Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pick yourself up. Dust your self off. Start all over again!

We are 22 days into the new year. Did you set any new goals for yourself this year? Did you determine to do some things differently, try some new things, stop doing certain things? How's that going?

I'm working on several things and my mantra for this year is I'm building a better me. Never had a mantra before (not that I can remember), and it seems to be helping because whenever I am tempted to fail (or I just fall into an old pattern), I hear myself saying, "better me." It doesn't work 100 percent of the time but I AM making strides. Woo hoo! 

I'm also recognizing my successes and little victories more and spending less time focusing on my failures and things I didn't get right. I've just decided that I ain't got time for that! Positive words have the power to change us for the better. Negative words, not so much.

One of the things I'm stretching myself to do this year is memorizing scripture - two verses a month. So far, so good! I can perfectly quote both of mine for this January! Not. An. Easy. Task. For. Me. Of course, it helps when several thousand other women are doing it along with you and encouraging you on. 

I think I may have told you all about it. Here's the link and you should definitely join me! I NEED more of the Word in me, period! I wrote a whole bunch of other stuff which I have since deleted because the bottom line is, I need more of God's Word hidden in my heart. (Psalm 119:11)

I think that's the key - to share your goals/desires with someone and to speak them out loud. Otherwise, no one knows when you don't follow through and the pressure is completely off even though you've made a commitment to be faithful to do that thing. Don't be afraid you will fail at them. I'm not. I'm just afraid of not trying!

Perhaps that's why so many people don't keep their goals. They have no one to encourage them in the journey because no one else knows. 

Tell someone today, what your goals and desires are for this year. Go ahead and say it out loud and then make it your aim, as much as it is possible with you, to keep your word to yourself. You can do so much more than you think and you're worth the extra effort. So make this year the year that you stick with it, even though you've failed every other time. Don't give up because you mess up. Just get back up!

You've got this! 

Loving you,

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I Can Do This

Have I told you all that I'm working on being a better me in this new year? I'm sure I have. I've told everyone, because that will help me to press into the hard things. (I'm even going through an online Bible study with some friends called "I Do Hard Things"). Being accountable to others who love you and who have a vested interest in your life is very important, especially when doing hard things, and there are A LOT of hard things I'm pressing into. (Hard for me, maybe not for most.)

One of those hard things for me is being diligent this year about memorizing scripture. That's why I was very glad to see Beth Moore's newsletter in my inbox over the Christmas break, saying that thousands of women from around the nation would be memorizing scripture together over the next year. It's something she started some years ago and it has grown into this big beautiful display, posted on her blog on the 1st and 15th of every month. I actually wept when I read through the list of scriptures the first time I posted mine. Each one was so very personal to the woman posting it. I think that's what made it so beautiful.

So here's the next verse I'm working on memorizing. Oddly enough, it's from Colossians, just like my last one. Imagine that!

So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.  ~Colossians 1:28

I think it's becoming my new life verse. Psalm 40:1 has been that for me for many years, but this one fits where I'm at and where I believe I'm headed. It defines who I want to be and how I see myself in ministry. It's the verse that prompted today's Wednesday's Washing post. It's the verse I'll be eating, drinking and sleeping as I think about our ladies at Calvary and how my team and I might best serve them throughout this new year. I believe it's the verse that will challenge me most in my relationships and in the things I've yet to do which God has called me to.

So pop in on today's post and it will perhaps make more sense as to why I chose to write it. And if you see me around, you have my permission to ask me to recite my verse. Remembering things is not a strength of mine, which is why I write everything down. However, I've found there's been much grace to do this particular discipline. It's like God wants me to hide his word in my heart. Go figure!

Monday, January 12, 2015

This is not so easy, this life thing.

I posted this to Facebook a few days ago, but I feel the need to get it out there as much as possible. Why? Because I've been this girl hurting and in need of these words - words I may not have wanted to hear, but words that have completely changed me and how I deal with heartache, disappointments and trials.

Everywhere you look people are hurting and dealing with hard things. I've been coaching some people here lately who are hurting and it has made me so grateful for three things - CalvaryCommuty Church, Faithwalking and trusted friends.

In truth, I am a product of Calvary. No doubt! I've had years of being poured into, being prayed over and being challenged by the leadership and people of this beautifully flawed church family. What a slap in the face it would be to them for me to sit back, keep receiving and never give back in the very ways I have been blessed. I can't imagine being that girl because I am not the girl I was when I first started attending Calvary over 20 years ago.

Secondly, I am thankful for my Faithwalking journey. There are times when I just want to throw a tantrum and do things my way ( and I'm not saying that hasn't happened) but doing the hard work of becoming really me has been liberating, freeing and also really exhausting! It's given me tools to help me navigate life in a new way and I am most grateful.

And then there are friends... I've had my own struggles, frustrations and hard things to process on this journey, but I am surrounded by people who know me, really know me and yet still love me. Allowing them to speak into my life is not always easy, but then I never expected life to be  easy and I'm not into being like everyone else. I want more - more from this life and more from myself. So I do hard things, sometimes after the tantrum, but I still do them, eventually.

So maybe you are one of those in the midst of a struggle, facing hard things. Press in. As hard as that may seem, this trial will pass but you get to decide who you will be when it's over. Don't allow the pain to make you bitter. Better, yes. Bitter, no. Tell your story to those who love you, are for you and who will challenge you to do hard things. Why? Because they want to see you become all God intended, not just survive this current crisis.

Then do the hardest thing possible for so many. Let your church family love on you. Predators go after the stray, not the pack! Never, ever, ever isolate yourself when you're hurting. You don't have to fake a smile just because you're in church. Church is where our hurts get nursed. Be who you are now, right at this moment, ugly cry and all, and forget about what people will think about that. If they haven't kicked me out yet then I think you definitely have a chance!

And here's the thing you really don't want to hear - the thing that will cause you to unfriend me right here and now. I can take it because I've been dealt it. Only you determine your happiness. No matter what horrible place you find yourself in or what's been done to you. If you give away your joy, that's on you. I can say it because I've been there. I'm not saying it's easy, just that it's possible to move on with a greater joy than you knew was possible and a heart that's healed.  But the choice is yours.  

Again, let's face it. Life can be difficult at times, but we have a really big God who is with us every step of the way. Press into him. Let him soothe your fears, your hurts and your dashed hopes. Rise up to the challenge of coming out of your trials better and stronger than when you went in. Don't waste a good trial!

Psalm116 became my daily bread during one of the darkest seasons of my life. The Word of God kept me. Let it do the same for you.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year, New Day

Happy New Year, friends! It seems fitting to talk about new things as we enter into this first day of 2015. Doesn't it? 

I don't know about you but this girl gave up making New Year's resolutions years ago. I finally realized I was just better at some things like shopping, baking and napping, than I was at keeping a resolution I made on the first day of the year. It was just impossible! So I stopped that mess and all the defeatism that came with it, and started doing things a little differently.

I began spending some very focused time with the Lord at the beginning of each new year, seeking Him for what HE wanted to do in me in the next 365 days. What. A. Difference. That. Made. I went from wimping out on my resolutions in just a few weeks, to pressing into God's yearly design for me and sticking to it even when I messed up. 

Now, it seems that before the new year even arrives, I have a gist of what the Lord wants to do in me before I even ask. Maybe that comes from walking with Him for so long, or perhaps from this yearly New Year's routine. I don't know, and it's not fully clear because I think the Lord really likes it when I take that extended time to be with Him just to work on me, looking more like Him.  

Part of that is going to entail dusting off some gifts and skills that may have experienced a little atrophy because of lack of use. No shame there. Well, there is a little, especially from this girl who is always pressing others to step up to the plate and use what God gave 'em! I've become aware of some things in my life which I've allowed to become dormant - gifts, talents, abilities that only God and I know, should be getting more air time. So in His gracious mercy, He's created a few situations where I've needed to take those things off the shelf, brush off the cob webs and see if they still worked. They were a bit rusty, but what's that scripture say about the gifts of God? Oh yeah, "For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable." Romans 11:29 

So If you've known me a while, look for some old things to resurface in a new way. In truth, in every circle of relationship, different gifts and talents emerge. I've marveled recently at how true that really seems to be. What I believe is also true is that the me you know today, and the things you seem to like about me now, will only be better this time next year. That is my prayer and the journey I'm on in 2015, starting with this, Wednesday's Washing - the new devotional I told you all about in my last entry.

Talk about dusting off some stuff! Whew! I love to write. Really, I do, but this was something different. It's a weekly commitment which requires some talent stretching and also that word I'm not good at - discipline. It's just one of a few things getting new life in this new year. If you are anything like me and you have your own little menagerie of things you know need to see the light of day, would you please say a prayer for me? There's more coming. This one was easy, sorta kinda. It's the heart stuff, the desires pushed aside and high road way of thinking that I think is gonna kick my rear. Yet these lyrics from a song on my never-ending, don't touch that button playlist keep resonating in my heart.

"I wanna be a voice and not an echo."

So I'll keep doing the hard work it'll take for me to be a voice and a better me. I deserve to see who God created me to become. And so do you. More importantly, He is worthy of a life well spent.