Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Change in Perspective- See Yourself the Way Jesus Sees You

In part 2 of my "A Change in Perspective" series, we talked about seeing others the way Jesus sees them. Although that can sometimes be hard to do, I think it is way easier than today's post- seeing yourself the way Jesus sees you.

You know those times when something just hits you? The door is opened, the lightbulb comes on, God speaks and you sit there with your eyes wide open and say, "Woah. I never thought of that before." I had one of those moments when I realized this. I dove into my old journals to see if I could find what I wrote when I first came to this realization. But it seems that journal entry is lost or in journal Heaven somewhere. Let me just tell you how this all came about.

I was daily meditating on Philippians 2:3 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." I tried so hard to view every person I interacted with as better than me. I was always looking outward, trying to serve others. I wanted to see everyone as a child of God that He was madly in love with.

But then I would look at myself. Inadequate. Not pretty enough. Not smart enough. I'll never measure up. And the list could go on and on...

And one day, I felt like God just looked me in the eyes and said, "Meagan, that is not who you are. That is not the way I made you. If only you could see what I see. You are my child and I am madly in love with you." This is that moment where I just sat there in shock. For the first time, I dropped my walls of insecurity and I let that truth sink in.

I still struggle with self-image and self esteem issues. I know I am not alone in this- I think this is something the enemy likes to use to attack women, because he knows it will get us every time. But God has given us beautiful nuggets of truth in His Word. Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

This verse is often quoted but I don't think we actually listen to what it is saying, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;..."

Not only are we wonderfully made, but we have a Heavenly Father who is madly in love with us. 1 John 3:1a "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"

So today, let's choose to live in the truth of God's Word. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are children of God and He is madly in love with us. I am reminded of some words from David Crower's "Everything Glorious":
"You make everything glorious. And I am Yours. What does that make me?"
Let me answer that question for you... Glorious!

As a little side note...
A few weeks ago, I discovered the She Speaks Conference. The conference is for writers and speakers and it is about connecting the hearts of women to the heart of God. My heart is to serve God by serving and encouraging women so when I first heard about this conference, I SO wanted to go but decided we didn't have the money for it this year. You can imagine my delight when I read about this scholarship opportunity. Check it out! I know many of you might be interested in this as well.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thoughts on Japan

I have never experienced some big crazy tragedy or disaster. So, when these things happen, no matter how much news coverage I watch, it is SO hard for me to connect and understand what these people are experiencing.

I was thinking about it a lot yesterday because I just really wanted to wrap my mind around it, but I couldn't. At one point, I felt guilt. Last night, I was relaxing in my comfy warm bed, watching tv shows online on my nice pretty laptop, drinking clean cold water. My son was sleeping peacefully in the room across the hall. My husband was enjoying himself in the living room eating cold pizza and playing xbox. And halfway across the world, a mother was lonely and shivering through the night, amidst the rubble of what used to be her home, wondering where her child was, if he was even alive, wondering if she would make it through the night, not sure of when her next meal would be, and facing the fear of impending nuclear disaster.

I don't even know how to feel about that. The biggest question is why? Why am I so blessed and comfortable when so many people are suffering? I quickly just stopped thinking about it because again, I just couldn't even understand. I couldn't relate.

I saw a video on YouTube of a girl who was expressing her joy about the earthquake in Japan. She explained that at the beginning of Lent, she had begun to pray with many other believers that God would open the eyes of Atheists and then just a few days after they had begun so fervently praying this prayer, God shook the country of Japan. Bless her heart, she was trying, but I think she might be a little skewed in her thinking. People are outraged about this video. As a fellow believer, I am not sure if I agree with that.

So, today, I decided to think about it again. But this time I turned to the Lord. I began searching His Word because I knew that would be the only place I could find some kind of peace. First, I turned to one of my favorite verses, James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds...."
Nope, that wasn't doing it for me. I could not sit in the comfort of my own home and say, "Consider it joy," when people were suffering so much. I'm not in the trial, so I'm having a hard time finding joy in it.

Then I remembered Job. Job 26. The chapter talks about the amazing mighty works of the Lord, "He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight."
"The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke. By his power he churned up the sea;"

And then the good part... Job 26:14
"And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?" I began to find peace in the power of our God. I was thinking about that whisper.

And then I was led to another whisper, in 1 Kings 19, when the Lord spoke to Elijah. Vs. 11-12:
"The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper."

And that is where I found peace. "..but the Lord was not in the earthquake." He is in that gentle whisper. I just picture the people of Japan, hopeless, but hearing that whisper.

I may not be able to relate or even begin to comprehend what these people are experiencing. But now I know how to pray. I pray that the Japanese (and the rest of the world) would see that "the Lord was not in the earthquake," but that He is there now. I pray that they would hear His whisper.

I think He is whispering, "I love you."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Change in Perspective- See Others the Way Jesus Sees Them

I was in a sorority in college. Not some crazy national sorority, but a local Christian service sorority. Our Delta verse was Philippians 2:1-7. I have it underlined in my Bible in maroon because that was our color, of course :)

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."

I had read these verses OVER and OVER and practically had them memorized. The girls of Delta Pi Theta truly wanted to embody this and live this. But it wasn't until about two years into it that something jumped out at me...

"but in humility consider others better than yourselves."

Hold the phone. "...consider others better than yourselves." It suddenly hit me that we weren't supposed to serve people because they were needy, we are supposed to serve people because they are better than us.

Woah. That completely shifted things for me. Driving down the road, I look at that homeless person and say, "He is better than me." I see the troubled teen and say, "She is better than me."

There is a story in the book Irresistible Revolution that I love. [I've read half of this book and it's pretty good. I don't finish books.] I must quote this story to you because it is so powerful:

"I have an old hippie friend who loves Jesus and smokes a lot of weed, and he's always trying to get under my skin and stir up a debate, especially when I have innocent young Christians visiting with me. (The problem is that he knows the Bible better than most of them do.) One day, he said to me, "Jesus never talked to a prostitute." I immediately went on the offensive: "Oh, sure he did," and whipped out my sword of the Spirit and got ready to spar. Then he just calmly looked me in the eye and said, "Listen, Jesus never talked to a prostitute because he didn't see a prostitute. He just saw a child of God he was madly in love with." I lost the debate that night.
When we have new eyes, we can look into the eyes of those we don't even like and see the One we love. We can see God's image in everyone we encounter."

In the summer of '08, when I was on staff with M-Fuge, I would take a group of teenagers out to minister to a group of kids at a trailer park for a week. Each week, I would have a different group of teenagers. The night before our first day on site, I would share with them this verse and this story. I would tell them that these site kids might seem tough but they just needed Jesus. I would challenge them to think of these kids as better than themselves. But I could tell they didn't get it.

Well, the first day on site was always interesting. The site kids wanted to show the teenagers who was boss. There were several instances where 10 year old kids could make 15 year old kids cry. I had campers tell me that they did NOT want to go back the next day. I had people say to me, "How do you do this every day every week?" I remember the first time I was asked that and this just came out of my mouth, "Because I love them. I really do. And it's only through Jesus that I'm able to do that." That wasn't some carefully thought out Jesus answer. That was the truth and that was such a neat thing to experience.

Well, by the end of the week, campers were always crying when we had to leave site for the last time- but for a different reason. They were crying because they didn't want to leave! On Saturday morning before they all went back to their homes, I would share this same verse and this same story again. And each and every time, I saw the light bulbs come on. They got it. The kids that seemed impossible to love, or even like, had invaded their hearts. But all because of Jesus.

Instead of looking at people through the labels that we've placed on them, (rich, poor, beautiful, ugly, popular, weird, Christian, atheist, gay, etc.) let's look at them the way Jesus does. We are not better than they are. They are a child of God and He is madly in love with them. Each and every one of them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Note Cards of Glory

I feel like my past few posts have been a little heavy, and I have some heavy ones coming up, so I thought I'd give us all a break and share with you the little system that has completely transformed my home over the past few months! I guess you could say this is my first "How To" post. (The rest of the Change in Perspective Series is coming, don't worry! I haven't dropped the ball.)

After I got adjusted to life with Leeland (that took a few months), I decided it was time to tackle the life at home- you know, keeping the house clean, cooking meals, laundry, etc. The only problem is that there was SO much to do that I would make a huge long list, try to do it all in one day, fail miserably, then get discouraged and overwhelmed.

And then my superhero mom came to the rescue! She let me borrow her book, "Sidetracked Home Executives." The book is older than I am, the pages are yellow, and it's kind of falling apart, but I was excited to read it because this book explains "the note card system." When I was growing up, my mom had an index card box full of colorful cards. I didn't know much about this box except for one thing. My mom had drawn a picture of the proper way to set a table on one of the cards and every time it was my turn to set the table, I would pull out that card and copy it exactly. To this day, every time I set the table, I see that picture in my head!

I read about the notecard system and adapted it to meet my needs and it worked wonders for me! Then I read the second book by "The Slob Sisters," in which they completely changed their notecard system and I was a little mad at them for changing things up on me. But since the original system was working for me, I just decided to stick to that for now.

For my system I used:
A notecard box
Neon colored notecards (4 different colors)
Dividers labeled 1-31
Month dividers (I couldn't find these in the store so I had to make my own)
A small calendar

This is my notecard box. It's not the perfect box but my options were extremely limited. Apparently 3x5 index card boxes aren't as popular as they were back in the 80's. Since mine has extra room in the back, it has become a holding area for my calendar, check book, and coupons. [Yes, that's a calendar in the back with a dog and cat on it. Not really my style, but it works.]

[As you can see, Date Night has not been scheduled yet this week. So, it's just hanging out upright back there. Those are things I might not have an exact day for, but that need to be done.]

The first thing you do, is determine your weekly schedule and tape that inside your box. This is what I came up with:
Monday: Groceries
Tuesday: Cleaning
Wednesday: Errands
Thursday: Cleaning
Friday: Free Day!
Saturday: Family
Sunday: Church, Family, Coupon Clipping

Mine is usually covered by junk, but it's ok, I have it memorized. I don't always stick exactly to the schedule because things come up- doctor visits, lunch dates, family visits, etc.- but this gives me a basic outline to live by. And let me tell you, the Free Day on Friday was one of the best things ever invented. If I want to do laundry or the dishes on Friday, I can, but I don't HAVE to. It's my free day. I don't have to do chores and I do NOT have to feel guilty about it!

Next you make your notecards. With the old system, you make A LOT of notecards. The new system that the ladies invented condensed the notecards down so you don't have so many, but again, I didn't do that. Divide your chores up between daily, every other day(EOD), weekly, every other week(EOW), monthly, every other month(EOM), and seasonal. Use a different color card for each time period. For me:
Yellow: Daily and EOD
Green: Weekly and EOW
Orange: Monthly, EOM, and Seasonal
Pink: Personal

With this system, I put one chore on each notecard (hence the large amount of notecards). Then file them throughout the month. Although most of us are used to filing BEHIND the divider, they suggest filing in front (which the army does), that way everything you need to see for that day is right up front. I am a creature of habit and didn't think I would like this change but I love it! It's best to have a little calendar handy to help you file the cards on the right days.

Here are the homemade month dividers in the back. You can see the orange cards divided up among the months. Also, I put a notecard with family's birthdays on each month. Then at the beginning of the month I go buy birthday cards for the month. This is the first time EVER that I have gotten cards to people on (or around) their birthdays.

There are several reasons that the system works so well for me. First of all, it divides things up. Maybe the bathrooms need to be cleaned, the laundry needs to be done, I need to vacuum and I need to dust. But I don't have to try to do it all in one day. My notecards divide everything out evenly. Second, I'm a list person. I LOVE crossing things off lists. These notecards are like a perpetual list. Completing a task and filing the notecard away is just like crossing something off a list. I always have a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Also, from the tips in this book, I changed the frequency in which I do things. I used to clean the bathrooms only when they started looking nasty or when we had company coming. Now, I clean the toilets and sinks every other day. I thought this was a little excessive at first but I started doing it and realized what a huge difference it makes! It does not take long at all and with the toilet and sink clean, the bathroom looks really clean, no matter what the rest of the room looks like! I also do laundry every other day now too. I used to do laundry once a week and it was always overwhelming and took forever! Now I just do a few light loads more often and it is so easy and simple and doesn't take much time at all!

AND my house is pretty much always company-ready. Before, if people were coming over, I would have to spend the day or two before, stressing out and cleaning a TON! But with the notecard system, everything is kept up so there is not much I have to do before people come over. About a month ago, we had some family coming to stay with us and I just didn't know what to do with myself before they came because everything was already done! I was amazed.

Here are some more benefits of the notecards:
  • I make the bed every day. This makes a HUGE difference in my life. The room just looks so much cleaner and organized when the bed is made. It also helps me feel more ready for my day. When the bed is unmade, it's like I could just jump right back in at any minute and waste the day away! But with it made, it's like a conscience decision to take on the day.
  • I do things like cleaning the fronts of my cabinets and putting Orange Glo on them- once a month! Let me tell you, before, that MIGHT have happened once a YEAR, if at all!
  • It is so much easier to do my quiet time and Bible reading every day. With a notecard blaring me in the face, it's a little bit harder to put it off or ignore it. Sometimes we just need a little reminder to get in the Word.
  • I clean my washer and dryer once a month. Who knew you had to do that?! I didn't.
  • It's ok if I don't get all of the notecards done. One of the rules of the notecards is to "File it and forget it." If you don't get it done, just file it away and don't stress over it because it will get done the next time the notecard comes around. You obviously have to limit this some or some things would NEVER get done.

I could go on and on and on, but this post is already long enough. It's funny, because Weston can be gone for a few days and when he comes home, the second he walks in the door, he can tell if I've been doing the notecards or not. He LOVES the notecards! If I get lazy and stop doing them, he always likes to gently remind me, "Uhh...Hey... Are you gonna start doing your notecards again..??" Haha :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Change in Perspective- Let Them See You Fall

Leeland is sleeping and my big project for the day is to clean out the fridge and to clean and organize the cabinets in the laundry room. Let me tell you, this blog post almost didn't happen because I just want to go clean the fridge so bad. But...just for you....

Part 1 in my series, "A Change in Perspective"

Lately, I have really been dealing with being vulnerable with people. I realized that I am not very good at doing that and (you know how God is...) it seems like once I decided to work on that, it has been brought up all the time, in different places of my life.

I am a perfectionist. I do not like to fail or mess up at anything. So, if I know I'm not going to be good at something, I just don't do it. And then of course, if I do mess up, I come up with a really good excuse for it! There's this looming thought in the back of my head:
"Don't let them see you fall."

I think some of this might stem from being a minister's kid. I have a great family that I love so dearly, and they never put any pressure on me to be a certain way, but I think just from knowing how much people looked up to my family, I put pressure on myself to be perfect all the time. Now I'm married and have my own family, and I'm no longer "the minister's kid," but there's still that looming thought in the back of my head:
"Don't let them see you fall."

I like to encourage people and LOVE being able to give them advice when they need it. It makes my heart so happy when friends come to me seeking advice about things they are dealing with. But along with that, it is hard for me to tell others about things I am dealing with. I guess in my mind I feel like it will affect my credibility?? I don't know. There's just that little thing in the back of my head:
"Don't let them see you fall."

A few weeks ago, a friend stopped by to bring some clothes for Leeland. Leeland is teething and those nasty little teeth have turned my perfect baby into a Fuss Monster! On this particular day, Leeland had been the fussiest he had EVER been. He wouldn't nap and we didn't even get to go to church that night because he just would not stop fussing. I was just counting down the minutes until I would be able to put Leeland to bed and get a little break. So then my friend stops by and she says, "How was your day?" Instinctively, I smiled real big and said, "Good!!" And then I thought to myself, "Why did you just say that?? Your day was NOT good!"

And that's when I realized I had a problem. How was I going to be able to cultivate real relationships with people if I flat out lied to them all the time? Sometimes I struggle with the fact that I don't feel like I have really deep close friendships with people and I realized that this is the reason why! It's a two way street. I have to be vulnerable. I have to break down this flimsy wall of "perfection."

I think there's a fine line. I'm not going to walk around burdening every person I see with my problems, and I don't want to become a pessimist. But I'm learning how to be real. And I think through that, the Lord will be able to work in and through my life more. I think Jesus will be a little more evident.

So now I have this new thought in the back of my head:
"Let them see you they can help you back up."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Series...

I've decided to write a series of posts titled, "A Change in Perspective."

I think there are so many places in our lives that if we simply changed the way we look at them, our lives could be transformed! I have four posts in the works for this series, but I'm not making any promises. Leeland is a very active 6 month old, and bouncing in the bouncer next to me while I type on the laptop only keeps him entertained for a limited amount of time. So, hopefully I'll get these posts up in the next week or two!

Until then, dwell on this today:
Let the Holy Spirit intervene in your natural flesh response.

Lysa TerKeurst shared those words with us at Feminar last weekend. When I take hold of my feelings and let the Holy Spirit intervene, it so powerful! I've tried it out a few times this week and let me tell you- it works! So here's a change in perspective for you(from Lysa)- "It's not so much our carefully planned actions that determine our influence for Christ- it's our reactions."

That was a freebie. I wasn't even planning on that one! It just came out. So I suppose my four part series has just become a FIVE part series. :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Meet Emily Freeman

A year or two ago, my friend, Megan Kilgore, introduced me to a blog called "chatting at the sky." When I first checked it out, I wasn't ready for it. I would skim it and think the pictures were pretty. I would glance at the words but just skip over them. I eventually got to where I wouldn't even click on the blog in my reading list.

But then one day I started reading it again. And it happened at JUST the right time in my life. For months, her words have been speaking directly to my heart. I find myself writing down some of her quotes in my journal almost every day.

Emily wrote a book, and I didn't know much about it until I watched the video that she posted today. I just watched the video and tears began spilling out of my eyes. Her words basically describe my whole life, and where I am right now. Her words were SO encouraging to me and I think they will encourage you too.

So, head over to Emily's Blog and watch the video. Don't skip over it. Do it.

And now I'm going to go pre-order her book :)