Monday, February 25, 2013

The Real Before

Week 11 Day 2:  Before from the Live Second devotional

Tell It.  We all have a "before" story.  What is yours? 
Have you ever wondered what your "church friends" would think of you if they really knew you?  What if they knew who you used to be before you turned your life around or at minimum started behaving better in public? 
I believe that there is an underlying tension in many churches between being "good" Christians and being real.  I feel it all the time.  It's that disapproving look when I say something that really is funny but isn't as vanilla as it should be.  Sometimes it's the gasp and wide-eyed stare when I talk about something I did in college.  By the reactions of some people, you'd think that they are on the fast track to sainthood. 
I truly believe that I was an average American teenager and young adult.  We weren't a church going family.  My grandmother took my sisters and me to church or I went with my cousin.  We never went as a whole family.  My life probably modeled what most kids face and compared to a lot of my peers, my choices weren't that bad.  I didn't smoke or try drugs.  I avoided the wrong side of the law.  But I'm sure that there are plenty of events that would be frowned upon. 
Especially during high school I was searching for a place to be accepted.  I needed to find something to be a part of.  I found soccer until I hurt my knee.  I found show choir which wasn't always the best social influence or moral compass.  I even found an active church youth group which had it's own set of questionable aspects.  The summer before my senior year I started dating my now husband.  He was a large part of changing my "before."  He helped me to realize that I could be me and he would love me.  I didn't have to try to be someone different to win his affection. 
Our "before" is part of who we are.  If we didn't have "befores" we wouldn't need grace.  If we could be perfect and sinless, Christ's sacrifice would be for nothing.  How great is our God who can cover all our sins no matter how big or small!
Ephesians 2:8 " For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God"

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Story in 138 Characters

Week 11 Day 1: Short Story  from the Live Second devotional

Philippians 3:7 "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ."

Tell It:  What is your story in 140 characters or less?  What were you like before your big moment(s) with God?  How would you describe that moment?  What were you like, or what did you learn as a result of that moment with God? 

Lost. Searching. I found my husband. I still needed more. Christ called me to follow His path. His path led to fulfillment outside myself.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Obedience Takes You Places

I am the example of Type A personality.  Sometimes that is my greatest asset, sometimes my worst enemy.  If there is a problem to be fixed, most times I can ignore the emotions and just make decisions and reach a solution.  At other times, I am so busy planning my life that God needs to place some roadblocks to get me to stop and pay attention. 

Almost ten years ago I was going to take the world by storm.  I had a great job that I loved, was happily married, and had worked my way in a leadership position with a state organization.  There was talk about being the first woman elected Chairman and the first from our state on the national board.  I fed off the attention and success so much that I was willing to put our family on hold to reach my goals.  If only I could reach one milestone; I could apply for a selective leadership program and be on my way to a national platform.  I didn't make that milestone even though I prepared more than for any other opportunity.  I didn't make the cut but looking back that was for the best.  Success would have meant traveling without my husband around the country and delaying our family.  It also would have happened in the middle of a very difficult situation with my extended family.  I needed to be home during that time.

A few years later I thought I figured out the plan again.  I was sure that traveling to Cambodia and adopting from Vietnam was what I was supposed to do.  Even though these plans were generous and well intended, it still wasn't the right path.  The Cambodia trip never materialized beyond someones good idea and adoption from Vietnam was suspended.  Asia wasn't the answer either. 

Another three years and I found the answer--Guatemala.  Not a country I would have considered before but where I was meant to go.  Guatemala was the place where I would find my answers.

James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Read my guest post at My Crazy Adoption for more of the answers I found.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Diary of a Bad Friend

And you thought that only a wimpy kid kept a diary...

Somehow as the last fifteen years have passed, the importance of relationships has slipped away as well.  Life became a battle for survival, not an experience of enjoyment.  I have never been an open person, never sharing with many people but that circle has continued to shrink to only a small handful of people.  The demands of a family and work trumped the extras--picnics, parties, even phone calls.  Anything that wasn't on my Outlook calendar wasn't done and if you weren't on the path between the house, work, and church then I have missed you. 

During those same years, experiences have changed who I am and how I react.  Life has made me distrusting of most people because if you trust someone and are open to them you give them the opportunity to hurt you.  I've learned that the hard way on a couple occasions.  As I trusted less and the responsibility mounted higher, that circle continued to shrink further and further.

In one phone call with the utterance of just one word, the cost of my isolation is calculated.  Cancer.  How can my friend have cancer?  More importantly how is it that we haven't even exchanged an e-mail in probably a year?  We haven't even seen each other in a couple years and she lives in the same county. 

As scared as I am for her and her family, I am equally angry with myself.  I wish that I could have been there when she first started to feel bad. I wish I was there a month ago when she went to the doctor.  I wish that this wasn't the first call we had in the past year!  I really wish that for the previous two weeks when I just kept thinking that I needed to call her that I would have done it right then!  Not waiting until I thought she'd be at a break in her home school day.  Not when I would have just the right amount of time to spend undisturbed. 

Cancer may try to take away valuable time from my dear friend but it cannot take away who she is.  Cancer cannot take away memories of us at our high school prom.  Cancer cannot take away a connection that allows us to talk after years like no time has passed.  Cancer cannot take away her great laugh.  Cancer cannot take away her spirit.

This is the chance for a negligent friend to step up and be there when it really counts.  We have a lot more memories to make, especially since that scar on my arm has faded away.  What really counts are those you love.  I need to make sure that those who are important in my life know how much they mean to me.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Obedience is Messy

As time passes and situations progress, I find that being obedient is not only scary but sometimes it also can land you right in the middle of a mess.  I will be the first to tell you that my life is a mess--wife, mother, business owner, cook, maid, child of God--rolled up together trying to make sure that nothings forgotten and hoping I occasionally remember to shave my legs.

Sometimes though it's not just my mess that impacts our lives.  If you are willing to go and do what God is calling you to it will be other people's messes too.  Even though I was away for a few days for work, other people's messes still interrupt my life.  I have trouble sleeping just thinking about the situation.  I check in to make sure that there hasn't been a complete collapse.  I try to pray about what the next step looks like.

The truth is that Jesus would have walked right into that mess.  I just wish that I had his wisdom and words.  Even with that though, the question would still remain--Would they hear the message?  Would they listen to the words?  Are they ready to change? 

Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

A Child's Dream

My daughters recently studied the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King at school.

Dr. King used his faith as a guide to promote justice for an entire segment of disenfranchised citizens through the Civil Rights Movement.  He worked for almost 13 years to promote equality and justice for all people.  Not only did he lead the movement towards national desegregation but he also formed the "Poor Peoples Campaign."  His campaign promoted a multiracial effort to advance economic equality. 

Consider these excerpts from his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28, 1963.

"I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream."
"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."


Genesis 1:27 "God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."

I can only say that I was unbelievably proud of my daughter when she brought this paper home.  If only we all could have the faith and courage of a child...