Waving The White Flag

Whale Watching 2010 540

“…and therefore I have hope…” Lam 3:21

Have you ever woken up to a day where you really didn’t want to get out of bed?  This is me today.  I woke up and all I could picture was someone on a battle ground frantically waving a white flag so that their enemy could see that they had given up, their last reserve had been exhausted and the only thing left for them to do was to wave the white flag and hope for some form of mercy.

So here I am waving my white flag and saying that I “feel” like I’ve had enough and want to give up.  However in my heart of hearts I know this is not an option that I can take. Psalms 55:22 tells me to give my burdens (cares, concerns, needs) to the Lord, and he will take care of me.  Mat 11:28 says for me to come to Jesus and give him my burdens and he will give me rest.  Psalms 121:2 reminds me that my help comes from the Lord.

OK this is all well and good but it doesn’t take away the fact that I “feel” like I want to crawl in a hole and not come out again.  That what I have on my plate today is too much for me to bear.  And there you have it…what is on my heart today is indeed too much for ME to bear.  On my own I certainly will continue to think and feel this way.  However what I need to do…no, what I MUST choose to do is to give my concerns to Jesus.  I need to trust that God will provide what I need to get through this day.  I must not hold onto my worries.  I must release them to the only One who can give me the rest from my thoughts today and that is Jesus.

Does this mean that I am going to feel instantaneously happy.  Let me check….nope…my spirit is still troubled.  But I am believing that as this day progresses and as I continue to lay my concerns at Jesus’ feet then I will be able to handle what ever this day brings.

Have you ever read Lamentations 3?  Man this guy had a lot on his plate and still he was able to pen Lam 3:21-23 “Yet, this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.  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.”  In Exodus 16 we are told the story of when God provided food the Israelites needed each and every day of their 40 years of wandering in the desert.  Everyone had exactly what they needed for that day, no more and no less, and then in the morning God provided for them again.

Here’s the thing…God gives each of us what we need every morning.  What this is telling us is that we are given what we need to get through each and every day.  This means that I don’t really have to be worrying about what tomorrow brings because God will provide for me everything I need again tomorrow morning and the next day and the next day. What I have to do is trust that what God has already given me for today will get me through today.

This is not the first time that God has had to get my attention in regards to trusting Him with my burdens…nor unfortunately will it be the last.  I am only thankful that He used my love for writing as a vehicle to capture my attention and get me to this place at this moment where I can say…This is the day that the Lord has made and I will [choose] to be glad in it.

Here’s to choosing hope [with expectation] that God’s compassions never fail.

 

A case of The Should’s With a Touch of The If Only

A case of "The Should's and If Only" is like telling yourself that you should have scaled the wall of the Hoover Dam.

A case of “The Should’s and If Only” is like telling yourself that you should have scaled the wall of the Hoover Dam.

Recently I went out to coffee with a friend who called me out once again about living in the world of “should’s”. Anyone out there with me in this? How about those of you who look back on certain life situations and say “if only”?  Well my friend, I hate to break it to you but you have the same “illness” that I have.  You have the Should’s with a touch of the If Only.

What does it mean for us who have this way of thinking?  Well for me it means that I struggle with bouts of self-doubt and guilt from time to time.  It especially rears its ugly head when I’m confronted with issues that my children go through or when I’m being particularly hard on myself.  It is in times like these that I say either out loud to another person or silently to myself, “If only I had seen that coming.”; “If only I was more available to my children.”; “If only I prayed more with them.”; “If only….If only….”. Then when the should’s hit it’s, “I should have tried to stop that from happening.”; “I should have said something, then that wouldn’t have happened.”; “I should have listened then I could have saved them from that… .”  Man, I’m exhausted already and I’m just writing down general thoughts.

Don’t think that this “illness” applies to you?  That is great. However before you dismiss this do a little test and pay attention to how many times you think similar thoughts to these and how many times when you are talking to someone you use the phrase, “You should….”.  Then take another look at yourself.  I’m thinking that more people have this “illness” than not. Perhaps I’m just hoping that I’m not the only one out there, but I’m taking a guess that I’m not alone. 🙂

OK then, you say, I have this way of thinking in grained in my head.  So what’s the big deal? Well, again I can speak for myself.  I have spent so many hours that I’m sure it equals up to years of wasted time in my life worrying and fretting over situations and choices that I have made and that other’s have made that I could never fix or have any control over.  Here’s the deal.  All my worrying and feeling guilty was a false sense of the belief that I am or was wholly responsible for the outcome to someone else’s choices. Note that I said wholly responsible.  I’m not at the place yet that I can’t take on or “own” what is mine to take on.  But here’s the thing…it wasn’t or isn’t wholly my doing.  In fact there is something called free will out there.  Ever heard of it?  Where we all have the ability to choose?  Believe it or not even our children have it.  AND they make choices in life according to this free will.  These choices that they make are THEIR choices. (I’m referring to children who are old enough to responsibly make life choices).  

My mother would tell me that hindsight is 20/20.  How true!  I look back and think, “If only I could have done this and this again I would have done it differently.”  Really!  If I were to go back in time I wouldn’t have the wisdom and knowledge that I have today.  I would still have the same understanding at that time and consequently would likely repeat the situation the same way and make the same decisions.  Then when it comes to the should’s, “I say to myself I should have tried…”.  But here’s the thing.  I’m assuming that I have power that I don’t possess.  Really, how many times is the word “I” used in these self depreciating statements?  Do I really think that I have the kind of power that would change someone else’s free will to make their own decisions?  I cannot control the outcomes for other people.  I can’t save them from mistakes that they made or are going to make.  This is not my place or my role.  Only God has the ability to change people’s hearts and save them from life choices that are not what He intended for them to make.  He still doesn’t stop us from making these choices, hence free will.  However He is the one who can help us through the consequences of the negative circumstances that arise out of some of the choices that we make.

So what am I doing when I worry and fret over things that I have done or not done.  I in essence am not trusting that God has my back.  Or that He will guide and protect my children.  Or that just as He has saved me numerous times over the course of my life, He will save others the same way.  I am thinking that I am more in control of situations than God is and frankly that is definitely NOT the case.

What this means is that I have a false sense of responsibility.  I am believing that I have power that I don’t possess. (Nor, if truth be told would I want to posses).  I still have remnants of thoughts that my worth is tied up in what other’s think of me instead of what God thinks of me.  Phew…I’m exhausted!  But this time my exhaustion is not one that is going to tear me down but instead lift me up.  I have a bit of pep in my step and today I am going to once again choose to trust God.

How about you?  Are you ready to get rid of your case of The Should’s with a touch of the If Only?

Here’s to choosing to trust God.

 

 

Good To Go…

Sometimes we think we are good to go when in fact we aren't.  We need to rest a bit before we take the jump.

Sometimes we think we are good to go when in fact we aren’t. We need to rest a bit before we take the jump.

Around this time last year (it’s now April) I felt that God was trying to get my attention.  But of course I ignored Him as I find that I often do when I’m in “Lindy Mode”.  This mode is when I am going full steam ahead, believing that I am consulting with God (notice I used the word “consulting” and not “asking”).  This about sums up how I go about doing life when in “Lindy Mode”.  I find that I think that I have “asked” God for direction when in actual fact I’m “consulting” with Him.  Which really means that I already have a plan in place and I’m ready to forge on full steam ahead. God was trying to get my attention while I was in the midst of attempting to get all my ducks in a row for the coming September.  I was getting into the grove of beginning to plan what Bible Study that I felt “He” was directing me to teach for next year, consulting with my fellow teachers and taking a weekend Seminar on how to teach the bible put on by Simeon Trust. (It was a great seminar and I was really enjoying it.)  I felt that I was networking and learning all that God wanted me to learn and that I was meeting the people who God wanted me to meet.  I had just signed up to join a research group that I added to my load of teaching three bible studies (I signed up because my studies were almost coming to an end and I would then have more time to really get into this research project).  Phew, let’s take a bit of a breather here.  Family time?  Well that just of…sort of….well…I had a duck for that.  And let me tell you I didn’t take it too well when the family “duck” got out of line.  In fact a fair amount of juggling and reshuffling had to take place when this happened!

So I was good to go…however what was really happening was that God knew that I really wasn’t good to go but I had yet to realize this fact.  As the days and weeks flew into May I found that all my ducks were not nicely sitting in the row that I would place them in.  I found that God’s still small voice was getting louder and quite frankly a bit annoying because it was interfering with my voice trying to order my ducks to line up again.  All this commotion that was going on inside my head finally came to a boiling point where I literally ran out of gas.  I fell, deflated, ran out of steam, felt that the world was against me and that there was something definitely wrong.  But I still kept trying to organize my ducks until finally I began to listen to God’s voice and He was telling me that I wouldn’t be teaching Bible study in September.  In fact that I wouldn’t be part of women’s ministry at all in September.

Well whatever reserve that I had crumbled and I lost my identity.  Yep, I said it I lost my identity.  Notice where my identity was…it was in what I was “doing” for God…not who I was in Him.  I fell apart literally and figuratively.  I had a huge pity party and sat up in my office crying because I was not going to be of any use to God.  But here’s the reality of where I was (and consequently where I’m still at but we’ll get to this).  I physically and mentally had nothing left.  I really fell apart.  It was actually quite scary to not have any reserve left in the tank.  I was not only on empty…the fumes that I would rely on in the past when things got tough were long since gone.  I found that the only way that I could cope with things in life that came up was to ignore them.  I pulled away into that quite place deep in my mind that was a “safe place” to reside. The only thing is that when you are a wife, mother, mother to an adult child with a developmental disability and grandmother, people keep pulling you out of that quiet safe place.  I found that I really didn’t have the luxury to hide away.  I needed to be present in whatever form that was.  I needed to begin to admit that I didn’t have everything in control.  I had to begin to tell people that I needed help. Ouch! and Yeck! (Can we say that I have a bit of a pride issue here?)  I had to be OK that God was giving me the opportunity to really have a look at myself and my family.  I really needed to get things in place for Christie and I needed to start looking after me.  I wrote about Christie’s moving out in, “Last One To Leave”.  This current blog tells a bit about what was going on behind the scenes in regards to why I needed to get things moving to help her with this next part in her life.

I was embarrassed and frustrated that I seemed to not be able to hold it all together and would cry at the drop of a hat or get that pain in my chest which was a forewarning that I was getting anxious about a certain situation.  I know that my husband didn’t know what to do with me and quite frankly I didn’t know what to do with myself.  Remember in one of my blogs I think that I alluded to the fact that I’ve reached a “certain age” in my life and let me tell you this is something that I read about and talked about with my friends but didn’t really think that it was going to jump up and bite me in my rear end so fast and so unexpectedly. Yes looking back I had signs that I should have slowed down or paid attention to but when I’m in “Lindy Mode” I don’t stop to think…I just do…

God is so good.  Really I don’t think we actually know how good He actually is.  He has been so loving and patient with me.  He talks, I don’t listen. He loves, I take it for granted. He talks again, I still don’t listen.  I begin to fall apart and He catches me when I fall.  He never once says to me, I told you so…instead He says to me…my child I love you so!

I find that God sends people my way just when I need them.  He gives me words of encouragement that I don’t even know that I need until sometimes long after the words had been spoken.  I get frustrated with my self, my imperfection and He loves be because of my imperfection.  I’m mad that I don’t have the strength that I used to have…He waits for me to realize that the strength that I need comes from Him…only Him.

When this happened to me last year I came (slowly) to the realization that I still had a theology, a belief that I needed to prove my worth to God.  That I show this by what I can do for Him.  It hit me like a ton of bricks when He revealed this to me.  I was floored by the fact that I still had this kind of thinking.  I mean I know in my head that I can never in my own right prove my worth to Him.  In fact that is not what it is about.  He freely gave his son to die for me so that I could be worthy in His sight.  It is by and through the sacrifice that Jesus did for me that I am worthy.  I know this…I know this…but I guess it was still head knowledge for me and my heart had not caught up yet.  I don’t have to prove my worth to God.  I can never do this.  He created me to love Him.  That is all I need to do…love Him.

Why am I still struggling with this??? Fast forward to current time and I am coming into it being a year that I have been in this state.  I had a rough time of it last week.  I think that I have still been in “Lindy Mode” thinking that by now I would be able to pick things back up and start again.  I’m so frustrated with myself.  I want to get back to ordering my ducks around again…only I find that I still am not in a place that I can do this.  I found that I was back to worrying about what worth am I to God in my current state.  How can I be effective to Him as I am?  The skills and talents that God has given me are not being used. (These are all thoughts that had been raging through my head).  I was reminded again by friends that it is not by what I do that makes me worthy.  Really!  Really! I’m still believing in this false theology??? I’m also slowly…and I mean slowly…beginning to realize that for me I may be in for the long haul in regards to what happens to women of a “certain age”.  And if this is the case…then I have to learn to be ok with it.  I need to go to God and ask Him to help me through this journey that I am on.  I need to continually remind myself that I can never out do God.  I need to realize that in fact I could stay upstairs in my office and never go out the door and God could use me.  Who am I kidding…HE’S GOD!  He can bring people to my doorstep if it is in His plan.  He is the one who is in control of my life and the direction that it is taking.  The key here is for me to continually bring my frustrations to Him and be willing to let Him transform me to where I need to be so that I can accept where I am.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  The strength that I need, that we all need does not come from ourselves.  It comes from Jesus!

Am I through with my pity parties…unfortunately probably not.  However today I am choosing to learn what I need to learn and be open to what is coming.  Not saying that I’ll like it all…but that’s not what life is about.  Life is about learning to trust in God, to strengthen our faith in Him and to love Him with all that we are.

So am I “good to go”? Not in “Lindy Mode”.  But I’m always “good to go” when I am asking God to direct my paths and allowing Him to put my ducks in a row for me.

Life’s an adventure…be in it!

 

The Known Zone

Butchart Gardens #2 230

I wonder how many times in our lives we stand at the bottom of a set of stairs, look up and ask ourselves, “I wonder where these lead?”  Then turn around and walk away without ever taking the first step to find out.  How many opportunities have we missed because we were too afraid to take the first step into the unknown? I know for me the times are numerous. I would count myself amongst those of you who are not risk takers and like to live life in the “known zone”. However lately I have found myself trying to catch glimpses of what the “unknown zone” has to offer.  Unfortunately in order to really see what this “unknown zone” is about, I have to first leave my comfortable, dependable, reliable, and predictable “known zone” and enter into the “uncomfortable, undependable, unreliable, and unpredictable “unknown zone”.  The few times that I have jumped zones have been great experiences for me.  Notice I said “few” times.  I’m still fighting with myself to “let go” and jump into the unknown but I have managed to do it. 🙂

I would like to challenge you that when the next time you find yourself standing at the bottom of a set of stairs and wonder where they might lead, take that first step! Then keep on climbing because you will NEVER know where those stairs lead unless you keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s ok to hold the rail as you climb.  It’s also ok if you take a bit longer than other people to reach the top. The important factor is that you are making the climb, taking a chance, stepping outside the “known zone”.  As you climb those stairs you will begin to feel a determination to get to the top that you never had by just looking up from the bottom of the staircase. 

I think we are sometimes too content to just look up from the bottom of the staircase.  We are so comfortable in our “known zone” that we don’t even question what we might be missing by not taking that first step.  I wonder what would happen if we got the courage enough to step outside our safe “known zone” and entered into the dangerous “unknown zone”?  Where or how would we live our lives differently?  How would we then allow God to use us?  Do you think that sometimes we miss opportunities that God has for us because we are too afraid to leave our “known zones”?  Romans 8:31 states, “…If God is for us, who can be against us?”  I like to add the word “what” along side of the “who” to help me when I use fear as my excuse in not taking that first step.  I mean really, let’s put things into perspective…what could we possibly have in our lives that would make us not take that first step if we truly believed that God is “for” us? 🙂  Ooooh I forgot about our “want to’s” but we’ll keep this topic for another post. 🙂

Come on, let’s jump zones!

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

Too often, in an attempt to justify our own inaction, we have asked, in one way or another, “Am I my brother’s keeper.”

Bernie A. Van De Walle

The devotion I read today got me thinking, which I guess is the whole reason behind doing devotions. 🙂  Van De Walle talks about the story of Cain and Abel and says that when God asked Cain where his brother was Cain made two denials.  The first was that he didn’t know what happened to his brother. The second was telling God more or less that it wasn’t his (Cain’s) responsibility to know or even care about where his brother was.  Van De Walle states that most of us have not committed murder but too many of us use the second excuse, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper”?  What in essence he is suggesting is that we are not all that far removed from being like Cain.  Ouch! This is a pretty harsh, or is it?

Could we in fact be going through our lives with blinders on our eyes to what the plight is of those around us?  What are we saying to God when we go around with these blinders on? Aren’t we in fact then telling God that we are not our brother’s keeper?  Why then do we do this? Could we be telling ourselves that we are not “equipped” to deal with “certain” situations and that someone else will come along who is in a better “position” to handle things.  Now don’t get upset with me.  I know that there are some of you out there who really take to heart the injustices that others have to deal with. I’m talking about those of us who are still quite comfortable with our blinders in place. I’m also talking to those of us who still have no idea that we have blinders on in the first place. We are walking around blind because if we can’t “see” the problem then we won’t be asked to try to “do” something about it.

Van De Walle suggests that we could be taking part in a social phenomenon called “the bystander effect”.

Sociologists have noted that this lack of responsibility for the welfare of others grows exponentially when the number of potential helpers to a particular need also grows. … Human nature, it seems, is always ready to assume that someone else will take care of those in need – I do not need to bother, I do not need to act.  Surely someone else will.  Surely someone else is better equipped.

Bernie A. Van De Walle

 So now comes the application part… How do I know if I am playing into “the bystander effect”?  The very fact that you are now aware that there is such a thing as “the bystander effect” will make you less likely to participate in it.  

How do I know if I have blinders on or not?  Well the problem with this is that if you have them on then your are not aware that they are there.  Pray and ask God to remove any blinders that you may have in place.  Ask Him to show you the world through His eyes.   Remember in order to change something you first have to acknowledge that there is something that needs changing. Just be open to the possibility that you may have these blinders in place. 🙂 

Now let’s address the aspect of our “want to”.  Maybe you don’t want to ask God to remove the blinders because you are afraid of what you might see and then of what God might ask you to do.  Here’s the thing…if God asks you to do something then He has already equipped you to do it!  Don’t be afraid, ever, of what God has asked you (us) to do or is going to ask us to do.  Because it is not by our might that we accomplish things but by the might and power of the Holy Spirit that resides inside of each believer in Christ. This is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead…so really…what is there to be afraid of?  Here it is again…if God asks you…He HAS already equipped you with everything you could need to get the job done!  All you have to do is believe it!

YES, We ARE our brother’s keeper!

Move On…

Question:  Would the Bee still be so intent on collecting nectar if there was none to be found?

As I looked through my photographs I came upon this one and it made me question, would this Bee still be so intent on collecting pollen if there wasn’t any left in the flower for it to harvest?  Why is it then that we sometimes keep going back to a situation that is “empty of pollen”?  Are we gaining anything from doing this other than disappointment or discouragement?  Move on!  There is nothing we can gain by going back to a “flower” that has already been harvested.  We are wasting our time and energy trying to gain something that isn’t there for us.  We quite possibly could be missing an opportunity that is right in front of us because we are too busy trying to make a “wrong” situation “right”.