Monthly Archives: July 2014

FINDING GRATEFUL

After many years and many prayers, the Lord let me live to see a long time dream fulfilled. Once again I find myself in his “classroom” relearning a lesson I thought I had down pat: all things are possible with God but the all possible is not always easy. Just because you get a yes doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing. For some reason when I struggle after struggling for what seems a lifetime my feelings get hurt! That proves what a child (a pouty and willful child I might add) I still am.
Even when you get a green light on your dreams to become reality, the issues of life still are factors. Things like illness, financial struggles, cars break down, family issues are still there; the kids have their issues, you get what I’m saying. I totally understand why people seldom smile or look up and why some resort to drastic measures just to survive. Life is heavy. No one knows what another carries so be kind and be careful about passing judgment.
I recently moved from Alabama and shortly after I did, tornadoes ravaged the neighborhood I used to call home. A friend alerted me the night they hit that a tornado was headed straight for my old neighborhood. Most of my belongings had been moved from where I lived to my friend’s carport. I wasn’t only frantic for my friends and former neighbors, I realized losing pretty much everything I owned was a real possibility. I paced and prayed and begged God to spare those I loved and let go of my stuff. Gut wrenching and surprising at the same time. I had witnessed people rummage through the storm torn remains of their homes to salvage something of their own not understanding their pain at all. I got a glimpse that night. That’s just one of the many, many hard, sad, painful things that have happened the past seven months.
Here’s what I learned from taking a look back. More than ever, I see how hard it is to find grateful when your world is tossed into unrecognizable chaos. You may think at first glance there’s nothing to be thankful for. You may think there’s no point in trying to do better, be positive or even get out of bed the next day because no matter what you do, nothing changes. Why not do what would be so easy…pull the covers up over your head, be mad at everything and everybody, get a drink, take some pills, blow up at someone or worse, get a gun…
No. I refuse. I have moments when I can’t see the point. I think we all do. That’s the moment of deciding what I do with what’s happening. See, it’s not so much about what happens; it’s about what we do with what happens. Will I give up? Will I act on my feelings or will I resort to my faith? I can be thankful God’s with me through this current crisis, or I can be mad He’s allowed it. I can raise my hands in praise believing ultimate good will come or clinch my fists in anger I’m suffering yet again. I search for gratefulness. My method of coping is ushering up a prayer and deciding to be thankful. I know this is a recurrent theme in my blogging but it’s so important. I believe I’m supposed to share it because you have been sold a lie! Someone’s told you your happiness, thankfulness and contentment are based on your circumstances. Nothing is further from truth. Contentment comes from an inside work of God and the decision you make every day. What will you decide? No matter what you face or what you’re going through, look for grateful and I promise you’ll find it!

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Allowing the Artist to Work.

To the unknowing eye, the room looks like it’s filled with all kinds of useless junk. To the one who uses it to craft, every piece has a purpose. He knows just why it’s been preserved and how it will be used.

He takes what’s broken, discarded, unwanted and useless (to me) and begins to work. Like an artist with a blank canvas, he creates something out of nothing; he makes beautiful what was ugly. When he’s finished it no longer resembles what it once was. Of course, you never thought the throwaway stuff was worth anything so you tossed it. You’re amazed! You marvel at the creativity of the craftsman. He gives his finished work to you to do with what you please. So you take it home and for awhile it’s displayed proudly as the original he created just for you. Then you get new things to decorate with and eventually the masterpiece is tucked away and forgotten.

I’ve done this lots of times. A treasure becomes just another thing; it doesn’t fit anymore so I put it away and soon it’s forgotten. This is a perfect analogy of our walk with God. When He’s “new” to us, we display and proclaim everything He’s done to anyone we can. We show Him off and He’s our main topic of conversation for a while until the new becomes old and He’s tucked away only to be brought out when we need something or something bad happens.

Let’s go to our storage rooms and open some boxes. Let’s pull out the stuff we no longer want or the things too painful to want to remember. Let’s expose them to our Master Artist. Let’s not only expose them; let’s give them to Him…all our junk, our buried and forgotten messes and give Him the room to work. If you have as much junk as I do, it will take some time. Let’s give Him free reign and all the time He needs to work. Let’s let Him craft us, restoring and healing all the stuff we’ve tucked away, hidden and don’t want to deal with. Over time, you’ll be amazed at what He does with it. Don’t give Him instructions! He’s the Master Craftsman. Trust Him. He knows what He’s doing.

Now look at the finished product and have eyes to see how beautiful and unique the treasure He has created is…just for you! While you admire His work and are thankful for it, don’t miss the fact that it’s yours to do with as you please. Will you display it? Will you tell your friends to come and see it? Will you tuck it away in a place and go look at it once in a while? Or, will you look at it later when you have more time?

Display Christ in your life for all to see. When you think of Him remember everything He’s done for you. Tell others this Artist will create for them what He has for you…a new creature. When He’s finished with what they give Him, the mess won’t be recognized. That’s His mantra, you know, making lovely things from our brokenness and baggage. No one does it better…if we let Him work.

Lemonade…again?

“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

I must admit…I don’t like lemonade. Not even flavored lemonade. Never have. Lately, I have “made” a lot of it, it seems. I’ve dealt with a lot of issues (not going to give the enemy any credit here so I won’t name all of it) through which I have made the best of. I have kept on going forward like a good soldier. Sometimes through tears, a broken heart, and fighting paralyzing fear I have done my best to keep moving, believing this is all for the good. I’ve been squeezed in ways I never have been before. Sometimes the “drink” hasn’t been sweet; it’s been bitter. Very bitter.

Something happens in our minds after 50 – or it did in mine – that we think things would smooth out and life would get easier. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It fails me to understand why things seem to flow so smoothly for some and not so smooth for others. It must be me. I must be doing something wrong. Have you ever said that to yourself? There’s always something bad from which we must turn to good. Ah. The “evidence of things not seen”…perhaps? We get to choose making good out of bad, peace in the midst of turmoil, the beauty from ashes kind of thing versus letting the thing consume us. It is exhausting this working to be content at times.

Resolving not to be bitter, angry, depressed is work. If you don’t like lemonade you can make it…but you don’t have to drink it. You can share it, never allowing yourself to taste it. There it is. PERSPECTIVE.

The Lord allows us to be lemonade makers for others. Someone’s watching who is on the brink of giving up, ready to let their lemons rot; they see no purpose for their distresses and thus, their pain seems to be for nothing. What you’re going through may not be for you. It may be for a family member, friend, coworker who doesn’t know Jesus. If you’ll turn your eyes from you and your suffering to those around you, perhaps you’ll see that all of this is really “good fruit”. You can choose to believe it is all worth it.

Even when you find more lemons than you think you can use, there’s a choice to be made. Let them ferment stinking up your life, your attitude, stealing your peace and tainting your countenance OR…you can take what’s handed to you and turn it in to a tool to be used to see God, share Him, and encourage others with. Sounds trite perhaps, but it’s true.

Maybe you don’t like lemonade either. Our faith keeps us lemonade producers knowing it’s not about us…it’s about living and thriving through it honoring God and sharing with someone else how wonderful God’s lemons can be when used for a grander purpose than ourselves. Maybe lemonade isn’t so bad after all…

Blessed by Definition

BLESSED: (def) fortunate, happy; favored by God; to praise, to cause to prosper.

Does the definition above fit what you call blessed?

“Blessed” because you got new cars, shoes, houses…we’ve distorted the word’s definition in the Bible to fit our own. Does that mean those without material possessions, without new homes, clothes, cars are not blessed? One of my favorite sayings is “Jesus did not die on the cross and rise again to give you new shoes”.

When you don’t get the stuff you want, what happens then? God failed you? You didn’t get what you asked Him for, whether it be a need or a want, so do you feel you’ve done something wrong, failed? Does it mean you aren’t blessed and He doesn’t love you?

Here’s what I think “blessed” means:

– you’ve suffered the loss of a significant person in your life. Although your heart is broken you still manage to smile and be positive, taking every step forward in faith. You know God orchestrates the events of your life and you trust Him completely. It’s a miracle you have a deep down, unshakable peace that shows. BLESSED!
– you’ve lost pretty much everything in your house because of a natural disaster, but your whole family lived. You have no insurance, no resources and you have to start replacing literally everything in your home. You don’t have a place to sleep of your own anymore, yet you’re absolutely sure every need will be met. You’re devastated yes, but you walk the road to recovery knowing everything will be all right. You have your moments of fear but you don’t linger there because you know the storm didn’t rip God the great Provider from you and as long as you have Him it will all work out. BLESSED!
– you’ve just been given the diagnosis of a life-threatening…and surely a life-changing…disease. You hear all the negatives and yes, you’re scared. Yet, when you tell people about it, they see something indescribable in you. They see your peace, and watch you deal with the treatments, medications, sicknesses associated and you still smile! You’re praising God for real, trusting Him every step of the way, regardless of how sick you are, whether you’re on your feet or in bed and because of your example, they give their lives to God wanting Him to see them through just as He has you. BLESSED!

I could go on and on. I have seen His blessing on many lives and I know what blessed is by HIS definition. It’s what I call myself ALL the time…whether I have or have not, good or bad, plenty or lack. I am blessed regardless of what I can touch with my hands. I BELIEVE I am blessed because I go by what He says blessed is and that is plenty good for me!

Keep It Clean

I was weeding the flower bed this morning and it reminded me of how hard it is to keep my mind thinking positive, good thoughts. a lot has happened in the last 7 years of my life. I think about others who have gone through much worse than me. I thought of how bitter and despondant some people have become because their lives have been so difficult. then I know some who always dress with a smile, always greet with warmness who have suffered the cruelest of life’s experiences. 

The flower bed I cleaned out today hasn’t been touched in years. It had layers of dead weeds & almost hay~looking stuff in it entwined with lots of rocks that you couldn’t see when looking at it. That’s the way our minds are. We have layers and layers of past pain and loss and if not kept clean and tweek our perspective we can become just like that flower bed. The dead stuff can overtake our minds until we’re consumed by all the bad memories.

Everyone has reason to be depressed, bitter, envious and mean. life is hard and much of the time unfair. it’s up to us to refocus and remember the good that seems to get choked out by the bad. Why is it the bad is easy to remember but the good evades us? I believe the choice of attitude starts in the mind. The choice to be content starts there. Just like weeding the flower bed it’s hard sometimes!  It would be easier to just let the “weeds” of anger, regret and bitterness take over. I work hard to stay content, always relying on God’s word to change my attitude. I find if my mind is on Him & what He says, what He’s done and who He is He always turns my grouchy to grateful. 

Sometimes we just want to be pitiful don’t we? It’s easier to wallow than it is to walk. that’s the point. you decide to clean it up or not. We can clean it up or let the good be choked out by the bad. I didn’t have to weed the flower bed, I could’ve just left it like it’s always been.  I have the same choice every day with my mindset. Let it grow and be miserable or weed it out and keep it clean? I chose to clean me out today. God has amany good things for this day just for you. Let’s get to weeding and make room to see them!