Monday, March 31, 2008

Off With The Old On With The New


How many times have you heard that phrase? Hundreds of times probably. Well maybe that is an exageration...but a lot I bet. And I know you know what it means. I have been mulling it over ever since my pastor was talking about it in the sermon yesterday. I want to be a new person. I want to be like Christ. And yet I see myself doing the same things every day - these things actually undermine my efforts to be more like Christ.


I have a problem though. I have a tendency to get pumped up about things....go full force and burn out because I am overwhelmed and not seeing change fast enough. Then I give up. So I figure that plan doesn't work...it's time to try something new. More in the line of little at a time so I can go the distance. After all...I believe it was my cross-country coach that told me I was built for endurance, not for speed. And that was when I was 16. After three kids - well...you know it's true. That makes me laugh though...oh to have that 16 year old body again! Of course I am talking spiritually more than anything - though it certainly has physical connotations as well - and anyway - I digress...though not really - it all kind of ties in together as you will see.


I believe the most valuable and important thing I can do for myself spiritually is get up and read the Word and pray first thing every morning. I am a morning person and this is important to me - and I have always felt whatever you do the first 10 minutes after you get out of the bed pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the day. But I do not always live that way. I am certainly not saying this is the way it has to be for everyone - but I do believe that for me, it is important. It provides a foundation and gives me a good foundation for my day.


So how does this apply with taking off the old and putting on the new? Well, there will be no more of this getting up and getting on the computer first thing. No more piddling around coddling myself with what I think I deserve. I prove over and over again that I am an idol to myself. Self worship is an everyday part of my life...this is also probably the basis of some of my other problems as well. I have asked God to help me be aware of when I am in the midst of self worship.


Physically the best thing I can do for myself is drink my water, back off on the soft drinks and eat better. Make better choices. But I do believe that one thing at a time is better. So I choose to get in the habit of drinking my water. I think I also want to eat before 6:00 or not at all. This will take preparation and may pose a bit of a problem since my husband does not get home until 6:00 most nights. But there are ways I can get around that. I can sit at the table and talk with them while drinking water. And getting to bed on time. 10:oopm should be the latest I get up if I am going to get up at 5:30am. But herein is a example of my overzealous tendencies. I probably should just work on the water and the bedtime for at least three weeks - then add another good habit while continuing with the drinking water and bedtime.


But mainly my desire is to change the way I think about myself. I do believe that I see myself as a victim most of the time. This is a mentality that much of America believes is true. And I REALLY hate that mentality and yet here I am living it. I think I deserve to give in to my desires because it is hard being a Mom to three boys. I think I deserve to sit and watch whatever TV program I want to watch because my life is unbelievably busy and beyond my control at times. These things in and of themselves are not bad. My problem is - I take a little and I run with it. This must change. I need to have guidelines for myself and stick to them.


My first victory came when in the middle of writing this I wanted something to eat. I kept thinking about the Doritos I put in the kids lunch boxes. I also am not feeling well, I think I have Brochitus and when I am feeling poorly I am especially susceptible to letting myself off the hook...not just on one thing...but on everything. I use it as an excuse. I took a trip to the kitchen to get some - but I remembered what I was writing about. I went and got 10 almonds instead. The guideline I followed? Doritos are a big no-no. I really can't eat just one. I do better to abstain. I know - not quite the yum factor of the Doritos but much better for me and I am satisfied now. So I consider that a victory.


This will be a process but the scripture I keep thinking of is when Paul talked about buffeting his body for the sake of the race.


ICorinthians 9:

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.


Now granted he is talking about living out what he has preached to those around him. His desire is to serve others and to win them to Christ. But he is also talking about self-denial in order to become more Christ-like. His desire is to be held accountable and to live by the rules he made so that he would not fail in his ministry to others. I see this and identify well with it. It is my desire as well.


Self-control is a precious thing. And one I do not exercise. I desire to change that - for the sake of being Christ-like and not being an idol to me. That is what I want to see changed more than anything and I lay it before you so that you can help me do it. I have laid down my desire - I pray that I will be reminded of this when I am tempted to give in when I feel bad, or feel sorry for myself so that I will not fall into the same victim mentality because after all....


2 Timothy 1:7

7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

I can do this...one moment at a time, one bad habit at a time...
Off with the old and on with the new...
You know I am going to have to read this everyday so I will remember until it gets to be a habit.











Monday, March 24, 2008

Manic Mode


That is where I am right now...I am praying for guidance in what I take on right now. I feel SO good when I am here I am willing to take on anything. That is not so good. So I am in the midst of looking at what I have to do, and what I want to do and what I have been asked to do - which can fall into either of the previous two categories. I am practising the word "No" and asking God to give me courage of conviction to follow where I am led.


And I am praying that I will not allow my false sense of guilt over the house not being where I want it to be keep me from what is more important. I let that happen a lot and waste a LOT of opportunities to serve in places that will see a better return for God's Kingdom. Also that I will control my desire to write down everything I think. I think I do a lot of time wasting with that as well...though I will say it does help me focus and that is not a bad thing! But I think I need to learn to trust that God will bring it to mind when I need it...I am just so concerned I will forget and have to learn it all over again....but that is probably going to happen anyway isn't it?


Forward and Onward...

Blessings in all you do!


Where is that Happy Medium?


As I was sitting in the car pool line (in my pajamas) nestled snugly between a Tahoe and an Odyssey, I was thinking. I have become quite proud of my little Mercury Sable Stationwagon for many WRONG reasons. Of course it has great gas mileage. It was inexpensive and it holds all three of my boys...closely, but it holds them. It is a good car and it has been a blessing.



There was a time I hated it. I was not happy that Andy would not let me get an Odyssey or a Sienna. We did not need them he said. Well, of course that was when we just had two babies...we then, AFTER we got the stationwagon, became pregnant with another. Yes, it is tight but all in all it works just fine. It has taught me many lessons. That is what I am going to share.



I, being me, pined for a bigger car, and complained. But one day - apparently an idea came to me, "You can use this", I must have subconsciously thought, "to your advantage". So I started priding myself in my lowly stationwagon. "We are not in the mainstream, we have godly common sense and do not just go with the flow because everyone else does. We can be pleased we are not keeping up with the Joneses so to speak." Nauseating isn't it?



So I went from wanting to be like others and have a van (more because I really didn't want a stationwagon...too old fashioned I thought and there is a "look" I wanted to have and it wasn't the Griswold Stationwagon look) to using it to lift myself up and make me feel better about our very common sensical choice. And common sense is a good thing. It is a blessing and a joy to have it and to use it. But that is not good enough...I take my lack of self-esteem and run to the opposite extreme of pride. Where is the happy medium? I think it is important...being balanced and seeing ourselves for what we are and trying to guard against pride while remembering how very blessed we are. That is priceless. And a commodity to seek after, I am pretty sure.



Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.



Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.



Proverbs 21:24 The proud and arrogant man-"Mocker" is his name; he behaves with overweening pride.



Proverbs 29:23 A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor



Ecclesiastes 7:8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.



And in looking up what scripture had to say about guarding against pride - in any form...Isaiah 2 came up and the exact same thing is said two times...so you know it must be important...



11 The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.

it says it again in verse 17.

If we don't figure it out now...one day we will!
That chapter I am going back to...think it is worth camping out there for a few days and delving into it more thoroughly!



I am a simple person - as a whole. I am not brilliant, I am not one that has amazing revelations. Most of what I come up with is what most people already know and are practising. I find myself staring hard at people's mouths at times just so I can understand what they are saying -(may have adult ADD - feels that way sometimes!) but - what I do know is that our energy should be spent in glorifying our Heavenly Father and encouraging others to do the same. We do well to guard against our sinful hearts and the pride it wants to display. And that means pride in our exalted status, whether money, talent or title plays into that or our lowly status that causes us to want to shun the things of this world - which in turn causes us to be prideful in our so called false "godliness". And that is a danger as well...all prideful people are not rich in the physical things...sometimes they pride themselves in knowledge, in servitude, in being humble (sounds like a oxymoron - but it can be done - trust me). What it comes down to is that if we are not putting God first in all we say or do...if we are managing to lift ourselves, or our children up instead of God, we are in the midst of idol worship and we are failing miserably.



The good news is...God knows this. He is not surprised....nor should we be. But guard against it by being in Scripture, prayer and confessing it to our friends for accountability. Each little step we take to make sure that we are indeed putting God first in all we say or do is simply causing us to be more like him. And that is something I want more than anything.

Well, I'll be....(an epiphany - of sorts)


(okay I know we WISH we had servant girls - but
we can plan the day for ourselves anyway, right?)


I confessed to a friend at Church yesterday that I am more willing to get up and work out at 5:30am than I am to open my Bible. My embarrassing reasoning is, that if I don't go ahead and do it first thing - I won't do it at all - because of interuptions and such. Wow...what was I thinking? I need to get up and read my Bible. No wonder I am confused all the time. No wonder I cannot find the strength to do what I need to. My reasoning is so backward sometimes! So this morning, I went to this daily devotional site I like to go to and read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 -

7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

This is great news. I told my Bible Study last week that I did not like me. I felt I was flaky and I talk too much...all of these things - they are impossible to change. And I sometimes feel that I was picked last to be on the Lord's team...you know the one that is standing there that nobody wanted but had to take? I know...that is feeling sorry for myself - yet another wonderful trait of mine...thankfully that one I can do something about. But anyway - the above verse - as soon as I read it shot this comforting balm through my soul. My goofy personality - it was given to me by God. Now whether this is a thorn like Paul's I have no idea. All I know is that it keeps me reliant on God. And that...is a good thing. That is a blessing and a praise that I can know that God is using this quirk of mine to keep me close to him. And in understanding that - I no longer feel like the last one picked - but one bestowed with amazing gifts to serve the Lord.

Amazing how we take things and turn them into what is bad sometimes isn't it? Though - honestly, sometimes I still wish I was a different person...but then who's to say I would like that person any better? I guess deep down each of us know our own flaws and failures and wish that we could be more like someone else we hold in high regard. That is our fallen, human nature.

I am thankful that God loves me - I am memorizing this passage. Hopefully I will remember it when I am busy kicking myself because of something I dislike about myself. I do have to remind myself that I am a well-loved daughter of Christ and that I am a trophy that God is proud of - I hear my pastor say this - and am amazed. How can I be?


I pray that one day I will no longer be surprised by that - but know it and share that wonderful realization with others as well.... so that they too will know that God loves them in that special way.

This is the devotional site I love to go to:
http://proverbs31devotions.blogspot.com/
It was incredibly encouraging this morning!

God bless your day!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Clarity



I dropped into a hole. Nothing was different. Nothing bad had happened. Everything was just the same. And yet I could not sleep and there was this constant buzz in my head that everything was about to fall in on me. The world was never going to be the same, we were not going to be able to succeed as we needed. There were few options open and the ones that were open were going to cause more problems and I could not bear to look there. So, I floundered. I managed to put one foot in front of the other and even to get more done than I thought was possible. I got myself down to Mobile and I rested. I still did not sleep well...but apparently I have become more use to living with little sleep. There doesn't really seem to be a difference. But I do manage to put on a pretty good mask and hide the clawing feeling inside that nothing is right...nothing can be right. I smile and laugh and skim the top of what worries me.




So I think I seem normal...though normal - well, I don't even know what that means anymore. I want normal...but it seems to be a distant memory. Funny thing is - I always expect it is right around the corner and yet it never materializes. My throat hurts from unshed tears...but I am so tired of crying. So it is best to write about it. Hoping that someone somewhere will read it and understand what I am talking about. And maybe just maybe they will find clarity as well.




Clarity. It is something I have longed for. Clear and concise thinking, not befuddled and confused. Sorting out the reasons for the fuzzy thought process has been fairly simple - on the surface anyway. It seems to me there are reasons for it. Could be chemical - depression, could be physical - diet, could be spiritual - sin. Though those three things look me dead in the eye...sorting through them is not so easy...because I am always a sinner. And blaming myself is easy. I know how I struggle. I can't imagine anyone who has a harder time overcoming their pet sins than myself. Though I know that is not true. I hear others talking about their struggles and theirs are just as difficult..maybe more so. The chemical - well...I am still going to find out about that. I have seen the Dr. and will see another soon. This should hopefully - cancel out that possibility. And then there is the physical - eating. Well....this one is next to impossible. I can't seem to discipline myself to do the diet. But I am not excusing this. I will keep on trying.




But what wonderful insight comes in the midst of all this confusion. There are glimpses of crystal clear understanding in the middle of it all. Almost as if I am seeing through the eye of a storm the sky on a cold, dark night...the stars seem close and are breathtaking. Clarity. Clear concise thinking. A view that is unimpeded and makes walking forward easy. I get these. Every once in a while. And they are like wind in my sails. They push me forward and cause me to write constantly for fear of forgetting what I remembered in those fog free moments.




God loves me. He gave His son for me. I am his child and he wants me to succeed. He wants me to be holy and happy - it was how he created us before sin ever came into the world. The tools he has given me are The Word, and His Spirit, prayer and the Body of Christ.




1John 1:


5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.




I take on that posture of repentance...again. I cry out to God and I am raised up and filled with love...




Colossians 2:


6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. 9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.




So that I am able to move forward. It is a blessing. I am sure I would be consumed with my problem - whatever it is - if I did not have these moments. I am thankful.




There is a possibility that what I knew as normal never will be again. So that in the hoping for it I am actually causing myself additional stress. Maybe in knowing that this newer struggle for pure thought is normal now, I can somehow make it to the next hole in the clouds and be satisfied.




But I am thinking I would love to have that clarity in a pill. I am not that faithful I am afraid. But with God's help maybe I will be. What I do know is that by laying it all out, by seeking God in Scripture and through prayer...and with accountability of dear friends, I will succeed. And one of my favorite phrases is one moment at a time. That apparently, I can do.



Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I Love Jane Eyre


I am reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - again...probably for at least the 5th time...maybe more. It is one of those books I seem to get new insight and enjoy reading EVERY time I pick it up. It has been probably 10 years since the last time I picked it up though. And I am amazed by all the new things I see and the new perspective I have on this well loved book.

I love Jane. I love her plainess and her spirit. I love her discipline and her passion. I think she is an amazing heroine. But I find that though I identify well with Jane in many areas - I am drawn to Helen Burns and am heartsore at her passing from Jane's life so soon after their found comfort and friendship in one another.

I hear myself in Jane as she is pouring her heart out to Helen after an injustice was done to her publicly. And I love Helen's response to vehement Jane.

"Well, Helen?" said I, putting my hand into hers: she chafed myfingers gently to warm them, and went on -"If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends."

"No; I know I should think well of myself; but that is not enough: if others don't love me I would rather die than live--I cannot bear to be solitary and hated, Helen. Look here; to gain some real affection from you, or Miss Temple, or any other whom I truly love, I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to let a bull toss me, or to stand behind a kicking horse, and let it dash its hoof at my chest--"

"Hush, Jane! you think too much of the love of human beings; you are too impulsive, too vehement; the Sovereign hand that created your frame, and put life into it, has provided you with other resources than your feeble self, or than creatures feeble as you. Besides this earth, and besides the race of men, there is an invisible world and a kingdom of spirits: that world is round us, for it is everywhere; and those spirits watch us, for they are commissioned to guard us; and if we were dying in pain and shame, if scorn smote us on all sides, and hatred crushed us, angels see our tortures, recognise our innocence (if innocent we be: as I know you are of this charge which Mr. Brocklehurst has weakly and pompously repeatedat second-hand from Mrs. Reed; for I read a sincere nature in your ardent eyes and on your clear front), and God waits only the separation of spirit from flesh to crown us with a full reward.Why, then, should we ever sink overwhelmed with distress, when life is so soon over, and death is so certain an entrance to happiness--to glory?"

Wow...exactly Helen Burns. This is being Heavenly minded. And I see myself in Jane's passionate response and in her desire to have true friendship and love being willing to do anything. Jane learned wonderful, eternal things from her sweet friend Helen.

I pray that I too will transfer my love of self (for the desire for others to love me and approve of me is simply an expression of self love) to love of God and realizing that everything I do and say should be an effort toward building His Kingdom and glorifying him.

I am almost finished with this wonderful book. I am sure I will have more to say on it. I wish I could read more! I do love reading these kind of books so much!

I pray that God gives us all minds that are focused on Heaven and how our efforts here on Earth can build the Kingdom of God.