Am I a value added woman?

Is my life making a difference here?

It’s a challenging question I have to ask myself from time to time.

Am I a woman adding value to this position or simply a warm body taking up space?

I hope I take inventory of this question before I reach the intersection of productivity and pity party in search of the destination I am to travel.  But that gives me far more credit than I am allowed to claim.

As I gaze down pity party lane, I see all of the reasons success evades me and would you know not one iota of fault is on me. No. The blame lies squarely on the lap of another. One who wants to see me fail and plans my demise when I am not looking.  One who does not communicate to my liking or do things the way we have always done. One who thinks differently and does not cater to my personal agenda.

If I’m being completely honest, I don’t even have time to mess with this anyway. It just so happened I could show up this one time. But the welcome is no longer warm and I don’t seem to have a place.

Don’t they see how valuable I am?

Maybe I should remind them.

I know it sounds harsh but you’ve been there, right?

But then I turn my gaze down the lane of productivity and see a women who is proactive and seeks to understand.  She finds value in every person who surrounds her. She is inquisitive.  A woman who sees the plan and the purpose and understands when she needs to take one for the team. Not because she is a saint but because she knows her service counts toward something far greater than herself. She adds value to the team. Her presence is appreciated and would be missed should she decide to move on.

I move toward my chosen path and stumble upon the speed bump of my attitude.

Is it really in my control?
Can I truly choose?

Let me be honest by saying I have chosen both. I find when I travel pity party lane, it is likely because I have felt coerced in to taking the position. I was not courageous enough to say no.  Or, I thought I would gain some kind of personal recognition. After all, I am super mom. But muddled motives make messed up moms.

Muddled Motivescreate messed up mommas

On the flip side, I find productivity with passion. When I evaluate the cost of my yes and agree with a humble heart I discover a thankful attitude. Knowledge of the opportunity granted to me by a most gracious God. In this heart attitude, I find myself fresh for the challenge. Intentional in making time for success. It’s in this place I can add value to my commitment.

Are you freely traveling the road of productivity or are you parked at the pity party?

What change can you make today to redirect to the path of productivity?

Most importantly,  are you blocking the path to blessing for another by staying parked with pride for a companion?

I pray we all find the productivity road we are made to travel. I pray we add value through our passion and creativity. I pray for permission to leave the party when our actions no longer align with our most secret thoughts and deeds. I pray we become women who evaluate the priorities of our lives realistically understanding the importance of making our no mean no and our yes mean yes.

Five Minute Friday: Focus

 

May I never be too busy in my own affairs that I fail to respond to the needs of others with kindness and compassion.

Thomas Jefferson

I will probably never be accused of not being focused on the task at hand.  Sometimes, I am too focused.  Like the time my coworker took to clapping her hands and yelling my name to be sure I was really in tune to what she was saying.  Because apparently I have a go to word grouping in conjunction with a head shake that makes it appear I am listening, while I am really not. In this moment, she needed my attention.

Lately, my heart has been challenged to allow for interruptions. To allow my focus to wane from the task at hand to the life happening around me.  I’ve been challenged to slow down my day allowing for time to take paths less traveled.  In the process, I have found myself listening more. Observing more.  Finding more opportunities for service. Obedience to the still small voice residing in my heart

Every day, I witness amazing miracles prompted by the holy spirit through little things, like chocolate covered cherries.  I made it a point to home visit 8 seniors on New Year’s Eve and I took each one a box of chocolate covered cherries.  Would you believe that this little box of chocolates held a significant memory for each and every one of them.  Each stop held a new treasured and personal story prompted by a very normal treat.  And I stood in awe of God each time.

Focus.  Important to progress. Necessary to complete tasks at hand. But applied too intensely- I miss valuable opportunity to experience the life surrounding me on a daily basis.

This post is linked up with Kate Motaung’s five minute friday free write. You can find more like this at Kate Moutaung‘s , or you can take a stab at it yourself. See you there!

Tempering Tantrums

Is age 8 too young to start hormone therapy?

Seriously.  I am currently in the trenches raising a legit emotional roller coaster. One who travels from sweet and accommodating to spawn of Satan in seconds.

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And someone gave her a light saber….

This isn’t my first rodeo with tantrums.  She is our third child.  But I have to say I am super embarrassed tantrums still hold a place in our daily life.  She’s 8!

The book Boundaries was a saving grace when raising my oldest child. There is beauty in learning to offer choices to your children as a means of participating in the control of their behavior.  My youngest, however?

Lets Review:

ME: “Madi, I have set the timer.  If you aren’t out of bed by the time it goes off, you will go to bed a half hour earlier tonight.”

(Just a hint, this is how I established a morning routine with my older kids.  It’s a sure thing.)

Madi: “I’m not getting out of this bed until you turn off the timer.  I hate the timer.”

(What?!? She’s negotiating? Why is this no longer working? Seriously?)

Me: “Forget the timer. You’re getting your butt out of bed NOW because I’m the mom and I said so! And your still going to bed early because this is crazy!”

(Insert tantrum here)

I guess my point is this.  The more kids we have, the smarter they get.  At this point, they are smarter than me.  Which is why we have stopped at three.

I know my limits. And even though this kid is pushing every one of my buttons, there are still a few tricks to temper these tantrums.

Separate from the source:

Now this is tricky.  Because the fit is likely being thrown when you are in a time crunch or the middle of a public place. Like Cracker Barrel. Surrounded by people who are no younger than 70 and never would have tolerated this behavior from their kids in public.

But, even Cracker Barrel has some cool rockers on the front porch. Find a way to transfer your child from the current setting and into a quiet and contained environment. At home, this is the bedroom. In public, this might be the bathroom or a quick exit to the car.

Explain why you have are hanging out in 30 degree weather without a coat on the front porch of Cracker Barrel and explain you will not go back inside until the fit subsides.

Trust me, they’ll eventually get cold enough.

Establish Realistic Consequences

Tantrums are truly a control struggle.  Had I been a mature adult, I would have told Madi it was her choice to stay in bed, regardless of the timer, but her consequence would still be an earlier bed time. Kids know when we’re blowing steam and they know when we are putting our money where our mouth is.  Establish real and meaningful consequences.

If you can’t follow through, don’t throw it out.

The hardest moment of parenthood involved my normally happy to comply middle child. He was acting out in an abnormal way while grocery shopping and I told him he had two more chances to correct his behavior before losing his chance for a happy meal from McDonald’s for lunch.

That was the hardest thing ever.  While we enjoyed our chicken nuggets, Lucas man enjoyed peanut butter.

He lived. I lived.  You will too.

Learn triggers and avoid pulling when possible.

When tantrums begin, you are walking through a land mine, never quite sure what is going make it blow.

But after a while, patterns emerge.

Triggers typically involve hormones, sleep, rushed schedules and hunger.

If you had a late night last night, know ahead to lay clothes out with a back up plan for a quick breakfast. And take lots of deep breaths.

Don’t grocery shop at nap time.

It’s all common sense.

Except for hormones. No one can predict that craziness!

Remember: You’re the adult.

A hot tempered person stirs up a conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.  ~ Prov. 15:18

Your reaction will trigger theirs.  If you yell and scream (like me sometimes) you will only prolong the fit.  If you respond in a quiet and authoritative manner offering realistic consequences (like I really want to do), you diffuse the emotions and leave the ball of control in their court.

So, while I’m raising the oldest temper tantrum throwing kid on earth, I’m not giving up hope.  Consistency, patience and lots of prayer will continue putting us on track for the behavior we are seeking.

Or, I will end up in jail.  No one really knows yet.

But I know your kid isn’t as stubborn as mine so this should work like a charm.

Also, let me know what works for you.  You can respond below in the comments section.

Good luck!  I’m rooting for you!

 

 

 

Testimony Tuesday: Memoirs of a Military Wife

“If something happens to me, I want you to move on.”

As Veteran’s Day is on the horizon, I think of this conversation with a smile.

I was on my hands and knees, cleaning out the bedroom closet.  My kids were 8, 5, and 9 months old.  I hadn’t slept in months.  My baby was on a two- hour sleep/eat rotation, adapted from conception, and I hadn’t fully combed my hair in months.

We were drowning in debt. I knew the collection callers by first name. I couldn’t rob Peter to pay Paul because Paul was broke.  I think he had a collection agency too.

My son was slated to start kindergarten this fall.  Shortly after, I would see my husband off to war.

This post is being featured on Testimony Tuesday. Continue reading by clicking here.

 

Are you playing in the right position?

“I’m loving watching you play defense”, my husband says to my son as we trek through the dusty parking lot.  “I was scared at first”, replies Lucas, “but now I love it.” The energy in the crowd buzzes in anticipation of the season to come.  After two years of humble defeat, our 7th grade Breakers are taking ownership of the field.  As the truck draws near, I hear my sons team mates and coaches call out encouragement to each other as they strip out of sweaty gear. This group of boys are tasting the victory of team work for the very first time.

I recall the first practice. “You’re attitude should be,  Where do you need me coach?” My Lucas was disappointed when it was determined his strengths were needed on defense.  My husband and I instead encouraged him to see this as an opportunity.  After two years of struggle on offense, it was time for a change in scenery. We watched excitedly as our son exchanged struggle for assurance as his hard work developed new skills beneficial to the team as a whole.

And it isn’t just my kid. A whole new team has emerged. This season, the 7th grade Breakers will be a force to be reckoned with.  As a whole, this team has owned their strength and their weakness. When one player is stronger on the line, it means I sit out. It’s okay. It’s his strength. When the team needs speed, I know they are calling on me. In the meantime, I am cheering on my team to victory. Regardless, I am responsible to know my position and perform my assignment well before game day ever comes to pass.

So much can be learned from the resilience of these boys.  I mean, what if we chose to live our lives in this way?

The human body has many parts but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:12

How rich would life be if I found my correct appointment in the kingdom of God? The bible tells me Christ gave gifts to the his people for the purpose of equipping Gods people to do his work, to build up his church and the body of Christ. He continues to give gifts until we all come to unity in faith, mature in the full standard of Christ.

One heart.

One mind.

One goal.

Right now, the line needs your strength.  Soon, they will need my speed.

Together, we will own victory.

We will no longer act like immature children being tossed around by chaos and emotion. Even when sounding true, we will no longer allow lies to influence our thinking. We will speak truth in love growing more like Christ in every way.

Christ makes his team fit together perfectly. When each part does its own special work it helps the entire body to grow. From growth we experience mutual respect and love.  And our team advances to victory!

Lessons I’ve learned from running the race.

 {God’s Discipline Proves His Love ] Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Hebrews 12:1

Running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going.”  (Unknown)

“We’re almost there. Keep going.”

“I know. I will wait to throw up at the finish line.”

He shoots me a look and continues on toward the last corner containing the finish line.  The plan is to sprint as fast as we can as soon as we round that corner.  Which sounds great but my body has just taken me three miles and that last little stretch seems like more than I can pull out right now.

Did I mention the 200 percent humidity levels permeating the air we are trying to breathe?

We round the corner and I see the time clock.

39 minutes.

If I take off, I can finish in under 40, which would be a personal best.

My pace quickens.

“We’re sprinting now?” He says, sounding surprised.

“Yeah.  I gotta beat 40.”

We cross at 39:18 and head to the side to begin cool down.

This is a bittersweet place.  Several weeks ago, I asked my husband to begin running with me.  If you know me, you know that my personal feelings about running tended to follow the meme that says, “If you find me dead on a running trail, just know that I was killed elsewhere and left there.”

True story.

But I wanted to do something that would allow me to connect with my husband on his level of fun.  The 39 minutes I crossed the finish line in is about 9 minutes slower than what he can likely do on his own, but he has stayed by my side through the entire process.  My appreciation to him knows no bounds as I simply bask in this victory. He has been my cheer leader and coach.  He has believed in me, even when I was questioning myself and my own ability to see this thing through.

Six weeks ago, I couldn’t run a full lap around our high school track.  Today, I completed 3.1 miles without stopping. And today, that’s the only victory I came to claim.  But I learned so much running along the way.

I learned that running the race is a decision.  I researched tips from long time runners and tucked away their advice.  I set a goal to run a 5K immediately following the 7 week program I chose to use.  We paid our dues to run before I ever finished week 2.  The decision I made was valuable because I soon found it to be the only thing keeping me moving forward.

It’s physically painful to be a beginning runner.

The morning after my first run, I could hardly walk.  Muscles allowed to atrophy were now being required to work.  After a  couple of weeks, the tendons in my knee began to scream.  After running, I could hardly support my weight on the walk home.  Let alone the two small stairs I have to navigate to get into my front door.  It was in those moments of pain, I found community.

I asked my pastor’s wife, who is also a physical therapist & runner for some advice on how to handle my wonky knee.  Before I know it, she is taping me up and giving me advice on ice, stretching and how to proceed without causing further injury. I chuckled as other ladies in the group began to tout her taping skills, showing off their taped knees like proudly earned medals.  What a funny group!

I even got a new pair of shoes out of the deal.  Hubby’s idea.

Crazy, right?

We continued on, persevering through my gimpy leg, weak lungs and sore muscles.  I prayed for God’s strength to come in my places of weakness.  I found, through intervals, that little bursts of renewed energy come right after my deepest places of exhaustion.  Those little moments when I wanted to give up and quit but instead, made the choice to keep going.

The choice to keep going led to the three miles I needed to complete on race day.  No more pain in my knee.  Stronger lungs.  Muscles adapting to endure the lifestyle of a runner.

But, I was nervous on race day.  Bagelfest 5K

I was now surrounded by people.  People who could hear the heavy breaths I take.  People who could see how slow I truly run.  People who were in much better physical condition.

But I had decided and I had to start somewhere.

As we jogged through the streets at a “slower than Moses” pace (my pace, not his), there were people standing in their yards to witness.  Many held signs and yelled out encouraging words.  Another had a stereo in his yard blaring Eye of the Tiger.  Yet more had their sprinklers on, pointed to the road so runners could run through for a cool off.

For a first time runner, it was such an encouragement.  Such a beautiful testament to community.

In Hebrews, Paul instructs followers of God to run the race with perseverance as we are surrounded by a crowd of witnesses.  To cast off what holds us back.  Essentially, to run the race with integrity.

What pain are you persevering through today?

Who can you reach out to in your community?

Can I encourage you to keep going?

The biggest gift I found in the race is the trait of perseverance.  Setting my eye on the prize and not giving up until I crossed the finish line. Only then did I get to experience power in the place of weakness.  Encouragement in pain and struggle.

Victory in a place that I had only ever known defeat.

Stained Glass Masquerade

“Is there anyone who fails?  Is there anyone that falls?  Am I the only one in church today, feeling so small?”
                                                                                                         Casting Crowns

“Last Wednesday evening, we attended a bible study at a church we have been attending for a short amount of time.  Miss Carol, a lady we sit behind, apologized for having worn capris that night.  She had a long day and could not stem up the motivation to put on pantyhose and a dress.  I told her I was the last person that was going to criticize.  I myself prefer jeans and flip flops as my standard uniform.  We shared a giggle and pinky promised that we would stick to our guns on the capris on Wednesday evenings.  As another member came by to shake hands, Miss Carol proceeded to apologize again.  The lovely lady told her, “The Lord convicted me to wear a skirt when I was 20 years old.  I just never turned back.  If the Lord hasn’t bothered you about it, then I’m not worried about it either.”  More beautiful words couldn’t ever have been spoken.  She instantly put Miss Carol, and myself, at ease about the expectations within the church.

The timing of this interchange came to me at an interesting time.  God has been working on me hard over the last few months about how I have chosen to walk with Him.  He is testing all of my beliefs about Him and my relationship with Him.  To say the least, this season of my life has been uncomfortable.  I am a people pleaser by nature.  I am in sales, for pete’s sake.  I am quick to change my view if  I know my opinion is causing someone else discomfort or displeasure.  My boundaries are weak.   I am more likely to blend in than create a stir.  Conflict is just not my thing. 

I have been working through Beth Moore’s study on Esther and needless to say, my eyes have been opened wide.  I can’t begin to give you the full details on how the Jews came to stay in the the lands of Persia and Media, but long story short, they were captives who were set free; but chose to stay.  They had stayed so long and become so lax in their practice of faith, they blended in with the people around them.  So much so, that Esther was chosen as their queen.  No one knew of her Jewish descent.  Not until Haman laid down his wicked decree to have the Jews slain.  At that point, she had a choice to make.  She could keep quiet and hope that no one found her out, or she could take a stand in the name of saving her people. The Jewish people also had to decide to stand and fight.  They had to come out of their comfort zone and defend what was theirs.  They had to turn away from blending in and turn back to God in order to live.

Wow! To say I have been sleep walking over the course of the last year would be an understatement.  I have busted my tail to create a comfort zone that I don’t want to step out of, even to pick up my kindle.  I have been working to make a name for myself.  To show the world what I can do- emphasis on “I”.  I have allowed myself to blend in.  Not at all what God has for me.  Not one bit.  I feel as if He has worked a number of my life’s circumstances together for the purpose of waking me back up.   How did I get in this state?   How can I go from on fire with God to complete indifference? 

Here is the verse God thumped me on the head with today.  I’ve seen it many times, but it rang fresh in my heart today:

” Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are Gods.”  (1 Cor 6: 19-20 NKJV).

This morning it hit me that my body is a temple in which God allows the presence of His Spirit to live.  Let this resonate with you for just a second.  My body (if you believe, your body)  is a temple in which our Saviour comes to reside with me(and you).  I think about all of the “church” formality we go through on Sunday morning.  Okay, even on Wednesday nights.  Tonight, we had to talk Madi out of her Snow White costume.  When I walk into church, I don’t want anyone to know anything is out of place.  My hair is done.  I am dressed nicely.  I am smiling and exchanging pleasant greetings.  I would never dream of acting inappropriately in any way, simply because OTHER PEOPLE ARE WATCHING, and they might think poorly of me.  So why is my body any different?

Truth is, the opinion and the life of the Spirit gifted to me is far more important than what any person walking this planet could think.  Yet I fill my mind with romance novels.  I eat junk food that does nothing but weigh me down and out.  I obsess about pants that don’t fit because of said junk food.  I say mean things about people to make myself feel better about my own insecurities.  I wallow in guilt and shame when I don’t measure up.   I yell at my husband and kids.  I let myself get sucked into the stuff of life and then expect God to bail me out when the circumstances are a little bit more than I can handle.  Why can’t I handle the “stuff” of life?  Because I  suffocated the Spirit living within me.  I pushed it right out.  When my temple is filled with stuff, sometimes God has to come in and clean house.  Much like Jesus did in the temple when it was overrun by sin and personal profit. 

For the first time in my life, I recognized that no matter what I do.  What I say. What I have.  What I pretend to be in this life- it is nothing.  Let me repeat- nothing- without the Spirit of God that resides in me.  I am going to let Him continue to clean house.  I am going to go to His altar every morning and ask Him to show me the sin that I need to willingly give him.  I am going to ask Him to empower me to change the actions that are unacceptable and unpleasing in His sight.  How can I proclaim to be a follower of Christ when I am participating in things that either (A) Dont line up with His word, or (B) would shame me if he saw me?  I am done blending in.  I am ready for Him to take the broken pieces of my life and allow Him to handcraft something beautiful.  Only when that happens is the gift of redemption full and complete.  God didn’t send me here to be comfortable.  Daily He is reminding me- get used to discomfort.  You don’t belong here.  I didn’t ask you to fit in.  I asked you to serve me.  I “chose” you to serve me. And I hope that as I age I can say, “God convicted me and I never turned back from it.”  Only when we get real with God, and ourselves, can we truly make a difference in the lost lives that surround us.  Only then can we truly experience what it means to live.

“Has anybody been there?  Are there any hands to raise? Am I the only one whose traded in the altar for a stage?  The performance is convincing, and we know every line by heart.  Only when no one is watching, can we really fall apart.  Or would it set me free, if I dared to let you see, the truth behind the person you imagine me to be.  Would your arms be open, or would you walk away.  Or would the love of Jesus be enough to make you stay? ”                                                                Casting Crowns

See Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7U–p31vIY

Teach me to number my days…

“Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am.  Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.”                       Psalm 39:5-6

As we were leaving the house this morning, Madi asks, “Mom, when is Aiden’s party?  Did I miss it?  It’s at the Skating Rink!”  Ugh!  The feeling of guilt overwhelms me.  Aiden’s party is next Saturday.  In addition to the Wedding AND Baby shower we have scheduled.  And did I mention the Bagelfest parade that Chloe is in- with the band, bagelfest contestants AND girl scouts?  Is it any wonder we were intrigued by the thought of cloning?

As a born procrastinator, God has really been working with me on how, and why, I am choosing to spend my time.  When I first accepted Christ, I remember Judy Davis always telling me to ask God , in prayer, to help me balance my life in His priority order.  Elizabeth George would say that we should always view our lives in the priority of good, better and best.  We all have hundreds of “good” ways to spend our time, but are the activities I have filled my life with the “best” things that God has for me.  My pride and ego would love to be all things to all people, but I am coming to a season in my life where I am working harder to become choosey about how and where I spend my time.  From sales calls at work to putting my favorite book down at home to spend time with my family.  The simple truth is that everytime I say “yes” to a commitment, I am saying “no” to something else.  So, when I am looking in terms of priorities, the question should not be, “What am I saying yes, too?”, but “What am I saying “no”, too?  What will the consequences of my decision be?

Over the past few weeks, I have dedicatedly met with God and asked, “God, balance my life in your priority order.”  What I am finding is that my day is productive.  The stress and anxiety that threatened to overwhelm me are being replaced with peace and joy.  I’m learning how to realistically plan my work and work my plan.

So, how do you explain all this to a four year old?  Ya, I don’t know either.  We will probably buy Aiden a Spiderman birthday gift and call it even. 

“While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.”
                                                                                               Stephen Covey

Sunday BBQ: BYOB (bring your own bible)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such, there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”  Galatians 5:22-26

This week, I was perusing through facebook when I saw post from a friend talking about an argument he had with an acquaintance.  He worked for me as a cook at KFC when he was in high school and he was an exemplary employee.  He was kind, funny and dependable.  I knew that I could count on him to do his job and to go the extra mile.  When he friended me on facebook, I was thrilled to be able to catch up on his life.  Getting back to the story, he was relating the changes he had made in his life to someone he knew from the past and she pretty much told him that his changes didn’t matter since he was not right with Christ.  She told him his life was superficial and the positive moves he was making to turn his life around DID NOT MATTER.   On the other hand, this young lady has been down quite a road herself.  However, she knows Christ so in her mind she is good to go.  He needed to get with the program.

My friends, this was about as bogus to me as one room mom telling another room mom that the cupcakes she made for the class party didn’t matter because she didn’t pay her PTA dues that year.  My heart broke for the confusion she left him to face.  He was on facebook taking a poll to see if any other hypocrites would step up to the plate.  How sad.

It is possible that I was a little sensitive and raw to the situation because I had just received a  message from my home church.  Due to some indifferences in my heart, we have not attended in a while.  I found that my want to go was lukewarm and Jesus makes takes clear stance on a lukewarm heart in the bible.  We have made it a point to be in church every week since we decided to break, just not the one we have called home for so many years before.  Day to day, I am finding my way back to the basics on my relationship with my Savior.

In this voice message, it was obnoxious to say the least, but subtly suggested that the reason I was missing church was to be able to attend my Sunday BBQ.  After that, I was told I needed to go online and listen to the sermon from last week.  It was a “must hear” message for our church.  Quite frankly, I’m not interested. And I’m a little hurt.  You know what hurts the most?  I am not the only one who received it.  It was a mass message that went out to all the people who have not attended in a while.    I ran the Children’s ministry for a number of years.  I rarely, if never, missed a Sunday Service.  So when I don’t attend, you’re going to accuse me of skipping church for a BBQ?  Really?

But forget me, what about everyone else?  Would it not be of benefit to find out why they are not attending instead of assuming?  Calling people out does nothing more than provoke anger and defensiveness.  Nothing good can come of those emotions.

This has been an eye opening week for me.  I am so quick to be self righteous that I tend to forget that everyone who surrounds me is dealing with some kind of challenge and pain.   The last thing they need is a “Christian” beating them over the head with their Helmet of Salvation and bludgeoning them with the Sword of the Spirit.  We are to use those tools against the devil who longs to use any weapon he can to pull the carpet out from underneath of us.  Even those people that we love and respect the most. 

Galatians 5:13-16 says,  “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love to serve one another.  For in all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another.”

In my mind, it always goes back to the Fruit of the Spirit.  When I am off track and need to measure my life, I have to ask myself, “What kind of fruit are you  producing?”  When “people” in my life see me, do they see Christ too?”   Am I taking the time to love people into the kingdom?  Am I learning who they are?  Where they have come from?  Am I earning the priviledge to share the message of salvation with them?  We can’t be effective in our Christian walk without love. God created us for relationship.  And love is impossible to give as a mere human.  It can only be fuelled by the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Only then can we produce the fruit that allows us to win lives to Christ.
 

“Grit in my Craw…”

“I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. ”   Philipians 3:10-12

So, to say the last few months have been some of the most challenging in my life, would be an understatement!  As many of you know, I made a job change at the beginning of the year.  I had high hopes that this new career change would be just the ticket to get me out of the funk that I was in.  It would bring new opportunities, new experiences.  It would come easily to me, as marketing is something I tremendously enjoy. As I walked into my new office at Heritage Woods at the beginning of the year (the corner office, by the way) I knew I had arrived.  I had prayed from months for this opportunity and I knew God had aligned it for me, right in His own perfect timing.  What I didn’t anticipate was the demand a new career would place on my life.  The life I have worked so hard to make comfortable.

Over the past few months, this new career has been a huge source of anxiety for me.  But in that, a huge source of growth as well.  I have prayed more than ever.  I have had to learn to say no to “good” things so I can choose what is better. More than anything, I have had to take a good hard look at the things that motivate me.  After a few months of walking into work, worrying about failing and not measuring up, I finally had to give myself permission to fail.  After months of praying for God to be in control of my circumstances, I had to come to the conclusion that failure might be an option.  The building was not filling up as quickly as ownership hoped and it felt as though all eyes were on me.  I had to resolve myself to walk into work each and every day. Working my hardest, giving my best- and knowing that in the end, I might not suceed.  And I had to learn to be okay with that.  For a people pleasing girl like myself, you might not be surprised to know that I was having near anxiety attacks each and every morning at work just comtemplating my list of things to accomplish.

A couple of weeks ago, I met and rode with a fellow Market Director name Cindy.  She is a Christian woman as well and she knew right where I was standing.  She said that at one point, her co-workers were asking her, “Why do you do it?  You can find a job anywhere.”  Her reply?  “My Grandma always said I had grit in my craw.”  Her words were like salve to my soul. She reminded me that I am responsible for me.  If I give my best each and every day.  If I hold myself and those around me accountable for the department I oversee.  If I work in a way that is blameless, I will come out okay.   I could no longer take a stance of blame, but accountability.

In the following weeks, the anxiety has started to clear and I can see why God has placed me right where I am.  Not only at work, but at home and in ministry, he has been forcing me to take a hard look at me.  The ugly, insecure, shallow, superficial me.  The girl I don’t let too many people see.  He has thrown challenges my way.  He has called me to give things up and simplify my life.  He has forced me to explore my motivations and brick by painful brick, he is revealing the ugly sinful nature that I’ve never turned over to him.  See, I was praying, harder than I have in a long while.  I was asking His control over my circumstances.  I was asking for his power over my life.  But I didn’t believe him for it.  Somewhere, deep inside of me, I didn’t believe him when he said, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”.  I didn’t believe that he could make someone as broken and imperfect as me into a success. I found I was limiting His power to my own strength.  I was setting myself up for failure.

  Over the past few days, I am concluding that I am experiencing what the bible calls, “death to self.”  It is a painful process in the sense that all that is ugly, impure, superficial and shallow within me is rising to the surface.  And I have a choice.  I can address it, repent of it and turn from it, or I can pack it back deep within me and allow it to hold me back from God’s best.  Frankly, I am tired of hiding behind the facade of perfection.  I am tired of being held back by disbelief.  I am ready for God’s best plan to be revealed in my life. I am discovering that God has given me a little “grit in my craw.”  He is giving me the tools and the power I need to fight for His best in my life.  I just have to show up each and every day to refuel for the fight. 

 Truth is, while God is great at demolition, he is an even better carpenter. And I know that when He is finished with my life, all of the broken pieces will be a masterpiece.