Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bringing it all to Our Father (women of Faith, cont)

We LOVED Shiela Walsh! She was so authentic and open in her pursuit of Christ. She began her session after Marcus Buckingham had shared. She started with, "Yes, find our strength....and then Bring it all to Our Father! Am I giving 100% to God? All that I am and all that I have?
Shiela spoke of Mary and Martha and how they did not see why Jesus would be late when their brother was dying. The story is an example of how God is all-powerful and also all-loving.

Has Jesus interrupted your schedule? There are no coincidences. Instead of getting frustrated, ask God what He is teaching you in that moment. When God messes with your schedule, look for the miracle tucked within. ex. Lazarus' death John 11:1-6.

Jesus loved them and then waited 2 days--he didn't go to them immediately when he heard Lazarus was ill.

Lazarus dies and they put him in the tomb, and they were devastated.

John 11:9 shows us a correct response in walking with Jesus, "I am going nowhere until I get the green light from My Father." God will give peace that the time is now. Mary and Martha's response to Jesus was, "Where were you?"

Jesus was troubled.

All these troubles were never supposed to happen, never planned.

Jesus wept. You have never cried a tear that Jesus has not wept with you. What a Savior!

Jesus feels it deeply when we are suffering. Jesus tells Martha, "Trust me."
Jesus calls Lazarus: "It's this way out..."

Jesus never shows up too early or too late. He walks with us even when we don't understand why we are going though what we are going through and He will walk us all the way home on this journey.......and when we see him face to face, it will be worth it!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Women of Faith~on your strengths

Marcus Buckingham shared about how we should try to find where we are strong and focus on spending more time on those things than on where we are weak. He defined a strength as an activity that makes you feel strong. He used the acronym: SIGN for
you feel effective
You instinctively look forward to your day
During your day, you frequently feel inquisitive and focused
At the end of the day you feel authentic and invigorated

He suggested we go about one week noting the things that we do and placing them in categories: loved it/ loathed it

This will reveal which activities invigorate me and which ones don't.
This activity should conclude with some "strength statements" which would be ideas of where we should spend more focused time and energy, because God gifted us to be used in these specific areas.

He stated 4 beliefs: God blessed every one of us with strengths
Not one of us is just like the other
We will be blessed when we find our perfect way and play to our best
most of the time.
Everyone wins when you do: you, your family, the church and the country!

He concluded his message with : My strengths are God's will~let Him use me and let God's will be done!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~We had a few interesting conversations after this presentation. Some of us felt that it was not Christ-centered enough to stimulate us to worship and know and love Christ better (which I am assuming is the underlying purpose of the Women of Faith conference!). I am in conflict in my response. I can see good and bad in the message. I agree that God has given us all spiritual gifts to be used in the body of Christ. I also agree that we should strive to use these gifts in order to give God glory. What I would have liked to have heard is something like this: Wherever I am strong and fruitful, it is Christ doing His work and living in me! Give God all the glory. It is a slippery slope when we start talking about our strengths and do not put our value and personal worth in the context as being fallen human beings dependent on God's grace and strength, and His presence in the Holy Spirit, to accomplish God's will on earth. Any greatness or beauty or brilliance that we see in our own lives or in the lives around us, are evidence of God's good pleasure in making Himself known in and through his creation. We are made "in his image."
I like to think of us running the race in our giftedness as the athlete ran for God in Chariot's of Fire. He said, "when I run, I feel his pleasure." It is not all about me. It is all about God and His Kingdom and His Glory, and yes, His Pleasure. Is He pleased with me?
I believe He is pleased when we do our best for Him. We work hard to honor Him in all we do. We praise Him in our strengths (and give Him credit) and we call on Him to be our strength where we are weak.
The conclusion of the matter is this: Wherever we are and whatever we are doing, we do it for the glory of God. We are His people and we work for Him. Our lives should reflect more and more of an humility of spirit that says "whatever you want, Lord! Your will be done." We should look for opportunities to serve others and be a blessing to them, remembering that its not about how good we are or what great works we have done, but about How Awesome HE IS and How we are NOTHING without HIM!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love Part Three

Okay, I never would have imagined a chick flick could inspire so much stimulating conversation. Here is a snapshot of me and my friend Angie at dinner before seeing Eat, Pray, Love. We are celebrating my birthday, along with my friend Daryl's! Sweet to go out and celebrate with friends!!!! What is it about this movie that draws women in? And why in the world are we thinking about it days later? I think it has something to do with the heart. Like Bridges of Madison County, or Sleepless in Seattle, or even Steel Magnolias; when you touch a girl's emotions, you are treading deep waters. Watch out!!
I am also guessing some man coined the old adage: "don't discuss religion or politics." Somehow he knew we would get too fired up. That's why a conversation about our feelings or our faith can be so intense. Because we feel strongly. And our feelings reflect our hearts.
Not to beat a dead horse with this contemporary movie craze, but it is the chosen template for discussion. I think we have found a new friend. Liz Gilbert. That's her name. The woman we met at Eat, Pray, Love. We liked her because she was real. She ate pizza. We didn't like her because she didn't embrace life where she was. She ran away from her life to "make" a new one. She went running in some direction to find herself, and to look for God. She wanted love; love for herself, love from God and the love of another person. She searched for forgiveness, because she felt so guilty for leaving her marriage; and guilty for leaving her subsequent love affair? She searched for peace, wanting to find a safe, quiet place where she could get away from her self-loathing and figure out how to love herself. And she opened herself up to "love" again; falling into a relationship with a man she felt she could trust. Now, let's talk to Liz. If she were my real life friend, sitting at my kitchen counter at midnight, first I would tell her how much I LOVE her highlights, and second, I would make sure we have a lot of time, because, GIRL, we need to talk!!!!

Where have you been? What are you running from? Yes, I know you are the girl who has always had a boyfriend since you were fifteen, and have never faced this life alone. You have defined yourself by what you looked like, what you wore, what boys thought of you. You decided your identity based on what your friends said you were. And now what makes you think you can be someone different?
......and forgiveness! Girlfriend, you left a perfectly suitable husband in the dust! You should feel bad. You broke your vows. You deeply injured someone that you loved. He may figure out someday how to forgive you, but how can you forgive yourself? Where will you find that power?
And, who do you think you are fooling in this quest for spirituality and religion all of the sudden. Your new little boyfriend really got you looking into some strange stuff this time!!! What are you looking for? Do you want help from God or do you just want to hear that YOU are OKAY. You are not that bad. You have the right to do whatever makes you happy. Do whatever feels good. There's no right or wrong with relationships. Go with it. Follow your heart. You want to hear that you are a good person and you are justified in doing what you have done.

First of all, the way you have always lost yourself in relationships with guys was just a cover up. You were searching for love and acceptance that you couldn't find anywhere. You wanted attention and affection. If a guy liked you, then you must have been good enough, right? Well, wrong. You were looking for prince charming in all those guys faces, including your husbands, but HE WAS NOT THERE.
Second, you found your value in what people thought of you. If you were pretty or funny or smart enough then you felt worthy. Your worth is not based on what any MAN or WOMAN thinks of you.
Third, you went searching for 'god' or 'truth' or some "way" of living that would bring you peace. Did you find it? Are you content now? Are your questions answered and have you found the direction in life that you were looking for? Do you now know your purpose? Are you settled with where you are in life and ready to embrace what role you have chosen for yourself? What if it doesn't work out with Mr. Handsome-Wounded-Lover and you end up unhappy again?
Yes. We have a LOT to talk about.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love Number two

I forgot to go back to the ball of wax and the can of worms. This is how I see the movie affecting those who watch it. I don't think we can watch this movie without putting ourselves and our lives into the picture. Our lives could be parallel to hers, or entirely different. We might see ourselves in some things that she thinks or says or does. Or we might remember being in an emotional place similar to hers. On some level, we engage in the process of her journey. We bounce back and forth from her reality to our own. It was almost distracting how often my thoughts drifted away from what was "happening" in the movie, to what was happening in me, my life, in real time. I remember thinking in the middle of the film that I will have to see it again, I have missed much. But I think the richest part of the experience was processing her journey on a personal level. Reflecting on my youth, my passions, my dreams, my marriage, my family, and yes, my relationship with GOD.
However, I think this movie could be dangerous for some women who are in a hurting place emotionally and are looking for any role model on how to get through life. The answers offered in the movie are not in agreement with biblical Christianity.
The Bible calls the sinner to repent.
The Bible tells us to have no other gods.
The Bible points us to Jesus. Always. Only.
The Bible is the source of all truth. It is God's revealed word.
Jesus is the living word of God.
There is no truth apart from God's truth. God's truth is seen in creation, in scripture, and in Christ incarnate. And then his truth abides in us, if we abide in Him.
We can't create our own truth. All of our reality is in the hands of God. We can acknowledge that, or not. That decision makes all the difference.

Eat, Pray, Love

You either love it or hate it I guess. Any way you look at it, the movie brings up some deep issues and can't be left undiscussed. So, here goes for my two cents. I heard two comments before seeing the movie; first, "it was terrible" and second, it is about "self indulgence." Okay, fair enough. Opinions. We each come with our own ball of wax or can of worms, whichever you choose to call it. So we come with IT, to the theatre and watch an actress do her thing on the big screen. I happened to read an article today on Julia Roberts' role in this film. She mentioned having her family along on the entire journey of filming on location. Quite opposite her character's lifestyle choice.
Back to the movie, Eat, Pray, Love. Should we as Christians have a problem with this movie? I say no....and here's why. The story that unfolds is of a lost woman searching for her meaning in life. In my opinion, she never truly finds it. She ends up concluding that 1) "god" lives in her and is her and 2) that she could strive for balance in her life as hard as she could, but then end up wanting more to live life out of balance.
We all sit with our ball of wax in our laps, watching the movie unfold. After "Groceries" (should we call her? I can't remember her real name) leaves her husband, and her rebound-boyfriend relationship, she heads off on a year-long journey to find out who she is. HMMMM. Starts in Italy with lots of food and wine and ponders one idea of happiness: having good relationships. She then heads off to India to get herself "balanced" in the spiritual sense. She follows a guru and seeks to make peace with herself and her past through meditation and "emptying her mind." Not such a wonderful idea, but we can talk about that later. At the end of the movie, she ends up in Bali, still trying to negotiate a new 'enlightened' way of living with herself, and deciding if she is up for a new relationship.
Okay, so I don't love the storyline, or the process this 'lost' woman goes through to find herself 'on the other side,' but I think it would be a sad commentary on Christians if we didn't think we could watch such a thing and observe the way some of the 'lost' are trying to find help. Reason being, we HAVE what they are looking for. They want peace. They want God's peace in their hearts and lives. We know the answer: you cannot have the peace of God without making peace with God.
The idea that divorce is the answer is wrong! We know better. But, our 'lost' friends do not necessarily know why we would say that. I consider this movie an opportunity to talk with people about their lives, their reality. Their dreams. Their hopes. Their wish for peace. And then we can lead them to the living water that satisfies. With Jesus, there is no end. One of the themes in the movie was that 'nothing lasts anyway.' Wrong. We are eternal beings, created for eternal purposes, and God will not be mocked; a man reaps what he sows! I pray that our lives as Christians can be light and life to those around us, searching for the WAY. I pray they will see peace in us that is present despite unfortunate circumstances. Joy in the midst of hurt. No, Jesus did not promise us a pain-free life, but He promised to be with every season and situation. That's what we have to offer. The God of the Universe in us, by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Now that's what I'm talking about when I talk about peace. There's none of this "god is in me and I am god!" No, I humbly admit that I need a Savior, and I will gladly let Him guide the path of my life, rather than searching for a way to find 'balance' in order to figure out my own way and blaze my own path. How about you?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Singing in the Rain

Tonight was a HOT desert night and I was lamenting aloud that I can't wait for it to cool off! Looking forward to November, I said.
No joke, 30 minutes later we are running down our street in a downpour of monsoon rain! So happy! Thank you Jesus! We needed a cool drench. We needed a moment of refreshing. The rain brought my thoughts to our need for Jesus to come and cool us, refresh us, invigorate us and make us new. There are so many songs of the Holy Spirit, raining down on us. Come, Lord Jesus. "Holy Spirit, rain down," and "Spirit of the Living God Fall afresh on me.............Make me, Meld me, Mold me, Fill me........" and somehow "Shine, Jesus, Shine" fits as we cheerfully ran through the rain in warm gutter puddles~Fill this land with the Father's glory; Blaze, Spirit, Blaze, set our hearts on fire.........flow, river, flow, flood this nation with grace and mercy, Send forth your word Lord, and let there be light!"
I was also remembering a sweet tune from the kids' toddler days, "Lightning bugs those lightning bugs go flicker flicker flicker in the night; lightning bugs those lightning bugs God made us all to shine our little light!"
And that is my prayer for this season. I pray that I can inspire my children to know God and love God and Share God's light and life!
One perfect opportunity tonight, to thank God for the rain, to enjoy his sweet gift of refreshment, and to sing back our praises. I pray that I can be aware of eternity in the midst of the everyday.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Pipecleaner Spider

I had a friend call the other day. She was doubting her decision to Homeschool. I dug into my years'-worth experience with the subject and gave her my best shot. The Pipecleaner spider. When I pulled out my youngest son, Benjamin, from Kindergarten at our local Public school last fall, I had similar doubts. I knew in my heart that I wanted to school him at home, but somehow my head decided to argue with me. Sometime in October, I was at the school helping out in Amberly's class and I walked down the Kindergarten hallway. That's when I saw them. The 25 posterboards filled with cute googly-eyed, pipe-cleaner spiders! Then it hit me. Benjamin missed making these cute little guys. He wasn't there to make these adorable pipe-cleaner spiders. I felt a little bad. A little sad, maybe. Like maybe I had stolen something good from my boy?

I had to shake it off and re-think why we were homeschooling. That what I have to offer is different. And better. For this little boy, anyway. He gets to spend all day with mom. He gets to learn to read up on my bed. He prays and learns about Jesus in school, every day! He catches mommy and daddy's purpose in life, because he watches; he is with us. He plays with his brother and has friends over. He eats his meals at home and helps clean up the messes. He listens to good music and he goes to plays. He loves to listen to good stories read aloud. He is writing and memorizing. He is learning good habits. He gets to build forts during the day and play with marbles and blocks. He goes swimming sometimes for recess. His teacher-momma loves him and gives him all she's got. Take that, pipe-cleaner spider!!!!

Not Busy................FULL!

Why is it that I feel like writing when my life is so full? Wouldn't it make more sense to write when I had nothing better to do? As it is, I don't have spare time. All of my minutes are taken up. No, more like joyfully surrendered to a calling. I am mom. I am teacher. Hear me roar! Well, Hopefully not ROAR. But, yes, Roar it is on some days! I have happily embraced my role as homeschooling mom, yet still struggle at times with what each day should look like. Or each hour. But I know that my efforts are not in vain. Whatever I do, I know God can use for His purposes in my children's hearts. I will just be faithful to keep teaching and training, keep loving and learning, keep challenging and helping, and HE will do the rest. The brilliant thing is, GOD is always with me. When I can't figure out what to do next, I can call on Him. My favorite song during this season has been "I need you Jesus, to come to my rescue." And He does. Day in and day out. He comes. He renews my strength and gives me his patience and peace. Fills me up with Joy so that my cup overflows. And then I can do the "full" life again. He has made me glad!

More Fun at Co-op

a little footage of the boys at work! They were painting a salt dough map that they made last week. We also did our own version of the nile at home. The kids loved making the dough. And they made it again the next day! By themselves. They made pyramids, because we are studying Egypt; and volcanos, just because! They did the baking soda and vinegar trick to make them erupt! Good times. We were so blessed to find this Homeschooling Co-0p. I heard about it from a friend of a friend, and she hooked me up with her friend! We have been enjoying field trips and social activities through the summer so we could get to know the kids, and the moms! It is really nice to have a group of likeminded people to be able to share ideas with and ask for wisdom. God has blessed us already through these new friends!

Homeschooling 2010

Homeschooling 2010-2011

We are in to our second official week! We had our Tapestry of Grace Co-op this morning. The kids are really enjoying our group!