Wednesday, July 31, 2013

49 Shades of Gray...

Sharing this important piece I wrote yesterday from the heart on my personal blog.

Might be the most real thing I've ever written!

I wrote it for me, but I sincerely hope it speaks to you.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Life is like a box of chocolates?

Forrest Gump thought life was like a box of chocolates - "we never know what we're going to get." Right?

Sort of.

Unlike a box of chocolates, we can't always just simply nibble a taste of things in life and decide if we want to keep chewing or not. Sometimes, a chocolate we really can't stand or don't want at all is shoved down our throats without our choice! (the strawberry creme filled fancy chocolates are the best, by the way)

So what do we do when we don't like the piece we're given? What do we do when we see our friends with what looks to be better candy than ours, and want to trade? Or, at the least, want to reach back into the gold foil box and choose another?

It's not that simple, Forrest.

I've been given some pieces lately that I really would have rather put back. The kind of pieces that make you think, anything but this one! ANYTHING else will taste better!

But that's not necessarily true. You've probably heard it said before that if you gather a group of people, and ask them to share the deepest burden on their heart, that by the time the sharing session is over, not a single person in the room will want to trade problems.

Everyone has their bad piece of chocolate. Forrest did. I do. You do, too.

Perspective wise, I think Forrest had it right. We can't be sure of tomorrow. We can't  know what's coming around the bend, be it good or bad. So don't stress over it. Accept what you can't change and don't let it control you. Etc. Etc. Etc. All decent advice.

But Forrest had one key element missing...

He didn't know the Confectioner. The Creator of the chocolate. The One who passes around that gold foil box and distributes each piece. The One who knows exactly who needs which piece at which time to accomplish a greater good, and a greater purpose. The One who is there by our side while we have to chew and swallow the bitter. The One who rejoices with us when we get to enjoy a favorite piece. He's there, through the good and the bad, and not a single piece of chocolate is wasted. Not a single thing in our lives is wasted.

Next time you get a piece you'd rather spit out, remember - you're not alone. Every chocolate has a purpose. And the bad taste doesn't last forever. You'll get another strawberry creme soon :)  Just keep taking what the Confectioner prepares for you, and trust Him to keep you well fed. There's a lesson in every morsel, if you're willing to look for it and learn from it.

And the more we do that - the more we willingly open our mouths and hearts to the Lord - the sweeter it all tastes.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dreaming Big with God

I often ask the question, “If you could do anything and knew it would succeed, what would it be?” For many people something immediately comes to mind. But there are also many people who don’t know. They wonder all the time, what does God want from me?
I think one of the problems with the “dream big” idea is that we let our human minds measure what “big” is. We think it has to be fame or success or a ministry or a huge blog. But what is “big” to God? (I’ll come back to this in a minute.)

What we do need to remember is that God has gifted us all differently. My pastor, Dr. Mark DeYmaz, talked about this on Sunday. There are some people whom God uses to dream. Some people are to manage. And some people just want to do the daily task He’s given them . . . and there’s nothing wrong with that!

I can’t remember Pastor Mark’s titles, but the divisions went something like this. In God’s body there are the:
  1. Big Picture Dreamers
  2. Managers
  3. Workers
I’m a dreamer (as if you couldn’t guess that!), but my favorite people are those who can help me live out what I envision! When I started a pregnancy center—or now working with teen moms—I could not do what I do without those who come alongside me.

Sometimes the dream God gives you just may be to work alongside someone else. If you could connect with one ministry, what would that be? What could you do to support it? Why are you so passionate about it? What is God telling you concerning this ministry?

When you think about it, the “big” thing to God is obeying what He asks you to do. You could become famous, make it big, and become well-known—and it would amount to nothing. Or you can ask God what is BIG to him. You might be surprised.

In the world’s eyes my writing is the most important part, but as we just opened our home to two more kids through an adoption, there have been many moments during the day as I’m playing cars or have kids piled on my lap and I feel God saying, “This. This is exactly where you need to be right now.”
What bigger dream can you have than that? He sees the future. He knows whom those kids will become. He knows the transformation that happens in my heart as I serve them as a mom and servant. And His dream is for me to trust Him in the path He sets me on.

*Photo credit: Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Friday, July 19, 2013

I posted this on my own blog a few days ago and thought you might appreciate it, too.

See this picture? The one golf tee remaining in the Peg Jump game is proof that I am a genius. It says so right on the wooden triangle--"One peg = "Wow, genius!" I have waiting my entire life to solve this puzzle. (Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration considering that I didn't start playing the game until I bought one while on vacation at age ten.) For a girl whose kindergarten teacher responded to her inability to learn colors with "Maybe she's just dumb," this was a very exciting day. There is only one problem with getting down to one peg: unless you took notes while playing that perfect game, or decide to cheat by looking up the solution online, the chances of acheiving greatness a second time are pretty slim.

Over the weekend, I played this game over and over again, and the best I could hope for was two pegs, which the instructions call "Above average." Not bad, but "'Wow,' Genius!" felt so much better. A few times I ended up with three, earning a "So-so." And then there were the moments when four pegs stared up at me, which the game-makers consider "Pretty bad." The longer I played only to realize that I'd set a standard for myself that I might never measure up to again, the more I fought a sense of failure. What had I done differently on that glorious Saturday afternoon?

Yes, I know it is just a game, but it was amazing how quickly I bought into the message that earning a "So-so," or heaven forbid a "Pretty bad" meant I was no longer a genius, as if that wooden triangle with ten golf tees stuck into it measured my intelligence. I have come a long way in my battle with wrapping my identity and value up in the wrong things, but this obsession with the Peg Jump reminded me how easy it is to slip back into old patterns of connecting it to achievements and what others think of or say about me. It also drove home the destructive nature of this trap--that when I allow success, opinions, or whatever that desired thing is to make or break how I feel, it is very difficult to enjoy triumphs, relationships, and the joys of life, because there is always a standard to fear not measuring up to.

At least this time, I was able to see the silliness it in all, set that crazy game down, and refuse to let the words on a piece of wood label me. Maybe it's time to do the same in a few other areas.

What about you? What have you allowed to make or break your sense of value lately? What is God teaching you about who you are in Him?    

Monday, July 08, 2013

Open Arms

My dad was a police officer. Maybe that’s the reason I’ve always wanted to stick to the rules. I’m a people-pleaser through and through. I love it when I get kudos for a job well done. I hate it when I feel I’ve disappointed someone.
Too often I find myself treating God as if He, too, were a police officer–hanging around, waiting to catch me crossing the line. Every morning, as I journal my prayers, I write out my confessions. Then I end with prayers seeking God’s strength to help me be good.
This morning, as I read my Bible, I came across Psalm 40:5:
“Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.”
The part that stopped me in my tracks was “Many . . . are Your thoughts toward us.” So I paused, and pondered this for a while. I pictured God thinking about us a lot. God thinking about me. Loving me. Caring for me. It brought tears to my eyes.
All around us we have people tell us we need to be good, to do the right thing, to follow the right path, to care for others more than ourselves. That is all fine and good, but sometimes we need to just be okay with the fact that God loves us–at this moment, how we are. He is thinking about me TONS. He is thinking about you.
And instead of the police uniform that causes us to keep our distance, we need to think of the Daddy who welcomes us with open arms.