Friday, July 19, 2013

On Being Satisfied...

We pull out of the driveway at 6:45 am, on our way to my favorite place in all the world, or at least, in all of North Carolina.  OUR favorite place in all the world North Carolina.  OUR place, our special place; where we go to get away and reconnect.

It’s been very nearly 2 years since the last time we came here, since we got away without kids to ANYWHERE.

We left a very quiet, very unusually quiet house.  A house void of kids and a dog who usually keep it hopping.  
Hopping and NOISY.

As we pull out, my exhausted brain is already reeling, and I think that this is when I think the most clearly somehow.  When I’m too tired to out-think myself or add the “what-if’s” and “if-only’s.”

This morning as I leave the comfort of my home, I am reflecting on something I’ve known for some time: that I take most of my life for granted.  
Even packing for a weekend trip is “difficult” because I don’t want to “unplug” and I can’t decide what to take and what to leave.  

Should I really plan to “work” while on a weekend getaway with E? Of course the correct answer is “no, ” but back to my point ( I promise I have one), 

feeling satisfied.

I haven't seen or used a lock like this in ages! Part of our new "home" for the weekend...

It’s easy to feel satisfied with what we have and what we’ve done, when we know we gave our best to achieve it.  Have you ever thought about the opposite, though? Why it’s so easy to be discontent when we have so much?
That the reason we’re not really, truly, satisfied with what we have – where we are – what we’ve done – is because we haven’t given our best – our REAL best – to get it?

A crack in the wall; part of the character that comes with staying in a historical landmark...

God tells us to share Him with all the world and make disciples of all nations.  
In all our busy-ness, it’s easy to believe sometimes that that doesn’t apply to us - doesn't apply to me.  
When I can’t “control” or maintain my tiny little bubble of a world (relatively speaking), how can I “go INTO all the world?”

Satan wants us to buy that lie.  On most days it’s easy to buy – easy to swallow – easy to believe.
But then I read things like this, and my belief in untruth smacks me hard in the face!

Now, mind you, I’m not moving to Uganda tomorrow and “quitting” my life here. 

But I WILL be looking for opportunities to do more, to do my BEST – my REAL BEST – here at home every day.
Because I shouldn’t be satisfied or content with less than my real, true, best.

And, like Katie, I realize my “everyday” {and sometimes even my “best”} is a filthy, reeking, disease (sin)-ridden mess.
 A mess God can still use – a ME, God can still use – if I desire to make my desires His desires.

"For as long as I can remember, one of my favorite Bible verses has been Psalm 37:4: 'Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.' I used to believe it meant that if I did what the Lord asked of me, followed His commandments, and was a 'good girl,' He would grant all my desires and make my dreams come true. Today, this is still one of my favorite passages of Scripture, but I have learned to interpret it in a totally different way. It is not about God making my dreams come true but about God changing my dreams into His dreams for my life."

~Katie Davis, Kisses From Katie

Even the doorways here have character! I just love this place!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On Being {REAL}...

Sometimes I think life would be easier if...
I lived close to someone who inspires me like this girl or maybe this one.
I could totally lose myself, in a good way, on a farm in the middle of nowhere.

My son's Lincoln Log rendering of a farm...

That first girl I mentioned, she lives in my hometown.  A long time ago, I promised to never go back there. But reading her journey, I wonder if I've been wrong - missing out, even. 

In some ways, living there might make life parents are there, as is my Mom's extended family including my Grandmother.  My kids would actually get to see those people more than a few times a year.
But living there would also be harder.  The economy has not been kind to my hometown,  #2 on this list. 

And I think what I am craving is community.  And I think I have it {sort of}, but I just lost sight of it in this lack of routine we call summer.  I seem to always lose myself in the summers, although this year is certainly better than the last 2 or 3 were.

I have this word tumbling around in my head:
and what it really means.  

Because for me?

The REAL meaning of this word = scary for me.

On Sunday afternoon I caught myself.  Words tumbled out of my mouth in a way that let me know I was getting really comfortable with the ladies I was talking to - and that's not bad.  

BUT {there's always a "but" - LOL}, it alarmed me too.  
I immediately wondered if what I said and how I said it might have been taken the wrong way - might have offended someone. 

And y'all? We were talking about necklaces!

Still I couldn't let myself off the hook...

What does it really mean to be REAL? To be AUTHENTIC?

I DON'T think it means we never choose our words carefully.  I DON'T think it means we never make mistakes or need to apologize.

But I also don't think it means we can say hurtful things and then hide behind the guise of "being real."

I do think it means no embellishing. It means telling the truth.  It means not hiding everything from everyone.  It means not pretending to have it all together, when I so clearly do NOT!

It means having that one person, or small group of people, you can confide in rather than saying, "I'm fine," one more time.

We're all human and crave human community and contact.  The "virtual" world will never make up for what we get from REAL world relationships.

I think for me that first BIG step towards being more authentic - real - transparent is developing that community.  Not just for myself, but to satisfy that craving for someone else too.

And maybe I've already taken that first step.
Looking back on this past year, I have been doing just that - building community with new people.  
Becoming a walking partner to someone who really seemed to need someone to talk to; becoming more outspoken at church and in the choir; taking more of a leadership role in my small group Bible Study or choir.

It's coming, slowly but surely, it's coming.

I just have to remember to keep taking steps forward - not stay in the same place for too long.  If I stop moving, I stunt my own spiritual and personal growth.

What do you think?
What does authentic mean to you?

I know my pictures must seem so random, but I LOVE taking cool nature pictures! Since I don't post pictures of my family and kids most of the time, I like to fill the space with my other pretties 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Does giving up sometimes mean I am able to receive?

I lost my voice, like Laryngitis, only...

virtual instead of literal.

The noise inside my head has grown so loud and out of control these past few weeks that I'm convinced it's what caused my migraines. 

It's been a lot of issues really...
there are the usual hot button topics like abortion and gay marriage. The desire to have my kids grow up in a society that has way more moral value than the one we currently live in.

Then there are the more abstract ones...
teaching my daughter to appreciate who she is as she struggles to be like, and be liked by, everyone else.
Learning to be authentic instead of glazing over every question with, "I'm fine, really." It's a hard balance really.

I've had one of those friends (MORE than one) who just verbally dumps on me every time we're together. And while we all go through hard times, that person can just totally suck the life right out of me if all they ever do is talk about how tough life is.  

I don't wanna be that person.

I wanna be a happy, upbeat energetic person who makes other people happy.  Someone who can always see the silver lining without being totally oblivious to reality.

So how do I do that?  BE that?

On Sunday at church, we talked about what it means to be a citizen of the Gospel.  Have you ever considered that?
We all know what it means to be a Citizen of the United States, for example, but what does being a citizen of the Gospel mean?

Just as in our national citizenship, there are qualifications of our Heavenly Citizenship but there are also privileges, benefits we receive as part of the family of God.

Then there are obligations of being Citizens of the Gospel.
Here are the three we talked about specifically:

  • To stand firm in my faith and show Allegiance to Christ first and foremost.
  • Strive together, side by side with other believers, to share the Gospel
  • To pursue purity in all things 
That last one is the real kicker isn't it?

I mean, I would love to think that I am all these things, that I DO, all these things effortlessly, all the time.

But I don't.  I mean I try, but all my efforts are derailed by a little thing called every day life.

And there are days, many days, where I am simply too tired to stand, much less stand firm.
Too tired to strive, much less strive together with other believers in an attempt to share Jesus.  How do I share Jesus through all my mess?

Many days I am too tired to pursue my children much less pursue purity in all things!

So how does one succeed at this?

I can speak for myself, but I think most of us want to imitate Christ in His great love for others.

Do we also want to imitate Him in other things?
Because He is more than just Love... 

He is Holy; am I pursuing Holiness in His name?

He is Just; am I pursuing Justice in His name?

He is Merciful; am I showing mercy to others in His name?

It sounds good, right?
We talk about it at church and in Sunday School and I nod my head and add to the discussion.

It sounds great and I leave refreshed and renewed with a new-found desire to be more Christlike. Until...

Until what?
Until I'm faced with a tough situation?
Until I'm handed a golden opportunity to share God's love with someone who doesn't believe in Him?

Until I'm challenged, face-to-face in a discussion about gay marriage? Because it happens, and while I believe what I believe and I believe in sharing the truth in love, how will I handle it the next time it happens?

This post may sound like a convoluted jumble of thoughts to you, but I promise they are related.
It all comes to down to one principle; one act that I have known I needed for some time.

That one thing is total surrender to God. To be honest, I'm not even sure I can wrap my head around it...
what does it really mean, 


S-U-R-R-E-N-D-E-R ?

What would it mean if He asked me to give up something important to me?

Could I do it? Without a second thought? Without a complaint or dragging my feet?

Cause I'm not sure.

What I am sure of is this: the key to guiding my thoughts, my words, my relationships, my authenticity, my pursuit of Holiness, Justice, Purity, Truth, Mercy, and Grace?

It's all about surrender...