Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

I have a friend who is doing the 40-day love challenge, which is based off of the movie “Fireproof”. Today’s posting was about love being a choice. It says:

“Love is Faithful (Hosea 2:20). Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it. Say to them today in words similar to these, ‘I love you. Period. I choose to love you even if you don’t love me in return.’” (The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick)

I really like this definition of what love is. It’s a choice. And the great thing about it is, while this is written specifically for married couples, this principle applies in any relationship, whether it’s with a friend, colleague, child, or even an enemy. Love is a choice. It means, even if I don’t particularly like someone, I still treat them well. It means, even when my child says she hates me, I tell her “I love you” in return.

When I look at love as a choice rather than a feeling, it puts a whole new perspective on things. Feelings are not something you can really control. Feelings can change. Feelings lie. But, when I make a choice to show love, I am doing that whether I feel like loving or not. I do it whether I like someone or not. Love is a choice.  1 John 4:7&8 says,

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (NASB).

We are commanded to love one another. God’s Word doesn’t say love each other if you feel like loving each other. It doesn’t say love each other if they treat you well. It says love one another. Why? Because God loves us. This verse is specifically talking to Christians loving each other, but what about those who are not considered brothers and sisters in Christ? What about those who are doing things that God’s Word indicates are wrong? What does God say about that? Are we to hate them? Are we to be vindictive?

I think most of us would know that the answer to those questions is “no.” We’re not to hate them. In fact in Matthew 5, Jesus says,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘ You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (vss 43-46, NASB)

In a parallel passage in Luke 6, Jesus says,

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (vss 27-36, NASB)

We are not only commanded to love those who are lovable, but to love those who are easy to hate – those who hurt us and use us. That’s so hard. My first instinct is not to show people like that love. But we are commanded to love. So, love is a choice. I can choose to be kind, or I can choose to be unkind. I can choose to react out of anger, or I can choose to calmly respond with kindness. I can love or I can hate. Today, I choose love.

Your turn! What is your opinion about love? Is it a choice or is it something you have no control over?  How do you show love when others are not?  I would love to hear from you!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

 

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R & R

Posted: April 17, 2014 in Busyness, Miscellaneous, Rest, Thoughts
Tags: , ,
Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc

I have to be honest. I don’t really feel like writing today. This is one of those lazy days I have sometimes where I just want to relax and do… well, nothing. I want to sit and relax and enjoy the morning. When this happens, sometimes I feel like I am somehow letting someone down. I feel like maybe there is something wrong with that – like I should force myself to do whatever it is I don’t feel like doing. You know, like writing when I don’t feel like it.

And sometimes, that’s true. Sometimes I just need to do it, even if I don’t feel like it. Like, right now, I’m sitting here writing because I know that if I don’t, I will make it easier for myself to put it aside next time. To me, making myself write is worth forcing myself to do so because this is something I want to make a bigger part of my life at some point. But is it OK for me to skip it sometimes?

That is the question of the hour, right? Well, at least it is for me. In all honesty, I actually think it’s OK to skip out on good things sometimes. If you’re anything like me, you’re going all the time. On any given day, I have work, school activities for my kids, kids (always), family, friends, church, and a whole slew of other things. Often, I don’t get a chance to stop and breathe, and I think that’s bad for me. I think that at times I need to stop and just “be”. I need to let the cares of this world fall aside and just rest and relax.

Now that I’ve admitted that, I have to admit, I don’t do this as often as I should. I often keep going and doing all those things out of a sense of duty. And it’s OK to do those things. There’s nothing wrong with doing those things. But when they take over my entire life and leave me with no chance to stop, they are no longer “good” things. They become a ball and chain that I must somehow escape from.

So, while I did take the time to write some today, I’m going to stop here, and go enjoy the rest of my morning before I have to leave for work. I wish each and every one of my readers a very blessed Easter and I will be back next week!

Your turn! What do you think about this? How do you find time for margin in your life?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you’re a failure no matter what you do? Or how about one where you walk away defeated every time a certain person speaks to you? Or maybe you’ve been in one where you feel like you’re just hanging on for dear life and are afraid to let go for fear that you will fall further than you can get back from. I can honestly say I’ve been there. In fact, I can think of at least one situation in my life right now where I feel like that.

The question I have at times like this is, do I give up or do I hang on? The reality is, I could do either one. And either could turn out for my good because there are good and bad to both decisions. Currently, I have a situation whereby I have to decide if I need to stay where I am at or look for a change. That’s difficult for me because I have invested a lot of time and effort into this situation. I have worked hard and have had a lot of successes. There was a point when I woke up wanting to be a part of this situation.

Those days have passed. So now, I have to ask myself, do I stay or do I go? Do I survive or do I live? Do I give up or do I let go? That last question might seem like I’m asking the same question twice. But I’m not. Giving up means I stop trying. I just give up and let things fall as they will. Letting go means, I make a choice to walk away. I’m not giving up; I’m choosing a different path. Giving up means I probably stay in the situation that is defeating me. Letting go means I look for an opportunity to learn and grow and change – and hopefully be built up.

Right now, I feel sometimes like all I do is survive. I do what I have always done because it’s what has worked for me in the past. I’ve probably mentioned I like to stay in my comfort zone. That’s because I know it works for me. The problem is, I think I’ve become stagnant. And that is probably part of the reason I feel frustrated and defeated all the time. I’m tired of doing the same thing, expecting a different outcome. That never works for me (duh!). Instead of things getting better, I fall further and further into defeat until eventually, I either am forced to get out, or I fall so far I can’t get myself out.

I no longer want to survive. I want to live. I want to grow. I want to be built up and build others up. I do not want to stay stuck in a place where there never seems to be a win any longer. I no longer want to be in a place where I feel like I’m a failure every single day of my life. I no longer want to listen to all the things I’m doing wrong (and believe me there are lots of them). I want to hear what I’m doing right once in a while. I’m tired of dwelling on the negative. I want to hear and see the positive.

So, the question I pose to myself today is: “Are you going to give up or are you going to let go?”

Your turn! Have you ever been in a situation where you spent each day feeling defeated? What did you do (or are you doing) to better that situation? Do you think there’s a difference between giving up and letting go? I’d love to hear from you!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB).

I’ve been reading a lot lately about growing in God and getting to know His Word more. In the course of that reading and studying, I’ve found numerous references to being firmly rooted in the Word of God. It’s easy to say to be firmly rooted, but what exactly does that look like? I have heard so many different ideas about how to be firmly rooted, but I’m not just wondering about HOW to be firmly rooted. I want to know what that looks like to be firmly rooted.

This morning, I was reading Colossians 2:6&7, and I think I now have a better understanding of what being firmly rooted looks like. I may not have a full picture, but I do have a bigger glimpse of what that looks like. I believe there are three characteristics that someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will have based on these two verses.

1) Someone who is firmly rooted in God’s word will be walking in Christ. What does that mean? Well, that means this person is so in tune with the Lord and His Word that He lives out and copies the way Christ lived. That means, he doesn’t judge someone by past or present sins. This person accepts others as they are and cares about them regardless of their lifestyle, habits or character. Our Pastor actually spoke about this last night in our Wednesday evening service. One thing he said, really struck home to me. I’ve heard it before, but last night it sank in a little more. He said, “Acceptance is not approval.” I can accept someone without approving of his/her lifestyle. I don’t have to like everything about someone or agree with everything someone says to accept that person for who he/she is.

Being rooted in God’s Word also means that this person is more likely to be aware of and to actively seek to avoid compromising situations. It doesn’t mean this person hides in a hole and does nothing. No, instead, it means that this person is cognizant of the things that tempt him/her and then does what is necessary to avoid those situations whenever possible. What walking in Christ doesn’t mean is that this person is perfect. Unfortunately, nobody will be perfect in this imperfect earth.

2) Someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will be built up in Christ and established in his/her faith. This means that this person knows what he/she believes and continues to live in accordance with that. I can’t know what I believe if I don’t spend time in God’s Word and really take the time to study and understand what God is saying. If I do that, then I will grow in my faith, and I will know what I stand for.

3) Finally, someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will be overflowing with gratitude. That means, no matter what happens in life, this person is grateful for the good things he/she has, even when things aren’t going exactly as well as he/she would like. It means this person chooses to be grateful in spite of the bad things that happen. This is the part I have the most difficulty with because it’s really hard to be thankful when I feel like nothing is going right. But no matter my situation, I have a choice. I can choose to be grateful. Or I can choose to complain. Either way, I am the one who has to live with myself. Do I want to be joyful or miserable? It’s my choice. I want to choose gratefulness.

I’m so glad that I was able to read these two verses this morning because they encouraged me to dwell on what God has to say to me in His Word, and as a result, I am encouraged to stop looking at the past and worrying about the future. Instead, I want to focus on what God has for me today. I want to grow and learn. Most of all, I want to be firmly rooted in God’s Word.

Your turn! What characteristics you think someone rooted in God’s Word would have besides these? What other things can we keep in mind about growing in God? I hope to hear from you!!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: limowreck666 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: limowreck666 via Compfight cc

Have you ever been mad at God – I mean really mad at Him? Have you ever had something happen that made you question why God would allow it? I know I have. I mentioned a few days ago that I was mad at God. See, things haven’t really been going the way I’d have liked them too lately. I have several situations come up where things just went a whole different direction than I expected. I might have mentioned a few times before that when things go opposite of what I expect, I tend to get upset. Well, in this case, several different things didn’t go my way, and I’ve been struggling with being mad at God. After all, He is all powerful, so He could stop those things from happening.

Over the course of the past couple of weeks, I have been spending time in God’s Word in the hopes that I would somehow figure it all out. The reality is, I may never know why things don’t go as I expect them to. Does that mean I should give up and throw in the towel and walk away? I don’t think so. In fact, I have been blessed because I have made the choice to stick with God.

This morning I was reading Numbers 11, and a verse popped out at me and hit me right between the eyes. I couldn’t avoid it because it was like God was talking directly to me. In this chapter, the people are complaining about the manna being the only food they were eating. They wanted some meat. Now, God was feeding them this great food that came directly from Him, and they were going to complain? (Sound familiar?) So, anyway, Moses goes and complains to God about how much the people are complaining and said he couldn’t handle all those people by himself. So, God told Moses to gather 70 elders and He was going to put His spirit on them so they could help Moses. Then He told Moses He was going to provide meat for the children of Israel, and that they would get meat for not just one day but for a whole month until they were sick of it. Be careful what you wish for right?

So, Moses, being a lot like me I think, asked God, “I have 600,000 people with me, and you say you’re going to give them meat for entire month. Should we go kill our flocks and herds so that we’ll have enough? Or should we get all the fish from the sea?” Obviously Moses was a bit skeptical about the whole thing. I’ve been there. And then comes the verse that smacked me right between the eyes. In verse 23 God says, “Is the LORD’s power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not” (NASB). God says, let’s just see if I can do what I say I can do.

I often find myself wondering how things are going to work out. I question God’s judgment and wonder how a certain situation can ever be made better. The reality is, it’s not my job to worry about that. God is in charge. When God is in charge, I have nothing to worry about. Things may not go the way I anticipate, but I have to ask myself, “Is God big enough to handle that? Do I really believe He can?” And the reality is, there is nothing in my life that God cannot (and has not) handle when I stepped out of His way and stopped fighting. I am learning that I don’t have to understand the reasons why things happen. I need to spend more time watching God work. And He always works.

Your turn, have you had situations where you felt like God was giving you more than you could handle? What do you do in those situations? Do you, like me, whine and complain? Or do you trust that God knows what He’s doing and let Him work? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis via Compfight cc

In this life there are always going to be problems. After all, as I have been reminded of time and time again, we live in a broken world full of broken people. And broken people hurt each other – sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident. The bottom line is, everyone gets hurt at some point. And I’d venture to guess if someone insists they have never been hurt, they were probably either the ones inflicting the pain, or they are lying to themselves. I suppose there could be the rare case that it’s actually true, but if it is, then it truly is a rare case indeed. It would be nice to be able to say that the cause of all my problems rests squarely on the shoulders of others, but unfortunately for me, often I am the cause of my own problems.

So, if I am the problem, what can I do to fix it? And shouldn’t that make things easier to fix? I mean, the only person I can really do anything about is myself, right? Alas, it’s not that simple. It’s actually easier to see the problems in someone else’s life because I’m not part of that life, and it has no bearing on me. I’m a neutral party. But the reality is, it’s not my job to see everyone else’s problems. It’s my job to work on me. So, how what does that mean for me?

First things first. Before I can begin to fix a problem in me, I have to actually know that there is a problem. My experience has been that I don’t really see my own problems. I’m too close to the issue. That’s where friends come in and help. I am blessed to have at least 2-3 good friends who are willing to point out to me when I have a flaw in my thinking or if I am overstepping my bounds. I trust these friends with pretty much every aspect of my life – which is saying something because I don’t really trust people easily. But because I trust these friends, I know that if they are taking the time to tell me I have an issue, I listen. I don’t like it. But I listen. I might get angry at first. But I listen. I listen because I don’t want to be one of those people who refuses to see the issues in my life and stay in the same unhealthy patterns. But what do I do once I have seen or someone has pointed out to me that there is a problem?

I think there are three things I need to do in this situation. After all, God gave me a brain, and He gives me the tools necessary to learn and grow.

1) I need to review what has been pointed out to me or what I suspect, to determine the truth in the situation. Sometimes a perceived problem, isn’t truly a problem. But often it is. So, first, I need to examine the facts. Who is telling me I have an issue? Is it someone I trust or someone I just happen to know? Is it someone who tends to find problems in everyone or someone who usually thinks well of people? Am I just feeling insecure, or do I have facts that back up my suspicions? This could mean that I need to ask for honest feedback. It definitely means I need to get into God’s Word to see what He says. The main point here is that I need to be willing to take an honest look at what has either been pointed out to me, or I have a suspicion about.

2) Once I have determined that there is actually an issue, I need to be willing to admit that there is a problem. Admitting the problem means that I recognize the issue, and now I want to do something about it. I don’t want to be one of those people who says “Oh yes, I have a problem, but that’s just who I am.” That’s not a healthy outlook. If I have a true issue, then it is something that can be remedied and worked on. Yes, I have a personality, and that personality makes me who I am, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if I allow myself to be ruled by my personality, then I am not looking out for the best interests of others. And as a child of God, I am called to care about other people. Philippians 2:1-4 says:

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (NASB).

I don’t have the luxury of thinking only of myself. I have a responsibility to look out for the interests of others. So, if I have an issue, I need to admit to the issue. It doesn’t mean an overnight change necessarily, but it does mean I need to admit there is a problem.

3) Finally, I need to address the issue. I need to take steps to improve in that area. Sometimes that’s difficult to do because perhaps the action or thought has been so deeply ingrained that it takes a long time to make the change. Making the change quickly isn’t required. Committing to making the change and then acting on that commitment is. Some things I can do to help me with that is to ask someone to help hold me accountable. Knowing someone is going to be asking me about my progress means I am more likely to take action. Another thing I can do is get into God’s Word and see what He says about that issue, and also memorize Scriptures that can help me stick to my commitment. I can also keep a journal to track my progress.

I do need to remember, though, that making progress isn’t necessarily overnight. I am going to have times when I fail. At those times, I need to remember that this is a process, and instead of giving up, I need to get up and keep moving forward. My experience has been, when I have actually done this, I have walked away feeling better about myself and have been better able to help others in the process. And really, isn’t that what I’m here for – to help others?

What about you? Do you have other ideas for how to make changes in your life? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: Flооd via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Flооd via Compfight cc

Church should be a place where you can feel safe from harm. It should be a place where people don’t cast stones and where love, healing, and growth takes place. The problem with that is that those who gather for church are human. And when you get more than one human together in one place, the chances are, someone is going to get hurt. So, how in the world are we to handle it when it comes? If it’s inevitable, how do we protect ourselves?

I will admit, it’s difficult, and it’s something I struggle with because I have been hurt more than once by a church or someone who was a part of the church. It is so difficult when those who should be leading you, instead of resolving issues, turn to cutting you down and tearing your dreams to shreds. I very recently went through a very hurtful situation, where I felt attacked. I wish I could say that I handled it in the best possible way, but I must admit, I probably could have done better. I wanted so badly to see issues resolved, that when it became obvious that wasn’t the intent of the other person/people involved, I lost all interest in trying to show respect. That isn’t to say that I did lose respect, but I probably didn’t speak as kindly or listen as carefully as I would have normally. I spent the rest of that day fuming and hurting and crying over the way things went down. I was so hurt. And I was so mad at God. How could He allow this to happen? How could He allow me to go through all these crazy drama things I have going on lately? How could He not do something?

But then a new day came. I can’t say I’ve completely gotten over being mad at God. I haven’t. But I’m closer. I am finding comfort in His Word, and through the counsel of my friends, readings, devotionals, and yes, even Facebook statuses that have come my way. And interestingly enough, I’ve begun to look at this differently. See, I want to be a leader. I don’t necessarily want the title of leader – I want to have the actions of a leader. A leader leads whether they have a title or not. That means, even when I am hurting, even when others respond badly, even when I feel like throwing in the towel, I set an example of what love looks like. I set the example of treating others with kindness instead of casting stones. And that’s hard. So, how do I do that?

1) I need to forgive. Forgiveness starts with me. It doesn’t start with receiving an apology. It doesn’t start with someone else realizing they were wrong. It doesn’t start because I feel like forgiving. It starts because I choose to forgive.  One of the statuses I read on Facebook last night said,

“Recently, I received a text message that caused me to stare at my phone in complete disbelief. Why couldn’t this person see how hurtful they were being? How could they be so insensitive?

Hurtful situations tend to make me want to fight back and be mean too. Maybe you feel the same way.

But Colossians 3: 12-14 reminds me, “…as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

My job isn’t to fix this person or make them see my side of things. My job is to obey God by offering an extension of the forgiveness I’ve been given.” (Lysa Terkeurst)

My job isn’t to fix the person/people who hurt me. Do you know how much of a relief that is? Again, my job isn’t to fix the person/people who hurt me. My job isn’t even to make my side heard. My job is to forgive. I am commanded to forgive. And forgiveness is a choice – sometimes one that has to be made over and over again.

2) I need to stand strong and persevere. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (NIV).  Maybe this is a test or trial I need to go through so that I can grow. If I look at it as a punishment or a bad thing, then I do myself a disservice. However, if I look at this as an opportunity to grow and learn, then I find a purpose for the trial. I now have a reason to move forward because now I have an opportunity to learn. Hebrews 12:11 states, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (NASB).

It’s not going to be fun to go through the painful situation, but in the end, if I allow myself to be trainable, I will grow from it, and yield “the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” That’s something to look forward to!

3) Finally, I need to keep serving God. If I allow myself to be hurt to the point where I feel I can’t serve, then I am being disobedient to God. We are called to serve, right where we are at. OK, so my ability to serve in the capacity I was in has been taken away at least for the time being. That doesn’t change the fact that I have other ways to serve. I have talents and gifts that God has given me. I will continue to use them to serve Him. Nobody can take that ability away from me, except God Himself.

So, while I am still hurting, and I am still upset, I know God has a good plan for me. He will use me in other capacities if I allow myself to be open to it. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me!

Your turn. Have you ever been in a hurtful situation where you felt like someone was casting stones at you? How did you handle it? What do you do to remind yourself that you still have a purpose? How do you handle hurtful situations? I’d love to hear from you!!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature