Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Y-2K ~ 12 Years Later

I just figured out why I never liked new year’s resolutions.
            * They always revolved around more things to do.
            * They were successful for about a month.
            * They weren’t personal ~ they imitated others.
            * They highlighted my shortcomings.
            * They caused me to face who I wasn’t. Ugh and double ugh!

Before Y-2K, I defined my life by my hats: the wife hat, the mom hat, the neighbor hat, the Bible study leader hat, the daughter hat—you get the idea. Most of the time I wore one hat at a time—multi-tasking is not a strength. My friends and I spoke of balance—an impossible concept. I exhorted them to think about faithfulness instead—what does it look like to be faithful today? It sounded spiritual and excused me from some of those God-given roles for a bit. It wasn’t the answer.

I didn’t realize what was happening then; but Y-2K was a turning point for me; it reminds me of a hinge on which I turned—a good thing. It was as if God was saying, Sue, all you meditate on is You. And your meditations are fueled by other people and what they are doing.  (You starts with Y.)  I want you to start meditating on me, your King and who I created you to be. (King starts with K.) Y → to → K. (I know, pretty corny. Stuff like that helps me remember.)

The memories flooded back as I journaled in the beginning of this month about new year’s resolutions for 2012. Again I was overwhelmed and discouraged. Although they were personal now, they still revolved around more things to do; more good activities to squeeze into my already full life. I found myself thinking, how can I possibly fit all this on my calendar? And therein was the issue.

Once again I was trying to balance everything; there was no white space; I was losing control.

Then I remembered my primary identity—the beloved child of my heavenly Father. He created me with desires; He loves me; He adopted me; He wants my faithfulness and fruitfulness even more than me; He is the blessed controller. Cha-ching, the pressure fell away. My responsibility: meditate on and live out who God, my King created me to be.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me; Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-filling on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28, 29, 30, The Message Bible


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mini-Sabbath ~ My Recipe

Aka:  my quiet time; my devotional time.

Sit and Stare; Creation
Solitude and Silence; Coffee
Scripture; Communication

Each s-c pattern describes a piece of my time with God most days. I love the morning time; I’m rested, expectant, and have not gotten involved in other distractions.

Personally I love spending time with God outside—even when I need to bundle up in blankets; but I live in Colorado so even I have my limits. Inside or outside, my view is always toward God’s phenomenal creation and my time starts with stopping—with sitting and staring. That may last five minutes; it may last a half hour. My goal is to quiet myself before God.

Once I’ve quieted the inner me, I need that reinforced in my outer surroundings. Unlike my husband who enjoys soft music in the background as he meets with God, my desire is to hear only the sounds God has created, the chirping of the birds or the wind rustling the leaves. And yes, enjoying a cup of coffee is part of my routine. A mug of steaming coffee often sits between me and a special time I’m sharing with a friend.

Then I open the Scriptures for a time of communicating—listening and talking—with  God. I’ve learned that reading my Bible and listening to God are different. Often I start with significant (for me) Scriptures that I have recorded in my journal. It is good for me to remember and to celebrate what God has said in the past.

Sometimes (not always) I turn to my Bible and read—listen to God—in a new place. I often experience Him reinforcing and deepening those truths that capture my heart. Because I am a good forgetter, I record those times in my journal. Some of those times I share on this blog; some are personal and I keep them between Him and me.

Communication is incomplete without talking, without responding, without praying. My listening fuels my praying; I respond to God based on His words to me. I find my prayers growing and changing based on new understanding of God’s heart for my circumstances and for the people for whom I pray.

These daily times are mini-Sabbaths for me; they are times to stop, to celebrate, and to remember; to listen, to talk, and to record. What a gift friendship with God is!

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth…”
John 16:13 (bolded ~ mine)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Taking Down the Wall

In 1988 I started my own business with The Longaberger Company. It was a wonderful way to meet new friends, earn fun money, and help with my love of organizing and decorating with baskets.

It went well. I soon realized that I not only enjoyed selling the products but I also enjoyed helping others get started in the business; and my earning potential was a lot more than fun money.

Like every good sales organization, Longaberger was always dangling a carrot (sell this much and get this for free). I didn’t realize how motivational carrots were for me. One of the big carrots was recognition in front of peers often accompanied by a certificate or other displayable award. I decorated my office with them and soon the wall across the room from the front of my desk was screaming what a great consultant I was. Some of those awards were truly earned; I received others because of the position I held. My wall was impressive.

And my wall led me astray. Although I never cared for the term basket lady and my consultant position with Longaberger was never my first priority or my passion, you would have been hard-pressed to believe that if you saw my wall. Funny thing was you probably would never see it. It was in my office where I worked on my computer and did other desk related tasks. The real work of Longaberger was out there with people; they didn’t come to my office. For the most part I was the only one who saw my wall and I saw it every day. I was the only one affected by it.

My wall communicated to me that I had done well; it communicated to me that I had an enviable position; it communicated status and worth. In some ways all of that was true but it didn’t communicate truth—my real identity; it communicated something very temporal. But I saw it every day; and everyday it re-enforced wrong thinking. It actually re-enforced a lie that I learned to believe over the years, I need a position or a role or a title for significance. 

When I finally realized what was happening in me as I looked on that wall, I was saddened. I didn’t need or want to re-enforce a lie; I needed and wanted to re-enforce truth. My real identity is not earned; my identity is not based on position; my identity is not temporal, it is eternal—I am a child of God—nothing can take that from me. I took down the wall.

What did I experience that day? Tremendous freedom and relief! (And the wall actually looks nicer too.J)

I still remind myself of my identity—my true identity—almost every day; not by looking at a wall full of awards, but by looking at the personal significant Scriptures I have copied into my journal—those truths that are lasting, that give me real position, status and worth.

And I am still a consultant with The Longaberger Company. Although my specific position within the Longaberger ranks is no longer important for me.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us …called the children of God … and that is exactly who we are”.
I John 3:1, The Message Bible

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Captain Bill

What a treat to sail for a few hours with Captain Bill—not only is he an expert sailor, he is a man living his dreams.

Captain Bill was born in Illinois and grew up on the south-side of Chicago. He is a Cubs fan.J He is 76 years young and sports a curly white beard. His resume includes working for Revlon as a marketing executive. But I was (we were) more interested in hearing his stories of circum-navigating the globe solo when he was 55 years young in just 22 months; or his adventures of the two years he spent captaining the Amistad. Captain Bill is a sailor at heart; it shows in his expertise; it shows in his words.

I didn’t know Captain Bill until he boarded the catamaran we chartered with our good friends, Larry and Kathy, Jim and Carol at the marina in Fajardo, Puerto Rico last month. It was his job to acquaint us with our home for the next week. For two hours he went over all the systems of our boat making sure we understood how they operated interspersed with stories of his sailing adventures. We were enthralled. He also freely offered much practical advice on where to sail on our vacation. We were very thankful. His confident aire, his love of sailing, and his heart to serve wowed and endeared him to us.

Before leaving us on our own and entrusting the 38’ catamaran to us, he sailed with us to the Palomino Island about five miles to the east putting us through all the paces of the boat and the sails. His parting words to us before boarding the chase boat that came to pick him up were Take good care of this boat. I’m taking my family out on it over New Years weekend.

I hope when I am 76 years young, it will be obvious to those around me that I’m living my dreams, the dreams God has planted in my heart and that those dreams are ministering to others as well.

“They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,”
Psalm 92:14

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Blog for the New Year

I had not seen my friend Sandy* in a LOT of years ~ too many really. Early this fall we ended up at the same conference--being with Sandy again was one of the highlights of the week. We talked about children and GRAND-children and all that normal getting caught up type of stuff. But then our conversations turned to listening to God. As we parted ways at the end of the week, Sandy said,
I want to listen to God and see what my contribution should be at this point of my life.
I hope He doesn't want me to do something I don't want to do.

I tried to encourage Sandy in our last minutes together.

God knew her even before she was conceived; God knit her together in her mother's womb; God gave her gifts, abilities, desires and His greatest glory and her greatest good is realized as she lives those out. God won't ask of her something He has not designed and prepared her for.

All true. Then, God whispered in my ear, Sue, you could be Sandy's twin. Conviction. I hadn't voiced her words, but my life echoed her feelings--in a different kind of way. Every-time I wish that I had "her" opportunities, or every-time I'm jealous of "her" position, or every-time I fell less spiritual or more insecure or less important because I was not asked to do whatever, my life communicates I'm not happy with how God created me. I'm not trusting God who knew me before I was conceived, who knit me together in my mother's womb, who gave me gifts, abilities, and desires that will only be realized as I live them out. And those gifts, abilities, and desires are given for His greatest glory and my greatest good. And that's what I want--really!

Same issues; different symptoms.

We are both denying that God is good.
We are both thinking God might have made some mistakes in our creation.
We are both denying that God knows us better than we know ourselves.
We are both denying that it is God who gave us our desires, gifts, and abilities.

Father, please help me to trust You--just for today--that You are good; that You are wise; that You are all knowing; that You created me in a way that would be for Your greatest glory and my greatest good. Thank You. amen.

"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord; plans for welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Computer Issues!

Hello My Friends,

I am excited about continuing to write and to hear your thoughts in this new year. You always encourage and challenge me. But alas, I'm afraid I passed on my Christmas week virus to my computer. (I'm working on a borrowed one at the moment.)  So it may be a few days until I can start posting again.

In the meantime I'm continuing to ponder my own January 1 questions. I hope they were as helpful to you as they have been for me.

Soon, sue

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Questions for the New Year

Are Jesus and I really interested in the same thing?
Can people tell what God is passionate about by looking at my life (by reading my blog)?

Gary Haugen, President of The International Justice Mission, challenged me with the above questions at a recent conference.

Are God and I enjoying our friendship? Are we having conversation together? Do I listen in prayer as well as talk?

Am I living out who God created me to be? Am I wishing I could have her opportunities?

Do I remember my important daily question, “What would it look like to trust You today, God”?

What about my resources, my time and my money, are they invested in a way that pleases God and fulfills me?

“Everything has to change to some of us.
Something has to change for all of us”. Gary Haugen
What has to change for me?

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him”.
James 1:5

Blessings to you all in 2012!