Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mending Fences... Trust

There's so much going on right now in my family I don't understand (and don't worry, this is not a negative Nancy rant, I know where I'm going ;oP) One of my aunts has received news the doctors have found cancer in her body for the 3rd time in two or three years. Her oncologist has said it's the most aggressive cancer he's ever seen and it's "incurable." Naturally, being a Christian who has seen God cure cancer before my very eyes I expected He would do the same for my aunt.  This woman has lived such an outstanding life with respect to so many things... She's treated all of us nieces and nephews (and from a family of 19 brothers and sisters you do get A LOT of nieces and nephews) with love and respect as if we were her own children. She's always had an open door to her home and her fridge for whoever was passing through whether it be family or friend. Just a few weeks ago she was going through her home digging out dishes she could spare, furniture and more for a neighbor in need she had only just met, if that isn't the heartbeat of Jesus I don't know what is!  I mean honestly, if anyone deserves a miracle it's my aunt Hilda.  But, I've had the unfortunate fate of seeing a lot of people suffer through lost battles with cancer and that is not something I would ever want for a woman of such beauty and sensitivity of spirit so although I know God can I pray "Jesus, give a miracle of healing or a miracle of quickness, don't let her suffer."  And today the report comes through: ten to twelve days to live, past that will be a miracle. Definitely not the choice I want God making in this situation. Really it's almost offensive to think He would choose the option I never meant for Him to even consider.

And there it is, the word that got me thinking... "Offence."  What is offence? What offends us most? Is it just that we don't always get to have our own way? I know there many avenues for offence to come our way and some, if not most of them have way more to do with other people or circumstance than with God.  But I also know the Bible says "ALL THINGS works together for the good of those who love Him." (Romans 8:28) yet, in some situations even scripture can seem like offence.

So what does offence do to us?  Well, the good news is, offence itself does nothing to us unless we hold onto it... Then offence does exactly what it sounds like... A fence. Offence erects a fence around our hearts. And maybe it's just one fence this time but soon there are more and one day you will wake up to find all the things you're holding onto have got your heart completely fenced in. I know sometimes we thing, "well, why is that bad?  Aren't we just safer that way?" No, that's the way we die inside... See your heart needs room to beat, a little air... Eventually we will build so many offences that our heart can't move or breath and becomes hardened.

"Hey, I thought you weren't going to be a 'negative Nancy!?' I don't want a hard heart, how do I let go? How do I stop offences?"  Well, you can't stop offences from coming your way, unfortunately. But you do have some control... You can control your decisions, you can decide to let go of the offence... Decide God is able to handle the situation and even though we don't always like or understand his decisions, like the decisions of a good parent, we can know they are ALWAYS for our best, he will never put more on us than we can bear (with him... 1 Corinthians 10:13) and it's going to be okay.

The most effective way to counter offence is with TRUST. Trust God. Trust His decisions. Trust His word. Trust His strength for you. Trust He is there with you. Trust even if it looks like it's not the best now and you don't see how it can ever turn into your good that it will... I'm sure Joseph had a hard time seeing how God would turn his promise out of being sold into slavery by his own family, thrown in jail once, then thrown in jail again and forgotten about but it happened!

So darlings, sorry for what seems to me to be a poorly executed blog thought and please look past that to the heart of the matter. I pray for you all, thank you for continuously reading! And that's the word for this week... For my family, for you and for me: I say with my grammie of the nineteen "I have no hard luck story to tell, my God has been good to me!" and we will TRUST.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

50 Shades of... Red

Sooo... One of my BFFs just went to NYC on vacation with her family, I miss that city so much and need to get my little rear-end back there ASAP! I was looking at my friends pictures on FaceBook and ran across the new Pepsi sign... Their new slogan is "Live for Now!" Hmmm... Isn't that ironic? The whole problem with the economy is that people and businesses lived only for the NOW and now that we are in the future of that now we are having to dig out of the consequences of living for the now... I mean really, the whole problem with the government is trying to dig out from that "live for now" mentality and try to make a better future.  So If it didn't work for the economy as a whole how come Pepsi thinks it will work for us?

"Live for now" is actually thick throughout our culture and media these days... I mean, we so allow our youth to "live for now" we give out condoms in school instead of really teaching them the cons of promiscuity... It's not just pregnancy kiddos, google STD (I guess 50 Shades of Red may not be just a play on blushing, huh?).  And the physical is just one aspect! What about the emotional tole? Even you who "love the fun of it," I know it gets old... Waking up in the morning with no strings attached may sound freeing until you're looking for an actual relationship... Then what? I have a male friend who is all about the hook up, I mean seriously you could make a movie out of his life but the thing is, I've had some serious conversation with him outside of the expectations of him upholding the face of "I do this because it's awesome!" and he admits although he honestly thinks it's fun he would never consider one of his hook-up women for a relationship and the thing about that is no only does it suck for those girls but it's not so great for him because in his words "the kind of girl I want... Or any guy wants really... At this point why would she want me?" And there you have it, from someone who "lives for the now" in every sense of the phrase... When you live for the now you have to be aware you may be giving up your future.

I've been hearing A LOT about this 50 Shades of Grey book that's out and I'm not going to lie, it actually sounded like a tempting read "When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her..." but (prepare yourself for a response that sounds like it's from a granny) I'm not going to be reading it any time soon. Why!? Because I have read the back cover and heard enough to know what it's really about... Honestly? We're going to have a mini baby-boom over this!? I have a future husband to think about... For one, I'm inexperienced now and I really would like to keep myself that way for him... I have made it a point to keep myself away from the physical aspects of temptation but I want it to be more than that, I don't want to raise my expectations to unrealistic levels (and from what I hear from married and more experienced ladies, the expectations of this novel are unrealistically carried into real life.) And a bit of an aside here, I'm not a "prude" by any definition but I am now and will remain "innocent" by definition.  Also, to the "experienced Christian" guy who told me I don't want a man who isn't promiscuous because I'll be disappointed... Actually, that's exactly what I'm waiting for :o) Furthermore, I don't want to have to turn 50 shades of red when he asks me about my own past.

The problems with "live for now," unfortunately, are not limited to economy or sex but extend to every area of life... College is fun, there are lots of parties, new friends and lots of hotties but if you just "live for now" and go to every party, drink and smoke it up with your new friends and never study chances are you're not going to get very far into the second semester... So what did you pay all that money out for? Do you want a future career? What about money? If you save it up you can buy a home, new car, pony, whatever but if you blow it all on booze every weekend all you get is a hangover.

Most importantly, what about God? You can "live for now" and put God off all you want but here's the thing, what if you don't get a tomorrow? I know,  I know, "we're young, we need to live in the present!" but please don't make that mistake, living "in the present" and living "for the now" are two totally different things.  Yes, we need to be present, don't worry about tomorrow but that doesn't mean we get to make decisions without consequence... My advice: take one day out, sit down and think about what you want your life to look like in the future... Now don't worry about ten years down the road or anything, I'm not much on planning my life out that way either, but just think about some of your goals, your wants in life. If you want to be married, what kind of partner do you want to attract? If you want to be a doctor or lawyer what are the requirements outside of school? (PS. if you want to be a lawyer you may want to keep from being arrested, you have to have a completely clear record before you're admitted to the bar and if it's not clear now the eraser is not very accessible.) Do you want a better vehicle next year? etc... Make your decisions about morals and actions now, it's easy to still live in the present while being mindful of your future.

Most importantly, do you want to go to heaven or hell? Don't know if you believe in all that spiritual stuff? Well, that's okay but here's my question for your consideration "if you don't believe, what if you're wrong?" I mean I can not believe in gravity all I want to but if I just say I'm going to jump off the Empire State Building because since I don't believe in gravity it can't effect me I'll soon find out I'm wrong but when I'm nothing but a puddle on the ground it's probably a little late for realizing I'm wrong.  So that's the consideration, if you are wrong about this God thing when do you want to find out about it? Once you're plummeting into destruction or while you have a chance to save yourself? Of course your choice would be the latter so the next step is to start digging... For you proof wanters I suggest a few things that are not Bible based or Jesus teaching based but a former atheist's, Lee Strobel, scientific and historical study:

Case for the Creator
Case for Christ

And lastly, Denish D'Souza... His debates are not scriptural based and do not assume Christianity is true in any way but debates from the bases of science, philosophy and history. Here are a couple of his clips I think you should consider:

Answering Difficult Questions
Atheist's Most Potent Arguements

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Connect to Effect

Ever hear the phrase "we just have a connection?" I hear it all the time... And I suppose it seems to be true sometimes, you know those times when you meet someone you feel you've known forever.  But really is that a frequent happening? Not in my life anyway... In my little world connection is something that takes effort, you have to work at it, build it.

Jesus was all about "connection" and that's what the Pharisees didn't understand, they couldn't... The whole religion of the Pharisees was based on superiority... They were too good to connect. When Jesus connected with children and held them in his lap, he connected with the woman who broke her bottle of perfume to wash his feet.. He connected with the adulteress caught in the act when he knelt beside her. Even Jesus' disciples told the children to leave him alone or told Jesus not to bother with them but Jesus wouldn't allow even his closest companions to jeopardize the connections he was building, he rebuked his friends.

So let me ask you this... Are you building connection with anyone?  Are you being purposeful in connection with others? Would you rebuke your friends in order to connect with someone to effect them for Christ?

I think Jesus had hold of something we may have forgotten over the years... You can only effect if you connect.  These days we are conditioned to want spotlight for nothing. You know where I'm going there, reality shows... Spotlight for nothing. But the kingdom of God is so far from being about our spotlight.  It's about us shining the spotlight on the passion of the cross, making sure people know about Jesus' love for us driving him to the horror of the cross. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in the big things we forget that everything big starts out small... We need to plant a seed to reap a harvest.  Everything is so easy for us, so quick that we've forgotten some things take time. We must remind ourselves of the purpose of our existence, we must spend time on others, we must connect to effect.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Busy Beaver

Hi lovelys!  I am so crazy busy with work & life this week it's actually stupid!  Our family reunion is coming up this Saturday and I have so many things left to do to get ready for it I probably should even attempt sleep tonight or tomorrow!  Anyway, I say that to say this: I don't have time to post a new blog today!  But have no fear! I'm re-posting my very first blog (sorry for the grammar & spelling issues it may have.. As if the rest of my posts are any better!) This post explains why I started writing a blog in the first place and what the most important thing for you to take away from my posts is... I hope you enjoy it and I hope you're all happy hippos! (haha I don't know it seemed to fit with "busy beaver... Maybe they can be friends :oP)

"When somebody loves you; It's no good unless he loves you all the way... Deeper than the deep blue see is. Thats how deep it goes if it's real. When somebody needs you, it's no good unless he needs you all the way. Through the good or lean years and for all the in-between years, come what may. Who know where the road will lead us? Only a fool would say. But if you'll let me love you, it's for sure I'm gonna love you all the way" - Frank Sinatra Now you know 2 things about me: I'm a romantic at heart (truth be known, every woman, if she is strong enough to admit, is a romantic) and I only like to do things "all the way". I've never been a "faker", not really able to temper many of my words if someone wants my true opinion... "Does this look good on me?" Response, "Ah... no." Known for being a little too outspoken (hey, I'm working on the sugary wording).. One day while walking down a main street with my mother, in the middle of a 'small-talk' sort of conversation, I realized I didn't truly know the one person who I was supposed to be in the most important relationship with. Uncontrollable tears streaming down my face, I froze on the spot. Mom, looking back, realizing she was now having conversation with herself, asked "Are you alright? What happened?" My reply, although now faded memory went something like "I don't even know him... My whole family knows him, I know his relationship with them, I know the words he would speak to anyone int any given situation, have read all his letters to me, spent countless hours talking about him and even too him directly, yet, somehow, I've lost who he is!" (Yes, I realize that's a run-on sentence, but it was when I spoke it.) Quite a shocker from the light, fluffy conversation we were having just seconds ago, mom fell silent. "I'm not doing anything just because I know it's an appropriate action, not speaking words just because they are expected, not putting on a face just because I know people are watching, I have to get real!" The conversation went on as mum turned me around and headed back toward home with onlookers most likely thinking I had just received horrible news (you get the point, I'm sure).

So, I started by telling him what was going on with me, it's not that I wanted out of the relationship at all, not that he had done anything wrong (in fact, just the opposite, it was the best love I ever had and have since experienced) but I needed some time to back up and make sure I was being honest with him. I made sure to spend time with him to show him I was serious about the relationship and re-building true, pure love. I'm sure I hurt his feelings but he certainly didn't make me feel out of line and after a few awkward times of silence he seemed to almost enjoy starting over.

I'm not sure what it was that got me lost in the first place.. Maybe it was eyes watching or the judgements people passed, possibly my expectations of how it "should be" then trying to navigate the path to those imaginary places on my own.. Maybe it was the lack of conversation about those expectations in the first place.. or possibly it was my eyes on other people's relationships and my own judgements about what went on behind closed doors the lead me astray.. Whatever it was, I just wanted authenticity and the only way I knew I could possibly get there was to strip the relationship down to its foundation.

My questions: Why did I fall in love with him in the first place? Did I really fall in love with him or my ideals of who he was supposed to be? If I didn't fall in love with him, is it possible now? Am I a horrible person because after years of time he invested in me I am just asking these questions now?

My Answers: I don't know why I fell in love or if I even did... I know I want to love him and to do that I have to get to know him as if we just met today.. Can I fall in love with him now depends on who I find him to really be.. Am I a horrible person? Probably, especially if the answer to the third question turns out to be no.

My Process: Let him know who I really am, I have tried to be sincere but I know there are times I do and say things because it's appropriate, expected or desired by someone other than myself. That meant telling him when he did something I didn't like and/or didn't understand, asking for his forgiveness when I made mistakes (which, if you know me, is pretty much a daily occurence). It meant telling him my thoughts and feelings about anything and everything even when I am embarrassed to admit them; telling him my likes and dislikes even when they didn't coincide with his.

Find out who he really is, without putting my rose colored glasses on about who I think he should be.. That meant accepting that he doesn't always say yes when I want something, he doesn't always agree with me, he doesn't always want to hang out with the same people or in the same places I do, sometimes he just wants to stay in and turn the tv off to talk about issues I would rather distract myself from (I once heard that true love makes you face all the things you try to hide and deal with your past and personality issues.. I believe that now). That also meant knowing all the above are not negative aspects of a relationship.

I had to see my true self and change the things that are ugly when I have to look in the mirror (so to speak.. and I am still working on this one). I know everyone says you shouldn't change yourself for a relationship, and that's true when you are talking about pretending to be someone you are not.. But not so true when you are talking about things that truly are negative attributes you possess. That meant making myself vulnerable (which, especially when you come from a broken home, is not easy in any respect). It meant being accountable to someone about the things I see in myself that, if I were looking at someone else with these traits, are not becoming in any way.. For me it meant working on my temper, my sharp tongue, my need to have the last word... (A friend of mine, Justin, told me "you don't always have to jump to your own defence, you don't have to bring someone down just because you feel attacked in some way.. You need to be confident enough to know that really when people attack you verbally in public or you find out they have behind your back, it says more about who they are than what kind of person you are" he's right, that was probably one of the most valuable pieces of advice I have received in a lifetime.) That also meant realizing my fears and short-falls and letting them go, allowing myself to live confidently in spite of them. ("Courage is not the absence of fear..." Author unknown) I had to accept, other people may watch and judge and I understand that has no bearing on our relationship... And if he let it change anything that's on him.

I put the work in, put the time in... There were a few arguments but always underlying love and understanding we were growing something real and we would have to pull out some weeds every once in a while... Love isn't easy, it's hard work but it's worth it.

I began realizing that my parents splitting up when I was nine shaped the majority of my opinions on relationships and does affect the way I act in my relationships.. Giving him permission to show me when my past is affecting our relationship and if I'm angry trying to wait to respond once I've had the chance to think about it and realize he's right.. When I don't wait, apologizing about my reaction. I had to talk myself through a lot of this, making myself realize I do deserve to allow myself to be loved and to love back, just because my parents split doesn't mean my relationships have to.

He wants to love me and I am going to let him.. I want to love him, honestly, truly, deeply, so much I would die for him, without embarrassment or reservation, with reckless abandon, no matter who is or who isn't watching, I want to love him as good, or if it were possible, even better better than he loves me.

So I challenge you to do what I have done... I can tell you now, it worked for me, I am still in that relationship, people are watching and they recognize the raw truth in it... I know, it's almost enough to make you sick! Ha! I think this would work for any relationship.. Give the relationship time and work.. If it's old or new just try it.. Give the other person credit, be honest about how your feeling and tell them the plan to work on it, they will appreciate the honesty and know you're actually serious about making this work..

You may be surprised to know I've told you about my relationship with God.. Don't shut it down yet, hear me (or read me) out.. I have 5 uncles, a grammie and many cousins who are pastors, I have seen healing and miracles happen in front of my eyes.. I believed in God, knew he was real but wanted nothing more to do with a God who didn't talk to me about my life or who I couldn't hear his voice with anything to do with my life. I didn't want him talking to me about other people if he wasn't talking to me about myself.. Then I realized, I wanted to give him the chance, if for nothing else, so I could walk away with a clear conscience... I honestly put in the time and effort and it worked.. I'm not sure I wasn't surprised but I was glad. The Bible says "Taste and see that the Lord is good" you would only say you didn't like something without trying it if you were a child (or immature) so I'm just asking you to give God the chance you would give a new flavor of ice cream.. If I'm wrong, prove it to yourself by honestly trying the relationship. Do it ALL THE WAY!

PS. I'm not wrong