Drama Free Zone

Quotefancy-4025-3840x2160“You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay?” — Jim Rohn

I read this last year and began to assess. I had some work to do in the drama department. So I resolved to make my life a drama free zone. I decided not to get caught up in the day to day stuff that wasn’t mine to own. I decided that if I had an issue, I would go to a select few women who could tell me the truth and point me in the right direction.

So this year who am I around? I am around people who challenge me to think positively. I recently had a wonderful time with a friend who after I left her presence I realized we talked about absolutely no one but ourselves, fashion, music, God, dreams, skin care products, books we were reading, our favorite travel destinations, our bucket lists. Not one single thing about anyone else. I am mostly around people like this these days. It makes for a very happy well rounded life.

What are they doing to me? They are making me see the life beyond the drama. I have to tell you I love, love, love it.

What have they got me reading? Novels, The Federalist Papers, ministry books, and the bible.

What have they got me saying? Positive things. Life-giving things, things that matter and are thought provoking, oh and politics which I’m not sure is positive but definitely thought  provoking.

Where do they have me going? Church, dinner parties, concerts, plays, book readings, game nights, book clubs.

What do they have me thinking? Life beyond drama. Life beyond chaos. Life worth living.

What do they have me becoming? A person who isn’t caught up in the urgent and by that I mean, a person who isn’t looking at the chaos that comes from the day to day urgency but at a life that is lived with more compassion, more space, and more freedom.

This is a critical point. Did the last year leave you stressed and angry and caught up in nonsense or did it bring you peace? I can’t say 2014 brought me peace but I came back to myself and changed it all in 2015.

There is so much more to the earth than the stuff going on in your world. There are stances to take on issues, there is a desperate need to pray for needs that far supersede the confusion of small-mindedness. There are moments to be still and let the Holy Spirit begin to bring revelation to your soul that breathes life not only into you but to those whose life you touch. There is a banquet served to those who wish to explore possibilities. I used to get discouraged by the naysayers who want the world to swing their way. I have a deeper understanding of life and the bigger picture than the one I see in the mirror.

Is that Okay? It is absolutely beautiful to your soul’s purpose.

 

You’re Not Allowed

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It bothers me when a spouse says in public what their spouse is allowed to do and what they aren’t allowed to do. I can only imagine what that nightmare of a marriage looks like in private.

“My husband is not allowed to drink his coffee in the living room.”

“My wife is not allowed to work.”

“My husband knows better than to think he’s bringing home a recliner.”

I stay quiet as I hear these statements but in my mind I think, “Bully”. I believe when we try to usurp authority over a person we are in essence saying we are higher than God. The bible reads that God is not one who overrides your free will instead he offers choices. Those choices usher in his presence or not.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

My husband and I are very strong people in very different ways. I am verbal and will say what I think. He is non-verbal and votes with his action. So when we disagree we tend to stop until a compromise is reached. He has never said to me that I wasn’t allowed to do something and I have never forbid him anything. We both take into account the free will of the other.

Are there forbidden things in a marriage? Of course! Adultery, Abuse, Addiction, Manipulation, Lying are things that are forbidden in a marriage but I would think if I have to demand a ceasing of these actions then I married the wrong person who lacks love and character.

When we  continually call the shots, continually admonish our spouse as if they are our child, continually manipulate the finances, I wonder where Christ is in all of that? When it’s our way or the highway whole people sometimes cower for a season but they eventually fall away. Maybe they don’t leave the situation. Maybe they just go away emotionally. Maybe they begin to spend time alone not meeting our needs. Maybe they find someone who respects their opinion.

We can argue that the person who is experiencing the violence of the violation of free will, chose to give it up and I would say that is true. In counseling I often hear that they feel stuck because of a circumstance such as children who will be devastated by divorce, so they bide their time. Then there is the lack of work or experience where they can’t support themselves which often keeps them in this situation as well.

It can happen in the work place. There are those who feel threatened by their boss or their employee. The employee who continually threatens to quit, who calls in sick as a pattern on critical days. The boss who lords that there are plenty of people out of work over their employees. It isn’t right.

As Christians we are supposed to have no unwholesome talk come out of our mouth. When we think of unwholesome talk we think about cussing, gossip, but what about bullying? What about dragging about someone by a leash demanding our way? Isn’t that the tearing apart of a person of free will? Un-whole-some?

 

 

Year End Wrap Up

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This past year and a half I tasked myself with the goal of rediscovery. Through a wake up call, I took the hint and applied it. I took on no new projects, I had alone time as much as possible and I gave no explanations to anyone as I trekked through this season of health issues and heart issues alone with the Holy Spirit. I knew those who loved me would pray and not judge and those who didn’t wouldn’t understand and I had to be fine with the criticisms as it was my journey to take. I am peeking my head out and arising slowly back to my place in the life I have chosen with surrender. I am wiser, stronger, and realize that sometimes the Lord is doing a power shift where he is carefully orchestrating a new level. It doesn’t mean you are going anywhere necessarily, but it means there is a new focus or a refocus of things that were set aside for what you felt was a bigger issue but wasn’t where the Lord was taking you.

As this year unfolds I will share the journey and what it has taught me as I don’t believe lessons you learn are just for you. It would be selfish to think you’re the only person going through any issue.

My main focus as we end 2015 is don’t be afraid to be set aside for a season. Don’t be afraid of the No in life. Sometimes demanding your way and kicking in the door isn’t wise. Sometimes you have to trust and really mean the Thy Will Be Done part of your prayer. It’s not about people trying to hurt you or make you feel less than. It’s about a whole picture that only God sees. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see the whole picture but for now we catch a glimpse.

Was there pain? You bet! Was there hurt in the criticisms? Of course! Were there people whom you care about who resented you were not in place? Yes. The main question is did the Lord set you apart for this season? If so, then all the other stuff is washed away. Forgive those who chose to condemn. Forgive those who tried to kick your door in and force you into their agenda. It’s been a long season but inwardly productive. I am pleased with the progress and ready to go! I pray in whatever season you are in you can listen carefully. There is work to do in your community. There are people to reach for Jesus. Taking your ball and going home is not helpful but knowing what the Lord is calling you to do is. Praying for you always!

A Good Life Always Start With A Vision

 

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The family game we played last night sits left over on my dining room table this morning. Last night we laughed until we cried, we came up with a team name that shall not be repeated out of the circle of those who were there. I sit here and write this post on the day after Christmas as google reminded me with a ding on my calendar this morning. Those of you who know me know I write a vision statement each year. I make a list of things I want to accomplish personally and professionally. Then I write ideas for vacations, home improvements, a budget, a savings plan. Yes, I know it sounds too hard and it doesn’t sound like there is any adventure or spontaneity in it does it? Oh, but there is! Life takes twists and turns that you can never plan for, and some ideas need to be tweaked midway, and some ideas although great in December in June you can see aren’t going to cooperate. The point is to have a plan that can keep you on course even in the midst of chaos. It sounds complicated but it really is the key to freedom! Knowing exactly where you stand and how you can proceed in the current conditions takes a big worry off your mind. You don’t find yourself in a car lot, excited about a new car if the budget isn’t there because you have a plan in mind and on paper. Instead you may find yourself at the mechanic’s shop getting a quote on a transmission fix which is much cheaper in the long run.

So as you can see by the picture, I look back at 2015 and write down what went well and what didn’t work. I make determinations on whether I am going to try again or scrap the idea. I look at what projects aren’t quite finished and if my time was used effectively or is it just taking a little longer. Did I squander too much time or did I have just enough rest? What old habits never died? Where did I need more discipline. Where is this going in the New Year?

I used to brag that I started writing vision statements back in my 20’s and I would always accomplish my goals by October-ish. I used to pat my self on the back and say to myself, “Girl, you are just that good at getting things done.” However one day I heard a still small voice within me say, “You get your goals met each year because you don’t dream big enough. You play it safe.” OUCH! I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to go deeper and to be more daring. You see, I thought I was just that good. Now I am older than my 20’s, much older, and I have learned to set up bigger dreams. I have learned to set dreams that will actually take 2-3 years to complete, like the two week trip we took to Hawaii that required us to save up rather than charge it. Or the one where my husband announced he wanted a Camaro in 2011 but it took us until 2014 to buy it because there were plans in motion that had to be completed first.

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So what is your dream for this next year? What are you planning to accomplish and what will take some time to fulfill? I pray you have been thinking about it and I hope you are working towards your destiny!

Take your time. Make it clear in your head and then advise your heart because honestly, if your heart isn’t in it, it won’t get done.

Pruning

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Prune – verb

1. to cut or lop off (twigs, branches, or roots).
2.to cut or lop superfluous or undesired twigs, branches, or roots from; trim.
3.to rid or clear of (anything superfluous or undesirable).
4.to remove (anything considered superfluous or undesirable).

Over the last year I’ve allowed a pruning in my life. My blogs became fewer, my days were no longer intentionally set the way I wanted but instead often changed up in a weird, chaotic seeming to me, but divinely purposed to God way. To tell you that it was easy or that it wasn’t on some days excruciatingly painful would be a lie. I wish we could be pruned like a haircut where you feel excited at the anticipated outcome. For me, a Type A, there have been days when I want scream STOP! ENOUGH! OUCH!, only I grew up in the Central California Valley, where vineyards grow in abundance, and I know pruning is necessary for the next season. Pruning is an ugly necessary part of bearing exceptional fruit. In the Central Valley, the winter is ugly. Everything is pruned, fog sets in, money is tight because few are working, and there is this stillness, this holding pattern as we anticipate the coming of Spring and the new abundant crop and the action that comes along with it. All the while the vineyards are digging deep and baring their souls and most look away because it’s uncomfortable and desolate and a process that is completed deep within.

I remember some years ago, I was walking my father’s vineyard at winter time, and I told my dad that the vines look gloomy without leaves. He answered “They don’t look gloomy… They are showing you their soul. Looking at them you can see their essence, their strength and weakness… You can see their skeleton and help them to become in what you want them to become by encouraging their natural process through the pruning”~By Mariana Onofri The Vines of Mendoza

So quietly I went about my business and agonized over things I thought were important but The Lord said had to go. It would be simple if you got to prune yourself. If the vine could say to the vinedresser,

“Please take a little off the top, but you see that strong sturdy branch there, yes that one, please leave that one alone, I’ve cultivated a following there, and there is much fruit that came from it.”

It doesn’t work that way. Pruning takes away all of the pretty and all that is left is the stump. This is why it’s so crazy hard to do. To be stripped away of things you felt were important and worthwhile but weren’t for you in this next season. To be looked at by your peers as dropping the ball or worse no longer a team player because you weren’t showing up in uniform ready for the action and instead were taking time to sit on the bench and observe the frenzy that you once loved so much.

Baby, sometimes the season is over.

Sometimes you’re the star quarterback who thinks they have a season left. It doesn’t mean life is over. It just means the chapter is finished and it’s time to start a new one.

When your definition is your title, there will be pruning. Truth be told we’ll be in denial over this. We’ll proclaim to anyone who listens that our title isn’t what defines us because we’re richer than that but the fact remains that we cry out: THIS IS MY CAUSE! THIS IS MY PASSION! Yes, that is what the vineyard says to the vinedresser. The vineyard who also professes to be a surrendered soul.

Our cause and our passion belong to the Master

or is that simply a statement made for those who choose to listen to us and the lie we tell our heart as we pilgrim forward on the way to the things that are meaningful to us? Just something to think about.

 

 

You Can’t Want It More Than They Do

341bbd270d4cc542b67fff7ca2a1987c   This is a quote my husband often says when I begin a sentence with, “Well I think they should….” “You can’t want it more than they do.” He’s right. How often do we get entangled in someone else’s problem when they aren’t ready to fix it? I was reminded of this throughout football season as I cheered on my favorite team the San Francisco 49ers and they kept failing to close the deal. I arm-chaired quarterbacked my way through each game mainly frustrated. My opinion and a quarter would get me absolutely nothing but there I was week after week with my opinion. This would be no problem if this was the extent of my meddling in the things that aren’t mine to fix but it isn’t. I have an opinion on virtually anything but I can’t want it more than they do. So this past year I practiced minding my own business. In some ways I was successful and in other ways it was a fail. I continue to work on it. So where do you keep meddling in places that are none of your business? Where do you keep trying to push the vision from behind when the person up front is unwilling to pull? When you realize your opinion isn’t wanted. I had a person in my life who I tried to mentor for years. Each time in meetings they said everything I wanted to hear then they’d leave and do the exact opposite or nothing at all and wind up at square one. Both of us were frustrated. Until I realized the obvious.

I Can’t Want It More Than They Do

I was able to let them move on to their future and I was able to move on to mine. No hard feelings no more frustrations. Just honoring the fact that everyone is allowed to do what is best for them regardless of what others think. That’s living free.

And about the SF 49ers. I don’t think I’m ready to quit advising from my family room  quite yet. Like I said, I’m working on it.

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.

Envy

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Proverbs 14:30 A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones. NKJ

Envy  is, “I must be like you to be happy.”

People pleasing is, “I must be liked by you to be happy.”

Neither of these scenarios is appealing and yet we all look like both of these statements at one time or another. This week’s news was all about Kim Kardashian’s nude photos and whether they were photoshopped or real? Whether it was the right move for her career or not, but as my Daughter-In-Love Frances said, “I refuse to read anything about it, we landed on a comet this week! That’s news.”

I get to the office at 10 am the two days a week I spend there. One day this week I didn’t come in until 11 am. I was driving in when I received a phone call, hands free I answered the phone, my mom reads my blog so I thought I’d clarify the hands free part. The caller asked if I was at the office. I said I was just driving in. “Boy! It must be nice to be a Pastor and make your own hours. I wish I could just waltz in whenever I wanted. Some of us have to work.” I didn’t say anything. I’ve taken the Taylor Swift approach to my life, “Shake it off, shake it off”.

Here is what they don’t know. The night before I counseled a person until after midnight who was in a crisis. It may not be my life, but it certainly feels personal when you’re agonizing over someone’s pain, praying for God to give you words that help and heal and that you don’t just stammer along. After I got to bed, I tossed and turned for quite some time, shaking it off, before I was able to fall asleep.

And that’s kind of the point. We often envy what we don’t know anything about.

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On the flip-side I watched a funny video recently about a woman who could not say no. She was bleary-eyed from exhaustion and still saying yes to everyone. Everyone that is except herself. When did we begin to measure ourselves by the opinion of others? When did it get so important to be liked not for our imperfect selves but what we bring to the table?

I tend to bite off more than I can chew. Just because I like Wonder Woman and wanted to grow to be her, doesn’t make it so, but sometimes I get mixed up. Sometimes I become a people pleaser. Something in me is causing me to reflect on envy and people pleasing and their correlation. They aren’t the same that’s true, but they are similar in nature because both have replaced my purpose with whomever is the focus in the scenario. I may not have what you have but if I can please you I can get close to what you have. I may not have what you have but if I can be better at tasks than you then I’ve one-upped you. Do you see the similarities? Both emotions want to take me off course from my business and make my life about you.

Just thinking aloud today.