Joining an Elite Club

The fine print on the back of the tube of emerald green paint was smaller than I had remembered. I blinked my eyes and turned away to refocus and tried again. The more I squinted and blinked, the blurrier the print became. Knowing that I am 3 months shy of turning 40 years young, in the back of my head an objective truth was churning that my subjective reasoning was trying to comprehend…

Maybe the print was smaller than normal. This could be true, except for the fact that I’d been buying the same Matisse Structure paint tubes for a couple of years. They all looked the same. Maybe the light was bad. So, I turned on a light, squinted my eyes, and tried again. Hmmmm. No better. My subjective reasoning was running out of options.

Could it be true? I mean, this happens for everyone, but this early? I read a lot and I use my eyes as an artist for detail work, but doesn’t this begin to happen in your mid forties?

I was having difficulty reading simple text that had never been an issue before. After I got over the shock of this monumental shift in my life…sitting on the cusp of almost 40 years old, two things ran through my mind. The vain part of me said, “Yippeeeee!!” I can finally buy those cool and colorful reader glasses that everyone over 40 wears! Seriously, have you seen the selection lately? Every color and pattern you can possibly imagine. My inner artist could care less that this means I am now a member of an elite club. She is just thrilled that color and snazzy patterns are in her near future!

The second thing that went though my mind caused me to pause and ponder:

12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:11-13

Oh wow. I was seriously seeing dimly. It was almost like someone flipped a switch and I could not longer see up close very well. I could see letters, but not make them out completely. You know the next part of the story, right?

After a quick trip to satisfy my inner artist, I had my first pair of $2.99 reader glasses. I was the stuff. And the stuff could read up close and look snazzy doing it.

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Now, I could see face to face. I could fully know what I was reading. I didn’t have to squint. What relief to know it was a simple fix.

But some things in life are not so simple. $2.99 and doesn’t even come close to fixing most of our dim mirrors in life. Most of our days are spent squinting and wondering what the next day will hold. Sometimes in matters of life and death. What do we do to gain clarity? To see face to face in the midst of the fog of life?

We have to use Truth to shine a Light on the fog. The promise that all will work out in the end, even though today is dark.

The Truths or promises of God are like my readers. I rely on them when life is foggy, when my vision is foggy. I am a highly exalted, loved and cherished, Light caster of the Most High. My Assurance is complete. I need to do nothing more to earn favor, mercy, or grace. I am deeply loved.

Remember how the verses above end? “The greatest of these is LOVE.” Freely given. Knowing you are loved changes everything. Even your perspective on the fog.

In order to read clearly, all I need to do is wear my readers. It was only fitting that my first pair of readers matched my emerald green paint. If I have to wear readers, they must be my favorite color.

So when life flickers dim and a shift in perspective is needed, remember one day we will see face to face and fully know all the whys. Until then, stand on the solid foundation of your assurance. In the midst of deep and dimly lit fog, you are deeply and eternally loved. Choose to believe this today. The fog may not go away, but you will be able to see it differently. And that is a choice we can all make…clarity comes when we believe what we know to be true.

Love to you all….and if you are approaching 40, get ready to pick out some snazzy readers!

Roots and Wings

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I watch them. And I see them growing up.
I listen to them. And I hear their ideas.
I touch them. And I am reminded every time of the miracle of life.
I smell them. And I breathe deep as I try to not forget what they smell like.
I sense the change in our mother child relationship.
I am fully aware.

Like a turning of the calendar on the next season of their lives. They don’t need me in the same ways they’ve needed me for a decade. But, they still need me. Maybe more than ever, but differently.

We gave them roots. Deep roots that have wound their way into the fertile soil of their hearts.

We’ve read stories.
Prayed together.
Traveled together.
Walked together.
Broke bread together.
Played together.
Cried and laughed together.

But, most of all, we’ve just been present with them. Stewarding them in the way of life. Taking advantage of every teachable moment, trying not to create robots who don’t question us. They have had the space to question and ponder. Seek and discover.

The seeds we’ve planted along the way are beginning to grow. We can see the fruit of the long nights and the full days. The hours spent around the table of life have multiplied in ways I can’t enumerate. And I don’t know if I want to. It would take the mystery out of who they are becoming.

The winds are shifting. My heart knows and senses that I am becoming, too. Becoming a different lighthouse in their lives. I’m beginning to give them space. A different kind of space. More space to make mistakes and suffer the consequences of their actions without trying to protect them from every struggle in life. Hurt and disappointment will be inevitable. As their mother, I know this. It grieves me, but I can’t prevent pain in their lives, just like I can’t control what happens to them. It’s not easy to embrace this. But it is good for them and for me. It has to happen this way.

God used a dear friend just this week to open my eyes to this shift in my role as their mama. I have been their anchor, even as I have been teaching them to depend on their Creator for every single thing.

They have roots that anchor them. Now, it is time to help them find their wings.

As we start our 4th year of home school this week, I am deeply reminded of how little time I have with them. I want them to soar. I want to embrace them right where they are. As their mama who has diligently watered their roots, I want to be their mama who will get out of the way and let them flap their wings.

They will crash.
They will run out of gas.
They will run off the runway at times.

Our home, their nest, will always be a reminder to them of their roots, but it is time to fly.

“A bird is safe in its nest – but that is not what its wings are made for.” ? Amit Ray

Passion or Flatulence?

 

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There are so many ideas swirling around in my head. All in Technicolor.

Blog posts, canvases, clients, dreams, home school ideas, what’s for dinner, I need a massage, better water the flowers.

I have to keep a notebook. An idea book of sorts. It’s where dreams begin to take place. Seeds are planted. I often look back over my notebook when I’m waiting for the kids to finish up a practice or lesson. It gives me instant energy.

My notebook is my go to when my fuel is running low. When I need a spark to get me started.

However, most often, life feels like a wild-fire and I am about to be consumed. How do you tame the fire that burns within you without tamping out the flames all together? How do you moderate passion? Give it boundaries? Tell it what to do instead of it consuming you?

Passion has an intriguing meaning. It is from Late Latin passionem and means “suffering, enduring,” and from past participle stem of Latin pati “to suffer, endure,”. Who in the world would want to be “gifted” with passion? Something that causes them to suffer. Something they have to endure.

Who? Would you?

There’s only one problem. I believe we are born with passion. With a fire in our belly. For something. The problem is it gets all twisted up and feels more like gas or flatulence and we take Gas X and call it a day.

But, what would really happen in our lives, in the world, if we took a moment to listen to this fire, this passion in our bosom. What is it telling you?

Instead of numbing out and being addicted to a substance or a person, take a moment or two and listen. Let that ache, that hurt linger for a while before you try to make it go away. Allow the emotions to rise to the surface. Ask yourself, “for what purpose am I here? What do I get to do today that no one else can do?”

This suffering, this enduring…it is truly where you are gifted. And it is hard to tame…maybe it feels impossible to tame. So what do we do? We give it boundaries. We write things down in a notebook. We talk with a trusted friend or life coach. We run 5 miles. We paint, sing, dance. But please don’t numb out and put out the flame that burns within you. Don’t isolate and smother the flame by dousing it with drugs, food, a person, or a copycat version of your passion.

We need your fire. Your passion. Your silent enduring and suffering needs a voice. And that voice may start as a whisper, but give it a voice today.

 

Opportunity

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I’ve learned in 38 years that life can change forever as we know it in a mere second. But, this doesn’t stop me from wondering what the next day might hold. I am a dreamer and a visionary, always looking for the next God-given opportunity. But, there are times in our lives when we have to wait.

Waiting is by far one of the hardest things I HAVE to do.

But, in the waiting, there are SO many gifts. So much to soak in and learn. Here are a few of the gifts I am unwrapping as I wait:

1. Waiting builds our character: as we wait, we still “work” towards our goal, but we can’t make things happen. As a result, our character, or the qualities that define who we are, get tested. Are we patient and trusting that the end result will be what’s best for us or do we get easily irritated and frustrated with every little thing. I know I’ve been on both sides of that fence. I’m reminded of this verse when I’m waiting, Romans 5:3-5:

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

2. Waiting builds our courage: as we wait, our courage muscle gets strengthened. We take baby steps in the direction of our dream. And our courage grows. Faith without works is dead. Useless. Faith in the God who knows the outcome and our daily courageous work in the little bitty details that seem to drain us in the short-term, add up to success in the long-term. Don’t lose hope. I’m reminded of this verse when I’m not feeling so courageous. It always helps to grow my courage that starts out as a small seed in my heart, Acts 27:25:

“So keep up your courage, (wo)men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”

3. Waiting builds our commitment: as we wait, our commitment level to the dream or goal, grows or wanes. As we take small steps forward and some times get knocked backwards, we can determine whether or not this is the next opportunity we need to pursue. Either it is or it isn’t and waiting helps us determine our next best step. Sometimes, we need the waiting period so we can say no to what we thought was going to be yes. Other times, we need to waiting period so we can grow and God can prepare our lives for the changes that our new commitment will bring. When I am discerning my commitment level, this verse always helps me focus, Psalm 37:5-6:

“Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.”

Are you waiting for something right now? Does life seem to be standing still? I know how you feel. Waiting is so hard.

I encourage you to chase hard after God, not opportunity. To pursue Him with all you’ve got. Seek Him. Read His word. Surrender your dreams and goals to Him. He has a majestic plan for you. He is preparing your for tomorrow, and next week, and next year. I know it deep in my soul.

Seek God and He will give you all the opportunity you can possibly handle. Wait and see what amazing plans He has for you. As you wait, they will begin to unfold…in ways you would have never imagined or could have made happen.

“Trust the Lord with all your heart.
Lean not in your own understanding.
In all your ways, acknowledge Him,
and He will direct your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Opportunity means “favorable and suitable” and “going towards a port”. It involves action. And when things seem to be stuck at a standstill, trust me, many things and people are being moved on your behalf. Things feel stagnate, but God is working beneath the “stagnancy”. Movement is happening even when you can’t see or feel it. Do the things He calls you to do today and do them well.

Believe this friend…and peace will be another gift you unwrap as you wait for His plans for you to unfold. Peace for your journey. Peace as you wait for Him to move mountains.

 

Go to Goodwill

It has been a long weekend, but one full of amazing things. Not luck. Not coincidences. Not happenstances. But, favor. Grace. Mercy. I am learning that even in the midst of hard and painful times, God is present. Maybe even more so…

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wheelchair

 

My mom fell and broke her hip last Thursday night while trying to prevent a patient from falling. She had surgery Friday afternoon. Upon release on Monday, she has been staying with us. Nurse turned into the patient and we get the privilege of helping her back to her former strength and vigor.

This afternoon, I was driving to the drugstore to pick up her medicine and out of the blue, I sensed the Spirit say to me, “Go to Goodwill.” I thought to myself, what??? Mom needs her medicine and I don’t have time to go shopping. Really?

Again, I heard Him say, “Go to Goodwill”. Not loud or bossy, just insistent. Persistent.

Ugh…yes, really. Okay. Reluctantly, I turned right off highway 42 and headed towards Goodwill. I didn’t even know what I was looking for. But, I knew I was on a supernatural mission. I tried to keep my eyes and ears open, but nothing seemed to make sense. This little diversion was already a waste of precious time.

I started in the boys section looking for pants for Sean who is growing like a weed these days. No luck. I went to the bins in the back and looked through the piles for about 5 minutes. No luck. I grew frustrated and the Spirit wasn’t offering up any more wisdom, so I was headed out the door. MY mission was going to the drugstore and getting medicine for my mom. And I was moving quickly to the front of the Goodwill to execute this known mission.

Until…

I looked to my left just before I exited the front door. And there it sat.

I could not believe my eyes. My body propelled itself towards the black and silver object. THIS was my mission. THIS was the reason I stopped at Goodwill.

A black and silver wheelchair.

It looked as if someone had purchased it and dropped it off at Goodwill without ever using it. What are the chances?

And, get this…I don’t carry a checkbook with me. I don’t normally carry cash. But today, I had $29 cash in my pocket. Guess what the nearly new wheelchair cost? $24.99. $26.68 with tax.

Mom got other medical equipment to make her transition to home easier, but not a wheelchair. However, I can not imagine being confined in a house for 6 weeks because we all know walkers are not fun at the mall or out to eat or at the park. I wanted her to have a wheelchair. However, I didn’t want her to have to pay for a new wheelchair. Wheelchairs are not cheap! I had done some research online and had looked at a few rather expensive models. And now, she has a nearly new wheelchair for $26.68.

Unbelievable. But, isn’t that what believing in a Father who loves us is all about? He wants to give us good gifts.

I don’t understand all that God does for me and those I love. I never will. But, I am so very grateful. So humbled by His hand and favor. He is my Father and I know He loves me with an insatiable love. He pursues me. He is never forceful or bossy, but is always looking out for my best.

And, He is doing the same for you. Right now. This very evening.

And when I got to the drugstore? All my worries about getting mom’s medicine on time disappeared. I had to wait another 45 minutes for my mom’s medicine. The time consuming, Spirit given mission had not prevented me from doing what I needed to do. It helped me see and understand so much more.

Listen closely friends. Don’t doubt your intuition. Trust with all your being in the God who made you and wants to be in deep relationship with you. Ask Him to help you hear Him. You never know where your God-given mission will take you. It may be the local Goodwill, where you will encounter the living God with His arms wide open…

The Do Good Life

When I was a performance based, people pleasing, pew possessing Christian, I never read my Bible. I rarely prayed. But, I wanted you to think I did. Good works and church attendance and saying the right things paved the road of good intentions ahead of me. Never cursing or having a glass of wine or talking about all the doubts I had.

Doubts? What if someone found out I secretly had doubts. I questioned things. I wondered if all the stuff I said I believed was true? Or was it some game I was playing by adhering to a set of rules and jumping through hoops.

How could this be? I could quote verses that spoke of freedom in Christ, but I felt like a prisoner. I sang songs that echoed amazing grace when I felt way less than amazing. I held back anger and frustration for years thinking I must be doing something wrong or not doing enough or maybe I was just plain screwed up.

I feared God and other people. Honestly, I feared other people more than I feared God. I feared they would figure out that I didn’t have it all together. I wasn’t as perfect as I proclaimed. That maybe, I actually needed God. A lot.

But, I didn’t know Him. I knew a lot about Him. My eternal salvation was secure, but I was miserable. And as I looked around my coveted pew, I didn’t seem to be the only one who was miserable.

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I believe we preach freedom, but we live captive.

I believe we talk a lot about God, but we don’t talk to Him or listen to Him.

I believe we want our Heaven card punched, but don’t know who we are on this side of Heaven.

I realize that this message will rock the boat. Stir the pot. And ruffle some feathers.

And maybe that’s why I feel compelled to write it and share it with you. I was sick and tired of the “do good life”. It got me no where but depressed and farther from God than I’ve ever been. One day several years ago, one very lonely and dark day, I decided to show up. Naked and with nothing to offer but me. No good deeds. No performances. No money. No idea what would happen next.

What happened was a miracle of sorts. At the end of performing me, I found the real me. The one who had been hiding. The funny thing is, I really really liked her and knew her instantly. She had always been with me, but I was too busy posing to take the time to get to know her.

When I began to face my doubts, look for answers to my questions, and live in the truth of who I was, needy and desperate for Jesus Christ, only then did I begin to experience freedom and amazing grace and joy as the real me. I didn’t need God until I came to the end of the self who was playing god.

But when I let go of the ropes that held me captive consisting of good works, performing, and self-dependency, I discovered grace for the very first time. Instead of falling from grace, I landed in a huge sea of grace. Overwhelming and intoxicating grace.

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  **Stay tuned for part two of this message. If you don’t want to miss it, subscribe to my blog by email. You can do this by typing your email into the box in the upper right corner of this page.  

 

 

 

When God Speaks

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{Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons}

Callie and Sean were rocking and talking on the front porch. Anthony had plans to spruce up the natural area in our front yard while I was gone. The kids were going to help him pick up the branches and overgrowth after he finished cutting and trimming. It all seemed like a good plan. At my urging, the kids would sit on the front porch until Anthony finished swinging the axe and the bushaxe. Just made sense to this mama…

I backed out of the driveway and waved good bye to my three favorite people. As I shifted the car into drive, my mind shifted to getting to an appointment in Raleigh on time. I turned the radio off because quiet just made sense to this mama…

I started driving the backroads that would lead me to the highway 70 Clayton bypass. 3 minutes and less than 2 miles into my quiet drive, my solitude was interrupted by a jarring message. I sensed a breath taking thought from out of the clear blue sky:

“Call Anthony and warn him about the yellow jackets.”

Totally did not make sense to this mama, but I could not pick up my phone fast enough. I hit send and he answered. Now, when I left home, his cell phone was on the kitchen counter and he was outside. I knew he was probably not going to answer, but he did to my surprise.

I said, “Babe, please be careful and watch out for yellow jackets.”

He was breathless and said, “How did you know?”

I inquired, “Know what?”

He said with a gasp, “I just got stung by several yellow jackets on my legs. I must have disturbed their nest.”

“Oh my God…are the kids okay?” I asked. Just made sense to this mama to ask about the kids first…

“Yes. It just happened. No kidding, I just walked in the front door. Callie ran and got my phone because it was ringing when I told them to run in the house. Seriously, how did you know?”

“I didn’t know. I don’t know how I knew. I just got this thought from nowhere that said to call you and tell you to watch out for yellow jackets. Are you okay?” I asked. I was so concerned about the kids, I hadn’t even asked him how he was.

“You’re serious…you just had a thought? Wow…I wish you had gotten it about 60 seconds sooner. This happened right before you called. My phone was still ringing when I ran in the front door behind the kids,” he shared.

I chuckled at his humor, but quickly went into nurse mode and told him to take some benadryl and tell Callie to get the ice packs for his stings. I stayed on the phone with him for the duration of my drive to make sure he was okay.

I was shaken, but in awe. In awe of that thought. That simple yet powerful thought. I knew I had to call Anthony and warn him. Absolutely no doubt.

Sometimes it is a thought.
Sometimes a phone call.
Sometimes a dream.
Sometimes a vision.
Sometimes a message from a stranger.
Sometimes an answer to prayer.
Sometimes the way the light bounces off the water.
Sometimes a verse or quote.
Sometimes a song.
Sometimes a piece of seaglass.
Sometimes a letter in the mail.
Sometimes a missed flight.
Sometimes a red light.
Sometimes a license plate.
Sometimes you just know and you don’t know why.

But this I do know. God still speaks to us. And when God speaks, I listen. When I can’t give a natural explanation, there has to be a supernatural explanation. That is the mystery of walking with God. The mystery of listening to the Spirit.

How do you listen to the Spirit? How do you know when God is “talking” to you? I am no theologian, but I listen by being quiet. By resting in the moment and tuning out the world. It was no accident I was craving quiet when I got into the car to drive to Raleigh. I need quiet in my life. I need to shut my mouth and be still. Be open to hear what the Helper, the Holy Spirit, wants to say to me.

I don’t hear from God everyday in an almost audible voice. But, I see Him every day in creation. When I look at my kids. When I think about the love story I get to live everyday within the boundaries of marriage. When I get to talk with a soul sister who loves me. It just doesn’t make sense to think that all of these gifts could come from any other source.

Open your eyes. Open your hands. Open your ears. Breathe deeply. And be ready to receive. Always be ready, be expectant. This is the mystery. Don’t try to understand it. Respect it and trust that God knows best. Even if the phone call is 60 seconds “too late”.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” John 14:26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Act With Freedom

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Loyalty flows through my veins like a sanguinous river. If you are in my circle, something drastic has to happen in order for me to show you the exit sign. However, this is not always a great thing. My heart is often heavy because I will go to the 15th round, bloodied and bruised because I believe people are worth my effort, oftentimes regardless of what it costs me.

In recent years, I have been setting firm boundaries. Mainly because I have to. I have to guard my hours and minutes like a mother hen watches her nest. However, my heart is the same. I want to build deep connections with the people in my life. Those who I believe God wants me to pour into and build relationships with.

But, anytime you are in relationships, anytime you choose to link arms with another human being, you will hurt them and they will hurt you. Bottom line.

Please tell my you know what I’m talking about? Have you ever poured yourself into a relationship, job, ministry, child, project, or cause? Invested everything and every resource that you possibly could….only to be disappointed in the outcome?

I have done this more than I could possibly recount.

I was attached to the outcome. I had something in mind that I wanted to see happen. I wanted different results. And when I didn’t get them, I was hurt or afraid or bitter. Maybe I wanted more for them than they wanted for themselves… Maybe I wanted something from them that they couldn’t possibly give me… Maybe I put them in the wrong position in my life…

In all the examples I can think of, I acted with expectation. One of the first things I learned in graduate school was that “unmet expectations lead to frustration”. In other words, frustration is always the end result when you don’t get what you want. Well, duh. I knew what this felt like, but I had never taken the time to process it mentally, only with my heart, until recently.

As I was pondering what it means to “act without expectation”, my mind shifted over to this question: How in the world does one “act without expectation”? Or better yet, is it even possible to act without expectation?

The life coach in me started processing questions that would help me unearth the treasure hidden deep inside this enigma.

1) Would I do what I am about to do if no one noticed? Root = desire to be recognized

2) Who am I trying to impress or gain favor with by what I am about to do? Root = desire to be loved/liked

3) Is what I am about to do going to increase the chances that another person will think I am okay, good, normal, acceptable, etc.? Root = desire to be accepted.

4) Will I be upset or frustrated if there is no mutual reciprocation of my actions? Root = being a human being

This is such a difficult topic. There has been much research on altruistic behavior. And to put it nicely, it is very rare to find people who act purely based on altruism. When most of us do things, we expect something in return. Plain and simple.

After all, we are human beings. We need and want to be recognized, loved, liked, and accepted. Right? We are all born with these basic emotional needs.

But knowing that we have these needs and learning to manage them are two separate issues. So how do we act without expectation in our relationships?

I believe the answer is completely radical to our human nature. We can’t act without expectation (well, maybe some of us can, but I’m not one of them). When we act we expect things. What I am learning to do and what I would encourage you is to not act without expectation, but to act with intention. And when you act with intention, I would encourage you to answer these questions:

1) Is what I’m about to do or say kind, gracious, and necessary?

2) Would I still say or do this if I gained nothing? 

3) What is my motive behind my words and or actions? To make me look worthy, acceptable, and lovable, or something else?

4) Am I willing to accept the fact that my actions or words may not be reciprocated and be okay with it?

If you spend some time pondering these questions, I believe you will be able to discern whether or not you are acting with the wrong expectations or if you are acting with intention. If you check your intentions or motives before you speak or act, your frustrations will decrease as you realize that you and only you are responsible for your motive. When you release the outcome, you release yourself from emotional hell. You are not responsible for other’s actions, words, or motives.

Then you can act with freedom, instead of with expectations.

I am learning and living this right along with you. I pray we can both act in freedom and not be tied to the uncontrollable expectations of others. The only person you will ever be able to control is yourself. And that is more than enough for one lifetime!

 

Concerned But Not Consumed

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I started posting the following thoughts last Sunday afternoon on Facebook, but it turned into a dissertation. Then I remembered something…I have a blog! **{Pastors beware, your congreation really does listen in church on Sunday mornings!}**

Our pastor at Discovery Church in Clayton, NC, shared this little tidbit last Sunday and it was a “big aha” for me:

“Concerned and cautious, but not fearful.”

Pastor Monte was discussing an acronym that we can use to help us avoid temptations. I think he was reading a quote when he said we should be “concerned and cautious, but not fearful”. Sorry, I don’t remember who he was quoting. But, I will never forget what he said.

“Concerned and cautious, but not fearful.”

As a life coach, I coach clients through fear all the time. I have a front row seat in women’s lives when they conquer fear and slay their personal dragona. In my own personal life, fear is a hurdle I have to manage every day of my life. Some days are better than others.

I have been pondering since Pastor Monte shared from from his heart last Sunday morning. Here is what God has showed me so far:

When I am afraid, I react.

When I trust, I am cautious and wait.

When I am afraid, I create the absolute worst outcome in my head.

When I trust, I am concerned but not consumed.

That’s it friends! When I trust, I am concerned, but not consumed! Have you ever been consumed by something?

  • The insect bite that you know with certainty will leave you crippled by evening.
  • The move to another city that will leave you with zero friends and alone for the rest of your life.
  • The looming decision that feels like an emotional and mental leach that may very well suck the life right out of you.
  • The relationship you can’t fix and it feels like your heart may burst and you will never be loved again.

Do you see a pattern of fear that leads to the worst possible scenario? Can you imagine how Daniel felt in the lion’s den? I am sure he was afraid, but he was not consumed. He was concerned and he trusted his God who delivered him from sure death.

Fear is just fear. It is powerless without us. Our imaginations provide fuel for the flame that is fear. We are the ones who give fear power. The emotions we attach to it turn it into a monster. It consumes us. Just like a raging forest fire.

My favorite reminder when I am facing fear is this:

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4

I say this verse over and over again. I meditate on it. I let it consume me instead of fear. I can remain concerned without being consumed, but only if I choose to let my imagination rest and my trust roam.

What or who do you cling to when fear tries to consume you? I would love to hear from you!

 

Builder of Our Dreams

“…we do not dream independently, and God does not sign off on our dreams. He is the builder of our dreams. We bring him our blank canvases, hand them over, and say, “Whatever you must create to display your glory, do it.” — Jennie Allen, Restless

She called me out of desperation, so she said. I think it was more inspiration. Preferences, right?

“I can’t sleep at night. I am excited and afraid all at the same time. Don’t you have some fancy word for that…ambivalence? Is that right? What if this is what God wants me to do? What if this is what I was made to do?” Her usually methodical cadence of speech seemed to be stuck in fast forward due to the cacophony of emotions she was experiencing.

To her cascade of questions, I responded with a simple question, which turned her desperation into aggravation: “What if?”

After zero pause to consider my question, she responded with frustration, “Lizzie, that’s why I called you! Don’t do this to me. Just tell me what you think I should do!”

The life coach in me knows that even if I think I know what’s best, I don’t have the answers for my clients or friends or family. They have the answers. I have lots of questions. If I ask open and curious questions, they will find their answers.

As the silence grew between her aggravation and my curiosity, my thoughts turned inward and I jotted down a few notes from the past couple of years. I have hiked the mountain of fear and doubt my friend is hiking.

It’s only been 2 years since I painted my first canvas. 24 months. 730 days. And a few sleepless nights.

watercolorpaints

God was building a dream inside of me for 35 years. I had no idea. In the spring of 2012, hibernation complete, something inside of me awakened. I knew during my first acrylic painting class that I would never be the same. I could feel an internal trembling. An ache or desire that had never been expressed. Something not unlike the early labor pains I had already experienced with my daughter and son.

Something was ready to emerge. To breathe. To wake up and live.

If I’d known two years ago what the Lord was going to do from April of 2012 to now, I would not have believed it. Habakkuk 1:5 says:

“Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days– You would not believe if you were told.”

Had I known I would gain new friends, open an art studio, sell paintings, go to art shows, teach people from ages 4 to 84 how to paint, travel with my paints and brushes, and watch people freely express with their creative genius, I would not have believed it.

I’ve also lost dear friends, messed up dates on the calendar, had to start over on several canvases, caused kids to cry, and paid good money to my massage therapist to help with the tension my muscles hold on to.

Lord, whatever you must create to display your glory, do it.

So brave. So crazy. So hard. So life changing. So glad I let go and let God. Just like my friend above, who leaped and discovered she had wings. And then her desperation dissipated into celebration.

Here are a few curious questions that helped turn my desperation and aggravation in to inspiration as God has been showing me what colors to use on my blank canvas since April of 2012:

What keeps you awake at night?
What are you most afraid to do?
What is God building inside of you?
When you think about your life, what’s missing?
If you look at your life right now, what pattern is developing?

And remember, buildings take time to build, canvases have many layers and often need time to dry before you can paint the next layer, relationships will change, and most of all, so will you. Be kind and patient with yourself. You are a masterpiece…one stroke of the Master’s brush at a time.