An Ordinary Woman Used by God in a Huge Way

September 3, 2013

You've probably heard about the man who stormed an Atlanta, Georgia elementary school last month on August 20th.  We know that behavior is unfortunately becoming too common.  But this story had quite an amazing ending all because of the help of a school employee, Antoinette Tuff, who came face-to-face with the gunman.

When I saw her being interviewed, I was mesmerized at the way she handled the situation. As I listened I couldn't help but wonder what I would have done had I been her.  She gives all credit to God and believes she was a vessel God used at the time. 

If you haven't seen the interview here it is.  It's sixteen minutes long so get your tea or coffee. 

Anderson Cooper also interviewed her, but I believe this was her first interview which took place a day after the scary event.

 

 

You Can't Win If You Don't Play

May 23, 2013

I grew up learning that playing the lottery is a sin because it's gambling.  But my dad used to walk up to the convenience store to purchase his lottery tickets.   It was my mother who said it was a sin.  But I'm sure had my dad won big she would not have rejected the money.

I don't think playing the lottery is a sin unless you are using money that should be going to something else, like the mortgage/rent, bills, food, kids clothing and other important things.   Or of course if it's an addiction, that's a problem.  But I'm talking about playing as long as it's not causing harm in any way.

So when I think about it, and if it's a large amount of money, I'll purchase a lottery ticket or two.  I used to buy Starbucks drinks a lot.  I think I'd rather buy a lottery ticket or two.

Reasons I'll play:  When someone wins big I'm happy for them, especially if they're hard working, well-deserving people.  But I also wish it could have been me.  I think of the amazing things I could do with the money--start a school, provide entrepreneurship programs for young women, and the list goes on.    

But I can't win if I don't play.  So I play when I think about it, without guilt.

I think I've played about 3-4 times the past few weeks.

And guess where I purchased the tickets?  At a nearby liquor store.

Growing up, I was taught not to go into a liquor store even it's just to buy a newspaper or soda because if someone sees you go in or come out they may think you're buying liquor (I was also taught drinking was a sin) and gossip would start.  This was another of my mother's rules, but I remember once there were no other stores around and my mother went into a liquor store to buy a newspaper and we (my brothers) were shocked and teased her about it.  I think by that time I was a young adult and she was growing out of some of her legalistic rules.   

Even in a grocery store as an adult I'd avoid the liquor isle.

It's amazing how what we learn at a young age sticks with us.   Which, of course, is not a bad thing, depending on what we're learning, of course.     

I no longer avoid liquor isles in the grocery.  I'm not a drinker but I no longer believe it's a sin to have a drink.  The Scriptures say don't get drunk, not don't have a drink.  Although for me because I don't drink it would only take one drink to get drunk.

Maybe the reason I bought my lottery tickets in a liquor store is rebellion.  But it feels good walking in and not caring who sees me.   Also, it seems that the winning tickets tend to come out of liquor stores as opposed to seven elevens.

I do wonder, though, when I win, how will my church feel about my tithe?

 

 

Being A Late Blooming Adult

March 15, 2013

Late Blooming Adult (as defined by Wikipedia) - a person who does not discover their talents and abilities until later than normally expected.

This is a pretty good definition, and as I searched online for a definition I saw a few other good ones.  Generally, a late bloomer refers to someone who starts to bloom in her 20's.  The above definition, Late Blooming Adult, is for someone who didn't start to bloom until later, probably mid 30's and up.  

Interestingly, I didn't start to bloom until after my relationship with Christ began.  Before that, I was basically following the wind with no real life plan.  Thoughts of writing and owning a business were fleeting thoughts. 

There are actually many well known late bloomers, and I'll list some in an upcoming post. 

Me as a Late Bloomer:

Married at 36.  I never saw myself as the marrying type, but liked dating.  Marriage was never a part of the plan, ever.   I could have been a serial dater forever, but I met The One and got married. 

Graduated college, obtained Bachelor's Degree, age 42.  Out of high school, all I wanted was to move out and be on my own.  But I had no real plan.  I dabbled in college.  I would start and stop, never finishing nor want to really be there.   Later I realized how crazy it was that I was paying on student loans but had nothing to show for it.  Feeling I was a poor steward of God's money, I went back to school and finished what I started twenty-some years prior. 

First time mom through adoption, age 45.  I never saw myself cleaning dirty diapers or vomit, but that's not what being a mom is all about (partly yes, but only a small part).  But I always had a sense that I wanted to adopt a child.  I've heard people say that it's selfish for couples not to have children.  I disagree with that.  I think it's a choice.  You really have to want to be a parent to be a good one.  I'm still learning that by the way.  It's the hardest job I've ever had, yet the most honored.  It's raising a human being.  No way can it be done well without God leading the way.

Started Blog, age 49.   I started this blog because 1) I love writing, and 2) they say if you want to be a published writer you need platform and a blog is the best platform.   

And the list continues.

 

 

 

Three Great Books

March 13, 2013

In the past ten years plus of my life, there are three books that stand out as having an impact on me as I sought God's specific calling for my life (based on Ephesians 2:10).  Here they are.     

 

Let Your Life Speak, Parker J. Palmer
This is the book that prompted me to go on a self discovery years ago.  I had been in my relationship with Christ about eight years, serving in some awesome ways at church, but I sensed something was missing.  The Bible was speaking to me in new ways about God and my life, and I felt the need to seek out God's specific plans for my life.      

This book is about the author's own journey.  As he tells his story it organically challenges you to take a look at your own life.  Overall, this book is about the desire to live an authentic life, more congruent with how God specifically created you.   

The author has a Quaker background, so if you're offended by someone not believing exactly as you do you may not like it.  But it isn't a book about his religion.  It is a small book (just a little over 100 pages) but has great depth.  It wasn't a book I rushed through and is also one I've gone back and read a few times over.

                                                                              --- 

Your Own Worst Enemy, Breaking the Habit of Adult Under-Achievement, Kenneth W. Christian, PH.D 
I had never called myself an underachiever.  That wasn't even a word in my vocabulary.  But neither was the word achiever.  The truth is, I was an underachiever with great potential.  This book helped me face my own demons - procrastination and fear, and got me on the right track. 

I highly recommend this book if you are someone who starts projects but doesn't finish them.  Or if you have things you want to do but never step out and start.

                                                                              ---

Courage and Calling, Embracing Your God-Given Potential, Gordon T. Smith
This book is packed with depth and goes into the meaning of calling and the courage it takes to live it out.As the author mentions, we have three callings:  1) The general call which is the invitation to follow Jesus Christ.  2) The specific call which is a vocation (calling) that is unique to each person, an individual mission in the world.  3) The immediate call which are the tasks and duties which God calls each person at the present time.

The focus of this book is the specific call God has in the believer's life, how to discover yours and how to live it out.


Let Fear Help You Accomplish Your Dreams

March 9, 2013

In the past fear has often disguised itself in my life as procrastination and perfectionism preventing me from moving forward.   Thankfully, I've worked through fear but still need to fight it off when it attempts to return. 

But there is something extremely fascinating about fear.  Just as it has the ability to stop a person from moving forward and accomplishing their dreams, it also has the ability to propel someone forward  beyond their dreams.

Several years ago, I saw actor, Will Smith on the Oprah show.  In the interview, he said that even with the much success he had, he feared that it was not enough, that his money would run out and he would be back where he was before his music and acting career began.  This fear made him to want to pursue even greater projects, greater success.    

Hearing Will Smith's words made me think that most super successful people are driven by fear.   But a fear much different than the fear that keeps people from accomplishing their dreams.  This fear drives people towards their dreams because they are afraid of the outcome of not accomplishing their dreams.   In this case fear drives them towards success, not away from it.  

Typically I wouldn't think that underachievers and overachievers have much in common.  But could it be that one of their common denominators is fear?   Only their outcomes are very different.  One is an underachiever because fear holds her back.  The other has attained her dreams because fear has moved her forward.   

When fear drives a person towards their dreams, fear is no longer an enemy.

Sure a successful person can over do it and over work herself thinking she will never accomplish enough.  And that is where she must take a step back and realize that she is out of control and that fear has gripped her.   Just as the person who is gripped by fear so much that she is paralyzed and can't move  towards accomplishing her dreams.  She also must take a step back and realize fear has gripped her.

When I think of some of the most successful well-known people, I wonder if it is fear that has driven them to success.   Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey just to name a few. 

Is it possible that they, like Will Smith, are so fearful  of not attaining their dreams (or whatever it is they want to accomplish) that they are driven towards and beyond success? 

We all have dreams.  Some are buried, having never come to the surface.  Some forgotten.  Some above the surface, ready to be taken to the next step.   At some point in life we make a decision, conscious or not, whether or not to pursue a dream.  And I believe it is fear that in some way helps us make that decision, one way or the other.

I knew a woman who was a family therapist, a career path that did not seem to fit her.   In her personal life, she was on edge and had difficulty managing her emotional life even though she counseled others,  trying to help them manage theirs.  I noticed how artistic she was when she decided to design greeting cards.  She was gifted with artistic talent and was a much different person when creating art.   I asked her about it, and to my surprise she told me that when she was much younger she applied to an art school, and on the day of her entrance interview she was so fearful that she didn't go.  Fear stopped her from fulfilling her dream to attend art school and a career in art.  She went to college later in life, getting the counseling degree. 

I'm a late bloomer myself and hadn't yet discovered my dreams and calling when I'd heard this woman's story.  Hearing how she'd abandoned her dream encouraged me to seek God in what I was called to do.  I would say that this was fear working positively in me.  I was afraid I'd too end up miserable if I didn't pursue my dreams.

Fear can have a positive or negative function.  If it makes us get off the couch and take steps towards our dreams it's no longer a negative force. 

What role is fear playing in your life?  Is it keeping you from fulfilling your dreams or is it pushing you to fulfill your dreams?

    

The Impact of an Imperfect Christian Woman

January 8, 2013

 

I love hot tea.  And hot tea always reminds me of Betty.

About sixteen years ago, I think it was on Tuesday evenings, five of us young women would sit around Betty's oval shaped kitchen table for Bible study.   Warm tea was always waiting for us, in a lovely porcelain teapot, sometimes adorned by a knitted tea cozy.  Our small teacups sat before us ready for tea.     

Betty's house was quiet except for us in the kitchen.  Her husband was usually either still out at the office or someplace else in the house.  Their two adult children had long left home.   

I was fortunate to find Betty's Bible study.  My church was big, and at the time Bible Studies and Small Groups were organized based on your lifestyle.  Whatever group you fit into based on your age, marital status and such, pretty much determined much of what you were involved in at the church.  If you were single, you went to the Singles Bible study, if you were married with young kids, you attended the Married with Kids Bible study and so on.

Feeling limited in the Singles group, I eventually ventured outside that group to find something more compatible with what God was doing in me and my life at the time.   I discovered a Sunday morning Bible Study at the church, with adults of varying ages and marital statuses.  Someone there told me about Betty's Bible study. 

One of the things I most cherished about Betty was her authenticity.  She and I met for breakfast a few times outside of the study.  I remember her sharing with me that when she no longer had the energy to keep up with her husband, she made the decision to no longer accompany him when he traveled on short term mission trips with the church.   For her to say, "Honey, I can't" was a courageous thing. 

Christian women think they must do and be everything, especially when it comes to church ministry and even more when it's something their husband is a part of.       

Not only was it courageous but when she shared it, I remember thinking how unusual it was for her, a seasoned Christian mentor and leader,  to share a personal side of herself that way.  I admired her for doing so.  

Betty also shared that growing up in the church had not been easy for her, and that the church could be downright cruel at times.   As an adult she had to work through her relationship with God and learn to see him as a loving God, not the punisher she'd learned to believe He was. 

Betty was the first "open" Imperfect Christian Woman that I had met.  Imperfect in the sense that she was not afraid to be real and reveal her flaws.   All the other women leaders I'd seen or met had never done that.  I got the impression that they were nearly perfect.  Betty had no idea how her authenticity made an impact on me. 

Like Betty, I also grew up seeing God as a punisher rather than a loving Father.  Because of Betty I realized I needed to begin to understand God in the right way.  And much later as a wife, I remembered Betty when I had to tell my husband, "Honey, I can't" when he wanted us to be in a ministry together that God had not called me to.    

Betty was in her 60's at the time.  She grew up in an era where women did not share their flaws or even admit having them.   It wasn't the proper (or pretty) thing to do.  

It was an honor to be in Betty's company.  Through her, God was implanting in me the need to be my real, Imperfect self I had spent practically my entire life in a tug of war between my Imperfect self and the Perfect outward facade that started when I was a young girl.  I continued to spend many more years in that tug-of-war, but Betty watered the  Imperfect seed that I am now attempting to live out.    

I knew that Betty was quietly unique and outside the box.  Her husband had a prominent career and was one of the church founders.   I'd never seen her on the church stage.  But I know she made an impact on all of the women who came across her path and sat at her kitchen table.

The wonderful thing about the Bible study was that even though Betty was our mentor, she valued our voices and what we had to say.  It wasn't a robotic study where we simply went around the table answering question #1, #2, #3 and #4.  Nor was it a one-woman monologue while we sat as passive listeners.   

Sometimes we got off the study a bit and would ask Betty about other Christian related matters.  We once had questions about women's roles in the church, and Scriptures that we didn't understand.  One of those Scriptures being "a woman must be silent in the church."

"But I don't want to be quiet,"  one woman blurted.   

As we all laughed there was comfort in knowing we were in a safe place where we could share, be open with one another and learn from someone who had gone before us. 

I share this story to say that when we are transparent and share our Imperfect selves, we let others know that it's okay for them to be real too.  We let them know that a relationship with Christ is not about perfection.  When we are openly Imperfect, God can do His best work in us.  We need more leaders like Betty in the church...Unafraid of being Imperfect...Passing on the stamp of approval to be real.

 

 


Bloggers Block

September 18, 2012

You’ve heard of writer’s block.  Well I’ve been experiencing Blogger’s Block.  It’s not writer’s block because I have written many blog posts, only I haven’t been posting them.  They’re still sitting in a Microsoft Word document.    

At first I wasn’t sure what was holding me back.  I went through rhetorical thoughts and questions like:  I don’t know what to blog about.  What’s my blog’s focus?  Is this blog post good enough?  And then I attempted to stop thinking about the blog altogether.  But seeing my husband passionate about starting his blog, I started thinking about it again and realized only a couple of days ago that my Bloggers Block really has nothing to do with the questions I was asking myself. 

The truth is:  I’m self conscious.

After posting a few blogs,  I suddenly became self conscious about who could be reading my posts.   It’s not the people I don’t know that make me self conscious, but the people that know me.    Or at least who know me to the degree that I have allowed them to, and that includes family.   

I’ve always been a private person so it makes sense that I would experience self conscious thoughts.  A few weeks ago I had a thought way in the back of my mind (it never became a fully surfaced thought but it was there lurking behind other thoughts) about a certain person reading my blog. (I have no idea if this person has even seen my blog, but that “what if” thought came into my mind.)  That person, somewhat of a critic, has remained in my head ever since.  And that’s what’s been holding me back. 

I have no choice but to overcome this self conscious thinking.  I didn’t start this blog to not follow through on it.  And following through is a rule I’ve adopted a few years back because I used to be such a non-follow through person.   I’d start things with good intention but not finish.

So yesterday after having a talk with God about my blog (yes, I talked to God about my blog), I sensed Him saying:

      “You started the blog because I asked you to step out.   Stop hiding.  You have
       something to say.  Say it.  Be free to write out loud.  I am pleased.  Don’t worry
       about anyone else.”

And that’s when I was jolted back on the right track.  Remembering why I'm doing this in the first place. 

And really, what is a private person?  It’s someone who’s hiding.   And when I say it that way, that I’m hiding, it doesn’t sound as chic as “I’m a private person.”   Is hiding what God wants?  When we hide, we hide our value and the gifts that God has given us which were given to us to share with other people. 

Right now I’m reminded of the children’s song, This Little Light of Mine: 
                      This Little Light of Mine, I’m gonna let it shine
                      This Little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
                      …hide it under a bushel…NO WAY (as my son sings it),
                      I’m gonna to let it shine….

My son and I sing that almost every night together after he’s tucked into bed.  It’s not just a children’s song.  It’s a reminder that God is calling us all to remove ourselves from the bushel and let our lights so shine.