Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Being Brave and Saying "No"... It's OK


Sometimes the hardest and bravest thing you can do is say "no". Especially when it is something you feel will serve and honor God. Especially when you feel it is something you've been called to do. We all feel that when we are called to serve Him - we must not say no. 

I have dear friend in my "Prayer Ninjas" group. She is an absolute superwoman who not only has a husband and four children to manage, but a part-time job at her church as the Mother's Morning Out Director. Last week, she texted the other five of us the following:

"I need some ninja guidance. I have been offered a full time  job as Program Director for Children's Ministries at church -- Sunday school, baptisms, Nurturing Center, children's chapels, vacation bible school, some retreat coordination and who knows what else. I'd be working Sunday mornings, clearly and then four weekdays. I'm struggling. Idk if I can handle all that AND run my house. But it would be really helpful financially and I love working at the church. I worry about the Sunday gig interfering with visiting "oldest daughter" in college and other weekend stuff. I'd have to give up tennis (which is on its way out the door anyway from work this year). But it is an outlet for me. Anywho, too much for a text, but WWPND???"

Each one of us offered words of encouragement and prayed for discernment. We suggested she make lists of pros and cons. Was there a Godly woman she could talk with? Would she feel passion with this new position? A purpose? A peace?

Today she let us know that she has decided not to accept the position. She said "no". And I'm so proud of her. Some other extended family issues have arisen and she realizes that she is needed there. That being said, she still feels some guilt that she's not able to "do it all."

How hard that must have been. I had a similar situation last year where, after vacillating back and forth, I had to defer and not accept a call to serve. Although I had not felt a peace or surety about the position, I still felt that I let God down. I felt that I was not walking the Christian walk. I felt I was not glorifying God and His kingdom. I felt selfish. 

But I learned that there was a reason I was not even aware of at the time: my husband was going to be admitted to the hospital and then have a very long recuperation. In some ways, he's still not (and may never be) where he was before. There was no way I could have served God and His kingdom the way I should have. And like my friend, I still felt a little guilty.

But in the midst of my searching for what I felt I should do, I now realize God was saying, "Its ok. Trust me. Take care of yourself and those you love right now. Today, in those private, precious moments, that is where you can serve and glorify Me. Don't feel that you have to do everything for Me. I'll be fine. For I am sovereign. I am mighty. I am powerful. I am your Father who loves you and always will."

And it's ok to say no...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Just Because We Can, Does That Mean We Should?



It's a question we can all remember asking ourselves at one time or another in our lives. When I was first out of college, I was an assistant teacher at a local private school. I had agreed to work a year-long contract. However, when summer approached, I realized that the school had made a gross error and that the contract was only through May (much to my delight). I could have legally refused my verbal agreement. I could have spent more time relaxing and also finding another job that was full-time. But I didn't. Just because I could didn't mean I should. 

I know this illustration is a stretch for the point I'm trying to make with what is going on in our world right now. But I've been very troubled by what people saying on both sides of the Atlantic. Now before everyone says that we shouldn't be pushed around by religious extremists, I completely agree. We have the freedom in our country to express ourselves however we feel called without the threat of harm or even death. We have that right. I also am not inviting anyone to call me a terrorist sympathizer. I'm not saying that the French journalists at Charlie Hebdo deserved the tragedy that befell them. What happened last week horrifies and terrifies me, and I feel deeply for their families and colleagues. I just don't believe that because we can, it means we should.

As a Christian, it pains and offends me greatly to see illustrations and portrayals of my Savior desecrated, caricatured, and mocked. The Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) is sacred to me. SACRED. For Muslims (and I'm talking about regular, everyday Muslims), it is Mohamed who is sacred. Why should we, as a civilized society, feel the need to deride that which is so precious to others? Pope Francis and I share the same concern. It's not like poking fun at an NFL team, our government, or someone's dietary choices.  So what's the reason except to point back at ourselves how clever or quick-witted - or even esoteric - we are?

Once more, I am a firm believer in the right of free speech and varying opinions. But I am also a firm believer that we can choose what we say and how we act based on what is right and moral and fair. Because again, just because we can, doesn't mean we should.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Golden

Thank you. Thank you and you and you. I've had comments here and on my Facebook page and in emails. And most of them have resonated the same theme. That YOU have felt the same way. That YOU could have written that particular post. Had I crawled inside YOUR heart or mind? 

I'm just writing what's on my heart. What inspires me, perplexes me - or what causes me to just curl up in a ball. As I've said before, I get most of my thinking and reflecting done in the early morning. It's when the house is quiet and I'm the only one awake. And... I'm in the shower.

It was there that I was thinking about my blog and its name: "It's a Golden Day". A dear friend remembers me in college walking up to all our friends and greeting them with those words. They still say it to me with affection. Should I change it?

Happy, favorable, promising, beautiful. These are words often associated with the word GOLDEN. But that's the finished product. That's when it's all shiny and polished and refined. What about before? Gold is mined from deep in the ground. It's hidden, and then chiseled out. It's covered with dirt and dust. It's rough. It's raw.

And that's where I feel I am sometimes: in the just mined stage. What I write is honest and real. Because I am honest and real. I don't have to be that final, shiny, buffed, perfect, photoshopped, perma-grinned, Pinterest-ified woman. I'm tired of that - aren't you? I want to celebrate the fact that my laundry room is not organized with chalk board labels on wicker baskets, but mountains of laundry. I want to not be ashamed that my family didn't eat organic, whole foods for supper tonight, but Zaxbys. I want shout it from the rooftops that the last few times I had to bring an appetizer, I didn't create something homemade, but brought blue chips and salsa. I want to own the fact that I had my "get though the day without punching something" meds prescription upped. And all these things are ok, damn it. 

But there are some other words that are also associated with GOLDEN, and those are the ones I want to claim. The first is wisdom. I love the fact that with age, comes wisdom. Hence, the term "the golden years". With forty-five years of experiences, from the truly wonderful to the deeply painful, I would hope that I am growing wiser!  The second is valuable. You may know this verse: "Lord, You are more precious than silver. Lord, You are more costly than gold. Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds, And nothing I desire compares to You." No doubt I agree completely with this. But I also know that God feels the same way about me. He values me in all of my weakness. In the state I am in daily: dirty, rough, and raw. I AM valuable. I AM golden.


So I think I will keep the name. It fits. And I like what "It's a Golden Day" symbolizes to me right now.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 The Best is Yet to Come...



Happy New Year! A time of Renewal. Rededication. Refocusing.  And I have three things I really need/want to channel my energy on:

Myself
My family
My passion

Myself
How vague is that? I'm talking about physically. I have never been a petite person. I think the smallest size I have ever been is an 8. And I really don't want to be that small, because I was that size about ten years ago and my face looked all wrinkly and gaunt - even at age 35! I just want to be healthy and feel good about myself. I want to not feel so tired. I want to not feel ugly. I want to want to have sex with my husband. (That's probably too much information. I think he's amazing, handsome and wonderful, but when you feel ugly, it can deeply affect your drive.) I want to believe him when he says I am beautiful. Now I'm probably going to have lots of people comment and say, "Oh Bevy, you ARE beautiful! You have such a beautiful _____." And that's all lovely and kind and sweet and supportive... bleh, bleh, bleh. But if I can't feel it myself, then...  

So I've decided (just like last year - ugh!) to make a change. Last year I was really on a roll until Mike's "Gallbladder Explosion Diet". Although he lost weight (and lots of it, I might add), I ceremoniously failed. And I never got back on track. But this year I'm starting back, with the help of my school's "Biggest Loser" competition throughout May. The winner gets a bill ol' wad of prize money as well. I have a pretty competitive streak and I do. not. like. losing. (And my husband will reap the benefits too!)

My family
I'm not quite sure exactly where I'm going with this. I just know that we are all pulled in a million different directions. And when each of us finally do come down to land, we crash and isolate ourselves - and I am probably the most guilty. My iPad has become an appendage. Granted I am not always surfing Facebook, Pinterest or the net. I am cropping photos, or organizing lists and recipes, or reading on my Kindle app or e-magazine, or finding second grade resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, or... And my husband is constantly looking at sports scores and researching trends for upcoming games. Sumter is on Twitter. Jackson is on Instagram. Or they are texting their friends. 

This fall has been a bit rough. Both boys have made some poor choices and this concerns me. I don't like being evasive. Neither are involved with drugs or drinking. Nothing illegal. Just bad choices, and neither seem to understand (or care to) why said decisions or choices are wrong. I am beginning to see that this gray, amoral world is influencing them more than I realized. And this is with Bible studies and youth group! My husband and I thought we were engaged. Obviously we need to be more. More with the boys - and more with each other.

My passion
This is interestingly enough the hardest one to even realize - much less commit to. I am in a funk. Not unhappy - just in a funk. It's really hard to write this, but I really don't have anything in my life right now that gives me intrinsic joy. I was talking to my husband about this: He brings me joy. Our sons bring me joy. My sweet puppy, Maggie, brings me joy. Jesus brings me joy. I enjoy my job. But what else? What is it that makes me want to get up in the morning? What excites me more than anything? I just don't know. But I am committing 2015 to find out.

So there you have it. Renewing myself. Rededication to my family. And refocusing on my passion. Here's to 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

He's Bigger than a Christmas Present

The stockings are hung, the tree is decorated (and quite stunning, if I do say so myself), and the nativity scene sits prominently on the wine chest. All the presents are wrapped. Well, almost all of them. Only one left to wrap. Only one. My son's BIG Christmas gift. And it is nowhere to be found.

Oh, I ordered it. Two months ago. And it arrived. One month ago. I took it off the front porch. I marveled at how heavy it was for such a small package. I noticed how much packing tape was wrapped around the box. I carried it into the study. I put it in the closet with the other gifts. At least I THINK I did.

And now it is gone. I have looked in every drawer. In every closet. On every shelf. But it's gone. Yesterday, I felt physically ill. I broke into a sweat. I even asked both boys if they had seen the package. My husband suggested I sleep on it and wake up fresh. And guess what? I dreamed about it.

This morning, I started over. Still missing. So I continued to look - and pray. Consumed with anxiety and worry, I even posted a plea on Facebook:

"Friends ~ I can't find on the of the boys' MAJOR Christmas present. I remember bringing in the package from the front porch and can tell you what it looked like (smaller than a shoebox) and the weight (like a brick). But now I am beside myself with worry... Any prayers are greatly appreciated."

And it was shortly after that it hit me. I can not handle this. For some unknown reason, it's just too big for me and I feel overpowered. I have to release it. I HAVE to release it. I just have to release it - and let God handle it. Because it's too big for me. But not too big for Him. He created the whole universe. He saved my husband's life when he was on the brink. He protects my children every day from the evils around us. He saved our lives from the darkness of sin. He is so much bigger than a lost Christmas present.


And so I am ok. I still don't know where Sumter's double bass drum pedal is. (Don't worry. He never reads my blog.) But I am ok, because I know that it is being handled. Because God is just that big. And I am trusting in His taking care of the situation.

Maybe not with the outcome I desire - but maybe!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Child in the Manger

In the midst of the Advent/Christmas season, I find myself in the car - a lot. Not that the rest of the year is not busy what with shuttling my boys around town.  It just seems busier. More people are out. There is a sense of urgency that is missing the other months. There seems to be a common purpose or mission. More events. More doing. More active preparation.

Our life is no different.  In addition to Jackson's basketball practices and games, we have band concerts, church productions, Social and Cotillion Christmas formals, and parties.

So again, I am in the car - but now with Christmas music. I love Christmas music.  However, I REFUSE to play any until the day after Thanksgiving. I program my iPhone with Christmas playlists. I flip flop between the two stations in our town that play nonstop holiday favorites, both religious and secular. I love Christmas music. And every year, I have favorites.

My two favorites for 2014 are Michael Buble's "Cold December Night"  (Christmas, 2011) and Michael W. Smith's "Medley (Away in a Manger, Child in the Manger)" (Christmastime, 1998). 

Disclaimer: I am not a big fan of children singing solos unless it is for a church or school play, so I fast-forward to the 2:00 mark on the song - after the Away in a Manger part.

Last night, I had to drive forty-five minutes to Augusta to take Sumter and two other boys to their Cotillion Christmas Formal. (Another parent was picking them up for the return home.) While the drive with the three teenage boys was full of laugher, comradery and playful jabs, my drive home  became one of reflection and worship.  I listened to "Medley..." Over and over and over.

The words and music were powerful. They pulled me further into the season of Advent, preparing my heart for the arrival of The One. The arrival of a baby, who was born just like every one of us. Who was tiny and frail just like every one of us. Who was held and taken care of  just like every one of us. Who cried and was comforted just like every one of us.

BUT unlike any of usHe was perfect. Holy. Our Salvation. Our Victor. Our Redeemer. Our Savior. Lord. 



That baby, just like every one of us... but unlike any of us.



...Child in the manger, Infant of Mary
Outcast and stranger, Lord of all
Child who inherits
All our transgressions
All our demerits on Him fall

Once the most holy
Child of salvation
Gentle and lowly
Now as our glorious Mighty Redeemer
See Him victorious
O'er each foe

Prophets foretold Him
Infant of wonder
Angels behold Him On His throne
Worthy our Savior
Of all our praises
Happy forever
Are His own

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Beautiful Veneer

We all worry about our children feeling left out and passed over. We want them to have friends. We want them to feel included. We work on it. But what about ourselves? Do grown women ever feel left out or passed over? The answer is yes. Now this is not a pity party. It's is not a guilt trip. It's just a reminder that supposedly strong, supposedly "with-it" women have the same insecurities as a sixteen-year-old girl.

You wonder why you aren't included. Did I do something wrong? Did I say something that rubbed them the wrong way? Has our friendship dwindled and I just didn't know it? The questions abound. And in the world of social media, it is so much more in your face. I know those pictures and statuses aren't posted to hurt me. Of course they weren't even posted with me in mind. (I'm not THAT narcissistic.) But yes, even women in their forties can feel a little sting - no matter how unintended. 

In my head, I know this is ridiculous. I have a wonderful husband, two great boys, a beautiful home, a God who loves me more than I can even fathom - and a fabulous veneer.  I smile at all the right times. I give the teenage girls in my Bible Study such words of wisdom and compassion. I write words that (I've been told) give others strength and encouragement. I have a warm, beautiful veneer. Because I am human, I have emotions. I have insecurities. I get my feelings hurt.  And I mask it with that impenetrable veneer

I debated writing this. But it felt good to get it on paper. And I know I won't always feel the way I do at this moment. I know I can't be the only one. I wonder if I've unknowingly been an unwitting cause to someone else feeling the same. Did they just smile and move one? Did they mask the hurt? How many of us share that beautiful veneer