Monday, May 28, 2012

Ch. 4: Abilities (S.H.A.P.E.)

This was a pretty easy chapter for me to get through this week.  I realized that I am already quite aware of my abilities and I use many of them almost daily.  From the list provided, here are the highlights: communicating, counseling, editing, improving, influencing, mentoring, motivating, planning, welcoming, writing.  Some of these, however, I wish to use more regularly.  Maybe this is how being available and aware to where God wants to take me will be useful. Top 5

  • Communicating: Te ability to share, convey, impart. 
  • Connecting: The ability to link together, involve and relate. 
  • Counseling: The ability to guide, advise, support, listen, care for. 
  • Editing: The ability to correct, amend, alter, improve. 
  • Improving: The ability to better, enhance, further, enrich. 
  • Influencing: The ability to affect, sway, shape, change. 
  • Mentoring: The ability to advise, guide, teach. 
  • Motivating: The ability to provoke, induce, prompt. 
  • Planning: The ability to arrange, map out, prepare. 
  • Welcoming: The ability to entertain, greet, embrace, make comfortable. 
  • Writing: The ability to compose, create, record.  
This chapter was pretty cut and dry and I don't have any heart changing lessons that I have learned.  But here is a list of some great quotes I pulled out: 

"All she needed was  to be available and aware.  It didn't matter whether what she did was noticed by others.  That is never the point of serving God.  Willing hearts are his delight." 

"Have you ever heard someone say to you 'Thank you so much' and your response was 'But I didn't do anything?'  People will be healed by God through you just being and doing what God meant you to be and do, not by all the things you think you should be and do to benefit the world."  

"God never finishes showing us his purpose - as long as we never stop seeking it." 

"Michelangelo said, 'The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.'"

"Significant achievements always involve a high degree of courage, focus, perseverance, and yes, high risk." 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ch. 3: Heart (S.H.A.P.E.)

This chapter has a lot to work through so bear with me here.

1.  What drives me? 

Jon asks me this question sometimes.  My answer has typically been something along the lines of "I don't know."  So he tells me to think about it.  When I am doing something, anything - cleaning the house, editing HPC videos, cooking etc. - what makes me want to do it well?  So far the only answer I can come up with is "I want to be the best I can be."  Lame!  It's a cop-out answer and I know it. 
           Now it's time to do some real deep thinking and  be open to "the whispers of secret prayers and desires, the deep yearnings in [my] life."  I know I hear these whispers, the longing desires of doing something passionate, but then I continue on with my plan for the day.  I tell myself I will plan to think that thought again because right now is blogging time, right now is cleaning time, right now is reading time, right now is God time... The irony is that I use God as an excuse to ignore the desires He instilled in my heart. 

Okay, here's one dream: Speaking at a Women of Faith convention or the teen one - Revolution?  I know how this may sound.  Self-righteous, selfish, pompous, prideful.... If I were you I would be thinking, Seriously?  Who does she think she is?  Self-righteous bimbo! And then "click," done reading.  But the reality is I have this hope, this dream to speak into the hearts of others on a large scale.  I didn't ask for this dream.  It just is.  

When I was little I wanted to be like Harriet the Spy.  I tried it for a while, watching people at the mall, the park, writing whatever came  to my head.  
          Then I thought it would be cool to have a story like Anne Frank.  Not the hiding in the attic part but the diary part where years later people are encouraged by her. 
           The childish dream that has stuck with me, though, is being like Jo from Little Women.  I was mesmerized by the scenes where she wrote her book about her life.  That is the dream that has stuck with me.  The difference, however, is that I want my story to be one that will help others.  I never knew what that would look like.  But now, having been a single mom living on welfare going to college then getting married and going through this process of becoming a mom to child with down syndrome I can begin to see where God may take my story.  And I'm only 24.  There is much life left to be lived!  

I am taking steps every day to see where God takes this dream of mine.  I actually have a cover and title in my mind for a book about my journey through motherhood with Ciena.  I wrote it down.  That was a step.  Another step I took was opening a new blog - one that very few people know about.  The subject matter is my journey through mommy-hood and I've kept it hidden due to it's very personal nature.  But I still think it's a step.  
          I'm motivated through fear, anger, excitement and joy.  Fear and anger because when I don't know what to do with all my emotions and frustrations I write.  I write until my hand hurts.  Within that process I might throw my pen across the room.  But then I pick it back up and write some more, thankful no one was around to see me act like a child.  
           I'm motivated through excitement and joy as well and that looks a little different.  When I have success in my parent I NEED to shout it out.  I NEED to laugh and do a little dance because we had SUCCESS!!  I NEED to be able to remember those times when frustration and anger start creeping up behind me.  

2.  Who do I care about?

I am reminded of a date night from a few weeks ago.  Jon took me to Big Al's, a country bar pretty close to state line of Idaho and Washington.  It was our first time and we spent a lot of time talking about the type of crowd the bar had in between a few dances and Morgan n 7s.  
          A few drinks into our night we were watching people try riding the bull when a platinum blonde stopped to compliment my tights I was wearing under my jean skirt.  These were no ordinary tights folks. They were black and netted in a flowery design.  Totally cool and worthy of such a complement.  
          Since that interaction, though, I couldn't stop thinking about her.  Her jeans were painted on, her white halter top showed off her flat stomach nicely which was also complimented by a shiny belly button ring.  Her makeup was dark, particularly around her eyes which offset her white/blonde hair.  She was a babe.  Total hottie.  Every guy in that bar was hoping to go home with her that night.  She was looking for someone to take her home too.  
          I had never seen anyone ride the bull much less done it myself but I had been told: ride it like you would be having sex.  Awkward!  Right??? After seeing it, I understand the connection.  It is hilarious to watch!  Then Platinum Blonde got up there.  She rode that bad boy!  Every movement was aimed to be as sexual as she could possibly make it.  
          I didn't ask for the connection I felt towards her; it was incredibly painful.  My heart ached for her lost soul.  She was getting more and more drunk, doing body shots, even the way she walked was saying, "Please take me home tonight."  Then the floodgates were opened and I saw the other young women around me who were using their sexuality as best they could to get attention.  Some of them weren't so good at it - like the trio of girls who danced in a circle although it looked more like head bobbing and whispering.  Others, like Platinum Blonde, had become masters.

Now my question is: How do I reach Platinum Blonde?  How do I reach the trio of head bobbers?  How can I get involved in their lives?

I don't know the answers.  I think the next step is to start praying for these girls wherever and whenever I find them.  This week we are going dancing again for date night.  I plan to have a blast - I totally want to ride that bull!  But I also plan to keep watch for who God puts in my heart-path so I can pray - and watch.

3.  What needs will I meet? 

Spiritual Needs seem to go hand in hand with what I discussed in the paragraphs directly above.  I'm not sure that I love this, but I have a deep desire to help women who only see themselves for what the world has told them.  Of course I do feel inadequate to meet these needs in the women around me.  But what I feel does not matter.  What does matter is what God is telling me through His Word and His Spirit.   

Relational Needs also goes hand in hand with the above story as well as follow up to spiritual needs.  I think I more have a desire to connect with other girls/women than connecting them to each other.  Maybe this is an area that should be explored.  I do believe that I am working with God when I am developing relationships and sharing Truth in those relationships versus randomly starting up a conversation in a park.  

This chapter says, "...start by focusing on the needs that God and others have met in your own life."  I have mixed thoughts about this.  On one hand, I feel like these two needs I listed have not been adequately met in my life which may then be the cause of my desire to fulfill them for others.  This will take time to think about.  

4.  What cause will I help conquer?

"But if you live your life with God long enough, he will stir your heart and direct you to the cause he has personally chosen you to take on."  

The issue of sexuality and how messed up it is in our world today makes my heart beat faster.  I become indignant, unable to keep still, possibly even a little self-righteous.  My palms get all sweaty and I feel the bottom of my heart heat up in anticipation.  

I'm not sure where I can make the greatest impact for God.  I don't know if it's through Women of Faith, writing a book or being involved in women's ministry at my local church.  There is so much I don't know.  I don't even know where to start.  The only thing I am completely sure of is that right now as I type, my heart is getting really warm, my palms are a little sweaty and have a weird feeling in my gut that is streaming up towards my throat in anticipation.  It sounds like I may be on the right track here.    

5.  What dream will I fulfill? 

I've already told you my big dream.  It is definitely a possibility.  So am I willing to "exchange a life of control born out of fear for a life of risk born out of faith?"  I like my control.  But in the spectrum of things it is stupid when God has something better.  

If time weren't an issue: 
  • I'd ..... I'd ....  have no idea.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Homosexuality: Natural or Unnatural

I absentmindedly began an interesting conversation this morning about homsexuality.  I am not usually one to bring up these hot button topics but it has been on my mind since last night.

I really really like the new show Smash on NBC.  The singing, dancing, drama, it has everything I like!  There is quite a bit of homosexuality displayed in the show, probably because of the subject matter, and it's just a little more than I'm used to.  Thus, the issue of homosexuality is on the brain!

My conversation this morning brought forth many thoughts and questions.  It also brought on a lot of comments and "Likes."  For the complete conversation click here.

In one sense, I suppose I called out homosexuals telling them they are "unnatural."  But what if I had used the word lying, or raping, or addictions, or smoking, or anger etc.  I imagine I would have received a few "Likes" and possibly one or two comments from the positive side.  However I didn't use any of these words.  I used the word: homosexuality.

Yes, it's a personal topic for most people.  I wonder why this is - considering that the majority of our population is actually heterosexual.  I think we care because God obviously cares.  He says so plainly in 1 Corinthians 6:9-18.  Scripture references: New Living Translation,  The Message.

And that's the Truth of the matter.  Ultimate Truth.  God's Truth.  The only Truth worth seeking.  If you choose to disregard this truth, then I'm sorry, you are not a Christian.  You may choose to call yourself a Christian, but there is more to it: a living, breathing, active relationship with God.

Being a Christian is simple: accept Jesus, follow what He says.  It is a process - one that lasts a lifetime and can't be tackled all at once.  I often find myself overwhelmed reading through the Bible and seeing all the areas that I need to fix.  I need to control my anger.  I need to be selfless.  I need to love others better.  I need to be kind.  I need  to be patient.  I need to give.  I need, I need, I need.  I, I, I.  Wait a minute.  It's not really about me is it?  It's about God.  It's about people.  So then my thinking can begin to change and my prayer life may improve.  God please help me, God please revel my true self, God please guide me to right decisions, God please show me how to love.  God, God, God.  It's not about me, it's about Him.

So, the topic of homosexuality is indeed a hot topic.  When I called out homosexuals on facebook there were negative reactions, some voiced some not.  We know from 1 Corinthians 6 that God hates homosexuality.  But if we look again at this scripture we will find that He also hates: sexual immorality, thieves, greed, drunks, slanderers, swindlers.  Shouldn't all of these be hot topics for our status updates?

Homosexuality is a sin.  Lying is a sin.  Sex before marriage is a sin.  Cursing is a sin.  Addiction is a sin.  Lust is a sin.  Acting out in anger is a sin.  Gossip is sin.  I have definitely, had sex before marriage so according to James 2:10, I might as well have done them all in God's eyes.  Sound harsh?  At first I thought it was.  However this verse shows us that to God sin is sin, it's all the same in His eyes and he cannot have any part in it because he is Holy.  I am thankful he sent Jesus to bridge this gap and take every sin upon himself after living a perfect life.

There is much to say about homosexuality.  We all have our opinions - which really don't matter at all.  What I think about homosexuality is irrelevant.  What you think about homosexuality is irrelevant.  What a homosexual thinks about homosexuality is irrelevant.  But what God thinks about homosexuality is very relevant.  We are very blessed because we get to read the Bible and know exactly what God's opinion is.  His opinion is the only one that matters.  If you don't agree, then please do not call yourself a Christian because on Judgement Day, He might ask for an explanation.

Ch. 2: Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual Gifts defined: "a God-given special ability, given to every believer at conversion by the Holy Spirit, to share his love and strengthen the body of Christ."

Hmmm So if I accepted Christ when I was 5, that means I have had this gift for almost 20 years now.  You would think I would have figured out how to use them!  Alas, that just isn't the case.  When it comes to knowing, understanding and using my spiritual gifts I don't even know where to start.  Going through this book has given me a lot of direction on how to figure out what my spiritual gifts are.

Here is a list of 20 basic spiritual gifts:

(1 Corinth. 12:8-10; 12:28; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 4:9-10)


Phew!  This is pretty overwhelming to look at and have to figure out which one God has blessed me with!  But I took a little quiz which had the definitions of each of these and I discovered I know of one spiritual gift for sure: hospitality.

I know this because hosting parties and events or just inviting friends over last minute is very natural for me and I love to do it. I have always viewed my home as God's place to use as He pleases.  It is my goal that friends feel comfortable, loved and welcomed when they visit.  However, there are still areas to work on.

For instance, I just had the thought, Wow, my home is a very sacred place to me.  This kind of thinking causes me to shut some out of my home.  There is a time and place to protect my family from intruders whether it's a burglar or an untrustworthy friend.  But I do run the risk of not seeing who God wants me to see.  This is especially true if I decide to behave like a recluse - which I have actually been struggling with this past year.  Only recently have I made efforts to opening my home up again for people and I have to say, I do enjoy it very much.

It's interesting that God is the one who divvies out these gifts and sometimes it's just not good enough!  Am I right or am I right?  I have grown up assuming I have the gift of leadership simply because it's natural but I am not sure I get much enjoyment from leadership.  I really enjoy the fact that God has designed me to enjoy the gifts he has given me.  But I think it's time to start thinking outside the box and trying new things.

My husband and I tried working in the children's ministry at our church.  It wasn't bad or good, it just was and we need to continue with that until we know one way or the other.  I was a prayer leader for my Bible study this session - that didn't exactly work out.  I had a falling out in my personal life which seems to have effected every area of my life.  Thus, I stepped out of leadership like a fly stuck in molasses, because he was stupid enough to land on it.  This is only part of the journey I have been these past few weeks.  There are many more areas yet to be explored.

One aspect of all this I often forget is "If I [share my home], but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13:1.  I have found myself in this spot many times.  A few years ago, when I was single, I hosted a girl's night meant for prayer and accountability.  It started out being better than what I had hoped to create.  But as time wore on the evening became something I would dread every single week.  I either lost sight of the purpose or God was telling me it was time to give up that event.  Maybe it was a combination of both.  But it really SUCKS to be doing something for the glory of God and to hate doing it.  RIGHT??  Am I the only one who has found myself here?

My biggest downfall is when it comes to the trap of projection.  I do this a lot.  For instance, it feels like I am always the one inviting my friends to go to parties or shopping or for a drink at a local restaurant.  Then I get annoyed when the favor isn't returned and I decide to be mad about it.  Jon laughs at me when I do this - so I punch him and he laughs even harder.  I do know the truth is that I naturally have a gift and desire to be intimately involved in other's lives but it's hard to remember when the enemy is on the prowl.  So instead of sitting back with a scowl, I need to just get over myself.

So, spiritual gifts.  They are handpicked for every individual by God and given during those precious moments of conversion.  We then have every tool we need to glorify our Creator by using our gifts to bless others.