Sunday, June 9, 2019
Saturday, April 6, 2019
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light." Matthew 11: 28-30
Sunday, March 3, 2019
As we are drawing near to the Lenten season, I was reminded of my vow of silence when I heard a wise woman share her take on the story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho. She didn't focus on the miracle of the walls falling down or the obedient faith of the soldiers as they marched around the city. Instead she pointed out that they were silent. Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” Joshua 6:10
I have to admit, when God called me to fast giving my opinion, I wasn't silent right away. Instead, I started arguing with God. My mental debate went something like, "Why'd you give me a mouth if you didn't want me to use it?" But my debate only lasted until the first day of Lent. Arguing with God isn't worth it. Long ago, I became convinced that if God tells me to do something, it is for my benefit and I will only make my life miserable if I resist.
As I braced myself for an extended month of silence, I reminded myself God had spoken through a burning bush and a donkey so He could certainly get His message across to the people in my life without my help during the 40 days of Lent. Not speaking unless asked became very freeing. Pressure I didn't even know I had evaporated away. I started enjoying not having to say anything.
Scholars say that most of us don't really listen to people because we are so focused on what we are planning to say in response. I didn't have to worry about coming up with the perfect response, so I prayed more and really listened. My words became focused on God rather than on myself. I didn't have to fix the people and situations in my life - God could.
The greatest gift during this season was when people I respected and loved asked for my opinion. It was my time to shout. When they stopped to say, "What do you think?' I was humbled to my core. I had given my opinion so freely in the past, I never realized the privilege of sharing my thoughts. Because I didn't expect to share my opinion, I was taking the time to pray and really listen, so my response had substance. I paused to let God speak to my heart before I spoke to others.
God might not be calling you to give up sharing your opinion for Lent but He is calling you deeper every day. Lent is often a time that I seek to hear God and grow in obedience to things He has already called me to do. It has become a boot camp of spiritual growth.
What is God calling you to do for Lent this year? Are you going to give up something? What has He been calling you to do that you can do for the next 40 days? Let me know in the comments below.
Sunday, January 27, 2019
How do we teach kids to value themselves but not think they are superior to others? This is a question that several of my friends have asked me in the past several weeks. It is a tough balance. They want their kids to know that they are wonderfully made. And every person is precious and unique. Created with a purpose to do great things. But so many kids can't see all these good things. These kids are struggling with body image issues- hair color, weight, skin tone, height and athletic ability. They also struggle with comparing their bodies to others and feeling inferior. They don't feel as pretty or as athletic as their friends. They feel judged by their insufficiency because they judge themselves. They envy what others have and even question God's love and their parents love because they don't love themselves.
I understand the questions in my friends' kids' hearts- because I was that insecure kid. I knew that God loved me- but I felt like he loved other people more. Though I was blessed - I didn't see the blessing. Other people had better hair, better families, and were more coordinated.
I resented how God made me so I became bitter toward God and I rejected Him. Ironically, my feelings of inferiority transformed into pride. What is pride? Here's a quick definition- pride elevates our opinion and our will over God's opinion and His will. In my pride, I rejected what the Creator of the Universe had designed. I looked in the mirror and said, "I am not good enough."
Rejecting God's design never leads to happiness. "Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." Proverbs 11:2 If pride is elevating my opinion and my will over God, then humility is elevating God's opinion and God's will over my own. When I chose humility - to elevate God's opinion of myself and others- my life fell into place. Jesus told his followers ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ in Mark 12:31. Loving myself and others was second only to loving God. I knew that God wasn't finished with me and that His plan was eternal. I had peace and contentment- though outwardly I was the same.
As I was talking with a friend about this struggle to see my value, I shared with her this analogy. Imagine that that God started with the same lump of gold and created every person with equal value, then He molded each of us into beautiful earrings, necklaces, and rings. Each creation was beautiful and equally valuable but dramatically different. A simple gold ring that compares itself to a necklace will always feel inferior. But a ring that realizes it is a wedding ring - created for a special purpose - is confident not in its own abilities but in the Creator who designed it.
Each of us have been designed for a specific purpose. It is not wise to compare ourselves to others. It is hurtful to God and to ourselves when we put down God's design. Here's how Paul explains it, "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." 2 Corinthians 10:12
As moms, we can't teach our kids if we haven't learned the lesson. We need to stop comparing ourselves with others or our internal ideal. God's not finished with us - He is still molding and making us for his glory- even our imperfections can be used to bless others. As moms we need to remind our kids who are struggling that God created every person with intrinsic value - not one person is more valuable than another- but everyone is unique and special. They don't have to compare themselves with their friends, celebrities or their internal idols. God is not finished with them because He has an eternal plan for their lives.
Here's a great verse for us and for our kids to memorize:"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10, NLT
Dear Jesus- Thank you for making me unique and special. Thank you for creating me with a purpose. Please forgive me my pride and for comparing myself to others. I am sorry for doubting your plan for my life and rejecting your design. Please help me love myself and love others. Please help me show your love and acceptance to my kids and friends. Amen
Saturday, December 29, 2018
As you are making plans for the New Year, I want to challenge you to seek out more of Christ. Be like the little child who says, "There's more." Some things that you can ask for include asking God for more understanding of His Word, asking to experience the Holy Spirit in every day life, seeking to get deeper this year. Go beyond the entrance and really experience all that God has for you this year.
Let me know how you have asked for more- I'd love to hear from you.
Sunday, December 2, 2018
Pinterest isn't bad; it inspires, teaches and provides a fun creative outlet. My friend Dawn shared her Pinterest worthy Thanksgiving table for the picture above. Why should a website filled with recipes, teacher handouts, house plans, table decorations and hair styles fill me with fear? I know I am not alone, I have friends who avoid social media because they don’t want to be consumed by comparison of what other people have, they are embarrassed by their less than perfect lives and are afraid they don’t measure up.
I realize my fear isn't actually about Pinterest and it goes back long before I even had a computer. It is the same fear that led me to worry about what clothes I wore to middle school, if they were the right brand or style. I was ashamed of our family car, a 1971 Dodge station wagon, google it, you might understand. Though my sisters and I went through a bottle of hair spray a week, my flat hair never measured up in the big hair 80's. Christmas time in middle school was even harder. Kids would come back from Christmas break with new clothes and shoes and technology, my presents never good enough.
The antidote to greed is gratefulness and love. "If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? 31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:30-31
I realized my problem isn't Pinterest, Facebook or any other social media site, my problem is my heart. I allowed greed and envy to take my focus from all that God has given me. My friends who are blessed with the gift of creativity are to be celebrated. I don't have to compete with them just like they aren't competing with me on blogs written. God made us all different. We are blessed because we get to enjoy each other's gifts and giftedness. We can celebrate with friends that go on amazing vacations or have the perfect wardrobe knowing that every good gift comes down from our Heavenly Father. He loves us completely and knows what is best for us. If we lose our focus on eternal priorities, we will start to covet and become ungrateful. If we are living in a place of ungratefulness, we choosing to despise God's gifts just like when a teenager is ungrateful for their birthday present. God's blessings are not limited, His love and resources have no end. Rather than focusing on what you don't have, stop and thank God for all that He has blessed you, your kids, friends, husband, and your neighbors with.
Dear God- You are the creator and giver of every good gift. You are the source of breath and life. Your resources are without end- you create from nothing. You have all knowledge and wisdom. Thank you for blessing this world with your grace and spirit. Thank you for blessing me with breath and life. Thank you for food and clothes, thank you for the people you have brought into my life- friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, clerks, postal workers, healers and teachers. Thank you for the gifts and resources you have given them- knowledge, money, time, wisdom, love, encouragement, ability, creativity, dependability. Thank you that you fit us all together like a puzzle- each piece shaped differently yet integral to your whole picture. Please help me not compare my part and design with others but be grateful for your plan and perspective. I am sorry for not trusting your timing and design, I am sorry for not being grateful for all you have blessed me with, I am sorry for letting greed and envy sneak into my heart, Please forgive me and fill me with gratitude, love, patience and understanding. Amen