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Archive for February, 2015

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Day 11 – Asking for help and advice makes me stronger

Maybe you can’t see this issue as one of “giving up” anything. But I choose to think of it as giving up my need to control and decide on my own. I’m not giving over my life to anyone but acknowledging that maybe, just maybe, someone else may have insights and wisdom which would benefit me. I’m a big believer in the wisdom of wisdom. Solomon fills the pages of the book of Proverbs with sayings about obtaining wisdom, choosing wisdom, listening to wisdom. For instance, Proverbs 19:20 says “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.”

Thankfully I do have wise people around me who I listen to and learn from. My husband is my best friend and one of the wisest men I know. He is my confidante, my go-to guy when I need to vent (sorry about that), and when I need counsel. And he’s not afraid to tell me what he thinks. Most of the time. I do think I can be scary sometimes.

We’ve also got two young men who have learned the same principle. Asking for help and advice isn’t a weakness. Both have people in their lives, including their parents, who they trust to give wisdom, not just spout platitudes. For that we are very grateful.

But maybe you think, “I don’t need anyone – I know what I need to do – I’ve got enough common sense to take care of this on my own.” If that works for you every time, go for it. But I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. At one time or another, you probably have made a decision or chosen a path you wished someone had warned you about. In fact, that wise guy Solomon says “The way of the fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15)

Advice from friends is okay but sometimes listening to the wisdom of men can get you into a bind. See 1 Kings 12 where Solomon’s son Rehoboam gets into some serious trouble. Verse 13 says “Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men…”  This doesn’t work out well for him and only results in the splitting of Israel into two separate kingdoms. Not everyone is capable of giving out wisdom. But I know Someone who knows all, sees all and wants to see you succeed.

Jehoshaphat (godly king) tells the evil king of Israel (in 1 Kings 22:5) to seek the counsel of the Lord before heading into battle. The Psalmist says “I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1) Your greatest source of wisdom will always be in the counsel of the Lord. So when you need help – ask for it. Find godly advisers, mentors and friends who you trust will give you sound counsel but in the end, trust in the wisdom which only comes from God.

Eph. 1:16-17 – I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better.

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Just say no

Day 10 – Giving Up My Overcommitment Tendency

Today’s post is about those of us who overcommit. We can’t seem to say “no” to anything or anyone. Why is that? I’ve thoughtfully come up with a few reasons…

Reason #1 – Sometimes I overcommit to things because I don’t want to miss out on anything or feel left out. That may be my insecurity creeping in again. “I have to help with that funeral dinner because I may learn something about someone I didn’t know,” or “I’ll be the assistant to the assistant to the WM Director because then I’ll feel important.” Now I may not verbalize these things, but they could be an underlying concern.

Reason #2 – I don’t want people to be disappointed with me. Every single day I struggle with this one. I mean it. Every. Day. I like to be the “fixer” in relationships. That’s prideful. I admit it. I think I have everything together so I’ll fix whatever is wrong with you. Holy buckets! That was hard to write. But so true. I’m really working on this one. Trying to let people be themselves, make mistakes, and even be disappointed in me. In Elsa’s famous words – “let it go.”

Reason #3 – I have a hard time saying “no” without feeling guilty (Reference yesterday’s blog about giving up guilt). Liking people + not liking confrontation = peacemaker with insecurity issues. Maybe it’s a middle child thing. No matter the cause, I almost always say “yes” when someone asks me to fill in, do this, do that. But I’m learning and I’m going to do better. Don’t call me.

I do like to help people when they’re in need. And what I’m doing I really enjoy. I was trying to write specific things I’ve done to give assistance but I don’t want people to think I’m picking on them for asking me for help. Please – that’s not what this is about. This is about me…ha. Now – that really sounds good, doesn’t’ it.

This isn’t about multi-tasking or juggling necessary functions in life. What it all boils down to is creating margin in my life. Margins on a sheet of printed paper are useful. First, they look good. They give the printed page a nice area to be set apart. Secondly, you can fill those margins with little notes or doodles as you need to. Adds a little flair to the whole page. But if you print your life from the very edge on the left to the very edge on the right, top to bottom…you don’t have anywhere to doodle. Analogy aside, margin allows you the ability to be flexible so if something really does need to be done, you have the time, energy, resources and strength to take care of it. Ultimately I need to stop committing to every request so I can create a little space to relax and enjoy life.

This blog reflects what I’ve especially been dealing with today. No more overcommitting. Whatever I’ve said “yes” to in the past, I’ll follow through with. That’s what my mom and dad taught me. But I’m going to re-think future commitments because life’s too short to print to the very edge.

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My siblings may not know this but I have three secret stepsisters…really, really ugly stepsisters. I don’t often acknowledge them but I keep them pretty close at hand. Once in a while I get brave or inspired and kick them out but then in a weak moment, one or all will creep back in to live with me again. Maybe you know them. Their names are Guilt, Shame and Condemnation.

Day 9 – The Guilt Has to Go!

I’m not perfect. I never have been. I have a few things in my past that I regret. Maybe you do too. I don’t have any problem allowing the guilt from those mistakes to live with me. I know God loves me. I trust God’s Word. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross and my acceptance of Him as my Lord and Savior, I have been forgiven of all my past mistakes (Eph. 1:7). Because of God’s love, grace and mercy I can live my life free of guilt. But that doesn’t mean I do. And it is my own choices which bring old ugly Guilt back to live within my head over and over again.

Have you ever done something you thought was so bad or so hurtful, that no one could forgive you? You know God has, right? Just ask Him and He will. That’s the really easy part. But this sin, this error in judgment, this stupid mistake, occupies your mind and soul. Maybe even to the point of making you physically ill. That’s your ugly stepsister Guilt at work once again.

Guilt

What does it take to remove the old gal?
Forgiveness. You and I forgiving ourselves.
You see, until I decide to let the past live in the past, that shadow of guilt will hover and drown out whatever good God could bring from that old mistake.

Today I’m booting my ugly Guilt to the curb and replacing her with the sweet aroma of forgiveness – basking in God’s forgiveness of me and sprinkling it with a lot of forgiveness of myself (Heb. 10:22).

Be Gone Guilt! I’m giving your living space a new name – Forgiveness.

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Day 8 – The Blame Game

“But it’s not my fault! She made me do it!”
“This is your fault, not mine!”
“He did it, not me!”

If you’ve ever had a child, this game comes pre-programmed. If you’ve had more than one child, the game comes in high-definition. First as a daughter and later as a mom, I’ve been a giver and a receiver of blame. Some of it was legitimate…most was not.

Basically it comes down to taking responsibility for ourselves – our actions and our words. Some of us “old timers” may want to blame our society for this epidemic of irresponsibility but all I have to do is look at Genesis 3:12 to see the first ones who played the Blame Game.

God is looking for Adam and Eve in the garden (after their little encounter with the serpent). They were hiding from God (kinda funny, really. You can’t hide from the One who sees everything). Adam said they were hiding because they were naked and God asked him, “Who told you that you were naked?” Adam steps up to the plate and takes personal responsibility for all of it. Not.

“The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’”
And lovely wife Eve continues with “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The Blame Game continues on with the stories of Cain and Abel; Abram, Sarai and Hagar; Jacob & Esau; Joseph and his brothers and on and on and on. It’s no different today. We get frustrated or angry about some affront and begin blaming someone or something. Today it could be the snow, the cold, the snowplows, or the government. Social media is full of vitriol against megachurch pastors, Oprah, the president, Lady Gaga, or whomever is your personal whipping boy. I’ve heard adult men blame their mothers for the choices they are making today. Come on guys. She may not have been the best mother in the world but let it go and be an adult. Take responsibility for your own choices in life. If you’ve got serious emotional issues, ask for help…but blaming others is not the way to mental health and healing. Playing the Blame Game only gives bitterness and resentment.

No more passing the buck. There was only One perfect person. We all make mistakes. We all make bad choices. Time to admit it and move on.

Let’s consider what James said in his New Testament book – “If any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” So, today I’m giving up the Blame Game and choosing to ask for wisdom. Sounds like a great trade off to me.

Blame Game

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Day 7 – Giving Up Some Bad Words

I recently had a conversation with my brother and sister about a word we all find offensive…especially in a certain context. It’s demeaning, rude and mostly used to stereotype and categorize people in a negative way. The most offensive thing about this word? It is used by the very person who it is belittling. Yes – you and I use this word to put ourselves down or in a very tiny box. We can’t blame anyone else but ourselves. Oh – you want to know what the word is.

Just.

As in “I’m just a receptionist”…or “I’m just a mom”…or “I’m just a nursery worker.”

“Just” has a first-cousin word – “only” – which we also use frequently.

“I’ve only got a high school education.” “I’ve only been a Christian for a year.” “I only know how to bake cakes from a box mix.”

just-a-mom

Some of us are so good at using these two words that we put them together as in…”I’ve only just learned how to (fill in the blank)”…or “I’m only just a (another blank).”

Side note: I could take a whole different blog for those of you who use these two words to back away from responsibility but not today. You’re welcome.

Let’s do ourselves a favor. In a world full of people more than willing to denigrate and disparage us in our jobs, our roles, our talents and skills, why not cut ourselves some slack. Let’s love ourselves and begin to use uplifting and encouraging language when we describe who we are. When you’re tempted to say “I’m just a mom,” remember that makes you a cook, maid, teacher, nurse, referee, chauffeur, security officer, handyman and personal assistant (and a hundred more titles). You may want to update your resume.

Just take a minute to re-wire your thinking about yourself. It isn’t about what you DO anyway. It’s about who you ARE. Look at yesterday’s blog if you need a reminder.

Just be yourself – only yourself. You are amazing. Just amazing.

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applause

Day 6 – Giving up Pleasing People

It’s hard to live successfully in this world without needing to please people. If we worked at our jobs but our bosses weren’t pleased with us, we wouldn’t have our jobs for long. But there is a difference between pleasing people in order to live and living in this world to please people.  That latter one is a never-ending, never-fulfilling cycle of frustration and disappointment.

You can’t please everyone…you probably can’t please any one person, all the time. I love my husband and kids but I’m not always able to please them. I try to make decisions to show my family my love for them but I’m pretty sure all my choices do not please them. If I lived just to please them, we would eat pizza, drink pop, play video games all day, sleep until noon, stay up past midnight…wait. That sounds like college. Seriously, I need to make decisions based on what is good for them and for me – not always what they like or what I like but what will help us grow and mature into the people God desires us to be. So sometimes, they aren’t pleased with my decision to serve leafy green vegetables instead of French fries or to insist on apologizing to each other when they’ve been fighting or keeping a commitment even when I don’t feel like it.

When it comes to people outside of my family, I’m not going to allow someone else’s opinion of me to set the tone for my life. If I know I’m living according to the desires of God’s heart, then I’m going to be happy with that, and not work to receive the applause and accolades of others. That’s the goal anyway. Today I’m giving up the notion that I have to make everyone happy with me and embrace the One who I live to please.

Because really, why am I concerned about acceptance from people when I am…

  • The salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13).
  • The light of the world (Matt. 5:14).
  • In Christ and Christ is in me (John 14:20).
  • Loved by Jesus (John 15:9).
  • Protected from the evil one (John 17:15).
  • Among the called of Jesus (Rom. 1:6)
  • No longer a slave to sin (Rom 6:6b)
  • Not under law, but under grace (Rom 6:14).
  • A child of God (Rom 8:16 and 1 John 3:2).
  • An heir of God and fellow heir with Christ (Rom 8:17)
  • Not lacking in any spiritual gift (1 Cor. 1:7).
  • A temple of God in which the Holy Spirit dwells (1 Cor. 3:16).
  • Comforted by God (2 Cor. 1:4).
  • Sealed in Christ (2 Cor. 1:22a)
  • A sweet aroma of the knowledge of Christ (2 Cor. 2:14).
  • A new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
  • An ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20).
  • Crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20a)
  • A son of God (Gal. 4:6).
  • Blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3).
  • Holy and blameless in His sight (Eph. 1:4b).
  • Rooted and grounded in Christ’s love (Eph. 3:17).
  • Filled with the fruit of righteousness through Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:11).
  • Taught by God to love others (1 Thess. 4:9).
  • Made holy through Jesus’ own blood (Heb. 13:12).
  • A chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a person for God’s own possession (1 Pet. 2:9).
  • Healed by Jesus’ wounds (1 Pet. 2:24).
  • Forgiven (1 John 1:9).

So if this isn’t good enough for some people, it’s okay. Because I know this is way good with God…the only One who really matters.

“Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions.” (2 Cor. 5:9 – the Message)

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10 – NIV)

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members-in-particular

Day 5 – Giving up my expectations

In any organization we are going to get out of it what we put into it. Why do we think churches are any different? It is a living organism full of people – flawed people – who are mostly doing their best to love each other and love God. But we walk in with preconceived ideas of what church should look like and when reality doesn’t measure up, we are quick to condemn, judge and criticize. Trust me – I’ve heard it. And though I’m not in leadership at a church right now, I still hear it. And I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of some of it too.

Here’s a partial list of unrealistic expectations:

  • Pastors who don’t make more money that I do.
  • Pastors’ kids who are always pleasant and respectful and would never behave like my kids do.
  • Conservatives who stick to their guns on moral issues. (pun intended)
  • Liberals who stick to their guns on social justice issues. (pun intended here too)
  • No offensive comments from anyone, anytime, anywhere within the walls of the church.
  • Music which appeals to me and me alone.
  • No references to money. Ever.
  • Clean, well-stocked bathrooms (including all toiletries necessary & maybe a shower stall too).
  • No germs on any toys in the nursery.
  • Adequately staffed children’s ministry – but don’t ever ask for help from me.
  • Perfect harmonies.
  • No feedback on the sound system.
  • Sunday School teachers who know every Scripture reference.
  • Perfect people.

But this is what I’ve learned:

If you go to church for what you can get out of it, you’ll be rewarded. You’ll get frustrated, disappointed, dissatisfied, and judgment.

If you go to church for what you can give, you’ll also be rewarded. You’ll leave with joy, faith, peace and love.

It really is all about motivation and attitude.

So today, I’m leaving my expectations at the door – actually I think I’ll dump them in the trash before I leave home. The only things I’m taking with me are an anticipation of basking in the presence of God and loving on some awesome people who are doing life with me. It’s gonna be a great day!

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