Friday, December 27, 2013

Stepping up...into our own shoes

Christmas has come and gone and it is kind of a sad feeling for me. There is so much hype leading up to it that if I hadn't just stolen the time to truly meditate on what it means to me and it's splendor it may have just moved on by me without my even noticing.
I love Christmas, and even if the Bible doesn't ask me to celebrate the birth of Jesus and even if Jesus wasn't born in late December, it is the time put aside to worship His birth and that is adequate for me.
It is a special time for us to honor others because He honored us first. That is what Christmas is about for me, honoring others that I love with the grace that Jesus gave me. The grace he gives us all.

I have been living all by myself the last two years for the first time in my whole entire life and I have discovered a lot about myself.  One of the most important discoveries I have made is that God wants me to be amazing, He loves me that much! Whenever I say to him, I can't or I am afraid or I will hurt them or am not strong enough to do something He says to me "Yes, you can" or "Don't be afraid" or "I will be there with you" and sometimes He says "I will give you the words" but more times than not He says to me "I will give you all the strength and courage you need to be exactly what you want to be and more". All I have to do is ask.  I can overcome anything from my past, any mistakes I have ever made with others, any shortcomings I have in dealing with others if I just step up and ask Him to help me.

There have been some overwhelming transformations within me and I am made most aware of them when I pay attention to other people's behavior and think to myself... I used to be like that, or I can understand why they are doing that or saying that because that is exactly what I used to say or exactly what I would have done in the same situation.

But when did these changes happen to me?
I have no idea, but I am most certain that they didn't happen overnight. It has taken time and a lot of tears and hurt and pain.

He is tweaking me because I asked him to. He is tweaking me because he loves me and he wants me ready for anything that he has in mind for me. It is frightening and exciting and I love it!
I am not afraid to do things I used to be afraid to do and I am not afraid to tell people how I feel about them or tell them what I think about things, in general, any more and it feels so good.
I Love my Jesus even more for tweaking me and the day He stops tweaking this Earthly girl will be the day I am no longer walking around on this Earth. He loves me all the time, but he loves me the most when I am half mad with pain or frustration because that is when I beg Him to pick me up and love me hard and tweak me more.

It makes me sad now when I see people afraid to be the best they can be. It makes my heart break for the people who have been hurt and given up because that used to be me. I used to hide and not believe for one minute that I could or should try again. I thought, I can't be hurt like that again or what's the use trying, it won't work out anyway.

For the first time in my life, I understand that God wants all good things for me and I can't have them if I am afraid.
He wants me to be happy. He wants me to be loved. He wants me to be able to give like I am made of money and he wants me to be able to receive and be thankful and do so with grace.

So, Grace, He gives me simply because I have asked.
Grace is what he wants us all to have. He doesn't want any of us to be sad or lonely, he wants us all to be loved and in love and full of love for others. He wants us all to have Grace and give it freely to others as well.
Forgiveness, kindness, love, compassion, empathy. All Good things come through him to us to share with others.
Take a moment and reflect on the deepest desires of your very heart.
He already knows what they are and He is waiting for you to ask Him to help you have them too.
Be Blessed, allow His Blessings to fill your heart and your life so you can share them with people you know and love, and with people you encounter and people who are just passing by.
May his Grace, Peace, and Love fill you and overflow into the lives of others and may your New Year bring with it a gate you can open to welcome His tweaks.   

Friday, November 15, 2013

Being a Christian Kind of Friend

I don't want to be a dime a dozen kind of friend and I really don't want to be treated like one either. 
I like to give with all my heart, whatever it is I am doing, and that includes being a friend. It is my desire that my friends know in their hearts that they can call me any time of day or night and I will listen to them, and truly hear them. 
I will pray with them  if that is what they want to do. And pray for them if that is what they need.

Matthew 7:12 (ESV) the Golden Rule clearly says 12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophet

That verse makes me think a lot about how I treat others and the way others treat me. As we walk through our daily lives it is so much easier to just keep moving and avoid anything uncomfortable or messy than it is to deal with it head on in a Godly way. This is true with relationships with family, friends, significant others, bosses, as well as people we do business with. It's about having integrity.

Do we have integrity when we are afraid that being honest with someone who we see doing or saying things that are less than Christ-like?

Maybe speaking up when we see them being rude to another or hear them lying to someone will put a crinkle in our friendship or make that friendship uncomfortable for a time, but it shouldn't stop us. 

Does it not occur to us that it might make a good friendship a great one? Or are we so afraid of messing up a friendship that we will be a poor friend? 
If a friend of mine hears me lying to someone shouldn't they say, "Hey Lori, that's nonsense and you know it."  If I see someone, anyone... with their pant leg stuck in their boot, their skirt caught in pantyhose or dirt on their face shouldn't I quietly pull them aside and let them in on it?

In Galatians, Paul spoke of this from his prison cell regarding the way Christians should treat each other..."With respect, as if each and every person who calls them self by His name are our brothers." He doesn't say, "Those we feel like respecting or being nice too" he clearly says "each and every person..."  

Being a True Blue Christian these days is not an easy job. We are outnumbered by people who think we are crazy and don't understand how we can smile as much as we do even when our troubles are some days insurmountable. What makes us so confident that everything will be o.k. when things are spinning out of control around us?

Timothy 1:7 (KJV) it is written For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

A friend said this to me the other day...."If God wants me to live in my car, I will do so with Grace." Pretty humbling to know that He has a plan for all of us, He is in charge and we just have to let Him run the show because His plans for us are far better than any we could possibly have for ourselves. 

The only thing He asks in return is that we follow a few simple basic rules. The Golden one is an excellent place to start.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Squeezing it all in...whats the point?

Wednesday is upon me, one of my days off this week and a day when I should be getting much accomplished. I have lived in my teeny little house for over a month now and I love it but I have too much stuff, right? As you can see, I have a lot of things...
 I have things I have no idea why I keep, but I do it anyway. Maybe it is sentimental value, too lazy to take to the Mission Store, or just undecided. Perhaps some of each. I know in my heart that there are people who could use some of this stuff. For example, I have 3 shower curtains, 4-5 bath mats, and enough books to open my own library. I keep reflecting on one particular scripture...

"You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (Mark 10:21 ESV)
I like to believe I am already following Him, but in fact, as you can see, I am not, well, not completely anyway. I have too many things. 
During a recent blizzard, I saw a neighbor outside who had moved here from western Oregon in August. She was wearing a hoodie, and from the looks of it, it belonged to her husband.
I am ashamed to admit it, but it took me over a week to grasp what I had seen and realized I could and should step up and do something about that situation. I went to my coat closet thinking I would find a jacket for her, but my hands right to a good black wool coat. As I walked down the court to her house I had to fight the urge to turn around. I had a brief argument with myself concerning whether I needed the coat more than she did or not but as usual that bossy voice kept me on track. 
I knocked on their door and when she opened it I said, "Hi, I was wondering if you could use this?" Her face lit up and the moments following that are a blur but they served as a wonderful reminder that giving is most defiantly better than receiving...
A few days later I was listening to one of  Louie Giglio's Passion Series talks and he was focusing on how as Christians many of us get so excited about God and giving and helping others that we decide we want to become pastors or go on a mission trip. Many of us have a mission trip on our Bucket Lists, right? I can't lie, I have always wanted to go on such a trip. However, Louie made me stop and reflect on that desire.Maybe it is what the Lord is calling us to do, however, before we go off on a very expensive trip to an exciting destination, we should stop and consider how we can be a missionary to the people on our own blocks or in our own towns.
Louie spoke of people who are rude or thoughtless to their neighbors and friends and are totally oblivious of the people around them. He spoke of the guy who won't cross the hall to apologize to his neighbor for a loud party or for having taken his parking spot but wants to go to Ethiopia to serve others, and of the woman who goes to feed the homeless while wearing a full regalia of diamonds. How about the person oblivious to the woman trying to open a door with full arms and on and on. 

Wow, it got me thinking about some other things, like when I drive down the street to my house, am I aware of what's going on around me? Does my older neighbor or the one with all the little children need a hand carrying in her groceries? Does their sidewalk need to be shoveled?
Then I took a peek at my more personal attributes, the stuff relating to my own life and my relationships with others. Are all of my fences mended? Am I being hardhearted to someone for foolish reasons? Am I too prideful?  Is all of my behavior pleasing to God?  Is He proud of me? Am I loving on people the way Jesus wants me to? I know I am forgiven, but am I doing what He would want me to do? 
If answering these questions makes us flush with shame or we want to change the subject, perhaps they need attending to. Our lives are like gardens, and as with any garden, we have weeds...those weeds being behavioral traits that we are sometimes embarrassed by. Keeping it real means realizing that we are in full view of Jesus every single moment. He sees all of our weeds, nothing escapes him. Makes you want to have a beautiful weed free garden, doesn't it? There is no time like the present to start weeding. Loving on people starts within us and as we pray about it and receive the grace that only Jesus is capable of giving us, we become more aware of our weeds and develop a deeper kindness and desire to love on others and develop J (Jesus) O (others) Y (yourself) in our own hearts and lives.