Sunday, October 15, 2017

Following the Right Leader

This morning I am reading in 2 Kings. I need to be honest, these are hard books to read. The names!  Oh, my stars the names.  Not only the names but how close they all are and how the kings overlap each other.  People, these 2 books are full of joy, pride, anger, hate, plot twists, love, encouragement, fear, great military acumen, business deals, essentially you name it, these two books have it.  I have read the words and shook my head as well as cried happy tears of God's great love.  These aren't a fast read.  It's definitely taken me a minute, but I recommend them to you.  Now, to my point!

Think of two opposites.  Like the ends of a battery, the poles of the Earth, light and dark, soft and hard. Ok.  You get the picture. What I read this morning was exactly like that.  I began reading in chapter 21 about King Manasseh.  It didn't take me long to realize this guy was awful.  He was pure evil.  In fact, the modern-day equivalent that came to mind was Hitler.  No, not because they did the same things, but because they were both a single person with the ability to lead people to do the most horrible of things. A few of King Manasseh's atrocities were:
  • rebuilding the high places his father destroyed (like temples devoted to bad things)
  • erected altars to Baal
  • made an Asherah pole
  • bowed down to and worshiped the starry hosts - he even put alters up for them in the Lord's temple
  • sacrificed his own son - his own son!!!  Who does this?!
  • practiced divination
  • sought omens
  • consulted with mediums and spiritists
  • shed so much innocent blood it filled Jerusalem from end to end
  • he led the people astray
People, this guy was certifiable.  He killed his own kid to please a man-made god.  *Shudder* As if that wasn't bad enough, he had the leadership skills (I use that ever so lightly - even though it is the truth) to lead an entire country to do the same things he was doing.  He did this for 55 years!  That is a long time to invade and corrupt and turn people from what they know to be good and pure and right into what they know to "feel good" in the moment. 

He passed, and a kid he didn't sacrifice took his place.  For two years.  He was killed by an advisor.  Guess they'd had enough. Then came Josiah.  I don't know if he was the son of his predecessor, we are only told of who his mother is and that he is in King David's lineage.  However, what is known, he did right in the eyes of the Lord.  In fact, everything Manasseh was, this guy was not.  But it didn't start that way exactly.  See, he did good but he didn't exactly promote others to do the same straight off. No, it took him until year 18 of his 22-year gig to get things back on track.

The short of it comes as this, he sent his chief of staff, a guy named Shaphan, to the temple Priest, Hilkiah, to get all of the tithes. Shaphan was to then give the money to the contractors in order to restore and rebuild the temple of the Lord.  We're not talking a small project here either.  I'm not an architect and the blueprints of the temple are completely out of my realm of comprehension, I'm so thankful for the excellent detail the Lord gave us so we can understand the breadth of the work, but it was a bit too much for me.  I digress.  I don't even have a viable modern-day equivalent for it and anything I chose will not give it justice.  We're just going to have to go with the fact it was intense and great.  Anyway, they pay the contractors for labor and materials and they set off to work. A normal day in the neighborhood.

During the renovations, Hilkiah (also the sight foreman) finds a book.  This thing had been buried behind some tables, blocked by a few dozen chairs, old lamps, etc, basically shoved to the back of a storage closet. But this book wasn't just any book, this book was the Book of the Law. As in THE book that had the words God gave Moses.  Hilkiah gave it to Shaphan, who promptly read it.  I mean, wouldn't you?  Shaphan then went to Josiah and read it to him.  This is where Josiah becomes mind-blown.  He was already touted as being good and doing good in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 22:2), but now his own eyes were opened up to all. of. the. truths.  Since no one had been teaching these things for a minimum of 75 years he fell in disbelief, tore his clothes, and wept.  (That was a really old school way of repenting.)

What happens next you ask?  Naturally, Josiah wants to know what the Lord has to say about all of this.  I mean here is a king ruling over a bunch of people who have been doing anything but follow God's commands for so many years they've lost count.  “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”  (2 Kings 22:13) So, Hilkiah, Shaphan, and a couple other guys went to speak to a prophet.  Prophets kind of had an inline connection with God, you know.  I think it is pretty cool that the prophet they went to, Huldah, was a woman.  Here you have a bunch of guys going to a woman to get directions.  (I'll let the irony stay! HA!)

She didn't sugar coat anything. "This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched." (2 Kings 22:16-17) I don't know about you, but that would have me petrified.  I mean, how can I be guilty of something I didn't know about?!  BUT, she wasn't done because God wasn't done.  Don't you just love that? She finished off with this, "Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.”  (2 Kings 19-20)

Can you imagine how happy Josiah was at hearing this?  Because he humbled himself before the Lord, repented, and sought him he was going to be saved from God's wrath.  Yet, he didn't stop there.  Here is where he was so much different from his predecessor.  He didn't take the blessing for himself and run.  No, he decided to take the amount of time he had left and share the Book of the Law with the people he was the leader of.  He didn't want to keep this truth for himself, he wanted to spread the word and have others find the same hope in God that he had.

"Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the Lord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes, and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant." (2 Kings 23:1-3) 

What we had next was a good old house-cleaning party.  Josiah ordered all the things Manasseh had built or erected be torn down.  Not only were they to be torn down, but they were to be burnt outside the city.  (You know it's bad when it's taken outside the city walls!)  He got rid of everything that was ever given in dedication to the false gods. He even had the false teachers put to death so they couldn't continue to spread their lies to the people.  He got rid of every single last thing that was in direct objection to the Lord - the mediums, spiritists, idols, household gods, you name it - it was removed and destroyed. While all of this was happening, the people celebrated Passover like it had never been celebrated before.  There was an epic level of revival going on and the people were turning back to the Lord their God.  All of this was done in accordance with the Book of the Law and it is said, "Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses." (2 Kings 23:25)

One would think after all of this we would have a happy ending, but that is a different story for a different time.  

The main thing I took from these passages of scripture this morning is how a bad leader can direct our paths in a wayward direction if we aren't careful to keep our hearts and minds ever vigilant on the truths of the Lord.  Here's the catch though.  Unlike the people of that day who looked to their leaders for the answers to absolutely everything, we often look to ourselves. We can be that bad leader in our own life.  We can set up idols and false gods and take our eyes off the things the Lord wants for us.  But, just like king Josiah did, we can repent.  We can clean house and come back to the Lord and seek to follow him.  He is never too far away and we are never too far gone.  

While he does forgive us when we repent, the consequences of our choices when we followed our own broken paths don't disappear.  Instead, they offer us the opportunity to lead another who is making a similar mistake or series of choices, down the right path - like Josiah did when he read the Book of the Law to the people and reinstated the Passover Celebration.  We have an amazing opportunity to share God's goodness, his saving grace, and the joy fellowship with him brings.  

People, God is so good.

What needs to come down in your life?  What story do you have to share with another?

- M










Saturday, October 14, 2017

Setting It Aside

It's been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.  I need to be honest here.  I doubt my ability to teach.  But more than that, I doubt it is a dream that will ever come true. Hear me out on this.

In the past few days, life has had its way with me.  It has been one curve ball after another and one anxiety-laden situation after another. I have shed many tears, questioned my existence and purpose, and even thought, in many ways, how I wish I was someone else.  Granted, the latter would not have prevented the former from happening; it would have just changed the situation.  I digress.

In the past, I have shared about spiritual gifts.  I have even been so bold as to share what mine are. In the past year, I have run a million miles per hour headlong into achieving my gifts, of doing or becoming what they say of me. I've failed to succeed. In that failure, I have gained an extreme level of doubt over the truth of my gifts.

You see, I took my first assessment when I was a very new Christian.  I was given the questionnaire by my Pastor.  He told me to pray before answering, and to answer to the best of my ability.  I remember being so excited to find out the results; I was full of giddy expectation.  I felt once I knew what they were I would finally have a purpose in life and I could go on from there.  Somewhere around 13 - 14 years ago, I found out my gifts were teaching, knowledge, and discernment.  I can remember the part of me that was elated hearing the teaching part since that is what I have wanted to be and do since I was a little girl.

Fast forward many years, lots of life experiences, trials and tribulations later, and I come across the opportunity to share about spiritual gifts with the ladies in my church.  I spent weeks reading books, researching online, reading scripture, and finally taking a gifts analysis.  This one much different than the one my Pastor had given me all those years ago.  Wouldn't you know, the top two gifts were teaching and knowledge.  Even though I took the analysis only five months ago I don't remember what the third one was.  Strange?

Fast forward to today. I hit another brick wall in this quest to teach. I had good intentions.  Most of which was backed by current circumstances and my desire to expedite our process through them. Surprise!  It totally doesn't work like that.  So I sat down this afternoon with the expressed purpose of continuing the study I began for the ladies at church and stumbled upon yet another gifts test.  This one worded much differently with a lot less ability to decipher which gift was being promoted through the questions.  (It is hard not to tell what they are getting at!) This one gave me the following answers: teaching, knowledge, and wisdom.  In that order.

Ok, God, I get it.  This is what you have gifted me with.  I am ever thankful for what you have entrusted me with, but honestly, now what?  I have a feeling teaching as a profession - in an academic sense - is not where you have me.  I'm getting that.  It hurts, sure, but I'm too exhausted - mentally and emotionally - to keep pursuing that line of work professionally.  I gave it all I had and I am learning that sometimes everything you are is still not enough especially when it is out of your will.

Therefore, I am officially handing it all over to you.  I'm not giving up, I am simply releasing control.  I will put it to bed and I thank you for giving me the courage to try.  This isn't an "I told you so" thing.  Not at all.  I know that because you don't say those words.  Instead, what I know this is, is simply, "wait".  So, I will wait.  I will take each day and work at becoming and growing and learning what it is that I still need to know.  I will be the best at who and what I am today and tomorrow and all the days that follow.

Thank you for my gifts and I hope someday you show me exactly how you want them to be used and at that point in time, I hope I do not fail you.

- M

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Check Out My New Blog - Financially Speaking

A few weeks ago I shared that I was starting another blog.  One based on my favorite subject and the one I would most like to teach - Personal Finance.  Well, I did!  I would love it if you would click on over and take a look-see at the information shared.  Let me know your thoughts.

https://wheretherealnumbersare.blogspot.com/

For those who have asked.  No, I am not giving up on my pursuit of teaching in an academic setting.  I am currently tailoring my resume (at the advice of a friend who is an Adjunct) to the exact subject I want to teach.  As contradictory as that sounds to my favorite subject (ahem....what I linked above), I am leaning towards Business Communications.  Why?  Because, I have spent numerous years being the written and spoken voice for the companies I have worked for and enjoy the nuances of language and the cadence that comes from a well-articulated conversation and argument.

If you know of open positions at any university/college across this great country of ours that is looking to hire an Adjunct for their online program, leave it in the comments below. 

 Keeping this short on purpose - to shamelessly plug my new blog.

Click.  Sign up.  Share.

Thank you all,

M

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Bringing It Together

I watched a video a little while ago.  This mere days after reading a quote. I had a conversation with someone only yesterday.  What do all of these have in common?  On their face, they were ideas had by others.  Deeper, they all built upon a simple truth.  Bare with me as I put these all together.

The video was of  Lou Holtz giving a commencement speech, you may have seen it.  He said, "Never tell your problems to anyone.  20 % don't care and the other 80% are glad you have them."  The quote was by A.W. Tozer.  He said, "We are not to look or act like other people; rather we are to look like Christ. We are to do the things Christ would do in the power and the demonstration of the Holy Spirit." The conversation yesterday consisted of living life focused on God and becoming who He designed you to be.

You may be wondering how all of these fit together.  Honestly, I didn't see it at first either.  In fact, it was only this morning it all fell into place.  In case you don't know, I have a penchant for wanting to explain things.  I get a wee bit wrapped up in how I am perceived that I feel the insane need to explain - All. The. Details. To. Everyone.  Sure, I've learned to get a lot more selective over the years - not all that listen to you are trustworthy.  Yet, share I do. In that, I strive to become who God wants me to be by focusing on all the areas of others' lives where I think they have a better ability - meaning if I could be like that, then I will be who God wants me to be.  To do this, I have to explain away all the things that don't make me like that.

Here's the thing. God wants me to be me.  He doesn't want me to explain away all the things that I think make me unacceptable in the eyes of others.  Why?  Well, they don't care and it isn't going to change the things.  In fact, it may increase their perception, and mine...see how that works?! However, if I continue to look like Christ - living out His love for others, being His hands and feet, accepting and learning contentment for who and where I am.  That alone will create the best me I can be, regardless of what others chose to think. 

This isn't the first time this concept has been brought to my attention.  Sadly, the Lord has used less complex methods of hitting me between the eyes with it too.  However, there are some things in life we don't all learn the first time we see/hear them.  Thankfully, He is the great Teacher and I am ever the Student.

Hope this helped...if not, gave a clearer picture of how my brain works things together.

-M

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Church

I got to thinking recently about church.  My church.  The church. And what church is.  I've been struggling with what makes a good church, what makes a great church, and what my role in both are. I know this seems like a loaded topic.  In fact, the church, as a whole, has been lamb-basted for quite some time.  First, as a Christian, I can say with a firm level of certainty that there is no level of perfection this side of eternity.  There is no person who has all the right answers and there is no set of people who are doing it all the right way.  Knowing this, I've still been struggling lately with a few things concerning the church.

My church is filled with people from all walks of life.  We have business owners, community leaders, blended families, traditional families, single-parent families, seniors, and young alike.  So what makes us any better or worse than anyone else?  The simple answer is, the people. Yes.  The broken-down, self-admitted sinners that grace the doors each and every Sunday.  You see, a church is not the place we go to meet Jesus.  No, he is there, in us.  We bring Him along when we show up.  For those who don't know Him personally, it is us, His people, they are looking to in order to meet Him.  This is both an awesome responsibility and humbling fact.

Today I went to my home church.  The church where I met Jesus for the first time.  I met Him through the loving people who brought Him with them each Sunday.  I met Him through the words spoken by a Pastor who exudes the love of Christ and wishes nothing more than others come to know Him personally.   Today's message was on Revival. About living out your life as one who has the Lord in them.  It begged me to ask, do people meet Jesus when they meet me? I'm not talking the Bible-thumping, in-your-face, you are going to burn in the pits of Hell if you don't repent and turn to the Lord right.this.minute type of meeting.  I am talking the compassionate, kind, thoughtful type of meeting.  I am talking salt and light of the Earth type of meeting. I am talking the nonjudgmental - you don't look like the kind of person I'd want to be friends with - type of meeting.

I think this is where we have to be oh so very careful.  People come to church seeking.  BUT, they come back to church for the people.  I will be the first to admit not all personalities are the easiest to get along with. However, as the church, we need to be less focused on cliques and more focused on open invitations.  When people feel like they are on the outside, begging to get in, they go away. And where do they go?  Sometimes they stop going to church altogether because the people there say they brought Jesus but honestly, they didn't show they did.   Sometimes people jump from church to church for the same reason.  There is a lot of hype on how great the church is, but I've seen first hand the way people hand select those they wish to include and how they shut the door on others - metaphorically speaking, of course.

If we are the body...
If we are to reach the lost...
If we are to be the hands and feet...
If we are to help the lost and weary...
If we are to be the temple of the Lord...

Then we must, as a whole, stop turning our nose on those who don't fit into a mold society says we/they have to fit into.  We have to stop using triage as a way of deciding if a person is worthy of our conversation, let alone a sideways glance. Jesus came for all.  He found you.  He found me.  He found each and every one of us that asked Him into our lives.  He is in us. We need to be more than present, we need to show up.

And when we show up, we will see all the broken, painful pieces that make up His church.  We will see that each person has a story.  Each person has a reason for finding His love to make them whole.  Each person is a child wholly and wonderfully made by a God who wants nothing more than to have a place in their lives.  When we see that, we can stop turning people away at the door under the false pretense we are open for all to come inside.

Programs, worship music, bulletins, Bible studies, all of the "things" lose their purpose and value when the people don't bring Jesus.  In real estate the main concept is location - the building can be a dump as long as the location is right. The same thing can be said for a church.  If Jesus comes with the people, the building is of no value because the location is already right.

I will leave you with the thing I will be reflecting on myself, this week -  Am I bringing Jesus with me wherever I go?

Have a blessed week,
-M

Friday, September 1, 2017

Finding a Way

"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps."  Proverbs 16:9

I need to be honest with you here, I'm not sure if this is a good verse or a bad verse.  Now, before you get all hinky about me saying out loud there are bad verses of scripture, I need you to know I don't believe that at all.  Moreso, I believe perception can lead one (ahem, me) to believe that.  See, there's a HUGE difference.  I digress.

I've not made it a secret, in the least, concerning my goals and dreams.  I have long held this thought I would become a teacher/professor and my life would be complete.  I didn't expect the process to be easy any more than I expected it to be difficult. However, what I am learning is that while I have been planning my course...someone else has been establishing my steps.  And frankly, I do not know what to do next.  I have had some great advice, such as: wait on the Lord, be patient with the process, get professional assistance with the resume/cover letter/LinkedIn profile, quit my job and start at the bottom and work my way back up in education.  While these are excellent and quite truthful, there is a rather small bit of it that is not so practical.  And, me, I'm above all else, practical.  At least financially speaking.

I may not be in my desired profession or career, but I do work for a good company and I have a job that allows me to provide for my family.  Honestly, there is no more a person could ask for, right?  So, why this melancholy haze surrounding me?  Because there is a passion inside to teach and I have yet to find a way to do so.  I have read countless articles lately concerning career advancement, career changes, managing personality and feelings in a career change, and how to find contentment in a career.  Thank goodness for the internet, truly it is wrought with information - some good and some bad.

I interviewed with a university a month ago today for an Adjunct Professor role.  I'd like to tell you I remember all the questions I was asked and all the answers I gave.  I do not. What I can tell you is that finding a way towards your dream is bumpy, twisty, and sometimes painful.  I did not get the position, and they have re-posted the opening with an update to the job description. *Must have teaching experience in an academic setting. I can't blame them, I'd want a professional too. I mean, my ability to lead a discussion, foster learning, and grade assignments is a baseline for not only their success but the success of the students they wish to gain as well as maintain.  I have expected no less from the countless professors I have had over the years.

I admit it was a learning experience and one bound in hopeful optimism.  I mean, I got to the interview stage.  Getting there was not easy.  It came with a three-month journey consisting of an application (along with all the requisites that entails) and multiple questionnaires, letters of recommendation (professional and personal), formal writing samples (broad topic - itty bitty writing space), transcripts (undergrad and grad), and prayer.  Oh, so much prayer. While it did not produce my desired end result, I did find progress. It was during a random conversation with my best friend where I found a possible path.  I have long maintained that the classroom is not always traditional.  In fact, I have taught people around the world for my job.  I have written training manuals and programs and then trained the trainers in several countries.  I loved that job.  I was teaching.  Then the technology allowed for less travel and more web-based collaboration and I got a new position at work...

I pieced that conversation together with the one subject that truly gets my where it counts.  One subject, that when I was asked decades ago what I would teach I did not have the answer to.  I absolutely love Personal Finance.  I love budgets and ledgers, values and percents.  I also love compound interest and market value and knowing when to walk away from a sale and when to jump on it.  I love helping people eek out that level of margin in their budget to find room to breathe and then show them how to grow it - even if it is painful.  I didn't know this years ago, even as I helped co-workers figure out their money situation on scratch pieces of paper in the lunch room at work.  I love seeing that look in someone's eye when they get to that point where something is paid off, and yes, just maybe they CAN say no to overtime and/or the second job. 

So, all that said, I will be starting a second blog.  One aimed strictly at Personal Finance.  The formatting of it is still in its infancy and how it will progress, well, I'm leaving that open.  What I know, more than anything, is that I want to teach and help people - families - get their money under control.  I know I don't have all of the answers and I know I have made a mistake or two in my lifetime where money is concerned.  While I am no Dave Ramsey or Chuck Bentley, I am a person who has a desire to see others get out of debt and live a life that has meaning to them.  Won't you join me on this new adventure?

Here's to finding a way while trusting the Lord.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

-M

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Reason Enough

My entire life I have struggled with not being good enough and not being seen.  In some situations, this would cause me to point out things others did wrong in order to make my insignificance a little less so. Or in others it would lead me to brag about the smallest of things in order to be noticed.

I grew up in a trailer park which sat at the top of a hill from a lake.  At the bottom of the hill, around the lake, was a campground.  I lived in the most magical place on Earth, or so my young self thought. I had friends and adventures.  I had the freedom to play and grow the way kids of the 80's did. Despite all this, I was still picked on relentlessly up through middle school. We moved in high school, I thought it would change, but the only thing that did was the trailer park we lived in.  You see, I had unfortunate growth cycles - this offered me many more years of roundness than height. I've also been plagued with poor eyesight, fine hair, and a challenging complexion. I began to build walls.

Because of these walls, I did everything in my power to be better at things. If I couldn't be noticed for me - maybe I could be noticed for what I did. In school, I tried to out shine and beat the other kids.  That didn't work so well, despite my eagerness otherwise, I was just an average kid - no Einstein blood flowing through me. I still gave it my all and tried with the best of them which led me to fail more than succeed because I either didn't have the passion or the ability to excel. I carried this through all of my schooling years.  (Don't give up on reading this yet...)

Then, I got into my working-world years. Oh, how I would push and push. Striving to be better - applying for every job I could because new meant better. Essentially, it boiled down not one lick to whether I liked the job, but that it meant I, too, was better.  It would puff me up. Yes, I was that person. If I saw anyone doing better or getting more recognition, I'd fight all the more to prove my worth. I'd work more hours and run more circles around everyone to show I could handle a larger workload. I'd do the jobs no one wanted and work in every department that had a spot open to work, not because it was being helpful, but because it was making me better - I'd simply know more.

There was some good that came from this.  I was afforded opportunities I am sure never would have come my way. For this, I am truly thankful.  However, while holding 'bigger' roles I didn't have the social graces to excel and I didn't have the academics to fit in.  So, I did what I do best.  I became the bull in the china closet and did what I could to be seen; just like I did as a kid.  I wanted to be enough and in that process lost many more opportunities than I gained.  It has a way of working itself out, it seems.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with, well, anything. I'm working on closing out my thirties. This decade has been both good and bad.  While there are some ways in which I have grown there are areas of my life where I still see the pattern of me wanting to be more, to be better.  I have struggled with aggression equaling confidence - it doesn't.  I've struggled with education equaling worth - it doesn't. And I have struggled with exactly where I fit in - I still don't know.   What I do know - it was almost an epiphany - is that I am average. I was never meant for greatness, I don't hold the ability or personality for it.  I was never meant for big roles - I don't have the mental fortitude for it. But I was meant to be me - in all the simpleness it holds.

Learning this is allowing me the opportunity to stop struggling, to stop forcing myself into my circumstances. I am average, but I am no less important. I don't know my purpose, but I know what I know and someday where those two meet, I'm going to be ready. I'll be able to show up and say, "Yes, here I am." And even if no one else sees that God is going to say, "I never once took my eyes off of you.  You have always been enough for me".

That's it, too, dear reader.  You are enough. No matter who has passed you by, no matter who has belittled you, demeaned you, tore you down.  No matter what title you do or do not hold.  You are enough. God sees you.  He sees every single bit of all that you are and all that you go through and to Him none of it is insignificant. And all of that is possible simply because He loves you more than you will ever fathom.

So, let go of those things that are holding you captive.  Those battles you are fighting - the ones that are against no one else but you.  Those struggles you are so wrapped up in because they are comforting to you.  Let them go because He sees you.  He knows you.  And to Him, you will always be reason enough.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Discouragement

One of the devotionals I read recently talked about the most effective tool in the enemy's toolbox.  This tool is one common to everyone and one that debilitates, to some degree, all who pick it up or even happen upon in.  I hate to admit the number of times, I too, have fallen to the pull of this tool.  To be honest, I've been holding it firmly in my hands with a white-knuckled grip lately.  This tool and I have gotten to know each other.  There are some days where I can't see how life could function any other way.  Then there are days where the freedom of a victory causes me to set the tool down and walk in the blessed assurance that all is right and good in my life.

Discouragement is a mighty tool of the enemy.  People I am so discouraged right now.  It feels like one step forward and two steps back with things. In fact, I have begun to question whether having goals and dreams and desires is even worthwhile.  Most especially when I am trying to teach my Littles that in order to become who or what you want to be you need to work hard at it and have faith in the process. I have these people who are looking up to me and yet I am struggling to keep it all together.  Honestly, I just want to give up on it all.  Who was I kidding?  If I was ever meant to be a teacher I would have worked harder decades ago despite the circumstances of my life at that time. I just would have.

To top it all off, I have been diligently working to find a new line of work, something that keeps me busy, spurs a level of excitement within me, and pays the bills.  I must admit, the more jobs you apply for, the easier it gets!  I think I'm beginning to master the art of catered resumes and pointed cover letters.  I may, to some degree, be a bit straight forward, but I am honest.  If I can't get them to call me, the least I can do is tell them straight away why I am a good fit for the role - it is what the cover letter is for, right?! In all of this applying, I have also reapplied to schools (colleges/universities) who have recently opened up more adjunct roles.  I've gotten no calls or emails.

I know it has been said the waiting is the hardest part, and it truly is. I have no doubt the Lord is making me wait simply because there is something I still do not know.  There is something I still have to learn.  He is still working to make me the best teacher He can.  I have to bank on that reality or else the weight of the other possibility is simply too much for me to handle. I am not so naive to think that all childhood dreams come true, but for some reason, I was hoping that just maybe this one could happen. So, in the waiting, I will keep praying, keep reading, keep learning, keep becoming the best possible version of myself for that moment when the Lord finally lets me become a teacher.

Perhaps maybe this is the lesson I am to teach - He has our best tomorrows planned.  He has the best things in mind for us.  He knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows the best role we are to hold in this world which will light the path for our eternity. While I am waiting and keeping-on, I will have to have faith He is not finished with me yet and that His timing is the best timing. And someday, when I get the honor of becoming a teacher I can look back and see all the work the Lord was doing and realize He had it all under control - I just had to set the tool I was holding, aside.

Have a blessed day,
- M

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Forest for the Trees

There comes a time in life where you expect to have finally arrived.  What that arrival looks like for you is wholly dependent upon the thing(s) that drive you.  Me, I wanted to have a career I cared about and a feeling of self-worth.  Before you click off and chose something else to read, hear me out on this.  I have long maintained my favorite book of the Bible is Ecclesiastes; it still is.  I love that book for a myriad of reasons, but most of all because the author got it.  He just did.  Solomon was a great guy.  He had more wisdom than anyone else in all of history and yet still had issues.  I love the story of how he became the wisest person to ever be.  When he came into power, so-to-speak, the Lord asked him to name whatever it was that he wanted.  He could have the cattle on 1000 hills, he could be stronger than any man alive, he could, well, be anyone and anything.  Instead, he, in all his humbleness, simply asked for wisdom.  And it was in this request, he gained all other things.

But the problem with 'the things' is that they never filled him up.  They never quite got him to the place where he was completely and totally filled to the brim with happiness, contentment, and peace in life.  In fact, he quite vehemently stated all of it was "meaningless".  That all the toil and work and striving brought about nothing but more pain and strife and emptiness.  That each and every situation, desire, temptation, struggle, success in life was nothing new - it has all been seen and done and experienced before.  Sadly, the only thing new about any of it was the time frame in which it was occurring and the peoples in which it was happening to.  In some regard I find comfort in that, in others, I want to yell all the more loudly.

Where does all this fit into the "arriving"?  This morning while reading my Bible and doing my devotionals it dawned on me where I am in the timeline of my life.  I have had the opportunity in the recent past to work with some kids who have just entered the next phase of their lives.  These are kids who will be entering their first year of college in the fall and have their whole lives ahead of them.  These kids are equally cloaked in promise and ignorance. It has been a joy to listen to them share (when asked) what their dreams are and what they want to study.  It has been an even greater joy to listen to them express, with all their youthful wonder, what they want to be when they grow up and what impact they want to have on the world. I remember being that kid once.

As I have listened I have also encouraged them to stay strong and to not give up on school even when the temptation to work more or study less comes along.  I've tried to encourage them to stay focused on their goal, rather than the smaller wins that come in between because to lose sight of what they want is like missing the forest for the trees.  (They didn't understand that analogy, but it was apropos.)  While each of us starts life out with different driving forces and different factors that imprint our lives, we all have an opportunity to arrive.  Sometimes, it takes many years.  Sometimes, it happens straight away.  And sometimes, it doesn't happen on this side of eternity.

In any case, I am most certain, the meaning of it all is directly related to the perspective you give it. I didn't have the opportunity to begin college straight out of high school.  But I did have the opportunity to put myself through school and in doing so gained a greater appreciation for the education I paid for.  After receiving my Associates, I continued on for my Bachelors, and then most recently my Masters.  All of these taking a span of 12 years or so to complete.  While not the best timing in many cases, I think the life lessons gained along with the formal education were perfectly timed. I have hopes of returning for another degree, I don't know what degree or what subject matter just yet, but I have a great passion for learning.  I have an even greater passion for teaching.

So how does all of this fit?  Simply that life, while meaningless in bits (trees), has an ample opportunity to give you something magnificent to look at (forest) as a whole.  Isn't God so good?

-M



Sunday, July 23, 2017

My Dog

This morning while I was out on my run I got to talking with the Lord.  Let me start there. Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows how much I love to run, for those who are new to this, it's kind of another thing I do.  Any how, since my injury...self-medicating...stubbornness...final relenting to go to doctors...and surgery later...phew that is a mouthful, I'm back at it.  Slowly, of course.  Ever so painstakingly slow.  You may be wondering how any of this has to do with my dog.  No, she is not a runner.  LOL.

Anyhow, during that time of talk, I started thinking of Miss Clarabelle.  Look at her face.  Just look!  Isn't she beyond precious?  She is the most loving, loyal, fluffy, funny, energetic, and adorable dog in all the world.  (Yes, this is tinted with a slight hue of bias.)

During this talk, it was brought to light the similarities between pet ownership/relationship and that of a person's walk with the Lord.  No, really.

In the beginning, this precious little fluff ball, who fit into my hands, was simply too much.  By that, I couldn't put her down.  I wanted to hold her and cuddle her and make sure she had everything she needed.  I think that is the way when we first get to know the Lord.  We are so gung-ho.  I know I was.  I couldn't read enough, get to church enough, study enough, fellowship enough - you get the picture.  It was simply too much (in a good way, of course).

Then as Miss Clarabelle started to grow a little more, and I didn't have to worry so much about her being safe, I spent a little less time doting on her and more time going about life. Now, I never ignored her.  First of all, one doesn't simply have a Maltese and NOT pamper, spoil, dote...it is somewhat part and parcel. However, the consistency and intensity of the doting was simply not necessary.  Work with me here when I say, in our walk with the Lord, there are times when we think the consistency and intensity aren't necessary. However, we couldn't be more wrong.  In fact, when we get to that point, it is when it is all the more important.

Which leads me to the next thought.  After the painstaking toilet training process, Miss Clarabelle is still a subtle tell. We never got to the bell on the door trick, the bark at the door command, or any other audible notices.  No, this precious little girl will come up to you, sit, look, get up, walk in a circle, and sit.  It is all so cute.  In fact, if you are new to knowing her you will think all she wants is picked up and held, petted, talked too, played with, etc.  However, that is not the case.  Sadly it took, and ashamedly still takes, the trained art of listening/watching intently.

I think this is the same with the Lord.  He doesn't always sound a gong, yell out a command, or provide any other audible notice. No, he uses the still small voice.  And if we aren't in tune with that voice we are going to step into a little piddle or poo.  Sometimes it is fresh and sometimes it is a little older (meaning it catches up to us).

I know there have been times when Miss Clarabelle has been telling me she needs let out and I have been so caught up in what I am doing I have missed it or even flat out ignored it (naively thinking if she can only wait a few more minutes...).  Later, after I find it (shes not so good at hiding her duty) and she is punished I often wonder who is to blame.  After all, I was the busy one. Then I thought about all of the times I've stepped into some really big life messes, some while fresh, and some not so fresh, all because I was so wrapped up in doing it my way I missed hearing (or even worse flat out ignored) the voice of the Lord telling me the way to prevent it.

Such a simple analogy this morning. It amazes me the ways the Lord uses the non-complex things in life to teach me things. I guess there is a reason why DOG can be and has been used as an acronym for - Depend On God.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sometimes You Have to Swim Into the Seaweed

You know, I really have to admire a guy like Job.  I mean here was a man who lost everything...EVERYTHING and still didn't blame it on the Lord and still maintained his strength of faith and rebuked those who told him to admonish the Lord. No, I'm not reading in Job right now, I'm in Numbers. So, why am I going down this path of thought?   Well, here's the thing.  Sometimes being an adult isn't all it is cracked up to be.  In fact, there are days when it is the worst thing.  Honestly to be able to go back to having someone else take care of everything would be super awesome.  BUT....

That isn't the way of life.  In fact, life is all about moving forward even in the face of adversity and Job-like moments.  I've been MIA lately due to some things that have occurred in our life that have resulted in the Mr. and I having to buck up and become the responsible parties for someone elses' poor decisions and life skills.  Let me tell you, I enjoy this about as much as I enjoy getting a a bone reset.  It is painful and cumbesome and time dependent.  However, despite the physical aspect of the thing we are taking care of, there is the emotional and spiritual aspect that has had me in the most turmoil.

Emotoinally I have been a wreck.  This thing has felt like a weight I cannot get out from under.  When I was about 8 or 9 we lived on a lake.  I remember my brother and friends and some adults on one of those large square foam rafts - I think this one was blue.  I had been playing too and we were all taking turns jumping off of it and climbing back on.  This particular day the wind and waves were a little stronger than normal and once I had jumped off the raft drifted over top of me.  Every time I tried to swim out from under it, it was still on top of me. What seemed like an eternity, may have only been 20 or 30 seconds but it was enough to freak me out.  I thought I was going to drown.  Then I prayed and it dawned on me that I would be safe if I swam toward the seaweed, so I did.  Even though I had to swim into the slime and gook, I got to safety and promptly pulled myself up on the dock and walked to shore.  (To this day I do not care much for swimming, lakes, bodies of water, anything.)

I shared that to say this - this thing we have to take care of - I feel like I am drowning.  I feel like I can see the top of the water, I can see the fresh air I so desperately need, but I am trapped under the raft. Remembering the fear and the anxiety being trapped under the raft caused me, is the same fear and anxiety I feel now because of this thing.  I know we are doing the right thing.  I know we have done what the Lord would ask us to do, and I know through this procecess he is building character and teaching us something.  Sadly, I am not dealing well with this.  I want to yell and scream and fight.  I want to FIGHT!  I want to stand face-to-face with the cause of this and give it my two cents on how I feel completely violated by its complete lack of responsibility and care for others.

Instead, what I have done is yell and scream and fight with those who have no baring on this issue. Those, who like us, are a victim of the circumstance yet they have no clue they are.  Because, as an adult, it is best to keep some things from those who are incapable of making a difference.  So, there are these people, who I love, who have had to see the fear and anxiety from this "raft" that is weighing me down.  Why?  Because unlike Job who looked to the Lord always and maintained a lasting and loving relationship with not only himself and others through all it all - I have succumbed to the anger I have towards this thing.  I have let it boil over and become the elephant in our home.

I can tell, even though I still read my Bible and do my devotionals, that this thing is prohibiting the work of the Lord in my life at this time.  Instead of swimming towards him I am leaning on my own strength.  I am letting the raft stay on top of me.  I am preventing Him from leading me to safety and freah air. I know that this too shall pass.  That we are taking the right steps to correct this wrong.  In fact, we have a timeline for this and in the grand scheme of life it isn't even that long of a fix.  One could say it is only like 20 or 30 seconds on the timeline of life.  And God will protect us and keep us safe as we look to him while he sees us through.

I just need to trust Him.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June

I'm going to try to make this short, more because I only have about 20 minutes before I have to leave for work than because I don't have much to say.  I hate this time of year.  I try really hard not to hate it, really I do.  In fact, today is a very special day for someone I love.  Today is my Mr.'s birthday.  I truly hope he likes his gift and that today is filled with blessings for him.  However, outside of that one thing, there isn't much I care for in this month.

Why is this month so horrible?  Well, for the days leading up to my own birthday they serve as an anticipation for a day that has never been special for me, and for the days that follow it, they serve as a transition back to life as normal.  Why do I hate my birthday so much?  It has nothing to do with aging, after all, none of us can change the course of that.  I hate my birthday so much because it is nothing more than a reminder of the day I was born to someone who hates me.

I have no fond birthday memories growing up.  I didn't have birthday parties and celebrations, my brother and sister did but they aren't the ones who ruined our mom's life - I was.  She's told me that.  When I was younger.  I ruined her life.  I didn't ask to, but I did and it is a weight I have carried my entire life (well, since she told me) and who likes to think their existence is a reason for someone else's pain? Mine is.

It is hard growing up knowing the only people who wanted you were your grandparents, yet those people are no longer here, so I am left with the nothingness of love that parents should give their children. I think this is why I try so hard to give my Littles the best birthdays ever.  Birthdays should be a celebration of the gift of life the Lord gives us, not the reminder of how much of a mistake you were.

I was a mistake.  I have been told this time and again, my brother, 20 months younger than me, was not.  He is a boy.  He has always been more special because of that.  Then my baby sister, 10 years younger than me, well, isn't it the way of things the baby of the family gets more attention.  I know, you are reading this and thinking why is a woman, nearing the last year of her third decade of life writing like a sullen teen?  No matter how old you get, you are still someone's child. For some of us, that is a cause of great joy, for other's it is a cause of great sadness.

I can never do anything right.  My life is nothing to my family, most especially my mom. I wish she could love me like my siblings, but perhaps the pain of the way I ruined her life, all those years ago, is too much. I am sorry for that.  I truly didn't mean to.  So, with that I say this - I cannot change where I came from.  I cannot even change who I came from, but I will love those who the Lord gave me with all of my heart - because He loved me enough to bless me with them.

Should I bump into you in the next few days, please don't take my withdrawn nature personally.  I will snap out of it.  I will be ok.  It has nothing to do with how I feel about you, it has everything to do with how I feel about myself and the reminder of the date that is the biggest reminder of what I am.

Happy June.
- M

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Little Food For Thought

I'm reading in Exodus right now.  I have to tell you, the names of the people in ancient times were something else!  I love the old testament stories.  I love reading about all the ways God cared for His people, about how He made ordinary people into leaders and protectors of His people.  I love reading how much God loves us.  It is absolutely amazing.

There is something else that is absolutely amazing to me - the way His people missed all the ways they were being loved and cared for.  Now, I'd like to tell you I would never, ever in a million years behave, react, or otherwise compromise the blessings the way the Israelites did in the Old Testament.  However, I am most certain telling you that would be a farce.  You see, I do.  I do behave and act the way they did.  I do compromise the blessings I have been given the way they did.  How?  Let's look.

In Chapter 16 the Lord tells Moses he is going to provide some food each day for the Israelites.  Wait, let's back up.  Here are thousands of men, women, and children, along with all their livestock and household necessities, traveling to this far off place called, "The Promise Land". These people have just spent many years in brutal, harsh slavery in Egypt and now they get to live the good life.  God uses Moses and Aaron to take this group to their destination. We are at the beginning of this journey - God had just parted a sea and let them walk across it on dry land and then closed it up behind them to protect them from their slave owners.  WOW!  He totally had their backs.   I guess where I'm going with that is this - if He can make a dry path through a sea, He can totally provide food for His people.

However, I think this story is a lot less about what God can do and more of how we perceive it.  Work with me here.  These people were on a long walk.  They were tired, hot (traveling through a desert can do that to you), and hungry.  I don't know about you but when I get hungry I get a wee bit testy.  You could use the word, hangry if you'd like. I am most certain these people were just as hangry. Multiply that by thousands and you pretty much have a lynch mob on your hands.  What do they do?  They complain.  Yep.  Stellar, thumbs-up move.  By the way, I have Littles, I am quite accustomed to this phenomenon of complaining.  (HA!)

Moses and Aaron take the full brunt of this complaining too.  Despite that, Moses puts them in their place.  He calls them out on their antics - "Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord." (16:8b) He knew what was up.  Here these folks were being given manna in the morning and quail at night.  Given.  As in the quail were just wandering freely for the taking and the manna was there, covering the ground each day.  I mean, free food - why grumble, right?!  God gave these things with 2 stipulations - one, they could only take what they could eat each day except for the 6th day where they could take double portions and two, on the seventh day they were to rest.  "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way, I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions'." (16:4)  Sounds easy enough to me.  What could possibly go wrong?!

Yet some did.  They tried taking more.  And in so doing it would get maggots and stink to high heaven (pardon the pun).  Yuck to the Nth degree and then some.  Why on Earth, if they knew they had enough each day, and there would always be provisions for the next, would they store the stuff up?  Here is what I think and how it all made sense to me:

How many times have you crammed for something?  Like a test?  I am the best at this.  I wait, wait, wait, and then cram in as much as I can last minute to help me to my destination (acing the test, presenting my idea, etc).  I'd like to think this worked well for me throughout my schooling.  It did too, until my last degree, but that is neither here nor there. Like the Israelites, I tend to cram.  After all, a single dose of cramming is far easier than a daily dose of doing, right?  Wrong! We're going to take this up a notch now.  We still have seven days in a week.  For those of us who do, we use Sunday as our day of worship and time with God.  This day, the last day where we are to rest, we use it to cram in as much of the word of God as we can so that we have provisions for the rest of the week.  Here's the thing.  It doesn't work that way.  Nope, not a lick.  In fact, it gets filled with maggots and stink.

Now, it isn't the truths we hear on Sunday that is bad, it is the environment we take it into that pollutes it.  (Kind of like the rocky, weed infested soil in the New Testement.)  But God gives us a daily provision.  He has given us His word and His spirit.  Each day we can spend time in the word, filling up on the truths He has for us and each day we can talk freely with and come before Him.  You see, we don't need to cram for (or store up) provisions on a single day, we can take what we need each and every day to grow stronger and healthier.  Why is this so important?

We will all, at some point in our lives, walk through a desert time.  Some of us will have a short trip and some of us will get a 40-year experience. Neither scenario is worse than or better than the other, it just simply is what it is. Regardless of the length of the stay, our God is unchanging.  He is unwavering in His love for us and He is undoubtedly steadfast in His provisions for us.  While I don't see us out chasing a quail or gathering manna in a ceramic jar, I do see us opening His word and bowing our heads.  Daily. 

Hope you have a good week and get plenty to eat ;)

-M

Sunday, June 11, 2017

While Making Other Plans

I think the hardest thing as an adult is accepting life happens while you are making other plans. It is frustrating, to say the least. It isn't that I feel I should be entitled to any one thing in particular, but that I should be able to have something go my way - even if it is every once in a while.  I've held on to the dream of becoming a teacher for so many years.  In fact, the idea of teaching is one that I get horribly emotional about.  To me, teaching is the most important profession, the noblest and most honorable one too.  After all, without teachers, no one can become what they become.  Think on that.  However, be as it may, that is not the reason I have always wanted to teach.  No.  I have always wanted to teach because I love to share knowledge with others.  I love to read something and learn something new, then pass it on to others. I cannot say I am the best at it because frankly, I've never had the opportunity in a structured way to actually do it.

Now, all that said, in the months following the completion of my MBA, I have hit several closed doors.  One could even say brick walls - simply because they hurt more. I have applied to many universities and colleges, even my Alma Mater. All of which have been to no avail.  I did get a promising hit a couple months ago, I even went through a rigorous process only to not hear back - neither in the affirmative or negative.  It's a good thing I can read between the lines!  In addition to all of this, I have come to learn that our state has some pretty interesting rules for becoming a teacher.  I have a degree that allows for an alternative license, but I have to have a year of teaching (not substitute) to be eligible or I have to go back and get another degree.  The only benefit of my current education in that option being I won't have to take the big test at the end!

So, what does all of that have to do with anything?  Not too much really other than I think sometimes closed doors are for our own good.  Sometimes we can have passions and desires, hopes and dreams in life but that doesn't mean we have what it takes to arrive at them.  And it is ok!  Sure it hurts but it isn't the end of the world.  I have learned that taking the working world approach to my education has helped me appreciate the value of my education even if it was at the expense of my dreams.  That said, I know too, that the Lord didn't give me the Spiritual Gift of Teaching for nothing.  I trust He has the exact thing already mapped out for me, I just only have to wait. See, I am still the student!  It is a good thing that I love to learn.

I guess what I am trying to share is that no matter what you want in life unless God is someone you want more you will always be disappointed and hurt.  I won't lie, there are days I hate myself for not having my dream job, but I am finding it easier and easier to let go of as these days turn one into another.  Instead of hurting, I am working to find thanks in it all.  Here I was given a gift and passions and I know, without a doubt, God has a plan for it all.  It just appears mine and His aren't the same.  Praise the Lord for this, that means the plan is perfect...I just have to wait for the details to come through.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

This, That, and a Mountain of Random

I have been a little MIA lately.  Things around here have been a wee bit crazy over the past month or so.  We have hosted 2 Japanese exchange students, I've finally gotten my knee fixed, and well, life with five Littles is just plain busy! I had hoped to use these days I'm home alone to get some blogging, writing, drawing, and reading done.  Actually, I've managed to dabble in all of it...the operative word being dabble.  I'm still reading Andy Stanley's, "The Best Question Ever".  I'm still working on putting words to the outline of the book I'm writing.  I'm still watching you-tube for drawing lessons and tips, and well, you are reading the efforts of the blogging.

I've come to realize that in all the things we want to do in life there is rarely the right amount of time to actually do them.  I have so much I want to accomplish and so many goals I have set for myself, yet I am struggling to get them done.

Another thing that has been on my mind lately is vlogging.  I know!  I have spent so many years writing to you all, why switch mediums?  Well, youtube is pretty much awesome. However, I don't know how to create a video, edit it, and submit it to the site.  Basically, I am a tech novice which is why I type. Ha!  But I am quite certain there is a video for that...oh great, another rabbit hole to fall down!!!!

I mentioned above that I have an outline for a book.  I have 2 outlines actually.  Yes, for two completely different books.  I will hold off on the topics, for now, they are still mine to develop and I'm not ready to share.  However, they are two completely different books with the same issue as the root for each.  Essentially they are like a part one and part two of a series.  No, they are not fiction.  I'm not really all that into story books anymore.  I'll read an occasional whodunnit, but otherwise, I like to keep it real.   Ergo, the genre I am writing is as such. 

I've like being crafty since I was a little girl; blame that on my maternal grandmother.  Actually, all the women and men on my mom's side of the family are epically crafty people - just with different mediums.  Some have turned them into careers (owning their own businesses) and some just do it for the fun of it.  I haven't spent enough time on any one thing to hone a skill, per se, but lately, have longed to spend more time focusing on word art.  I love letters.  What can I say?! 

What things do you enjoy doing?  What goals do you have?  How do you go about finding the time to do them?

Take it easy,
- M

Answers to Prayer

(Start date: April 11, 2017) I am reading in Ephesians - plodding along in this Bible reading, I am!  I have been trying to read at least two to four chapters a morning.  I'm not exactly sure why this is the route I am taking, only that it is.  (Eh, we all have those weird things we do - just because!)  However, this morning I was unable to get past chapter one. Have you ever read something over and over, at different times, and never really clicked with what you were reading?  Kind of like high shool physics?  My biggest Little is in Physics, this momma is so proud of her super smart-ness, but I absolutely have no ability to help her...I get the basics, what goes up must come down, yadda-yadda-yadda.  It is through an understanding like that I think many of us read the Word.  I know I do at times because I simply don't "get it" most of the time.  Now, unlike Physics where I can take it or leave, choosing the later in my case, you kind of can't do that with scripture.  (We'll get into that in a different post.)  Which is why I am glad I chose to read on and not miss today's time in the Word.

Ephesians 1:11 says, "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will..." 

Have you ever been chosen for something? Like a part in the school play?  A spot on the school sports team?  A fun project at work? You get where I am going with this.  It feels good to be chosen for something.  I mean, in those cases I bet it feels something like being on top of the world like you could do just about anything.  As my biggest little would say, "I got this fam!" Now, what about being chosen for something a little less exciting. Have you ever been chosen to take the trash to the curb?  Walk your brother or sister to the bus stop? To sort through 3 years of receipts to find the root cause of demurrage charges?  (Ok, the last one may be personal!) Do you kind of notice how the first three sound like a lot of fun and the second three sound an awful lot like, well, work?

Chosen...

How does all of this play into answered prayers? I'm sure, like me, you have prayed for something.  Perhaps you prayed for the part in the play, to be on the sports team, or even to be on the project team at work.  In any fashion, we've all, at some point in time, prayed for an outcome - to get something, to get through something, to be something... Me, I'm no different.  I wouldn't say I pray more or less than anyone else, only that I pray.  Here's the thing today's scripture put into place for me about those prayers - God answers them.  Each and every one of them.  Yes, he does.  Even those that don't seem to be answered, He answers them.  Here is how I know.

Many years ago, long before I had Littles of my own, I used to pray and pray and pray for a family - someone to love me unconditionally.  (Honestly, I prayed this long before I really knew who I was praying this to or the importance of my relationship with said person.)  God didn't answer those prayers at that time, but a few years later I became a mom.

I have three daughters.  Some may think that is a curse, but I believe it is a treasure.  (Again, a post for another time.) However, each time I found out I was going to have a child (and even when I was praying for them to come - see above) I prayed and prayed for a boy.  I am not certain why I felt this desire to only have a boy, but hey, I did.  Each time I found out it was a girl, I wept.  Terribly. I was going to miss out on football and dinosaurs and basketball and cowboys and baseball and monster trucks and....I think you get it.  Then the Lord gave me two step-sons.

As a teenager and a young woman in my twenties, I prayed fervently for a man to love who was not only there for me but was my best friend.  I wanted someone who I could talk with, spend time with, laugh with, enjoy life with, and so on.  Early on, I didn't know enough to ask for a man who knew the Lord, I just knew I wanted a friend. I made mistakes with this, we all can. It took a lot of heartache and pain, some caused by me and some that happened to me.  (Read the end of 2012 through the end of 2014 for the bulk of it.) But God has answered this prayer.  More importantly, as I got into my thirties, this prayer changed to add in a man who loved and sought after the Lord. Mine does.

There are many more instances where I have prayed for something and it has come to pass, albeit in a manner I never would have thought, but I'm certain it is rooted in perfection - not mine, but His.  Then there are prayers which have gone unanswered, in my eyes, but are true answers none-the-less.  I suppose where I am going with this is that perspective is so much more necessary in the praying process than time.  Time is a given, it will lapse regardless of your desire for it to do so, but perspective is something you have control of and it certainly helps to place that perspective through the lens of Word.

However, if time is something you'd rather control...I'm most certain there is a physics problem out there for that. ;)

Don't stop praying.  He hears you.  He loves you.  He cares for you.  He knows what is best for you.  (Just so you know, I'm going to take a moment to head my own advice on this one.)

Love, 
- M


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thought Processes

It's been a few days!  Honestly, I've been writing a lot more in my spiritual journal than anything else.  Not that I don't have much to say, it's that lately I haven't had much to share.  That happens, doesn't it?  Do you ever find sometimes it is better to keep to yourself than not?  Without a doubt, it is an interesting dynamic and one which requires intentionality.  In fact, this is somewhat the basis for what I am writing about today.  There is a verse of scripture I have loved for a long while; one that I pull out and ruminate on from time to time.  This morning, again for the first time, I have read it in the full context of Paul's third letter to the church. 2 Corinthians verse 9 says, "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."  


People, those that have read this blog of mine since its inception and those who happened to stumble upon this through the help of Google, I have a weakness.  I think we all do, but that is neither here nor there, this post is admittedly about me.  This weakness of mine causes me to spiral into the deepest pits of depression, it causes me to cover everything under a cloak of darkness - a seemingly doomsday approach to the actual goings-on.  This weakness takes reality and twists it so completely out of alignment it is hard to discern the facts from my perception of them.  This weakness has caused me to lose days, weeks, and sometimes months of my life.  Sadly, it has also caused me to lose friendships, opportunities, and the joy of the simple things in life.  People, this weakness of mine is crippling.

As I wrote in my Spiritual Journal this morning, this weakness locks me up in a prison and keeps me bound; the more I struggle the tighter it holds me.  This weakness is a battlefield which is in a constant state of war - most often at the worst possible times - times when I should be focusing on important things, like work, family, and responsibilities.  The saddest part of it all is when the war spills over and manifests itself in other ways - ways that let others in on the weakness's power over me. Oh, the horrible power it has. 


My biggest weakness isn't chocolate, alcohol, shopping, or anything of that nature.  No, those are the results of a war that has spilled over.  My greatest weakness is the thought processes inside my head. I am remiss to control them.  They bind me up so tightly that for days on end I struggle to breathe.  I find one specific idea and it becomes the catalyst for the next battle. These battles start out small, then shot after shot is taken in my mind and before I know it, what was fact becomes a contorted view of reality. Don't misunderstand this for proper discernment of a situation. No, this is when perception overrides logic when reason is cast aside for folly.  There are proper times and places for analyzing your circumstance, to weigh your role in an outcome, but in other times it is a non-essential step that clouds your ability to function.


This is where I get stuck.  I get stuck between the actual and the perceived.  I run them through a filter that is clogged with feelings of inadequacy, fear, self-loathing, jealousy, and insecurity.  When I do this the war becomes tipped to the other side, even when I think I have the winning blow.  I am not fighting an actual fight but fighting against the one thing I truly want - acceptance. But I'm fighting it through wrong views.  (It's kind of like trying to drive while using someone else's glasses - you might get there, but you're going to cause some damage on the way.)



I want to tell you that by simply admitting this, I have control.  I very much do not.  However, I will tell you in the past couple of weeks I have taken a step back in the fight.  I've not charged the front line. I've set the battle equipment down and I've prayed.  I've prayed so hard at times tears have reduced my ability to actually see.  I've done this at work, while driving my van, and when sitting in my living room.  Although I've not come out the victor at these times, I have removed a lot of the initial thought process that filtered their way through and in so doing I have mitigated an ugly fight - one where I was, without a doubt, going to come up the loser.

Friends, I don't tell you this to have a negative view of me, that is for you to decide on your own.  I tell you this because weaknesses can destroy you.  It is so easy to put ownership of something on another.  Sure, we all like self-preservation, but what that does is intensify the situation by creating the exact opposite response you are "fighting" for.  But...oh the glorious riches the word "but" can bring.  We do not have to go to battle alone.  We have the power of the one who thought the world needed us.  Give your weakness to Him.  He is so much better at handling it than you ever will be.  I'm learning this, albeit very slowly.  After all, my weakness has become my security blanket.  


I want you to know, those good days - they are not because I have conquered this thing, but only because He that is in me is stronger than I am - and I've stepped aside long enough to give Him the control.  (FYI - I'm exceedingly bull-headed, strong-willed, and down right an Alpha...who knew the difficulty this would provide?! Ha!)


Don't be afraid of your weakness, give it to the one who can make you stronger in spite of it! You might just find the person on the other side is a much better version of the one you were trying to become on your own.  Well, that is what I am hoping for - in my case at least.

- M

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tug O War

I am currently reading in Romans; I just finished with chapter 7.  The Bible I use was a gift to me from my Mr. when we were dating - he gave it to me for my birthday. I haven't had it for too many years, but long enough that I have started to stumble upon verses I've highlighted and words I've jotted in the margins.  I do that, you know.  I write in the margins.  It is the #1 reason I cannot share books with others - not that I don't like to share, but that I don't want my interaction with the words to be seen by all.  I digress.

This morning as I was reading on the wages of sin and death - it sounds so harsh when put like that, don't you think - I started thinking on what the writer was saying.  Verse 14 begins this tug of war on what a person wants to do and what they don't want to do - the struggle between what is leading the cause and the direction they want to take.  If you are a slave to one, you are mastered by it...

In case you've never had the opportunity to meet me in person, I am strong-willed.  Call it what you want, it is what it is. I have always been self sufficient, independent, and the one to take care of things.  I won't elaborate on the history to this making, but sometimes we become what we have to in order to survive.  While many would say this personality type is good, it certainly has its limitations and most undeniably its drawbacks. The biggest of which is when to be in control and when not to be.

When I am not in control of a circumstance I tend to act out in ways that aren't always beneficial to myself or others - essentially 100% of the time I use my words - my voice - to express my thoughts and feelings on the subject. I'm going to tell you, while in the moment there is a great sense of justification, of correcting a wrong, of being right.  However, this only lasts for a little bit of time, because then remorse sets in, or something all the more inappropriate - the justifying of actions by talking the circumstance/situation out with another person. *shudder*

I've spent countless hours turning this over in my head - why I have the need to voice myself so adamantly; I think I have found the driving force.  For my entire life, thus far, I have always felt insignificant.  As a child I was told I wasn't wanted, I was a mistake, and that the reason I wasn't loved was because my mom simply didn't know how.  I can remember trying to gain favor in her eyes by being perfect (whatever that is) but I could never be - I wasn't my brother and years later I certainly wasn't my sister - I am, and always have been, me.  Despite this, I never stopped trying to be someone worthy of being noticed and wanted.

However, this constant struggle to be significant has put me in a battle - a tug of war - with what I want to do and what I don't want to do. I want to be significant, to be wanted, accepted, noticed, needed for more than fixing someones problem and then forgotten until the next one comes along, etc. I want to be loved. These are not bad things to want and they are not wrong in the least.  BUT...the approach and the motivation behind them can be. 

For the wages of sin is death...  I have to admit, in this game of tug of war I am finding where I try to strong arm the circumstance with things like - "look at me", "I have this", "I am this", and the list goes on.  It is when these bouts of self-recognition don't yield any results that the words start to really fly and during all of this I receive the direct opposite reaction from others than I want.  In fact, what I am doing is intensifying the discord and causing a greater distance, which creates in me a deeper need to pull that rope back in my direction with my "strong arm".  ...push...pull...push...pull...

The kicker of it all?  This game that has left more than calluses on my hands and a broken spirit within me...it has shown me that I have had the answer all along.  I am not insignificant to the one who created me.  He wanted me before I was physically created.  He designed me on purpose and for a purpose.  While the pain and hurt of what is cannot be denied, it does not define me.  I am so much more than my circumstances - I am a child of the one true king. While the wages of sin is death, he is life everlasting.

How about you?  Is there an area in your life where it is time to drop the rope?

- M              

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Day 21: Dust Cover

I love books.  We've established this time and again.  However, one thing I don't like is the dust cover.  While its glossy finish affords the reader a little something to whet their appetite - be it a picture of the main character, a scene in the book, or the small blurb on the back that is meant to draw the reader into its clutches - there is scant else it is good for.  Perhaps you could use the flap for a bookmark; I don't recommend this, by the way. I have lost my place far too many times trying to make use of this feature. Other than that, gosh, I just cannot think of another thing it is good for. In fact, I usually take them off and put them somewhere I forget while I am reading and end up finding it long after I've finished the book. However, that isn't the reason for this post, despite the title.
I decided to do a random google search - you know so I can get on with this 30-day challenge and actually finish it before the second coming - on creative writing prompts.  The one I settled on (#24 for no other reason than it is the coolest number ever) is, "Imagine your life is now a book. In 100 words, write the blurb for it. It's what people will read on the back cover".  I took some creative liberty with the prompt, because, you know!  Ha!

Nestled in a small Indiana town was a simple girl.  Well, quite complex really but she likes to think of herself as simple.  Most passers-by don't notice her as she goes about her day to day life yet inside of her is a power waiting to let loose.

Having grown up in a home where her voice was squelched long before it ever got a chance to take off she struggled to find the right way to use the words she had welling up inside her.   The words were as real to her as any tangible object.  They floated around her constantly, like those little tweety birds in the cartoons.  No one else could see the words, only her.  Some were small and soft, others big and scary. The words, they had a presence of their own and sometimes when no one was really watching, they came to life.

Her words came to life.  On the days she couldn't control them they sought to destroy others.  Yet, people didn't see it was the words doing the harm, they only saw her so she was always left to bare the full weight of their agony. Then she discovered something when the words weren't looking.  A secret weapon she could tame them with, destroy them with, and she couldn't wait for the right time to do it.

Ok, so I wasn't able to get the blurb out in 100 words or less, but I think it has a little something to it; don't you?

Here's to a little dust on the cover.  (And for those who are good with their country music circa early 90's - you're welcome for the earworm!)

- M






Wednesday, March 15, 2017

These are the Words I Should Say

I think one of the hardest things to do in life is accepting when you are wrong, most especially when another person is too.  Hear me out on this.  I am quite adept at standing my ground - with some people.  I have a hard time being walked on, talked down to, and treated like I don't matter/exist. When this type of action is taken against me I tend to lash out - mostly with my words and the tone of my voice.  While it is never good to be walked on, it is also never good to stoop to the other person's level. This is altogether harder when the person is someone you desperately want a relationship with.

The Bible has a whole lot to say about our words, our tongues, and anger.  In some ways - meaning if you feel justified in your actions - it feels like the Lord doesn't want you to have a voice.  But this is oh so very wrong.  He does want you to have a voice.  He just wants you to have the right voice and to use it in the right way.  There is a mountain of scripture which speaks to this. A few are listed below, you know, to save you some time on your own search.

Proverbs 21:23 - "Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity."
Psalm 141:3 - "Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips."
Ephesians 4:29 - "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
Proverbs 13:3 - "Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin."
Ephesians 4:31 - "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice."


But, you know me well enough to know I'm not just writing this to give you a scripture lesson, there is always something behind the need to share.  Have you ever wanted to be included, accepted, loved, or heaven's even just liked?  Sure you have - it is human nature.  It is how we are built. But in this need, have you ever tried forcing the issue?  By forcing the issue I mean constantly reminding others who you are, where you came from, and what you do and don't like?  In addition to this, also expected them to love and accept your people?  (In my case, my people are my children.)

Here's the thing the Lord has been impressing upon me in the last few days.  (Disclaimer: this post has been in the making for a really, really long time because this isn't the first time this has been impressed upon me!) How others treat me or view me is NOT - now really hear me on this - it is NOT about me.  And because it is not about me, it is not for me to defend.  It simply isn't.  HOWEVER.  (Now, you knew that was coming - Ha!) What IS about me is how I respond to them. *Lightbulb* or *Facepalm* whichever works best for you...

You see, no amount of trying is going to change a person's want and desire to have you in their lives - it just isn't.  I mean, look at how people treated our Savior.  Now, I'm not trying to put myself up there with Him in the least, what I am saying is that if He was treated like that, what on Earth makes me think I should deserve never to be?  This doesn't mean I purposely set out to ruffle tail feathers and create animosity, no, I genuinely want to to be liked, loved, cared for, wanted, etc.  But my basis for living, for being, should not be consumed by this need.  Because when it is - well - that is when the words and the anger trump the living and the being. 

When I was little, my grandma taught me the little saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."  That is about as far from the truth as it gets. You can heal from being hit with sticks and stones, but you cannot heal (entirely) from words that are spoken. Go on, think of something negative, harsh, or mean, someone has said to you and how it made you feel.  Now, think about if YOU were the person who said it to another person.  If it hurt you, don't you think it would hurt someone else too?  While it is also true, "hurt people, hurt people", it is never right to set out to do that.  It just isn't.  Yes, even when you feel justified in your actions.  Even when you have been blatantly wronged.  Even when it is hurtful to you and your people.

Why?  Because the fight isn't yours.  The person's actions are for the Lord to judge and you, you are going to be judged for yours.  Now, I don't want to scare you, God isn't going to bring out a paddle and whoop your backside, but He is going to use His spirit to convict you and in some cases, He may just never make a path for that relationship you so desperately wish would come to life.  But again, that doesn't define you.  It doesn't.  What defines you is the integrity of your character and the person the Lord is creating in you.

Choose your words wisely my friends.

Love, M