Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dirty Winter Wasteland

I am tired of dirty. 

Dirty, chalky gray floors by the back and front doors, tracking into my kitchen daily. The thick, gray slush squashing out from under the treads of my black snow boots through the garage and onto the rug inside. 

I'm tired of stepping in surprise drips of icy cold melt in my sock feet. 
I am weary of this heavy, wet wasteland. 

Isn't it interesting how our surroundings affect our overall state of mind?

 I am struggling with winter. We are on the homestretch here, so close to March and then blissful April! And yet, each and every year about this time, I feel like I'm on the verge of screaming at the top of my lungs- enough already!

I'm not going to play the tough man game. I give up. I just need to say it.

Looking for encouragement in the bible today I came across this wonderful, hopeful verse:

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. -Isaiah 43:19

Help me to see this new thing that you are doing Lord. In me. In my life and the lives of those around me. I want to see it springing up in this late winter wasteland. 

Let us be perceiving of this new thing God is doing in us and around us. There is hope for a time of rejoicing and sunshine just around the corner. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

That's right. I'm talking to you. 

I just secretly scrolled through every last one of your photos, close-ups of toes in the sand, fruity drinks with an adorable little yellow umbrella popped-up on the side, a wedge of pineapple and the whole shebang. Flashing white pearlies against tanned cheeks, rosy from too much sun. 

And then, just now, I walked to my car in the most horrible kind of wind-whipping 'polar vortex' temperatures that actually hurt your teeth.

Maybe I'm living through your experience as an escape. 

Maybe I do really envy you, secretly wish that your life was mine. 
Maybe I feel that I have to compete with you. To put up the latest and greatest activity I just accomplished with my kids. 

This week alone, I've had a handful of conversations about struggling with the 'highlight reels' we see playing over and over on the Facebook machine. We are living in a new age. 

An all-knowing, all-seeing, always uploaded and updated age.

Is the idea of envy really a new one? Yes, the means by which it is delivered is much different, but God was addressing the problem of envy long before our generation took the stage.

"Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another." Galatians 5:26 AMP

It's even in the ten commandments for heaven's sake!

"You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”   Exodus 20:17

You shall not covet your neighbor's tropical vacation. (my emphasis)

The problem with envy is that it can lead to thoughts and actions that divide and isolate us.

When we are competing or envying our friends' Facebook highlight reel, we are less likely to open up about our real struggles and end up thinking we must be the only one who doesn't have it together. Don't walk through the valleys alone. We are designed to walk together.

The truth is: My life is not all that glamourous. 

And I have a suspicion that besides that week you spent in Jamaica, your life looks a lot like mine too. 

As a body of believers, we are to work together, unified in our purpose.

How can we be unified if there is a wall up around our heart and a seething sort of discontent brewing inside of us? 

Let's practice gratitude to combat the ever present struggle. Because we have so much to be grateful for. The fact that we have each other. The fact that I have you as my friend. 

And through that gratitude and unity let's accomplish great things together for HIS kingdom right here. Right now.

"And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:14

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Control Freak

Hey, I freely admit that I am no better than the next woman about having control issues.

Sometimes this masquerades itself as being a 'strong' woman. Sometimes it hides under 'knowing our own minds' or 'having opinions' being 'capable' or even 'being a good mom'.

When do you know if your need to control your own life and the lives of others around you, (i.e. children, husband, friends, family) is crossing the line?

Could it be keeping you from living the life God wants for you?

One way that we woman all too often go this direction, is from the overflow of an anxious heart.
It's a cycle that begins with a fear which morphs into a lack of trust in God.

It is manifested in our controlling tendencies.

I don't have time to wait for God. 

(I don't even know if he can pull this off.)

.....He must need my help.

I'm going to make the plan and get it done. 

We don't always think these things specifically, but aren't we truly feeling them when things are uncertain? It is not a comfortable place for us to be. To NOT KNOW what is going to happen.

Could it be that God has been trying to get through to you? He is waiting for you to NOT DO anything. To simply listen for His voice, His prompting and His timing.

Resist the urge my friends.

The good news is, he frees us from the need to have control that can so easily hurt or suffocate or stunt our spiritual growth. Take a break. A backseat. Choose to wait for God, because we do TRUST HIM to do greater work than we ever could pull off.

Make room in your own mind and heart to hear His voice again. May you act from the overflow of a grateful and trusting heart.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Mis-Identified Longing

"It's an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way. " -Rollo May

I ran across this quote the other day and it really struck a chord with me. Too often, I feel far from God, my soul cries out for Him and I mis-identify this need with lacking something in the physical world around me. 

Have you ever mis-identified a longing? 

Sometimes I think I need more time for myself (which is sometimes true) other times I think I need to buy that cute new sweater or decorative pillow, sometimes I take out my dissatisfaction with life on my husband, prodding and dropping hurtful words like metal bolts on the thin glass he is standing on- almost in amusement. Just to see if the glass will break beneath him. 

I admit to these ugly tendencies. A desire, a longing that is natural and good, turned sour by trying to satisfy it on my own or through something else.  

Mostly, it is only a mis-identification. But in turn, it does not satisfy me and so I break out into a dead run, looking frantically everywhere for something else that might fill that little void in me. I have lost my way, and I am running faster again.

Juxtaposed against this hurried life, is the overwhelming peace that I find, when I come to The Lord. When I shut everything else out, all the noise, all the opinions, all the negativity.

When I simply come to Him. 

It is there my heart finds peace and great contentment. In the words of scripture. In an honest prayer.

"Be still, and know that I am God." -Psalm 46:10

May you find the courage to choose to slow down, when you feel like breaking into a run. And may you find that kind of peace, that surpasses all understanding.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Messing Up....Again

Do you ever have days when it seems like you just can't break the cycle of "messing up"?

When the pan of rice crispy treats literally creates inner dialogues battling in your brain?

Or the bank account screen has you holding your breath and when it loads, you literally feel sharp pains in your bowels because you overspent again?

Life can be a series of daily mistakes or messing up on the goals you've set for yourself, or even worse- messing up on living the life God wants you to live.

It is hard to always, everyday, every moment live the scrupulous life you were called to.

I get it. Like five minutes ago when I ate that rice crispy treat. Annnnnd, I'm on a weight loss challenge for the next 6 weeks.

Here is the good news:

"God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins."   Psalm 103:8-11 The Message

Let's live a lifestyle of grace, not only with others, but also with ourselves.