Thursday, January 31, 2013

Enjoying Simple Pleasures

     "What's for lunch today, Amy?" one of the three year olds at the daycare asked me.

     "Beef Stroganoff, Salad, and Fruit Cocktail."

     "And do you have ranch dressing for the salad?"

     "I do!"

     She immediately began chanting "GO RA-ANCH, GO RA-ANCH!" Soon all eight kiddos in the group were swinging their arms in the air and spinning, all of them chanting with her.

     With a smile, I turned to go back into the kitchen and finish preparing lunch for the daycare center. It made me think.....maybe I should let little things, like ranch dressing for my salad, make my day. I wonder how it would change my outlook.

     Letting simple pleasures thrill me lightens my mood and helps me be so thankful for every little blessing.

     "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."~ Colossians 2:7

     So, are there any little things that make your day?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Who is God?

     So, who is God? And if you know, how do you explain it to twenty five JR highers in 30 minutes?

     My husband and I are teaching through Max Lucado's Max on Life. It's a great book of life questions and Max's responses to those questions. Last night, we tackled "Who is God?" for the JR High Youth Group lesson.

     These are Max Lucado's main points.

  • God is unchanging (Heb. 6:17-18)
  • God is unparalleled (Isa. 40:13-14)
  • God is ungoverned (1 Tim. 6:15-16)
  • God is untouched (1 Sam 2:2)
  • God is uncaused (Ps 90:1-2)
  • God is unlimited (Ps 147: 4-5)
     We discussed these points, adding a short discussion about a creator who put so much care into his creation. and we have talked about how difficult it is to wrap our human minds around these characteristics.

      While these are great points, and each is valid, I wanted to make the lesson more personal for them. I shared who God has been to me:
  • Best secret keeper ever (Ps. 44:21). You can tell God anything and everything, and He never runs around blabbing your secrets all over school. 
  • My best friend....sometimes my only friend (Prov. 18: 24). I talked to God when there was no one else I wanted to talk to (ha ha....see above). I told him my feelings, my fears, my anger, everything. So can you. He is trustworthy.
  • My comforter when I am scared or upset. My protector (Prov. 2: 7-8). The measure of comfort I received from my Heavenly Father is almost unbelievable. His hand in my life and protection He provides is undeniable.
  • Because of God's power in our lives, my husband and I are still married. God has absolutely provided intense healing for our marriage and relationship. 
     Ps. 68: 5-6 declares "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun scorched land.

     Ps. 27: 10 "Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me."

     In short, there is no greater advocate for the poor, broken, outcast. No other being would ever be found with the ability to change lives so completely from the inside out. None would be found with such a compassionate heart for those hurting and in need. 

     I could have spoken for hours on the topic and not even begun to scratch the surface of who God is. We encourage them to get into their Bibles and research more, to get to know God for themselves.

     Who has God been for you?


Friday, January 18, 2013

In the Face of Rejection

     I dance the dance of evasion with everyone I know. Sometimes toes get stepped on, feelings hurt, but it's a cost I have always been willing to pay. I reason that they are casualties of the dance, which must be performed. Dancing distracts. When others concentrate on their footwork, they aren't concerned with my tendency to pull away. Under the guise of guarding my heart, I avoid close relationships, unwilling to risk  potential pain.

     Though greatly improved, still I wrestle with an inner barrier so long in place that I can't remember life without it. What am I avoiding? Rejection

     Passed over. Stared through. Unrecognized. Unappreciated. Unwanted. Rejected. It stings, doesn't it? Not really like a bee stings, but more like the unrelenting sting of an angry wasp. Repeatedly and unmercifully, the pain of rejection lingers long after the initial poke, setting off an internal churning that is difficult to soothe. Even ego stroking from loved ones fall short of rebuilding your esteem.

     It is in personally experiencing the deep wounds of rejection that we identify with Christ, denied by humanity while devoting Himself to the good of mankind. He came to serve those who would ultimately betray Him, but He never held their mistakes against them. Christ prayed for them while they were killing Him.  I want to handle rejection like He did, to serve those who turn me down.

     God is always aware of the feelings you experience, as He compassionately guides you in the path you were meant to follow. It's  challenging to remember that a path change, though sometimes painful, leads you into God's best plan for your life.

      I wrestle with tearing down the walls preventing me from sharing much of myself with others. Those walls will come down as I rely on His acceptance of me, and trust Him in my relationships with others. I will strive to offer the same grace He offers mankind, because through that grace, others will see Him.

     I want to dance in the face of rejection.

     How do you handle rejection?



Monday, January 14, 2013

Spiritual Realignment

     Snap. Pop. Crunch. Being realigned is no least for me. Someone digging their knees into your back trying to put your spine in place. No thank you. Once in painful desperation, I begged to have it done. The benefit wound up being worth the discomfort.

     But this is no chiropractor. I am in the Spiritual Realignment Office, and boy have I been adjusted. I didn't even ask for it. They just grabbed me out of the waiting room and went to work. Seriously.

     During a phone conversation, my friend blurted out "You are off somewhere. You need to get back on track. You should start by getting right with God."

     Really? Oh my gosh, how rude! I managed to maintain enough civility to politely continue the discussion, the whole while choking down my anger, lest it jump out and do irreparable damage. After the conversation, all I could do was think about what she'd said. Who does she think she is anyway?

     The more I stewed about it, and prayed, the more I realized she was right. The next logical question: How the heck did she know? My problems weren't totally obvious through the mask I wore. Only in listening to me and hearing my heart as I bared it to her, did she realize I was off. Way off actually. I could feel it. Deep down I knew, but I didn't have to look at it as long as no one else could see it.

     God knew my pain and heard my prayers, and mercifully helped me step forward toward Him.

     That little bit of reprimand put me on the road to recovery in my walk with God. I had put Him on the back burner, and life wasn't working very well for me. I didn't even know how to fix it when I began to see the point my friend was making. I started filling my life with more God, and more God honoring things, chucking stuff that didn't belong.

     Life can never be perfect. I fail at least as often as I succeed. Though still I stumble, and sometimes fall, I continue that pursuit of God and knowing who He is. Just like a spine is uncomfortable when it's out of alignment, so is spiritual life uncomfortable when something is amiss. That discomfort is the gauge I use now, and of course, people who lovingly show me where I am wrong.

     For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life,     ~ Proverbs 6:23

     Am I the only one? Have you been corrected about your spiritual alignment?



Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Unique Design

     Just as I planned for my next mega crime spree, a new law went into effect and my plans went down the drain. The daycare center I work for was required by the state to complete new background checks and fingerprinting.

     Nerve wracking as it was to be fingerprinted, I'm so thankful for the experience. I was called into a little room with a guy and a special fingerprinting computer. As one by one my fingerprints appeared on the screen, magnified to 100 times their actual size, I marveled. Mr. fingerprinter seemed encouraged, and possibly slightly amused, at my excitement. Every curve and ridge, bend and swirl uniquely mine, not another soul on this planet of almost seven billion would ever be found to have the exact same print.

     Though it took all of ten minutes, my whole day was amazing afterward. Why? The God who created the universe cared enough about each one of us to give us our very own design, attributes unique only to one individual. It absolutely thrilled me to think of the love that went into that creation, my creation. God chose my fingerprint, but it doesn't stop there.  No two DNA profiles will ever be the same. Your genetic makeup is only yours. In all of our scientific, technological advances, man has never duplicated the kind of intricacy born in a mind unfathomable.

     Fingerprints and DNA are two of the incredible ways God's signature has been embedded in each one of us. There are many design features that make us completely unique individuals, too many to get into here. Take a little time, though, and think about that. Maybe the next time you need a pick me up, grab an ink pad. Roll your fingers across it and stamp them onto a clean piece of paper, then contemplate the thought and love God put into your personal design. 

      For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.~Psalm 139: 13-16 (NIV)

     What makes you stop and think about God's designs?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Oregon Trail

     What do you get when you take a little girl to the craft store to let her pick out some necessities for the Oregon Trail? A very well outfitted wagon, complete with several items one might need (and some they don't) to brave the long trek west.

      This was my third Oregon Trail Wagon project, so naturally, I went into it thinking I knew what I was in for. One thing--my other two projects were with boys. Funny how differently they outfitted their wagons. They did a great job, but theirs were rugged, having little or no frills, more tools and practical things for the trip.

     My daughter's wagon is padded with pillows and blankets, contains several children and their parents, and a clothesline holding Barbie clothes stretches across the back of it. Each character in the wagon has a personality, chores, and role in the family. She was so busy coming up with their story that I had to remind her to work on the actual wagon.

     I wish I had been blogging when my boys did their wagons. It would have been fun!

     What is a memorable project you have worked on with your kids?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Do You Self Sabotage?

     I know I do. It's a new year full of promise, and plenty of plans for improvement.I want to regain ground on who I should be becoming. I have such a long list of improvements I hope to make that it will have to be instituted in phases. (More on that in a future post)

     My problem is this.....already I find myself thinking I can't do....whatever. I want to write a book proposal, but I don't write well enough. I want to walk to work, but what if there's a problem and I need to get to the kids in a hurry? And so, I keep myself from starting or even trying to start. Holding a coffee in one hand and a cookie in the other, I look at the mountain in front of me without taking a single step toward it. Struggling with self sabotage and warring against it happens every single time I want to do something to change myself for the better.

     The tragedy of self sabotage is that it keeps you in a prison of your own making. It's a trap that prevents you from freely becoming who God created you to be. Those mightily used by God overcome their own negative voices, and listen for His direction.

     It's a little funny if you think about it. You have to talk yourself out of talking yourself out of improving your life. I will though. I will fight to be more.....more loving toward my husband, kids, and others I am in contact with, especially those who are difficult. More organized, more disciplined, more responsible. If I slip backward, I will get up and push into the wind once again because more than anything I don't want to stay where I am. I must keep moving forward.

     " for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down in times of calamity." Proverbs 24:16

     Do you struggle with self sabotage? What do you do about it?