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An Ordinary Life

In the wake of the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl, I am reminded of the platform that many athletes and movie stars have to glorify God. The Eagles players and coach have been vocal about giving glory to God for the blessings in their lives. It is easy to use that platform to share your testimony when you have millions of people hanging on your every word, but what if you live an ordinary life? How do you look past the mundane to glorify God in your life? 

I have asked myself that question many times. I have lived my life wishing that I was a famous Christian women’s speaker like Lisa Whelchel or Candace Cameron Bure. I have dreamed of becoming a famous Christian author like Joyce Meyer or Beth Moore. I have written this blog with love and I have patiently waited for it to take off. 5 years later and that has not happened. I have not become the blogger with thousands of followers or the social media success story. I am still the ordinary single mom of 5, working in the food service department of a local convent and living paycheck to paycheck. I live in a lower income neighborhood in a city that Steve Martin once dubbed as, “Nowhere, USA” and a county that not to long ago had the highest poverty rate in Indiana. I live an ordinary life.

So, how do you live to glorify God when you are living an ordinary life?

You:

Pray: You pray for every aspect of your community, from your family to your co-workers, neighbors, strangers who cross your path, and Government/Spiritual leaders. You pray for issues that effect your community from poverty to crime, employment opportunities, homelessness etc. If you pray over every every aspect of your community you will be glorifying God in your every day life.

Love: We are told many times in the Old and New Testaments to love one another. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 we find out what love is:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

We are not only to love our family and friends, we are to love strangers, the homeless, and those who appear unlovable. There are many ways to show love: a smile of encouragement, a kind gesture, an act of compassion, standing for justice where injustice reigns, being a voice for the voiceless, etc. There are many ways to show our love, I challenge you to take a look around and see how you can love someone to Jesus.

Serve: Matthew 20:28 tells us that Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. He gives us an example of serving as He washes the disciples feet at the last supper. Everything Jesus did was about serving others: healing the sick, teaching the multitudes, bringing the dead back to life, and casting out demons. We can’t forget the greatest act of service that He performed, giving His life, that we may live. Look around you. How can you step out as an example of Jesus to serve those around you?

Living an ordinary life may not give us the platform for sharing the Gospel that the rich and famous have, but that does not excuse us from doing what we are able to live out the example of Jesus in our own lives. I encourage you to look around and see what ways you can glorify God as you live out your ordinary life.

 

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Live In The Present

 

Why is it so hard to let go of the past? Why is it so hard to NOT worry about the future? Why can’t I simply enjoy where I am today? At this moment?

This is my life. I have a constant battle going on in my head. I agonize over past confrontations and mistakes. I worry about whether I am doing a good enough job at work and in general. I worry that I am not perfect enough. I worry that I will be homeless. I worry about tomorrow. I am so caught up in agonizing over the past and worrying about the future that I rarely allow myself to enjoy the present. I never allow myself to just BE in the NOW. On my days off, I worry about work. It is a constant struggle to keep my mind focused on enjoying the peace and presence of God. That is the struggle of someone dealing with an anxiety disorder and that is my struggle. I worry about EVERYTHING and there are times when I don’t know how to stop the craziness in my mind.

But today, I focused on today. I enjoyed time with two of my kids, my future son-in-law, and the four grand kids. We went to a beautiful park, enjoyed a picnic lunch and enjoyed our time together playing and laughing. In this moment, I am not focused on the past or the future. In this moment, I am focused on the now. I feel the peace of God in this moment and I don’t want to lose that feeling.

Each moment is an opportunity for me to find the peace of God. It is there. The peace is always there, as God is always there. I just have to quiet the crazy in my head and allow myself to find it. Today, I found that peace.

 

Seasons change. Kids grow up. Hair goes gray. People leave the things they knew. I am facing a change of seasons. My kids are growing up. My daughters are now in their young 20’s and are building families and lives of their own. My sons are 18 and 16. They are growing into young men that are testing their independence and boundaries. I will be 48 in three months and as I look in the mirror, I see more strands of gray everyday. I realize with some sadness and with some excitement that 50 is right around the corner and my life has just opened up.

I’m tired of struggling as a single mom living in poverty. I’m tired of fighting to keep cars running and having to beg for rides to work and the store for a year at a time because I couldn’t afford any car at all. I’m tired of working a dead-end job that doesn’t even pay enough for me to rent a small apartment at market value. I am tired of money being the reason I stay in that job instead of taking a chance and doing what I really want to do. I am tired of living a mediocre life. Please, don’t think I am saying that raising my kids was something I hated or that I was dissatisfied in that role. I love my kids more than I could ever express, but I will not hide that those were hard years and sacrifices were made in order for me to be the mom I needed to be for my kids. They have always been my first priority.

I currently live with my daughter, Cherokee, her fiance, Chris and four kids combined. The house is perfect for them, but it is tight with me in the mix. My time here is coming to an end and even with working 32 to 40 hours a week, I can’t afford a place on my own, so where does that leave me? It leaves me with some uncertainty about the future, but I feel an excitement about the possibilities. The sky is the limit. My past does NOT define me. My age will NOT limit me. My lack of money will NOT stop me. I have a three step process that I will use as I go into this next season of my life. I call them the three P’s:

Pray: Before I take a step forward, I need to pray for God’s guidance. I need to make sure that I am heading down the path that God has marked out for me. I have to depend wholly and completely on God. I don’t have a significant other that I can enter this next season with. I am alone to face the future. I will be praying for answers to these questions: where will I go? How will I make a living? Where will I live? God knows the answers, I just need to be patient in the process.

Plan: Any type of change takes some amount of planning. Deciding if God wants me to move to another city or stay where I am. If I decide to move, I will need to find a job or source of income, a place to live and health care since I am a diabetic. Is the area close enough to make some research trips to get to know the community and available resources? I will need to list my needs and find the resources to meet those needs before I proceed with any action. I will need to make a list of possible obstacles and solutions. If I stay, I still need a place to live that I can afford, without going on housing. I will need to find a source of income that doesn’t drain me of energy and passion for life.

Proceed: After I have planned out my course of action, then I can proceed with my plan. If I have planned well enough, hopefully everything will go according to that plan, but life is unpredictable and ultimately God is in control. If I have prayed and have planned according to God’s will, then I know that I can trust God with the outcome.

If you are facing a new season in your life, you are not alone. Life is all about change. Change can be good. Change can keep us from becoming stagnant. Change can keep us from living a mediocre life. Embrace the change. Embrace this new season in your life as I am embracing the new season in my life. If you pray and plan before you proceed, then you can be certain of success. You may face some bumps in the road, but God is in this with you.

I will keep you updated on my decisions as I embrace this new season and as I embrace the gray.

 

 

 

 

Matthew 14:22-33

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” 

I heard an online sermon that caused me to ask myself the question: Am I Peter or the disciples? Unfortunately, my answer is that I have been much more like the disciples than Peter. I have been more likely to find myself staying in the boat. As I realize this about myself, it saddens me to know that there have been times when I should have trusted Jesus, as Peter did, but chose to act more like the disciples.

When we read this story, we tend to focus on the fact that Peter gave in to his fear and started to sink. The normal reaction to that is, “I don’t want to be like Peter and give in to my fear.” For this blog post, I want to focus on the three things that Peter did right.

  1. Got out of the boat– Peter was the only one to get out of the boat. He was the only one who trusted Jesus enough to even attempt to walk on the water. Peter trusted Jesus! We will never know what we can do if we don’t get out of the boat. In the real world, the boat is our comfort zones. If we never trust Jesus enough to venture out of our comfort zones, we will never know what we can accomplish. We will never know how God can use us. Is Jesus telling you to “come”? What is He asking you to do? Is He asking you to get out of the boat? Is He asking you to move out of your comfort zone? Will you trust Jesus enough to obey the command?
  2. Focused on Jesus- The passage says that Peter was walking on the water toward Jesus. PETER WALKED ON WATER!!! How did Peter walk on water? Peter focused on Jesus! He looked ahead to where Jesus was. In order to do the impossible he had to keep his eyes on Jesus. As soon as he took his eyes off of Jesus, he started to sink. He turned his focus to his fear and the storm and he started to sink. We can accomplish the impossible if we focus on Jesus. We can accomplish the impossible if we look ahead toward Jesus and not focus on our circumstances. What is that “impossible” thing that you are wanting to accomplish?  Are you focusing on Jesus? Or are you focusing on your circumstances? what three things can you do that would help you focus on Jesus more?
  3. Cried out for help– Even when his fear got the best of him, Peter still trusted Jesus to save him. Peter still trusted Jesus! Getting out of the boat takes courage. Stepping out of your comfort zone takes courage. Courage is a feeling that comes and goes. Peter denied Jesus three times later on. David ran in fear from King Saul. Do you think Moses was afraid as he faced God speaking to him from a burning bush? Do you think he faced the call on his life with enthusiasm and a willing heart? Moses was afraid. That’s why he came up with excuses not to do God’s will. We ALL feel fear at one time or another. The important thing is to refocus and cry out to the ONE who can save us: JESUS. Have you allowed your focus to slip from Jesus to your circumstances? Have you cried out to Jesus to help you? If not, why? In what three ways can you refocus on Jesus?

The main point here is not to let the storms of life keep you in the boat. Don’t let your circumstances keep you locked up in your comfort zone forever. Don’t be like the other disciples who sat in the boat while Peter had this thrilling adventure in faith. He had this AWESOME moment with Jesus that the other disciples missed. Don’t miss that moment because you are afraid or you think that your situation is hopeless. Focus on Jesus. Get out of the boat and see what amazing adventure in faith is waiting for you. Don’t worry if you start to sink. Cry out for help and refocus on Jesus. Trusting Jesus can lead to a wild ride full of impossible things becoming possible. Don’t allow yourself to miss out. Trust Jesus!

 

 

 

Proverbs 31:25

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

I was at work this week and a Sister asked me how my daughter, Kiowa was doing. Kiowa has been stationed in Japan for 2 years now and with the threat from North Korea, the Sisters have been faithful prayer warriors. This question led to a conversation about world events (such as the school shooting in Florida and the mass killings in China) and how much hopelessness there is in the world. I mentioned how all of this despair can cause anxiety and worry and she mentioned the Bible verse that mentions the Proverbs 31 woman who can laugh at the days to come. I reflected on that verse for the rest of the day and looked it up as soon as I got home.

Having the ability to laugh at the days to come takes faith in God. Something that comes and goes with me. I can be the epitome of faith at one time and completely lack faith at another. Thinking about the days to come can cause me to shake in my shoes. Why is that? If I have complete faith in God like I’m supposed to, then why is it so hard for me to trust God with the days to come? Aren’t Christians supposed to have faith in God at all times? WHY IS IT SO HARD?

I want to be the woman who laughs at the days to come. I want to be the woman who has no fear of the future. I want to be the woman who trusts God with every situation that comes my way. How? How do I keep my faith from coming and going like leaves upon the wind? I know of two ways to strengthen my faith:

  1. Pray: God blesses us when we pray. God gave King Solomon wisdom when he prayed for wisdom and God will give us faith when we pray for faith. When we pray, God moves mountains on our behalf. He will answer our prayers for faith.
  2. Read the Bible: The Bible encourages us to be strong, to be courageous and to have faith. When we read the Bible we fill ourselves with the promises of God. We fill ourselves with the power of God through the Holy Spirit.

I remind myself that even King David’s faith wavered at times. The disciples didn’t always have faith. Peter denied Jesus 3 times, because he didn’t want to face the persecution that came with being a disciple. I am human. There are times when I may not have the faith of David facing Goliath, but the Bible says that if we have the faith of a mustard seed that NOTHING will be impossible for us (Matthew 17:20). Certainly, I can summon the faith of a mustard seed!

As the enemy continues to create chaos around the world and we see the pain and heartache caused by the evil he unleashes, I know that I really need to focus on becoming that woman that can laugh at the days to come.  I need to be in constant prayer and I need to be meditating day and night on the Word of God, so that I will be able to trust God completely with whatever the future holds. I don’t want to be that Christian that is found cowering in the corner, biting my nails, fretting over what may happen. I want to face the future with courage.

My challenge to you: if you find yourself lacking faith, I challenge you to pray and dig into the Bible. The world is a scary place and things aren’t getting better. We all need to find the faith to face these events with courage and faith. We all need to be able to trust God with our future. The goal of ALL Christians should be to have the faith of the Proverbs 31 woman and be able to laugh at the days to come. If we can not summon that faith then we will find ourselves locked in a prison of worry and fear.

If you find yourself struggling in your faith, or suffer from anxiety, worry or fear, contact me. I am here to pray with you and encourage you. I will walk with you as you build your faith in God. I know how hard it is. I’ve been there and on some days am still there. You do not have to suffer alone.

 

 

 

 

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I think it was fitting that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day were the same day this year. We all think about Lent as a time of loss and sacrifice. It IS a time to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, but this year I am reminded of the greatest love story that has ever been written. We can read about this amazing love in the Bible. It is all about God’s love for us.

God loved us so much that He sacrificed His only Son, Jesus. God sent Jesus to die a horrific death, as a final sacrifice for US. I don’t deserve that kind of love. I am not worthy of that level of sacrifice. In my mind, I will never be good enough, but God says that I am. I am worthy. God knows that I am imperfect. He knows that I am a mess. He knows that I am broken beyond belief and He knows that on most days I am desperately hanging on to the hope that is found in Him. God knows all of this about me and yet He still sent His Son, Jesus, to die so that I may LIVE. That is what love is all about.

Valentine’s Day is now past, but Lent has just begun. I know Lent is usually about giving up something: candy, meat, soda, internet, etc. In the spirit of God’s love, why don’t we find a way to show love to those around us. Use this season to bring the love of God to the hurt and lonely. Make this the year you let someone know that they are worthy and loved. As you step out and love those around you, you will feel the love of God for you in a way that you never have before. For God so loved the world and this world needs more love.

 

Lean On Me

 

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

We live in a time when people live isolated from family and friends. Many people go through life alone. I love the sentiment in this Bill Withers song, “Lean on Me.”  We need to be there for each other. We need to look past our differences and be willing to help each other regardless of our racial/cultural differences, gender identity, religion, socioeconomic status, educational background or any other difference that keeps us from reaching out to each other. We segregate ourselves into groups and refuse to reach out to help those that are different. we continue to recreate the past, refusing to learn from our mistakes.

Why do we do this? There are so many people that are alone and hurting. There are so many people that are living lives of quiet desperation and we choose to turn a blind eye and walk past their pain. We should be living out the example of Jesus. We should be showing compassion to those in need whether they are different or not. Although, Jesus was Biblically sent to bring the Gospel to the Jews, in Matthew 15:21-28, He has mercy on a Canaanite woman and rewards her faith. In John 4, Jesus shows compassion to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus didn’t care about the differences or that Jews weren’t supposed to associate with these two groups of people. Jesus saw the need and had compassion on these women.

Is there someone in your neighborhood/community that has a need? Is that person “different” than you are? Is that difference stopping you from stepping out in compassion? How can you look past the difference and your own bias to meet the need of one of God’s children?

I challenge you to look past the differences and see a child of God. We are ALL God’s children and Romans 2:11 tells us that God has no favorites. This means that one demographic is not better than another. He loves us all the same and wants us to show compassion for each other when one of us is in need. “Lean on me” needs to be a phrase that we use more. Look around you this day, week and year and see how you can be that person to lean on for someone else.