Thursday, July 28, 2011

Standing on the Promises

It was a rainy day yesterday, and as I struggled to pull my wits about me with my memory care residents while recovering from a concussion ( long story. I will probably mention more details in another post), I was struggling to come up with something creative to engage my residents in during our morning activity group. The rain inspired some music with rain in it, and then it led to a conversation about the account of Noah and the flood in the Bible. When we got to the rainbow part, I knew where God was leading me in our time together. I gave them each a large print hymnal, and asked them to find hymns that specifically stated God's promises. After doing this for a little while, one of my residents looked at me thoughtfully and said "And us old people, we can say that these things are true because we've lived it!". Her confident statement sent a chill up my spine, and peace to my heart.
In our youth, we can only depend upon the testimonies in God's word and the people in our lives in regards to God's promises and our faith in something we cannot see. We must live years on this earth to see those promises put to work in our own lives. To be reminded of that truth brought me to a place of appreciation for life. If we aren't living, we can't experience God's promises, and too often we don't focus on the rainbow, but instead focus on the storm that forces us to look up.
May you be reminded of God's unending, beautiful, life giving promises. May you view your years on this life as an opportunity to see those promises in action, as they come alive from the pages of His word, translating into your life as a visible, God honoring testimony of who HE is.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Merry-Go-Round Optional

As a child, I have special memories of a merry-go-round in a local mall. I remember the excitement that I felt as I picked out "my" horse, examining all of them carefully to see which design I liked the best. Once I chose my horse, the ride began. Oh the thrill of going up and down, and round and round to the tune of old circus music! But like all good things, it would come to an all too soon end.
 have learned that as an adult, we have opportunities to get back on a merry-go-round ride. However, the difference is that this ride has the potential to not stop and to make you dizzy; there is no joy in the "ups and downs" like there is on the merry-go-rounds of our youth. The merry-go-round that I'm referring to is friendships,relationships and interactions that take place with an individual who thrives on drama and controlling people with their emotions. I'm sure at some point, we've all known a person like that in our lives. Those people who react to absolutely everything, whether it be good or bad. Those people who will say and do things to manipulate you to feel a certain way, or to get a certain answer or response. Oh, it's not like these people are always unbearable. They have the potential of being quite lovable, somebody that we enjoy spending our time with. But before we know it, we find ourselves going round and round and round about the same things, experiencing the same negative feelings again.
I have learned that it is optional to get on this type of merry-go-round. I have also learned that it is absolutely imperative that we do whatever we can to keep God's peace, which means staying grounded in the truth of a situation. We must learn to detach from the behaviors and the reactions of others. Doing so gives us the option to ride our horse for a little bit, but be able to get off when the music and the "up and down" motions get to be too much for us to handle.
However, there is one other thing you need to know. Many times these people don't like the fact that we choose to get off the ride. In fact, they may go so far as to insult, incessantly question and badger us. But the truth is friend, deep down in their heart they wish that they too, had the courage to get off that circus ride. They are just as, if not more, tired, dizzy and sick as you. For many people, this merry-go-round ride isn't just a leisure activity or special event, it's their life. Can you imagine having a circus crazy life that goes round and round and round, and never stops? No potty breaks, no change in scenery and you see people leave, but rarely do people stay.
May you have the grace and courage to stay grounded in the truths that Jesus Christ has brought to His children. Enjoy the ride friends, but never forget that there are many choices along the way. You choose when to get on, and when to get off. Trust Him, and you're feet will hit the ground.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Not Much

In our instant world of fresh coffee, fast food,email, i-phones and zippity-zip credit cards, it is clear that there are many places available to spend our money. Our society has created a trend that in order to truly live, you must spend. The Internet doesn't need one more blog post on consumerism, so I won't bore you with that lecture. But I would like to share with you my new found understanding of being content with "not much".
For as long as I can remember, I have found pleasure in material possessions. These possessions were never expensive, and often they were second hand. I distinctly remember one of my first independent purchases. It was a plastic coin purse with "water" inside, where little mermaids and beads squished about. There is something truly euphoric about having something pretty, whether it holds your coins or is worn in your hair. From little on, we receive the message that when we have things,we are o.k. and when we don't have those things, we aren't o.k. As Christians, we are taught that Jesus Christ is all that we truly need; all of our needs will be provided through Him. I've wrestled with this truth for many years, but I feel as if God has finally brought me to a place in my heart where I can understand and see this truth for what it really is.
Living the "20 something, single and absolutely broke" lifestyle has presented some interesting challenges. I have found that it is far more important to have money for gas to get to work, then it is to get your hair professionally colored. I have learned that a box of cereal or packages of oatmeal are a cheap and filling way to feed yourself, and that toilet paper nicely replaces the need for Kleenex boxes. I have forfeited pretty for practical, finding that pretty is often not practical, except for those rare occasions in the discount aisle. I have learned how to stretch outfits into more outfits, and to go months without purchasing new clothes, and when I do purchase them, it is usually a yellow tag sale at Good Will.
Several weeks ago, I got a "wild hair" and decided to finally transfer my library of books from the plastic tote they've been sitting in to the book shelf where they belong. As I shelved each book, I somehow felt like I was incredibly wealthy. Each title represented a specific area of my life that I have invested in throughout the years, or a Bible Study that I've done that I could certainly do again. When I saw all the tools that were at my fingertips to build the inner wealth of my relationship with Jesus and my knowledge of His principles, it was clear that despite all of the "worldly" necessities that I've learned to do without, I had everything I needed.
There was a previous post in which I wrote about the "fear of lack". I still struggle with that fear, even though I have embraced penny pinching more now then I ever have before. There are definitely areas of growth in which I need to fully learn to trust in my Savior, believing with everything in me that He is enough. That the beauty He has built within me, the truths that have blossomed and resonated in my life and the lives of those I come in contact with, is all I need to combat this world of materialism. That is not to say that I don't desire to go on a wild shopping spree, get my nails done, buy a piece of jewelry that was "calling my name", or snag that adorable denim jacket that would go with anything. I adore the pretty things in life, and look forward to the day where I may have a few more resources to work with. But the truth of the matter is that right now in this state of "absolutely broke singleness", He is cultivating a spirit of "absolute contentment and brokeness" within my heart; a foundation for the life that He desires me to live, with priorities that are above the worlds.
May the inner wealth that you obtain as being a prince or princess of The King be more than enough to combat this world of selfishness and materialism and may you find your identity by the title of your maker, and not the brand of your clothes, embracing the truth that you are worth far more than any designer item.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Above and Beyond

As human beings, we are limited. Limited in our thoughts, perspectives and abilities. Our limitations is one of the many things that clearly distinguishes the difference between an infinite, powerful, omnipotent God and us, His creation.
It amazes me how often I have limited my Heavenly Father in regards to what He is capable of doing. Trusting in a limitless God often clashes with experiencing limitations as a human being. We tend to trust in what we can see, and what we know we will find success in. Our day to day lives are like puzzle pieces; each day, God gives us another piece to put on the table of our life. Sometimes we are able to put the pieces together, and other times there is a long stretch before anything fits together.
Why is it that we "settle" for something that is "less than God's best"? And more importantly, how do we really know what is God's best and what is settling? I am learning that this is one of the great joys in being a child of God. God only wants the best for His children, and when we truly take this promise to heart, there is no possible way that we could "settle" for second best. Just when we think we think God has blessed us with something great, He pulls the "God card" and blesses us above and beyond our human limitations.
This is not a matter of perfection. God is perfect, yes, but anything that He blesses us with on this earth will not be perfect because it is not within the confines of heaven. This is a matter of listening, trusting, and doing "the next right thing", for it is His Holy spirit that shows us what that next "right thing" is. When we understand our limitations, we understand how unlimited out Heavenly Father is.
May this truth act as a sort of helium in your spirit, lifting you high, higher and higher into God's reality, and not your own.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight"

~ Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Trust Relationship

Porch Coffee. Separately, the two words are charming. But together, they create a fantastic experience. Drinking a fresh cup of coffee in my Jammie's with my mother on her porch, with the breeze blowing, birds singing their "good morning" melody. I am convinced that God meets my mother and I on that porch, guiding our hearts and thoughts in conversation in which He shows up and reveals Himself faithful.
While sipping our morning brew, a variety of topics were covered, but the one that influenced me the most was how our relationship with God is certainly a "trust" relationship. In all of our relationships, we want to be able to truly trust that person. Trust them with our secrets, our flaws, our pain, our fears and our concerns. As we all know, having a perfect "trust" relationship with human beings is impossible; they will break that trust completely, or sever it by a slip up of the tongue or a defect in character.
In relation to this topic, we discussed the concept of prayer and how we have both learned to not pray in specifics for events, or things we "want" for ourselves or other people, but rather to ask God for the grace and tools to be able to handle whatever comes our way. My mom then made a point that it is so easy to become the "whiny" child of the Heavenly Father. What person is appreciative of a whiny person? As children of God, we have already given ourselves fully to God and His plan for our lives. We pray to let go and acknowledge a power greater than ourselves. It's that simple, that profound, that beautiful.
I desire to fully trust my Heavenly Father; to know that His "yes will be yes" and His "no will be no" and the ever consistent "Not yet my child" will be apart of my understanding of having faith like a child: simple and without question, not in need of any more detail and not feeling the need to be entitled to know what lies ahead.
May you fully trust your Heavenly Father. May you learn to pray to let go. May you let it happen, instead of making it happen. May the peace of God blow over you like a gentle breeze, and may it cause you to spread your wings and fly out of your nest of doubt, and into the arms of your Heavenly Father.