Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

I drive a soccer mom van. I proudly own this fact about my life.  But I remember a time…a time before kids…a time when my life selfishly consisted of Saturday mornings sleeping in, backseats void of cheerios, and peaceful dinners out when the words “30 minute wait” didn’t strike fear in our hearts. My husband and I talked about the minivan. And we were quite certain we would never be minivan owners. However, three kids later, practicality once again overruled style. And guess what? I have come to love that minivan. We bought it used, knowing that it was a practical, economical choice that would get us through these years with little ones. “I will drive it until it dies,” I’ve said to my husband, proud of my frugal ways.

Until yesterday. You see, yesterday I had to drop the van off at the repair shop. Realizing they would have it a few days, I asked to borrow a replacement vehicle from my parents’ family owned car lot. No big deal, right? That is until my Dad drove up with my replacement vehicle for the week: a shiny, clean, newer, brighter, and more modern SUV. And now, well, my frugal minivan is not looking so great. 

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I have found this to be true in many areas of my life. Have you ever been to a friend’s bigger and more beautiful home, only to return back to yours feeling unsatisfied and discontent? Or maybe you’ve observed the romantic actions of a friend’s spouse, and then found yourself unhappy and irritated with yours? It’s amazing how easily the enemy can steal our joy and use jealousy to get the best of us.

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:6-8, “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Sometimes we just need a little perspective to help us choose contentment. And for me? Well, the SUV goes back tomorrow, when I pick up the minivan. And I’m OK with that.

Still Driving,

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Leadership Expectations

Leadership Expectations 
Guest Blogger, Amy Lyrenmann

Have you ever noticed how much of your life is shaped by expectation? In certain instances it is your own expectation that determines your action or response. For instance you selected and then trained for your identified career based upon life style and contribution expectations.  So much of the time, however, it truly is the many expectations others have of you that influence your choices. How did you choose your current home, car, wardrobe…  Let’s face it ladies, as much as we believe ourselves to be independent; so much of what we choose is motivated by outside influences.

Our expectations and the expectations of others are not mutually exclusive. In fact, many of our professed personal expectations have been formed out of the expectations of those around us: family, mentors, friends and colleagues. Expectations are unavoidable in a life of productivity and responsibility. My question is this, “What does God expect?” After all, He is your creator, so shouldn’t His expectation outweigh those of yourself or any other person?

Remember the simple catch phrase of the early 2000’s, “What would Jesus do?” I am sure I still have a bracelet with the letters “WWJD”.  This is the question every Christian Leader must ask at every intersection, turn, or detour. I would argue, however, that the most critical time for leaders to ask the question is when the road is clear and straight. You know, those times when you are thinking, “I’ve got this. I know how to navigate this terrain.”

The best leader of all time gave us a road map for leadership:
  • Expect failure
  • Provide a clear vision for a desired future
  • Clarify the path to success
  •  Install a support system  

God knew we would sin and need a Savior. God provided us that Savior in His Son, Jesus. Jesus is most importantly our Redeemer, our connect point back to God, our Creator. Jesus, as our Savior is also the best example of leadership known to man. He is compassionate, committed and constant.  Jesus knew his life’s purpose and fulfilled that purpose to the extreme of a sacrificial death.

God not only saved us, He also provided the Holy Spirit to empower us and teach us how to navigate the changing terrain. He prompts our obedience and trust when the path is straight and well lit. The Holy Spirit is living inside of us and is able to encourage us when our expectations are out of whack or others expectations are just too much for one person.  

The Holy Spirit speaks to our spirit and also interprets God’s Word for us. The Word reveals the personal interactions with and the influences of our God in the history of mankind. We can know the leadership of Jesus and are able to know the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the lives of our spiritual forefathers because of The Word and the indwelling of our interceding Holy Spirit.

Finally, God created for us a family called The Church. The Church is a world-wide community that becomes family the moment we are adopted by Christ Himself as daughters. This family invites us to grow alongside and serve the various needs within the Church, while simultaneously emboldens us to meet needs of the dying world around us. In this family we live, and we expect. We expect to be challenged, we expect to be a vital part and most of all we expect our Savior to do what only He can do… heal, redeem and empower for His glory.

Expect God to lead you well. Expect the Holy Spirit to empower you. Expect the Holy Scripture to enlighten you, and expect the Church to enlist your gifts.

You have been called to live a life of purpose. Live Your Life.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kiss Me

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth - for your love is more delightful than wine.
Song of Solomon 1:2

The GEM Conference at First Assembly of God, Joliet is quickly approaching. March 21st will be here before we know it and I would love for you to be there! Here is the link to register.

The theme of the conference is Authenticity. As part of the conference, I will be leading a class about God's authentic view on sex, after all, he created it. Today's post gives you a sneak peek on what to expect and is also dedicated to Valentine's day. 

My research on authentic sex led me to the only place it could, the Song of Solomon. This very book God himself inspired and created for us to learn about His design for sex. God invented it. Culture corrupted it. But it's ours to reclaim. We have got to tackle the lies that this culture accepts about sex, and replace it with God's Truth! God would be grieved to know that his children are not enjoying fulfilling sex lives in their marriages. 

Today we're going to talk about kissing! There is so much beauty in the verse above. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth. Just reading that makes my heart tingle! It's interesting that kissing is a lost art in a lot of marriages. And I am speaking from experience. As I looked at my own daily routine, I was shocked to find out that we only kiss twice! Good morning and goodnight. Little pecks at that! This cannot be and will not continue! So, we are initiating a challenge to kiss for at least 15 seconds every day. Some days are better than others, but we are trying. There are precursors of course, brushed teeth and fresh breath, but it has revolutionized how intimate we are during the day! On days when we "peck" kiss, it's difficult to be intimate in other ways (if you know what I mean). The connection just isn't there. We haven't been thinking about it and other things such work, kids, chores, etc... become more important than intimacy. However, on days that we take the opportunities to kiss deeply, we feel more connected to progress further once the house and kids are in order. 

I say all of this to say, that often we rush through the little things, like taking the time to kiss. In honor of Valentine's Day, as well as your marriage, I encourage you to establish your own 15 second kissing challenge and reap the benefits it will have on you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Embrace your husband and delight in his love, because his love is more delightful than wine! 

Bringing sexy back, 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dreams to Passion

I have been in the habit lately of colliding with real and raw life. It seems there are demonstrations of courageous and authentic people all around me who are pursuing their dreams and making a difference in the world around them. This has me contemplating my life. Am I making a difference? How will people remember me? It is so easy to become seduced by my own little life bubble and be oblivious to life happening all around me. Romans 12:10 challenges me to pursue my dreams and make them my passions and I hope you will join me.

Romans 12:10-13 The Message (MSG)
9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

First I have to discover what I’m passionate about. This is not as easy as it seems. I reflect on the things that I read, hear and see. What brings smarting tears to my eyes, or goose bumps, or even anger? These are the things that I’m passionate about. These are reactions of passion.

Now I can dig in and find out why I feel this way. Research it, read about it, write about it! Most importantly pray about it. Sometimes our passions stem from past experiences that have directly affected family, our close friends, or us. I think we’ve all heard countless stories of people that have overcome hurdles, disabilities and fears, and gone on to help and encourage others in similar situations.

Finally, get involved. Make this a priority in life! Involvement can happen in a variety of ways such as volunteering in the community, church or in your family. Investing time, energy and financial support can hugely impact our own lives and that of others. Going back to our scripture, I love how the Message admonishes us in Romans to “love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it” and to “be inventive in hospitality.” We are charged to help others, but are given license and encouraged to be true to ourselves. This is how we authentically turn dreams into passion! Live your passion!