Wednesday, December 30, 2009

ministry...men & women created in GOD's image

26 God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
27 God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. --Genesis 1:26-27



i have found myself meditating on this scripture a lot lately. i'm both a woman and a minister, and from time to time, i have experienced gender bias in ministry. i know i'm not alone. my intent is not to place blame. i simply want to share a thought about this scripture and hope to encourage or challenge someone.

GOD created both male and female in his image. GOD is just too much for one of us. it took 2 similar yet unique entities to even begin to embody the likeness of GOD. i've been in too many churches where the male point of view or the male presence is the dominant one. and i think to myself, "what a shame." in not embracing both male and female, we lose at least half of who GOD is.



let me stereotype for a moment. men are typically thought of as the thinkers, while women are typically thought of as the feelers. men are considered the conquerers, while women are the nurturers. men are rock-solid. women are emotional. now, we all know it's not as simple as that, but you get the point, i hope. i believe GOD is all of these. and i believe the church will not be complete and live up to the potential that it possesses without both sexes bringing their strengths and talents and abilities to the table and until we learn to respect and embrace each other.



it's not in blaming others, but it's in reconciling and accepting each other that we can truly make a difference in this world in which we live. it's in working together and respecting each other that we can be whole and complete. we're all in this together. after all, GOD doesn't have 2 callings: one for males and another one for females. just one.

annual life review

Got this from a friend and thought i'd answer them too. thanks, rick womack, for sharing...

The following questions come from Michael Hyatt - great content to use as an annual life review:
1. If the last year were a movie of your life, what would the genre be? Drama, romance, adventure, comedy, tragedy, or a combination?

reality, docu-drama, something along those lines. you'd find it on lifetime or something like that.

2. What were the two or three major themes that kept recurring? These can be single words or phrases.

forgiveness, fearlessness, face forward

3. What did you accomplish this past year that you are the most proud of? These can be in any area of your life—spiritual, relational, vocational physical, etc. Be as specific as possible.

i faced many demons in my life, those things that i was afraid to face. i finally hit them head-on.

4. What do you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?

it has to do with my job on staff at a church. i handled people and situations with integrity. unfortunately, it didn't work out the way it should've, but that's ok. GOD knows.

5. What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year? As leaders, we naturally have high expectations of ourselves and others. Where did you let yourself down? Where did you let others down?

i was disappointed that things didn't work out at that church. for the first few months, i believed with all my heart i was supposed to be there long-term. unfortunately, the church came to a crossroads, and we parted ways. i regret that i took so long to forgive some people who mistreated someone i dearly love. i regret i didn't have a better attitude in spite of their actions. i let myself down in regards to my health and other habits.

6. What was missing from last year as you look back? Again, look at each major area of your life. Don’t focus now on having to do anything about it. For now, just list each item.

missing...hmm...i miss a couple of close friends from past moves. i have not been able to replace them. yeah, we stay in touch some, but it's not the same without them. that makes me cry sometimes.

7. What were the major life-lessons you learned this past year? Boil this down to a few short, pithy statements.

...5 years from now, will this matter?...
i can trust GOD.
h.o.p.e. - Hey! Other People Exist - this keeps me aware of my surroundings and keeps my eyes open to see who i can help and how i can help them.

Monday, December 28, 2009

new year, new beginning

i've been surprisingly optimistic this week. i love new year's eve/day, complete with new resolutions and new beginnings. i have spent this last year or so really working on some areas of my life. it's hard living in a spiritual and emotional deficit. it has taken everything i have just to get to even par. but now, i feel like that is changing. with the help of friends, family and a great big GOD, i've been able to put a lot of junk behind me. it feels great. it's time to live in the overflow, the abundance.

i'm not sure about all my new year's resolutions. i have a little time left to solidify those decisions. however, i do know that i have a new ministry i'm really excited about so i'll be throwing myself into that, i want to get more involved in the community, and i want to run at least a couple of 5k races.

it's time for my new beginning. i'm excited about it. and just the other day, i was alone with GOD, and i felt a smile slowly forming on my face, and i got the sneaking suspicion that GOD put there to let me know my best is yet to come, and it begins right about now. that's a great feeling. welcome, 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

facing fear and finding my voice

i was reading a blog by anne jackson entitled, "fear plays the role of antagonist in the story of your life." if you don't subscribe to her blog, i recommend it. it's at flowerdust.net.

every once in a while someone says something that impacts you in a profound way. anne ended her blog with the statement, "the world needs your story in order to be complete." this upcoming year, i'll be launching a new ministry to young women called "emerge." it's about empowering young women to lead with humility and fearlessness. i struggle so with telling my story and embarking on this new ministry because of fear and insecurity. i hear fear telling me that i'm not qualified, that i'm not a good person, that i'm not a good speaker, that no one will care what i have to say b/c i've not accomplished anything in my lifetime. i think fear may be right sometimes or at least have a point. but i think fear does not have to dictate my future. i do have a story to tell, and i think there are people who need to hear that story. perhaps there are a lot of us who need to know that our story matters and that fear doesn't need to define or hinder us from being and making a difference.

i draw courage from queen esther and her journey (see the book of esther). when she was confronted with the knowledge that she and her people were in trouble and that she was in a position to stop it, she was visited by fear. she finally concluded, "if i must die, i die." and she went ahead with plans to save her people from execution. i read in her words a prayer i've uttered often recently, "i'm scared. help me do it anyway."

GOD has a plan for my life. i don't know all the details. i don't know how it's all going to pan out, but i know i have a story that others need to hear. it may not rock the world, but it may rock somebody's world. the world is not complete without my story. and it's not complete with yours. i'm finding my voice. and over this next year, i desire to help others find theirs.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

still standing update

it's amazing how quickly things can change. am i out of the woods yet? nope, but at least i feel like i have more hope than i did earlier this week. i did more than just stand.

i ate a lot better, got in a lot of exercise, talked out my anger issues, got my laundry done, and got the kids to clean up some things around the house. once again my devotional was encouraging and inspiring. it was about developing a better picture-- getting a new vision. this morning built on that devotional. we've all heard the passage about putting new wine into old wineskins. osteen put it this way: "...you cannot have a larger life with restricted attitudes...God wants to fill your life with "new wine," and He wants to give you new "wineskins," new concepts, in which to contain it. But you must be willing to get rid of your old wineskins. Start thinking bigger. Enlarge your vision and get rid of the old negative mind-set that holds you back."

i think sometimes right before we have a breakthrough, we get angry and frustrated. i think that's where i am. sometimes we have to get really uncomfortable before we change. and i'm trying to change and get new "wineskins" so that i can hold the "new wine," the new dreams, that GOD has for me. i'm pretty uncomfortable and frustrated. i hope that means positive change is just around the corner.

yesterday, i hoped for a good day...and that's what i had.

thanks, GOD, for not walking away from me when i'm at my worst. thank you for your gift of hope and your gift of dreams. help me enlarge my vision, and give me that "far and beyond favor" that you tell about in ephesians 2. i still have a lot of work to do to be the person i know you want me to be. help me to remember that with you, i can accomplish this and so much more.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

still standing

my week has been really sucky. i'm trying to eat healthy and exercise. so what have i done? eat, eat, eat. exercise a whopping 10 minutes. i'm been doing devotionals from joel osteen's devotional book, and he's only one of the most encouraging, positive people on the planet. how's my attitude? well, last night i almost came unglued. i was ready to twist someone's head off for a minor offense. i've been angry this week, and i can feel it affecting me physically. i haven't worked on ministry stuff at all, and not one item on my household chore list has gotten done. add to that, someone took my "save the tatas" magnet off my truck this week. who does that?

every goal i've set for this week...i've failed. i'm angry. i'm frustrated. i'm full of shame and regret. i can't seem to do anything right. i just want this week to be over. something's got to give.

i was exercising and losing weight until i changed jobs. now i can't get used to the schedule, and i need to figure out when i'm going to exercise again. i'm emotionally eating again...a bad habit that i hate with a vengeance yet can't seem to break. i have felt so insecure and unqualified to do the ministry that i know GOD has called me to do, and therefore, i can't make myself work on it. and when i'm home, i just want to sleep, not clean.

i've got to push through this... somehow. if i can just get through this week without having given up, i think i'll be ok.

GOD, give me strength to get through this junk i'm going through. help me, at the very least, not to rip anyone's head off. please take away this anxiety i have in regards to my eating habits. help me figure out a schedule in which i can fit in exercise. help me be more efficient with my time. take away my insecurity and discouragement. help me rest and quit stressing. if i can get through the week and still be standing, i'll consider it a great and glorious victory. just stand. that seems all i can do...the victorious life sounds amazing. maybe next week, i'll realize it. but for now...i have to stay standing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

list of household chores for week of dec 13-19

my list of things to do this week around the house:

organize kitchen cupboards
clean and clear kitchen counters
clean refrigerator
sweep and mop kitchen, dining room and sunroom floors
vacuum living room and hallway
do my laundry
organize laundry shelves
recycling
coupons
and get kids to clean their rooms and their bathroom

self-improvement update

my 3 areas of self-improvement:



weight loss:

did pretty well until this weekend and totally blew it. according to charts i saw this morning, i should be 30 pounds lighter to be in the middle of my healthy weight range. so i will attempt to start anew today. i have only eaten when hungry, but it is only 10:30. the most difficult time for me is the evening and night. my goal today is to take it one moment at a time to eat healthy and exercise at least 15 minutes. it's not much, but it's a start. i just want to start developing better habits.



daily devotional:

i got a new devotional book by joel osteen called your best life now. it's already helping me to have a positive attitude and outlook. yesterday's reading was taken from hebrews 11. i got stuck at verse 34 "...whose weakness was turned into strength." i take that as a promise. i have a number of weaknesses and insecurities. i will have faith that they will be turned into strength.



ministry:

i spent hours working on it last week. i finally got the brochure done, i think. i'm planning to concentrate on 2 sessions this week. one is about leading with scars. i'm starting to feel more comfortable with the thought of public speaking...most days.



one other area:

i'm trying to get my house organized and cleaned up, so if i can just get one thing done each day, i'll feel like i actually accomplished something. i'll be making a list today of things that need to get done.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

ministry...accepting who we are as churches

my hubby and i talk a lot to each other about many subjects. not surprisingly, church is one of those much-talked about subjects. after all, so much of our lives have been spent at church. we're in transition trying to decide what church is supposed to be in our minds and what we are looking for in a church. for the last couple of months, we've had church every sunday at home. it seems like a radical idea these days to have home church, but it's not a new idea. followers of Christ met in homes during the early church era. only later, did they move to buildings that would host larger crowds.




our topic last night? for the most part, people classify churches as being either traditional or contemporary. we've attended both. i like and prefer the contemporary over the traditional, but what i don't like is contemporary churches that are straddling the fence. they claim to be contemporary but are more accurately a blend between the two, attempting to be one while holding onto the other. i'm not saying this is wrong, but i do think much of my dissatisfaction with many contemporary churches in general has been because i feel there is a lack of identity. i feel like the desire to please and hang on to every person has become more important than following the vision that GOD has given the church. be who you say you want to be. each individual church does not have to be all things to all people. find your niche as a congregation. go all out and be who you feel GOD has called you to be. there is a place for the traditional. there is a place for the contemporary. there is a place for the post-modern and missional and home church and everything else in-between. together, as a whole, we offer everything this world needs and is searching for. if we as individuals try to be everything to all people, we come up short, get overwhelmed, and end up helping fewer people in the long run.


but if we accept that we each have a niche and celebrate what each of us have to offer and begin to collaborate, together, we can do so much more. together, we can make a difference. there's no need to compete. there's no need to hold on to everyone. there is a church out there for everyone. if someone doesn't feel like one church is right for them, we need to encourage them to find a place that does feel right rather than try to meet everyone's needs and wants. one of my favorite pastors let people know right up front that "this may not be the right church for you. if it's not, i'll do my best to help you find the right church. and we will love you and bless you wherever you choose to worship." he didn't compete. he didn't guilt. he didn't change his vision. he helped. he blessed. he stayed focused. in turn, he has maintained a good reputation in the community and has a growing and successful church. we're all in this together. let's work together and accept ourselves and each other. we can do so much more when we do.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

transformation: emotional eating

got to confess. today was a little more challenging on my journey to transformation. i found it very painful to eat only one serving of my yummy dark chocolate with orange and almond slivers. dang! but i did it! it's wrapped up very nicely in a bag and is resting in the pantry. my heart is screaming for it, but i have to remind myself that my heart will not be satisfied with chocolate or food of any kind. my stomach is satisfied. it desires no more food. once again, i'm trying to fill a void in my heart with food. GOD, please fill my heart with you. my heart yearns for something. emotional eating only makes me feel guilty and packs the weight on. give me strength to pull away from the call of the chocolate. i know this sounds silly, but i am dead serious right now. i don't ever want to be a slave to food again. fill my heart with peace.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

transformation: week one

my devotionals have been on transformation: letting GOD change you from the inside out. i've also been reading a book on giving and stewardship. i'd say these are fitting subjects for this time of my life. i am looking to be transformed in a few areas, and i've been wanting to give more and get involved in some type of community service.

when i lived in northeast georgia, i got the opportunity to help out once a month at a church with their mobile food pantry. we sorted food and then loaded it into cars for people. i went from just sorting to interacting directly with the people coming for the food. i enjoyed it so much, and i miss that. i began attending that church because of the pastor's passion and action in reaching out to the community. he put his vision to action, and i was inspired. i'm looking for that again.

so far, my desire to get healthier has been going well. the big battles haven't found me yet. i've done really well not eating when i'm not hungry, and i've been able to stop when i'm full. i've even gotten a little more exercise in.

i've also been able to get a lot accomplished on ministry. i was able to spend over an hour on it yesterday. in fact, i'm about to spend some time on putting together powerpoint for one of my sessions. this one is about how JESUS treated and valued women during his time on earth. i love it!

i'm optimistic about having another successful day. with GOD, i can accomplish all this and more.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

my first 3 challenges of self-improvement

there are three things i want to concentrate on this week in the area of self-improvement:
  1. healthy eating
  2. daily devotionals/bible study
  3. working on ministry
a few weeks ago, i was so happy about having lost 10 pounds. now, i've gained much of it back. a few years ago, i managed to lose a lot of weight using the principles taught by gwen shamblin called weigh down. it has since been shunned by the christian community due to some doctrinal issues, but i feel that those original principles are really sound. in a nutshell, those principles were the following:
  1. eat only when you're hungry
  2. stop when you're full
  3. eat what your body is calling for

on the spiritual side of things, weigh down taught that when we eat emotionally, we're trying to fill a hole inside us. rather than fill that spiritual hole in our hearts with GOD, we try instead to fill our hearts with food. it sounds easy, but i cried and battled with myself many times before i began to get things in order.

i lost down to my healthy weight, but then i got pregnant again and soon got lazy with my eating habits. i think it's time to give it another shot. my healthy weight is about 30 pounds less than what i am now. but my focus shouldn't be the weight so much as it should be following the principles that will help free me from my slavery to food.

as for daily devotionals/bible study, i will probably go back and finish up a bible study that i left incomplete. i am thinking about one on transparency.

and as for working on ministry stuff, i have a lot to do. my goal is to be ready by the end of the month to begin doing conferences called emerge: empowering young women to lead with humility and fearlessness. i think i can accomplish this by spending 30-45 minutes a day working on it.

it's a lot of stuff to work on, but i think those are the most important for me right now. so, i'll be sure to blog a lot as i strive to make these positive changes part of my everyday life. i welcome all prayers and encouragement! =)

Friday, December 4, 2009

a new chapter: self-improvement

it appears the more you work on yourself, the more work you realize you have yet to do. there are so many areas in which i need to improve that i get a little overwhelmed just thinking about it. i see another list coming in my future. this time it's not a "to forgive" list but a self-improvement list.

but an update on the "to forgive" list might be in order. my list is down to 6 entries. 4 of them are about the same situation. so really, i only have 3 situations left. and 2 are probably really close to being dealt with. i usually am a little slow at marking things off. i want to be sure. i really hate having to add them back again. i am happy and surprised at how well i've reacted in the presence of those who have formerly been on my list. i don't get that rise of anger anymore, and when i feel it coming, i make it a point to remind myself i've forgiven them, so i can't use the offense against them anymore.

now onto more self-improvement. i've got areas that i need to put in check, while there are other areas in which i need to develop healthy habits. so, that means i'll be blogging forever. =)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

thoughts for today

not really sure what to say, but just in the mood to write. so what's in my heart this morning? a lot. probably too much. feels like an a.d.d. day. this i know...i'm thankful for the peace in my heart today. there's a lot more peace these days. i've really surprised myself at how much anxiety and unforgiveness i've let go of lately. i owe so much of that to GOD's grace and patience. i haven't "arrived," and i'm far from perfect. but at least i feel like i'm going somewhere now. i feel like these last few years i've been barely able to tread water. good enough to stay afloat. now i feel like i'm swimming. now i'm not stuck. i'm making progress. not real sure where i'm heading but trusting that GOD knows and that he's leading me.