Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mary or Martha?

Tonight at church I was touched by the story of Mary and Martha, Lazarus's sisters. Do you remember them? Jesus was in their home, ministring to people when Mary left the kitchen to come sit at Jesus's feet while Martha remained in the kitchen. Martha got mad and complained to Jesus that Mary was not helping. In Luke 10:40 (NIV) it says that Martha was distracted. In verses 41-42, Jesus says, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Wow! That spoke volumes to me! I have had trouble staying focused all my life... easily distracted by the little things around me........ as an adult, my attention span has become that of a nine-year old child! I, like Martha, am distracted by the less-important things, losing my focus. Mary had the same responsibilities of her sister Martha (after all, they had a whole housefull of guests!) , yet she made the better choice. Mary realized that "the little things" were not important or as pressing compared with time at Jesus's feet. Most days I feel as though I'm running around with my hair on fire! There is SO MUCH to get done each day..... get up, get ready, feed the cat, drive to work, lesson plans, make copies, go home, cook, go to the gym, grade papers..... the list is endless! None of these are bad things, they are all things that need to be done........ yet not once did I mention spending time with Jesus. Too often, my time of Bible reading and quiet time is either put off until evening, or I just forget. I'm ashamed to admit that, but it's true. I'm too distracted with daily life. I'm too worried about the "many things" than to know the one thing that is needed.... renewing my relationship with Jesus. I've struggled in my relationship with God for years. After my time in Indiana, I came back home mad at God. I let my daily life distract me.... "I was too busy", "I really need Sunday to rest", all the excuses to keep from spending time with Him. I am trying to repair this relationship. I've come to realize that my life will never be different until I set my priorities straight. I must be involved in daily time alone with God. I must find a fellowship of believers whom I can encourage and be encouraged. Ultimately, I need to be a Mary. I need to chose the best thing (Jesus). So.... Margaret, don't be distracted!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and doggonit, People Like Me

Anyone else remember this? Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley.... Saturday Night Live! Like many people, I have struggled with feelings of self-worth. When I look in the mirror, I am quick to point out the flaws that I see.... those gray hairs, the extra pounds, the million chins! Too often I listen to that negative voice in my head that says, "you aren't good enough", "no one will like you," no one will even notice you"! Very rarely can I tell you GOOD things about myself... I'm creative, determined, I'm a good teacher, I'm funny............ even now I really struggle to think about positive things about myself! We constantly compare ourselves to other people.... I want that person's hairstyle, love their fashion sense, wish I was as outgoing as they are.... or we want things that others have... I want a car like that! Why can't I be skinny like her? The list could go on and on! We place our worth in THINGS (or lack thereof!) rather than in our Savior! The Bible tells us that He "chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters!) through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ." Ephesians 1: 4-9 (NIV) God desires us to place our worth through HIM.... we were created by him.... US.... sinful beings were chosen by GOD, to be redeemed by GOD, to praise GOD and serve Him! He reveals His will to us according to HIS good pleasure! My worth has NOTHING to do with me.... my haves/have nots, my intelligence, my personality.... my worth has EVERYTHING to do with the One who FORGAVE me.... so, I guess the quote would better be..... "I'm NOT Good Enough, I'm NOT Smart Enough, but, Doggonit... My SAVIOR CHOSE ME ANYWAY!!!!! :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

What was I thinking? Why can't I think that way again?

When I was in college, I was a summer missionary. Three summers. My last summer (before my senior year) I was sent to Minnesota for the summer. That was the summer of 1995. For whatever reason (that I can't remember now) I kept a journal of sorts. Last night during my Bible reading I came across the journal and began to read some of my thinking. In many ways, I'm in awe of how deep my thinking was, yet I still struggled with the same thing: finding God's will for my life! Can't help but feel a little sad that I have regressed in my relationship with God. That's now how it's supposed to be! Here are a few of my excerpts......."May 29, I'm scared because I don't have the same eagerness and anticipation as everyone else. Is this really God's will or is it just something to do?" Was I doubting my going? My calling? Or was it just nerves? Today, I think that it was the nerves and anticipation of a summer of new discovery! As I was reading I found a letter I had written to myself near the end of my partner and I's time at a particular church. Looking over the letter I weep wondering "where did I go wrong?" I think about how sure I was as a 21 year-old about what I thought God wanted me to do. Was I wrong? Or have I been disobedient and not followed what I thought was God's plan was for me? Here is parts of the letter: July 10, 1995 "Tonight I just got back from eating supper at the Copeland's house. Phil and Kris were missionaries in West Africa. After speaking with them I feel like Jonah--- running from God and His calling. When I was 17, I went on a ten day mission trip to Belize to work with a church doing Bible club. I remember thinking, 'I could handle doing this for the rest of my life.' Little did I know that God might call me to foreign missions. The next year I went to St. Anne's Bay, Jamaica on a 10 day mission trip. It was during this time when I really began to struggle with God's calling. I talked with Wayne, an adult who had met up with our church group and was one of our leaders. He shared with me 4 steps to finding God's will.... 1. personal quiet time (prayer and Bible study), 2. godly counsel, 3. Bible, and 4. wisdom of parents" During that same summer, I talked with one of the pastors we were working with about foreign missions. Long story short, I wasn't sure if that was the right thing for me because I was scared of being alone. I gave God a condition: I would have to have a companion (husband). Ultimately, I applied for (and received a position) as a 2-year home missionary after graduation. My letter concluded, "I'm scared because I do not know how to be strong. I don't want to be alone on the mission field. I know that God will grant me companionship, but it may not necesssarily be a husband. God will not allow me to be alone- for He is always with me and will never leave me nor forsake me." I did go as a home missionary after college. I spent one-and-a-half years as a missionary in Indiana and was miserable the whole time. I often wonder if it was because I was only half-following God's will......... I can't go back and "re-do" my life (although sometimes I think it would be nice to be able too!) but I can start now to seek God's will for the next stages of my life. I truly believe God lead me to elementary education.... Heaven knows I have a lot to learn and do better, but I care for my students and want to be a leader for them. But that's not enough... God has another calling for me, a calling to help others and spread the gospel to others. I usually have a few books at a time that I am reading.... some "for fun", others educational, and then some about Christian living... right now I am reading "God Chicks" by Holly Wagner and Stormie Omartian's "Praying God's Will for Your Life".... one of the things that Omartian speaks aobut in her book, she speaks of how God's will is continuous.... basically from the womb to the tomb...Isaiah 58:11 says, "The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail." My soul has been in drought for a long time... hopefully I am taking the steps to be watered! :) I have to continue to read my Bible, fellowship with other believers and seek godly counsel..... maybe one day I can get back to the "maturity" of the 20/21-year old me

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Place in This World

I've always loved Michael W. Smith's song "Place in this World" (I know.... I was a teen in the late 80's/early 90's). But my love of this song goes beyond just growing up. I have always struggled to find my "place".... my path.... God's will for my life. This blog is my search for God's will in my life..... my thoughts, prayers, and random insights that I may have! I'm 37 (about to be 38) years old...... you would think I would know my place by now..... I don't. I question every aspect of my life.... am I in the right career? am I at the right school? am I attending the right church? should I move to a different house? will I ever get married? have kids? find friends? My mind works OVERTIME with all my questioning! I was given up by my birth mother and adopted into a wonderful Christian family. However, I have always felt abandoned. Even though in my head I know that this was the right thing for me (a.k.a. God's will), my heart wonders "why?" I know that I have used this as an excuse to keep an "arm's length" away from people.... to avoid becoming hurt. My own insecurities have distracted me from finding God's purpose for me. I have avoided meeting the needs of others because I was so focused on myself. I believe that God has a purpose and a plan for my life. In fact, He tells me that He does! Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV) tells me, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your hear." Imagine that! God has a future pre-set for me! But I will only discover it when I seek HIM. Why is that so hard? It's so easy to seek God when things are wrong.... or to ask for things, but I need to remember that I must CONTINUALLY seek Him and come to Him and WAIT for His answer (I hate waiting!). I think of all the times that I did not have the patience to wait on His plan and did my own thing.... what disasters those turned out to be! For years I have prayed Psalm 37:4 (NIV) "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." However, MY desires aren't always what I need! I've prayed that God would change my desires to His desires for me, yet secretly (but not secret to Him) always wanting what I wanted. Does that make sense? Ultimately, I must be OBEDIENT to Him in ALL areas of my life! I must give Him TOTAL CONTROL of my life. As the pastor said in church this morning, I must KNOW Jesus so that I can follow Him. I must speak (pray) with Him enough and LISTEN enough so that I know His voice. So, for anyone out there.... my prayer is this: Trust (have FAITH in!) the Lord with ALL my heart and lean not on MY own (puny) understanding: in ALL my ways acknowledge (submit to) Him and He will make my path straight (direct me in the way I should go). Proverbs 3:5-6