Pride Makes a Great Ear Plug

We know the scripture…
When pride comes, then comes disgrace.”

But remember the second part?
But with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)

The problem is that you cannot have both at the same time.
If we want to have wisdom we have to repent of pride.
If we want to hear God’s voice we have to stop listening to
the “what if’s” in our own heads!

Pride makes a horribly effective ear plug that keeps us
from truly knowing what God is whispering in our hearts,
because our heads are busy playing out all the possible
scenerios of peoples’ reactions to us… and how everything
we affect us!
ick

Pull out the earplugs of pride.
Repent.
Obey… it’s brings such joy!
Be free from what other people think.
We don’t have to stand before them someday and
give an account of our decisions.
We’ll stand in front JESUS!
And I certainly would NOT want to see His face as
He speaks to me and then have to say, “Huh?”

That first drive – 10 years Later

Ten years ago (June 2004) Chilly & I, our three young daughters
and 8 young adults moved to Detroit. Over the next few months
I will be posting parts of that history – my history- possibly
your history, too. Each post will include “10 years later” in
the title. (If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any of
these posts you can have them sent directly to your email.
See the bar at the side.)

That First Drive

hamtramck MI

When Chilly first drove me into the strange and ever-so unique
city-within-the-city-of- Detroit known as
The City of Hamtramck, I was praying.
Desperately.
Franticly.
In a horrible panic.
“Oh, Jesus! Please hurry & help me love this place!”

Unknown

Oddly-shaped,unusually decorated buildings.
Muslim call-to-pray blasting over city-wide loud speakers.
Men in dresses.
Homeless & needy people in every direction.
More cultures and religions in one tiny place
than I could’ve imagined. (and I’d done my homework!)
“Help me, Jesus! How on earth can I possibly live here?”
“Is this even America?”

hamtramck MI

I dug deep and found positive things to say
to Chilly, anything besides what I was really thinking.
He knew. But how could we voice it. If God was sending us
here, to this pocket of Detroit to begin a new ministry,
then how could we do anything but look for the good…
to hunt diligently for it.

Chains & a gate on the building when we first saw it

Chains & a gate on the building when we first saw it

Walking into the building that had been “given” to us
did nothing to erase the panicked flipping of my stomach.
The once-Polish nightclub, turned church, turned abandoned
building would become a second home to us…
but at that moment we were greeted by mold, dirt
and fragments of what had once been something.
It was now “nothing.”
It would become a thing that would change lives.
But first Jesus had to begin that change in ME!

(To be continued…)

She Did What She Could

I’m enjoying several reading plans this month and some wonderful “extras!”
Together, our church is reading YouVersion’s 21 Day Fast , and I’m also lovin’ some wonderful videos & blogs from Mount Hope Church (who recently adopted Courage Church!!!! YIPPEE!)

One thing I read today did a little zing in my heart. Here’s the tiny verse
and then my thoughts are following.

“SHE DID WHAT SHE COULD…” – Jesus
Mark 14:8a

————————————————————————————

(The “SHE” in this verse is the lady who broke her expensive perfume and anointed
Jesus before his crucifixion and burial. She took criticism from people…
but not Jesus. He said “She did what she could.”)

-The people around that table that evening seemed far more qualified to minister
to Jesus than she, yet that didn’t stop her.

– Her sacrifice seemed “unspiritual” and lacking wisdom. (It was not!)

– She could have done many other things with that perfume, and other people
(even the “Christ-followers”) would probably have admired her for doing it.
But she chose to bless Jesus and not be affected by the others’ opinions.

– She let go of what had once been very special to her (and her culture),
because Jesus was now far more important that cultural customs & standards.

– Humility preceded this act of love.

————————————————————————————–

After realizing these truths this morning I started writing down “what I could do”
for Jesus that He sees value in, even if others do not.

Most things on my list were non-exciting, normal, daily and
“not-very-spiritual-looking.” Each one required humility, even demanded it.
(insert big SIGH here)
Others won’t notice and probably won’t even see it happening. If they do see,
they may criticize me. I may appear lazy, ridiculous and lacking in judgement.
And yet…
If these are the things that Jesus sees value in now, and asks of me,
then how can I discount their importance?
On Sunday in his sermon, (1-5-14) Chilly said,
“Our job is doing God’s purpose!”

Everywhere I look, every blog I read & pinterest I view, I’m told what I need to do to be
valuable and successful. But Mark 14:8 tells me that Jesus values my willingness to
“do what I can” for Him & directed by Him.
Simple.
Difficult.
Do-able.

An Eliezer Attitude

Have you thought of Eliezer lately?  He’s not really the guy that pops in your head when you’re talking about people in the Bible. But I’ve been most impressed with his story as I read Genesis this month.  Here’s his story in a bullet list:

Head Servant to Abraham

– In line to inherit all of Abraham’s wealth because there is no heir by birth

– God says otherwise & promises a son

– Years later the promised son is born to Abraham & Sarah; He’s named Isaac

– 40 yrs. later, Isaac needs a wife from Abraham’s home town, so Eliezer is called in

– Abraham asks him to promise to find an heir from the right place

– Eliezer agrees to the request and the very long journey that it requires

– He successfully finds the proper wife for the heir that literally took the inheritance away from him

– He falls on his face and worships God!

Are you seeing this?  Do you get this?!  Eliezer was all set; his future was hooked up! He was gunna go from servant to prince. Then, the baby heir is born. Ever wonder if Eliezer considered some evil plot to harm the little brat that stole what was already his? (Sounds like a plot in a movie, huh?)  Ever wonder if he battled jealousy on his long trip to Abraham’s homeland? Do you think he toyed with the idea of just takin’ the 10 loaded camels and hittin’ the road & never returning? Or at the very least just grumbling & complaining to himself because his life was so unfair – God, you were lining up a huge blessing and then took it away. And now I have to just watch it all play out in front of me… but it’s not MY blessing… it all belongs to Isaac! This cannot be You plan, is it?

Yet, we have NO record of anger, jealousy or evil plots. NONE! He remained a trusted and faithful servant to his master. So trustworthy that he was given the HUGE task of finding a wife.  Here is what we DO know about Eliezer:

– Still had seniority among the household servants

– Had a deep desire to do the right thing

– Intrusted with a job that his master couldn’t even trust to the heir

– Asked God for help

– Waited for God’s direction & answer

– Bowed to the ground in sincere worship & praise to God

WOW!  Here’s a guy that had every “right” to be ticked off, angry and bitter. He chose otherwise, and his mater could trust him.

We won’t know how or if Eliezer was “blessed” on earth for his faithfulness &  good attitude, but I’m sure he is in Heaven!

What’s our excuse for allowing unfair situations to breed anger and grow bitterness?

Remember… we are God’s servants. SERVANTS! and a bitter-FREE heart is a heart that my master can trust! 🙂

 

 

I Served Time

Seriously, I served time…. doing jury duty, that is. When the summons arrived in my mailbox I knew I’d be selected, and I was. For three days I was a part of an attempted murder case. A brand new experience. So many sites, sounds people, emotions, thoughts, prayers, sorrows, relief, etc.. During all the time spent waiting around I wrote a hundred tweets and pages of blog posts in my head. But I decided to post some thoughts in my usual “Talk-to-Myself-Tuesday” manner (even thought it’s Thursday).

—————————————-

-Jury Duty is just that… our duty

– I love our country & although it’s faults seem extremely obvious right now, we still live in wonderfully free country

– Being a part of the system that brings liberty & justice for all makes me proud (to be an American!… are you singin’ the song now?)

– Every person I spoke to was very friendly and willing to have a conversation- and I spoke to everyone who was near me (as you can imagine)

– I’ve always known that Detroit is filled with some very wonderful people, and these last three days just proved it

– Every person I served with on the jury was nice & truly wanted to do what was right

– Among the jurors was a flight attendant, nurse practitioner, computer engineer, Stay Home Mom from a super nice suburb, a phlebotomist, a pastor’s wife (oh, that’s me) &  a guy that looks like the Dad from Still Standing. (There were also other occupations that I can’t remember.)

– I cried. Each evening when I came home and each morning as I prayed for everyone involved in the case. So young. So messed up. So very much in need of Jesus.

– I cried because it’s a heavy responsibility

– A fellow juror is a nurse at the hospital right by my house.  Spending time getting to know her a bit was so enjoyable. A truly great lady.

– The judge surprised me. I’d never encountered a judge before. (Well, I’d never been in a courtroom before!) She was strong but careful to explain expectations, used humorous examples to illustrate her points and spoke to everyone in her courtroom with kindness & respect. Somehow I’d always thought judges would be somber & stone faced. I’m thankful that she serves in my community.

– There’s a lot of knocking on the jury room door (between the bailiff & the jury). Kinda cracked me up. But it works.

– Sometimes what your gut tells you & what the evidence tells you are two different things. That’s horrible.

– Many of the young generation is paying the price of their parents’ poor parenting. That’s horrible, too!

– Crime will happen. But we can change our city… one person at a time. (*see below)

– “Court” involves a lot of waiting.

– Waiting offered lots of time to talk to people.

– Waiting also offered lots of time to read, and I nearly finished a little book from a series I love.

– I’m grateful for the public servants that are involved in courtrooms everyday,  and I’m really thankful that I’m NOT one of them.

– I may or may not have written the judge an encouragement/thank you note, that I may or may not have been able to hand her after the trial was over.

– I may or may not of received a hug from her!  🙂

– I love Detroit!

– I love JESUS & I’m thankful that He put us in this city! 🙂  🙂  🙂

 

*If you’d like to read about the crime that happened behind our Hamtramck building click here. Besides actually living in the city limits, we’re actively doing things to help bring change.

 

 

 

I Was a Turkey on Thanksgiving

My turkey tale from this year’s Thanksgiving Day:

Besides the traditional food that is made only once or twice a year at our house, I made several  dishes & desserts that I’ve made for years & years. But something happened. What really happened BEFORE all our friends arrived? My family experienced it with me… but here’s what only they know…

I failed. Flopped. Messed up so many things.

The wonderful sausage stuffing was NOT supposed to be so dry.

The lovely sweet potato dish was NOT supposed to be soup that later solidified & looked like a giant orange blob.

The chocolate cranberry bread budding – that no one even knew I’d made- was NOT supposed to be made from the extra bread I’d made for croutons… the GARLIC bread!! ick

The pumpkin pie was too done.

The apple crisp (that I’ve made numerous times every fall for the last 20 yrs) had rubbery apples and a crisp that wasn’t crispy. (It was fed to the garbage disposal the night before any guests arrived.)

And even the ice tea that I make EVERY stinkin day was TOO strong!

 

What in the world?  I can make some of these dishes with my eyes closed? What happened? I only know two things:

1. Our friends brought lots of yummy food & saved the day

2. My identity was perhaps a little too tied into all my “homemade this & homemade that”… and pride comes before a fall.

I was a little cranky that day because I’d let myself down. But the next morning in prayer I was convicted & asked Jesus to forgive me for being too proud & to forgive me for thinking about myself on a wonderful holiday that is about thankfulness… not selfishness.

This doesn’t change the fact that much of our menu items will continue to be homemade… it’s just healthier & cheaper. But it has changed my outlook. A little slice of humble pie was the best thing I ate this Thanksgiving.

 

 

“Gentle Answers” aren’t always my Forte’

The wise King Solomon said “A Gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1) Ugh… I can be preetttty  accomplished at making “tempers flare.”  Solomon goes on to says that “the tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing.”  Oh dear…and ALSO…  “Gentle words are  a tree of life.”  Ouch.

People around me need calm. They need to be attracted to knowledge and given every opportunity to find life!  This especially includes my family. (If you don’t have children this STiLL applies to YOU!)  Here’s a few things that i jotted down in my journal recently that help me use my words positively as a parent.

 

  • Make eye contact when speaking and listening!  BOTH!
  • Know when it’s time to stop multi-tasking. Busy doesn’t always mean efficient.
  • Be consistent. Set standards. Enforce them & Live By Them.
  • Pick my battles. This doesn’t mean that I stop being consistent. But rather, I decide what the important things are and stick to’um.
  • Be wise. If  I’m constantly learning & growing, then wisdom & knowledge will be more appealing to my kids (and/or those who are following my leadership)
  • Admit mess-ups!  People notice… and kids are people, too. So just ‘fess up, apologize & move on. It leaves a huge impression on everyone… including yourself. (When I apologize it make me think twice before I do it again.)

These ideas certainly apply to all kinds of situations. If you’re in any form of leadership…these can help.  Anything pop out to you? If so, is it because you already do it or you know you should do it?

(So many of you read this blog… so few of you leave your thoughts.)

 

 

 

Words that Sadden. Wounds that Lie.

“Ouch. They really just said that to me!?”

You’ve thought those words at some point & will again someday. (Nice, Netta, what a depressing way to begin a blog post!) But it happens cuz we deal with humans. Over the years I’ve learned that many hurtful words spoken to me are NOT really spoken AT me or because of me. Hurt people hurt people.

Think about that… Hurt people hurt people.

That said, I’ve learned to remain calm, smile and do my best to keep loving people when they’ve lashed out at me… well, I’ve mostly learned that. Here’s the deal:  that’s not so hard to do unless the person knows you well & is quite close to you. Then the words go deeper.

 

Those words sink in and make me ponder. Now what?

I pray. “Lord, what truth is in these statements?”

I talk with my husband. “What do I need to learn from this?”

I pray for the person, the situation, etc. .

But still…

Those words can start eating at me. They’ve cut me & now there’s a tiny seed of UNtruth that has planted itself there. Something like, “Since they said that about me, they must really think I’m a jerk. What if they’re right?  They probably are. I was probably way off in that situation.”  Then it can grow into thoughts like…. ” As hard as I try, I just mess things up all the time anyway.

Then it grows into bigger lies: “No wonder people don’t invite me over, I’m not really a friend.”  and  “How am supposed to do anything of lasting value if no one wants to be around me?

See how the lie grew?  It began as a sad heart with a wound that started doubting what it knew was true, and it soon turned into a giant lie that had little to do with the original situation.  We cannot blame someone else for that thought process. WE choose it. So, the flip side is… CHOOSE NOT to think that way.

When those thoughts arise, stop them. Talk to Jesus. He ONLY tells you the TRUTH! Think about what HE’s already told you… what you already know is truth!
Philippians 4:8 says to think about things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely & of a good report!

 

Lots of thought will pop into our heads during the day, but it’s up to us if we’ll keep thinking & expounding on it or NOT!  Choose your thoughts. It keeps Hurts from Wounding us with their lies!

 

Certain of Uncertainty

 

 

It’s a sure thing. Uncertainty will come…       many, many times in life.

I like uncertainty in SOME areas.. it’s fun.

But even the fun  gets old after a while  & I starting “wanting to know what’s going on.”

That’s when faith must kick in, refocusing my thoughts from self to God & others…

then I’m OK again.

Without uncertainty there would be no need for faith!

 

(These  comments were prompted by my friend, Abby’s, recent blog)

I stopped apologizing

Years ago I decided to stop apoloizing… for the condition of my house, that is.

I was a young Mom at the time & went to the home of a friend who had a

gorgeous house that was “magazine” perfect. But throughout out time together

she continually interjected apologies for this and “sorry about that” and fusssed

around putting “junk” away.

Hmm, not only was her house nicer than most people I knew, but her “junk”

would’ve put most of my nicer things to shame.   And if she thought her

beautiful home was “a mess” then she better not EVER come to my house.

sigh

That was it. I decided on that day that I would NOT do this to anyone else.

My house is the best I can do with the time & resources God’s given us.

People will always be MORE important than “stuff”  and my house serves

our needs… we don’t serve it.

So, when I’m tempted to relapse and start apologizing I remind myself that:

1. My house is a gift (& I totally LOVE it, by the way)

2. It serves me, not vise versa

3. People are my priority

4. Vain “apologies” are really selfish complaints

5.  I don’t ever want to make someone feel uncomfortable

6. A gracious hostess is far more noticeable than a few dusty corners

Right?