Thursday, July 31, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Begin

Five Minute Friday


Joining the Five Minute Friday folks with Lisa Jo Baker for 5 minutes of beautiful, unedited, raw writing. Take some time and come join us. We need your story. You need your story. 
He needs your story. 

Today's word is...

Begin.

This is my beginning.

I look around and see the words of all of these amazing women, like Lisa-Jo Baker, who have been writing week after week, year after year.  But for me, it’s really just the beginning.  I only started seriously sitting down to write a couple of months ago.  I don’t even think it’s classified as “serious” writing.  But something is more than nothing, right?  I can honestly and truly say I sit and begin every single day... but don’t get very far.  I have pages and pages of writings from the last few weeks, all started, but most never finished.  I feel my heart aching to get the words out.  I struggle so hard to actually get them out and organized into something worth posting.  #fmfparty helps encourage me to finish what I begin.


I’m so very lucky.  I came upon #fmfparty from the suggestion of an amazingly inspiring woman – Marisa Slusarcyk.  She made one simple suggestion – try Five Minute Friday.  I can’t even being to tell you the emotions my heart and soul have experienced ever since that very first Thursday night. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the mere 5 weeks I’ve been participating in #fmfparty (more reading then writing), I’ve learned that you have to begin in order to get anywhere.  So, every day I will begin, even if I don’t finish.

Thank you Lisa-Jo for encouraging us all to begin something.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1 (NIV)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mistakingly Judged

He was only about one step from being in the road when I passed by. I slowed and looked. I didn't see anyone else nearby. I quickly flipped a U-turn. There was nowhere to park, so I just stopped in the middle of the two-lane road, and put my 4-way flashers on. I walked up to him…

“Sweetie, are you all by yourself?”

No response.

“Where’s your mom?” I asked.

“Mom,” he replied.

“Yes, where’s your mom?” I asked again.

“Mom,” he replied as he pointed to a stray dog over by a fence.

I looked up and to the right. I saw that the nearest house was about 75 feet way, the back of the house facing us with a fenced-in backyard. It was one of many houses all connected, all with the same fenced-in backyards. Just then, to my left, I saw a moving truck pulling out of the nearest cross-road. Another quick glance around confirmed there was not another soul in sight.

Just then, a car started to pass us. They slowed, rolled the window down and looked at us.

“I found him here… near the road. I think he’s too little to be out here on his own,” I said.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the woman in the passenger seat replied. “Who would do something like that? Unbelievable!” Then they drove off.

This could have been Elijah, I thought to myself.

I took the little boy’s hand. It was so small. He couldn’t have been older than 3 years. We started walking toward the fence line he had pointed to earlier.

“Hello? Hello?” I yelled.

We walked some more, hand in hand.

“Hello? Hello? Is anybody there?”

Just then, about 5 houses down the fence line, I saw a man coming out of the back fence gate. He started toward us at a slow jog.

“Is this your son?” I asked, as he approached.

“Yeah,” he replied.

“I found him near the road,” I said.

“Crazy,” the man replied.

Then he reached down and picked the boy up.

“Hi Daddy!” said the boy, as the man turned and walked back in the direction they came from.

I stood and watched as they walked away.

It could’ve been Elijah.

I've replayed that event over and over in my head for about a month now. The most profound thing was not that the little boy was by himself near the road. It wasn't that the dad didn't say more than two words to me when he found us. It was that woman’s comment – “Who would do something like that?”

All I can think is… I could easily “do something like that.” Elijah learned how to open the front door on his own about 6 weeks ago. I was putting dishes away and I heard the front door open and screen slam. I went to look, and there he was standing next to the shoe rack on the front patio.

It could’ve been Elijah.

Why are we so quick to judge?

Who are we to judge?

When did we become so perfect in our actions as mothers… so free of mistakes… so holy... that we felt the need to judge every misstep, every mistake, every sin of our fellow brothers and sisters? I hear it every day from others (and even from myself sometimes)-

“I can’t believe she allows her child to wear those clothes”…

“Why doesn't she discipline her children for behaving that way”…

“What kind of parent raises a child like that?”…

“How could she let her kid do that?”…

“What kind of mom let’s something like that happen?”…

Too often I am finding myself and my sisters in Christ asking questions just like these and not following it up with a look in the mirror. We are not perfect. We make mistakes. Even mistakes with our kids- life-altering, tragic mistakes. We need to remember - there is only one judge, and we are not that judge. He does not need us to be that judge. If we put as much energy into asking questions like “How can I help”, we would be a far better follower of Christ, a far better sister, a far better person.

That boy could have easily been my Elijah, just shy of 3 years old, who got out the front door while I was trying to get some dishes done. It wouldn't define WHO I am. Yes it would have been something I allowed to happen. Yes it could have turned into something tragic. But, the mistakes I make do not define who I am.

The mistakes you make do not define who you are.

Maybe, like me, you are that mama that allowed something terrible to happen to one of your children – because you were careless, or overworked, or tired, or overwhelmed. Maybe you are accepting responsibility for something that happened to one of them, but you had absolutely no control over. Maybe you’re that mom that sits, judged by others, for a mistake that you made or something you feel like you failed to do – seemingly never able to make up for that terrible thing that happened. If that is you, please know that there is only one judge and He died on the Cross to wipe away all of the mistakes that you and I made, and have yet to make. You don’t have to make up for your mistakes anymore.

I challenge you – if you are the one that passes judgment all too often, dig deep and try to change your heart. Every time you hear your thoughts or words being judgmental, try to follow it up with an act of kindness directed toward the one you judge. Be who Christ intended you to be – a woman or man of forgiveness, helping those in need.

If you are the one that feels judged, please pray to the Lord asking Him for His forgiveness of your mistake. He has already forgiven you, but sometimes the act of asking for forgiveness helps us with the next step, which is letting it go. Let it go, sister. What’s done is done, and you cannot go back and change it. He has forgiven you. Your mistakes do not define you. You do not need to concern yourself anymore with the judgment of other sinners- other women and men- who also make mistakes.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd
soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

John 9: 2-11 (NLT)


Friday, July 25, 2014

Five Minute Friday - I will Finish


Five Minute Friday

Joining the Five Minute Friday folks with Lisa Jo Baker for 5 minutes of beautiful, unedited, raw writing. Take some time and come join us. We need your story. You need your story. 
He needs your story. 

Today's word is...

Finish.

Mommy needs to finish this paper and then we’ll read a book.

As soon as I’m finished with the dishes…

Once I finish this call…

Once I’m finished with work…

After I finish this last trip report…

Let me finish this last email…

I have to finish this laundry and then we’ll go…

Can I please just finish this?

I will finish so I can start. 


I will finish so I can start being the wife He wants me to be.



I will finish so I can start being the mother He wants me to be.

I will finish so I can start being the daughter of Christ I need to be.

I will finish with the things that don’t matter so that I can start doing the things that do matter.


Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
 Ecclesiastes 7:8

Friday, July 11, 2014

I Belong to Him


Five Minute Friday
Joining the Five Minute Friday folks with Lisa Jo Baker for 5 minutes of unedited, raw writing. Take some time and come join us. We need your story. You need your story. He needs your story.

Today's word is...

Belong.


When I was a teenager I remember how desperately I wanted to belong.  I wanted to feel like I fit in and was accepted by the "in crowd". There were three basic groups – the jocks, the popular kids, and the “others”.  I remember trying so very hard to belong to one of the first two groups.  I played soccer and I was a cheerleader.  I didn't really like either one of those.  I only participated in them in order to belong to something.  I even begged my parents to buy me expensive clothes and the latest gadgets in an effort to fit in with the popular kids.  In the end, I can’t really say that I ever fulfilled my desire to belong in high school.

When I chose a college, I chose one that was far away from home.  I wanted to get far away from the groups of people that never made me feel like I belonged.  Once I got there, the "belong" process was about the same.  I experimented with different groups of people – mostly sororities.  I still wanted so badly to feel like I belonged.  After 1 year, several terrible choices, and not being selected for any of the sororities, I left college to move back home and attend a state school.  I never fulfilled my desire to belong in college.

About two years after I graduated high school, I set aside the college initiative and joined the Army.  Surely, I would fulfill my desire to belong as a member of an organization that was rich with history and tradition, fighting for our countries freedoms.  The Army, after all, is the ultimate melting pot of our melting pot country. Here, I found bits of my desire fulfilled – but never for very long.  Just when I felt like I belonged, new people would come, and my current leaders, peers, and friends would leave to their next assignment.  Then I was stuck trying to fit in… all over again.  I can’t say that anyone or anything made me feel like I didn't belong.  The experience just never quenched that longing desire. 

Then I found Jesus.  He gave me hope.  He gave me perspective.  He made me realize that no one thing and no one person can fulfill my desire to belong.  He made me realize that I was wasting an awful lot of energy on things that simply did not matter.  I was chasing after something that will never be fulfilled until I enter His kingdom.  He made me realize that the easiest way to fit in and belong is to be who I am – who he created me to be - and long for only Him.  

Now, my only real desire is to fit in with Him.  There is nothing I need to do to be accepted by Him, because I already have been.  I don’t need to be anything I am not, because He loves me just the way I am.  Whenever I feel like I don’t belong, I need only to close my eyes and pray and He will be remind that I DO belong to something.

I belong to Him.


If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
John 15:19 (NIV)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

10 Things I Have a Love/Hate Relationship With

1)  Waking up early
2)  The Disney movie Frozen
3)  Chocolate
4)  Cleaning my house
5)  Doing laundry
6)  Running
7)  Sharing my raw feelings
8)  Being in the military
9)  Honolulu traffic
10) Writing

What do you have a love/hate relationship with?

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
Galatians 5:17 (NLT)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Releasing that one thing

Joining the Five Minute Friday folks with Lisa Jo Baker for 5 minutes of unedited, raw writing.  Today's word is...
 
Release.
 
Such a difficult concept to grasp. Why can't it be as easy as it sounds? Releasing that one thing...
 
Maybe for you that one thing is-
 
worrying about his future
controlling the kids behavior
anxiety about the presentation
anger at his revealed secret
envy of her good fortune
hate for his poor choice
disappointment in yourself
guilt for that last purchase
the mistake he made
the mistake you made
the lego you just stepped on...again
the inability to release
 
"Just let it go," they all say.
"Stop letting it hold you back."
"Release it to Him".
It's just not that easy.

"Yes it is," they argue.
I know it is. The bible tells me so.

I believe in Him. Don't I?
I trust Him.  Don't I?
But, I still struggle.  I still can't let it go.
If I really believed and I really trusted,  shouldn't I be able to just...
release it?
 
I am not alone.  He knew I would struggle with releasing my one thing. He forged ahead, struggling for me. He is by my side as I muddle my way through. He applauds my mini-victories- when I do  release it, even if it's for only a moment.
 
Every moment focused on him is a moment of release, and those moments count.  He released His spirit in hopes that I would release that one thing. He knew I would forsake Him by not releasing it. He forgives me, so I need to forgive me.
 
When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit. John 19:30 NLT

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Today I fell apart…. and Jesus picked me back up

Do you ever feel like things are piling up in life?  Like you’re a waitress at a busy restaurant and you have too many plates on your tray.  Then, all of a sudden, the kitchen adds one more plate for table 7.  Then, the whole thing comes toppling down.  I’ve heard of people experiencing this occasionally in life.  They get entirely too much on their tray of life and eventually, something has to give.  I tend to experience this on a weekly or monthly basis.

On Monday evening, I had a complete meltdown…

In the middle of Honolulu H1 westbound traffic at 5pm…

Going 7mph…

This is fairly typical for my Mondays.  I wake up ready to take on the world.  By mid-morning, I discover how much I need to accomplish and I become overwhelmed.  By mid-afternoon, I’m scrambling to plan out how I am ever going to accomplish everything that needs to be accomplished.  It’s not until I’m sitting in Honolulu traffic that the conditions are just right for me to fall apart.  Sometimes the melt-down comes in the form of anger and frustration, sometimes an overwhelming sense of hopelessness followed by an evening of being curled up in bed having my own little pity party. 

As I was sitting in traffic, these were my thoughts-

Can these cars be moving any slower?  Why can’t anyone in this state drive in the rain? I have a paper due at 7pm and it’s already 510pm – how am I going to get it done?  It’s already a week late and she won’t accept it after tonight.  How am I going to pay those 3 unexpected bills?  I can’t believe Dave had to fill up the Expedition again already – should have never bought that gas guzzler.  When is God going to answer my prayers about how to help my Dad?  Has He already answered and I missed it.
  
And then it happened. 

The tears started streaming uncontrollably.  I called a friend and told her I was overwhelmed.

She said these words to me –

“Breathe, Michelle, breath.  It will be okay; say a little prayer, turn on the music and worship Him.  Use this time that you are stuck in traffic to sing His praises…”

So I turned up my worship music. 

And I said a little prayer.

And I cried.  And cried. And cried.

Then I was home. 

That night, I got down on my knees by my bed and thanked Jesus for everything He had given to me.  I thanked Him for helping me finish my paper and for being patient with me.  I asked that He continue to teach me lessons and to forgive my ungratefulness and anger in the wake of the storms.  

Before I want to bed, these were the thoughts that came to mind-

I am victorious.  In the wake of troubled seas and torrential storms I need only to stand in victory because He will guide me through every turbulence in life.  I don’t need the wisdom to get through.  I don’t even need a map.  I need only to trust that He will see me safely through.  Keep my eyes focused on HIM, not on the circumstances and when I feel my gaze drifting away, fight the urge.  Today I broke down in tears in the car on the way home from work.  I fell apart.  And then He picked me back up and I was okay again.  I learned today that it’s okay to fall apart, because He is always there to pick me back up.  Tonight ,as I get ready to go to sleep, I feel victorious.  Nothing has changed except that I feel peace.

Will I continue to put entirely to much on my tray?  Probably yes

Will I fall apart again?  Absolutely yes

Will Jesus be there to pick me back up?  Yes... And I will feel peaceful again.

My devotional Tuesday morning was based on Isaiah 26:3 and Corinthians 4:18- a devotional I could have used Monday morning.  Well played, God.  Well played.

 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”
Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)