be Still

In our society, we are always on the go. Our to-do lists are constantly running through our heads and chances are even as we skim over this we are thinking of all the other things we still have to do today. Oh my, sweet friends, it’s time for us to stop the running, the chasing, and the endless pursuit of what the world tells us that we should want– – money – status – stuff – more _______ (fill in the blank) …and stop long enough to simply be still. Just for a moment. Come on, try it. Just be still, take a deep breathe in then exhale slowly. Don’t text, tweet, instagram or update your status (ha, caught you!) — there’ll be time for that later. Right now though, let’s try to simply be still and see what God does. Listen, I’m not great at this either, I’m about as “Dory” as they come, but it is something I’ve been challenged on lately and wanted to share some of what I’m learning through it with you. Here’s what you can do to get started on learning to be still. Ask Him to join you in your be still and silent moment. Release all the distractions clamoring for your attention. Take a few deep breaths in and really start to slow yourself down a bit. Wait for Him to come sit beside you. I’ve found that it’s best to do before your days gets away from you, but here’s a little heads up as you get started. I can guarantee you that it will not be easy at first. Everything around you...

You Can Go Your Own Way Or You Can Seek God’s Will

 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. ~ 2 Corinthians 8:5 Have you ever tried to do things your own way? When the focus is on trying to do what you want instead of what God’s will is for the situation? Me too! Truth be told, I am somewhat of a “control freak.” There, I said it. Whew, I feel a little better now. You know you are a control freak when you will do whatever it takes to make sure that things are done “just right”–whether it is the dishes, the laundry, the project at work, or even your hair. The catch twenty-two with this though is that people around you like that you things get done and that they can count on you when the going gets tough, but it can also frustrate and tear down some of those same relationships, not to mention the fact that it keeps us focused on what “we” can do. When our focus is on what we can do, handle and get done then the weight of the burden rests completely on our shoulders. We start to feel the weight of all these things we’ve picked up along the way because we are get it done girls who like things done the “right way”. Each step we take throughout the day seems harder and heavier until we feel like we can’t take another single step. In our pursuit to do things our way we somehow managed to sidestep God. We left Him out and...

Assuming the Best

  At every moment and with every interaction, we have two choices–we can assume the worst or the best in others. Many times, our assumptions arise instantly, fueling thoughts which trigger emotions, and before we know it, we’ve worked ourselves up in a frenzy based on perception. The problem is, our perception is faulty. Almost every single time. And our faulty perception hurts–ourselves, others, and our relationships. Consider this scenario. I go outside and see trash left on our lawn–like a whole mess of it. Fast food bags; sticky, squished ketchup packets; crushed soda cups, their syrupy contents seeping into the grass. Perhaps a group of teenagers live across from us. Maybe one of those teenagers tends to be quiet, not seen much. Maybe he even dresses … like a teenager. My conclusion? He left the trash. He must be careless, rude: part of the entitled generation. But … what if I had evidence that indicated my husband had left the trash? In that case, an entirely different assumption would begin to unfold in my mind. Because I know my husband to be a man of integrity who is often the first to serve others, I’d assume something must have happened. Either he’d been distracted and had forgotten he left the trash, or he’d been pulled away unexpectedly and intended to return. Completely different scenarios, one heap of trash. Isn’t it interesting how a little bit of background information can drastically change our interpretations of things? The problem is, we rarely have that much knowledge about most of the people we interact with on a daily basis. That’s why...

Don’t Judge Me!

Judging is an interesting phenomena. It’s taken a lot of heat in our culture. We’re told not to judge, and we’re judged when we do so. And not all judging seems to be under fire. It seems acceptable to offend some through judgment but not others. People say, “I don’t want to be judged,” “That person has no right to judge me,” or “I know they’re going to judge me,” not realizing or accepting that they’re making judgments with their statements. When people judge, they assume and they often attack, or at least it feels that way. Judging can harm people and relationships. And can we actually accurately judge with the limited information we have? We use phrases such as “use your judgment” but if we’re relying on our own judgment (and values), we’re likely going to get it wrong. Judgments, even when we try to focus on the facts, involve assumptions, personal experiences, and bias. What we know and even observe is limited. However, we have access to insights beyond our understanding. When we replace judgment with discernment, it involves seeking and yielding to God. It takes the heat off of us and trusts God. We’re still responsible, but the responsibility comes by obeying God, trusting how he guides is the best option, and following him even when we don’t understand why he would have us be silent when we see the perfect opportunity to confront someone or why he would have us speak up when we feel the situation is too heated. We see the immediate need or concern, but God sees how a long string of...

Dieting and My Christian Walk

Recently, my hubby said something in a sermon about people being willing to give God some of ourselves, maybe even most of ourselves, but until we give Him EVERY-thing, we won’t experience Christianity the way God intended. So I’m thinking to myself, “That’s sounds a lot like dieting.” (Probably because I would REALLY like a huge plate of nachos for lunch instead of the baked fish waiting on me.) The comparison occupied my mind for several days as I adjusted to my new diet. Each time I made a poor food choice, I was reminded how similar choices hinder my Christian walk. What if I eat mostly “allowed” foods, and give up all the “bad” foods except maybe one or two? Can’t I give up the extra pizza and sugary soft drinks with friends, but eat a pack of cookies in private? I mean, giving up MOST of the foods that make me fat counts for something, right? Surely giving up MOST every “forbidden” food allows me the right to a nightly bowl of vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate syrup and candy coated sprinkles. Of course not! I have to wonder why so many of us do the same with our Christian walk. We give up most everything, only holding on to those “little” vices that we “deserve.” Surely giving up most of our sinful desires counts for something. Giving up MOST of our “old life” gives us the right to hang on to one little part of it, doesn’t it? I can have all the tools to get healthy. I can join a gym, carry a gym pass on my key ring, pack my gym bag...

Why It’s Important To Forgive, Even When…We Don’t Want To

I can almost hear the sighs of exasperation. You are probably thinking to yourself, “seriously, she’s going to talk to me today about forgiveness? She has no idea what I am going through, what’s been done, what’s been said or how far off track things have gotten lately.” You know what, you are absolutely right! I don’t know what you are going through or have been through. I don’t know how bad it is gotten in your world lately, nor do I need to because I can tell you this, it has been a doozy of a run in my world too. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I have stamped my foot (a lot here lately) and cried out to God that this just isn’t “fair”. This is just as hard for me to write as it is for you to read because I have been wrestling with God over this one and here’s what I’ve come up with. but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 ESV (underscoring mine) But. I never thought about it that way. But..if you do not, neither will your Father. But…I don’t want to. I still hurt from it. Oh my friend, you have no idea how much this pains me to write, but here it goes…we need to forgive much because we have been forgiven much. There, I said it. This is not to say that you agree with what has happened, but that you are cancelling that debt against you. When we hold on to that anger, resentment,...

Be quiet, my big, fat mouth

It happened again: a wonderful opportunity for me to say what I felt. What I really WANTED to say, what was boiling up inside of me. It even NEEDED to be said — or so I thought. We have all been in similar situations: someone, your equal, whether on the job, in the family, the church, neighborhood, school, etc., approaches you and proceeds to dress you down in front of others when it is not their place to do so. Not only that, you have not done anything wrong whatsoever. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. They just feel it is their responsibility to be the boss or overseer, even though they do not retain the title, and want things done a certain way…their way. This is the place I found myself a few weeks ago. I stood there and listened, admittedly my blood pressure rising faster than flood waters, but I listened. Finally, I gently interjected that I had done what was required, expected, and in the best interest of others, but that only invited more tongue-lashing. I did not retaliate, but walked away, only by the grace of God. But as soon as I got in my car, away from others, I called The Sweetheart. "You won't believe…..!" And I unloaded all my frustration on him. He listened, even agreed with me that I was in the "right", and by the time I arrived home, I was somewhat calmed down. What bothered me was that I would have to face this person the next day. Many would tell me to stand up for myself, and there would not have been...

Should You Quit Social Media?

I want to quit Facebook. Can I do that? My friend’s question was in response to the frustration of scrolling through her news feed and finding vague accusations and threats, gossip, and one-sided claims that blatantly disrespected people. And…all those posts were by Christians. Can you quit Facebook? Yes, you can. Should you? I don’t know. Sometimes we feel victimized by social media, and we get frustrated, but what about the positive influences? What about the encouragement we give and receive? What about the support (the healthy kind, not the “I’m going to jump on your bandwagon and say, ‘You go, girl’ when I should actually be telling you, ‘Whoa! Take a breath and calm down.'”)? What about the opportunities to reach out to and catch up with people (again, healthy connections)? Just like you have choices about who you hang out with on the weekend or who you call when you have a crisis or need an ear to listen, you have choices about social media. You decide how often you check social media. You decide who you connect with. You decide what you look at the most, which determines, to some degree, what floats to the top of your news feed. You decide what to post and how to engage others. Maybe God is leading you away from social media. And maybe He’s leading you to be more discerning. Apply some of the same lessons to your faith. You might complain about your church or specific people in it. You might get into inappropriate conversations with people, ask for affirmation when you really need accountability, or work...

Staying Focused {As Your World Spins Around}

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3 The ballerina’s elegant figure twirled around the stage with incredible ease. The Rio de Janeiro Ballet Company had come to town, and my parents bought tickets to take their aspiring ballerina to watch their performance. As a young girl, I remember watching her in awe, while dreaming of the day when I would be able to have the same technique and grace to become a Prima ballerina. Oh, the spinning! That was my favorite. To be able to twirl around on my tiptoes for minutes, without losing my balance. That, to my young mind, was the pinnacle of ballet perfection. And I failed. Every time I tried. I’d spin once around, maybe twice, and then, boom! I’d lose balance and trip or fall. My French ballet instructor never took the time to teach me the secret of the perfect pirouette. She was too busy helping the girls who ‘had what it takes.’ And I certainly wasn’t on that list. If I couldn’t master a pirouette, I could not become a ballerina. Thus my dream was shattered. The Secret It took me several decades to learn the secret of the technique. It was my older daughter who taught me. She had been taking dance for a while and came home very excited one day, eager to show me how she had mastered the perfect pirouette. She straightened her posture, started a plié and whoosh! Beaming with pride, she smiled while turning 360 degrees several times before finally losing balance. “Ooops. I...

Moms, Do You Ever Feel Locked in Instant Replay Mode

“How many times must I tell you …” Parenting would be so much easier if only we all had recording devices we could play back at will. When a behavior arises, simply fast forward to the appropriate statement, point the device at the infracting child, and hit play. Then walk away, problem solved. Imagine how peaceful our summers could be! Although I doubt that’d be effective. Shoes would still clutter the hallway and bedrooms would still look like someone swept through with a leaf blower. Because words by themselves are just that–words, and no child goes from toddler to adult overnight. In parenting, the key is to focus on progress not perfection, blanketed with equal amounts of patience, training, consistency, and accountability. Develop patience Children don’t learn overnight, and often, every step forward is accompanied with half a step, and sometimes an entire leap, backwards. But then again, isn’t that how it is with each of us? Habits, wisdom, and integrity take time to develop.  Our child may need to hear, “Put your plate away” twenty times before they begin to think of it on their own, then learn to follow through. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re being defiant. It simply means they need to be reminded. A lot. Until that behavior becomes habit (then you can begin to tackle a new one). Train Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (ESV). In other words, don’t pester, nag, scream at, and belittle. Instead, train. 😉 When our daughter was young, I walked into her room...