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.

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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??

How Can Pain Be a Blessing?

We learn from pain. Some more than others and some quicker than others, but we all do in some form. If not, we wouldn’t be careful around hot stoves or warn our kids not to touch them. We usually have to experience enough pain to change anything about ourselves or what we do. Physical pain brought on by ourselves makes us more careful. You’ll more than likely avoid that coffee table corner after stubbing your toe on it or that person after being hurt over and over.

Pain we witness from others makes us more careful too. “Wow, that could be me!” It can make us think twice. Hopefully, we learn this way too. Pain brought upon us by others makes us mad. We didn’t want this pain. We didn’t ask for it, we didn’t even make the mistake to cause it. Still, so much to learn from this anger and frustration. There’s always something to learn.

As unpleasant as pain is, imagine what life would be like without pain receptors. The only way to know if we were hurt would be to see bones or blood. So, thank God for pain receptors. How would we live day to day without them? Extremely timidly, constantly hurt, and continually supervised.

If we learn from pain, it makes sense that the wisest people we know have experienced the most of it. They haven’t just been through it, they’ve allowed themselves to feel it. They’ve gone there, they’ve grieved, they’ve felt and expressed the pain rather than avoiding or covering it up. They’ve taken it to God. They’ve owned their part and they’ve changed because of it.

The pain of divorce may lead some to fight for marriage while others blame marriage itself and refuse to even consider it again. The pain of co-parenting may lead some to surrender and embrace while others vengefully fight the rest of their lives. The pain of betrayal may lead some to a deeper intimacy with Jesus and others to deem it foolish to trust anyone again or become untrustworthy themselves. The pain of failed relationships may lead some to a deeper appreciation of the one who’s different or to write them off altogether. The pain of family disapproval may lead to a deeper reliance on God’s or a life lived to please others.

Are you being crushed? All of these are painful, but it is in the crushing that the sweet aroma is produced. Grapes and olives must be crushed to make wine and oil, as it is with us. The deeper the crushing, the more pure the outcome.

Have you seen the joy and laughter it brings people to stomp grapes with their bare feet? That’s how I imagine the devil looks while we are being trampled on, thinking he’s doing us in. But, it leads to something so beautiful in the transformation and only possible by the crushing. I don’t recommend looking for pain. But, I do recommend gleaning whatever wisdom you can from it, looking for the blessings during in it, and remaining thankful in spite of it. There is always something to be thankful for. He’s always there and He knows how you feel. He may have allowed it, but He hasn’t forsaken you because of it.

The Lord says, “It was my plan to crush him and cause him to suffer. I made his life an offering to pay for sin. But he will see all his children after him. In fact, he will continue to live. My plan will be brought about through him. Isaiah 53:10 (NIRV)

Jesus wasn’t just crucified for us, He was physically, emotionally, and spiritually crushed before it for us. It’s in contemplating this pain that we come to tears and surrender over what He did for us. The suffering He endured for us is how His love was expressed and our ultimate gift provided.

I hate that Jesus experienced any pain because I love Him so much, but if He hadn’t, I couldn’t live with Him forever. He did it for me. It was because of God’s immense love for us that His worst pain turned into our biggest blessing.

Being crushed for His purposes hurts like no other in the process, but coming out the other side you recognize the honor that it is and the joy it ultimately brings. You’ll come out closer, forever changed, and with a sweet personal aroma (story) of who He is to you.

Same Kind of Different…

I look at hearts for a living…Every day, I take an ultrasound probe and I look into people’s chests. I look at the blood flow through the valves and chambers. I assess size, shape, function, and Doppler velocities.

After 17 years, I’ve come to realize that when I’m looking at the screen, it doesn’t matter what the person looks like laying beside me. Our hearts are all designed the same. The person I’m scanning could be black, white, Asian, overweight, anorexic, 95 years old, 18 years old, Catholic, atheist, smoker, vegan, a millionaire, homeless, a cheater, or the cheated. I can’t tell by the way their heart looks on my screen.

If I was only looking at a case study on a screen or was scanning through a sheet, I could only guess what that person looks like or lives like. It could be the cardiologist who reads my tests, for all I know!

This got me thinking about the God we serve. He knit us together in our mother’s wombs. He created our hearts physically and spiritually…the same. To physically pump and fire in a certain way. To spiritually crave Him. To seek Him for satisfaction when the world fails us. To love others and to find our greatest joy in serving Him. So…we are the same.

Yet, this same God who created each one of us in His image also thrives on variety. He made us to look different, gifted us differently, walks us through different stories, gives us different passions and interests. He loves variety. So….we are different.

I look at hearts everyday, but I am so relieved that nobody knows my heart like the One who created it. He sees it, He sees me, and He loves me anyway. He supports and heals my heart. He inspires and strengthens my heart. He pushes it to share and He helps it to rest.

The next time you see someone who looks or acts differently than you, think about their heart beating in their chest, it looks like yours. And, it is loved like yours.

My Love Story….

My love story will be different…It won’t be a “married to my high school sweetheart” story. It won’t be a “rocky marriage and reconciliation” story. It won’t be a “happily ever after right after divorce” story. No, my love story will be different.

My love story will be learning about how much God loves me, even in the midst of painful losses and rejections. My love story will be learning to love myself in the midst of them to0. Learning to love myself even when made to feel unlovable. Learning to love myself after being torn down to a nub by men in my life. Learning that not all men and women are the same….

Right after my divorce, I fell hard for a guy. He gave me more attention that I’d ever received from my ex-husband. We dated over a year, but he refused to commit. So, heartbroken again, I knew I had to stop the rollercoaster of not knowing what he wanted from me. Cue the next few guys who wanted to marry me after our first date. And some even before. What was going on?!?

First guy turned out to be on parole for double homicide (his wife and another guy)! Next two had mental issues, so much so, that suicide was mentioned after ending things. The fear of God set in. What was a single mom with two daughters to do?  Just stop? Or keep trying, trusting God. I chose the latter……My love story will be different.

The only way I could trust God with my romantic life after these stories was IF I loved Him enough and trusted His love for me. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve cried out, thinking it won’t happen for me. It just can’t after these stories…The fear would be too great or the rug would be yanked out from under me, again.

I dated a guy who truly loved me, but we split over spiritual beliefs. I’ve dated a guy recommended by one of my best friends. I thought that he was my reward for standing up for my beliefs. That turned out to be false too and ever so painful and confusing all over again. What was going on?!?

The guy before has come back around. God spoke to his heart in my absence and it turns out our spiritual beliefs aren’t as different as we thought. Surprisingly, close. He knows all my fears, issues, and concerns. His love still rings true. God’s will be done.

My love story will be different….God will be my first love. My love story will be an open book of the love we share. I will run to Him when I hurt. I will lean on Him when I’m scared. I will share who He is to me. I will trust Him with my life. And, if it turns out that He just wants me all to Himself, my love story will be complete. I will live to please and honor Him all the days of my life.

 

 

You be You

you be you

Do you struggle with feeling like you’re too much or not enough? I sure do. Do I post too much? Do I write too much? Do I share too much? Do I care too much? Then, I think of what Jesus did for me and instead of reassurance, I’ll feel like I don’t do enough. I should share Him more. I should write more. I should reach out more. I should take more pictures. I should share more pictures. I could never care enough. I should visit my friends more. I should love more.

This “not enough/too much” syndrome is a silent peace stealer. It, once again, does all it can to steal our joy, kill our enthusiasm, and destroy our hope. Today, remind yourself who and Whose you are. Be thankful for who God made you to be. Be proud of how far you’ve come. Be grateful for who God has blessed you with. Be amazed by who Jesus is and what He’s done for you. And, rest in His love for you.

Let your joy come from Jesus, a place of unending, unfailing, unchanging love. Soak yourself in it and love others with it. Only when we feel it, can we share it. I’ve come to realize that I may not always feel peaceful, but I can still have peace in the truth that Jesus is with me. He sees me. He knows me. And, He will never leave me. There is peace to this truth. This truth may not always come with a warm fuzzy feeling, but the peace is in the truth. The faith that I have in Him.

When the enemy knocks on the door of your heart and tells you that you are not enough or too much just by being you, shut him down. Know that you are not alone. David struggled too with “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23 and praise Him “because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well“. Psalm 139:14. He may not have felt it, but He knew it.

We don’t always feel the love from those who love us. There are many times I don’t “feel” the love from my kids. Same goes for friends and family, but I trust that it’s there. I KNOW they love me. Sometimes, we just need to know. Same goes with the love of God, there are times I may not feel it and there are times I feel it so strongly that I’m high and euphoric from it. As fabulous as the highs are, the lows are when we need to know it. And, that takes faith. I thank God that mine has strengthened. He is with me in the highs and the lows.

We are all made differently. We have different gifts, preferences, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. We all need a Savior. We all need love. Celebrate with those who love you for you and guard your heart from those who don’t. We are ALL precious in His sight.

 

 

Raising Two Different People

sisters

My girls are almost exactly 5 years apart and just turned eight and three years old. The age difference is tough because they are into completely different things and, until now, couldn’t even carry on much of a conversation with each other. My oldest is extremely strong willed and my youngest is extremely sensitive. Competely different people! Just like so many other things in parenting, once you think you get it down, something changes.

I can relate more with my youngest’s personality. So, I “get” her actions and reactions more. But I’m also very aware of the struggles that come with heightened sensitivity and hope to build her courage, will, and sense of worth. My oldest appears to have no problem concerning self confidence, buy may need some sensitivity and gentleness training now and then. Lord, give me strength and patience.

I knew I had a strong willed child when my oldest was three.  I asked her numerous times to pick up her toys in the living room to no avail. I decided to get firm, surveyed what was on the floor, and told her that I would throw the ones she didn’t put away in the trash. She picked them up and threw them in the trash herself. She was THREE!!! What do you do with that? How on earth do I handle that strong will?? Lord, give me strength and patience.

My youngest is very sensitive. She’s a crier. Sometimes she still cries for absolutely no reason. It’s like it’s her native language….Lord, give me strength and patience.

Raising little ones doesn’t come with an instruction kit. The same discipline tactics may devastate one and not even faze the other. At least half the time I feel like I’m doing it wrong. But, I do LOVE my babies with all that I have. Their strong will and sensitivity are important parts of what make them who they are. It’s day in and day out, it’s hard, it’s humbling, it’s a daily lesson, it’s a precious gift. Lord, thank You for the strength and patience to raise two different people.