I sit here reflecting on what an amazing thing family is. Simple. People helping other people. Knowing full-well who you can count on. The individuals that would never hurt you if they could keep from it. Hugs. Smiles. Peace. Encouragement. I have all of this in my family, whether they’re in the same house or living in a different state. God has blessed me with role models, really great, strong ones who never surrender, even though there are days they want to. With tears in their eyes, they say “I’m doin’ ok” when you ask and you believe it, because we have a prayer-answering Father. And even though you may see some of their hurt, or that flicker of pain in their eyes, you have faith that they are ok. And on those days they want to quit, you’re able to remind them of that flame, that flicker of strength they possess, that can’t be extinguished, no matter the battle. No matter the odds or statistics. Diagnoses, injuries, heartbreak, and aches that most will never know about, will one day be erased. God is Alpha and Omega and those who call Him family can rely on His strength. We get tired, frustrated, offended, and discouraged, but with Him as our Father, we don’t lose. We get to look on His face one day and as every single individual’s knee bows, we will get it. We will finally comprehend what all of this has been for. And all the stress and anxieties of this short life will be a distant notion we can’t seem to recall. So if you don’t have the kind of family I do, be family for someone else. Hug freely. Smile incessantly. Sit beside someone and just be there in the moment. Breathe. And if you don’t know what a real relationship is like with the Creator of this place we call home for awhile, chase after it. Boldly ask God to open your eyes to that love that is like no other.
Luke 14:11 states: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” I can’t help but think of all the “duck lips” and selfies and derrieres I’ve seen within the past couple weeks or maybe years. People are proud. Proud of what? Their face? Their booty? A certain amount of self-confidence and a healthy dose of self-esteem is appropriate, sure. But I have to wonder: What are we constantly seeking? Approval? Compliments? Someone to notice how worthy we are of attention? As a whole, I think we are placing priority not on the God Who made us, but us.
I don’t want to exalt those who shouldn’t be, namely me. Anything I do is only because God allows me to do it. I have no talents that He hasn’t given me and until I have prayed about a situation, my ideas are limited at best. It’s not easy to live in this world and be set apart from it simultaneously. We were called to be renewed and transformed by the Word of God and some (I dare not say “most” for fear of my stomach turning) don’t even know what it says because the only time they open their Bible is on Sunday mornings, if they didn’t forget it at home. Ouch. That one stung me just a little bit, too.
It’s for that reason that for the next 30 days, I will be carrying a Bible with me. Anywhere I go, the Word of God will be readily available and at my fingertips, much like the smartphone I’m tired of eyeballing. I’ve come to a place where I need more God. More peace. More wisdom. More of anything He’s offering. “God30” begins tomorrow and I look forward to the insights I expect to receive. My priorities must shift. Instead of studying the “art of myself” and how to take the perfect selfie with ideal lighting in the greatest of angles, I’ll study anything the Creator Himself wants to point out each day. I can practice my Daffy Duck mouth another day.
I’ve had one of those days or maybe not so much days, but weeks. One of those days when everything I throw at the trash can (think full coffee filter. Why do I throw those things?) doesn’t actually go inside the trash can and one of those days when you look up to the sky to try to get a handle on things and breathe, but a weird worm from a nearby tree drops onto your upper lip. (Ok, that didn’t really happen, but I did visualize it happening as I looked skyward that day. I have a very active imagination that can be a pro or a con at any given time.) So as I’m walking along, wondering about weird worms, I realize so much about our day is perspective and where we place our focus. My thoughts after I missed the trash can were, “Geeeeez, isn’t anything gonna go right today??” In that moment, I felt a much gentler thought almost audibly whisper, “There are many things that have gone right today.” That whisper, I believe, is the Holy Spirit. There’s no describing it, but I’ve heard it with my heart before many times. (“You don’t have to do this.” Is one of my favorite statements the Comforter has ever made to me. That was when I thought I had to drink. A lot. That’s a previous blog post.)
When I was gently corrected and reminded of the many blessings God had poured out on my ungrateful head that day, I realized that there are only moments of discouragement. Not “bad days.” It’s unlikely that every minute of a 24-hour period could be bad. It’s only moments we, in our fleshy ways, try to make out to be worse than they truly are by focusing on those instead of the good ones.
When Jesus left this earth after being raised from the dead, He said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 (NIV) I know I need an Advocate. Somebody who’s gonna help me out by reminding me that every little thing’s gonna be alright (some of you now have a Marley song stuck in your head now. You’re welcome.) Even on one o’ those days I throw the banana away and start to eat the peel.
Persecution by Facebook? Weird. The post quite simply stated: “God>Buddha.” This is my belief. Wholeheartedly. The Living Creator of the universe and also my living, breathing, being wins against a mere mortal, especially one who is no longer with us, any day. But I digress. The following, lest anyone think I could post something such as this without thought, is a brief overview of what went through my head regarding the topic for nearly a week after.
Day 1: It’s my page and I’ll post what I want.
Day 2: I did stand for what I believe since I posted 2 names (One was the Creator of the Universe and the other, a man the first, also known as Alpha, created, who had amazing principles for life… as does the Creator’s Son, ironically)
Day 3: I’ll supply the reason behind the post. I believe many are looking for something, yet don’t know what or who. I understand that because I’ve been there. I’ve been in that place where you need more and grow exhausted due to not finding it. And the answer certainly isn’t in mere individuals because they are just that, individual humans searching for truth themselves. The Buddhist principles offer peace, a beautiful serenity that so many crave in this world. But true peace is found in the One Who created Buddha. I believe we serve a living God and I’ve seen miracles in this country and another as well that cannot be explained away.
Day 4: Simply because one doesn’t believe in God doesn’t make Him any less real.
Day 5: It’s weird that my Buddhist friends aren’t offended…
Each of these days, I have prayed for those who haven’t experienced God the way I have. It is my opinion and also a fact that God is greater because the creation does not supersede the Creator Himself. This is what I believe.
It looms. It lurks. It seems ever-present. Stress and anxiety…that icky, nasty feeling that something in your life isn’t right. Why? Because it isn’t. Revolutionary, I know! There’s not enough time. There’s too much to do. There’s always dishes, work, cleaning, laundry, kids, lawns, and so it goes. You feel it in your shoulders if you pay enough attention. They’re tense, but you don’t notice because they’ve been that way for so long. You push through. Just keep going. We think: What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just get this stuff done? Where does all the time go? I’ll never get organized. Sigh. Jesus will come back before I get this desk cleaned off. Why is that sink whistling every time I turn it on? Why is my printer making that funny humming sound? Why, oh why, do my kids talk every minute of their waking hours?? I don’t have time for all this!!
Can we take a minute, literally, let’s just take ONE minute (did you just spin to look at the clock to see if you had the time? Yeah, you need this.) Breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 8. When you breathe in, poke your belly out (no one’s watching. And if they are, they probably have a bigger belly anyway) then pull it toward your spine when you breathe out. Ready? Of course you are, you were born that way, right?
On the inhale: Be still and know.
And on the exhale: that He’s God now and forever.
Take this full minute to fill your mind with thoughts of Him and only Him. The One Who created the skies and the clouds in it, the snowflakes and the sunshine, children and the elderly, everything good, great, and wonderful is from Him and He knows how to make it all work out. There is nothing we can’t handle because there’s nothing He can’t handle. He is us and we are Him. Be still, breathe, and know that He still sits on that throne, in full control.
Now, don’t cha feel better? Now let’s get back to folding the laundry…eh, it can wait til tomorrow.
After getting flipped off by a man at the gas station this morning, he was continuing out of the lot and I thought he was pulling up to the pump, so I drove in front of him. The look in his eye I wanted no part of. Obviously I had not wanted to upset him, but he didn’t know that. You see this came after that same look was in my eyes not even an hour prior. If molten lava could have spewed out from my eye sockets, it would have. Getting my children ready for school and out the door is seriously one of the most frustrating aspects of my life right now. The recording that plays in my head is repeating over and over “I can’t do this. God, I need your help! I can’t do this. This is ridiculous! Why can’t I be more organized? What in the world are you guys doing? I TOLD you to get your shoes on!!! I hate this!”
The look that the man gave me was hurtful. All I could think was: I didn’t mean to. I didn’t mean to cut in front of you. I just simply thought you were stopping at the gas pump. Then, in that way that only my God can, I heard: “Mom, I didn’t mean to. I can’t go as fast as you want me to because I’m just learning.”
Lord forgive us when we try to rush things that cannot be rushed. And when we get so mad we’re caught screaming in the school parking lot (Or was that just me?) I laugh thinking about it now but it surely was not funny at the time. My daughter is a dawdler and there’s no question as to where she gets it. She had to belt in her rainbow bear and tried to sneak her walking, talking doll into her backpack. (I used to have to line up my stuffed animals in bed, gently tucking them in for the day before leaving.) It’s truly as if I’m screaming at myself. Lord help me to be who you want me to be. Help me to show love so that others can see you in me, not the crazy person who’s losing it. There are so many people who are losing it these days. Father transform us so that we don’t look like this world anymore. And change us to where we crave exactly that. Help us to change the MP3 in our heads (or cassette or 8-track or record, depending on your generation) to thoughts that You would have us to think. We look to You for guidance and we won’t take anything less than what You have for us.
And I pray salvation for that man who flipped me the bird. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Exult: “show or feel elation or jubilation, especially as the result of a success.”
Is this you? Is this me? It’s not at 6:30am, I can divulge that much to you. I used to work in a factory. And when I think about “exulting” I think of him. He was a man who was different. He was different because when he came in, not only did he bring a smile to everyone’s face, but people were drawn to him. It was amazing to experience. I would watch as workers just wanted to be near him because he laughed, he sang, he danced, he even jumped up and down. He was a light in a dark place. He showed joy as he stocked the vending machine. Did you imagine him having a “more sophisticated” job? He was the one who stocked the candy bars and chips. I don’t know if this was his ultimate goal or not, but he let his light shine where he was. He wasn’t waiting for the day when he “made it” to get excited about life.He was amazingly exultant right where he was and he changed lives because of it. I looked forward to seeing him because he always had something good to say.
As I get older, I realize it’s more difficult to hold on to and talk about the good stuff. The “bad doesn’t outweigh the good”, as my wise father would say, but it’s so much easier to gripe, isn’t it? We are so blessed and yet most days if not all, it’s a struggle to make the gratitude flow. *Instantly I’m reminded of yesterday when the “blessed truck” (read “bless-ed” as per Methodist church circa 1988-this is better than referring to it as a mule-ish barnyard animal) pulled out in front of me. It wasn’t thankfulness that I was safe flowing out of my mouth at that point. Keep in mind I’m waaaaaaaaaay better than I used to be (see above: I worked in a factory. My mouth was an issue Jesus Himself had to tweak.)
My point is that it is work to think on and speak the positive. We are supposed to be that light. There are quite a few I would imagine that would shout and honk and yell not-so-creative names out the window at the blessed truck, but we are not them. We are jubilant! We are holy and righteous and good! We have to adjust our mindsets daily at the very least. I’m recognizing mine needs adjusted a wee bit more than that. Maybe hourly. Kids have a tendency to stomp out my good mood like a finished cigarette. Elation is work, but it’s worth it. We are unbelievably blessed. So plaster on a smile and fake it til ya make it if you have to, but God says to rejoice in his name all day long and exult in His righteousness. (Psalm 89:16) It’s only through Him that we can see the awesome.