Monday, June 28, 2010

getting rid of the clutter

while on vacation this past week, i realized something. we lived a whole week with a whole lot less...possessions, that is. i decided when i got home, i would start down-sizing.
do i really need all this stuff?
what is it with this longing to hold on to everything?

a cluttered home. a cluttered heart. a cluttered mind.

and all this clutter brings anxiety.
i abhor that feeling.

i need and desire peace.

and with peace and uncluttered surroundings come a feeling of pride and accomplishment.

my goals this week:
  1. keep clean what has already been cleaned

  2. throw away or recycle what i don't need that isn't worth keeping

  3. let go of 15 things each day that will bless someone else

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

running MY race

i've been reading my devotionals these last couple of days, and the main themes have been about being confident as an original and running MY race, not the race of others. man! that really struck a chord, touched a nerve, made me think.

i am 35 years old. you'd think by now that i had a clue about life, that i'd be more confident, that i'd know where i belong, and...yet...well, here i am.

i've spent most of my life feeling like, if anywhere, i belonged in the land of misfit toys. i never felt like i belonged. i spent most of my youth feeling like GOD had made a mistake. you see, my younger sister died when i was almost 9. i maintained that GOD had taken the wrong sister, so i felt like i didn't belong on this planet or even in my own family. i never felt like i fit in at church. i was always the controversial one who challenged and questioned everything and everyone. though some considered it rebellious, i knew it was due to my inherrant desire to understand the "why" behind everything, my quest for knowledge and understanding. i never wanted to blindly follow. to me, that's dangerous. and as an adult, i've searched intently to find "home," the place where my heart ceases to feel restless.

i've never really felt comfortable in my own skin. i've doubted my decisions. i've struggled with what to do with my life. and i think i now understand why. i've spent most of my life's journey running someone else's race. i have cared too deeply for the opinions and acceptance of others.

i am to run MY race, walk MY journey, follow MY path. there will i find "home." there will my heart find rest and peace and confidence.

i tried to get up early and read my BIBLE and pray for an hour because i was told it would make me more like JESUS. that was someone else's race. i'm a night owl, and i can pray only sentences at a time.

i tried to volunteer all my time and talents at church because i was told it was my spiritual obligation. that was someone else's race, i suppose. it sure wasn't mine. i never got to be light in the world because i never got to be in the world.

i tried to dress a certain way, think a certain way, not act a certain way...all races belonging to someone else.

i tried to be supermom. all that got me was overextended, tired, and run-down. i learned that the word "no" was my best friend. supermom was not my race.

i went to school to be a musician because others expected me to go that route. i felt guilty the day i quit. though i knew that staying at home with my kids was where i wanted and needed to be, i felt like i was disappointing others. i felt like such an underachiever. but being a mom...that was MY race.

and my decisions today...that's MY path. it's okay to question. it's good to think for myself. it's acceptable to like who i am and who i am not. it's okay because GOD made me an original. who i am is beautiful to GOD, and i can be confident in that. in his eyes, i'm pretty and perfectly imperfect just the way he intended me to be. he has a journey planned out for me. i don't have to follow anyone else's. what others do is great...for them. but i need to run my race. and the more i do, the more at home my heart feels. my footsteps have been ordered by GOD.. not by family, friends, or society. whew...what a relief!

Monday, June 14, 2010

new doors and failure

a few days ago, i thought that the ministry part of my life was coming to a close. i'm preparing to return to school, and well, the ministry doors seem to keep slamming in my face right now. i'm not really a logical thinker, but even i can see where this seems to be heading.

then it all started to make sense. most of my ministry has been in the church, working towards building up the existing church, helping to make it a better place, encouraging and raising up leaders. things went pretty well with that for a while. i think, together with my husband and a few others, we did a good job.

but then i slammed into a wall, or rather i think that door may have been shut. a little disappointed at first, i took some time to process. and i concluded this may be a good thing. not all failure is failure. it depends on your perspective. it may be that failure brings you closer to success. i read a story about an inventor who shared that perspective. each failed test only brought him closer to a solution, a new invention. i decided that this door shutting is only bringing me closer to the open door i'm supposed to walk through.

new doors are opening. i don't know what i'm going to find when i get there, but i know GOD will be with me. it's exciting.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

forgiveness like the ocean waves

i love to walk barefoot on the beach at night. to hear the waves crashing against the ocean floor and to feel the cool water swirling around my feet on its way back into the deep. the hint of salt in the air that tingles my nose as i breathe. rarely do i feel closer to GOD than at moments such as these.

for me, healing and forgiveness come in waves and leave me experiencing a similar sensation. one wave washes over me and carries far away and into the deep a portion of the hurt and unforgiveness. refreshed and renewed, i take one step. and another. and at just the right moment, another wave washes over me again and carries away to the deep a little more of the residue the hurt and unforgiveness left behind. it happens again and again.

i wish i were one of those people who can and done. but i'm not. i forgive as i am able. sometimes i feel as if i am so consumed in my suffering that the next wave of healing and forgiveness will have no choice but to be of tsunamic proportions if it is to be successful.

and so here i am. yet another wave has washed over my heart and soul, and i am one step closer to wholeness. as i watch more of the residue being towed into the sea, i am made aware that some things happen for a reason while other hardships are just... bad, yet GOD makes something beautiful of them. this time, i believe those trials have revealed themselves as blessings in disguise. one season has past, and another is just beginning.

and i feel good about it. i'm so exhilarated that if i close my eyes and breathe deeply, i think i feel the saltiness in the air tingling my nose as i breathe in the goodness and blessing of GOD.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

lessons from john wooden

with all the media attention devoted to the recently departed coach john wooden, i was inspired to pick up his book, wooden on leadership. i was surprised to realize that many of the leadership principles i have heard throughout the years originated or were greatly associated with him. barely into the book, i am already putting into practice and thought his principles and values. i have so much to learn.

i have found that when you don't love yourself or see your value, you find it difficult or even impossible to receive good things in your life like compliments, constructive criticism, dreams and direction. when you live out of "deficit," you spend most of your energy just trying to get back to even. it's tiring. sometimes you give up because it just doesn't feel worth the energy or time. but when you begin to love and respect yourself and forgive, you begin to heal. healing brings wholeness, and wholeness brings the opportunity to make your dreams reality. you deserve all the good things GOD sends your way. and don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

i have a group of people in my life that tend to assume the worst about me. they make sarcastic, hurtful comments at times that make me feel worthless, like no one likes me, like i'm a terrible person that can't get along with others. i'm actually afraid to tell them that i'm going back to school to study public relations. i can almost see the shocked looks on their faces and hear the sarcasm in their voices.

now i say that to say the following: it doesn't matter what they say or why they say it. for one thing, i know and those closest to me know who i really am. more importantly, GOD knows who i really am.

while reading wooden on leadership, i came across an account from john wooden's life. he was coaching basketball at ucla at the time. his 1959-1960 team just barely eked out a winning season. though others considered that year a bust, wooden considered this one of his best years of coaching. why? his definition of success. he rarely spoke about winning games and beating his opponents. he defined success as "peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable." did they win the championship that year? far from it. were they a success? very much so. why? because they maximized their abilities both individually and as a unit.

wooden put it this way: " We were a success, but nobody understood it except us. But us is what mattered. It's like character and reputation. Reputation is what others perceive you as being, and their opinion may be right or wrong. Character, however, is what you really are, and nobody truly knows that but you. But you are what matters most."

just like me, you may have those nay-sayers and discouragers in your life that you can't seem to shake. sometimes what they say may have some basis, but truth without love can be just as damaging. the two opinions that matter most about you are the ones that originate with you and with GOD.

don't be afraid to follow your dreams and to acknowledge the good in yourself. you are an amazing, unique masterpiece fashioned by the great CREATOR himself. that's pretty doggone incredible. have you done your best? then have the peace of mind that you are already a success. believe in you. GOD does.