Monday, June 3, 2013

Fully Enganged

I just spent a week visiting my daughter and I couldn't wait to dive in to mom mode.  I realized I had to restrain myself, after all, I was going to be a guest at her place, not to mention that I was on vacation!  That thought didn't last very long.  I spent the first few days cooking comfort food and loving every minute of it.  I made gravy and meatballs, enough for two dinners that we enjoyed together and enough for at least one more memorable serving just for her.  A way to show I was still there in spirit.  Our visit was relaxed and lazy but it was missing something.  I had an uneasy sense and I couldn't quite put what it was into words.  

On the drive home, it kind of came together for me.  It was that she wasn't fully engaged with me.  While I was with her, I dismissed the feeling because I knew she had work responsibilities and friends to electronically connect with, but it really struck me that we kind of missed out.  At least I did...I wondered if keeping a slight distance was her way to keep from feeling the sadness that a goodbye brings, especially when there are so many miles between us.  

It made me think about the many missed opportunities we experience because we don't fully engage with people around us in our every day lives.  When our fluttering minds keep so busy that we don't really connect...no investment, no loss.  We keep things on the surface and simple so we don't get hurt or don't risk the possibility of having to commit ourselves in some way to someone or that people get to see how imperfect we are.  I started thinking about the way Jesus engaged with people.  He was fully present with each person he came in contact with.  Whether it was one of his disciples, or a stranger he encountered, he was really there with them in the moment.  Am I?  How do I keep my mind from doing laps, thinking about something else when I am talking with even those closest to me?  My challenge to myself is to slow down and do one thing.  To listen and to risk.  I may be pulled into a place where God wants me to be and be used by Him for a greater purpose.  Now that would be living fully engaged!

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  John 13:34

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Satisfaction



I was doing a little pondering recently and I was caught off guard when I began to think about my journey.  I saw that questions about my journey mostly centered on the direction of my life, what was impacting me, and where I was headed.  Where did the signs lead ME to?  

Then the light bulb turned on.  The truth is that the journey is not supposed to be about me.  It’s supposed to be about God.  Yet, so much of the time, I am thinking about myself in the journey.  What really matters is whether or not my journey is leading me to HIM.  Now that really jazzes up my route.  The path that leads to ME vs. the path that leads to God.  Hmmm.  I realized that along much of the way, I’ve arranged my journey so as to have things point to me and not God.  We hear a lot of talk about our life purpose.  Any time I hear a speaker talk about this topic, I am drawn to it with a magnetic force.  I want to know about my purpose.  What I have realized is that my purpose is to point others to God.  Sounds pretty straight on, right?  Well, the next question is how?

God has answered that beautifully.  He has wired each of us in a unique way.  He has poured many gifts and talents into each of us.  It’s what we do with the talent that either brings us fulfillment and joy, or emptiness.  If our talents are used to bless others, we are filled with joy.  If our talents are used selfishly, to bring attention to ourselves, then we will feel empty.  There will be some satisfaction, but it is just temporary.  

When we share our gifts, we share God’s touch on humanity.  It is a way to share who God is with others.  It is His gift, poured out through us, that blesses others and is one way he reveals who He is.  Others are drawn to Him.  Not to us.  But the other most amazing thing, is that when I am using my gifts, I feel the closest to God and that fills me to the brim.  That’s the way it is supposed to be.  That’s where I find satisfaction.  Do you?

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 5:16

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Amazing Connections



Have you ever had one of those days that are just so full of goodness, you feel like you’re bursting?  Today was one of those days.  It was a day of art and a day of good people.  Two amazing combinations.   Any time I am in one of my collage art classes, it’s special.  It is so for many reasons, but mainly because of my instructor, Laura.  I don’t think she fully realizes how she impacts her students.  More importantly, I don’t think she really knows what an important thread she has been and continues to be in my life.  In a nutshell, she has inspired me to be the artist I am today, and the artist I am becoming.  And she has done this with complete freedom in sharing her expertise  as an artist.  

God has used may people to help me realize my dreams and He has done this by threading my life together with those He has put in my path.  He has never allowed me to cross paths with someone without his hand being involved.  Today, He used Laura to create a new thread.

After class, I hurried to meet a new friend for coffee to talk about how to plug in at the new church my husband and I recently started attending.  We exchanged stories and at the tail end of our time together, we started talking about collage art and our conversation took on a new life.  There, in the midst of that conversation, God was at work with the thread that came from Laura’s stitch in my life.  It couldn’t get much better.  

Isn’t that just like God to know the desires of our hearts and make the way possible to make them real?  So now, my new friend is connected in my life with a stitch from God's hand, making a way to uncover the desires of her heart.  

As you go through your week, don't be afraid to share and connect with the people who cross your path.  You just never know if you will be the thread God chooses to use in someone's life. 

Lord, thank you for connecting your girls with the thread of your love…

Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.  Ephesians 3:20

Monday, February 25, 2013

Opposite Directions



It was nice and toasty in my house.  And the tear that just leaked from my eye turned ice cold as I pulled the door shut behind me.  I couldn’t help it.  I had an emotional wrestling match with my better half the night before, and it left me feeling fragile.  This happens in marriage and relationships, right?  How is it that I can be standing right next to my husband and yet feel so alone?  I had to make a choice.  I prayed and wondered how to proceed.  Would I be able to verbalize my thoughts?  Would I be able to lay down the anger I felt it my heart?  I had to work backwards.    


I’ve learned enough to know that the anger is the blanket that covers all the other feelings.  Don’t we like to stay under the blanket?  It’s kind of comfortable and it keeps us distant so we don’t have to deal with the truths that lead us there.  So I had to start uncovering, and  I found rejection at the root, which was enough to prompt the tears. The tail spin began. 


When an airplane is in a tail spin, there are ways a pilot can regain control to get the plane to fly safely, avoiding disaster.  It does, of course, take great skill.  I don't understand aeronautics, but I read that one method basically requires the pilot to have a "hands off" approach, yet somehow fly in the opposite direction of the spin.  Apparently, this can save the plane and puts it back in flight safely.  That’s exactly what I needed to do.  I needed to pull away from the situation, but more importantly, I needed to go in the opposite direction than where my heart was taking me.  I don’t know that I have navigated the spin successfully, but I am letting go of the rudder, and desire to go in the direction the Lord wants me to go.  I don't always understand my emotions fully, but God does and I know He will help me avoid disaster.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make 
straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Baby steps to Big Girl Dreams

My heart was racing.  I had a tug inside of me to make a call to the local community college to inquire about teaching a continuing education class.  I had always had a desire to teach, and the bubbly stir inside of me kept pushing me to act.  My only problem was that  the conversation in my head made me want to run and hide.  But the stir was so very strong.  I had to do something.  And then I remembered a teaching I had just heard by Joyce Meyer.  She spoke about fear and how it can grip your life.   Her solution was simple.  She said, "Whatever you need to do, do it afraid."  

A light blub moment!  Her words interrupted that internal conversation, and pushed me to make a choice and shift my thinking.  I marched to the phone....afraid....and made the call to the college.  I asked if they were in need of instructors and before I knew it,  one thing led to another.  By the end of the call, I had an interview lined up and a request to submit a curriculum for a new class I would personally develop.  My head was spinning when I hung up and my heart was jumping for joy.  God knew, more than I ever could, how that call would turn out and how it would affect me.  I soon found myself teaching a room full of adults about the ins and outs of starting a gift basket business as well as classes on the basics of floral design.  When I was encouraging my class, I was on top of the world.  In that teaching setting, I felt like I was doing what God created me to do.  It was a dream come true.  If I didn't trust and face my fear with faith, I never would have experienced the joy of the dream.  

I learned the "do it afraid" tip over 20 years ago, and I still use it today to help me when I feel that scary, bubbly stir inside of me.  That Holy Spirit prompting that says, "go for it."  Yes, the fear is there, and it's real, but God is there too.  The secret?   I leave it up to God because he is the one who started the bubbles in the first place.  I pray the bubbles never run out!

What do you need to do "afraid" today?  God will be with you!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

Friday, January 18, 2013

Diving In

I observed a tender moment with a friend while visiting her 97 year old mother.  Her mom said, “Oh I just love you so much, I just want to take a piece of you and keep you with me.”  A sweet hug and laughter followed.  I shared that sweet sentiment today with my daughter.  She is standing on the edge, waiting to take a big dive into her life, and I’m thrilled for her.  The only difference is that when I shared that statement with her, I cried.  They were selfish tears that only a mother’s heart knows and I didn’t apologize for them, because they were too raw and much too real.  Of course I’m thrilled that my girl is following her dream and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  But a heart ache is just a thought away sometimes, so I had to admit that I was being selfish.  I think she might have choked back some tears herself when she explained that she’ll only be thirteen hours away.  Ok, reality check…hmmm, she is not in another country.  That’s good.  She’ll be living somewhere safe, that’s good too.  What else can I think of to make me feel better?  Right now, I got nothin’.   The truth is that I can’t just keep a little piece of her to myself, or can I?  When she rejoices, I will rejoice with her.  When she is across the miles needing support, I have a feeling she might give me a jingle.  I have a favorite saying, and I can see her repeating it to me….I need to put my big girl pants on and dive in right with her.

         Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep…
                                                                                                                                     Romans 12:15
Me and Dana during a summer visit
A stone shaped heart on the gravel drive