Monthly Archives: November 2012

Looking at Life Through the Son

Standard

Arg! So I’m guilty of it again. I get down and look anywhere but up when things don’t go the way I planned.
Financial issues, family problems, whatever the case may be, where do you turn? I, first and foremost, call my mama. She is the one person in my life, who without judgment, (ok, sometimes, there’s some judgment.) will fight on my side as well as offer at least 2 viable solutions and argue their effectiveness. I, being the one “down in the dumps” as they say, in turn argue why that will never work. Why? Because I want to stay in the aforementioned dump. Why? Why would I want to wallow in the muck and the mire? Is that where I’m comfy? Surely not. I like to be up, on Cloud 9 (as humans, we have a lot of places that only exist in our heads, huh?) skipping to an upbeat beat! This is where I claim to want to be, and this is where we should be as God’s children, so why do we look at our shoes when we get discouraged instead of keeping our minds on what and Who matters?

We need to say what God says about the situation we find ourselves in and see how things change in our favor. Don’t you think we’d gain more ground than we’ve ever seen before! It’s a constant fight against what we want to do versus what God wants us to do. It’s not so much that we are opposing Him (of course, in some cases, there’s blatant refusal to do what He wants) but our “self” wants to do what it wants to do and nothing is going to stop it. Our self thinks that “freedom is bondage and bondage is freedom.” (Thanks Pastor!) We have to constantly remind our “self” that we are God’s creation and He has a plan for each of us. Anything that deviates from that plan is what we speak against. We speak against it by saying what God Himself says about the issue. We get to open our Bibles anytime and there ya have it! What God says! We need to agree to not say a word until we know the Word! Can you imagine how different our day would go if the only words that came out of our mouths were God’s words?

Advertisements

Thanksgiving Angel

Standard

I had my groceries. He had crazy hair. I had my one-year-old daughter. He had a mysterious sack containing only God knows what. I had my pepper spray in hand. He had on a dirty camo coat. I must admit, I loaded my groceries and said daughter into the car, giving myself a pep talk and prepping for what could happen in the next few moments. I scanned the scene: an older woman sipping a soda watching; if anything happened, she would surely notify someone. A man pulling his van up into a parking spot close to mine. Quite a few people leaving the store, as this was two days before Thanksgiving.

This man paced only a few feet behind my car, on the grass next to the parking lot, mumbling things to himself. He acted almost as if waiting for someone. Or something. The news report in my head went like this: “Woman in local Kroger parking lot held at gunpoint Tues evening while her one-year-old daughter cried in the back seat. The woman had sense enough to lock the car doors so as the attacker could not reach the child. Police are still looking for this woman who was unable to fight off the dirty man.” I realize this may sound completely absurd to some of you, or maybe it’s new mom thing, but all I could think was how to protect my baby. I watched as the man crossed the street and sat down beside a dumpster behind another grocery store. I sighed and enjoyed a moment of relief, but then a moment of concern. And compassion for this man.

Then, before I knew it, I’m driving over there. (Lord help me, I can hear my father’s voice giving me a stern lecture as I type.) It was one of those moments where I kinda went, “Well, God, you’re gonna protect me, right?” I imagine God winked at me. I pulled up to the man with a $10 dollar bill in hand, knowing without a shadow of a doubt my brave, do-gooder donation would buy his next meal and maybe a warmer coat at some local mission. He got up, not making much eye contact, mumbling in what sounded like a foreign language. He looked at me, with eyes that still make me want to cry when I think about them. They were nothing short of beautiful. Gray blue in color and full of some strange sort of contentment. His face was hairy and dirty, but those eyes were perfect and truly mesmerizing. He looked at me intently, as if he knew exactly why I was there. He came toward me but not too close. I reached out and said, “Sir. Please take this.” Those eyes scanned me and the bill as if I held a steak and he was a stray dog.

This man was not in the least bit tempted to take the money. He shook his head carefully, almost apologetically. I continued to hold out the money, and said, “Are you sure? Please take it. Happy Thanksgiving.” He took a step back and looked behind him and upward. It gives me the chills as I type because I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone do such a move. Without a word, it was as if he were saying he was taken care of because this was not his home. I inquired, pleadingly, one more time, “Are you sure you’re ok?” and with that he nodded, with those amazing eyes locked on mine. Not knowing what to say, I uttered, “God bless you” knowing full well, in some crazy, in-a-way-only-God-can, he was blessed beyond belief.

I drove away, emotional to say the least (truth be told I was crying, wondering what other drivers thought) thanking God for all that I had. My daughter (who waved and said “Byyyyyyyyye!” as we drove off…I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the stranger had winked at her knowingly) my husband, my home, my cat, the food in my fridge, my washer and dryer, a closet full of clothes, a computer, a church home, a church family, family in various states (both geographic and emotional), my faith, my salvation…the list goes on and on. It took an encounter such as this to remind me that we are here for a short time. And God provides everything we need in that time, whether our cup runneth over, or we have just enough manna to get us by for another 24 hours. Thank you God, for this angel who reminded me that you take care of the sparrows, and will assuredly take care of us too.

Joy-Stealin’ Stupor-stores

Standard

Ahhhh, the holidays…or is it AHHHHHHHHHHH NO!!!!! THE HOLIDAYS!!! “I refuse to be neurotic this year.” This is my mantra. I choose to focus on the real reason for the holidays. I won’t be participating in any Black Friday events as (and I’m pretty sure I’ll offend some here, but that’s ok, to truly know me is to love me.) I don’t believe those who focus on the sales are focused on the real reason. There. I said it. It’s out. Comment if you must. I know that you can save money and I know that there are amazing deals and I know that blah-be-dee-blah-blah-blah…People who throw elbows in stores are not the ones I choose to model myself after. I have made the choice to be as Christ-like as possible and those stomping on others’ knuckles and kicking old women’s dentures in to get to the last LOL Elmo scream anything but “Jesus” to me.

I used to think it was so cool to have a holiday that we just spent being thankful…we’d spend time with people we were related to, some even named Uncle Herman, whether we liked them or not. We’d eat after saying a prayer that expressed how grateful we were to have all the blessings we do (even Aunt Barbara’s carrot casserole–what is she thinking?! Every year??), and we’d hang out in the kitchen or the living room, depending on where your priorities lay, whether you liked to pick at leftovers or watch the game more. We would leave that home feeling closer to our families, sharing stories and updates with our immediate family about everyone we had talked with.

Family. That’s Thanksgiving to me. Not crammed aisles, carts running into your heels, mile-long checkout lanes with less-than-chipper shoppers, grouchy cashiers wearing reindeer antlers. Our focus was not on how much time was left before we were heading to that superstore to spend our year’s savings, or worse, loading a plastic card at 32% interest. There was no agenda as to how long, exactly, we had to spend discussing Aunt Edna’s cat, even though I’m sure there needs to be a set limit on that conversation. We just enjoyed…or at the very least, relaxed. We breathed. We inhaled, then exhaled. We took the moments as they came, whether it was watching a wrestling match break out between cousins or an impromptu song from 3-year-old Kaitlyn.

My point is: I refuse to let these “stupor-stores” steal my joy and my breath this holiday season. I will take the time to truly spend with my family and be in the moment. Time is a gift. I intend to show how thankful I am for it this year.

Worrier or Warrior?

Standard

“Whiners cannot be warriors.” Beth Moore made this statement and as I lay in bed last night, I thought about how worriers can’t be either. If you begin to watch the words that come out of your mouth, on a daily basis, “Drive careful! Ohhhh, I hope it turns out ok. I don’t know what the doctors are going to do this time. The cancer is “incurable.” It just won’t heal. I’m so concerned! I’m really stressing out about this. What if…?”
Some of these statements are spoken out of habit, but also out of pure worry. We cannot be the awesome headstrong warriors God wants us to be if we can’t get our minds off the ugliness of the situation. We think about the worst! A friend of mine just had a heart attack and the very first thought that entered my brain was: “Oh no! What will she do with 6 kids all by herself!?” I know I’m not wrong in that this ugly thought did not come from God. I immediately corrected myself and began praying that this would be a beginning for him and not the end of his story. We can’t let our brains go wherever they want to or they’ll drive us into a pit of negativity, stress, and worry.

You might think this a tad extreme, but in an effort to control where my thoughts went, I stopped saying “Drive careful.” I really got to thinking about what that statement implied.
1. The individual, if not a careful driver, might end up hurt, disabled, or dead.
2. Even if they are a careful driver, accidents happen.
3. The driver may hurt someone else or worse and Oh! How bad they would feel if that happened!

I didn’t like the implications of any of the three. I had a friend stop me the other day and say, “Drive careful! I mean it.” She said this with one of the most concerned looks I’d ever seen on a human face. I know it came from a place of well, concern, and care, but what did she think? That I wouldn’t be careful had she not told me? That I’d peel out of the parking lot where we’d met for lunch, tires squealing and leaving the smell of burnt rubber and black marks on the pavement, only to get out on the highway, traveling 85, and remember, “Ohhhhh wait! She said, “Careful!” I almost forgot!”

Ok, so I have an imagination and I like to belabor the point at times, but what does this boil down to? Trusting God to take care of things. He has a pretty good, no wait, AWESOME, track record of taking care of His children! So why are we constantly worried about the attack instead of the offense?

I’ve known some who speak about the enemy or the devil and what he’s doing more than what God is. We, as believers, have to be on the lookout, of course, because the Bible says he prowls around like a lion, seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8) but that can’t be the only thing on our brains! After all, this is not a pure and lovely and good (Phillipians 4:8) topic to consume our minds with! I wonder what we could accomplish today if we didn’t worry and trusted our Creator to deal with it all. We might just be on our way to being warriors.

Smooshed Soldier?

Standard

I believe it was Charles Stanley that said to remember to “HALT” and never allow yourself to become too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Here within the past couple of days, I think I’ve been a some sort of Spanish version (HALTOS) because I am not only all of the above, but “Overwhelmed” and “Stressed” can easily be thrown in the mix as well. I applied for a job, after not working on even a steady basis since 2009, and instantly it’s like I forgot all the spiritual work I’ve put in within the past 3 years! I thought I was training myself up to be a soldier and not just any soldier! A Christian MOM soldier! That’s good enough for any resume! After filling out the application, turning in my resume, and personally heading in to the facility to speak with the Head Gal, (I’ve got to stop using that word, it makes me feel like an 80-year-old man) my mind began racing: “What would I do with my daughter? How will I dress? Where’s my college textbook on the subject? I have to find that! I think it’s in the closet…why is it in the closet? I should have that out studying it every day for just this occasion so that I know everything there is to know in my field! I’m so inadequate! I really…oh boy, why would they hire me?”
Holy heifer!! I just went from a soldier to an ant ready and willing to be smooshed! Our mind is a powerful thing and it can propel us forward or take us 3 or more steps back each and every time we think. We are constantly under attack and the mind is our battlefield. (God bless you for your insights Joyce Meyer! If you haven’t read “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce, read it! I don’t get any kickback, but if anyone knows how I possibly could, let me know.) We have to train our brains! We have to tell our human minds what God says about us. I stood looking in the mirror that day saying to myself, over and over, “If God wants me to have it, it’s mine. If God wants me to have it, it’s mine.” And also, “If God doesn’t want me to have it, I don’t want it!” I’ve come to a place in my life where I want to walk in His will and His alone. My will took me places I never want to go back to and am so very thankful God delivered me from! So, while I wait for that phone to ring (you don’t have to sit by it anymore, you can take it with you! Ha! I’m not an elderly gentleman!) I’m not only going to study that text, but my Bible as well and refresh my mind…over and over and over again.

Bruises and Wisdom

Standard

Her first bruise. Ouch! It was so much more painful for me somehow than it ever could have been for my one-year-old, newly-toddling, daughter. I turned my back for a split second, heard a thud, which was promptly followed by a scream only used for such occasions. My first thought was to make sure she was alright, as images of me sitting bedside a hospital bed came to mind, waiting on test results, praying she didn’t lose conciousness, the doctor walking in… “I let her fall. I wasn’t looking at her for that moment and she fell and smashed her head. If only I had been watching her more closely! If only I hadn’t gotten hungry! I just had to have warm pizza! If only…” I gave myself a mental slap and came back to the faith-filled realm I profess to live in, as opposed to the natural, worldly one that states every mother has to feel worry, guilt, and blame every moment of the day.
Sometimes we beat ourselves up so badly our own family wouldn’t recognize us if we showed actual bruises! God has a plan for each of us and we are to trust in that plan. We trust that Romans 8:28 is done and Amen. We are to thank God for not giving up on us and loving us no matter how we treat Him or ourselves. Sometimes we have difficulty trusting God because He isn’t always in our face, loudly encouraging us to keep going, keep pushing, strive onward toward the goal!
Just like it wasn’t my fault that my daughter fell, it’s not God’s fault that we fall at times. He trusts us enough to let us go our own way, knowing full well that with His help, we have the power, strength, and motivation to get back up! We are bound to fall short, sometimes more than once daily, but that’s in the plan too. Sorry to tell some of you, but this doesn’t surprise God at all. He accounted for this. He doesn’t dictate what or how we do things. We, as His children, have to be willing to look to Him for the guidance we need. He doesn’t constantly shout like a football coach how we should run or which way. It’s up to us to look to Him for His answers and His leading. He will direct our paths, but only if we let Him. We have to trust that He is everything we need Him to be. I pray this month that we can look to Him for wisdom, knowledge, and counseling more than we ever have before.

A Role Model? Me?

Standard

A role model. That’s what I heard. I heard this when asking God what in the world He wanted me to be when I grew up. A role model. Me? I didn’t see it. As someone who was compelled to head to the gas station/liquor store and buy a 12-pack every night, then proceed to drink that 12-pack…every night, smoking a pack or 2 to boot, I just wasn’t seeing how my life would be a role-model-y one. Not in a “Follow-me! I’m-a-leader!”-kinda way, a financial-kinda way (I spent approximately $60–tax not included–each week on my addictions) or a moral compass-kinda way either. I was depressed, discouraged, distressed and downtrodden. (And perhaps another d-word I can’t think of right now.)
I remember just shaking my head and practically rolling my eyes upward, muttering something along the lines of “Yeah right” in typical Eeyore-fashion. My life meant nothing to me at that point. I truly didn’t care if I lived or died. I remember waking up, laying in bed, and thinking, “Maybe this is the day it ends.” I didn’t necessarily want to die, but I sure didn’t care much if I lived at all. I needed someone desperately. I needed someone to notice the torture my mind went through, the sheer agony of not caring, the element of feeling so hopeless and so worthless that you could see your car driving off a cliff and then, cut to you: simply sitting there, not screaming, not upset, just staring off in the distance, on the way down.
Even now, as I type a fraction of my story, I feel those same feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, dread of a new day of nothing new at all, depression, and anxiety.
Then, just like that (snap your fingers here for effect), God set me free. He was the someone who cared. He was the someone who noticed my torturous days. He loved me even though I didn’t love myself, or maybe especially because I didn’t. He was the voice at the bottom of that beer can that said, “You don’t have to do this.” I don’t? I would think. But I like it! (I believe this is the part where God rolled His eyes at me.)
My life and my mind began to change when I started to face the truth. I, in fact, didn’t like it. I hated being a slave to a beverage and tobacco and I surely didn’t benefit from the junk it brought along with it. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol doesn’t fix anything! Who knew?
It was March 12, 2009 when I met with a Christian counselor, fully intending to hit the drive-through liquor store on the way home. It was on the same road as her office. How convenient! After our session, I’d sit on the back porch, working my way through my drinking issue and a 12-pack at the same time. (I’ve always been a multi-tasker.) After all, people didn’t just STOP drinking miraculously, did they? No! It required time and effort on their part and I’d get there. I just needed to think about it some more.
How many of you can agree with me when I say that God ALWAYS has a better plan? That night, the woman of God and I prayed. I can’t even tell you that my heart was totally in it, so it wasn’t because I believed really hard or wished with all my might. My depressed mind kept me from any of that. I held her hand and felt the tears well up, I willed them to stay right where they were, firmly pressed down. But they wouldn’t. And it was with those tears, that God saw my true heart, before I did. I am ecstatic to tell you that I haven’t touched alcohol since, and laid the nicotine habit down in June of that same year. God is so good that words cannot possibly describe…but I can sure try.
Today I pray for each and every person who struggles with addiction in any way and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that all they have to do is pray to the God Who created them and the truth shall set them free.