Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Comfort & Confident: A Lesson from a Shoebox

No matter where God asks you to walk He will give you the strength that it takes to get there. Shoes are interesting, because beyond style there is the question of comfort. Sometimes we are required to wear a pair that is not exactly what we would choose. From weddings to the workplace we may be reluctant to wear what is needed in order to participate in the blessing. A change to our soul, not just our feet, is often a must in order to keep moving forward. As "A Work in Progress" it is so comforting to know that God gives strength to our steps whether in a valley or a "high heel".

"The Lord is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills,"
(Hab. 3:19 NKJV)

Now, I know that high hills are mountains and not designer footwear, but a while back this Verse spoke to me with a giggle and a message. As I was spending time in prayer about a very serious topic in my own personal development God led me to a Scripture that gave me direction, but then He threw in Hab. 3:19, I believe for comic relief as well as guidance.

More than just a play on words, about my own reluctance to slip on a three inch high heel, God used something that happened to me. While on a hike with my family in a National Park, we crossed paths with a doe. As we enjoyed the moment we noticed her stance change from a gentle standing to a stamping. This deer looked very confident all of sudden and appeared to be preparing for battle. That is when we noticed that behind us, in the trees, was her fawn. Taking her advice we all began to step back until we were out of her path. She stepped quickly yet sure footed over the rocky land uniting her family and before we knew it they were out of sight.

Now before God showed me Hab. 3:19 I never had a second thought about a deer's foot, I mean hoof, but when I read that Verse I knew that God was giving me a picture of what confidence in our walk should look like - no matter where our feet may tread.

We will all walk through some sort of wilderness or challenging situation, but when we do it with God He will give us the strength to push past any discomfort so that we can move forward. We do not always have confidence when we are uncomfortable. Discomfort is the way to get our mind on our feelings and off of the confidence that we have in God.

Comfort is a choice. Many of us have the choice of shoes and it is truly a blessing to pick and choose if sneakers or dress shoes are the best fit for the day, but there are times - even in the most blessed of closets - when we are asked to put on something less desirable. Not just talking about shoes, but in life we may face a situation that, well...is just down right uncomfortable. Our feet often times do not want to conform to the new stride, and all too often our mouth defends its weary friends by complaining, which makes the journey all that more challenging. It is when we choose to speak God's Word that confidence in Him stirs up inside of our hearts which then gives us comfort beyond anything we could ever get from "in (our) souls".

Shoes, deer hoofs, confidence in the Lord, what a combination of description, but the real point is that: Our tread should not be in dread. Our walk with God should be exciting, wonderful, enlightened, amazing, adventurous, but not always comfortable. God may require us to walk through life's challenges not because He caused them, but simply to get us out of them. God, being The Good God that He is, sent His Holy Spirit to comfort us when we step off the path or when we are attacked by the very adversary who desires to steal our confidence.  As "A Work in Progress" when we are out of our comfort zones, in spite of how we got there, we should be relying on His confidence, which was a gift through His Son Jesus Christ.   The strength we have in Jesus, is truly the most comfortable place to land our feet.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Moment We Keep Moving Forward

     Life is a collection of moments.  The moment when you realize if you swing your leg just right you can climb out of your crib to freedom.  That moment when you are riding your bike and realize that tree is coming up too fast.  The moment you make eye contact with that special someone and understand that you both love one another.  Even that time when the exact words your mother used to say to you comes out of your own mouth to your children are the moments that make up our lives.  But what about those moments that "everything comes down to"?  The launch of a project; the opening of the curtain, the swing for the victory; these moments define our lives. Or do they?  As "A Work in Progress" sometimes the moment right after the "moment" are the biggest moments of them all.

     I remember the last time I watched a match between the masters of golf, and my favorite moments were those in between the big strokes.  After many swings these men stared down at a missed opportunity, a less than ideal situation, a failure.  In these moments I am sure that the "What ifs" tried to join the game.  "What if I had adjusted my stance?" "What if I had followed through a bit more on my swing?" "What if I had chosen another club?" These "What ifs" and more like them, I am sure, tried to take control over "in between" moments.

     Golf, like many sports, professions, or competitions is a test of wills.  The "wills" of:  "Will I give up?" "Will I learn?"  and "Will I believe?  These are powerful questions that contenders for victory face in moments of play. But for champions, the answers to the "Will I...?" questions must be predetermined.  A player is one who answers the "Will I...?" questions in the moment, but a winner is one who answered those questions before the game ever began.

    Acting like you have been there before displays character as well as skill.  My husband encourages our children to "Act like you have been there before" when it comes to winning.  His desire is for them to represent God and our family with honor by being a gracious champion.  But as I reflected on what I had seen from these professional golfers this phrase, "Act like you have been there before" revealed a champion skill.  Because "Act like you have been there before"  reveals a disciplined character as well as a disciplined ability.  When a person has "been there before" he knows how he will react before that moment arrives.  His character is settled.  His ability is developed.  Therefore if he misses in the moment his demeanor is not unsettle and his skill is not doubted.  He knows that he can.  He is teachable.  He believes he can do what needs to be done, because he has taken action to prepare before that moment.

     Champions do not wait for the moment in the master competition to determine if the "What ifs?" out play the "Will Is?"  Champions have already played through the "What ifs?" so the "Will Is?" are no longer in question.  As "A Work in Progress" in order to move forward, we must practice through our "What ifs?" so when the big moments come we can move passed them whether it be a win or a loss.  This is when the moments leading up to our wins become just as important as the one's right after them.  Because determination is developed in a collection of moments, even though it maybe revealed in just one - which can sometimes be the one moment, right after the moment that everything came down to.

"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me."  
(Phil. 4:13 NKJV)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Progress Unwound


     Progress can spin anytime, anywhere.  I am not talking about outward progress - the checklist being checked, the final touch being touched, or the last "t" being crossed.  What I am referring to is the type of progress that moves us forward on the inside.  I am speaking of that thing we do that undoes us, so that we can keep being "A Work in Progress". The progress within the progress.  The string, that when we pull it - we twirl, come to a stop, and then enjoy winding up and going again.

     For me it is writing and reading.  When I sit down to a blank screen stress flows out with the keystrokes.  For me writing is always accompanied with reading something that challenges me to develop my character.  The combination of absorbing wisdom while outpouring revelation refreshes me.  Afterwards, stepping away from my sitting spot, it is as if I move forward in time - as if I am several feet ahead of wherever I began.  This place of personal progress prepares me for literal progress in all areas of my life.

     The interesting thing is that personal progress does not have to take a lot of time or perfect planning, it can and should be a relatively easy place to return to - that is if we create to be.  Each week I designate time to write.  This time is scheduled, prioritized, and communicated to those closest to me so that it is uninterrupted.  For me, writing is so refreshing that I do it more than once a week.  Each week along with one big writing session I also enjoy one to two smaller ones.  I enjoy these smaller sessions by grabbing time when my family is engaged in other activities. I make sure that my desk is tidy so that I can easily jump into my writing at short notice.  
     I also do this with reading.  Because I work from home I often place books that I am reading strategically around my house so that if I have a free moment I can easily grab a quick refreshment throughout the day.  Even if it is only for a few minutes, I am undone by these little bits of refreshment which help me progress.

    As "A Work in Progress" we must identify what unwinds us.  Then when we are all wound up we move forward instead of every which way.  What is it that unwinds you?  Reading, gardening, singing, drawing, watching something, cooking, taking a walk, playing, or perhaps something even more unique? Whatever it is, being pure of heart,  God has placed it on the inside of us. As we seek God He places desires in our hearts for us to be refreshed.  He gives these gifts to us and the only string attached is the one for us to pull on it so as to unwind and keep us moving forward.

"Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things. 
(Phil. 4: 8 NKV)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Examine Our Sphere

“For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves.  But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.  We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us - a sphere which especially includes you.  For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ; not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere.”  
(2 Cor. 10:12-15 NKJV)

We are classy because God made us classy.  We are brilliant, because God made us brilliant.  We are creative because God made us creative.  

Within our sphere, our talents - our own atmospheres - our measures in which God gave and placed us, we must live to the full - strive to the full - so that we can fulfill the plans God has for each of us - for each of us and for each other.  When we choose to live this way - to take on the responsibility and proceed with action - our lives become full as we fulfill the perfect will of God in our lives.  

Do you feel unfulfilled, just not flowing in your talents, just short of being purposeful?  Let us examine our sphere - our talents, ideas, and resources - not what others have, but what God has given us in this moment of time.  Once examined let’s jump in - in this very moment - and begin to fulfill what is right in front of us - using what we have and being amazed by what God will then bring!  

Being “A Work in Progress” now is the time to maximize our individual spheres.  Together our spheres will influence others - expanding vision and fulfilling God-given dreams!