New Year’s Faithfulness

If you’re like most Americans you will start the upcoming New Year with a resolution to lose weight. The gyms across the country will be flooded with good intentions. Some will be successful in their endeavors while others will still face the same demons well into the Spring. What do you think makes the difference for those who will become a success story? I believe it’s perseverance and willingness to make changes that become new constants.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word Change as: the process of becoming different; to become something else; to make radically different, to transform. Do you want to be radically different from the way you are now? Do you need transformation? I do! I’m tired of the yo-yo diets, feeling bloated, lifeless and tired! I’ve been struggling with the same health issues for several years now and much of my struggle is self-inflicted.

The Encouragement For Today devotional on 12/12/13 entitled The Place Where Disappointment Grows, was written by Lysa TerKeurst. Lysa made a statement in her writing that lit up the page for me like a Christmas tree! She stated, ”The space between my reality & my expectations will only change if I do.” I love that quote and I’m claiming it as my mantra for the New Year!

Her comment motivated me to do a little more research on the word “change” to see if I might glean additional knowledge that would add a few more meaty morsels of inspiration to sink my teeth into, instead of turning to the sugar and gluten laden options that have gotten me into my current inflamed state…literally and physically.

Let’s use the word CHANGE as an acronym to further outline what is needed to be successful in making a change:

Constant – Invariable or unwavering and marked by a firm steadfast resolution or faithfulness.

Hard – Difficult. Not easy.

Alter – To cause to change in character or composition, typically in a comparatively small but significant way.

Necessary – What is required to be done.

Good – Praiseworthy. Anything deserving of respect, of the highest worth. Well-being.

Effective – Producing a decided, decisive or desired effect.

In reviewing we see that change requires constant faithfulness, hard decisions or tasks. We can also take note that we may have to alter our steps in some small way to achieve our goal. There will be necessary requirements in order for us to see change and make progress, and when we accomplish our goal the results will be good and produce the effect we have desired.

I like the word “faithfulness” described above in the definition of constant, instead of resolution. It makes the process more spiritual and I need my God in the middle of everything, for me to be successful! Change is often hard and can be very difficult but the reward well worth the effort. Anything that comes too easily is usually not appreciated, as much as, the things we have to work diligently toward.

So, in this upcoming season where we are resolved to make changes, are you up for the task? Change can be good and positive change always has a positive effect!

I think this year, instead of a resolution, I’m making a “New Year’s Faithfulness” to change. I’m going to work really hard to close the space between my reality and my expectations. Will  you join me?

If Ever I Am Remembered

If ever I have failed you
Forgotten whose I am… assailed you
‘Twas not Me that you have heard
But hate through Me that spoke these words

If ever I have cursed you
Pursed my lips…said things to hurt you
‘Twas not Me that you have heard
But hate through Me that spoke these words

If ever I have inspired you
To act on something good inside you
‘Twas not Me that spoke these words
But love through Me that you have heard

If ever I have played a part
In the leading of your heart
To put aside your selfish pride
And let the love of God inside

If ever I have loved you
The agape love above you
Speaks through Me and you have heard
The breath of Jesus…those are His words

So If ever I am remembered
In your thoughts come some September
I pray in remembering Me you will find
More words of love from The Divine

For ‘Twas not Me that you have heard
But love through Me that spoke His words.

The Final Hour

I contemplate
This life ending
The number of days left
I’ll be spending

On this earth
In human form
Flesh and blood
The body warm

I think about
The final hour
When Glory reveals
Its resurrection power

I concentrate
on the last breath taken
And where I will be
When I awaken

From the slumber
Beneath the trees
From blinded eyes
That finally see

The brilliant light
From heaven above
Shinning down
A radiant love

Now filled with Peace
Hard to explain
That I’ve been given
A brand new name

A name that signifies
And proves
That our belief is
Indeed the truth

Proof revealed by
Omniscient power
Passing from this life
In the final hour

Where time and space
Transcend and lend
Everlasting moments
Again and again and again…

The Qualifying Round

IMG_1142We spent part of our Thanksgiving Holiday weekend at the Indoor Karting Championship, at the Civic Center in Batesville, MS. GoKart racers from miles around converged on the site for an exciting weekend of racing. We were told there were over 700 racers there this past weekend, all vying for the title.

My son, Cody, has been a fan since he was a little boy and just really began to take his interest to a new level within the past several years. He enjoys the competition and has had some success over the years as well. However, with a full class schedule at Mississippi State University and holding down a part-time job during the summer, he is not able to race as often as he would like.

The indoor series is the stomping ground of future NASCAR drivers. These kiddos, mostly young boys, (but there were a few pink karts driven by some savvy young girls in the mix as well) all get their feet wet on the dirt tracks of their local sanctioned races and then try to win big at the nationals.

In order to win, you have to qualify first. Kart racers are broken down into weight classes, similar to boxing (light, welter, heavy). Each class is then broken down into manageable groups of racers on the track for safety.

Each driver is given a transponder, which is used in motorsports for lap timing purposes. A cable loop is dug into the race circuit near to the start/finish line. Each kart has an active transponder with a unique id code. During qualifying rounds, when the racing kart passes the start/finish line, the lap time is recorded and determines those eligible to race for the championship. Only the top 24 in each class advance or “qualify” to race for the title.

Each class is given a couple of practice rounds to get the feel for the track. Just like NASCAR drivers, these kids use their downtime between practice and qualifying rounds, to work on the setup of their karts, hoping to fix problems or make adjustments that will give them more speed on the track and an edge over the competition. My husband Lee, is a former motorcross and powerboat racer, so he and Cody share a love for speed and bond well in this arena. Cody listens intently to the advice from his Dad. He may not always take it, but it is a great platform for Father/Son interaction.

After the first practice round, Cody was told by the officials that his kart was underweight for his class by about 4 pounds. Yet during the down time between practice and qualifying, Cody failed to add weights to his cart, which can be done easily by bolting additional weights to the body of the kart. He was more concerned with the setup and spent his downtime making other adjustments. As a result, he not only didn’t qualify for the race but he was disqualified due to the weight issue. It was very disappointing for Cody and a tough lesson learned.

Life is like that. Do you ever find yourself working so hard for something, only to be disqualified in the smallest of details? We can spend all of our days on earth, busying ourselves and focusing on the things that in the end don’t matter and won’t qualify us for the race ahead either.

Luckily for believers, Christ has already run the race of life for us. He has gone before us to make our crooked places straight. We don’t need a transponder to keep track of how fast we are going. All we need in the qualifying round is a heart that believes in the Lord. Our Faith alone will propel us to the Finish Line. The bible tells us that Christ Jesus will return in the twinkling of an eye, for those who believe in Him. Now that’s what I call Fast! See you at the Finish Line!

Unspoken

Is there a heart that is aching
Over circumstances big or small?
Praying they are not forsaken
Wanting to express them all.

But for this heart, the words won’t form,
Feeling not as “eloquent”.
As others who have come before you
With praise and prayers to You they’ve sent.

Now for all the prayers unspoken
There is still a powerful fix.
Turning to His word again
in Romans 8:26

So let the Spirit in your weakness,
Intercede for you today.
With Holy groanings to the Father
When you don’t know what to pray.

Lead me O Lord

When darkness comes and brings in fear
I trust that’s when you are most near.
So, I stand firm on solid ground,
Knowing that your love abounds.

When peace eludes me, I’ll seek your face
And cling tightly to Your saving grace.
In quiet solitude and rest
Your voice is heard…”this path is best.”

Jesus lead me day by day,
Hold me tight, don’t let me stray.
Pick me up Lord when I fall.
Jesus you’re my all in all.

Wash me clean, my life renew.
Forgiven past, Your word is true.
Righteous now for what You’ve done.
Holy Father, precious Son.

 

Mind Your Own Sin

When other’s actions
Seem harsh or rude,
Hold off on the attitude
And mind your own sin!

When angry words
Speak venom and hate,
Don’t get caught up in debate
Mind your own sin!

When personalities
Tend to clash,
Don’t say or do anything brash
Mind your own sin!

When tempers flare
To the point of flame,
Don’t respond by calling names
Mind your own sin!

When rumors fly
With stories told
Defaming characters young and old,
Mind your own sin!

There’s much to learn
By looking within,
Gaining wisdom and knowledge
When you mind your own sin!

Status Quo

Do you begrudge others for their status in life? I’ve visited that emotional state and let me tell you, it’s definitely not a place where you want to take up residence.

I spent the earlier part of my career feeling inferior to some of my colleagues. My feelings of inadequacy were not tied to my performance or abilities, because I achieved on those levels and have had much success. However, I allowed myself to feel inferior over the ascribed status that some of my colleagues possessed and that I deemed important, yet unattainable for advancement in my career at the time.

I hadn’t graduated from the most prestigious University. I wasn’t a member of the local Country Club. I didn’t have the right social connections and my future wasn’t neatly wrapped with a trust fund bow…and if the truth be known I carried a chip on my shoulder at times because of it and was envious of those who possessed it and the material things that went along with such status.

I spent some time subconsciously trying to crack that social circle. I wanted to attain the status of the upper echelon within my organization but there was no amount of charm, personality, or ability that could get this public school girl a membership card. It was definitely a closed social group and I would never be selected as a member.  I envied those who had inherited this status and at the same time, scoffed at their social network.

Funny how time and maturity will change your perspective on things. I have none of those desires now.I am happy and content with my life and how my career has progressed. Our pastor, Craig Strickland (Hope Presbyterian Church/Cordova, TN) spoke on this very subject during the time when these issues were larger stumbling blocks for me. I remember him telling us that we needed to learn to appreciate God’s grace in other people’s lives. I’d never really thought about the status symbols or “material things” we place on being successful as a gift of Grace from God. I remember Pastor Craig’s definitions of Grace and Mercy from that sermon too. He said, “Grace is God giving us the things we Don’t deserve. Mercy is God NOT giving us the things we Do deserve.” I’m so thankful for His Mercy above all!

Looking back, I’m glad I was never inducted into that social network.  I’m proud of my humble beginnings. I had to work hard for the things I achieved and I think I appreciate it more as a result.

Jealousy and envy were stumbling blocks for me earlier in my career and are venomous emotions that will eat you alive! However,  I’ve also learned that feelings of inferiority are not of God either. Those  feelings are placed in our mind by the evil one to keep us from achieving our full potential.

When we finally learn to appreciate God’s grace in other people’s lives, it frees our hearts of envy and opens us up to allow God to move in our own life. Self-worth and approval does not come from social status or possessions. As followers of Christ, we are members of the Royal Family of The Most High God. So there is never a reason to envy the ascribed status of anyone on this earth.

In the book of John 14:2, Jesus tells his disciples that He is “going to prepare a place for us” and when “everything is ready” he “will come and get us”. Oh what a glorious day that will be! We will inherit the Kingdom riches that Christ has prepared… and that will be the status quo for all those who believe in Him!

Psalms to God

Teach me O Lord your ways.
I continue to stumble over my own feet.
Forgive my missteps, because I know Your path and that Your ways are best.
Yet I continue to do things my own way.I sabotage my own efforts.
Like the Israelites, I too round the same mountain again and again; expecting a different result. How long will the struggle last?

Help me Lord to find my way back to You.
I know Your path is much clearer than the one I continue to travel.
I’m stuck in the thicket. The briars have a stronghold on me again.
Free them from me Lord. I’m tired and weak from this constant struggle.

Just yesterday I traveled your path and it was free from rocks and thorns.
There were no briars, no brush or vines to entangle me. No mountains to scale.
The path was smooth and easy to walk. The way before me was bright and clear.
I came upon the path while reading your word and didn’t veer from it.

But then today, after I closed your book, I wandered off course.
Will outbursts of frustration always be a stumbling block for me?
Just like Paul, the thing that I will to do, I do not do.
And the thing that I will not to do…that is the thing that I do!

Why do I turn away from your truths? When I know they will lead me to a place of peace.How long will it take for me to truly learn your ways? How many sunrises will it take to understand Your truth?

Help me to stay in communion with you, studying and reading your word, painting it on my heart. Steer me in the way that I should go as I keep my heart and mind focused on You.

Your word says Your sheep know You and they hear Your voice. I am one of Your sheep Lord. Do not forsake me when I stumble. Forgive me when I fall. Call on me O God, and I will find my way to You. Yes, You are the lamp unto my feet and the light unto my path.

The Blank Page

IMG_0947The blank page stares at me. Her stark whiteness is almost blinding. I can hear her laughter and scoffing remark…”She thinks she is a writer!”

I grab my journal and begin to scribble, making sure my pen  has enough ink for my project today. I search for a topic but nothing inspires me. I doodle a while, changing pens, hoping the change in color will kindle some creative energy.

I try to ignore her, but the blank page taunts me now… “Really? You’re not a writer, you’re just a doodler. Your work is so elementary.” Her laughter rings in my ears. Her voice, sounding more like my own, mocking every effort.

Determined not to let her get the best of me today, I start with one letter and a word is born. This small word lends itself to another and then another. A few aimless sentences follow but end up missing my target audience. Scratch that.

I reload. My weapon of choice this time is a Pilot G2 .07 cobalt blue medium point gel. The pen begins to glide across the page with ease. I write my name over and over, imagining how I might pen an autograph at a book signing. The blank page roars with laughter now! She can’t contain herself, screaming in my ear…”You’ve got to be kidding! You think you can write a book? You can’t even come up with a topic!”

I try to pay no attention to her vicious taunts and keep the gel flowing; hoping to ignite something, anything that will allow me to save face against her constant ridicule.

The blank page is so crisp and clean. She is pristine in her new white dress. She’d like nothing more than to keep it that way…forever! Yet, I want to write all over it, leaving my mark for all who will read it.

I want to write stories that inspire and move people. I crave sentence structure and paragraphs that stir people to action. I long to create solid statements that stick in my reader’s mind, to impress upon them to share my message with others. I want to use my words as an arsenal against my past mistakes, allowing them to take flight and land in the hearts and minds of those who need to hear them the most.

I don’t want my words to go before me as just a clanging cymbal but rather a  symbol that resonates for Christ! I want to live my life in such a way that my character, my conduct, my conversation and my written words prove that I am a child of God. Forgiven and loved.

So, I reign in my focus. The faint blue lines on the blank page are coming into view now; marching like soldiers as to war. One by one, row by row they lay down on the blank page before me. I honestly expected them to join the sarcastic mockery, but they surprise me today and surrender their spaces on the blank page for me to fill.

Wait, what’s that I hear? Are they actually cheering my on now? The red margins become the point of convergence with the blue lines, as they join together in a concerted effort of encouragement, drowning out the teasing of the blank page. Their voices rise above her cruel sarcasm, as they witness my words form poetic consequences, one word at a time.

My paragraphs beat with heartfelt sentiment, expressing similar thoughts as those of my readers. My content is concise and to the point, not preachy but livable and memorable. The blue lines and margins continue with their exuberant support of my handiwork, as I continue to write.

The blank page has quieted her scoffing remarks now. She sees potential and knows that I am a formidable opponent. I will not let her intimidate me today. I say out loud…”I am a writer!” I scream back at the blank page, yelling at her now…”I will always stain the blank page with my ink!”

I will write on it with all the colors of the rainbow, matching my mood. I will type on it with fonts as bold as the noon day sun. I will scribble notes and to-do-lists. I will compose love sonnets and poems. I will turn my poems into songs that praise our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I will write blog posts and articles that teach. I will hone my craft, writing devotionals that inspire my readers to live their life for Christ! I will pen verse and chorus, prayers and praise! And yes…I will write a book! I will write a book that speaks to young women about the mistakes I’ve made along my life’s journey, in hopes to steer them away from the paths that caused me to stumble.

The blank page shrinks back, spineless, unable to stop the creative energy flowing from my pen. Her own lines and margins abandoned her. She wipes a tear from her eye. Her tear drops begin to flow now, falling on her pretty white dress. She weeps uncontrollably, seeking mercy from me but I continue with the onslaught of ink! I am relentless. I have won the battle against the blank page today and I smile as I close my journal, proud of my work.

I can hear her weeping softly through the night. But her cries don’t affect me anymore, because I know there will be another day that will champion her untouched beauty. I will awaken to a new day. My thoughts will engage as my ideas give rise to yet another writing project. I will reach for my journal to record it, but my excitement will be subdued, as I once again stare at the stark whiteness of the blank page.