Last year our family made a big cut out tree and put it on our refrigerator and each day we wrote a new thing for which we were thankful and added it to our tree. This year, we didn't put the tree up, but each day I've found myself thinking of that tree - which was just made of scrapbook paper and tape - and mentally placing my Thankful leaves on that tree. These are just a few of the things that I am thankful for right now. Be forewarned! If your looking for something deep to read, stop now! It doesn't take much for me to get excited over, aka., "thankful" over. Also, these are not in any particular order, except for the first three!
1. My relationship with God. It's in a sweeter place than it's been in months. Don't be fooled to think that I'm living on a mountaintop all the time, but my heart is fuller, and I see Him more as my best friend everyday.
2. Jeff. My best friend on earth. My most trustworthy friend. Lover. My laughter. My heart. (We'll be celebrating our 15th anniversary soon).
3. McKenna, Bailey, Avery and Quinn. 4 girls that light up my world!
4. LifeSong - not just a name of a church, but a representation of GOD's church. Today I'm especially grateful for a church that is meeting a need to feed the hungry in our community by giving away free Thanksgiving meals to ANYONE in need in our area.
5. Cold weather and sweaters. This is my favorite time of year.
Last night, I veered away from my menu plan for dinner. I just wasn't in the mood to cook, mostly because my fingers were frozen from how cold I was yesterday! Wednesdays are typically very busy days for us because our afternoons are jammed pack full of going back and forth in the car taking our girls to things they have on their schedules. Usually I cook, but last night felt like Chinese food to me. All I could dream about was Egg Drop Soup. I proclaimed the night "Take Out Night" (because, really, everything is more justifiable with a cute name attached to it!) and I dialed my local Chinese take out place and ordered our meal. I dropped Bailey off at her art class and went to claim my food and headed back home.
The meal was as yummy as I hoped it would be and the soup warmed me right up. I had a quick bowl of it and then had to head back out to get Bailey from her art class before I could finish the rest of my meal. I picked her up, came back and fixed my plate and Bailey's plate, and settled in for a night of TV watching. Bailey finished her meal up pretty quickly so she could retrieve her fortune cookie before anyone else snatched it up. Little did I know, I'd be snatching her fortune from the cookie to write a blog about it the next day. I mean, really, who writes blogs about their fortune cookies? People who are desperate for an idea or people that find a deeper meaning in a, usually insignificant, piece of paper. Well, I fall into the latter category. I read a "fortune" that caused me to have one of those "A-Ha" moments and tied a lot of what God has been showing me lately all together! Here's what it said...
"Take no risks with your reputation"
"Well, hummmm...what does that mean?" I really had just never thought about it that way and how I might be doing that in my life, but it kind of tied things together for me in being an extension of the Bible study I've been doing by Jennifer Rothschild, "Me, Myself and Lies." I sometimes have felt that my life has pretty much represented someone with a split personality! I spent the first half of my life being very quiet, brutally shy and very much willing to do anything for anyone - otherwise known as a "yes" person! The second half of my life, so far, has had small resemblance of that person, but has (is) become a person that no longer can/will say "yes" just because it's popular. You see, I've lived the lie of caring way too much about what people think of me. A lot of that has stemmed from the calling on my life to be the wife of a pastor. I began that journey as a "be yourself" person, but over the last few years, have become a "be what they say you're supposed to be" person. You see, part of that occurred, in large part, to just believing the lies that Satan throws at me, but some of it has come from people themselves saying, "why must you be so brutally honest?" There have been attacks for doing what God has wanted me to do because most of my life He's asked me to do the unpopular thing, by human standards. That's the one part of my life that has somewhat stayed consistent, even in all of the changes I've encountered in my personality "change." Even in my darkest hour, I have always wanted to go where God sends me, do what He says, and be what He wants me to be...until I started caring way too much about what people thought of me. God has had to bring me to a place that I had better start caring way too much about what He thinks and sees in me. He's called me to be me. He's called you to be you. We spend a lot of time becoming like someone else because we think what they do is way cooler than what we do, or we don't like ourselves and would rather focus on being like someone else, or we believe the lies that people say about us (or we've convinced ourselves they MUST be saying about us). When we do this, I've come to see that we cheapen God's power in our lives. I mean, He created us. He has a work to do in us, but we must let Him.
There are always going to be challenges to becoming what God wants us to be. Our worst enemy is often ourselves. We don't gain victory because we let ourselves become bogged down with believing lies. Here's a great measure, and one you've heard before. Measure it all by God's word. A lot of people talk and run their mouth off about what their "opinions" are. They think they know it all about everyone and everything. We believe a whole lot of what we hear and perceive. What does God's word say about it? I know the times it's gotten back to me what people have said, or concluded about who they think I am, it's hurt me, but the worst part is that I believed it must be true because someone said it, so it must be true. Friend, what does God say over your life? Who does he say you are? Are you risking your reputation by believing that you are who PEOPLE say you are, or are you risking it on who God says you are. Either road is not without trial. You'll be miserable all your life for pleasing others, or you will probably be unpopular for standing up for God's truth. Which risk would you rather take? I want to be an encourager to all people. Can I just say that I fail miserably at that. Being in the spotlight a lot, people haven't hesitated to let me know I fail, but I'm a human being that fails. I say things I shouldn't say, or do things I shouldn't do. I can live in that failure, or I can risk it to let Jesus live through me by showing others I can be vulnerable and say I screw up, or I can risk my reputation by saying, "I know what you're saying about me, or who you assume I am, so I'm going to fall down in a hole now and die because I'll never amount to anything because you said it, so it must be true!" How's that for a long, drawn out soap opera mentality! Hey, let's risk our reputations on what God says is true. If you are squelching out someone's life by the ugly words you say about them, or you are passing along things to others that someone said about another, stop and think about what you are doing. Don't cause someone to lose victory because they care too much about what you think of them. Start today to be victory-givers in the lives of everyone you touch. Faulty assumptions in life suck the breath right out of us. They kill. Walk in truth today and risk your reputation on who Christ is calling YOU to be...and only YOU to be.
OK, I've got to go eat a fortune cookie for tomorrow's blog! ;)
Truth is, I am one of those women that LOVES to cook. Unfortunately, I have let LIFE get in the way of what I love to do here lately, so I'm returning to my love...MENU PLANNING!! Back in the day when the girls were all home, I cooked a full spread meal every night, and up until recently, that was still true, even I could get only three days of meals in, but NOW, I have failed miserably. I need to menu plan! I LOVE to menu plan, and for the two friends that recently requested I menu plan again, here's to you, Bonnie F. and Celeste! I'm starting with Sunday because, well...I made a meal that just cannot be left out yesterday!
Sunday - Bacon Cheeseburger Soup (recipe is in the new holiday edition of Paula Deen Magazine)
Monday - Barbecue Boston Butt Sweet Potato Fries Green Beans