Yesterday , I posted a blog, What to Do About Annoying People. I ended the blog stating that most of the time, I discover, that when someone is annoying me it is because I have an agenda which I have determined cannot be changed. When I need to spend time writing because I have deadlines on books, I will find myself getting snippy with my boys and wondering why they cannot understand the importance of my work. On the opposite side of the fence, they get whiney or upset with me because they do not understand what could be more important than playing the really fun video game which they'd like me to join them on.
I've been doing a lot of unintentional pondering the last few weeks on what really matters to God. When I say 'unintentional' this is what I mean. In the past, I have allowed myself to get absolutely bent out of shape and worked up over silly deadlines or events. I was just speaking to my husband the other day about a shift that I've noticed. Lately, I've had moments where I find myself a lot calmer than I'd usually be. It doesn't make much sense because I'm still working with a lot of authors, raising a family, and keeping a home in order. Nothing has changed on my schedule. What has changed is my perspective. I've begun stepping back, taking a breath, talking to God about the situations, and turning those worries or fears over to him instead of hanging on to them.
This is not a revolutionary concept. It is something I have heard to do my entire life because I grew up in churches who taught the Word of God. Why then is it that all of the sudden I can see a difference in my life? Because...brace yourself...I'm actually living out what God's word says.
"Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear!" James 1:22 MSG
I am not saying this to get a pat on the back or a high five. I'm saying this to help shake your spirit. Over and over again, I heard people tell me various testimonies of how God showed His Word to be true in the lives of those who lived it out instead of just quoting it. We can memorize all the scriptures in the world but it will be no different than memorizing any other book if we do not apply them within our lives.
How about the scripture which encourages us to be still and know that he is God (Psalm 46:10), have you ever heard that one? How often do you find yourself implementing it in your own life? I remember a time when I was searching for a job, I felt very desperate. We had very little income and the small income we had would soon be disappearing when my husband started tech school. I had applied many places but things were not happening the way that I wanted them to happen. When I finally broke down and said, "God, really, what is it you want me to do?" I heard him tell me, "Go to the park." It was the kind of response that I wanted to dismiss as the devil trying to distract me only I couldn't because I knew in my heart this is what God was instructing me to do.
Now, from an outside perspective this might seem like a very lazy thing to do. Why take my sons to the park when I should be apply for jobs and trying to find an income? Because God's ways are not our ways. His kingdom is not built with the same mindset we use to build things here on earth. God was trying to teach me, in that moment to be still and know that He was God. He was in control and He was taking care of my family.
I've probably told this story enough times that those closest to me have gotten sick of hearing it but that will not stop me from continuing to tell it because others need to know what it looks like to live kingdom minded. They need to be encouraged to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Why? Because I also need to be encouraged in these things.
Today, I want to encourage you, give God a chance to steal your show, allow Him the opportunity to rewrite you're schedule. But don't do this unless you're serious about it. Because once you say, "God, what do you want me to do?" He may respond with something that is really difficult to fulfill. Something like, "Take the kids to the park. Go for a walk. Watch that rabbit nibble on your grass."
All too often, I was afraid to ask because I thought God was going to tell me something way too difficult like, "Move your family overseas." Why on earth would He ever entrust me with such a task like moving overseas if he knew I wouldn't even be obedient with something as simple as, "Go to the park"?
As much as we might love living out this life here on earth, as Christian, we must shift our mindset to kingdom living. This is not our home. This should not plague us with fear but instead encourage us to live our lives as little children, taking pleasure in all the little things our busy schedules often leave us taking for granted.
God wants to use us to accomplish great things but first he must see that we are capable of completing the small ones.
I've been crazy busy. So busy that I have forgotten to stop and do some of my own writing. But today I was taking a moment to stop and ponder, which led me to wonder if someone else could also benefit from my pondering.
Today I was thinking about the person who gets under my skin. It's not one specific person, it has been numerous people in my lifetime. Some close relatives, some friends, some people whom I didn't even know their name. How does this happen? Why does this happen?
Let me provide a scenario of what I mean.
When I was working in retail, it didn't matter if it was at the corporate level or store level, there were annoying customers. Maybe it was the person who walked in with an attitude and said, "Hey! Can I get some help over here?" It would have been fine if they hadn't asked in a snotty tone which came across as if they were annoyed with the worker specifically. Or, in the corporate world, the customer who said, "Well, I understand we have these processes in place but you need to figure out how to make this an exception because this person way up the chain wants this to be a priority." Again, it would probably be no big deal if the same excuse wasn't used for almost every project. (Just for the record, if everything is to be considered "an exception" you should probably reconsider the process as a whole, there's something broken.)
Anyways, the reason I bring this up is because I am pondering, as a Christian, how does God want us to deal with these kinds of situations? If that doesn't feel like an arrow to the heart you might be a little better at handling these than me. Kudos!
Let's look at a few scriptures that might help us determine how God wants His children to deal with these kinds of people. People that tend to get under our skin.
"If someone wants to sue you in court and take your shirt, let him have your coat also." Matthew 5:40 NCV
"It is better to finish something than to start it. It is better to be patient than to be proud. Don’t become angry quickly, because getting angry is foolish." Ecclesiastes 7:8&9 NCV
"With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered." Proverbs 11:9 ESV
“But I say to you who are listening, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who are cruel to you. If anyone slaps you on one cheek, offer him the other cheek, too. If someone takes your coat, do not stop him from taking your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and when someone takes something that is yours, don’t ask for it back. Do to others what you would want them to do to you. If you love only the people who love you, what praise should you get? Even sinners love the people who love them. If you do good only to those who do good to you, what praise should you get? Even sinners do that! If you lend things to people, always hoping to get something back, what praise should you get? Even sinners lend to other sinners so that they can get back the same amount! But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without hoping to get anything back. Then you will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High God, because he is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin. Show mercy, just as your Father shows mercy." Luke 6: 27-36 NCV
There are many, many other scriptures where God provides direction on how to deal with people that have a tendency to get under our skin. But pretty much all of them can be summed up in this instruction: love them.
Is it really that easy? Yes, it really truly is that easy. To deal with these people we must:
1. Relinquish Our Pride
Our pride has a way of making us see ourselves as more important than we are in the grand scheme of things. When we allow our pride to a voice it will say, "How dare that person speak to you in such a way!" This is not to say we should roll over and take a beating of verbal abuse. However, pride often has a throw a punch back rather than respond in gentleness. For the record, fire always starts fire, it never puts it !
2. Exercise Compassion
I get it exercise takes work, all that cardio and weight training. It is the same on a spiritual level. It can be exhausting. Thankfully, we don't have to exercise things like compassion, love, and kindness by our own strength.
"I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength." Philippians 4:13 NCV
God wants us to rely on Him to deal with annoying people. He wants us to ask him and allow ourselves to be open vessels for Him to flow through.
Accept that you too have been or will be an annoying person to someone. Yes, it is true and you know it. There will be a day when you are in a hurry and get snippy with someone, or when you're unsure and feel as if you need someone else's reassurance so you ask the same question for the 10th time. I know this to be true because I have been that annoying person.
The best way for us to stop allowing others to get under our skin or stop allowing ourselves to get under the skin of others is to "Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well." Matthew 6:33 NCV
When I busy planning out my day and trying to get the things I have determined to be important done, people annoy me. And I know, for a fact, I annoy those closest to me such as my husband and children. But when I stop and say, "Is this really this important?" it helped to put this into a better perspective.
The moral of the story, most people don't realize they are being annoying, exercise patience and compassion when coming across them. It may not change the situation or make them less annoying but it will sure change your perspective which will in turn change your heart towards them.
Christmas was just last week. Have you ever watched or read Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas? It's been one of my favorite since I was a child. The Grinch comes in and attempts to "steal" Christmas. Hmmm? I'm pretty sure there is another person that often attempts to "steal" but I'll come back to that. In the story, the Grinch steals everything that has to do with Christmas. He takes away the toys, decorations, and food. He's so proud of himself for finally ridding Whoville and himself of all this Christmas nonsense. But to his surprise, the next morning, the Whos down in Whoville wake up and begin singing Christmas songs. This leads the Grinch to ponder that maybe Christmas is more than what he thought it was.
Do you ever find yourself drowning in an unforgiving sea of questions that are slamming down on you like tsunami sized waves? Ugh, I hate these moments. The moments were everything swirls and whirls and doesn't always make sense. Why are these moments even happening? Isn't Christianity supposed to be a golden ticket to a good life?
If that is what you've been told, you've been lied to. If that is what you believe, then you're lying to yourself. But don't count yourself a failure, I've been there too. And I still have my moments when I just want everything to go well. I'm pretty sure it's a defect of simply being human. You know...with all those imperfections and such. The whole instinct to survive, fight for life, fight for comfort, etc.
All my life, I have grown up in church or around church people. All my life I have heard about the blessings, and blessings, and blessings of God. Sure, I've heard about the trials of Job and Joseph. The shortcomings and doubts of Moses and Abraham and every other person listed in the Bible. But for some reason, my mind often gets caught up on those blessings. So much so that I forget about the God who provides them.
Where is God when we cry? Where is God when we can't pay the bills? When a loved one leaves this earth? When our children are fighting? When we're creeping to the edge of giving up? When life just isn't going the way we had hoped or planned?
God is still God. He didn't and doesn't go away. He's not on vacation. And he hasn't pulled an us and said, "Forget all this, I need some ME time." God remains God.
So why do we cry? Why do we have heartache and pain? Why do we suffer? That is the age old question, the first and only question to be asked when someone doubts the very existence of God, right?
The Bible warns us that we have a Grinch attempting to ruin our lives. Satan sneaks around trying to 'steal' all those so called blessings to see how we'll react.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." 1 Peter 5:8 NKJV
A lot of times, I hear Christians focus on verse 8. "Remember, that devil is sneaking about be on the lookout." Be on the lookout for what? I don't know about you but living my life always watching over my shoulder for an attack from the devil doesn't sound like freedom. The Whos weren't waiting around for the Grinch to steal all their Christmas.
"You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does." 1 Peter 5:9-11 MSG
The next verse is where our focus really needs to be, "It's the same with Christians all over the world." Wait, you mean, my neighbors might be struggling? You mean, my friends might be having a hard time living out their faith? You mean sometimes they don't have the answers to the hard questions either but they still choose to follow God simply because they choose to follow God.
Faith doesn't come from a building. Faith doesn't come from our parents or grandparents. Faith is something between us and God. It is something each one of us has to seek for our own lives. A trust in God that will not waiver no matter what is taken away or given in our lifetime. God didn't ask Noah to sacrifice his son, he asked him to build an ark. He didn't ask Daniel to speak to a leader, he asked him to continue praying to him each day no matter what. Faith is a narrow road between one individual and God. An intimate journey through their lifetime. God knows each of our hearts intimately, he knows what will bring us closer to him.
At the end of the day, we must ask ourselves what could make us lose our faith? That is what the enemy is walking about trying to figure out. If I touch their money will that touch their faith? What about their family? Their children? Their job security? Their health? The story of the Grinch and Whos isn't a new story. It played out in the book of Job when the Satan said, "Yeah, of course Job is a good servant, you give him everything he could ever want. Take it all away and see what happens."
I'll be the first to stand up and say, "I do not wish to lose everything." Who in their right mind would? Not even Job wished this upon himself. However, the convictions of my heart in the very next breathe would cause a whisper of a prayer, "But God, if I must choose between everything and You, take it away because there's no comparison."
It is with this mindset, this position of the heart, that Christians can say, "God is real. Whether there is war or peace, whether death or life, whether sickness or health, He is real and He is God. I will serve him no matter what happens in this lifetime."
With this kind of lifestyle the devil, and the world, might find themselves saying, "Maybe faith is something a little more."
I posted on Facebook today for anyone to comment and throw me a topic to write about. And so it begins...
When I first read "Excuses, Excuses: Which One is Yours?" it was in Florida during a life group at a church we attended with Peter and his wife, Sorines. People had excuses in all shapes and sizes and they joined the life group to go through the book and apply ways to overcome those excuses that were holding them back from reaching their goals.
My excuse I wrote down for that class sadly remains the same, "There are areas that I am afraid to step out in faith, the biggest of those being writing, not because I think that I'll fall but because I believe that God will do something so incredibly amazing. That is my 'super lame excuse'.
You might read that and think, "That's a weird excuse." I got tears in my eyes just writing it again because it is that real and that terrifying to me. The ironic thing is that after I shared that excuse I was pushed into working with other authors through ghostwriting and developmental editing. I loved it. The authors enjoyed working with me, everything was going well until my self-doubt got the best of me and I shied away from writing once again.
Here I am today, back into helping other authors achieve their dreams. Things are going well and that self-doubt is once again clawing at the back of my mind. So what's going to keep me from retreating to my corner and shying away? God!
God didn't create me to shy away, He created me with a boldness to create and inspire others. My boldness and creativity often make me feel like the oddball out so I tend to back down. But...with this challenge today to write about excuses (thank you, Peter) it has ignited a new flame.
In the words of Johnny Cash, "No, I won't back down!"
God, you want to do something super incredibly awesome with my life? You want to write a story upon me that has others saying, "What in the world? How in the world?"?
Go for it! No more excuses!
My prayer today is that whomever takes the time to read this blog would take a moment to evaluate the excuses in their own life. Not just the simple excuses but the deep 'going to take some time to sort through' excuses. The ones that are hindering them from embracing all that you created them to be.
You read about my excuses, now it's time to be real, what's yours?
Often times as a Christian I feel myself struggling, feeling ‘less than’ because I’m not a pastor or missionary- something “big” in the faith. I find myself belittling the very gifts that God has given me. I tell myself that I’m failing because I just haven’t quite figured out “my calling”. While Jesus clearly states in the Bible that there are only two ‘callings’ 1) Love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, and soul and 2) Love your neighbor.
So, when I’m painting with my sons? Yes, I’m fulfilling my calling. When I’m doing laundry? Yes, I’m fulfilling my calling. When I’m arguing plots and grammar and story at writing club? Yes, I’m fulfilling my calling. When I’m patiently helping customers instead of losing my cool? Yes, I’m fulfilling my calling.
My “calling” is to embrace who God made- me. To accept that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My quirks are not mistakes, they are the unique threads that sew together the fabric of who I am.
I read a devotional on YouVersion tonight “Called to Create” (yes, all the days cause I needed it) that broke down something inside me. I’m not sure what tomorrow looks like after this moment but I know that I cannot be the only one feeling this way.
And I want you to know, you that’s constantly feeling like there’s something more, something you must be missing- God is the only thing that we are missing. To embrace him fully is our calling. To embrace the passions and desires that he has engrained inside of us will bless his heart and minister to the hearts of those around us.
Do what you love for the glory of God and see what he does with your offering.
Last month, I started a part time job. It has the usual challenges that exist at most jobs- complaining, grumbling, and “that’s” not my job” comments.
When I started the job I wasn’t really in a “yeah I’m so excited to get this job” mindset. My husband and I decided to start saving for a house so the job was simply a means to an end. I’d much rather focus on writing. But, book sales are inconsistent so having a specific-ish amount of money going into savings each money seemed like a wiser plan.
One of the hardest things to remember when dealing with customers is that they too are people. They have crappy days, they have family issues, they have life outside of their shopping experience. And the same goes for my co-workers.
Which is why I’m so thankful I stumbled upon this YouVersion devotional that reminded me the simple truth, “It’s better to give than receive.” Work is not a place for me to be filled, it’s a place for me to pour out, to serve others.
Last night, I was able to train a new cashier. He asked me what I thought the best way to handle an angry shopper would be. In short, I told him to treat them like a person and how he would like to be treated.
In my experience, people don’t act ugly towards others because that is their goal in life. They act ugly toward others because they are hurting, broken, or struggling. Sometimes all they need is to be reminded that they are not the only ones living life. When we serve others despite their attitude or gratitude it may not instantly change their mood, but it will plant a seed. When we take time to plant rather than destroy we allow the world to become a more beautiful place.
Do I always want to go to work? No. Do I always want to serve others with a smile on my face? No. Is it in my job description to clean dirt off the floor? Not that I know of. Is it in my job description to restock a shelf? No.
But when I do these things without complaining it puts me in a better mood. It also puts those around me in a better mood and it changes the atmosphere around me.
Let’s take time to be the change we want to see. If you are tired of all the negativity in your life, make adjustments to be positive. Serve others.
I’ll kick off the transparency and maybe some people will get brave. Yesterday, I had this nudge that I needed to stop what I was doing and help somebody out. I regret to say that I didn’t. I disregarded it as just a silly thought when deep down I know the voice of my Creator.
Today, I contacted that person to apologize. Not because I wanted a reaction or reassurance but because I knew that I had disobeyed God’s prompting and I needed to be honest with myself and my friend.
I don’t know if God had something specific in mind. But I do believe that it doesn’t matter. If God wants to see a result He honestly doesn’t need me to accomplish it. My reaction to His prompting has nothing to do with what He wants to see done. It has everything to do with where my heart is at. There are so many stories in the Bible that talk about always being ready. One that comes to mind is the virgins waiting for the bridegroom. I’ve always heard these talked about in reference to Christ’s return but what if they are actually stories for us to recognize the hour and time are not determined. He could come to us at any time of day and say, “Hey, are you ready to represent me or have you put all your energy into your own efforts and now find yourself lacking?”
Yep, it happened to me too. I watched "Stranger Things" back in July and got hooked. My husband asked me if I wanted to check it out with him. I don't like scary or creepy stuff. I avoid it. But man, do I get hooked by a good story. I watched the first two episodes and waved my white flag. Yes, it was good, I liked the story, but the music and dark scenes weren't working for me. It was a little too creepy for me to watch right before bed each night.
I'm a storyteller, so one image (visual or spoken) can go a thousand different directions in my mind. That being said, when you end an episode with something dark lurking in the shadows making creepy noises not only do I begin to piece together a visual but I start playing out scenarios where all the other characters interact with that creepy noise in the shadows. I immediately start playing through my mind which characters are expendable and which characters cannot be killed off- no way no how.
My husband watched the next two episodes and gave me some updates of what had happened. So, curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to watch another episode. Game over, the story grabbed me and I had to know what happened next.
But, I'm not going to write a Stranger Things review. Sorry to disappoint. Instead I am going to write about the strangest thing, the thing that baffled my mind more than anything. As I told friends that I was a little bit hesitant to start but eventually gave in to watch the show they said they had felt the same. The thing that surprised me most was that many of them said, "But it's so far out there that it's not really scary."
So far out there? *SPOILER ALERT* There is another dimension where creatures exists, things that we do not understand. That dimensions can be felt in our dimension and sometimes crosses over to affect our dimension. This seems far out there?
If these were friends that had no belief in God then maybe I could understand. But Christians saying this concept was so far out there?
Hello? Have you read any portion of the Bible? Spiritual realm? Demons and Angels? Possession? Any of this "out there" stuff ringing a bell? These are all things that are intertwined in our belief as Christians. And yet, more and more I hear Christians not believing in the "unbelievable". When I say unbelievable, I'm not talking about mythical creatures in the Upside Down. I'm talking about angels, demons, healing, miracles, heaven, hell, etc.
Does anyone else see this as the strangest of things?
Okay, grab your coffee or tea or water, whatever be your drink of choice and let's have a little 'come to Jesus' moment. "What's that?" you might ask. A moment of truth. A moment where all the cards are laid on the table and you're honest with yourself about yourself.
Since June 2018, my career status went from Senior Account Manager at a design agency to full time author to small business owner to (about a month ago) part time cashier. To say I've been STRUGGLING over the past month would be to say Godzilla was a little lizard. A bit of an understatement.
My husband and I have some goals in life. One of them being owning our own home once again. Since book sales have been low, finding a part-time job seemed like the route to take to stay on track with that goal. So far so good, right? Wrong! Since I got the job everything flipped sideways and spun around faster than a roller coaster at an amusement park. Not because the job is bad but because my ideas fell through.
I guess I walked into this with some magical idea that everything would just fall together. Then, when it didn't I felt overwhelmed. I realized that I needed to get back into routines. A time to write, a time to read, a time to hang with the family, a time to work, a time to workout. I had to fight for what was important to my schedule.
Last night, I watched a movie with the family, then watched a movie with my husband (Crawl-that could be a blog in itself), then I spent some time writing. I spent a good couple hours writing and I felt great about what I had accomplished. Then, this morning, I started feeling bad because the project I worked on last night wasn't anything that I had been working on recently. Which brings me to my title for this blog "discipline vs. dictatorship".
I'm SUPER bad about beating myself up when I don't measure up to my imaginary standards. Maybe I walk on the treadmill for thirty minutes and instead of celebrating my accomplishment I tell myself I could have jogged the whole time and it would have been better. Instead of being excited about working on a project that has been in the works for a few years now, I thought about another project I had recently started that I should have spent some time on.
Which got me thinking, do you ever have moments when you should be celebrating your accomplishments but instead rain on your own parade? It's one thing to be a humble person, it's an issue to be the one humbling ourselves. I am great at encouraging others and helping them pursue their goals. But I often find myself beating myself down as if nothing I do is enough. Well that's just crazy!I'm never going to get anywhere if I keep slashing my own tires.
God, help me walk today with a keen sense of discipline. Holy Spirit, guide me throughout my day to better prioritize and complete the task that are most important. God, help me end the dictatorship I have over my life and submit to your loving rule. This kind of life is hard and wearing on me. But the life you offer is light. Let me pick that pick and walk in it. Amen.
I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. I had the “Mary, Mary, quite contrary” rhyme in my head only it was a little bit different. I kept seeing these two trees. One tree sprouted life and the other death, even though it had some appealing fruit.
We are given choices in life. We can decide to accept lies or we can discover truth.
When we discover truth, it is like a light illuminating us from the inside out. In this moment, we quickly discover we’re more like craved up Jack o’ lanterns than whole pumpkins. Life has cut us apart and the light exposes every area we’ve tried to patch up.
Rather than back down and dim the light, that is the moment to let it shine that much brighter.
A New Identity
What is this blog about? You mean, I'm supposed to have a purpose? Ok, if that's required then my purpose is life.
Better with age...
Choose a Topic