Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Selfish! Who's selfish? Me?

A war has been waged against selfishness in me. I'm selfish. It isn't a characteristic I am proud of, however it is one that I have not held as a secret here either. The battle began last week when I heard just ten minutes of one of Joyce Meyer's messages. I also saw last week an episode of Joyce Meyer's that I had seen before. Only, I didn't realize I had already seen it until at least ten minutes into the broadcast. With that came a revelation that it is not merely enough to just HEAR a message. There are times in our lives that we need to get a lesson so badly that when we find scripture that will help us maintain our battle through to victory we need to study it, meditate on it, read it aloud, memorize it, and put it on sticky notes on every surface of our homes until it's finally permanently written on our hearts. It isn't enough to hear it once. Change never comes in one day or hearing a message one time. You know it takes a person an average of performing an act for forty days before it becomes a habit. You have to spend some time on any given subject to really reap the benefits of change and effectiveness in your life. It comes to no surprise that The Love Dare from the movie Fireproof is forty days in length.

Day 1 - The book explains love as being built on two pillars, patience and kindness. So day 1 begins with patience. Learning to hold your tongue and walk in love and not allowing our anger or frustration to be alleviated through our mouths in the form of harmful words. "Anger almost never makes things better. In fact, it usually generates additional problems. But patience stops problems in their tracks...patience is a deep breath." I love this part: "It stops foolishness from whipping its scorpion tail all over the room."

What causes frustration? Selfishness. What causes anger? Selfishness. What causes the vast majority of any and all arguments? Selfishness. We aren't hearing what we want to hear or the other person isn't doing what we want them to do. We aren't getting what we want. Webster defines selfish as being concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others. Do you know there is actually no fulfillment found in being selfish? As Joyce Meyer would say, "we get wound up every morning like robots and wander around saying "what about me, what about me, what about me."" But, there is no pleasure in it. We were created to be servants and we find fulfillment in having a servants heart and meeting the needs and doing for those around us. I'm telling ya, I consider myself to have been highly selfish, yet I was miserable!

More on how we did on day 1 and the days following, as we did day 3 this morning, later. In the meantime, the scripture I'll be putting on sticky notes in every room of my home is this. Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.

And, how about a little assignment for you? If you want to spend some time reading and thinking about true selflessness check out the book of Philippians after you look up the above verse. Read maybe just the first chapter. Paul is a man that was filled with the Lord's love from the top of his to the toes of his feet. Wanting to stay alive even in imprisonment for the sake of others. If given the choice between going home to the Lord of remaining alive and imprisoned, he would choose imprisonment so that more lives with be touched by the good news. That is what it looks like to be Christ like to be filled so overflowingly with His love, to be unselfish that a person would praise God in their suffering because they know it is for the benefit of spreading His love, forgiveness, and salvation. WOW!

Not Just ANY Key!

Key, a means of access control or possession. This is a key. It's the key to my husband's new Allstate office. It isn't just a key, it isn't just a key to an office. A key can also be defined as, a notched and grooved, usually metal implement that is turned to open or close a lock. No, not just any key but the key to our future. I'm overwhelmed with pride for my husband. For his guts, for his faith, for his trust in the Lord, for his ambition, for his means to access, control, and possess our future. And, not just our future but the future of our children and grandchildren. Hope I'm not pouring on the pressure Todd :) Just kidding. When I started my business there were so many days I wanted to quit and Todd was used as the implement that pushed me off the cliff. Literally, there were days he forced me to forge ahead and not quit. I stand behind him in every manner possible and if necessary force will be used. I have no doubts that while fear may try to rear it's ugly head from time to time I won't have to use force. Todd has an extraordinary will to accomplish his goals and his mom has always said "he never did like to hear the word no."

Isaiah 22:22
I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Make Every Effort to Keep Yourselves United in the Spirit!

Ephesians 4: 1-6 NLT
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.

Paul is speaking to the body of Christ in this passage, however I find it especially key in a marriage as well. We all lead such busy lives allowing our schedules, jobs, and commitments to stand in the way of precious time together. Perhaps that is a grand assumption but I know for my life personally, this is often the case. I take special care to ensure my clients get what is promised to them in the manner of time of which it has been promised. As my husband begins his new business, I'm certain the same will be true for him. We're both in a service industry. I take special care also to ensure my children are prepared for each day, that they feel loved before leaving my side for the day, and getting them on time to where they need to be. I do spend many hours in the week at home alone now but much has already filled the empty spaces of my schedule. I'm not a priority and my marriage has not been a priority. The hubs and I are having date night tonight and I can't remember the last time we shared a meal alone. He's working late and the kids have places to be so there are many nights we don't sit together at meal time at all. This is a temporary season for that and he has my full support to do what he must in order to get his business running. Dinner time used to be one of my favorites times of day. It's been such a rush lately and I miss the laughter, our family games, and hearing about everyone's day.

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives how do we keep ourselves strong? How do we keep our marriage strong? I do believe that keeping our inner man strong should be our first priority. Spending time with the Lord each day to pray and listen and worship is what we were each created for. I have a trivet my dad bought me that says "7 days without prayer makes one weak." Weak, not week. I can't afford NOT to be in his presence. We can only feel our best and OFFER our best if we are spiritually sound. The Lord's presence fills us with a super natural peace and joy and the more it becomes a daily party of our lives we are blessed with revelation and nuggets we need to accurately pray for those around us. I cannot be a good wife and support my husband and meet his needs if I'm running on empty, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Your marriage will dry up real quick. Yes, I speak from experience. Is it enough to ensure we are solid as a rock inside to develop an amazing relationship with Jesus and not have communion with our mates? Do we HAVE to pray together? Absolutely, YES! MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO KEEP YOURSELVES UNITED IN THE SPIRIT! Straight from the bible.

The hubs leaves for work much later than he used to so it has afforded us the time to have breakfast and a cup of coffee together in the morning. If we push the clock back and get up just a bit earlier we'll have more time, private time, together in the morning to start our days fresh and right. We made an attempt to get through The Love Dare from the movie Fireproof some time ago and didn't get very far so I'm hoping to spend our mornings in God's word together and in prayer and in having time alone when the house is pretty quiet and the TV is off. I'll keep you posted on our discoveries and share with you how it's going.

You always get the truth with me here. Those who know me personally often believe I'm a strong tower and I have it all together and I even make it look easy. But, to be honest I don't have it all together. I think I push it down and pretend to be to keep from falling apart. I'm grateful to have a roof over my head and food on the table and clothes on my back for me and my family. However, I'm not gonna lie. I dream of the day when I feel like we've got our fresh start and I have my family back. I enjoy my parent's company and so appreciate the huge help they have been on so many levels over the last year; however it just isn't the same as having your family in your own space. I think we all still feel a little disjointed and in the last year we've lost track of a lot of things we used to enjoy as a family and I'm afraid our bonds might be loosened a bit too much. It could just as well be anxiety from all the change that has recently occurred. Tyler in high school, Faith in middle-school, my babies are in school all day and ready to give up their security blankets any day. I have to daily fight back the urge to reign them all back in.

So make time for the Lord, make Him your center and the center of your marriage and family! Don't take for granted those you have around you and assume you'll always be able to get by. My husband has a heart of steal and patience beyond measure and he is the glue that has kept us together. But, day by day another thread gets weaker and weaker. I can no longer expect that his tolerance will last forever or that our marriage void of daily communion together and before the Lord will last forever without it. For us, even when things aren't 'great' they're still pretty good so I'm looking forward to going back up a few notches, looking forward to restoration, looking forward to falling in love again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wow where has the time gone?

I can't believe I haven't blogged on a personal level since May! I initially started by blog for me. I then started my own photography business, became addicted to flickr, and managing my business and it and before long I felt like I didn't have time to read the other blogs I enjoy. I felt as though the blog world is a comment for comment type thing. I'm going to continue to blog for me as a creative outlet and to hopefully reach others through my own personal challenges and trials. There are blogs I do love and read and enjoy when I can. If you enjoy my blog and you want to be a follower and leave blog love I certainly appreciate it but please don't be offended if I don't return the favor. In my life the Lord comes first, my family second, my clients and business after that and when I have time for myself to blog and catch up on others I will.

Anyway, on to what's really going on in my head this week. My oldest son Tyler started high school this week. I drove him to school his first day and even though he was trying to smile, he's just like me, he wears his emotions on his face; he just can't hide it. What I saw absolutely broke my heart and I empathized with him so much my eyes flooded. Behind his half smile was sheer terror and panic. A brand new school, probably the smallest student, and he had no idea where he was going and knew he'd be forced to ask teachers for assistance all day. As a freshman, that just isn't cool or so I'm certain he was thinking. Tyler's attending the same high school I went to and driving from the same home. It seems like just yesterday I was ripping up the roads like Mario Andretti taking the same route in my Dodge Daytona and yet the day has arrived that my first born is in high school. I'm actually contemplating home-schooling to avoid this feeling of my heart being ripped from my chest everyday.

Faith started middle school and in true Faith style, it's all gone off without a hitch. She is just cool as a cucumber, uber confident, and settling into her new routine like a pro. She hops out of bed immediately and makes sure her body, teeth, and room are all clean and still has time to spare. Tyler's schedule before he leaves collides with Faith but they just stay out of each other's way and I never hear a peep between them.

Karli is in her last year at elementary school and she is geeked to the sky to have been chosen for Safety Squad. She also eats lunch early so she can help out the kindergartner's in the lunch room during their lunch. In the lunch room each day Karli will find my babies. Yes my twins are in all day kindergarten! They have separate teachers which happen to be at polar opposite ends of the school which isn't fun but we're figuring it out. Karli last year could barely get her self together and I often times had to follow her around the house to ensure she was ready on time. This year, she's got herself together and even though I'd prefer she not, she insists on helping Mallory and Hailey. Karli is showing significant signs of maturing and responsibility; it's a miracle people!

I'm doing my best to make sure Faith does what she needs to do upstairs while Karli is still sleeping and when Karli gets up they switch to try and avoid each other as much as possible in the morning. I'm not sure what it is about the pair of them but at this point, they just clash. I feel blessed to still be at home in the morning to walk them to school, although I have to admit, that walk home by myself is brutal. Hopefully that anxiety and temptation to just bring them home with me everyday will subside and soon.

I've been very busy shooting this summer and maintaining my photo blog. The hubs graduated with his bachelors degree in May and finally finished up his final class in July. Wow was that a tough season. Then August 28th was his official last day at General Motors. We decided together to mutually separate from GM and we're in the process of opening up an Allstate Insurance Agency; doors are slated to open December 1st. I'm committed to making this a family business and intend to be Todd's office manager until we have our processes and procedures hammered down and things running like a well oiled machine. So Allstate will become a priority over my business. It doesn't mean my business and clients won't get the same top notch they get now, it just means I'll likely be shooting less and booked farther in advance. At least for now. I'm certain our family has some growing pains and some challenges again but nothing we can't handle. And, on the other side of it all lies the promise land.

For those of you who've followed my blog for some time may way to know our finances continue to look better and better all the time. We've accomplished a lot in the year we've been out of our house and have big goals set for the near and distant future. We've stepped up our commitment in the service arena at church and fully expect that the Lord is preparing us for me as our church prepares to obtain a building of our own and grow leaps and bounds in the coming years. Todd and I are both excited to see where God takes our church and how he plans to use us in the process.

I've missed you blog land!