Monday, April 16, 2012

Unless the Lord Builds A House

I used to struggle with one word more than any other word in the English language: rest. See, by nature, I am a "go-getter," a "doer" who like to make things happen. Last year, my husband was on military orders for a year and a half which caused him to be away from our family 5 days a week. During that time, I homeschooled 3 of my kids, went to school full-time, led a ministry of over 70 women at my church, finished writing my first book and let's see what else . . . chauffeured my very active children all around town to various sporting events and practices, volunteered at church and launched a business.

Whew! Even writing about it makes me nauseous now. How did I ever get all that accomplished?! Well, let me tell you, I am no Super Woman. I survived off of an average of 5 hours of sleep and, unfortunately, was very irritable most of the time (just ask my kids!). Living on the go-go-go is no way to live. Carrying the weight of the family on my shoulders caused me to be overwhelmed and out of fuel. I would run into the presence of God "real quick," get what I needed and rush back out. I wasn't resting, for sure.

As I look back over the last year and a half, I am so thankful for God's mercies that kept me sane! And I am so grateful now that He is teaching me how to rest in Him. Psalm 127:1 says, "Unless the Lord builds a house, the workers labor in vain (their work is wasted)." If your foundation is shaky, the whole house is subject to collapse.

I've had to go through my schedule and "weed out" some good activities that were not contributing to the greater goal of my life. I've had to say "no" to things I've really wanted to say "yes" to. I've had to rearrange my schedule so that my God comes first, my family second and then everything else has to fall in line. I will not compromise my priorities to try to get ahead.

This all leads me to wonder, "Do we really trust God with our lives?" Think about it. If you are running to and fro, chasing dreams and trying to make things happen on your own, what does it all profit anyway? I am learning how to rest--how to give God my plans while filtering them through His master plan. Remember, "unless the Lord builds a house . . ."

So, friend, REST! And watch for my next post which will contrast passive rest versus active rest.

So long for now!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More of You

This song always makes me wanna cry as I picture the image of a loving Father hovering over the earth desperately seeking someone who will really love him through their lifestyle. "He wants it all today."

What idols are you willing to let go of today? Pride? Self-image? Fear? Rejection? Loneliness? Self-Dependence? Anger? Sex? Striving? I could go on and on. Today as I was worshiping, I literally bowed down and named the idol out loud that I was leaving at the feet of Jesus. They are horrible masters anyway!

All of me, Lord
You deserve my best
I don't need idols
To give me rest
I don't  want anything
But You
Come Lord, Jesus
I'm making room
Empty and humble I come
To receive the endless love of the Son

More of You, today!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Are You Neglecting Yourself?

That is the question I had to answer yesterday. Sadly, my honest answer was "Yes." As a very busy wife and mother of four, a new business owner, writer, speaker, volunteer, friend . . . the list goes on, I spend large quantities of my day investing in others.

Now, don't get me wrong. It's what I've been created to do. I LOVE talking to a friend on the phone for an hour just to help her get a sense of peace. I LOVE pouring into the lives of the young moms I work with in my local MOPS group. I LOVE kissing my kids' cheeks and watching them play with wild abandon. I LOVE massaging my husband's back because he's been working all day, and I LOVE when a new story line or chapter presses me so that I have to run to my computer to type it out.

Giving is what we were created to do. Give love. Give joy. Give our time. Give, give, give. Unfortunately,  in this getting, we sometimes neglect ourselves. Humans are complex beings. We are made up of body, soul and spirit. I love reading people's posts on Facebook about how they're running miles and miles in the early hours of the morning, or having "gym time." I enjoy reading how they've discovered a new, inspiring website or book. But what I don't see a lot of is a well-balanced approach in taking care of all three parts of ourselves.

For years, all I focused on was the spiritual. I was at every church event and prayer meeting and yelled at my kids when they would "interrupt my devotions . . ." I didn't exercise, had no career goals and didn't have much time for my friends. Now, I see how out of balance I was!

Today, I am making a concentrated effort to begin and end each day with God, but also in between to make sure I'm taking care of my physical, emotional, and yes vocational sides as well. If you're a household manager (because I hate the term "stay-at-home mom"), don't just run around chasing kids all day; contend to take care of your entire self. You owe it to yourself, and you'll be much happier for it.

So as you go throughout your day today, I pray you will, with me, focus on being a more balanced, peaceful you!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Keep Dreamin'

I dream just about every night. Some dreams are wild, crazy, unrealistic figments of my very active imagination that have me flying through outer space with sparkly wings eating a piece of banana cheesecake and squeezing my little son's cheeks with glee.

What? I know. I said "crazy . . . and active imagination."

But then there are other dreams that wake me up in a cold sweat, heart pounding, and I know . . . I've been in touch with destiny. Purpose has been born, and even if I don't always know the exact meaning of the dream, I know I'd better "wake up," be alert and pay attention . . . something's coming.

One of my favorite authors and speakers, Lisa Bevere, says, "God gives us visions (or dreams) to enlarge us." No one gets anything big by dreaming small!

Think back to when you were a child. What did you want to be? Do? Go? More importantly, WHO did you want to be? I'm not talking about singing to Mariah Carey in the mirror and wanting to be her. I'm asking you to close your eyes and think back to what type of person you wanted to be. Were you strong, courageous, funny, loving, nurturing? Did you have a small army of children nestled at your feet while you read them goodnight stories or were you taking the corporate world by storm? What did your husband look like? Act like? How did your wife treat you? One thing I'll bet---you were happy, weren't you?

So what has happened to us? When did we stop dreaming? Why did we allow the naysayers and the "Debbie Downers" (think SNL) to tell us who we would be or what we would become?  When did we believe the nonsense ourselves?

Today, I am asking God to reawaken the dreams in me. I believe He put them for a reason. And if I could look you in the eyes, I'd say the same to you, "Keep Dreamin.'" Because sometimes, dreams really do come true. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Last Thoughts on Whitney Houston

My heart sank as I read the text message a friend sent to me: "Did you hear the news about Whitney Houston?" I had a sick feeling in my stomach, and even before I grudgingly typed in "," I already knew---she was dead. You don't understand, as a kid, I was the hugest Whitney fan. I knew every song of hers and would often record myself in our old tape recorder singing along to her tunes. She was such a picture of class and dignity, stirring my emotions as her heavenly voice echoed in my bedroom. I wanted to be like her when I grew up.

Fast forward several years, and now I'm in my mid-20's. Whitney's life is spinning out of control as most media outlets report scenes of wild parties and heavy drug use. I can't believe it! What happened to the classy, elegant Whitney I had grown up listening to? Her infamous Diane Sawyer interview airs and I watch her declare, "Crack is whack!" proving media reports to be true. How could this be? I wondered. Why would a woman who has so much give it all up for  . . . drugs?

I, thankfully, have never experienced the horrors of battling drug addiction, so I cannot speak from experience. However, I have faced enormous emotional pain, so thick I thought it would swallow me whole. I do know what it's like to feel like your life is totally out of control, and no matter what you do, you'll never win. I know what it's like to cry so hard there are no tears left. I think I can relate to the pain Whitney must have felt in her short life.

 Which brings me to the point: Where do you turn when you have nothing left? When your heart is shattered and your life destroyed, when those you thought you could turn to turn out to betray you, when your hopes and dreams come crashing down, who can you go to? The difference between "Christians" and "those who know their God" (Daniel 11:32) is as different as Mother Teresa and Chelsea Handler. Many claim to be "Christians," but not many can truly say they KNOW God. I have learned in my own emotional struggles that God is so much more than just a religious figurehead or distant unknown. He is such a friend! I have learned to truly "cast all my cares on Him" and allowed Him to sustain me (Psalm 55:22).

Drugs, sex, money, power---none of it truly satisfies or brings the healing our hearts so desperately seek after. My prayer is that Whitney's life will serve to be a "life lesson" for those who struggle. There is a God who is waiting on you to cast your cares on Him and trust Him as he exchanges your pain for His peace, your shame for his grace, your life for his purpose. So, next time you need a "fix," will you try Him? I guarantee, you will not be disappointed.