Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Calmly Press Pause

I know there are some of you out there that know how much
I love the word "Selah".

I have been studying and pondering this word for some time now.
The more I read it, the more I love it.

Such a sweet little word.

My Amplified Bible explains it as "pause and calmly think about that".

It is a word that is used a lot in the Psalms.
It seems fitting to pause and think about what has just been read
instead of plowing through.

I have decided to incorporate this word in other parts of my life.
It is a busy life with many ups and downs right now.
I could choose to "power through" but instead I am going to Selah,
pause and calmly think about what just happened or what I am experiencing.

I think the pausing is the easiest part of Selah.
Calmly thinking about it can be a little harder.
Okay, honestly it is the calmly part.
I can pause,
I can think about it.
But calmly is the piece that I must focus on.   

Figuring out how to calmly think about troubled times, crazy times,
anytime is an exercise of faith.

When I think about things without adding some calm to the equation
I can spiral into negative thoughts pretty fast.

But, adding calmness to my thought life
is what helps to bring clarity to the reality of my life.

It also allowes me to ponder things like....
What is God trying to show me here?
Looking at what God has done!
How does this fit into the bigger picture?

I can not think about these things if my mind is racing.

So, I am going to keep working on sprinkling a little Selah through out my day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Touch of Kindness

It is so easy to be kind to someone else when things are going well
When life and relationships are simple and everything is falling into place
Giving kindness is actually a joy to give in these circumstances

But what about when things are not going well?

What then?

When the server at the restaurant forgets to leave the dressing on the side
Or that car salesman that keeps following me when all I want to do is "look"
When someone I love forgets my birthday
Or a friend disappoints

When I feel empty and undone
from all the chaos in my life
and yet
no one seems to notice
due to the fact that they are wrapped up in their own world

 It is times like these when I should be displaying kindness the most

When I choose to be kind over self-focus,
my responses and reactions are so much sweeter

For, although I act like I am the center of the universe
I am not
And since I have that cleared up,
all the stuff that happens around me
should not cause me to react the way I want to react sometimes

Sometimes I don't want to be nice
I would rather stomp my foot,
grumble and make a scene

But, once I am done with that, nothing has changed
I don't feel better and now the other person
is either angry with me,
has totally written me off,
or I have crushed them

I don't know how their day has been
I don't know what their life is like
And they don't know mine either

We all need kindness

I need to give kindness.

Who am I to withhold it?
I sure know that if I am having an off day,
I hope someone will sprinkle a little kindness my way  

Being kind is such a wonderful gift to give to another
Especially when it is undeserved  

Of course, Jesus is our perfect model
The more I hang out with Him by reading the Bible and prayer,
the easier it is to be kind to others

Ephesians 4:32
And be kind to one another,
forgiving each other,
 just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Proverbs 3:3-4
Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
in the sight of God and man. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

"There is no better time to learn"

This past weekend, Wes and I attended a play that my nephew was in.
It was great fun!
The play was called, Willy Wonka Jr.
I think this was because all the parts
were played by children. 
The play reminded me
of all the funny little phrases
that Mr. Willy Wonka would say.

Things like:

"So much time, and so little to do! Wait a minute.
Strike that, reverse it."  

"There are little surprises around every corner,
but nothing dangerous"

"You should never, never doubt what nobody is sure about"

"The suspense is terrible... I hope it will last"
And then there is this one...
Augustus Gloop (which is the part of nephew Adam played), loves chocolate.
When he discovers the chocolate river, he can not hold back.
Although he was warned, he begins to drink from the chocolate river.
Next thing you know,
he falls into the river.
His mother yells, "He can't swim!"
To everyone's dismay, Mr. Willy Wonka says,
" There is no better time to learn."
Although this is a terrifying truth, it is true all the same.
I know, you are probably wondering, "Where is she going with this stuff today?"
So, here is how my brain is processing this little bit of wisdom:
Whether I want it or not,
when I go about doing things I have been told
are not good for me and might harm me,
I better understand that the outcome is a lesson I will never forget.
Not only that, but undoubtedly there will be consequences as well.
Usually, the kind that are long lasting and possibly irreversible.
The thing is, I am not much different than poor little Augustus.
There are things that I get myself into that seem harmless at first.
What could it hurt?
Hmmmm, I feel a Bible story coming on....
Oh yes, Mama Eve. Remember her?  (Genesis 2-4)

My dear friend Tami talked about her last week in Women's Ministry.

Eve was the first in a long line of humans to decide
that what she wanted would not hurt anyone, including herself.
She did not listen to the wisdom of one that had her best interest at heart.
She went with her desire and the rest is history, literally.
Did she learn from her choice?
I think she did.
Unfortunately, it was a hard, heart-breaking lesson.

My friend Tami, pointed out that 
Eve was the first to:
Experience the pain of childbirth
Have a son who was a murderer
Lose a son to murder
Experience a son being banished and cursed  
Bury a child
All of these things were consequences of a choice.
Did she learn from her choice?
Do we learn from ours?
I guess the sad thing is that we humans never change.
We are still trying to figure out how to get what we want,
no matter what.
Is it possible to learn without experiencing the pain, suffering and loss?
So why don't we?

We are a self-centered, self-reliant, self-assertive, selfish people
We need wisdom and a Shepherd
to guide us and keep us from doing stupid, selfish things.
There really is only one way out of any mess I get myself in:
I cry out to God
I confess my sin
I willingly live with the consequences, if He chooses me to do so.
I gratefully live with the grace, if He chooses to shield me from consequences.
I  accept whatever happens due to my choices, knowing that my Shepherd will do whatever is best for me. 
I understand that no matter what, He loves me and will do what it takes to mold me and break my stubborn selfish spirit. 
Thankfully, my guide is very different than Mr. Willy Wonka.

Psalm 37:23-26
The steps of a man are established by the Lord;
And He delights in his way.
When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong;
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.
I have been young, and now I am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Or his descendants begging for bread.
All day long he is gracious and lends;
And his descendants are a blessing.  


Monday, September 3, 2012

In a Cord

Something happens to people in times of pressure and unsettled times.
They either lean in to those that are close to them or
they panic and close down in an attempt to protect themselves.

You can see this played out in marriage.
At first it does not seem to make any difference in the relationship,
but over time a couple either grows apart or
they become closer and closer until they truly are one.
The longer into a marriage a couple is, the more pronounced this becomes.

This is where I am right now.
In the middle of unsettled times. 
For some time now my marriage has been tested.
Would it be able to adapt to this season?
Would it be a time of loneliness and strife?

Every marriage is tested
This is not new

One day your life looks this way
and the next it looks that way
No choice in the matter

For me, it has been amazing
I have never felt closer to my husband.

Honestly, I was afraid that I would get weary of having him around 24/7
and that he would get sick of me as well.

But God has been very good to us.
He has taught us to use this time He has given us well.

We have prayed
We have laughed
We have traveled
We have mused
We have painted
We have read
We have ran together
We have cleaned
We have thrown things away
We have sharpened one another
We have encouraged one another
We have challenged one another 
We have discussed anything and everything

All the time, growing closer to one another and to our Lord

I see this time as a perfect gift from our Heavenly Father

Oh, how I am going to miss this...
And yet, I know we are ready to move on to the next season

I have come to understand this verse more than ever:

"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.
For if either of them falls the one will lift up his companion.
But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.
Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm,
but how can one be warm alone?
And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him.
A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart."
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

I know there are many who are not in a cord with those closest to them.
All I can say is,
It is not God's intention that we live alone, without the one anothers.
We need each other
and it takes hard work to keep the cord intact.
You must fight for it
For the world will try to unravel what God has put together.
I encourage those of you that feel your cord unraveling
to hold tight to God
and hold tight to those that God has given you.

There is hope

I believe God smiles down on us when we are in a cord.

So, cry out
look up
and lean in

I can tell you from experience
those things you think you need to hold on to
are nothing
absolutely nothing.

In the end being in a cord
is what matters.

I am blessed to know this full well.