Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Don't Wait Til Its Too Late

Let's get real for a minute.  I have about 5 unfinished posts in drafts that will one day appear or will be deleted, and part of that is because I get thoughts ALL THE TIME!  Little flashes that if I don't write down right away will drift off never to be explored again, well at least not in the original state. So I have notes to myself everywhere.  If I can pick them up when I have time to write and the motivation behind it is still alive within me, then it becomes a post, but if that thought just feels stale when I go to write it, then it goes to my writing cemetery.

Yesterday, I got up and wrote a post, but decided it needed a bit more to be worthy of you, my reader.  So I had every intention of editing it to be read today, but instead, I opened my planner during staff meeting (yes, I still like paper) and noticed a thought I'd scribbled down a few weeks ago that I have yet to explore and decided that would be better to share.

The thought was this:

"By the time you feel thirst, you are already dehydrated."

I had heard this sentence in a video I had to watch before getting into the lottery for a permit for a hike a friend and I wanted to do on our trip this upcoming October (we didn't get the permit by the way - sad day).

The fact is, this is also true for life.  Often by the time we recognize an issue in our life, we are already in trouble.

As I have met with others in their own life messes lately and even sat in my own, I have discovered that too many of us life with our head in the sand when it comes to the obstacles that keep us from living the life we want.   We have to be intentional in understanding who we are, what we need, and where our weaknesses lie, so that we can protect them.

Guess what, the body needs water to survive, even if you aren't climbing a mountain in the desert.  If we fail to give our body what it needs it will shut down.  The same is true for our soul.  If we fail to recognize our emotional needs and push ourselves to the limits, we will break.

We are human.  Say it with me, "I am a human. I have limitations."

Its not okay to ignore reality and act like we are fine when we are not.  That doesn't mean we announce it to the world or introduce ourselves with our downfalls, because we are not defined by our weaknesses and shortcomings, but if we ignore them or hide them we only feed them and allow them to take over.

Asking for help is hard to do and admitting you have messed up or have issues can be humbling, but we all have them.  We need to start with reality and do what we need to thrive so we don't end up emotionally and spiritually dehydrated.

Are you prone to depression? Ignore your tendency to seclude yourself and build in a solid, encouraging community.

Do you overspend and leave yourself financially unstable?  Get rid of credit cards and have someone help you set a budget and hold you accountable to stick with it.

Are you an addict?  Get help from a counselor or treatment center.

Do you get stressed by over scheduling? (This is one of mine) Do less and give yourself the time you need to recover from the day to day.

Maybe this seems over simplified and on some level it might be because these are generalizations and you are an individual, but the truth is, we often get frozen by fears and lack of desire to change, when we need to just move in a positive direction.

Don't wait until you are dehydrated, but if you do, realize, at the state of dehydration, its beyond just drinking water, you may need medical attention.  If you have let an issue go too far, you are beyond the point of self-regulating and you need to involve trusted experts or medical professionals into the process.

Maybe you aren't yet dehydrated but you are on your way and you have to stop and drink some water.  That may just be admitting you are not giving enough attention to an issue in your life and creating a plan to make a change.  Just know you are worth it!  Fight for yourself! I'm here if you need to talk or need direction in where you need to turn, but just know we all have problems and issues and you are not alone.  Let's give our bodies, mind, spirit and emotions what they need to not just survive, but thrive.  Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What Are You For?

Caleb Kaltenbach was supposed to be at a conference I attended in May to lead a couple workshops,  but some issues with his airplane kept him from making it.  His story sounded interesting so I was looking forward to hearing from him.  I wandered the speaker bookstore and decided to get his book.  I started reading it on vacation last month and it truly hasn't disappointed!

While the Christian world debates homosexuality, Caleb comes in with a different perspective.  He grew up with gay parents.  He spent his growing years attending Pride parades and encountered Christians who pedaled in hatred and was taught how horrible Christians really were.  Caleb agreed to attend a Bible Study with the intention of giving hate back to those who hated him and his family.

Instead he encountered Jesus, and discovered the Christians he'd encountered weren't the same as the Jesus the Bible talked about.   When he became a Christian and decided to go into ministry, his coming out experience (in reverse) wasn't met with enthusiasm.  His book, "Messy Grace - How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction" is a wonderful story chalked full of sound advice to the Christian community of 2018.  The first few chapters have more underlined than not, and while I don't think my struggle is loving people that are different than me, I learned a lot from his perspective.

One of the sentences I underlined in Caleb's book was:

"our church should be known for what we are for, not what we're against." (page 2)

While this isn't a new thought, it definitely gave me pause.  Yes, its easier to get up in arms about the way things are done wrong, but jumping to what we are against while easier causes more damage that standing for what we are for.   Caleb further says, "Unfortunately, some Christians have used the Bible as a weapon to bludgeon those who disagree." (page 8)

Do you know what is at the heart of war?  Its not hate - its fear.  Fear is a powerful emotion and it leaves wisdom, kindness and love out in the cold.  Fear makes us do crazy things and many Christians live in a world different than what they believe it should be and they are scared.  I think that have a right to be.  Look at the history of the world.  Jews were killed because they were Jews.  African men and women were sailed around the world and sold as slaves, and even in our country because of one's skin color, men and women were beaten, raped, sold, tortured and murdered.  Christians are scared they are next.  Unfortunately, when we push back in fear out of protection, we often do to others what we don't want done to us.

Learning more about where someone is coming from is always a benefit.  I don't think we are ever going to make progress in shouting from opposite sides of issues as to why the other side is wrong.  This model of behavior (now newly improved on the social media newsfeed) only builds walls - it doesn't provide bridges.  We have to be okay with disagreement as along as its communicated and acted out in respect and love.

Today in my reading of the Bible, I was encouraged that when Peter was called to tell Cornelius about Jesus (Acts 10), and then was confronted by Jewish believers because he ate with a Gentile, that they were excited that God had made a way for all to have a relationship with Jesus (Acts 11).  It was different than what they knew because Jews and Gentiles were distinct and often opposing people groups in the days of the Bible.  God built a bridge and his followers were excited.

The Bible also tells us the world will know we are Christians by our love. (John 13:35) That just isn't the case today.  We are known for what we are against not what we are for.

I am for all people being able to have a relationship with God.  I am for treating others with love and respect.  I am for people finding allowing Jesus to heal their wounds from life.

I am not saying we give up our convictions and do away with rules.  I am saying lead with love.  Share what we are for and meet others you disagree with in a relationship so that you can discuss solutions to problems (like immigration, abortion, gun control...) that take the concerns of both sides into consideration.

The point is when we care more about proving a point and being right we miss the boat.  No one is listening when they feel you don't care.  Stop proving your point and love the person you couldn't imagine loving.  In loving them you will see something you didn't before - them.  It may not change your stand but it may change how you communicate it.  If I am for people and for loving people, I will start there.  What are you for?  My exhortation for you today is to examine your actions, words, social media posts, and ask what is my current behavior communicating?  Do you stand out for what you are for or what you are against?  Are there changes you need to make?  No better day than today to do it!  Let's be "for" together!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Redefining Hero

Life truth: none of us can control what happens to us in life.  The truly inspirational are those who take the trash they are given and make a beautiful treasure.  (I really don't like lemons to lemonade because lemons really aren't that bad, heck my son eats them plain).

I was amazed a few weeks ago as I watched a man who had lost a leg in an accident and decided not to let it get him down.  He began training for America Ninja Warrior and blew everyone away with how far he made it down the course.  That is triumph.

Not every obstacle is physical and sometimes the hardest to navigate are the ones that no one can see.  Let me introduce you to my friend, we will call her Mira.  Mira discovered a little over three years ago that her husband was having an affair and it wasn't his first.  She found her life instantly changing as he announced he was done and didn't even want to try to work it out, despite their children and many years together.  Can we be honest, this happens more than just to my friend, Mira, doesn't it?! Its easy to tell poor Mira to suck it up and move on because this is reality in 2018.

That didn't happen.

Mira allowed God to reveal areas where she wasn't giving her all to her marriage, but also to HIM.  Mira took a look at herself and decided to meet God in the midst of life.  She leaned into God and discovered a new relationship she had yet to encounter.  I can tell you, she is a different person today.

We hear a lot from Christians on their disdain for the unBiblical life of homosexuals in our world, what we don't hear is their distaste for things like having sex outside of marriage, living with a sexual partner you aren't married to, and divorce itself.  All of those are also wrong, according the Bible.  We aren't allowed to pick and choose, we believe it or we don't.  We don't get to say, "Well, this is my struggle, so I will let this slide, but this over here is yours so I get to stone you with your wrong doings."  The Bible isn't a weapon and it doesn't just state right and wrong but how we are to love in the midst of life.  That often gets forgotten, but I digress.

Mira took her calling seriously.  She committed her relationship with her husband to God.  It was amazing as I watched her prayers create and change things that everyone said were impossible.  Now, I'd love to tell you she and her husband are back together loving each other and God, but that isn't the case.

Mira still believes.  She still hopes in God despite circumstances. While so many would say she is foolish - I see the spiritual warrior that has emerged and it humbles me.  She has become my hero.  God gets the final say and just because the world says something is over, doesn't mean it is.  We don't know what will happen and honestly, that isn't the point.  We do know God is in control and he is working and Mira gets to see what he does at each step. 

Talking and praying with her has changed me too.  I see a faith we were all called to live.  I see the beauty she is creating for herself and her kids as she makes room for God at the helm of her life.  Mira sees that the true enemy is Satan and she won't give up on God's best.  She is fighting with spiritual weapons, the ones far too many of us have left on the ground in our feeble attempts to conquer our own lives.

What trash are you holding?  How can you give it to God, lean in to him and allow his love to change you and create beauty?

Exodus 14:14 says, "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." (NIV)

I hope you will see the hero inside of yourselves as you seek God in life and allow him to do his job.  A hero isn't always the one who comes in and saves the day - a hero is also the person who hands life to God and says, "What now?" The hero is the one that takes what life has given them and keeps going, refusing to give in to defeat! Trust me, you are worth more than the junk that keeps you down.  The details are different for us all, but the struggle is the same.  Please fight for yourself.  I'm here and I'm praying, so be the hero you were meant to be!!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Dream With Me

I’m currently working on a book.  I have tons of books that are waiting to come out of me, but its taken me a long time to decide what my first book will be.  I’ve been writing all my life.  The beauty in that, is that my book isn’t comprised of fresh words from my heart and head, but a mixture of old and new.  Much of my book has been written over the course of my life - I now just have to piece it together. 

As I have combed through my earlier work, I have discovered some new truths about myself.  

I’m 39 years old and I still don’t know “what I want to be when I grow up.”  That has always troubled me because I feel like that answer should be an easy one.  I know who I am and how and why I tick so why doesn’t that easily translate to what is ahead?  I grapple with future goals and how I want to leave my mark on the world.

I think its a “D: All of the above” situation and while I have known a few of the answers D comprises, it wasn’t until today that something clicked with that final piece.  

A: I have a lot of talents so narrowing down is a challenge - knew that. 

B: I love things that are outside of the box so finding my workspace isn’t as easily defined - knew that.  

What I didn’t know surprised me.

C: I couldn’t dream of what I wanted to do because my dream was to escape the crazy train life and just be normal.  That isn’t to say I wanted to be like everyone else, I just wanted to be someone who didn’t have to fear daily life.

I was a girl who lived scary circumstances and that reality replaced future dreams of career with future dreams of normalcy. 
When I look at option C, I realize, I’ve already passed that test and attained that goal.  Life isn’t perfect and it isn’t always pretty.  There may not be a literal white picket fence in my front yard, but I live in a nice home, with a husband who loves me and three wonderful kids who share the other rooms of the house.  I have a relationship with an amazing God, am supported by a great community and there is always food on the table (usually enough to share).   I have what I dreamed to one day have.  

So its time for a new dream. Its time to explore the possibilities.  

What about you? What are your dreams?  What's getting in the way of those dreams?  I don’t know if you are old enough to know who Mama Cass is, but I can close my eyes and hear her voice singing, “Dream a little dream of me..”  

Dream (and sing) with me. Be sure to share them with me - I want to hear them!!!