Fasting and Fun

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Fasting and fun sort of don’t go together except they do when it works. We’re coming to an end of our 21 days of fasting and this time our church let us decide what we’d be fasting. I chose to fast Social Media, Sugar, and Shopping. Honestly, I thought shopping would be the hardest. It wasn’t. I thought of myself as a shopper but my husband kept saying I was a selective shopper meaning I’d go in spurts where I’d want to go shopping then I’d get it out of my system and not shop at all for long periods of time. I guess so. I didn’t miss it except once when I wanted a new eye shadow but I abstained and it didn’t even matter.

I had a much harder time with sugar. Sugar has me. I am not even going to lie, I miss it still. Everyone says you lose your taste for it. I can’t say it’s so for me. I dreamed of going to the Mexican bakery and buying a star cookie, which is a cinnamon sugar concoction, to go with my coffee. I can taste it as I write. One day I was so on edge I was trying to justify how if I just did shopping and social media it would be more than most people did. I’m glad I let that thought go and stayed in my own lane minding my own business, keeping my word, and doing what I know to do. But it was close. Temptation is such a slippery slope, take one lazy side step and you’re there.

Social Media, now here’s a kicker, not reading FB was like a vacation. I didn’t read all the negative stuff. I know I will definitely limit my time on FB from now on. It was refreshing.

When you fast and pray to set the oppressed free the devil gets really mad. So anything that could go wrong did. I caught a cold that turned into a sinus infection and has lasted three weeks. Some unresolved issues began to blow up with serious attitude, but here’s the kicker; Doug and I remained firm, praying, and together. The power of prayer and unity kept us tight, in love and in each other’s corner, and advancing the Kingdom. We saw people receive salvation, we saw people set free, we saw people prosper, and all it cost me was sugar, shopping, and social media. Not a bad trade off.

And as far as the Fresh Eyes post, and taking a new look around my life, here is what I see:

We ended our bible study on James and I do really love the book of James now and I miss it. We started a new bible study on Prayer last week. It’s so necessary in the church.

We hosted a luncheon for pastors from 5 different churches. It is possible to fix a feast, enjoy a meal, and not indulge in the forbidden parts of the meal during a fast. I didn’t feel like Esther or anything but I didn’t have to announce it either. No one paid attention. We just had fun with friends.

We spent a sick day at home wrapped in blankets and watching season 5 of Downton Abbey. Life wasn’t any less complicated in the 1920’s.

 

 

Help Unwanted

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In the final lesson of Beth Moore’s Mercy Triumphs bible study, she made a powerful point about boundaries. She said we needed to be careful not to put the word boundaries in places where we don’t want to be bothered. We are to care for each other. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it. She then came up with four boundaries that she felt were biblical and this one hit me:

“When your help isn’t helping.” 

It’s always so interesting how we sometimes think we are the saviors of the world, or at least our loved ones. We don’t necessarily hold that place in their life though do we? And we shouldn’t really but so often we end up feeling that they aren’t listening or that we are banging our heads against the wall but what if……..

What if………

What if your help is unwanted? I almost want to whisper this.

What if your help is unwanted?

What if the person prefers to be in the position you’d prefer her not to be? What if she just comes to vent but won’t change. What then?

Could we be alright with that? Could we just back off and move on? Could we quit being the place where the dumping takes place? Could we consider it not as rejection of our ever-so-wise advice but as a decision one chooses to make and then let that be just fine with us? No, not in a sarcastic, “Well that just fine with me”, attitude, but an “It’s really alright to not want my help”, attitude.

First there is an agreement here that needs to be taken. While it’s fine not to take the advice, it’s also fine to stop listening to the complaint. That’s the boundary.

When your help isn’t helping.

When your advice isn’t being taken.

When the situation doesn’t change.

When the words you say are twisted to create a drama.

When the person turns their anger towards you.

Can we be at peace to walk away and leave it alone?

 

Holding Aces

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There’s a marked difference between acquaintances and friends. Most people really don’t become friends. They become deep and serious acquaintances. But in a friendship you get to know the spirit of another person; and your values coincide. Friends may disagree, but not about serious matters. A friend will stand for you when you are no longer able. A woman can say to herself, If I die, I know that my friend, my sister friend will be here to hold up the banner. Now that’s very profound. ~ Dr. Maya Angelou in an article written by By Marcia Ann Gillespie for Essence magazine. 

I think we get confused between our true friendships and acquaintances. My friend Cynthia sent me the picture that is posted above. No words just the picture. My immediate thought was, “Is she bragging that she is having a cup of hot chocolate and whipped cream? And why doesn’t that cup have enough whipped cream on it? I know we both love it.” It took me back 20, uh 25, uh almost 30 years ago as young women when we’d sit together drink chocolate with the can of whipped cream between us. There was never enough whipped cream in our cups and towards the end of our cup, our chocolate would be lukewarm. Cynthia is one of my Aces. She holds a place in my heart like none other. We’ve been friends for over 30 years. That’s speaks of storms and sunshine we’ve weathered together. Even though we don’t call each other often we both pick up exactly where we leave off each time. We know if there is something needed we have each other’s back.

I hold a few more Aces, I’d dare say more than one woman deserves. But the heart of this post is using your words carefully. Are you friends with someone, because that takes time and vulnerability, or are you acquaintances, which is friendly and kind and often strong? You can develop very strong acquaintances, but friends are different. You can develop very strong mentorship relationships, but friends are different. You can develop very strong maternal friendships, but friends are different.

We tend to be very casual about the word friend. We call someone a true friend, then drift away and  meet another true friend. That’s the difference. A true friend doesn’t leave. A true friend believes the same thing you do. A true friend loves you enough not to betray you or mistake the trust you’ve given her. Ever. A true friend tells you the truth even when you don’t want to hear it.

The person that goes it alone is worrisome to me. She has never given herself permission to be free she has too much at stake. She mistrusts others intentions or finds it too risky to love. She sees friendship as risky or there has to be something in it for her. That’s a hard way to live.

Fresh Eyes

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As we put away all of the Christmas decorations and hauled the tree out to the old faithful Dodge Ram I am closing out a old year and ringing in a new one. What will this year have for us? 2014 was pretty good to us. I am expecting 2015 to be even better. I have a few secret desires in my heart for this year but not ones I am willing to share just yet. I hope it’s the same for you.

I am preparing the house for a pastoral luncheon this weekend. Pastors from several churches in our city will meet to celebrate the New Year, pray for one another, and enjoy my husband’s BBQ brisket. It’s always a great time of fellowship and friendship and when we are all together I always take a moment to take a step back and view the body of Christ as it was intended to be. Isn’t it wonderful when we can break bread together knowing that each have a differing view on the method but not the intention? While some of us may speak in tongues and others not we still love Jesus and food! This year will be more about hospitality than perfection.

This year, I plan to do a lot more of that looking at life with fresh eyes business. Rather than nose to the grindstone living I am going to be intentionally taking a step back to take it all in before I miss another moment.  This year I am going to continually remind myself of things that were missed while I was plowing and be more intentional about breaks.

I’m turning 50 this year. I have lived a very blessed life, even in the hardest times, I learned forever lessons that will hold me until the end of my life here on earth and I think I have a genuine gratitude for my life. I have made real friendships, lasting loves, beautiful children, and memories that make me smile. I am married to the most amazing man ever too so that is icing! Somehow though, day to day stuff tries to come in and taints the happiness I have found.

So what does this year hold for you? I pray it’s filled with plenty of good things. I hope that life keeps you busy in serving others and not just yourself. I hope that life brings to you fresh eyes in which to see the beauty of the holiness of a life well lived and not squandered on the minutia that fills a brain and does nothing to fill a heart.

This year I plan to learn from Lulu The Wonder Dog who plays for awhile, takes deep naps, comes and demands attention when needed, is pleased to see everyone anytime, enjoys her food, and takes deep naps, wags her tail vigorously to show her approval, puts her ears down at the things she hates but moves towards it anyhow, takes deep naps, long walks, romps with her friends, never worries about her weight, or whether she took a bath today or not, sighs deeply, shares always, and loves wholeheartedly. I think she has in her seven short years of life learned what it took me 49 years to learn. So maybe this post should be titled, I’m not smarter than my dog.

Flesh Eaters

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picture from http://www.alphacoders.com

There is the word Gheebah in the Muslim faith that means backbiter but even more so they translate it flesh eater. There is an interesting teaching on it that was shared with me and I’d like to share it with you.

“If what you say is true about your brother then you have backbitten him. If what you say is not true about your brother than you have slandered him.”

Have you ever thought about the word backbiter? It describes someone who eats the flesh of a friend or family member. Muslim or Christian I doubt it’s worthy of our faith. In reading books on psychology, backbiting is said to be a trait of young people, only I disagree. I know women who are in their 30’s who are professional flesh eaters. The bible says backbiters soothe their own appetite. Flesh eaters. What a horrible description of a person of faith. It actually made me shudder.

Galatians 5:15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Is eating live flesh something you’d like to be a part of? You can’t stop the flesh eater’s insatiable appetite but you can stop them from eating others in your presence by not participating in the flesh eating frenzy. The bible says when we have an issue with someone there is a way to handle it. It’s taught in Matthew 18. If the flesh eater continues to devour then ask yourself if the person is a believer? Even the devil knows the word of God.

Romans 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

What causes a person to continually backbite? Honestly, they are bored people who have nothing else to do. They look for things to be critical of and people whom they are jealous of to tear apart. Think about the picture of a person who bites someone in the back. They are biting the back of a person. They are behind that person, not in their own lane guided by the Holy Spirit, handling their own business. These are hopefully not the people we wish to be nor is it the people who we call friends because can I be honest with you? It’s all fine until they begin to eat you alive.

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