then agreeing with the perception of the other person? Aren’t we in fact, telling them that they were right about us in the first place?

Sure, sometimes someone else has a basis of truth in their assumptions or perceptions of us. Maybe we needed a little humbling. Maybe we needed to be reminded of some things or our character needed to be built up. But most of the time, we feel cruddy and worthless because we allow someone else to place a label on us. One that doesn’t really belong.

No one is worthless. Not you. Not me. No one likes to feel like the efforts they’ve made aren’t appreciated. It’s discouraging and frustrating. And it does make you take a second look at yourself and how you come across.  But other people don’t have the right to say who we are, either.

God says we are valuable. Priceless. Worth far more than rubies. He finds us beautiful, loveable, and He invests in us constantly. So it’s our choice to believe what “so and so” believes and says about us – or what God says about us.  For me? I choose to believe that God is right. That I AM worth something special. That I AM valuable. That I AM loveable.

Who do you choose to believe?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's the LIVING for Christ That is The Tough Part


It’s easy to get saved. It’s easy to go to church, sing praise and worship songs and raise our hands to the Lord. It’s easy to pray. It’s even easy to learn what the Bible says.

Living it out is another story.

Living for Christ means obeying your parents. And a lot of teens are hiding things from their parents. It’s tough to be obedient and honest when you’d much rather be doing what everybody else is doing. And yet, that is truly LIVING FOR CHRIST.

Living for Christ means honoring Him with your body. And yet so many women (and men too, now) aren’t dressing to honor Him. Cleavage is showing even during church services, pictures are taken and shown to flaunt a six pack ab, and short shorts are worn. None is sinful in and of itself – but is it honoring to God? Do we stand out from the rest of the world as He asked us to, or are we simply blending in? Yes, honoring God with our bodies is truly LIVING for Him.

It’s easy to pick up that ten dollar bill you saw the man in front of you drop. Or to fudge on your taxes a little bit. Charge things on your credit card all of the time when you can’t really afford them. Money and material items are indeed a weakness. We see what others have and we want it too.  Importance seems to be tied to “things” and brands these days. But truly LIVING FOR CHRIST means being honest when we aren’t charged for an item on our receipt and it means trusting God to take care of us financially.

Lying. “Forgetting” to pay someone back or return something, taking advantage of a kindness, being rude or sassy, conceit, selfishness, sneakiness….these are all things we struggle with as humans. And yet to see one of them live in us and grow is to see it trample and invade the very space that God would instead like to live in and grow. For He can’t share room with dishonesty, deceit, or sin.

Yes, loving God can be easy. But living FOR Him can be another story altogether. True love and dedication for our Lord should be followed by our acts. We should want to demonstrate in how we speak, act, and look that we belong to Him. That we serve Him and not ourselves.

God isn’t a show. He’s not something or someone we can turn off and on when we feel like it. He is Holy …..and we should also strive to be Holy out of our love for Him.

Are you living it out? Can people tell you are different? Do they see something in you that is but a glimpse of HIM?

It takes effort. It takes being intentional. And it takes love. Do you have it?

Do you want it?

What are you waiting for?

Monday, August 19, 2013

We All Have Limits



Sometimes in life, we can bemoan what is unfair. Why me? Questions and complaints arise from our lips.

Why do I have cancer? Why can’t I eat ice cream and she can? How come my son is the one with autism? I wish I could run like she can but my knees won’t hold out, or my heart isn’t strong.  I can’t sing like her. I can’t enjoy the sunshine because I burn so easily. I have allergies that keep me indoors when everyone else enjoys nice long walks. I’m scared of planes so I stay at home.

The thoughts are endless. They are individual. We each have our own “why me’s.” We each have our own limitations and boundaries. Things we can’t do. Somehow, the luck of the draw on that THING landed on us.

But that’s all we see. US.

We look at what everyone can do in comparison to our “can’t” and we fail to see what their own limitations and boundaries are.

We fail to see that we all have limits.

No one gets through life without some sort of scar or wound. No one is able to live with so much freedom that they don’t have their own hurdles to jump; their own hills to climb.

Yes. You may be the only one you know of in your circle that is a stepmom. You may be the only one around you who has a child with a rare illness, or deals with an angry spouse. But just because you are the only one in your circle doesn’t mean you are the only ONE.

You aren’t.

And you aren’t the only one who hurts at times. Fears at times. Doubts at times.  The wound may be different for all of us, but the emotions sometimes can feel the same.

We all have limits. 

If we know, we can grow. Together.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hidden Fees


We were going to spend a week in Las Vegas, spontaneously. It was a last minute decision. We went to look at hotels on the “strip” for a family of 4 and found that the famously “low” rates weren’t so low. First you have the room rate. Low. Then you add in the all-new “resort fees” and then you are charged for every person more than 2 in the room….per night.

The hidden fees weren’t all apparent up front. They were frustrating and discouraging.

Life is like that sometimes.

Things look great up front. We partake of all that food without thought to the cost on our bodies. But the hidden fees show up later in high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or body weight.

You take the easy way out with your kids and are their “friend.” But the hidden fees come out in a very spoiled, uncontrollable, self-serving child or a young adult that doesn’t know how to take care of themselves. An adult that you worry about because they party, do drugs, drive recklessly, never take time to be with you…whatever.

Hidden fees.

They exist in all of life. That is why God gave us boundaries. Not to restrict us. But to protect us. He paid the fee so we won’t have to. All we have to do is follow His guidelines. No hidden fees will show up if we remain pure till marriage and WITHIN our marriage. No hidden fees will be unveiled if we are honorable and hold ourselves to a higher standard against lying, cheating, and stealing.

There is a cost in everything. It’s part of life. We can pay up front and do the harder thing so that in the end, things are smoother…or we can pay later….with hidden fees.

Either way, we pay.

Thank heavens, my Lord loved me enough to pay for me, knowing that I would make mistakes and have errors in judgment many times in my life. He still wants me. Still accepts me. And still has a room for me.

Don’t let life mislead you. There is never an easy or cheap way out. It’s only temporary and it won’t last. There will come a day, where hidden fees will be unveiled in your life and you will have to pay for the decisions you have made.

Bank on it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sometimes You Have to Be the Lone Ranger





I am constantly hearing how it’s not good for us to go through life alone. That we were made for community and we need to rely on each other. And I agree with that.

But what about the times in life where you just feel all alone? Others try to support, understand or care – but they can’t quite completely be there for you due to one reason or another.

What about those times? The times when you’ve tried to find community, but it wasn’t there for you? Or the times you looked for help, but it wasn’t given?

You felt as if you were in that ‘thing’ all on your own.

I think sometimes, God calls us to go through certain things alone. He is a personal God and some lessons we can only learn in a personal way – between Him and ourselves. No matter how much we try to reach out to others or how much they try to reach out to us, it’s as if in those times there is an invisible wall blocking us from each other.

We don’t quite connect at the right time or in the right way.

We can’t build a relationship with God through others. We can’t get to heaven through others. So it would make sense that some challenges, lessons, and struggles in our lives would leave out others as well.  Sometimes we just have to power through and ask God daily for new strength, new wisdom, and new joy.

These times can be harder on a person because it IS harder to go through things without the love, support, and encouragement of others. But for whatever reasons, I think sometimes God deems it necessary.

Maybe we need to be stripped of everything so that we look and lean completely and only on Him. Maybe we need to listen to our own heart instead of others. There could be many reasons that God allows us to “lone ranger” it when we are seeking community.

This I know. It won’t last forever. Your well may feel dry on so many days but He will provide just enough drops of water for your soul to help you get through another day. And soon, you will find that you have a puddle of water, then it’s half full and one day – your well will again be full and brimming and sparkling clean with fresh water for your heart, soul, and life. You will once again see clearly, breathe deeply, and feel contentment. AS LONG AS YOU FOLLOW HIM.

We do need each other. We should reach out to one another. But sometimes, we ARE called to go it alone and learn personal lessons from God that are meant only for our eyes, ears, and heart. If this is you right now, hang in there. His strength and His timing are always perfect and He knows when to send you that nourishment you need. 

But in the meantime, seek out His heart. Lean your face to His and ask the hard questions.

Shed the tears and cry out for more.

He won’t abandon you. And one day, He will reveal His plan – His reasoning for it all. Just trust in His heart.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Hardest Thing About Being a Writer





“With great power, comes great responsibility.”  I love that quote. I’ve used it with my children, and I’ve often reminded myself of its words, as well.

When people ask me what I do, I usually say I’m a “stay at home” mom. I don’t often think of saying, “I’m a writer.” But I AM a writer. I may not get paid a six-figure income for the words I put out there, but I’m still a writer.

Sometimes being a writer isn’t as glamorous as some people think. I’m sure people imagine a life filled with writing whenever you feel like it and having loads of free time to do what you want. They probably think it’s an easy job. But I’ve learned it’s nowhere near that.

I’ve worked years and years to earn my reputation and standing. I’ve worked very hard to climb a ladder that seems to not move rung by rung, as I’d prefer, but inch by inch. It’s been hard work and perseverance, and I’m still not where I want to be.

I really don’t mind any of that, though. If something is a passion of yours, the process doesn’t really seem all that terrible. Not to me, anyways.  But I think the hardest thing about being a writer is the responsibility of shouldering people’s burdens.  When people read my thoughts, and my heart, they share things with me. They share secrets, deep hurts and pains, dreams, and depression. It’s hard. It’s not hard in the fact that I wish they wouldn’t share them with me. For I am so humbled that they would. It’s hard that I don’t always have the answers or the wisdom to share with them in return.

I love people. I love the diversity, character, and uniqueness of people. They fascinate me. I LOVE helping people. I love encouraging, motivating, impacting, and moving people’s hearts. It drives me and it fulfills me. So it’s really hard when I don’t have the right words to give someone. I don’t have that “thing” that they so need to hear and I so want to give them. That’s hard for me.

With every job, comes responsibility. With my job as a mom, comes the responsibility to teach my children, to nurture, instill values, protect, and love. With my job as a writer comes the responsibility to remember that my words are hitting a human soul and that they will push or pull them in one direction or another. My job is to push them towards hope.

That’s a great responsibility and one that I take very seriously – never lightly.

I will always treasure the gift of someone’s heart given to me.  I will value each dream, burden, and longing that is shared with me and I will do what I can to honor that trust.  For it is something very fragile.



Thursday, August 8, 2013

So Many People Are Hurting Here At Home




America. It’s the land of dreams. The land of freedom. Everyone wants to come here.

I am so lucky to live here. To be born here. I could have been born anywhere in the world and not been able to have the same privileges and freedoms that I have. But, no, I was born in America. And I’m so thankful.

I’ve been to just a few countries. I’ve gone on the mission field a few times and I’ve seen the value in it as well as the shortcomings. I’ve seen what I feel is missing in people’s lives – here at home.

Everyone seems to be talking these days about the need to go to Africa, India, Philippines, Guatemala, Haiti and more. And it IS needed. The poverty in other countries is unfair. But it’s real. We are privileged people and they need our help – because we have the help to give.

But I’ve also had my eyes opened to how many people are hurting here at home. How AMERICA is becoming a mission field. A little bit from poverty, but also from wounds that are deeper than that.; personal and just as hurtful and life altering.

In our own churches and neighborhoods we are ignoring those who live right amongst us. We fail to help someone who is moving and could use help packing up. We hug someone who just lost a spouse or loved one, but we don’t do anything else. No meal, no help mowing their yard or getting them some groceries. We chat and are kind to people we know and love, but struggle to get to know those who are different than us; those who may be gripping with very real internal battles of wanting to kill themselves….or others because they feel so very alone.

Yes. People are hurting here at home. Do we see them? Do we want to? Or do we just focus on other countries because the needs are so apparent for all to see?

I want to see those who are hurting around me. I want to love them and encourage them and hopefully give their lives some joy and hope. I do still want to travel to other countries from time to time so that I won’t lose perspective of all I have….but I want to be a missionary in the land God placed me, as well. America.

We won’t be a land of dreams someday, or a land of freedom, if we continue to ignore the needs of those we live amongst.

The hurting. The neglected. The different. The unloved.

They are here.

Do you see them?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

We Each Have a Different Approach





I hate feeling rushed.

I hate the stress, panic, and frenzy that comes with having to do things in a hurry. Having to do them NOW.

When I am going on a trip, I start packing a week ahead of time. A little bit at a time. That way, I am not overwhelmed the night before. I’m calm and rested. I’ve given myself plenty of time to add things so as not to forget anything. And I have time to get other things done in the process.

I don’t go out on Christmas Eve and buy all my gifts at once. I start buying them a few months ahead of time when and where I can. Even with this approach, I’m usually still hunting for a gift or two a couple weeks before Christmas.

I’m this way with many things. I like doing a little bit at a time.  It’s my approach. My way of enjoying the process and not getting overwhelmed with it.

But it doesn’t always work the way I want it to work. I can’t control every aspect of my life and sometimes other people work better doing everything all at once. They don’t like “slow and methodical” like I do.

This can be a challenge. For when their way of doing things overlaps my way of doing things - the frenzied and “all at once” way of doing things usually piles heaps of stress on my heart.

I think we are all created differently for a reason. Life would only go at one pace if we all felt comfortable there. But with different personalities and bents, some of us are prone to live more like a river – steady and sure – while others are the roaring waterfall. Both are beautiful. But it’s learning to work together that is key.

The waterfall can not get where it needs to go if it weren’t for the calm, steady pace of the river. And the river often wouldn’t go anywhere if the waterfall didn’t take them over the edge sometimes.

Together.

We need each other. We rely on each other. Yet, we flourish in different ways.

If we could only embrace the differences in each other a little bit more instead of trying to force “OUR” methods on each other – what a more cohesive planet this would be!

No one likes to be forced to do something that they feel they aren’t gifted to do or created to do. That includes the way we go about preparing, working, and making things in our lives. Let’s never sneer and laugh at each other – but try to glimpse the genius that might be at work for someone else to help make them the best person in their life that they can be.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Some Situations Are Just Lose-Lose





Some situations are just lose-lose. You will lose if you act or behave in a manner of your own feeling and choosing, and you will lose if you don’t. For if you don’t, you can often feel robbed or stolen from. You can feel like you didn’t have the freedom to make the choice you wanted to, and so in the process, you lose out on something.

Or someone.

There isn’t always a “pro” to every choice and situation. Sometimes there is just a lesser evil. 

It can be frustrating, I won’t lie. It can hurt.  Not having the freedom to be who you want to be is gripping.  If you are truly who you want to be, a relationship could be lost in the process or there could be huge fall-out that lasts for a long time and causes unending stress.

There aren’t always easy answers.

There are just times, where you have to understand that you will lose that certain battle round.  Not every battle in life will be won. This isn’t a movie, or a television show where you can always write out a happy ending or tweak how someone else will respond to you. It’s real life. People DON’T understand and they DON’T agree. They can be unreasonable and irrational. Selfish even.

It happens.

It’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s never welcomed or embraced. But it happens.

When you find yourself in a lose-lose situation, there is only one thing you can do. Take the option that has the most lasting benefits for you and the least amount of stress on your life. By the most lasting benefits – I mean, take the way that will help you grow and flourish the most. If that’s risking a relationship because you feel strong enough to speak up or make an action in some way – then that needs to be your answer. But you need to realize nothing may ever be the same and you may lose people dear to you.  If that’s letting things lie even though you wish they were different, then let them lie.

Lay it all at God’s feet and let Him filter out the details. The only thing we can do in times like these where we feel we will lose if we do either choice A) or B) is to make sure our heart is right with God and that we are walking in obedience to Him with whatever we do or don’t do. Everything else will have to be sifted out by Him in His timing. 

Life is filled with voids, holes, and unmet dreams and expectations. It’s reality. A reality that no one really likes to talk about but most of us are walking around living with inside of us.

False hopes and “well-wishers’ won’t change unchangeable hearts. Only God can do that.

Feel the loss for what it is and use it to make you stronger. More loveable and understanding.

Whatever it is that you feel is a lose-lose situation in your life? I’m so sorry. I pray God will fill that hole with His love and His strength and one day you will feel peace despite what you felt you lost. For it’s possible.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

What Is It In Me, That Needs Fixing?




Some days I just let out a huge sigh. A sigh that has so much weight and meaning behind it yet one that can’t be audibly expressed in words because there are just so many words that can be used.

So I sigh.

I sigh knowing that I need to make some changes inside of me. I sigh wishing that the season I’m in would go away. I sigh. I sigh. I sigh wanting things to be different.

And I sigh knowing that things cannot be different at the moment because God wants them as they are for a reason. One that is often uncomfortable, painful, and lasts much too long in my opinion!

Have you ever felt like you were outside of your body looking back at yourself – how you act, think, look? And when you look back, you see that things should be handled differently – YOU should handle them differently?

It’s tough to see yourself with cracks or fissures that you know need fixing.  Especially when you’re not sure where to begin or how to complete the task. You just know it’s a task that needs to happen.

So you sigh.

Where to begin? Where do you begin to fix yourself? How do you become objective about yourself? Is it your attitude that needs to change? Your outlook? Is it submission and obedience that needs to be given? Pride that needs to be laid down? What is it that needs fixing in order to move forward?

I hate going through lessons in life over and over and over again. I hate missing the point that God wants me to get. I detest having to repeat painful seasons AGAIN. I want to learn and not have to repeat. So I have to look at the fact that maybe it’s something inside of myself that needs fixing. Something needs molding and adjusting in order to step to the next level.

We all have times in life where we see for the first time that maybe we need to repair something within ourselves. That we can’t carry on the way we’ve been carrying on. I think these times (although painful) are blessings. They are pivotal points in our lives that can truly bring about change, hope, and healing.

So the next time that sigh comes – welcome it. Embrace it. Let the sigh carry its full weight and responsibility while bringing you to your knees. For it’s time to patch the broken pieces and cracks that have grown too big and wide in your life. It’s time to be renewed.

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