A Needed Break

To my faithful followers,

I do apologize, but I think I’m going to have to take a break from my blog for the month of April. I’m in the process of buying a house and moving which has proven to be much more complicated and time consuming than it has a right to be. I simply do not have the time or focus that this blog and it’s readers deserve. I will be back in May with more encouragement and hopefully a helpful perspective on life as I see it. Thank you.

Worthy of Love

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God loves us better than we deserve. We are all messed up but God loves us anyway. We may not deserve it but God has erased out sin and made us worthy. How awesome is that? God is the birthplace of love, the ultimate role model. My husband may drive me crazy and several times I’ve wanted to strangle the dear, sweet man but it is impossible to hold a grudge against him. Many times I’ve thought, “This man is better than I deserve,” and I’ve told him so. His reply, “why do you think you deserve less?”

Love doesn’t make sense. That is one of the things that makes it beautiful and desirable. My husband loves God in a much different way than I do but I can tell that he loves God because he loves like God. This love is transformative. It isn’t condemning but creates a desire to better ourselves. TI makes us want to be worthy of such love, to reciprocate in kind. We can’t work our way to worthiness because God has already made us worth but that desire drives us to be the change the world desperately needs. We get to be a part of something bigger. Again, how awesome is that? Be encouraged and know you are loved.

Focus

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Where you put your focus determines your success. If you focus on the obstacles, the negatives, and the failures that is all you will find. If you look past the problem to the resources available through God then you will find the solution. We can’t ignore the problems (though certainly not for lack of trying, in my case). I never said it would be easy. But God is bigger and stronger than anything that comes against us. Period. It is all about perspective on our end. We can only tap into God’s resources if we trust Him and believer what He says and what He promises is true. We can only truly tap into God’s resources when we attempt the impossible.

If you had told me at the beginning of college that two to three years after graduation I’d be buying a house, I’d have given you a dumb look and told you that was impossible. Houses are expensive. Where would I get the money and confidence for a project that big? Now, I look back at where I was and where I am. I’m not where I’d like to be but I’m a lot closer. It has been a learning experience and it has been very stressful. It has been much more complicated than I anticipated but when I get stressed and start to despair I thank God for His provision.

I have really tried to take a step back from my control freak nature and let God lead us where He wants us. Where He lead, He provides and I know it is His provision that has taken me from just surviving life to enjoying it. Some days are much harder than others, especially when I’m being flooded with pregnancy hormones. They make everything so much more…fun…or difficult depending on your level of sarcasm. They make little things (like finding the extra printer paper) seem bigger and my normal attempts to keep in control are…insufficient. But guess what? God’s strength is made evident in our weakness. So when I focus on what needs to be done and God’s strength, instead of my inadequacies, I find I’m much more clever and capable than I thought. I hope this thought helps carry you through your next bad day. Be encouraged.

Like a Slinky Down Stairs

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“It wouldn’t be a leap of faith if it didn’t feel a bit like falling.” I like quotes and songs. They are a concise way of communicating. This quote sums up how I feel about change. Change makes me anxious whether it is good or bad. I know God has a good plan and purpose for my life, a plan to prosper me and not to harm me. Now if I could get my head and heart to agree on this I’d be golden. Instead, I feel like a Slinky going down the stairs.

I knew this year was destined for greatness from the beginning. We have two huge changes in the works right now. There is a good possibility that we might put an offer down on our first house this weekend necessitated by the baby we are expecting this summer. Like I said, two huge, wonderful changes and I am thrilled and freaking out at the same time. I have high and low points in rapid succession like a Slinky going down stairs. I don’t do one emotion at a time; that would be boring. Nevermind that, that is probably well beyond my ability to control, much as I’d like to.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1 NIV). Just like I believe air exists even though I can’t see it and that I need air to breathe, I believe God gives me breath and does it for a reason. Do I get a PE credit for exercising my faith? Come on, somebody work with me here. I swear going to the gym would be easier. Part of me is stuck in the mentality of how-is-this-ever-going-to-work-out and part of me knows that a lot has changed over the years and life while still crazy and unpredictable is a lot more promising than it used to be. If you’d asked me as a child what my life plan was I would have told you: go to college, graduate, and get married. Even in college I somehow never made it past that stage of planning. Maybe because I didn’t know what came next, maybe because I didn’t know what I wanted, or maybe because I thought what I did want was out of reach.

Everyday I’m above ground is a good day or at least a good start. Every breath is a gift and some days it feels like every breath is a leap of faith all on its own. When I chose to follow Christ I wasn’t told that everything was going to be all puppies and roses. So why bother? Why make the effort? I was told, more or less, that life was going to happen, things would change and get messy and at times get ugly but that no matter what happened I’d have something and someone to hold on to and that God would be holding me even if it didn’t feel like it. I’ve had my share of stretching moments where things have gotten ugly and God and I have had words but He has always brought me through it. I feel my leaps of faith are justified. Some days they make me feel like a Slinky going down stairs but some days it feels like flying. Here’s hoping that made sense to somebody. Enjoy the ride.

Wait isn’t a Curse Word

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I don’t know about you but I hate waiting. I hate waiting in line, waiting for my TV shows to air and I burn my bacon about three times out of four frying it too quickly. I tried hard boiling an egg in the microwave once…don’t do it. Waiting the ten minutes for the water to boil and then boiling the egg won’t kill you. My impatience and impulsivity get me into trouble more often than not. You’d think I’d learn. It could always be worse. I have good days and bad days like everyone else but I’m impatient with my rate of reform too.

I heard a good quote from my pastor recently, “God’s delays aren’t necessarily God’s denials.” I’m not good at waiting and neither is my husband. I swear every time I ask him to wait on doing something or getting involved in something he hears “no, you can never do that.” I think a lot of us hear that when God says wait to something we want especially if we are waiting for him to provide a way out of a situation. I think that can be the hardest.

I’m no stranger to sticky situations: trying to find a job, any job, after college; figuring how to pay all the bills on a short check; trying to juggle the budget to move into better housing; etc. I’m sure most of us have been there at some point. God has always, always provided what I needed when I needed it. It may have taken longer than I’d have liked and not been in the way I was expecting/hoping but He has never failed to provide. The thing is, I get impatient waiting to see the provision I know is coming.

The trick to surviving the waiting is remembering God’s past actions. Like I said before sometimes the timing was down to the wire but God always came through. When David was squaring off to fight Goliath people around him were freaking out because the situation looked impossible but David kept his cool. He told them that while tending his father’s sheep God helped him defeat a lion and a bear. These were formidable enemies to a grown man but especially to a young boy. What was the difference between a bear and a bear sized human? When God is standing behind you He gives you the power and the courage to do the impossible. It’s kind of His specialty.

Another one of my favorite quotes is: “Never doubt in the darkness what you know to be true in the light.” It is too easy to know you are loved and cared for when the sun is shining and all the bills are paid and forget it when things go wrong. When you think everything is starting to look up and then the bottom falls out it can be frustrating and discouraging. I’ve been there. Sometimes it can take me a day or two to get my head on straight and remember that I have a heavenly father who takes care of me even when things slip out of my control (like most days I’m awake). That’s when I have to cycle back to God’s past actions and trust that a delay in His answer doesn’t mean He’s going to leave me in the mess I’ve made. Waiting for the answer is hard but trying to live life on my own, under my own control is harder. I guess I’ll just have to get better at waiting.

Pro Life or Pro Choice? I’m Both. Part 2

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Thank you to everyone who commented (either directly on my blog or on Facebook) on my last post Pro Life or Pro Choice? I’m Both. I thought it would be easier to write another post to address all the good and valid points brought up for discussion. Thank you, especially, to Alicia for sending me the article I have linked here. http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/why-progressive-christians-should-care-about-abortion-gosnell I think it better states what I was trying to say in my first post although I have a few differences from her opinion.

 

The point was brought up in multiple comments that people will do what they want to whether it is legal or not so if we make exceptions for aborting/murdering unborn children wouldn’t it be the same to make exceptions for murdering adults or stealing? This question startled me because even as I believe that abortion is murder I never realized that I put it in a separate category from murdering a born person. I feel like to be fair and consistent in my view I should be whole heartedly against it. However, don’t we make exceptions for murdering adults (euthanasia, death penalty, war, etc.)? And don’t we make exceptions for stealing? Our politicians do it constantly and whether they get caught or not it seems the worst they get is a slap on the wrist and maybe some time in a white collar prison. What seems like a simple moral issue of black and white isn’t all that simple when you start to really look at it.

Perhaps I believe in the right to choose because I don’t see the option ever going away and that is my way of dealing with the issue. Make the right choice. Pro life means more than anti-abortion. I believe in education and birth control. Prevention and caution can go a long way in avoiding unwanted pregnancies. I also believe that every life is valuable whether it is American, Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Atheist, straight, gay… You get my point. How can I claim abortion is more acceptable than serial killing and how can I claim it is worse than casualties of war? Each has its own set of moral justifications.

Perhaps we should be looking to the cause of such decisions not just the symptoms. Many women who seek and receive abortions are in lower class minorities. What would happen if instead of banning abortions and cutting the supply, we reached out to those less fortunate and educated them, fed them, taught them work and life skills? What if we stopped judging them and instead of looking down our noses and wagging our fingers, brought them into our homes and churches as the places of safety they were always meant to be? What if we got down from our high horses and realized that we too have made mistakes, some big, some ugly but we had someone to help us dig out from under them?

I still don’t have the solid black and white answers I would like to have but I’ve learned a lot from this discussion. If you haven’t already, please read the linked article. It is quite insightful and goes farther in depth on the issue than I do. Let’s keep talking. Honest discussion leads to action and change even if the only change is in how we ourselves treat those around us. That small change can change the world.

Pro Life or Pro Choice? I’m Both.

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There has been a lot of discussion lately about Roe vs. Wade. I suppose I have a very strange opinion on the subject. I am pro life all the way. I believe life begins at conception and that it is wrong to end that life. However, I believe outlawing abortion will not solve the problem. People who are determined will find ways to do what they will to preserve their lifestyles. The only difference is it will be so much more dangerous. God gave us free will for better or worse. He did it on purpose and lets us keep it. I believe we should be given the choice because we have one whether it is legal or not but I also believe that we should raise our children to be responsible for their actions and the choices they make.

We need to do our part and teach our children to think about long term consequences. If we teach them that there is no such thing as safe sex that there is always a chance of getting pregnant with no easy out then maybe they’ll think before they act. But we cannot raise them in fear; they will only see it as a challenge. We need to teach them they have a choice but there is a right and wrong choice and they need to take responsibility for their actions. Life gets messy. No matter what you do or how you live, life gets messy and things happen in ways we never intended. The real trick is rolling with it and making the best of it. Sometimes the unexpected, unplanned things turn out to be the biggest blessings despite all the complications they bring. So I suppose I have a very strange opinion on the subject of pro life and pro choice. I’m both. I just believe there is a right and wrong choice.

Sacrifice

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How easy it is to forget sacrifices that have been made for us, to take for granted all that we have. I’m always grateful to be reminded of the sacrifices that have been made for me because I believe they are worth remembering. I may have my issues with where this country is headed and how it is run but it is still my home and I am indebted to those who leave their homes and families to lay down their lives to protect this broken country. I may not always support the reasons but I always support the men and women who protect my right to have my own opinion.

I am also eternally grateful to my God who sacrificed His only son to save me and give me hope. Hope. There’s that crazy word again. Whenever I’m scared or frustrated because of life circumstances I’m given hope that Jesus sacrificed everything. He suffered and died but He came back! He came back because God knows the plans He has for us, plans not to harm us but to give us a hope and a future. These sacrifices mean something. They deserve to be remembered. They give us hope and make us strive to be better, to be worthy of it.

Can Greed be Good?

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It depends on how you define greed. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines greed as: “intense and selfish desire for something.” It is taking something at someone else’s expense. There is a difference between desire for more and greed.

God has given us a desire for more. A desire to make good better is what keeps us moving forward. It is what brought us electricity, indoor plumbing, flight. It is how we provide for our families and advance technology and medicine. These desires are the opposite of greed because they make the world a better place.

Sometimes I have to remind myself, that treating myself well and taking care of myself isn’t greedy, it’s healthy. Having wealth doesn’t mean you’re greedy. Being greedy is taking advantage of someone less fortunate than you. Greedy is standing taller because you are standing on someone else’s back. Working hard to make good better isn’t greedy; it is the way God made us to live.

Shameless

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Sometimes I ask God if He gets tired of watching me walk away and come back over and over. I know I get tired of walking away and dragging myself back after realizing what a mistake walking away had been. I feel embarrassed and ashamed. Someone once defined shame as a separation of personal connection. Shame cuts us off from other people making us feel like we aren’t worth to make amends. God wants everyone to know that He doesn’t believe in shame. He obliterates shame. He stands with arms wide open waiting for our return.

I’m sure He gets tired of watching us walk away. I’m sure it hurts Him. But He never ever gets tired of us running back! In the story of the prodigal son when the son returns, head down without excuses but with apologies on his lips, his father (a man of dignity, power and respect) didn’t stand and stare and he didn’t turn his back. No! He ran to his son! A man of dignity never ran. He ran with arms wide open and embraced his returning son, refusing to hear his apologies because he was already forgiven. His father rejoiced that his “son who was dead is alive again.”

God will never get tired of us running back into his arms. He’ll even meet us halfway. He loves us more than we can understand.  Never again let shame separate you from a love you no longer feel worthy of because it isn’t your decision whether you’re lovable. God loves who He chooses to love regardless of how we feel about it. Be encouraged.

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