inspiredness TM

Copyright 2013


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What is time?

The-Passage-of-Time

The following comes from the mind of my amazing husband, Mark Sole. He posted this tonight as a status update on his personal Facebook page but he frequently posts similar things to his public page, Mark Sole – Life On Fire.

What is time? Is it a measuring stick to complete our appointed tasks? Or is it a collection of instances, or memories? I believe time can stand still. I have seen it, felt it, witnessed it. The most common occurrence being when I hold one of our babies as they fall asleep. It is an escape, really, from this world. For an instant, there is nothing else. Only HEARTBEATS…and BREATHING. Maybe the creak of the rocking chair. So warm, safe, comforting, and loved we both are in that instant.

Some of us do not have pleasant memories. This world is messy. Some moments, time can stand still in the pain, suffering, rage, anger, depression, and hopelessness. Even though you may not believe, I believe for you, that there is a loving Savior standing right there with us, in the midst of the hurt.

I have been reading a lot lately. Mostly personal development, leadership development, and health. My reason is simple, I want to be better at what I do. I want to get deep into people’s lives and love them. I want change to burst forth from their hearts. I want to show them that walking the narrow road is not easy nor am I perfect, but I want them to do it WITH me. I am on a quest to continually create ACTION in my life and my family’s life, so that we may love others more. But all the leadership books, all the motivational speakers, all the audio and seminars cannot trump the most important thing I hold on to…God‘s promise to us found in the Bible.

If you want to see what love really is, it is action. Because in one instant, God’s son, Jesus, died, in our place, out of love for us, so that we might trust in Him and live. LOVE became ACTION. I know many of you do not feel the same way I do. You do not believe this really happened, or what really happened that instant. And that is OK. BUT what I do know it this. Even though we may operate by time, and “time is all we have.” GOD has more than that. And He wants you. And He is knocking. And He will wait for you to be ready.

I truly love everyone. I believe we are all created in the image of God. I also believe God has a very specific plan for all our lives, and how He uses TIME may be different for you than for me. I know there will come a time, when you will open that door, and take that chance to let Him in. I don’t know when it will be. But I do know that in that moment of pain, hurting, suffering, anger, frustration, and hopelessness, He will be there. He will NOT fail you. And time will stop. And Love will feel like two things…

Heartbeats…and breathing

 


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Multitudes on Mondays: Two Simple Words

Thank you.

I have vivid memories of my parents telling me, “remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ Noell.” To that I would usually roll my eyes…I know, I know.  My father was {and is} pretty insistent on the thank you part of the message. He made sure to give me that stern, disapproving look when I would forget to express my gratitude. And even now, I’ll catch him doing this with my kids, his grandchildren.

After my parent’s divorce when I was about 7 years old and after seeing strangers stare at my developmentally disabled brother anywhere we went…I stopped being thankful for many things and I started being bitter and angry. What was it that I did that made my parents split up? Why can’t I have a “normal” brother? Why did God make me chubby? Why, when other kids’ parents are picking them up from school do I have to open the car door to see my grandpa…every.single.time? I would begin wallowing in my own self-pity and wishing my life to be different. Sitting in my room with the door closed I would read and read and read…taking in all the good things of others’ lives {fictional others} and wishing them to be my own.

What good has all this ingratitude given me? A life full of anger, regret and misery. The depression has always been floating under the surface and when I had my children it roiled up with a vengeance. It manifested itself in rage and hate {mainly for myself and for my ever-so innocent babies}…and really, things that I would never want to experience again. By this time I had been a believer for a good 3 years…why wasn’t I immune? I was constantly looking for answers.

Did I not pray enough? How much therapy and medication do I need before I feel “better”?  Maybe if I read every book on the topic of depression I would find the answer. It never happened and if it did it was a very temporary solution to a debilitating problem. I was willing to try anything at this point.

Gratitude.

When we stop seeing reasons to give thanks, we stop thinking there are reasons to live.

~Ann Voskamp

Oh, how true this is!

I can see the look on my father’s face when I thank him…for the cup of coffee he just bought me, for the time spent alone with him by the river fishing {and not catching a darn thing}, for just sitting there in silence while we have breakfast. His face softens, his eyes begin to sparkle a bit. And all I said was…thank you.

If this is the reaction of my earthly father what is the reaction of my heavenly Father when I thank Him?

 …[A] new study suggests that helping teens learn to count their blessings can actually play an important role in positive mental health. As gratitude increases, so do life satisfaction, happiness, positive attitudes, hope and even academic performance.

~U.S. News

Give thanks! When I fail to see and recognize all the ways that the Lord has blessed me I fail to glorify Him and my life begins to lose meaning. I’m not saying the cure for debilitating depression is to simply say “thank you” but I know that when I say it and mean it the light starts to shine through the dark, luminous cloud of despair.

Dark can give birth to life, suffering can deliver grace, the ugly can be beautiful. God transfigures everything for His glory

~Ann Voskamp

What I am thanking the Lord for today….

#52 the energy to get through 48 hours with my kids, without my husband

#53 a little girl dressed as a furry animal

#54 those amazing sleeping babies

#55 a big brother loving on his littlest sister

#56 an amazing smile

#57 a refreshing and very yummy breakfast

#58 endless lengths of railroad track on my craft room floor

What are you thankful for?


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Comfort Zones

by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr

Where are your comfort zones? Are they centered in Christ? Or do they center around having all the control to yourself? Do they center around fear, worry and unbelief that the Lord won’t pull through for you?

For most of my life…okay, all of my life…I have known nothing more and nothing less than the comfort zones that hold me in a place of worry, fear, mistrust, unbelief, and total self-control and control of others (and my environment).

The fear of failing has always been one of my central comfort zones. What will people think if they see me fail? I will feel utter humiliation, embarrassment, and I know I’ll be a let-down. I won’t try again because I don’t want to fail again; I don’t want to go through the stomach-wrenching emotions again. Even as I write this my heart is racing and my insides feel like they are about to come out! Why would anyone want to stay in a comfort zone when it’s not a comfort?! Because stepping out of those boundaries means you have to do something uncomfortable, something foreign and something scary. Some people thrive on the adrenaline of doing things like this but others, like myself, can only see the failure in it all and that scares me to my bones.

Something that is helping me to reframe my thoughts on fear and failure is a bit I read from a book titled “99 Things You Wish You Knew Before…Stressing Out!” by Lauren E. Miller. Lauren has spoken at my MOPS group a couple times and has such an inspirational story and a strong, healthy presence.

#47 Failure is a perspective

Did you know failure is simply a label you use when you don’t get certain desirable outcomes in life? When something happens in life that you feel is insufficient or falls short of your expectations or assumptions of how it was supposed to be, from your perception, you often label it as failure; this can lead to “less than” feelings about yourself or others.

If you can watch for this in life and choose to observe yourself making these kinds of choices (to label undesirable outcomes as failure), you give yourself the opportunity to reframe into a positive. Whenever you choose to reframe any negative response into a positive, you open yourself up to creative solutions.

Often you say to yourself, “I can’t do that!” This automatic response instantly aligns yourself with your experience of failure. How about saying, “I just don’t know how to do that yet, but I have the confidence in my ability to learn.” Words are powerful to help you link to your God given strengths and abilities to overcome.

Part of moving through those moments in life that you label as “failure” is to practice the prayer of serenity. “God grant me the grace to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to accept the things I can the wisdom to know the difference.” Any time you resist what is before you, you set yourself up for remaining stuck in life. Yes, you will remain in a place of emotional paralysis each time you do accept the things you cannot change…

Know that whatever label you chose to define a situation in life will directly affect the outcome.


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Turning fear into faith

I am a type-A, anal control freak…and I’m not afraid to admit it. But what do these attributes of my personality really say about me? I’m just plain afraid! I’m afraid of letting go of any control that I think I have. Afraid that if I do my world will come crashing down. As a believer, though, my confidence should be in the Lord, not myself. Where is my faith in Him? Did I just forget that God–the maker of heaven and earth–is much bigger than I am? Where can I find faith?

There are so many instances in the Bible where God showed the people His glory in the midst of impossible situations. He brought Jesus back from the dead!

A book that I’ve been reading takes a look at the issue of turning fear into faith. The author took the story of Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:22-32) as an instance when Jesus’ disciples let their faith override their fear. Several lessons can be learned from this story.

  • Obey fully– sometimes we don’t know why we feel God is calling us to do something, especially when it’s something that we might not feel compelled to do. We need to obey Him and trust that He has a plan and that we will be taken care of no matter what.
  • Accept God’s comfort– just because we’re obeying God doesn’t mean it’s not going to feel scarey…going into unknown territory isn’t comfortable for many people. Remember what it feels like to have a parent hug you and comfort you after a nightmare? This is what our Father is doing for us.
  • Keep a childlike faith– how many little kids are completely logical in their everyday thinking? Mine still think the bathtub drain will swallow them up if they get too close! As adults we take logic a step too far when it comes to obeying God…we rationalize why it’s not a good idea, why there’s no way that we can live the way God is asking us to live. God asks us to step out of our comfort zones in seemingly illogical ways but having that childlike faith in Him, that he will take care of us, can help us step out of those zones into the unknown.
  • Listen for God’s invitation– “Stepping out in faith outside God’s will is foolishness” (Savage, 2009). Listen to God, have a conversation with Him and hear His invitation.
  • Get out of the boat– Just as Peter took that first step out of the boat to walk on water toward Jesus (Matthew 14:29) we too need to get out of the proverbial boat and walk toward Jesus trusting that He won’t let us drown.
  • Keep focused on Jesus– When Peter took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink…this can very easily happen to us. Our doubts begin to surface and fear wells up in every crevice of our bodies when our eyes aren’t on our Savior.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. ~Psalm 16:8

  • Grab God’s hand– you may not feel His hand necessarily in the most expected ways…He might be reaching out via other followers or situations. He has amazing ways of sending us encouragement at just the right times.
  • Recognize the value of storms in our lives– It’s not easy for some to reach out in our darkest hours and it’s definitely not easy to recognize that there is value to these times. But these are the times when our faith has the potential to grow exponentially as does our intimacy with the Lord.
  • Respond with worship– Give credit where credit is deserved. Praise Him, thank Him, tell others of His works in you!

Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” ~Matthew 14:33

Resource: Savage, Jill. Real Moms…Real Jesus: Meet the Friend Who Understands (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009).


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Walk with Him Wednesdays: Sacrifice

“The next 3 weeks, as we walk with Him towards Easter, might we consider: The Practice of Sacrifice. We look forward to your thoughts, stories, ideas….”~Ann Voskamp

I thought I knew what ‘sacrifice’ meant when I became a mother. I filled my head with the idea that if I hadn’t taken a shower for three {or more} days that was sacrifice. If I fed my children before I even attempted to feed myself that was sacrifice. If I cleaned, cooked, played, read book after book before I thought of taking a break {and sometimes this meant just using the bathroom}…these were sacrifices.

Yes, it’s true…these are all sacrifices of sorts. But really in all these “sacrifices” I’ve sacrificed myself and led myself down a very rough road. A road that took me to the depths of depression, thoughts of suicide, feelings of hopelessness. I thought I could do it all…be “super mom.” And when I finally wore myself down to the very earth that I could no longer stand on, all the pretending I had done…pretending to have it all together…gave way and left me vulnerable.

Vulnerable is not a spot I like to be in. Being in this place means I have to trust…I’m not sure I inherently possess this…trust. I did it for a moment though, this trust thing. I trusted God…that He would take care of me through the people who were taking care of me. It took going to those ugly depths to trust Him.

I’m not as deep as I was almost exactly two years ago. I’m not crying every minute of the day. I’m not thinking of locking myself and my kids in the garage with the car running. I’m not afraid to leave the house, afraid that someone will see the ugly marks of depression on my soul. Praise the Lord for this!

But…do I truly know what sacrifice is?


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Anger…

English: A metaphorical visualization of the w...

has a stronghold on my heart and it has for some time. Why? I am finally coming to terms with this but, really it’s quite scary. I’m finding out things about myself that I probably didn’t want to find out…I’ve repressed so much.

Am I really angry or is this a mask for the fear that I feel?

Scared that I’ll be rejected for who I am, scared that I won’t be loved, scared that who I am isn’t acceptable, scared that I will be abandoned. All this fear in my soul started at a very young age, I’m sure. I could go places with this that I really don’t want to, so I won’t. Who am I to blame any one person for this? It is, what it is. We are all sinners, we all have our fears and insecurities.

This is who I am but who’s to say that the Lord can’t change my heart? That process is also frightening and a vulnerable place to be.

I am angry that I am constantly being demanded of…I’m scared that I won’t be able to give what needs to be received.

I am angry when I don’t get time to myself to be myself…I’m scared that who I am won’t be listened to or will be flat-out rejected.

How do I get over this?

Pray.

Lord, this place that I’m coming from is not a happy place…not right now. Help me to see that only You can truly change my heart, that You aren’t out to get me. Help me to see that You love me, cherish me just the way I am; that You won’t reject me; that You are always listening to me even when I’m not making much sense to myself. Help me with my anger, my fear and use these emotions to somehow better my relationships and further Your Kingdom.

Amen.


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The Man in the Corner

I sit there, exhausted, worn, maybe a bit sad, a little angry. Still thinking about how our last few days has gone…kids fighting, feeling overwhelmed. And then, I look over…

And elderly man with a worn body. Hands open, ready to receive, giving thanks, praising, singing. His eyes are closed, a gentle smile on his face. A tear runs down mine.

I can only imagine what this man has seen in his lifetime. Friends and loved ones come and go. Children born and leave. Hope, grief, excitement, love, sadness. And yet, here he is…years and years into his lifetime with this frail body and his once strong hands still receiving, still praising, still singing!

The Lord has been good to him, He has been good to me in showing me this believer…showing me that all things are possible in Him.