Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 10 Things to Lose for 2012

Just to put you at ease, I'm telling you up front that this blog post has absolutely nothing to do with your weight!  At least the number on the scale....  (and incidentally, I don't own a scale on purpose)

So, with Christmas cookie in hand, I now present the 10 best things you could ever lose this new year:

10. The noisiest game app on your phone.
"Oops, kids, I think that one disappeared somehow.  Sorry!  Try this new one about knitting."

9.  Pet fish.
"Rest in peace, little Finny."  Replace little Finny with Ivan the avocado seed (halfway submerged in water) and watch him grow.  Fun for all ages.

8.  The half-used cosmetic items you have held on to for, oh, 8-10 years or so.
But I don't know anything about that one.

7.  That turkey you've had in your freezer from over a year ago.
It's freezer-burned to Hades, my friend.  Let it go.

6.  Your need to have the last word.
On everything.  All the time.  Because you're right.  About everything.

5.  False guilt.
Maybe let this year be the fresh start on knowing what IS your burden to bear and what isn't.  Guilt from any source really isn't yours to bear at all, but ESPECIALLY false guilt.  False guilt is when you,  or someone else heaps bad feelings on you for things beyond your control.  Like when your mother says something that makes you feel bad for the way your husband responded to a situation.  Not your problem!  Don't carry it around!  Or, like when a friend hangs the blame for a failure on you, except you had no way to control the outcome.  If you twinged when you read the term "false guilt" then I'll bet you have been carrying some on your shoulders, maybe even in your heart.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show it to you and help you let it go.  Jesus took all our junk, shame and guilt on the cross and did away with it.  Don't take it back!

4.  False humility.
When someone compliments you or makes a big deal about your performance or abilities or appearance, JUST ACCEPT THE COMPLIMENT!  Don't deflect the attention and affection under the guise of "humility."   Even saying, "It's all God" smacks of false humility.  If it truly were ALL God, it would have been flawless....  Just say, "thank you" with a grateful heart and receive the compliment.  The way you honor God with those compliments is by offering them back to Him in your intimate, up-close moments with Him.  God loves when you partner with Him.  And when you're in step with Him, people will take notice.  Let them.  The picture of you and God dancing together (in whatever you're doing) speaks so much and reaches deeper into the soul than any compliment deflection ever will.  I could preach on this one, but we must move on.

3.  Your agenda.
Perhaps you haven't figured it out yet, but sometimes your plans aren't God's plans.  I'm just telling you from experience it's SO much better to come to God and ask Him to fill in your schedule rather than bringing your full schedule to God and asking Him for help.  When you bring a blank page to Him, He will take you on the most exciting adventure!  Let go of your self-imposed schedule and ask the Lord what He has for you this year, this week, today.

2.  Your philosophy.
Have you considered that the way you make sense of the world might not be the way it really is?  We all see through our own experiences and ideas, naturally.  But could this be the year that you let go of your "philosophies" and let God show you what's really going on?  He gets excited when you take a step toward Him like that.  Just come to Him with openness and a teachable spirit - and you will start seeing and understanding life from His perspective.

1.  Your life.
This is the time of year when everyone starts setting goals and making spreadsheets to accomplish their dreams in a matter of twelve months.  The human will is actually a very amazing thing - when you determine to do something or become something, you most likely end up doing and becoming.  Culture tells us that we must "make something" of ourselves to have life to its fullest....but Jesus tells us the exact opposite:  "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it."  Matthew 10:39 NKJV     I even like the way The Message says it a little better:  "...If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself.  But if you forget about yourself and look to Me, you'll find both yourself and Me."  Matthew 10:39 MSG   

When I say to "lose your life", I am not talking about the cessation of your heartbeat.  I mean the laying aside of your dreams, plans, ideas and feelings and letting the God who knit you together show you your life.  Letting Him shape you into who you are destined to be - who he designed you to be, and how He sees you in Christ.  (Never met Him?  Click here and read this.)  The best way to end up with a full life is to let God be the Producer, Art Director, Script Writer...  Just let go of yourself and fall into the hands of the most capable Being there ever was.  Say a blanket "yes" to Him before you even hear the directions.  I PROMISE that you will wake up breathing, as if for the first time, and seeing in color like you have never known before.  God is amazing. God is truly awesome - in that when you get a glimpse of Him, you are filled with awe.  You can trust Him with your life.

So...bring it on, 2012!  What have we got to lose?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Showtime!

If you have little ones, then I'll bet you have sat through a "program" or two...and maybe even one or two already this Christmas season.  The kids are all excited about being on the big stage, they are so cute in their tiny little dresses and sport coats and curls...  You have your phone camera, your real camera and a video camera charged and ready for the big moment when your child will stun the entire audience with his good looks and charm.  Perhaps even his talent.

The first song get some out of focus and wobbly shots of the kid, and then you notice, "I feel like I have been here before..."

Here are some landmarks that you recognize, signaling to your brain, that yes, you have indeed been here before.  The world of the little kid "program."

1.  The Princess.  There's always one, if not multiples, wearing a hugely frilly dress with sparkly tights and sparkly shoes and sparkly hair doodads.  They each are so adorable and they know it.

2.  The Flasher.  You know you're going to see somebody's underwear and somebody's belly button during this show.  They're usually my favorite kids.

3.  The Statue.  There's always that one kid who stares out into space and doesn't move.  Won't sing, won't dance, won't even attempt the motions.  Juuuuuussssst a statue.

4.  The Nose Picker.  No public performance is complete without one.

5.  The Blasted Cacophony.  God bless the kids who just can't find the note.  They provide us with such an... interesting, shall we say, buffet of tones to choose from.

Oh, there are other landmarks to let you know you're on the path, but those are some surefire signs that you're trapped in a seat for at least 30 minutes at a Children's Program.  Buckle up, slap on your smile and keep the camera rolling.  These moments will become priceless as soon as you blink an eye.

Especially at the end of a children's Christmas program, I really feel like standing up and saying the Pledge of Allegiance like Aunt Bethany at the Griswold family Christmas dinner table.  It's so cute and festive, and they have done a great job.  But it's just a little wonky.

So, here's to many more off-key, Santa + Baby Jesus, nose-picking, belly-flashing moments with your kiddos!

Ho! Ho! Ho!  Away in a Manger, and God Bless America!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Some Sparkle In Your Christmas

Christmas is the best.  It's my favorite.  The season where people think of others more, where the name of Jesus is uttered by countless lips - from believers and non-believers alike.  The time when people open their hearts and begin to see the true beauty of the Love that appeared on our scene one cold night in a stable.

Every year, our family gravitates to someone in need during the Christmas season, and this year is no exception.  All the planning and dreaming of how we can bless this person and their family is truly the highlight of the whole thing for me.  This December we have been unusually consumed with schedule stuff, so when I saw the spiritual neon sign over the family the Lord was highlighting for us and heard the little "ding-ding-ding" go off in my heart, I just tried to ignore it and move it farther down the books.  Like, a week from next Tuesday.  But alarms kept going off in my spirit and I just couldn't ignore it.  I wanted to lean into the voices that whispered in my ear, "You are in no position to be taking on a family and spending tons of money on them right now.  This is way beyond what you're capable of."  But the Holy Spirit's tug in my heart was stronger.  He kept re-routing my life to run smack into this family and their needs.

So, I finally got in line with Him and reported for duty.  And the angels sang!  I got a download of heavenly strategy, made a few connections, who made a few connections, who made a few connections...  And ba-da-bing!  We have a really fun, sneaky surprise Christmas coming for this family!  (I keep saying "this family" because I can't let the cat out of the bag yet!)

Who is the Lord highlighting for you?  Will you just toss the "you can't do this" voices aside and report for duty?  The Lord is amazing.  He is not asking you to singlehandedly fund someone's whole life.  He is asking you to say yes to Him, and He will then give you ways to bless and care and love like you never imagined.

The way we're doing it this year:  mobilize people who know this family, and friends of friends who like to give and bless.  Create a list of needs and tell people to get after it.  We have already had several gifts come in, gift cards,'s SO CRAZY FUN!  We're working on the details of delivery...sneaky, sneaky...  And it is going to absolutely blow these people away.  You have GOT to get on board, friends!

Ask God who, in your own life, He is wanting to bless.  He will definitely show you.  Then gather up some friends, co-workers, enemies - whoever - and just see what God will do through you!

How are you blessing people this Christmas?  I'd love to hear YOUR story!