Thursday, May 26, 2011

What are you afraid of??

Not long ago, my husband and I were visiting with some young adults - individuals I had once coached, when I caught myself playing the comparison game. These girls were everything I never was, and never will be, and as our conversation took place I found myself wondering what do they think of me?? Thankfully God reminded me that it really didn't matter and I enjoyed our quick visit.

But in the days that have followed God has brought this back to mind a few times and in doing so has reminded me of a poem I wrote years ago. It was from my days in junior high when I idolized the varsity basketball girls and looked to them as my "hero." The lines He quickly brought to mind were -
"I admire you, but yet I'm afraid,
No, not of you,
but what you might think of me."
Thankfully I've moved past the admiration and idolization of people, but this recent experience reveals what I am still afraid's not the fear of death, public speaking or heights, it's the fear of what others think of me.

Let me ask you, "What are you afraid of?" Have you ever struggled with this one? If so, how do you move past it?

Obviously this fear is still part of my life, but I have taken steps in the right direction. Honestly there was a time I buried everything for this exact reason...I didn't want people thinking I was weak, afraid, had failed. Crazy thing is, is that's the truth - I am weak, at times I'm afraid and obviously I have failed.

I can try to hide this from others, but there is still one who sees it all and loves me anyway!! God knows everything about me and that doesn't change the way He thinks about me!!

That alone should motivate me to push past the newest way this fear impacts my life. At times when I feel like I should share my faith or speak up for Christ, my mind reverts to the lines in this poem and I fear what others will think of me. I hear myself wonder things like, "Will they think I'm a Jesus freak? Do they think I'm a bit out there?" If you suffer from this fear yourself you know the lines I'm talking about.

The next time this situation takes place I pray God will remind me of the new line He has put on my heart, "I love them and you do too, so don't be afraid, say what you need to say and remember what I think of you!!!"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Who am I?" - Others ask the question too!

As I walked down our gravel road, my mind began to reflect on all that God was doing and honestly I was amazed. He was doing things I never expected and at times pouring out blessings I didn’t feel I deserved. I thought about the privileges and responsibilities He had given to me as a wife and Mom, along with my role on a women’s ministry team. On top of this I was in the process of publishing a book that shared the role of mentoring in my life. Personally I did not feel worthy and on that lonely, quiet country road I can remember saying to God, “Who am I? Why are you blessing me? Why are you using me?”

Have you ever been there? Have you asked the question, "Who am I?" Have you asked God this question? I really don't believe I'm the only one who has, so please if you're part of the group share your story with me!

Today friend, I want you to know that it's not just you and me in this question asking club, because others have done the same.

Will you join me in looking at Exodus 3? Here we find the story of Moses and the burning bush, where God reveals Himself to Moses. But He doesn't stop there, no God calls Moses and instructs him to bring His people out of Israel.

In verse 11 we hear Moses's response, "But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Does that sound familiar?? A child of God questioning his call, ability and perhaps even his worth. I understand and am reminded of not long ago when my 8 year old son said to me, "Mom, you're a lot like Moses!"

Perhaps Moses was the founder of the "Who am I?" club, but he was joined by another great man of the Bible. Now let us turn to 2 Samuel chapter 7 - God has just promised David that He will establish his kingdom, one that will last forever. And how does David respond?

In verses 18 and 19 we read, "Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: “Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign LORD, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign LORD, is for a mere human!"

I'm not sure about you, but it helps me to know I'm not alone in asking the question, "Who am I?" But I can find even more help as I read on...

Moses, who asked the question because he doubted his ability, heard some encouraging words after voicing his concern to God. Our Father, the creator of the world, had this to say to our frightened friend, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” (Ex. 3:12)

God's response wasn't based on Moses's strengths, abilities or even his weaknesses; instead God knew all Moses needed was His presence! Friend, I believe He says the same to me and you today!!

We can also find insight in the next bit of David's story as well - we left off when David was wondering why God had brought him so far and promised him so much. I believe David is a bit like you and me, well aware of his faults, shortcomings and sin; perhaps he felt he didn't deserve all God was giving. But rather than dwell on this, listen to what David says next, “How great you are, Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. LORD Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign LORD, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.” (2 Samuel 7:22, 27-29)

Rather than focusing on himself, David turned his eyes and thoughts towards God. The truth of who God is, reminded him of who he was and when we focus on God, He will do the same for us. That doesn't mean we are deserving of the blessings and gifts He shares, but our God is a giving God and as His children we should receive what He has to offer with open arms rather than endless questions.

These thoughts remind me of a phrase our Pastor likes to use, "God says it, so that settles it!!" Friend, the next time you feel like Moses and question your ability to do what God is calling you to do or feel like David and wonder if you're worthy of what God is giving you, will you join me in embracing the idea my pastor shares? The truth is God will equip you for His calling and because of His grace we will be given blessings and opportunities we don't deserve.

I'd love to hear if you've asked the question, "Who am I?" What answer did God give you?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Who am I?" - Man's Description vs God's Definition

Over a week ago on Facebook I posted the following question, "Using one word, how would you describe me??" I greatly appreciated the comments I received and the kindness in which they were given, but God has used them for more than a simple pat on the back. I knew He had a greater purpose - that's why I asked the question, but this morning I've been surprised at what He has had to say.

You see, back in January I posted the same question with the intention of asking it again...basically to prove that man's words can change and we're not always surrounded by the same people. And when I compare the responses from January to May, that's true...only 3 of the 20 plus responses were the same and only one individual commented on both posts.

God clearly showed me what I expected, but like usual He's done so much more. As I reflected on this list of words a few different things came to mind...I thought these people are my "friends", so granted not everyone would be as kind. Some of the comments were left by individuals I see once a week, but most were words from people I don't see very often, which made me think of a story involving Lysa TerKeurst. Last year as we prepared for our women's retreat (where Lysa was our guest speaker) a lady (who was amazed that Lysa was coming to Iowa) said, "You know Lysa TerKeurst is a pretty big deal!!" After sharing that with Lysa, she laughed and simply responded, "Tell that to my kids."

I could do the same and I'm sure, actually I know they could share times when patient, sincere and gracious did NOT describe who I was. All of this reminded me that others don't always know who I am, yes they can see characteristics, but God is the only constant...He knows me. Others can describe me, but only HE can define me.

The other day after helping make rhubarb jam, my oldest two were talking about the recipe - how their aunt might like the jam, but they knew how to make it and what was in it! In a way, I (and you) am like that jam - others may enjoy what I have to offer and appreciate who I am, but God, my creator, is the ONE who knows me and what I'm made of.

Others may describe me as humble, but He sees my heart and knows that is not always the case. Friends may see me as someone who is focused, but He knows the time I've wasted. I could go on, but I think you get the idea - GOD is the only one who can define me, which is why I must continually ask Him who I am!!

Today I'm realizing that there are two sides to that question - sometimes He builds me up with the wonderful answers He shares - I'm chosen, I'm HIS, I'm valued, I'm treasured, I'm beautiful... But there are also times when this question and the answer my Father shares is convicting. I ask Him, "Who am I Lord? Am I humble?" And He shows me what He sees, my heart, one that doesn't always make itself small, one that's not always like Him and that hurts because it is the desire of my heart to be Christ-like.

That's when the grace that flows from our Father comes into play and rather than allowing me to beat myself up with my failure once again, He reminds me of how He defines me - a child that He loves, a daughter whom He forgives and woman who is a work in progress.

I'm grateful for how my friends describe me, but I pray I will continue to focus on and embrace how God defines me!! Will you do the same??

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Honoring God

Honoring God...what does that look like? What does that mean? As I thought about this I was reminded of a statement I heard in an Anne Graham Lotz Bible study. I don't recall if it was Henry Blackaby or Crawford Lorrits, but one of them said, "The greatest honor we can give God is to believe Him." Think about that! What does that statement mean to you???

It says a lot to me...I want to honor God, but at times I get it all wrong. There are moments I think I need to perform, I need to do something, but all He asks of me, and you, is that we believe! When life is hard, when the Dr.'s report isn't what we prayed for, when accidents happen and life ends too fast, when plans fall apart and things don't go like we expect...He wants me to believe! I'm convinced part of that believing is trusting and remembering that He has a plan, He has a purpose and He has a future for me!!

As I walk this road of faith, I pray I will remember how to honor the One who calls me daughter...

"The Greatest Honor"
"Lord, how can I honor you?
Lead a Bible study?
Start a mom's group?
Teach Sunday school?
Love my family?
Be a friend?
If that's not it,
what can I do?"

"Believe - when circumstances make no sense.
Believe - when the future is unknown.
Believe - when the world says doubt.
Believe - when the pain is impossible.
Believe - when my plans aren't what you expect.
My child the things you do
bring me glory,
but the greatest honor you can give is
believe in who I Am."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"She's A Friend"

“She’s A Friend”
She’s a friend to the young girl
who feels out of place.
Her kind words and caring ways
welcome her.

She’s a friend to her daughter’s coach,
who’s in need of confidence.
Her thoughtfulness and reassurance
encourage her.

She’s a friend to the one
who is hurt.
Her compassionate heart and loving spirit
comfort her.

She’s a friend to the new Mom
who doesn’t know what to do.
Her honest example and Godly advice
guide her.

She’s a friend to the quiet girl
who’s afraid to open up.
Her shared struggles and admitted mistakes
strengthen her.

She’s a friend to the woman in her 30's
who has a fear of failure.
Her listening ear and their time together
change her.

She’s a friend to her daughter
who sometimes has doubts.
Her constant prayers and walk of faith
inspire her.

She is a friend to God
because she knows His Son.
Her helping hand and grateful heart
glorify Him.

A special thanks to all my friends out there!! You are each a blessing!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Mother's Day Give-Away

Mother's Day is upon us and my little ones have been giving me newly colored pictures and hand picked dandelions for the last three days! This day truly is set aside to give thanks - none of us would be here without our moms. A Mom's impact really can't be measured and it lasts a lifetime! In honor of this special day, I'd like to give one of you something, and don't worry I haven't been coloring and I won't send you a bouquet of dandelions! Instead in celebration of Mother's Day, I'm giving away a copy of "Letters from Leanne - The Beauty of a Spiritual Mother-Daughter Relationship."

To enter, simply leave a comment with your email and an answer to this question, "How has your mom or "another Mother" impacted you in a spiritual way?" I look forward to hearing your thoughts and will share more of mine on Monday when the winner is announced!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you and a special blessing for those who assist in the motherly role as Aunts, neighbors and friends!!! God uses you in a special way too!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Be who you are!!"

Over the past couple of months I've been writing a series titled, "Who am I?" During that time I've been doing a lot of thinking and digging into God's Word. I've also been able to read a wonderful new book by Renee Swope, "A Confident Heart," which God has used to challenge and change me.

But this past week in church I was reminded that I have a ways to go - knowing who I am is not enough, I must be this Our pastor gave a sermon titled, "Be who you are." His message focused on Colossians 3:12 "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." The message He brought was powerful and convicting, but God has used those four little words to remind me of even more these last few days.

It's one thing to know who I am, which I believe really is a never ending journey as I daily walk in faith, but I'm beginning to realize the more I learn about God and the closer I get to Christ the more I know about myself. And the thing is God doesn't just want me to know these facts and truths, He wants me to believe them, He desires for me to live them.

Let me explain...just last week I posted, "A Confident Heart - The Before and After Look" - words that shared the impact Renee's book had on me and my heart. The words I shared are true, God is changing me and answering my question - He is telling me who I am!! I am His child! A daughter who is holy, chosen and loved!! A daughter He forgives and has made new!

Since that is who I am, that is who I need to be, but late last week that wasn't happening - I found myself listening to lies, I willfully played the comparison game (and lost), I worried, I found myself overwhelmed and trying to take things into my own hands.

Looking back I realize instead of being who I am, I was living as who I used to be - the quiet kid with a fear of opening up, the good girl who put on a smile to hide the pain and the lonely child who isolated myself. I was the approval addict playing the comparison game and the consecutive losing streak assured me I was the weakest link. And after this cycle of events, I found myself back at the before picture - I was Ms. Doubtful.

THANKFULLY GOD works in wonderful ways, first of all though the lies were screaming (even louder than my 4 children!!) He kept whispering to my heart. His truth reminded me of His promises. Then He blessed me with a song, I know I've heard numerous times, but one that He personally spoke through on our way to church, "Beautiful" by Mercy Me. This line specifically hit hard, "For all the lies you've held inside so long, But they are nothing in the shadow of the cross." Yes, I knew I was listening to lies - the "you're not good enough, you're a failure, someone else could do it better...", but knowing they were lies wasn't enough, I had to let them go and drown them with Truth. As the song continued God reminded me of some of those powerful truths, "You are made for so much more than all of this, You're beautiful! You are treasured, You are sacred, You are His."

All these truths are good things, God honestly feels this way about me, and friend about you too, but if we stop at simply knowing them it really doesn't do much good. For us or God. We need to believe them, and then like my pastor said, we must be who we are - God's chosen people, ones who are holy and loved!!

Believe me I know it can be easier to live how we've always lived; it's work to replace lies with Truth, but God didn't call us to be His child to walk an easy road and on this journey He promises to always be near. So today I challenge you to make the choice to embrace who God says you are and then live like you believe it is true!! Friend don't allow yourself to be comfortable with who you've always been, we were made for more!! And like me, don't fear change more than you fear God - I know it's hard, but He is worth it!!

Today may we not only remember 2 Corinthians 5:17, but more importantly live it out!! "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"