Thursday, January 12, 2012

Changes

 For the past few weeks I have been struggling with something. Actually, I have been struggling with a lot of things, but one in particular keeps pestering me.

 

I have decided, at the prodding of my celestial Father and the well taken advice of some very good friends and family members, to start a blog called In My Writer Mind. It is an endeavor that is both challenging and simplifying for me and I intend to fully pursue it. I plan to take the two blogs I now write and consolidate them into the one. I have a creative mind that tends to make life very full up with lots to do and good things to pursue. Unfortunately, the powers that be have not invented time travel nor have they developed a time stopping device that would let me do all of this well. So in order to make things simpler I am asking you to follow along with me...

 

For those of you who keep up with The Bag Lady, I assure you she is alive and well inside of me! I will continue to tackle those hard Christian truths and concepts that I share from my own life. I feel truly blessed that God has allowed her to see the light of day and that He provided the money and the perseverance to publish her <a target="_blank" href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1615076794/ref=sr_1_1?p=random&ie=UTF8&qid=1326307277">book</a>. I also want to thank <a target="_blank" href="http://www.madlabstudio.net/about.html">Mad Labs</a> for the use of their painted image of the Bag Lady. They didn't have to grant me the permissions and I am indebted to them for that. My hope is that those of you who follow the Bag Lady, either through RSS feeds or Facebook will also find enjoyment in my new endeavor. I will continue to post the updates on my writing on her Facebook page so that you may follow along.

 

The Brown Zoo Tales has laid dormant since Thanksgiving and I just have not found the time to update it. I still have so much to say on the daily front that consolidating this blog with In My Writer Mind just seems logical. For those who follow Tales, I will keep the blog up in case you would like to read back articles, but this blog will go dormant as well. I would welcome any and all followers from this blog to the new one with open arms and a hearty "Hello!"

 

I sincerely hope that you will follow me on this amazing journey, writing more and becoming the woman God has created me to be. I have always enjoyed blogging, now it's time for me to choose to do it for all the right reasons!

 

 

<a href='https://picasaweb.google.com/109090320480347704351/BloggerPictures?authkey=Gv1sRgCNan3puD747lVg#5696450344125186354'><img src='https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-NInD0YkegzI/Tw3baCo7wTI/AAAAAAAABEg/n3718fiKDs0/s288/0.jpg' border='0' width='281' height='210' style='margin:5px'></a>

Thank you!

 

Stacey

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Changes

For the past few weeks I have been struggling with something. Actually, I have been struggling with a lot of things, but one in particular keeps pestering me.

I have decided, at the prodding of my celestial Father and the well taken advice of some very good friends and family members, to start a blog called In My Writer Mind. It is an endeavor that is both challenging and simplifying for me and I intend to fully pursue it. I plan to take the two blogs I now write and consolidate them into the one. I have a creative mind that tends to make life very full up with lots to do and good things to pursue. Unfortunately, the powers that be have not invented time travel nor have they developed a time stopping device that would let me do all of this well. So in order to make things simpler I am asking you to follow along with me...

For those of you who keep up with The Bag Lady, I assure you she is alive and well inside of me! I will continue to tackle those hard Christian truths and concepts that I share from my own life. I feel truly blessed that God has allowed her to see the light of day and that He provided the money and the perseverance to publish her book. I also want to thank Mad Labs for the use of their painted image of the Bag Lady. They didn't have to grant me the permissions and I am indebted to them for that. My hope is that those of you who follow the Bag Lady, either through RSS feeds or Facebook will also find enjoyment in my new endeavor. I will continue to post the updates on my writing on her Facebook page so that you may follow along.

The Brown Zoo Tales has laid dormant since Thanksgiving and I just have not found the time to update it. I still have so much to say on the daily front that consolidating this blog with In My Writer Mind just seems logical. For those who follow Tales, I will keep the blog up in case you would like to read back articles, but this blog will go dormant as well. I would welcome any and all followers from this blog to the new one with open arms and a hearty "Hello!"

I sincerely hope that you will follow me on this amazing journey, writing more and becoming the woman God has created me to be. I have always enjoyed blogging, now it's time for me to choose to do it for all the right reasons!



Thank you!

Stacey
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Monday, December 12, 2011

Tolerance


This post was going to be about something else... Something I will no doubt publish, just not right this second. There is something more I want to discuss for now. Something God has laid on my heart that is more important.

If you have ever traveled, run a business, or been employed in the workforce, you know that there are some very different people out there, with as many differing opinions as there are unique faces. They have their own religions, their own political views, their own parenting styles. They are all different from you - and from me. No two of us, no matter how perfectly matched, are ever exactly the same in how we think or view our world. It is the dynamic that God created and it makes us the creature he treasures above all other things.

That's pretty incredible, isn't it? And we can all agree that it is so wonderful - as long as we are the ones that God is including in this "great to be different" set... Wonder what I mean by that? Well... Let me share something with you.

My very best friend is my husband, I think I have said that before. But it would be very unfair of me to expect him to meet all of my needs, so I have girlfriends as well. I have a girlfriend that I would consider to be a best friend. We have a lot in common, we have a wonderful time together and we also have differences that we celebrate as well. She is a linear thinker, I am a creative thinker. She is tall and thinly built, I am built like a fire plug. We have been friends now for about 13 years and we are both committed to the friendship in ways we never saw coming, but both of us recognize. We have held each other's hands through marital strife, parenting struggles and career changes. We know how to kick each other in the pants to straighten out wrong-thinking and we know when all that's needed is a listening ear and a glass of wine. We are also very aware that there is but one subject we do not discuss.

That subject would be politics. My friend and I are on polar opposite ends of the political spectrum and we know it about each other. We don't have the same outlook on taxes, educational funding and we don't belong to the same political party. We have agreed, somewhat silently, that we will not allow that part of our lives to color how we feel about the other and it is a subject best left undiscussed in order to keep peace in our relationship. 

I have informed others around me that we have this arrangement and someone, very innocently, quipped, "You are a better friend than I could be. That would drive me crazy. I would have to convert them to my way of thinking or leave the friendship behind." That got me thinking... Of course I value the friendship more than my political bent, but am I doing myself a disservice by curtailing the conversation and ignoring the blaring differences we have between us? I had to really think about that. And I came to some conclusions.

First, I examined the places we are similar. We believe in Christ, that he is the risen Savior, that He is the only way to salvation and that without faith in Him we are without hope. That is more important to me than politics. It is one of the most important things for me in a best friend and confidant. I am friends with non-Christians, and close friends at that, but when I search for advice I have to rely heavily on those with experience in my faith as well as those with the same life experiences.

Secondly, we are told not to be divisive about things that don't matter in the realm of salvation. The Church is a huge entity and it is filled with many folks that don't think the same way my family does... Heck, certain parts of my family don't think like I do! So I think I have Biblical ground to say that on this issue I will blithely stick my head in the sand. It isn't something I see endangering her salvation, so I can let it go. 

Thirdly, and most certainly not least, letting my friend have her own opinions about things that we differ on and not trying to make her think like me is a conscious act of submission to love my neighbor just as she is. I know that she is saved, that she is a believer, so really, there is no work for me to do there. When I feel her heart is wrong on things in her life, I call her on it. I don't have to make it about politics or anything other than behavior that Christ would not want from her. I expect the same from her. Should I have a wrong-hearted attitude about something, sans political bent, I would expect that she would let me know there was a problem.  

We don't have to be political allies to be friends, at least not in my estimation. We only have to be kind to one another, trustworthy with each other's hearts and honest about our own faults before we point out anyone else's. I hope that that makes me a good friend. It might not make me a good Democrat or Republican, but then, that wasn't what I was looking for when I found her anyway...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What I Deserve...

He walked from the arena, the sides of his horse heaving like bellows from the exertion, and we looked at eachother in anticipation. It was a great run... Dare we hope? The speakers crackled ever so slightly and the annoucer began his reiteration of the stallion's name and rider. He did not do the signature inflection of the winning score and so for a moment we all deflated just a bit on our metal bleacher seats. Then, with a smile barely perceptable in his voice, as if he knew what he was doing to announce it so blandly, the voice dropped upon our waiting ears the winning score! We were ahead!!! The owner let out a whoop and a holler that belied the surprise and excitement only she could feel at that moment. She spun in place, waving her arms in elation as she giggled like a school girl with delight. What an amazing moment in time... Truly amazing.

As I walked with her back to the excercise arena to meet up with her horse, I was flooded with a rush of gratitude to God for giving her this moment. It was exactly what this woman needed at exactly the right time. This woman who had lost so much, who was dealing with such deep seated regret and anguish in her life, was being graced by God in a way she could hold and understand. As she burst into tears and sobbed, we exchanged a look between us that said much more than words could ever encompass. She knew she had been gifted this blessing not because she deserved it or had a ringer in the bag. God was reaching out and touching her, blessing her beyond measure for His pleasure alone. It is humblng to watch and even more humbling to receive.

You know the moment I speak of. Those times when something has landed in your lap, completely unexpected and undeserved. Those times when you would almost rather not be in the bright spotlight of God's amazing blessing and love. It is almost unbearable, that searing love He pours out upon you with delight in His heart. I have had experiences like that where the blessing seems to keep coming, running over the rim of my outstretched hands for its abundance. It is overwhelming and a little frightening, first because it comes mostly when we least expect it and secondly because when God gives it tends to be much more than we could have ever asked for. Details we never thought to ask for pour forth with perfection in every aspect. Like watching a baby's birth or a brilliant sunrise, we are distinctly reminded that God has it all under control.

We are tempted in that moment occasionally to reject the gift because we are aware in those humbling stretches that we are definitely not worthy of such unconditional, all encompassing love. It is then that we need be reminded, we are never worthy of His love or His gifts, He gives for His pleasure and His glory alone. We can never deserve it, never earn it, never expect it out of our own riteousness, we can only accept that when God gives us His gifts it is at His discretion. Don't expect to ever understand how this works, my friends. He will never make earthly sense to us in this. Just accept that at times, you are the recipient and praise Him for His generosity. Afterall, He could give us exactly what we deserve - And no one wants that!

Waiting on God can be exhausting. It reminds me of having a newborn baby. You are up all times of the day and night, feeding, changing, rocking and caring for this little child. You may have waited years to have kids and you inevitably feel a pang of guilt when you realize you are beginning to resent this tiny bundle of joy who never seems to quit demanding things of you. Just about the time that you think you might crack up and be found wadded up in a heap at the bottom of your closet with the door closed, that precious little child smiles. They begin looking in your eyes with recognition and joy and you realize that you have now been rejuvenated to keep on going. 

God is growing us, stretching us and conditioning us to be His. That can be a painful process, but it isn't without its rewards. Just when you are ready to throw in the towel and call it quits, God is there too. It may not come in a package that you expect, or with such drama as I have described above, but God is waiting to invigorate you as well. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just Enough Is More Than I Had Before...

I am in awe that God is so patient with me. More than once I have had aha! moments that I am sure He is rolling his eyes over my utter lack of understanding. This morning was one of those moments.

I read devotionals after I have taken the kids to the bus stop and the house is quieted down from the morning fervor. It is my way of centering my head and getting my day started on (hopefully) the right path. Right now, the two I am most consistent with are "Jesus Calling" and "Jesus Lives" by Sarah Young. (I like her stuff, obviously.) Today, she knocked me back on my heels with an observation that still has tendrils of smoke emanating from my ears.

I think all of us who have experienced Christian-ese are familiar with the term and concept that God gives us "strength for the day." I had heard that many times, right along with, "God won't give you more than you can handle," and "God will equip you for what He asks of you." All very true and you can get into a mantra mind-set with these concepts. Telling yourself over and over, "God is right here with me in this..." but sometimes I realize for me, they are just words. Like a saying given to me as child to calm my fears and panic, I recount these facts in my mind, but never really assimilate what they truly mean.

This morning, I stepped into understanding with Sarah Young's help. Not only does God care about where I am in my life and what is going on, He cares enough to send me just the right amount of holy aid for each individual situation. When I need ALOT he sends ALOT. When I need just a smidge, he sends just a smidge. I know it sounds very pedestrian of me not to have gotten this before now, but I hadn't. God tailors the amount of Holy Help He sends my way depending on the looming need of the task itself... When things are sooo very bad and I am sure I cannot handle it at all, much less alone, God amps up the aid accordingly! I am given differing amounts of God's empowerment correlating directly to how much help I need and how willing I am to depend on Him.

yeah... That last sentence got me too. I am empowered depending on how much I am willing to look to Him for the help. Hmphf! Could it be that those places I want to question God about how much He is helping out are actually pointing to the fact that I am not depending on His abilities, but my own? Very revealing, don't you think? I sure do! I am sure that Peter found it revealing as well when he started to sink in the water after he realized the magnitude of stepping out of that boat to greet his Savior... Peter, suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come ahead." But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, "Master, save me!" Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?" (Matthew 14:28-31 MSG)

The next time hard days darken my door, I hope that I can remember the words of Sara Young and realize that God is completely in control of my life. He will empower me with the perfect amount of His abilities to tackle whatever I am facing, as long as I am looking to Him - not my own abilities to overcome. Just don't look down....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things no one will tell you about love....

Anyone who has ever had a teenager in the house knows the truth spoken when one says, "You can't tell them anything!" Teens, by nature are very hard headed and also very sure of themselves. It's a brain chemistry thing. It means that they are going to make some very painful and hurtful mistakes, but once they learn the lesson, one also hopes that they will have it all firmly implanted in the hard drive for future reference!

I speak from experience, not because my own teenage daughter is all that hard headed, but because I was. VERY hard headed, indeed! I insisted on never listening to anyone over the age of 25 and I made a lot of costly, well learned mistakes. I have to say those lessons that were painful are ones I generally didn't repeat. Looking back, there were some things that I wish I could have listened to a little closer. I can't say it would have changed my path, but it might have at least slowed me down just a titch.

I wish that one of the things I could have learned about without all of that painful experience was love. I know that love is an intensely personal thing that differs for each person on an individual level, but there are some universal truths about love that I believe we all could benefit from.

In a land where divorce is commonplace, rudeness is accepted and common courtesy is not the norm, having some basic rules about loving others might keep some of the sanity in our daily living.

First off, let me say that love is a choice. It is not an emotion, passion, lust or a state of something we can be in, per se. Love is a process of decision making that takes over when we care deeply for someone. Love is a choice. We choose to stay when leaving would be easier, we choose to forgive when we have every right to be angry, loving someone means sacrificing our rights and yet not resenting those choices to do so... Ok, well at least not every time!

Not sure I know what I'm talking about? I agree, my view point is unconventional, but it is biblical... Check this out: Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 MSG) Does that sound like a volatile emotional response to you? Yeah, me neither! Wish I had known that when I was seventeen and trying to make some very important decisions about my life...

Secondly, love has lots of different stages. Weird. We grow up watching Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Julia Roberts and we buy into Hollywood's lie that it all looks the same. That love will find us in a coffee shop somewhere, and the guy will be the same guy for the rest of our lives: always romantic, always well dressed and always showered. Um... yeah... Nope. It changes. It comes at us in our youth full of hormones and looking very passionate, but if we truly do love, we stick it out through baby vomit, weight gain, balding heads and crabby pants. It becomes much more like the super comfy sweats that you slide into on a Sunday afternoon. Not something we want our neighbors to have to look at, but we love em just the same!

Lastly, love of the durable kind isn't really possible without God. We just can't wrap our heads around it without that most perfect of examples. Christ truly had the love thing down pat. He loves us when we are most unlovable. Christ loves us even when, in our sin and ignorance, we hate him. That is what I mean by choice. Christ has every right to leave us in the dust and despair that is the human condition... He doesn't. He picks us up out of that filth, brushes us off, gives us living water and chooses to love us even when we don't deserve it. I am immensely grateful for that, aren't you?

Choosing love isn't the easy thing to do. Choosing love isn't always understood by outsiders. Choosing love means that you might get hurt. Choosing love is, however the most important charge we get from Christ. "You didn't choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won't spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you. "But remember the root command: Love one another. (John 15:16, 17 MSG)


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Limbo

You've seen the poster of the cute, cuddly little kitten hanging on the tree branch, mouth open wide with eyes like saucers. You can almost hear the pitiful meow as you read the "Hang in there!" caption that is supposed to encourage us and remind us that the waiting is only temporary...

If you have lived on this earth for any length of time at all, you know what waiting it out is all about. You know that after the job interview there will be waiting, after the tests are run there will be waiting, when you pray desperately to God for His guidance and aid there will be waiting. It isn't something we excel at, this waiting thing. In fact in the modern day, if you are asked to step outside the line at McDonalds to wait for your order you get rather incensed and irritated, "What exactly is 'fast food' if I have to wait?" Oh, and don't let the internet connection get bogged down... That is cause for all kinds of angst and lamenting! Waiting is not pleasant, and frankly we stink at it! Being stuck in limbo, waiting on something we deem incredibly important, can drive us into all kinds of unattractive behaviors.

You may not have known where the phrase, "Being stuck in limbo," originated. It has been around a long time and originates from the Latin word, limbus which means the edge of something or the boundary. It was used often to describe the edge of Hell. Limbo is one of those places described by certain religious traditions to be that place the dead were hanging out, waiting for Christ to escort them into Heaven. It was only a holding area for those that died in God's favor, but since Christ hadn't come to open the gates they had to hang out and wait for their guide to accompany them into paradise. A very fitting way to describe how we feel when we are waiting out there on a limb...

We can look into the gates of Hell, see and hear the wailing and the laments of past mistakes. We know we don't want to be there, but we have to hang out and wait for Christ to take us on to our true destination. Waiting is hard! The image of waiting at the edge of Hell should be encouragement not to make hasty decisions because we want movement - of any kind! If only I had the forethought to look at my Limbo moments like that!

I know from my own experiences that waiting is a dangerous place to be. I want to make something happen, often even if it is the wrong thing. Once I make a decision, I am often ready to move, with or without my escort there. The problem is, God has designed certain times in our lives to wait. It is a part of Christian growth that often gets overlooked. Well, ok... Maybe overlooked is too nice a phrase. Perhaps "ignored" is more accurate. We don't want to wait. We want to hear the Almighty answer right away, send us on our path and make it all easy peasy! But is that growth? Is that preparing us for times that we will need our patience and trust in our Lord? Not hardly... And it isn't likely that God will deliver it either.

When we wait God is growing us. He is growing our trust, growing our faith, building our spiritual muscles. Like anything, we have to practice to excel. If I decided to set a goal to run a marathon, I had better begin training for that marathon months in advance. Showing up the day of the race with no training or conditioning will spell disaster for my ultimate goal. My lungs will be ill prepared to deliver the oxygen my legs will need to keep running. My legs will not have the muscles built to keep my feet in motion to reach the finish line. My mind will be ill equipped to handle the mental stress of such a long run. God knows we need training and conditioning to run His race as well, and so He teaches us to wait.

Wait with anticipation and trust in God's will to give you hope and a future. Wait in prayer, communing with God about your anxiety and desires for the outcome. Wait knowing it will have a purpose to strengthen you and deliver you to a better place in the long run. Wait and treasure the time the Father is giving you to share with Him your heart.

When you are in Limbo, waiting on Jesus to walk you into the next phase, keep and eye and an ear open for the proof that bad decisions and hasty movement aren't worth the pain. In all movement toward your goal, pray for God's guidance and His will so that you won't be tempted to move without Him. God is very good at letting us know when we are on track. He may not give you billboard signs, but he will cause doors to be shut and windows to open. He will walk with you through anything He puts before you and He has promised to never leave you.

What are you waiting on today? Hang in there... It's worth it!