Thursday, February 24, 2011

Still a Seed

Today I have a simple thought I read on Twitter...  It's something I have written about before but it helps me to remember every day and I would like the thought to do the same for your life.

"You just have to give yourself some time.  You're still a seed" - Flik, A Bug's Life

I think people often get down on themselves for not changing quickly enough, or learning a lesson the first time they go through a situation even for not growing as fast as they see others around them sprouting up.... At least, I am hard on myself.  My assistant just told me this week she thinks I'm my own worst critic and also thinks that's true of almost everyone and I have to agree.  There are a few problems with these thoughts of self criticism:

1.  What is the one thing that can stop you from moving forward even if conditions are favorable?  Discouragement!  Being discouraged by your progress leads to frustration and fear which will eventually cease all progress.  That's not what God wants for you!  He tells us many times in the Bible not to compare ourselves to each other but to keep our eyes on Him!  Think about it, do you expect a baby to say "Yo mama & papa! What up?" a day after it's birth?  NO! You don't even expect a smile at that point, you know it's a process and that growing takes a lot of time. You don't get frustrated with a child that's just learning; instead, you encourage them that they are doing well and to keep going one step at a time so do the same for yourself!  Are you taking one step every day?  Do you feel bad for making mistakes you would not have even recognized as mistakes this time last year?  Then you're making progress so continue, you're doing exactly what you should be doing, GROWING!

2.  You don't really know how far ahead others are, or how much they are really growing!  You can't see the hearts of others, their motives are unclear and intentions unseen... But Jesus can!  The bible says God looks on the heart of a man.  So keep your own heart pure, your motives right and intentions good... You may be farther ahead than you even realize or that person you think is doing so much better than you may in fact be slipping behind on the inside.

3.  You don't actually know how long the process is supposed to take... That's because there is no set time for the process!  This process of "becoming" is never over... The Bible says to "strive for perfection" but it also explains we will not reach that goal and should not feel we have until we reach heaven!  And that's how it should be, if we feel we have arrived we will stop moving forward!  The first thing the Bible tells us about the Spirit of God is that it MOVES! "The spirit moved" so if we stop moving we will automatically be falling farther away from God because His spirit is always moving, we need to keep ourselves in the following position!

4. If you notice you've made a mistake more than once, you are learning...  Recognition of error is part of the learning process.  A child who gets a shock from a metal object doesn't always apply the rule not to touch another metal object in a different room, but when they have just received their 3rd shock they will put it together and eventually stop touching those items.  So, if you've recognized a mistake in an area of your life and determined to change but a week down the road find yourself in the same position, feeling worse about it tan before, that's good!  Feeling bad about what you are doing wrong is conviction and we need to learn to EMBRACE CONVICTION (a conscience.) But don't allow yourself to transfer that conviction into condemnation.  The Bible teaches us "God did not come into the world to condemn"  he wants us to feel bad enough to change but not to condemn ourselves! Conviction turns into change whereas condemnation turns into captivity:  when condemned we can become frozen in fear... Protect your heart!  Allow and embrace conviction but remember you are a work in progress, give yourself permission to forgive yourself!

Here's the deal, Jesus is our father... He doesn't expect us to know all language and sentence structure, be able to digest all the solids of an adult or even stand on our own two feet in the first week of our Christian walk.  We do need to grow continuously and eventually mature into an adult (spiritually speaking) where we are stable, strong in our walk with Christ and able to help those younger than us.

If you can look at your life a year ago and see that you've made some progress, even if you're not where you wanted to be at this point; allow yourself some room to breath, you are progressing and that's what is expected. Setbacks and winter night will come, slow seasons are inevitable but be proud of how far you've come even if it's only one step, because you have come that one step and that is movement!  Continue to grow day by day and this time next year you will be farther ahead than you ever thought possible. But, if you're not seeing progress to this point why not start with me now?  Allow conviction to settle down and think of ways you can begin to change and move closer to God, realize that it is a process and allow yourself time to grow, take one step at a time and pray this prayer with me "Jesus, I love you.  I'm sorry I haven't shown you my love as much as I should but I want to renew my commitment to you.  I promise, Lord, to pick up your word tonight and read at least one chapter (or more depending on where you are) and to say good morning and talk to you a bit before I leave for the day... Please take steps toward me as I do toward you, bring me closer to you and help me to feel your presence embrace my heart. Help me to be strong in my decision to follow you more closely and show me ways I can continue to make you see my love for you and commitment to you!"

After all, "You just have to give yourself some time.  You're still a seed."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Post-it "reminder of who's the boss"

There is a story about Jesus being tempted in Luke 4:1-13...  He was alone in the wilderness for 40 days (and I know we've all felt alone and in desolate places.) Jesus hadn't eaten anything those 40 days and was famished (this part I can't even imagine physically, but I know how it feels spiritually... To feel like you haven't had anything of substance for a long time and just be starved for God's presence and power!) And just when Jesus was at His weakest point, after being worn down 40 long, hard days; enter stage left, Satan, as the tempter (and common, we all know one thing Satan has got down to a science is his temptation timing, he's just got this knack for walking onto the scene in your darkest moment...)

I have heard this story many times before... But tonight when I was reading something new jumped out at me... I've always heard and known that Jesus was quoting  scripture to defend himself and we can learn to do the same.  Basic rule: if Jesus did it, that's a principle we should live by. I've also heard it coupled with other scriptures and taught that evil knows scripture too, so when you're tempted or reminded of a scripture out of context and it's used against you just remind Satan that the back of the book is already written and he loses!  Both ideas are great to follow and tuck away in our hearts but there's something else here I've never heard anyone teach and I certainly haven't noticed myself... 

In verse 9 the third and last temptation is offered and in verse 12 Jesus answers "you are not to put the Lord your God to the test..." 

I propose we add a to the Post-It reminder for evil's fridge... "Jesus, is the Lord YOUR God!" Yes Jesus is my God and I love Him! I am so amazed that He loves me, but He's YOUR God too Satan and that means He rules over you! You have no power only permission from Him for a short time and you have to obey what he commands of you!  And He promised me he would never put me through more than I can bare!  I am His child and I resist your temptations and offences in my and YOUR Lord's name, Jesus! In fact, I finish up with His everlasting words "get thee behind me!"

Monday, February 14, 2011

In honor of Valentine's Day... Repost: True Love??!!

So, I have something to admit, I usually dislike (to say the lease) February 14th... Saw a cute quote on Twitter about "Valentines a.k.a Single Status Awareness Day." and isn't that the truth. (Can I get an Amen!?) I suppose that's why I've not embraced the day before, looking back I have always been single on Valentine's Day. I also saw another quote on Twitter that made me feel like I have a valentine "my furry valentine" and I love Mr. Bosco (my pup) but it's not quite the same watching romance movies with him, ha!

Today, I re-post my most read blog and renew my own commitment... I am happy now but believe I will be happier with someone to share life with and I am excited for it!

I've thought of something unrelated to my present life I could share... Although as I start writing I can see it's not really unrelated at all...One of my favorite Shakespearean writings is Sonnet 116 (below)... I say "one of my favorite" because I pretty much love Shakespeare anything. I suppose it's because he believed in love, and not just any love but TRUE LOVE! Which, let's face it, is a dying hope in the world these days. With divorce rates sky-rocketing (and my parents adding to statistics) I've always been afraid to love. Of course, it's only now I recognize it's not love I fear but the act of loving. It's not that I would think it a difficult task to fall into love, but possibly that I would fall and the man still be standing above it all when I crash to the ground. I always have been a stickler for the man pursuing the woman (and will remain so! It's my opinion every LADY should be pursued not the pursuer) but what about once he is pursuing, I need to be able to allow myself to love him back and so do you!Just now, writing to you, I feel the need to make a commitment and possibly encourage you to make one of your own. The issue is, I want love in my life! I want love in every relationship but specifically I want "the love of my life" to come along (quick like a bunny, ha!) Someone to laugh with, cry to, be quiet with, to understand (although I hear that one takes lots of time and effort), someone to love... "Don't you want somebody to love. Dooon't you need somebody to love!"

I know, I know, this is strange territory to be crossing; admitting I'm not completely satisfied in my single status... But I heard something on Karate Kid (of all places) that got me thinking "being still and not doing anything are two separate things" and likewise being happy in a moment and satisfied in the encompassing situation are two separate things. I am happy, I'm not crying at night or fretting over whether that knight in shining armour has lost his horse in some horrible accident and has now worn his legs down to nubs trying to walk to me all these years, ha! I am, however, looking forward to the possibilities and expecting a breathtaking love to be just around the corner, and if not the next corner the one after that. So here it is, the commitment:

"I promise to never stop waiting for that moment of breathlessness. To remain happy in my own skin but hopeful for what is to come! I promise to not settle for "Mr. I need someone right now" and leave "Mr. I need you for the rest of my life" without the perfect match (ME!) I promise to believe in love and fight for it just as much as Mr. Shakespeare (or was he a Sir?.. Anyway...) I promise not to let anyone force me into unbelief, lack of trust or dashed hopes whether it be "friends," family or other. I promise to remain happy for others around me who uncover this precious gift in their own lives and let their success be a sign of the successes to come in my life! I promise my Prince Charming that once I do know you're the one I will love you every second without doubt or wavering faith in our relationship, with God in the middle of it all! Most of all I promise to trust you, God, to lead us both down the path that will have us running directly into each other sooner than I think!"

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose Worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom:
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved!

"The poet begins by stating he should not stand in the way of true love. Love cannot be true if it changes for any reason. Love is to be constant, through any difficulties... Love should not fade with time; instead, true love lasts forever. When it says "Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom," Shakespeare is saying that love is timeless, and only death can do it part.
The last two lines employ a paradoxical conceit. If there is no such thing as true love, the poet says that neither has he ever written, nor has anyone ever experienced true love. However, because the poem has been written, it means the poet, ultimately, is right about true love."

And let it be said that I WHOLE-HEARTEDLY agree!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Badbanana, Grow up!

badbanana "Nothings more dangerous than a traffic cop just going through the motions."

I read this quote on twitter the other day and it got me thinking... I am (and you are) supposed to be directing people to God. "Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism... instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19, msg)

There are times when I don't feel like doing this whole "church business" this "christian experience."  I know that's taboo to say but it's truth nonetheless.  There are times when I am angry, frustrated, hurt, tired and worn out and in those moments I don't feel like watching what I say or how I act... Really if you flip me off because I cut you off in traffic by mistake I really don't feel like sheepishly smiling and mouthing the words "I'm so sorry..." Of course, I wont tell you all what I actually feel like doing, haha!

I've had to make hard decisions in life with regards to people I care about but were dragging me down, "let 'em go and move up with God or continue the low ride?"  I've seen friends have to deny relationships because the other person wasn't willing to grow with God... And like most people, I have been angry about these things.  I have complained to God "It's not fair!" "Why do I/they have to give up a relationship when so-and-so gets anything they want?"  "I'm a good person, I deserve this but you give it to people who don't!"  I'm not going to tackle the answers to those questions, but I am going to give myself and hopefully you a reality check... A slap (just like you feel like giving to the spoiled little princess whining to get her own way... oops, did I say that?! ha!)  I'm going to say to you what God said to me... Take it, think on it, learn from it, apply it!

"GROW UP!"  That's right, in the same tone your parents say things when you get whiny...  "You have a responsibility to other people! You are the only Bible some people around you will ever read... You have to make up for the way other Christians may have treated them in the past... You have to show them my love and if anything you say or do turns someone away from me that's blood on your hands."  I know this seems harsh but it's important and cannot be candy coated to make it taste a little better on the way down...  It sucks that we can't have our ears tickled with the reasons behind every hard decisions but that's just it, those hard decisions are what keep us moving forward.  The hard choices we make in life are steps toward God and since he has given us free will WE are the ones who MUST make those decisions for ourselves, no matter if we have the reasons and explanations we desire or not.  Those are the moments we get to show God how important he and his kingdom is to us.

Moreover, if we refuse to grow up, concentrate on what's really important and take responsibility for our own decisions we end up just going through the motions...  We are directing others but not paying attention to the cars whizzing by  in the opposite direction and sooner or later there is going to be a huge crash!  A crash like that is dangerous to every bystander and involved person...  Crashes can leave people maimed, blinded or worse, deceased!  Not to mention, if you're standing in the middle of the street as a director you are likely to get hit by the tumbling wreck screaming down the road and you could also perish.  I know the thought is a threatening one, but as much as we must be vigilant while directing we also must not just walk off the job in fear and say "Awe, they'll find their way without my help..." or "I can't do this! I'm not equipped to direct the path people take and judge the timing safely."  If we walk off the job either they will not move at all and never get to their destination or they will take a chance on their own vision and timing and potentially have a crash.  If we do make the choice to walk away we are not off the hook of responsibility for the crashes and fatalities, we are scheduled for a job and the boss has it written down.

Listen, I know it's hard to make decisions that seem unfair... To discipline ourselves or to move forward alone, I wouldn't imply anything less.  But sometimes we have to do the hard things because it's all part of growing up.  It's comparable to "pay first, play later" when it comes to finances: we have to "make hard decisions first, reap reward later" spiritually.  People are depending on us, we have a responsibility we cannot shrug off so as Nike would say "JUST DO IT!" Ya feel me?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dark Like Mine

One day this year (I honestly cannot even remember the season) I was having one of those days!  The day was so rotten I felt like crumbling on the floor and crying my heart out!  Like any good woman I decided to go shopping! ha!  Not for a skirt, no, never a skirt on a sad day; that could quickly lead to a meltdown if it's one of those shopping trips where nothing fits... I thought I might pick up a new shirt (usually don't even have to try them on) or scarf or shoes, just something pretty that maybe could help me feel like my day was not a complete write off...

Driving through the tears I decided on Urban Planet for my mini-shop. My reasons: 1. It's cheap. 2. I like a lot of their styles.  3. They have Shoes, clothes, accessories, random items like Ipod covers or lip gloss, etc. 4. I had a credit note!  How could anything go wrong from here!?  Well let me tell you...

The people walking in front of me held the door as I walked through but I barely noticed their kindness and didn't even thank them (which, is not like me).  About 2 steps into the store I was greeted with a smile and a "welcome" from a male sales rep. (actually, I think he may be assistant manager). I basically grunted out a "hi" not even looking up... I just wanted to be left alone, I felt I could burst into tears or hit someone at any moment and I didn't want to do either in public.  The representative didn't let my poorly toned answer bother him, instead he asked if he could help with anything and told me about the latest promotion product to which I replied "no, I like to shop alone."  That time I did look up, I could tell he was a little taken back by my apparent "hate-on" but he just said "OK, well, if there is anything I can do..." I didn't even wait for him to finish the sentence before walking away.

I was looking around and finding nothing... I couldn't seem to get away from people, every time I thought I was alone someone would reach into the rack I was looking at and push the clothes toward me so I could no longer see the shirt I had been pondering (which, by the way, is my pet peeve even when I'm in a good mood).  All I could think about was my reaction to the friendly sales person at the door... I kept seeing him just a rack away and thinking "ugh, I'm such a jerk!"  There were a few reasons I felt bad: 1.  "Treat others the way you want to be treated" was a sentence in my household on a weekly basis.  2. I'm supposed to be Christian and my reaction/attitude were anything but Christ-like!  3. It's simply not like me to take a bad day out on a complete stranger or anyone for that matter.  4.  I am a girl and that guy is definitely a cutie!  5. (last but not least) I knew God wasn't very happy with me and he was definitely working on my conscience... There was actually an internal argument over an apology that I didn't want to make: my excuses ranged everywhere from "I don't know him," "he can deal with it, I'm sure there's been worse" to a whiny "I should be allowed one bad day a year, I don't want to apologize!"  

I went to the cash with a couple of shirts to purchase and made a deal in my mind that if he came and waited on me I would give my "sorry I'm an idiot" speech... He was nowhere to be seen, a girl cashed me out, bagged my goodies and I was on my way out and off the hook!  Nice!  Except, I wasn't really off the hook at all, by the time I walked out the door I was ready for a serious meltdown I knew I had made some one's day dark like mine... 

Back into the store I went, bag and all...  I held the door open for the same people who had held it for me on the way in but didn't even give it a second thought, I was on a mission!  I looked all over that store, including the fitting rooms and didn't see the man anywhere!  Feeling completely defeated and pretty much worthless I decided not being able to ease my conscience via an apology would have to be my punishment for being so rude. 

When I reached the door I spotted him! Hallelujah! I walked over and as quickly as possible I stumbled out a "Hi, I know I was rude earlier and I wanted to make sure you knew that's not acceptable action coming from me and I am sorry."  He replied with a cordial "Oh, no, it's no problem, we all have those kind of days" and forced a worried smile.  I just couldn't leave it there, I continued "no, you don't understand, I did have a horrible day but that's no excuse!  I am not usually that kind of person and I hate that I acted that way even for a minute... Not to mention, I'm supposed to be a Christian and Christians definitely shouldn't act that way. Anyway, I'm really sorry and I hope the rest of your night is better!"  The look on his face changed, he was back to a smile, he stuck his hand out and said "I'm           "  (I forget his name).  I introduced myself then he proceeded to ask me about my day and say he is sure it will get better from that point on... He actually seemed to care about my bad day and his kind words, once again, brought tears to the surface but for a different reason, a better one, he was kind even when I couldn't have been more abrasive.  The last thing he said to me was "I've never had anyone apologize for anything like that before... You're not a mean person at all!  Thanks and have a better night!" 

When I see him now there is some small talk but I feel silly every moment of the conversation, really I'm sure he remembers me and thinks something along the lines of "Oh, thank the Lord, she didn't drive her car off the bridge that night!" In truth it's probably not like that for him at all but it's how I imagine it. 

Everything happens for a reason and there's a lesson in every situation, a moral to the story; so, what is it?  We all make mistakes (Christian or not) we all have moments we, our friends, families nor God are proud of... It's the human condition, we are inevitably going to continue in error, all of us but it's also the human condition to be forgiving when someone is sincere about making a mends so we can all change our bad days and moments into a lesson and healing... When I walked out of the store that day, I actually felt better! Nothing about my day had changed, no one thing had been fixed but someone I hadn't known an hour before actually cared about my circumstance and thought the act of apology made me a better person... He was right I'm better for having that experience!  So, my advice: let God turn your bad moments, actions, decisions and days into something good for you!

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good..." Genesis 50:20

"Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day." from P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

"Any man may easily do harm, but not every man can do good to another." -Plato