Thursday, December 23, 2010

the deep south...

I traveled yesterday from Lynchburg VA to Lakeland GA. It took me a little over ten hours with traffic. I realized last night, however, that I can always tell when I have hit my home sweet home of the deep South. Truly there is nothing like it. Many people make fun of it…I know I do especially since I have been to other places. But for the most part, I am proud to say that I was born and raised here, in the southern United States. It has helped shape me into the woman I am. It has also helped me appreciate things in life that many people take for granted.

There are many ways that I realize I have hit south Georgia. I would like to share some of these.

1. My friend Heather and I realize that for a southerner 50 degrees is cold, but it is quite hilarious when you see a grown man in a fur necked coat, gloves, and a hat when it is 50 degrees. Haha.

2. The next way to know you have hit the south is the opposite extreme. Heather saw a man with no shirt in forty degree weather on the side of the road attaching a trailer to a pick-up truck. The image of this just makes me laugh. You got the one man dressed like an Eskimo and the other one like it is summer time and he is beasting his work. Ha.

3. You know you have hit southern Georgia when you stop at the gas station and every other vehicle is a pick-up truck with a rugged looking man in it….usually with a big antenna or dog box in the back for hunting….hahaha.

4. This one I like. I know that in many places chivalry is dead. Of course the women helped kill it because some of us do not allow men to be men and take care of business. BUT I love the fact that every place I have been so far a man has held the door opened for me or let me cut in line. I mean it is the little things we tend to take for granted but I like it when they do that. Thank you kind sirs for treating me like a lady. :)

5. You know you are in south Georgia when you see several cars parked on the side of the road at a bridge…and standing outside are several old men with fishing poles fishing…over the side of the bridge. Haha. I mean it is cold out and they are still trying to catch a crawdad or something.

6. You know you are in South Georgia when you can’t understand a single word from the man talking to you in the supermarket. Every word sounds like a mumble jumble of syllables…if you could hear me talk like them it would sound really really funny. I can’t even begin to type it out except it would look something like-a wernt ober yonder n gotsda tracterrr outta da woods n billy bob werentttt eben rreredy to goo yetr. (I just stand there and smile sweetly and say yes sir over and over again). I mean I can’t even begin to keep trying to type it out. It reminds me of translating my friend Joey’s talk when we first moved to Lynchburg for school. (sorry Joey. Lol.).

7. So, this is in no way disrespectful but over the last several years I have noticed when I come home that the some women in the south, especially those in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, tend to wear a lot of make-up and big hair. This definitely applied to my recent visit to Tennessee but I notice this difference a lot more recently in my home town. Maybe they believe that is the way a true southern belle should look. I am not sure. But either way the trend has definitely not subsided even with the aging of Dolly Parton whom many of them remind me of. Haha.

I am sure I will think of more of these to come over the weekend. One thing is for certain, the air is definitely fresher down here in the deep south. I took a deep gulp of it when I exited my car yesterday. Too bad I can’t take some of it with me when I leave to go back to Virginia.

This is just a glimpse of the deep South...

Monday, December 20, 2010

render today...

It is easy to get caught up in our own lives-what we want, what we don’t have, what we wish we had, what we think we deserve. (It can be particularly easy to be caught up in these things during the holidays.) It is harder sometimes to wake up in the morning and think of someone else before you think of yourself. We probably equate this with selfishness. Being in my twenties, I know many people who talk about their five year plan, ten year plan, financial plan, etc. In the land of America, we are surrounded by possibilities and in the place I live, the “plans” we have for our own lives. Of course, this may be less so for some people, but when compared to other countries, America can be described as a land of opportunity. Another thing I noticed recently is that many people have a plan of what they want to have done by the time they are thirty, thirty-five, forty, and so forth. There is definitely nothing wrong with making plans and setting things in motion to accomplish great things, especially from a Christian perspective. We want to accomplish great things and many times it may take years to reach goal by goal. I am sure most of us will be laying on our death bed or come to meet Jesus one day and realize all of the things we wanted to do and did not. Okay, maybe we will not have the ability to look back at things that we didn’t do or did do and wish we did or didn’t do. Maybe we did not make the time, maybe the opportunity never came, or maybe we just lived too short of a life.

Something I consistently remember is that I want to make the most of every chance that I have. I do not want to waste a relationship or an opportunity to make a difference in the world or in the life of one person. I realized through the death of a loved one a long time ago that you never know what tomorrow holds. Sometimes, we use the mundane things in life to grow closer to God and to prepare for things in the future. I, however, was saddened recently while doing some research for a paper. Most people in America expect to live a long life. The average life expectancy is 78 years old. What saddened me was the statistics I came across for the country of Haiti. The average life expectancy for someone in Haiti is 29 years old.

Let that sink in. 29 years old. The average person only lives to age 29 in Haiti? It breaks my heart and makes me realize how much we take for granted. That would mean that I only have four years to do what I would “want” to do or to accomplish some kind of “great” things for God as a lot of Christians pray will happen. I mean, granted, we are not guaranteed tomorrow. We may only have this moment right now, this very breath; this very next sentence could be my last. Not to sound overly dramatic but on the grand scheme of things it is true. Not only is it tragic about the people of Haiti and their recent turmoil, but it simply brought up this idea that I am blessed. Most of you reading this are probably blessed too and may not realize it. You probably don’t make your plans thinking you would only live to be 29 years old. Hey, some of you may be past the age of 29. That makes you blessed in and of itself when compared to others. Of course not everyone who lives has an easy life. Those 29 years may be full of turmoil and pain. They may be full of disappointment and uncertainty. I guess it is all a matter of perspective. Regardless of what we endure, I want to have a perspective that God has about our lives-even if what life has brought is not what I thought it would be.

My heart has just been overwhelmed with the thought of how we (how I) would make things different, plan different, love different if I knew I was only expected to have a lifespan of 29 years. That is four years from now for me, so if you are 30 just think about four years from now for you. I hope that if you knew that you would likely die in the next four years that you would…

#1. Find the love of Jesus Christ irresistible. That his heart, his passion, his forgiveness, his compassion, all of it would penetrate to the core person of who you are.

#2. Find that the love of God is perfect and can be shared with other people in all relationships, even to a stranger on the street.

#3. Find that your life is just one note of a very large sheet of music, one word in an extravagant love story, one breath of the billions of people to ever walk the earth.

#4. Find that even the simple things in life should not be taken for granted-that there is always someone who has had to deal with the same things as you if not worse.

#5. Find that money and material possessions only last a moment; you can’t take them with you in the afterlife.

#6. Find that you can make a difference in the life of just one human being and end up making a difference that will make a ripple in life that changes many others, even for eternity.

#7. Find that worrying gets us nowhere, or at least nowhere good and true freedom comes from finding trust and hope in the God of Scripture.

#8. Find that sometimes laughing is the best medicine, even if it is at your own expense.

#9. Find that life, even if the days are numbered (which technically I guess they all are), can be taken slowly and not so busy. This helps with not overlooking something beautiful or neglecting a relationship.

#10. Find that each breath is a gift and that true salvation and contentment do not come from what you first do but in whom you first believe on.

I do not know what it is like to live in a country like Haiti. I have only ever lived in America. This was the card I was dealt at birth. Hopefully one day I will be able to live overseas, but until then I see that we truly do take for granted the time we have. My heart is broken to think that on average in a particular part of the world, people can expect to live only to age 29.

Would I do things differently, act differently, love differently? Would I stand up more for the things that I say I believe in? Would I give my possessions and my heart away more freely? You can ask the same things of yourself. I do not know if it makes a difference in places where the average life expectancy is so low as to how the people act or value life. But I do know that it should. It should also be a wake-up call to those of us who take life for granted and do not love God and love people.

I think that sometimes we simply say that we have tomorrow to do something. To ask God for forgiveness, to love someone we haven’t loved, to be charitable to someone in need, to take a chance on something we never would have…we say that we will do that or this tomorrow but what good are our plans if we don’t carry them out or if we don’t have a tomorrow. I think this is just a challenge, like many of us have heard before, to live life more fully, more intimately, more passionately in the pursuit of Someone greater than ourselves and purposes greater than our own selfish ambitions.

This may take us rendering our hearts, rendering our lives, our hopes, passions, dreams, pursuits. This may take us rendering our hurts and heartaches to move forward and live as if we only had a short time on this earth to make the most of it. It is not about living in fear of dying but living in fear of dying and having wasted the time we have.

May we render our hearts to the plans of God for each day, expecting great things but not banking on any ‘promise’ of tomorrow that may never come.

render today...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


My heart beats wildly, open and exposed.
I plead with it to stop and to close.
But it does not listen to my plea.
It keeps pounding and I hit my knees.

My breath fills my lungs in and out.
I ask myself if this relieves all my doubts.
But it does not help when I think about you.
My heart, my breath, I cannot move.

My eyes, they glisten with tears.
I beg myself not to think about the fears.
But it does not quench the silent hole in my heart.
I look for the ending but I do not know where to start.

My finger tips grow numb and cold.
I think about what I want to do and not what I’m told.
But it does not matter how I am compelled.
My heart, my breath, my hands are no longer held.

My heart, the beats grow slower still.
And my breath, it’s shallower as I kneel.
My eyes, the tears they don’t last forever.
And my finger tips grow warmer, though my life’s been severed.

My heart, it was rendered to something unknown.
And my breath, it is no longer my own.
My eyes, they are deep with affection for you.
And my finger tips wait now, but are driven to move.

My heart, it wants to sing a new song.
And my breath, as it exits my body so do the wrongs.
My eyes, are lightened and able to undoubtedly see.
And my finger tips long to play on the keys.

My heart, it begins to beat wildly again.
And my breath, it fills my lungs till the end.
My eyes, are looking into the one I couldn’t see before.
And my finger tips are forever given permission once more.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

the way the heart is...

The Way the Heart Is
Love is pain but it is also good. You have to take chances and let go sometimes in order to experience something so beautiful, specifically chances with the heart…

A few years ago a friend kept telling me that I couldn’t trust him because his heart was deceitful. It was in reference to the verse Jeremiah 17 verse 9 that says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” I did not believe him because I like to think the most of people. I like to look at them and believe that they are different. I even gave him a chance to show me that he was what I believed he was. But…eventually what he believed and the way his heart was…it truly was deceitful, at least for a time.

It is hard to believe that some people are not who you think they are. I would also say it is shocking sometimes to find out that you are not who you thought you were. We all live sometimes with illusions of who we are. We even put up façades for other people. We only show them what we want them to see. We disguise ourselves so that others have an illusion of who we really are. Some of us may say that we have seemingly good excuses to not be true. Maybe you feel you can’t trust people or you have been hurt, so you hide. Or maybe you are afraid of being judged, especially for those of you who live in a “Christian” community. Or maybe you aren’t true because you are afraid that the person you want to be real with will not love you or accept you for who you are. The truth is, however, is that we can never be fulfilled in our relationship with God or with other people unless we are real.

I realized with my friend, however, that yes his heart had deceived him and I could not trust him at that moment. The first step in knowing the way the heart is-is to admit that it is indeed…deceitful. The heart deceives the person that it dwells within and it deceives others. But if we know that we ourselves, apart from the constant influence of God are falsehearted, then we can take chances on one another to be honest and genuine.

Falsehearted…I like that word as a synonym for deceitful. False-it is untrue and lying. We must admit that we have not been honest with ourselves, with others, and with God.

Sometimes, however, we only begin being honest with ourselves but then we can’t be honest with others or open with God because we do not like what we see in ourselves. This is where we have to make the decision to change something.

Yes, the ways of the flesh are evil but the ways of the Spirit of God never lead us astray.

Jeremiah 17 goes on to say in verse 10, "I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds."

The way we are without God is deceitful but He already sees that even when we do not admit it. He sees every flaw, every blemish, every dirty sin that penetrates to the deepest darkest secrets of our hearts and souls. He knows what we think about ourselves and how we see others. He knows that we are, without him, drawn to evil and drawn to the things that do not last in this world. He searches our hearts, even as deceitful as they are, and he tests the innermost parts of us. This should honestly be a bit scary for those of us who profess a belief and indwelling of something greater than ourselves. I have found that indeed our hearts can deceive us and others if we allow them to, but we have a choice to deceive or to be true.

There are only two options in my opinion. You can choose to either remain in your deceiving ways or you can choose genuine life. Not that we become perfect at that point, but we begin to operate out of something that is in its purest form true. It is absolutely beautiful to rise in the morning and give of a real and devoted heart to others and to God. I like what the verses preceding verse 9 say in Jeremiah 17.

Choosing to follow your own deceitful heart…
Jeremiah 17:5-6
Thus says the LORD:"Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.”

Choosing to follow your heart under the influence of the Lord…
Jeremiah 17:7-8
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit."

Sometimes it is difficult and even unbearable to be real with ourselves, but we can’t expect to be honest with others until we do so. We are led by deceiving affections and mindsets, but the truth is that we are capable of not living that way. It hurts, but it is most fulfilling to be real and genuine. It allows us to be intricately intertwined with the Lord, so that even in hard times we are able to flourish. It allows us to be entwined with other people and their hearts to most know one another in the fullest and most gratifying ways.

The second part of my conversation with my friend led me to the part where we are able to see others the way God sees them when we stop being led by deceitful hearts. We can see them in their identity in Christ, no matter who they are or what they have done. We are able to love them wholeheartedly with true affection because we are not deceived by our own façade or by theirs. We are even able to confront ourselves and others because we can truly say we know them and we do not want them to go on a certain path that fulfills the objects of a deceitful heart. When we see others through God’s eyes we start to treat them as precious people who have value and who are unique-who all have hearts that can be broken and mended with the way we interact with them.

Even if someone tells me that their heart is deceitful I want to view them through this mindset. I want to be able to see them for who they can be, even if they are not there yet. That is how I want to be viewed. None of us have truly arrived yet, we are all on the journey together.

Some would argue with me and say that deceitful is just the way the heart is. Some would say that we can’t help the way the heart is. Some would mock me and say that I am naïve and that there is no way to change. But God did not design our hearts to be deceitful-there is an alternative to being falsehearted. That is not the way the heart is. When we begin to know the way the heart of God is, we begin to know how to be true hearted-the way the heart should be.

The way the heart is with the Holy Spirit is loyal, devoted, faithful, committed, steadfast, and constant. This is the way the heart should be so that we know God and others-we are able to overcome our deceiving ways and find exactly what we have been looking for all along.

In what way can you learn to be real and genuine, not being led by false affections and false ideas from a deceitful heart? What do you need to let go of in order to truly see the way God intended your heart to be in this life? How can the view you have of other people change to be seen through the heart of God?

One word in seeking this…intentionality.
Don’t be deceived by the way the heart is.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Render your purpose...

Render your purpose.

I Chronicles 28:9-10
9"And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. 10Be careful now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it."

Just when you think what you do doesn’t matter.

I think that everything in life should be done with purpose. Yes, we do things like watch movies or football games and many times, personally I am not sure if the purpose of that is really life changing. Of course entertainment is something that relaxes us and can be used to bring people together. I like my fair share of movies, music, theme parks, etc. But this is not what this is all about. I think that the things we do in life, like work, building relationships, service, etc. should be done with a greater purpose than our just fulfilling some need in our lives. Some of us work at jobs that we do not necessarily see the results of what we are doing. Some of us work at jobs that seem to only be putting food on the table and taking care of one’s family. Only enough to make ends meet per say. There are times, however, when we find ourselves on a mountain top. I think Oswald Chambers calls it a mountain top experience. However, most days for a person are “normal.”

We often times do not know what impact we are having on another person. I have had experiences since I was in middle school that have solidified my belief in a beautiful God I cannot see-a God that is all knowing and gives me unconditional love despite the fact that I do not deserve Him. I often need reminding of this. When I ask God to remind me of His love and His purpose, He answers me. He reminds me of the purpose in life. He shows me that He loves me and shows me that He is faithful to complete a good work in me that He began many years ago when I decided to follow Him (Philippians 1).

Sometimes when I do the same things over and over again every day at work or in completing my school work, I think I lose sight of what my heart’s desire should be. I lose sight of where I have been and what God has used me to do in the lives of others. My heart is the way it is for a reason. My will is the way it is for a reason. My mind is the way it is for a reason. My life has been what it is for a reason. Nothing is a mistake in the eyes of God. Even when I think that I am not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not eloquent enough, not purposeful enough, God reminds me that those are all lies. This is not to say I cannot improve myself through God’s Word and His Spirit…we cannot excuse our flaws, though we all have them. But we can say that there is a purpose (probably more than one) for the way that we are made, the way we love God, the way we love people, the way we carry burdens, the way we talk, the way we live…

Just today I got a surprise from God in allowing me to reconnect with a mountain top experience that changed my life in high school. Three of my favorite moments in life have been forged in foreign countries among foreign peoples. That is something I often forget in the place that I currently am. Every once in a while too, the enemy lies and tells me that I should not be the way I am because it is not good enough to make a difference right now. I am beginning to remember where I have been, where God has brought me from, to the place I am now-that there is a purpose for everything under the sun. Why do what I do, why say what I say, why feel what I feel, why love, cry, hurt, rejoice, if not for a greater purpose than my own selfishness. That is not a purpose at all. I only share my personal experience right now in hopes that those of you who know Jesus Christ can understand that we get lost-lost in the everyday experience, lost in our selfishness, lost in a false feeling, lost in a pointless relationship, lost in a greedy job-But there is a greater purpose than all of these fallible things that do not last.

I pray every day that God will show me how to love as He loves and to help me to see others through His eyes. This is difficult if I cannot allow God to love me, all of me, and give myself up in such a way that the purpose of my heart and its passions are served for something and someone beyond me.

I encourage you all to look at where you have come from and where you are. God does not make junk. He does not make mistakes. He had and always will have a purpose for our hearts. To love Him, to know Him and to make Him known through His love. If you feel you have not had a mountain top experience with God then pray for one. Pray for revelation. Pray for God to show out in your life. But remember that the Devil shows up to steal what it is you are doing for God’s kingdom. He will lie to you and tell you that you are not accepted by others because you are not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not loving enough, not charming enough, not strong enough, not _______. You get the point I think.

Sometimes after I have a broken moment, like the one down on my knees in the rain the other day I realize who God has made me to be and who He wants me to be. There is a reason for every part of who He has made me. There is a reason for every part of who He has made you. God reminded me today that times I have thought did not make a difference actually did. He reminded me that I may not be able to see the instances right at this moment that are touching the lives of others, but He is not wasting my time, my heart, my pain, my love, or anything else that I give of myself. He is part of each day, each minute that I allow Him to use me. He does the same for you. God does not waste a moment.

Render your purpose to God’s will. To His love. To His affection. To His strength. To His refining fire to forge something that allows you to freely give of yourself to change the lives of others regardless of where you find yourself at this exact instant. Zechariah 13:8-9 says “9And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'They are my people'; and they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"

John 15: 12-17
12"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

Friday, October 1, 2010

Render The Rainy Days...

Rainy days.
Like ‘em? Hate ‘em? Don’t really care?

I think a rainy day has its moments. Sometimes it makes me happy, sometimes it is depressing…sometimes it is fun, especially if you play in the rain and stop worrying about your hair. Ha.

I got out of my car only to step ankle deep in water and mud. Ick. Good thing I did not have on my good shoes. The drizzle from the rain stuck loosely to my bangs and dribbled down the side of my cheek. Normally I may wipe it away quickly but it didn’t bother me a whole lot and I still had bags to unload from the backseat of the car.

I lugged the bags out of the car struggling with them on both arms while trying to close the door. I fumbled with the keys that were latched on my fingers. I always end up intertwining the key rings around my fingers. If only I had some help…or possibly I could have not tried to get all the bags at once. That would have freed my hands up. I finally got a good grip in the house key and headed up the porch.

I walked as quickly as possible through the mud and up the sidewalk, my shoes squishing with water from the mud puddle I had stepped into. As I reached the water saturated steps to the backporch, I should have known better than to attempt to climb them with wet shoes and a dozen grocery bags on my arms. The toe of my shoe did not make it completely on the second step and that is all it took for me to land on my knees, the bags flailing with my arms as I attempted to catch myself. I am still unsure how I did not land on my stomach or better yet my face with the groceries underneath me.

Great, wet shoes, wet pants, wet hair…hmmm.

After several minutes of collecting myself and dragging the bags into the house, laughing to myself silently as I thought about the other times I have fallen in the rain, snow, up the stairs, down the stairs, etc. Too many times to count I am sure. After emptying the bags, I decided to go back outside to enjoy some more of the rain. Despite being wet and somewhat dreary I was calmed by the light pattering rain and breeze that blew into my face. I closed my eyes and took in one of those deep relaxation type breaths. You know-breathe in through your nose, hold for three seconds, breathe out through your mouth. You should try it. It works.

As I leaned over the side of the porch I realized that many of the roses on the rose bush we have were drooped over, waiting to fall to the ground. They were dead. Probably from the lack of water they had been getting up until this weekend. Of course leave it to God to teach me a lesson through my somber moment in the rain. Though all the roses on the outer edge were droopy and dying, there was one fresh bud in the middle. It was small and perfect in every way. The rain had formed drops on the petals and leaves and made it more like a picture moment. I did take one though my camera really isn’t that great.

As I stared at the new bud getting ready to bloom, I thought about the rest of them that were dead. Life can sometimes seem that way. There is a bit of a dry spell and without water we feel like things are falling apart. Sometimes even with water, things still fall apart. Heart ache, disappointment, hard times at work, lack of work, loss of a loved one, sickness, etc. It is my theory that sometimes for a Christian, when it rains it pours (theoretically speaking of course) because Satan knows the Lord has a great plan for life. Not to say that sometimes those of us who are believers don’t bring it on ourselves, but for someone who is seeking God then the first option is more likely.

I thought about the fact that many times things seem dead, like the dozen roses that were drooped over, petals missing. However, in the middle of the sleaze there is a beautiful late bloomer waiting to show off. It is right in the middle of the ugliness-a beauty.

I thought about Ezekiel 37:1-6.
“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." 4Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD."

Now, I am no theologian, but this Scripture just speaks to me. Though some people say something is dead, God can perform a miracle and make it live. Though Satan would lie and say that nothing good can come of a difficult situation, God can intercede and turn ashes into beauty (Isaiah 61).

If I tend to focus on my current circumstances, then I get off balance in life. I do not know if you know what that is like, but if we focus on what is going on and get our attention of off God, then we fall or at least we feel like we are falling. It may affect each one of us a bit differently, but it is keeping our attention on the Sustainer that helps us to view the small beautiful flower rising up in the middle of the dead. All it needed was a little water.

As I stood there looking at the new flower I thought about what I need to immerse myself in in-order to allow God to do that in my own life. Maybe God is trying to tell you that as well.

Immerse Yourself in…
His Word. His Love. His Spirit.

This is kind of simplistic to think about at first, but I think if we all are honest, we can think of a time when we were focused more on our difficult circumstances, when we felt like God left us alone, when we felt like anything we did was not good enough, etc. The point here is that the dead roses represent these things, but God intends for more than that. We may be tempted to render ourselves and our hearts to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We may be tempted to render ourselves and our fears of what has happened or what is happening in our lives because nothing is what we wanted it to be, times are hard, etc.

In order to live amongst those tough times, however, we have to render ourselves, our thoughts, heart, emotions, will, etc. to being captivated by God’s Word and His Love. Though the rain may make things seem a bit dreary and hard to see the big picture, I think we ought to allow God to shine in the middle of everything going on.

I don’t know about you but I want to tap into the power of Christ that His Word promises us as His born-again children. Many days we live with mediocrity and do not become or allow God to show out in our lives. Hebrews 13: 20-21 “20Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

What the world says is dead, God says it’s alive.
What the world says is hopeless, God says it’s full of hope.
What the world says is ugly, God says it’s made beautiful.
What the world says is worthless, God says it’s made worthy.
What the world says is unforgivable, God says it’s washed clean.
What the world says is impossible, God says He is able.

What is God trying to speak into your life and heart today through his Word, His Truth, His Love?

I pray that if you are going through a difficult time that you look to the hills where help comes from. When things and situations seem hopeless and dead know that God may just be waiting for a new bloom. He sees beauty where there are ashes. Sometimes we might fall down on our knees in the rain and that is okay. We just have to get back up and let the Lord be our help. He can fill all roles that we need him to be at exactly the right moment.

Render the rainy days to the Lord.
Figuratively or Literally.
Submit them to Him and let Him have His way.
He does not disappoint.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

the whole package.

the whole package…

I overheard someone say the other day that he was waiting on the “whole package”…for his wife. I thought to myself, man, we all probably wish-hope-pray for the “whole package” in a spouse. The “whole package” for him consisted of beauty (outside and inside, of course being beautiful really is in the eye of the beholder), intelligence, just the right amount of submissiveness (in a wife), kind, and other attributes that would make her character flawless. Of course many of us may recognize this as the Proverbs 31 woman…or at least what some have told me is a modern day rendition of the Proverbs 31 woman. The point of this blog is not to discuss the Proverbs 31 woman-there are probably hundreds if not thousands of books on that already. The point is not to decide which characteristics are more important in a husband or wife...obviously that is subject to someone’s opinion though I know that the Word of God has an outline for the qualities to look for in a spouse. (Just take a look in His Word, I bet you’ll find a few in the first few chapters.)

The point, however, is to discuss something that was laid on my heart as I heard some people talk about the “whole package.” I cannot vouch for men, let alone all women, but I would venture to say that we have all thought about whether or not we had what it takes-whether or not we are the “whole package.” Being a woman myself, and being friends with other women and teenage girls, I know for a fact that majority of us at one point or another compare ourselves, either to each other, to other women, or to some idea of a woman that we, for whatever reason. cling to in the media. Men, I would guess that some of you have done the same. This can be for married or non-married individuals. The critiquing of ourselves doesn’t stop once we walk down the aisle and say “I do.”

This is how the thought process goes sometimes.
We believe the lie that we aren’t good enough-“we aren’t good enough to be his wife, her husband, their parent, their friend, etc”.

We start to think “If only I were like so and so I would have this or that or be this or that…” You fill in the blank.

Even if you say you haven’t struggled with this just keep reading. I would like to know what you might think or if you have any wisdom for someone you know that may be struggling.

We say to ourselves that we need to change this or that to be loved, to be accepted, to be good enough. But I would like to say that some people simply are wondering, even with good intentions, whether or not they are the “whole package.” If we are looking at other people we may ask-Do they have the brains and the brawn? Are they cool enough, sweet enough, spiritual enough…and so on. But if we are looking to others for our comparison-to answer the question of whether we are the “whole package,” we are bound to be disappointed and left feeling empty. (Also, throughout this it is probably a good idea to look at what the “whole package” looks like to you when you critique other people. Be realistic.)

See, we are all looking for the “whole package” in a spouse. If you are already married, hopefully you found that person that encompassed qualities that you knew you needed and wanted in a spouse-you found that person who you could spend the rest of your life with. That you could disagree with but still have love and respect, that you could laugh with, cry with-that person you could stand next to and feel safe, secure, and be content just being there with that person...that person who pushes you to be better, to do better, to love God more and more. If you are single and want to be married, well you obviously still have your open options, just be careful of what you deem important in the qualities of your “whole package” standard-for yourself and in the person you look to marry.

I will admit that I have thought about whether or not I possess those “whole package” qualities that I would deem essential in a life mate. But we can’t compare ourselves to OTHERS to determine if we are good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc. If you are a Christian believer, you should know what I am about to say next. We should only be comparing ourselves to the ONE who has all the qualities of a perfect person-Jesus Christ. The ironic thing that is that you are probably comparing yourself to someone who is also flawed thus attempting to adjust yourself in your own strength toward something that is not even a possibility.

So, stop worrying so much about whether you emulate the “whole package” that is in accordance with someone else’s opinion, including your own. Instead, strive to be what Christ emulated as the “whole package” in accordance with what God says about the characteristics of someone who is after His heart. Whether you are married, single, divorced, widowed…this will never ever steer you wrong. Let God shape the “package” He put you in, your heart, mind, soul, body. Then when other people see God emulated in you-they won’t be able to help but say, “Man, ___________ (put your name here) looks like someone I have heard about, oh yea, Christ…Humble, beautiful, kind, gentle, courageous, faithful, honest, etc.” That is the highest compliment-to radiate Christ. Do this and you will be the “whole package.”

Philippians 2:1-8 say this,
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!