Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Small Group Habit

There's something really special about being a part of a small group of believers. It's a time when you meet with like minded people and share your struggles and triumphs. It's great to go to church and worship but in a small group setting you can have intimate conversation and truly get to know one another.

Another benefit of it is I think it really ticks off satan because he's into isolation when your down so he can fill your head with a bunch of lies and there's no one there to set you straight.

I am currently in another small group because like life the people and places change. We were sharing something last night and my friend Roxanne suggested I write a jewel about it so, here it is.

I will start by telling you the golden rule of small groups, "what's said in the group, stays in the group” so I will just share my part.

We were talking about our families and the dynamics of them. As you all know my relationship with my parents was and is challenging. We talked about how our families made us feel when we were young and how some of those feelings have been dragged into our adulthood.

I went through a really tough time especially after I became a mother and could not understand my parents interaction with us. I could not imagine doing or saying things to my children that were said to me and my siblings.

I remember one day just crying out to God that I wanted a “real” relationship with my mother. I remember Him replying so clearly. He told me I had two choices. A: accept my mother the way she was and understand she wasn't with holding she just wasn't capable to give what I needed. Or B: I could end my relationship with her and my father.

This may shock you but I chose B. Our relationship so was so damaging to me emotionally that I needed to just stay away from my parents for a while.

During that time I allowed the Lord to fill the void I had in my heart. I also gave God an opportunity to let me see myself through His eyes and not my parents. It was a very healing time for me and quite honestly I would not be able to take care of my parents with love now if I didn't do that healing time then.

As always God knows exactly what needs to be done for all of us.

Before when I looked at my parents I didn't want to resemble any part of them but now when I look at them with healthy eyes I realize I have some good qualities that I inherited from them.
My mother was always a very independent person and thought nothing of driving from New York to Florida by herself and this was forty years ago. We moved quite a bit and my mother always made sure we were in a nice home and decorated it to be comfortable.

My father was a very hard worker and even if he wasn't there emotionally he was there financially, which is more than I can say for a lot of men today. He took great pride in his work and had two full time jobs until he retired. My dad had a nursery in our back yard and people came from all over to buy Fast Eddie's trees because they knew my father would take good care of them before and after their purchase.

I learned to take the positive qualities of my parents and make that the soil of my life, the foundation if you will. I then built my life on that foundation and added to it.

I remembered the things in my childhood that brought me the most pain and made sure not to duplicate them in my children's life.

Honestly people often comment on what a great relationship I have with my children. It wasn't an accident. I poured myself into my children and made them a priority. I ask God for wisdom constantly and read the Bible to learn how to be a good mother. I'm not perfect just ask anyone of them :) but I try my best.

I told my oldest son when he had his first child always say your sorry because you WILL make mistakes and always say I love you. Keep God in your life and the rest will work out.

Feel free to use this recipe for your own life.

The Lord knew how important it was to surround ourselves with positive people that He even made it a command for our good.

Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:22-25 (The Message)
So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

The big day of course will be the day He returns for us but until He gets here He wants us to have a spiritually and emotionally healthy life.

Being with my group of ladies I am able to share what I went through and encourage someone who might be going through a similar situation now. I also get the wisdom of other ladies in the group who see things totally different than I do.

My youngest daughter is in my group so I get to hear her thoughts that she doesn't always share with me one on one. Be prepared if your in a group with a family member to hear situations where you are the problem....

We need to hear what God says about us and filter out what the world says. The wold can be really loud yelling things to you that are not in your best interest.

On a cool night I like to sleep with my window open and last night was one of those nights. The problem is it's so noisy outside I always have to get up in the middle of the night and shut the window. Last night as I got up I thought to myself, it's amazing how much noise gets in such a small amount of open window. The Lord spoke to me right there and reminded me it's the same way with the window to our soul. If you leave it open just a little bit to negative thoughts and words it will get really loud when it hits your heart and mind.

You may be thinking why do you leave the window open if you know your going to get up in the middle of the night and shut it? Good question, some where in my mind I think this night will be different and I won't hear the outside. Hmmmm funny how we think we can play with truth. Shut the window!

One way you can shut the window is to be in a small group setting. If you go to church ask if they have groups in place. If they don't or you don't go to church, be the small group.

Open your home to friends of like mind and like the Message Bible says be encouraging love and help each other out, spurring each other on.

Like the writer of Hebrews says, let's make meeting together a habit.

I want to give a special thank you to the women who made me part of their small group over the years, Betty, Suzan, Jane, Courtney & Cathy. The list will continue until the day Christ returns!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Don't Freak Out Til You Have To

This was the wise advise given to me by my 14 yr. old. Before I explain why I want to share a scripture with you. Joshua 13:1 & 6b When Joshua was old and well advanced in years, the LORD said to him, "You are very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.“I myself will drive them out before the Israelites. Be sure to allocate this land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have instructed you.”
Basically what's happening here is Joshua's getting old and there's still a lot of tribes he is supposed to go to battle with. He is then to split up the land as an inheritance among the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh. There are 2 requirements here for Joshua, go to battle, split up the land.
The problem is he's getting old and cannot physically do the battle part. God is aware of that and says listen Joshua I know your old so I will do the battle part, you just do the part your still able to, the splitting up part.
This was so comforting to me. There are things God tells us to do but there are times in the plan that we are not capable to do the job. When that happens God will take over and do it Himself. The important thing is that we continue to do our part when the ball is back in our court.
Joshua could have freaked out and with good reason. He could have said how the heck am I going to battle an entire tribe I'm an old man . Instead he waited for the Lord to give the whole plan and knew he could handle the part God asked of him.
For us the plan could be anything like being a good spouse and letting God fix the marriage, or being a good employee and letting God handle our boss or coworker. It can also be like the story I'm going to share with you.
As you know if you are a weekly reader of my jewels I have elderly parents, 1 deaf and 1 confused, that I am trying to take care of. Those of you in this situation can feel my pain as it is a full time job and very frustrating. As people get old they tend to get more paranoid so even though your trying to help they fight you because they think your trying to take their stuff or their money. The funny part is when they have no “good stuff” and no money to speak of. Any way here's my latest saga.
My son and grandsons came to see me and it had been weeks since I had nana time. I was thrilled they were at my house and to be honest the last thing I wanted to do was deal with my parents. Half way into Saturday morning it happened, the phone call from mom who has Alzheimers freaking out about something. All I heard was I need you to come over NOW! My parents live an hour and a half from me so “now” is not possible.
I had her put my father on the phone to try and figure out what she was talking about and the conversation went something like this;
“dad, what's wrong?” “WHAT” “dad put your hearing aid on” “WHAT” “dad turn the phone up” “WHAT.” Need I say more....
I was now freaking out! I finally got my mother calm, handled the situation hung up the phone and took my grandsons to the pool. I was sitting on my chair annoyed that my parents were ruining my time with my grand kids when out comes my daughter.
She sat down next to me put her arm around me and said “mom don't freak out til you have something to freak out about.”
She was letting me know I got all freaked out on the phone because I thought I was going to have to drive to my parents house and miss my nana time and if I just remained calm and allowed the Lord to handle the situation, like He was already doing, I could have saved myself and my family grief. Such wisdom.
It made me think of the story in Joshua. God knew Joshua could not handle the battle part so God said He would do it Himself.
When God told me to honor my parents and help take care of them He knew there would be situations that required divine intervention and He is more than capable of doing His part. My part is to trust him and not freak out. When the ball is back in my court do my part. In this scenario He would handle the immediate problem and I would continue on my regular visits.
Had I thought of that verse when my mother first called it would have avoided the freak out part that my children and grandchildren had to endure.
So I share this jewel with you dear gems to once again encourage you. Whatever journey your on there may be times it's impossible for you to do anything. Don't freak out til you have to, chances are you don't have to freak out at all. Let God do His part and you do yours and turn your freak out to praise out. Remember, with God all things are possible!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Audience of One

I think one of the reasons people allowed me to talk to them about God early in my Christian walk is I was real to them, you know what you see is what you get. I was the same whether I was at home or at church good or bad. However, there have been times in my walk when putting my faith where my mouth was was not always an easy thing to do. You know the old saying “don't just talk the talk but walk the walk.”
One of my pet peeves even before I really started walking with the Lord was people using the Lord's name in vain. Even when I used to cuss like a sailor I drew the line at that one. It didn't make me any less a sinner I was just a sinner with limits :) I can remember being trashed in a bar and telling the guy next to me not to use the Lord's name in vain. Honestly I always made a comment when someone did this.
So here I was a young single mom, new to Florida, just bought a home and looking for work. I got a job at Siemens Stromberg Carlson and was doing pretty well professionally and personally made many friends. I was asked to take part in a company endeavor. The other members of the group all had titles or were “somebodies” in my mind. I was the nobody on the list but was thrilled to be included. Other members of “the group” took notice of me and assumed I was now somehow important.
We met in a conference room for our first meeting and sat around a large round table. At the head was a vice president of one of the departments, a big wig in the company. I looked around the table and again had no idea how I got picked to be part of this elite group, and then it happened. The big wig started to speak and two words into his speal he used the Lord's name in vain and quite a few more times as he went along.
I was blown away, what was wrong with this guy? It wasn't even professional nerveless acceptable. I was shocked. So guess what I did? NOTHING! I had let my new status over rule my conviction. I sat there in total silence, unspoken acceptance.
Needless to say that night I beat myself up pretty good. I explained to the Lord that if I said something and offended this guy I could get fired. I reminded the Lord I was a single mom and not only needed the job but the the insurance it provided for me and my children. Bottom line I felt like crap and finally confessed I was a ninny head that got caught up in man's approval.
John 12:43 for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
Now that the cat was out of the bag as to why I was included I asked the Lord what He wanted me to do. He told me I needed to share with this man what God's word says about using His name in vain. I decided to write him an email, yes they had email way back then, and began to type. I wrote an encouraging note but was to the point. I thought about signing someone else' s name like John the Baptist but it was a company email and my name was automatically on it. Now all I had to do was hit send.
I gotta tell ya, you would have thought I was hitting a button to send a nuclear missile I was so nervous. Remember this was over 20 years ago and my faith meter was not where it is today. The enemy ran every scenario through my head but the one he yelled the loudest was “you are so getting fired!” With my heart racing I hit the send button.
The following week was our scheduled meeting. I was going to have to face my giant. I thought about bringing a box to work with me to put my stuff in and get the phone numbers of those I wanted to keep in touch with. I was sure I was out of there. I walked the long hall to the conference room and hoped the big wig was out of town. My heart was beating out of my chest as I entered the room and saw him sitting at the head of the table. I took a deep breath and sat down. And guess what happened?
He looked right at me and didn't say a word about the email. He just started the meeting as he had before with authority and confidence the only difference was for the next few weeks of meetings he never used the Lord's name in vain again.
This was one of those times the Lord reminded me He is an audience of One. We are not here to please man or get our acceptance from people. There are times in our life when the Lord needs and expects us to be His mouth piece. All through the Bible the Lord used man to speak for Him and just ask Jeremiah it wasn't all tidings of joy.
Even if I got fired the Lord would have taken care of me. I don't think my faith was ready to be fired at that time and God knew that. I truly believe God gives you the faith you need to do the job He asks. That's one of the reasons you can't compare your walk with anyone else because it has nothing to do with our ability it's all about God's power.
I pray the next time you find yourself in an uncomfortable position or unpopular side of things you will remember your before an audience of One and His is the only praise you need.