Saturday, November 15, 2014

"Who Do You Serve?" ~ God

“Who do you serve?” That simple question, I’m sure, changed my life the day I heard it. Or maybe it’s the fact that I actually heard it…I mean, really heard it.

While I was visiting my parent’s rental house recently (aka the-rental-house-from-down-under-and-I-don’t-mean-Australia), I heard a sound coming through the walls that sounded like running water. I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but it’s the same sound I heard the last time I was there…and it never stopped…for hours! I brought my parents in the room, “You hear it?” They did. “It’s probably the washing machine.” Washing machine’s not on. “It’s probably the sprinkler.” Sprinkler’s not on. I found myself turning everything off, closing the door, shoving my ear to the wall…whatever it took to hear the source of this sound. I could hear the sound. I just couldn’t hear it clearly because of all the distractions.

There have been times in my life I just didn’t feel like serving. The timing wasn’t right for me. The “ask” was just not from the person I felt like serving. The situation was just so out of order, I didn’t want to enable anyone through codependency. There were times I didn’t want to serve just to prove a point.

I found myself asking many questions when faced with the opportunity to serve the day He asked the question. I was getting caught up in the “who” and the “what” and the “when” of it all. And then God asked, “Who do you serve?”

When I turned off all the outside “noise” I had to ask myself:

  • If I serve God, does it matter who asks me to do it?

  • If I serve God, does it matter what I get from it?

  • If I serve God, does it matter when “a point” is proven?

It’s like I had my ear to the wall and could clearly hear my God remind me that these questions in my head (aka noise) were not about serving Him. These questions were about serving myself and/or others. And that’s not how I want to lead my life. I want to serve God.

When I choose to serve God by serving others, I know:

  • If I serve God, I’m serving Him, and not the person asking me to do it. It doesn't matter how the person responds to the service.

  • If I serve God, I already know His promise is to abundantly bless those who bless others. It doesn’t matter what the person I’m serving does, or does not, do for me.

  • If I serve God, I’m serving Him, not trying to prove a point by withholding service. That's manipulation over a person and/or not trusting God in the situation. I can leave justice to Him.

It really is that easy. Next time you are put in a position to serve someone, put your ear to the wall. Once you shut out the noise, the answer is pretty clear to the question God is asking.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Freedom From Want

I put another national holiday behind me. They seem to sneak up with no warning sometimes. I’m not sure why I don’t see them coming. That moment I realize I didn’t make plans that involved any type of human interaction. That moment I realize I wasn’t invited to a table to just ‘be’ with others. I was productive. But I was without community. And it left me feeling…yeah…I’d say it had left me just “feeling."

In an attempt to figure out what I was “feeling” I came across a Norman Rockwell picture entitled “Freedom From Want” (pictured above). If you don’t know the name Norman Rockwell, you probably just don’t realize you do. He was a very popular American artist whose work has graced many magazine covers, has probably been replicated a bazillion times and is best known for his depiction of American culture. His piece “Freedom from Want” was done after US President Franklin Roosevelt delivered his state of the union address known as the “Four Freedoms” speech. Freedom from want was described as the basic right to an adequate standard of living including food, clothing, housing and healthcare.

However the freedom I found myself seeking from seemed so small when you figure that I have all the 'wants’ President Roosevelt spoke about. At this time of my life, I have food, clothing, housing and healthcare. And not only am I grateful for that, I realize I have those things mostly because of where I was born and who I was born too. But I still found I had a ‘want’ – a want that I see in Norman Rockwell’s picture. I wanted to be wanted. I wanted to be around the table. I wanted to be gathered around a community of people, or at least invited to the table.

I have been blessed to be the confidant to many. But there are some days I believe the lie that I'm a friend to few. I convince myself that I’m fully content to be alone until I see all the fun people had doing stuff together. And it’s at this point that I realize I’m walking down a road I don’t want to be. If I don’t stop now, I could find myself in the land of self pity (poor me, why wasn’t I considered? I don’t have what I want) and near the river of envy (they have what I want). What do you do when you realize you need freedom from the “want”?

Well, I’ll tell you what I do…I run to Jesus!

The spirit of self pity wants me to believe that I have the short hand of the stick. It wants me to believe the lies of “poor me” so I’ll wallow and get stuck in a moment of emotion. Self pity makes ‘me’ the focus. Self pity makes my wants all that matter. The spirit of envy seems to go hand in hand with self pity, especially in this day and age. Forget the times in which you didn’t know you weren’t invited to the table…now you get to see pictures updated every minute in color and waiting for you to “like” it. The spirit of envy opens the door to offense because now you want what they have.

Once you recognize you are entertaining these spirits, the next step is to speak against them. If you are in Christ, you have the authority to speak to them and tell them to leave. I then speak and proclaim the truth of His word over my life. By doing this, I shift the focus off of me and onto Jesus. By doing this, I seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. By doing this I put into practice the things I have learned and the God of peace is with me. By doing this, I make His wants my wants.

I hope you don’t find yourself needing freedom from the wants today. But if you do, know that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you, and that you are always welcome at His table.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Life is a Mix tape

I introduce the mix tape.

If the only playlist you know of is on iTunes, this all may be hard to understand. A mix tape was so different.

It was the 80’s way of recording songs onto one device so you could listen back to the songs later. Often times, you’d make a tape for someone else…usually your best friend or your secret admirer. You’d wait up all night with bated breath for the radio DJ to play that song. You had to know the first few chords of the song. You would wait for that magic moment that the dj stopped talking so you could hit record. Then you sat back, with a smile on your face and a bob in your head. Until the next magic moment: the end of the song just before the commercial began. Sometimes, if you hit it on just the right night, you’d get a second song mixed into it…and if it was a song you would have chosen anyway…bonus track! (however, you hoped and prayed the radio station wouldn’t SAY bonus track with an echo effect as the song mixed in). And unlike the playlists of today, deleting a mix tape was not simple. Sure, you could record over it…but you would most likely hear your old track playing under your new track at some point. There was no completely deleting a mix tape: unless you set it on fire...I may know this from experience.

If you were a child of the 80s…you totally know what I’m talking about.

I saw the picture above on Pinterest and it got me thinking: If life is a mix tape, I need to choose my playlist wisely.

There are days we don’t get to choose what happens to us or to what we are exposed. There are days where we wish we could delete by just pushing a button. But much like a mix tape, we are sometimes left with little remnants of the tune we’d like to get out of our head, playing in the background muffled by the new song we so long to hear.

In the last couple of months, I’ve been learning a new way to tackle the negative tunes in my head. I’m learning that although I don’t have control of some of the circumstances in my life, I do have control of the thoughts that I’ll let repeat. I do get to choose the playlist.

I get to choose a playlist of words of life or death…and I choose life. I choose truth. I choose faith. I choose love.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Me

It’s not what you think.

It’s the eve of another Mother’s Day and I’m trying to figure out a way to celebrate the woman who has made the biggest difference in my life.

She loves me.

She teaches me.

She dreams with me.

She sees the best in me even when I’m not able to see it.

She is my biggest fan and encourager.

She prays for me.

And I thank God for her. I’ll take her to dinner and give her a card that, I hope, expresses how much I love and appreciate her.

But as I’ve gotten older, Mother’s Day has meant something else to me. I’m single and have no children of my own. And I’m over 40. You see where this is going…

I love and adore the women in my life who have become mothers. I’ve went with them to buy the test and have celebrated alongside them when the stick said yes. I’ve thrown baby showers (really cute ones, if I do say so myself). I’ve been one of the first aunties to welcome their little humans into the world at the hospital (it’s a miracle, for sure…but WHOA!). I’ve encouraged them to keep being the awesome mom’s that they are when they’ve only had 2 hours sleep and their nipples are bleeding (It’s probably TMI, but the struggle is real y’all). However, in the past few years, my heart has sunk just a little when I can’t stand during ‘that’ part of the Mother’s day service at church.

So why is it a happy Mother’s day to me this year?

No, I’m not pregnant. But I am expecting.

I’m expecting that God is going to continue to work this thing called motherhood out through me.

I can love.

I can dream.

I can see the best in others when they don’t see it in themselves.

I can be the biggest fan and the loudest encourager.

And I can definitely pray.

I’m expecting that I’m going to begin to see that, although I have not bore a child of my own, I can still be a mother.

So happy Mother’s day to every one of you wonderful and fabulous women who are teaching me how it’s done.

Happy Mother’s day to the one I call Mom (or Ma, most the time).

And, happy Mother’s day to me.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Good Grief

God has a way of bringing me right back to a place I left at just the right time to remind me of how much He wants me to get it right. 

I just came across this journal entry I never posted.

His timing is perfect!

Good Grief

April 13, 2013

I think I’ve watched it a million times. The scene that Charlie Brown is running full force to kick the football, and then that evil Lucy moves it and he goes flying in the air. Charlie Brown, a young man who seemed to have such a heavy heart as he often worried about everything, spent much of his time slapping his forehead and proclaiming over his life: “Good grief!” But there really never seemed to be anything good about his grief.

I felt that way this week. After over a month of my Aunt Dody fighting for her life, after several miracles of seeing her go from near death to life…I got the call that she passed away. I had decided I was going to believe that another miracle could happen. I believed that she could be healed. I knew that if her healing did happen, it would speak volumes to my family. I was also praying for God’s will. He knew every hair on her head and every minute of her life. And I also had a sense of feeling more prepared if she didn’t make it because of a grief and loss recovery class I took at my church.

But nothing prepared me for what actually happened.

One might think that I felt like the football got swiped from under me because she died. But that’s not the case. I felt like it got swiped because of the aftermath. Tempers flared. Accusations got thrown. Feelings were hurt. I even spoke to Jocelyn who led the class and asked if there was a chapter in the book about when families go wild! And it was then that I realized that there is such a thing as “good” grief. And what I was seeing happen was certainly not it! I was ready to tackle all the feelings we talked about in group, but I wasn’t ready to see my family fall to pieces.

However while in my Charlie Brown stance, lying on the floor feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me, I began to remember the things that I learned in grief recovery:  the “good” grief stuff. The first thing was that not everyone grieves the same way. And while I didn’t agree with a lot of things that were going on and being said, I needed to understand that it wasn’t my place to make anyone else feel anything differently. And although my natural inclination is to grieve alone, I made sure I talked about it to people I knew could support me. I also made sure I didn’t get up and get “back in the game” too soon. Make quick decisions or “plays” on how I would deal with certain family members. Another natural inclination was to keep busy…keep working. I gave myself some down time. I took some time to read God’s “playbook” aka the Bible.

Grieving is a part of the game of life. But we have a choice on how we choose to grieve. We have a choice to be bitter. We have a choice to forgive. We have a choice to take ourselves out of the game, or just stay on the sidelines for a few plays. And we have the choice to get back up and in the game.

And because of what Jesus did on the cross…in the end…I will come out victorious no matter who or what swipes the ball from me.

Play ball!