Saturday, October 25, 2014

Purpose 4: I Count

Do you ever feel small?  I mean the kind of small that has you believe that you pale in comparison to others.  The kind of small that stacks the accomplishments of people around you so high you can't even see past the piles.  You look down at your puny hands and wonder at what you could possibly bring that has any significance.  You go about your days doing your tasks, and at night when you lay your head to rest you sigh that the next day will only bring the same.  You feel small.  Invisible.

I am learning that it doesn't seem to matter if someone lives a quiet life or a very public life, smallness can show up anywhere.  I spend a lot of time on stage.  I speak in microphones and sing to large crowds.  I get many hugs everyday from little arms of school children.  I send blogs and letters out to a lot of people.  But at times, the smallness worms it's way into my heart.

Smallness seems like insignificance.  It would have you believe that you are not noticed or counted among others that tower above you.  It masks the ordinary into extraordinary.  It hides truth and highlights falsities.  It deceives a heart into seeing a diminished value.

But, no matter how it looks or feels, it isn't right.  Smallness is a lie to the heart.

We are called to live a life of humility.  We are not to be self-seeking, fame mongers.  If we model our life after Jesus, we know that being "known" is of little meaning.  However, it is extremely necessary to understand the difference between humility and smallness.

Humility is knowing the value of your heart and choosing to serve.  Humility is understanding that you are deeply loved by a Saving God, but that love is to be shared.  Humility is not self-seeking or self-deprecating.  Humility is being a daughter of the king that is happy to wash the servants feet.

Smallness and humility are not the same.

When that familiar attack comes at my heart, I am learning to take it captive.  It is a ploy from the great deceiver himself.  He would have us all believe our worth is in shambles.  He wants us to absorb the heaviness of heart that accompanies the feelings of insignificance.  His attack goes straight to our value.  If we believe those lies, we might just fall into the sin-traps he has dangling before us.  Feel small, take a drink.  Feel small, pass the ice cream.  Feel small, send that text.  Feel small, scream louder.

We all know how Satan works.  The lower we feel, the lower we go.  What we never thought we would do becomes oddly comforting in times of smallness.  Then, the guilt sets in and the smallness becomes even more overwhelming.  We feel the weight of it all, and we start really believing that the lies are true.

Oh dear sister, know that Jesus did not come to this earth to validate your smallness.  He came to rescue your heart.  He did not come to pound you with guilt for believing in lies.  He came to bind up the brokenness.  He did not spend one day of His earthly life focusing on the failures.  Remember, He loved on that woman at the well.  He plucked another from the grips of a stoning.  He healed the sick. He was angered at the temple when others were taking advantage of people.  His life, His mission, His crucifixion was to destroy the lies.  In His ultimate humility, we find our greatest value.

I count.  You count.  We all count to Him.  He numbers our hairs, knows our tears, and hears our prayers.  No person on this planet is too small for His love.  Not one woman did He make valueless.   His creation in you is of countless worth.  Regardless of the size of your influence, the worth of your soul is immeasurable.

When the arrows of insignificance take aim at your heart, speak God's truth.  When that old familiar feeling of worthlessness washes over, pull out the weapon of God's word.  It will bring victory.

  For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. ~ Psalm 139:13-16.

I may live a life that isn't as public as others.  I may feel insecure sometimes about my abilities.  But one thing is for sure.... I count, and You do too!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Purpose 3: I am Just a Girl

I was lying on the sofa last night hoping to calm a cranky baby.  I came across an old black and white movie, and apparently I watched till I fell asleep.  I awoke sometime in the night to a blaring infomercial.  But just before I drifted off to dreamland, I found myself captivated by the women on screen.  They were lovely. 

The scenes involved the classic woes of love and triumph.  But, in each moment the women were simply dashing.  They looked lovely, they sounded lovely, and they smiled lovely.  Their hair was fashioned appropriately for the times, they wore simply lovely dresses, and I am sure they were wearing the perfect fragrance.  But what captivated me even more was the response on screen from the men in the movie.  In each scene, whether relevant or not, the women were treated so sweetly.  They were doted on, hands kissed, and doors opened.  It seemed it was the honor of a man to treat any lady as if she were the queen.  And the best part, the ladies all seemed to appreciate and live up to their treatment. 

One click of the remote to any other channel yielded a starkly different picture. However, in this tiny piece of TV land that I landed on, the story was very, very different.  I found myself wanting to leap into that world and stay awhile.

Our real world is a changed place. We are not those ladies on the sliver screen.  Many of us work hard, open our own doors, and really don't have much time for doting. We are strong and capable.  We don't need too much help.  We are fighters and survivors.  We invent and re purpose.  We build things and manage millions.  We are women, hear us roar!

But sometimes, isn't it is nice to just be a girl?  Sometimes, I think we need to allow our world to remember that we are feminine.  We are girls for a reason.  God made us that way on purpose.  If we are made in His image, then it was very important for Him to create us.  He made man first, but knew that was not a complete picture of Himself.  And, as my husband likes to remind me, us ladies were the first thing that God did not make from dirt. He took from the man and sculpted and breathed life into a woman.  We were planned and necessary. 

It is a good thing sometimes to forget our current culture and just relish in being created by a loving God to reflect His softer side.  He gave us more emotion, more feeling, and all the other attributes of femaleness.  He choose to make us that way on purpose.  He loved us for that.  He made us for that.  There is no shame in those things. 

But our world can make it difficult.  I was schooled in the public education system.  I was taught to fight and be strong.  I was ushered into a world where my kind did everything they could to be equal and valued the same way as a man.  While I do believe with all my heart that men and women should be valued equally, I know without a doubt we are different to the core.  We can be valued, but we don't have to be men to do it. 

Dream your dreams and fight your fights.  Go for whatever you feel God gave you to do in this world.  But don't forget that you are a woman, and that is a special thing in and of itself.  Don't run from it or be embarrassed by it.  Don't worry about climbing the ladder the same way Joe does.  Jane can climb it in her way, too.  We are women and we don't have to roar to prove it.  We can roar, but we don't have to.

I am a girl...just a girl.  But my God made me that way.  And, He said it was good!
Gen.2:18-25 God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.” So God formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name. The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals; but he didn’t find a suitable companion.  God put the Man into a deep sleep. As he slept he removed one of his ribs and replaced it with flesh. God then used the rib that he had taken from the Man to make Woman and presented her to the Man.  The Man said,“Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!"
Proverbs 10-31 A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.  She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing. She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises.  She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day. She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.  First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.  She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.  She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.  She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks. Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops. Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile. When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise: “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!”  Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praisedis the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Purpose 2: What Can I Change?

Do you get magazines in the mail?  My last and only subscription expired recently, and I have vowed to take a break.  My weakness is Better Homes & Gardens.  I love lingering through the pages during hot soak in the bath.  It constantly nudges my creative self to want to do, change, and fix.  I think of all these things that could be better in our home.  Maybe I should paint that dresser, or perhaps I could make a wreath from those vines in the back yard.  Hey, I think I could make that 27 layer chocolate cake....

Whether it is home magazines, fashion, or tabloid, we all see images constantly that spur us to change.  Trying a new hair style or repurposing grandma's old scarfs are changes that are pretty harmless.  Often times though, the changes we want to make dig a little deeper.  We forget all the fluff and frill and techno magic required to create the lovely images on print covers.  We even forget when we read blogs and surf the web that people edit and crop (even those we know very well).  Social networking lets us put exactly what we want seen in public view, yet hides everything we want to keep private.  We all live in this world...this double-sided world.  We have our internet-digital-camera-insta-filter-magazine-life and our daily, real unedited life.  Sometimes those two worlds collide in ugly ways and we think change is needed. 

Not all change is needed.

I once heard a lady on the radio say something like, "I can't do all things well all the time, but I can do some things well some of the time." That resonated with me for some reason.  In our Pinterest- career-woman-organic-farming-homemade-ganache-making society we have created, we often feel as though somehow we are, or can be, equipped to be all and do all.  That is unbelievably untrue and it is a lie that we all buy in to from time to time.

We cannot begrudge ourselves when we realize that 27 layers of chocolate cake is not only ridiculous but is also unnecessary.  We cannot lament hours over not making organic baby food, or even being able to successfully host a dinner party.  We should never impose on ourselves the need to know how to do everything all the time.  God did not make us that way.  He made us each with our individual strengths.  When pooled together it creates a lovely tapestry of His creative hand.  That unity in diversity brings Him glory.  What isn't very glorious is when we get caught up in the wrong side of our double-sided world.  Life doesn't have a cropping feature.  We can not filter out some things.  We cannot blur the edges and highlight our blue eyes so they glow when we walk through town.  We are what we are.  Human. We are made in God's image.  We are unique, individual, and one-of-a-kind. 

But, some change is needed.

Sometimes we need to change the habits that start the snowball pattern of self doubt.  Sometimes, we need to unplug and just go for a walk. We need to put the camera down, leave the tablet at home, and just be.  We need to learn to know people for real.  We need to know those next door and around the corner.  We need to spend real time face to face knowing the unedited side of life.  We desperately need that change.

We need to allow God to comfort our hearts, not the internet.  We need to find strength in real friends, not just cyber ones.  We need to touch real hearts and give real hugs.  We need that kind of change.  We need that kind of humility. 

Take a break from pinning, surfing, and capturing.  Take a stroll.  Meet a neighbor.  Show off your real strengths that God actually gave you.  Show off your heart.  Show off your love.  Then, when you do flip back over to the cyber world -you can meet it head on and take it for what it is and enjoy it appropriately. 

The love chapter in scripture comes to mind when I think about our culture today.  It doesn't matter what we post, pin, or produce. If we are not loving, we are nothing.  We can nip and tuck.  We can change many things about ourselves. But if we don't offer our love, we have accomplished nothing.   The following is 1 Corinthians 13 from The Message version of scripture.  Read over it and think about love in our modern-world.  What can we change about ourselves that would be any better than our capacity to love?

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
What is your purpose?  That is simple.  Love. If we need to change anything, it would be to love more.  What gifts were you given that you can use to show love?  The last post I asked what is something you just love to do?  This time I am asking you to take those things and share them with someone else!  Why do you think God gave them to you?  He wants you to share that part of Him with others.  He wants you to share that love. 

Take courage friends, love is real.  We can receive it and we can gift it.  The best part.....we can do both!

Please share your thoughts and discussion in the comments. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Purpose 1: I Am OK

I have a dream.  It is a simple dream, but one that takes a lifetime to navigate.  I dream to live out my life using all the gifts that were given to me by my Creator and to help others do the same.   It sounds quite simple really, but sounding simple and being simple are oceans apart at times.  I am daring to tread the waters that have been before me my entire life.  I want to share my story, my journey.  I want you to share your journey.  This is real faith; choosing to believe in what God sees in us, and putting away all other views. 

Purpose One

As a younger girl, I felt a sense of dread at the knowledge of my difference from others.  Taking one look at my freckled skin and wild red hair was all the proof I needed. I concocted spot removing potions and used all the latest, greatest self-tanners to hide my paleness.  I bought flat irons for my hair and special smoothing serums.  I even tried changing it's color a couple of times.  I waged war on the me I saw in the mirror.  Surely, I could create something better than what I saw. 

It didn't stop at appearance.  I purposely looked for things that seemed noteworthy and successful to accomplish.  I disregarded many things that I wanted or liked, and went straight for things that I thought would be good.  I lived many of my days striving to be what seemed a "good" version of me.  I never took the time to really seek out a real, natural fit.  It tainted my studies, my relationships, and my hobbies.  I spent a lot of time going after things without a definitive inner God-given purpose.  I just wanted to be "good".

I let go of people I loved and some dreams I secretly treasured in the name of duty.  It was my duty to God and others to seek a life that checked certain boxes.  It seemed a part of faith to forsake human desires to reach loftier heights for Godly good.  It was born out of good intentions, but carried to distances that were never meant to be traveled. 

Denial of self is often a distorted idea.  No doubt there are many times in life when denying the selfish wants in life to attain a greater good for others is extremely necessary.  But I made a habit of self denial that was not appropriate.  It accomplished little good and rendered me unable to determine what my purpose and talents really were.  It left me feeling guilty for enjoying some things and aimless in where to focus my passions.  At the end of the day, all I had were piles of things I'd done, and no connective and growing thread to show for it. 

That is why I am here.  That is why I am writing The Freckled Egg.  God has been taking me on a journey to realize that He made me exactly the way He intended.  He loved the me He made.  He distributed my gifts, loves, and passions for His purpose.  And no amount of doing will ever equal simply living in the path that He divinely created just for this freckled and speckled girl.  My goal in life is to unpack those gifts that are uniquely mine and put them back into His Hands.

I am laying down the piles of "good" things in hopes to open my arms to His best gifts.  I am going to live in the skin he wrapped my heart in.  I am going to write the words He puts in my head.  I am going to sing the songs my heart longs to sing, and I am going to revel in His good work in me.

I want to share my journey because I think a lot women find themselves in familiar shoes.  When the dust settles from the whirlwind days of being a young girl, it seems daunting to find a place for this person we have become.  Suddenly, we find our hearts wrapped into children, husband, home, and job.  We do all the necessary things to keep all the wheels turning, but often wonder if we are not really just a spinning top whirling around in mere circles. 

Admittedly, there is great purpose in the life of a woman and her role in her family.  It takes wonder-woman-like strength some days to simply survive the mayhem.  But, I do believe that beyond our duties there is purpose and passion.  I believe we are more than cheerios, high heels, and balanced check books.  I believe we have more to give than rice crispy treats for soccer games and a couple of hours in the church nursery.  We have a well-spring of beautiful things that God put right into our very being.  I truly believe that when we learn to operate from the core of who He made us to be, then purpose and passion come alive.  Then, we become effective stewards of the good gifts He gave us all.

I invite you to join me here as we journey through scripture and through life.  I hope that we can pull together a beautiful picture of ladies from many places that are aiming to live from the center of our hearts with one goal in mind.  Our purpose is to discover our gifts and give them back to The Giver.   I challenge you on this first day to simply leave a comment that gives us a hint of something you are passionate about.  It can simply be a one-word answer like knitting or reading.  It doesn't have to be anything ground-breaking.  It just has to be something you absolutely love to do.  I hope you will share something.  I know sometimes it is really easy to read something and click away anonymously and leave no evidence you were ever around.  This time...don't.  This time take two seconds and "brag" on one sweet thing God gave you to love. 

I'll start.

Leah --arranging furniture.

See, that was pretty simple!  I dare to you to do the same.  After you do, take a minute and read this verse, Psalm 139: 14

       I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Can you praise Him for making you wonderfully? Does your soul knoweth right well?  Maybe not yet, but hopefully this journey will take you there so that soon you too can echo the words of the Psalmist.  We all hatched from some pretty special eggs...mine was freckled.  I am starting to see that as a beautiful thing. I hope you will see yourself that way as well.