Monday, November 29, 2010

A life with NO REGRETS

Over the Thanksgiving break, my son had homework. He didn’t tell me until three hours before bed Sunday night that he had forgotten to do it. His assignment was to write 100 things he is thankful for in complete sentences. Needless to say, it got me thinking of things I might be thankful for too as I helped add to his list.

Many times we get so caught up in what we want that we take for granted what we have to be thankful for each day. When I think of what I am thankful for… many things come to mind. I think our list changes over the years based on the circumstances we have faced and life experiences. It becomes more purposeful and introspective.

What are you thankful for? Your car, your house, your pet, your job, your bank account… Some times it takes facing unexpected circumstances to see what is really important to us. What is truly important to you? Who is important to you?

Why not think about it now and live with purpose. Show love to your family NOW, spend time with your kids NOW, take time to go to church and build a relationship with God NOW. Why wait until it is too late. Live with purpose. Love with purpose. Laugh with purpose. Live a life with no regrets.

Think about it… WHO do you have to be thankful for?

I am thankful for God who saved me from a meaningless, dead life and filled me with life and purpose. He has turned my whole life upside down for good and has left me radically changed for the better.

I am thankful for my awesome, incredible husband of 17 + years. He is my best friend, an amazing daddy, my cheerleader, and an inspiration to me. His walk with God pushes me forward to want more.

I am thankful for my two amazing boys full of life. I am thankful that they are healthy, happy boys who love God and each other (depending on the day). I am not thankful they are growing up… time goes by too fast.

I am thankful for family and friends who encourage me on a daily basis to keep walking forward no matter what life throws at me. Their prayers carry me through when I don’t have the strength.

What are you doing to show the people who mean the most to you in your life that you are thankful for them?

Show them with your words (verbally and written), your actions (physical expressions of love), and with your time (spend purposeful time with them with no agenda).

Think about it… WHAT do you have to thankful for?

Since struggling with health problems… I am thankful for some more specific things. I am thankful that I no longer have double vision, I can drive a car, I can eat solid food, I can make meals for my family, I can stand for long periods of time, my voice is strong, and that I have enough energy to accomplish everything I need to each day.

Since going on various missions trips overseas, I am thankful for a few other things you wouldn’t normally think of… I am thankful for clean, fresh water, “flushing” toilets, ice cubes, paved roads, a car to drive in, grass, shoes, a closet full of clothes, a house with solid walls on every side of it to live in with wood floors and windows, and a church to go to freely whenever I like with no fear of attack.

Many times after going on a Missions trip or visiting another country, you can come back experiencing “culture shock.” You begin to see your selfish lifestyle and the excess all around you and it offends you. You start to see that many of your supposed “needs” were actually “wants” and that you have more than enough of everything.

It’s hard to be thankful when we are being selfish and it’s hard to be selfish when we are thinking about the needs of others. One way to live with a thankful heart is to take on the attitude of Christ. Philippians 2:3-5 says

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had."

Choose to live a life with no regrets today. Be thankful for those special people you have in your life and SHOW THEM daily. Also be thankful for what you have… we have to remember that it’s not all about us. There are people all around us with needs. Look for an opportunity to bless someone else this holiday season. You might be surprised how much you are blessed in the process.

Living to leave a legacy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

"My Love Story"

Recently I shared my “love story” with a group of teenage girls. I was hoping to in some way impress upon their hearts that they were “worth the wait.” My story is one of passion put on hold until the wedding day. A friendship was built that would last a lifetime.

I was blessed with a sweet, sensitive, romantic from the very beginning. What I appreciated most about Al was that he respected me enough to set physical boundaries in our relationship. He wanted to protect our future from the very first date so we could live a life with no regrets.

The best part of developing a strong friendship first was that we never had to go through the “let me impress you” stage of our relationship. We saw the good, the bad, and the ugly and still loved each other. There were no false impressions… we were real with each other all the time. It was very evident that he loved me for me. Our relationship grew from the friendship gradually to protected dating, engagement, and finally marriage. God blessed me with my very own Prince Charming.

My love story with Al is not the only love story I have to tell. There is someone else in my life who has loved me for me…God. He has loved me… failures, disappointments, bad choices, insecurities, ugliness, and all.

Ephesians 3:18 says…
”And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”

God’s love for us goes beyond anything we could comprehend… no relationship, physical expression, or definition of love even comes close. God loves you with an everlasting love. God’s love is different than what the world tries to offer us.

I Corinthians 13 shows us the difference. Look what it says…

“…So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

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.”

Wow… so “love in action” should look like this. When we love with God’s love, others will notice a difference! Many in the world today seek the love of others with selfish terms. I will love you if… It’s a conditional type of love. I’m sure glad God isn’t that way. He loves you for you and me for me.

The day we invite God into our lives, our love story with Him begins. Our love for Him grows and is manifested for everyone to see each time we show His love to others. What does your love story with God look like? How has he shown His love to you?

Our love for others should mirror our love for God.
How does God love us…
~He loves unconditionally
~He forgives immediately
~His love is permanent and never ending
~He takes us as we are
~He brings out the best in us

As we continue to grow in God, our love for others will grow. Some people are hard to love, but when we choose to see them through God’s eyes and love them with His love… it can happen. Offer your whole heart to God to receive love and give love and you will truly be blessed.

Romans 12:1-2
“So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out…”

God’s love molds us and shapes us into the best “Me” we can be. Today He wants to write “your love story.” He wants to know you personally and romantically. I challenge you to spend some time getting to know God. Really let Him see you for who you really are... ugliness and all. His love is like no other and He offers it to you today. May His love consume your life as you choose to pursue Him.

Living to leave a Legacy!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fear Not...

Is there anything you are afraid of? What scares you? … spiders, mice, tornados, heights, planes, small spaces, the unknown, failure… the list could go on. Fear takes many forms. We are all afraid of something. The question isn’t necessarily what are we afraid of… but do we allow our fears to rule our lives and restrict us from truly living?

When my boys were little they had trouble sleeping at night… they were afraid. Afraid of the dark, their closet, their toys, the trees blowing outside, anything and everything… Mommy made it her mission to find the problem and fix it. We prayed every night before bed for good dreams, we got a night light, we talked about what they could dream about, and I even traded pillows with one of my sons so he could have good dreams like me. This is something we constantly fight against… FEAR.

Our minds are sponges. They absorb everything we see and hear all through out our day. The good, the bad, and the ugly… that is why we need to be extremely careful about what we allow into our hearts and minds. Things stick with us longer than you would think. That is why my husband and I have made it our job to help "protect our boys minds” until they are old enough to do it for themselves. One area we strive to protect them from is fear.

We gauge our decisions for our children by our choice to protect what is allowed inside of them. We restrict where they go and what they do for a purpose. The things that we see and hear stick with us. We never want to put them in an atmosphere where fear will grow inside of them. For that reason we are very protective over their media elements, they aren’t allowed to see scary movies, go to haunted houses, or watch things that may have scenes that are too intense. These kinds of things can invite “fear” into our lives.

I saw a horror movie when I was a child. I was sitting in the midst of a bunch of adults and I can still see the vivid images. It really sticks with you… it stuck with me into my teen years. In fact the fear stuck with me as well… I was afraid to sleep at night. Fear grew as I got older. It dictated what I did or didn’t do based on what the possible outcome could be. I lived my life based on the “what if" mindset of life. I would think about doing something based on what could possibly happen as a result. I inserted the worst case scenario of course. When my husband was running late from work… he got in an accident. When I got sick… I was dying. Fear began to consume my thought life.

Even though I knew God and had a relationship with Him, I still allowed fear to affect my life. It wasn’t until I decided to trust God with every area of my life that I started to notice a positive difference. I had to come to the point where I realized that God held my destiny. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Do you know what the opposite of fear is? Faith. Our walk with God is a walk of faith and walking by faith is a new way of living.

So... how can we overcome fear and begin this new walk of faith? Here are few thoughts to help you:

~Fear should always be combated with scripture. We have power over fear when we speak in faith. When you put God’s word inside of you… it stays and comes back when you need it.

~We can build our faith by hearing and speaking God’s Word daily.

~As we read and memorize God’s word, it will become a part of us and give us control of our thoughts.

~Face your fears with faith believing that God is in control of whatever the outcome.

There is a scripture that I memorized that helped me overcome and face my fears. It is one that I passed on to one of my sons to use as a weapon when he felt afraid. When Jesus fought the devil He used scripture. The devil wants to fill us with fear and paralyze us, but we can overcome him with the word of God.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says “Take captive of every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”

As I began to walk in faith, a part of my process of overcoming fear was taking captive of my thoughts. Sometimes our minds can run wild with possibilities. I had to learn to give my thoughts to God. If it was a good thought, I could keep it. If not, it was God’s to have. God became my filter for my thoughts and my life. When we allow God into every area of our lives… we no longer have to live in fear, we can truly experience LIFE.

I pray today you will face your fears with faith believing God to do the impossible. I challenge you to let Him have control of every area of your life. You can trust Him!

Living to leave a legacy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Is your "Ugliness" inspiring others?

This fall we moved to a new home that we rent in the country. The house is great with the exception of the “ugly” mural on the garage. To emphasize it’s ugliness… you should know that this garage is a landmark off the road for everyone to see in our area as they pass by. I asked several people who didn’t know where I lived, if they knew where the garage was with the “ugly” mural on it and it was unanimous… bulls eye, bingo, jack pot. You get the point. Needless to say as a part of the lease, I requested that it be painted. I could take the “ugliness” no longer.

The landlord provided the paint, so I began the process of painting last weekend. I didn’t realize how much needed to be done to prepare the surface to paint. I ended up scraping for a couple hours. I recruited my two boys and a neighbor boy to help and we still didn’t get it all finished. I was able to paint the top and cover the words (see picture provided), but I still have more scraping to do…. errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Living with ugliness that you can see every day is no fun!

Did you know that each of us carry “ugliness” with us on a daily basis? Unless you are perfect, we have all failed some time in our lives. Some of that “ugliness” represents bad choices we have made, old habits, addictions, lifestyles we aren’t proud of, etc… We all live with a memory of some kind of “ugliness” from our past. God is faithful to forgive and forget as we give these areas of our lives to Him, but the memories are still there. We have to remember that we are works in progress and with God’s help we can overcome.

When we give our lives to God, we start a new chapter in our lives. It’s one with God being the focus… it’s a new way of living and we are still learning the ropes. Look at what 2 Corinthians 5:17 says about it… ”This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” How exciting! We have the opportunity of a fresh start. Even though we have started this new chapter in our lives, sometimes there are days where we tend to dwell on the past. It seems at times hard to get beyond it all, but God has a better idea when it comes to our shortcomings and failures.

I was at a ladies group recently and heard a phrase that soaked deep into my spirit. A lady was sharing about how the “ugliness” of her past wasn’t pretty… she was discouraged and afraid to talk about it. Another lady there said…“your ugliness is my inspiration.” She had seen such a difference in this family that it changed her life and gave her hope that God could do the same for her. Whether you realize it or not, the “ugliness” of your past is inspiring others.

People are watching us. They are watching and waiting to see how we will react to what life throws our way. They are watching to see the difference when we give our lives to God and waiting to see how long it will last. Once they see it sticks… they are using your life as inspiration and a goal to shoot for. If God can do it in you, surely they are not a lost cause. You inspire them!

It is our natural tendency to hide our past failures, but God has another option. We have the opportunity to share God’s faithfulness to us with others. When He prompts us and allows us, we should share “our story” of what God has done and how He has changed our lives. When we share it does two things: it says “thank you” to God for setting us free and it encourages others to trust God to help them overcome in their struggles.

Your life has the potential to inspire others to have greater faith. Faith to believe God to do miracles in their lives. There is a scripture in the Bible that talks about how God can turn any bad situation around to bring good… your life is no exception.

“Don't you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good…” Genesis 50:20 (NLT)

What could God do with your “ugliness” if you let Him? Could your life be inspiring others without you even knowing it? Whose “ugliness” has inspired you? Don’t hide the miracle He has done in your life… tell the world and help them experience for themselves a life changed by God. So, tell me… what is “your story”? I’m ready to be inspired.

Living to Leave a Legacy!