Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Spiritual Life - Tethered?

Tether in its simplest definition means being connected to something else that restricts movement. When you use a rope to tether a dog to a tree, it keeps the dog in an area around that tree that is restricted by the rope’s distance.

There are many things we are tethered to in life, whether we recognize it or not. Some are pleasant experiences, others are not. I am tethered to Kevin Guy in marriage; I am tethered to Verizon Wireless in my phone plan with a contract. I am tethered to a job, a house, a car, bills, kids and the list goes on. Tether is a connection but a connection that can be restrictive, dependent upon to what you are connected. What are your connections?

If you are tethered to something that adds to your life then the tether really isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it probably keeps you from bad things, but if you are tethered to the wrong thing, it can be an awful, limiting and possibly even dangerous experience. It’s important to know what you are connected to and pay attention to how we get tethered. You may think of tethered in the scope of marriage or employment, but it goes beyond that. When you hang out with people or get into a book series or tv show you are being tethered through their beliefs. What you believe isn’t just seen in what you would say in a conversation with someone, but in how you live your life. If you believe someone is a bad influence you would show that by choosing to stay away from that person.

Our connections with the world around us can limit us in our relationship with God and that can be a dangerous to our spirit. We often don’t realize this reality until it’s too late. We find ourselves believing things that aren’t Biblical and inevitably putting distance between us and God. Take some time to mimic the words of David and ask God to reveal to you where you have strayed and lead you back to him. (Psalm 139:23)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cooking Life - Seriously Easy Dessert!

Today was Memorial Day, and I planned on making a cake for dessert for a family meal.  But it was 97 degrees, my house was hot and we discovered the AC wasn't working right, so that meant the oven was not coming on!  

This meant plan B for a lot of the meal.  I opted to do potato salad instead of baked potatoes and thought I'd try something different and cool for dessert. I ran to the new Walmart market down the street with a few ideas bouncing around and perused the aisles for a plan.  After grabbing several things that made their way back to their shelves I found this.
I then grabbed a can of cherry pie filling, fresh mint and some heavy cream.  I recently found a great recipe for homemade whipping cream on Pinterest from the blog below.  I used powdered sugar (though not a lot) and then added peppermint and almond extract.  It was delicious! http://www.familyfreshcooking.com/2012/03/21/simple-homemade-whipped-cream-recipe-vanilla-chocolate-strawberry/
I filled the cups with cherry filling, topped with whipped cream and...Voila!
I grated some of a chocolate Hershey bar and topped with fresh mint.  They were delicious! And best yet, easy!!!
There was even time for a silly shot...

On a serious note before I sign off, I just want to say, how honored I am by the men and women who've served our country in the military to protect people like me. I'm especially touched by those who gave their very lives!  You are not forgotten!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Spiritual Life - Facing Fear, A Journey

I stood in the Staples Center last October, not for a Laker game, but for the Hillsong Conference. As I stood and worshipped God, the song, "Oceans" ministered to me. It became my heart cry. You see a month earlier, God had started me on a journey to show me where I was and where I needed to be. I have seen through the last 6-9 months that if fear were a cancer, I would have only have minutes to live because I am riddled with fear. Yet despite that reality, I seek to be fear free. I seek to do just what Oceans says,

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wonder, and faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior."
In the fourth grade I remember having a vision from God. I saw a man in my vision with a camping backpack on looking out into a desert and I heard God say, "Carrie, this is you. I will lead you where you have never been before and where you never thought you could go." What I have learned since then is that word wasn't for me then, but was something for my future. God often gives us a word as a hope to hold on to in the journey. We can get discouraged thinking he's forgotten, but he hasn't. So when I sang this song, that vision came back to me and I felt like now was the time. Now was the time to venture out in faith. To seek God in new ways in my life. The obstacle in my way, was and is fear.

I know I am not alone.

Paul walked on water out to Jesus seeking Him, but getting distracted by fear. (Matthew 14)

Elijah came against 450 prophets of Baal (I Kings 18) and killed everyone. He saw fire come from heaven and was empowered by the strength of the Lord, then Jezebel threatened him and he fled. He was distracted by fear.

I have been brought back from the dead, healed from a vegetative state, healed of a rare blood disease, been protected during abusive situations, stood up against the enemy for countless people and seen victory and yet, I get distracted by fear.

Since September 2013 God has been revealing the degree to which I fear. It has astounded me. I really never saw it before at the magnitude that it stands in my life. I have seen how I love my life walking through a minefield of fear. Its debilitating! So I am seeking out to walk in faith and turn from fear. My first step has been recognizing my fear responses so I can replace those with faith responses. Its a glacial speed but I am still hopeful that I will be someone full of faith and rid of fear. Yet, I love the journey. One of my greatest fear facing challenges was seeing that God is like Amazon. I've discovered how crucial praising God is in this journey and the power of our words.

Recently, another area of fear was brought to my attention. Kevin Leman in his book, "Have A New Kid by Friday" discusses how procrastination is a symptom of, you guessed it, fear. He goes on to explain how children of perfectionistic parents often procrastinate as a method to avoid criticism and that the procrastination sets them up for failure and keeps them from moving forward in their lives. It was an eye opening read. As I read it I saw how I don't go for things out of fear. I become like a deer in headlights. I put off and put off, instead of facing it head on.

Maybe you can relate to my journey. I share my soul, not to get advice or as a cry for help, but in the hopes that those of you out there that share in my fear will see it for what it is, give your fears to God and seek to live a life of faith. Often in the journey of life we can get so good at masking our issues and fears that we can begin to feel isolated. We see beyond our mask but only see the mask of others and think, "Its just me struggling with this." But the truth is, we all have struggles and fears and in accepting it and running to God's truths we can find freedom. May you find the freedom from fear in your own life and see what a faith walk can really be like!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Reflective Life - Leaving a Legacy

The passenger driver side window of my car is covered in fingerprints from, you guessed it, my three year old boy. He knows how to make an impression in so many ways and in this case its using his fingers to mark up my windows. It got me thinking about the marks we leave in life. We all leave our own fingerprints on the lives of the people around us and on the world we live in. The thing is we don't get to chose if we leave a mark, just the type of mark we leave. I don't know about you, but when I think about the word legacy, it brings with it a positive connotation, but that isn't true always true. A legacy by definition is "anything handed down from the past..." which means that a legacy includes the negative stuff too.

I was watching a preview for a show about World War 2 and I just pondered the thought, "Hitler left a legacy." Honestly, I would rather leave little positive legacy than the bombshell negative legacy that someone like Hitler left. When you think about the domino affect of Hitler's choices on the world as a whole its a scary image. A few years ago, I watched a video of the Germans who walked through a death camp at the end of World War 2. They were in horror of what had happened there. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well this video made the word count rival that of the number of stars in our universe. The Germans did not have a picture of what Hitler was doing to the Jews and those with special needs (and the list goes on) until it was over and they saw the aftermath.

Our actions have weight. How we interact with our own lives matters. I recently heard Francis Chan in a video entitled, "Rethinking Church" compare people in church as one goes to the movies verses going to the gym. One is an onlooker being entertained and the other a participant interacting in her environment. As I have delved into this thought, it occurred to me that this comparison also works for life in general. How many of us live our lives in a passive manner, just dealing with whatever crosses our path? We live as if we are in a movie theatre taking whatever the screen of live throws at us or being a victim being crushed under the daily assault of bad deals, put downs and devaluing interactions. What if we took more ownership of our lives, what if we looked at our life as a gym, building ourselves up, starting where we are? Our legacy isn't about being some great person, its about taking what we have and building on it. To do so we have to start where we are. Often we are too scared to take a deep look in our lives to even see where we stand and therefore don't have the tools to move forward.

Hitler wasn't a bad person because he was born evil. Hitler was a person that faced the hardship of life and allowed it to mold him into a man capable of massacre and cruelty. Had he instead taken control of his life and chosen to be better himself, he may have left a better legacy just as impactful but for the good of humanity. So what will your legacy be? Will you live your life in a passive manner or take control of what you can, face the reality of where you are and seek to be someone that can leave a fingerprint that will help bring healing into the world? The choice is yours. I choose to leave a legacy of healing and love.