Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Spiritual Traffic Jam

I hate getting stuck in traffic.

It's even worse when that traffic is in my heart. So many different priorities in life, and all of them packed on the super-highway of my mind. Often God gets lost in the shuffle.

Most of my traffic is about God, so how can He get lost in the shuffle? He gets lost in the shuffle (or more succinctly, I lose sight of Him) because I'm too darned busy to notice where I am in this life.

I have too many jobs, too many self-inflicted responsibilities, and too many to-do lists. Yes, everything needs to get done, but when everything becomes just the next task to do, I lose focus on the who and why.
It could be ministry work, driving, or crafting- it doesn't matter. God gets left by the wayside and I speed off without even realizing I've left someone important behind.

There's a song called Just Breathe by Jonny Diaz. The first time I heard it I was in shock. God sent me a song! This song resembled my own life so much, I almost cried listening to the lyrics. I pulled the car over and really listened, then I did what the lyrics said. Just Breathe.

Four seconds is all it took for me to be in a better, calmer state of mind. It also allowed me a big enough pause to open my spiritual eyes and see the jam I'd gotten myself into. But it allowed one more, very important moment. It gave me time to let God back in the van!

From that day forward, I'm much more aware when I start getting stuck in spiritual traffic. I take a side road in prayer, turn off the highway and rethink my path, or pull over and breathe, listening to Him instead of the beeping horns. I don't always remember, but when I do, the first thing I do is breathe. It's like a spiritual reset button.

Even when what I do is for God or about God, I get lost in the details. But when I focus on the who (God) and the why (to glorify Him), the traffic snags smooth out and the day runs so much better!

I've cut a few extra cars out of my jams. Tasks and deadlines were postponed or cancelled altogether, schedules lightened, and to-do lists shortened because I just couldn't function as a human being anymore- the load was too great! It wasn't easy (and still isn't!) but God will get me through what I have to do and give me the wisdom to know when to pull off of the highway.

Breathe in God, and breathe deeper than you've ever done before!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

My Son, Darth Vader

My son is weird.

It isn't because he has Aspergers. Autism doesn't make him weird- it makes him one really awesome individual!
No- My son is weird because he chooses the oddest people to look up to.

For instance, my son's favorite character is Darth Vader.

It started out as an interest. He loves Star Wars (yes, even the 'prequels'), and I thought for sure he'd want to emulate Luke Skywalker, or Obi-wan, or I could even accept the snarky Han Solo; but a few years ago when he wanted to dress up for a Star Wars party, he chose Darth Vader.

I'm a Christian. He's a Christian. Our whole family is Christian. So why is my son choosing to be the ultimate Star Wars bad guy? The more I protested, the more he wanted to be Vader. I sighed. Maybe this was a teen rebellion thing.

At first he tried to appease me by being a regular old Jedi dressed in black. He told me he was still a good guy- after all Anakin was a good guy in the beginning- so he was a good guy that wore black, with fifteen light sabers attached to his person.

Yes, the picture of peace and serenity was my son. Egad.

Soon he started collecting Darth Vader gear. The helmet. the cape. the gloves. I'd had enough. it was time to put my foot down.

"Son, don't you know that Vader is the bad guy? Why on God's green earth do you want to be the bad guy? He's done so much evil!"

He looked at me, surprised. "Mom, don't you get it? Vader did a lot of bad stuff, but in the end, he repented, was forgiven and allowed to go to heaven with his buddy Obi-wan. No matter how bad he was, he was still redeemable! That's why I like him- Darth Vader reminds me that if I do anything wrong, I can always repent and God will forgive me."

I stood there, dumbfounded. He was right.

I can't stand it when my kids are smarter than me. Or at least spiritually deeper than me. I never gave Darth Vader credit for repenting- but my son saw right through him, and saw past the evil deeds to a character that was redeemable.

My son is amazing.

I'm still not overly thrilled that he likes the bad guy, but I understand his perspective. Maybe that's why God gave me a child with Aspergers- Aspies are great at thinking outside of the box and seeing things other people just don't see.

God is amazing.

Sometimes we need reminding that no matter how horrible we think we are, we're still redeemable. Darth isn't the only person wearing a black cape over his heart. Everyone is guilty of one sin or another, and our capes are in all shades of darkness.

My son taught me an important lesson that day- One I've never forgotten. No matter how dark the cape we wear, God will always be there to wash us whiter than snow- if we repent.

Who knew my son, Darth Vader, would teach me such an awesome lesson about God?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

One-Legged Man Busy

I've been busy.

How busy?

Busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest!

I'm too busy. But you already knew that- especially if you're one of my regular readers. Sometimes I'm too busy to blog!

I still marvel at how much of my time is spent doing stuff. I work, come home, work some more, work in between work, then go to bed.

Oh, let the madness end! 

This week I came to a decision. I'd have to let something go. Maybe more than one something, if possible. After a lot of thinking and grinding of teeth, I decided I had to let a community program go.

How can I express the guilt I feel for doing this? Especially since I was the one that started the project? Yet the guilt doesn't outweigh the relief I felt when I made my decision. The project is a good one, but the waning support through the past three years left me doing most of the work. Not a problem if I was still at home full time, but alas, I'm no longer at home, but working multiple jobs- not exactly something I'd planned! But until the finances are stable and I can build up one or two of the freelance jobs, I have to nix something. So the community project was tabled, my notes and lists handed to another to take the reins- at least until I can take over again. If I take over again. Right now I'm too tired to blink.

A bit of advice to all of you superwomen out there- if you feel relief after deciding to drop something from your schedule, it's the right thing to do. Let yourself feel a little guilty for not doing everything, but get over it quick, because you now have more time to focus on all the other things you're already doing!

And do not take on any additional projects! I know exactly what you're thinking...if you give this up, that gives you more time to take on something new! 

Don't. You. Dare.

See how I snagged those thoughts you just had and nipped them right in the bud? I know what you were thinking, because we awesome women tend to think alike. Oh yeah!

The project I dropped took up six months of my life. Six months I now don't have to spare. Now that time is spent on writing research and scheduling face painting gigs.

I also cut a few hours from my driving jobs to spend a little more time at home. It's not easy, but I can already see a difference in my family, now that I'm home when they are.

Who knows? I might even have my blogs come out on time for a change!

Being busy is a good thing- even the Bible has quotes about idle hands making mischief- but being One-Legged Man Busy is not what God intended!

Even God rested on the seventh day- who am I to argue with God by filling my days with never-ending work? 

As soon as I'm done this post, I'm taking a nap!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Finding Joy

I miss being a kid.

My daughter goes to a high school that specializes in animals and agriculture. She also volunteers at a horse therapy ranch after school twice a week and Saturdays, and is an avid horse fan- the horses are also fans of hers!

Sometimes she gets the chore of 'field picking'. This simply means she gets to walk all over the pasture, cleaning up horse poo. None of the other volunteers likes doing this job. My daughter loves it.

I never said she was an ordinary kid.

One afternoon she came home with a big grin on her face. "I got to pick the field again!" she exclaimed.
"You sound happy about that." I replied with a grin. "Why do you sound so happy about that?"
She just smiled and said, "Because it's peaceful and quiet, and I get a chance to think and pray about stuff- and since no one else wants the job, people leave me alone to do it."

Wow. Who knew field picking could be joyful? But she found a way. She's amazing.

I remember the Mary Poppins movie where Mary tells her charges " Find the fun, and the job becomes a game." I want to amend that by saying "Find the joy and the job becomes a blessing!"

Sometimes my kids are my best teachers.

It doesn't matter what you do in this life, as long as you find joy in it. If there isn't joy, you might be in the wrong employment! God doesn't give a hoot what you do, as long as you're doing it for Him.

With joy.

I need to apply this thought to everything I do- including housework. Maybe every task I take will become a piece of cake if I find the joy in it. And not only would I bless myself and God, I'd bless my family too!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Tolerance vs. Acceptance

Too many times do I hear the words tolerance and acceptance tossed around in casual conversations and heated debates. These are two very different words, yet they are often given the same meaning. We must tolerate others. Accept them. We as Christians are deemed wrong for standing up for ourselves; we are accused of not being tolerant or accepting.

But wait...has anyone actually looked at the meaning of these words? And the implied attitudes?

Tolerate. It can mean accept, but the spirit of this word is to accept something without joy, without happiness, but with an attitude of suffering. Tolerating someone simply means you put up with them. Not an enjoyable prospect.

Accept. To accept someone is to love them as they are- despite their faults. And yes, we all have faults. However, the spirit of this word means to truly care about someone. To love them. To enjoy them. 

Does this mean we should be okay with a person's sin? Nope. The adage is true; hate the sin, not the sinner. Don't tolerate the sin. Don't ignore the sin. Don't accept the sin. But love the person with all of your heart. God says that love is more important than anything else. That's some powerful good words right there!

It's not easy to love someone who is blatantly sinning. God says to love, but He never said it would be easy.

It's hard to gently confront those we care about- especially if they aren't Christians themselves. They respond with wagging fingers and clucking tongues, chastening us for being intolerant and unaccepting people. Some even say that if you truly love the person, you have to love everything they do. Yikes!

Accept everything, or accept nothing and tolerate the sin- are those our only choices?

God doesn't think so.

I love a family member. This family member does a lot of things I don't agree with biblically. Do I shun this person? Nope. 
Do I keep quiet if this person does something disrespectful concerning God? Nope! 
Do I yell and scream and beat them over the head with the Bible? My human nature might want to (a lot, trust me), but the answer is still the same. Nope! 

God wants me to speak of Him in love and show this person why it's disrespectful. Talk it out. Pray it up. Make it right. Or make it as right as I can. He does the rest, not me.

Trends can twist the meaning of words. 'Gay' used to mean happy, and 'wicked' used to mean acting evil. 'Ain't' wasn't a word, and now it is. Don't let these trends twist our beliefs into something that doesn't honor God.

Tolerance is not the same as acceptance. Acceptance is not the same as loving everything about someone. God speaks of it in His book. 

Now I just need to learn to squash the desire to swat someone upside the head with the Bible. I guess I have a lot more scripture to read!

Monday, February 29, 2016

God's Baby Steps

Did you ever wonder why God puts you in the same situations over and over again? 

The little cynic inside of me makes snarky little comments like "Oh, He just like to irritate you." or "God's got a weird sense of humor- remember the platypus? He did that to mess with Darwin. Maybe He's just messing with you too!"

After stifling the little instigator with duct tape, I started really thinking about this. Why would God have us deal with something over and over again? Even if the workplace is different, the people are different, and the setting is different, it boils down to the same old situation, cropping up like weeds in the garden of our lives.

We keep plucking those suckers out, and they keep coming back! Is God really just messing with us? Or is He doing something we just can't see yet?

So I decided not to look forward, but look back. The past is an amazing thing. Hindsight is always 20/20, and sometimes we can see things we wouldn't normally notice. Like certain situations cropping up repeatedly.

To God, we are babies. Really small, itty-bitty babies. We need His help every single day of our lives. As parents, we help our babies to walk, talk, eat, and get out of diapers before they graduate. God does the same thing with us.

Take walking for instance. We hold on to our babies hands until they are ready to let go. 
They let go. 
They fall. 
They get up and try again. 
They let go. 
They fall. 
They get up and try again.

Sound familiar? 

Our children do it with our help until they can stand and walk on their own. Then we help them with the next step- trying to get them to sit still and pay attention! But I digress.

God keeps putting us in the same situations sometimes to help us learn how to deal with things His way, not ours. Sometimes we learn, sometimes we fall and decide crawling is just plain old better than walking anyway. But God makes us get to our feet and grab His fingers to try again. And again. 
Until we get it right.

Just like any good father would.

I'm sure I give God grief sometimes for being stubborn and crawling when He wants me walking. That's why I get stuck sometimes. He wants me to learn to do it His way- the right way- instead of my way. Then when I get it right and start walking, I'm following in His footsteps.

I'm just glad He's patient and helps me up when I need it!

God's baby steps aren't always easy to execute. The steps aren't going where I think they should go sometimes. But God guides me when I get lost, and puts up barriers over and over again until I go the way He wants.

God is my Father and knows what's best for me- even if I don't know where we're going yet. And that's okay. I'll just take His fingers, stand on His feet and walk where He does- until I can walk right out of that situation!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Be a Clown, Be a Clown, Be a Clown!

My mother always told me I was a clown.

My teachers confirmed I was a clown.

My bosses reprimanded me for being a clown.

But I never thought I'd become one.

One day I received a phone call. It was the party company I'd applied to for face painting. They wanted me to be a clown, but I resisted. The custom costume was too expensive. I couldn't work with all that fabric fluttering about me. The shoes were too big. I wasn't ready for that. So they said I could wear a tuxedo shirt and black shoes with black slacks and I'd be fine.
Then the idea began to grow on me. I had an idea for my signature face makeup and even picked a name- but that was as far as I had gotten.

Today I got a phone call from the party company. They needed a face-painting clown- stat.

He thought I bought a clown costume. 

He thought I had the wig and shoes. 

I thought he was joking- after all, the tuxedo shirt and shoes were in my closet, raring to go! But no, he needed a face painting clown


I told him I had no costume. 
He said he would lend me one.

He asked if I had a face design for my clown costume. I said sort of. 
He said he had an employee that would help me out with that.

I still don't have a wig or shoes. I have to buy them.
Thank You God for Amazon. I also found an inexpensive costume that comes with shoe doo-dads to hide my sneakers. I hope it all gets here in time for the party! 
If not, Helloooo party rental boss? I might need a wig....

I have never clowned- at least to this scale.
I have never painted at a private party. All of my work has been done at public events.
I have never been so nervous before!

Egad squared. I'm going to be a clown this weekend. A real one. Even if the costume and wig are loners.

By next week, I'll have a clown costume of my very own. 
I'll have my signature face. Maybe even get some funky new rainbowy sneakers.
And my new clown name? Cupie, as in cupie doll. 
Cupie the Clown.
Or QP- as in Quick Painter- or maybe Quivering Prayer. Either one would work right now.

Good grief- what have I gotten myself into?