Escaping the Imagination Dustbowl (A Lesson in Comparisons, Part 1)

It’s interesting to take a peek out into the world and see what is happening in any particular field –  whether that’s art, music, entertainment, science, literature, or space travel. You needn’t look long before you find someone that is doing work you never dreamed of — work that will blow your wildest imagination into the dust.

One thing I have realized is that “into the dust” is not where I need my wildest imagination to live.

When I conduct research for new ideas, I try to keep this truth as well as Theodore Roosevelt’s famous words in mind, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Some new ideas came in the middle of the night just a short while ago (blogging was one).  I sat up straight out of my bed like some zombie in a horror movie and literally started dictating notes into my iphone.  Because I am such a champion procrastinator, I made a commitment to post something by a certain date (no matter what), and then edit and improve along the way.

I did that for a reason; I know me, and if I said I tend to rethink things, it would be a HUGE understatement. I’m very easily distracted.  Sorta like that dog in the Up movie …. SQUIRREL!!!!!

Actually, I think its fair to say I could be the reigning can-of-worms opening champion of the world.

But of course there is not such a thing. Something else comes along before the great match begins, and off everybody goes.  Good ideas – poor execution.  But I digress…. does this shock you?

I used to become paralyzed into inaction when I would encounter work that was more sophisticated or polished than mine.  I would keep adjusting until it wasn’t relevant anymore and it would land in the trash. Now that I have peeked past my little ipad book library, I have discovered a vast and fascinating land of giants (this blogging world is that), with new insights and fresh perspective at every turn.

Have you ever read stories where one of the characters gets stuck unknowingly in an eternal world?   Somehow they are transfixed or waylaid by something that fascinates them enough that they never quite make it back to their quest?  That character would normally be me.

However, what’s happened in my faith has released me from that path in a way I had not expected.

Christians who are aspiring to be like Jesus are working to improve and edit themselves toward His perfect standard for the rest of their lives.  Even the “best of the best” will never achieve that in this world.  However, according to the Christian doctrine, with His sacrifice we are already made perfect in Christ. We are made complete through Him and once that happens, all the pressure is effectively off. The burden is lifted; we can feel justified and adequate without having to hammer down on ourselves constantly for any reason that man’s idea of greatness throws our way.

Once you decide that you are working for God and not for man, the comparison game has fallen away. You can “be all you can be” for God and God alone.

You can know that right now, right here, you are good enough; To the degree that this idea sinks in, the feeling of freedom is overwhelming.

You are free to go forward at a pace that makes sense –  to let God shape, mold, and perfect you with his loving embrace.  You can be in step with His will instead of fighting like mad. You can find SOME place to bless others and glorify Him in the little things until they become more.

Sharing a post, encouraging a friend, praying for someone in need, telling a joke to the girl at Walgreens to make her smile.  God can take the little things and grow them into something amazing.  Just like he can take our little acts, where we are now and build them into something more; he can take us, where we are now and shape us into something we never had expected.  We can become all we are designed to be; something light years above and beyond anything we can envision today.

He uses the weak to show his strength.  He uses what seems foolish to man to show the depth of his wisdom.

I always figured by that standard I was a David hidden in a huge hunk of concrete, waiting for Michelangelo to start carving away.  When you think about it, that concrete didn’t look so hot for a long time. It looked like a lumpy, funky piece of rock.

Clearly, there is a David waiting inside all of us – perhaps there is some serious carving work to be done;  but as long as we are willing to surrender ourselves to that process and endure some pain along the way, the magnificent work of art is inevitable.

 CS. lewis said,

“We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against what I have called the “intolerable compliment.” Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life—the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child—he will take endless trouble—and would doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.”

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain 

Thankfully, God loves us enough to keep working, keep shaping, keep editing us as long as we allow him — into a design with a potential beyond anything that we would dare to compare ourselves to in the here and now.

By setting our bar there, instead of here, instead of discovering our joy has been robbed, we have unearthed a new and unending fountain, where our joy never ends.

Living in True Freedom – The Point, Part 2

 “My Journey From Fear to Faith”

Catchy…. You Think? Considering its the biggest realization of truth in my life?  Yeah, it works.

This blog is about new beginnings and all the other stuff I wrote about before, but the “tagline” captures the big picture, cause its backed by the weight of all that pesky “hard-way” learning.

The Prison of Fear

It’s often and truly stated, Fear is the opposite of Faith. I believe it’s also the opposite of Freedom. I firmly believe the truth of this quote, which resonates more loudly now:

“One of Satan’s most deceptive and destructive lies is the idea
that a person apart from God is free.” 
   (John MacArthur)

Fear is a prison. It grips you – holds you captive.

It keeps you staring blankly at walls at 3 am— enslaved to dark thoughts, worst nightmares.

You live on the razor’s edge… where it’s ice-cold and black as night.  Fear blocks you from hope like an iron fortress; where every doorway slams shut with a depressing thud.

It rips away the seams of your nerves and gnaws at the edge of your mind.
It’s the assault of a thousand deafening voices converging in an endless echo.

In the harness of fear, reaching out leaves you shivering, alone, empty.
Anxiety sits on top of you like a bloodsucking parasite. It erodes your life force slowly, painfully.

The Freedom of Love

In contrast…  “God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

I will never forget the first time I really heard, (I mean really heard) and understood these words: 

“There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear.”
 (1 John 4:18)

I said them out loud and felt them wash over me like a warm, ocean wave.
I could almost feel them whispered into my ear.

I sensed countless rays of light piercing through the darkness of my soul; I felt weightless, lifted up with the sheer truth of that passage. Then His voice, saying,
“I will never leave you or forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

Next, it was, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:35-39)

How odd that you can read that stuff your whole life, even have it memorized, then POW.
God reaches down. You can’t put that kind of experience into words.  You can try, but words can’t get it done.

Dawn was breaking at a special family gathering. With sunlight streaming through treetops, tears were also streaming down. Joy filled my heart as God’s love and truth finally broke through.

He had NEVER left me – not through my worst despair.  He had been there even when I had felt so alone; I had just been trusting in the wrong stuff.  You can’t fear like I did if your heart is connected to God the right way.  Perfect love CASTS OUT FEAR.  It’s pretty amazing, shocking even.  When the light dawns on you sometimes in life, it really DAWNs.

(Perhaps the wrong analogy, but I wanted to give you the example of when my oldest daughter figured out that the poop goes IN THE POTTY.  That was a big day for us.  The light just WENT ON.  Clearly it’s not apples to apples but the general, “EUREKA moment?”  YES. Ok, Back to my story.)

If I thought it wasn’t a little over the top, I might post some of the things I wrote that day. Reading them again, I feel it couldn’t have been me writing. I know one thing, it was Spirit-led and beautiful. Hope had found its way back, and this time, it was stronger than ever.  I try to remember to re-read those journal entries when I feel doubt, anger, confusion — about anything really.

In short?  There is Bible verse I really get now that sums up this blog in a way.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba Father.”   (Romans 8:15)

I won’t go back to living in fear.  It’s a horrible existence, and you don’t realize to what extent, until the death grip is released and you are finally free.

It’s scary to admit I was there.  Not long ago, having the courage to share all this on the web would have been a joke at best.   That’s sort of the whole point….  Fear holds you back, where freedom… lets you live boldly.  If you ever feel tempted to listen to a voice that tells you that being disconnected from God will make you free, take my word for it.  RUN IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION.

Trusting in God?   PEACE.  JOY.  FREEDOM.

I’ve got a long way to go.  A lot of things yank me backwards.  That’s a big reason for this blog – To remind me what I’ve learned and help keep me moving forward.

Lord, help me never to forget my journey from fear to faith.  

Help me never forget the iron clamp that fear had on my life and the freedom and joy that came when your Perfect Love cast out fear from my heart.

Thank you for freeing me from that slavery; I will spend the rest of my life in gratitude and humble service to you — The Author of Life.

 If I can pray for you or encourage you, connect with me!  Visit me at  trustingforpeace.com or increasingthecontrast.wordpress.com

Watch Out Blogging World, Here I Come!

DreamANewDream

So…. I decided to start a blog.

Anyone with 3 seconds in the conscious world can tell you  I might be a tad late to that party — kind of like opening a low-carb bagel shop the day after Atkins drops dead from a heart attack (loved that guy and all his books… brilliant).  But here’s the thing… I lived in a state of fear for several years, and I’m never going back.

In fact, after going through the most difficult valley of my life a few years ago, I’ve learned and grown in ways I could never imagined.  Although it’s been a REALLY challenging trip back; through that struggle I’ve become a braver, more compassionate woman, a better more engaged mom, and most importantly, I have developed a much stronger faith.

As a result (and a common one to be sure), I found a new desire to connect all my passions and talents with my purpose in this life.  Blogging is just one of 3000 ideas that keep running through my head, and after scribbling down concepts/dreams/ideas for months; my mind is about to explode with intention, with a deep and persistent longing to add my own unique stamp of value to this world.

So Blogging?  Sure…  Carving out a Brave New World?  Check.  

Setting the world on fire?  Well, maybe not on FIRE, it’s finally warming up after the endless “Narnia Style” winter we just had after all…

THE PURPOSE OF THE BRAVE NEW “TRUSTING FOR PEACE BLOG, PART 1

What will she be about??   HMMMMM.

1 STARTING A NEW LIFE; ACCOUNTABILITY
First, it’s about starting a new life, 2 years post divorce, snow-white clean slate — this time with the right foundation set firmly in place, staying accountable to a God-first focus. (If this blog does nothing more in my life than stare back at me from the internet as eternal proof of my own convictions on any given day in history, it will have paid for its time in full.  If it gives even more?  If dividends include a few laughs, provoked thoughts or relatable moments along the way?  Better still.

2. A SINGLE MOM’S LIFE UNPLUGGED
It will be about sharing with the masses a sneak peek into my unplugged life – the uncharted,  single mom on the go (who’s juggling a business, house and imagined social life) while I brave the challenges of parenting 2 growing girls.  It should include some entertaining drama and emotional outbursts.

3. HEALING AND GROWTH, LEARNING AND EDITING
Hopefully I pause plenty for healthy doses of joy in the small stuff.  Escapes like “Death to the Tickle Monster”, “attack of SprayWay Girl”, or the death-defying bravery of the “Fire Horsie”, who always shows up in the nick of time.  Escapes like those and not unhealthy ones like landing face first in a mountain sized bowl of M&Ms.

No, it’s about discovering peace in a land previously ruled by chaos and learning the great lesson, “Life is about Relationship” with God and fellow peeps.

4. IDEAS BECOMING REAL
It’s about finally yanking into the real world a few of the ideas and inspirations and that keep coming day and night… about herding sticky notes, iPhone lists and grand ideas for a better tomorrow into something more.

5. BLOGGING IS “COOL”
(I always thought so. Plus, who would end on 4 reasons?  I’m too tired from last night’s sleepover extravaganza to slam out another reason running on 3 brain cells.  In addition, Nobody has “4 Reasons. I’m in marketing/advertising. It just isn’t done, ha.)

PS, Clearly, I have so much to learn about blogging (and many other things on my dreams laundry list for that matter). I expect to learn and grow along the way.  I get that, I’m not “skeered of being a student.”  This is just getting me out of the gate before my horse dies of malnutrition and old age (so to speak).

This initial push is a tangible reminder that I am not going to be a spectator in life. Instead, I will move forward intentionally and take steps of faith, no matter how small, no matter how many times I might have to step again. I will keep inching forward toward a life of awesome, a life of purpose, a life of my dream to live for my maximum potential and glory for God.

Let the Games Begin!

Dear God, please help me bring you honor and Glory through the words of this blog, and help me through my own experiences help others find hope and meaning. Thank you for helping me grow through the challenges of my past.