Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Heart Song: Offense

I don’t know about you but offense is a constant struggle to overcome.  Here’s a few examples of times I’ve recently dealt with offense:

Another woman in the aisle has her shopping cart in the way, totally blocking me from viewing the items I need to see.


I hear that someone was gossiping about me.


I’m driving and someone honks their horn, speeds up, passes me and gives me “the bird.”


(There are so many other examples, and maybe right now the Lord is bringing offenses to your mind that you have dealt with for the sole purpose of refining you.)

  What I’ve noticed this last week, more than any other is that God is bringing those times of offense to my blatant attention.  It has been so obvious when I am about to receive an attitude of offense, that it is almost as if time is slowing down for just that moment for me to decide. 

“Am I choosing to be offended, angry, irritated, and bitter or am I choosing to forgive, let it go, extending grace and mercy?”

  So here’s my testimony, that God has been so good to me to reveal these potential offenses, making me more aware of the attitudes I’m receiving.  I’d like to say, “I’ve overcome and that nothing anyone says or does to me causes me to become bitter and offended.  That I let everything just slide off my back.” –But I’m afraid that I’m still a work in progress.  Thank you God for helping me become more aware of the choice of offense.

When you are faced with the choice of offense, what will you choose?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

{Riding in Cars} Focus for the Path

Remember when you were a kid?  How everything in the world around you seemed larger than life?  Riding your bike through your neighborhood was more than a ride, it was an exploration and riding in the back seat of your car looking through the side windows was almost as fun as watching a movie. Times have changed haven’t they?  My kids hardly ride their bikes because of concern for safety and now when we go on long car rides they watch a movie instead of watching the amazing world going by just right outside their windows.

  As I momentarily returned to childhood gazing out the side window as my husband drove, one thing in particular caught my attention.  The world was out of focus.   It seemed to be just a fast blur of houses, mailboxes, trees and people going by. In fact I had to focus on just one object at a time to see any details of that object before we drove past it. 

  Now compare that same view of the world, that same road with the same houses, mailboxes, trees and people going by but gazing through the front window. When I looked straight ahead it was easy to keep my focus on the world going by.  I had time to see details of objects all at the same time and it felt as if we were moving at a slower speed.  The view I had of my world felt more manageable.  The world was in focus and that focus brought clarity for the path ahead.

  In Proverbs chapter 4, the author gives instructions for wisdom and it’s benefits and it ends the chapter with the following verses, starting in verse 20 ending with verse 27:

My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil. (NIV)

  I highlighted those last few verses because that is exactly the verse that I thought of while riding in the car.  Fixing our gaze directly before us, not turning to the right or the left is wisdom for the paths ahead.

Does the world seem too unmanageable, seeming to pass by too quickly more often than not?  Make a decision today to change your view and share in the comments how that decision has affected your world, whether big or small.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Notes from God

No matter how many times I tell myself that I don’t care what other people say, words still hurt; I still hurt.  It’s not that I need the approval of others, but the people that I hold close have the opportunity to speak into my life and when I feel I’ve disappointed someone, thoughts of failure tend to rush in.  I know that those thoughts of failure and disappointment are a lie.  I know that in my Heavenly Father’s eyes I am a success….so why is it so hard for me to overcome the emotional uprising within?

 So I set myself up on a project to distract from the mental battle of failure; cleaning out my bookcase.  As I opened up books, considering whether or not they were worth keeping, my gaze caught underlined and highlighted sentences.  God was speaking right to me today.  (The second one was a little card stuck inside one of the books I had found)

Here’s the exact order I read my Notes from God:

1) “Growth comes when you have to overlook an insult, forgive a wrong, and do the right thing even when the wrong thing is happening.” –Joel Osteen, “It’s Your Time”

2) Expect a Miracle “Treasure this day, and treasure yourself.  Truly, neither will ever happen again.” –Ray Bradbury

3) “Never forget who you are –strong, majestic, fearless, fierce, protective, at rest, and unworried.” –Lisa Bevere, “Lioness Arising”

4) “God wants me to see that it was not the thing that the person did that matters, but my reaction to it.” –Roy Hession, “The Calvary Road”

  So what exactly is God saying to me today? I hear God saying, He loves me, I’m not a disappointment, I’m not a failure and that He has confidence in me. That is exactly what I needed to hear from Him today.

What is God saying to you?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Politics of Friendships

Are friendships supposed to be complicated? I believe the answer is “no” and yet somehow they always seem to be even in the smallest of ways.  When we were children, friendships were so simple.  Either someone wanted to play with you or they didn’t.  There was no guessing whether someone was really your friend because you knew that if they said that they would meet you on the playground by the swings and they did, well then that was a friend.  On the other hand, if they didn’t, well, then you would just talk to another friend swinging nearby or wait until next recess to meet someone else.  Childhood friendships are pretty clear-cut.

  Now as adults we are taught to avoid taboo subjects in conversations to make everyone happy, such as politics and religion.  Is anyone really happier by avoiding these subjects?  How can anyone really share who they are as a person if they cannot share their most personal thoughts on those subjects?  Now apply those same “rules” to friendships but expanding a bit.

  Do you ever find yourself avoiding certain subjects to maintain a close friendship; trying to make everyone happy?  Is anyone really happier by avoiding these subjects?  How can anyone really share who they are as a person if they cannot share their most personal thoughts on those subjects?  I’m talking about subjects like how you raise your kids, personal style, how and what you spend your money on, even how you choose to grow in your relationship with God.  –That last one surprises me the most. 

  Within the body of Christ, it shouldn’t matter if one friend chooses to grow their relationship with God differently than you.  When I say differently, what I mean is more or less time in the Word or different prayer styles, different worship styles, different ways of communicating with God.  We are all walking a path at different rates and yet somehow within friendships we forget that we all need to extend God’s Grace to one another.

Colossians 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (NIV)

  Grace.  That really is the key.  To be living “Politically Correct” within close friendships begs the question, “Is this a close friendship?”  Can we remember to extend grace in conversations towards one another? 

 After watching years of my kids playing on the playground with their friends, it makes me long for those days.  Simple friendships.  So I ask, “Who wants to meet me at the swings today?”

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Beauty of a Woman Inside & Out: Beauty Secrets from the Bible

My Beautiful Sister Who is Beautiful Inside and Out

Christiana Aguilera got it right when she sang, “You are beautiful, no matter what they say.”  God made all of us beautiful.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 says 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.  EVERYTHING. (That includes you and I)  –Isn’t that exciting? The God of the universe calls US beautiful!  So why don’t we always see ourselves that way?

   I asked the Lord to give me a personal story of when I have felt insecure about who I am and the beauty He created me to be and as I waited, I had about a zillion memories come to mind.  But the one I want to tell you about is one that I think every woman can relate to. 

  Back in 2006 my husband had landed a large account and we were invited to go to the corporate party in Bellevue.  I was so nervous, not really knowing what to expect and of course I had to go shopping for a new outfit because suddenly everything I had in my closet was old. –Nobody else ever does that right? .... So I’m at the mall, looking at every store, not finding anything (Because that’s just how it is when you need to find an outfit, they all just aren’t good enough) I finally find this cute top and skirt and decide to go with that.

  So we’re headed to the event and I’m feeling pretty confident in the way I look.  My hair was lookin’ good, my make-up was on, and I had on a new outfit.  I felt beautiful.  That is until I got off of the elevator and walked into the conference room.  I had never seen so many physically beautiful people in one room in my life!  Suddenly I felt like I had on the most boring outfit ever and when I checked myself out in the mirror in the ladies room next to the other women, I felt like I wanted to just hide.  They were so externally beautiful and my view of myself at that moment was that I was not.  I was believing the lie that I was NOT beautiful, but average.  While all the while I’m sure God was trying to yell to me, “Hey Tasha!  Remember you are beautiful, I’ve made you beautiful!”  -I just couldn’t hear Him with the loud voice insecurity that I was carrying.

Insecurity.  That’s one of the Beauty Secrets that we need to know about.  It functions like some really UGLY sunglasses that block our view of who we really are.

  Do you think that the women in the Bible ever wore UGLY sunglasses of insecurity?   You know those women in the Old Testament wore a lot of things both UGLY and Beautiful just like we do today.  In fact, you might not realize it, but the matriarchs of Christianity had struggles just like us.  They weren’t perfect. –Isn’t that great news?  The Bible says that we are to model ourselves after the holy women of the past.

1 Peter 3:3-5 (New International Readers Version)
 3 Braiding your hair doesn't make you beautiful. Wearing gold jewelry or fine clothes doesn't make you beautiful. 4Instead, your beauty comes from inside you. It is the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. Beauty like that doesn't fade away. God places great value on it.
 5 This is how the holy women of the past used to make themselves beautiful. They put their hope in God. And they followed the lead of their own husbands.

  Who were those holy women?  They were the women who were married to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob   –Anyone remember their wives names?  They were Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel.  I want to look at just two of these women; Sarah and Rebekah.

  In my book “Path of the Blessing,” you’ll learn about a few of the choices they made that determined their path in life and how beauty played a part on that path.  –I’m talking external AND internal beauty.  So if God says in His word that we are to look to these women and follow their example, then we should do that!

  In Part 1 Chapter 2 of my book, “Path of the Blessing” we see how Abraham’s wife, Sarah, Sarai at the time, experiences how beauty brings about blessings from God. 

Here's an excerpt from my book:

      Now we’ve come to a situation in Abram’s life that dispels any misconception that he was “perfect.”  There was a famine and he and his wife Sarai went to Egypt because Egypt always had more than enough food.  While there he lied to Pharaoh and said that Sarai was his sister. 

   The Pharaoh believed his little lie and because of Sarai’s beauty, Pharaoh gave him wealth.  Pharaoh was so taken with her beauty that he was going to make Sarai one of his wives, so he blessed Abram with abundant wealth.

(So the Pharaoh found out that Sarai was Abraham’s wife and let her go and the Pharaoh sent them on their way with everything they had)

Let’s look at the situation that Abram and Sarai just walked out of in Egypt.  They received favor from men, especially Pharaoh and they received and acquired abundant wealth.  These blessings were not attained by lying, but a direct result of Sarai’s beauty.  Sarai’s beauty is a blessing that came from the Lord. So we can attribute every blessing that Abram received in Egypt as from the Lord.  It had nothing to do with Pharaoh or lying. Nevertheless, Abram kept on walking on his path of blessing, slipping a little but still moving forward.  

  So what we see here is that Sarah was so beautiful even the Egyptians desired her for her beauty.  Do you think that the Egyptians saw her internal beauty at first?  -I don’t think so.  I think it was her external beauty.  –But remember at this point, Sarah and Abraham were not very wealthy.  Their wealth was in livestock and not jewelry.  So Sarah had a beauty that didn’t necessarily require the enhancements that we have today.  She was beautiful all on her own.

  Let’s look at Rebekah.  In Part 2 Chapter 1 of  “Path of the Blessing” we see how Abraham’s chief servant adorned Rebekah with gold:

  The chief servant gave Rebekah gifts and asked who she is.  The gifts were a gold nose ring and two gold bracelets. 

   Rebekah ran and told her family about what was going on and her brother Lehman ran out to meet the man at the spring. “As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister's arm, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring.  ‘Come, you who are blessed by the Lord,’ he said.” 

(Wow! Now this time God was blessing Rebekah with a gold nose ring and gold bracelets; enhancing her beauty! AND do you know what happens next?)

   After hearing the whole story, Rebekah's family agreed that this is from the Lord.  They then said to take her and go and let her become the wife of the servant’s master. When Abraham's servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. (Praising God)  Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and clothes and gave them to Rebekah.  He also brought out costly gifts to her brother and her mother. 

  God blessed Rebekah with gold and silver jewelry and clothes to enhance her beauty.  –Are you getting a picture of how we are to be beautiful like these women? Which one do you model your beauty after; who do you relate to, Sarai or Rebekah?

So in one case, beauty resulted in blessings and in the other, blessings resulted in increased beauty.  –Ah Ha!  Another Beauty Secret!  When we walk on the path of the blessing we become more beautiful!

  So I ask you to think about what is stopping you from walking on that path; from realizing your own beauty?

Sometimes we don’t recognize the beauty that we are because of the UGLY we’ve layered on top.  –What do I mean?  Well since I’m a fan of fashion, think of yourself; your beautiful self as who you are right now.  Then we tend to cover that beauty up with UGLY fashion.

-Like the UGLY sunglasses of Insecurity
-The UGLY scarf of Gossip
-The UGLY jacket of Lying and Deceit
-The UGLY hat of Jealousy
-The UGLY handbag of Unforgiveness

And the list goes on…

  Have you ever known anyone that is beautiful until you get to know them?  Then you start to see the UGLY that’s all over them.  Have you noticed how this UGLY can really weigh a person down?  It’s much harder to be the person that I’m supposed to be if I’m being restrained by all of this UGLY!

So what can we do about this all of this UGLY? The Bible has a solution.  In fact it’s another Beauty Secret.  It’s better than any beauty treatment you can find.  –Oh and it’s free! –Even better right?

Hebrews 12:1-3
 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

  Fixing our eyes on Jesus and throwing all of that UGLY off reveals the true beauty that you are.  Jesus is the ONLY one that can help us start the process of revealing more and more of the beauty within.

What is the Beauty that you are? Who were you created to be? –Start the process by inviting Jesus to be the Lord of your life and if you already are in a relationship with Jesus, then start by getting alone and just ask Him to reveal the UGLY in your life and let the Beauty Treatments of refining begin!

If you've realized the love that God has for you and how He views you as beautiful, then share about it in the comments below!  *You can also check out pictures from this talk I held as a Women's Event at my website: www.pathoftheblessing.com