Wall of Hero’s
I was invited to an Open House dedication ceremony for the Wall of Hero’s at North Memorial Medical Center the other day because my mom was a donor. It’s a wall filled with photos of people who have donated organs, tissue or eyes either to recipients or medical science. There were 122 5-by-7 photos and I’m sure there are many more who don’t have their picture on the wall for whatever reason.
There was a slide show during the open house of these photos and as the slide show progressed and showed each image I was very sad to see so many young people who have died. By the end of the slideshow I was overwhelmed with gratitude that these people both young and old would choose to give something of them so someone else could live or medical science could advance; which impacts hundreds or thousands of people. In a way the donors will live on by doing so, a piece of them lives on through and in someone else; I was overwhelmed with thankfulness that they would choose to do this. I thought about how many of these photos represented a life saved.
Something that started being sad turned out to be a very joyful thing.
I was challenged during a study of the book and workbook by Francis Chan “Crazy Love”. We did two chapters most weeks and one week was on “Lukewarm” and “Leftovers”. These are some of the questions I was presented with:
Am I giving leftover sacrifices to God?
Am I lukewarm or am I totally on fire for Him?
Do I love Him with my entire body, soul and mind?
Am I like the poor woman who gave two coins for an offering but yet she gave more than anyone else because that’s all she had?
Am I like the man who invites only the people to dinner who can invite him back? He doesn’t invite the poor who can do nothing for him.
Am I like this man? Yes, I am. I’m like this man. It convicted me and for a while made me question my salvation, I started thinking I wasn’t good enough, that I had to try harder; I started to get filled thoughts of all the things I “should” be doing. As quickly as these thoughts came into my mind I recognized them for what they were: a lie and I needed to get rid of them quickly. I needed to replace them with the truth: I serve a God of grace and as long as my motivation is right there’s grace for me, I am covered. I don’t have to be perfect, I will never be perfect, I don’t have to perform a certain way I just have to have the right heart. My previous Pastor and friend had a favorite saying “look down at your feet, what direction are they pointing?” As long as they’re pointing forward and I’m moving in the right direction, that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t arrived or I’m not moving as fast as someone else. What matters is if I’m moving and pointed in the right direction and not parked on the side of the road.
So it just depends on my heart and I need to remember that, it’s not what I “do”. I know that I can do nothing outside of Jesus. He has to give me the strength for everything. I can’t even love Him unless He gives me that love. There’s nothing I can do outside of Him. He has to change me. He has to work through me to accomplish these things. He has to do this in me. I can’t do it; it can’t come from me because if it does it will fail.
My prayers have changed; I pray for increased desire and love for Jesus and the world, increased strength and to walk through life seeing and hearing as He would. I pray that He will give me His thoughts, words, will, emotions and take mine from me. That’s all I need to do; change my prayers, keep my heart and motivation right and my feet pointed in the right direction.
Circle of Light
Bill gave me a birthday card today and inside he wrote: “God was super happy the day He made you, because He knew your whole story from beginning to end and He couldn’t wait to tell it”
That was the most beautiful thing anybody has ever said to me. It made me cry and I’m still thinking about it. And it’s true, God does know my story.
“Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them. You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. Lord, even before I say a word, You already know it. You are all around me—in front and in back—and have put Your hand on me. Your knowledge is amazing to me; it is more than I can understand. All the days planned for me were written in Your book before I was one day old.” Psalm 139:1-6; 16b
I find this very reassuring. It’s helpful and hopeful for me to know that yes, He knows my story and I don’t and frankly I don’t want to. I think if I would’ve known my story 30 or 40 years ago I would’ve been so overwhelmed I wouldn’t want to live it. I probably would’ve said “just kill me now”
Do you know why God knows my story? Because He’s the author, He’s the one writing it, not me. It’s good for me to realize and remember that I’m not in control, I don’t see the big picture and I don’t know how my story intertwines with everyone else’s. Yes, I have free will but I’m still pretty powerless. I didn’t have control when I fell on my face last year in AZ and that’s just one example, there are so many other things I can’t control. It’s just an illusion to think I can. It’s better when I realize this and give myself over to it and walk in His will. And when I do this is what He does: He takes His spot light and shines it a few feet in front of me and I step into it; all I know is the light I’m standing in. It’s dark all around and in the darkness there comes another light, a few feet in front of me and I step into it and then I see what it shows me. Sometimes the circle is several feet in front of me and it’s dark in between where I’m standing and the circle of light. However, it’s never total darkness because the light illuminates the space a little. But, nevertheless there are times that I have to go through darkness to reach the light. Those are sometimes periods of grief and character building.
It’s revealed to me, this life of mine a little at a time. One circle of light at a time; the rest is darkness. And that’s why I’m not in control.
Freedom from Insecurity
I just finished a 10 week study on the Beth Moore book “So Long Insecurity, you’ve been a bad friend to us” And this is my recap and some of the things I’ve learned.
Insecurity has dominated my life in ways I never saw. Looking back I now can see where every bad decision and action that I’ve done has been a result of insecurity. Insecurity was my avenue into bad relationships, addictions and other similar bad choices.
One of the side effects or “cover” for insecurity in my life is perfectionism. I don’t take correction well, it makes me feel stupid and shame comes with it and reinforces the messages I give myself. I feel I have to be a fit, attractive, competent person. I have to do all things right. If I can’t do something well, I don’t do it. I don’t play whiffle ball at a picnic because I know I don’t do it well. And doing it well isn’t even good enough, I have to be very good, one of the best or I don’t want to do it in front of others. I don’t want to look stupid or uncoordinated; I don’t want to be laughed at; and even if they don’t laugh audibly, I think they’re laughing silently. Some people think I don’t participate in things because I’m shy or an introvert and they try to change me; they think all I need is to loosen up a little to get around people and interact. That’s not it. That’s not even close, it’s insecurity; plain and simple.
Insecurity is caused by a variety of reasons:
- Instability in the home. Instability comes from many sources: layoffs, financial issues, parents that divorced; abuse of any kind (even if it’s not “in” the home), an alcoholic parent, mental or physical illness of a parent, etc. The root of insecurity caused by instability is often the fear that no one will take care of you. You feel as though you’re on your own.
- A significant loss. This could be the loss of anything you genuinely prize or get stability and self-worth from. A home, a peer group, a relationship, best friend, loss of innocence (as in abuse) or losing a loved one due to death, etc.
- Rejection. One of the few forces that can usher females into a season of insecurity with swiftness is rejection. Nothing shouts a more convincing lie about our personal value than rejection. Many times rejection might cause a man to have a string of superficial relationships where he never gives his heart away, and it might cause a woman to give her heart away before she even has a relationship – that’s what I did.
- Our Culture: the way media portraits the “beautiful” women and none of us can ever measure up to that.
- Pride: many times we feel insecure because of our pride. We’re not the most gifted people in the world, we’re not the first choice – every time; we’re not someone’s favorite, we don’t feel special, we can’t do everything ourselves and on and on it goes.
I have several of these that helped create my insecurity. And the bottom line is that we can try and try to change ourselves with positive thinking, trying really hard to change our actions, stuff our feelings or pretend that we’re feeling secure (fake it till you make it). But in reality the only one that can free us from the bondage of insecurity is Jesus. He came so that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10) and He came to set the captives free (Isaiah 61)! I have a history with Jesus of being set free. He set me free from my addictions and I know He can do it again and set me free from insecurity. He wants the best for me and He wants me to live like He created me; I’m made in His image and He is not the least bit insecure!
So, where do I go from here? I have learned so much and become aware. I know that’s the first step is to notice when I’m “acting out” and then I turn to Jesus for help because really, without Him I can’t do this. Prayer will be a big part of my stepping out of this insecurity hole I’ve lived in. The Bible says the truth will set you free and these are the truths I believe will play a part in my freedom: I trust you Jesus; I know I’m made in Your image and I’m Your masterpiece, You have crowned me with glory and honor (Hebrews 2:7), I am clothed with strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25), I have a treasure on the inside of me (2 Corinthians 4:7). My security is mine to keep. God gave it to me. No one gets to take it from me.
“(She) will have no fear of bad news; (her) heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. (Her) heart is secure, (she) will have no fear, in the end (she) will look in triumph on (her) foes.” Psalm 112:7-8
This year was the third Christmas without my mom’s physical presence. The 1st Christmas after she died I didn’t know what to do. My husband’s family celebrates on Christmas Eve and I work every Christmas Eve. My family has gotten so big that most of us have in-law’s and are unavailable on Christmas Day.
The last year my mom was alive my husband, Bill and I brought her to a Chinese buffet on Christmas Day. I’m so glad we did. It was a big snow storm and the street she lived on didn’t get plowed until the next day. She kept telling us not to come because it was too much trouble and we wouldn’t get through all the snow. We put a shovel in the trunk and went. We followed tire tracks on her street to prevent getting stuck. My husband shoveled out a place to pull over at her curb while I waited in the car in the middle of the street; once or twice I had to circle the block when a car wanted to get through. I got parked and he shoveled up to the house and we got mom and went out to eat. The restaurant was pretty full and we had a great time. After dinner we went to mom’s house for a while and opened presents. That was the last year I did the “present thing”. Ever since she died I have this thing which I can’t really explain but I don’t want any presents. Not for my birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, our anniversary or any other occasion. I don’t give them and I don’t want to receive them. There’s really nothing material that I want that I don’t already have. Material things have lost their value. If I really need something, I get it myself.
My husband and I have tried to make our own tradition. Each year we go to Starbucks in the morning for coffee, see a movie and eat at a Chinese buffet. That’s our tradition now. The first and second year I was so sad; it felt really empty and something just wasn’t right. But that started to change this year somehow; I don’t know what happened but this year I wasn’t so sad. Maybe Christmas has gotten to be just another day in my life; nothing special.
The last Christmas mom was alive my sister and I baked cookies at her house about a week before Christmas. Mom sat at the table and chatted with us. She would help us decide if the cookies were done and we would sample them together. The first Christmas after mom died I baked over 800 cookies; 11 different kinds. The second Christmas I baked 1700+ cookies; 17 different kinds. Baking cookies was therapy for me and I knew it was. I baked every afternoon for over a month. This year; I didn’t bake cookies at all. It was over somehow, I didn’t need to do it anymore. The week before Christmas I realized I hadn’t baked anything and I made a batch of Peanut Blossoms and Sugar cookies. I’m healing.
I’m doing a 10-week study on Insecurity. I’ve completed 3 weeks and have already received some major revelations; now if I can just believe and apply them to my life.
Here’s what I’ve realized about myself:
I think people won’t like me if they know the real me so I strive and struggle to create and maintain an image that I think is likable acceptable and valuable. This image includes looking a certain way, avoiding conflict and confrontation and appearing intelligent and competent just to name a few. It sounds crazy when I articulate it and I don’t agree with it in my head but I must believe it because it’s how I live.
My need to be liked, loved and accepted actually keeps me from interacting with people. I feel I have to protect or hide myself, not reveal who I am because for sure they won’t like that person. I feel if I interact with them they will discover the “real” me and not like or accept me. It’s a cycle; I avoid interaction so people won’t know me and therefore will like me and what’s actually happening is I seem aloof or stuck-up or unfriendly and unapproachable.
So, this coping skill backfires; I’m not fitting in because I’m not interacting and I’m not interacting because I want to fit in. This is so sick!
I didn’t always use this coping skill, for 23 years I had a different one. I did drugs, drank and partied to have friends and to fit in. During that time I thought if I looked a certain way and men were attracted to me and “wanted” me I had value.
The good news is God delivered me out of that bondage; I found I don’t need to do those things to have value, worth or security. God delivered me from insecurities once in my life and I’m confident He will do it again!
We are God’s masterpiece, He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14
The definition of Masterpiece is “an artist’s greatest piece of work”. God is no crappy artist; He’s the best; and I’m his greatest piece of work! I must be who and what He says I am because He’s the only one with all the facts. He sees and knows all. He’s the artist – the creator He knows His own work better than anyone.
I’m cherished and loved, He’s my Father and He’s a King, I’m a Princess, a member of a Royal Family! I’m a Masterpiece! The Master Artist’s greatest and finest piece of work!
And so are you.
A few days ago I broke down crying on the way to my sister’s house to see my family. I was thinking about how holidays were a few years ago when Mom was alive and how different they are now. We’re trying to learn how to be a family and it’s hard. Our family dynamics are different.
I remembered being a kid and celebrating holidays with my aunt, uncle and cousins either at their house, Grandma’s or ours. When we got older and Grandma died things changed; we didn’t see our cousins, aunt and uncle much anymore. We both just celebrated holidays with our immediate family.
It feels as though it’s happening again; Mom was the glue and she held us all together. Our family is growing, both of my sisters have their own families and my nieces have their own. It’s hard for all of us to get together and more and more I find that holidays are being celebrated with individual immediate families.
I missed Mom so much that it made me weak, I had no strength. I grieved and cried. After a while, I realized that I will see Mom, Dad, Grandma, Aunt Elsie and everyone again someday on the other side of the veil. Thinking about it gave me peace, because I have hope. What a blessing and a glorious gift hope is!
That same evening at church our Pastor’s message was about hope. It’s the beginning of advent and as a church body we are remembering and longing and filled with hope.
My prayer for you is that today and every day you can tap into the gift of hope and experience peace. It’s right there available for you.
One Journey Leads to Another
This fall I joined a Women’s group to do a Beth Moore study titled “James, Mercy Triumphs”. During this study, I was confronted by James every week. It started with perseverance and endurance and to count our struggles as joy. “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” James 1:2-4 MSG
I don’t know about you but I’m a person who’s always looking for short cuts; I’m efficient and organized and I want to live that way. I look for the shortest lines in the grocery store and the traffic lanes that will get me moving the fastest. I am not one to want to be “in” anything; especially if it’s uncomfortable or painful; which it usually is if it’s changing me. James confronted me with the reminder of needing to go “through” things with God and allow Him to refine and perfect me in the process. I want to do anything but go through things; I want to go over them, under, around….anything just to get to the other side and move on.
I meet with a lady once a month and we talk about where I’m seeing God in my life. She recommended a book to me: “So long insecurity” by Beth Moore. Well, I didn’t really think I had much insecurity but I trust her so I started reading it. Wow! I’m finding the things James confronted me with are my insecurity issues. Things like:
- Comparing myself to others
- Being critical and judgmental
- Forgetting who I am and believing the lies of the world and the enemy
- Discriminating and treating people differently
- Not loving myself in a healthy, balanced way
And that’s just the beginning – I just started this book.
Like Beth I have abuse in my past. I made poor relationship choices; I just kept choosing the same man only with a different face, if that makes any sense. There was a season in my life that my mom disowned me. According to the book; these are the types of things that can cause insecurity.
At the end of the James study I thought I was closing the book on it but it turns out that God didn’t just bring me on a journey through James, he brought me to a deeper journey of working on my insecurity issues with Him. I guess that means I’ll have to be “in” it with Him and go through it; no short-cuts. I need to hang in there; persevere, endure and allow Him to do His work.
In the study of James, Beth said a couple of things that I need to hang onto as I walk out my journey of insecurity:
- I am who God says I am and not the numbing sum of Satan’s accusations
- I am loved and not despised, held and not forsaken, cherished and not ejected, enjoyed and not just endured.
If you haven’t read the book “So Long Insecurity” by Beth Moore, do it!