Archive for January, 2012

Taking Action

How many of us like to think that we created the problems we’re having?  I don’t.  But, if I’m truly honest with myself, I’d have to admit that I’m currently living with the consequences of some bad choices.  Yep, I created the very thing that’s causing me stress right now.  And yes, I call on God to rescue me from it.  But, I think He may just let me sit in my mess for a while.  Because it’s there that I’ll determine that I don’t want to be here again.  Maybe I’ll change my thinking and actions as a result.  I hope so anyway.

See, I’m a procrastinator.  I have been all my life.  I’m not sure why.  Is it laziness?  Is it fear?  Is it my easily distractible personality?  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what causes it – thus procrastinating from doing anything real about it.  The bottom line: I need to change my behavior and stop procrastinating.  I need to stop putting off what I don’t what to do and just do it.  Otherwise, it clutters my mind, clutters my to-do list, clutters my desktop, and clutters my life without ever getting accomplished.  Something that would take 30 minutes consumes more of my time in the long run than if I had just done it on day one.  Ugh! 

So, here I sit, overwhelmed with things that I don’t want to do, while my family is off to the gym to have some fun (well, sort of). Consequences. I really want to go see a new movie that was released, but I don’t have time. Consequences.  I want to plan a lunch date with a friend, but can’t commit the time for the next six weeks. Consequences. 

I choose right now to stop procrastinating, and so I must close this post (because in writing it I was actually procrastinating from a different piece that I need to complete). May you too, find the courage to change what’s needed and be blessed by your choices and actions.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

Which Words? (Part 2)

I love God’s timing.  After posting Part 1 of Which Words?, our pastor preached on the importance of choosing our words.  And, as I subbed for my daughter’s Sunday school class that same morning, I heard another review about the power of words.  I’m surrounded by messages about words. God clearly wants me to get this. And so, I will use my best words to challenge and encourage us to examine this area of our lives.

As I shared in my last post, I’ve been hurt by words in big and small ways. Most times, the hurt was unintentional , yet damage was still done.  So, I started thinking about my own words.  Do I wound others with my words?  Or, do I encourage and uplift?

Have you thought about your words lately? If not, I encourage you to take note of what rolls off the tongue, especially during trying times.

For now, let’s look at what God says about our words.

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  (Ephesians 5:19)  When was the last time you did this? It may sound strange, but are our words music to the ears of those around us?

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18) Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24) Are we offering healing and love to our families with our words or tearing them down to gratify our own moods and desires?

A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. (Proverbs 17:27) Are we exercising restraint and grace in challenging situations, or do we give a tongue lashing to those around us?

God knows that controlling our tongues is difficult for us.  Yet, it is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit. I pray that we’ll consider our words in light of God’s word and invite Him to do any necessary extractions from our mouths.

Which Words? (Part 1)

Words have hurt me many times over the years – careless words that have stuck with me.  No matter how hard I’ve tried to extract them from my mind, they seem to escape from the dark, dusty corners during times of doubt.

As a young child, I was picked on for my red hair, abundance of freckles and fair skin… oh, and the unfortunate last name of Payne.  Kids would have a field day with jokes at my expense.  Carrot top, freckle face, pain in neck…  They weren’t terribly creative or vicious in tone, but it hurt nonetheless.

Later, the childish name calling stopped, but there were bigger hurts.   At age 13, when I made the decision to stop playing soccer on a travel team, a coach asked if I planned to settle for being mediocre the rest of my life.  Ouch!  Am I a quitter?  Am I mediocre?  This one haunts me to this day – some 25+ years later.  Again, words are powerful.

Fast forward to recent times when a respected leader and colleague disagreed with a decision I’d made.  He arrived at my house and told me that there’s no way I could have been prompted by the Holy Spirit in the decision and that God will likely punish me and my ministry. Powerful, yet reckless, words.

When doubt creeps in and the words of my past emerge, I have to fight them with truth.  God’s truth – which is life giving and freeing – is that I am His beloved child.  Not defective and ugly for the way He created me.  Not mediocre because someone else thinks I am.  And not wrong and misguided because someone else disagrees. 

I pray that you, too, know the truth of God’s love for you.  No matter what others have said to you or about you, God loves you immeasurably. His Word tells us so. Let God’s healing power and grace envelop you.  Believe His Word and know that His opinion trumps all!   

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

Finding Rest

Do you ever find yourself wishing that life were easier?  I do.  Quite often, actually.  I even shared my dismay and unrest with my husband a few months ago.  Unfortunately, I crossed the line into the land of complaining.  Of course, my husband in an empathic, nurturing way (ahem) blurted out, “Do you think life’s supposed to be one big vacation?” 

Pop! 

Bubble burst… the “poor me” air contained within the flimsy walls of that beautiful bubble quickly dissipated.  Simultaneously, I laughed. But I wanted to cry. I knew he was right – life’s not about my comfort and my desires. 

The truth is, I want life to be easy.  But it’s not.  It’s busy.  Very, very busy – raising children;  homeschooling; writing;  speaking; working at marriage; keeping up with friends; volunteering; cleaning the house; making time for God; playing cook, chauffeur, personal assistant, and social coordinator.  I’m exhausted as I write. 

So many responsibilities…big ones; some noble ones even.  And all I really want is for someone to take care of me.  I want rest.

In steps my knight in shining armor.  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

But I resist.  I have laundry to do and thank you notes to write, planning for tomorrow, emails to send, a Bible study to finish, a chapter to write, and the kids aren’t in bed yet.

He beckons again: He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters…

But… More excuses fill my thoughts.  Well, maybe if I multitask, even delegate, I can get everything done and then rest.

He restores my soul.

Really?  Is it possible, even for me? Even in the midst of the craziness of life?

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 

Oh how I wish I would stick to priorities. Then I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; 

But, I can’t see You… I can’t even feel Your presence at this moment.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. 

Please rescue me from the pressures of life. Let me find peace and joy.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 

Help me to see what you see. May these words become my life. In the midst of busyness; in spite of seemingly endless tasks. Let me experience your peace and rest in this very moment.  Let me carry it with me, never forgetting your presence and promises.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

I stop fighting His invitation. I breathe it into my being – hope, love, and His strength. Thank you Father. Amen!