Friday, February 24, 2017

NO REGRETS

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 I think it is safe to say that we all live with some sort of regret. We are human after all. For instance, we all probably have some things in our lives that we wish we would or wouldn't have done. Just the other day, I had someone tell me about sitting down and devouring an entire bag of potato chips and dip. They were left with feelings of regret. I've heard tinges of regret in the conversations of those who have lost a loved one all too soon. The things they wished they have done, said, or not said - if only given another opportunity. Maybe we even regret purchases we've made or some other choices.

The truth is, we go about our days somewhat nonchalantly at times, never stopping to take into account the effects of our actions and how they might possibly affect or infect both ourselves and others. (That's a lot of "fects", I know. They all apply though. Let me make it a bit clearer.)

The effects of our careless words and actions, missed opportunities, poor choices, broken relationships - REGRET - can cause negative or painful memories which can affect our spiritual, physical and emotional states. These effects affect our lives as well as the lives of others and can result in a heart deeply infected with bitterness.

There is much to be said about living with regret. However, for the sake of keeping this post from getting too lengthy. I challenge us all, me included, to make the most of every moment, to guard our words and actions, and to make wise choices to be intentional each day we live. Regret is like a tiny worm that gets into the apple and slowly eats away until the apple is completely destroyed within. Doesn't that sound familiar? 

"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy..." John 10:10

Regret is a tool of the enemy and it keeps us from being all we can be for the Lord. It hinders us from fulfilling our purpose by holding us captive as we continue to hold on to the past. It will slowly eat away at an individual until there's nothing left but a shell of what used to be. It doesn't have to be that way though! The rest of that verse says:

"...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."

Sure, we all make mistakes and if we haven't made one yet today, we probably aren't far from it. However, I've found a method of attack for my own bouts with regret-itis that I want to share with you. It's found in I Corinthians 10:31:

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

Isn't that simple? If we'll do everything with this verse concreted firmly into our hearts and minds, we'll not be so easily distracted to do something we might regret later. This is good news! We are challenged in the Word of God to be intentional about EVERYTHING we do. Why? Because our every word and action will carry either a positive or negative note. 

What regrets would we salvage ourselves from if we were to be intentional about bringing God glory? What words wouldn't we say? What thoughts wouldn't we allow to entire our mind-scapes? What actions would we make an effort to bridle? What relationships would we work harder to mend or go above and beyond to make them healthy? What actions and words would we sow? I dare say we'd do some things a lot differently, wouldn't you?

Take the challenge with me today...let's call it a #NO REGRETS challenge. Share your stories, testify to the glory of God, spread positive, encouraging, uplifting seeds every chance you get. By doing so, we'll be curbing the appetites of the carnal man within, we'll be serving up the enemy a black-eye and feeding what is eternal and will last forever. 

And...last but not least, we'll make positive marks upon our world and the effects will be life changing to both ourselves and others. Let's start a NO REGRETS REVOLUTION today. Are you with me?

Monday, February 20, 2017

It Stinks!...Waiting



"But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."   
James 1:4

So, how do you respond whenever you're tired of the waiting game and want things to happen NOW?!

Sometimes I feel like pitching a fit like an impatient toddler in the grocery check-out. Loud and obnoxious. At other times, I may feel like cowering down in a corner - like a sulking ten-year-old. Quiet but intentional. Anyone out there to testify of these types of moments in their life?

Think about the story of Lazarus. Mary and Martha acted in their own unique ways. I can see Mary doing the quiet sulking; while in my mind, I can see Martha possibly being the tantrum throwing toddler in the grocery aisle. Of course, I could be completely off, but for the sake of this post, let me put this spin on it. After all, in John 11:20, the Bible says, "Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house."

He makes it His business of knowing our every need. Yet, He doesn't work on our time schedule.


Don't we all have those moments when we ask the Lord, "Why'd you wait so long to show up? Lazarus wouldn't have died if you'd have come quicker." We all have Lazarus situations at certain times in our lives if we stop and think about it. 

How many times do we grow weary in the waiting? Yet still, there are times when waiting is necessary for a God-perfect outcome. A healthy baby is most often carried for nine months. What if a mother decided, "OK, that's it! I'm done waiting. I'm done already!" Or consider the caterpillar waiting to turn into a butterfly, or the making of a diamond or perhaps a pearl. Sometimes beautiful things take time. This includes our situations too.

Right now, in my life, I'm growing weary of waiting for the insurance company to repair the ceiling in my bedroom. We've been camping out in the living room for almost two months now while they've been tearing out and ridding my home of mold issues. I'm done with it already! What was an adventure at first has turned into a stormy-rainy, soggy-marshmallow kind of day during summer camp. What are you tired of waiting on in your own life? We all have tired-of-the-wait issues.

John 11:35 says, "Jesus wept." 

How comforting in our weary moments, to know that Jesus is in touch with what we're feeling!



Let's go back to our Bible story, when they arrive at the tomb of Lazarus, Martha informs the Lord that the body of Lazarus stinketh. How many times have we informed God that our situation stinks?! I have to laugh at myself sometimes for getting impatient with the One who knows all. I can even imagine Him looking over the balcony of Heaven and shaking His head at me at times. If I could only see the situation and outcome like He can. 

If you're in a situation that stinks, hold on. Keep living right, praying for God's will and be prepared to cast all your "waiting" anxiety upon Him time and time again. Our situation is always worked to bring Him glory. In John 11:40, Jesus tells Martha, haven't I told you "if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" 

We too can see the glory of God in our situations if we will but believe and wait well. It doesn't have to be some big thing in life. The little things are just as life-altering. In the end, however, if we will believe Him, the outcome of our situations could bring Him glory. 

What if the situation you find yourself in today might speak volumes to those around you? What if because you and I wait well instead of doing the toddler thing, that others who are watching turned to us asking what kept us going? What if, at the end of our trials, we are able to stand and testify of the goodness of the Lord and how He worked in our hopeless situations? Wouldn't it be worth it after all?

Let's wait well, my friend, knowing that good things come to those who wait...no matter how hard it might seem to do at times. Sure, it might stink right now...but if we wait a little longer our dead situation will be brought to life again.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

WORDS on WALLS




"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." 
Isaiah 49:16

I love words. I love writing. God made me that way. I love words written across walls, words that will adhere to this and that, and words on plaques. I love yellowed pages written in calligraphy, block print, cursive, type...all the above. Words say things. Describe things. Convey messages of love or hate. Words. They're everywhere.

So, when we started redecorating our back room, I bought a package of "words" in the little bundle themed "family." I could hardly wait until my hubby finished with the fresh coat of paint so I could start "wording." (Yes, that's my idea of working!) I placed the large, horizontal frame containing a crocheted rendition of our  family's last name at the very top. Then, under that, I placed pictures of my three, jean-clad children when they were between the ages of about 5 and 9. Under those pictures, I placed another picture of them taken more recently. And, of course, I included canvas pictures I was given for Christmas of my two wonderful grands. I stepped back to look at my arrangement and smiled in satisfaction. Then came time for the words to be added...


FAMILY. 
Heart. Smile. Kind. Strength. forever. Devotion. Laughter. Traditions. HOME. Hug.

I won't bore you with all the words I began to creatively place here and there. However, as I began placing those words amid the pics, my mind began to remember, my heart began to feel moments from the past. After placing several words, I turned to my husband and said, "We worked hard for this wall!" I wasn't talking about the work we were doing currently either.
Kiss. Treasure. Love. Together. adore. FAITH. honor. HOPE.

As the memories flipped through my mind, I smiled, I laughed, my heart was filled with joy. Then, I became more serious. I held a tear back. My heart ached. Bittersweet. The truth is...there are some words left behind in the package that I couldn't place up on that wall.  Simply because life happens.

My thoughts turned to other families who might open this same word package I did. What words would they include in such an undertaking? What words might be eliminated? What words might bring joy or painful memories? I dare say, the creators of this package just stereo-typed the family ideal. They had good intentions. A family should consist of all those lovely words. Yet, we all have our own stories. I thought of more words that I would have included in this package...

Restoration. FORGIVENESS. Scars. Redemption. 2nd Chances.

Are you feeling me? I'm sure you have your own list of words you'd use as well as ones you'd omit. We all do. There are some words we run away from, some labels we'd rather not claim...
The beautiful thing is, the author of our story has words which are just waiting to be added to our life wall. It's true, we work hard for our display walls. During that work, however, the Lord patiently teaches, woos and tends to the wounds left behind by the ugliness life brings our way. He takes the wounds and touches them with His healing balm and turns them into scars. Trophies of moments we've made it through only by the grace and mercy of God. He mends and puts back together. After all, it's really His story we're living out.

I can now look at my wall in complete satisfaction and rejoice as I remember. Here's a little secret though: I haven't always been able to do that. It's taken time and healing and much heart searching and releasing to the One who cares and is in the business of making all things beautiful. It might not look exactly like we dreamed it would. There might be scars. However, God has His own set of words not only for us but for our situations...

Set Free. DELIVERED. Righteousness of God. FRIEND. Justified. WHOLE.

Don't let those words you left behind in the package define you or your situations. God has His own set of WORDS He longs to proclaim about you and your circumstances. He has your name written down on the palm of His hand. Hold on to His promises and display every word possible on your wall for all to see the goodness and faithfulness of God. When you share your story, you're sharing His story. 

Be encouraged. There is beauty in brokenness. Now, grab you some WORDS of hope for you and yours and hold on tight. God sees your walls.

Share a bit of your story in the comment section if you'd like. 

Choose: Let GO!


Just a thought God dropped into my heart today and I wanted to share for someone out there who is struggling and holding on for all your worth.

 Sometimes we have to lose to gain.

 

There! I said it. Losing can be so painful too, my friend. We've all felt the pangs of loss in our lives. I've had several more doses of it in my life than I ever wished for or anticipated. We may lose family members, health, jobs, our reputation...the list is endless. I'm not talking about that kind of loss though. I'm talking about the losses we choose.

Those things we'd rather be in control of because, quite often we're control freaks without even realizing it, aren't we? We want life to be "happily ever after" every day. We do what we can to control that outcome. We all like a happy ending, don't we? Yet... 

Sometimes we have to be willing to let go to receive. 


Wouldn't it be easier to let go if we knew that what we'd receive in return would be better? If it would work out better? If it would feel better?  That's the beautiful thing about living a life dedicated to the Lord. He never asks us to give up something without a blessing. (Think about Jacob wrestling with the angel.) 

It's difficult to pray "thy will be done" when we're afraid of what that will might be. What if it means I have to lose? What if it affects my life in a way I never even considered? The truth is that God's will for our lives has divine purpose and reason. It's an eternal thing.

The disciples had a choice when Jesus was calling them to something better. They had to choose to leave their old life behind and move forward into the unknown. Isn't that scary?! One has to be brave and courageous to follow through with that. I wonder if there were any men Jesus might have called that refused to take the chance? After all, Jesus let them know right up front that He had no place to lay His head. The life He was inviting them to choose wasn't a glamorous on. In fact, Jesus even told them they'd have to DENY themselves. They had to choose. Can you imagine all the thoughts that may have run through their minds while they were considering the risk of it all? We're often the same way.

 Sometimes we have to give up what we feel we can't let go of to receive the real blessing.

 

Indeed, it's difficult to let go of certain friendships and relationships, status of life, habits, our own will, etc., in order to receive all that God has in store and for us to fulfill our purpose in this life. 

We consider the cost. Can we take that leap of faith and know that what He replaces our "can't-let-go-of's" with will be better than we ever could've imagined? He wants to deliver us from holding on so tightly and invites us to change. His way! And, I always say "His way is best!", even while I am having my own issues with letting go. You see, I know His ways are best, but sometimes my heart doesn't want to believe it. Ouch! That doesn't change a thing though. I suppose it only proves what I already know: I don't know what's best for me, but He does.

What do you need to release to Him today? What do you need to make a conscious choice to give up today? Yes, it may feel like a temporary "sacrifice" but, oh, the blessings. Are you ready to receive the blessing that is set aside specifically for you? Your name is already on it. First, you must choose...hang on or let go.

Let GO and let GOD!



Saturday, February 4, 2017

Why? Because...



Has your child ever looked at you and said, "Why not, Mom? Why can't I have it?" or "Why is it turning out like this? It's not what I had planned! Aren't children always full of the most unanswerable questions? You know, like, "How does this work?" What about the infamous "Why?" question"? Oh, my!

And guess what? Yeah, here I am...still asking questions after all these years. What about you, my friend?

Sometimes what we perceive as the "bad stuff" happening in our lives, is actually God at work. 


Remember the verse that goes something like this: His ways are not our ways nor are His thoughts our thoughts? Well, He was serious about that! I think you can read the exact wording in Isaiah 55:8. 

On more than one occasion in my life, I've knelt to pray and have asked God, "What in the world is going on? Why this? Why now? What next?" Yeah! I've questioned God more than a few thousands of times in my lifetime already - maybe most even in my adulthood.

 

Sometimes I just have a hard time seeing what He's seeing ...because I'm not God. And...that's completely OK.


Why did this sickness overtake me? How did I get here? What happens when my children get out-of-control in their teenage years? How am I going to make it out of this financial situation? Why? What now? Where to from here? Are we supposed to accept this job which includes moving out of state? Are we supposed to wait for something else? Why is this relationship in trouble? Is this the answer to what I've been praying for? What's wrong with this picture? Is this what its supposed to look like? Is this the right path God has chose for me? You get the picture...life can be full of unanswered questions. You can think of your own batch, I'm sure. 

I'm certain, as a mom, you sometimes wanted to make a recording saying, "Just because!" or "Because I said so!" After all, how many times are we expected to answer the same exact question in a day anyhow? Or perhaps you get tired of trying to explain your reasoning behind something your child will never be able to grasp the concept of until they're more mature. Maybe you've caught yourself saying, "One day you'll understand..."

Look, we're not going to understand His ways every time either. At times when we think something is bad for us, it might actually be just want He ordered for us. Yes, we're going to ask questions; however, we'll never ask too many. He does not tire of hearing us cry out to Him. He is compassionate. When we don't understand, He is patient. When we make a mess of it all, He is long-suffering. He's able to take the broken pieces of our lives and hearts and gently put them back together again. 

We don't have to understand to know He will come through.


He does it just because He is our Father...and will always know what's best for us. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

If you're asking questions today. If you don't understand the path God has you on right now or the pain you're enduring. If you don't understand or see the way, just hang in there. Give Him permission to interfere with your stuff and watch Him take control. With God, all things are possible. Even when we don't understand and think our world is falling apart. 

Though we might get frustrated when our child continually asks questions, we never forget they're our children and we want what's best for them. Our Father is the same, isn't He?


"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Matthew 7:11

Every question has an answer. Every situation has an ending. Every child of God has hope of a better day. And you know what??? That uncomfortable stuff just might be a blessing in disguise. Hang in there...this too shall pass. Why? How do I know? Because God said so...in reply to my last question. Be encouraged!



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What If?


What If

What if, instead of not saying anything...
we got out of our box and said something?
What if, instead of thinking it...
we actually told someone what they mean to us?
What if, instead of holding back...
we opened up our heart and let someone in?
What if, instead of being afraid...
we courageously opened the door for relationship?
What if, we thought someone was beautiful...
we braved the weirdness of it and told them so?
What if, when someone did something to bless us...
we said "thank you" and tried to return the favor?
What if, when someone touched our lives...
we took a moment to let them know exactly how?

What if someone is waiting...
What if someone needs to hear it?
What if someone needs encouragement...
What if we're the ones to speak it?
What if someone is feeling down...
What if we could help lift them up?
What if someone is in need...
What if we are their answer?
What if someone needs prayer...
What if we can stand in the gap?

What if...

You see, there are a lot of "what if's" in life,
They come in all shapes and sizes.
And we're Jesus with skin on to many, but
Will we stop to make a difference?
You see, it's not about us, but the "someones"
It's about God meeting anothers need through us.
It's about being sensitive and flexible,
It's about being vessels that God can use.

What if...

Will we?
Can we?

When?
How?
Where?

What if God is waiting on you?
What if someone is waiting on you?
Will we turn a deaf ear?
Will we shut our eyes and hearts?

Are we willing?
He was!!!

 Let's step out today and try,
we should be a mirror of Him, because...

What if...that person in need...
just happened to be you?