Monday, September 17, 2012

Life Changes....And That Is Okay...

So we think that we finally got a grasp on our situations...we think that things have finally reached a point where we can breathe freely....take a step back....chill...but no...there they go again....changing. It may not be a lot, just maybe some small detail...but something changes.  There's a sense of betrayed ownership you get when the decisions you make seem to be tossed up in the air when unplanned changes come up. We, well I'll just say I since I can't speak for anyone else but myself, get jilted when our plans go awry and it's for no logical reason that we can see.

Sometimes, people change...they change for the worst, they change for the better. When they change for the worst, sometimes we have to be able to discern why and how to help them get back to their "normal" lives. Sometimes we just have to cut them loose so that their actions don't cause us to make the wrong decisions or influence us and persuade us to accompany them down the road of wrong choices.  When they change for  the better we need to be able to encourage them to continue to do the hard work they've done to achieve their goals.  We need to let them know that we see and we appreciate the changes they are making so that they know that they don't have to celebrate successes alone.  Not that we should always need an audience...but there is something to be said about when someone else recognizes the successes we make in our lives without us having to point them out.

Sometimes the situation changes...what was at one point bleak now looks promising and inviting.  We had no car, no job, no significant other...now, we have a great running vehicle to get us to and from work and even out with our friends, we have a job that (while it may not be our passion) pays us well and helps us to afford some nice things.  And now, what looked like the beginning of a life's worth of empty Friday and Saturday nights now needs a calendar to stay on top of everything that is going on. Or it could be that what was once a "sure thing" has turned sour and is now a heartache and a headache.  You live, you learn, you lose a couple of years...but you keep the lessons learned.

We know there is nothing we can do to keep life the same day after day.  If everyday wasn't filled with a new set of situations or choices to make, we wouldn't be who we are today..but what we can be sure of is that God has the final say.... We have to be able to trust that He has everything in control no matter what comes up...and when things are looking ridiculous to me I remember God's Sovereignty: Nothing touches me that has not passed through the hands of my Heavenly Father.

Most of the time when life changes, we get scared...even if we're happy or anxious, we get scared.  It's the fear of the unknown that gets us...sometimes it's easier to face things if we know what we're up against, but when we don't know, it makes the whole situation very scary for us, it makes dealing with people around us very difficult.  It's in those moments that we have to remember that He's got this...and He's telling us that life changes...and that's okay. Sometimes just knowing and believing that truth can relieve our shoulders of the weight that drags on us.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

You Can't Get a Return on Something that You don't Invest In

This isn't Wall Street. You didn't put in your $20 worth so how can you expect to get back $200,000 worth? In the stock market, you buy and sell...hopefully making a return between doing the two...

So many times we find ourselves in situations where we want to experience the benefits, rewards or returns of hard work, prayer and perseverance. We forget that all the things done in preparation cost someone something....and us nothing.  We expect that since we are doing what we THINK we're supposed to be doing that everyone else, including God, will recognize that we are such good, hard workers (although we've shown no reliable work ethic). Then when it comes time for compensation we are standing there with our hands out and open.  We wonder why we see results showing up for everyone else...but not us.  But then we have to think back....how much work did we actually put out for the very thing we want to be better? How much did we contribute? You can't have a small business that does floral arrangements and throw yourself into spending all your time working on your car and expect for your business to thrive and grow. 

In our jobs, relationships or spiritual walk we can't trade in efforts for one area for rewards in another. You can't walk around declaring that you should be seeing things happen a certain way or that people should be treating you a certain way if you didn't try to take care of those things or people the right way before.  The same way you get no return if you didn't invest in the money market, you don't get a return on your job with a promotion when you don't take training or try to learn new tasks. You don't get a return in your relationships when you don't treat people right that you say you care about.   You don't get a return in your spiritual growth if your time with God is non existent or very little...and your prayer life consists of just praying over your food.

Now before anyone gets their feelings hurt, I know some of you are saying "but I DID put in hard work....I DID make an investment"...I HEAR YOU, believe me, I hear you.  I've found myself in that same boat.  Wondering how could I give so much or stick with something so much and instead of seeing a return on my investment, I seemed to be losing more and more....to this I offer this explanation...

In the money market, there is more than just one person involved cause if there wasn't the brokers would be doing business with themselves...seeing this, in our situations, we have to realize that there are more people involved in this effort to results equation. We can't expect everything to run smoothly all the time. 

When we are looking for a return, first, we have to be patient....not with others or our situations, but with God.  We have to allow Him time to put his finger in it and stir the situation and do with it what He wants.  Second, we have to realize that sometimes the outcome of our return is different than what we were expecting.  You may have been putting in hard work on your job, eyeing a certain position because it makes more money than your current one, but instead, God takes you completely out of the company you're working for and puts you in a company that better suits your lifestyle and long term goals.  The friend that you've been trying to talk out of alcoholism for reasons of treating their family better dissapears and you lose touch with them only to find out that they went to rehab and now help run a center to help others the way they were helped, sharing the gospel and witnessing all along the way. The ministry that you've been pushing to get going and gain help doesn't pan out how you think it should but then you find that while interceding on behalf of those who it would impact, God starts pointing out to you things that He is trying to do in you.

I've found that in my own life, instead of looking at a situation and wondering where my return is for the years I've invested and the money I've spent, I'm realizing that God has grown me in areas that I let go lax in my focusing on my trials...and that in turn makes me a stronger person from here on out.

The return that I am getting is much more valuable than the time it took for me to get to this point.  Life can be unfortunate at times, situations and people can upset us, but we shouldn't lose the remembrance that God is always watching over us....He knows our pain, he sees our tears and He also has it all under control.  When getting our returns though, we have to do so with an open heart, not giving room for resentment or bitterness.  We may continue to be let down, but resentment, bitterness and anger only hold us back from all that we are to receive.

But every now and then when you start to wonder why you're not seeing the results you want....or results period....consider what your investment is....

Monday, April 30, 2012

God, Where's My Bonus?

So many times I sit and wonder why we do what we do how we do it....Is it to get recognition? Is it because we are trying to get our point across? Is it maybe because we are working towards a personal goal?

I'm reminded of the story of the Pharisee praying aloud in the courtyard where everyone could hear him praying thank you to God for not making him like the others that have a lower social status than he did. He went on to publicly announce what he was doing and giving supposedly for God.  Now when I say supposedly, I mean that he said he doing and giving those things for God but he wasn't, he was only doing them in God's name with a self righteous intent. How many times have we done that???? We do and give for God only to fulfill a selfish desire.  I can say we because I know at times that has or had been me....I can only be honest..... (See Luke 18:9-14 and Matthew 6:1-8)

This past week I was on a cruise and was definitely impressed by the service I received. I do not even think that I really saw who provided my room service until the last day.  They came in quietly while we were away to dinner or shows and took great care to turn down our sheets, leave chocolate, clean the bathroom, make a stuffed animal out of towels and didn't ask for anything.   Their main goal was to provide the best service they could without bringing any special attention their way.  They always want to exceed our expectations for service but they didn't leave us any notes asking us to only put towels on the floor in the bathroom or to not leave trash on the floor or counter.  How many times have we treated God that way? Doing our best for Him, giving Him our best service and not asking for EVERYTHING in return? 

God rewards what we do privately openly, not the other way around.  For someone who manages their time wisely to accomplish their tasks, he may reward with a managerial position.  For someone who manages their money wisely, he may bless with a job as a banker. Why do we try to do things out in the open with an audience and expect God to throw an extra large public blessing on top? He tells us that as much as we have done to the least we have done as much to Him.  Sometimes we throw ourselves into solving our problems thinking that we are on the right track when we are so way off that we do not even realize that we have lost sight of the track. 

This past weekend I heard a very respected friend of mine preach and she definitely was parking on a lot of toes including mine....she called us all to not let the things we go through steal our joy of doing things for God...and that is so true..

I thought about all the times I have gone through valley-like situations and have momentarily lost my drive to do anything for God.  The past few years have been the greatest faith stretchers to my life....now, I cannot say that I have done everything right, cause I know that I have not, but I can say that I have tried to get it right or at least get the things that are in my control. God has allowed situations to come into my life that I would rather have not even wished on my enemies and I had to get honest with God and say "Really God???? You just had to let that happen....I'm not even trying to hear you...." and believe me, I was not trying to listen, not one bit.  I was bitter about coming to church, I felt depressed, disappointed, alone, and all at God's hands...and here I am thinking, "God, I prayed, cried, fasted and for what? For THIS???? Nope, I am done...for real, I am done."  Now it could have just ended there but no. I found that the only things I found joy in were the ministries that God put me in...I am not even kidding....I did not want to show up at church if I did not have to be involved in those ministries..and in being there to uplift my brothers and sisters in Christ, it pushed me to put my own issues to the side.  Now I have faith in God to do certain things in my situation but I had to change my thinking.  I could not think "God I STAYED in my prayer closet, so I need you to blast out this situation by doing it BIG!!!"  God is not going to automatically bless me BIG or blast out my situation just because I was doing the smaller things that He called me to do regularly in PRIVATE in the first place.

We need to make sure that when we do things for God, we do them because we love Him for what He has already done for us.  We should not do things expecting a future payoff. Now I look at my situation as every day is a new day, I find more ways to trust God, but not because of what I THINK He should be doing for me....I cannot go through my day thinking, "God, where is my bonus?" I should just be like the cruise staff....doing what I am supposed to, trying everyday to exceed God's expectations of me and not expecting anything in return......cause He has already done enough for me already....

Love you all..

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Love and Comfort

So February 13th I was having a conversation with a very good, trusted friend of mine and I'm not sure how we got on the subject (probably talking about how I haven't written anything lately..lol).  Anyways, we started talking about the different opinions people have about Valentine's Day and came up with few constants.....so let's dig in...

Many people want to be loved or receive some kind of token of the love from others.  They may not love the person they want to receive it from, but they instead want themselves  to be loved or desired. This is commonly confused by wanting comfort.  Instead of actually appreciating and enjoying the other person for who they are and how they affect one's mental, emotional, spiritual or physical well being, they just want to be comforted. Finding comfort in things is not always good for you...

So many times we settle for more shallow shows/actions of "love" (chocolates, flowers, other items, etc.....bills paid, dinner, nice guestures, etc) instead of settling with the comfort of what real love is (without the shows/action).  We should believe the real displays of love not comfort.  Now before everybody starts saying "But I AM showing my love by doing those (tangible) things", I am not discounting those things, but people should know that we love them by how we treat them....how we speak to them....how we talk to them. 

We find comfort in security (okay, I can only answer for females probably) whether that security is fulfilled through the tangible or intangible actions....but true love is not in the tangible (think about it, salvation is not tangible...duh..) but in the intangible.  We need to be sure to not credit the tangible things as though they are the only real proof of love.  Comfort is/and can be tangible and just because we can touch things does not make them more secure.  Tangible things can also fall through our fingers.  People can pay our way, get things for us and at the same time only mean for their intentions to be as deep as what they do for us. 

On another tangent, let us NEVER have one day delegated to be the only day that we show people we love them...you never know when someone's day will be their last....so it should not be Happy Valentine's Day but have a loving life!

Check out my bestie's blog sometime too.. :-)