Archive for March, 2011

True Confessions

I’ve always wrestled with feelings of being “less than”.  I can look back over my life and remember times of feeling that I just don’t measure up.  Thoughts such as, “I’m not pretty” or “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m too shy” or “I’m too quirky”.  Clearly these aren’t productive thoughts, but the truth is, I have them.  Even now, they creep into my being if I’m not careful.  It pains me to admit that I wrestle with some of these things.  But, I suppose that I’m not alone in these thoughts.

I recently received a prayer request from someone who wanted to be free from the hatred and anger she has for herself.   It reminded me that so often we walk around in life like we have it altogether, yet sometimes they’re just appearances.  My heart breaks for this woman and the reality is we’re surrounded by hurting people.  So today, I’m stepping out and sharing my own insecurities in hopes of helping someone else. 

So what can we do when we have negative thoughts about ourselves?  Instead of resisting the thoughts, we need to replace them.  There’s a big difference.  Resisting still leads to focusing on the negative thought.  I can try to convince myself that they’re lies, but what I really need to do is focus on the truth.

And here’s the truth:  I am loved by God.  I am a beautiful creation of God. I am capable of doing whatever He calls me to do. I am unique and special.  And I am redeemed by Him. 

The same is true of you!  I hope that you’ll focus on God’s truth and see yourself through His eyes.  He loves you more than a parent loves a child.  You’ll be free to live your full potential in Him when you can see His truth.  I pray that you’ll embrace His truth today and experience the healing thoughts that He can provide.

Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.  John 8:32

NOW!

At 7 a.m. this morning I told my son that he would get to spend the night at his grandma’s house tonight and that he would be going there after lunch.  His response was quick and emphatic.  “Let’s eat lunch now!”

Of course I had to chuckle, but couldn’t help to also think of how his impatience mirrors mine. 

We want things NOW.  So what happens when we have to wait?  I’ve had to do my share of waiting when it comes to getting a response from God.  And although I know that His timeframe is never the same as mine, waiting is always a bit of a struggle for me.  OK, maybe more of struggle than just a bit.

But, I’ve learned an important lesson.  Waiting is not a passive activity.  There’s lots to do while we wait.  We are to continue praying while we wait.  We are to praise Him while we wait.  We’re to continue living while we wait.  We’re to keep studying and seeking while we wait…  I think you get the point. 

Lots can happen while we wait.  He can teach us, grow us, prepare us, position us, change us… Let’s trade our frustration in the waiting for hope and excitement as we look for evidence of Him in our circumstances.  You may be pleasantly surprised to see that His fingerprints are all over your life.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.  Psalm 27:14

God’s Best

I’ve been studying the book of Exodus in the Bible lately.  (Yes, on purpose!)  I never realized what a fascinating book it was. Perhaps I like it because I can relate to the Israelites on so many levels. 

They wander. 

They make bad choices and disobey God.

They whine and complain.

Hopefully that doesn’t sum up who I am, but I can certainly behave in such ways sometimes. 

I’m amazed at how they experienced the very presence of God, His miracles (release from Egypt, parting of the Red Sea), His provisions (manna), His direction and yet they complained – incessantly. God was very patient, but it ultimately demonstrated their lack of trust in God and they never entered the Promised Land as a result.

Ugh!  They forfeited the very thing they were after because they couldn’t seem to focus on what God was doing amongst them.  Instead, they were constantly looking at what they lacked or feared.

I get so sad for them.  And then I think about us.  How many of us give up our Promised Land (peace, joy, contentment, acceptance, forgiveness) because we’re focused on the wrong things?  Let’s not focus on circumstances and instead focus on Him.  It’s such a better view and we’ll be blessed beyond measure when we do.  We’ll find joy in living because of Him.

Remember, life is not a destination… it’s a journey.  Let’s not miss out on the abundance that He has planned for us simply because our thoughts are out of focus.  Take time to make adjustments in your actions and thought life so you can experience His best for you. 

I promise.  It’s well worth the effort.

For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Deuteronomy 8:7-10

School of God

I love how God teaches me. Well, sometimes I do.

But the truth is I haven’t always felt that way. You see, when I feel that God has given me a message to write about or teach, He then gives me the opportunity to live it.  Let me explain.

I often speak to groups about finding joy in life regardless of our circumstances.  It sounds great in theory but can be a bit more challenging to live out day to day.  The material is based on my book, but more importantly based on how I’ve come to know God. I absolutely believe the message that I’m sharing, but there are times when I struggle to stay focused on God and not let the little nuisances in life get to me.   

Many times as I was going out to speak to women about the topic of joy, something would inevitably challenge my joy.  Not major things.  Just minor irritations.  But, I learned over time, after much observation and reflection that God was giving me the opportunity to practice what I was preaching.  So, I would find gum in the dryer with the clean clothes as I walking out the door to go to a meeting.  Or the directions to the location would be incomplete and I’d get lost.  Or, it would be pouring rain as I tiptoed in heels to the car lugging all my things trying not to mess up my hair or fall flat on my face.  Isn’t it ironic that the title of my book is Dancing in the Rain and at least the first five times I went out to talk to women’s groups about this concept, it would rain? 

It got to the point that I would expect something to go wrong before a meeting.  And so, I could actually laugh about it when it did and work it into my presentation.  I love real world application… most of the time.

Now, here I sit preparing for a session on focusing on God and how to decrease busyness in our lives to make room for Him.  And of course, I find myself in the busiest season I’ve had in a long time.  This month I have a daily video devotion that I produce and post,  homeschooling to plan and execute 5 days per week,  4 speaking engagements, 3 classes to teach, 2 birthday parties to plan, a radio interview and a partridge in a pear tree. 

In the midst of it all, I’ve had to decline two very interesting opportunities.  I hate saying no to people, so it was painful.  “Will the opportunities present themselves again?” I worry.  But I prayed about it and felt clear that God was teaching me a lesson… again.  I shouldn’t be surprised.  I’m about to stand in front of a group of women and tell them that we need to prioritize which sometimes means saying “no” to good things.  In order to receive God’s best, we need to be attentive to Him and what He has planned for us – not what we think we should be doing.  We can be so consumed with good things that we miss His best.  And so, as He seems to like to do with me, He’s giving me the opportunity to live what I’m teaching.  I hope I catch on quickly because in the “School of God,” He keeps giving the test until we pass it. 

Study well, my friend, for your tests in life.  May you welcome them as opportunities for growth in your journey of faith.

For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.  Psalm 66:10

God’s GPS

GPS would have been nice.  My MapQuest directions were challenging to read in reverse on my way home.  And because of traffic, it was difficult to process landmarks, traffic signs, directional arrows, and lane changes all at the same time.

The result – I took a wrong turn.  I was supposed to go west but chose east instead since my home was east of my beginning location.  About six miles later, I finally confirmed that I was going the wrong direction when I called my husband to beg for help.  He became my GPS as he entered my whereabouts into the computer and surveyed the map.

Eventually I was back on track and headed home.  However, during the course of the discussion I discovered that I actually have mapping capabilities on my new phone.  But they didn’t do me any good because I wasn’t aware of them.  I hadn’t tapped into my available tools… and so I had to rely on my husband who just happened to be available when I needed him.

How often does this scenario summarize life for us?  We have God’s ultimate GPS – the Bible – but we don’t know how to use it.  We’re missing out on a great deal of potential and problem solving because we don’t use the tools that are available to us.  The result is that we put ourselves in a place of disadvantage and we end of floundering through life or taking wrong turns.  I encourage you to pick up the Bible, study it, learn it, and apply it to everyday living. 

Let’s make the most of God’s GPS as we travel the roads of life.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (The Message)