Why wait?

Wow, the blogging ideas are coming at me from all angles today!
First and foremost, my girl Joyce Meyer came through again today with some words that spoke to my heart ~ and ignited my passions that have been dormant recently.
The question is this…What are you waiting for?

Each day is a gift. Heard that before? Sure, we all have. But today is a gift ~ not just any day. Today.

One of the saddest things in life, I think, is to have regret.
Not being the mother or father you should have been
Not being the spouse you should have been
Staying in a bad relationship for far too long
Leaving a good relationship that just needed attention
Not seeking out God

We have today. Today is the day that can change everything.
I have a close friend who has been meaning to get to church for months…maybe years. One thing or another keeps her from going week after week and that is, I believe, a fear of letting go of her current life. Incidentally, a life that is disjointed and unfulfilling the majority of the time.   The current life she leads is constant and predictable and, often, fun. There’s probably a fear of the fun being sucked out of her life if she is convicted to start choosing a different path.
Yes, that life of bad decisions, hangovers and regrets. That IS a tough choice.  (Okay, I’m being insensitive.)

God responded to me the second I accepted Him. He accepted me where I was right at that moment ~ He did not ask me to fix my issues, repair my mistakes or make restitution first.  He gladly took me in and we worked on all of the ugliness together…we are still working on it. When I fall back into a pattern (just did that last week), he forgives me and reminds me that I still have TODAY and I shouldn’t waste a second of that gift. Listen to this…

it’s no longer a burden to please Him. It’s a burden to my soul when I don’t please Him.

So if you’ve been thinking of changing something in your life, why wait? If you’ve been thinking of checking out a church, why wait? If you’ve been thinking that life is short and time is valuable, you are right. And today could be the day that changes everything. God bless!
~Amy

Waves

So…I’ve been accused of being in a funk. Hmmm.
A funk is a mood, right? I don’t know if I necessarily agree with that but I do appreciate your opinions and feedback…really, I do.   🙂

Here’s the breakdown and it’s not all bad news, I assure you. Over the last couple of years, I have been stretched in just about all areas of my life. Bad? No, not really. Some of it has been amazing and unexpected and some of it has been disappointing and unexpected. There’s really very little that’s unusual about going through good times and sad times but mine have been a little too close together , maybe…. picture a little girl playing in the surf and she’s knocked down by a wave. Okay, she gets back up. But then there’s another wave and before she can get secure footing, a bigger wave. Get the idea? Okay, that’s been the last 2 years or so.

Change doesn’t come without a little growing pain
We can’t always hurdle the waves; sometimes they knock us down
So are we going to get back up?
 Well, I’m definitely not giving up! I’m digging deep and digging in.

Unplugging

Sometimes girls just need a movie to watch that offers escapism so earlier this weekend, I watched a movie called “The Women”. Apparently it’s a couple of years old but I don’t remember ever hearing about it. It seemed to have all of the ingredients of a light hearted, 120 minute trip into chick flick central which is what I was looking for and I liked the cast; Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Candace Bergen.

Let’s just say the HBO condensed plot desciption was off the mark. About ten minutes into the film, the betrayal begins. First, her best friend learns through a manicurist that Meg Ryan’s husband is having an affair. Later, that same best friend betrays Meg Ryan in order to advance her career. Interestingly, the betrayal by her best friend was the deeper hurt; the one that really left its mark because her husband had already vacated the marriage, in actuality, long before his affair was known.

This was really not my idea of escapism.

If you watch television at all, there is betrayal everywhere. They want us to believe it’s as common as running errands or a trip to the mall. Is it?

Mainly, I wonder why women don’t seem to honor other women. And I wonder why marriages aren’t honored by couples anymore. Did this all happen when I was busy raising my family; the standards changed and no one told me that we don’t live in Kansas anymore?
From everything I see, it’s just accepted depravity. As a society, we have become numb to the sting of betrayal, broken families and broken vows. Commonplace…happens all the time…etc. We’re inundated with celebrity infidelities and it’s not just TMZ ~ it’s CBS, NBC, ESPN. It’s everywhere.

I guess I’m an old fashioned girl. I want to be entertained with movies about commitment, honor, integrity and loyalty. Is it so much to ask that some of that bleed over into our reality and people start believing that those things are commonplace…happens all the time…etc?

Well, I can’t change much but I can change what I watch and what I hear from the news and entertainment industry. Call it burying my head in the sand but I’m just so done with hearing about Jesse James and Tiger Woods and some creepy politician from who knows where. I’m tired of watching women come out of the woodwork to claim a piece of the spotlight that we so graciously offer.

Good bye, secular tv and movies. I’m unplugging. This hiatus from you is going to do me good.

Keep…or toss?

     It’s going to be a good weekend. I’m speaking it loud and clear; therefore, making it happen.

     That’s how powerful our thoughts are. Our thoughts can take control and move us from a place of negativity to positivity or from sadness to joy. We can choose to take captive the things that enter our minds that aren’t good for us…we can isolate those thoughts and eliminate them. Did you realize that you have that capability?? We do.  From my own experience, I have found that to be an enormous catalyst in battling things like doubt or judgment or any other of the many, many poisonous outlooks I can choose to have every day.

But there is a catch! Some feelings we have are meant to make us aware and aren’t meant to be ignored. Think of them as promptings and yield signs in our life.

Slow down

Dangerous conditions ahead

Proceed with Caution

     Herein lies the challenge of discernment. How do we know what thoughts to pay attention to and what thoughts should be taken captive and not allowed to aggravate and plague our spirit? It’s like cleaning out your closet and deciding between clothes you should keep and clothes you should toss. How many times do we stand there, holding an item and can’t decide what to do with it…
     I wish there was an easy, black and white answer to discernment… if there is, I’m not yet clear in my ability to differentiate. Especially not after the week or so I’ve just had.
     But in a personal moment of prayer this week, I asked God to just make it all clear to me. I had seemingly lost my ability to sort out the promptings from the warnings from the truths to the lies in my head and He brought me to a place last night that was just one of peace. I slept soundly and woke up calm.

Stop worrying even though it’s your inclination to do so. I’m going to use everything for good. Changes have already happened ~ it’s all been done.

I may not be able to figure it all out but when He brings peace to my restless heart, I trust in Him. Entirely.

Rollercoasters

     This morning, likely prompted by the theme park series at church, I was thinking about rollercoasters.
Remembering when I was a little girl and the annual trip to either Cedar Point, Kings Island or Disney took place ~ the anticipation! We all know the main reason kids love these places is due to the rollercoaster.
     As I’d stand in line waiting my turn, I’d watch those people who had just come off of the ride; they were breathless, giggling, reliving the moments of the greatest thrills and remarking about the suspense of the ascension, knowing that the downward drop was the next phase.  For approximately 3 minutes, life is out of control and exciting….but what would have happened if they had kept you on the rollercoaster for 30 minutes? An hour? Two? Days that drift into years?
     I was kind of like that as a teenager~ knowing the “thrills” of life would result in nausea and having my stomach drop from the quick descent and I did it anyway.  As teenagers often think, I felt like I was in control of the ride and there was very little danger of the coaster jumping the track and causing permanent injury…so maybe the descent was worth it to me at the time. I don’t know.
But I grew up.
     As I look around, I am heartbroken because there are so many people who are on that ride and they risk their health, their reputation and their spirituality  for very short moments of danger. They have forgotten the rollercoasters of their youth; what goes up must come down. The ascent always results in the descent.

     But there is good news….we’re all in control of the ride. We can stop what started out as a day at the park and choose to get out of the seat. Choose to eliminate the risk and harm that can occur when we live our lives in a constant circle of ups and downs, twists and turns.
     When I see this trait in someone ~ and there are so many people living like this ~ I wonder why they didn’t learn what I learned back when I was 17. Was I the lucky one, after all? To have learned difficult life lessons at such a young age without really hurting anyone but me?

     Today, I am hopeful. I think some of the lives are changing and they aren’t forging that road alone. They are reaching out to people who are strong in faith; placing their weaknesses at God’s feet and asking for help. That isn’t a sign of weakness, friends. That is a sign of hope and full redemption.

The well is empty..

     A tiny, precious newborn boy, Price, has been called home. Born premature, his twin and he were doing reasonably well under the circumstances until complications fell upon baby Price and he passed away quickly. His parents are faithful and covered in Christ’s love; they inspire me through this heartbreak and other unfortunate events of the last several months. This week, especially, I am so envious of their strength and resolve. My well seems very dry tonight.~ nearly empty if not entirely.

     Simply put, I’m not in a good place.  The trials are getting the better of me despite my best intentions at staying Christ centered. I am tired and feeling like the battle is just beginning…and it’s a battle for sometthing I may not even need. So I’ll just ask for prayer…and lots of it. Please keep the Matthews family in prayer, as well, during this very difficult time.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

— James 1:12 (NIV)

Self Analysis?

  I have to take a good look at myself. I have to inventory everything about me..and not really because I want to but more because I really want to find improvement and be all I am intended. God knows there are many, many areas to be improved upon. Settling on just a few? That will be challenging. 
  There are problems associated with this task of self analysis, the first of which is that it’s hard to be impartial. I know I react this way because ______  (and, yes, I have an answer). I’m still angry about that because _______ (and another answer is supplied),

I know too much about me and my history not to know why I am the way I am.
  Okay, then, let’s move on to the next task. How to change those reactions, those feelings, those opinions? Well, the work just got a lot harder. I’m in the land of the unknown; uncharted territory.
  God, in his infinite wisdom, is bringing people into my life who are amazing. Each day brings a new gift; a new ally in my quest to sort it all out and make sense of the debris. That’s the wonderful, staggering thing about a new life in Christ that some can’t understand…and I know, because I was there not so long ago. 
He brings hope to the hopeless and courage to the fearful. Most importantly, He doesn’t do this because I deserve it. 
I don’t deserve it ~ none of us do.
He does this because His grace is infinite. No beginning and no end.
  So when I feel like I’ve opened a box of 1000 tiny puzzle pieces and I can’t find the first two interlocking pieces to begin the picture, I’ll keep looking until I do. I won’t give up and put the puzzle away, waiting for another rainy day to give it another shot. I won’t do that anymore because I’m not ill equipped like I once was.
Instead, I feel like that Verizon guy with the army full of people behind him to make sure the job gets done.

Don't worry, be happy

Good morning Friday…good bye to worry.
I like to read and this week hasn’t given me the opportunity to really dive into anything other than a blurb here or there. The funny thing is that the blurbs that “accidentally” caught my attention were all of the things I needed to see. Coincidences are really something that I struggle with; it’s my strong feeling that coincidences are really ordained..and that means, to me, even the unfortunate coincidences.
In the midst of extreme anxiety over a couple of situations going on around me, I read about worry being the thoughts of the unbeliever. Since I am firm in my believer status, I questioned why I couldn’t push worry out of my thoughts. The more I tried, the less successful I was and that, my friends, is the enemy at work.
This particular sentence, of all things I’ve read this week, stood out from the rest.

Essentially when we worry it’s like telling the Lord that we don’t believe in His power and ability to think, reason and plan out whatever situation with which we are worried.

Whoa!! I definitely didn’t mean to do that!
It is in my nature to worry..about all of the things that worry many people. Children, health, friends, finances, etc. etc. etc. but I can take the burden of the preoccupation with things beyond my control completely captive. I can be motivated by positive concern and leave out the  distress. I can do this because I am commanded to do this; worry is not for the believer.
Thank you, Bobby McFerrin…this brought a smile to my face!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9K4BKkLaCI

~Amy

Turn that frown upside down!

Okay, so the blog entries for the last few days have been…less than uplifting. Since I don’t care to dwell on something I cannot change, I’m going to move out of the disastrous events of the last several days and move in to the promises of the future.  🙂 
I had a lot of things to be thankful for today so if I focus on those things, my mind tends to get a little too crowded for yesterdays, last years, or last weeks setbacks. It’s a sad thing to miss the multiple blessings that happen each day…we’re so busy, so distracted, so consumed, so bitter, etc. Want to be happier? Focus on the positives and there are always a few even in the dark corners of life (that’s a reminder to me but you’re welcome to apply it to your circumstances if the shoe fits!)
I actually had an app on my iPhone that allowed you to write the 3 things you were most thankful for each day. Jeez…it was on my phone and I still didn’t find time to consistently note them every day. There’s definitely a priority that’s out of whack! So let’s see ~ anything wonderful happen today?

Today, a friend from several years ago told me he has been walking with Christ since last year and his life has never been better (victory!). Today, 3 friends sent me texts asking if I was doing okay and offering to help (your texts meant much to me and rest assured, I am fine!). Today, both of my kids sent me a text or called just to chat (thank you).  Today, my husband wrote me an email from work just to say he was thinking of me (nice to hear on any day!). Today, I had a great dinner at home while the french doors were open and the smell of rain wafted indoors (relaxing).
Coming up with at least three things isn’t that tough and I figure it has to be easier than being sad, right? Besides, the promises of the future are awesome and some day, sooner rather than later I hope, my memory of the last few days will fade like sunlight on a summer evening… there one minute, gone the next.

Faith

Okay, really, who flipped the switch and turned everything from right to wrong and vice versa?
I have spent WAY too much time lately just shaking my head ~ my constants and consistencies have been replaced with skepticism and apprehension. Truth be told, I’m mostly amazed at why I am taken by surprise. I do know we’re all sinners and yet I expected more…and still do.
It happens to the best of us; we sink into a comfortable little sanguine spot and before we know it, we get the soft (or maybe firm) reminder that even good intentions from well meaning people can shake our faith if we’ve got it misplaced!
 I’ve been down this road before and am a slow learner. Given that, God seems pretty intent on driving this lesson home for me. His message is two-fold and might have a ring of familiarity for more than just me.

1. God is in control. I am not.
2. Place your faith in Him and not in man. Man is fallible and errant.

I can’t repeatedly get angry because I am not privy to His plan. I know that I know that I know He has it all planned out but still I push, thinking my confidence in others will propel them. I do not have that ability and I certainly don’t shoulder that responsibility.  My faith was shaken but that’s because it was erroneously placed. Who hasn’t been let down by someone? Surely I’ve let people down, too.
Matthew 17:20 reads

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

So what do we do when it all feels futile? Does that mean we’ve lost our faith? Well, I think it means we start back at square one by placing our faith on only Him. When I was a brand new Christian and would hear the message of our God being a jealous God, the emotion I equated to jealousy seemed like an insecure reaction from the Creator of all things.  Now I know that God covets a relationship with us and when our faith lies elsewhere, he will remind us that only He is worthy of that.

God is good all of the time. And we just can’t measure up to that…why then do we expect others to?

So as I journey through this disappointment and this severed relationship, I will hold on to this verse from Jeremiah.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Replenish my hope, Lord, and replenish my faith.    AMEN