Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Working Hard/Hardly Working

My husband used this Memorial Day weekend to get a bunch of work done around the house. His primary task, though, was painting the trim on our house. My father-in-law came over to help, and they got a lot done. Despite the heat, which was—well, hot. As you would imagine. Then, after eight hours of painting, the man mowed the lawn.

He clearly has a problem.

What did I do while he was painting and mowing and sweating and working? I tended to my son. Set out things for sandwiches. Went shopping (with my son). Watched a movie while my son napped. Got, like, one thing ready for dinner.

It seems that no matter what I do, my husband is always doing more. I can't compete!

And then it occurs to me: Rachel, marriage isn't a competition.

My husband is a busy bee. And, as indicated by the title of this blog, I am most definitely not. My husband and I bring different things to our marriage. Different skill sets, as it were.

Can I paint the house? I suppose. I probably wouldn't do a great job. So I probably shouldn't paint the house. And I definitely can't mow the lawn. It might actually kill me, what with me being deathly allergic to grass and all.

Can my husband play "vacation" with our toddler? Sit in a tent for half an hour looking at insect flashcards with a flashlight, hike up the "mountains" in our house, spend another half an hour in the tent looking at dinosaur flashcards with a flashlight (and see a Baryonyx go by our tent), and fix three imaginary meals out of wooden vegetables? Probably. But he seems to have a low tolerance for imagination games, as he will admit.

So, even when it looks like I'm "only" having fun with my son, I have to remind myself that I'm helping him learn and grow. What I'm doing is important—important in a different way from what my husband does for our family. We don't compete with each other; we complement each other.

Because after watching him work ridiculously hard all day long, I feel like I needed to remind myself of that.

Do you sometimes see your relationships as competitions, purposely or not?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friendly Friday: Scholarship Winner!

As I posted last week, I'm giving away a $150 scholarship toward the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference coming up in July. I know it's not a ton of money, but hopefully it'll help someone get to the conference.

So—today's the big day!

I asked for essays about being a lazy (or unlazy, really) Christian. I got some great ones! I prayed over the process so that God would be the one choosing the winner, and then I sent the essays to my panel of Christian writers who made their picks. And the winning essay is posted here today!

And the winner is...

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Tiffany Stuart


What makes me a lazy Christian? 

One word: procrastination.

Without a deadline, I think I have all the time in the world to live out my faith. For example, at the beginning of this year I sought the Lord about a book idea I’ve had for years now. For 21 days I fasted and prayed for direction and God spoke clearly: Focus on the book. It’s time.

And here I am, in mid-May, with little progress to report. Why?

Because I had other things come up like dentist and doctor appointments, my son’s basketball games, my daughter’s theatre classes, my husband’s travels, my Toastmasters meetings, a couple speaking engagements, spring break vacation, and let’s not forget my growing grocery list and dirty laundry.

Bottom line is: I didn’t make writing a priority. I gave God excuses.

“I’m too busy.”
“I’m too tired.”
“It’s too hard.”
“I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“What if I’m theologically off?”

Plus God didn’t give me a deadline—or did He? I have time, right? I’m still thinking about writing, I’m just not doing it.

Truth be told, I’m afraid. Afraid of failure and afraid of success. Writing a book on shame is a lot of tear-stained-behind-the-scenes-hard-work. What do I have to say that is worth reading anyway? Do you hear doubt? I do. Can I trust God to use my pen to speak hope and healing to those bound by shame?

I do believe, Lord, help me with my unbelief.

It’s humbling to admit I’ve been walking with God for over fifteen years now and I still struggle with following His daily lead. Obedience is not my strength. Procrastination is.

It’s my fatal flaw.

And I am here to confess my fatal flaw must go. I’ve had enough of my delay. I’m sick of me and my excuses. I’m ready to embrace the new me, Christ in me. The One who lives unashamed. The one who reaches out to those in need without hesitation. I am begging God to take my procrastination and make it productivity, for when I am weak, He is strong.

Only God can take a girl who loves to wait and push her out of my comfy nest. It’s time to stretch my wings and fly. 

Bye, bye Procrastination. I’m over you. I’ve got places to go and people to see, so help me God.
                                                   
© Tiffany Stuart 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Obligatory Oprah Post

So I watched the Oprah finale yesterday.

I haven't watched Oprah in a long time. I'll maybe catch an episode once every few months if I'm bored or if I'm really interested in a guest or topic. But both of those scenarios are few and far between. Especially since another channel has started showing reruns of The Partridge Family and Three's Company in the afternoon.

Score!

Anyway. I'm going to avoid having a severe opinion of Oprah, one way or the other. She's a one-woman conglomerate, which is crazy beans to me. But she also does a lot of good in the world, which is—awesome beans? Haven't tried that one yet.

But something she said on her show today—to which I was only half paying attention, mostly due to the migraine I had—stuck with me. I think it's a Maya Angelou quote, so I'll use the Maya Angelou version of it:

"Now that I know better, I do better."

That's a swell thought. Shouldn't that be how it works? Shouldn't we all be learning and growing, and then improving our lives out of that knowledge and growth? When you make a mistake, you learn and you change your behavior.

We should.

We don't. Not always, anyway.

It's a part of any form of maturity. Knowing what's unacceptable and then not doing that anymore. Like wiping your arm on your sleeve at the dinner table. By the time kids are ten years old (and hopefully before!), they know that's not an acceptable thing to do. They learn to use a napkin. They know better, so they make a better choice.

Hopefully.

This concept is really at the heart of the Christian walk. Christianity is a constant learning process. As long as we're growing and fostering our relationship with God, he shows us things about ourselves that could stand to improve: how we treat other people, the attitudes we have, hearts that have been hardened by difficult life experiences. God points out the wrong attitudes in our lives and tells us to make a change. And when we know there's a better choice, we should make the better choice.

Hopefully?

*sigh* It's not the easiest thing to do.

But I want to do better! I don't want anyone to look at my attitude and say, "Well, she's clearly not at the right place spiritually." I want to be a mature Christian who makes great decisions and has a positive influence on the people and lives around me!

And, honest to goodness, that's not out of reach. If I'm only willing to change and grow. And do better.

I suppose I owe Oprah a "thank you" for this post. Because I needed one more thing to work on. Le sigh.

Have you learned something lately that you need to implement so you can "do better?"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Was a Senior Hottie

Because I love a belle, a bean, & a chicago dog, I've decided to link in to her Senior Hotties meme.




First, I was not a hottie. I wasn't a mega-nerd, but I wasn't cool. Just so we're clear. I'm only using the hottie title because it's funny—for a lot of the other people linking up, too, I hope.

Secondly, my senior picture isn't all that embarrassing. The late 90s were a fairly neutral time fashion-wise. Although I've always been fairly neutral. I've never been trendy, which means I wasn't super cool, but it also means there aren't many embarrassing photos of me in 80s fashions.

So, for your viewing pleasure, here is my not-that-lame-or-embarrassing senior picture:


My senior picture. Books make me look smart!


So there you go. Are you willing to share your picture? Go here to link up!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not Insane, Not Alone

First, I would like to put in a shameless, nepotistic plug for my cousin Kristina. She's brilliant, I've always admired her, and she's just started a new blog over at Mama Writes.

Thanks to her blog, I've been introduced to an author by the name of Hope Edelman. She's written two books on the topic of mother loss, and I just got the book Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss from the library.

I've mentioned before that my mother died when I was about three years old. She had pancreatic cancer. Not a day goes by when I don't think of her—wonder what she was like or what I could share with her about my life. I want her to meet my wonderful husband. I want her to meet my son and tell me that he's the cutest thing she's ever seen. I want her to tell me I've done well in life. Just stuff like that. Even though I have no memory of her, her death may be one of the most defining events in my life. Actually, maybe it's a defining event because I have no memory of her. Difficult to say. It's hard to go through life and know so very little about this woman who means so much to me.

Something else I've mentioned before is that I've been afraid of my 30s. My mom was only 31 when she died. I turned 31 last year. This birthday was looming over me, along with the rest of my 30s, because I was sure I was going to die young. Because, clearly, I'd get cancer young, too, and I'd leave my son without a mother, too. Of course.

And even if I was around to be a mother to my son, I'd be a terrible one. How could I love him like a mother when I have no idea what a mother's love looks like? Feels like? I don't know how a mother acts with her kid because mine was gone too soon. How am I supposed to do this? Certainly I am unqualified for this position.

Those thoughts made me feel insane. What kind of person thinks about these things?

And then I started reading Hope Edelman's book.

Apparently lots of women who have lost their mothers have the exact same thoughts. When they approach the age at which their mothers died, they think about their own mortality and assume they're going to die young, too.

It's not just me.

And they also assume they'll be terrible mothers, especially ones who lost their mothers at a very early age. They don't know how they'll teach a child things they never learned from their own mother. They're unsure of what a mother-child relationship really looks like.

It's not just me.

There is something so comforting in knowing I'm not alone. I suddenly don't feel crazy. I suddenly feel like a burden has been lifted off of my heart—the burden of feeling like an idiot when I share with my husband all of my fears of dying young and of being a lousy mother. He doesn't think I'm an idiot, but he can't relate. He still has both of his parents.

I don't know why I assumed no one felt like I did. That no one had these same thoughts. Other women have lost their mothers at a young age, so why wouldn't other women have the same thoughts? In fact, I'll bet there's no experience you could have in this life that isn't shared by someone else on the planet. If you only knew.

So I guess this post is just to reassure you that there's someone out there who knows how you're feeling and what you're going through. And hopefully one day you'll find them, and they'll help you feel less alone.

That's all.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friendly Friday: Paula Ebert

Today's Friendly Friday blogger is---another Paula! Paula Ebert this time, though, of Grow Where You're Planted. She's a swell gal with a heart for God, and she's another one I'm looking forward to meeting at the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference.

Man. I just hope I can put all the names with the faces come July!

And, again, I met her through Twitter, where she's always an encouragement to me. So be an encouragement back to this great lady by visiting her blog and following her on Twitter!

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Rachel, thank you so much for the opportunity to guest post on your blog!  I love to write and share the thoughts God places on my heart as He teaches me to grow where I am planted. 

*****

I got a speeding ticket a couple of months ago. In a school zone. Ouch.

There I was, just minding my own business driving along a very familiar strip of road, when all of a sudden I saw a state patrolman coming up behind me in the rear view mirror. Wait—wasn’t he just going the opposite direction? His lights started flashing. As I tried to find a place to pull over, my mind raced. I had no idea what I had done wrong!

By the time I pulled over and waited for him, I was distraught—tears streaming down my face. See, I don’t like to break rules. I don’t like to get in trouble. I’m a perfectionist.

Very gently and humbly (okay, scared and shaking), I rolled down the window and asked why he stopped me. Apparently I had been going 47 in a 35. What? But the speed limit is 45—except during school zone times. Oh. The school zone was still in effect, even though all I noticed was that the kids were in school and there were hardly any cars on the road. I was in shock and proceeded to tell him that it was an honest mistake. That I had no idea it was still school zone time. I tried to think back and remember if I had seen flashing yellow lights. Hmmm. Couldn’t remember. As I tried to plead my case, I accepted the truth that I was, in fact, going to get a ticket. I couldn’t plead ignorance when I hadn’t thought to read the big sign that was right in front of my face. That sign had become just another part of the scenery.

After he let me go (with my nice big ticket), I drove back down the strip of road to look at the sign closely. I really thought that somehow the school zone had ended at 9:15 (three minutes before the ticket was written). However, it was over at 9:25 (yep—seven minutes AFTER my ticket was written.

Was I mad? Yes. I always try to go the speed limit. I always stop at stop signs. I’m the one who would stay stopped at a red light at 3:00 in the morning (if I was ever out that late). I honestly didn’t realize I was speeding.

Did any of this matter? No. Why? Because I can’t plead ignorance.

It’s like that with our walk as Christ-followers, isn’t it? He’s given us this big book that tells us how He wants us to live. And it’s not just a big book of rules, my friends. God wrote the Bible out of pure, unquestionable, unchangeable, unconditional LOVE for us! We cannot claim ignorance when we sin. It’s right there in black and white! Unfortunately, the Bible can become that “familiar strip of road” to us. We take it to church. We have one on a shelf (or two or three). We talk about it. But do we really know the Bible and do more with it than just let it become a “part of the scenery?"

In the gospel of John, Jesus tells us that we can do nothing apart from Him. Hmm. I guess that means we ought to spend some of “our” time listening to Him. Don’t you think? 


With that in mind, how’s your Christ-following walk going? Are you in the Word regularly? Hey, I am the first to confess that I struggle with making time for it. Notice I didn’t say that I struggle with “having time.” We all have the time. Right? We make time for the things we want to do. For the things we love. For the things closest to our hearts. Where does reading the only true Book of Love fall on your list of priorities? Your list of things you love to do? How close are His words to your heart?

Here’s a challenge for next week: If you are not in a regular habit of reading the Bible, my challenge to you is to take time out of every day next week and spend it with God, in His Word. You never know how this may change your heart and your life. And friends, I hope you don’t take this as a legalistic kind of thing. Legalism is one of Satan’s greatest tools (but that’s a post for another day!) We spend time with God because we want to build a relationship, not because we want to check off something on a to-do list. If you are already faithful in reading every day (or most days), the challenge is to dig a little deeper. We never arrive at perfection in our faith. God wants to continuously sanctify us—if we will let Him.

So, don’t let the Bible (or your Christianity) become that “strip of familiar road.” Dig into the Word and learn from the Creator of this universe! When it comes to the life He has planned for us, ignorance is not bliss.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 (NIV)


© Paula Ebert, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Need More Answers!

Here are some things that have crossed my mind randomly in the past week. I'm accepting answers, if you have any!

1. Does someone do Donald Trump's hair every day, or do you think he designed and maintains that himself?

2. Do people in NYC have to own carseats to ride in taxis? So if you take a taxi, do you have to haul a carseat with you? Or are there some taxis that have carseats? I'm intrigued.

3. Do you think God has a place in his heart for Satan? I mean, Satan once used to hang out with God and all that. He must have cared for him at one point. Do you think God thinks of Satan and says, "Man. If you'd only made some better choices, we'd be tight?"

4. Are there really sensors in the road at traffic lights, or is that some urban myth that keeps us behind that white line?

5. Who thought to make bread out of zucchini? And a sweet bread, at that? At least carrots are kinda sweet to begin with. I can see carrot cake. But zucchini? Then again, I may just love this one too much to question it.

6. Why do I love to buy journals and then never write in any of them? It's like some sort of sickness. I suppose you can't answer this one, but at least tell me I'm not alone!

7. Why do people live in Arizona? Even its tourism brochure says, "If you get tired of the oppressive heat, why not visit lovely San Fransisco?" I can't imagine anyone would want to live there if even the visitors are redirected to San Fransisco!

8. Why does anyone still use the word "irregardless?" Hasn't it been made fun of enough for people to realize it's wrong?

9. Do Bridezillas know they're being that way? Or do they think they're supposed to act that way? It's a mystery. They have to know it's lousy behavior before they end up on a reality show, right?

10. Where did this scar just under my bottom lip come from? It's not noticeable to anyone but me, but I just re-noticed it and am now curious about its origins. Nasty fall? Toddler knife fight?

11. Why are games like The Sims fun? I mean, it's like life. Except more complicated. I'm neglecting my real life to play with someone's fake life. And yet I can't stop. Can someone explain this to me?

That's all for now. Do you have any unanswered questions this week?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Critic

I think I'm a hyper-critical person. Not only am I super critical about myself, but I tend to be critical about others, too. Mostly performance-related things—acting, dancing, singing. Probably because I do all of those things. I think I can be critical when it comes to writing, too, but it's mostly grammar. Those rules aren't mine.

But the other ones kind of are. Ugh.

This was really brought to my attention on Sunday at our ballroom dance showcase. It's a day-long event where people do ballroom dance routines all day long. My husband and I even did a short routine—very short. Only 30 seconds. It was fun!

But as the day wore on and I watched more and more performances, I was tired and cold (that room was freezing), and my inner critic started to come out. I couldn't say much about the actual dance steps, since I'm a beginner myself, but I sure had an opinion on everything else.

These people need more energy. Those people have blank faces and look bored to death. Everyone points too much. Who needs to point during a foxtrot? This song is awful. I hate it when people use props! So cheesy!

Seriously. I sounded like Len from Dancing With the Stars.

But you know what? Len's a judge. Someone appointed him to say those things. Not me. My job was to support my fellow dancers, do my little 30-second routine, and just enjoy the day. But I let the critic in me come out and make me grumpy. It really brought down my attitude and the day with it.

I need to curb my critic. I need to learn that no one cares what I think. No one appointed me to the Council of Essential Opinions. If there is such a thing. Which I doubt.

When does your critic come out? How do you suppress it? I'm taking suggestions!

Monday, May 16, 2011

She Speaks Essay Contest!

I'm really looking forward to the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference in July. It's in North Carolina, a place I've never visited. I get to pop in on a friend of mine I haven't seen in some years. And I get to spend time with wonderful, intelligent women who are writers like me!

Does it get any better than that?

Yes, yes it does.

Because I want you to be there, too!


I know there are still many women fundraising for their She Speaks registration fee, and I'd like to help. Well, me and an anonymous She Speaks donor who sweetened the deal for me. Isn't that nice?

So I have $150 to give away toward your She Speaks registration!


She Speaks Conference

Here are the guidelines:
  • You need to write a blog post for me. Here's the topic:
    • All of us have a little Lazy Christian in us, right? What's your main pitfall when it comes to your faith walk? How are you working on becoming an unLazy Christian in that aspect?
  • So that's the topic. Explore it as fully as you can. But, more than that, I want your writing voice. What sets you apart from all those other writers out there? Be you
  • Please watch your spelling and grammar—have someone proofread it for you. I was an English major, after all, so I'm a little persnickety about these things. And then e-mail it to thelazychristian at yahoo.
  • Word limit is 450. For reals. I may have a lot of these to read! I hope I do, anyway.
  • Entries are due by Friday, May 20, 2011.
  • I will narrow it down to the top five (using a rubric measuring content, style, voice, and grammar), which will then go on to a panel of female, Christian writers I've hand-picked for this contest. Isn't that professional of me? Names will be removed from the essays to prevent any partiality. They will then select their favorite, and the most popular with the panel will be our winner!
And here's a little more info on the actual registration stuff:
  • You must already be registered for She Speaks 2011. It's full, so I guess you couldn't get in now if you wanted to. But still. Already registered.
  • I'll send the money directly to She Speaks on behalf of your scholarship. They'll apply the money to your registration fee. I will not send you a check directly. Update: If you've already paid, She Speaks will refund $150!
  • Please include your full name and address in the e-mail with your entry so I can provide that information to She Speaks with your scholarship. You know, in case there are 50 Jane Smiths registered already. I want you to get your cash, yo!
The winner's post will be my Friendly Friday post for Friday, May 27. That's how you'll know if you won! If you don't win and you'd like me to hang on to your post to use as a Friendly Friday feature, please let me know that in your entry e-mail (and include the name and address of your blog, if you have one). I'll be sure to use all the essays I get!

And know this: This contest is under heavy surveillance. By God. I'm praying over this like mad so that the right person gets this prize. I'm praying over my judgement, the judgement of my writer's panel, everything. I mean, $150 may not sound like a ton of money, but there may be someone for whom this $150 is the difference between going and not going. So, if you win, know that you were hand-picked by God for this one! How awesome is that

That's it! If you have any questions, leave a comment or send an e-mail to the above address. I look forward to reading your posts!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friendly Friday: Paula Whitehouse

Today's Friendly Friday blogger is Paula Whitehouse from over at Paula's Sharing Spot. She's a sweet gal who's super fun and interesting. I met her on Twitter about a month ago, and her blog (which is lovely, by the way) is a real look into her heart.

And she's Australian. How cool is that? I wonder if she says, "G'day, mate?" Because, you know, that's almost all I know about Australians. Here's the rest of it: Koala. Wallaby. "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport." Boomerang. Outback. Great Barrier Reef. Everyone wears khaki all the time and those hats with the one side up. Surfing. Hobbits? No, that's New Zealand.

Sorry, Paula.

I'm glad she's writing about identity today. She's written about it on her blog recently, and it's something a lot of us struggle with in this world (myself included). I'm glad she chose to share this with us!

Read her here, read her there. Read her everywhere!


**************************




How do you discover who you really are in Christ?

This is a question that keeps cropping up a lot of late. I mean, I know who I am as Paula; I even did a blog post on it a couple of months back titled Discovering My True Identity. But there is still this question left unanswered.

As far as how God feels about me—well, I know that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” and “altogether beautiful." However, I’ve been getting the feeling lately that there is more to this life than just the body I walk around in. After all, it is only temporary and we are promised new bodies when we get to heaven.

Second Corinthians 5:4 sums up how I am feeling at the moment about life here on earth.

“While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.”

Now, it’s not that I want to die, but I know I want to get to heaven. It’s not that I want to give up, but that I want to keep going for Him because I know there is more to this life than meets the human eye!

I love the quote by CS Lewis that says, “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” This sums up my “because I know there is more” feeling I have about life here on earth.

John 4:23-24 from The Message gives a clue to who God wants us to be:

"It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration."

It’s about living for Him and worshipping Him in truth and honesty. It’s being the “Soul” that God planted in us before the beginning of time. It’s letting our spirit and our joy bubble over onto the outside into this fallen world we live in.

So, to answer my question:  I believe that to truly discover who you really are in Christ is to let the Holy Spirit work IN you. It’s not rocket science, this walk with God, but it is about trust, obedience, worship and reverence to Him. All things that will be rewarded by His truth about who we really are, and the promise of eternal life with Him.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Coming Events

Are you going to the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference in July?

I am! I can't wait!

Do you still need some fundraising help to get there? Would $150 help?

It would? Oh, good!

Come back Monday morning to find out how you can win $150 toward your She Speaks registration!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hey Jude

Monday night, I read the entire book of Jude.

I know, I know. You're thinking, "How impressive! That Rachel is something else! She read a whole book of the Bible in one night! That's incredible!"

Well, if you've ever read the book of Jude—which, *ahem*, I have—you'd know that it's one chapter.

One. Chapter.

I had you for a minute! You thought I'd read a big giant book! Ha!

*sigh* It was fun while it lasted.

I was actually flipping through looking for something else when a verse from Jude jumped off the page at me:

Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 1:22-23

So interesting.

There will always be people who don't believe, and I definitely feel a personal call to show love to those who don't follow Christ. While this verse reinforces that idea, it also raises some interesting points:
  1. Be merciful to those who doubt. Doubt is a natural thing we all struggle with. Be understanding and compassionate when someone either passively or aggressively (or passive-aggressively?) doubts God or faith or the Bible. Even believers. Show love; don't get defensive or aggressive in return. Speak the truth in love, and that may lead them to Christ.
  2. Save others by snatching them from the fire. Plain and simple, some people come to God out of fear. Either they have some life experience that changes their heart and mind, or they reach a point where they realize Hell is real and they want out. But, honestly, if you go around telling people they're going to Hell, they're just as likely to turn away from God as they are to turn toward him. If you see someone headed toward disaster, make your best effort to bring them out of it. Show them who God is and the mercy that awaits them if they head for him. And show them with love. Always.
  3. To others, show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. There are some who—instead of you bringing them up—will try to bring you down with them. Always be cautious that when you're trying to pull people out of the mud, you don't get stuck yourself.
All good reminders. Who knew such a little book could have so much good information?

Now, go read Jude! It's only one chapter, but then you can tell people you read a whole book, too!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Under Attack

I didn't really want to post about this because I find it kind of embarrassing. But sometimes a gal just needs to ask for prayer. So I'm going to.

Because I think Satan is all up in my grill. And he chose a weird thing to get to me.

Stage fright.

I've been on stage acting or singing or dancing in front of people since age five. I've never been afraid of it. I mean, once in a while I get butterflies, but nothing serious. But my anxiety has been increasing over the past few months, and all of a sudden, the stage (at church only, it seems) is the last place I want to be. Which is weird.

This past Sunday, I was supposed to do a scene at church. It wasn't a difficult one—just a scripture reading between the verses of a song. I've done things like this before. But when the script appeared in my e-mail, my stomach turned. I showed up to rehearsal on Thursday and I thought I was going to throw up. Then I started bawling in front of everyone who was at rehearsal—and that was before I'd even spoken a word of the script! Mostly because I didn't feel like I could speak a word of the script. My heart was gripped by fear, and it felt like that fear was also squeezing my lungs and my vocal chords and whatever else was going to get the words out. 

It. Was. Awful.

Thankfully, one of my friends was able to pick up the scene for me at the last minute, and she did a phenomenal job. But it was embarrassing to have to tell anyone that I couldn't do it, that I was afraid to perform. My friends in the Worship and Creative Arts Ministry know this isn't typical for me, though, so they were understanding and, frankly, worried about me. Which I appreciate. A lot.

Now, I won't pretend that I'm an anxiety-free person. I've been known to worry and to get anxious about some things. However, acting has never been one of them. It's one of my favorite things to do. I get up in front of thousands of people a little less often than once a month to perform, and I've been with this drama ministry for almost five years. Anxiety has never been a problem.

The only thing I can think of is that I'm under attack. And this isn't the first time Satan's chosen me or our drama ministry for his attack. 

Satan is such a jerkface.

It's been mentioned that maybe it's God telling me to back off from the drama ministry for some reason—a couple have my friends have offered that up as a possibility. And at first I thought, "Gee. Maybe. But that kind of came out of nowhere, then."

And then I realized that God doesn't send debilitating fear. 

God wants us to fear three things, essentially: him (Luke 12:4-5), Satan (1 Peter 5:8), and judgement (2 Peter 2:4-10). It's one thing for him to speak to my heart or make me feel uncomfortable. It's another thing to be gripped by fear and find myself unable to use the gifts God's given me to bring him glory. Especially regarding a ministry than can be exceptionally powerful. That doesn't sound like God. Now, who does that sound like?


So, if you think of me, I could use your prayers. Satan needs to back up off me. I don't know why he's giving me a hard time all of a sudden, but at least I recognize that it's him this time. That's a step in the right direction.

Thanks in advance for all of your prayers!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rachelianity

First, I will preface this post by saying that you can believe whatever you want. In this whole wide world, you have options to believe whatever you like. Whatever you choose. You can believe that the sun orbits the earth, or that you can control the weather with your mind, or that broccoli is delicious. You have the ability to believe any number of things, no matter how possible or impossible they may be. That's the beauty of free will and free thought and all that.

But.

If you choose to be called a Christian, your choices are a bit narrower.

The term Christian, plain and simple, means "follower of Christ." That means you follow the teachings of Christ. You read his words, you do what he says.

Not just some of it. All of it.

So when Christ says:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

That means, as a Christian, you believe that. Christ said it. As a follower of Christ, that's part of your doctrine.

You can't pick and choose.

If I decided to piece together my own belief system—take a little from here, a little from there, listen to some things Christ said and not others—I would cease to be a Christian. I'd become a Rachelian. I'd become a follower of whatever I wanted to believe. Whatever sounded good to me. Or easy. Or fun.

Rachelianity is not Christianity. Clearly. Even though I've got a Rachelmas to go with it.

But I digress.

Christianity has somehow become this broad idea that encompasses whatever you want. You can't say that Christ died for your sins and in the next breath say that he's not the only way to the Father. It's all or nothing. You either take everything that Christ said and did, or you essentially take none of it.

That's not to say that if you're not the World's Most Perfect Christian you don't count as a Christian. There's a difference between trying to live your life for Christ and screwing up (which we all do) and actually rejecting his teachings as you see fit. I'll never be a perfect Christian as long as I live. There's just no way. But rejecting his teachings to suit my lifestyle kind of takes me off the path altogether.

Like I said, you can believe whatever you want. You can believe an amalgamation of whatever religion du jour you prefer.

But unless you adhere to the teachings of Christ—all of them—you can't really call it Christianity.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friendly Friday: Patti Hazlett

Today's Friendly Friday guest post is from another Twitter friend of mine, Patti Hazlett.

Eh. She's OK.

I'm kidding! I just always say such glowing things about my pals, I thought I'd switch it up a little bit. They're all just so great, aren't they?

Patti is no exception. She's sweet and funny on Twitter, and her blog, For Such a Time as This, is really insightful. She even uses scripture! All the time! 

Things I aspire to. 

The blog post she wrote for me today hit me like a ton of bricks—a real "gut check," as she calls it. And if I know my readers, it'll hit all of you pretty hard, too.

That's OK. We Lazy Christians need that, right? Right.

So read Patti here, then go check her out at For Such a Time as This and follow her on Twitter. And thanks for the post, Patti!

*****************************

I totally stole this pic of Patti. 

Sometimes I wake up with the words of Psalm 139:23-24 in my head. “Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Recently, a toilet in our house overflowed, causing a flood of about 600 gallons of water. You can imagine the damage. In the repair process, doors have been removed. Doors to spaces and closets that I would prefer to keep hidden. Now, the clutter and mess is exposed for all to see. There is no way to cover it up.

It’s kind of like my heart. Most of the time, I can keep a tight lid on some of those anxious thoughts and offensive ways that I struggle with. Impatience. Anger. Worry. Harsh words. Judgment. The list goes on. But, when the doors come off and my struggles are exposed, through my own failure to give them over to the One who can change me, my clutter and mess come spilling out for all to see.

When that happens, it hurts. It hurts others and it hurts me. But mostly, I think it pains my Savior because He knows how He can help me if I just lean in to Him and let Him.

Its times like these when Psalm 139:23-24 settles in like a gut check. He tenderly points out where I am struggling and assures me that He is working in me. Realizing the issue and confronting it are big deals for me. I spent way too many years living in denial and never thinking I had issues to contend with. I was so wrong.

Today, I failed. My daughter was tired and a tad grouchy and instead of nurturing her in a loving manner, I got annoyed and frustrated with her. This Psalm’s words came to mind after I dropped her off for school.

As I read Scripture and prayed, I found comfort in two passages: 

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:10

“Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11 

I cannot change on my own. My surrender will be the catalyst. When I embrace that and pray these Scriptures, things do begin to happen. Rest assured, no matter how far we may have to go, it is not as far as from where we came. I take comfort in that and I keep pressing into Him.

© Patti Hazlett, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Let Your Game Do the Talking

I love to brag.

Well, I don't love to do it. It's something I do. And I hate that I do it. It's part of my lack of filter when it comes to the things that escape my mouth. But I love being good at things! Don't you? I mean, I'm not good at everything, so shouldn't I celebrate the things that I am good at?

Internally, sure. Externally, not so much.

I know, I know. It's a sign of low self-esteem. I have to build myself up so hopefully others will do it, too. Or because others aren't? Something like that. Comes from years of not being good enough for the people around me, even though my life is currently filled with loving, supportive people. Old habits die hard, I guess.

My husband is such a humble guy. He'll never tell you he's a good guitar player, but he is. He'll never say he's a great cook (especially when it comes to grilling), but he is. And he'll never say that he's a super great Christian who does what he's supposed to, but he truly is and he totally does. He's always reading his Bible and setting aside time for prayer and making time for God.

He's a good spiritual leader and he makes me look lazier. Like I needed help with that.

There are times that I'm about to open my mouth to brag about something, and I know Brandon sees it coming. He never quite catches me in time, but afterward, he always says, "Let your game do the talking, Rach."

As in, people will know you're the world's greatest basketball player by how well you play basketball, not by how many times you say, "I'm the world's greatest basketball player."

I don't know why I picked basketball. I don't even like basketball. Just saying.

Anyway, the more you talk about how great your game is, the more you'd better live up to it—and the more disappointed people will be when you don't. If you just do your thing to the best of your ability, other people will notice and say, "Wow, he's/she's really great at that." Because, unless someone else says that you're good at something, are you really good at it? How much is your inflated opinion worth?

My inflated opinion is worth very little, frankly.

So I'm trying to follow my awesome husband's example by keeping my yap shut and letting my game do the talking. No, you will not see me call myself the world's greatest blogger! The world's greatest mom! The world's greatest dancer! The world's greatest wife (though that's a stretch, anyway)! The world's greatest actor! The world's greatest basketball player!

I already told you, I don't even like basketball. Why does this keep coming up?

I'm going to attempt to be humble. And let my game do the talking, no matter what activity I think I'm doing awesomely, or how great the temptation is to broadcast it to the known world.

Do you have a problem with humility? Don't worry—you can tell me. I won't think you're bragging.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Making a List

If you read my guest post at Eternal Lizdom yesterday, you'd know that my great aunt died. I was out of town for her funeral. But I'm home now.

And I'm thinking about funerals. Naturally.

I'm thinking about whether I'll be young or old. Who'll be at my funeral? What they'll say about me? Will people cry? Will my darling husband have to deal with planning everything? Or my precious son? What can I do to make it easier?

A-ha! A list!

  • I want a navy blue casket. My grandpa had one and it was really pretty. No pictures on the inside or anything.
  • I want my funeral to be like a celebration. Guess what? I'm going to be partying in Heaven, so I totally give you permission to party here.
  • No depressing organ music. I want a rousing rendition of "I'll Fly Away," like it is on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Then Coldplay's "Green Eyes," even though that'll make my husband cry. But it'll be a sweet cry. And maybe that David Crowder song, "How He Loves." That's a great one.
  • Everyone should wear green, since that's my favorite color.
  • Maybe some of my friends from the drama ministry could perform something I wrote. Something particularly poignant and profound. Provided I've written anything poignant and profound by the time my funeral rolls around. 
  • And I want the pastor, whoever it is at that point, to use it as an opportunity to share Christ with the people in attendance. 
Some people are superstitious and say it's unlucky to talk about your funeral. Like it'll happen sooner. God's got a timeline, and this blog post isn't going to change that. And, honestly, the funeral's not a big deal. It is for the people who need closure and who need to mourn, but I'm not going to be there. It's like a wedding being the big deal. It's one day; it's not the marriage. It just marks the beginning. A funeral is one day; it's not the whole of eternity. It just marks the beginning. 

Anyway, I think funerals are interesting. Am I the only morbid person who thinks about this stuff?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Guest Post at Eternal Lizdom!

Howdy, readers! I didn't post yesterday, I know. I'm not posting today, either. Well, not here. Pop over to my guest post today at Eternal Lizdom, and I'll see you tomorrow!


Eternal Lizdom