Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sometimes We Can Feel Like We're Living In the Background

One summer when our family was visiting New Orleans, they were filming a movie. It was scorching-hot weather; but we managed to pause for a few minutes to watch.

We observed them film one 30 sec piece again and again. Each time, as they were about to begin, they’d shout through the megaphone, “Background!” And all of the extra’s would start walking across the street acting and looking casual.

We found it amusing. But more than that, it became an inside-saying in our family. Every once in awhile, when the situation deemed it appropriate, one of us would holler, “Background!” We all knew what was meant by that. We were letting the other person know it was their cue, their TIME to do whatever.

Sometimes in life, we can feel like we are living in the background. We can feel like wallpaper instead of the designer item that gets to sit in the center of the room as the focal point.

I don’t believe that God means us to live life in this way.

I don’t think we are meant to be the center of everyone’s world but we shouldn’t feel as if we are simply the “background” either. There should be people in our lives who hold us in high esteem; simply because they love us as we are.

We should feel like our lives are vibrant and alive – that we are moving forward instead of simply staying in the same position….the same background image day in and day out; running the same routine.

Change can be scary. Hard. We tend to avoid it at times. But sometimes it’s very necessary. Having a servant’s heart and living life from your heart is much different than feeling ignored – neglected – and overlooked. It is too easy to be taken for granted by others, for others always have needs that need to be taken care of!

In Proverbs 3:15, God tells us that we are “more precious than rubies….” God holds us in high esteem. He finds us valuable.

Our hearts should be bursting with the knowledge that our Mighty and Great Lord finds us so precious to Him! That thought, those feelings – should be able to fuel us into pursuing a life that is rich and full. A life that lives out it’s calling and purpose.

None of us were meant to simply be “background.” We were meant to stand out.  If that means you need to make some changes in your life today – do it. For you are a gift. A priceless commodity that has a lot to give. Don’t waste it away simply being background.

Friday, March 29, 2013

When Your Child Is Disappointed

It is SO hard for me as a mom, to sit by and watch my children get their hearts crushed. I can barely stand it.  It often seems so unfair and I don’t understand or see the purpose in their pain. Of course as their mom, I try to offer them wise advice. I try to use a Bible character or someone in a movie to use as an example for them of how they can overcome or deal with it in grace, class, and integrity.

But it still hurts.

It hurts them. And it hurts me. For when they hurt – I hurt.

I was recently battling with just such an issue. Something really unfair was happening to one of my children. And it wasn’t new. It was as if this same battle had been waged before. Just in a different dose or on a different level. I knew that I was trying to see things in fair eyes and not be close-minded just because it was happening to MY child. No. I truly felt like I was seeing things through an accurate lense.

And I didn’t understand.

It’s hard to help our children understand when we as the parent don’t understand.

Then God reminded me how Satan is out to “Steal, Kill, and Destroy.” And that that includes my children. In fact, because of how special my children are to me – that might ESPECIALLY include my children! And when I see something beautiful blossoming from a child’s heart that I know God can use? Extra target on their back.

It began to occur to me that this battle continued to be waged not because of something I might be overlooking, but because Satan was doing his darndest to discourage, frustrate, steal, kill, and destroy something that was important to my child. Not only that, he wanted to destroy the character my child had developed and turn it into bitterness.

That made it a whole new ballgame for me.

Sometimes I can simply be mad at people.  And sometimes I can realize it’s not people at all. They are simply instruments. And it’s Satan whom I should direct my energy at. I should arm up for battle on behalf of the child whom God entrusted to me.

That’s where I stand right now. Battle ready.

Tears are still in my heart and throat. I still hurt for what my child  has gone through – unfairly. But life is unfair. And even though my child may end up bearing some scars, I’m going to see to it that my prayers and my faith shield her from becoming a victim that cannot recover or that is overcome all together.

Satan will not have my children. God will protect, shield, and fight for them…because I’ve asked him to.

“They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 1:19

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Coloring My Life, My Way

I’ve always been a “color inside of the lines” kind of girl. A rule follower.

It’s not something I intended. I didn’t train myself to always do the right thing. It just was born into me, I guess.  Fear always kept me in line.

But I get tired of always coloring inside of the lines. I get tired of doing exactly what is expected of me.

I married a “color outside of the lines” kind of guy. He’s shown me how to step outside of the boundaries and to be more creative. He’s taught me to roam a little more.

I find that I want to sometimes break the rules now. Not in a “I want to be bad” kind of way. But in an “I want to be a unique individual” kind of way. 

I don’t want to let someone else do the thinking for me. I don’t want to quietly conform when I’m not sure I trust the direction I’m supposed to be headed in. I don’t want “average” when maybe I can go for “great!”

I was a dreamer as a kid. Part of me has always been a dreamer. But it’s hard to be a dreamer and a kid that colors inside of the lines dutifully at the same time. You can’t break out of the mold. You can’t experiment with your own talents, strengths, and dreams.  You can’t tweak your likes, dislikes, goals, etc if you are always doing what is expected of you.

I don’t want to let others tell me how to live my life. I don’t want to simply be a support system or a cheerleader. I want to turn on my own roads in life. Have my own adventures. Try my own things.

I want to color outside of the lines.

I want to go slow when everyone else is going fast so I can take it all in.  And I want to be free to make my own mistakes. Change my mind.

So I want to break the unwritten rules in life that say I “can’t” do something or that things aren’t “normally” done a certain way.

I want to dream with abandon and go for them anyways. And use lots of colors along the way.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Just Wondering

Why is it that when we become young adults and then newly married, our main goal seems to be to accumulate things? We acquire heirlooms and things to decorate our homes with. We add and add and want new things, better things, more things. But then when we get older – all we seem to do is to want to simplify and get rid of things?

Why is it that when we are young, we try to look and act like an adult but when we are an adult – we still want to look and act young?

And how come when we have a lot of energy, we are busy with jobs, parenting and other responsibilities and when we have no energy as we get older; we have all the time in the world?

I’m just wondering.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"No" Can Be a Good Word

When I was a young mom, I once heard someone say it is beneficial to try and say “yes” as much as possible. I understood their intent. Kids can ask us sooo many things and they do it hundreds of times a day. So when you say “no” all of the time, it can start to become discouraging for them. Frustration and a negative feeling can over take them.

I get that. And actually, I’ve tried to follow that advice for the most part. I try to pick my battles and say “yes” as much as I possibly can.

On the flip side, I do say “no.” I say it often and I’m not afraid of using the word.  For “no” sometimes can spare my child a great deal of hurt. It can protect them. That one word. Sure, they may not like my answer. They may be upset or even angry with me for giving it. But I know, that when I tell my children “no” it is because I am looking at a bigger picture. I am seeing what could result if I said “yes” to them.

Sometimes, I know my child’s heart and motives even when they don’t see it themselves. I know they are asking something out of peer pressure or a desire to see a certain boy, or even for desired independence. I weigh each one of those in my own heart and mind to decide if this particular instance would be detrimental or beneficial to them in the long run.

Sometimes, I know that my child is learning bad habits. Greed. Indulgence. Getting spoiled. Taking someone for granted (me?) They need to be reminded to have moderation, balance, appreciation, contentment, and self control. So I say “no.”

Sometimes I’m just plain uncomfortable with a situation. My instincts tell me that the environment is not one I want to encourage my child to be in. Or I feel something unsettled in my heart about a friend. I’ve both trusted and not trusted my instincts in these times and the times I didn’t trust my instinct have taught me to always listen to that inner voice inside of me. So I say, “no.”

“No” CAN be a good word. It can save our children from making poor choices. It can save their lives at times. It can teach them. It can equip them and make them stronger, wiser, more discerning.

I don’t like to roll the dice when it comes to my kids. I don’t give their lives up to chance. I fight for them. And sometimes that means saying “no.” It is for their own good. For their own benefit. And I know they will be better off because I have not been afraid to do it.

To me, that’s true love.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

We Have a Duty To Speak Up

I am a Christian. A believer. I have a great faith in God Almighty.

I was raised in the church and I did a lot of observing over the years as I grew up. I witnessed many situations, controversies, and heartaches occur in God’s people. And I watched how they handled it.

For the most part, I have been blessed to have been around some very authentic and genuine believers. People with a strong faith in God. They have been grounded and focused on what God’s Word says.

Time and time again, I’ve watched people handle challenges and hurdles with grace, integrity, honesty, and mercy.

I’ve seen people forgive. 

I’ve watched hearts heal.

And I’ve also seen many, many people bite their tongues. Swallow their hurt. Ignore an offense (publicly) but privately weep. I’ve seen believers try to take the “high road,” when in reality, they should have spoken up.

I believe we are God’s warriors. We are His representatives. And I believe that He wants us to speak up on His behalf. He wants us to lovingly confront a brother or sister in the Lord when they are walking in sin. He wants us to speak up for an unborn child who can’t speak for themselves. He wants us to forgive – yes. But He wants people’s lives to be changed. To grow. And that can’t happen if we don’t disciple one another and walk with each other.

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.  Col. 4:6

I hate confrontation just as much as the next person. But if I love someone, I should be willing to do the hard thing  - the tough thing. I can’t always be a compliant friend. I can’t always resolve to not get involved. Injustice is injustice. And we should stand against it.

We have a right and a responsibility to fight for the very morals and values we say we believe in. Not in an abrasive way. Not in a rude way. Not in a legalistic or snobby way. But with a heart of love, grace, and gentleness. 

As our God would.

Yes, sometimes we have a duty to speak up. To not sit by idly. To not turn our heads. But to speak up. To fight for what is right. To stand for what is good.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I've Loved Him Since I Was a Little Girl

I don’t really know what it’s like to live without God in my life….my heart. I found Him when I was a very young child and He’s been with me ever since.

There have been sporadic moments, gaps in time where I didn’t feel His presence. I felt separated somehow. There was quiet.

And I longed for Him.

I don’t know how to live without Him.  How do you live without hope in your heart? Without love? How do you live without a deeper peace that dwells inside despite painful, hard times?  How do you live without knowing if you’ll get forgiveness?

How do you live without knowing you are truly accepted, loved, embraced….as you are?

Oh yes. I’ve loved God since I was a little girl.

He was there when my grandpa died of a heart attack at the age of 11. He was in my uncle’s arms to embrace me when I walked out that church door. An uncle who would be with that same God just 3 weeks later.

He was there when I was scared one night and asked Him to hold my hand. And a small child with faith as big as the mountain, held out her hand, closed her eyes, and felt a hand in hers. She knew – always, that it was His.

He was there to protect me on so many occasions. He always brought along  someone trusting to fix my truck,  spare me from that wreck, or encourage me.

He was there when I had health scares. There when my children were born. He was there every time I cried. Every time. He always brought someone’s arms to encircle me.

He was there in my confusion and my doubt. Bringing me scripture passages, amazing sunsets, or powerful songs and sermons to clear my head and heart.

He is the God I love. The Father.

He has been so faithful to me. He’s laughed at me and with me. Wiped my tears, healed my wounds, and gently pushed and prodded.

He is unfailing.

I still feel like a little girl when I come to Him. Still feel so small, so weak, and so na├»ve. I still wonder in amazement and have millions of questions. I still forget what He’s done at times.

And yet every time I turn around, there He is. With open arms, loving eyes, and a gentle word. He is MY God. My king.

I’ve loved Him since I was a little girl. 
And I will love Him always.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It Took More Energy Than It Should Have

Have you ever gone into something with a good heart and hopeful expectations only to have it turn into more work than you’d bargained for?

I’m sure we all have.

There are just those things that end up being emotionally exhausting. They take more energy than we’d planned on. Our expectations end up in frustrations. We lose some of our emotional fuel and we feel “stuck” for awhile.

Why does this happen? Why does it seem like these times come when our motivation and heart were in the right place to begin with?

I’ll be honest. I don’t know.

I think if I did know, I probably wouldn’t say ‘yes’ to many of the things that ended up proving to be a challenge in my life. And maybe that’s it right there. God still wanted us to say ‘yes’ even though things didn’t turn out like we’d hoped.

I know that so many things in my life have made me stronger. And even though at times I like to joke about how I don’t want to be any stronger – I do. And I’m thankful for the strength many situations have given me; to be wiser, more discerning, more humble, patient, joyful, etc. Unfortunately, I obviously still have miles to go in all of these areas or else I wouldn’t still have life lessons I needed to learn!

The plain fact is that sometimes things DO take more out of us than we bargained for. The “good” we thought would come – doesn’t. And our energy can be depleted.

Hang in there. Keep doing good. Keep doing the right thing. Oftentimes, God provides a way out that we never would have envisioned. Or He will give us the strength to endure it – and grow from it.

And once it’s said and done, the air you breathe will be sweeter because you will be more thankful for the spacious place that comes with it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Does Anyone Call You Beloved?

I was just wondering….does anyone call you “beloved?” Does anyone have a special nickname for you that makes you feel warm and loved inside?

Has someone referred to you as “hon,” “sweetie,” or “precious?”

Do you feel like you are cherished and treasured?

Look in the mirror.  Tell yourself you are priceless. You are valued. YOU ARE LOVED.

Say it out loud.

Tell yourself that you matter. You are a delight. A gift.

Out loud.

The words we tell ourselves are often more impactful than the words we hear from others. But the words we hear from others matter too. And everyone should feel as if they are a princess or a prince to someone. Everyone should feel cherished.

You are, you know.

Very much so.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Extending Grace To Your Spouse

I have so many flaws. Sometimes I forget. I don’t forget that I HAVE flaws, but I forget that my husband sees them on a regular basis. Especially when I grow so comfortable just being myself in our home and marriage.
I forget that he sees me at my worst. My worst physically and my worst emotionally. I forget that I don’t hide the things that I hid when we were dating. He sees me do all of the daily mundane things that aren’t so pretty. And he hears me venting to him about my feelings and what has transpired in my relationships.
Somehow, he still finds me attractive.
I think that’s grace. 
To read the rest of the article - go here at where I'm posting today.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Don't Let Anyone Steal Your Sparkle

I saw this saying recently. “Don’t ever let anyone steal your sparkle.” And I loved it right away.  I loved it right away because it is so easy to do. To let others steal your sparkle. The things they say, the thoughts they think – and we let them take our sparkle with them when they go. In their wake, we wonder why we feel dull. Why we feel like something is missing.  It’s because it is.

We lost our sparkle.

We often let others tell us who we should be. We let them mold and shape us. Before long, we hardly recognize ourselves. The things that made us special and unique….are gone. Lost.

There are things about us that people don’t understand. They think we might be weird or strange. They don’t like the fact that we are different because they don’t know how to deal with “different.” They want us to be more the same. More like them so that they too, feel accepted.

We forget that we were MADE to each be different!

So, it’s okay when you don’t like the things that everyone else likes. It’s okay when you long to be somewhere else. It’s okay when you don’t think along the same lines as everyone else. It’s all what makes you YOU!

Your sparkle – my sparkle…. it’s in the very things that make us feel vibrant and alive. Sunshine or snow. Running or walking.  Laughing or deep thinking.  Social relationships or time alone. Knitting or cycling. Writing or singing.  Those are the things to hold onto.

Hold onto the things that make you smile, laugh, love deeper, and feel calmer.

Don’t let others tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing. It’s a danger zone. And you just might lose your sparkle.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I'm Discouraged

Let’s just call a spade a spade.

I’m discouraged.

I’m frustrated and bummed out about something.  Why sugar-coat?

Sometimes I feel like I take two steps forward and three leaps backwards in life.  And then I’m reminded that God wants to develop my character. He wants me to strengthen my perseverance.

And again (if we’re really being honest here), I don’t want to develop those things. Not while I’m in the middle of them, anyways. For it hurts. And I have to be patient.

I’m not good at being patient.

I’m so thankful my God puts up with my pouting. My complaining. My irritation with His ways and His timing. 

How many times will I grow discouraged and forget?

How many times will I forget how faithful my Lord has been to me? How loving? How “ALL-KNOWING?” How many?  You’d think I’d have it down by now. But nooo. No, I still get discouraged. Monthly. Yearly.

Because I’m human. And I’m flawed.  And all too-often, self-focused on me. My world. My agenda. My wants.

God is bigger than that.

So, even though I’m yet again discouraged – I know He will (yet again) be faithful. Be loving. Maybe even smile at me as He watches me struggle and strain. Not against Him. But against myself.

And until I get to the other side of “me” – He will love me.

And I will love Him all the more for that.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Can You Hear His Whispers?

I’m noisy, sometimes. Sometimes I carry so much noise with me in my life that I can’t hear God. 

My heart talks to me, my head talks to me, those in my life talk to me – and I’m listening to all of them. Noise.

I’m battling my own voices and trying to figure out which one is right and which one is wrong. Noise.

Oh, to be still. To turn off all the noise I’m listening to and just sit. Listening. Waiting.

For God to speak to me.

God doesn’t just want PART of my attention. He doesn’t just want A LITTLE bit of me.

He wants it all.

He wants me to truly hear him. After all, I’m usually asking to.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Doubting Yourself

Do you ever feel robbed of your self-worth?

Time after time we can feel battered, bruised, and raked over the coals in relationships, in our gifts, in our life. 

Friends reject us and so we start to doubt whether we are loveable.

Our dreams aren’t realized, so we start to doubt whether we are valuable.

Then we can start to sabotage ourselves without even trying. We figure they won’t invite us, won’t want us there, won’t pick us….so we don’t even try.

Satan has robbed us of what matters the most about who we are – the fact that God created us to be exactly as we are. If he can get us to feel unloveable, not valuable, and not worthy, then he can keep us quiet. He can deal with us much better when we feel like victims instead of conquerors.

Life can be so brutal. Good people can get hurt time and time again. And instead of adding their compassion, kindness, gentleness, and unique ability to love and forgive to life – they instead are relegated to giving up. They lose their desire to help, to serve….because they don’t feel like they truly are making a difference or that they matter.

They are wrong. YOU are wrong.

We all have bad seasons in life. Bad days. We all go through times where we doubt our character, our personality, our gifts. And it can be good to take a hard look at them from time to time. But the biggest misstep we can make in life is to give up. To give in.  To lose our sense of self.

Believe in yourself when no one else does. Love yourself when no one else seems to. Value yourself when no one else sees what is valuable.  If you believe in yourself, it will motivate you to find the others who do too. The others who will walk (or run) alongside of you to give you the strength you need on the rainy days and to inspire and encourage you. To show you things about yourself that you never even saw or realized yourself.

You will be whole again. You will feel joy again. You will feel valued, loved, and worthy.

And you will see what God has seen all along.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

If I Claim To Love The Lord....

What does it mean to live as Jesus did? What does it mean to love as He’d have us love?

If I claim to love the Lord, He is the sole example of the kind of person I am to be.

I can look back on the legacy He left for me and I can observe how He was. Who He was. Knowing, that is what I should also strive for.

And just what is that? Well, this is what I’ve observed from the life of Jesus while He walked on earth.

*He never spoke in anger.

*He loved all people. Of all types. Ugly. Beautiful. Rich. Poor. The outward appearance or social status didn’t matter at all to him. He was seen in the company of a corrupt tax collector, as well as a faithful follower.

*He had integrity. Honesty. God never lied.

*He was warm, compassionate, kind, GENTLE.

*He gave respect and earned respect.

*He didn’t stay at home. He went out into his neighborhood. His town. He travelled. All to tell people about the Lord.

*He never got drunk. He didn’t smoke. Or swear. In fact, He never partook in anything that was slightly controversial.

*He was loyal.

*He prayed. A Lot.

*He went to church. But He also studied God’s Word daily. He KNEW what God’s Word said so that when others tried to trip Him up or when Satan tried to use the Bible against Him, He knew when it was taken out of context.

*He didn’t pretend to be better than others. He was humble.

*He didn’t “water down” God’s Word. He spoke it like it was. And if others chose not to believe Him, He didn’t continue to try to please them. He just “was.” What He offered, He never forced anyone to accept or water it down for them. He let them make the choice.

*He took a day off. He rested. He knew when it was time to recharge His batteries.

*He was generous. Never selfish.

*He forgave easily. Quickly.

*He was never in a hurry. Never rushed anything.

*People never felt criticized by Him or condemned because of their sinful choices. No – merely loved.

*He was gracious and merciful.

There are so many more examples I could give of the kind of person Jesus was.

1 John 2:6 tells us, “Whoever claims to live in him, must live as Jesus did.”

That’s a tall order. But if we claim to live in Christ, it’s an order we need to try and fill.

Are you living as He did? Are you even trying?

I know you could argue that Jesus was perfect. And He was. But that perfection is still something that we can aspire to. We still aspire to have a perfectly beautiful, clean, and organized house and the fact that it will get messed up again doesn’t stop us. So why should striving to be perfect like Jesus, stop us? It’s not that hard to be generous. Not that hard to be honest. We can all study God’s Word daily. We can rest. Keep ourselves from being drunk.

It’s a choice.

I don’t know about you, but I claim to live in Christ. And I want to aspire to be like Him. I may need to work on some areas more than others – but I’m trying.

For I want to please Him. I want to please myself so that I have less to regret in life and more to be joyful about.

I want to – because He gave me the desire. And because I love Him so dearly. That’s what you do when you love someone. You aim to please them.

How about you?