Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cha-cha-cha-changes

Hey, gang!

I know I've been MIA for quite a while (REALLY! Has it been 3 months?!), but there's a good reason.

I've been pondering and praying over taking this blog in a new direction, and the best way I could think of doing that was to START OVER.

So, will you join me over at my new space, The Backyard Swing?

I hope to see you there! For some background info on the new blog, go here.

And don't fret ... I'm going to leave Chubby Fists & Weed Bouquets up for a while so I can make sure all posts, links, etc., are working correctly. I'll let you know when this one is retired for good.

See you at the Swing!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fear vs. Faith

I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine today.

We were talking about some current issues at our church, and she made the comment: "The church is living more by fear than by faith."

The church is living more by fear than by faith.

Read that statement again. Now read it again. Let it sink in.

She has a point.

In our current litigation-happy culture, people are suing over silly things like spilling your (obviously) hot coffee on yourself in the drive thru or getting hurt in your neighbor's yard (even though you had no permission to be in their yard in the first place).

Now this silliness is creeping into the Church. With a capital C.

My own church is so safety focused right now ... we have a security team, complete with monthly meetings ... we have a rotation list of church members (all of whom are on said security team) that take turns walking around the church property during all services ... we have CPR and first aid training classes ... we have parents fill out a two-page form with all sorts of medical and contact information for children to attend events ...

Now I'm not saying these are bad things. On the contrary, I think these are great and practical things to have. And these things are driven by a healthy sort of fear.

But, the problem comes when we stop reaching out to the community due to our fear. Because our fear has become unhealthy.

We remove the playground equipment (that was paid for by church members and enjoyed by the church's children for years) because a child may get injured (and his/her parents may sue), even though no child has been severely injured and no suing has ever occurred to my knowledge.

We don't allow our gym building to be used by church members for personal reasons (e.g., birthday parties) because a child may fall on the concrete floor and get hurt and the parents may sue. (However, we do allow kids to play in the gym during Awana, youth group meetings and VBS. I guess that a child attending a church function is less likely to get hurt than a child attending a non-church function. Hmmm...)

We don't allow our church softball team to practice on our church softball field because a non-churchgoer may show up drunk or be offensive in some way, or, again, may get hurt and sue.

But here's the question -- how do we expect to reach out to those in our community who need to hear that Jesus loves them just as they are if we don't meet them just as they are? If we don't provide opportunities for them to see that, hey, church people are normal people, too.

We watch the Super Bowl. We play softball. We have pizza parties and watch movies. We run races and play balloon volleyball. Shoot, we even sometimes fall in the gym and get hurt.

(Seriously, Beebee has fallen SO. MANY. TIMES. on that hard gym floor that, had we the inclination, we could've been millionaires by now from suing our own church. And would we sue? Will we sue? NO. Because kids run and fall and get hurt and cry and get back up. That's what kids do.)

And, I'm not just speaking about my specific church, but about the Church as a whole. We are so worried about what MIGHT happen that we are letting it get in the way of SHOULD happen ... which is bringing Jesus to the people he came here to save.

After all, healthy people don't need a doctor.

I think of the underground churches in China and other countries where our brothers and sisters in Christ are meeting under threat of imprisonment or worse. And yet, those churches are growing like wildfire, while US churches are seeing a steady decrease in attendance.

And, I'm pretty sure imprisonment and death is much worse than being sued. Agree? Yet, they continue to spread the Word, telling others about Jesus ... even risk being disowned by their families ... because Jesus tells us to.

So what's the difference?

The difference is, those people have FAITH. Faith in the God who created the universe (including the principles and laws our own legal system is based on). Faith that He will watch over them (even in the prison or on the gallows). Faith that He will not let his Word return empty.

Y'all, we are called to make disciples. That's the last thing Jesus said before he went to heaven:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - Matthew 28:19-20
We can't be scared of what MIGHT happen. We can't be afraid of the unknown or the weird or the dangerous or whatever.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). And he wants us to do the same thing (Matthew 25:35-40). But he doesn't just leave us to go it alone.

He gives us his power and authority, and he promises to be there for us and to help us always (Matthew 28:18-20).

We have forgotten who we are. We are the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-32). We have let ourselves get wrapped up into worldly concerns. As Mark 7:8 says, "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."

We need to stop being afraid and start living in faith. If not, we are going to safely "secure" ourselves right out of impacting our community for Christ and right into an empty sanctuary.


Linking up with "Works for Me Wednesday" at the We Are That Family blog.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Joy Killer

I'm an extrovert. And I'm what people call an "open book." So I have loads of friends. Some are just acquaintances, but most are "hang out" friends.

However, I have a handful of really close friends. Friends who are always there.

Friends who have walked with me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Friends I can call in the middle of the night when my baby is sick.

Friends that make me laugh so hard that I can't breathe.

Friends that can tell me flat out when I've done something wrong or when I need to change, and I won't get mad. And I know they know me well enough to speak the truth.

Friends who know all of my inside jokes ... because they were there.

These close friends are amazing people. And, in the spirit of transparency, I envy each of them in some way or another. I compare myself to them.

This one is a wonderful mother.

This one is an amazing decorator.

This one always seems to have "it" together.

One of these friends just pinned this quote:

Comparison is the thief of joy. — Theodore Roosevelt
Pinterest

Honestly, when I read that and saw her name, I was surprised. This is someone who has it ALL together. She is self-assured and confident. She fearlessly follows God's will for her life without hesitation. Her husband loves her and praises her. Her kids are adorable and well-behaved.

She's who I want to be like when I grow up.

And she's talking about how she has a problem comparing herself to others. Hold up ... what now??

She's the one to which others compare THEMSELVES. She's the measuring stick. Who could she possibly be comparing herself to?

Of course, the answer to that question isn't important. (That's her business.) The point is, the person I'm comparing myself to is also comparing herself to others. She's not as "self-assured" as I thought.

Hmmmm...

And that got me thinking. Why do we, as women, compare ourselves to others? Sometimes it's as innocent as "Oh, look at her cute hairstyle!" (underlying meaning: "I wish my hair was that cute!"). But it can be as vicious as "She is so smart and beautiful! I will never be like her!" (underlying meaning: "I'm worthless.")

Why do we put ourselves down ALL THE TIME, usually in ways we aren't even aware of?

I'm sure there's plenty of theories, but here's one:

Because Satan wants us to kill our joy. 

Joy. That deep down, settled in knowledge that we are God's holy creatures and we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Because, if we really, truly, innately believe that we are exactly what God wants us to be ... in this body, with this hairstyle, with these weirdo tendencies, with this favorite color, with this post-baby belly, with these strengths and weaknesses ... and that we are perfect just as we are ... then we will be forces to be reckoned with. 

Dangerous adversaries to Satan and his cause.

We would be wide open vessels for God's power to careen through, sweeping away the darkness and bringing love and light to everyone and everything with which we come into contact.

THAT is why comparison is so deadly. We allow it to kill our joy and make us forget who we really are.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 2:9)

So, I have a challenge for each of us. Remember who you are. Memorize I Peter 2:9 and Psalm 139:14. Remember that God made you EXACTLY like that and he did so with a distinct purpose in mind (and no, it wasn't to ruin your life or give you a bad hair day everyday). It is to bring glory to HIM and point others to HIM.

It's not about you. It's all about Him.

Stop letting Satan kill your joy. Stop the comparing.

You are God's beautiful creation. And you are loved.


Linking up with "Works for Me Wednesday" at the We Are That Family blog.

Friday, May 9, 2014

What Will You Choose?

This is a repost from 2012. It's something I really need to hear this year, and I thought you might could use a refresher, too. (Oh, and just so you know, my toenails are red this year, not blue. Just keeping it real.)

Flowers from my garden for you

 "Her children will arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her..." - Proverbs 31:28
I just realized something this Mother's Day. An epiphany, if you will. ("Epiphy-what?" Anyone seen the movie "Hook"? Anyone? Ok, moving on ...)

I realized that my attitude is what makes or breaks Mother's Day. Not the gifts. Not the breakfast in bed. Not the messages of sweet love from my adorable, extremely well-behaved angels. Heh-hem.

Let me explain. Every year on Mother's Day, I get grumpy. REALLY grumpy. Because I end up doing the same thing I do every day ... cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids ... you know, mom stuff. Sure, my hubby helps and showers me with goodies, and my boys make cute cards and give me hugs. But life still goes on, and in this house, I'm the driving force.

Because of this grumpiness, I usually have a "meh" Mother's Day. But not this year.

The first reason I can celebrate Mother's Day
This year was the best Mother's Day I've ever had. Seriously. Even better than my first one. The secret? Because I CHOSE it to be great.

I CHOSE to be thankful for my job as a wife and mommy. I CHOSE to enjoy the crazy antics of our two little boys. I CHOSE to enjoy cooking dinner, cleaning the dishes, washing the clothes. I CHOSE to spend time watching my boys play outside all day Saturday. I CHOSE to put down my iPhone and watch them splash in the kiddie pool. I CHOSE to put down the magazine so my baby could cuddle with me. I CHOSE to make eye contact with D-bug when he wanted to discuss dinosaurs for the 375th time that day. I CHOSE to laugh out loud at Beebee's attempt to make up a joke. I CHOSE to paint my toenails a ridiculous shade of blue so I would smile every time I see my toes. (OK, so that one has nothing to do with being a mom.)

I have no shame.
 Do you see a pattern here?

Now some of you have already caught on to this secret and are saying, "It's about time, woman!" But others of you (and I think there's probably more of us in this category) are still struggling with the work, frustration, and exhaustion that comes with being a mom. Don't get me wrong ... I still struggle with this on an HOURLY basis.

But let me encourage you to CHOOSE ... CHOOSE to slow down for a few minutes (don't worry -- the world won't stop, I promise). CHOOSE to look directly into your child's eyes when she wants to tell you something. CHOOSE to not freak out when he makes a mess. CHOOSE to join in when they are being rowdy. CHOOSE to thank God for the food you are cooking, the clothes you are washing, the house you are cleaning. CHOOSE to give your hubby a great big ol' smooch when you see him next. (You're welcome, men.)

The result of putting down my magazine. Isn't he sweet?!
CHOOSE to take time to enjoy your kids, your husband and your life ... because we are not promised tomorrow.

And don't forget to thank your mother ... remember all she CHOSE to do for you.

  "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." - Proverbs 14:1