Friday, November 27, 2015

The Day After

Most of us gear ourselves up for the 'big' day.  Like with Thanksgiving yesterday, it takes a whole lotta pre thought.  You don't just wing it!  (Excuse the turkey pun ;) It takes a lot of planning and lists and shopping (or texts to hubby to have him shop if he's cool like that.)  Everything scheduled from minute to minute so the food comes out of the oven at the same time.  And then to be able to feed your tribe before they head to their girlfriend/fiances house to spread the love over there too.

And now it's over.

The good news is, there are leftovers.

So many of the big life events like the Holidays, or the Weddings, or the Birthdays are a blast and memorable.  But most of life is not lived there.  It's the day after.  But remember to enjoy the leftovers.  The memories.  Let those carry you when you're back to doing laundry and the everyday routine.

As much as I love to Celebrate the BIG stuff, I'm quite content enjoying the small.  It ends up the small really is big.

My son just got back from an amazing trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with many adventures.  And the small thing I missed was our morning talks over coffee.




The morning routine of getting up at 5am and hitting the gym with my boys is small, but really big to me.  (and not just the fact that I'm getting my butt up that early, but trust me that too is BIG!)


(oh and P.S.  I was home cooking during this photo shoot, didn't want to mislead you ;)

Cracking up at my girls when they banter back and forth in sheer craziness as their father and I just look at each other and sometimes need a translator.  BIG!




Be careful of not getting so caught up in all the trips and the events and the activities and the calendar, that you bypass BIG things that can be disguised as small.

Steven Furtick says that we can get so caught up on Facebook and checking what that guy we went to high school was having for dinner (who we didn't even like)...and yet we don't even know who our teen is hanging out with.

Wishing you all some memorable 'day afters' filled with messy bed head, jammies and sips of coffee with your loves.  That's the BIG stuff!


And don't forget to laugh.
Happy Day After.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Are you breathing at full capacity?

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10  "You are better having a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn.  If you fall, your friend can help you up.  But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble."

I was on the phone with a friend today and mentioned that I was having a harder time breathing, especially when I have been working out at the gym.  My other friend had just recently told me that she noticed I was taking very deep breaths even before we started our 3 mile walk.  

So I mentioned that my son Carter let me try 2 puffs of his inhaler, and what a difference that made.  

I could breathe. 

Without effort.  

It was as if I had become so accustomed to not breathing well, that it was my normal.  How do you even know it's abnormal if that's what you have been used to for so long? As I look back, it's kinda comical because my kids would think I was frustrated with them (because it sounded like a heavy sigh).  When in reality, guess I just wanted a little oxygen...call me crazy!

I wonder how often we go through certain seasons of difficulty, not even realizing the toll it has taken on us.  The strain it has caused.  It can feel like drowning in sorrow, and trying to come up for air.  And then we gasp for air, (which probably sounds like my so called 'heavy sigh').  It has just become our normal.  And so we walk around not breathing at full capacity, because it doesn't even register we need a little relief.  Maybe a spiritual inhaler of sorts. Something to open up our airways so that it doesn't take so much effort just to function.

God allows certain storms for a season, and I read recently that 'not all storms are in the forecast'.  But there is no shame for you to accept a little relief, just like an asthma patient shouldn't feel bad about accepting relief from their inhaler.  I think our Maker sometimes has us in certain situations where we need to depend on each other, not just go it alone and be independent.  And although our tendency is to isolate when we are struggling, the most unhealthy thing you can do is to isolate from your 'inhaler'. 

Maybe it's even a lifestyle that we have embraced, not recognizing that it is squeezing the life out of us.  We aren't eating healthy enough, not sleeping enough, running ourselves ragged with our over packed schedules.  Then we run to a doctor only to find out the answer is within our control.  There's no pill that can reverse all of our poor habits and lack of discipline.  (darn it!!)  There are no short cuts.  But we have become so accustomed to functioning with this lack of sleep and nutrition, dragging ourselves around exhausted...that we don't even know that this is abnormal.  It's become our normal.

Sometimes it's helpful when someone recognizes it.  Whether it be my friend noticing my labored breathing before our walk, or your friend who reminds you of the difficult season you have endured.  It's helpful to recognize that we can find relief, whether it be through the Pro Air inhaler or the friendship that allows you to breathe easier...friendship can be oxygen to your soul.  Either way, don't skip your recommended dose.  Your physical and spiritual health is counting on it.

   


Thursday, October 1, 2015

A prison of your own making

I was watching a show called, "Enjoying Everyday Life" where they do prison ministries and give each prisoner a little gift bag including a book on spiritual things.  As I watched the look of joy on some of the faces of these men who are doing life behind bars, they seemed happier than many people who have so called "freedom". 


 It made me wonder about the bars people are behind that aren't visible to the eye.  They may not be an obvious prisoner dressed in stripes, but they are 'locked up' in their own head. 



THEY AREN'T FREE!

You can be more 'free' in a high security prison with limited access to daylight than people with large bank accounts with access to every luxury.  They can feel more locked up than an inmate.  Some definitions of the term 'Prisoner' is:
 
- a person captured and kept confined by an enemy, opponent, or criminal.

- a person who is or feels confined or trapped by a situation or set of circumstances.

Have you ever felt captured by your crazy thoughts?  Do you recognize we all have an enemy that wants to confine us and destroy our very life?  The bible states clearly that we are in a real war for our soul.  Satan wants to destroy us.  And he doesn't want us to experience the real 'freedom' that we are given in Christ.  So he will do whatever he can to convince us we are a convict and we don't have access to certain freedoms.  And we believe it.  We take the bait...hook, line and sinker.  So even though the door of the 'prison cell' is left wide open, we stay in our cell.  Sounds silly, but have you met people like this?  Are you like this?  I venture to say we have all at one time or another been this person.  Freedom is a choice, but we forget.

Some prisoners are held captive against their will, some prisoners are imprisoned because they did illegal things, and then some of us are held captive by ingrained thoughts that war against our mind. 

Are you a Christian POW?  A Prisoner of War is someone, usually a soldier, who is held as a prisoner by the enemy during a war.  But we are soldiers of Christ who can be held as a prisoner by the enemy Satan during the war we face everyday we go into battle.(If we let him.) Remember, we have freedom in Christ, he can't steal that from us.  He will try.  He will persist.  And he will try and wear you out.  But keep in mind that you were bought at a price.  A very high price.  Jesus went to the cross and His life was ransomed for you.  So don't take that freedom lightly.  I'm sure it makes him sad seeing us sit in our little concrete cells when He has provided a way for us to experience such freedom in our lives.

Imagine being a parent and your child was living in this little shack with no electricity and no furniture, and you decide to buy them a beautiful home fully furnished.  Yet they choose to stay in their shack.  Even though what you have offered to them is free to them.  You fully paid the cost.  That's what Christ has done.  He has fully paid the cost for your freedom, but you are choosing to stay in your shack.  Lets venture out and experience the true freedom that only comes through Him.  Lets take off the shackles that have been keeping us immobile.  We've been given the key to the handcuffs we are wearing, we just need to use it.  It's called the bible.  It unlocks all the things that have been keeping you confined.  It's the Owners Manual to how you were designed to operate.  And although its been told that real men don't ask for directions or read owners manuals, this is the time to break that stereotype. ;O)


Friday, August 7, 2015

Are you experiencing your own personal drought?

I asked my son Carter for a writing prompt, because I want to write as an 'exercise'...not just when an idea pops in my head.  Just like I don't physically exercise only when I 'feel' like it.  (Cuz who ever truly 'feels' like it?)  Crazy people, that's who!!!!!! 

He mentioned the drought and to tie it in spiritually. Okayyy then...

California has been hit pretty hard by the drought out here.  My lawn is living proof (or should I say dead proof?!)  Getting fake grass was a topic of discussion recently.  I mean hey, if we don't have the water to sustain 'real', we may have to settle for 'fake'

John 4:14 says, "But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again."

This kind of water sustains a 'real' life, not a 'fake' version (a cheap alternative.)  And it never runs out.  Have you ever felt spiritually dry.  Nothing excites you anymore.  Just going through the motions.  Could it be that you need a taste of some living water?  Your drought is causing you to be brittle and dying like my poor grass. 

Many of us are not living the 'real' life God created us to live because we are lacking in the water He offers us.  It's not a drought we have no control over like our California drought.  It's a self inflicted drought. The faucet or well of God's word is sitting right there, we're just not drawing from it. Pretty silly, huh?!  We're literally so thirsty, like on a Desert Island...but we're 'choosing' not to drink from what has been freely offered to us.

The other thing I've learned is that sometimes we don't even know our own thirst.  Many times we actually 'feel' like we are hungry, when in fact we are truly thirsty and dehydrated.  So we stuff our face with food and never get the real legitimate need satisfied.

That's what we humans tend to do.  We are actually spiritually thirsty, but we fill our life with other cheap imitations, thinking that THAT is what we are actually hungry for.  (Money, success, relationships, drugs, food, etc.)  But those things will never satisfy what we are truly craving.  Some living water from our Living God!

This last month for me has been a season of loss.  It really gets you thinking about the important things in life.  I don't want to settle for the fake alternatives, because they really don't satisfy during seasons like these.  When you are dealing with the death of someone close to your family, filling your life with fun activities and vacations may distract you for a bit...but they won't sustain you.  His Word is the only place where real comfort can be found.  It may not have all the specific answers of why things have happened, yet I can rest in the One who knows.  And I can draw strength from Him, in the midst of not knowing.  That is what faith is for, to rest in the 'not knowing'. 

What are some unhealthy ways you try and fill that thirst within you?
Try and come up with some healthy alternatives.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Am I an extinguisher or lighter fluid?

Yep, it's fire season!  Major fires in our town yesterday.  My daughter and I had to drive towards the fire to run a quick errand, and she asked me, "How do you think it started?"  I didn't have a definitive answer, but I can safely say it started with a "small spark".  Usually does.

In life, have you found yourself right smack dab in the middle of a huge fire and looked around wondering how it started?

Was it an accident?
Did someone intentionally 'start it'?
Could it have started by an oversight, possibly you were distracted and didn't even notice the curtain brushing up against the candle?

Regardless of HOW it started, or WHOSE fault it is, the wise thing to do (rather than speculating and evaluating who is to blame)would be to go grab a hose or a bucket of water and tend to the flame. Try to limit the damaging effect.  Prevent it from spreading further, and destroying more.  Trust me, God will allow us to experience natural consequences that will hopefully draw us back to Him.  That way we don't return to the same behavior that may have caused the whole thing to go up in flames!

Let me be transparent, I've caused major fires in my own life.  There may have been 'contributing factors', yet I was ultimately responsible for rubbing those 2 sticks together that created that spark. But what made the difference in the destruction was a lot of outside influences.  The temperature outside can make a fire worse...so can the 'climate' of a room full of people. Extreme heat can fan the flames...and so can extremely 'heated' people.  Are we responsible for keeping the flame hot, or for helping it die down.  Are we throwing more kindling on the flame so it bursts into a blaze?  And what about the wind?  What a nightmare that can be for some of these Wild Fires, it spreads out of control!

I'm sure that won't be the last fire that I will be responsible for starting.  (I can be a slow learner.) And I'm grateful for the lessons I learned going 'through' it.  I took responsibility and owned what I needed to.  Didn't blame everyone for my mistakes.  And I am mostly grateful for those who came along side me (in the midst of my crazy poor decisions)...and loved me anyway.  In spite of me. The love that my Father in heaven has for me.  The love that doesn't make me 'clean up my act first'.

Were there consequences?  You bet.  And the people who walked with me through it didn't excuse my sin or endorse it in any way.  And their love toward me didn't let me off the hook.  It gave me grace that I didn't deserve.  But that's what grace actually is.  Unmerited favor.  I did nothing to earn it in the first place.

I pray that as we see fires in our own backyards (literally AND figuratively), that we do our best not to fan the flames...but we help extinguish them.  That we don't stand on the sidelines saying we don't want to get involved.  That we become 'First Responders' rather than 'Armchair Quarterbacks'.

That we're wise enough not to pour on the lighter fluid to exasperate the problem.


Do I have this mastered?  Not even close.  I'm simply a combustible flame ready to happen.  HELP!

Galatians 6:1
"Brothers, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.  Bear (endure, carry) one another's burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it].  For if any person thinks himself to be somebody [too important to condescend to shoulder another's load] when he is nobody [of superiority except in his own estimation], he deceives and deludes and cheats himself."

Friday, May 8, 2015

Bunny wisdom from Charles

My bunny thinks he's a Yorkie.



He follows them around like he's one of them.  He goes toward their bowl while they eat.  He jumps up onto the couch.  He has even been caught going to the back door just like them.  He just assumes he can do everything they can do.  I mean hey, he's never seen a mirror!  What else is he to think?!

 


We humans also tend to mimic the behavior of those around us.  (good or bad) We can be stretched to raise up to new heights when being in the presence of those who have attained great success.  Figuring (like my bunny)...if they can do it, I can do it!  It's as if we ignored that mirror that would tell us otherwise.  That reflection that often tells you that "you're not able".  (Plus...you have bunny ears for heaven's sake! ;)

On the other hand, you can also be persuaded by those around you to follow the herd mentality.  Regardless if they are on the right path or not.  Be wary.  The crowd isn't always on the right track.  Mere numbers can be deceiving!

The bible calls us to be like the Berean's.  They are an example of how we should listen to a teaching, investigate into God's Word (no matter who the teacher is), and make sure it aligns with scripture.  Ultimately we will be held accountable in how we applied scripture to our everyday decisions. We shouldn't just take someone's teaching at face value.  Aren't you grateful we have a standard to measure everything up against?  Otherwise we would flounder around, buying into everything that sounded good.

Are you brave enough to follow God's advice rather than man's?  Or are you more concerned with how people will view you?  Are you prematurely wanting your "Well done" heard here on earth from man...rather than waiting for the ultimate "Well done" from God's lips Himself?  We often forfeit the best so that we can have the "immediate".  We crave people's approval (which is popular)...instead of God's approval.  (which isn't always.)

God's ways are always higher. 




Now chillax here like Charles, and be who you were called to be :o)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Who are you reflecting?

My prayer today...

I need to make it my aim to be less of a blurry reflection of You each day --
as in the mirror after a shower, the reflection gets clearer as the steam fades away. 

When I blow off steam, it's hard to see that reflection.  It comes between me and Your Image.  Just as I open the door to the bathroom to let out the steam, help me to open the door of my heart and hand over the steam of anger or bitterness to You so that I more accurately reflect Your image.       Amen.


What are some things that could represent "steam" in our life.  The things that cloud out His attributes, making it harder to recognize Who we belong to?  When people see us, do they notice the resemblance?  Is it a dead giveaway like those cute kids that all look just like their father?  (No paternity test needed! ;) We should look just like our Father in heaven.  A spitting image indeed! 

Would people need to check our I.D. to verify?   (As they eye us up and down with a skeptical glance?)  Would they assume we stole someone else's I.D.?  Convinced that we're an imposter? 

Lets face it, living a life pleasing to Him is no small task.  I'd rather live a life pleasing to me, myself and I on most given days.  That's much easier.  Less sacrifice.  More indulging.  Catering to the flesh doesn't require discipline.  We pretty much slip out of the womb with that habit in place.  Got it covered!  Whaaaaaa!!!  Feed me, wipe me, let me sleep...feed me, wipe me (you know the drill!) 

Our selfish nature is hardwired into us at birth.  It's not often you see a newborn that you would call a Servant.  They demand their way and they want it NOW!  Everything is in a state of an emergency when it comes to babies.  They never have the attitude of, "Hey...when you get a sec, could you grab me my bottle?  I know you're busy, so take your time." 

So it requires a boat load of reprogramming as we try and be grown ups.  Looking out for others as being a priority over looking out for #1.  That takes growth and a whole lot of maturity. 

Next time you're tempted to put yourself above others...picture your grown up self in a large pair of Pampers with a pacifier in your mouth.  Then chuckle and reconsider.

Name 3 things in your life that represent "steam" which is ultimately causing people not to see His reflection in you?  Then go ahead and open that bathroom door ;)

Philippians 2:3

"Don't do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves."



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Weep with those who weep

I pretty much always have background music on as I study or work on my writing.  Typically it's Classical, but yesterday I had the "Spa" music on (minus the massage :-( 

Suddenly I heard all these birds chirping...thought I was in some kind of bird sanctuary.  At the same exact time, there were birds directly in my backyard tweeting.  (No, not the Twitter kind of tweet -- and for sure no hashtags ;)

I literally muted the music to be sure it wasn't just the music coming from different speakers.  It was as if the outside birds were joining the inside choir.  Echoing what was going on inside.

In life, the outside world doesn't always echo what is going on with us internally.  We could be going through an incredibly dark season, and yet the world around us is laughing and celebrating and the sun is even shining.  (The nerve!!)  There should be dark, heavy clouds to match the scenery of my heart.  It's like the Set Designer of your movie was given the wrong script, and the scenery and music does not match the scene.  All you hear is upbeat Chick Flick music playing during your tragedy scene in your Dark Drama. 

Just wrong.

This can compound the feelings of abandonment and isolation that certain 'seasons' of our life can bring.

These are the moments when I am again reminded that the world is not our home.  We are aliens.  Our citizenship is in heaven.  And I sit back and reflect on the idea of being known by a God who hears the cries of our hearts.  He is not apathetically going on with His business of running the Universe, and totally out of sync with what I am dealing with.

John 10:14 says, "I am the good shepherd and I KNOW MY SHEEP and am known by my own."

Exodus 33:17 "...and I KNOW you by name."

We should also be in tune to what those around us are struggling with.  It just might be you next time.

Romans 12:15 says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."

I have had my own share of difficult 'seasons'...some of my own doing.  Rebellion.  And I have also endured trials that I did not bring upon myself, and yet God still used these to grow me in my walk with him.  Either way, I've learned much and have appreciated those who walked through my Valleys with me, and didn't stand on the sideline and judge.  Foxhole buddies who were on the front lines fighting a battle with me, rather than running for cover.  But for the grace of God, there go I. 




Wednesday, March 18, 2015

We're in Enemy territory, make sure you have back-up!

Does your back-up need back-up?

I'm not so good at remembering to back up my phone.  Well actually, I'm pretty AWFUL at it!  It just never crosses my mind.  So today, after being sick for 5 days, I decided to get a fresh start -- a clean slate.  So I tried to back-up all of my photo's, etc. onto my computer.  And guess what?!? 
 
NOW MY COMPUTER IS FULL! 

No.storage.available.

It's like my storage units need storage units.
My back-up needs back-up.
My life simply needs U-Haul trucks traveling safe behind me at every turn.
 
We all eventually need back up.  My son does Patrol Duty, and I always want to know that he has a reliable back-up.

Spiritually, we all should have a reliable back-up too.  Who do you go to when you need to unload a bunch of 'stuff'?  Vent.  Download your clutter onto a trusted advisor, so you can sort it all out.  And that dear friend should have a place they can also get their back-up.  The ultimate back-up needs to be our Maker Himself.  If we rely on mere humans who don't have the Lord as the keeper of their soul, how do we expect to get wisdom from them?  Their counsel will be guided by their flesh -- their fickle feelings that are fleeting.  They shift and change direction as often as the wind on any given day.  They are unstable in all their ways.

If we are entering enemy territory, we want to know that our back-up is not only prepared and alert, but knows the schemes of the opposition. 

God's Word is filled with clues.
 
He left us the perfect blueprint -- a strategy when entering the front lines.

Who in your life would you consider your back-up? 
If you had a major life altering decision, who would you consult? 
Are you surrounding yourself with God-honoring people who place His Word above their own?
Or are you in close company with people who are self-absorbed, not placing a premium on a moral code.
Are they people who are more concerned with your feelings than your God?  (Life is filled with people like that if you're just looking for people to agree with you.)
Are they brave enough to step on your toe to save your soul?
Or are they persuading you to follow your heart and trust your gut?
(Regardless of what His Word says.)
Our hearts and our guts are not the most reliable sources, because they don't stay the same like God's Word.  They are easily influenced, extremely fickle, ever changing...and in most cases shouldn't be trusted.

Take an inventory of your current back-up.  You may need to fire some and employ some others.  Be wise, your life could depend on it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Is your power cord broken?


I recently got my laptop back from being fixed – grateful it was just the power cord. Phew!





Did I say 'just'???

It’s a quick, cheap, $30 fix. But no matter how expensive the laptop is, and how intricate the capabilities of it, it’s rendered ‘useless’ without power.

It sits all pretty on the desk … but its capabilities are paralyzed.





Frozen.
Paused.

I think of all the abilities and capabilities we have lying around dormant –
being unused…
because our ‘power cord’ needs to be fixed.

Certain functions and God given talents can only be unleashed by His power.

No other cord will do.

Just like we could try and borrow someone else’s laptop power cord that wasn’t designed for our specific computer --
we tend to borrow all kinds of power that the world offers us.

The ‘Power’ of Positive Thinking.
The Law of Attraction.
The Self Help Movement.

The. List. Goes. On.
The only power designed to charge you up is from The Designer Himself.

The God of the Universe.

And unless we plug into Him, we will never function the way He intended us to.

As I was just using my laptop, I was getting agitated because there seemed to be a delay.


I would give it a command --
longggggg delay…

then finally it would do what I wanted. (Frustrating!)

How often am I like that???

God gives me a command --
longggggg delay,

then FINALLY I do what He wanted.

Sigh.

Matthew 4:20 says, “They immediately left their nets and followed Him.”

(They didn’t call their Mama, didn’t check their horoscope, never contemplated or even scratched their head…IMMEDIATELY!)

No delay.



In what specific ways are you trying to get power from sources that aren’t capable of recharging your spiritual batteries? No wonder you are exhausted, you are slowly being drained…and just like your computer or your phone, nothing functions quite as well without a fully charged battery. Plug into the only reliable Power Source, the One who designed you and knows how you run best. Who are we to argue?