Is Different Wrong?

Yes, different is scary. But, different isn’t necessarily “wrong”. That’s the fear. That stepping out from how something has always been done is wrong. It goes along with how thinking differently than someone else must be “wrong”. Someone somewhere had to go against the grain and expectations of others to get you to where you are today.

Pray. Ask for yourself. God speaks to each one of us individually. That’s relationship. As parents, we hope to have special and individual relationships with each of our kids. So does God. Not only does He want it, but we don’t realize how much we do, until we do.

Our choices and paths will be different. God wants them to be. Our kids are different, He made them that way. Siblings are different, spouses are different, parents are different.

We are each created with different love languages, preferences, needs, sources of comfort, and talents. But, we are all created by the same GOD. Who loves each of us like crazy. May we lean into Him when He calls us to be different. When He calls us to choose differently. And trust Him like crazy when He does.

Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different. And we were all created differently. Because He wants us to reach the world, not just our neighborhood. But, also our neighborhood.

There are missionaries called to remote islands and also to our workplaces. Poverty stricken communities and also to reach the wealthy. Abused women and happily married women. Teenagers and widows. The motherless and the fatherless. The kids in private school and the kids in public school. The kids in dance class and the kids on the basketball team. The kids in the band and the kids on the field. The doctors and the patients. Single men and single women. Married men and divorced men. The mom who lost her child and the mom who has a dozen at home. The person who was cheated and the one who cheated. The porn addict and the food addict. We all need Him in very different ways. Thank GOD for those with callings to reach each. May we each reach one.

Even Paul and Barnabas had a “falling out” of sorts. Both men of God, different callings who went their separate ways because of it. To do God’s will and reach people they couldn’t have reached together. I trust God used the painful disagreement and separation. They stayed focused on spreading the gospel as He called them to different regions. Regions these days can be viewed as schools, churches, states, countries, workplaces, ministries.

The Bible says we were fearfully and wonderfully made, so it makes sense that we would also be fearfully and wonderfully called out. Separately. That’s the God we serve. He has a distinct purpose for you. We are not meant to be cookie cutters of how we were raised or how our parents were raised or even how they served. He made each one of us with a distinct calling.

My kids too. If I want them to be brave, then Mama should be too.

Go where He sends you. And, I can’t wait to hear and see the hearts you touch.

Advertisements

Seasons Change, That’s What They Do

Last night, I laid awake listening to my youngest sleeping next to me. I couldn’t help but think about when I first got divorced. As much as she wanted to sleep with Mama every night then, I thought it was a bad habit to get started. After all, I might get married again someday. Then it would be harder on both of us to get her out. That was my thinking. Now, I can’t seem to put her in her own bed because I know it’s coming soon.

Seasons.

As much as I can’t wait to share a bed with my warm and loving man, I will miss the times it was me and my girls. As will he, I’m sure. Isn’t this how seasons go? Such is life. We can’t wait for our kids to potty train, walk, talk, drive….and then we yearn for when they couldn’t. We can’t wait for our own first jobs, apartments, and cars….and then we yearn for when we had less bills and responsibilities. All blessings moving forward in life, yet we miss how it was.

We love the change of seasons. Nothing like the first dip in the pool, our first taste of fall, or getting our Christmas trees up. I live in Texas so sometimes all four seasons seem to collide into the same week. But still, turning that calendar to October, April, or June does something to my soul. Seasons.

Married, single, raising littles, parents of college students, empty nesters, retirement. Seasons. Even friends fall into this category. We may drift apart for no other reason than our jobs and families. No love lost, only further apart.

I’ll miss sleeping with my daughter so much that I’m having a really hard time tucking her into her own bed these days. Instead, she reads to me and asks to hold my hand while we both fall asleep. Years ago, I did the opposite in preparation for what’s now coming in the next couple months. It may bite me (us) later, but right now, I’m relishing this season.

 

 

What Are You?

What are you? Male, female, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, American, immigrant, Republican, Democrat…? How about human?

If I were to ask you what church you go to, we’d also have many different answers. Some may not even go at all…But, when the religion question comes up, what do you say first? Baptist, Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Methodist…? How about Christian? I think this says a lot about what we value most.

Do you consider yourself your denomination over Christian? Are we all brothers and sisters in Christ first? Or does your particular denomination shame or discredit others for being different? What was Jesus? His nationality was Jewish, but it’s because of Him that we can even claim Christianity at all. Did He belong to a certain church? He preached in synagogues, on sea shores and mounts, but He also seemed to get on to the church folks more than any others.

He’s why we worship or should be. Denominations are formed by different interpretations of the Bible. Personally, I am a Christian who, at this point in my life, attends and serves at a Seventh-day Adventist church. I love my church and the people in it. I may not be happy with everything going on in it, but maybe that’s exactly why I’m there.

Since there are no perfect people, I can assume there must be no perfect church on earth either since they are made up of just that, people. Their ideologies, theologies, policies, doctrines, interpretations of scripture. I also think there are wonderful churches everywhere because I think there are wonderful Jesus following people in them. May we each be one where we are.

May we all serve Him where we are called and shine His light in all denominational congregations. May we love like Jesus to the best of our ability right where we are and especially in church. Sometimes they need it the most. May we go where He asks us to go. Because, one day, one sweet day, we’ll all be together. Regardless of the biases and prejudices associated.

There are enough prejudices in this world already, may we be increasingly aware that denominations do this too and may we try to be different and gracious about it.

I believe each one of us who claim Jesus will worship together in heaven. There won’t be six different churches to choose from on the streets of gold. We will be Christians who proclaimed His name above all others and clung to Him here like He clung to that cross for us.

So…what are you??

Two Points..

Last week I had the privilege of sharing a worship thought with my daughter’s middle school basketball team. I’d love to also share here…

Fouls are part of the game in basketball. More than likely, you won’t play the season or even a game without getting fouled or fouling someone else. Sometimes they are intentional, you know that player. But most of the time they are accidental. Nonetheless, fouls will get called and a free throw will be given because of it. Two free points available…

In life, we also foul each other and get fouled. To forgive these fouls keeps us moving forward in peace and love. Don’t be that person who fouls on purpose, you just gave your opponent two possible free points. But, know that when you’re fouled, you’ll get those two free points too. We can’t out foul God’s grace. Scripture says it is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Sometimes the free points are received and sometimes they are not, but they are always offered. Isn’t this also so much like the grace of God? We are allowed a swish of grace each and every time we foul. But, this grace isn’t cheap. It was bought by His death. His grace was given when He walked this earth and died for us. I am SO thankful for this gift! Because as long as I’m on this earth, I know I’ll foul others. May they receive His grace. May I. May we know that even if the two points are not scored, it was still offered.

What about those fouls that happen and don’t get called? No free throw doesn’t equal no grace. God still sees. And, His grace is still there. Trust Him in that and offer forgiveness anyway. He sees that too. Even if the referee doesn’t. Offer him grace too. Us humans miss things. We just do.

No harm, no foul takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to life. But, just like in the game of basketball, fouls are a part of life. May we give and receive grace as often as those fouls are given and received. This is God’s will for us.

Jesus said: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)

When we see a free throw taken in the game of basketball, may we always think of the grace God offers after a foul. And may we offer it to others as freely as He offers it to us. So that ours will also be forgiven.

The ball may miss the basket, but His grace never does and we all need it.

 

Worth the Risk

I perform a test that requires my patients sign a consent form. In order to walk the treadmill, they must be willing to assume the risk.

They might fall, they might have a heart attack, they might die for pete’s sake. It’s right there on the consent form. Still, in eighteen years of doing what I do, I’ve never had anyone refuse to sign. I’ve had some refuse to pay or refuse the test for different reasons, but never because of the consent. That means that they are willing to assume the risk to get the answers they are there to receive. Peace of mind is worth it. It would be for me too. They want to know if their hearts are all right.

Truth is, they could also suffer any of these effects walking up stairs or to their car or in the mall. If I was going to have a heart attack doing any of these, I’d much rather it be in a doctor’s office…

What are you willing to try, even if it kills you (fails)? We drive every day, we fly often, we get on boats and rollercoasters. Most of us have gone swimming in the ocean and dove head first into a pool. Somewhere this has killed others, yet we still do it. We don’t want to live in fear. Life is made to enjoy. But still…

How about attempting a new friendship, or revisiting an old one, getting married again, going back to school, applying for a better job, writing the book, or starting that business? Are we willing, even if it fails?

Many people are encouraged to write in a journal to help them sort out their feelings. And, it does…But, how much more does it help for a brave soul to share theirs? Maybe they are feeling the exact same thing. Knowing you aren’t alone could help even more, but someone has to be willing to share. Risk.

Just like you have to play the lottery to win, you have to try, to succeed…Failure doesn’t mean it will never come. And, never trying could lead to the most regret.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

What’s worth the risk to you?

Crickets….

I shared with a few of my girlfriends that one of my prayers entering the dating scene was that I’d rather hear “crickets” than have another broken heart. But, I see now, that it’s  been in the broken hearts and relationships that I’ve learned the most about myself, what I need, what I can give, and what real love is and is not.

I don’t think dating has ever been easy for me, but with social media, texting, dating sites, kids, and the divorced baggage, dating is HARD! As much as I wanted to remarry one day, I got to the point that I was willing to skip it altogether if it led to more pain, confusion, betrayal, or mistreatment. I wanted the girls to see healthy and if that meant mommy stayed single for the rest of my days, so be it.

It’s not what I wanted, I got very lonely. I wanted to be held by physical arms. I cried out in this loneliness, similar to how I did in the loneliness of my marriage but this time without a ring or any potential prospects. The prospects that did come along left more of the same. No lasting connection or commitment. I believed their words, but they fell flat, unable to truly love through good and bad. Once again, try, split, work on forgiveness, and try again. Or should I?

I craved companionship, intimacy, honesty, and reciprocal love. But, this time it wasn’t just about what I wanted, it’s about what the girls and I needed and the example I wanted to set as their mom for their upcoming dating years. I needed a man to set a good example as their stepdad. This definitely raised the ante.

I couldn’t risk falling for just anyone. Even though I still did in the process. God knows I’m prone to fall……..

We needed a patient man. A gentle man. A family man. A man who knows the meaning of and Supplier of biblical love. A man ready to love us all. For the long haul. Through thick and then. These would all take a strong man. If these characteristics weren’t there, then we would be healthier and better off without. And, ultimately, I’d wish the same for them when they consider a husband. So, I asked God to remove if he didn’t fit these qualities.

Crickets.

Hearing crickets on the dating scene isn’t easy. It feels like a big bucket of rejection, but that’s where my faith was tested. I bravely asked God to get all up in my business, so I trust that He did. Even when it hurt. Even when I didn’t like it. Even when the text wasn’t replied to. Even when they didn’t call. Even when the ones I was warned about wouldn’t stop texting or calling. Even when and even then.

I prayed for strength to endure the loneliness and what seemed to be a lack of interest or undesired interest. I reached out to my friends, I asked for prayer, I asked advice, I talked to my kids, I cried, and I learned each time. Deep down I trusted that God had my very best interests at heart. Because I only desired His will.

It never came naturally to me in any way, shape, or form to date casually. My heart is programmed to love and that makes dating (to figure it out) even more difficult….I asked God to guard my heart during the process. Keeping an open and guarded heart is a tough balance.

As I type this article, I’m looking down at a beautiful ring on the fourth finger of my left hand. Engaged to a man that I’m thrilled to have around my girls. A man that I know is super hard to come by in today’s world.

I get to be a wife again. I loved being a wife. But, this time, it’s to my best friend. A man who I can talk about anything with and he does the same. A man with similar interests which is wonderful, but most of all, is sacrificial. He wants to love me all the days of his life. He sees that as a gift. And that makes him the best gift for us! This is how I’d want my girls loved.

Thank you, Jesus, for the crickets. It was then, in the silence and wonder, that I learned the most about You, who I am to You, and who You want for us.