Tuesday, July 31, 2012

That is the Question : Part Two

So I thought I'd update you after my last post. Questions are still swirling around in my head. There are still NO definite answers. I think these are Spirit led inquiries, and when God ask a question, He's not doing it to get an answer. He knows all the answers already. I believe His questions are self-checks, an assessment really. It calls us to search, and explore our own lives. It shines a direct light on what we believe, or think we believe, and draws attention to the truth, or lie of it. I have been slow to answer God's questions. I'm mostly tempted to ask Him to give me the answer He wants to hear.  In fact a couple days ago I did that, in a round about way. I asked Him a question of my own: "God are the things that I'm doing worth it, do they really matter? So far He hasn't answered with a yes or no, but this morning I woke up to sort of an answer... I was reading a passage that talked about "a double minded man being unstable in all his ways." You can find it in James 1:8. It hit me hard. Truth is, I am double minded. I would never have described myself that way, but the evidence suggest otherwise. How can you live for God and be double minded? You can't. 
You want to loose weight, but you want to eat whatever, and not workout. Double minded.
You want to achieve all you've dreamed of, but you don't want to risk all you have. Double minded.
You want to be a good parent, but dismiss the interests of your children. Double minded.
You want to be financially able, but you spend more than you save. Double minded.
You want to walk with God, but retain control. Double minded.
In whatever area you want, but you do not FULLY commit, you are double minded. 
In whatever area you are double minded you are unstable. In whatever area you are unstable there will be failure. You will suffer a loss. A lot of us have jobs. Why? We can relate to the importance of being stable financially, but do we grasp the magnitude of stability in other areas? You'd think it unwise to buy a house, but only clean, and maintain the kitchen, or a bathroom. Why then, do we leave some areas of lives to pan out how it will?  Has instability in any area ever produce reliable, or desired results?  Reminds me of the a song we sung as children. It was about a foolish man who built a house upon the sand, and wise man who built his house upon a rock. The results being a continuation, and stability for the wise, but instability, and total destruction for the fool. It's a great example of integrity in a decision.      
Back to me: I've taken pride in being a woman of my word. Perhaps that's the first problem, pride. I seem to remember reading somewhere that "pride goeth before a fall." I'd so like to believe that I always do the things I say, but God knows the truth. I say a lot. I intend a lot. I purpose to do a lot, in my life, and in relationship to Him, that doesn't get done. It happens in small decisions, and big ones. I might even start out great, but eventually I'm pulled away. I'm double minded. 
What does all of this mean? I HAVE NO IDEA!!! I only know what He's been showing me: Without Him I can do nothing. Sure, I can say a lot. I can intend a lot. I can purpose a lot, but I can achieve NOTHING! He's been reminding me to "commit my ways to Him (all of them) and to trust in Him. He will place in me desires. He will fill my "to do list", and He will bring those things to pass.
The journey continues...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"THAT, is the Question"

You can blame the following post on me being in my thirties, specifically being my late thirties. It has brought way more self reflection, and examination than I'm normally comfortable with. I tend to take introspection in small doses. I've equated it with work, and frankly I'm doing enough as it is! This question came to mind lately: What is life about? If you are expecting me to attempt an answer, you'd be wrong. Greater minds than mine have covered this one, yet the conversation continues. It seems an endless, generational discussion. No one answer will do. For some the answer is family, relationships, enjoyment, following your heart, whatever. I will confess that none of those answers completely satisfies me either. Just as I began to work on defining this question for myself, another popped up. Lucky me. I'll admit that this one required my immediate attention. What is MY life about? More importantly, is it evident?  Again I'm not giving answers here, I'm searching for a few myself.
I just thought it might be interesting to ask you; what your life was about, and are you sure that you are living in accordance to the answer of that question?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Random Thoughts

1. I've been up for the last four hours. I've been watching the recent shootings at the movie theater in Aurora CO. Sad. I feel for the family of the victims. This is life changing. I wonder about the kind of world I leaving my kids to face. 

2. I was NOT feeling my workout program at all this week! Sure, I made a few attempts at it, but all I could seem to bring to it was old lady energy.

3. A few years ago I bought my eldest a large collection of Nancy Drew books. After years of having them, she's out grown the books, but I noticed that she hadn't read them. I asked why? "Mom, those books are so feminine, and so girly, that after I got done reading one, I felt like I needed a shower to wash the girliness of me! They're super dorky too!" I confess, when I was a kid, I never got into Nancy Drew. Not my thing.  I will admit though, this did give me an idea of what to use to punish her *cue evil laugh* 

4. Contact paper, shelf paper, blackberry bushes, Virginia Creeper,
Poison Ivy, and infomercials joined a growing list of thing that I hate!

5. My husband cracks me up. He is truly perplexed by men who would dare shave their chest hair. To him, body hair equals manliness.

6. Back to the workout thing:  If workout were more like sex, a bit more instantly gratifying, maybe people would (no pun intended) "do it" more. Oh don't be such a prude! You know, you'd probably workout more too!

7. I decided to complete my first novel. I'm only putting that out there, because there is less of a chance of me weaseling out if, I confess it to someone. Usually, I keep my writing to myself, but then usually, I don't do anything with it either, so maybe telling you guys will add a little added pressure.

8. Elle has been doing something very interesting lately. On her adventures around the house and yard, she'll pick up two items. Both of them I object to. One of which, I object to more vehemently than the other. When caught, and before I can yell "no!" She'll present me with the most objectionable item, but keep the other. If I'm not careful, the relief of immediate danger, dispelled by the surrendered item causes me to forget, that she has another dangerous item. At first I thought this was a sheer coincidence. She's too young to know what she's doing. But she's done the same thing about 3/4  times now, so I'm not so sure...

9. I'm thinking about inexpensive, but meaningful gift ideas in advance of Christmas. Ideas welcomed

10. Confession: I'm nearly 36yrs old, and I still daydream. Nope. I'm not gonna tell you what about, only that I still do it, and I like it. Yep, I try to keep it Philippians 4:8ish

 My blessings outweigh my burdens. I will focus on them, and I will have a great day! I hope that you determine, despite all your "whatevers" you will have a great day too. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Matt Redman - 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) +Lyrics

"Sing like Never Before"

I sometimes think, if you want to get a message to me, sing it. Music moves me, and in more than one way. Whether, it's been laughter, or tears, or dance, or even anger, there has always been a piece of music that captured my mood. It's almost as if I can express my life in songs. It would certainly be an interseting project to write a sound track for my life. Despite all the tunes in my head, the ones that move me most, are the ones that lead me to worship. Worship is the motivation of my entire existence. I want every action to bring God praise. The following song does just that, it drives me to praise. It's been playing in my head for months, just thought I'd share it with you. I hope as you listen, it refocuses you, and leaves you with heart, and hands lifted high...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The First Fruits Vegetables of My Labor: This Year's Garden.

Island life spoiled me rotten! It made a gardener out of me. When you grow up, as I did, literally surrounded by hundreds of fruit trees, nut trees, vegetable plants, and herbs, it leaves a lasting impression. To this day, I associate summer with mangoes, and genips. I knew, very early, that no matter where life took me, I'd be gardening in some form. I'm determined that my kids, on some level, experience, the treat of eating of the land they occupy. Much of what we've planted this season is not ready yet, but  this is, this years garden:

 FYI: vegetable baskets make great gifts, and goody bags too!
 This zucchini was nearly a foot long. I had to get a shot. 

 I'm terrible about spacing. I always plant to close,
 but thankfully, it's hard to mess this up. No expertise needed.

My husband recently reminded me that, "we're blessed to live in a country where you can just drop stuff in the ground, and it grows." There are places in the world where you can't do that. I chose to honor that blessing by planting my own produce, but you don't have to. If you support local farmers, same thing.
Gardening is rewarding in many ways. If you are looking to live healthier, it's great exercise too. Get the whole family involved. You're not out to grow a thirty pound carrot, so just relax, and enjoy the experience. Happy planting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

An  Honest Goodbye

When we were kids it was so much easier. It's different now. Difficult even, and rare.  Over the past several months, in one way or another, this topic of friendships, and relationships keeps reoccurring.  It's revisited for different reasons, but conflict, loneliness, good times, and hurt, seem to be among the most popular. It has caused some reflection on my part.
     I've met some amazing people. Some of them were very close to me... for a time. I remember going through a particularly rough patch with one of them, about five years ago. It literally seemed like, one day we were best buddies, and the next day, nothing. I couldn't understand how they could exit our lives, without even a goodbye. I recall thinking, "How could you?" I wanted an explanation, and closure. I remember my husband being incredibly at ease with the whole thing. All the while, I was angry. Very angry. I'm careful with the people I allow access to my kids. This person had made the short list. Without warning, or a given reason, they were gone. It was hard to explain this to our, then six year old. I couldn't even explain it to myself.  In an attempt to make sense of what happened, I began to redefine that relationship through new eyes. The ones that witnessed how the situation hurt my child, and me. This new definition was not a kind one. It labelled my ex-friend, selfish, and someone who never really loved my family. Then it hit me; I was wrong. Very wrong. It's not fair to view an entire relationship through the lens of the destruction caused at the break up. It was easier on the heart, to believe that this person was "never really a friend" or possessed unfavorable characteristics all along; however that was not the truth. At one point we were friends. Close friends. For reasons all their own, we are no longer close friends. We aren't even friendly. It was their right to make that choice. They're not a bad person for making it.  I struggled to come to terms with that, but the best thing that could have happened, did. I emerged from the ruins of that relationship stronger, and I made peace with this truth: People will hurt you. It's inevitable. When they do, don't let anger, or pain dictate how you view them, or determine your response to them. If you loved them, and they loved you, let that be the memory you take with you. Don't create new memories, or view old ones based on current bitterness. Seems simple enough, it's hard to do.
Since that relationship ended, I've seen the demise of a few others. They all ended for various reasons, distance, time, maturity, whatever. With each one, I've been able to celebrate the history we shared. I can thank God for allowing them in my life, pray for them, and move on . There is no animosity, just reality. The reality is, not everyone was meant to remain in your life. Some people will leave you, some of them, you'll leave. It doesn't have to be a bad thing. It can be a growth thing.  I recently wrote this to a friend:

When God's doing a new thing, God's doing a new thing. It's been my experience, that He's more into new construction, than remodeling the old. Sometimes we put so much energy, trying to merge old directions with new ones, that we spend our time not going anywhere. Never moving forward, not really moving back. Stuck. If what you have invested in, and built is meaningful, it will last. If not, it was meant to last only for a season. If you find that, that season is over, thank God for the temporary comforts/ blessings of those relationships. Pray for those people, but move on. Time is much too valuable to spend it re-camped in the past. Treasure the memories, but embrace your future, and the new thing God is doing with reckless abandon.

This is my message to myself when I reminisce on pain in past, or current relationships. People aren't perfect. They are just people. Fallible. You can't control their action, or reactions, but you can control yours. It's a great place to apply the "golden rule" Luke:6:31. "Do unto others, as you would them do to you." It's so easy to get caught up the pride of, "but they're wrong, or "how dare they do that to me", or "forget them." I've even heard people say, "they're dead to me." That's so unlike love. If you once shared a relationship with someone, (stating the obvious) on some level you related to that person. You saw qualities that you valued. You were friends with them for a reason. It's so dishonest, and so like bitterness to revise the history, and not honor those reasons. I don't believe that people are to be discarded, but should it occur, then the good things you shared, and the lessons you learned from those relationships, should never be discarded.
     It's easy to develop callouses on the heart from pain. Maybe it's some kind of  protection mode or something. We adults are so good at hardening our hearts, and carrying around our baggage. I just think it's time to lay them down. Be a kid again, and make friends despite the hurt. Open up. Risk more. Be you. Sure, it's hard, but it's worth it. You may not find a ton of friends this way, but better to be disliked for who you really are, than loved for being someone you're not. And the friends you make are more likely to be the "real deal." 
That's been my charge. I've been appreciating the people in my tiny circle, and giving them the full "Shanda experience." I'm sure that's scary for them. It's scary for me too, but I want to make sure that the people that know me, and love me, KNOW me and love ME. And if for any reason we have to say goodbye, it will be an honest one. No bitterness. No baggage, just memories. Beautiful. Honest. Memories.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"These Three Remain"

Proceed as though you're certain
Bold and unafraid
Let doubt be a pauper
And worry take the grave

Do, and don't despair
Rest in the knowing
Nothing is impossible with God
 He delights in the showing

Go on and conquer strongholds
Live in this power supreme
Great and pure of purpose
Part of God's own name 

Let these three abide in you
Companions in all places
Have no loyalties to pride
Let love be remembered

(1 Corinthians 13:13)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Growing Pains (For Moms)

Some days I wish puberty would leave my kid alone. It seems, its influence on her attitude is not always a positive one. Lately she vacillates between, the kid we've known for 11.5yrs, and some moody, clumsy, forgetful, character, to whom, I'm just now being introduced.. It takes some getting use to. This child has been one of the most, consistently pleasant people I've known. And mostly, she still is, only spicier at times. It's like she's some updated version of herself. It's not bad, but different. It's change. I don't always embrace, and move well with change. This time it's tricky though. I do want my normal back. My old normal, not this new normal she's pursuing.   It's easier to keep her, a sweet, hormonally balanced child. The alternative is more work for me. I'd have to mature, and make allowances, and adjustments to deal with the affects of puberty juices. I'd have to escalate the practice of, kindness, mercy, grace, and  patience. It hardly seems  fair. Her changes, are imposing BIG changes on me! I don't recall anyone asking my permission.
On the other hand, I know that my desire she remains unaffected, has everything to do with my selfishness. If   she persist unchanged, I won't be challenged or stretched in anyway. Unfortunately that scenario would mean, she won't grow. And, isn't that what any good parent wants, for their child? Growth. Physical. Spiritual. Growth. Sure, it comes with certain pains, stretching, adjusting, but growth, and maturity are good things. Blessings. I can appreciate the memories of who she was, yet be equally excited about who she's becoming. I'm sure that by the time puberty bids us farewell, God willing, I would have grown and mature in ways of my own...

I treasure my memories of her like this:

but I'm also enjoying this

Knowing that phases are just that, phases. And all too soon, they too, are but distant memories...