Wednesday, January 27, 2016

READY FOR GREATER?


I’ve been sick for days now. My motivation lately has come to a screeching halt. I’ve ignored everything and everyone the past few days.  I’ve also ignored phone calls, but that’s not new for me – I do that whether I’m writing or holding the phone in my hand.  It’s so bad that my mom has replaced her normal, “Hi, how are you?” with “Hi, thanks for answering!”  See, it’s not just you.  I ignore phone calls from my own mother.

I have not ignored eating.  That would be preposterous and ludacris (I actually like spelling ludicrous like the rapper–I feel like it gives me street cred with youngsters.  Although since I just said “youngsters,” I’ve lost all street cred.  It’s like one step forward and two steps back.) I digress.

One email I’ve tried to avoid was from one of my pastors (@bertsnyderiv) and his lovely wife, asking us to be a host home for our church’s outreach endeavor called “Greater.” Two sentences into the email, I pushed my chair away from my desk and walked away, telling myself "we don’t qualify! What is he thinking?!" The unfinished projects/remodeling makes it very clear where our priorities have not been. Our home is so very lived in that we practically have our guests sign a waiver, ensuring they 1) are nonjudgmental 2) possess no allergens to dog hair and 3) won’t file a lawsuit if injured by toys strewn amok.

I experience God’s faithfulness so clearly, all the time, and we are regularly called by the Spirit to extend ourselves more in community, yet I almost allowed a lapse of doubt and insecurity to paralyze me with fear all while questioning whether or not I have value to God and could He possibly use me?  Can He use me? There are so many others who seem better qualified to host. 

I’m learning this at a snail’s pace --> None can do the work He has prepared for me. And, none can do the work He’s prepared for you.

He has wired us uniquely, creativity, and passionately for the work He prepared for us (see Ephesians 2:10 if you don’t believe me).  He’s marked out a course for us, the goal is the same, but the beauty is in the unique journey.  Don’t let fear, insecurity, doubt, and comparison steal your resolve.  Be you!  Do the work! Remember His faithfulness.

I’m determined to cheer you on as you pursue the work He has made you for. (However, I probably won’t call.  Expect a text.)




Friday, January 8, 2016

LIFTING UP OTHERS

I have been thinking a lot lately about light. Like our cat, I find the light shining in through the windows and lounge there, to feel the warmth on my body. I imagine myself being outside when it's above these freezing temperatures we’re having, and being enveloped by the sun, feeling warm pavement. I want to go there and be there and dance around in that like Maria in the Sound Of Music (minus the terrible dress and being a nun).

In thinking about everyone being stuck inside because of the cold temps lately, and I imagine we're probably trolling the internet much more. At least I am on Pinterest a heck of a lot more than usual. Things just slow down in the cold.

I always come across this quote on Pinterest, “A candle never loses its light by lighting another candle.” It hits me every time I read that and lights up areas in my heart that have become hardened. It’s a constant reminder to me to encourage others and make lives brighter.
You don’t have to speak with the oratory of a William Jennings Bryan. Or write with cryptic language like Churchill. Much less speak with the power of Roosevelt, in which he used to sway an entire nation. The internet and the blogs and the Facebooks and Instagrams and Twitters gives us opportunity to do this in real life, with just a few words or a click of a button, so just look at it as a window into all of our hearts. But there are people stingy with ‘likes’ and @'s and mentions. Our lifting others up. “Because we're really important.” “Because our "like" isn't cheap.” “Because they may take my ‘like’ as a sign of my weakness.” “Because I am better than her.” “Because they are unworthy of my ‘like’.”

C’mon.

Turns out, according to the Bible, you're sheep.

You’re stingy with our comments because you think you’re super important. Or we don't comment because we are jealous of that person. “I'll show them by punishing them with my non comment! My non-‘like’!” 

I see this behavior, even among supposed Christian women, and I find it ridiculously hilarious.

I remember walking into a grocery store years and years ago with two small children. I probably looked like a normal whoever. But I had just lost my grandmother and my life was in turmoil and when the sliding doors opened and I saw all the people, I wondered if they could tell my life felt like it was falling apart. ‘If I can just buy a couple of groceries without crying...’ I thought to myself.

Did I need someone to ask me if I needed paper or plastic? No. I sure didn't. Because it. Doesn't. Matter.

What I needed in that moment was someone to push my cart out for me and say, God is with you, or you're doing a good job with your kids, or here’s $5, go to Starbucks over there and get you a cake pop. Heck, a sincere smile would be enough.

Truth is, that we're all trudging through this life doing the best we can, and we could do a better job at rallying around one another and lighting other candles that have been extinguished by hardship and suffering. We don't have to be stingy with our flames because, at the very base of your knowledge, you can rest knowing that you're not the judge. God is. You're not the sheriff. You're not the big deal on the internet. You are, however, dearly loved by God who cherishes you and gave you specific gifts, some different from others’. He made you to love those difficult to love and not lord over them with all your harsh opinions. Opinions! Say it again, ohhhh pinnnn yunnns.

Love is the command, people. Extending warmth, love in comments with kind words and likes and @'s and responses. They are the small yet bright sunny windows in the harsh winter we live in. They are light to those around them. These small gestures envelope people in love.

And as it turns out, God is love. 
And the Bible says that I might have so much faith that I could move mountains, but I am nothing if I do not have love.

Happy Friday and all that. Oh, and I blog more over at Instagram --> www.instagram.com/mandi411



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