Almighty Ruler

measure expectations get disappointed Almighty Ruler
“If they only knew…”
“You can’t possibly understand…”
“No-one feels my pain…”
Have these words ever permeated your thoughts after speaking to someone? Do you know who could ever truly understand your unique position and circumstance?

Only Jesus can.

Now that I have children, I have an additional repertory of experiences that I could never have appreciated before being a mom. Looking back, I specifically remember several situations where I demonstrated insensitivity to those with children simply because I had never walked a day in their shoes.

By no means was I trying to be malicious, I just honestly had no clue about everything that needed to be considered in those circumstances.

When we measure our expectations against others, we ultimately get disappointed.

Likewise, we may assume that someone is being selfish when, in reality, we are the ones who are self-centered. God is truly our only measure. He is the Almighty Ruler over our lives, both in terms of who we answer to and in terms of the standard we measure our lives against.

While this may seem like an impossible standard to live up to, it’s actually quite freeing to know that there is a consistency in Christ that no single human being can ever provide. Once we cease expecting people to fill the role only God can, relationships can finally begin falling into their proper place.

Pin It
pin it button Almighty Ruler

The difference a day makes

20120908 070047 The difference a day makes

“God never tells us to do anything without giving us the ability to do it.” Joyce Meyer

Yesterday I took a walk.

It was the first walk I had taken a long time.

I’m not saying a walk on the treadmill or just walking to and from the mailbox. I mean a walk around the neighborhood for the sole purpose as getting a little fresh air & some exercise.

You see, since we’ve come home from Florida, I’ve felt paralyzed. We haven’t even unpacked yet, and to be honest, I don’t know where to start.

I feel like we didn’t get to spend a lot of time with the kids over the past two weeks, so I’ve tried to be there for them more both at home and at school these past few days, but that also means that our house is a small disaster and my work is falling behind too.

When I went outside for my walk yesterday, I realized it wasn’t only the inside of my house that needed help, but also the outside. As I walked the neighborhood, I saw that our lawn had become so over grown, it was obvious it hadn’t been tended for awhile.

Well I coveted some of our neighbor’s lawns, it also made me realize that just because something is beautiful on the outside, doesn’t mean there aren’t issues on the inside.

Because we are new homeowners, we don’t yet have a lawnmower, so I called my friends at Time Dog and they were able to screen a number of lawn care professionals for me. I’m glad they were the ones doing it, because as it turns out, there were many wrong phone numbers, no answers, straight to voicemail, and people that were not the nicest to deal with. Yet another reminder that just because you ask for help doesn’t mean it’s always that easy!

Finally, at 3:30 yesterday, a kind man and his wife rode in on their trailer to take care of our lawn. I wish I had a before picture, but here is the after picture.

20120908 065654 The difference a day makes

Sure, the shrubs still need some tending, and there are some brown spots from where the grass got scorched from the sun, but as I walk through the neighborhood this morning, it reminded me that we are all given a chance to start anew every day.

Just because something seems overgrown and insurmountable in your life doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. I went to bed early last night because I wasn’t feeling well and when I woke up early this morning, I felt inspired to get back on my routine and start tackling things one at a time.

As I listened to Joyce Meyer on my walk, I was reminded that what God calls us to he will equip us for.

I would offer you this simple encouragement today: don’t give up! I know this life is not easy, but I also know that we are not guaranteed anything past today. So the best we can all do is to get out there and give it our all.

Go ahead, see what a difference a day can make.

His mercies are new every morning.Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

Where in your life can you make a difference today?

pin it button The difference a day makes

Pre-programmed

gps program driving Pre programmed

Photo courtesy of www.sxc.hu

Do you ever feel like you’re pre-programmed?

We have a 2007 minivan that has GPS, but we also have a 2001 Camry that was created way before the invention of navigation systems.

What has that taught me? That you never realize how dependent you are upon technology until that technology is taken away.

Recently our van broke down, and it’s funny because just before that incident, I had thrown out the idea to my husband about selling the van and just living off of the one car for awhile.

Well I guess God wanted me to put my money where my mouth was, because only hours later, our van broke down and we were left to see what it was like to really live with only one car.

Now mind you, back before Britton was born, we were forced to sell our second car because of our financial situation. It was one of those acts that really lead us into getting serious about our finances, and making things work even when it didn’t seem possible. But at the time, I was not working, and my husband only works 2 miles from our home, so if absolutely necessary, I could walk to his work to pick up the car to use for me and the kids.

These days, it seems like everything we do is half an hour away from us: the kids school, Ricky’s work, and even my work that takes me all over the city.

So not only did we find ourselves in a new genre of schedule coordination, but I also felt like I had to relearn how to drive.

Places I had visited dozens of times before, I suddenly didn’t know how to get to because I didn’t have our navigation directing me!

But perhaps the worst realization was that I had learned to depend so heavily on those sensors and rear cameras that are installed in our minivan. You know… the ones that beep as you get closer to things and then seem to scream at you right before you hit something.

Yeah, those.

It’s scary because I noticed that I rarely have to turn around when I drive anymore! I had become so dependent on those beeps and that rear camera that I would just trust the sensors instead of turning around myself.

Truth be told, I had become dependent on said sensors and trusted that they would steer me in the right direction. Literally.

Sometimes, I feel like we view our Christian walk in much of the same way.

We remember that mountaintop experience that brought us closer to Christ in the first place, but then rely on it to feed our daily walk for years following.

Just like driving, if you don’t pay attention, you’ll end up in a wreck. You may think you know the way, but if you don’t pay attention, you won’t be aware of accidents, new construction, road work or detours that may confront you along the way.

Just because you know Christ does not mean our lives will be easy or free from temptation. If you are not continually paying attention and  redirecting yourself back to the original road map (God’s Word), chances are you will end up going in the wrong direction.

pin it button Pre programmed

Easter: the journey between the secular and the spiritual (Tommy Nelson Blog)

kids easter Easter: the journey between the secular and the spiritual (Tommy Nelson Blog)This month over at the Tommy Nelson blog, I wrote about “Easter: the journey between the secular and the spiritual“:

For as long as I can remember, Easter has marked a trepidatious journey between the secular and the spiritual. From comedians to theologians, everyone has questioned the bridge going from Jesus dying on a cross to hiding candy-filled eggs in a basket.

As Christians and as parents, I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on us that comes from a variety of angles this time of year.

We’re expected to somehow teach our children the significance of this holiest of holidays while still dressing up in coordinating outfits for pictures and having a full-blown feast ready to eat right after Sunday church!

If we have trouble making sense of the day ourselves, how then are we supposed to embody the truth for the littlest of ones God has entrusted into our care?

Read the Full Article over at TommyNelson.com….

 

If you do have young children and want some great suggestions for resources that beautifully illustrate the Easter story, might I suggest a family favorite, The Story of Easter: Read & Share or another sweet story, The Parable of the Lily?

What are some of your family’s favorite Easter traditions and stories?

pin it button Easter: the journey between the secular and the spiritual (Tommy Nelson Blog)

Making choices

windshield wipers Making choices

What choices are you making today?

Just like using your windshield wipers ones when it’s raining will not keep the rain off for the rest of your drive, we all need to make choices throughout our day.

I was just talking to my kids about how once they make a decision for Christ, they must renew that hope on a day by day, minute by minute basis.

We must choose joy. We must choose gratitude. We must choose to love God and love each other.

These things do not come naturally to us. But they do to God.

When we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us and fill us with His spirit.

So just like we keep our windshield wipers on doing our entire drive when it’s raining, we must be consciously aware to make little choices throughout our day to drive near to God and love others the way He loves us.

We love because He first loved us ~ 1 John 4:19

pin it button Making choices

Revolution

revolution red flags RevolutionWe are in the midst of a revolution.

To say that 2011 was interesting for our family would be an understatement: we started a new business, struggled with our health, traveled to new places, stretched our finances, and refined our marriage.

While I wouldn’t change any of it (well, maybe a few things), it does make me more reflective for the year ahead.

I know there are things we need to do differently so that we don’t simply survive each day, but instead thrive.

I just read this quote, and not only did it make me stop and think, but it truly sums up how we want to live from this point forward:

Live with thanksgiving, forgiveness and joy, and enjoy all your moments as if they were your last. Someday, soon enough, they will be.” ~Debi Pearl

My father just turned 85 on New Year’s Eve, and I desperately wanted our family to travel to Chicago to spend it with him. While circumstances prevented us from doing so, I realized that we can’t let age determine the urgency with which we should take advantage of life! After all, we never know what tomorrow holds, so why are we wasting today?

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~ Matthew 6:34

So this year we are living without regret. We are embracing each day for what it is and recognizing that while we attempt to get organized and implement more routines, our schedule is not our own. We want to be available to those who need us, intentional in our relationships with God and each other, and purposeful in taking charge of our health, our work and our joy (it is a choice!).

So I want to say thank you in advance for all of you who have walked with me in this journey and for those of you who will continue along the way. I don’t know exactly what lies in store, but I do know that I am grateful for today and the promise of tomorrow.

Who’s ready to join me in a revolution?

 

pin it button Revolution

The Power of One

one man The Power of OneI was reading My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers this morning and was instantly reminded of the Power of One:

It took just one person to separate us from God through sin, yet it also took just one person to redeem us as well! Though Eve ate the forbidden fruit, forever changing the course of history, likewise Jesus erased our sin by His singular (& life-changing) act of dying on the cross.

I recently heard of a  9 year old girl who felt so compelled by the fact that children were growing up around the world without water that instead of asking for birthday presents as she was turning 9, she asked for people to contribute to building wells in Africa. She raised several hundred dollars just at her birthday party alone! Tragically, she was killed in a car crash just a few weeks later….but her legacy lives on. The story of her generosity made its way to the internet and people around the world rallied to carry on her heart for the cause. Today, over a million dollars has been raised – all because of one child’s heart.

If you’re feeling like today is just another day, take heart. You have the power to change the world! Maybe not immediately, but God has given you gifts that, if you live faithfully to those gifts day by day, you can change a life: in your family, in your community, at work, or maybe even online. You may never know the impact you have on another life, but that shouldn’t stop you from living your life in an impactful way!

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned
~ Romans 5:12

pin it button The Power of One

Sit Still

sit still Sit Still
I admit it. I don’t sit still very often.

*Pause for gasps of shock*

In fact, one of the only times I sit still is in church.

It’s so hard for me because I think of everything else I need to be or could be doing once I sit down away from my computer.

But don’t get me wrong; I still pay attention. As a writer, I write to process. So while I may be refining a to-do list, I’m also taking sermon notes.

A couple weeks ago, as I pulled out my planner/notebook, my husband leaned over to me and said, “try to put everything away today”. So dutifully I did. But not only did I have trouble listening to our pastor, but my mind started to wander even more…and yes, I got bitter at my husband for even suggesting such a thing!

I actually found myself listening to the sermon less than if I had allowed my normal brain outflow on to paper.

Think of it this way – in order for me to make more room in my brain to receive new info, I need to pour out some things onto paper. Some of the sweetest times I’ve had with God have been after I’ve gone to a quiet spot (I prefer my closet) with a legal pad and just “emptied my brain” onto the paper. I’ve filled up sheets & sheets in one sitting! I just write whatever comes to mind: items to-do, things I want to make for dinner, people whose face pop in my head, random words, bills I have to pay…you get the idea.

Once I’ve poured everything I’ve been carrying around in my head out on to the paper, I feel like I’m finally able to let God speak to me in the silence (literal & figurative). You see, it does me no good to sit in a quiet place if there’s a lot of noise in my own head.

Everyone experiences God differently: some will go for a walk, some wake up early and pray, some experience God on their commute singing praise songs in the car. God happens to meet me where I am, and more often than not, that comes when I have old-fashioned pen and paper in hand.

Be still and know I am God ~ Psalm 46:10

What does ‘being still’ look like in your life? Where does God meet you most often?

pin it button Sit Still

Time for Change

time change waterfall Time for Change
Is it time for change? Sometimes it’s hard to understand why children act they way they do.  You teach them a principle and repeat it consistently, yet they still tend to ignore what you believe to be in their best interest.  This defiant behavior, which is not always intended to be such, can frustrate a person to no end!

Maybe you haven’t had this experience with children, but you can relate when it comes to a spouse, relative, or a friend.  You expect someone who cares for you to honor a request you make repeatedly, right?  When our demands, I mean requests, are glossed over, we begin to write the person off as not caring.  Instead of turning the other cheek, we reflect the same behavior back, hoping to teach a lesson and earn an apology.

Although this cat & mouse game can get old, it operates day in and day out.  That is until one day when we get a disconcerting phone call revealing one of the following: a death, a serious accident or maybe a faraway move.  Suddenly you would give anything to see that same child who consistently dropped their sippy cup, the spouse who refused to take out the trash, or the friend who never gave you more than ten minutes notice before showing up on your doorstep.

Why do we have to wait for tragedy to strike before we can take proper perspective and realize this life isn’t about us after all?

We believe that if others treated us better, we would in turn be better individuals.  It’s like in high school when I used to believe that if I only had a boyfriend, my life would all of a sudden make sense and I would be a happier person.  In reality, if I had been a happier, more secure person initially, then I would have had a better chance of having a boyfriend!

The key lies in where one derives that security…

Matthew chapter 5 warns us against pointing out the spec in our neighbor’s eye before we deal with the log in our own.  This type of outward focus is simply an indicator of self-centeredness.  Jesus says that in order to follow Him, we must first die to ourselves.  This doesn’t mean living a pitiful, martyr’s life, but instead following His two greatest commandments: to love God and love others.  When your life mission centers around these two principles, you begin seeing people in a new light, as God sees them:
You become less focused on what they think about you and more concerned with how you can help them see themselves through God’s eyes.
You worry less about what they can do for you and more about what you can do for them.

The amazing thing is that through this transformation of heart, you actually become someone people want to serve.  People find themselves wanting to know how to get the same light you have.  They want to hang around you more because of the higher hope you have.

Believe me, I have not perfected any of this (except for maybe the critical attitude!).  It is a simple truth of life God continues to reveal and work on in me.  If we’ve learned nothing else as we reflect on the tragedy of 9/11, let us not take anyone or any day in our life for granted.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed; today is all we have.

Let those you love know how you feel; take steps to reach out to those you haven’t loved on, but know you should.  “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do unto me…”.  We may not be able to change the world today, but we can start the process by changing ourselves. 

pin it button Time for Change

Are you living?

Are you living?

On a trip to Florida last fall, the kids and I went to church with some of our favorite friends. We couldn’t bear to part ways, so we continued on to a bakery afterwards to grab a quick breakfast treat. It was such a beautiful and uncommonly cool day in FL that we decided to extend our fun together and visit a local pumpkin patch. Upon learning of the news, our friends’ oldest daughter exclaimed, “This is the best day of my life!”
IMG 7596 300x225 Are you living?When you have small children, you’re constantly amazed at how delighted they can become over the smallest things. As soon as I heard her comment, I thought to myself, “We should strive to make every day the best day of our life!”

And why not?! If we’re constantly learning and sharing, then it’s not unreasonable to look at each and every day as a gift that can improve upon the day before.

I once heard that there are really only 2 important questions in life:
1. Are you living?
2. Will you live forever?

While the answer to the second can seem fairly straightforward for us as Christians, I would venture to say that the first question may feel a bit vague. I would also go out on a limb to say that many of us are simply existing instead of truly living. We think, “If I can just make it through _____ , I’ll be ok (you fill in the blank…today, this week, this month…I think you get my point.)

The problem is that we’re not guaranteed anything past today!

If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. ~ Romans 148

As a blogger and writer by profession and passion, I often find myself working on my computer late into the night (with two small children, it’s really the only time I can coherently collect my thoughts!) However, fatigue inevitably sets in – even though I usually haven’t accomplished all I had originally set out to do. So, more often than not, I’ll leave my computer on with multiple windows open, fully expecting to return to it the next day. The problem is that my tomorrow doesn’t always allow me to pick up where I’d left off. To me, this is the exact opposite of living well.

As The Music Man so eloquently states:
“If you fill your life up with a lot of tomorrows, you’ll find yourself with a lot of empty yesterdays”

Where are you today? Do you find yourself sitting amidst a lot of unfinished business or living well? If you know where you will live forever, then there should be a noticeable impact on your life today.

pin it button Are you living?