Posts from the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

Power and Dreams

Throughout the few years of my life, my dreams have shifted and defined, and sometimes even changed completely. When I was very young, I wanted to work at an orphanage. I got a little older and decided that I wanted to be a missionary to a closed country because it was more exciting and challenging, and as my cover job I wanted to teach English as a second language. After a missions trip to Africa I realized that so much more of my ministry happened with the people on my team on a discipleship level then actually ministering to the people I had thought I was going to minister to. I realized that I was not meant to be an overseas missionary, but a missionary right at home, doing ordinary things, discipling the Christians around me and challenging them to a higher standard. I still wanted to work with kids, so I thought I would stick with the idea of being an English teacher. I found my college of choice through that, but somewhere between looking for colleges and working, I realized teaching doesn’t give you much time with kids one-on-one, and that’s how I work best, it’s how most people do, and family is the most influential force in anyone’s life. I went to the idea of fostering/adopting teenagers, but I went to college to study English anyway. I planned to double major in English and youth ministry or missions. Two weeks into the first semester I found out that teachers have to minor in a “teachable” field, like math or science. I realized I really didn’t want to be a teacher anymore, so I moved straight into majoring in youth ministry and minoring in psychology. I ran out of money pretty fast going to a Christian University, and had to drop out and move back home. About a year later I got married to my highschool sweetheart (we met on the missions trip to Africa) and we’ve been happily married ever after. After having our first child a lot sooner than we had anticipated, the question that now rises in my mind is, okay, how many more years should we wait to start fostering/adopting, and what do I do in the meantime? I’m a stay at home mom, and there have been easily 2 week stretches where I don’t even leave the house, especially if someone is sick and we can’t make it to church. This is fine with me, I love my house and my kid (and the one I babysit), but, I need to know I am making the most of the opportunities God gives me… So I starting analyzing what my dream is for right now… and I realized that my entire dream all along really has been to be/have a house of peace. A place anyone, any age can come to and feel safe. Maybe even feel loved. Feel at rest. Feel they don’t have to pretend. Feel the walls come down and relax. This is my dream. Whether I actually get to foster kids or not, whether I teach by homeschooling my kids or not, whether I am here in America or off in the boondocks of Antartica, whether I’m a stay-at-home mom or I have to work, I want my house to be a house of peace. I figured the best way to do this was to have my house clean and neat and smelling good and relatively quiet and maybe always have good food around? I wasn’t really sure. Then something unexpected happened to me yesterday. A friend popped over completely unexpectedly (I do enjoy those visits) and as a sidenote in a conversation he mentioned to me that I am a mood-setter in our group, and it’s a good thing because I’m usually pretty content. I am a total wallflower and was not expecting that comment. I asked my husband and I guess it’s true. If I’m not happy…no one is. But if I am…well…maybe everyone else is…less unhappy? Yeah, that’s not a bomb or anything… I’m still wrapping my head around this but WAIT—look at that! God not only gave me a dream, but he gave me a “superpower” to encourage it into the right direction. How do I have my house of peace? Be a peaceful person!! If I can exude peace in the vast majority of situations, even if it’s not perfect peace, but at least some peace…. I can set the mood for my house. Add cleanliness, moderate quiet (seriously, we have a baby) and simplicity and good food to the mix, and a whole lotta God and what do you know? A house of peace is born. God has blessed me with a dream and a means to achieve that dream. Now I’m scared :P. Before I realized I had the means for it I just assumed that God would do all the work… now He handed some of it over to me. EEp… With great power comes great responsibility. Joy. Controlling my moods and emotions has never been a strong point… guess I have some work to do… yay Unglued by Lysa Teurkurst you are now my best friend… 😛

All that ramblingness was to say: God gives us not just dreams, but dreams and the power/tools we need to fulfill the dreams that are of Him. Keep your eyes open. You never know what He’s going to do next.

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The Power of Gratefulness

Over the past few months, I have become increasingly convinced of the overwhelming power that being grateful has in  our lives. I’ve always thought of gratefulness as just something like saying grace over dinner and sending a thank-you card when someone gives me a gift for my birthday. It’s no big deal. Well… at least I thought it was no big deal. I’ve started on this journey–I’m not really sure when or where it began–that has opened my eyes to just how impacting a life of gratefulness can be. Gratefulness is a lifestyle. I’m not entirely sure how to explain all of the extremely profound and life-changing thoughts floating around in my head (;P) so I’m just going to show you how having an attitude of gratefulness looks in my life–and then we’ll go from there…

My life isn’t perfect by any means… and I wonder sometimes whether or not I ACTUALLY have more reasons to be grateful then other people, or if that’s just my perspective. Maybe you can tell me?

–I could be upset that my husband isn’t home much and that he’s always busy
+but I’m grateful that I HAVE a husband
+that he’s busy because he’s working to provide for myself and our son, and going to school to continue to better himself and have more opportunities to provide well for us, instead of being busy wasting time and/or money like a lot of people
+I’m grateful that when he IS home, that he spends much (if not all :P) of his time with me and our son, spending good quality time with us

–I could be upset that I took our car in for an oil change and “checkup” and it’s taking 3 days and $1300 that we weren’t expecting
+but I’m grateful that we HAVE a car…a really good car that has great gas milage, few miles, and has always run great
+I’m grateful that God allowed us to find out there was a problem when the car was already in the shop…and not on the road somewhere, potentially with an accident or just the inconvenience of being stuck on the side of the road
+I’m grateful that even though we definitely hadn’t set aside nearly as much money as we’re going to end up paying, that we DO have some money and God has always provided in the past and will continue to provide.

–I could be upset that I’m stuck in a state with neither of our families around
+but I’m grateful for this age of technology that allows my family to be one text message or phone call or email away
+I’m grateful that going and visiting IS feasible and not outside of our normal budget
+I’m grateful to have two wonderful families that I actually care whether or not they’re in the state… and LIKE spending time with and enjoy being able to miss them.

–I could be upset that I gained SO much weight with my pregnancy and it’s brought back a lot of my self-image issues…
+but I’m grateful I have a husband who still loves how I look
+I’m grateful that I had a pregnancy to gain the weight from (and for the wonderful kid that came out of said pregnancy :))
+I’m grateful that losing the weight has brought my sister and I closer then ever
+I’m grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned during this particular weight loss that have taught me a lot about being even healthier in my lifestyle and have taught me to be a little more humble

–I could be hurt and angry when I discover skeletons in the closet of someone I’ve respected
+but I’m grateful for all the good things I’ve learned from that person’s life regardless of what was there all along
+I’m grateful for the opportunities that I’ve gained through knowing that person, and for all the lessons and good that has been introduced to my life–regardless
+I’m grateful for truth and honesty, and the chance to see God’s redemption and grace

…and I could go on. But, overall, gratefulness has taught me SO many things
1) Gratefulness has forced me to recognize God’s hand in past situations which has greatly helped me to trust Him in current ones
2) Gratefulness has opened my eyes to so many reasons to be content–which has taught me contentedness
3) Gratefulness makes it extremely hard (impossible, really) to be bitter about anything, simply because I’m spending my energy being thankful and grateful for the good in a situation, instead of focusing my energies on being angry and frustrated and ultimately bitter…
4) Gratefulness has given me joy–I’m so much happier in so many more situations because I’m seeing the good in both the situation and the people involved in the situation
5) This might sound vain, and I don’t mean it to, but I honestly think that gratefulness has taught me to be a more beautiful, respectable person…I know I enjoy being around others who are happy and grateful and simple and who see good in every situation…and well… the more happy and grateful I am, the more I enjoy being myself and the less I have to be ashamed of 🙂
6) Gratefulness also teaches me more about God–I see more of His goodness, His provision, His blessings, His Truth–all through being grateful

And there are lots and lots more things… but, hey, I have a baby that’s crying and I’m grateful for my baby, and I’m grateful his lungs work, and I’m grateful he’s healthy and all that… but I think he’ll be more grateful when I find out what’s wrong and fix it 😛

Raw

So there’s been a lot going on in my life lately.

And sometimes, nothing at all.

I’ve been struggling with a lot of things… and struggling with doing nothing.

My job situation is poor at best. My hormones are eating me alive. I’ve been sick a lot and using that as an excuse to put off the growing mound of household chores staring me in the face. I have a project I’m working on with my dad that is exciting and progressing and yet still something I want to put off. And as much as I love my husband, I’ve been struggling not to get frustrated over little meaningless things. And all this comes down to the thing I struggle with most…

God.

I have a friend offering to walk with me and help to push me… yet, I can’t seem to step out and just… talk to Him. I’m scared. I’m lazy. I panic. I don’t know what to say… or if I should be silent. I don’t know when, or if that time should be spent doing other things. I hate myself for not wanting the one I know I need the most… and yet don’t look beyond the walls of my own comfortable self.  Instead of getting up and fighting… I’m lying down and closing my eyes.

I need help.

pray for me. Hard. Please…

Christmas Thoughts

So, I was randomly thinking about Christmas, and the thought struck me that if it’s technically Jesus’ birthday we’re celebrating, we should be giving HIM gifts, not each other or asking for them for ourselves… right?

What if, instead we thought about what Jesus would want, and made him a “wish list”?

For example:

—-Show others my love (random acts of kindness, words of encouragement, service, etc?)

—Teach others about me (Write stories, songs, poems, Bible studies, draw pictures, make a craft–all explaining or portraying some part of Christ)

—Pray

—Take care of orphans and the widows (Angel Tree, Operation Christmas Child, bring lonely/poor people into your home for a Christmas meal)

I want thoughts and responses on this… I want to know what people think…. What would you add do this list? Would this be something you think would help people to understand the right perspective of Christmas?

I’ve always wanted to have the full 12 days of Christmas… I think something like this would make that super awesomely cool, especially if there was some way to incorporate spiritual disciplines into this… spend one day in solitude just with Jesus, another day fasting, another day volunteering, and so on?

Couldn’t something like this really change how we view this commercial, self-focused holiday? Couldn’t something along these lines help us to realize a little more clearly what Christmas is really all about and a little more about God’s heart?

This was simply an idea that came to me while I was working on something completely unrelated, but, it really makes me wonder what a change of perspective could do.

Thoughts?

—-added 12/8/11 from my sister 🙂

5 ways to keep Christ in Christmas . . .

1.  Read a portion of the Christmas Story from the Bible every day. Take turns reading the story.
2.  Encourage kids to give a “special gift” to Jesus for His birthday—one that only He knows about. It could be spending more time talking to Him, being kind to a new friend at school or trying harder to include a younger sibling.
3.  Set a good example by always saying “Merry Christmas” in response to “Happy Holidays” while doing your Christmas shopping.
4.  Try not to pass up the Salvation Army® buckets—even if it’s just a handful of loose change. You might even sign up to volunteer ringing the bell.
5.  Start Christmas morning by thanking God for the gift of His son, Jesus. You might even bake a special cake and sing!