Wednesday Inspiration 12.17.14

I found myself a little discouraged the other day after a conversation with a friend. Long story short my friend confirmed in somewhat of an indirect way that someone I already suspected wasn’t a fan of me in fact doesn’t like me. Now I know we’re not always going to be someone’s cup of tea, and I don’t expect to please everyone. Sometimes without meaning to, you just rub people the wrong way. I remember Robert Ferguson saying something a few weeks ago about how Kane, one of our pastors, rubs him the wrong way because Kane is so much more jovial than him. So as you can see, that’s kind of silly, right? It’s not like Kane said something mean to Robert, or did anything serious to offend him. Sometimes people just don’t gravitate to you, and that’s okay. We all have different personalities and interests and sometimes they clash.

But it still didn’t sit well with me for some reason. I don’t need this person to be my friend, or come to my birthday, or invite me places but I guess because I’m so touchy-feely and all, I always want to make things better and to try to include everyone.

If I’m totally honest I’ve often found myself being very…judgmental about how I believe Christians should be. These aren’t bad things but mainly things like: “I don’t understand why they are excluding him/her”, “I don’t understand why this person is so stand-offish”, “I don’t understand why that person looks down on that other person”, “I don’t understand why that person is always giving me the evil eye” etc. In other words, sometimes my idealism or whatever it is, is a bit…unrealistic. I know Christian or not we are all still human and we’re not always going to get it right. But I also want people to strive to be better. If we are set apart from the world and what the world does and thinks, then we should be acting and speaking and thinking differently. We’re not perfecting this any time soon but we should be actively learning how to do this. Not following our “feelings” all the time and instead using the Bible and God’s word and voice to show us what the best course of action is.

I randomly Googled today at work and found an article that talked about this. One of my favorite quotes was:

Part of the problem is that we misunderstand the word love. The kind of love that we need in order to love people we don’t like is agape love, God’s kind of love. Now, agape love is not a feeling. Though we may experience nice feelings as a result of agape love, it does not depend on how we feel or how others feel about us. We can express agape love whether the feelings are present or absent, whether they are good or bad. This kind of love is not a feeling.

[Source: http://bit.ly/1wZIuPB]

I like that.

When I was younger I felt like a lot of people didn’t like me and for many years this made me unhappy with myself because I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I think we all go through this at one time or another. Part of this had to do with events that occurred while I was growing up and being bullied and whatever else, but as I matured I learned that whether people liked me or not, I’m going to make a conscious effort to be good to them anyway. Trust me, I’m no saint. This isn’t a post about how fantastic I am. I’m truly not. Being good to people is sometimes accomplished through gritted teeth. It gets easier in some ways over the years and harder in some ways but ultimately I wanted to follow that old saying “Treat people the way you want to be treated” or as the Bible declares “Love your neighbor as yourself”. I want my actions to be in pursuit of what was right, no matter what the situation was/is or how someone was/is treating me.

All of this to say that, I think it’s okay for people not to like me. But I think if you’re a Christian you don’t have to like someone to love them. The article put it clearly by saying:

“agape love says, “I love you in spite of…”, in spite of the things about you that I may not like. We don’t have to feel guilty about not liking everyone. It’s okay! But we are commanded to love others”.

I think this is really important and something that is near to my heart. I never want my feelings about someone to ever have a negative effect on them or their relationship with God and Christianity as a whole. I’m not the end all be all, but I want to do my part to speak life and kindness into the people I work with, volunteer with, or come into contact with in any way. And sometimes it’s just as simple as deciding to still smile, hug, or talk to people whether they are a fan of you or not.

Father thank you that no matter what people might like or dislike about me that Your love and affection for me is constant. I pray for anyone reading this, who might have felt as I so often did in the past that I wasn’t liked. Help them to realize that the opinions of man are lower than the opinion of God. Heal their broken hearts and help tear down any walls around their hearts that prevent them from connecting to people. I also pray for those who struggle with certain people. We’re only human and it’s not always easy to get along. But I also know that you enable us to love because you first loved us..and you didn’t wait to see if Jesus “liked” us first before calling Him to love us first. I pray that as a community of believers that we make the tough decisions even when our flesh or comfort tells us to avoid what or who we do not like. Remind us daily what Jesus said in Matthew 22 which is to: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them. Amen.

Photo Credit: GeniusQuotes.net

Tuesday Inspiration 12.9.14

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Psalm 63:3 (MSG)

2-4 So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,
drinking in your strength and glory.
In your generous love I am really living at last!
My lips brim praises like fountains.
I bless you every time I take a breath;
My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

It’s been a long day and I’ve been having some flashbacks to some painful experiences in my past for whatever reason. But I love this Psalm. And no matter what sad things I’ve remembered today, this verse still makes me happy. Sometimes at church during worship I look up to the ceiling and pretend that I can see Jesus looking down on me. He can see me and I can see Him. No matter how painful my 20s have been I think I can finally see Jesus with 20/20 vision. In His generous love I can finally live. No matter what pain I’ve endured, or no matter what happiness I’ve felt, He’s still bigger and better than anything good or bad.

I hope this simple verse reminds you that no matter what negativity might be thrown your way today — that you have the ability to still look Heavenward and know God sees you, and loves you and because of that you can still have positivity and joy.

Photo Credit: worshipgifs.com

Friday Inspiration 10.24.14

Part of life is growing. We don’t always like where we started out or the darkness from which we came, but you need to begin somewhere in order to grow. I remember as a child..I would write all sorts of silly feelings in my Lion King diary. I remember I was such a weird child because I actually made symbols for each letter of the alphabet and coded my diary so no one would be able to read what I wrote. As I got older I realized that took too much time and with my next diary I wrote it out in plain English. At some point I hated all of my diaries and ripped them into little pieces and threw them out. I think it was because my mom read parts of one.

The point is..even as a child writing in a diary I didn’t want to be remembered or defined by things I grew out of. Things I once thought. Mistakes I once made. As a CHILD I knew this. So how much more so do we feel this way as adults?

I think this image is beautiful because it’s simple in its truth. “I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be”. It suggests transformation. You don’t have to remain defined by the things you did..or the things that were done to you. You are endlessly learning who you are and more excitingly who you are being sculpted into; who you were created to be. It’s okay to look back and say “I no longer know the person I once was”.

The comforting thing is God knows who we truly are and is willing to walk with us through our transformational journey. In an excerpt from Isaiah 42 MSG it says:

But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way,
    who can’t see where they’re going.
I’ll be a personal guide to them,
    directing them through unknown country.
I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take,
    make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them—
    sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.”

In essence, even though you might know who no longer, you still may not know who you really are now. But God does. He will direct us by hand through this unknown landscape. We’re not expected to do this alone. We also see this in the Bible when Jesus simply tells people to follow Him. They don’t get a map or an itinerary. They leave behind who they were, what they were once doing, for the promise that He knows which roads to take.

In Isaiah 40 MSG one part says:

Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
    gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them,
    leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.

God is tender with us. Therefore we need to be tender with ourselves..patient with ourselves. This is a process.

In the beginning of Isaiah 57 MSG it says:

A Message from the high and towering God,
    who lives in Eternity,
    whose name is Holy:
I live in the high and holy places,
    but also with the low-spirited, the spirit-crushed,
And what I do is put new spirit in them,
    get them up and on their feet again.

So take to heart what His promises are today knowing that you are on your way. You are not held to who you once were.

Photo Credit: Pinterest (no image source defined).

Wednesday Inspiration 10.22.14

I caught myself feeling particularly lonely a few days ago. It’s hard when social media in particular makes it seem like everyone’s having the time of their lives. Selfies of friends having sleepovers, ambiguous inside jokes, pictures with hundreds of likes of random landscapes or blurry images that quite frankly aren’t that interesting but they have enough followers that will approve of anything they post, you know what I mean. I joked once to my mom that I could literally post that I won a million dollars and want to share it and I would get—max 12 likes on Instagram.

I think sometimes it can be easy to feel like no one is validating your existence. You maybe hang out with friends once a month IF that. People get too busy to check in with a text or call. The highlight of your week is catching up on tv shows on Free on Demand since you were too tired to stay up past 9 pm on a weeknight. Right? Maybe I’m projecting here.

Or better yet, you can feel like the same people are being honored/praised/included/invited and you have enough self worth to know you could possibly at one point or another deserve those things but you are in the shadows. For whatever reason you aren’t noteworthy or noticed. And you know what? That’s okay.

I used to be way more co-dependent about things like that when I was in grade school/high school/ even in college. But as I get older–in a healthy way–I’ve learned to not care. Granted I’m human and the enemy can whisper things to make you question your worth and you can be reminded of past feelings of inadequacy but it’s important to reel that all in. If the God of the Universe keeps a careful eye on me, if He is pleased with me, does it really matter if no one else is?

An Excerpt from Isaiah 54 MSG:

Don’t be afraid—you’re not going to be embarrassed.
    Don’t hold back—you’re not going to come up short.
You’ll forget all about the humiliations of your youth,
    and the indignities of being a widow will fade from memory.
For your Maker is your bridegroom,
    his name, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
Your Redeemer is The Holy of Israel,
    known as God of the whole earth.
You were like an abandoned wife, devastated with grief,
    and God welcomed you back,
Like a woman married young
    and then left,” says your God.

……Lay your foundations with sapphires,
    construct your towers with rubies,
Your gates with jewels,
    and all your walls with precious stones.
All your children will have God for their teacher—
    what a mentor for your children!
You’ll be built solid, grounded in righteousness,
    far from any trouble—nothing to fear!
    far from terror—it won’t even come close!
If anyone attacks you,
    don’t for a moment suppose that I sent them,
And if any should attack,
    nothing will come of it.

……This is what God’s servants can expect.  

I’ll see to it that everything works out for the best.

And so I believe that with each day we all need to grow in our trust and relationship with who God created us to be and who God says we are. People will always fail us. People will fail to appreciate us. People will find other things to do that are more fun than hanging out with us. People will choose the easy road. People will abandon us. People will do all sorts of things. But God will always see to it that everything works out–and not only works out but works out for the best.

So when you are feeling lonely or overlooked remember that the God who owns everything who made everything chose you. Wanted you. Pursued you. Keep your perspective on the main thing which is Him and not on what everyone around you finds praise-worthy.

Photo Credit: 38.media.tumblr.com

Wednesday Inspiration 10.8.14

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Last night I had a series of disturbing dreams–one of which involved me getting fired from my current job. I didn’t wake up afraid but it made me think about this quote I wrote and put up on my Instagram. I’m doing very well at my job. Yes, there are still occasional mistakes or things I can improve on but the CEO and my co-workers are very happy with me which is a great feeling. However, the enemy will never sleep. He will ALWAYS look for an opportunity to sneak into your thoughts, dreams, or attempt to plant a seed of doubt and worry. Think about it this way–if God is allowing you to succeed, the enemy is threatened. He wants nothing more than to make you question yourself.

Instead of allowing these worries or dreams or whatever it might be to take up residence in your mind and heart–see it as an opportunity to notice where you are doing well and where you are thriving. Sounds strange right? But really if the Enemy is dogging your tail on this–chances are it’s something He sees as a threat and doesn’t want you to be enjoying your success or feeling confident.

Psalm 91:1-16 (MSG)

91 1-13 You who sit down in the High God’s presence,
    spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
    I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
    shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
    under them you’re perfectly safe;
    his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
    not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
    not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
    drop like flies right and left,
    no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
    watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
    the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
    harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
    to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
    their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
    and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

14-16 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
    “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
    if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
    I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
    give you a long drink of salvation!”

Monday Inspiration 9.29.14

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Today I feel sick. Just run down. I’m actually going to bed and it’s not even 9 pm. I like this simple thought that I can find refuge in His wings. My body may be weak but He is strong. He will watch over me as I rest. It is a comfort to remind yourself of such simple truths.

Photo credit: etsy.com

My Daughter is Here

Today has been a strange day. I woke up to volunteer for church early this morning and as I was straightening my hair I was thought-praying. The two things that were on my mind: my neck and my mom’s knee.

Several years ago, I was going to the chiropractor for adjustments. At the time I was working retail and on my feet a lot which would put a lot of tension on my neck and lower back. I had found out after an X-ray that the reason I had so much tension in my neck is because most people have a natural curve and mine doesn’t. I don’t know if I was born this way or what the reason really is. So I was pray-thinking about how cool it would be if God healed that. I was also thinking about my mom’s knee which is bone-on-bone. She doesn’t have cartilage left. She often says how God could grow her some if He really wanted. I don’t know why I was thinking about these things but all I remember is that instantly I felt like I was going to pass out. To the point where everything around me became pixelated. I immediately needed to lay down.

I don’t know if I’m just getting sick, or if it was some kind of Holy Spirit thing.

On and off I’ve just felt weird about the whole thing today. I’ve mentioned why before–sometimes because of “weird Christians” you become skeptical of anything supernatural. So often you see things like that abused. There’s definitely false prophets out there and people who fake moves of the Spirit for profit and for most of my life I’ve taken that sort of thing with a grain of salt. It’s not that I don’t believe it could happen, but sometimes I wonder what the point of it is. I fully believe God can heal but some of the things you see on TV or online where people are shaking like they are being electrocuted or laughing uncontrollably freaks me out. It looks like a scary movie. It looks demonic. It doesn’t look like how God would operate because to me God is gentle.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? I can totally see where the presence of God and His power on you can be too much for your body to handle and you might feel dizzy or faint or feel a surge of energy. But I can’t really find anything in the Bible about this.

Also during a promotional video for the A21 campaign, an organization fighting sex trafficking, I got the words “my daughter is here”. Now, I don’t know if God was merely telling me, His daughters are there. His children are there..and therefore our church backing this organization is a God thing because we are setting these people free by supporting the efforts there. Or if God was saying literally…my future daughter is there. Like in the future, I will adopt a girl from there. Out of sex trafficking in a literal way. Or if God was simply saying to me and over me during church that His daughter, me, was there.

I am a huge fan of these new ways God is speaking to me, but especially with the fainting incident I want a little context and would be 100% open for someone’s personal experience or Biblical counsel on it.