Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Who am I?

What do I believe and why do I believe what I believe? These are the questions that I have been asking myself lately. This has caused me to focus in great detail on some controversial issues and seek Scripture for the answers. Some are a result of personal conviction while others are written in Red.

I have decided to begin a series of blogs that share my personal opinion on topics such as drinking, tattoos & piercings. I may pursue other topics as well depending...Sure, I realize that not everyone will agree, but this blog will be more for the benefit of myself and keeping me accountable. I want to be able to look back in 20 or 30 years and have something to gage myself against. Will I still have the same convictions? Will I be wiser then or wiser now? My main goal is to prevent compromise and compare my “notes” as God reveals Himself to me over the course of my lifetime.

You are more than welcome to share your opinion, so please feel free to do so in your own blog. I will allow comments, but use discretion. This is not meant to be a discussion, just my point of view. And if there is an individual seeking guidance, then I hope that this will empower, confirm, convict or encourage you. Either way, you need to establish your own belief system based on the statutes of God’s Word and the relationship that you have with Him.

Let me note that everything that I believe has been filtered through the cross. Last night in the shower, I had a really cool revelation, or maybe it’s just an analogy. The American flag is a symbol of freedom and liberty. Our ancestors came here to establish a nation that allows freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom from the governing body that they left behind. Anything before the flag has passed away. Everything after the flag establishes democracy for a new nation and represents a new hope, new rule and new doctrine. Freedom and hope. Men gave their lives for the flag. That sure sounds a lot like the cross.

In the words of my husband, the cross does three things. It either fulfills, continues or abolishes the law. The tricky part is figuring out which one is which, and that’s what I hope to dissect over the next several weeks. There is a reason that it’s called the OLD Testament and the NEW Testament. We are not bound by the chains of bondage and sacrifice anymore! The cross brings freedom thanks to the blood that was shed. Christ sacrificed Himself, so that we don’t have to. All this to say, filter your life, convictions and beliefs through the cross.

I am in no way a Biblical scholar and I sure don’t pretend to be! But I am a daughter of the King who aims to please her Father. What you see is what you get. Thus, the following blogs will be raw, real and relatable.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect with the 4th of July just around the corner. So, let’s go racing, boys! Gentlemen, start your engines! (Yes, I am a NASCAR fan.) …And God bless America!

(based on 2 Corinthians, chapter 5)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sorry, Honey!

Apparently, I am not perfect. Who knew? I went hang out with a couple girlfriends last night and got home about 10pm. I walked in to find Jeremy in the bathroom shaving his head with the electric clippers and a pile of hair in his sink. So, I walked over to my side of the bathroom where I had a shirt soaking in bleach in the other sink. I realized it had drained, so I thought that I would just rinse it out. I turned the water on and chatted briefly with Jeremy over the loud buzzing of the clippers, but I forgot about the water since I couldn’t hear it (and obviously neither did he). At least that is my excuse anyway.

I initially walked off to grab a towel since I was about to take a shower. Then my 90 mile-a-minute brain took over. “Oh, the dogs need to go out first. Let me go open the back door. (And wait for them to finish). Oh, Jeremy left all the lights on in the house - as usual. Let me turn them all off. Oh, my Ipad is dead. Let me go get the charger out of Jeremy’s backpack. Now, what was I doing again? Oh, right, getting a towel. Oh, there are a few towels in the dryer. Maybe I’ll just fold a few, too.” And then…

“KELLY!!!! ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME?!?” What in the world was he screaming about? I ran into the bathroom and stepped into the Great Flood. Jeremy was scrambling to jump out of the water that surrounded him, unplug his clippers and race to turn off the water on the other side of the bathroom…that now covered my hair dryer that fell on the floor, the cords for my curling iron and straightener and a few pairs of shoes. Oops.

The one towel in my hand was pointless. My shirt had clogged the drain, and water was just pouring over the side, down the cabinet, on the floor and in the closet before making its way to the bedroom. Everything was soaked, including a pile of dirty clothes. By the time it had made its way to Jeremy, the water had already covered the rest of the bathroom floor. Now remember, Jeremy is focused on clipping his hair and trimming his neck while listening to the buzzing that has drowned out the sound of rushing water! Pun intended. He didn’t realize the impending danger creeping up on him until his feet were wet. SHRIEK!

OMGosh! I almost killed my husband by means of electrocution! I felt so terrible; I just kept apologizing. I didn’t even bother explaining my train of thought at that point. At least he was OK and I’m still alive, er, I mean, HE is still alive.

So much for all the towels that I just folded. Now my Jacuzzi tub sits filled to the brim with wet towels, laundry, bathroom mats and my REALLY white bleached shirt. Guess what I’ll be doing tonight?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Action vs. Intention

Lately, my heart has been grieved by all of the recent reports that I have heard regarding individuals with physical illness, cancer or other life threatening diseases of the sort. I have crossed paths with each of these people at some point or another. One was my school secretary, another my 3rd grade teacher and most recently was my Sr. Pastor’s daughter. I have found all this out just within the past 2 weeks.

They have recently been added to the list of people that I have agreed to “pray” for. I have committed myself to “pray” daily for Brittany while she is in Cambodia. I have agreed to stand in the gap for several others needing favor, encouragement, provision…and the list goes on. I “pray” for my pastors, my husband, my kids, my life.

Sometimes, I find this to be a real challenge though. I put the word “pray” in quotes because it is so easy for that phrase to become cliché and over-used. It’s so easy that when we hear someone going through a rough time, we automatically say, “I’ll be praying.” But are we really?

I have to make a conscious effort to be a woman of my word when I say that. If I say that I will pray for you, then rest assured I will. But that is only after the tug of war in my heart that rages regarding my integrity and actually doing what I say I will do. And it is only after I specifically schedule time to do so, that it gets accomplished. I have noticed that if I go about my day without making prayer a priority, eventually I forget. I have made promises to people that NEED my prayer on their behalf, and sometimes it is too late before I realize that I have overloaded my realistic list with unrealistic intentions. I have to be cautious not to throw that word around like any other verb.

So, I encourage you to look at your prayer list and turn those intentions into actions. This will cause you to realize the weight behind prayer. Be cognizant of your promises to pray so that prayer doesn’t become just an off-the-cuff comment aimed at providing the hurting individual with a false sense of temporary hope.

“Pray” is an action verb…just a friendly reminder. Who are you praying for today?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nothing to Wear???

I had someone come up to me a couple weeks ago and mention that I must have a huge wardrobe because they never see me in the same thing twice. I wish! But with the way the economy has been these last few years, I haven’t exactly had money flowing out my ears. But I do get bored wearing the same thing just like every other woman on the planet, so I am forced to be creative. If my wardrobe appears diverse, it is because I have a few secrets.

1. I NEVER buy anything that is not on the clearance rack. Notice I did NOT say the “sale” rack. Half the time it’s a gimmick anyway just to entice you. Target usually has a great clearance section of 50-75% off, and Kohl’s is a definite option with its 80% off rack. Old Navy is a keeper, too; I just got 3 pairs of dress pants for $.97 each a couple weeks ago. The better the bargain, the more items you can purchase within your budget. (Yes, you need a budget.) Would you rather pay $30 for one shirt or $30 for 2 shirts, a pair of pants, some rocking shoes AND new earrings? (Yes, it can be done.) Always buy the seasonal clearance. Don’t worry; you will still be “in style” next year. Here’s why…
2. If you are one to follow the trends, then this one is for you. Clothing can always be tweaked, altered, blinged, sewn, etc. Get creative. I may see an item on clearance and immediately my wheels start turning. I love Hobby Lobby. You can get some really trendy iron-on patches, Swarovski crystals and loads of other items to make your clothing stand out. (But only go on the weeks that your items are 50% off! If it’s not on sale the week you go, wait a week and it will be.)
3. Or instead of following the trend, BE THE TREND! How else do you think trends are started? Since my job does not allow much room for creativity, the only way I can express it is with my style…which I have no idea what that is since it changes with my mood or activity! Be you. Express yourself! (This does not mean that you can wear white after Labor Day. Some rules are just not meant to be broken.)
4. Recycle and Re-use! This is my favorite. Recently, I needed a formal, but I was way too frugal to go buy a new one. So, I found a bridesmaid dress collecting dust in my closet along with my 10 year old rehearsal dinner dress from my wedding. I paired the two together (after a couple other failed attempts) and found a happy marriage of sorts. Then I added a long black scarf, some bling and a glove for a little glam effect fit for the red carpet! (The pic is one of me goofing off, but it's the only full length pic I could find of the dress.) And I didn’t have to spend a penny. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your wardrobe. This brings us to my next point…
5. Mix and Match! If you have always worn “that” shirt with “those” pants, then don’t. Make yourself try something new. Your wardrobe will appear much more diverse if you follow this little secret. Add a tank or jacket to a shirt that you may normally wear by itself. Change up the accessories; swap out the shoes or add a fun hair piece. This is by far the most fun step! If you really want to step outside your comfort zone then invite a friend over to look through your closet. They may pair something together that you would have never thought of. Two heads are better than one!
6. Lastly, browse through the thrift store. You can find lots of great vintage pieces, fun jewelry and other unique items. I found a dress that I wore last year for a Christmas social for $2.50! It is still one of my favorite finds so far! What you may not know though is that you can bargain at a thrift store much like a garage sale. Tell the clerk what you would be willing to pay. Stick to your guns (or put it back) and you could walk away with a steal!

Now you can never say that you have nothing to wear again! I ♥ being frugal, funky and fun…and even more so when it can be accomplished on a shoestring budget. Now Roman has caught the fever, too! He bought a shirt off the Target rack for about $2 the other day. I’m so proud. (sniff, sniff)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Friends! Who Needs Them? (Pt. 2)

So, I left off in Pt. 1 about finding the need, but still needing the want and the why. I began to study what the Bible says about friendships, and I really got an eye-opener. Man, Ecclesiastes 4:12 is where it’s at! “You are better off to have a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn. If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble. If you sleep alone, you won't have anyone to keep you warm on a cold night. Someone might be able to beat up one of you, but not both of you. As the saying goes, ‘A rope made from three strands of cord is hard to break'." (CEV)

Wow, I don’t know about you, but I grew up thinking the three strands of cord was for married couples only and represented the inclusion of Christ into your relationship. But when read in the context of the other Scriptures, it is talking about FRIENDS!!! Did you know that if you take a triple braided cord and pull on the bottom of one of the strands, the other two will tighten or bond together? I’m just gonna let you ponder that for a second.

That passage showed my WHY we NEED friends and, in turn, created the WANT. In chapter 3, it talks about all the different seasons and how they are fleeting. Solomon, the assumed author, declares in a matter of words that life can feel meaningless unless you have God and FRIENDS. Of course we know that HE will never leave us or forsake us, but it is just as important to note the importance of finding a friend who won’t either. And in looking back at Proverbs 18:24, it is definitely a possibility!

But in order to find, you first have to seek. That’s the challenge, but the benefits are worth it…which I probably would have not said a year ago. As I venture through this unfamiliar territory, I am finding that the terrain becomes less and less treacherous. The road gets smoother and my trust grows deeper. I love the transformation that has taken place and watching it re-develop into a natural desire that I have missed for so long.

When I take the kids to school in the morning, we have always prayed that God would help us to be good friends and make good friends. Ideally, you should be the friend that you want to have. That’s what I have been focusing on lately. No matter how busy I am, I can always find time to take a call from a friend. Five minutes may not be a lot, but it is worth its weight in gold when trying to cultivate and maintain a friendship. A simple text or Facebook message can go a long way, but I am finding that face time is key as well. I kind of even like it! (Work in progress…it could still be higher on the priority list known as my crazy schedule, but I’m getting there!)

Let me be clear though, I am not advocating for a friendship without boundaries that can just become high maintenance and produce a co-dependent relationship. I am talking about healthy relationships that are mutually beneficial, supportive and below surface level. And while it is good to be open and authentic, not everyone deserves the right to speak into your life unless they have earned it. Choose your friends wisely like a well-balanced diet. This is a special privilege that you decide, but just remember that it goes both ways. Make sure that they have your best interest at heart and not their own agenda. This is what separates friends and acquaintances.

So, FRIENDS…Who needs them? We all do...especially me. =D

Friends! Who Needs Them? (Pt. 1)

This is probably one of my most difficult blogs to write since it touches on so many areas that have left scars on my heart. Without going into great detail, several years ago, I went through one of the hardest times of my life. Along with many material things that were lost, the most important thing I lost was the relationship of close friends due to circumstances beyond my control. I am grateful that over time, most of those friendships have been restored, but it hasn’t been without heartache in the process.

During the trials that Jeremy and I faced, there were a few people, namely the Gamble’s and the Miyake’s, that never left our side and helped put our pieces back together. Proverbs 18:24 states that there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother, and they are it! We would go to battle for either one of them and they for us. And though a couple of them may be miles apart (or in Hawaii), I know they are only a phone call away. Others are only a few blocks away which I find comforting. But I have also used this as a crutch and an excuse not to seek out “new” friends. I mean, I’ve got Jeremy and a few good ones, so what do I need new ones for? The truth is that each person brings something different to the table, and sometimes we don’t know what we’re missing until we find it.

The devastation that occurred took years to repair, and while getting there was not easy, it is opening the door to seek out new friendships that I find even harder. Over the years, I began to develop a lack of trust, not in God, but people. I decided that friendships were too much work and too much hurt. I allowed “busyness” to be my excuse when others wanted to hang out and made sure that everyone was kept at arm’s length. In return, I ended up with a whole lot of acquaintances and not many true friends. There is absolutely a difference, but that is a separate blog all together!

Finally, last year I decided to deal with that last unresolved issue…thanks to Pastor Debbie’s unrelenting prodding. And what was her solution you ask? A room full of women. Just the thought of it sent chills down my spine. Nonetheless, out of obedience, I went to the Women’s retreat and had an amazing time despite the insane anxiety beforehand. I met (and observed) some wonderful “friends” who caused me to see the NEED, but I still wasn’t completely to the WANT phase yet…the phase that required my TIME. Can you guess what my New Year’s resolution was? Yep, not kidding. I needed to figure out how to want a friend, how to be a friend and why I needed them in the first place. I was gonna need some guidance though. So, what did I do?

You’ll have to check out Pt. 2 to see what I found out. Craziness!