Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The "F" Word

The "F" word. It's such a bad word that many of us never want to admit we use it. We think it. We ponder it, but we dare not say it. We dare not admit that we struggle with it. We call it other things . . . introvert, cautious, careful, or my all time favorite, "practical." But really, we need to call it what it is. F-E-A-R.

Fear destroys our destiny and keeps us stuck in today with no hope for tomorrow. I will be honest to say that fear has controlled my life for quite some time. If you were a friend of mine in the late 90's and dropped me off at home when the house was vacant, you knew your role: you had to get out of your car and come "check the house" with me. We would look under beds, in closets, in the refrigerator (what?!) . . . all so that we could pounce on that burglar before he pounced on me! I had convinced myself that there was always someone lurking in the shadows waiting to attack. I had 9-1-1 on speed dial and would call them whenever I heard a scary noise. No lie. At one point, after I got married and moved out on my own, the police department threatened to fine me if I called them again with one more false alarm! So, I stopped calling them, but nonetheless, I was still fearful.

We lived in a safe neighborhood and no one else's house had been broken into, but that didn't matter. It's only a matter of time, I thought, Eventually, someone is going to break in here. That's because fear has been described as "False Evidence Appearing Real." It took a lot of praying, reading Psalm 91 and calls to my best friend at midnight (if my husband wasn't home) to overcome that fear of my home being burglarized.

But, the "F" word didn't leave me. It simply attached itself to another situation and I became fearful of other things. The Bible teaches that fear is a spirit (2 Timothy 1:7) that does not come from God. It is sent by the enemy to torment, depress and stifle you. It will choke the very life out of you if you allow it. 

Now that I am a businesswoman, I still face fear. Fear of talking to others, fear of rejection, fear of not meeting my goals, fear of looking stupid. What about you? What are you afraid of?

I am learning that no matter what fear you face, the antidote is ACTION! Take massive action toward the very thing you're afraid of, and you will knock that fear giant right on its tail! I'm all in today!! How about you?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Working While Resting?

So, yesterday's post was all about allowing the Lord to build our "house"---our hopes, our dreams and our plans for the future. We all know either from firsthand experience or watching a TV show like, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, that constructing a home takes T-I-M-E. Even on Extreme Makeover, with nearly a hundred construction workers, helpers, designers and the like, the process of constructing something from nothing takes time. Ponder this acrostic that I made up:  
 T hings
    I mprove 
                                                   M ost
                                                         E ventually
 See, no matter what you may be waiting for. Things improve most eventually! Ever heard of "bad grammar, good gospel?" Case in point. :-) Every thing that is of value takes TIME to grow. Someone told me a very encouraging story last night about the Chinese bamboo tree. I learned that it takes this tree on average 5 years to sprout! Think of the planter who waters and nurtures this plant for 5 years without ever seeing any results! But by faith, he continues to water and nurture it day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Then in the fifth year, something amazing happens. That Chinese bamboo tree explodes out of the ground and grows up to 98 feet tall in ONE GROWING SEASON (4-5 months)!! That's huge . . . literally! Just think if that farmer said, "You know, I don't see anything happening, I may as well cut down this tree and choose another plant." It takes time to see results! 

So, what to do in the waiting? Well, there are two ways in which we can wait: passively or actively. The Bible is clear that "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:17). Yet works without faith is insanity! We need both. I love the book, What to Expect When You're Expecting (a must-have for soon-to-be mamas and daddies). I just love the title. Expectation is the exact posture we need to have while waiting for the promise. In our expectation, we rest, but we also work. Huh? Is it really possible to work while resting? You bet it is. 

Right now, I am in a season of my life where I am believing God for BIG things. But, I'm not sitting around twiddling my thumbs hoping success will just fall on me! I'm planning my work and working my plan, and trusting God the whole way through to accomplish His plan in Him timing and in His way. That, friends, is active rest. I am not anxious, nor am I desperate. I know that in T-I-M-E, my answer will come and it will be a big, loud YES! 

"Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!" (Proverbs 6:6). Notice the difference between the wise ant and the foolish sluggard. Being lazy, lethargic and not on purpose leads to folly, destruction and lost hope. The ants are busy accomplishing their task FOR A SEASON and then they rest all winter. You can't rest if you haven't worked! So, in whatever season of life this finds you, please allow me to encourage you to actively rest in God. Pray over your plans daily, being cognizant  of God's Master plan, then work your plan. And after you've done all you can (be that praying, worshiping, putting a plan of action together, making a phone call, etc.), REST!! God's got this. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philipians 4:6-7) 

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!