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Do you see what I see?

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It was a good service.  I think.  I have to admit I was more than a little distracted.  It’s almost Christmas and deadlines are pressing.  I have orders to fill and it will take working every day this week to get them done on time, even working this afternoon.  Focus is easier as we lift voices and hands in praise but once my body is still the after effects of a rushed-because-my-alarm-didn’t-go-off-morning set in and my eyes long to close for just a few more minutes of sleep.

All is completed in the order of service except for the final act of passing the offering plates.  It was in the stillness of waiting our turn that I saw them.  Just a few rows in front of me I could see a father holding his young son.  The boy looked into his father’s face as he quietly stroked his beard and patted his cheeks.  It was a precious moment, one that caught me off-guard as sorrow engulfed me without warning and I began to weep.  It would not be stopped and it took every measure of self-control I had not to give it full reign and wail loudly as I imagine our forefathers did when they ripped their garments and donned sackcloth and ashes.  My mind quickly assesses how this must look, a very odd time to be overcome with emotion, but the heart would have its way whether understood or not.  It would be hard to explain how in that moment I felt small hands on my face.  I suppose it’s something a mother never forgets.

She was just a young girl when the angel came and proclaimed to her and over her that she was one blessed and highly favored.  It must have been wonderful in that moment to know that God’s plan for her life was so important that He sent an angel to announce it.  I wonder if she expected that to happen again.  I wonder as she walked down the streets where her friends and neighbors turned away, embarrassed at her shame, did she look for another word from God?  I wonder as she and Joseph struggled with the newness of married life complicated by her “situation” if she spent time alone waiting for another angel to tell her they would make it through the learning how to love each other?  I wonder as she waved goodbye to her mother, climbed upon a donkey, and journeyed farther from home than she had ever been, was she watching the sky for a sign as the homesickness quickly set in?  I wonder as she cried from the pain of childbirth and fear of the unknown, did she beg Him to speak, to reassure her that this is exactly where He had planned for her to be?  I wonder if the angel’s words rang in her ears as she wept at the foot of the cross?  Sometimes this is what blessed and highly favored looks like.  Do you see?

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Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the one who sacrifices time with her children and grandchildren, friends and activities, as she tenderly cares for her elderly mother, wondering where she will find the energy for tomorrow.  

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the one who rises every day with new resolve to stay clean, determined to rebuild what was torn down, resisting the constant temptation to give up, wondering when God will bring complete deliverance. 

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the one with no new goals or plans as she sits in the discomfort of the stillness, wondering why God is silent.

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like the young mother with toddlers at her feet, another baby on the way, trying not to be completely overwhelmed in this life she dearly loves and wondering how she will get it all done.

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks like a woman crying as she touches her own cheeks, enveloped in memories that overwhelm with both joy and pain, wondering what it will be like to see him again.

Sometimes blessed and highly favored looks more like dark, thunderous, lightning-filled skies than sunshine and rainbows.

It’s tempting to believe the message that to be blessed and highly favored is evidenced by our positions, our promotions, and our pocketbooks.  To proclaim it often to ourselves and over ourselves in hopes that our lives will be easier and more secure through our loud and upbeat proclamations of faith.  And as that may happen to some, it is still the least of it.  As I consider Mary and what it meant that she was blessed and highly favored above all women, I believe we have trivialized it and made it something it is not.

It’s been a year of getting real with God.  It’s been a year of examining faith and finding again the simplicity of the solid foundation and ridding myself of self-imposed boundaries and unrealistic expectations and mechanical worship.  I am not blessed and highly favored because all has gone well and my life has been spared the dark nights and the weeping and the difficulties and the pain.  I am blessed and highly favored because I have loved deeply enough for my heart to be broken.  I am blessed and highly favored because I have risked my heart and given my energies and failed miserably. I am blessed and highly favored because He has noticed my sorrow and saved my tears.  I am blessed and highly favored because He lowered Himself to be housed in me, never to leave me or forsake me, especially in the dark moments.  I am blessed and highly favored because I am no longer dependent on outward circumstances, people, or events to determine if I am blessed and highly favored.

Do you see what I see?

 

Do you see what I see?” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, Jesus, love, Spiritual, trials

Pushing through (God speaks running, part 2)

Two Woman Running by fence

My daily run took me down a winding country road on which were scattered a few houses here and there. Beside one particular curve of the road was an empty pasture that always attracted my attention.  Not because in itself it was anything to note; it was not.  But rather because this is where the sun would meet me as it began to peek above the treetops in the early morning.  And somehow as the rays broke through and spread their magic wide, even the plain, empty pasture became a thing of beauty.  I’ve always loved to watch the sun rise and our meeting place there was an added incentive to get out of bed and go because that moment to meet would not wait.

That day was like many others in the routine of running.  I got up, had my coffee, laced up my shoes and headed out. I did the same things as always, yet before I’d even made it to the halfway mark I was struggling.  My immediate thoughts were “STOP!  It’s too hard today.  Just go home and try again tomorrow.”  I wanted to quit.  It seemed so hard and my rhythm felt off.  Something wasn’t right.  I managed to keep putting one foot in front of the other as I went through a running checklist of sorts:

Am I in pain?  no

Are my shoes laced too tight?  no

Am I running too fast?  no

Are my shoulders tense?  no

Is my heart rate too high?  no

Is my breathing labored?  no

Am I sensing any dangers (creepy people or antagonistic animals)?  no

Then what’s wrong?  nothing

The fact was there was nothing wrong.  That was when God spoke.  He began to talk to me about how fickle our emotions are and if we listen to them they will have us stopping and starting and stopping and starting so often that we will lose heart and give up on whatever we are pursuing.  There was nothing wrong with me on that run, but my feelings and thoughts made a valiant effort to get me to quit.  Weird.

We’ve all experienced this.  We’re making progress in our love walk with someone we need to forgive. Things are going well, we’ve interacted with them without the anger and resentment of the past.  Then one day, for no apparent reason, we are mad all over again at the injustice done to us!  Nothing has changed, no further harm has been inflicted, yet our emotions are feeding our thoughts.  They scream to the love that forgives “STOP!  I can’t do this!”  And if we listen, they will take us back to the beginning and hold us captive to the pain.

Oh, it’s not just about forgiveness.  It’s in the commitments we make, the constant demands of family life, our work, our relationships with friends, and yes, our relationship with Jesus.  We read and we study and the desire to be an all-out Jesus follower is there.  We make progress in our prayer closet and determination is at its peak.  Then one day we wake up and for no apparent reason we just want to stop trying.  We want to quit on the deeper things and settle for being saved and having a home in heaven because it just seems too hard to keep going at this pace.  We feel like we are struggling too much and our life rhythm is off – surely those are the indicators that something is wrong and we don’t need to continue…

Learning the difference between being led by His Spirit in us or led by our souls (mind, will, emotions) is critical in our pursuit of becoming like Him.  I’ve learned to do a spiritual checklist of sorts when my feelings are out of kilter:

Am I hurting?  maybe

Has the outward circumstance changed?  maybe

If I change my direction, will I still be following Jesus?  oh……

Discovering that I am not at the mercy of my emotions and that they are a very poor life navigator has freed me to listen more clearly to what He has to say and to stay on course.  I pushed through that run many years ago and felt a stronger sense of accomplishment than even on many of the days I ran further distances.  It was an important lesson learned that took me into and through the much longer runs that would follow.  Sometimes you just have to ignore how you feel, focus on the facts, and push through.

And it’s the same with following Jesus.  He warned us that following Him and doing things His way would take us into areas that were uncomfortable and difficult.  Then He assured us that He would be with us and would give us everything we need to make it through.  Left to our emotions, some days we will follow Him and other days not so much.  We get to choose.

What’s He urging you to push through?  Me?  I’m still learning to push through the challenge of being still. And again I say, Weird.  You wouldn’t think it would be that hard, but my feelings often tell me I should be doing more, be more productive, get busier.  And when I fall for it, I’m frustrated in doing things I don’t really want to do, knowing that I’ve let my emotions get me off course.  Thank you, God, for new mercies every morning!

Sitting here in my comfy pjs with a hot cup of coffee and looking out the window at some gloomy skies, I’m tempted to just crawl back into bed.  But I’ve got a lot to do today, so I need to run.  No, really, it’s time to run…     🙂

 

Pushing through (God speaks running, part 2)” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

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I have quieted my soul

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I knew before I left the house that the route to my destination would most assuredly include miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic before I reached the other side of Houston.  I set my mind to enjoy my trip no matter what and made sure to leave the house early enough to avoid the late afternoon rush hour.  I must admit there were moments which threatened my deliberate peace, but I was strong and resisted with my mantra “it doesn’t matter….you have plenty of time…enjoy the journey…”  I was prepared for the trip – I knew where I was going, had adequate fuel, snacks and water.  It’s easy to enjoy the journey when you are prepared.

I had been anticipating the retreat for months and with every mile that drew me closer, I could feel the pressures of the every day falling away.  As I drove onto the grounds of my destination an even stronger sense of quiet washed over me.  The kind of peace that you can drink in with every breath. Surrounding stillness that felt as if it were an alternate universe where tight muscles and tense nerves do not exist. Beauty of nature that softly beckons to let go of everything else and simply take it in.  A setting that clearly whispers be still and know that I am God.

I happily unpacked my things in the quaint, cozy room where I would spend the weekend.  There was plenty of time to get settled in and relax before the evening’s events.  I scanned my emails and messages to be sure that nothing important was left without a response and took a moment to review the latest social media posts.  It was there I learned of the attacks in Paris.  I quickly searched the web for more details as the sense of impending doom was knocking at my door.  This is our world and the inability to be prepared for these kinds of horrific acts strikes fear in our hearts.  The threats are bold and fierce and very real and we are at a loss as to what to do.

I gathered the initial facts and put down my phone.  Seeking Him quickly is the only way to turn away the fear of impending doom.  I offered up a familiar prayer of “God, I don’t even know what to pray!”  In times past, that would be the end of a quick “God help them.  God be with them.” prayer, but I have since learned to be still and literally ask God “What do You want me to pray?”  It is not hard to understand and pray for the immediate need for safety and comfort and protection for those who remain in the wake of the horror.  But somehow it still seems lacking.

In this great mystery that is prayer, God, who knows what we need before we ask, has chosen to involve us in a supernatural process.  The more I’ve grown closer to Him and the more I’ve sought understanding, the more it has become evident that I really don’t know very much.  Perhaps He will give me deeper understanding of why He involves us in the process.  Or maybe He won’t.  But He is teaching me more and more how to pray and that with or without understanding, He requires obedience.  If the bible is true and He is God and He knows everything and I cannot do anything (eternal) without Him, then it is very clear that I must learn from Him what to pray.

We can spend much time in worrying and fretting.  We can scream our opinions and blame our politicians, publicly shaming them for what we perceive as their lack of action to keep us safe.  We can cry and moan and fear for our lives, and spread the fear to those around us.  We can beg and plead with God to do something!!  But is that really who we are?  Is that what we are called to??

We must learn to quiet our souls.

Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in matters too great or in things too wonderful for me.  Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me – ceased from fretting.  O Isreal, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.  Psalm 131

Peace I leave with you; My own peace I now give and bequeath to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.  John 14:27

It is clear that He intended for us to participate in this:  “I (David) have calmed…  (You) Do not let…”  We are able to bring our mind, will, and emotions into submission to His Spirit, which is the spirit of Peace. We must find that place of peace so that we can clearly hear His words to us and learn how to act in times of trouble rather than automatically react in our flesh.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence.  In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer – take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted!  For I have overcome the world.  I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.  John 16:33

There are days I ask myself why I am so surprised when trouble comes.  Duh.  Jesus plainly said there would be trouble in this world.  Our ability to quiet our souls and not be afraid comes from the confidence that we are not OF this world.  THIS LIFE IS TEMPORARY.  Perhaps it’s time for us to step back and get a new perspective.  This life has purpose and meaning and is important to God, but it is a wisp, a vapor in time compared to eternity.

What did God tell me to pray when I heard the news of Paris?  He told me to pray that in midst of the pain and chaos and grief people are experiencing that they would find Him as Savior.  He told me that the mission remains the same, Tell others about Me.  I won’t be traveling to Paris to tell others about Jesus.  But I will be putting feet to my prayers for those in my neighborhood.  It’s not just the people of France who are afraid.  It’s our families, our friends, our neighbors.  If we are afraid right along with them, we have no message of hope to share, no comfort to give.

Draw away with me.  Quiet your soul.  Pray whatever the Father tells you to pray.  Do whatever the Father tells you to do.  Find supernatural Peace in troubled times.  He is waiting…

“I have quieted my soul” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.

Christian, death, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, grief, loss, love, praise, prayer, sorrow, Spiritual, tears, Uncategorized

Good conversations

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This post is dedicated to Sue Rozell – my mentor, my sister in Christ, my friend who this week went home to be with our Lord.  I will truly miss our good conversations.

Lately I have been spending most of my time at home alone, focused on work and projects that have deadlines with not a lot of wiggle room.  I very much enjoy this time alone in productivity and gain a great sense of satisfaction in the creative process, but still I often lay my head down at night feeling that something is missing.  I realized driving home from my visit with my sister last week what it is: Conversation.  Really good conversation.

My husband is a night owl and I’m a morning person (not functioning quite as early as in days past, but most definitely at my best when the sun is rising).  It is not unusual that later in the evening he will approach a really good subject that could prompt some quality exchange.  I’ll know it is a worthy topic yet my response is often a pat reply because I simply lack the mental energy to engage.  I make a note to come back to the subject another day but the thought gets lost in the next day’s activity…

We need good conversations.  You know, the kind that make you think hard or perhaps even question your position on a matter.  Conversations where we are listening as much as talking.  Discourses that put our perceived barriers into perspective because they allow for differences.  Dialogues that stir our passions and ignite us to go deeper into the meaning of our lives.  Fearless discussions that open the paths to growth and change.  Words so rooted in love that they draw others into a refuge where masks can be dropped and freedom can be found.

In our day and time it is easy to miss the value of good conversations.  Technology that allows for the faceless relay of information has crippled us.  We often mistake social media posts for conversation, text our words of encouragement rather than take the time to call or visit, or email our responses to situations in order to avoid conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the opportunities for communication that technology provides.  But I must admit, I’ve too often succumbed to the ease and efficiency of its use rather than allowing the inconvenience to my plans that real conversation may present.

I’ve known for a long time that I lack the skill to sustain chit-chat for any length of time.  I am easily bored with talk of things that are insignificant to me and that category is quite large.  I’m no fashionista, decorator, traveler, entertainer, philosopher or multitudes of other things.  I greatly appreciate the fact that God has gifted us each differently but I struggle in conversation when my very limited knowledge (and interest) of temporal things has very quickly been exhausted.  I can talk “sewing” quite well but even that only takes me so far…  Wow.  I sound reeaaaalllllyyyyy boring.

I love the opportunities I am offered to stand and speak or teach.  I am passionate about my God and my faith, ever-ready to share the things He has done in my life.  I love when the sessions allow for interaction and questions.  I no longer fear those who may disagree with my perspective because I believe in this life we have much to learn from each other. I thoroughly enjoy when someone takes the time on a break between sessions to seek me out and talk.  Really talk.

Through the years I’ve been blessed to have people in my life who have both gently led into and aggressively provoked deeper conversations.  Some have spoken truly profound things to me in the midst of simple conversations not knowing their words would have an eternal impact.  Others have come with difficult words that at the time left me speechless and feeling as if I were gasping for air, only to discover later that the painful truths exposed served to water seeds of needed change.  Many have come with exhortation and encouragement that helped keep my feet on the path that was and is mine to walk. We all need more good conversations.

I am mourning the loss of my friend and already missing the sound of her voice.  As I praise God for her life and say my goodbye, I pray that I will be half the woman of God that she was.  I want to brew more coffee and invite more people into good conversations in the hopes that some will walk away having found what I found with her – a hunger for more of Him.

 

Good conversations” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Two Friends Young Girls Talking PAINTING BY CARL SCHWENINGER JUNIOR

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You had ONE job…

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I had a visit with my sister last night and we talked of many things.  But we talked the most about our faith and how it has grown and evolved through the years, both of us having spent our lives very actively engaged in the church.  We’ve heard multitudes of sermons, attended countless bible studies, taught an abundance of classes, and written thousands of notes on all that we have learned.  We’ve gotten some of it right and some of it wrong and have no intentions of ever relenting in our pursuit of more of Him.  But as we talk and share where we are right now and where He is leading us, we are finding that many things we think we’ve learned have become less and less important.

Perhaps important isn’t the best word.  Perhaps it is better said that much of the knowledge we possess (or think we possess) is no longer at the top of the list of what fuels our desire for Him.  This life as a Jesus-follower is becoming clearer every day and with that clarity an uncomfortable simplicity.  No matter which way our discussion took us last night, we continually came back to the same place.  We have been given one job:  LOVE.  It is to be the root and foundation of every thought and action of our lives.

If our “one job” were visible in picture form, what would it look like??

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This last one would be funny no matter what the fortune turned out to be, but really…?  While the cookie is intact and the little slip of paper is very neatly packaged with it, it is in truth not a job well done.  Does it matter?  You still get a cookie and a fortune, right?  Ask the manufacturer.  It matters.

Are we so busy in the work of Christianity that we’ve missed the point? Does it matter if we dole out our brand of compromised Christian love, giving it only to those who are willing to be neatly packaged with us conforming to our ideas of right and wrong?  Does it matter if we rail (publicly or privately) against the sinner through our fears that their lifestyle will taint our comfortable world?  Does it matter that we drive by the homeless without a thought, much less an action?  Does it matter what we say and do toward those who are unrepentant and even antagonistic toward us, His children?  Let’s ask our Maker…

But I say to you who are listening now to Me:  make it a practice to love your enemies, treat well – do good to, act nobly toward – those who detest you and pursue you with hatred.  Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing and favor upon those who abuse you – who revile, reproach, disparage, and high-handedly misuse you.  To the one who strikes you on the jaw or cheek, offer the other jaw or cheek also; and from him who takes away your outer garment, do not withhold your undergarment as well.  Give away to everyone who begs of you…

If you merely love those who love you, what quality of credit and thanks is that to you?…But love your enemies and be kind and do good – doing favors so that someone derives benefit from them – and lend, expecting and hoping for nothing in return but considering nothing as lost and despairing of no one; and then your recompense will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind and charitable and good to the ungrateful and the selfish and wicked.  So be merciful – sympathetic, tender, responsive and compassionate – even as your Father is all of these.

Make no mistake:  simple and easy are not the same thing.  The command is simple:  lacking complexity, not hard to understand, and not having many parts.  Love God, love others like He does.  This simple instruction, however, is hard in the “doing”.  It is not easy.  It is not comfortable.  It is not without difficulty or pain. To fulfill this command is to put our own opinions and feelings to death.  It is to allow ourselves to be emptied of ourselves and filled with Him.  Loving as He loved.  Unconditionally.  Extravagantly.  To the extreme.

It is the evidence to the world that He exists, that we are His, and that His extravagant love can bring to them healing and hope and forgiveness and eternal life.

He who does not love has not become acquainted with God – does not and never did know Him – for God is love.

We have been given one job.  Let’s do it well.  The greatest blessings come in doing life His way.  In the end it will not be the hours we’ve sat through sermons or the volumes of study notes we’ve accumulated that matter.  What will stand for all eternity is that we accepted the lavish love He has given and allowed ourselves to be vessels that spilled that love onto everyone we encountered.

“You had one job.”  It will be worth it all to hear Him say “Well done.”

Matthew 5 & 25, Luke 6, and 1 John 4

You had ONE job…” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Christian, coffee, Encouragement, Faith, friends, God, grace

God speaks running (part 1)

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These are my favorite shoes.  Besides the fact that they are the most comfortable of all I own, they are more than that to me.  They represent an effort that I find enjoyable even when it’s hard.  They take me outdoors and remind me that there’s more to any given day than the pressures and responsibilities and busy-ness that my list demands.  They take me away from the other voices, the other noises, and give my mind a break.  They take me to a place that God consistently speaks to me.

For my non-running readers, hang with me.  I believe as I share His runningspeak, you will be able to relate from the comfort of your robe and fuzzy slippers just as well.  I posted the following earlier this week on social media and will be periodically sharing the many ways God has used running to help me grow.  Perhaps you can relate…

As I sit here this morning with my second cup of coffee (slow start today…) and resist the temptation to visit the Dunkin Donuts which is just minutes away, I am thinking about exercise. Haha. As you may have guessed, I bailed on the aerobics class months ago. I had a really good reason – my summer office work hours prevented me from attending any classes except the one led by miss-serious-muscle-bound-intensity and I simply could not bring myself to endure this voluntary torture and the humiliation that would invariably occur. So I did nothing.

Now fall is here with better hours and cooler temperatures and it’s calling me out. I want to run. It’s always been my preferred method of exercise and tender knees were the only reason I re-entered the aerobic world in the first place. Now the knees are better and I no longer have to rise at 5 am to avoid triple digit temperatures. It’s time. I’ll have to start with walking, but it won’t be long and I’ll be running again. Woohoo!

My excitement builds as I consider the many advantages of running. Here are my top 10:
#1 I don’t have to count my steps.
#2 I don’t have to watch the minutes unless I want to. And if I want to know, I can wear a watch that will do that for me.
#3 The only skill required is the coordination to place one foot in front of the other over and over. Granted, I still struggle with this from time to time but the odds of me kissing the pavement are considerably less than the tripping and stumbling and falling that occur when I attempt to do the grapevine in time to rock music.
#4 There are no mirrors.
#5 THERE ARE NO MIRRORS!!!
#6 I am alone. There are no witnesses to my trips and stumbles unless I take CJ (the dog) and he doesn’t laugh. Well, at least not out loud.
#7 I choose the time and location that suits me.
#8 Run enough and I don’t have to feel guilty about the occasional Dunkin Donut
#9 The only investment needed is a good pair of shoes. And who doesn’t like to buy shoes, right??
#10 Perhaps the greatest revelation I’ve had: If I go at the right time of day, the image I see of myself is no longer the reflection of a poorly spandex-stuffed sausage in movements that can be best described as spastic, but rather a tall, slender, graceful shadow that gives me hope there will be a day when my waistbands no longer threaten to cut off the circulation to my entire body and a trip to my closet can be a moment of joy rather than despair.

So here goes. Time to lace up and get out the door. I am thankful I live in a neighborhood with leash laws and drivers who fully expect to see walkers and runners and cyclists and allow plenty of room as they pass. I’d invite you along, but I don’t have time to wait. Besides, being alone is always a time that God can speak and He speaks running.      🙂

 

God speaks running (Part 1)” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Christian, coffee, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, love, Spiritual, trials

Just a glimpse

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I have a new friend who shared a very thought-provoking post on social media this morning.  As I sipped my coffee and read, I applauded her honesty and the willingness to be vulnerable.   She could have had her “moment” all by herself with none of us the wiser.  But I’m glad she didn’t.

It has been easy to enjoy her optimistic and encouraging personality.  I’ve left our conversations wishing I had half her energy!  She has an engaging way about her, a wonderful family, and a beautiful new home.  Yes.  She is one of those people.  You know, the kind who have it all with not a care in the world…the kind we frown at should a complaint ever escape their lips…the kind of which we often think “if they had my life, they wouldn’t be so chipper all the time.”   At least that’s what we think…

It takes courage to be real enough to share the less-than-perfect moments of our lives, to open ourselves up to those who may choose to criticize.  Her post was the second thing I’d read this week that reminded me of how little we actually see of each other’s lives and subsequently, how ridiculously foolish it is to judge someone based on the small glimpse we get.  The reality is that we are all in this together, this thing called life.  We all need an encouraging word more times that we let on.  We all have an ugly side that surfaces more than we would like.  We all struggle and mess up and make mistakes in the midst of our loving and serving and giving.  And we all need the same Grace to cover it.

Tonight I’ll spend a little time with some women who are struggling.  They are homeless.  The glimpse I’ll get into their lives won’t be about their happiest moments.  It won’t show me how gifted they are or what amazing talents they have.  We won’t sit down on comfortable sofas over nice warm beverages and talk about our families or what new furnishings we’d like to have.  We’ll have only moments to discover what their deepest prayer need is that they are willing to share with a stranger.  We’ll be there to minister to them and it will be easy for them to view us as “those” people.  You know, the ones who have it all together…

My prayer is that I will simply be real.  That in the moment God prompts me, I will be willing to share the less-than-perfect parts of my life so that someone I know or another who I will probably never see again can identify with me and draw some encouragement from the Grace I’ve found.  To believe if God can take my life and make something of it, that He can most certainly do the same for them.

So, hats off to you, my sister!!  Thank you for the reminder that it is seldom our perceived perfection that encourages others, but rather our everyday kind of humanity.  Makes me want to curl up in my hideously comfortable pj’s and relax…

 

Just a glimpse” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, Jesus, love, righteousness, Spiritual

None of my business

none of my business

Perhaps I’m not the only one who finds herself from time-to-time frustrated and worrying and even reacting to things that are none of my business.  Ugh.  Trying to control things that are out of my control because I was never meant to control them.  Sigh.  Oh, the benefits of hindsight…

I’ve struggled the last few weeks in trying to fulfill my own commitments in a setting that I don’t particularly like.  If I had it my way things would be different.  My arrogance unveiled in this very thought, I am embarrassed that I’ve gotten caught up in it.  I’ve found myself complaining on the inside even if the words never escape my lips, thinking that what works for me surely must be what will work for others.  If they would only listen.

In taking my frustration to God and asking for His guidance in how to move forward in the midst of these things that so deeply get on my nerves, He simply said “It’s none of your business.”  Whoa.  He reminded me once again that I am not in charge of everything and I don’t have all the answers.  Now, one would think that I would be acutely aware of these facts by this time in my life, yet here I am, struggling with it again.  Just who do I think I am?

Some of us tend to me more opinionated than others.   There are multitudes of things I do not care about and therefore have no opinion on those matters.  However, when I do have an opinion it is usually a passionate one and difficult to ignore.  Even when I am wrong.

We live in such a strange time.  People feel such a freedom to express their opinions even to the point of secretly photographing or videoing others and posting these opinions on the internet for the world to see. I doubt that my life is of much interest to these who feel compelled to do such things, I am only thankful that my poor fashion choices and embarrassing behavior primarily occurred before technology allowed for it to be recorded…

In the big picture, do our opinions really matter?  I do believe that God cares about us at every level – what we think, how we feel, what we want.  He cares so deeply about who He has called us to be that He has given us His Spirit to be the filter.  My opinions need to be sifted in order to remove the lumps of selfishness and clumps of manipulation that often exist in my “good intentions”.  When I allow it, He takes me deeper in the analysis of how I feel and what I want so that my actions will ultimately reflect His desires.  He calls me to surrender my opinion to His.

So this week I regrouped.  I reminded myself that all He has ever asked me to do is my part.  The things that are not my part are none of my business.  It made me think of Peter when he asked Jesus “What about this man?”  And Jesus replied “What is that to you?”*   I regrouped and rediscovered my joy in my commitment.

There is relief in this letting go of my opinion and the final outcome of things that are none of my business.  Surrendered into His hands, I can enjoy doing my part with the confidence that He most assuredly will do His.

*John 21

 

None of my business” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

Christian, coffee, Encouragement, Faith, family, God, grace, praise, Spiritual, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized

Making apple roses

Apple roses2

It was one of those days.  Oh, not one of those days that I usually complain about, but the kind that seem to be much more elusive.  A day that was full and busy yet strangely peaceful and entirely enjoyable.  I had a plan and lots to do and normally I approach those days with an over-complicated list and an expectation of perfection.  My nature is to map it all out with the end goal being production not fun.  But not yesterday.

Kylie had spent the night and I considered having her mom pick her up right after morning service as I had so much to do in preparation for our ladies event that evening.  But having only very recently received the Best Grandma Award

SCAN0005 (2)

I decided to invite her to stay and help me with the new recipe I had in mind.  She graciously accepted my invitation and after a quick lunch of mac and cheese and frozen chicken-somethings that neither of us liked, we began.  We measured and mixed and microwaved.  We stirred and patted and rolled and had more than a few tastes along the way.  We spread and poured and sifted until it looked as if a snow storm had blown through the kitchen.

And I watched.

I watched her concentrate as she placed single blueberries in just the right spot.  I watched the movement of her hands as she lay apple slices on the pastry dough and carefully rolled it into a flower.  I watched her delight as we took our apple roses from the oven and they were just as beautiful as the picture in the video recipe.  I looked at her little face with blueberry juice smeared on her forehead and sugar powdering her cheeks and experienced a depth of love and height of joy that perhaps only a grandmother knows.

                     Apple roses                    Apple roses3

My trek to the coffee pot this morning found me walking a little funny as my feet experienced the stickiness of spilled apricot preserves that remained after a rapid attempt to wipe them up.  The adhesive nature of my steps lasted only a few seconds as they were then quickly coated with the flour and powdered sugar that easily blended with the color of the tile.  I hate walking barefoot on dirty floors, but rather than let annoyance take over and begin the process of cleaning, I put on my slippers, fixed my coffee and replayed the previous day in my mind.  The evening was very, very good with Chandra Peele as our speaker.  I encourage you to check out her website Chandra Peele and invite her to your next ladies event!  But I’m sorry, Chandra, as much as I truly enjoyed and appreciated your wonderful message, it wasn’t the best part of my day.  The best part was that in all the “work” we had to do that afternoon, I got to enjoy my granddaughter.

I love that she wasn’t worried about making a mess.  I love that she is relaxed with me and unafraid of making mistakes.  I love that she is completely confident that I am there to help with anything she needs.  I love that she knows I will be pleased with her best effort and that is what makes the results perfect to me.  (I only wish that my children had known this me.)

I talk about her a lot.  A LOT.  I can’t help it.  Having children taught me so much about God as my Father, but having grandchildren takes it to a whole new level!  He reminds me when I look at her with love that is inexpressible that He looks at me the same.  He tells me again and again that I need have no fear of making mistakes or asking for His help.  He encourages me to relax and just enjoy His presence in all the “work” I have to do.  And once again I ask myself “Why do I make it all so complicated?”

I have a lot to do today.  A lot to do this week.  And I’m already behind schedule.  But rather than take on the pressure of my own very-often-unrealistic expectations, I want to enjoy His presence in everything I do, confident that He is with me to help with anything I need and unafraid of making mistakes.  I may make a few messes along the way, but I can’t worry about that.  He invites me to enjoy Him and it is in this relaxed trust that I am more able to hear Him and follow where He leads rather than go my own way.

Making apple roses was much easier than I expected and most certainly more fun.  But it wouldn’t have been as much fun if I had been alone.  What do you have to do this week?  Remember, you are not alone.  Allow yourself to be loved deeply and don’t worry about making mistakes.  Be confident that it is in this trust that He will speak and lead.  Relax, refocus, and enjoy Him and understand that He is watching and enjoying you.

And for those who would like to try the recipe:  Apple Rose Tarts

 

Making apple roses” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photographs by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.

 

 

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, Jesus, loss, love, Spiritual, Uncategorized

The end of the world

earth

I must have tossed and turned all night.  It was one of those mornings I drug myself out of bed having felt that I had’t slept at all.  I didn’t remember any particulars of my dreams and I was frustrated to begin yet another day with an energy deficit.  As I stumbled to the coffee pot I uttered my frequent prayer of “Why, God, why??  Why does sleep evade me so?”  I longed for the days of my youth when little sleep was required…

As the caffeine began to work its magic and the fog cleared, I remembered that just before going to sleep I had been thinking about the end of the world.  Well, no wonder my slumber was disturbed!  I’m not a huge fan of the televised news but had watched an evening broadcast with my husband who is a bit of a news junkie.  Following this input of distressing information I spent a little time reading before trying to sleep.  I was reading about bible prophecy.  I do not recommend this if restful sleep is the goal.

As I retraced my mental steps of the night before, I remember that I went to sleep asking God “What do we do?”  It wasn’t a fearful question but rather a practical one.  How do we prepare if the world is going to end?

My husband is busy with preparation.  While I tease him about being ready for the zombie apocalypse, I appreciate that he is making ready as best he can in order to feed and protect his family.  He thinks of the “what to do” if we have limited or no access to things in our everyday life that we currently take for granted.  He is doing what he can do now, knowing that it will be impossible to fully prepare.

Years ago I saw a little wall hanging that said “You can’t scare me.  I have kids.”  I thought it was funny. I realize now that I have taken this frame of mind when it comes to all the trouble in the world and the doom and gloom that the future seems to hold.

End of the world?  You don’t scare me.  I’ve watched my world crumble as my heart was broken and marriage fell apart.  I wasn’t prepared.  I’ve stumbled through the rubble, falling again and again, the inevitable scars making their mark and altering my future.  Some for good.  Some for bad.  And I’m still standing.

End of the world?  I’ve loved and lost more than I ever dreamed I would.  I’ve chosen wrong paths that invited destruction into my life.  I’ve wrestled with God during these times, pulling against Him and clinging to Him at the same time, living a broken life under the guise of being a confident Christian.

End of the world?  I’ve stood to speak at my son’s memorial when I felt as if my heart had been ripped from my chest. We had just begun to find each other again.  Just a few short weeks before, we had a sweet, sweet time together at breakfast.  He left me that morning with a kiss on my cheek.  I can still feel it. There is no way to prepare for this.

End of the world?  You don’t scare me.  I’ve found that God is faithful and true and whatever may come He will never leave me.  I’ve found that my assurance of something more than this world offers is stronger than ever.   I’ve found the One who suffered more than I can imagine so that there could be purpose borne out of any suffering I may endure.  I’ve found Hope.  I’ve found Love.

Unspeakable horrors and acts of evil pervade our world and it’s hard to imagine that it will not ultimately destroy the earth.  So, God, what do we do?  We stay on task:  Tell them about Me.  What hope do we have without Him?  My heart breaks for those across this globe who face the terrors I cannot imagine and I pray for them.  I give what I can to their aid and support.  I try not to turn away from their images and become numb to their pain.  But I pray that I will also be sensitive to the woman down the street whose world just ended with the passing of her husband.  Or the man who stands begging on the corner, no longer able to sustain his world when the job ended.  Or the young person whose world has become an endless rip tide of addiction.   The mission remains the same:  Tell them about Me.

The end of the world?  Don’t be afraid.  There is so much more to life than this.  God in His magnificent love offers us a new beginning in Him, a life that will never end.  He compels us to take His offer of mercy and grace and fall into His arms.  In His love there is no fear and the end will find us still standing.

There is no fear in love…love drives out fear and dispels every trace of terror.  (1 John 4:18)

The end of the world” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com