This weekend my eldest daughter has been in Reno Nevada for the US Open in Taekwondo. Throughout this past week I have seen many posts of parents, coaches, and teammates cheering the competitors on, and all should be applauded for their efforts win or lose. The word DESERVES made me think. The competitor from the gym my girls belong to put in many hours each week practicing, conditioning, competing each month to prepare for some of the bigger tournaments. Surely every competitor from every gym has dedicated just as much time, sweat, tears, and money to be able to compete at a high level. So who deserves to win? A win is earned not deserved.
The word deserves seems to me to say entitlement. As if putting in so much time and effort automatically earns a certain amount of power over the outcome. If a win is deserved does that then mean the person who lost didn’t put the same amount of time in advance? Are they less of a person, less deserving of a medal? My daughter, was eliminated in the first round of her competition. Part of me thinks I don’t help instill the desire to win, because I tell her I love her regardless of how she does. I will encourage her to work hard and do her best but I do not want my children to think my love has conditions or is earned because they won. There are too many problems in this country where kids feel they are or are not deserving of love based on what or how they do in school or sports. In reality, there isn’t one of us who deserves to be alive. We are alive by the grace of God. Everything else is an opportunity to earn the right to stay here on this planet and to learn to love despite what we think we deserve.
It’s the moments we feel we didn’t get what we deserved which is our greatest opportunity to love, to put all our disappointments and dreams into the will of the Father. How many times can we look back in life and realize it was our disappointments which taught us our greatest lessons? The past few months I have felt torn apart with so many internal conflicts and feeling like I deserved more from this life. “Why don’t others see my light shine?” I questioned my purpose, why I am who I am, and why I have to deal with so many insecurities, what did I do to deserve this pain of isolation. Then as I sat in mass this weekend I realized, I am not loving who God made me to be and blaming everyone for who I think I am not. I compare. I thought I deserved more just because I am me. I let Satan cast doubts in my head about who I am supposed to be. YET, I was reminded we are called to love, (yes even Satan,) not because he casts doubts and lies, but because he too was created by God. As bad as all the doubts and lies can be they can also be reminders that God is greater. It is this which we must cling to: God is Love.
We do not deserve God’s love, nor can we ever earn it. He loves us even when we allow the doubts, lies, and evil to fill our mind to make us turn away from Him but the moment we turn back to Him, He loves us. All he asks of us is to love back. So as we get ready to prepare for the lenten season, may we explore all that which we think we deserve and set those chains free. Instead of focusing on what “should be” embrace what is in front of you now. We are given opportunities, we just don’t always see them.
Let YOUR light shine,
My friend, Bob, who leads the RCIA program at my church ends the sessions with “God moments.” He asks the question “does anyone have any God moments they would like to share?” I had one of those God moments and would like to share it with you.
This morning I woke up far to early, my eyes couldn’t focus and my brain was still sleep but I was awake. As I laid in bed wishing I would fall back asleep, logically knowing I wouldn’t, I checked Facebook. (My mistake, I know.) As I scrolled quickly through the over night posts, a post from Exodus Cry , caught my eye. They recommending everyone watch Nefarious: Merchant of Souls movie. I quickly pulled up Amazon before I forgot and added it to my watch list. Then the morning proceeded on as usual. After everyone was out the door, dog walked, and kitchen cleaned I decided to “watch” this movie as I worked remodeling this blog. Fifteen minutes into the movie, I closed my computer because I needed to give what was playing my attention. Some of the information was unfathomable at the blase’ attitude of people. When the movie was ending I wanted to share the original FB post I saw this morning but couldn’t find it. Nothing had been posted on the Exodus Cry page or the Nefarious Merchants of Souls page. Seeing the blurb to watch this movie was a God moment for me.
The past few years I have supported, followed, and helped bring awareness to human trafficking after reading a very disturbing fictional book about this subject. This movie was disturbing because of the simply facts presented of what happens around the world to people. Here in the USA, we like to think our children being trafficked would never happen to my child. It’s a fear I have for my kids and their friends. How easy it is to be lead astray. How easy it is to fall prey to the world view of a life. As I watched this movie, all I could think about was how our world has dehumanized people! Our value is placed on the monetary worth and not the simple fact we are all children of someone. Sex Slavery/human trafficking is one facet of this disordered thinking but as I watched the movie I thought what about the aborted babies, the sick, the homeless, or those in prisons. We try to justify our reasoning for helping/not helping based on “but what do they contribute to society? They would just be a drain on the financial system.” Here in the US, it’s more important for us to defend a woman’s choice to abort a child than it is to recognize life starts at conception. The message of classifying who deserves to live and who deserves to die based on our failed human minds doesn’t send a message of hope to these individuals being sold by their parents or being used by other humans. If we choose not to protect/want a child from conception until end of life how can we send the message someone trapped in slavery is wanted? By the end of the movie I was in tears. Not the little sniffle tears, but the run down my face. They were tears of sorrow and joy.
Joy? How could a person talk about sex slavery and feel joy. In reality, you can’t. BUT as this movie was wrapping up and the people gave their testimonies of what their life was like before, during, after I could understand their joy. Every person who was interviewed had BIG GOD moments which helped heal them. They encountered Jesus, through all their pain, suffering, and misery they felt His love and acceptance. Jesus saw their brokeness, their hurts, their pasts and simply loved them. This past weekend, I attended a small workshop about how to “tell your story” and through this workshop I realized how my story is everyone’s story, how we get from point a to point be is where our experiences are different. Our stories start before conception (read my thoughts on that in the Created post) and end at death. What happens in between is our experiences, but hopefully everyone can come to understand: GOD LOVES US. There are no if and or buts, He loves us. It is this message I feel I was called to share more than anything else. Our past is our past but today, now as you read this, we are given chances to begin again, to open our hearts and let Jesus show Himself to us. Be ready though, because if you open your heart to Him He will reveal Himself. He did for me, for those in this film, to many people I know, and so many others. The people in this movie shared the same love and peace I felt. Non-believers will tell you God sets rules and living by His rules means no fun, but living knowing you are loved sets free the chains which keeps us tied to agony, loneliness, and fear. It doesn’t matter what you have done up until now, right now you have a chance to experience freedom like never before. Watch the movie and when you are ready ask Jesus to show you love.
P.S. On the Exodus Cry website there is a list of ways to help support the cause to end sex slavery and human trafficking. One way is through prayer.
Red light prayer: pray for the ending of red light districts each time you stop at a red light. Get the decal to help you remember.
1. Father, we ask that you would protect each child who is living on the streets in Raqqa. Would you place them in families and set them in the safety for which they yearn.
2. God, we ask that the anti-trafficking efforts that are taking place in Raqqa would be successful and that local law enforcement would be able to see the crime and stop it from happening.
3. Jesus we are asking for new anti-trafficking legislation in Raqqa that would foster the protection of women and children and curb the demand for commercial sex.
Let YOUR light shine,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
For the longest time I could not grasp how our artistic views using a chosen method were relevant. How can the world be filled with art works which seemed not to have a purpose other than a way for the artist to express some sort of emotion. Then it hit me and a connection was made.
Long before we pick up a spatula, pen, paint brush, camera etc, we created an idea in our minds. Some where in our minds is an art piece waiting to be formed. Slowly, each movement adds to the formation of an end product. Sometimes we have to step away from the art piece to be able to return to it with fresh eyes. Each stroke, knead, or click adds helps us to form a final piece which is loved. The piece may not be perfect in most cases but the artist is able to find beauty in the imperfections.
Each of us is a work of art created by God. Our entire life is a series of small strokes, molds, decorating, forming to shape the person who we are meant to be. As every artist knows there are times when we have to wait for the right conditions to get the results we hope to see, art can’t be rushed. “Mistakes” are made, but are they really mistakes? Our greatest “mistakes” can be our biggest successes. Maybe the piece falls apart midway through the process, frustration sets in. Start again, this time with a better understanding of what went right, and what not to do. Every new movement being tweaked and carefully implemented until completion.
Then there is those who do not get our art work. This is what makes art so great and interesting. Just because someone else doesn’t like what you’ve created doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s simply not for that person. Artists love selling their product to people who appreciate art work for its uniqueness. We must find those people. Would we have asked Picasso to change how he drew because we wanted a Monet? NEVER! Each of us was created with something unique to offer the world, celebrate that gift and don’t be afraid to share it.
The photos are of H. who asked to bake her own cake. She helped inspire this post, because before she asked about the cake I knew she had visualized what she wanted the result to look like. She made a list of all the ingredients needed, including fondant and strawberry cake (i prefer chocolate but this was about what H wanted to create), and simply needed help with reassurance she was executing the baking instructions correctly. She did an awesome job! My, and R’s, favorite part was in the sharing of her creation.
For those of you who feel like you aren’t artistic, that is OK. You have a gift to share. Maybe you are a wonderful baker, cook, teacher, listener, musician, the gifts are endless!! Take time in the next few weeks and think what makes you happy and energized, more than likely it’s part of your gift. Nurture that gift and figure out how to share it with those around you. As you share more and more of your gifts, take time to notice how your life changes. Enjoy the process of using the gift, knowing you were created to share that gift.
Let YOUR light shine,
Happy Monday! For this new year, I decided I am going to “remodel” this blog. It’s sat for a few years and is dusty. A few ideas are running through my head of what I would like to start and feature, all in the planning phase of course. To be able to carry out those ideas reorganization needs to happen. The past week, I’ve looked at others blogs to help form some ideas of what I like and do not like. There are so many great sites out there, some really eye-catching make you feel happy blogs, others bring a sense of peace and calm. Then there is mine. As I sit and start playing with adding lots of color to make this site more upbeat and fun, it doesn’t feel right to me. So the site has sat relatively unchanged for a week, except for a few goofs while upgrading the back-end.
What do I want this site to say about me, from a glance. Those we meet tend to have a different perspective of who we are than we do ourselves. When I am told what others think of me my first thought is, “really?” So who am I? I am a deep philosophical thinker. Unlike an engineer who tries to improve a product, I question our very existence and what is the purpose of why we were born. I ask and could discuss for hours questions like where do my thoughts come from if we are made up of hormones, tissue, and electrical synapses. A few months ago I had a dream, where it felt like I was floating in space: An endless realm of dark space filled with stars and planets. It was really beautiful as I can vividly image the dream right now. With every thought, i could feel and see an illuminated flow of energy being pulled from the back of my head into space and toward the sun. It was like a vortex, with an exchange of ideas coming into me and leaving me. How else could my brain contain all the thoughts/emotions/sensory stimuli within the space between my ears?
Then as we drove to my parents for Christmas, I was reminded how we are all like oceans, or a great lake in this case, deep. The surface changes depending on the season and weather. Some days it’s crystal clear and calm, other times it’s rough with a lot of ups and downs. Underneath it all, though, is a who world most do not see. It’s deep, dark, and cold but in those depths lives life so vital to the entire ecosystem that if it weren’t the way it is the entire world changes. Just because the surface if calm doesn’t me the riptide isn’t strong and vice versa. Each of us has a depth to our soul most do not even realize. Our surface may be one way but underneath it all is a whole new world waiting to be found…like space.
So as I contemplate the two images and thoughts I realize I am not a bright colorful “look at me” woman. You’re likely to find me in a quiet room with an earthy feel and warm cup of coffee or tea in my hands with headphones on listening to Linkin Park. The calm and turbulent sides of me. I can feel terrible alone in a room full of people, yet completely at peace when I am alone. Quality over quantity is how I choose friends, and knowing my friends and loved ones are those who can offer me nothing I can not do for myself. They like to waste time with me as much as I do with them. Life if not a competition and we rejoice in each others successes and work together to overcome the failures. Now that this has been established I have a direction for this site. If for some reason you check in and it seems in chaos, know I am making changes and hopefully it will be back online soon.
Now for the ideas of what this blog will contain:
- My eldest daughter is finally starting to take an interest in photography. I would like to set up either a separate page or do special features of her works. To be able to experience the world anew through her eyes is exciting.
- A continual prayer list. With the passing of David Bowie, seeing all the FB status posts about him from his fans makes me want to pray for those who are sick or passed from this world without anyone. David Bowie was able to share his gifts with the world in a larger than life way, but each of us shares our gifts in another. No small gift should go unnoticed. So if you would like to join me in praying for those who are alone a list of people can be found/added and prayed for.
- Last week on the radio I heard a comment, I forget who said it, but it was “if you can’t love God, learn to love people and the world again.” My hope is to share more people on this blog so their story can be heard.
Those are a few thoughts, we see how it all plays out in the next year.
Let YOUR light shine,
“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;”
A few weeks ago, the girls and I were discussing opening gifts up before Christmas morning. We talked about Advent being a time of preparation and waiting. How waiting until Christmas morning to open gifts fills us with a sense of excitement and wonder. I tried to explain how, for me, opening gifts before Christmas morning lessens the excitement because that initial excitement of what gift am I going to get, seeing the tree with gifts, or hearing the tearing of paper has already been done. The anticipation has decreased even if ever so slightly. Not everyone agrees, I get that. Some people travel or multiple family gathers, our family does it too. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends all want to see you open the gift they gave. We questioned, is it rude to say, “Thank you, I’m going to wait to open until Christmas morning” ?
As I was losing the battle of when to open gifts with the girls, and Chris, I asked them “If you were invited to a ball by a King… would you show up to the party and not once think about who invited you? Would you eat, drink, be merry, and expect a parting gift without thought to why you received it? Or would the invitation to the ball simply be enough?” Most people i know would be overjoyed and honored to receive such an invitation. As a woman I can tell you, preparation would begin immediately! There would be refrigerators filled only with leafy greens and veggies to lose a few pounds, money spent on making sure we wore the perfect outfit, appointments made for hair, makeup, and nails to be made oh so perfect. All the money spent, preparation, and waiting would be a privilege and joy. I invite you to take a moment and think of what it would really be like to receive an invitation and get ready for such an event. Now… Think of about how we would immediately bow if royalty walked in front of us!
Christ the King is born on Christmas day, LET US REJOICE! It may have happened over 2015 year ago, but when we celebrate Christmas we celebrate our King today. A king who was born to serve and die for us. In the image above, a crown is handed over, from one person to another. We give Christ his Glory in being our King and savior, while he hands us a crown of being a prince or princess. We are all children of God, Christ came to reveal this to us, but do we understand what it cost Him? Thousands of year were spent in preparation for Jesus’ birth. He presented us with gifts of humility and love. How much did His gifts to us cost Him? His life.
I pray today, as we watch our kids, nieces, nephews, even some adults be filled with excitement for Santa we be reminded of the joy in preparation. May we let the excitement of unwrapping gifts fill us with the gift Christ brought to us, that of being a son or daughter of God. May we all rejoice in Jesus, Mary, Joseph for their triumphant “YES!” to God’s will for them. To the all shepherds who sing the praise of our new born king. May we prepare for Christ today, and everyday, because each day we are invited to the greatest and grandest ball ever, eternal LIFE.
P.S. Haley (aka. Carrots for Michaelmas) wrote a lovely blog post on the birth of Christ, worth checking out.
Let YOUR light shine,
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