Sunday, June 6, 2010

Things You Will ... Things You Won't

Regret is a powerful thing. If you get to know someone well enough, you'll probably hear them share, at some point, something they've regretted about their life. I can't tell you how many times I thought about how much I regret that I never went to college. You've heard folks tell of their own regrets and my guess is that you've got a few of your own.

But how about the things that you won't regret? Earlier tonight as I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the shower floor with a toothbrush, I thought to myself, "You won't regret doing this." It's amazing how that prompted so much within my heart. So that I'm not dwelling on the negative list of things I will regret, here's some things that I won't:

I won't regret loving and being married to the same man all my life and being his wife.

I won't regret being a stay at home Mom until my girls got to be in the later years of elementary school. I won't regret picking them up from school and getting to hear all about their day.

I won't regret loving them, investing in their lives and missing them when they moved out and began lives of their own.

I won't regret raising them in the church and living a life that showed them I loved and lived committed to Christ and wanted the same for them.

I won't regret the money I invested in braces, cheerleading, softball, mission trips, summer camps, cars, college and weddings for my girls.

I won't regret the times I surprised them with those expensive Gap pants.

I won't regret praying for their husbands long before they were actually married.

I won't regret all the dinners together and the times when we just got to sit back and enjoy their company.

I won't regret being crazy over my grandson ... and future grandkids. I won't regret smooching, romping, playing, reading, swinging and praying with them.

I won't regret being physically active and doing all I can to be healthy and strong.

I won't regret teaching God's Word, discipling people in their walk with Christ or sitting and listening to those who were broken and hurting.

I won't regret going the extra mile.

I won't regret giving someone a second chance.

I won't regret forgiving someone who hurt me deeply, even if they didn't ask to be forgiven.

I won't regret taking vitamins every day.

I won't regret the road trips to see my family.

I won't regret the times I sacrificed something for myself in order to give to someone else.

I won't regret keeping my mouth shut.

I won't regret serving with all that is within me.

I won't regret obeying the Lord and following where He led me, even when others thought I was crazy.

I won't regret loving and serving the people of Honduras.

I won't regret the times I said I'm so sorry.

I won't regret standing for what is right.

I won't regret being a loyal wife, mom, friend and employee.

I won't regret doing the hard thing, especially when it cost me something.

I won't regret countless hours visiting my Nana at the nursing home and doing her nails each week.

I won't regret going to my nephews graduation.

I won't regret taking a train ride with a dear friend in the fall and marveling at the beauty of God's creation.

I won't regret splurging and eating a McDonald's ice cream cone.

And one thing I'm confident I will never ever regret and that's surrendering my life - past, present, future and eternity to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

How about you? What's something that you won't ever regret?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Times Two

You have to know that I love animals and would not purposefully kill something for absolutely anything. Seriously. I'm by no means a vegetarian, so don't go there. I'm talking about killing something just for the sake of killing it. Something wrong with that grid, sorry.

So, anyway, yesterday as I was coming home from work this red cardinal literally dove in front of my car. As I squinted and looked in the rear view mirror, I saw it flipping on the road so I knew that I did hit it. It killed my heart. I was so sad and I thought about it for a long time. Did it suffer? What was it thinking? Did it have family? Would someone miss it when it didn't return to the nest? Call me crazy if you want, but I do think about things like that. Just ask my daughters about the time the bunny got hit on their way to school when they were way little.

The story turns a bit crazy when I tell you that driving to work this morning buzzing up the Interstate that out of nowhere ANOTHER RED CARDINAL slams into the front of my car. As I peeked and looked in the rear view mirror, I saw nothing. Did it make it? Did it fly away? Even though I felt pretty confident that it was injured (injured bad) I was marginally hopeful that it flew off.

It wasn't until I got home this afternoon, saw the blood and feathers on the front of the car that I realized it didn't make it but rather went under the front grill and was actually still there. Dead but still there.

And if seeing it with my own eyes wasn't enough, the visual that Ashley gave me of what this poor bird looked like did indeed confirm that it was a goner. Knox and Ashley told me that red cardinals were a sign of good luck. I'm thinking, "Would that be before or after I hit them? And if they're good luck and I killed two of them, now what? Not good."

Knowing that I killed two birds in two days does not sit well with me. And of course, this mind goes mach 100 with all those crazy questions. To top it off, I found this tidbit of information on line which makes the whole thing worse: "Cardinals mate for life. Chances are, when you see one, you'll see the other." So now I've killed two birds who DID have mates.

Whether it's "killing two birds with one stone" or hitting two birds with one car (smile), the remains of that bird is still under the grill and the tragedy that I'm the one who killed it is fresh on my heart. I'm so sorry little birds.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Way You Walk

There are not many days that go by when my feet don't find pavement. I love to walk. I mean, I really love to walk. I like to leisure walk. I like to power walk. I like to walk as a means of getting from one place to the next. I like to walk as a method of keeping this heart in good condition. For decades I have walked. Today's walk wasn't much different from any other day ... except for the man that we met along the way.

As we came along side of him about to pass, he looked at us and said, "May I ask you a question?" Which, in and of itself, could be a loaded opportunity, but what the heck, right? Now don't judge, but in my mind I was thinking, "You better ask fast because I'm not about to slow this pace down." (big smile) So, he proceeded to ask us if we were Followers of Jesus Christ. Then, he began to tell us about the way someone walks. And how their shoes fit. THEN ... he said, "I don't know where you are at, but for one ... maybe both of you, the Lord is going to require that you walk different. The way you've been putting your shoe on and the way it fits is about to change." Okay, so NOW he has my attention. My mind began to journey down the past year of my life ... all the changes. I even flashed forward to the very near future and more changes that are headed my way. I thought, "Is this man God's messenger? Is he trying to tell me something? Is he affirming the road I'm on and the fact that change has been the theme of my life lately and to hold on tight because the road is taking me even further down the journey of transition? What does all this mean?"

I am surely a creature of habit. I'm a girl who functions best on a schedule. I like to know what's coming and when it's going. Calendars are my friend. Planners are my companion. As I've thought about this mystery man and the whole walking thing, I realized that I put my shoes on the same way, day after day. I believe the Lord used this man to remind me that life is all about change and that not much really stays the same. So, for me ... it's not about how I put on my shoes and it's really not about change. It's about how I walk. Because no matter what ... I will always walk. No matter where I live or where I worship. No matter if my kids are near or far. No matter where I serve. No matter what.

I will walk in and out of change. I will walk in the good, the bad, and the ugly. I will walk when I feel like it ... and when I don't. I will keep putting one foot in front of the other and walk. And as I do, my resolve is this:

"Love the LORD [Covenant Maker/Promise Keeper God], to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." (Joshua 22:5)

There really is something to be said about the way you walk.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Girls, Girls, Girls ...

One of my favorite authors penned a powerful book a few years ago titled Big Girls Don't Whine. It's not one of those "make you feel good" kind of books but it certainly packs a punch on what little girl behavior looks like in the lives of what should be grown up girls. We can never assume that because someone is aging [in years] that they are maturing. The two should go hand in hand—but unfortunately, that's not always the case.

In case you aren't sure [code for self-evaluation time] if you might be tipping the scale toward little girl behavior, here's a few clues:

1) You get mad, pout or get your feelings hurt if you weren't included in everything that everyone is doing. Not even realistic, but yet ... it fits you to a "t."

2) You think that the world functions on your time schedule and that life really is all about you.

3) Your expectations of people are so unrealistic that no matter how hard they might try, it's just never good enough.

4) You twist the truth, manipulate (including people) circumstances or attempt to control the situation.

5) Did I mention that you MUST be in control? No one else can do it right, anyway.

6) Everyone fails you.

7) You do whatever it takes to get attention—and if folks do not respond to your pettiness or whining, you turn it around and make them out to be the bad guy.

8) You need everyone to like you. So, in your effort to be "all things to all people" you tell them what you think they want to hear. Even if it means lying or "stretching the truth" just a bit.

The Apostle Paul says it best: "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." - 1 Cor. 13:11

I want to be a bonafide big girl, don't you? No little girl games. No little girl behavior. Grown-up, godly, gracious, fun-loving, living life and honoring God kind of big girl.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

So Long, Insecurity ...

... you have been a bad friend to us. Bad friend.

So, yesterday I spent the day with 300,000 insecure women (via local and satellite locations) and a handful of some pretty secure men (smile) at the "So Long, Insecurity" conference in Atlanta with Beth Moore. I've said it before and I'll say it again, "No one lays the out the Truth quite like Beth."

Just in case you missed the event and haven't bought the book yet, I feel a huge obligation to share with you some of the power punches that were shared:

- God doesn't force security on any of us.

- Anytime we need freedom from an area of insecurity, it's us and God.

- I have absolutely nothing to gain from my insecurity. Nothing good comes from it.

- Insecurity is not weakness ... it's unbelief.

Beth's texts for both sessions camped mainly in Ephesians 4:17-24. Take time to read those because it really affirms the points she makes.

- As Christians, we are supposed to be the poster children of "before and after."

- Victory or defeat resides in the mind.

Using the word secure, listen to these six statements that describe a secure woman:

S - She is saved from herself. The absolute biggest enemy we girls (and men, too) face in dealing with our insecurities is our self.

E - She is entitled to truth: God's Word is alive and active and we are given every opportunity in which to know the truth. It is the truth (and only the truth) that sets us free (John 8:32). God wants us to know the truth. He died to set us free, and that comes by knowing the truth. Think about it: How many lies have you believed over the course of your life and how have they worked for you?

C - She is clothed with intention: We've got to be women "on purpose." Nothing good from our lives just happens. We must be focused. Fixed. Prepared. Ready. Resolved. Intentional in knowing, living and walking this thing out with the Lord.

"When you give yourself fully to the Lord Jesus you just never know where you're going to end up."

"You cannot wait until you feel secure to believe in the security that we have in Christ Jesus."

"When you want to act like an idiot, that is the time to ask yourself, 'How would a secure woman respond to this?' "

"Secure people don't have to think of themselves all the time."

U - She is upended by grace: It's pretty much guaranteed that when our insecurities "rear their ugly head" we will turn the thing over onto ourselves. It becomes all about us. How we feel. How we were offended. How we were slighted ... or overlooked. The secure woman is able to turn her insecurity into an opportunity to extend grace. Why? Because it's no longer about her, but about her Savior. She may not be confident in herself, but she is completely confident in His love and grace. When we have been graced by God, we are free to grace others.

R - She is rebounded by love: Everything comes back to love. (Read 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13)
Love covers a multitude of sins. Without love, we are nothing and will never have even the slightest hope of becoming anything. And the deal breaker is that we will never be able to offer genuine love until we have accepted it and are willing to continually receive it from God.

"You will never be one iota secure until you are completely convinced that God loves you."

E - She is exceptional in life: God wants us to "stick out like a healing thumb." Not a perfect life, ladies. Not a sick, twisted, manipulating, game-playing, all about me life. Not someone who "sticks out like a sore thumb" because of "US" but someone who stands out [set-apart] because of her love and commitment to Christ and her desire to live the thing out.

All the ladies in the office gossip and talk bad about each other: Well, except her.

Everyone seems to be buying into the culture's standard of beauty: Well, except her.

I want to be an "except her" kind of woman, don't you?

This is not easy stuff, girls. We all know the areas where insecurity has caused us to limp, at best. For others, our insecurities have been such a way of life that we only know defeat ... and to be quite honest, maybe even grown "secure" in our insecurities. Help us, Lord.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:18-19a)

So long, Insecurity. You've been a bad friend to me. Rotten friend. I never want to see you again, kind of friend.

Monday, April 5, 2010

In the Blink of An Eye

For some reason, I'm very sensitive to time right now. It could be the reality of me (as my sister would say) flirting with 50. Could be that many things in my life have changed and I would have never guessed that six months ago things would be as they are. It could be that there is even more change on the radar screen. So, with that said ... it seems my heart is on "high alert" to the fact that life is not only ticking on but seems to be flying by.

I mean, seriously? When did my little girls grow up, become married and one with child, no less? And when did most of our nieces turn 30? When did my Mom cross the milestone of 80? How could it be that we have moved umpteen times over the years and now, aiming to do it again? I am amazed at how quickly time seems to pass and even more quickly how things change. Things that I thought were ... are not. Things that I hoped for ... haven't panned out. Situations that seemed far off ... are now here. Guess we should never get too comfortable in where we are in this life journey—because things could surely change. I'm so thankful that even though life changes "in the blink of an eye" that He is the Lord God who does not change. (Malachi 3:6)

I love these lyrics from Mercy Me's new song:

In a blink of an eye that is when
I'll be closer to You than I've ever been
Time will fly, but until then
I'll embrace every moment I'm given
There's a reason I'm alive for a blink of an eye

Embrace the day, friends, but don't hold it too tightly ...
It just might change.

In the blink of an eye.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Acceptance, Courage and Wisdom

When I was a little girl, I remember my Mom having this prayer on her bedside table. To be honest, I had no earthly idea what it meant—I only remember that it was there. I find tremendous comfort today in knowing that she knew what it meant.

The "Serenity Prayer" goes like this:

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." --Reinhold Niebuhr

I love that prayer.

Have you figured out yet that in this life, there are limits to what you can change? I mean, seriously? There is much is this life that we can't change, hard as we might try. Number one being the fact that we simply can't change people. There is truly only One who can change someone. Takes tremendous pressure off, if you think about it, to not have to even try.

Then there's the "courage to change the things I can." What I continue to learn is that most areas where God is showing me that change is needed—it's tremendously hard work. The best news I know is that He promises that His strength is made perfect in my weakness so where I know change must come, I can rely on His power to do it ... in and through me.

Awwwww, then there's "wisdom to know the difference." It takes a smart big girl to know her limits. To accept some things ... just as they are. To walk with courage and begin tackling the things where she knows change MUST happen. Wisdom to know when to speak ... when to be quiet. Wisdom to know when to step up ... wisdom to know when to sit down. Acceptance. Courage. Wisdom. There is a sweet place of balance in our lives when we come to a place of rest in all three.

Is there something you need to accept today? Maybe you need to let go of "trying" to make something happen? Cease trying to shove a door open and let God be God, doing what only He can?

Do you need to tighten your belt buckle of courage, stand tall and confident, and step toward change in an area where you know that you will have to totally rely on Him to help you pull it off?

How about just plain ole' wisdom? Do you need God's perspective to help you either let go or hold on? Somewhere in the midst of letting go or holding on—you will find Him there.

God helps us to accept what we can't change.
He gives us courage (and power) to change what we can.
He pours out wisdom so that as we seek His heart, we will know the difference.