Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Now and The Not Yet

The song in the video above came flooding into my mind this morning after I was reading in Philippians and then went on to have a great conversation with my friend Mary.

I love it so much when God uses many different ways to show me something that He is wanting me to learn. He used Philippians 3:7-14 to talk with me about being careful not to judge others for where they are on their journey with Him. This thought continued as I was talking with Mary this morning. We each were sharing different things we are learning and doing in our lives, and we came to the realization that some of the things we are learning could only come through time and mistakes and getting up and trying again. It would be so much easier if someone could have just told us what we needed to learn and we immediately mastered it, but, most lessons need to be learned the hard way --- living through them, making the mistakes, trying one thing and failing and trying another and seeing it work.

I am seeing that I need to be very careful once I have learned something new in my journey with Jesus. I find that it is so easy for me to fall into judging people around me when they have not yet been taught the lessons I have learned. I find myself feeling more "spiritual", more "mature", "more than" them. YUCK!!!

What a dangerous and horrible place to be.

Paul, THE apostle Paul... didn't consider himself as "more than". He saw that even he had not arrived yet.

"I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be." Philippians 3:12

It is so easy for me to spot the mistakes, the flaws, the "less thans" in others. To laugh and put myself above them in my mind. But that is so wrong!

I am NOT "more than" anyone!

We are all on this journey. We all are pressing on to the end of the race, to the prize at the end.

Some started their journey at a different place than I did. Some have fallen down and need a helping hand up. Some need a friend to cheer them on as they push through the pain to keep going.

They certainly do not need someone standing on the sidelines yelling at them that they are doing it all wrong.

The other day I went to my friends' daughters' cross country meet at a local park. As the girls ran past in the pack, I cheered along with her parents when she ran by. As the race went on, I watched as her dad ran across the park to get to where she was heading. He waited there for her to come by and as she was pushing on toward the finish line, he shouted encouragement to her. "Keep going! You can do it! You can do this!"

We all need encouragement to press on, to keep going.

I know I do.

And I want to be that encourager for others in my life. I want to be standing there cheering my friends on to keep going, not telling them that they aren't doing it right.

We are no longer what we were before, but we are not all that we will be.

I want to keep that in mind as I walk this journey, for myself, but also for others.

"No, dear friends, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven." Philippians 3:13-14
"Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works." Hebrews 10:24
"Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." Ephesians 4:29

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Removing What Gets in the Way - Pt. 2

I realized something today.

I am being distracted. There is something in the way of understanding, communication, connection.

But it is going to take a lot more than just a shift of my position so that I can clearly see.

I realized that I have a log in my eye.

A big one.

It's more like a tree.

I think it is big enough to have roots that go way down deep, circling my heart. It definitely affects the way I think.

Because of this log, I do things that I do not want to do (Romans 7:14-24). I judge, I am critical and hurtful with my words. I am impatient and unforgiving and selfish (Luke 6:37-38).

Oh how I need this log removed from my eye.

It's a good thing I know the Gardener.

Lord, please remove this log from my eye. Pull the roots from my heart and mind. Restore my sight so that I may see as You see. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Removing What Gets in the Way

"...seeing well is the art of subtraction.
Shift to see. This is the art of subtraction."

-- from Ann Voskamp's blog post "Fine Art of Subtraction" at Holy Experience

So often I am distracted by the extras. Too many things get in the way — block my view from the realness that is there — the truth. Too often I focus on the clutter — the things that irritate, annoy, anger. What lies beneath is the treasure — what is real, what is vital, what belongs. In my rush to get rid of the clutter I trample over the tender shoots — blocking the way once again to connection, relation, understanding.

To shift I must pause.


Carefully move my position to remove the distraction.

Change the way I think.


"Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." 
Philippians 4:8

"Don't copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think."
Romans 12:2

Monday, October 19, 2009

Don't Worry.... Be Happy (Ha!)

I'm sorry about the title of this post... do you have the song running through your head now? I know I do. But it's not that easy, is it. To just stop worrying and immediately BE HAPPY! Yeah right. Not this girl. I tend to go from not worrying, to maybe fretting occasionally while trying to be happy and then back to worrying again. So how do I get from worrying to being happy? Do I just imagine the worry just blows away --- Poof?

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Philippians 4:6

What about a grouchiness? Can I substitute the word complain in this verse? Is that re-writing God's Word?  Today I am feeling rather grouchy instead of fretful or full of worry.

Ann V. at Holy Experience has been humbly sharing her journey of gratitude and the fruit that it has been producing in her life. She is so beautifully modeling how to take the time to purposefully stop and thank Him for all that He is and does.

Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

It is so ingrained in me to think about what irritates me or is ugly, what is wrong, what I don't like.

Fix your thoughts... Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Philippians 4:8

I need to make an effort. I need to choose to fix my thoughts on what is pure and lovely. They are here, those beautiful, undeserved gifts. Because He is here. He is always here.

I must choose to see them. As I lift each one and examine it, soak it in, whisper thanks, then peace is experienced. The peace that is always there, because He is always there.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

So I will begin to put into practice fixing my thoughts on what He has done and thanking Him, searching for evidence of His presence, His touch, His breath.

I give thanks for:

1. The cool crispness in the air.

2. Glorious blue October skies.

3. My daughter's blue fuzzy slippers warming my toes.

4. Philippians 4:6-7

5. The sounds of my children energized by the fresh fall air.

6. The sacredness of fellowship around the table with fellow followers.

7. Baby fascination with sock covered toes.

8. A borrowed camera to play with.

9. A bagel hot from the toaster slathered with cream cheese.

10. The opportunity to join the journey of gratitude.

Will you join me in this journey? What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where does my help come from?

Tension was settling in on my shoulders, my back, my mind.

The questions that come at times like this started rolling around in my head.

What am I doing wrong?

What do I need to change?

Am I doing enough?

Maybe I need a schedule....

How does she do it? Or what about her?

Their family seems to have it all together, they look happy in their craziness...  how do they do it? Maybe I should ask them....

Last night I was practically marching from one task to another, almost desperate to get each one done, knowing that there was one more to do, and then another. Why is there a part of me that almost seems to enjoy that feeling... the feeling that only I can do this, and "whoa is me! I have so much to do!".... And all the while my tension grew. Relief did not come through accomplishment. Huh.

Quietly You tapped me on the shoulder this morning. You, once again, reminded me that I was looking in the wrong place for relief, for help. That's all it took. Your quiet, gentle reminder. But this stubborn ewe sheep of yours didn't come quickly or easily.

Written thoughts on my journal page became my prayer, my turning my face to You. Thank you for drawing me back, for so patiently, gently reminding me that You are all I need. Ever. You are enough.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Bread Analogy

I bake bread.

3 to 6 loaves a week.

Every week.

What picture does that bring to your mind when you read that?

What kind of person do you think I am because I bake my family's bread?

Do you know what recipe I use? or what equipment I use or don't use?

How about how often I bake bread?

Does any of that matter?

So, why am I rambling on about making bread?

Well, it seems to be a good analogy for a couple of different struggles I have had in my life.

I have struggled with my calling to be a homemaker.

You see, I had a picture in my head that I thought was the "right way" to be a homemaker.... the Biblical way, maybe, but for sure the "right way".

This homemaker that lived inside my head and did everything "right" had the perfect schedule that she used to make sure that every little chore got accomplished. She went about her chores happily. She loved to bleach the grout around her bathtub and mop her floors. There was never dust on her bookshelves and her living room got vacuumed every other day.

And this is big... her husband NEVER had to do any housework!  Because homemaking was her job! And if her husband mopped the floor, that would certainly mean that she was a failure as a homemaker. That's what it says in the Bible, right?

(well.... no, not really...)


The reality is that I can never live up to that picture in my head.  Maybe one day, when I don't have 5 kids at home with me all day, every day, I will look something closer to that picture... but definitely not at this stage of my life. And you know what? I don't want to look like that picture anyway!

Then there is my other major life struggle... how I walk out my relationship with Jesus in my every day life.

There always seemed to be these hidden "rules" in my head or they were suggested by others as the "right" way to live the Christian life. Ways to serve, ways to worship, ways to "do church"....

OK, so all this stuff has been rolling around in my head. And the Lord has been showing me so much as I have grown in my relationship with Him... showing me what is true about my struggles. And I so wanted to share them here, but I wasn't sure how to do that.

That's where the bread comes in.

A lot of my friends bake bread.

But not one of us does it exactly the same.

And that is where God brought me one of those "Ah Ha!" moments.

I started thinking about this...

Those of us that bake bread each do it the way that fits us best.

We use different recipes. (or modify the recipe to suit us)

We bake at different times.

Some grind their own grain, others buy their flour at Publix.

Some hand knead their dough, others have Kitchen Aid mixers or Electrolux mixers from Switzerland...

All these differences, but at the end of it all, we all are baking bread!

There is no one "right" way to do it.

And that is what is true about being a homemaker, a homeschooler,  a wife,  a Christian. (and so much more) There are no lists in the Bible that lay out what a Christian homemaker does every day. (Nope, not even Proverbs 31!) There are no lists that detail out how we are to live for Jesus every day. At least none that start with rising before dawn to have a quiet time and end with serving in the nursery every Sunday. (smile)

For me there is so much freedom in this realization. And there has been joy in the discovery of how I have been made to do what God has called me to. I don't have to be anyone else. Just who He made me to be.