Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saying No, Being Still, Gaining Perspective

Once upon an autumn, life took me by surprise. The news came causing some unexpected changes in my life. This news was not tragic, not really dramatic, but just enough to require some major adjustments in my schedule over the weeks that spread out in front of me.

As is my nature, my brain kicked into overdrive. I rapidly began with phone calls, emails, paperwork, and rescheduling to make the needed adjustments in our lives. But within twenty four hours or so, after the initial flurry of activity slowed down, the questions in the night began. So how will all of this really work out? Am I making the right choices? Will everything be ok?

I backed out of a previous commitment (thanks to an incredibly understanding and gracious friend) in order to complete necessary work to prepare our home and family for the upcoming changes. But as I began the day, God called me first to sit with Him before I tore into my list of projects. And with a warm cup of coffee in my hand, He sweetly spoke again into my life.

There’s more to come: We continue to shout out praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged.
Quite the contrary-we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit.
Romans 5:3-5 (The Message)

The news I felt was turning my world upside down (at least temporarily) was not a surprise to God. And if I would let Him redirect my perspective, I would be able to see some passionate patience developed in my life, along with some of the tempered steel of virtue. All of this could leave me in a place of alert expectancy, busy rounding up containers, but always falling short of having enough to hold all God was generously pouring into my life. Somehow this was a markedly different view than my questions of “will it be okay.” What a cozy place to be, warming my heart as my coffee warmed my throat.

The interesting thing about my new perspective was that the details of my life’s quandaries had changed not one iota. The challenges were still real and present. They just looked different when viewed through my Father’s eyes.

So how about you? Where in life could you use some new perspective? May I share some advice from a woman who has screwed up many, many times? Unless I had been willing to say no, which went against every unwritten rule in my little mind (you don’t back out once you make a commitment!!), I would never have had the time to hear God’s voice. Sometimes, you have to say no to other things, in order to say yes to God. And yes, sometimes, you will not look good in the eyes of others when you say no or "I can't." But what are you looking for in your life? Peace in your heart or a good reputation?

Once I had said no (and risked looking like the shirker who just can’t seem to get her act together, again), I had to stop and listen for God’s voice. This was not my default thinking. My mind told me there were innumerable tasks that had to be completed. It also threw me that famous lie, “If you don’t do it, it won’t get done.” My to-do list screamed loudly, but my Father spoke gently, “Let me give you the strength to complete your work. Come sit with me first.” So I sat. Not because I had the time, but mainly because of the painful memories of how many times I had chosen not to sit and come up later with an empty tank when I needed strength the most.

This is not a formula, nor is it rocket science. It is just another simple story of a woman who had an unexpected curve ball thrown her way, but was met in the batter’s box by a loving Father. So what is crossing your plate as you stand up to swing today? What if you choose to say no, be still and gain some new perspective? The same Father who met me, waits anxiously to meet you.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

TheWhisper of "Is it Enough?"

Talking with a friend, the subject of schedules came up as it so often does between women. My friend remarked that she never says anymore that she is busy. When I inquired why, she shared a story with me about a conversation between her and another mother. Let’s call my friend Suzie Sensible and the woman she was talking with Betty Busy. Suzie and Betty were comparing schedules. When Suzie began discussing her life, Betty surprisingly informed Suzie that she could not possibly be as busy as Betty was. In spite of the fact that Suzie has three children in elementary school, a husband, a house to care for, works a part time job and runs her own small business, Betty quickly assured Suzie that she was not busy enough to be in the league with Betty. After that day, Suzie decided to never being a “busy” discussion with another woman. Probably a smart idea, but what was most intriguing to me was what my friend, Suzie said next. She looked me in the eyes and said, “Am I doing enough?”

Isn’t that the question we all struggle with at some time or many times in our lives? The root of the question is as old as creation. Since the dawn of time, the enemy has continued to sell women the same tired line, though it may take on different appearances from generation to generation. The heart of the question still remains the same. Is it enough? Is God enough? Am I enough?

Our struggles with finances often come from listening to this question. We look around and do not observe the almost obnoxious abundance we have in this country that the rest of the world readily sees. We choose instead to look at our neighbors, relatives, and friends and see only scales out of balance and not in our favor. We take jobs to make more so we can spend more so we can have more and on the vicious circle rolls.

Hearing the question of “Is it enough?” can cause us to become unhappy in our family relationships. I wish I was single, I wish I was married, I wish I had children, I wish the children were grown and gone, I wish my husband was different, I wish my children were different. When things are viewed in the light of “Is it enough?” too often we end up observing what we lack, not the numerous gifts we have.

As important as all these areas are in our life, nothing rocks us like the final two questions.

Is God enough?
Am I enough?

Here is the good news. Our God is always, forever and ever ENOUGH. The Alpha and the Omega, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, Omnipotent, All powerful, the I AM. To rest in His amazing power and awesome strength is always a safe place for our hearts. Interestingly enough, the fact that He is enough answers our final question also.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:10 (NIV)

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ, died for us.
Romans 5:8 (NIV)

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
I John 4:16 (NIV)

We have a Father who is enough and has made us enough in Him. Let’s tell the enemy to take a hike the next time he tries his worn out line on us. We are daughters of the King. We are princesses. We are enough.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Trump Card

We all come from so many different places and not just geographically. Some are born into families where they are wanted, loved and treasured. Others, like me, come along as a “problem” to those who bear them. Some of these “problems” are placed for adoption in wonderful homes, some grow up in families where they are constantly reminded of being an inconvenience and so many are aborted before they ever see the light of day. So what effect do these beginnings have on the rest of our lives?

Modern science is making landmark progress today in the study of what happens to us in our mothers’ wombs. We know more than ever about the psychological effects on the unborn of what happens during pregnancy. Some experience emotional pain from those days which they carry throughout their lives. The good news is God has a trump card, no matter what our beginnings or where life finds us today.

The trump card was not a concept I truly began to understand until I started dating Rob. When I began to meet his family, I quickly learned playing bridge was a favorite family pastime. Not wanting to be left out, I set out to learn the game only to find I was not a quick study. Rob patiently taught me the manners, rules and strategy of the game, but I struggled to master the trump card concept. I would excitedly lay down my ace, sure of winning a trick. Imagine my shock when another player pulled out a trump card to snatch away my win. I would end up wondering how this happened when I was holding an ace, seemingly a sure win card. The truth of bridge that I struggled to internalize and remember was that the trump card overrides any card of another suit, no matter how high that card’s value. Trumps always win.

Here is God’s trump card about our origins:

Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name,
He gave the right to become children of God –
children born not of natural descent,
nor of human decision or a husband’s will,
but born of God.
John 1:12-13 (NIV)

By sending His son, God played the trump card which covers all other aces. No circumstance of my origin, or in my daily life, is larger than the trump of being His child. Events often occur in our lives which make it seem as if the enemy holds all the aces. Thank you Father for the trump card you played of making me your child. Nothing has been done to me, nothing will occur in my life that is larger than my God.

God laid down the trump, but I won the trick. I became His child.