Monday, February 25, 2013

Confession #40 - Don't you know who I think I am?

Today is my birthday!  Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday dear meeee, Happy Birthday to me.  Yay!  It's my day to celebrate all things me! 

Wow, now doesn't that seem conceited?  Speaking of conceited that reminds me of my 36th birthday...my friend Mindi wanted to treat me for dinner at Shula's Steak house.  If you're not familiar with Shula's it's an upscale chain restaurant owned by Don Shula the ex-Miami Dolphins coach. 


Picture not taken by me.
 This evening, we were acting like a bunch of goofy teen-agers and pretending that we were "star" watching.  The man sitting next to us resembled Anthony Edwards from ER so we began snapping pictures of him and asking him for his autograph.  Then we moved onto our waiter who we imagined looked like Julio Iglesias and then another person.  We weren't rude or making a scene and these people seemed to enjoy the attention.  Then in the back of the restaurant I looked and saw what I thought was another "famous" person.  So I said to Mindi, "Holy Cow, that's Danny Bonaduce!" I was rather excited to think this could be him and confessed that I had a crush on him back in the Partridge Family days.  So we're snapping pictures of this man when rather suddenly the waiter came over and said, "Ladies, you cannot take any more pictures."  "Okay", we said, "But why?"  The reply, "Because that is Danny Bonaduce, and he's getting very upset!"  OOPS!

As he left, he walked by our table and gave us such a look that if looks could kill we'd be dead and buried.  We laughed and made fun of the situation by joking, "Don't you know who I think I am?"  And then, sadly I'm ashamed to admit, we judged his lifestyle and his bad choices which, of course, became the topic of conversation for the remainder of the evening. 


Me, our waiter "Julio Iglesias",
Mindi and my sister Elena at Shula's
Remembering that birthday at Shula's got me thinking, "Don't you know who I think I am?".  I mean, just how inflated is my sense of importance?  Do I really deserve a day to be acknowledged, and recognized.  Does it really matter if someone says Happy Birthday or not?  And to that end, will the world come to an end if I don't participate in everything?  And what about the fact that I blog and people around the whole world have read it.  Does that bring me some sense of importance or value?   Funny who I may think I am and who I am to God are two very different things.  Actually they are about a thousand different things considering I believe different things about who I am everyday.  I've diagnosed myself with a "schizophrenic" self view.  One day I'm okay, feeling quite secure, and another I'm feeling like I'm alone and nobody likes me.  Some days I have a fear of rejection and other days I could care less.

Do you go through this too?  It's totally crazy, right?  I've heard stories of even the most famous and beautiful people feeling like they are nothing.  It's because without knowing God, we cannot possibly know just how much we are worth.  The only cure for a "schizophrenic" self view is to know who you are in Christ.  That's the only secure way to see yourself.

The reality is that no matter what you "think" of yourself your are nothing but dust.  When God formed Adam the bible says, "the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground (dirt) and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."  Genesis 2:7.  All people have since come from Adam and therefore we simply originated from dust.

Now on the surface that may seem like I'm telling you that we are nothing but dirty ol' creatures.  In Genesis 3:19 God says to Adam, "since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”  It is a simple biblical fact, but that is NOT how God sees us.  What He sees, is you, His child of immeasurable value. 

"'I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:17-18, NIV)

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1,
NIV)

Bottom line is we are God's children whom He loves dearly, however to have an inflated sense of self is to deny God's deity.  God and only God is above all else and the world won't stop because we "think" we're too important if we're not around.  God giveth and he taketh away.  If we forget this we may cause Him to do just that. 

Let us celebrate the life God gave us, and the gift He gave us through His son, Jesus Christ, while never forgetting that we are just dust. 

"Don't you know who I think, I am?"  I'm Joanne, a dirty creature but by the grace of God I live and by his mercy I am forgiven, and by His strength I am whole, and by his provisions I am surviving.  He is All and I am, but a humble servant.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the life you have blessed me with.  Thank you that I can celebrate that today I was given a life on this earth to serve you dear Lord.  Thank you for all your grace and mercy in my dirty 'ol life and thank you for sending your son, Jesus to save me from eternal darkness.  And Merciful Lord, for my sisters-in-Christ who think they know who they are, let them remember who they are in you instead.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN.







Monday, February 18, 2013

Confession #39 - Look out Gisele, Heidi & Kate, I'm the world's next Supermodel!

When I was fourteen, JC Penney's held modeling classes in their corporate offices for young girls like me.    I desperately wanted to be a model.  The fame, the fortune, the clothes, being known for your beauty, traveling the world, it's many girls dreams.  So I signed up right away.  There I sat, a short, very awkward, undeveloped tween with extremely kinky curly hair (my nickname at school was Don King)  and to top it off a rather large Italian nose.  I didn't know how to walk, dress, style my hair or put on makeup, but I figured this is what the class was for; to teach me how to become perfect like a supermodel and then I would land a modeling contract.  Obviously that never happened.   On the contrary, I ended up quitting after the second or third class because I was so embarrassed by the fact that the instructor chose to use me as the example for all lessons on "What not to..."

Thankfully I grew out of that awkward stage.  But I never quite grew out of wanting to be a perfect supermodel.  Yup!   Right up till now, all 42 years, 5'2" & 200+ lbs of me.  I want to be a supermodel.  I know your probably laughing yourself out of your seat right now.  Because honestly it's funny.  I will never get that job, even if I were to loose 100lbs it just won't happen.  For me, being the antithesis of a supermodel, the truth is, I have no longer have an interest in their fame, fortune or looking like them in a swimsuit.  But their title that is another thing altogether.  I want to be a supermodel; a supermodel for Christ.

In my post  - Love Thy Neighbor?  Are you kidding me?,  I wrote about struggling with Christlike behavior when being mistreated, but honestly the truth is I don't just struggle when I'm being mistreated, I struggle everyday in all situations.  That's why I call myself the "Dirty Christian Woman" because my heart is dirty.  My heart, like my body, is short, fat, and too old most of the time to get the supermodel for Christ job.  But it doesn't have to be.   And the best part is, it doesn't require a special diet, or exercise program; no starvation or pills and no painful waxing or plastic surgery.  Just a willingness to let Him do the work. I can allow God to make the changes in my heart to be a supermodel for Christ.  All I need is to be willing...and that, I am happy to say, I am.

Some days I may be the perfect example of "What not to..." but as Christ molds me I become more of the example of "What to do..."  I can be a supermodel for Christ if I keep learning from my Master how to be like Him and so can you my dear sisters. 

1 Samuel 16:7 says, "But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  and 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight."

God doesn't expect us to be perfect, look perfect or act perfect when we become Christians.  He calls us to learn to be like His son, Jesus.  If His expectation was for perfection, He never would have sent Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins; He never would have given us the Bible as an instruction guide.  Additionally, we have been made perfect because Christ is perfect and has washed us in his blood and made us clean. 

So many of us struggle with our dirtiness everyday.  We think because we've accepted Christ we should be perfect models of Christ's behavior.  Well I've said it before, and I will say it again, when you accept Christ your salvation is immediate, your conversion, however, takes time.  That's why it's call the Christ-walk.  It's a journey to becoming the woman God wants you to be.  Yes God can work miracles but lasting change only comes through a willing and obedient heart to God.  It doesn't mean that you won't still struggle with sin, we all do even the Apostles did.  Read what the apostle Paul writes in Romans 7:


15-16 "Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
And this man was a supermodel for Christ because he knew the answer.  In Romans 8 Paul writes:


8 1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death."



5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.9-11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!


12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! The Message5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.9-11 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!


12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! The Message

See we can't be perfect, and we can't change ourselves, but we can allow God to make us supermodels for Christ if we are willing and give him our heart completely.  It's our job to model Christ before the world so let's strive to be supermodels for Christ.  Knowing that although perfection isn't possible, modeling love certainly is.

Dear Heavenly Father, I long to be a supermodel for you.  I pray Lord that you would use my willing heart to model Jesus to the lost and hurting world.  I pray that I would stop striving for perfection and accept that you are working to bring me to completion.  I pray that you would change my heart and mind more each day.  And for my sister's-in-Christ who strive for perfection as well please remind them that your expectation is simply for a surrendered willing heart and that is how they can become the supermodel you have called them to be.  In Jesus' name I pray AMEN.



   

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Confession #38 - Good Grief!

Good Grief.  Charles Schultz made the phrase famous with his cartoon Peanuts.  But honestly is there such a thing as good grief?


I can hardly believe we're here again", I though to myself yesterday morning as we entered the Animal Hospital to euthanize our second dog in 6 weeks.  We laid our Chloe to rest after suffering a large cancerous bowl obstruction in her intestine.  The doctors said she wouldn't recover and we could see her suffering terribly and it just wouldn't be fair not to end her suffering even tho we didn't want to let her go.  We just lost Nicolas in December we weren't ready for this...


Chloe
 No more puppies to greet us at the door with wagging tails, no more heads popping up in the bay window when the car pulls up.  No more barking, shedding, or howling at sirens.  No more rubbing bellies, and tossing balls.  No more getting up 50 times a day to let them in and out of the yard.  Frankly, it's much too much quiet around here.

The pain and anguish of our loss is tremendous and although I took the day off of work yesterday, I knew that I had to face today.  But you know, I didn't want to.  No, all I kept thinking is that I didn't want to get up in the morning and get my daughter ready for school or dress for work.  I didn't want to have to wash dishes or clothes, or pay bills, or go to the supermarket, and I didn't want to blog either.  All I wanted to do was to lay in bed until the pain in my heart went away.


Lexi on Nicholas
 The only thing I could do was look to the Lord for strength and comfort.  I prayed please Lord, give me a verse to comfort me, ease my pain please.  You know the funny thing about God is that He could have given one of a hundred verses that speak of His comfort, that tell how He will give me gladness for mourning and turn my sorrow into joy, but that's not the kind of verse He gave me.  Instead He gave me Ecclesiastes 7:14, "When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider; God has made the one as well as the other.  Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future." 

I thought about it for a while and realized what He was giving me are reasons to be thankful.  My beloved pets were gone, but my daughter wasn't.  My husband was grieving but healthy and alive.  My health is still intact and I have a loving family and friends and a great job surrounded by wonderful people. 

God says I have a future, He has a plan and a purpose for my life.  I cannot afford to waste another moment under the covers.  I will allow the Lord to fulfill His purpose for my life and I will bring Glory to Him.  So dear friends I confess that there is Good in Grief after all.  God's plan and purpose I may not always understand but I know that, "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  Romans 8:28.

So I got up this morning and I got my daughter ready for school.  I got dressed and went to work, I worked with my daughter on her homework and of course I am blogging.  I will cook dinner and do laundry and dishes.  I will go on, pain and all for I am thankful for those little lives that touched me so immensely and I am grateful that God has given me another day to serve Him and that He has a purpose for my life.

Whatever kind of loss you are suffering right now, let God in.  Let Him tell you of His plan and purpose for your future.  Let Him bring you peace and heal your suffering.  Let Him carry through this pain knowing that He will use your grief for good.  Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

"Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for the precious gift of life.  I thank you that although the loss we suffer when a loved-one passes away is tremendous you are with us and you still have a plan.  For my dear sisters who are suffering loss Father send the Holy Spirit to comfort them and bring them peace.  Remind them that you still want to use them make their grief good.  In Jesus precious name I pray, AMEN."