Thursday, August 31, 2017

Yes, No, Maybe So, Certainly...

Kind of reminds me of the beginning of an old jump rope rhyme we used to sing in elementary school. Today, I want to talk about the ability to say “no” and how that affects your “yes.” Telling someone that I cannot do something or, worse, that I don’t want to do something is VERY difficult for me. There must be a need or they wouldn’t ask me, right? Maybe no one else can do it, so certainly, that must be why I should say “yes.” Wrong…that’s just the mouthpiece of pride. 

What happens when you dilute something? You decrease its effectiveness which compromises the integrity of the purpose for which it was created. If you are a habitual “yesser” like I was, then this will set you free! Matthew 5:37 and James 5:12 both say to let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no. Though the context is in the validity of keeping your word, it sure seems like the Scripture actually gives us permission to say “NO” or it wouldn’t even have been an option!

Here are a few things that I have learned recently from personal experience:
1.       Saying “no” liberates your availability to say “yes” to the things the Lord has called you to do instead of wearing yourself thin trying to cover ground that’s not yours. Picture a piece of loose leaf paper. Leave yourself some room in the margins of your life, so that you CAN say “yes.” Time is priceless; guard it as such. Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.
2.       Saying “no” establishes your boundaries which are crucial to your health, our health and everyone’s sanity! LOL! Even the ocean knows its bounds. God is the only being with no beginning or end, and last time I checked, there was only One of Him. Boundaries are a necessary good.
3.       Saying “no” initiates the blessing for someone else that you would have essentially robbed them from…which in return makes room for your blessing anyway. It’s a win-win! Psalm 1:2-3 states, “Blessed are those whose delight is in the law of the Lord…That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit IN SEASON and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do PROSPERS.” You should probably re-read that again.
4.       Saying “no” increases the effectiveness of your “yes” and allows you to play to your strengths and passions. Not that there won’t be times when you have to do things you don’t enjoy, but you get the drift. Don’t dilute your excellence! It’s best to do one thing excellent than two (or five) things half-heartedly.

Something done out of guilt or obligation usually breeds discontentment and frustration anyway. You end up exhausted and that’s not beneficial to anyone. So, how do you know when to say “yes?” Follow the peace, identify your strengths, embrace your purpose and know your season. That might involve some prayer though in case that point isn’t obvious.

Let’s be empowered to say “no” so we can be EXCITED and ENERGIZED about our every “YES!” Can I get an AMEN!?!

Friday, August 18, 2017

I got this...

That was my thought when I pulled up to the gas pump. I’ve pumped gas so many times that it’s like second nature. The only problem was that I was in a loaner car because mine was in the shop all week. What side is the gas tank even on? How the heck do you get this thing open? What kind of gas does it even need??? My normal routine is that I lock the car when I get out to pump gas because I don’t want anyone snatching my purse or attempting whatever crisis my mind dreamed up that day. So, I proceed to the gas tank on the other side and the little hinged door WILL NOT open. I tried pushing, pulling, prying and yanking. Nope. Maybe there’s a button! I unlock the car and go back to the driver’s seat…nothing. After 5-10 minutes enduring nearby awkward stares amidst my searching, wandering and pleading, I conclude that, apparently, I DON’T got this. I began to get frustrated until I realized the answer was simple. Just Google it! LOL! To my surprise, the driver’s side door must be unlocked for the gas tank door to spring open with ease at the gentle tap of a finger. However, all of this frustration, embarrassment and wasted time could have been prevented if I had just read the manual first, but again…I got this.

Sadly, I’ve encountered this same mindset on many occasions in my spiritual walk. Oh, I’ve been through this situation before; I can handle it…until the monkey wrench gets thrown in…and it always does. I fret and stress until I realize I should have read the manual first. But I’m learning and that’s ok. Psalm 143:10 says, “TEACH me to do your will for you are my God; may your good Spirit LEAD me on level ground.” Thank God there’s grace and that He has the patience to teach me and to lead me! Just like we do with our kids, we often require reinforcement and repetition from our heavenly Father as well.

I love the story of Joshua. He gets thrown into leadership after Moses dies and God tells him to gather all these people and not be afraid because He’ll direct Joshua to the land He promised. The key point here is that in order to lead and be lead, Joshua had to remain teachable and obedient. We know this because Joshua 1:8 says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” God needed him to read the manual...first. He was teaching Joshua some important principles that he would need in order to be a successful and effective leader as they set out to possess the land.

In the same way, we must prepare in our daily lives, too, whether it’s leading employees, an army, a family, a congregation or just disciplining our own flesh! Since physically meditating on His Word all day is probably not conducive to most of our schedules, we can still drop a quick nugget for our spirit to chew on in the meantime. When my children were little, I used to get so condemned if I didn’t get my long devo time in like I was used to having in Bible college. Not convicted, condemned. Finally, I realized there was grace for the season when showers were a luxury and sleep was imagined, and if I only got 5 minutes or one verse in a day, that was ok. It took me a while to notice that God could still use those little moments of each day to teach me and lead me, but it was so freeing once I did.

So, my encouragement for today is don’t let condemnation stop you from reading the manual…even if you have to dust it off. God may give you a single Scripture to meditate on for an entire week! Even that will help to prepare you for the land you are entering or an encounter you may have along the way. It’s all part of learning and leading, and Jesus is the best teacher I know! Therein lies the beauty of it all and we finally realize we don’t got it.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Now and Forever

Normally, I don't acknowledge "dating" anniversaries, but today is special to me. Twenty years ago, Jeremy handed me a little stuffed bear and pack of Big Red and told me for the first time that he couldn't stop thinking about me.😊 Now twenty years later and I can't stop thinking about HIM!😘 Now and forever... 

How fun that we get to celebrate this evening together by picking out interior paint, flooring, tile and a front door for our home that is finally slated to break ground in a few weeks. Woohoo! The pre-sale aka "waiting" phase is over! I had no idea all this stuff gets chosen so early though. We get to choose every aspect of it before the foundation is even laid! It's so exciting and I'm loving it! I have to assume this is similar to the joy our Father feels when he intricately designed our very being and established the blue print for our lives before we were ever formed in the womb. He chose my eye color before I could see and my direction before I could walk. He must love me. Now and forever...

Just this morning I read a Scripture about God's love and the fact that NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ. What makes His love so strong? Since the beginning of this year, I have really been asking God to give me a better understanding of His love, to SHOW me. I want to feel it and I want to KNOW it. I want to make sure there is no room for doubt. I don't question Jeremy's love for me because he tells me. I can see it in the sacrifices he makes for me and the selfless ways that he cares for me. Now and forever...

But how do you receive love from someone you can't see? Today, it was revealed in His handiwork. I was reminded of Christ's love for me when I realized the amount of detail and effort that went into creating me before I was even someone else's thought. I can't begin to understand God's capacity to love because I am limited by mine. Yet His love knows know bounds, so even the pride and joy that I have experienced with each of my kids or even (finally) designing my own home is nothing compared to the magnificence of His heart towards me. Thank you, Lord for making it personal to me on this special day. It's a love that no one can take away and a bond no thing can break. Now and forever...

It's crazy how just the parallels of building a house can bring so much revelation. There is growth in the process, and I'm so thankful Jeremy and I get to walk through this new journey hand in hand...Now and forever.