Friday, June 20, 2014

A Friend to All





"We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend."
Robert Louis Stevenson



When I was just a kindergartner a letter was sent home from my teacher… apparently I was too social. I would finish my work and then walk around the classroom checking on my classmates, my friends- to see if they were doing ok, whistling whilst I made my rounds.



And so it went for many years. I would strike up conversations with anyone, anywhere- making many friends along the way.


My mom would say that I could make a friend in the bathroom and she was probably right.


If I met someone and had a conversation with them (no matter how brief) I considered them my friend. But didn’t everyone feel that way?? Seemed perfectly natural to me...

As my children grew they would say 'you know everybody’ and it seemed they were right because no matter where we traveled we would inevitably run into someone I knew. My daughter jokingly added that I forced people to be my friend, that I didn’t give them the option to not be.

I was nice to everyone and I was friendly so I just assumed that everyone would want to be my friend. I mean- why wouldn’t they, right?

And then it happened…no matter how nice or how friendly I tried to be to a certain person- she didn’t like me. It seemed the harder I tried, the less she liked me! I even apologized to her for anything that I may have done to offend her and although she admitted that I hadn’t -she still didn’t like me and she made it very clear.

My daughter was right, I tried to force people to like me, and I wouldn’t give them the option to not be my friend.

Rejection. I didn’t like it, not one little bit but then again, who does? We’ve all been rejected at some point in our lives and have all needed to learn to adapt to circumstances and situations that are beyond our control.

Even though at times rejection is difficult to accept, I’ve resolved to continue to be who God created me to be…a friend to all, even if it’s only one-sided.

After all, if I’m a follower of Jesus then I’m called to love even the unlovable and those who don’t love me back.

"But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." -Luke 6:27-28
 
 
 

 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Believing in His Grace

 
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8


 
Although I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, to suggest that to anyone else seemed almost misleading, considering I didn’t have the right credentials to back it up. I didn’t take any classes (other than 8th grade creative writing, which I loved!) and I certainly didn’t have a degree that qualified me for such a title. I’ve also been an artist for as long as I can remember but once again, I believed that a lack of education proved that I was neither of those things.

And yet I continued to write and paint and dream
I dreamed of writing and illustrating a children’s book, of owning a studio and painting for a big gallery opening, of becoming a best selling author.  


I dreamed but I didn’t believe.

Fear, doubt and insecurities would always remind me- you’re just a nobody, a small town girl with a painful past. I couldn’t argue the facts- I had no proof of anything different. I had nothing that said I was somebody.
 
The enemy of my soul had me right where he wanted me, far from any plans that God had for me.
 
Until grace found me.


 
His grace poured down on me like rain, pooling into an ocean that I couldn’t swim far or deep enough to escape.


 
Through grace came healing and God began to show me His purpose and His plan which included the talents and abilities that He knit in me- abilities that didn’t require a degree but did require a faith to believe I am who He says I am and I can do what He says I can do.
 
Writing became a passionate pursuit of Him as I poured out my heart with words that would bring healing and hope to me and to others as well. God began to open doors that only He could open as He used others to encourage me to be who He was calling me to be.
 
Through His grace I’m learning that I can do more than I ever thought possible- living each day according to His purposes and plans for my life.

 

God has placed a passion and a purpose in each of us and has a plan for us because to Him we’re more than just a "somebody"…we are His Beloved.

 
 





For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10



 


 


 



 

 




Thursday, June 5, 2014

He Makes All Things Grow!

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant
Robert Louis Stevenson


A couple of years ago I was preparing for an event at my home. I wanted everything to look beautiful, including my landscaping which was non-existent at the time. Since I was already preparing for an event, I needed to do everything else on a budget- a very tight budget. I remembered a house that I drove by daily and had admired for the simplistic beauty of the landscaping- large stones that were used throughout the yard outlining the beautifully placed foliage.

So that was my plan, we would collect stones, large and small to layer and outline the foliage that we had yet to plant (and had yet to purchase). 

The stones were easy to find (and free!) on our family’s property, collecting them however was a greater task. Some were quite heavy and yet we managed to load them up, transfer them and place them right where they belonged, curving around what would become a very beautiful landscape.

Next came the plants. As I shopped for them I began to see how expensive even the smallest bushes and plants could be and I realized that I needed a different plan.

My sister had a beautiful garden, thick with foliage of all different kinds, so I went to her for advice. I also remembered that she often divided her plants to make room for more growth and thought she might have a few to split and share.

Just as I had hoped, she sent me home with numerous types of plants, some large and some small, a perfect beginning and since they were a gift, they fit perfectly into the budget.

After much hard work everything looked beautiful for the event.



***



Recently as I walked around our landscaping, I admired the fullness of the foliage and the beautiful flowers that were blooming from each plant. I couldn’t help but think of how much these plants (that had originally been planted by my sister and replanted by me) had grown in just a couple of years. While we still need to pull weeds that pop up from time to time, trim the ever growing grass that tries to cover our beautiful stones and prune some of the branches that are bare and not producing any foliage, I have to admit that although we had initially invested a lot of hard work, year after year they have produced so much more without a great effort on our part. We can’t take the credit- we may have planted them but God continues to grow them!

Often times that’s how it is with our faith. God tills the soil, bringing stones (hard things) to the surface so that He can remove them or use them, someone else plants a seed, another waters them, and the rest is left for God to tend. He gently pulls any weeds that linger or that spring up, and trims the branches that aren’t producing any fruit.


So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is important because only God makes it grow.
1 Corinthians 3:7
 




 

As we look back at all the hard work that was done in the beginning we realize that the real growth in our lives and in our faith comes from God- who makes all things grow!




Monday, June 2, 2014

Soul Rest




I’m tired.

Let me rephrase that, I’m exhausted!

And just so you know how exhausted I really am, I couldn’t remember how to spell "rephrase". Seriously... I completely drew a blank, I had nothing!

As I sit here downing more caffeine just to get through the day, I glance over and see Bonnie Gray’s book Finding Spiritual Whitespace sitting (unread) neatly in the corner of my desk.

My thoughts immediately race to what the book implies (soul rest) and I ask myself, what will happen if I allow myself to slow down? Instinctively I respond, well for starters, I won’t be able to accomplish as much and I might not get to where I’m supposed to be….

~sigh~ because the plan for my life depends solely on me, right?

Wrong. So wrong, but I’ve lived my life for so long as if it does depend solely on me that I push myself to do more, be more, have more.
 
Maybe some would call it ambitious but I call it RESTLESS.
 
My soul is rarely at rest. I even fight sleep, staying up much later than I should, refusing to go to bed and then when I finally do, I can’t sleep. And for what? Because I hope to accomplish more? Because I'm afraid I'll miss out on something? I'm not really sure but I know this, it's a vicious cycle.

Now I know that God does have a plan for my life but I’m sure it does not include running myself ragged and saying yes to everything but Him, especially when all He wants is for me to come and rest, to come and sit with Him awhile.

This is why I need spiritual whitespace. I need to learn how to allow my soul to rest, to sit in God’s presence and breathe Him in -deeply.

I’m giving myself permission (with the Lord’s help!) to slow down long enough to read Bonnie’s words, to allow them to sink in, to ask God to reveal Himself to me in those quiet moments.

Will you join me?