Friday, September 27, 2013

Make It Beautiful

I have no idea what this post will be about.  So...I'm just going to get started and we'll see where we end up.  Doesn't that sound like fun??

Last night I found myself excited at the prospect that  today I would probably be able to make time to write.  I am discovering that I really love this writing thing.  Does that make me a writer? Speaking of being a writer, how do you answer the question, "What do you do?"  I've been thinking about that lately.  

I'm in customer service.
I'm a teacher.
I work at a bank.
I'm a pastor. 
I'm just a stay-at-home mom. (I'm saving the "just a stay-at-home mom" thing for another post.)

All of these would be considered acceptable answers to the question.  Our society tends to label everything.  But, really??  Do those responses sum up all of what we do or are? And if we are one of those things...does that make us not another?  Or if we feel we are one, can we not become another instead of...or also?

When God created man, He created us in His image.  God is amazingly diverse and creative. So wouldn't it stand to reason that we would be, too.  Can you label God in one word that defines all of who He is?  Hardly.  We shouldn't attempt to limit our "labels" either.  

While on this journey to learn about "soul integrity," I have been learning and reading a lot about what it means to be creative.  To make art.  Whatever that looks like.  Those are the "labels" I want us to challenge in ourselves.  You would have to be dead to not see that our God is an amazing artist. Everywhere we look we see the beauty He has created. Again, we're made in His image.  We're artists, too.

James 1:17 says, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father...

Beauty is a gift given to us to enjoy.  I believe because beauty is such a part of who God is that beauty (in whatever form) draws our hearts to Him.  Beauty is a landscape.  Beauty is Handel's Messiah.  Beauty is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  Beauty is your child's face. Beauty is a home-cooked meal.  Beauty is words on a page.  Beauty is friendship.  Beauty is a well executed double play or "Hail Mary" pass caught in the end zone.  As beautiful creations of our amazing God we were made to create beauty as well, in whatever form we enjoy. Because whatever is beautiful points to Him, the Giver of all things beautiful.  He delights in our creations, our art, whatever that looks like.
So let's throw off the "labels" we think we have and explore our God-given creativity to make art. Feed your soul.  Write.  Paint.  Draw.  Cook.  Bake.  Play music.  Landscape.  Garden.  Fix up that classic car.  Play that sport.  Make that Pinterest craft.  Don't be afraid to step out of your box and try because you think it may not turn out. Whatever is beauty to you...create it.   Admire and encourage the art of each other. Let the beauty of what you and others create draw your heart to the Creator of all things beautiful. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Time Is On My Side

So much for writing twice a week.  Last week flew by in a whirlwind of parent teacher conferences, occupational therapy, laundry, football, and cheer. Oh, well.  New week. Fresh start. 

Oh, happy day!!  Sunday officially ushered in Autumn. My favoritest of favorite time of year!! Cooler weather. Beautiful colors. Pumpkin everything!  Love everything about it!! Except for my fall allergies.  I could totally do without those.  Excuse me while I go take a Claritin...

This last week has been a time of processing priorities for our family.  Time is such an important commodity and I want to budget it well.  The  Word talks about redeeming the time(Ephesians 5:16 KJV).  

The dictionary defines redeem as this:  
to make better or more acceptable; 
to exchange for money, award, etc; 
to buy back; to free from what distresses or harms.

I don't want to just spend my time.  I want to redeem it.  The applications of this concept are many.  Notice Paul uses the present participle form of the word redeem.  Adding the
 -ing means it is not just a one time action...but an ongoing one.  Oh, Snap!  You didn't know you were going to get an English lesson today, did ya? 

Christ redeemed us when He died on the cross. One time. Action finished.  We don't have to do anything else.  Praise God!!  But we are charged to redeem our time.  The NIV translates it as making the most of every opportunity.  Our mortal selves are so tied to time.  We can't function without it.  How many times have we said, "I have no idea where today went!"  

As women we can get so caught up in taking care of things and people around us that we don't stop to think about how we are using our time.  We are just thinking about what needs to be accomplished and how little time we have to get everything done.  I know, I live there!  
I want to be more intentional in redeeming my time.  I'm a very practical person.  What would it look like to redeem my time??  Let's take the definition and get practical!

to make better or more acceptable:
I want to use my time to make something better. This includes myself.  Spiritually, the only way to do this is to let God work in me.  I must make time to spend in the Word and prayer.  Only He can change me into a "better" person.  And on the completely frivolous side of things.  It's okay to feed your soul by taking time to do something you enjoy.  I mean, really, don't you always feel better after getting your hair done or a pedicure??  Even the mundane tasks we do like laundry and dishes...they make our homes better.  If I look at the household chores as makes it seem not quite as yucky.  I'm redeeming the time to make things better for my family.  The applications for this can be carried into most things we do.  Be intentional about thinking of things in this way and see if it doesn't help your perspective.

to exchange for money, award, etc:
I am not advocating selling your time.  However, I guess, technically, when you work at your job, you are exchanging your time for your paycheck.  I would like you to think about it in the intangible, though.  I want to redeem my time with the eternal dividends in mind.  We can exchange our time by investing in others for  heavenly treasures.  Every time we share the love of Jesus with those around us, we are trading in our  time.  Whether it's serving others through an organization, ministry at church, or just our friendships, how great is it to know that our time can have an eternal value and impact.

to buy back; to free from what distresses or harms:
This last one is exciting!  This is what Jesus did for us!  He bought us with His precious blood and freed us from everything that distresses and harms us.  Somebody should be shouting about that!!  We can carry this freedom to the world around us.  There are so many people around us hurting and in bondage and we have the freedom and deliverance they so desperately need.  May what we say and do bring this freedom to those we see every day.  Don't get overwhelmed by the idea of this.  Sometimes this may mean sharing Christ with a lost soul. Other times it may just be by encouraging a friend by prayer and a Scripture, sending a card, taking a meal to someone, or watching a young mom's littles so she can run an errand.

My challenge for all of us today is to consciously think about our time.  Are we redeeming it? Let's be encouraged that we can redeem our time for things of eternal value.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Something's Gotta Give

I thought I had an idea of what I would write about today.  I thought I would have plenty of time to write it.  I thought I'd have more time for a lot of things today.  Guess that's what I get for thinking too much...
Life happened.  Nothing huge or catastrophic.  Just a lot of little things that took longer than planned or didn't happen as smoothly as I had hoped.  
So, here it is a few minutes past 7, I have a few minutes to sit down and write what is about to burst out of my heart.  Mostly questions.  Maybe if I write it out, answers will become clearer. 
 I'm on a journey...just like everyone else. Trying to take care of my children, husband, and home.  Trying to do my job at work well. Trying to be a good friend to those I know God has given to me.  Trying to be excellent in ministry. Trying to lead well in my life group.  All of these things really overlap.  Above all of these, I want to hear the Holy Spirit and follow His leading.

Right now I feel I've reached an impasse.  The crazy busy that has been our lives for the last few weeks is not working.  All of these things I am doing are good things.  But I feel like my family is suffering.  We are always just making it to our next activity or meeting.  Everyone has to hurry all the time.  I feel the busy-ness and obligation has started to drown out My Father's voice.  It is time to do some recalculating.

I'm not sure what this will look like.  I'm praying and asking you to pray for me as well.  I need wisdom and guidance to decide what He wants me to do or not do.  My family is always my first ministry.  I can be excellent in all other areas of "ministry, " but if I fail at home, my first God-given ministry, I fail at everything.  We have had something every night this week.  As I write this Jason has one kid at football, one at cheer, and another at a life group.  I am home with the twins, finishing up another dinner that will be eaten well after the time the kiddos should be in bed.  I need to figure out which of the good things I need to say "No" to, in order to say "Yes" to the best thing.
I'll let you know how it turns out.  This hasn't been the funniest post...but not in a funny mood today.  I believe it's time for me to "Be still (cease striving) and know that He is God."  I am encouraged that I have learned He will be faithful.  The answers will come if I make the effort to listen for His voice.  Be encouraged that we all struggle at times to know the right steps to take.  But always this:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”   
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:22-26


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Let's Get Transparent

So...after my husband read my last blog post, he informed me I needed an editor. Lovely.  Yes, I must admit the fact that he was such a grammatical genius attracted me when I met him. Now...not so much.  Ha!  I shall try to edit this post a little more thoroughly. :) 

Transparent moment: I love people, but they annoy me...seriously.

I have thought about running away to a deserted island several times over the last few weeks where I wouldn't have to deal with people.  You probably think it can't possibly be that bad and you're probably right. But whatever...I didn't ask you. (Have I told you that sarcasm is one of my spiritual gifts.)

I have been learning a lot about what it means to have "soul integrity" lately. It's okay to say no to activities, even good ones, because you just want to hang out with your husband and kids and eat burgers and watch tennis.  It's okay to take a break from the 27 loads of laundry that need to be done to write a blog post because it feeds your soul.  It's okay to love to dress up and feel pretty in a casual environment. And it's always okay to wear high heels whenever you feel like it (I'm almost positive when the first pair was created, God looked down from heaven and said, "It is good").

But mostly, soul integrity has to do with being honest with yourself. Honest about how you feel. Why you feel that way. What annoys you. What are your true desires.  We are so good at lying to ourselves and making excuses to ourselves.  And sometimes we've been doing this for so long we don't even realize it. 

Soul integrity is really just about getting real with yourself so God can work.  I believe the more soul integrity we have the easier it is for the Spirit to change us and make us more like Jesus.  Because isn't that our become more like Christ.  The more like Him we can become, the more others will see Him and know Him.  

In my heart of hearts I just want to magnify Him, by definition...make Him easier to see.  The glory of any created thing is directly tied to whether or not it's fulfilling the purpose God designed for it.  Our purpose is to bring God glory. So in everything I do, including dealing with all those annoying people, I want to show Christ, and Him be glorified.  
Does this always happen?  I'm afraid not. This becoming is quite a process and requires much dying to self, which is not always easy for us humans. Thanks to the whole "sin nature" thing we have going on, selfishness is easier for us.  And just when we think we have learned and prayed and confessed of those annoying people does something completely stupid. The only way we know the change is real and the Holy Spirit is working is to have it tested out in our relationships.  I am so thankful we don't rely on our own abilities.

I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands.   Ezekiel 36:25-27  

We are all learning and growing.  I want to write more about what God has been teaching me about relationships and people on Thursday...or maybe Friday...
Domestic duties are calling.  Be encouraged today friends, that we have a new heart and His Spirit to make it through the difficult moments.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Let's Do This

Let's do this!
What is this?
Is my this the same as your this?

Yes. No. Sometimes.

I've been thinking about writing for a long time...even blogged some in the past.  It seems I'm always writing in my head.  Composing things God is teaching me and funny things my kids say into posts.  They never get written, because let's face is busy.  Writing seems like something else on the list that's not as important as all the other things that have to be accomplished for the day.  So I don't do it.

I love reading so many other blogs.  Mostly of women, just like me.  In the throes of serving their family, working their jobs, and trying to walk out their faith. Everyday.  The blogs are real, funny, raw, and so very encouraging.
Why?  Because they let me know I'm not alone in the this.  The this.  The right now. The parenting failures and successes.  The friendships that are smooth and effortless or sometimes rocky and exhausting.  The marriage that is work and a blessing.  The job that needs attention. The laundry that never ends.  The dinners that have to be fixed every stinkin' night.  Sports, cheer, homework, doctor's visits.  And ministry that can be both messy and rewarding.

Ministry is not just for full time, paid church staff.  It's what we all do. Everyday.  In everything we do. If you are on the journey to follow Christ and become more like Him, your life IS ministry. Laundry, conversations, leading worship and small groups. Sending encouraging cards or texts.  Just listening.

So...That's what I want this this to be.  Ministering to my soul as I write, my God as I try to follow and write what He is teaching me, and and to you, the friends.  Will every post have some deep spiritual thought?  Probably not.  I hope to write about funny things that happen in my life, because goodness knows we need to laugh to survive...even if it is at ourselves.  But I feel even in the funny, God is there, smiling and enjoying our delight.

And I want to encourage you.  You are not alone in this.  We all struggle and have bad days.  We all have great days that we wish would go on forever.  But in this we need each other.  We need to laugh, cry, and celebrate with each other.  We need to stand together in the battles, praying over one another when the this gets too hard.  We need to remind each other where our strength comes from and Who has things under control.

So join me on my journey in this.  Be patient with me as I figure this whole blog thing out, as I'm not the most technologically savvy person I know.  I am going to try to post 2 times a week or so...emphases on try. Hope you are encouraged.