Saturday, January 30, 2010

Slow Down to See the Beauty

Do you ever let the cares of life crowd in on you and affect your attitude? So often we have beautiful things in our lives that we don’t see because we are focused on other things. We get caught in a rut and want to change yet we keep going down the wrong path of life. I guess its like when you get caught up in a poor eating habit. You get so sick of the junk food but keep eating it. Or when you form a habit that you hate but keep doing it. You want to cry out, “Help, let me off this Merry-Go-Round”!

You want to get on with your life and live with purpose, vitality, joy and hope. You want to live everyday focusing on the beauty in your life but you are caught in a rut. I was feeling a little burnt out and felt the demands of life crowding in on me. I knew it was affecting my attitude. I hated my poor attitude yet couldn’t seem to break the routine.

The Lord heard my cry for help and slowed me down. I found myself flat on my back recuperating after a fall. Fortunately the injuries were minimal but the time I was in bed I had a chance to rest, renew and refocus. By the way, I don’t recommend waiting for the Lord to get your attention this way.

I remembered what my sweet mother has always told me, “ You can’t control anyone but yourself.” As I slowed down, rested, and reflected on these words and my life I knew the strongholds were breaking.

As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, my life’s desire is to bring a message of hope and encouragement to others and the guilt of my poor attitude had engulfed me. With renewed desire to live for Christ, I felt the chains that were holding me break.

I realized that part of my depression was the grief of missing our daughter.  We had poured so much into the life of our only child Christina and now she was all grown up living in Germany with her husband and baby son, She had always made us laugh with her quick wit and we missed her so much.

John and I planned a vacation to visit our children in Germany. Our hearts ached be with them. We were like two little children on Christmas morning filled the anticipation of seeing our children again. We had had the privilege of seeing the world though a little girl’s eyes. Now we had a little grandson and we blessed to be to see the world through a little boy’s eyes. We were also excited to see the Alps and John really wanted it to snow.

It was a pleasant change of scenery going to the winter wonderland of snow in the deep of winter and leaving our sunny home in Florida. As we spent time in the Alps I was so touched by the Lord’s beautiful creation.

As I watched my husband’s joy of spending time with our little grandson, it was more moving than any romance novel or movie I have ever experienced. As we observed the unconditional love that our daughter and son-in-law have for their little boy, it brought such joy to our hearts.

After returning home, refreshed, renewed and with lots of hugs and kisses from our children, I have realized that the Lord displays his beauty all around us. Sometimes we see His beauty in the majesty of a mountain top experience, the beauty of the sunset on the Gulf Coast of Florida, or in the smile of a child. Psalm 91:1 says, “The heavens declare the Glory of the Lord”


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Life's Tests

The last couple of days I have been put to a test… again. The modern convenience of technology allows us to glimpse into the lives of others. This modern age of technology can help us to share and connect. However, it also allows us to be tempted to step out of our lane when we see, hear, or read something that concerns us. This happened twice to me this week.

After reading something that concerned me I tried to dismiss it, didn’t pray, but went to bed with it on my mind. The next day, even after a good night’s rest, my concerns had not changed. Again, I had the opportunity to pray but I didn’t. Believing that I had an obligation to share my thoughts, I quickly put them in print and sent through the wonderful yet horrible World Wide Web. The minute I sent it off, I had this feeling in my stomach that I had definitely stepped out of my own lane. It wasn’t that I had written something awful. I had been very careful in my choice of words. But that was the problem. They were my words, not the wise words of the Lord. If I had prayed would my words have been different or would they have been received with more love and power? I will never know because I failed this test and reacted first, got out of my own lane and didn’t pray.

The Lord is a God of do-over. He brought the test to me again but written with different circumstances. My first thought was to wait, rest, and respond just like I did a few days ago on the first test. I chose to stay in my own lane, pray, and wait on the Lord. His wisdom is what I desire for my life as well as the lives of those whom He allows to come across my path.

Will this be the last test? No, but I praise the Lord for victory in this test and ask Him to intervene in all in all the circumstances I have failed Him.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Taking the Next Step of Faith

When I studied the personalities, it was very clear to me that I married an off the chart sanguine personality. John is out going, spontaneous, and enjoys life in the present. I’ve heard that opposites attract, and so it is with us. I am much more analytical and find myself reflecting on the past and planning for the future. These are not bad things if a person can also enjoy and live in the present.
Not only am I married to a sanguine personality but our daughter is also a sanguine. I have often said that John and Christina are the balloons with the helium and I am the string. They lift me out of my deep, analytical thoughts and I keep them balanced so they don’t get too carried away with the moment. We bring balance to one another. How amazing how the Lord uses each of our personalities to perfect and bring balance to one other.
It is important that we don’t run ahead of the Lord but it is equally important that we don’t’ delay when he calls us to take the next step.
It is very challenging for me to live in the present. I have often referred to myself as “an imperfect perfectionist”. This has caused me to procrastinate and delay changes that I know are important because I find myself building the perfect scenario rather than just taking the next step. I over analyze the situation.
In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones stood at the edge of the large gulf in the cave. In order to progress and reach the other side he had to take a “step of faith”. When he took the first step, the foundation appeared beneath his feet. He had the bridge he needed to walk to the other side.
When the apostle Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, he wanted to step out of the boat and walk to Jesus on the water. When Jesus told him to come, Peter believed the Lord and stepped out of the boat and began to walk on the water.  Unfortunately, just like so many of us, Peter panicked and took his eyes off the Lord. He looked at the circumstances around him and he began to sink.
As we spend time in the Lord’s presence He will bring balance to our lives.  He doesn’t want us to rush ahead of Him with the impulse of the moment or over analyze the situation. He doesn’t want us to lean on our own understanding. He has come that we might have life and have it more abundantly. When we spend time in His presence and in His Word we will hear Him as He directs us in His perfect plan and time.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hearing His Voice in the Fast Lane

This week has been challenging again as I experienced “Life in the fast lane”.  Finding time to “Be Still” is such a struggle for me.
I think if only I had more time, but if I had more time then I would be totally exhausted. It’s not my lack of time but how I use my time that makes the difference.
This past Sunday, our pastor “Triple dog dared the church to spend 40 days in the Lord’s Word and in prayer” Although I love to read the Lord’s Word and pray, it seemed to be a challenge more than ever. He warned us that we would come up against all kinds of difficulties, challenges, and perhaps hardships. I knew Pastor Jeff was right because our enemy does not want us to have victory; especially as a group of believers moving in the same direction.
Other than my computer dying and our heating and air dying, I have had an incredible week. John and I celebrated thirty-one years of marriage and all my basic needs were provided for and my family is well.
As I think of the pain and suffering in the world I realize that I am truly blessed and should shout with joy rather than mumble and grumble for my little inconveniences.
At the moment I have four couples that are friends of mine whose hearts are broken because their child is incarcerated. A dear friend just lost his beloved wife and mother of their children. Another friend is holding on to hope that her young daughter will survive leukemia. We all are watching in horror at the pain and suffering in Haiti.
With all these things in mind I am reminded by the Lord that my life is not my own. Pastor Jeff could not have foreseen the pain in Haiti and he does not know the pain in the lives of my friends and your friends. But he knows the Lord wants to equip each of us so we can be the representation of His Hope to those who are suffering.
With this in mind, I look forward to the time I can “Be Still” in the presence of the Lord and in His Word. I desire to hear His voice and hear how I can be a part of His plan.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Allowing Change While Staying in Your Lane

It’s interesting how you make a decision to stay in your own lane then the Lord begins to nudge you to change. Not necessarily change lanes totally but allow some changes to come in your life. Changes that cause us to grow us so we can be the person the Lord created us to be. I want to be open to changes that will draw me closer to the Lord and purify my life.

If nothing changes in our lives then we become stagnant. There is nothing more beautiful than a fresh flowing stream of water. The water if purified by the continuous flow of fresh water through it. As we spend time in the Lord’s presence, He will refresh us with His living water.

It all comes back to trusting the Lord and spending time with Him. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

How can we find the balance of knowing when to change and when to hold firm and not change? It is only by spending time in the presence of the Lord. “Be Still and Know that I am God.”


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Living life in the right lane.

A couple of years ago, my sweet friend Ruby was praying. As Ruby prayed, she said, "Dear Lord, help me to stay in my own lane". Those words jumped out at me and I have found myself praying this same prayer now over and over.
In this busy fast paced world with so many options there is such a temptation to stray from the place the Lord has designed especially for me. Often I chose the good rather than the best. And yes, there are times I chose some things that aren’t even good for me.
Struggling to find time to fulfill all my commitments is something that is constantly a part of my life. I often find myself taking on responsibilities out of guilt, expectation, or default.
I want to live my life with purpose, intention and passion in the place the Lord has designed specifically for me. But how do I do this with so many responsibilities, commitments, and relationships that pull me in so many directions? How do I know what is God's will for my life and what is "my lane"?
The Lord is very clear that it is not His will that I strive and fill my life with unnecessary stress, anxiety, and over commitment. He gives me specific directions and promises if I obey his directions.
First, He tells me to "Be Still". That is tough one for me. I am constantly filling my life with one more thing to do. Yet, my soul longs to be still. Second, it's not just being still and wasting time in front of a television or computer but it is being still with the focus on the Lord. He says to "Be still and know that I am God".