Don’t: Forget to put on new perspectacles

If you know me, you know that I struggle all of the time with the clean house vs. messy house, organized vs. un-organized, good vs. evil battle.  I have my own purple light saber and have wielded it many times to try to slay these mental and physical dragons.  I have been working on a few posts about areas of my messy life and have surprised myself with an overwhelming amount of material.  As I sort it out and decide whether to post:  My van is a rolling garage sale or When the doorbell rings: the threat of invasion.  Please enjoy a post  (I saw it on FB – thank you to whoever hit the share button)  that has touched my heart and stuck with me since I read it from Momastery called: Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt.  Happy Wednesday everyone – click on arrow in the white box on the post below to go to Momastery.com.

Do: Stretch before running away

I have planned it repeatedly. My escape. Yes – I am going to do it. I am going to run away. I do tell my husband ahead of time and assure him that he can come too. Yes we will also take the kids and dogs. Where are we headed? I am pretty sure it is a secluded farm house ten minutes from local shopping and an interstate. It has a wrap-around porch with space for a large garden but best of all it has space for me, my mind and ideas to run free. It is free from the stress of this world. The windows on this lovely farm house are open with the wind blowing the curtains and I am in a sundress that actually fits and looks good on me.   I mentally visit this place often, and occasionally do a google real estate search to see if it really exists…..just in case.

I am a youth director who had just completed Vacation Bible School, and then left soon after for three separate weeks of travel which were amazing. I returned home to a crazy rat race. For those of you who know me you’d say that is where I function best. Not this time. The demands of being a good wife and mom, helping at my parent’s furniture store, my job at church with the ramp up of fall activities, the school registrations, orientations and supplies, sports practices and a messy house were too much. Deciding what I would do for my volunteer and serving times had me overwhelmed. I entered the fall rat race full speed ahead wondering how I would put life in order. My focus was to only do activities that pertain to my family and critical existence. I Prayed….”Lord help me slow down, help me with this I cannot sort through this alone and I cannot function any longer in this environment and need peace”.  I had guilt for having everything a girl could want from the outside-in and sadness that I had no current joy or appreciation for it from the inside-out.

So I ran – but not away. We had a youth lock-in at church. We had fun games, amazing volunteers, the kids came and brought friends – it was turning out to be a great night. While it was daylight we decided to get in a game of kick-ball. Chaperones and high school kids vs. middle school kids. It was old school fun. Our team was down by 3 runs I actually got on base – the bases were loaded. One of our team members, a junior in high school, kicked the ball and we ran! I ran as fast as I could go – there was cheering…..I knew we were going to tie the game. However, as I rounded third base something gave out in my right leg both legs buckled and I fell hard. After some wooziness, instead of celebrating a victory, my husband and one of the students carried me to the van for a ride to the ER.

Now here I sit in a leg brace not able to drive, not able to take care of the daily concerns. I remembered my prayer – “Lord, help me slow down….help me with this….I need peace”. Maybe I should have been more specific in my prayers because I wanted peace according to my schedule, in perfect health, and on my terms. This was not God’s plan. I was too busy wanting my version of what peace felt like instead of resting in God’s abundant reserve of perfect peace that He always has waiting for us.

I wonder. If I would have stretched out and warmed up before the kick ball game, would I have been able to round 3rd base and head for home injury free? I also wonder, if I would have stretched out and warmed up each day connecting with God before I headed into these busy fall days would I have wanted to run away?

Either way I am certain that God has me where He wants me and only He can make all things work for good. The scripture I read today came from a Psalm written by David after the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies: Psalm 18:19 – He brought me out into a spacious place, He rescued me because He delights in me. As I sit in our living room on the sofa, I am unable to run and fully available to God. I have been reminded that wherever He takes me, it will be better than my fictional country farm house…….guaranteed……because it’s HIS will and I know He delights in me. Feel like running today? Take my advice stretch toward God first, it will go better, because He delights in you.

Devotion: Searching for peace. In Hobby Lobby?

For a couple of years, John and I drove by a house and said, “if that house ever goes up for sale we should look at it.” In the summer of 2006, we saw the for sale sign the day it went in the ground!  I called John and we went.  It was closer to my parent’s home, had more room, and backed up to trees and a walking trail.  On the trail going into the park on what would be our new fence, hung a wooden sign that said for everyone to see….it said “peace”!  We felt that peace, and knew the house wouldn’t last on the market so we bought it.  The problem is that our current home was not on the market. My parents had always sold homes on their own within a couple of weeks so we weren’t worried. We bought the home and promptly left town on a mission trip knowing we’d get our house ready to sell when we returned.

While driving to our mission trip destination we kept asking ourselves – what did we just do? Our excitement overshadowed our fear but we knew the Lord would provide.  The Lord did provide, just not the way we had planned.  We came back from the mission trip and it was revealed almost overnight (it seemed) that the housing market had fallen apart and homes were not selling. Ouch.  We swiftly prepared our home to sell but it sat for nine months…….nine months of two house payments.  We had already moved into our new home so it was a time of stress, growth, trust and frustration.

When the previous owners left the home they took the wooden sign that said “peace” with them.  Which was fitting because our peace went away with “two home ownership”.  Whenever I was in a home décor store I would look for a sign that was metal or wood that said “peace” to hang on the fence, for all park visitors, but especially me.  One day as I drove my squeaky cart frantically up and down the aisle of Hobby Lobby saying, “they have to have a sign that says peace”.  I stopped and started to giggle – I was searching for peace – literally and figuratively.  Peace did not come soon or easily in this situation but when we finally let go, prayed and turned our trust fully to God things got better.  We relied on one of my favorite scriptures.

Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I had to remember frequently what God said in Philippians – don’t worry! It is against our human nature not to worry and I often had a mental wrestling match before I could give my fear over to Him. The day our first home sold it was a day of Joy. Yes we took a loss and incurred some debt, but it was over. When we’d drive by our old home, my husband said to our daughter who was five at the time, “sweetie – there’s our old house!” Our daughter said “no daddy, that’s our SOLD house!” We enrolled in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, budgeted, and came out better financially than when we started the whole home buying/selling process. As for a sign for the fence, I still haven’t found one. However, when I start searching for peace in any situation, I know where to find it.

Don’t bite, Kipper!

IMG_6068

I have decided that my mornings are too sludgy. You know the feeling when you just can’t pull yourself out of bed after hitting snooze for the 4th time. I have had a problem with this all of my life since I was born a true night owl. I have flipped the leaf over though and have started having my morning coffee on the deck in quiet time with God – reading my Bible, praying and just enjoying the fresh air. It is a great way to start the day! To be honest though, I started doing the early riser thing because we have a new puppy named Kipper who forces me to go outside at the crack of dawn for nature’s call. It wasn’t my inner calling for quiet time that led me to dawn devotions but it has turned out to be a blessing. There has been one problem with this. I usually leave the puppy on the deck with me during this time “alone”. I start out with prayer…..”Dear Lord, thank you for…… (Kipper, don’t bite!) my family and for (ouch – get down)….thank you for forgiveness (don’t bark at the neighbor dogs) and please help me with….okay this isn’t working I will read the Bible instead….Chapter 1 verse 6…..(Kipper, you just bit a hole in Proverbs!) okay go get your ball”. Thus begins a tragic unraveling of my quiet time to find peace and balance ending with a game of fetch literally and mentally.

I now realize how many things distract me from having peace. The world is like Kipper, demanding my attention. If I am tired, I am busy, or I am on one of my “techie” devices, my time to renew is the first thing to go out the window. I have to wrestle my thoughts to submission just to be still and it isn’t until then that I realize how much I need it. This takes practice and repetition just like physical exercise. Busy has been my “normal” for too long. Some days it is so hard to get my brain to slow down and be at peace for even a short amount of time. This leads to defeat, feeling that this contentment is not possible. The world wins. The world around us is trying to distract us and get our attention but the payoff for us personally isn’t attractive or fulfilling. We usually suffer a depletion of balance and our spiritual tank becomes empty. Spending time in peaceful thought or prayer, even if it’s for a short time, will renew your mind, help restore balance, and make your day go better whether it’s on the deck in the morning or before bed at night. Ask God to help you find this time. He will help make it happen. What I have learned from experience: Have your quiet time first – then love up that puppy! (Don’t chew on the deck furniture Kipper).

Psalm 46:He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

 

Do: Dance in the corner

I grew up on a farm. I remember around the age of six or seven, I was required to help with chores by sweeping soupy, sloppy pig manure out of our hog building with a push broom much larger than myself. I loathed doing it, especially on a hot day. This was the kind of chore that made doing dishes look really good.  I was not very effective at it but most days my dad was content with the fact that I was present. As an adult I have realized how great it was that even at a young age he never made me think there was a task I couldn’t do and he believed that I had to learn somehow even if it meant he had to come behind and finish the job.  In his eyes some help was better than no help.

I got through the job the best way I knew how…. with my imagination.  I was a million miles away. I swept the first corner, stood there and belted out Grease and other musical tunes, while dancing with my tall, very skinny dance partner (you guessed it the manure coated broom). People always comment about my creativity, and the unglamorous secret of what caused my creativity to blossom is spelled out here. Occasionally during one of my energetic numbers I was brought back to reality with the horrible stench, a splatter of hog poo, or dad’s verbal reminder of the in-attention to my duties. However in those priceless little moments I could be anything I wanted to be. With each swish of the broom I was whisked away. I was confident and empowered in my imaginary world.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a mess… literally or figuratively.  In life, each of us need a place to “dance in the corner” for a little break away from the stress. Maybe you are energized when you spend time with a friend who believes in you. Maybe you can be “swept away” while painting or exercising.  Maybe just sitting at your desk or table while closing your eyes, will allow you to visualize a place with no bounds. Spend time in prayer and ask God to help you with this. So, if you are having trouble finding your dancing place I am sure there is a hog farmer with a building full of manure that would allow you to “mentally escape”! (Don’t forget to take your push broom to be your dance partner).

 

Devotion: Do you keep the ring in the box?

My wonderful grandmother passed away last month. She was 92 and had Alzheimer’s disease. I was surprised by how emotional I was at the funeral. I do recognize the blessing of a long life well lived but can never ignore that when she left this earth for glorious heaven, our hearts still hurt. It was a time of rejoicing for her peace and a sorrow for our loss. We will always have her amazing legacy of a wife, mother, and grandmother that truly emulated Proverbs chapter 31 in the Bible that I shared at her funeral.

When my mom and dad got back in town after the funeral, my mom presented me with a white box. She said “this is your Grandma’s wedding ring and I want you to have it. As the only daughter in the family, dad gave it to me and eventually it would come to you but I’d like the joy of watching you wear it now.” I was wrought with a few snap emotions like guilt that I shouldn’t have it so soon…this special symbol of a 72 year marriage.  I thought how do I keep it safe, do I dare wear it? I hugged my mom for this gift while choking back tears and took it home. I put the box in the drawer for safe keeping. I didn’t want anything to happen to it. From time to time I would take the ring out look and admire it and put it right back.

Similar to how I treated the ring is how we treat the talents and gifts God has given us. We use them briefly from time to time but the minute God challenges us and pushes us to go further, do more, we hide them away in a box of fear and uncertainty. Don’t keep your “ring in the box”.

Jesus told a parable of talents, in Matthew 25 verses 14-30. In this parable, three servants received different amounts of gold from their master. The first man received five bags and he put his money to work and gained five more bags. The second man received two bags of gold and gained two more. The man who had received one bag went and dug a hole in the ground and hid is master’s money to keep it safe. The master told the first two men – well done good and faithful servants and put them in charge of many things. The one who cautiously buried the money for safe keeping was scolded for being lazy and had his gold taken from him. The scripture goes on to say: “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

Do you have your gifts and talents buried deep or hidden in a box? Better check your drawers!  God will continue to bless you with more when you are brave enough to use what He has already given you.  I’ve chosen to wear the ring.

Don’t: be a tragic thinker

I wish I were not a tragic thinker, but I am. I was second guessing what someone said to me the other day and my husband said, “why do you think the worst first?” Good point. He likes to assume the best scenario before thinking otherwise. I am not sure how I have became a tragic thinker and do the opposite of my husband. I coach others to think positively his way all of the time. I am generally a positive, happy person. When I consider going on a roller coaster though I have to play out a derailment scene in my head first. Crazy right? Since I have no psychological diagnosis for this I will blame hormones (my usual scapegoat) or consider it a mental safety mechanism. I do usually pray after I have these tragic thoughts. Maybe these thoughts are a way to make sure I talk to God especially in the scary or uncertain times. Quiet time with God helps calm my mind.  I went out in an inflatable Kayak today and sat in the middle of a 60 acre lake alone to pray and connect with God, but not before imagining that a large salt water shark lurched out of the water and chomped my boat. Old habits die hard.