My Life Vision

I have tried many times to write goals, both short term and long term goals. I’ve taken time management classes, done spiritual and vocational evaluations to try and determine what God’s plan is for my life. What I should be doing.

Somehow they always seem to fall short. Either I stop paying attention to them or they just don’t seem to ring true. I find myself still searching, wondering when I’ll land on the thing that works, that feels right.  When I will feel significant and like I know why I’m here.

In this weeks chapter entitled “from purposeless to purposeful” in Derwin Gray’s book Limitless Life, Derwyn talks about writing a life vision statement. He talks about vocation- what you do for a living, and the fact that out career actually does not define who we are. Our purpose in life is to let God love us. Period. And let that transform us from the inside out. He spoke of developing a life vision statement.  We were asked 5 questions:

How do you want to be seen in 10 years?

What do you want to be known for in 10 years?

What do you want your family to be like?

What makes your heart sing?

Who in your life will tell you the truth about yourself? 

On the Proverbs31 online Bible study blog Nicki suggested we then go back and highlight words in our answers that stand out to us. And after I did that, my purpose, what makes me heart sing, what I long for, became suddenly clear, and it was easier for me to then write my overall life vision. These questions enabled me to look more at who I want to be, not what I want to accomplish.  Here  is the life vision statement I came up with, thinking I would probably tweek it many times before I was happy with it.

To shine God’s light in the world by showing compassion, love and mercy

to family, friends, co-workers and strangers.

But you know, the more I read it, the more I’m in tune with what it says.  That is my hearts desire.  The way I accomplish this can look a thousand different ways, but it comes down to this concept.  Be Jesus to others.

How about you?  What is your life vision statement?  Would you share it with me here?

Blessings,

Connie

 

What is God’s view of us?

 Image

“For we are I am God’s masterpiece.  He has created us me anew in Christ Jesus, so we I can do the good things he planned for us me long ago.”                Ephesians 2:10

Webster defines a masterpiece as “a work done with extraordinary skill; a supreme intellectual or artistic achievement.” We are an extreme achievement. God, the maker of the universe, the ruler of all things, the one who created the land, sea, and sky considers us an artistic achievement.  Let that sink in for a minute.  If God considers us his masterpiece, why do we concern ourselves with silly things like we aren’t tall enough, or have a crooked nose, or aren’t pretty/thin/young enough?  Why do we I compare myself to what the world considers acceptable? 

He created us anew in Christ Jesus.  Why?  So we can do good works. Are we busy doing good works?  Am I busy doing good works?  Or have I made my schedule so full, so busy, that I don’t really have time for good works?  I actually did this assessment years ago.  And though I was busy running my kids to this practice or that game and working full time and still doing the books for my husbands start up company, I still felt like I wasn’t “doing enough” for God.  He showed me, however, that in that stage of my life I was “doing good works”.  I was being a good mother to my children, I was nurturing them, spending time supporting them, teaching them, and that was an important job. I was supporting my husband, helping him follow a dream.  I was doing what God had planned for me to do.  

Years have gone by, my kids have all but grown up now.  One lives on his own now, the other is away at college, and I find myself with more free time.  But I am careful to not fill it all with busyness.  I still think before I say yes to something.  I am intentional about giving back to the community.  Don’t get me wrong, I am far from perfect.  And I could do a lot more to help God’s cause in the world.  But I am doing something. And my hope is that God looks down at me and smiles when I make the effort.

One last point I just have to make: God planned good things for us long ago, before we were born, before our parents were even married, before the world was created.  God had a plan.  In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “I know the plans I have for you. Plans for good and not plans for disaster, to give you hope and a future.” (NLT)  God’s got it all worked out.  We just need to seek his wisdom and guidance.  There are so many things about this idea that are exciting.  For one, we are part of God’s plan for the world.  Everyone has a part.  The things we do affect eternity.  But not only that, God has specific things for us to do that will affect eternity in ways that God has planned out long ago.  We are pieces of the great puzzle.  We count, we matter, we are significant.  We are God’s masterpieces.  We are not here by mistake.  

God, help me to see myself as you see me.  To ignore that small voice of doubt that always creeps in when I look at myself in the mirror. Speak loudly in your still, small voice.  Speak to my soul and lead me in the way you have planned for me to go.  I long to be part of your redemptive plan for the world. Open my ears, quiet my thoughts, oh how I long to hear from you.

Digging into a Limitless Life

This week begins another journey with Proverbs31 Online Bible Studies.  This time around we are reading Derwin Gray’s book Limitless Life.  We’ve only just begun, but already this book has challenged me to look a little deeper into why I choose to do some of the things I do.  He begins by addressing the issue of fear. There are some profound statements in Chapter 1 that made me stop and think. And it begins with this quote from Nelson Mandela:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. 

The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Derwin points out that when we live in fear we limit the impact we can have – the impact God desires us to have on this world.  But how, exactly, are we to conquer our fears? We begin by focusing on God, not the world.  Derwin points out that “the more we focus on the biggness of our God the smaller our Goliath(whatever it is we fear) becomes.” Have you ever feared something so much it’s all you could think about?  The fear grows, not diminishes.  It’s not until we stop focusing on the situation, the feeling, the fear, that is begins to loose it’s grip on us.

If we take our eyes off of the bad thing and place them in God’s word we will find promises such as “don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10, “the Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid?” Psalm 27, and “I will never fail you, I will never abandon you.” Hebrew 13:5. When we focus on these things, what do we have to fear?

Step 1 to living a Limitless Life…..know and trust God!  I’m looking forward to discovering what other treasures lie within the book Limitless Life.  We’re just getting started.  If you’d like to join the study, it’s not to late.  You can sign up here.

Be brave! Hope to see you there…..

 

 

 

 

 

Music to my ears, comfort in times of failure

 “The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT)

I can’t count the number of times I have thanked God for his mercies that are new each morning: whispered in the wee hours of the night when I am looking back over my failings of the day before, shared in group prayer with my dear Bible study girlfriends, proclaimed with joy as I turn back once again to my Father and ask for forgiveness for my perceived failings.

But you see, I may slip, I may falter, do things that do not bring him glory- speak out of impatience, eat something that I made a commitment not to eat, not follow through on a promise or commitment I made to someone, or not handle a situation in a way that glorifies Him (just a few of many examples), but what I have come to realize is the mercies I am most grateful for are those that wash away my own expectations and perceived failings.

The Lord has compassion on us! He sees our struggles and I believe he sees our misguided attempts to be perfect, to represent Him in the best possible light. But honestly, it is impossible to truly represent Him in our humanness. We are broken vessels. There is no way we can always act in the most Christlike way. We are not Christ! And sometimes it is through our failings-in how we deal with the aftermath- that God shines the brightest to others.

Did I loose my temper with my teenager, and act like I had every right to treat him like I did because I am the Mother! Or did I go back later and apologize, ask for forgiveness and acknowledge I did not handle the situation like I should?

Did I get impatient with a co-worker and give a short, snappy answer and feel bad but do nothing, or worse yet, not feel bad and let resentment grow? Or did I smooth things over and apologize for being short, trying to build on and learn from the situation?

Did I have a lapse in self control and indulge in a piece or cheesecake, or a chocolate chip cookie which lead to another piece of cake or several more cookies and then figure the day was blown and have a huge dinner as well? Or did I stop, take stock of what I was doing, and ask God to meet me here and shut my mouth to keep from consuming more?

The wonderful new is that even if our answer was the first one in the above scenarios and not the later one, today is a new day. Even if we failed in one situation, that does not define us in God’s eyes.  His compassions never fail.  Ever! Each situation is a fresh start.  A new beginning.  We need to rest in this knowledge, and thank Him for his mercies.  I love the NIV version of verse 24 as well:

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.” 

How many times do I find myself apologizing, confessing that I once again ran off ahead of God.  Not waiting for him to speak, but going ahead and making that decision, or solving that problem the way I think it should be solved.  We never need more than God can provide.  But we need to learn to wait for Him to move.  We need to have patience.  For He is our portion, therefore we need to learn to wait on Him.

Let our weak moments of bad decisions drive us to our knees so that we can seek God and wait patiently for Him to move. Do you let your less than stellar moments remind you to seek God?  Do you wait patiently for him to answer your requests? Let’s begin again today, in our broken vessels, to seek God and thank Him for his compassion and mercy.

 

I’m not listening! Can we avoid the crazy mode?

Have you ever had a bad day?  A bad season of life?  Where things just didn’t seem to be going your way.  You didn’t get the job you felt sure was going to be offered to you.  You didn’t make the team, pass the exam, get the promotion.  How about in your relationships.  You were betrayed by a friend, by a spouse, a co-worker.  Or you found out someone said something not very flattering about you.  Maybe you received a bad review at work.  These things can shake us. Many times we begin to wonder if other people’s perceptions of us are the truth and what we’ve been believing is actually a lie.

Once we begin to doubt our perceptions of ourselves and start listening to what others say we cross over into dangerous territory. Now I’m not suggesting we never listen to advice we are given, or constructive criticism we receive. These things can be very beneficial to us.  However, we need to be careful.  There seems to be a fine line between taking in what life seems to be saying to and about us and letting the opinions of others begin ruling our lives.  It’s quiet easy to listen to what others say, then to begin to project what you think they are meaning or thinking but not saying in future interactions.  We can often become paranoid and obsessed with what others think of us.  But what we need to always come back to focusing on is that we are not defined by what people think or say, we are defined by God.

It seems that when we are in times of great stress we tend to look at those around us for validation of our worth instead of looking to God. It is always best to hold everything we hear, see, and think we know up to God’s word.  And God’s word should always trump everything! In our Made2Crave study this week Lysa tells us we need to ask 3 questions when trying to figure out if what we are hearing is something we should pay attention to:

Is it true?

Is it beneficial?

Is it necessary?

If the answer to any of these three questions is NO, then we need to turn to God and replace the negative things we’ve heard or thought with God’s word. We need to concentrate on verses like

  • “Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous.”              Romans 3:24
  • “So now there is no condemnations for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”              Romans 8:1-2
  • “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”         2 Corinthians 5:17
  • “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”                                                                                                                                                                        Ephesians 1:4
  • “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”                                                                                                                                                                                    Ephesians 3:12
  • “Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us.”          Romans 8:37

We need to re-wallpaper our minds with God’s word so we can fight back when the world (and our own minds) tell us we are less than who God created us to be. Lysa put it wonderfully when she said, “The Holy Spirit uses God’s words stored up inside us to nudge us,remind us, redirect us, empower us, and lead us on to victory.”

Paul puts it pretty well himself when he penned, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”    2 Corinthians 10:5

What about you?  Will you take every thought captive? Will you walk away from the cycle of going into crazy mode when someone says something that makes you doubt your worth?  Will you stop the cycle of withdrawing or going into fix-it mode?  Instead, turn to God and what his word says.  For his word is always true, beneficial, and necessary.

Cast all your anxiety….1 Peter 5:7-8a

Image

  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert.   

                                                                                      1 Peter 5:7-8a

If I am honest, this is an area of great struggle for me.  Pray for others?  Got that.  Sing praises to my Father, yep, love that.  Contemporary Christian music is all I listen to. And yes, I sing along most of the time as well.  But casting all my anxiety on him?  I’m not very good at that.  Doubt seeps into my thoughts when I start to pray for myself.  I ask questions like

Isn’t this a bit trivial to bring to God?

Doesn’t God had more important things to fix and listen to?

Why would you pray about that?  Seriously?!?

I talk myself out of praying for a lot of things.  I tell myself God is too busy, too important, and there are other, more pressing things he needs to pay attention to.  I can actually see in mind God rolling his eyes at me thinking, “Really?  This is what you are bothering me with?”

I know I should not project these thoughts, my own thoughts, onto God.  He tells us in this word to bring all our anxiety to him.  All of worries, fears, concerns, joy.  Bring it all.  Our anger and insecurities.  And if his word says it, then he must mean it, right?  So what keeps me from praying?  Is it hidden pride?  Thinking I can handle the little things on my own. Or is it a fear of him not answering, left over from feeling abandoned by past prayers not answered. Or at least not answered in the way I hoped they would be. Philippians 4:6 says:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

Don’t worry about anything!  I love the New Living Translation of this verses in 1 Peter:

6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.  7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 8  Stay alert!  Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  9 Stand firm against him and be strong in your faith.  Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.  1 Peter 5:6-9  NLT

I need to put aside whatever it is that makes this hard for me.  And maybe it doesn’t matter what it is that makes this difficult for me.  Sometimes we just have to overcome, plow ahead, and Do what his word says.

Don’t worry

Pray about everything

Humble yourself

  Give all your worries to God

   Stay alert

 Stand firm

Will you join me in this week’s #Made2Crave challenge? Are you #determined to draw closer to God?  I am determined to try.  Setting my mind to be open and honest with God about me.  What I need, how I feel, what I’m confused about, trivial or not.  Today I am choosing to believe God and trusting in his word.

Permissible but not Beneficial

As I begin another P31OBS, this one based on the Made to Crave book by Lysa Terkerst, I am reminded of the season of life when we found out our son was allergic to dairy.  When he was ten years old he began to have very strange symptoms we just couldn’t tie to anything.  He would run a very high fever, around 102 or 103 out of the blue.  He’d have no other symptoms except for dark circles under his eyes. These symptoms would last for a couple of hours, an afternoon, or a full day, but then would just disappear.  We spoke to a pediatrician who told us to keep a food log and take note of what activity was going on just before the onset of these symptoms.  And honestly, we couldn’t nail it down to anything.  We took him to an allergist who tested him for air born and food allergies.  Everything came back normal and the doctor told us he wasn’t allergic to anything.  We finally went to a naturalist who measured his body’s reaction to different foods through electromechanics.  That’s when we discovered he was allergic to dairy. Dairy, of course, the one food he had constantly!  No wonder we couldn’t detect a change due to something different he ate.  Milk, cheese, yogurt, and the not so healthy pizza and ice cream.  These were staples in my son’s diet.

Before I tell the rest of the story, you need to understand that my youngest son is what some would call “strong willed”.  Don’t get me wrong, he has been a complete delight, and no one can disarm me and make me laugh like he can.  But he has been opinionated ever since he could talk. He wouldn’t just do something because you told him too, he had to understand and agree with your reasoning.  Seriously!  So telling a strong-willed boy at the age of ten that he could no longer eat his favorite foods was difficult, if not almost downright impossible.

We did alter his diet, cutting out all dairy, but it wasn’t easy.  We substituted chocolate  soy milk (because he refused to drink regular) for milk, potato bread for wheat and white bread, cut cheese out of his diet, and found dairy free frozen treats to replace ice cream.  Considering he was old enough to know what he liked, he adjusted pretty well.  But sometimes it was a battle.  One night, exasperated with arguing discussing with him why he couldn’t eat pizza I finally gave up and told him that he knew exactly how it was going to make him feel, but it was his choice.  If it was worth it to him to feel bad later, then he could go ahead and have that piece of pizza.  This put the control back in his hands, and it seemed to really help.  There were times he would choose to go ahead and eat something he knew may make him feel bad later, but he knew the consequences of his actions.  More times than not though, he would forgo the whatever it was, not because we said he couldn’t have it, but because he knew it was bad for him.

  “Everything is permissible’ …but not everything is beneficial” I Corinthians 10:23

It’s the same way with us.  There are things, many things, that are permissible in our lives, but are not necessarily beneficial.  They may not even make us sick. Maybe they give us great satisfaction at the time.  And maybe we don’t even see evidence of how not beneficial they are for us until quiet some time later. Maybe we just can’t help it because we crave it so much.  Maybe it’s all we think about.  And before you know it, it’s all we focus on.   How can we break this cycle?  Where do we go to find the truth up front?  Where do we turn for direction?  We need to choose to turn to God.

I pray this study sinks in and teaches us something new. I pray we learn to turn to God first before reaching for that certain something that is permissible but not beneficial in our lives.  Let’s turn our cravings from un-beneficial things to God.  Let’s choose to crave God alone and ask him to take care of the rest. The first step, I believe, is to retrain our minds to turn to him first, last, and always.  As Third Day sings….

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Look full in his wonderful face.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim.

With the love of his glory and grace.

God is our strength, God is our refuge.  His Holy Spirit lives in us.  Therefore we can be strong in Him.  But just like my son, we all have a choice.  We can choose to continue to crave those things that are permissible but not beneficial.  We can choose to continue to be held prisoner by them.  Or we can choose to be set free from those chains.  We can choose to turn to God first. Whatever the ‘thing’ is, food, drink, shopping, tv, whatever it is that is permissible but not beneficial in your life.  Break the craving, turn to God, and replace that ‘thing’ with time spent looking at and leaning into our savior. #CraveGod, not things.