Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Plucking Out Burrs

November... It's that thankful month. The month that I don't always feel particularly thankful. In fact, it's a month that instills a certain level of panic in me most years because it is the month that I realize just how behind schedule I am. It is the month that from the first I keep telling myself that I have thirty days before I have to think about Christmas... Then November 27th hits and I realize that I am woefully behind the eight ball, staring down December and feeling anything but thankful.

It was in this state that I walked into my studio this morning. I prayed on the chilly trek out here that God would give me something to say. Something that had meaning and purpose. I prayed that God would reveal in me another burr to pluck out and heal with His love. I sat... And I sat... Nothing. I reached for my first devotional and He spoke from the pages about Thankfulness. I glossed over it. I reached for my second devotional and He spoke to me about His purpose for me and His love. I couldn't make the words apply to me. I tried a few posts of my own from journals... Flat. And then I went back and re-read the pages He gave me.

"A life of praise and thankfulness becomes a life filled with miracles. Instead of trying to be in control, you focus on Me and what I am doing." Ok... You have my attention now, Lord. A life filled with miracles? Really? And the relinquishing of control... Well, lets face it. I never had it anyway. God is in control - Has been since the beginning of time. What I want, what I think I need - It isn't going to come to pass unless it lines up with what God wants.

Then there was my second little book... "Long before you began seeking Me, I had designs on you for glorious living." The verse that accompanies it, "It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for." Eph 1:11 (Msg)

So now, now that my attention is fully engaged, I begin to realize that God is speaking to my heart about my lack of thanksgiving. Without a heart that is focused on how amazing God is and without being incredibly thankful for His love, I cannot become His instrument, living a glorious life. I won't realize my potential in who I am and what my purpose is. To become His, living gloriously and fulfilled by the purpose I was created for, I have to hit my knees and cry out to Him all of the things I am thankful for.

My job is not to be the best financial planner a barn has ever seen. My job is not to live a life of controlled madness, pinching pennies and fretting over delinquent accounts. My job is to open my hands and my heart to see with clarity the things that God has handed my family. They may not be items I can put actual hands on, but God is always providing. A heart filled with thanksgiving is not preoccupied with where the next meal is coming from. A heart filled with thanksgiving lives each moment thanking the Lord for what is before it, right now at this instant in time.

While the holiday of Thanksgiving may be over for another year, I am reminded that we as Christians are called to live it out daily. Thank God for waking you up this morning. Thank Him for what He is doing in your life and for having designs on you for glorious living. He is the ultimate deliverer! Trust Him to deliver you a life that witnesses, no - better yet: is filled with miracles...

Be blessed!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks

He kinda looks like a turkey...

It's that time of year again... That crazy, stress filled, I-have-no-idea-what-to-get-so-and-so, broke, messed up emotional time of year. The Holidays. (yay..) No one can deny that for some it is a holocaust of emotional baggage and unrealistic expectations. Somehow we think these days in November and December carry with them magical insulation from the day to day crap that hounds us the other ten months of the year. Every year we are shocked that it doesn't.

It is in this spirit that I want to bring a bit of clarity, levity and reality to my world this month and next. I want to be reminded that I have it soooo good! I want more than "stuff" to take center stage... I want gratitude.

*I am not going to participate in Black Friday. I don't know who thought calling it that was a good idea... It conjures up a chaotic and horrific image in my mind. The only thing more frightening is that famous bridal sale in a basement somewhere in New York... (shudders) Besides - any other thing we label with "Black" isn't a good thing: Black Beard, Black Hole of Calcutta, Black ice, Blacklist, blackened salmon... So until they rename it Lilac Friday, I will not be stepping out to shop!

*I will think on the things that I am eternally thankful for. I will remember that I have a healthy family, animals that love me, a husband that both works and plays with me, friends that think I am funny (yes, you do!), and a home in which to wallow (because I am fairly sure, by its current state, that we are pigs, not people).

*I will remember those that have gone before me and beside me to insure that I am free and able to eat, drink and be merry while they grab a quick snack of potted meat and crackers in a dusty tent somewhere. I will not complain that I have to work on that day because someone else has actually given his or her life that I can freely do so. If you don't want to work on Thanksgiving, you can always quit... I hear the job market is a veritable carnival of plenty! (Rolls eyes... Yeah, that's what I thought!)

*I will pray for our President. (Not joking. If anyone needs prayers it is the leader of our great nation!)

*I will miss my husband dearly tomorrow, but not allow it to sound in my voice so that he is reminded that I love him more than any other human on the planet. I will pray for God to show him successes measured not by trophies or monetary gain, but by holy influence and hearts touched. I too will strive to mirror that love and jubilation. After all, not everyone gets to do what they were designed to do. Someone has to be a Walmart Greeter...

During these months of craziness, when so much can be twisted around and focused on ourselves, I will remember that I am blessed beyond measure. I will be thankful that I am rich in Christ's love. I will hug my kids tighter, kiss my husband deeper and open more wine with my friends! Because now, more than ever, IT IS NOT ABOUT ME!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Nursing old wounds

Every now and again I am reminded. I hear The Voice, or I see a familiar face and I am reminded. Sometimes I will catch a glimpse of a sideways look and I am reminded. I am reminded that I am imperfect, unkind, unworthy and sinful. It's instantly accusing. It's immediately convicting. It's crippling to any joy I might be experiencing and it robs my confidence in one felled swoop.

While I am grateful to be reminded that everyone is fallen, everyone needs Christ's grace and love, I must remember that my past does not control or define me. I have been freed and forgiven. I walk forward, looking ahead and upward for guidance, not behind as if chased by demons of the past. I can never shake the consequences of my previous choices, but I can learn from them. I can use them to look upon others with grace and understanding. I can and will share my mistakes with those who desperately crave the knowledge that Christ isn't waiting for them to be "good enough."

My mistakes have shaped me, but they don't continue to describe me. My Bad Girl doesn't get to rule my heart and mind, but she's a valuable asset to lead lost hearts to be found. I refuse to pretend that she isn't there, just below the surface. No one is picture perfect, least of all me.

I am learning to measure my wounds of the past against what they can do for my future. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23, 24 NIV) Be comforted that Christ refused the sterile life and placed himself instead in the midst of prostitutes, liars, thieves and tax collectors. It is the broken that need Him most - And Friend, we are all broken!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Safe, Warm, and Uncomfortable...

It hasn't significantly snowed here yet. It hasn't rained either. It has been a balmy 70 some degrees on a regular basis since the little tiny cold snap we had in the first weeks of October. While some have been lauding the wonderful weather and sunshiny extension of summer-like weather there has been a feeling of dread creeping up my spine and settling into my heart. We need moisture. We need rain. We need snow. It is imperative that somewhere, something breaks loose for the mid section of our country and we get precipitation to end this drought. In short, we need cold, wet, snow, rain - we need discomfort.

So too in my daily life. I need discomfort. I need the days filled with strife, angst, hardship, challenges, and busyness to move me forward into a life of bounty and fruitful existence. Yes, I know how dangerous that last statement is. Fully aware of the tongue-in-cheek saying among Christians: "Never pray for patience. God will deliver all manner of frustrating circumstances to teach you just how to be patient!" But the thing is, if I don't tell the Lord I am ready, that I understand that I need these challenges, it doesn't mean He won't deliver them anyway. It simply means that I will stick my head in the sand. It means I will be disobedient to His will. It means I will wander off the path in search of comfort, instead of staying by His side to witness greatness.

I accept that I need to be uncomfortable. I accept the discomfort as part of a necessary process in which my God moves me from barrenness to fruitful bounty. I open my hands to the gift the Lord desires to place in them, whether it looks like snow, mud, rain, dust or nothing at all. I accept that He alone knows what I need, when I need it.

I open my heart, Lord, to the willingness to be led and ask You to quell my desire to lead. I pray You will deliver joy into my heart when things are tough, cold, wet, uncomfortable... Remind me that there was One who endured horrors and pain unimaginable so that I might live. My discomfort pales in comparison. Remind me anyway. When life is hard, when circumstances seem insurmountable, when I am tempted to use my own flawed scale of fair and unjust, remind me.

Lean into the discomfort today and be reminded that God uses our pain to teach and grow us into the likeness of His Son. It is never wasted...

Be blessed.