Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The time is now!

Do you ever notice that people are more concerned with the book of Revelation and what the future holds, instead of realizing that 99% of the bible is about how to live right, right now?
The bible is a huge resource of instructions for how to live the way God intended. It teaches us how we should act, how we should love, how we should forgive, how we should work, how we should share, how we should give, how we should war, how we should raise our children, how we should honor our parents, and how we should honor God. Its all there. Everything we should do in every situation that this life gives us. Any crisis we have, we can look to the bible for answers on how to overcome it.
But with all this wealth of knowledge and answers to every question, why is it that so many people look to themselves or to man for answers instead of to God? They are interested in what the future holds, "will I go to heaven?", but they forget sometimes that the bible is written all about how to live RIGHT NOW. Yes, there is scripture about the future, but most is written for us to use here on this earth right now. So let's make an effort to use the manual God gave us and live RIGHT, right now. I think we'll find it will make this time we have here on earth SO much more enjoyable and prosperous :) Let's give it a try!

Do you love? Do you give?

God so loved the world, that He gave His only son. (John 3:16)

God loved. So He gave.

We need to love, before we give.

Think of a farmer.

He works the soil. He plants a seed. He waters it. He prunes it. He picks weeds. All in all, he is nurturing, or LOVING that plant.

The result is yes, indeed, a harvest. But it would not have produced such an abundant crop if he had not LOVED it first through his dedication and actions. He gave his time and efforts.

Another farmer could have planted a seed too, but without nurturing care (love, water/weed wacking, etc) he would not have received the same results.

What is interesting about these stories is that if you are the farmer you may not really see the dedication and love you showed unless you look back. While the first farmer was working he wasn't thinking "oh, I'm doing a great job!" No, he was simply doing what was right and expected of him. Because he did honest, Godly work, his work prospered.

This principle applies today just as it did then.

In fact, this same thing happened to me when I was working in the corporate world (not for my husband as I am now-ha ha). There is an opportunity in the business world (as with probably most professions) for dishonest work ethics. In my business it was actually very prevalent for employees to do the wrong thing instead of the right thing just to make their numbers look good and thus make them a stronger candidate for promotions. I did not believe in this and at every copportunity, I would chastise and correct every employee who I found who was behaving dishonestly.

Over the course of time-even though I wasn't padding my numbers(cheating)- my numbers put my office in first place for net profit. This "gold star" benefited me when I applied for a new position. Which I got.

Now, the cool thing about this new position was that it set me up for more pay, less hours, and less stress (which was great because by now I was a new parent!)

What I'm trying to show you is that while you are putting your 'hand to the plow' like a farmer-if you do your work with honesty and integrity (love)-God's light will shine through you and you will be rewarded. I was rewarded with less hours and stress, and more money. Even in the workplace we can do God's work, not just in the pulpit.

You see, I was LOVING God by working in a Godly way. I was giving what was right to my job and not cheating my company or my customers. My employers saw the results (which by the way were blessed by God since I wasn't cheating) which then resulted in a promotion. I know that promotion was from God. The hours and pay I received just don't match up to what is 'standard' for that position across the nation in that company. I give HIM all the glory and praise for that career turn. HE gave me the opportunity to lessen my hours and stress at work (which was VERY important to me). The increased pay was a nice bonus, but it was ALL for the Kingdom. You see, I LOVE to GIVE. God knows that. He knows He can trust me to give, what He gives me. So by remaining Godly in my work ethic (instead of doing what everyone else was doing---its not ok to cheat, even if everyone else is), I was blessed with a promotion that resulted in something great for me(less hours and stress), and something great for the kingdom (more money to sow into the kingdom). Remember, "those who are faithful with little, will be given much".

Through your walk with God, your integrity will be tested. It may be at work, it may be at school, it may be in a relationship. Stand firm in all areas against temptation and dishonesty. Your love for God will be that light shining in the world for all to see. God will make sure you are rewarded for your love!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Throw it up or Throw it out?

A long time ago, a friend told me about someone who didn't like to throw away food (even if it was on the verge of going bad, or already was spoiling). She gave it this funny phrase... she said her friend would rather "throw it up, than throw it out!"
Kinda gross when dealing with food, that's for sure. I would certainly prefer to throw it out instead of getting sick eating it and winding up throwing it up later. But I got to thinking about this the other day and it made me realize that sometimes we are like this with things in our life that we should be getting rid of.
Instead of throwing it out and getting rid of it, we hold onto it and it makes us sick. It tears us down or drags us down and we are not able to live out the life God intended for us because we haven't gotten rid of the junk.
That junk is different for everyone. Maybe its cigarrettes or overeating (both of which literally do affect our health and make us literally sick, not just figuratively), or pornography (which hurts our relationship with our spouse), or jealousy, or pride, or dishonesty, or slander (bad words coming out of your mouth that don't build up, but instead tear down and hurt someone else). There are a number of sins, or junk, too many to list. Most people have some, not just one.
So, if you have some junk in your life. The first step is realizing it is in fact junk and not worth keeping. Then you need to throw it to the curb and leave it there! Don't keep it in your life, thus making you sick. When you are sick, you will eventually throw it up. So, wouldn't it be easier to get rid of it on your own before it makes you sick?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

His plans are greater than ours

Several years ago I sufferred a miscarriage. Honestly, right now I can't even tell you how far along I was. Details like that have faded with time. What hasn't faded though is my memory of two things:
1. How God prepared me and my husband for it.
2. How God used my experience to help someone else.

I'll start with the first one. We were very excited to be expecting again. I had already wrote notes in my journal to the "baby", and we had started to teach our daughter how to hold her baby-doll for when her little brother or sister came along. However, I started having 'thoughts' (or in the church world you could call them visions) about the possibility that the pregnancy wouldn't last. In these 'visions' I had to walk through the aftermath of losing the pregnancy. I tried to get rid of them. I thought maybe the devil was putting bad thoughts in my head and I just needed to close that door and not let fear into my household. But the thing was, I wasn't really afraid. I simply was experiencing these thoughts or visions. And in each one, I would think about how sad I would be if that happened and how I would have to carry on, and what I would do to 'smooth over' the information to my daughter that a new baby wasn't coming. My husband at the same time happened to be having dreams about the pregnancy too. We didn't know this till we discussed it the day the doctor told us, and we then realized, yes, indeed God had been preparing us mentally to handle the news.
Well, he was having dreams too, and they were about the pregnancy. But his dreams were about it going full term, and that I did not survive it. So obviously he was enduring some turmoil because he doesn't know why he is having these dreams either and he certainly doesn't want his wife to die. Well, to jump ahead, I go to the doctor for a check up and the doctor does the thing on my belly and looks on the screen. Now since I already have a child, this is not new to me, so I know the routine, we look at the pictures, he does measurements, we ooh and aah, and everything is sweet and cool and laid back and relaxed. However, this time, I can tell he is not laid back and relaxed. He is intently looking at the screen and re-doing measurements. I know something is wrong. They haven't told me yet. But I know. They do eventually tell me. Yes, of course I cry. Even though I can look back and say God prepared me, when u are in the middle of it u don't feel all that "preparedness". And of course it is our child so I am very sad and heartbroken. I call my husband. Then drive around for a bit. Then call my office and tell them what happened and that I won't be coming back into work that day. I then head to my husband's office and we mourn our loss. We also tell each other about our dreams and visions and we realize that God was preparing us for this. He prepared my husband to realize that this was probably best, because something even worse would happen if the pregnancy continued, so even though he was sad about losing the baby, he knew God's hand was in it, because I was spared.
He prepared me on how to handle the aftermath. That's what all my dreams were about, 'what happens next'. So I simply walked out what God had shown me in those dreams.

The next day, I go back to work and... I work. I guess you could say I handle it with dignity and courage. But you know what? Its just God. He is great and He loves us. And as much as we wanted that child to come to fruition, it didn't . We don't know why, but in heaven we will find out, and also get to meet him/her for the first time. I don't know why but at the time I can't say the word miscarriage. I really don't know why, but when people come up to me (its a large building where I work) and ask about the baby, I simply say I am no longer pregnant. I guess looking back that could sound weird (as if I had had an abortion), but at the time I simply couldn't say I had had a miscarriage. I don't cry at work, I am very congenial and respectful of those who are asking, knowing that my answer is not what they expected and they don't know what to do or say now. I simply go on... and work. I oversaw 3 people at the time, so we all sat in the same office so they were next to me day in and day out. It wasn't like I could go behind closed doors and freak out.
By the way, on a side note, I would like to mention there was one woman who stood out to me in this experience. When asked about the baby and I replied, she KEPT looking me straight in the eye, and said she was sorry to hear that. Very simple. Very true. Very honest. I have to admit, I learned something from HER. I never knew how to handle it when people told me uncomfortable news. My eyes would avert as most people's do, but I knew mine did it a lot, because I was really uncomfortable. I learned from her, that when someone is going through something difficult. You don't have to have the answers, and most likely you don't. But you can listen, and you can look them in the eye and give them your full attention. I respected her reactions more than anything else. Even though they were so simple.
By the way, the miscarriage didn't turn out to be so simple. My body didn't want to let go so for about six months I was dealing with bleeding issues, so the two women who worked with me were aware of this and watched as I dealt with this as well. The doctors and my husband wanted me to do a D&C, but I did not, and never did. God finally finished it (at work one day[lovely!]) and we were then able to move on to try for another baby.

But this leads us to #2. One of the women who worked with me,became pregnant shortly after my 6month ordeal had finally ended. We were all very excited. However, a month or two later, she had a miscarriage. I actually had already 'retired' , so when I heard about it, I called her to offer my condolences and ask if there was anything I could do for her (this was her first pregnancy). She basically said to me: "no, you've already done enough. Don't take this the wrong way, but I think watching you go though what you did, helped me to see that this is going to be alright. The way you handled everything really set an example for me and I can see that God is in control and I will be fine."
I didn't take it the wrong way. In fact, when I had had the miscarriage I thought to myself, "you know, since I had such a easy time getting pregnant the first time and had never sufferred any miscarriages or fertility issues , I felt like I really didn't know how to relate to people who had. It wasn't that I didn't feel for them, I just sort of felt clueless about their ordeal. I could nod my head and listen, but I didn't know what they were feeling. Now that I had gone through something myself, I could now relate and I felt I could be a better friend to lean on."
Her telling me this, just made it more obvious to me that God can use any situation to better His kingdom. She was already a Christian, but she saw God in me in the way I reacted to my situation, so when she went through the same situation she didn't have fear or as many questions. She was at peace and trusting God still. My reaction of keeping God first (and not yelling "why God Why God?! why me?!" or getting mad at God,) helped to show her that God can walk us through even difficult times.

So I share this today to hopefully be a help to others. If you have experienced something similar this may help you. But more than that I think we can learn that it is the way we behave everyday that has the greatest impact on those around us. If we are a shining light for God, then His reflection is seen in what we do. Others can't help but notice it. How can one miss a light shining in the dark? All I can say is praise God! For He is almighty and all-knowing! Whatever troubles you are experiencing in life, know that God is there with you, and He WILL walk you through. Every trial we experience should be used to praise God and show His glory, because we will for sure grow from that experience and will be a better servant of God because of it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Love your kids with your time

My husband and I were at a marriage session that our church was hosting, and the speaker said one of the reasons you love someone is because of the way they make you feel about yourself. This got me thinking not about my husband, whom I love dearly and I think my actions show him that, thus probably making himself feel well. But it got me thinking about children. You've seen children in movies or real life who are emotionally broken by the actions and words of their parents. You can see the pain in their eyes and face, and it almost feels like you can see it in their heart. They are so young their emotions are worn on their sleeve, they don't know how to hide them yet like us well-trained adults (that was sarcasm by the way). It is so painful to watch and it tears my heart out everytime, even if it is just actors doing it and not real life. Because I know in real life this really does happen. It is so important as parents to make sure that we show love and compassion to our children. I love my kids dearly, but I feel sometimes like I am so consumed with the rules of getting them to behave properly that I don't show them enough love to actually help them behave properly. I just think its really important that we don't take being a parent for granted. We are given an awesome responsibility to shape and mold our children (and those children around us), that we need to make sure we make the time to do that. I don't want them growing up with no memories of me playing with them because I was too busy doing other things. Someone said to me one day 'you'll have many years to decorate your Christmas tree anyway you want' when I had complained that my kids were 'messing it up'. I realized that I need to stop and treasure each and every moment I have with my kids. I can't take one moment for granted. I need to push aside the busywork, or not take on as much, so that I can devote more time to simply being a mom. One who plays with her kids, reads to them (not just at bedtime), makes fun (and messy-yes that is where I struggle most) projects with them, and just goofs off. Instead of always being there to only say "is your room cleaned yet?have you finished eating yet?did u brush your teeth yet? hurry up we are late! no, I won't do that right now I'm busy".
Yes, this is painful to write and possibly painful to read. My point is that I'm not perfect and I know that-although I truly wish to be, at least in the mother and wife categories- so I am making a point of pointing out that loving our children in such a way that they FEEL loved, and they then also FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES, is how we can be assured that they will always LOVE US. Not just because we are family and families always 'love' each other, but because they truly love us because we act in such a way that makes them feel good! Maybe this post only helps me, to get my priorities straight, but if it helps someone else too, then I am glad.