Monday, April 25, 2011

Read your map

Those that know me well know that I make a monthly trip to my parent’s house.   It has become a part of my routine.  There really is no good way to get there.  When we first moved to Greenville I would go into Mt. Pleasant and then head to their house from there.  It was well out of the way but I didn’t know a better way.  I then tried a different way and found that I didn’t like that one as well.  I kept looking at a map and trying to figure out  a way I would rather take.  There is several different ways to get there.  There is no straight way.  I didn’t mind the time it took to get there it was just that I couldn’t find a way that made more sense.  Finally after I got frustrated with trying to figure out what way was best on my own, I asked my dad.  I was at their house and said “Dad, is there a better way to get home than the way that I have been taking?”  He then pulled up a map and began to show me and then wrote it down for me.  I was a little nervous trying it out for the first time on my own and when I left it was pretty dark.  I said my goodbyes and was off to see if I could achieve this on my own.  If you have ever driven out in the country you know that when it gets dark there are NO street lights.  Mile after mile it was not just dark it was pitch black.  I had my headlights on the high beams and still could only see a short distance in front of me.  I was nervous that I would miss a turn or turn at the wrong spot.  I couldn’t see what turn I needed to make ahead of time, I had to be right on it for my headlights to pick up the road sign.  I missed one turn but the directions my father gave me were so clear.  He said “If you come to a dirt road, you missed your turn.  Turn around and go back to the very first cross roads and turn left.”  So that is exactly what I did.  Guess what, I got home.  And even a few minutes sooner than the way I took before.  That has now become the way I take every single month.  I really do love that way too.  It is a beautiful drive and I get to reflect on God’s creation most of the way.

By now maybe you know where I’m going with this one.  The last couple months on my drive God brought this to my mind.  He showed me that there are many different paths to take in this life.  Many choose to go it all alone.  They travel blindly in hopes that they will get to the place they intended to end.  Some take paths that start out with a map and then as the trip progresses they decide that they don’t need the map and put it aside.  Leaning on their own wisdom only to find out later that they made a few wrong turns when they did.  Some follow a map their entire lives only to find out at the end that they could have taken a better way to get there that might have saved a little heartache and pain.  “The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.” ~Psalm 32:8 (NLT).  We as Christians tend to think that we have “seen” the map and that after a while we will just remember how to get there.  Well the fact of the matter is, our memory just isn’t that good people.  I tried time and time to find that perfect way to my parents and it wasn’t until I gave up and my dad gave me not only a better way but the exact, picture perfect instructions on how to find my way to the end of my journey.  My challenge to you this week is this… do you seek God only when you have had enough of trying your way and then you cry out and ask God to remind you of the directions He gave you?  Do you forget to look at the beauty along your journey?  Do you find a new path when it gets dark and you can’t see where your turn is?  Do you trust that God will show you where and when to turn?  He has a map uniquely designed for you, are you allowing God to lead you?  He never promised that the roads through this life wouldn't have potholes and cracks but He did promise that He would give us peace that passes all understanding when we come to them.  Let him!  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Expectations


Expectations……  How do you fit people’s expectations of you?  You know the people that think you should do this, be here, go there, act a certain way, and don’t do this or that?  I have had people my entire life tell me how they feel I should be.  Being a pastor’s wife for several years, an associate and now a senior pastor, I have had several people hold me to their expectations of what that looks like to them.  It took me years to figure out exactly who I was after trying for so long to please all those people.  Funny thing is, no matter how hard I tried, I STILL couldn't make them happy.  Trust me I really did try.  But I found the harder I tried the further and further away I got from the true me who was inside begging to come out.  I was struggling so hard that I was actually fighting with myself just so I could fit the mold of what everyone around me seemed to think that I should.  Well see I didn’t fit and nothing I could do was going to make that any different.  See I was created to fit GOD’S mold and what HE wanted me to be.  God took me through a year of showing me, up close and personal, that He created me for a purpose.  He wanted me to be exactly the way He created me.  Not something someone else wanted me to be.  He wanted me to be more concerned about who and how He wanted me to be than what everyone around me thought I should be.  In that year God really took me through some pretty emotional stuff and self-seeking times.  I spent a lot of time literally on my knees bawling before God, pleading for guidance and direction.  You know what?  Through all of it, I learned to LOVE the skin I was in and who God created me to be.  I began to see myself as GOD sees me.  I never thought I would find such freedom in that.  The complete and total joy in knowing that God made me exactly the way He wanted me to be.  I’m not perfect, I know this.  I’m trying daily to live as God would have me to live.  I make mistakes and trust that when I do, God will be faithful and show me. 

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7 

My challenge to you this week would be this…. Take a look at yourself.  Are you holding others to expectations of how YOU feel they should act or be?  Do you think so and so would be a better Christian if they just did something different?  I also have to ask if you hold yourself to those same expectations.  Maybe you think a Christian looks a certain way and you are trying with everything in you to fit in that mold you created.  Take a step back.  Let God show you what being His child really looks like.  What you look like to Him.  How others look to Him.  See yourself and others through His eyes.  Give God the chance to show you what kind of freedom He can give you.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Real Family


I was sitting at home today reflecting on my weekend.  This last weekend I got to spend time with family.  If you know me, you know that I absolutely love spending time with my family.  I love time that I have with all of the 3 men in my life whether it is playing a game, going out to eat, going to a park, or museum, every moment to me is priceless.  I have some pretty awesome guys in my life.  Sometimes it seems that I don’t have enough time with them.  However this weekend I was given a gift of spending time with extended family.  First on Saturday my niece, her husband, and my great nephew came for an overnight stay as they were passing through.  I gave my little nephew his birthday gift that I was so excited to give him.  We walked to the park and spend a little time swinging.  We played cards well into the night.  We laughed so hard and had a great time.  Then on Sunday my dad and mom came for a surprise visit.  Well not a surprise to me but to my husband and my boys.  I was so excited that they were coming that it was so hard to keep it a secret from them for 2 weeks.  They sat beside me during church and I ALWAYS love hearing my mom sing.  Whenever she does it brings a tear to my eye.  I LOVE her voice!  Listening to them both say amen and make a comment now and again about what my husband was preaching was nice to hear.  We then had a really great lunch together around the table, wonderful conversation, and then a little drive.  I loved both days that I had with them all however it was so short.  It seemed that we had just begun having a wonderful time and it was time for it to come to a close.  Yes I think there is no doubt that I LOVE to spend time with my family.

It got me thinking about what the word family actually means.  When we think of family our minds tend to go to those that either live in our home with us or our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, or nephew.  But I have learned something along the way.  Blood doesn’t always make you family.  Someone that has your same blood, of course is family but maybe by name only.  We can have people in our lives that have been a part of our lives for many years or have been there with us through some very dark times in our lives.  I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to have non blood family in my life and know the unconditional love that was shown.  They were and are as much family to me if not more than some of my own blood family.  God also tells us exactly who our family members are, “Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”  Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers.  Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”  ~ Matthew 12:48-50 (NLT)  Made me start thinking how we as Christians look at one another.  Do we actually look at them as real family members?  Do you get excited when you get to spend time with your family members in Christ?  Do you wait with anticipation when you have a “date” set up to get together?  Does it feel like you don’t have enough time to spend together?  We are supposed to have that same joy we have when seeing our blood relatives when we see our family of God members.  So my challenge to you this week……. Check yourself.  Examine yourself to see if you avoid time together with your family of God or do you seek it out?  I think we all could spend more of our time with our family of God and encourage one another!  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Quiet Time


This blog will be short but VERY sweet!

I’m at a loss of words it seems.  I know there are words inside me but I just can’t seem to locate them.  There have been so many things in my life the last several months that have caught me speechless.  There have been times I have screamed in anger, times I have collapsed crying, and other times I have put a smile on and gone on as if nothing was happening.  No words have been able to express the tsunami of feelings and emotions.  They come in with no warning, flooding everything around them, and destroying as it wanders and meanders.  When it has receded and life is supposed to return to normal, there is a complete disaster left for you to clean up.  So at this time in my life I am finding that it is my time to “Be still, and know that I am God! . . .” ~ Psalms 46:10 (NLT).  I need to be quiet, to be still for a time and let God speak, work, love, and carry me.  Just let Him show me He loves me.  My challenge to you this week . . . . . Are you in a point in your life that you need to step back and be still?  Do you need to know the true love and compassion your God has for you?  He has something for you to hear and see, take the time to listen and notice.

“I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.” ~ Psalm 32:1 (NLT)

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.” ~ Psalm 62:5 (NLT)

“So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” ~ Lamentations 3:26 (NLT)