Archive | June 2012

I’m Willing But I’m Scared

I don’t really like to be scared.  It’s not an emotion that I tend to go seeking out.  Several of my friends enjoy a scary movie more than I enjoy a romantic comedy and I’m a sucker for a romantic comedy!  I can’t stand a scary movie.  I love Busch Gardens but have never wanted to go during Howl O’ Scream.  Not really a Halloween fan—where’s the fun in ghosts, witches, and monsters?!?  I love the beach but please don’t ask me to go too far into the ocean; I like for my feet to be able to touch the bottom if I want them to.  I enjoy a good roller coaster, but only if it’s not the kind where your feet are hanging when it flips you upside down.  My adventuresome spirit has limits. 

I like feeling safe.  There’s just something really comfortable about knowing that everything’s okay, all feels right in the world.  Maybe it’s a control issue, I don’t know.  Well, tonight, my devotion was built around the story of Peter walking on water to Jesus.  Poor Peter catches a lot of criticism for taking his eyes off Jesus.  I agree, not the best choice.  However, tonight, I was reminded that at least Peter got out of the boat!  I don’t know that I would have; it wouldn’t have been the safest choice.    

I was quickly reminded, while reading, of Narnia.  It’s one of my favorite Christian-themed movies.  There’s one moment when the children ask Mr. Beaver “Is he (Aslan) safe?”  Mr. Beaver is flabbergasted by the question, “Safe?!?  Who said anything about safe?!?  Of course he isn’t safe!  But he’s good!”

I’m convinced that Jesus Christ did not go to the cross to make me comfortable (safe if you will).  I’m certain that I’m supposed to do more than just be in the boat.  I’m not there yet!  God is approaching me in areas that I really wish He wouldn’t bring up.  He’s breaking me of the dreams I’ve always had that just don’t match His—His are better!  He’s asking me to move forward in something that I’ve never thought I’d step first in, so tonight I’m just in this place where I’m literally saying, “I’m willing to do this, Lord.  But I’m scared.”  And I think that’s okay.  It’s in my insecurity that He’s made known in really big ways!

Maybe It’s Maybelline

With tears flooding down her face, she tried to share about her day.  It was not the response to “how was your day” that any of us were expecting.  I assumed the day had been full of laughs and good times with friends; she seemed relatively excited about the shopping trip before she went.  Through her quivering lips and broken speech, I heard her say that she was measured as a size fourteen for her dress today.  If you were sitting looking at the same girl I was, you would never guess that fourteen was her normal size.  Any other day, she’s a size six! 

Apparently, everyone else was measured as a zero or a four (Side note: Ahem, zero is not a size!) and were done in skinny minute.  This super cute girl took a little longer.  The “problem”?  She’s just a little more blessed in the upper-body than the rest of those girls.  Most people would consider this a good problem to have, but when you’re the only girl who took more than a minute and you measure more than twice your normal size—it’s hard not to let Satan have that opportunity to rip your self-esteem to shreds.

You would be hard-pressed to convince me that society puts as much pressure on guys as they do girls to look a certain way.  Advertisers prey on the struggles.  For example, “Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline”.  If she doesn’t feel born with it, she clearly needs Maybelline to cover it all up.  Walk through the Health and Beauty section of any store and what do you find?  Hair dying products because your natural color isn’t good enough.  Make-up in a million brands for every skin tone, because you need to look flawless.  Curling irons for the girls with straight hair and straighteners if you don’t like your curly hair.  The list goes on and on.

When did our natural looks stop being okay?  Marilyn Monroe once defined femininity at a size twelve.  What happened to that?  (Not trying to imply that Ms. Monroe is a great role model in every other area, but we do owe her for that size twelve thing!)  In fact, she said it best when she said,

“A woman is often measured by the things she cannot control.  She is measured by the way her body curves or doesn’t curve.  By where she is flat or straight or round.  She is measured by 36-24-36 and inches and ages and numbers.  By all the outside things that don’t ever add up to who she is on the inside and so if a woman is to be measured, let her be measured by the things she can control.  By who she is and who she is trying to become because as every woman knows, measurements are only statistics and statistics lie.”

 

Why is the “do you think I’m beautiful” question one that weighs on the heart of women so heavily?  Why do we look to anyone other than Jesus for the answer?  How does Satan get such an “in” to our hearts through our self-esteem issues?  Who decided what the “standard” for our outward appearance should be?  Who decided there should even be a standard?  And is it wrong to want to cause them bodily harm?

All of those questions were flying around my mind as I tried to decide what to offer my incredibly cute little sister.  I started with sarcastic remarks (it’s what I do), but ended with hugging her and reminding her that she’s beautiful!  We curled up and read “You Are Special” for about the hundredth time.  (It may be a children’s book, but sometimes you just have to do that.)  Bless you Max Lucado for reminding us that we are all God’s creations, made in His image, and that God doesn’t make mistakes!

I don’t have the answers to even one of those questions from last night.  I also know those same struggles VERY well.  My prayer today is that we’ll all (girls and guys alike) hear the gentle whisper of our Maker, “Remember, you are special because I made you. And I don’t make mistakes.”

In Full Bloom

All afternoon, my excitement built for a pool party with friends.  It had been a while since I joined everyone to judge a diving competition, played Monkey in the Middle, floated on a raft, or just sipped lemonade while chatting and catching up.  It was cooler tonight than it was in my daydream, ha!  However, the evening was perfect.  Well, right on up until I got to chatting with one of my favorite ladies.

We were catching up and sharing, just like always, and I began to open up about where I’m at with something we’ve talked about many times before when she looked at me and said, “You just have to bloom where the Lord has you planted right now; He may not be ready to uproot you just yet.  It may be that this is your season for growth.”  I looked at her and said, “I’m about tired of hearing that phrase these days!  I feel like you’re all ganging up on me!”  I explained myself and we laughed but in a lot of ways, I was serious!  Just a couple of days ago, my sister used those very words.  Yesterday while road-tripping, another friend uttered the phrase then he said it again in a text today.

Just as soon as I lashed out about not wanting to hear about blooming, God convicted my heart to focus on what He’s doing.  Until I’ve proven myself faithful to what He’s called me to right now, what makes me think He’ll call me to something different?  My prayer tonight is that I would allow God to prune the things that keep my roots from continuing to grow and my fruit from producing.  I want to live in full bloom…

Speak Their Language

I love to sit and talk with friends who get me.  I mean really get me.  I also love to sit and just listen to people who I get.  We don’t have to explain ourselves or tell a million side-stories to make what we’re saying make sense for the other one.  I like to feel understood.  I don’t want to call a help line and have to pick a language or struggle through accents with whatever representative is on the other end of the phone.  I just want someone who speaks my language, Southern English.

Today, I watched as a woman was trying to locate a certain item in Target.  I’m not certain which country she is from, but I know she would not consider America to be her native one.  She stood there trying to describe the item to the clerk, because she clearly was not sure what we call it.  The clerk stood there guessing and continued to guess wrong.  I could tell that they were both getting incredibly frustrated and I wished that I was fluent in that lady’s language.  That’s all she wanted—someone to speak her language!

Recently, a small group that I’m involved in started a study on The Five Love Languages.  I’m off the charts Quality Time and Physical Touch.  I know you love me if we’re hanging out and/or really talking.  Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t have to be just two of us chatting the whole time on a couch or something.  Some of my best heart-sharing moments have happened over cards, a game of mini-golf, lunch, a long car ride, laundry, or a simple walk.  To me, that’s quality time.  As for physical touch—don’t get the wrong idea.  I’m not trying to make out with you!  You can easily just be next to me on the couch for a movie or Friends marathon, or just hug me if you’re excited to see me.

Another friend of mine in the group, who’s sure their language is sarcasm or practical jokes, is actually Words of Affirmation.  It’s not unusual to get a, seemingly random, text message that just says: smile!  You’re doing great today!  Or simply: Praying for you today, girl!  Not too long ago, I called them to see if everything was okay, they seemed distant.  That made little to no sense to them.  They thought I was the one upset since I had not really responded to any of their texts other than with a smiley face or short ‘Thanks”.  Today, as we discovered our Love Languages, it made sense to both of us.  Neither of us had been trying to speak the other one’s language!  I need to hang out and they’re incredibly introverted.  They needed me to click “like” on their Facebook status or send a real response to their texts, and my world wasn’t feeling very altered by what was a well thought-out, intentional text, meant just for me.  We were both feeling an awful lot like that lady in Target.

We were created for community; God created us as relational beings.  I’m learning that it is important that we be intentional about investing in community with those He has placed in our lives.  In order to best do that, we have to know each other’s languages and then do our best to speak them.

Safe Haven

A friend of mine recently recommended that I read “Safe Haven”.  Well, that or she raved about it so much that I couldn’t resist.  Some of you have probably already read it, particularly the female readers, it’s a Nicholas Sparks novel.  (Don’t roll your eyes and brush it off.  It wasn’t your typical Nicholas Sparks book.  Trust me!)  Normally, I would not suggest that a fictional book can change your life, but to say that this book didn’t do just that would not be an accurate statement.  This book caused things in my world to surface that I thought were long gone; it affected my heart in more ways than I could have possibly seen coming.  Instead of ruining the plot of the book for those of you who have not read it yet, I’ll just share what I learned.

I don’t always do such a good job at being really honest about what I’ve been through.  I’m guessing that’s mainly a pride issue.  Sometimes, it’s because I don’t want to somehow let someone down because I didn’t get it right.  Whatever “it” is from case to case.  Katie had this problem, because she had trust issues.  Rightfully so.  She wouldn’t open up and just tell her story to people.  It wasn’t until she found someone she felt like she could truly trust that she began to tell them her story.  I understood those trust issues more than I would often like to admit.  I can count on one hand the number of people who I would say really know me, and even out of those few people there are some stories that aren’t shared with all of them.  I always thought that I was just really scarred from the experiences that helped push me to that point, but as I turned the pages of this book and identified with the story—I learned that I’m not so much scarred as I am somewhat wounded.  The difference?  Scars don’t still hurt!  If something touches me in places where I’ve been hurt and it still hurts—that’s not a scar, that’s a wound.  And wounds have to be dealt with in order to heal properly.

I cannot separate my history from my future, because that’s redemption.  Katie’s story wasn’t what I would call a pretty one, but she learned that giving voice to the truth of her past meant opening the door to the future.  She needed to be set free from that.  I tend to take the “let’s just move on” approach.  And, yes, let’s move on.  Absolutely!  Just, not without allowing the Lord to deal with where we’ve been or what we’ve gone through.  I don’t always want to do that, because that doesn’t always look like a barrel of monkeys, ya know?  It’s like C.S. Lewis said, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”  The thing is though, the purpose exceeds the pain.  God promises that “ALL things will work for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  That does not imply that all things are good, just that He’ll bring good from all things.  Safe Haven reminded me of that in a really peculiar way.  Not everything that happened in that book was good, but if hadn’t been for all of those things fitting together—it wouldn’t have ended like it did.  (Trying really hard not to ruin the ending here!)

I’m finally to a place of being able to truly deal with where I’ve been.  Maybe that’s because I can finally see where I’m going.  It hasn’t been fun a week!  I’m convinced it’s going to be worth it though.

What about you?  What haven’t you allowed the Lord to deal with that’s keeping you from embracing what He’s leading you to?

More Than A Fan

Merriam Webster defines “fan” as “an enthusiastic devotee, usually as a spectator”.  It’s really no secret that I’m a big fan of Duke Basketball.  (For those of you who are not Duke fans—try not to hold it against me,)  It’s been said (and it was true) that I will schedule things around being in front of the tv as soon as game coverage begins.  I probably own enough Duke t-shirts to wear one a day, without repeating one, for at least two weeks.  I have Duke bedroom slippers, earrings, pajama pants, socks, sweats, hoodies, old team posters, an autographed Sports Illustrated, old ticket stubs from games I’ve attended as well as game programs, and many framed pictures in my room.  There’s really no telling what else besides all of that.  I can spell Krzyzewski and Wojciechowski without looking.  My grandmother made me a Duke cheerleading outfit when I was younger, and it was not unusual for me to be dressed out including my royal blue/white pom-poms.  I’m a fan and have been for years.

The thing about my being a fan though is that my interest has its limits.  I’m not going to make plans to follow them all over the country, just so I can see them play.  I’ve yet to pay what it costs to see the Men play a team that everyone’s heard of in Cameron Indoor.  In fact, the only times I’ve been to a game—someone else gave me the tickets.  If they lose—I’m bummed for a while, but it does not alter my world so much.  There’s not a lot of sacrifice involved for me when it comes to how devoted I am to Duke Basketball.  I don’t really have to do anything. 

Friday night, I saw this idea of fandom in action in a way I hadn’t quite been so sensitive to before.  I was at the Darius Rucker/Lady Antebellum concert.  I looked around me as each of these artists took the stage.  People went nuts!  You had your screamers.  You had your dancers.  There were those that knew every word to every song that was sung the entire night.  Hands were raised and most everyone there was united in their love for these artists.  We were definitely all enthusiastic admirers.  I stood there, singing along to “Just A Kiss” like everyone else when the thought crossed my mind: if only the Church would be this united in our love for Jesus.  Then I thought: Jesus doesn’t really want just fans though.

Kyle Idleman puts it best when he says, “Jesus was never interested in having fans.  When He defines what kind of relationship He wants, “enthusiastic admirer” isn’t an option.  My concern is that many of our churches in America have gone from sanctuaries to becoming stadiums.  And every week all the fans come to the stadium where they cheer for Jesus but have no interest in truly following Him.”

I want to be more than just a fan of Jesus.  I want to be a follower and being a follower requires action.  Faith is incredibly active.  Every person commended for their faith in Hebrews 11 DID something.  I’m learning that it’s one thing to say I’m a Christian.  It’s another thing entirely to be a disciple of Christ.  My prayer tonight is that not only would God burden my heart to rid myself of the things that I’m following more than Jesus, but that He would then give me the strength to sacrifice it.  More than that, that I would be more than just a fan of Jesus; I would be a genuine disciple…

 

“The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians, but aren’t actually interested in following Christ.  They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them” (Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan)

Is That Your Favorite?

Yesterday, I got to hang out with one of my, if not my all-time, favorite kids.  She’s absolutely precious and has this way of just melting my heart.  She’ll either say something so darn cute or do something and you can’t help but just smile.  For example, she discovered my old teddy bear, Squishy, when she was here one time and now she can’t wait to take off running to my room to get him.  I explained to her that she was more than welcome to play with Squishy, but she had to be very careful with him.  She looked up at me, cocked her little head and said, “I be VERY gentle.  He’s old?”  “Yes, be very gentle.”  “You sleep with him in your yittle bed when you were a yittle girl?”  (I’m gonna miss her trading the l for a y!)  “No, I got him as a gift when I was a little older than that.”  “Squishy your favorite bedtime animal?”  “Um…. Sure.”

This little lady will be three soon and right now she likes to know if something’s my favorite or not, which has me wanting to discover all of her favorites too.  That conversation about Squishy is only the beginning of our “Is that your favorite” discussions.  While playing with Play-doh, we discover our favorite colors.  Favorite Disney Princesses are learned doing puzzles, Daisy versus Minnie is discussed during a game of Disney Match, and since we sing practically all day—favorite songs get shared.  She knows my favorite color is pink and I know that she’s a sucker for a Twix.  I admitted the sunflowers are my favorite yesterday, to which she claimed “mine too”.  (I seriously doubt if she knows what her favorite flower is yet, but it was a good reminder that I’m being watched.)

I got to thinking, as we arranged stickers in a Dora the Explorer book and chose the beach scene over the city scene, if this is really how showing favoritism gets taught.  And, if so, was I failing her during some of her most impressionable days?  If I teach her that it’s okay to like one color over the other, will that same notion spill over into how she decides who to play with on the playground?  Gosh, I hope not!  I hope she’ll let all of her friends play together, or even go play with the kid that everyone else has left behind. 

Do I think it is okay to like sunflowers over roses?  Man, I hope so!  But I do wonder if that’s where the idea that we can exclude and play favorites when it comes to people all begins…