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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Finding your rhythm

We are constantly hearing the word ‘rhythm’ in our world these days. “Have you found your rhythm?” “What does your daily rhythm look like?” “What is the rhythm of your home?”

rhythm: movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements ~Merriam-Webster dictionary

You may not even realize you have a rhythm but essentially every time you wake up you begin your rhythm for the day! Our routines and rhythms ebb & flow like that of the tide or the back & forth of a pendulum. One day you may feel very in sync, like everything is going exactly as it should which may bring you to a calm, centered space at the end of the day where you take a deep breath and think, “Ahhhhh, everything is as it should be!” Other days, especially for those of you who are parents of young children, you may feel like there is absolutely no rhythm whatsoever because the chaotic nature of what is going on within your household! But I assure you, there is even a rhythm on those days…your pendulum just might be on the “upswing” more often than not!

The challenge I am finding as of late is how to urge that pendulum back toward center when it’s been on one side or the other for too long. I could try my hardest to control situations and rope in my kids and husband, pushing them back toward center but if they are constantly resisting I only exhaust myself! Is this where God comes in? Afterall, I am not the one in charge of my life and the lives of my family members…He is! So maybe when I’m feeling as if my day has been sitting on either extreme side of “center” I need to truly take myself back to my center…God. A moment of silence…praying, listening, thanking…even it if it is really only 5 minutes!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light. ~Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)


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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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Nightmares

As a child I can remember a few prominent themes that seemed to pop up in my nightmares. The death of my grandparents, who I would consider to have been my primary caretakers during my childhood. Being stuck in a dark basement (usually my grandparents’) surrounded by closed doors that would sometimes mysteriously open and shut. Being caught in a maze of sorts that at points would lead into the water always leaving me to fear that I would drown. I can almost see each of those nightmares as vividly as I could when I was young. They left me breathless and in tears then.

I’m not really into dream interpretation. I’m sure there is something to be said for the role the subconscious plays.

Was I afraid of not being taken care of? Was I repressing negative emotions? Was I feeling overwhelmed? The answer to all of these could be yes. And I can tell you right now, the answer to all these questions in the present day is a resounding “YES!”

So many parts of me want to rewind my life and have a do-over. I might not be able to change other people but if I could just change my response to them maybe things would have been better then and would be better now.

Would I be a different person today? Does it matter? God didn’t give me the life I wish I would have had. He didn’t make me the person I wish I would have been. And while I might not feel worthy and unconditionally loved in the eyes and hearts of people in my life, I’m beginning to realize that it doesn’t matter because I am worthy and unconditionally loved by my Father.

I am human, though…I struggle with valuing what other people think of me. I still feel extreme amounts of hurt disappointment in myself when I don’t measure up to expectations. Sometimes I let this hurt show but most of the time I shove that hurt into the basement behind a closed door. The only one that can see this hurt at all times is God and He still loves me. Only He has the power to open those doors.

Father, help me to trust that you are taking care of me even when the nightmares say otherwise. Keep working in me, open those doors that need to be opened and shut those that serve no purpose. Give me peace, calm my mind, give me clarity and focus. Let your will be done. Amen.


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On My Mind Today

“The only platform Christ ever came to was a mound at Calvary — a place to come and *die*…

He calls us to come and *die* … and if art is about applause instead of altar, it becomes ugly. I wonder if art is only art when it’s about an altar — because real beauty is always found in sacrifice.”~Ann VoskampĀ 

“Real beauty is always found in sacrifice”

Laying down yourself, surrendering yourself, your life, to Christ…every moment of every single day…therein lies sacrifice.

I remember to do this in times of hurt, trouble, despair…sometimes. I forget when in the land of plenty, when life is beautiful or when I’ve talked myself into believing it’s beautiful…sometimes.

There are those moments when the view takes my breath away and I thank Him.

Moments when the laughter peaks and has the great potential to shatter a heart of stone and I thank Him.

But mostly, in my busy world, my busy mind I forget. Forget that He is there, watching my every move, crying with me, bursting with the joy that I can be, calling me his beloved child…perfectly His, perfectly loved no matter my shortcomings.

Is this what grace is? Where do I find this? How can I be this to someone else when I can’t even define it in my own head?