Monday, May 16, 2016

Actions, Deeds, and Examples

I really believe that Jesus wants us to be a good example for others.  A real example, not a fake one. An honest-to-goodness, "Oh my word, she's a great person.  I want that light that she has too."   We forget to do things with thanks, don't we?  We're busy, we're crabby, we're irritated at the "thing" that's not working right for us. 

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
                                               Colossians 3:17 NIV

This would be so easy if we kept Jesus at the center of our hearts and minds every day.  Oh but those dang distractions!  The house payment, the dried oatmeal on our kid's shirt before school (yes, I let her wear it anyway), the million things on our to-do lists.

But we don't, do we?  Our actions and deeds speak so much more loudly than our words ever could.  Haven't you ever gotten that fakey-fake "I'm sorry" from someone because it's expected instead of it being heartfelt.  Have you ever GIVEN one of those fake "I'm sorry" cards out to someone.  Of course you have, and I have too, kids.  It's the easy way.

When I'm feeling myself slipping away from God, there's only one thing I can do to pull myself back.  Read His words.  Practice His principles.  BE MORE SELFLESS.  Setting myself a certain time to spend time reading the Bible and actually THINKING about it is so valuable to me.  Often this has to happen when I'm alone with a good cup of coffee.  I'm pretty sure Jesus would be an awesome coffee-drinking partner.  So I share a cup with Him.  I tell Him what's going on in my life and thank Him for all my blessings.

If we let people see our faith through our words and actions, we are spreading God's love all around us!

What do you do that helps you to make your actions and deeds more in tune with and in the name of God?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Friendships and Comfort Zones

I went for many many years not opening myself up to others.  The only person I really confided in was my husband.  I didn't have the gaggle of girlfriends that I watched people having around me.  I didn't have that one amazing girlfriend I could tell anything to or talk to for hours. That stems from decades of self-doubt, but to me, letting people in was what would make me most vulnerable.

I was right.

I've come to learn, though, in the past several years that despite what I have told myself nearly my entire life, being vulnerable is actually okay.  There is no way that we can be loved as deeply as we want to love others if we don't put ourselves out there a little bit.  And friends, I get it.  I truly get that that can be such a terrifying idea that you freeze up when you think about it.  Making new friends has NOT been my comfort zone at all.  Making small talk is not my comfort zone, either.  But you know, if you really think about it....most of life's magic doesn't happen in that silly little comfort zone.

I'm an introvert by nature.  I never really knew what that meant until the past 5 years or so.  That means I lived 35 years on this planet before I realized how to not make myself crazy in social situations, which I totally still do sometimes, but still.  Although I'm introverted, that doesn't mean I don't love people.  I do.  Well, now I do.  In a comfortable setting, I can be the life of the party.  It's just that for a day or so after I need to be alone to recharge and regroup.

I've learned, that by letting people in (seriously, at first it was just one at a time), I can love others with more of who I am.  I can accept offers of help.  I can delight in a compliment.  I can brighten the days of others. 

I haven't really told you guys this, but I have an amazing church family.  AH-MAZ-ING.  With a capita A. And our women's ministry is......seriously.......awe-inspiring.  And where I am in my life right now, I have so many lovely friends from church.  These are women who share the same values as I do.  We share our struggles and our triumphs with each other.  We help each other when a helping hand is needed.  We encourage each other.  We stand along side each other in our walks of faith.  THIS is the gaggle of girlfriends I thought I would never have.  THIS is my tribe of women who love me despite my flaws and stupidity.  They paint with me, they drink coffee with me, they study God's word with me, they laugh and cry with me.  They take me on new adventures and follow sports with me.  They hug me when I need one (and folks, I ALWAYS need a hug).  They check in on me when I'm sick, or just feeling down. 

Had I not learned to put myself out on that ledge a little, my life would not be as rich and colorful as it is now.  I would have been missing out so much on what this life has to offer. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Too Many Tabs

If you're anything like me, when you are working at a computer you probably have at least 5 or more tabs open in your browser.  One for each of the websites you're using or are needing to look at.  I'll sit down to do something and then of that one thing I wanted to look up a week ago and open a tab for it.  Oh but hold on, there was that other item I wanted to look for on Amazon.  New tab.  While looking on Amazon I remember that I need to check on my kids' school websites.  New Tab.  Oh and I want to post a cute picture of some mice on the Faceboook wall of a friend who might be a little creeped out by them.  New tab.

Before you know it, you're literally doing about 10 things at once.  Then the phone rings and you close out of the browser.  And guess what?  You didn't finish ANYTHING you set out to because you gave about 8% of your attention and effort to all of the things, instead of 100% of your effort to one thing at a time.

Our minds can be like that too, with too many tabs open.  We worry about our kids, we think about that one time 10 years ago when we got away for the weekend with no kids at all.  We wonder if we bought cat food (because seriously, that cat will meow at ANYTHING and I always think he needs food).  Did I send my daughter a lunch?  Did I ever send in that $2 so she could go on the field trip?  Oh my gosh, it's almost time to shop for summer clothes.  I need to put a workout on my schedule.  Shorts are NOT going to be kind to me.  Do my friends think I'm an idiot?  Does the cashier at Walmart think I'm weird when I answer, "Yes, how about you?" when she asks me if I found everything ok today?  Did I seriously go all day with my eyeliner smudged halfway down my face?  What if my cat dies?  If I die, will my husband know how to pay the bills? 

All of those tabs open is EXHAUSTING, you guys.  Shut those tabs down.  Click the little X.  Open the God tab.  Spend time with Him.  Dive into His Word.  Lay your mind to rest and let Him do the worrying for once.  Ask Him for help with this crazy thing we call life.  He'll help, I swear it.

(In case you're wondering, no - I didn't buy cat food.  And yes, I'll need to go pick some up tomorrow.  He wants to eat EVERY SINGLE DAY!)

Monday, May 2, 2016

You Can't Take It Back

Have you ever gotten so angry / frustrated / hurt that hateful and hurtful words just started flying out of your mouth before you even realized it?  We all have, and often we can't believe we said what we just said.  Emotions get the better of us, and sometimes, even though we don't realize it, we say those hurtful words on purpose - to hurt the other person as we feel we have been hurt.

And then we apologize.  This is good!  It calls attention to the fact that we know we said something hurtful and we didn't plan it out.  It tells the other person - hey I'm sorry I was a jerk just now and can you please forgive me.  But the apology is just more words.  The sting of what we said hangs in the air.

Sometimes it takes a while for the apology, and sometimes it's instant.  But you see the look on the other person's face.  They are deflated, and in those horrible rare cases where we really struck a nerve, they look broken.  We do this often to the ones we love the most - our spouses, children, best friends, even God.....because they are the ones who ignite the most passion in us.

Oh,  friends, we can apologize seventy million times, but we might as well frame those ugly words we said and hang them on the wall.  For no matter how many times we say, "I'm sorry," those words will always be there. They can always be looked at in that frame on the wall. Always.  You can't take them back. 

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians: 

"13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous;  be strong. 14 Do everything in love." 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14 NIV

Thinking before we speak is so, so, so hard.  I get that.  But if this is something we can work on - taking that two second pause before words spill out of our mouths - we can save so much heartache for not only our loved ones, but for ourselves as well.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Welcome to My Corner!

I'm a firm believer in the fact that everyone needs a corner. Sometimes you need  a corner of the world to call your own, where you can be you.  Sometimes you need a corner to take a dang rest in and collect yourself.

This is my corner of the world.

I'm Colleen.  I'm 40 (what a BIG deal 40 is, ladies.  I'm not even kidding).  I've been married for 17.5 years, which sometimes feels like 1 year and sometimes feels like 100.  I have two amazingly head-strong, bright, funny, caring and compassionate daughters who both delight me and drive me crazy.  I have a 10 year old cat  named Conway who joined our family 3 years ago.  He thinks he's a dog.

And I'm a Christian.

I'll get into my testimony in a different post, but when I say I'm a Christian that both excites and terrifies people.  For me, saying I'm a Christian is as intricately detailed and infinitely simple as this: I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, I believe that He died so we may live, I have invited Jesus into my heart and vowed to follow Him and grow my relationship with Him.

I am also an emerging Christian.  What does THAT mean?  It means it's all relatively new to me.  I was baptized just a little over 2 months ago.  I'm still learning and finding my way.

Join me so I'm not feeling so all alone on this, will you?  I'll tell you stories, I'll share my feelings, I'll share my frustrations and triumphs, questions, concerns, and praise....and I'm hoping that at some point, you'll share yours with me, too.

If anyone else is here reading this  - let me know who you are!  What season of life are you in?  More posts to come!  Thank you for reading!

A Dream, anxiety, and a Life Verse

As I mentioned before, I have two daughters.  One is 11 (hello, pre-teen years, you really blindsided me).  And the other is nearly 8.  I woke up in the early morning hours today weeping and terrified of a dream I had just had.  In it, my sweet baby girl was gone.  No warning or lead-in, she was just gone.  I couldn't find her and I was so, so panicked.

I struggle with anxiety and depression.  A lot of us do behind closed doors.  And when that happens, I so often retreat into myself and try to process it myself.  Why do I do this?  I know that over the course of the past few years, when I have given my worries over to God (truly and wholly - not just for a little while), He shows me a way to work through them.  But when I don't, I let fear capture me.

The Apostle Paul is very clear about what we must do in these situations.  In his letter to the Phillipians, it's pretty well laid out:

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 4:6-7 NIV

For me, this is my Life Verse.  I refer back to it so often I have it memorized (and memorizing is NOT easy for a gal like me).  What are the most important words in this verse?

By prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God

It's not enough to just sometimes say, "God I need your help."  It's such a good start, but how do we feel when the first words out of someone's mouth are "I need you to do something for me?"  We encapsulate the situation with how much we NEED something that we forget about being thankful for what we do have, and about being more consistent in the relationship that allows us to lean on others, including God.

Losing one of my children is one of my biggest fears.  It's my first and foremost "what if."  What if one of them get taken?  What if they get lost?  What if someone hurts them?  What if, What if, What if.  Can we control What ifs?  Not so much - but we can be diligent in keeping our children as safe as possible.  Let's try and hand the rest over to God.

My husband and I think alike for sure.  In our past nearly 19 years together we have proven time and again that we are usually thinking the same things at the same time.  He just sent a message to me that read, "worrying won't help, but being cautious is ok."  I'll take it.