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Friday, September 30, 2011

Too Busy To Laugh

I went out for breakfast with my husband this morning.

I loooove our morning dates.  There's nothing like starting the day with my best friend and a cup of coffee.  Our conversation started out with small chats of this and that and some scheduling and administrative sort of things. 

But, then we got beyond business. 

Our conversation took a sudden turn down humor lane.  And, suddenly, it became one big stand up comedy routine as we joked about life and our observations of people, society and ourselves.  I started to laugh so hard I was bent over in my chair right in the middle of the restaurant -- holding my mouth closed to help silence myself, only to sit up and roar again with laughter -- almost choking on my eggs over medium.  I just couldn't help myself.  And, honestly, it felt so good to laugh, I didn't want to stop. 

As we were leaving the restaurant I said, "Gosh, honey.  I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard.  I've just been too busy to laugh."

And, that's when I stopped and heard myself.

TOO BUSY TO LAUGH???

What has life become that I have so much to do that I am too busy to laugh?

It's like a baker who works hard all day long but never stops and savors the sweetness in front of him.  Or, a man who has built his house, but is too busy to stop and sleep in it and enjoy the work of his hands. 

Being busy isn't a bad thing.  But, we must be careful that it does not rob us. 


Have you been too busy to laugh?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beyond the Rules

I'd say I'm a rule follower.

I stop at red lights.  I pay my taxes.  I  buckle my children properly when driving in the car.  I like doing what is right.  It not only is important in society, but it makes me feel good and it helps me feel secure that no one can accuse me of doing something wrong.

I think it's commendable and it pleases God when we obey the law of the land.  So, I carry that rule-following mentality into my relationship with God.  I want to 'get it right'.  I want Him to be happy with me.  I want to win His favor and never be accused of getting it wrong.  How tragic that would be!  What would happen if I lost God's favor in my life?  Would He leave me?  Would He stop providing for me?  Would something bad happen as a result of my wrong doing?  Would He just disown me and stop loving me?  And, then what would I have to do to gain it back?  How many rules would I have to follow and for how long to win His Love again? 

It turns into a horrible place of insecurity with God.  I base how much He loves and accepts me by how good I have been that day.  If I have volunteered to help the needy, surely God loves me more today.  But, if I don't do what I think I should be doing, I place myself outside of God's acceptance.  I condemn myself -- even before finding out His feelings on the topic.  The bottom line is, I'm looking at me, not Him.  I'm judging myself rather than letting God have the final say on it.

And, when I do find out what He thinks, this is what He tells me.  This is His Song over me...

"You have already won my heart.  There is nothing that can separate you from the Love of God in Christ Jesus.  There is nothing that is too big that I can not forgive through my Son and His sacrifice for you on the cross.  Rules are for religion.  Grace is for relationship.  I love you.  And, you are accepted not by what you have done, but what my Son has already done for you.  And, that is the bottom line."



Thursday, September 22, 2011

Formulas & Conclusions

I remember them well...  Physics class, Geometry, Algebra.  Classes I took in high school that helped to label and put into words and equations the things in our natural world.

What I think is so interesting about the study of science and math is that all these things existed and had their 'rules and laws' well before we defined them.  And, that is all we did.  We didn't go and make the rules and then ask the natural world to fit our formulas.  We discovered and studied it first and found out the truth about it. Then, we defined it, explained it, and made our formulas.  We didn't ask nature to fit what we think it should be.

Interestingly, though, many of us have not taken this approach with the spiritual world.  We have come to our own conclusions about who God is, the way He feels about us, His Character, His Love, and even His Judgement and how to get to Heaven.  We have made our own formulas about something we have not even understood the Truth about ourselves.  And, what is worse, we have gone and told others about it and have taught it as if it was the Truth.

How is it that we would not attempt to make nature's rules, but we think we can make our own spiritual rules? 

We can not.

Truth is Truth.  It existed long before man. 

And, if we are wise, we will do as we have done with science and math...  we will first seek out the Truth.  The One.  The Way.  The Life.  We will not make our definitions and formulas and ask Him to 'please fit nicely in my box'.  But, we will first discover Him, and allow Truth to define Himself to us.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rescue Pet


Rescue pets.

The animals that once were abused, abandoned or mistreated, are brought into a safe space to recover -- in hopes that they will heal and find a place of belonging in their new environment.

My children and I met one yesterday.  Our neighbor bought a beagle who apparently came out of very rough circumstances.  Beautiful little dog.  But, her past was written all over her face. 

"She's scared of people," my neighbor explained to my youngest daughter, who asked if she could pet the dog, "Not nice things were done to her, so now she is scared of everyone."

"Ah, poor thing," my daughters and I said.

"She's still getting used to me even," my neighbor continued, "It took my mother and I an hour yesterday to get her to come out from under the bed."

You wonder what could have happened to the dog --  that even the new owner, who feeds and loves her, is still trying to earn the dog's trust.  I guess it's one of those things... you can take the dog out of the fear, but it's hard to take the fear out of the dog.

***

Many of us are like rescue pets.  We were literally rescued.  There was no hope for us up to that point.

And, now the process of renewal begins.  Rebuilding trust with our new Parent as He reestablishes our concept of what Love really is.  At first, we might be like the beagle.  We're scared of everyone -- even the ones that love us.  We run and hide under the bed for our own protection.  We don't believe quite yet that we are safe in our new Home. 

But, with time and steady, consistent nurturing, we are slowly changed.  We psychologically turn the corner.  We begin to allow our hearts to draw closer and closer to our Father, as we become more and more aware of just how deeply loved and accepted we truly are.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Guess How Much I Love You

It's funny how we can act differently with people based on how we think they feel about us. 

If we think the person has a low opinion of us, it might be hard to relax and completely be ourselves with them and around them.  On the other hand, if we know they esteem, appreciate, care, or love us, we are more likely to let down our guard.  There's nothing to try to prove.  There is no need to feel defensive.

With that said...  when you think about God, what are your first thoughts about how He feels about you?

Do you think God loves you?
Or, do you think God has a low opinion of you?


Many of us would give the Sunday School answer...  "God loves me, of course."  But, is this how your heart truly feels?  Do you know that He loves you?  Do you know He does not condemn you?  The real answer can be seen in how you react around Him.  Are you relaxed and able to be yourself?  Or, is your guard and defenses up?  A heart that knows it is loved and accepted does not feel the need to fight or run and hide.

Last night, I read a book to my daughter, Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.  Illustrated by Anita Jeram.  What a perfect picture of us and our Daddy and how He really feels about us.

It's a discussion between a father Hare named Big Nutbrown Hare and his son Little Nutbrown Hare.  The son is determined to show his father how much he loves him, but is continuously outdone by his father's answers.  Little Nutbrown extends his arms to show how much he loves his dad, but when his dad stretches out his arms, they reach even farther than his son's could ever reach.  The son reaches up high -- but the father can reach higher.  "I love you as high as I can hop!" the son says.  "But, I love you as high as I can hop," Big Nutbrown Hare responds.  Finally, after going back and forth, Little Nutbrown Hare thought he had it... "I love you right up to the moon," he said.  Surely, his father's love could not be bigger than that.  But, as the father leaned over and kissed his son good night, he whispered with a smile,

"I love you right up to the moon -- and back."


 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Dare You

What would life look like if we completely chose not to worry?

Is it even possible to go a day without worrying in some way?  For many of us, worry has such a prominent place in our lives that it's become a normal feeling.

I remember one day, I went through most of the day not being mentally stressed or worried about anything and the thought actually came to me:"This feels weird. I should be concerned about something right now, right?" Having a peaceful heart and mind actually felt abnormal. Surely there was something out there that needed my worrying -- as if somehow worrying contributes or helps a given situation.  In reality, of course, it does not.

But there is one thing that I can do.

Our Father tells us not to worry about anything.   Let me say that again.... ANYTHING.

But, instead -- Pray.

Prayer replaces worry.  Worry can't contribute but prayer can.   Worry doesn't bring Peace but prayer does.   Worry doesn't change things but prayer absolutely will.

So, I dare you.   I dare myself.
Instead of worrying today, let's channel every anxious thought into communion with a Dad that loves us and is there for us. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fighting The Water

Flooding.

It's a word no one ever wants to hear.  We build our levees.  We make our preparations to secure our homes.  We bite our finger nails when we hear news of its possibility.  It just makes us down-right nervous.  It's an act of nature that, if unleashed, can overcome us.

In the natural, flooding is a headache and can be a heartbreak.  But, in the supernatural, it's the best thing that can ever happen to us. 

God's Love toward us is a Mighty River.  It's Strong.  Its Power can overwhelm us. 

But, many of us have built our levees.  We have built our walls of self protection -- maybe even without realizing it.  We fight against the Mighty Current.  We resist the waters of Love that want to flood our hearts so that it can cleanse us, overwhelm us with its Joy, sweep us off our feet and carry us into the arms of our Father.

And, He's asking us.

He's asking us to let go.  Let Him in.  Let the flood waters flow.  Let His Love drench our hearts.  Cleanse us.  Fill us.  Settle our greatest fears.  Calm our stressful minds.  Wash our broken lives.

He's asking us...   to allow the Flood.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

You-nique

There's a phrase that goes, "In a world where you can be anything, be yourself."

To the person who wrote that, I wanted to say, "Thank you".  Thank you for the reminder that me is all I can be.  And, that has been a  journey for me to discover.  No, I can't run like my sister.  No, I can't cook like my friend can.  No, I don't always have my words together and speak eloquently like my neighbor.

But, I am me.   And, beyond that, I am only an actress playing a role -- trying to be something I am not.

An apple tree makes apples.  It's not ashamed that it can't make pears because it was not designed to make pears.  Jaguars aren't better than turtles just because they can move faster.  And, eagles aren't better than snakes just because they have wings.  Creation amazingly expresses itself in its own unique fashion -- Rainbows.  Waterfalls.  Oceans.  Space. 

And, we should feel comfortable and confident, too, in how uniquely and wonderfully the Creator has made each of us.