Saturday, July 31, 2010

Life, Lemonade, and Burnt Biscuits

I’ve heard it said before “When life deals you lemons, make lemonade.” I guess it’s all about perspective. Life can be unpredictable at times. It doesn’t always follow the natural pattern we lay out for it. It can bring many unexpected and sometimes unwanted surprises along the way. I faced a recent challenge in the kitchen which caused me to come up with my own mantra for life… “When life gives you burnt biscuits, peal off a layer and it’s all good!”

I was making dinner recently and left biscuits baking in the oven, with a timer on in the care of another. I was only planning to be gone for a few minutes, but when I returned the biscuits had already burned. They weren’t just a little brown, they were BLACK. What a predicament… two packages of biscuits burnt and none left to bake. I couldn’t bear to throw them in the trash, so I cut off the bottoms and did what any mom would do, served them up. Maybe the boys wouldn’t notice, after all one was jumbo style and the other was the layered kind of biscuits! Maybe the sheer height and many layers would cover over my mistake. To my surprise the boys loved the biscuits and said they were the best ever… they didn’t even notice the bottom part was missing.

Have you ever felt like life was taking over and not cooperating with your pre-scheduled plan? Things haven't gone as expected. The loss of a job, a shaky marriage, financial hardship, family squabbles, a death of someone close to you, broken relationships, and unfulfilled dreams… the list could go on and on of all of the hurts we have faced in this thing called life. Sometimes we can’t necessarily change our circumstances, but we can change our attitudes. It has been said before that “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” Ouch! If you are like me, I don’t always react in the way I would like when life throws me curveballs. But with God’s help, I can learn to have the right attitude and perspective no matter what comes my way.

Matthew 6:34 says...
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." (NLT)

I have learned some lessons from my burnt biscuit escapade that I hope will help you on your journey.

Lessons Learned from Burnt Biscuits:
(God perspectives from the kitchen)

1. Look for the good in every situation!

There is always something to be thankful for no matter how small. I guess at least the biscuits didn’t catch fire and set off the smoke detector. And we were able to eat them… all good reasons to be thankful I suppose.

2. Go with the flow!

Things won’t always go as planned. Look for a back up plan. There are usually many options in each situation you face. Look at them all and choose the best option with God's help. I chose to keep the biscuits!

3. Set the tone!

Have you ever noticed how when something goes wrong there is always someone there to watch how you will react to it? It never fails! Most people normally tend to react in negative ways when things don’t go their way. I could have gotten angry, irritated, and set a negative, tense tone in my house, but I chose the high road (at least on that day). You have an opportunity to set a positive tone for those around you by your reaction to things. I challenge you to go with the flow and look for the good in it all!  You won't regret it!

4. Give it to God and trust Him!

Some things just happen and you have to go with the flow. Learn to trust God with the outcome whether it’s good or bad. He has it all under control even when things feel out of control.

Remember it’s all about perspective… seeing things differently. Change your outlook and you will change the atmosphere around you. You can’t change your circumstances, but you can change how you react to them.

I pray you will be challenged this week to face your circumstances with a “different” perspective. You have the ability to make a positive difference in your world no matter what comes your way. Choose the high road and watch what God does!

Living to leave a legacy,

Monday, July 26, 2010

Forgive and Forget

Recently I read a devotional to the boys about forgiving and forgetting. It brought about an interesting discussion. Which is harder for you to do, to forgive or to forget? Looking at this through the minds of a 9 & 11 year old was truly eye opening.

When we hold offenses towards people it only hurts us and in time becomes like a poison in our hearts. Unforgiveness left unchecked grows destructive roots deep in the hearts of its victims. God doesn’t want us to keep a list or record of everyone who has wronged us and what they have done. He wants us to be free from offense.

Forgiveness is hard, but if we remember that God chooses everyday to forgive us, it makes it a little easier. When we choose to hold on to an offense, we begin to allow a cancer to grow in our hearts. The longer it stays, the more it grows and spreads to become deadly to the life and health of our bodies. Offense, initially, only hurts us but hurt people, hurt people. Most people we are offended with have no idea of the offense. Who then is receiving the most benefits or damage from our offense?

I’m sure glad when God forgives us that He also forgets. He erases it clean from His mind. We truly show we have forgiven others by our actions. A forgiving person can forget and move on. They do their best to move on in the relationship with out seeing that person in light of the offense anymore. It’s hard, but with God’s help it is doable!

Forgiving + Forgetting = FREEDOM! If we leave one of these important elements out of the equation we live in bondage. Freedom is a choice! We must choose to let some things go, give others to God, and give some people the benefit of the doubt.

Sometimes you can truly forgive and you can forget, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’ve been hurt deeply. God is the only one that can heal those wounds. The verbal wounds of others can sometimes hurt worse than physical wounds. Healing takes time. Trust God with your hurts and He will do what you thought was impossible. Forgiveness is a process but with God’s help can restore you inside and out.

What should you do when others won’t forgive and forget what you’ve done wrong? We all fail and make mistakes at some point it’s all a part of growing up. But when you fail or fall all you can do is your part… confess, ask to be forgiven and give it to God. You can’t make someone forgive you and you can’t make someone forget about the offense. After you have done your part, it’s between them and God. Offense separates us from God!

Jesus died on the cross to pay for ALL of our offenses and sins. When we hold on to the offenses of others, we are telling God that this hurt or offense goes beyond any price that was paid on the cross and that it is UNFORGIVABLE! I’m thinking I read somewhere in the Bible that when Jesus died, that He covered it ALL even those who have offended us. Jesus sees forgiving differently.

Colossians 2:13-14
"You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross." (NLT)

Isaiah 43:25
“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again." (NLT)

Micah 7:18-19
"Where is the god who can compare with you— wiping the slate clean of guilt, Turning a blind eye, a deaf ear, to the past sins of your purged and precious people? You don't nurse your anger and don't stay angry long, for mercy is your specialty. That's what you love most. And compassion is on its way to us. You'll stamp out our wrongdoing. You'll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean." (MSG)

How does God treat our offenses toward Him? He forgives and forgets. His specialty is mercy. Shouldn’t we show the same love and mercy He has shown us to others? Holding on to an offense is not worth the risk of damaging your heart.

Who do you need to forgive today? Who have you held offenses toward that you need to let go of? Do you show forgiveness to others by forgetting those offenses and giving them to God? This is not an easy task, but with God all things are possible.

I pray you will walk in God’s FREEDOM today in this area of your life.

Living to leave a legacy,

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Miracle of Today!

God reminded me today of how far I have come this year. For those of you who don’t know, four years ago I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. It is called Myasthenia Gravis and affects my muscles and weakens them. It is not life-threatening necessarily, but life altering. When I first got sick I was bedridden for three months. Since it made my muscles weak; I had trouble walking, talking, swallowing food, lifting my arms, seeing and even smiling. It was very difficult for awhile especially with two young boys ages 4 and 5. My husband was amazing taking care of me and the boys in the midst of it all. After awhile the doctor got it under control with medicine and it became manageable. It seemed to go into a remission of sorts until last year.

In the last year, the disease flared up violently and nothing seemed to work to get it under control. We changed and adjusted medicines, we even did special treatments to boost my immune system yet I only grew worse. At the beginning of this year, I felt as if I was at deaths door. I continued to lose weight drastically as all my previous symptoms came back. I felt as though each day I was walking backwards instead of forwards. Life seemed to grow difficult and weary day by day. I felt as though I was at the end of my rope and there was no hope except for God and His touch to save me.

 A few months later, I got a new doctor and he told me and I believe it was God speaking through him saying “your life is about to change and it’s going to get better”. From then on I’ve only grown better and in a weeks time I felt better than I had for the whole previous year. I’m still on the mend, but so thankful for God’s amazing touch!

Today as I reflected on God’s miracle a few things came to mind that I’m thankful for:

~I can talk (my voice was practically a whisper for the first three months of this year)
~I can walk with out wearing out
~I can do things without getting worn down (I could only do one big event a week ie: church, grocery store, visiting friends etc… or it would wipe me out)
~I can see clearly (I had double vision for 3 months of this year)
~I can drive a car
~I can eat what I want to
~I am strong enough to stand at church on Sundays and...
~I am able to teach a Sunday School Class…. AMAZING!

Sometimes I forget how far God has brought me until someone who saw me at my darkest hour comes up to me and reminds me of the miracle of today. My life is a living reminder of God’s faithfulness! It has changed my perspective and helps me to try to be more purposeful about each day and how I spend it.

My theme verse for when I was sick was Philippians 4:13. It meant a lot to me because without God’s strength in my spirit and BODY, I could literally no nothing.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Philippians 4:13 (ESV)

What would you do if some unforeseen circumstances messed up the plan you had for your life? What would really become important to you at that moment? Would it be work, dishes, laundry, the perfect car, the ideal home, or a full bank account?

James 4:14 says...

"How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?  Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone." (NLT)

You have a chance today to choose to value what should important to you now…

Who will you show love to today?
Who will you speak kind words to today?

Don’t with hold anything you may regret tomorrow if the opportunity is lost. Live today with no regrets! We aren’t promised tomorrow so make the most of your today!

Living to leave a legacy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What's really important?

Sometimes I can get caught up in things that don’t really matter… have you ever been there? Have you ever been fixated on trivial meaningless tasks that in the long run end up draining you of all of your time and energy? It won’t really matter a week, a month, or a year from now, but it matters to you today. Yesterday, God gave me a lesson in what’s really important.

The boys got up and about their day and me being the task master mom gave them a time frame to be dressed, teeth brushed, and ready in the living room to discuss the day. They had one hour to get ready at their leisure. They had plenty of time, but I have one child who waits to the last minute to do everything and ends up way behind schedule as a result. So, when I saw him enter the living room to watch TV, I thought… why isn’t he dressed, it doesn’t take much effort to put some clothes on… he only has 30 minutes left to do it before THE DEADLINE! I proceeded to lecture him on why he should have already gotten dressed which caused him to have an attitude and left us both feeling on edge.

After a few moments of listening to worship music while cleaning, God got my attention. Did you see that little boys face? What do you want him to remember about the encounter you just had with him? That he should follow YOUR SCHEDULE… do you want him to remember your angry expressions, words, or attitude? What impression do you want to leave with him about this moment… what do you want etched into his mind forever? Whoa!!!!!!!! Wait a minute… this was not my plan for the day. I immediately called my son in to rectify the situation per God’s instructions.

“Will you please forgive me? Mommy sometimes gets caught up in things and forgets that everything doesn’t always have to been done HER WAY. I’m sorry. Will you remind mommy next time this happens that you will do it (whatever I asked you), but you want to do it your way and in your time?” He gobbled me in a hug and smiled and said “OK mommy, I love you.”

I’m so glad that God helps us in this journey called life. When we mess up, lose focus, or get caught up in the trivial things this life has to offer… God is there to rescue us and bring us back to where we need to be.

Colossians 3:1-2 says “So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective. “

Lift your head and choose to see things from His perspective.  What image do you want to leave etched in the mind of someone else from their encounter with you today? What is really important?

Living to leave a legacy!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Living to Leave a Legacy

Legacy… leaving the gift of yourself, your life in a nutshell with all of it’s wisdom from the past, purpose for the present, and dreams of greatness for the future to the next generation. It’s planting a piece of yourself into others… it’s leaving a trail of a life well-lived behind to lead others to a better future. It’s being purposeful about what you say and what you do in order to make an investment into the hearts of others.

I see it like this… our hearts are gardens and God is the great gardener. He knows what we need to grow. We need to make sure that the soil in our hearts is soft, watered, and ready for the seeds God wants to plant inside of us. The minute the soil of our hearts becomes hard, we will no longer be able to receive fresh seed from God to grow. We must always remain teachable, open, and ready to learn and grow from God and others. My philosophy is that there is always someone ahead to learn from and behind to teach. Take the seeds God has planted inside of you and scatter them around to the gardens of people’s hearts around you. Spread God’s love, spread his patience and understanding. Water their hearts with His word. Listen, Love, and Live out what you believe and others will see the difference and be drawn to you.

Everything you do has an impact on others. This is my attempt to pour the wisdom God has given me into the next generation. May these principles of truth bless you as you endeavour to be all God has called you to be.

“The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time God has given us each day.”
Billy Graham

Choose today with your actions and your words to leave a legacy behind that will last a lifetime!

Living to leave a legacy!