Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Full Heart

There are days when your heart is just so full that you feel giddy. There are days the Holy Spirit fills you with so much joy you can barely stand it. There are days you can't explain and days you wouldn't explain if you could.  Good days...just really good days.

My heart is full, not because of anything that happened in particular.  My heart is full because of a renewed vision of all that God has given me.  A grateful heart is a grand thing.  It can look over all the ugliness and see the good.  It can sing even when things may not be going our way.

There are days that God gives you a renewed vision.  Open eyes are a true gift.

Yesterday, our family went down to the local Independence Day Festival.  I'm going to be honest and just say there was no excitement about it on my part.  It's so HOT here in southeast Georgia.  I know it's hot everywhere, but it's just a different sort of hot here.  If you've ever lived here or visited during the summer, you can understand where I'm coming from.  However, I did put on a happy face and trudged on.

The festival is a friendly atmosphere and it is nice to see all the local vendors and sample the foods...so my attitude did brighten.  I started to look around and God stirred my heart.  These are all people He loves.  Everyone was wearing the red, white, and blue.  Smiling. Happy faces. Proud to be Americans.  Veterans who still wear their military medals proudly. Military men and women who wear their uniforms beautifully and respectfully. Kids running around eating snow cones and drinking lemonade.  The police men and women watching with vigilant eyes, yet still stopping to share a laugh with the community.  These are people God loves.  All these people.  The girl with the green hair and multiple piercings, the guy in the tank top and tattoos, the mom with the sticky kids, the dad pushing the screaming kid in the stroller, the fireman passing out water, the church group making animal balloons for the kids, these are people God loves.

Sometimes all it takes to change a heart or fill it up is to take a good look around to see how God loves, to see how God moves...a laugh with a friend, a handshake, a smile, eye contact and a reassuring nod.  Some days we have to take a look outside ourselves, a long hard look, to see the blessings, to appreciate the grand gifts that God has so freely given.

This morning I woke up with a heart overflowing with joy because I saw God yesterday, in the faces of those around me.  I'm looking for Him again today.  My heart is full.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Run YOUR Race

I recently went back to Facebook, after a couple of years on hiatus. There are a lot of things you can learn about yourself when you are shown the lives of many people, in any given day.  And, wow, do those days look way different than mine...or so it seems.

I didn't just visit the Galapagos Islands.  My kids haven't won a million awards and been named Child of the Year. (Though, to be fair, they are home schooled and I think they are great!)  I don't look like a super model, even with highlighting and contouring makeup. Photoshop just doesn't help.  I will never be Mother of the Year or the Best Wife of All Time.  I do not take good selfies.  I don't even like selfies.  I'm just me.

Therein lies the problem.  One of the biggest lies ever told..."You are not good enough."  Buried deep within all the notifications, the likes, the shares, and the comments, we often find the problem.  We want to feel significant.  When my life doesn't measure up to what I perceive to be the lives of others, I feel small.  I'm sure not everyone has this problem.  If you don't, move on and have a super day!  This post isn't for you.  However, if you struggle, please sit a while with me.

Throughout my life, I have struggled with self-esteem issues.  Always feeling "less than" every one else.  This is something God has been working on for quite a while.  I daily have to remind myself who I am in Jesus.  As God is working on me, and I've gotten older, there are a few things I've noticed.  I choose to feel what I feel.  I'm not saying those feelings aren't real.  They are SO real, but the thing about feelings is you can change your perspective at any given moment.  Feelings are not facts.  When my feelings get hurt, I try to look at the facts. You always have to check the feelings against the facts.  This is true in all situations.

Feelings are an indicator, not a dictator.  All things take practice. In Philippians 4:11 Paul says,“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”  He learned to be content.  He learned.

Learning means practice. Mindful practice.  You want to play the piano? You practice.  You want to learn your ABCs? You practice.  You want to memorize Bible verses? You practice.  You want to change your way of thinking? You practice.  When I start having feelings of not measuring up, I have to remind myself who I am in Jesus.  I practice. I practice.  It takes time and will not happen overnight.  Yes, it will take a while to get to a point where I won't feel I have to measure up to someone else's idea of success, but it will take practice.  While practice will never make perfect, it will always make progress...and isn't that what we all are after?  To be better than the person we were yesterday? To look a little more like Jesus today? That's what I'm after.

I want to run the race God has set before me.  Your race may look different than mine.  That's ok.  God gave each of us our own purpose.  You have to run your own race.  We have to stop trying to run the race of someone else...you can't handle someone else's life.  You are not equipped to live someone else's life.  You are meant to live your own.  It's time to start practicing mindful thinking.  It's time to lean in to Jesus and let Him make our lives His own, for His purpose, and stop trying to measure up to the world's idea of success.  It won't be easy. It'll take practice, but with Jesus lighting the way...we will get there.