Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why We Need People

I have recently started going to a local group where we share about life, we learn, we eat amazing food(!!!), and we build really cool friendships together.  And I love to meet new people and make friends.  Friends are, many times, what carry us through rough times, they can lend us hope when we're running low, and they can be a presence in our life when others come and go.  I hold a high value on friendship - whether a friend for a season or a friend for life.

So I was very delighted to hear a conversation between two people in my new group of friends.  One was telling the other about how stressful their life is right now, and how all they can seem to do is just make it through the day and be glad they did.  The comment that made me smile was when the second person said, "But that's just it - you make it through the day.  You did it and you can do it again.  And you just keep making it."

This is where relationships are so vital!  I've known so many people who I know would have been better off in their situation if they just, simply, had people around them.  Including me!  Here's the thing about people.... most of the time, there really doesn't have to be verbal communication in order for them to make a difference in your life.  They can make a difference because they let you know you're not alone.  They can offer you hugs and lunch and laughs, they can share with you tears and dirty hands and stories.

That brings me to this point - YOU make a difference by being a part of people's lives.  You were created for a purpose and you are needed.  Please don't neglect reaching out to people when an opportunity arises.  Somebody probably needs to hear you remind them they can make it through their day, they can do it again, and they can keep making it.

Image from HERE

Monday, April 23, 2012

Does the bush know your name?

There are several reasons why I love my pastor, Pastor Dan Betzer, and one of them is because he is such a good speaker.  Granted, he's had years of practice, but still, he's just really good.  Let's leave it at that.

A comment he made during a sermon recently was "Does the bush know your name?"  Sounds silly, but he was referring to when God spoke to Moses through a burning bush.  (You know the bush that was "burning" but wasn't actually on fire?  God is so creative...)

And so I ask myself, does the bush know my name?  Has the bush been talking to me and I haven't recognized that it is calling my name?

Don't get lost in the imagery here.  All it means is this: what might God be calling you (me) to do?  He spoke to Moses through a burning bush.  He's spoken through a donkey before too.  He will use whatever means necessary to speak to us, but are we listening?

Moses led a nation out of slavery.  It was worth listening to that bush for him.  What about for me?

What about for you?

Cool Burning Bush

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

If this letter is for you, you will know it...

Dear Friend,

I heard you had a rough day today.  Yeah, I know, rough is putting it lightly.

When I heard about it, you know what I felt?  Ache.  My heart ached for you.  I hurt for you.

Because I know that kind of day.

The tightness in my breathing brings back memories of heaving sobs, of sleepless nights, of ache, ache, ache.  Of wondering when the pain is going to end.  Of hoping against all hope for.... hope.

Most people don't quite understand that ache, though.  Most people don't deal with that ache.  Thank God they don't have to.  Most people haven't held the weight we've held.  Most people don't know or haven't been to that place.  And that's ok.  It's only hard when they judge as if they have.  But I know.

And no, it doesn't seem right for us to carry that ache.  But we have.  We know God, we know salvation, we know heaven, we know grace, we know healing, we know mercy.  And boy do we know pain.  We just know.  We don't like to talk about it much, it's not the most savory of conversations, of course.  But it's very real.

And my solution is this: I have no solution.  I have no remedy for that pain.  For some reason we deal or have dealt with it when others never scratch the surface of it.  Jesus alone helps us through.  Not friends, not blogs, not medicine.  But when we make it through - it is solely by the grace of God through whatever means He uses.  And we know that.

So why am I writing you this letter?  Just to tell you this: you're really not alone in this understanding.  I know.  So we know together.  Whether we like it or not, we know.  But we are not alone.

I hope you will hold on to this realization, and hold on until you find that sunny, breezy, beautiful place of no pain - of something lovely. And I hope in that moment that you will say, "holding on was worth it - for this."

With hugs of love,


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Look Up!

I tend to choose books to read that are hard to read.  That is - they are so full of mindful nuggets of wisdom and thought-provoking subjects, that it takes me (literally) years to get through them. So it is with Joyce Meyer's Battlefield of the Mind.  

One of my favorite verses (I know, I have a lot!) is from Genesis, when Abram was discouraged about his situation.  God told him to take a moment and look all around him...  turn in a circle... do the whole panorama thing...  take it all in... because this was going to be his land.  God promised Abram everything as far as his eye could see. (Genesis 13:14-15) 

A neat point from this passage is that everything around him - all the vast, fertile, beautiful land - that was always there.  But Abram's problem wasn't the existence of it, it was simply seeing it.  Seeing it as the personal promise God gave to him.  

Here's what Joyce Meyer says about it in her book:

This passage clearly reveals that even though Abraham [formerly Abram] found himself in less desirable circumstances... God wanted him to "look up" from that place where he was to the place that He wanted to take him.

...I encourage you to take a positive look at the possibilities of the future... Think and speak about your future in a positive way, according to what God has placed in your heart, and not according to what you have seen in the past or are seeing even now in the present. (pp.195-196)

If you have any experience with dancing, you know that looking at your feet the whole time generally messes you up more than if you just focus on the movement of the person you're dancing with.  I like to think of life as a great dance with God, and as long as I am focused on Him, He whisks me around this dance floor of life with grace and beauty and strength.  

Will you join me on this dance floor, will you look up and into His face?  Will you let Him lead you into all grace and beauty and strength?  I promise the floor is big enough for all of us. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Live every moment....

Live every moment, as though it was your last
Before the Thief of Always steals tomorrow from your grasp
Before the chance to know His love has somehow passed you by
Let your heart reach out, right here, right now, for the Lord to touch your life
                           -Jaci Velasquez, Thief of Always
 A few weeks ago, I went to spend time with one of my friends from choir.  Though about 50 years separates us, I love her as if she’s a sister my age.  We ate at her favorite pizza parlor and she gave me a tour of her home.  She moved here several years ago at the insistence of her children, who lovingly purchased and furnished the beautiful place she lives in.  She has nothing but praise and love for them. 

One thing that is just remarkable to me about this lady is that she is such a graceful and welcoming person.  There aren’t very many people who don’t just have a blast spending time with her.  Spunky, she is.  She’s not willing to give in to discouragement, though she deals with it often.  I admire her greatly.

That is probably some of the reasons why a lady in her development, Tanya, became such good friends with her.  Tanya has been dealing with medical issues for a while, but you’d never know it looking at her.  She’s spunky too, but a bit more quite than my friend.  So I had the delightful idea when I was visiting my friend, to plan for a ladies’ night in where we could invite Tanya to lift her spirts a little and have fun together.  We were going to plan it as soon as I got back from my trip.

That was a couple weeks ago.  Last Thursday, Tanya passed away suddenly. 

I grieve because I simply miss her sweet spirit, but I know that as I grieve, she rejoices with no pain, and with the love of her life.  I take great comfort in that.  Also, as Pastor Phyllis mentioned at her memorial service, Tanya simply got an address change, and those who know Jesus with see her again someday.

While I celebrate the fact that Tanya is at peace, I am also challenged to not let a moment go by when God brings someone to my heart.  Take advantage of that opportunity now, because it may not be there tomorrow, and you never know what God might have for you to learn from that moment. 

 “Father, I want those you gave me to be with me right where I am…” John 17:24

Here's a little blast from the past.  Enjoy. :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Judgment Scars

One of the most challenging events I find myself in is choosing to love a friend despite their false judgment of me. 

I am fully aware that I've done the same - judged falsely.  And I'm so thankful for my friends who have looked beyond my words and remembered my heart.  False judgment can really cause scars.  I look at those friends now, and I see the scars that I've helped engrave.  I am not proud of it.  But, it helps me to remember two things:

1. I need to just walk away from the sinful urge to place my judgment on someone.  Who am I?  What do I know?  Only God can see their heart.  Only God can know where they stand.  I am not the Judge.  My perspective really doesn't count here.

2. I've been forgiven by this friend.  What humility!  To stare at the scar you have helped give someone and know that, even though they bear that scar, they have chosen to love you.  They have chosen to wear their identity in Christ and not pay any attention to the scar you have caused.  

Timely enough, this is a beautiful picture to me of how much God loves me.  Even though what I've done has hurt him, He has chosen to love me.  I hurt God when I do things that pound a nail into His Son's hands.  While this may seem backwards, don't let the timing throw you off - I definitely was part of what nailed Jesus to the cross.  His death was a prepayment for all the wrong I would do.  He didn't deserve it, but He took it anyway.  For my sake.  For yours. 

And this Sunday, this Easter Sunday, I'm remembering the scars I've caused, and remembering the forgiveness I've received in spite of them.  May God grant me the grace to pass that forgiveness on when others scar me.  This is real love.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Choosing Righteousnes

Sometimes the best thing God does to remind me of His goodness, is to show me what I'd be missing out on if I walked away from His goodness.

I've found that true this week.  Though there are many alluring pulls in life, I can almost always spot the ones that are blatantly not blessed by God, and, of course, those are the ones that tend to capture my attention.  Why?  I do not have any earthly idea.  Except, perhaps, that I was born a sinner. 

Still, despite the short-term benefits of unrighteous options, I'm thankful God has given me the choice to stay with Him.  And IN spite of whatever I do to fail His plan for me, I know He will welcome me back to join Him.

I'd just rather not have to "come back" if I can keep from it. 

I'm thankful to be covered by grace and love.  I'm thankful I have hope and that what God has in store for me is eternal, not just a temporary feeling.  I'm choosing to dwell on that today. 

What will you choose?


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Faithfulness v. Stubbornness

The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs.  There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide.
- C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

I've never really thought about the difference between the two: faithfulness and stubbornness.  One has a positive connotation, one a negative.  Often, I've interchanged the words, but the passage in Lewis's book has made me think twice.

Faithfulness says "I'm going to do this because it is right and I want to live a righteous life."  Stubbornness says "I'm going to do this because it is right and I am required to do what is right."  Both can do the "right" thing, but only faithfulness will do it with the right attitude.  

Faithfulness produces growth.  Stubbornness produces despair. Faithfulness will bless you when you have achieved your goal.  Stubbornness will deflate you.

Faithfulness causes us to let go of the goals and dreams we have so we can go in new directions.  Stubbornness keeps us on one path until we reach that goal, but allows no room for mistake or outside influence.  We will probably end up in the same place, but getting there stubbornly can be very painful.  Getting there faithfully will bring lots of joy to us and to those around us along the way.  

Most of all, faithfulness denotes a trust in God for our strength.  Stubbornness relies solely on ourselves.  What things in your life can you stop being stubborn about, and start being faithful about?

Just for smiles... :)