Monthly Archives: January 2014

Crying Out in the Battle

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bench2Today I blog at A Widow’s Might. Join us over yonder! Crying Out in the Battle

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New Blog

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Very soon, my blog will be looking new and improved.  I have joined my blog with aNew Season, the umbrella group we have created with A Widow’s Might.  Not all widows want to write about widowhood forever.  They eventually grow into a new season.  They might marry or not, but they want a new identity.  I will still be writing for A Widow’s Might.  We are so excited about the new improvements.  We think they look super.  Hope you like them.  I even had a “photo shoot” at target today for a good picture for the blog.  When was the last time I had a picture taken of just me???  Anyway, it was fun and we got some decent photos.   A couple looked like I had a goiter growing on my neck and perhaps 27 chins but other photos were fun.

Thanks for walking this first year with me.  I will tell you some of my stats, just so you can chuckle.

I posted 52 articles this year.

I have 24 email followers.

I have 21 wordpress followers, only a handful I even know?!  Who are these other bloggers that find my site of interest to them??  Curious…

The most hits in a day was 297 on April 29, 2013.

The average hits a month are about 500-600.

The total number of hits has been 6,860.

The story that has the most views is December 31, 2012.

The story with the least is Face (book) ing My Insecurities.  (Now I am even more insecure!!)

Thank you for walking this journey with me.  It has been a learning experience on so many levels.

Here’s to many more articles and may someone out there find a little encouragement by reading them…

Liz

The Older Brother to the “Prodigal”

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rembrandt prodigal sonWhile the kids and I were on a trip recently, we worshipped at a new church.  It was a bit different than what I was used to but it was very good.  Sipping my Starbucks coffee that I purchased outside the church’s auditorium, I settled into my seat, and it wasn’t a pew!  The music on the stage began and immediately one of my kids noticed the saxophone being played as part of the worship band.  And the camera man filming the people on the stage so we in the audience could get a closeup look at the musicians.

The speaker spoke on a very familiary passage that many of us have renamed the story of the Prodigal.  Speakers like to go into great detail about what the son got into and how bad off he was.  But the story is really more about the father.  That was the point of the lesson Jesus taught.  The point was the father’s unfailing love for the son who had failed in life.  The father gave grace and accepted the son back into the family, even though the son wanted to just be given a position with the slaves.

The older brother has always been more relatable to me.  He didn’t stray off the straight and narrow.  He appeared to be a rule follower.  He looked good on the outside.  He acted more like a slave than a son.  He worked hard.  He slaved away all those years and the father never threw him a party.  Wah wah wah.  I totally see myself in him!  I followed the rules and I lived a good life, and I lost nearly everything that mattered to me.  Wah wah wah.

Which brings up the topic of following the rules and being a slave to living right.  Have you ever wondered WHY you do the things you do?  Like going to church.  Do you have a reason why, other than just because it is what seems to be the right thing to do?  How about reading your Bible?  Or going to AWANA club with your kids?  The speaker encouraged the audience to list all the things you do as a Christian and ask yourself WHY you do them. What does it mean to do this particular activity with God?  God sees your heart so it really does no good to do these activities out of self-help or pride.  These activities should be fueled by our DEVOTION to God.

Be honest with yourself.  Brutally honest.  What is really going on in your heart when you do these activities.  Boredom?  Distraction?  Our thoughts and intentions of the heart are laid naked and bare and exposed before God.

And like the father in the story, God throws the robe of grace around your shoulders.

Be who you are.  Don’t hide behind the activities.  If dragging your kids to Awana clubs is more fighting than Bible memory, just stop.  Take a break.  I don’t think it is pleasing God to perform the activity together with everyone fussing.  Now there are times that I do believe the children need to understand that we go to worship service even when we don’t feel like it because we are not controlled by just our feelings.  If that were the determining factor, how many kids would be potty trained or would memorize their math facts?  You can pray honestly that God would help your feelings get in line with your worship.  But if we are just doing things to check them off our list because it makes us feel more righteous, then we are trying to use our works to get us into God’s good graces.

And it won’t ever work .

God isn’t interested in whether we feel more righteous, like the Pharisees.  They performed very well.  But their hearts were so far from devotion to God.

I guess I make my kids play in orchestra with me.  The reason?  Because I think serving others this way is important.  Service is a way to get your eyes off yourself and onto other’s needs.  With kids, it is a little different.  You can’t just ask your kids to only do things in life when they are fueled by passion.  That would not leave them much to do at all except play video games or sleep.  They wouldn’t do their laundry because it would just get dirty again.  They would eat nothing but mac and cheese because it tastes good.  Sometimes we do things because we should.  I struggle with that in my faith.

I want my service to God to be fueled by my devotion to Him.  That is the goal even though mostly I fall way short.

How about you.  What fuels your faith walk?  I hope these thoughts helped you think about why you do the things you do.

There is NOTHING we can do to receive God’s grace more in our lives.

Nothing.

It is freely given to each of us.

Freely.

Accept the robe of grace He wants to throw around your shoulders today.  None of us deserves grace.  That is the point, after all.

2014, A New Year, A New Page

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photo coloradoA New Year…What does that mean to you?

For me, it is a blank page, ready to be filled with new friends and new places, new adventures and new books.  For me, it is full of hope.  When things have gotten as bad as they did for me personally over the last few years, hope is the only thing I have going some days.

I was given a quote from Max Lucado.  “We so fear failure that we create the image of perfection, lest heaven be even more disappointed in us than we are.  The result?  The weariest people on earth.”

Wow.

I can easily be one of those weary people, trying so hard to make my life look good on the outside.  Doing all the “right” things.  But no more, thank you.  No more pretty package wrapped up with a bow.  I am all out of bows.

I don’t fear failure anymore.  I have had it smacked into my face.  Failure.  And is heaven more disappointed with me than I am with myself?  Not possible.  Heaven and God are full of grace.  Isn’t that a relief?

If you have a picture perfect life, you are probably falling apart on the inside.  I think that was some of Mr Mark’s and my problem.  He had created a picture perfect image of himself that he knew was false but he couldn’t let anyone else know it was false.  That failure thing.  He knew about God’s grace but I think he still feared failing me ( or not finding grace from me).  Failing his kids.  Failing his mother and his siblings.  And I added to the failure by keeping up the image that all was good.

I always wanted to have a perfect looking family sitting happily together on our regular pew every Sunday, all spit-shined and spiritual.  But inside our hearts were aching for grace.

One thing we can do on this first week of the new year is to give ourselves permission to fail.  Heaven will not be disappointed.  And if your friends are disappointed, then get  new ones this year.  Friendship is messy.  Relationships are messy.  Families are messy.  Marriage is messy.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.  My friends have seen all kinds of messy over the last few years.  It took me a while to find the friends who I could share the mess with, and those particular ones have loved me and held me and prayed with me.  Search and pray for that kind of friend in your life.  We can’t do this thing called life without those kinds of people.

And be accountable to someone.  Not just to your spouse.  Someone who can be the bad guy when necessary.  Who can tell you when you need to do the hard things.  When you need to back off.  When you need to step away.  When you need to step up.  When you need to pray together.  Is it prideful to think you don’t need anyone to be accountable to?  No man is an island, they say.  I believe that God created us for community.  Not for isolation.  Even shy people and introverts need someone.

I have a prayer group that meets each week.  What a blessing to sit with these two ladies and laugh and pray and cry.  Some weeks I have to pass on praying aloud because my emotions are so close to the surface.  These ladies get it.  Some weeks it is one or the other.  We have grown to love each other so much through the last few months praying together.  I don’t think anything brings you closer than this.

I have a couple of friends who can handle whatever I can dish out to them.  I can tell them whatever is on my heart – ugly and pretty.  They are honest about their marriages and their lives.  That is so what I need.  Honesty.

I have failed in several areas recently and I am so thankful for the grace from above.

This new year, new page, I encourage you to find someone who can walk life with you.  Who can walk the messy failures and not abandon you.  Pray for this person.  Maybe you need to be this kind of person for someone else.  You may be their answer to prayer.

And last, I wanted to leave you with a little gimmick to help you think about the past year.  Adjust as desired…

2013

20     Think of 20 blessings that came your way this past year

1        Think of 1 hard event that stretched your faith

3        Think of 3 character traits you want to instill in your life this coming year OR 3 new people who came into your life this past year

Twenty seems like a large number but I think once you get started, you will fly through them.  You might pray over it first and ask God to bring these to mind.

Blessings to you for this new year.  You have traveled through a tough year with me and I thank you.  Here’s to a new page…