Monday, April 13, 2015

Back to the Basics

I think Christians, including myself, tend to complicate Christianity. 

It can become just a long list of dos an don'ts and confusion.

God has been whispering these two words to me: Love. Serve.

That's it. That's what Christianity is.

Love God. Love people.

Serve God. Serve people.

We've all heard the Scripture ... "Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength." That's an easy one. Once you grasp who God is and what He's done for you, loving Him is easy.

Now, the loving-people part can be a little more difficult and tricky. I've come to learn that loving people gets easier once you understand what God's command for us to love one another is all about. He didn't say anything commanding us to like everyone, be best friends with everyone, hang out with everyone ... He just said "love."

When you truly love God, loving people is easier. Because the love He wants us to have is about showing care and compassion for others, desiring the best for them, helping them, and wanting them to have a real relationship with God. That's the love that God wants us to have for others.

But, God goes even further ...

Not only are we to love, we are to serve. That requires us to die to ourselves, die to our own desires, die to our (hard one here ...) pride. It requires us to put the needs of others above our own needs when society says we should put ourselves first. I mean, we deserve it, right? We work hard. We're busy. We have lots of stress in our lives. Our needs should be first and foremost. Unfortunately, that's not what God thinks.

Don't get me wrong. I do like to have time for me. We all do. But, we should be at a place in our lives, as Christians, where the needs of others should always trump the needs of our own.

When you search the Scriptures, every time we are given instruction on how to live, it always comes back to two things: Loving and Serving. And, when you truly love, you serve. It's not like they are separate entities. Serving naturally flows out of loving.

My prayer has been over the past several years that God would continue to put in me a true love for people. To see them with His eyes. And, if I could see them with His eyes, I would adore them.

God, help us to see others with Your eyes and love them with Your heart.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The "F" Word

I cannot stand hearing the "F" word. 

Not words like ... fun, family, food, or friendship ... those are great "F" words. I'm talking about the real "F" word. 

It's not something that is heard nor spoken in my home. If it is heard, it's from a movie, and then that's when it happens ... I cringe. I grunt. I get irritated. I feel like my ears are being stabbed with knives.

Surely there's some WAY better word that can be used. Does no one have a thesaurus? Or just a decent vocabulary?

Last night, we're watching a classic with K Belle, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Beau warns that there's a scene where Steve Martin throws out a barrage of "F" words. I can't take that stuff. I covered my ears and sang loudly so I didn't have to hear them. 

My girls hear it every day at school. I hate that. And, I hate that they are not affected by it the way they should be. In fact, I hate that the whole world is not affected by it. Call me old-fashioned. But, honestly, our whole language in general has declined. 

I think people used to use bad language to try to make a point through shock value. But, bad language has lost its shock value so that doesn't work anymore.

Now, bad language has become the norm. It's everywhere ... movies, music, schools, the workplace, even standing in the check-out line at any grocery store ... EVERYWHERE. We can't escape it.

And, I for one, just hate it.

It's just plain UGLY. That's all. U GEE EL Y! You ain't got no alibi ... it's ugly!

There's nothing less attractive on a person than foul language coming out of his/her mouth. You can be the most beautiful person in the world, but as soon as you open your mouth and let those expletives fly ... wamp wamp ... your beauty just started to fade.

People who know me know I feel this way. So, this will not be news to them. I even have people who claim they watch their mouth around me and how difficult that is. That's funny to me because it's not difficult for me not to say the "F" word or any other word for that matter. Not difficult AT ALL.

I'm not real sure why I have such a disdain for it. I never grew up in a house where there was much of it and there's none in my house ... except "crap" ... there's a lot of "crap" here.

Maybe because I never became accustomed to it, I've never become comfortable with it. 

Now, before you say ... I need to get off my high horse and that I'm not perfect. Yep. I agree. I am far from perfect and if you know my height, you'd know I couldn't even jump on a high horse.

I may not use these words I dread, but there are ugly things that do come out of my mouth. And, when they do, I instantly think of the Scripture, "Out of the abundance of the mouth, the heart speaks." Time for a heart check.

Much worse than the "F" word, would be ugly, hurtful, mean words ... words meant to damage, coming from a wicked heart. I've said those words. You've said those words. You may feel the same way I do about the "F" word, but speak way worse things with no expletives included.

And, like me ... you have to take a breath. That two-second breath could mean the difference between  saying something you don't mean or something just mean OR saying nothing at all or speaking words of life & words that build up.

Those are the words I want to speak. And, not just about others, but about myself. We speak the most horrible words about ourselves, when we need to remind ourselves that God had a purpose in mind when He created us. Being created by God Almighty and adopted as His child, makes us pretty special and awesome.

Now, stop with the "F" word, world. We have enough issues without having to hear that non-stop, nastiness, making things even uglier. (I'm sure this post will change our current culture and society. One small step ...)

But, more than that, change your speech from words that tear down to words that build up. It'll make such a difference not just for who you're talking to, but a difference in you.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Night of Firsts

That's what the radiologist called Saturday night, as he started K Belle's CT scan.

Saturday night was K Belle's first day on a new job, first (and hopefully last of these) car accident, ambulance ride, and CT scan.

This girl constantly amazes me on how she responds under pressure and stress. She is calm and is a problem solver.

As I was sitting on the couch Saturday night, relaxing after a long day of chores and errands, I got a phone call from K Belle. I knew she was on her way home from work.

She sounded just like her normal self, and said, "so ..... ummm ... A car hit me from behind and caused me to hit the car in front of me. The police are here and the ambulance is on its way and my eye is bleeding." I immediately become opposite of calm. I jump up, get my shoes on, and Beau and I are out the door. It takes us a while, but we finally get K Belle to articulate exactly where she is.

When we arrived, she was still calm and was getting treated by the EMTs. And, come to find out, K Belle (the minor involved in the accident - not the adults) was the one who called 911. She's just so good under pressure.

Her car, Linda, wasn't in as good condition as she was. Poor Linda had to get towed away.

The accident happened because of the driver behind her, not slowing down as the cars ahead of him were all coming up to a stop light. He slammed into the back of K Belle, which pushed her little bug into the back of the SUV (with a trailer hitch I might add, which ripped through her radiator) in front of her. She was the only one injured. The impact caused her to hit her head on the steering wheel; her eye was bleeding and she had bruising and scrapes. Because she did hit the steering wheel, she needed to be checked for a concussion. We're still not real sure why the air bag didn't deploy.

We headed to the hospital ... first ride in the ambulance for both of us.

Fantastic news was that CT scan showed no fractures or concussion. We headed home with some muscle relaxers and pain meds.

Yesterday morning, we saw the true impact of the her hitting the steering wheel.

And, then, of course, she had a choir concert that evening. Make-up could only do so much.

I'm so thankful for this beautiful girl and her precious life.

After the events of that evening, I laid down to sleep and thanked God for His protection over her life and the lives of each one of my family.

I also thanked God for His provision, knowing that this happened on the heels of Beau's car being in the shop and us having one car. But, more importantly, this was on the heels of us giving ... giving in areas we felt God wanted us to give to. This is such a blatant attack of the enemy to try to get us to waver in our faith and think that our God will not provide or meet all of our needs. But, this actually does the opposite. Our God is greater than any circumstance and we can trust Him. He will do what He says.

So, now we wait for insurance to settle and work out details with cars. But, as we wait, we know that God will bless us and cause this to turn out for our good.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Perfectionism is hard to overcome.

Some may say that perfectionism is a good thing. Even when you claim to be a perfectionist, it's another way of saying "I'm better than you." That may seem harsh. But, I've struggled with perfectionism all my life. And, when I say struggled, I mean ... I desire perfection, but that perfection never seems to work out. So, I guess you could say, I'm half-perfectionist, half-apathetic (or maybe it's just laziness).

As I've gotten older, I have been intentional about not letting that perfectionist attitude control me. It's most about letting go of control. Perfectionism comes from a mindset of having to be in control at all times ... in control of our surroundings, in control of our situations, in control of others around us, in control of ourselves. Problem is when you try to take responsibility for all these things, it can drive you crazy.

I think people who are perfectionists don't come from a bad place of trying to control everything, but actually come from a good place of wanting to make sure everything is taken care of and done the "right" way (as we each see as "right").

Perfectionism also comes from a need for approval. (Gosh, I sound like a therapist. I am not licensed, y'all ... not at all ... just my observations and experiences from my many years on the earth.) Because no one wants to be seen as not good at stuff or as a failure. Everyone wants to feel accepted and approved of. It's only human. So, I would say perfectionism definitely comes out of a fear of failure.

When you become a Christian though, this perfectionism can get in the way. You cannot control God nor what He does.  And, sometimes perfectionists can try to control what God does. Impossible.

When perfectionists feel out of control, they don't know what to do with themselves. When every "t" is not crossed, or "i" is not dotted, it could seem horrifying.

But, what I've learned is that people are very forgiving and accepting, even when we're not perfect or our situations and circumstances haven't turned out the way we expected or wanted them to turn out. In fact, they may be more apt to trust you if they do see you're not perfect. For me, the person who is kind of a mess and knows they don't have it all together are the best people to be with. Then, you don't have to worry about being "perfect" yourself in their presence.

My perfectionism has gone by the wayside long ago when I came to grips with the fact that I can't be all things to all people and the things that I do will be liked by some and hated by others. None of us can be all things to all people. Some will approve; some will disapprove. That's just the way it goes. It took me years to get over this. For the longest time, I would strive to please everyone. Number 1 ... not possible. Number 2 ... exhausting. I just couldn't do it anymore. I had to surrender it all to God. And, strive for His approval, not the approval of all those other people.

The perfectionist in me hasn't disappeared altogether. It still comes back, but it doesn't control me anymore. There are honestly some areas of my life where I just don't care ... it's just ... whatever. Don't sweat the small stuff, right? 

However, I did have a horrifying dream the other night where I stood in front of thousands of people in my sweaty, nasty running clothes, no make-up, hair all over the place because I couldn't find my change of clothes nor a room to change into because they were all blocked off. Hmmm ... let's just say I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and have lots on my plate. That's the worst time where the perfectionist in me starts coming out and I get a little crazy. My brain starts reeling with details and to-dos. And that's the most important time to surrender. Give it up to God.

It all again comes back to trust. Trust. ... not always my strongest suit, but I'm learning and growing. As the years go by, I trust more. God has always proven Himself faithful to me when I let Him have control. And, the best part is ... He already approves of me.

“Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God. I rule the nations. I rule the earth.” (Psalm 46:10 GW)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

God can use a donkey, a dog, and me.

As I sat in the living room last night, trying to determine if I had anything to post about, Roxy Belle went through her daily routine of trying to get on the chair.

This is how it goes ...


She actually made it on the chair this time. Usually she doesn't. 

She tries. 

She goes back and forth, back and forth. And, usually she ends up just heading over to lie on her blanket on the floor.

This is her thought process: 
1. I really want to get on that chair.
2. I could jump on the chair.
3. I'm fatter than I've ever been.
4. This is going to take some thought.
5. Do I think I can actually do this? 
6. Can I make it onto that chair?
7. I'm fatter than I used to be.
8. How can I jump onto that chair?
9. Maybe if I get a running start?
10. Wait, I don't run.
11. I'm fatter than I used to be.
12. I should give it a try.
13. Nah ... I'll never make it that high.
14. I should try anyway.
15. I definitely will NOT make it up there.
16. Oh, Roxy Belle ... just try.
17. One foot in front of the other ...
18. I can do it.
19. I'm fatter than I used to be.
20. I'm just gonna go for it!

I feel like this is a picture of my life.

There are a things that God calls me to do.

I contemplate if it's possible for me to do them. Will I jump or just go and lie on the floor too?

Then, I go through the same back and forth.

My thought process:
1. God, I do want you to use me.
2. Wait ... You want me to do what?
3. I mean ... I could try.
4. But, God are you sure?
5. Because there are other people WAY better who can do this.
6. I mean ... I will try.
7. I'm not as young as I used to be, Lord.
8. Are you sure You want ME to do this?
9. Maybe, I'm not hearing You correctly.
10. You can't expect me to do that.
11. I'm not as young as I used to be.
12. I'm tired.
13. Maybe, I misunderstood You.
14. Ok, well ... I'll try.
15. But, God, what if I can't do it?
16. I don't want to disappoint You or others.
17. I can't do this.
18. I'm scared.
19. Well, if You say so ...
20. Guess I'll just go for it.

Amazing revelation, I know!

Just like Roxy Belle finally gets her fat butt up on that chair, we should just go for it! When God calls us, He gives us everything we need to fulfill that calling. So, we don't have to worry and go through the "back-and-forth". He knows what He's doing.

Roxy Belle is a picture of all of us.

So, will I ... or will you ... jump up on that chair or do whatever God's calling you to do? Or will we give up and just lie down in the corner because we were afraid we couldn't make the jump? Afraid we will fall? Afraid we will hurt ourselves? Or even just too tired to try?

Good questions to ponder. Thanks, Lord for using Fatsy McRoxypants to show me this.

Actually, yesterday, God spoke to me in the good 'ol fashioned way and then showed me this visual at the end of the day.

The result: It's time for me to just own it. Stop doubting myself. Even more, stop doubting God. Stop worrying. Stop being afraid. Just jump. Not reluctantly. No back-and-forth. Jump with all your might.

I know this looks good on paper. And, once God shows us something, you'd think we'd just get it. But, it doesn't happen like that. It's a daily thing. The jumping ... there's always an opportunity to jump. And, with that, the "back-and-forth" will happen again or try to happen. But, when we know the truth, we also get the opportunity to change our response to God and to ourself. Yay, us!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

His Voice

Yesterday, during my morning drive, as I was praying and reflecting on my life, God brought something back to my remembrance.

It was the sweetest thing and such a great memory.

Over twenty years ago, God spoke to me. And, when I say "spoke", I don't mean like that deep, distinguished Morgan Freeman voice. It was a still, small voice. I heard it SO clearly. What He said changed my life. I listened to Him. I trusted His voice.

I was in Fort Worth, Texas, staying at the home of Dave Roever. I was there because Beau (my somewhat, non-official, "let's keep it on the DL" boy friend, not boyfriend) was playing bass on Dave's daughter's album project. He had invited me to come with him. Of course, I said yes. Sounded like fun.

Aw ... look ...

It was a beautiful Saturday morning and I had gone outside to take in the scenery and breathe in the fresh air. I was also having a little conversation with God.

I didn't know where this thing with Beau was going. I just knew I liked him, he liked me, and we had fun together. He made me laugh. And, if you know me, that's probably right up at the top of my list as requirements of people I befriend. He was sweet to boot and went out of his way to make me feel special. 

That's what I knew.

But, I didn't know how long it would last. Was it the real thing? No clue.

I had dated other guys before Beau. The relationships before him were long, committed relationships. And, then, after two of those long relationships ended, I went through that "I'm going to just date around" phase and not get serious at all. That lasted a year or so and then I got into yet another serious two-year relationship, which also failed and left me hurt, along with all the others.

So, why would I want to jump into another relationship if it was just going to end up in more heartache? I didn't want to. 

On the deck that day, I asked the Lord to tell me what to do. I even argued a bit with him about why Beau shouldn't be the one. He had some flaws, y'all. I mean ... I'm sure I had a few too ... I mean ... maybe one or two. 

But, then God said this, "He's not like the others. He will treat you the way you deserve to be treated." Then, I argued a bit more, listing some other things that I thought might not work out for us as an actual couple. But, I knew at that moment, that if I wanted to make a change for the better and be with a man who God had set up for me, I needed to listen and follow toward what God wanted for me. At that moment, I knew that Beau would be the man I married.

Now, don't get me wrong, we've had hard moments in our marriage. But, because we both knew that God had ordained our marriage, we pressed through them. There have been hurtful words spoken, doors slammed, and tears shed. There have been times when I think Beau may have wanted to throw in the towel. Maybe there were times I did too.

But, again, we pressed through.

The good times WAY outnumber the bad. They really do.

And, God can heal any hurt and restore any broken relationship. I really, truly believe that.

I'm glad I listened to the voice of God that day. Actually, not just listened, but pursued what God thought was best for me.

It really had been a great ride and I'm looking forward to SO much more!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

First and Foremost

Here it is the eighth of January and I'm just getting around to my first post of 2015. Yay me! (There's that sarcasm I'm so loved for. I haven't lost that part of me yet despite my many attempts. Mama Belle ... proudly serving sarcasm since 2007. Ah ha ... I kill myself.)

I am proudly blogging this first post from my brand spankin' new computer. I have been computerless for about a month. Pretty hard to blog or do anything with no computer. This little MacBook Air is the most beautiful thing I've seen this year. I am definitely in love.

With that said, I have yet to talk about the new year and my resolutions. I am not a huge fan of resolutions. In the past, I didn't make many because I knew I would be disappointed when I failed at keeping them. But, as I grow older, I realize resolutions are a good thing. Even if they're not kept, it's always positive and motivating to make goals for yourself. I'm beyond excited about what lies ahead! 

I have quite a bit of goals and surprisingly none of them involve losing weight. I think this may be the moment where I have just come to grips with what my weight is and am more accepting of the way I look. My feelings are this related to my weight/body/looks and the like: It is what it is. I will do what I can to help myself along pretty consistently, but I'm not going to kill myself or make myself miserable because of it. If I want a cookie, I'm going to eat a cookie. If I can't run or exercise on certain days, then no big deal. I'm not going to beat myself up over things like these like I have in the past. Life is too short, and it's just not worth the misery. As I get older, my looks have become less of an issue for me. I'll just attempt and try to do the best with what God's given me and be thankful and happy with what I have. Done. Moving on.

#1 - I really want to love people more. 
Like really love them. Not just tolerate them. And, believe it or not, that can be very hard to do. But, I want to truly see each person the way God sees them. I've been praying for God to give me His eyes so that I can see each person the way He does and not the way I do. Because I'm flawed y'all ... really flawed.

#2 - I want to care less about trivial things or things I cannot control.
This is a big one for me and I've actually been working on this since last year. I'm one hundred times better than I was the year before at letting things just slide off my back. As Taylor Swift would say, to "shake it off." (My girls just died because I referenced that song yet again. I sing it loudly in the car. They do not approve.) But it's SO true. It's such a waste of energy and emotion to worry or fret over things like this.

#3 - I want to be more accepting of myself.
I just kinda covered this above when I spoke about weight and my looks. But, it goes deeper. I want to be accepting of who I am on the inside too. Trust me ... you can say all kinds of negative, nasty, ugly things about me and they would probably be an improvement over the things I say to and about myself. I am definitely my worst critic and extremely hard on myself. I want to be more thankful of how God made me and designed me. I want to be more thankful for the gifts God's given me and not put them down or compare them to others' gifts. Actually I want to take it a step further and embrace the gifts He's given me and simply use them to my full potential. I want to truly believe that God thinks I'm good enough and His opinion is the only one that matters ... not someone else's or even my own.

#4 - I want to organize and simplify my life.
This is going to happen with some of the changes in my job situation. But, I so need this desperately in my life. I need a fresh start. I am already in the process of decluttering and getting ready to sell our home. I also need this related to our day-to-day home life ... the kids'  activities, the grocery shopping, menu planning, chores, and the dreaded laundry. My life is screaming loudly for this goal to be accomplished.

#5 - I want to be more available to my children.
Again, my job changes are going to help a lot with this. My youngest especially needs more of my attention when it comes to her schoolwork and keeping herself organized. The last year I have felt like I just simply have not been able to be around as often and even be aware of all that's going on at school. It's pretty much sucked. I struggled with that all last year and was positive I had won the "Worst Mom" award. Now, my kids are going to absolutely loathe having me around so much and all up in their business. Yay! La Petite Belle already says, "I'm too addicted to her." And, K Belle has similar sentiments, but has gotten a lot more appreciative since her surgery a few weeks ago. She realized how awesome her mom is! Score! She's graduating so that's a whole other issue I'm going to have to be dealing with ...  not just the plans of graduation, but the emotional roller coaster I will be on.

#6 - I want my ministry goals to line up with God's ministry goals.
I'm excited that this year I will be able to devote more time to leading our women's ministry. Sometimes people who are in ministry miss it and make ministry about their own image or the image of their ministry. It's easy to do. Everyone wants to look good. Successful ministries are a desire of all ministers. But, I want to make sure that it is not my focus. Of course, I want success for the ministry. But, I want success in the way God would want it ... women are changed and in that change, affect change in others and their community.

#7 - I want to blog more.
Yep. I said it. I do feel like the last year that I haven't even had time to have one coherent thought, much less an entire blog post. I would like that to change because of my love for blogging and wanting to keep a consistent record of my life for my children. We shall see.

As I read over these goals to Beau, he questioned why he wasn't included in any of these goals. He said, "What about me?" My reply: "Because you already have it too good."

No, for real. He does.