Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Holding Things Loosely

I have taught multiple times the importance, as a function of living faithfully, to hold work, relationships, opportunities, time, possessions, dreams, ambitions—to hold in your hands and your hearts loosely--so a sovereign God does not have to painfully pry it out of your stubborn grip—or you miss a greater walk because your hands were full and you could not grab hold of something new.

Classic—who is going to argue with that? Even a non believer would agree with that (minus the sovereign God part).

Yet, when that theory becomes a reality in life—when emotions are the additional variable to the otherwise tidy equation—suddenly the principle that is easy to talk becomes dicey to walk.

I love encouraging others to embrace bold change. Yet, under the umbrella of irony, change is something I tend to RUN from (I boast of my ability to live with my furniture in its “correct” God ordained spot for well over a decade—same story for hair).

Welcome to my now. In a few days I will walk a brand new path as a full time staff member of a wonderful, impactful nonprofit. It’s an exciting, challenging path. However, to walk it, I have to walk away from some things I love.

To do my new job, I have to let go of some of my soon to be former work that I have loved, through which I have thrived. I understand it; don’t resent it, but it, well, it hurts. I am leaving some environments that have so blessed my life, and I don’t want to let go.

However, letting go, I must. The question is: what is the best way to let it go?

• Remember with gratitude both what was and what is and what is to be.

• Remember God is everywhere and in control.

• Give some space to be sad and also dedicate some space to be excited and thrilled.

• There are seasons, Scripture ALWAYS portrays life as full of change, transition, movement. It’s a good thing and a God thing to experience shifts.

• Faith is who I am, not something I do. Faithful work is 24/7.

So, I have to let go of teaching Bible study (for now), to learn and grow and go to a new environment. I pray that my walk and my talk match up. Would love your prayers too!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Stringing Pearls: Advocate For, Not Defend Against

Quick thought.  I was in a meeting the other day and suggested something that was rejected.  It was not the typical case of I see it one way and you see it another--that does not bother me--I enjoy that kind of tension, it's interesting. 

No.  this person objected in a way I found offensive--she was wrong, I was sure.  So now what? 

I could feel that defensive monster creep up my spine, pinching every last nerve in my neck and pushing against my temples. 

Thankfully I knew to pause, I actually pursed my lips together not trusting my mouth to obey my mind which was processing too many emotions. 

Of course, I thought of not much else for a few hours.  I kept "praying" which was telling God what I wanted to say and asking for words that would not speak into my offense or emotions.  I wanted him to make me sound good and appropriate. 

Later, it hit me.  Advocate for, don't defend against.   Speak into what I want and why I think it has merit--don't speak at all into what I find objectionable or ill advised about someone else's position. 

I want to share the details, but knowing myself--I would frame them so I look cooler than I am or more gracious than I deserve and I don't want to violate a confidence, even if from the context of a meeting.  So I leave you with this...advocate for don't defend against. 

In the future, over coffee I will fill in all the blanks in a way I know you will absolutely agree with me. 


"May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, my Rock and my Redeemer."  Psalm 19:14 (NIV)

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Marriage Thing: Can Two Older Pups Learn Some New Tricks?

It was a question of teaching older pups new tricks.

Hubby JR and I have been married for 22 years.

A while back,  hubby JR and I headed to church for a marriage enrichment workshop--or as JR referred to it, "the marriage thing." 

Guess which one of us signed up, served on leadership planning, devloped the workbook and theme for the event, purchased the giveaway products, met with the speakers in advance AND guess which one of us dragged into the "thing" with resignation and furrowed brow? 

It was scheduled the night of the Cotton Bowl.  Guess which one of us attended Kansas State and was looking forward to watching the game AND guess which one of us was looking forward to exploring what makes a strong marriage tick?

Guess what happened?  We were pulling out of the church parking lot following the first session and, yup, the tension turned to a fight.

JR and I don't really fight frequently and we do fight differently (which we knew, but following the session we had the technical terms for our "conflict buttons").   I won't burden you with the details, I hope you are correctly assuming that I was mostly in the right, but given the bowl game situation JR was vulnerable.  That's how I remember it.

However, the great thing about our absurdity is we had very fresh material to apply to the teaching the next morning, and it brought some clarity.  The speaker made a great point that when we are aruguing, we are dealing with emotionally fueled states such as-need to be in control, need for afirmation, a feeling of failure or inadequcy--and that is what the teacher called a button.  The button takes over the conflict and crowds out the actual issue. When we are in conflict our instict is to tend to the button, not so much the issue.  He also made the point that as long as I am working on the button (emotion) I will never really resolve the issue. 

It was the classic helpful instruction--taking something familar and important and pointing to a way to make make modification which improves the circumstance.  I wonder how long we would have been stuck without tending to the actual issue. 

We both agreed and appreciated that the event was also full of some real humor, which kept us laughing both at the jokes, videos and most certainly at ourselves.

A post script:  K-State lost badly, so our time together watching the game was sure to be abbreviated.  All's well...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Getting to Church: Grace Needed!

Church:  by the time we actually get there, we really need to be there!


What is it about getting to church that creates such atmospheric disturbance? 

First, there is the logistics of all of us arriving at one place, at one time with teeth brushed.  While we are up earlier during the week, our departure is staggered, which helps, I think.  

There is also the tension of who wants to linger and when--the girls tend to linger in the bathroom getting ready for church.  I tend to linger at church visiting and catching up with my friends when the service or event is over and there is a chorus of sighs or hubby JR hand on the small of my back nudging me.  It's mutually annoying. 

But,  there is still the odd reality that why does attending one of our favorite places bring out the crabby?  We don't snarl on our way to grab a fro yo or pizza?  We don't sigh and nudge as we pack up to leave a movie or game?  

Some have suggested this universal tension is the devil's handy work.  I think instead it's more our approach. 

Do we over commit to church programs?  Sometimes.  In church world most everything is good, so how we determine what is wise needs to move beyond whether or not it's good. 

Do we try too hard to present ourselves as pleasant, happy and put together at church that we are exhausted by the the time we get there in trying to achieve a state of false put together?  Possible. 

Do we forget where we are going and why we are going?  Yes--it's not that we don't know why we love church or why it's important, its that we forget to remind ourselves of those basic things.

I really don't have an action plan or dedication to some new intentional direction, it just amuses me that more often than not, the process of getting to church creates a need to be there!  Maybe this is all God's sense of humor, inrony and humilty.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Daily Gifts: Little Bites Full of Flavor

Daily Gifts of Grace, devotions for each day of your year, is written by the Women of Faith team.  The devotions are tightly written anecdotes that offer a great mix of perspectives—not just encouragement. 
The daily devotionals are concise and not provocative, but they are honest, personal and good reads—vignettes.    I recommend this for those who seek a short interruption or start in the day with a good word.  It’s perfect to keep in a purse or car to read while waiting.  It would be great for a quick glance during a coffee break.  The scripture references are brief, and somewhat of an accessory—not tied to the story. 
There is a random quality to the collection, which I enjoyed but the inconsistent tone of each writer might frustrate some readers.  The cover and binding of the book are beautiful; it would make a nice gift.  It offers some lovely, relevant touches. 
I write independent reviews as part of the Booksneeze program of Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Beautiful Surprise of Fresh Eyes

I have been praying that this season of Advent be full of expectation, in a fresh way.  I wanted to consider the Gospel accounts, the worship, the music, the traditions with a fresh sense.  The season of Advent unfolded in a lovely, but predictable manner. Nothing "fresh"--- until late Christmas Eve afternoon.   

My church has, for its afternoon Christmas Eve service as a centerpiece, baptisms.  Sometimes there are many, this time two.  I was honored to assist with one this year. 

As the pastor walked the parents through details, the pastor said, "I will finish up with a prayer where we lay hands on you and your son,
praying for the day he stands before the church on his own proclaiming faith in Jesus Christ."  

The mom started to cry, she was so moved by this moment and the hope of that moment in the future.  It was touching and beautiful to see her emotion surface;  to see the depth of faithful love expressed in a spontaneous reaction. 

That was it.  Through her, I saw the majesty and import of it all with fresh eyes.  It was not what I expected and it was the best of surprises.  I worshipped with a joy and thankfulness anew.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Hardships Facing the Idle Rich

We finally shopped, wrapped, stamped and shipped a large pile of I don't even remember now to the Midwest where a large pile of kin are currently hunkering down through a blizzard.

Check off the list.

Enjoy an extra Christmas cookie.

Turn thoughts to the status of giving on the home

It occurred to us that some of what we had so smugly ordered first week of December had yet to arrive.  No worries, three shipping days left.  Yet, we had not seen the charge on the bank statement either.

Pause for dramatic effect.

It turns out the the set of new knives that hubby JR had found for me at a great price appealed to many other people as well and will be delivered around January 18ish--just in time for the festive gift giving so often associated with MLK and the NFL playoffs.

Also, it seems the moccasins that I found for hubby JR are out of stock--they told me of this when I directly asked them when to expect the moccasins--and we should expect them by next Christmas, no problem.

So, outside some new perfume (I am guessing) and a new belt and sweater for JR, we will be exchanging our out of stock good intentions on Sunday morning

It was an odd experience.  It was a little like an overbooked flight without any remedy.  No apologies, or offer for free shipping or even notification that our orders won't be filled until well after Christmas.

I say it was odd, because it's not exactly sad, is it?   This is the kind of hardship that rich people face.  Do we cancel, wait or scramble to find an alternative gift?

If I shared this with almost anyone else in the world they would be well maybe amused at what passes for a problem in the USA, probably shocked at what passes for a problem in the USA.

Of course I am not making light of the real trials people face (see last post), but I am making light of my current dilemma, because it feels a little like a problem, but is it really a problem of too much good stuff?

So what are the idle rich to do when confronted with such hardship?   Well, we decided to laugh at it, and give thanks for the hangnails and hangups of too much good stuff.


About Me

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Roswell, GA
Loves to find the answers to three questions of a sound Bible study: what does it say, what does it mean, what difference does it make?