Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Passenger's Seat Anyone?

Day 13 - Today I will, by your grace, be aware of when I'm tempted to take the easy way out or to take a situation into my own hands and, by doing either, turn away from you.

Fortunately, unlike many days in my life, today was not a very tempting day.  I'm almost 100% sure I was never tempted to take the easy way out or take a situation into my own hands.  But I did have a few moments to reflect on times when I have taken the easy way out and when I have tried to take a situation into my own hands.  It never turns out very pretty.  Sheila Walsh puts it best, "...when we take things into our own hands, we lose the opportunity to allow God to work on our behalf for the greater good" (40).  Why do we try to do things on our own when God will take care of things for us?!?!  God?  No contest!  He can do such a better job than I can.  If I had just let Him handle the situation in which I took over or when I decided to take the easy way out things would be much different.  At most I would have a completely different life or at the very least I would have learned a good lesson or two.  But in the end I have learned a lesson today after all...stop taking the easy way out and stop trying to take control!  God can handle my life much better than I can...I am so very ready to take the passenger's seat for a change.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Amazing Grace

Day 12 - Today I will extend to others the grace Jesus himself has shown me, looking beyond the outer shell to the heart within.

Extending grace to other is pretty easy when all is fine and dandy.  But it isn't easy when people are harsh, rude, unfriendly, or hurtful.  I've been hurt a lot in the past...and it isn't easy for me to extend grace to those that have hurt me.  Today I tried, in a small way.  I didn't get anything in return but today I looked at things differently - I didn't expect anything in return.  That isn't what grace is about.  Grace is giving freely without expecting anything in return.  Christ knew that the gift of His grace was going to hurt, literally hurt, but He did it anyhow!  I've received His grace now it's my turn to give it to others!  I have to look at people through His eyes instead of my own.  I wish I were able to do it more often but sometimes I boldly pray - "Lord, help me to love them as You love them, help me to see them as You see them"...I'm making it a point to pray that everyday!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Land of 1,000 Mistakes

Day 10 - Brief pause here to celebrate 10 days!!  I'm so excited about this mile marker.  No, I haven't blogged everyday but I have done my devotions everyday...and, if I can say so myself, that is a bit more important.  And even so, I have been much more consistent in my blog...I think I've already doubled my entries. lol.

So...back to the challenges

Day 10  - Today I will ask you to show me an opportunity to be a good Samaritan!

This was actually Saturday's challenge but I ended up home sick with a stomach ache and eventual severe headache.  Ugh.  Seeing that the couch didn't really need a Samaritan, there wasn't an opportunity that really presented itself...  So Sunday it was.  And Sunday picked up Saturday's neglected chores.  AKA - grocery shopping.  My opportunity to be a good Samaritan was nothing major.  While we were at checkout I simply let the woman in line behind us go ahead of us.  It added a few minutes of time to our day but nothing major.  I do hope that what I learned this weekend was to keep a better eye out.  I tend to miss simple opportunities to help someone else out because I'm too preoccupied in the business of my own life.  The truth of the matter is that we should never be too busy, or tired, for God's work...simply doing the right thing when the opportunity presents itself.  I'm going to be watching for those a hawk!

Day 11 - Today I will choose to trust You rather than fear the very real things there are to fear in this fallen world.

Rejection is real.  And I fear rejection like my brother fears an empty refrigerator.  When I read that statement this morning I didn't think I had any "real" fears.  I thought all of my fears were either conquered or unrealistic.  But throughout the day I really thought about it.  Rejection could come from many places - work, friends, families, etc.  But I can trust God to get me through that rejection.  He can give me the strength that I need to face that rejection head on.  While I was facing this fear head on today, admitting that it was there, God reminded me of the last few days of challenges.  Who am I in Christ?!?!  What does it matter if my friends reject me?  Or if someone at work rejects me?  Christ will never reject me!  Never!  And in Him I am a princess, I am relentlessly loved, I am "the apple of His eye" (Psalm 17:8).  Nothing can change that - not a bad hair day, not a forgotten phone call, not 1,000 mistakes.  He will always be there...just like my shadow (even when I can't see it, that shadow is still there!).

Friday, August 26, 2011

I May Not Have the Castle...

Yep, I've been slacking a bit...but fortunately not in my devos.  I would much rather forget a blog or two than a devo or two.  All that means now is that I have 3 days worth of challenges to write about.  And lucky for me again, they are all pretty related and go hand in hand quite well!

Day 7 - Today I will remember who I am in Christ.

Simple.  Well, simply said anyhow.  There are times when I feel like I'm a nobody.  I feel unnoticed, as if I disappeared today, no one would even notice tomorrow.  But that simply isn't the case.  Because of Christ I am a somebody!  I will never go unnoticed.  I am loved and cherished beyond my own comprehension...and no one can take that away from me!  Fact of the matter is, however, that this isn't easy to remember when things get tough.  But if I can remind myself of this every morning, life will be a little bit easier, if only just a smidgen...

Day 8 - Today I will be your student, listening for You to show me when I've mentally and emotionally crossed over from healthy guilt to destructive shame.

Because of who I am in Him, nothing that I do can ever make Him love me less, or for that matter, more!  He loves me relentlessly and that will never change.  There is no need to beat myself up over something if I've already "given" it to God.  I definitely struggle with this.  The whole forgiving yourself thing has already been discussed but this is pretty much the same idea.  Guilt is there for a purpose.  I need to repent and ask forgiveness for all that I've done wrong.  But then....(wait for it)....I have to let it go!  I can't dwell in it and continue to hit my head against the wall.  If I've given it to God, He has already forgotten it...why bring it back up?

Day 9 - Today I will savor the fact that I am Your daughter, a princess in the family of the King of kings.

This devotion also focused on getting out of the past (is Sheila Walsh hiding in my frontal lobe or what??).  She referred to it in this instance as "looking at life in the rearview mirror" which can cause some major wrecks or, at the very least, a few fender-benders.    I've definitely had a few of those fender-benders.  I spend a lot of time looking in the rearview mirrors and I forget to look at whats right in front of has not only hurt me but a few others as well.  But if I truly savor in the fact that I am the daughter of the King of kings, I can move forward.  Because I am His daughter, there is always joy.  Why look behind me when He lies ahead?  I am a princess and my destiny awaits!  : )

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Innocence of Children

Day 6 - Today I will slow down enough to notice your fingerprints on your amazing creation.

During nap time at work today I kept thinking, how can I notice creation when I'm inside all day?  And there's no way I'm going outside after work...not in this ridiculous, break-a-million-records heat...and then, like usual, the light bulb came on.  His creation is all around me, all those little hands and feet, all those tiny smiles and itty-bitty giggles...He created each one of those beautiful children.

They are all so different...such individuals.  Even the set of twins in my class have their own personalities.  Kenzie can't live without her blanket and Addie loves the little babies.  Yet He formed each and every one of them and knows how many hairs are on Ian's head or Teagan's head...He gave them the ability to grow and learn so quickly.  Just this week little Evalyn forgot a little bit of her stubbornness and started signing "please."  But the true beauty is that these little ones represent the innocence of creation.  They haven't been exposed to all the evil of the world...they just want love!  Why does it break my heart when a little one learns to bite or hit?  Because a little piece of that innocence has just gone down the drain. But then they give each other a hug and a wet, sloppy kiss and it's as if none of it ever happened, their amazing love shines through!  God's original creation can be seen in this children...He has left His fingerprints on them so that we can see what true innocence really looks like.

I love each and everyone of those children!  They are a blessing for my everyday!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jesus is a Friend of Mine

Very glad I decided to wait and blog until tonight!  The past two challenges are very related...

Day 4 - Today I will consider what it means that You are my friend.
Day 5 - Today I will focus on being Your friend.

The most important thing I think I realized in the past two days is that God isn't just a friend, He's the perfect friend.  He won't leave your side when things get tough.  He will forgive you for anything you do wrong and love you just the same as He did before.  He will be there to remind you of how you need to improve but love you through all of your imperfections.  He can't mess up!

I ran into a bit of a mess yesterday - a great big brick wall of hurt.  For a moment I wanted to ask God why He was letting this happen, why He wasn't stopping it all, why He wasn't there?  And then I remembered what my challenge was for the day - What does it mean that He is my friend?  It means that He is there! He is right by my side, holding my hand, offering His shoulder for my tears.  And He won't ever, ever  leave me!    I can't blame Him for my problems anymore...He is the one who helps me through it all!  My problems would be my destruction if it were not for Him.

So what does it mean for me to be His friend?  It means never leaving His side.  So what does that look like? I can't hang Christ up like a coat when I walk into a room (whether it be work, the mall, or class), I can't throw Him in the trunk while I'm driving.  It means spending time with Him consistently...and being honest with Him (*ouch* that can be a tough one sometimes).  It means actually talking to Him every day and listening to what He has to say...  Friendship isn't easy, but it is so, so worth it!  His friendship is immeasurable, unfathomable, irreplaceable...

So in closing, I proudly say that yes, Jesus is a Friend of Mine.  : )  hehe

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Day 3 - Today I will remember that my failure to forgive myself is a prideful choice to not receive your grace.

*ouch*  That statement really cuts deep.  I didn't even have to think about it for more than half a second - guilty as charged.  But then I started to justify myself.  My guilty feelings, my lack of forgiveness for myself...that isn't my pride.  I'm allowed to feel guilty!  And then I read that again, out loud, - "my failure to forgive myself is a prideful choice to not receive your grace."  *ouch*  Yep, no matter how many times I read it or say it, I can't make the ring of truth go away...

Once God forgives us (which is immediately after we ask) we have to forgive ourselves.  If we don't "we have made the court of our opinion more powerful than the court of our holy and just God" (Walsh 20).  This definitely made me think a little bit harder of all the feelings I've been harboring.  It seems like forgiveness has come up a lot.  I'm not sure if forgiving others or forgiving myself is going to be harder...all I know is the road ahead is going to be a little bumpy.  But I'm willing and ready to face it all...  In closing, I'd like to mention the quote that popped to my mind when I mentioned a bumpy road.

"There are potholes on the road less traveled.  Some deep, some not so deep, some you dig yourself.  Most are filled with mud.  Many contain rocks.  Once in awhile, however, you'll be walking along and step in one a bit more accommodating...shabby, green, and pulsing with life.  It'll tickle your feet, like clover" (from the novel Flabbergasted).  
What hope!

Friday, August 19, 2011

At the Root of the Matter

Day 2 - Today I will let your light shine into my hidden places.

This morning I read this challenge and thought my blog was going to be quite boring this evening.  I didn't think I had anything to hide from God.  But I realized He has been working on a certain area this whole week, I just hadn't been able to admit it to Him (interesting how He knows my secrets before I do...).  I have been holding back forgiveness which has led to bitterness and could very quickly lead to hatred.  I reread the devotion when I got home from work this afternoon and the concluding verse really stuck out to me - "The Lord says, "Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past.  Look at the new thing I am going to do.  It is already happening.  Don't you see it?"  - Isaiah 43:18-19 (NCV)

My lack of forgiveness, my holding on to the past, has me stuck in a place I shouldn't be.  I can't be happy with the present, I can't look forward to the future, because a very big part of me is still very much stuck in the past.  This realization didn't just hit me today though.  It's kind of like watching a mosquito bite your skin - sometimes you can't help but watch in amusement, wondering how it all really works...but what you can't see is the poison that is entering your blood...yeah, it may just cause an itch...but that poison could carry malaria or some other deathly disease.  My lack of forgiveness was comfortable.  I knew it wasn't good for me, that it would probably cause an irritating itch of bitterness but I never really thought of the potential outcome.  What if that irritating itch turned to hatred?

We watched the movie Defiance tonight.  It tells the true life story of a forest camp of Jews during WWII...choosing starvation and bitter cold over death camps.  My heart is especially broken at the cruelty and unfairness of this world and movies such as this throw my emotions for a loop.  I was in tears at all of the hatred that caused such situations.  One man had so much hatred in his heart that he created the genocide of an entire race of people.  How could this happen?  And then it hit me.  That's the difference - God is love.  Love creates.  Hatred destroys.

It was like a slap in the face.  At what point would my bitterness grow to hatred?  But wait...if bitterness is the seed of hatred, hasn't destruction already begun?  Hasn't it already been planted?  I have to do something about this.  I know that forgiveness is not an easy task but I know that it is essential.  I cannot be forgiven unless I first forgive (Mark 11:25-26) and I have made too many mistakes to count.  I must stop the destruction and return to the root of all creation - love.

As noted, it won't be an easy process...and it is quite scary.  Matthew West recently came out with a song called Strong Enough.  It has been very encouraging and I know now that, for me, this song was meant for such a time as this.  (Find song and lyrics here.)  I'm not strong enough to do this on my own but He can be strong enough for the both of us!

"Look at the new thing I am going to do.  It is already happening.  Don't you see it?"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Good Morning Lord!

I've stumbled across a few dilemmas lately.  First of all, I want to blog...but I can't get motivated.  I've come to the conclusion that this may be because I don't have a theme for my blog.  My second dilemma of late is that I start devotionals or Scripture reading plans and stop half way through because I'm burnt out.  But now...I've found the solution.  Recently I began a devotional by Sheila Walsh entitled "Good Morning Lord."  Each day is basically started with a sort of challenge, for instance - "Today I will follow Jesus" or "Today I will..."  You get the idea.  In order to keep myself accountable and to actually finish this devotional I have decided that the new theme of my blog is 'spiritually naked.'  I'm going to write how and if I accomplished my goal each day, starting with today (so in order to see the first 6 challenges you will have to buy the book!).  :)  I'm hoping this will help me pay better attention to what I'm supposed to be learning and how God is working in my life.  I also hope that I may be an inspiration for anyone that reads this!  I know I'm not perfect, though I sometimes hate to admit that...this will be a new experience for me, but it is something I am truly, truly excited about!  Look out world, I'm wakin' up with the Lord!

And so Day 1  begins...


Reading this challenge this morning I was reminded of when I first received the grace of God.  I was only 7 but His grace was SO real to me.  It was so simple to understand when the biggest thing I needed grace for was lying to my parents or pinching my little brother.  But God's grace becomes more and more difficult to fathom the more and more I make mistakes.  And it seems that the mistakes grow with my age.  How can someone extend so much grace??  But that is why His grace is so amazing!!  It was discussed in class at one point how we over use the words amazing and awesome...I mean, does the bag your best friend just got really strike you with awe?  I doubt it.  But God's grace, now that is something that takes your breath away, that leaves you speechless, that fills you with awe.  His grace is truly awesome, it is truly amazing!  Why?  Because we don't deserve it and we could never earn it!

Throughout the day I was reminded that while I feel that certain people don't deserve grace, the reality is that none of us do.  I certainly don't.  Thank You Lord for Your awesome and amazing grace!