Thursday, June 13, 2019

When You Feel Like a Target




There are times where I feel like Satan is just really after me and my family.

I feel like we’re a target.

Ever feel that way?

You have thing after thing go wrong…. Your emotions are raw…. And it’s not even just spiritual. I’ve felt sometimes that he’s even after my PHYSICAL blood. I have near-misses and moments during these times, where I’m shedding physical blood - even if it’s only drops.

And we feel this way, because it’s true.

Satan is indeed after us. He’s after our families.

I know at times, I want to shrink back and disappear. I don’t want the devil to even know I exist.

But I’m learning that I’m much safer sealed in God’s protection and blood; fighting as His warrior - than I am hiding in lukewarm apathy.

Satan will come after us one way or another. Do you not think he sees your potential even when you don’t?

I can pretend all I want that I’m not in a spiritual battle. But I am.

I can feel weak, unworthy, emotional, and so incapable of handling all that is thrown at me. But it doesn’t change the fact that it will… indeed… get thrown at me.

These times draw me ever closer to the One who IS capable. To the One who IS worthy and strong. To the One who CAN protect me, grow me, strengthen me, and teach me.

They draw me in to the One who CAN hide me and shelter me with His ever-loving hands.

And that’s the only place I really want to be in.

So, when my family feels like a target - I am learning to draw my sword. Sometimes I do it in weariness. Sometimes, I do it in tears. But I draw it. And I call satan out for who he is. I let him know I KNOW what’s going on. And he may get my emotions on some days, he may get my physical blood at times - but he will NEVER get me. And he will not get my family.

Because I’m a fighter.

Are you?

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Value Other People's Time





One of the biggest ways we can show someone we value them, is to value their time.

When we show up late… we are saying we don’t value the time of someone who has to sit and wait for us.

When we fail to tell someone of a change in plans, we are also expressing, that we don’t value their time. For maybe they continue to show up to the original location? Maybe they rearranged their schedule just to be somewhere at that predestined time?

You don’t know. 

We don’t often know what someone else does with their time, unless they tell us. And when we assume that something is not a problem, or that they they should be able to arrive, BE AT, or take the time for something - we are misleading ourselves.

Time is a valuable commodity.

And TAKING time from someone else’s day, or life - is careless.

People invest TIME into planning events. So you may think it’s “no big deal” that you can’t make it or don’t end up wanting to go… but it might matter a lot to the person who planned the event.

People invest TIME into their jobs. So when you fail to cancel an appointment, it may cost them money. For if they’d known you wouldn’t be there? They would have been able to schedule someone else. Instead, you not only stole their time, but you stole them income.

Time.

It’s not just OUR time. Our time often affects those around us, by how we conduct ourselves, and follow-through with our word.

And its says a huge amount about our character and the kind of people we are.

Think about how you invest your time. How you show others you value them, by taking advantage of THEIR time.  And try to change your habits. Try to change your patterns.

I know that none of us want any of our time stolen or taken away.  So don’t take it away from anyone else, either. 

Be where you say you will be, WHEN you say you will be there. Or give plenty of notice of a change in circumstances.

And learn how to feel good about living a life of integrity and showing value not just to others… but to yourself.. in keeping your word.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Staying True to Who We Are





My first car was a pickup truck. It was a Chevy S-10 pickup. Red and white. The rearview mirror came in the glove box and I had to constantly re-glue it to the window. There was no air – which was fine in Oregon, but when I moved to Las Vegas where it was very hot in the summer. Driving around with no air, was not something I enjoyed. Still… I loved that truck. 

That truck was “me.”

I actually had a little Honda for a few weeks before the Chevy. It was a stick-shift. 

It didn’t feel right because, I wanted an automatic, and I wanted a truck. 

The car was a good deal, so at the time, I gave in, and got it. It was cute and in great shape. But it was not what I wanted. It was not “me.” I got so frustrated trying to learn to drive it.

So it only lasted a couple of weeks before we re-sold it.  

Then, my dad found my Chevy. MY Chevy. 

I was so happy.

That’s the way it is with our lives. Sometimes we give in and do things that are just not “us.” Whether it’s peer pressure from those around us, or lack of patience, we decide to just go with something. 

But it’s all wrong. 

It’s not God’s will for us, and it’s not who we are. 

So we get frustrated. Just like I did with my car. 

The thing itself, may not be bad. It may be something that is very worthwhile or attractive. But it wasn’t meant for us.

Only when we wait and stay true to who we are, will we find that we are happy. Only when we stick with the desires and dreams that God has placed inside of us – only then will we find true satisfaction as we live out the calling that He has placed deep within us.

It doesn’t matter if everyone else around us likes cute little cars. If God created us to love trucks – only trucks will do. And it doesn’t matter if everyone else loves to run, drink coffee, own a dog, or wear certain kinds of clothes, and live certain lifestyles. If God didn’t create us that way, none of those things will work out for us. They won’t satisfy, and we won’t flourish in those roles, lives, or positions.

We will be disheartened.

We should be proud to be who we are. 

I love that I’m not like everyone else. I love how I was made. I know myself enough, to know what things I would and wouldn’t enjoy in life. 

But it took time to learn.

I’ve learned not to fight against the innate “me” that God created. For He MEANT for me to be this way - and He didn’t make a mistake.

If I try to change that? I won’t be happy. I won’t flourish in the gifts He’s given me. I won’t grow. I will only live in confines that feel restricting. 

But for someone else? Those same things may make them feel free!

Because they are different. 

Let us rest in HIS design. For we are fearfully and WONDERFULLY made.

We are each beautiful in our uniqueness. Let’s celebrate that, and fully live in that uniqueness. And never let anyone make us feel bad or sorry, that we aren’t like them.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

For The Times When You Can't Talk to Anybody




There are times when you can’t talk to anybody. Trust me, I get it.

There are countless things we go through in life, that we don’t feel we can talk to anyone else about. Things that weigh so heavily on our hearts - but aren’t things other people will understand or even “get.”

So much of the spiritual warfares we go through are PERSONAL.  Whether they are marital disagreements that wage themselves over our hearts for years, or emotional battles - we go through things that other people may find silly. They may not agree with our position.

We feel so very alone.

I’ve been there. I think we all have.  We don’t want to air our dirty laundry out in public, yet we’re not quite sure we’re at a position where we need counseling, therapy, or medical intervention.

Regardless, the tears are close to our eyes; the burden weighs heavy on our hearts.

In these times, I cling to my God - with a fierce grip. I seek His face, His strength, and His wisdom and discernment.

I talk to Him A LOT. (And I should be talking to Him A LOT every day, anyways.) But I talk to Him A LOT in these moments and seasons.

I ask God to help me somehow be reasonable in how I’m seeing and dealing with things. To give me perspective - and in cases where needed, to give my spouse or children perspective. To help us land on the same page.

I ask Him for help. Because I don’t have any answers.

And then I step through my day. One foot at a time.

Our God… MY God is a BIG God. And He knows all of these personal battles that wreck us. We may not have a clue how to navigate them - but He does. And so I trust in that.

I’ve been through some heavy-duty battles in my life. And I’ve learned things don’t always go the way I think they should go. This scares me when I’m waging a new hurt in my life and heart. But I’ve also learned that I will survive. 

Somehow. 

With God’s help, there will be a new day. A new dawn. And I will get through whatever the ‘thing’ is.

So, I get it. There are times where we just feel like an island in the world. Like we can’t go to anyone else, and we are walking through something all by ourselves.

And you know what? You are….. and you aren’t.

Humanly, you may be. No one else may have ever dealt with what you are dealing with. But spiritually and emotionally? You are NEVER alone. God is right there with you.

Things may seem unfair. One-sided. Overwhelming. Targeted. But God has you tenderly in His arms. He will work things out for your best interests. He will make sure you are able to come out on the other side. 

It will still hurt. Sting. The tears may fall easily and often. But friend, God knows. He sees you. He sees me. He knows what we are going through.

So keep walking. Keep seeking. Keep praying.

Keep asking for wisdom, discernment, joy, and peace. 

And He will wipe away your tears, and replace them with strength.



Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Pressures of Living Up to "All of That"




We live in a unique time period of life.  More than ever before, we have people speaking into our lives. We have “messaging” speaking into our lives.

We hear what we should be, how we should be it, and many more things, from tv advertising and shows, movies, facebook, instagram, pinterest, twitter, and all of those other websites and youtube videos that we run across online.

On the one hand… what an advantage we have. More than ever before we have online tutorials to help us when we have questions, or resources at our fingertips to ease our minds about things that bother us.

On the other hand… we have SO much information bombarding us that the pressures to ‘live up’ to all of that, can be overwhelming. 

It’s no wonder we walk around feeling defeated and stressed.

We SEE what we want to look like and what we do not want to look like.

We SEE how we should eat, but are struggling to get it locked in.

WE HEAR all of the adventurous and blessed things that are happening to others.

We SEE all of the friendships and great family environments that other people have.

And if we don’t have these things ourselves, it can be depressing. 

Sometimes, we can be motivated and empowered. But if we continue to struggle, or things don’t start happening the way we want? Continuing to see and hear those voices speaking into our lives, can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on our shoulders.

I feel it too, at times.

But we CAN deal with it and not let it overtake our hearts.  

For one, remember that social media is not bad. It is simply a reflection of who we are, and what is going on around us in society. So, you don’t need to quit it all together, unless you feel really strongly that you need that boundary in your life to be emotionally healthy.

Next, remember to always keep a filter on in your heart, your head, and your soul. Filter everything you hear, see, and take in. Filter the different situations, and environments that come with the advice, photos, and input that you are seeing. Not everything is realistic for everyone. And sometimes, we simply need to put on the filter of, ‘I’m happy for her,” and know that that will never be a reality for us. 

And that’s OKAY. We can still be happy, blessed, and valued whether or not we attain or have something we value in someone else.

The point is, we need to keep our feet and our heads, on solid ground. Understand that life is diverse. We are not all meant to be the same, look the same, weigh the same, or act the same. And we are just living in a time, where we are finally seeing and hearing what is going on with everyone else. We are hearing what companies want us to think we can and can’t live without.

So, don’t always let them SELL their message to you. Filter it with your heart and your head. Decide if it’s something that will truly bring something positive to your life. And if it’s unattainable? Then tweak that messaging and instead, motivate yourself in a slightly different direction.

Our society is feeling the weight of all of these thoughts and voices from others running into each person’s life. Across each person’s screen.

Know how to control it. Know how to filter it. KNOW that you are valuable regardless of whether or not you can insert yourself into what you are seeing. For most of the time, you will not. See it for what it is, and simply click “like” and admire - but then go out and enjoy your own life. Soak in your own world. 

Live your own life with beauty, strength, and joy.  For that is what makes it enviable.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Safe in Our Presence




We are supposed to be there for one another. I think that's what God desires from us. I think we need to give off the kind of vibe that tells someone else - "It's safe to fall in my presence. I will still love you, no matter what you tell me.”

I want that kind of person in my life. I want to BE that kind of person in someone else’s life.

But how many times have we failed each other? How many times have we eagerly gone to help another soul far from home… and neglected the one in our own city? Our own church?

How reliable ARE we? Really?

Are our own appointments and agendas more important? Our own schedules? Do they keep us from showing up for someone else, because our TIME is short?

Yes. They do. 

Yes. They have.

For me. And for you.

Words are good. But they are just words. Actions speak even louder. 

Arms can only be felt in person. Tears, only seen and wiped by a gentle hand who is there in that moment.

Yes, we are supposed to be there for one another.

Are we? 


-- 1 Thessalonians 5:11 , "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

Monday, April 22, 2019

"When and If Only's"



“When I lose 20 lbs., then I’ll volunteer more.”

“When the kids leave home, then I’ll take up singing again.”

“When I retire, then I’ll travel.”

“If only I had a different job, I’d be appreciated.”

“If only I had a group of friends to do things with, then I’d go to that event.”

When…then…if….

How often do we make statements like these?  

Statements that don’t motivate us in any way, shape, or form?

The “if only’s” creep into our thought life and permeate into our soul.  They even push away our ability to truly be happy where we are and with whom we are. We “wait” for a day that might never come. We wait for ourselves to BE something that maybe, we were never meant to be.

We wait. We wish. We want. 

The hesitation to embark on personal ambitions or journeys comes from an internal desire to have everything perfect and to “be” perfect first.

Think about that. Ouch, right?

Why can’t we love ourselves right where we are AMIDST the waiting? Why can’t we enjoy the surroundings we are in, UNTIL we get to different ones?

We are so good at disappointing ourselves. We wait until we think all of our ‘ducks are in are a row’….and often, they never are.

If you wait for your children to leave home before you do certain things, your health may be gone by then. If you wait to do something fun before you lose weight, you may miss it altogether.

We need to engage in life as we are – NOW.  

Be imperfect – but be happy knowing that you aren’t hesitating because of standards that you may not ever meet.  

We can still dream. We can still want. But we need to know that the status of things may not ever change, and we will be OKAY if they don’t.

Don’t hesitate to be who you want to be anymore.  Don’t waste any more of your days on “if only’s’ or “when’s.”

Enjoy your life. All of it.  Enjoy the people in it. Enjoy the possibilities. Enjoy yourself.

Looking for “better” might be a great growing experience and something positive that can happen for you and I. But let’s just make sure we’re not missing out on the here and now in the process.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

It's Okay




It’s okay not to know all the answers.

Of course, most of us know that in our heads, but admitting it verbally, is at times, a little tougher.

I don’t know why it is that we seem to think we need to know it all.  Why we feel it is so “foreign” to open up our vulnerable side to others.

It’s okay to admit that we messed up.  To admit we were not aware of something, or that we overlooked something.

We all do, you know!  

I put my foot in my mouth more than I’d care to admit. Sometimes I can just laugh at myself - other times, it shows me that I’m in a season where more wisdom and discernment are needed in my life for growth.

But, just think. … if our children see that we can mess up, make mistakes, admit them, and pick ourselves up and dust off venturing forward; how much better they will be able to do that themselves when they fail?  And they WILL fail.  

It’s healthy and it’s necessary for our children to fail, and to make mistakes.  That’s how they learn and grow!! It’s how they grow deep roots and become strong people.

As important as it is, to admit we don’t have all of the answers or that we’ve made mistakes, sometimes in admitting those mistakes, we need to swallow our pride and apologize to those we’ve offended or hurt in the process.  This is the only way walls between people will break and fall away, leaving no barriers left in between.  

I see so many relationships today that are broken, simply because of pride or bitterness. Simply because no one would admit that they were sorry.

Don’t let these fundamentals get lost in your home, your relationships, or in your life.  The basics of saying, “I don’t know,” “I messed up” and “I’m sorry.”  These are character traits of integrity and love, and they are such vital ingredients to having a flourishing family or marriage, that can bless each other, as well as the world.


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Maybe It's Time





A lot of times, I don’t think we give it much thought how our actions might make someone else feel.

I’d hate to think that something I consistently do, bothers someone else that I love. And it can be so easy to get defensive about our actions, but in reality, maybe we just didn’t ‘think’ enough about what we were doing.

For example, maybe we kept up a friendship with someone who really, really hurt someone else in our family.  Maybe we talk a lot about a certain child, or grandchild.  Maybe we give things to a certain someone in our family, without consulting someone else who may need or want a cherished heirloom?

Maybe… just maybe…. We alienate individuals that we work with. 

All of these scenarios are common. And all of them, can easily include hurt feelings.

Every example, can have a pro and a con argument to it. And every example, can have ‘loopholes’ or reasons why something is played out the way it is played out. Maybe you HAVE invited someone over for years, and they refused or were difficult in the planning. Maybe you HAVE tried to give someone things you thought were special and they disappeared.

I get it. I do.

And for those ‘loophole’ reasons? I probably would agree.  Sometimes, people don’t see the chances that were given them. They only see the ones that weren’t - long after, the cord was broken.

And sometimes, you have to love people from afar. You have to put in place boundaries to protect your own heart.

So do that. Please do that.  Don’t keep wearing yourself out for someone who doesn’t care about your emotional investment into them. Yes - even if it’s family. (Tweet this)

But other times? Other times, we just forgot to realize or think about how someone might feel. And maybe it’s time we do.

Maybe it’s time that we think about what the other ‘cousins’ think when grandma and grandpa spend all their time with just one set. Maybe it’s time that we consider prioritizing someone who never speaks up for themselves, about never being invited, or included.

Maybe it’s time to start thinking about that broken relationship, and how we have conducted ourselves with people involved.

We can’t please everyone with our actions. And I’m not saying we should. But I am saying that maybe there are people who are precious to us, that we are consistently hurting - without meaning to.

And maybe we need to repair a little bit of damage done to those.

Friday, March 29, 2019

There Are Times When Comparison Can Be Good




I’m a huge proponent in shouting out the mantra - “never compare yourself to others”.  Comparing often leaves us at a huge disadvantage.  We only set ourselves up, to fall short.

BUT, the thought occurred to me recently, that sometimes, comparison can be a motivator, an energizer, and a catalyst for change. WHEN used in the right way.

For example - if we compare where we are today, with where we were a year ago, 5 years ago, or 20 years ago.  If we look at phases and stages of our lives when perhaps, we were happier, more creative, more engaged with others, or feeling like we were truly living in our “gifting”. 

It may be, that we no longer live in those phases and seasons. So, it can be helpful, to compare our ‘today’ with our ‘yesterday’ and see why that is.  Maybe we need to adjust something in our lives, go back to something that brought us joy, or kickstart doing something generous or motivating that breathes life back into our days.

THIS kind of comparison can be healthy and life-giving.

Another kind of comparison that can be positive, is if we compare attitudes.  If we compare our attitude with someone else who has gone through a similar situation or circumstance than us. Or maybe it’s one that we know is in our future - like facing the empty nest, going through a surgery, or dealing with some other change that we are likely to encounter. 

If we see a positive attitude in someone else, an attitude that uses something for growth, instead of self-pity; this can motivate us to change our own views, outlook, and attitude into something that becomes more of a strength in our life, instead of a weakness.

THAT kind of comparison is good.

So, even though I have, and strongly do feel that most comparisons are harmful; I do feel that some comparisons can be just the catalyst for change that we need in our souls, and in our lives.

We are always watching and observing each other. So why not use those observations to propel us to become more joyful, encouraging, generous, and emotionally strong people? Why not use them to help us and not harm us?

If you feel drawn to comparing yourself to others, think about why. And make sure that the comparisons you look at, only lift you up and inspire you to be better - never to tear you down.

Those are the only kind of comparisons we should leave room for in our lives.