Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Done trying to be "MOMNIPRESENT"...

Are you tired to the point of emotional exhaustion? Has your body been giving you stress fits filled with ailments? I definitely know the feeling. What I gather from my current state of exhaustion is that I’ve somehow pushed myself too far while handling my daily responsibilities and expectations. When my kids get busy, I AM busier, trying to make sure that their events and schedules go off without a hitch. I become ‘Robo Mom’ wanting to fill every need, gap and possible want. Just this past week, my daughter performed in a musical at school, opening night was on a Friday, and Prom was the very next day. I decided that she was going to have the time of her life at both if it killed me. She did and I’m still standing but badly in need of a respite.

Each child has their highlighted time in my house and this is my only daughter’s time. When her older brother was finishing high school, the focus was on his activities and events. She patiently waited her turn or she may not have even expected a turn and now here it is. Plays, proms, community choir, college tours, SAT’s and the like.

I however, must keep one thing in perspective during this time. I AM NOT OMNIPRESENT. I simply cannot promise perfection to my children, it sets us all up for failure.

What I can do, is help them organize, strategize and prioritize their schedules so that they can be successful in navigating ‘the busy’.   I’m learning how to shift out of ‘do it all mode’ and into being their support. I welcome wise guidance in this area.

Now, what about that spent feeling that we’re all experiencing lately, how do we remedy that? Well, I’ve been thinking, there’s been a lot of bad news played out before us on TV, as well as the internet recently.  Right after we're done watching hours of coverage about tragedy, we follow up online, then we post updates, photos and commentary on fb, twitter and google. The very next day or hour we jump right back into our daily lives without so much as taking a breath.  If we keep this up, we’re all bound to need straitjackets and padded rooms.

Everyone needs a respite, a quiet time or a breather.  A long walk, exercise, a bubble bath, whatever momentary escape you choose.  When this sacred time is neglected it shows.

 I myself am currently suffering from the lack of fictional escape. What I am presently reading is somewhat apocalyptic and it keeps me thinking, which is the last thing I need to do when I’m weary. So today, I plan to go to the library and find some beautiful fiction that will take me on a faraway journey where there are no explosions or catastrophic events. I have no idea what it will be but that’s half the fun.

I will also to remember to light my aromatherapy candle and sit still for as long as possible and talk with God. Somewhere in there comes a nap and a healthy meal. I must, WE must remember that we are limited beings that cannot live out of balance and choose extreme busyness over our own well-being.

You may be facing something more intense than a busy teenager’s schedule and it may be costing you in sleepless nights and worry. I would not dare minimize your situation with light hearted suggestions that will not ease your load. I would however, encourage you to never forget the One who eases all pain and bears our burdens. May I pray for you now?

May the God of all peace guard your heart and mind as He leads you through the door of rest and hope in Him…Amen

Monday, April 22, 2013

To Church or Not to Church...

After 21 years and quite a few ‘pew experiences’, I am faced with a decision that seems to have me in a quiet quandary. Do I enter back into a traditional church setting complete with all the accompaniments that go with a Sunday morning service, or do I continue the way that I have become spiritually accustomed over the past few years and allow God to guide my path in ways that I could have never imagined?

I have a few Pastor friends that I have had various discussions with throughout the years and I respect their longstanding view on the subject of ‘Forsake not the gathering of yourselves together.’ I honestly wouldn't expect anything different from their vantage point. In fact, I agree. I wholeheartedly believe in being in the company of others who honor God the same as I do. I simply struggle with the idea that this setting is always in the traditional church.

From what I've witnessed and been a part of over the years, it seems that we (church folk) have a distinct habit of becoming isolated within the walls of the building therefore cutting us off from our neighbors, family members, co-workers etc… We simply seek to do and be involved only in the things that are sponsored by our local church. The problem is that this seems polar opposite of the example of Jesus, who appeared to have a strong desire and deliberate love for those outside of the religious spectrum. He walked, talked and ate with the best and the worst of them without making so much as a race, class or gender distinction. At least that’s what I gathered from reading the scriptures.

He also found himself defending his choice of ministry constantly with the traditionalist of that day. It seemed that he violated the Sabbath quite often in their strict estimations. But what I wish to emulate the most about Jesus on this subject, is that He knew distinctly what, where and whom He was called to and He did it unapologetic-ally. He did it free from accepting the sting of judgment.

I believe that today the church world would refer to Him as a vagabond or one who did not want to be under the authority of leadership and those following Him, his disciples, would possibly be deemed as mislead.  I’m almost certain that I would be amongst those judged in his company if He were here on earth today because I’m even surer that I would be considered one of the least, if He were to break bread with me.
As much as I try to bridge the correlation between the modern day church and the authentic ministry of Jesus Christ, I simply can’t always see it.

That’s not to mean that I have not experienced powerful worship, revelation of the word through preaching and healing inside those aforementioned four walls, I truly have. But it seems that in order to continue to enjoy the atmosphere and the presence of God’s people, one must commit to a level that can easily take us out of balance.

I have a strong desire to know all types of people from various cultures and backgrounds. Unfortunately, this has not always been my church experience. The overall racial division on Sunday morning still astounds me and the cost of assimilation often comes with losing touch with the beauty of one’s own culture. This often speaks loudest in the music ministry.

I want to share the love of God simply by being the love of God to others without having to hand out a flyer or insist that they visit my church. I want to share meals, music and laughter on a level that doesn't seem divided…share being the operative word.  I believe that culture is meant to be exchanged not altered to look like the majority.

The idea of taking a walk with a friend or working in Community Theater and meeting interesting people who have their own stories to tell, intrigues me. Being involved in something larger than a city block and contributing in lasting ways to our society overall is the calling that I feel is on my life.

It’s important to me that I display to my children the need to ‘walk with God’ over regular, dutiful church attendance. The voice of the Holy Spirit is much more useful in the dark places than the voice of man. And while God does use man to minister, He calls us unto himself as well.  John 10:27 My sheep know my voice, I know them and they follow me.

Over the past few years, in the presence of God, in prayer and desperate desire to grow in Him, I have seen my life change exponentially. I’ve learned to fine tune my hearing to His voice and to live free from any denominational or traditional expectations. The scriptures are more alive to me than ever and yes, my love for people, all types of people, is at an all-time high.

I have had unexpected encounters with amazing Godly people just at the times when I’ve needed them most and I have continued to keep in touch with my wise mentors and those who have known me for many years. There have been quiet days full of wonder and weeping days full of release and I can honestly say that God has been with me entirely through it all.

Habits that I thought would never break off of me have been broken and fears that I carried for years are constantly subsiding.  I believe all of this has happened because of my decision to step back from what was expected of me (which is where I learned to pretend) and simply be in the presence of God, which is where I’ve learned to be real.

I can tell by His gentle leading that God is calling me back into corporate fellowship but I’m also certain that He is not doing so at the risk of me filling a schedule of activities and meetings that steal me away from the richness of His presence.

If we insist that people must adhere to the schedule of the church, the vision of the Pastor and the needs of the ministry on such a regimented level…are we doing so at the expense of their own personal need to be one with God and complete in the presence of Christ? Are we doing so at the risk of losing relationship with those outside of the church who desperately need a touch, a hug or a kind word even if they never come inside?

Can’t we allow ourselves the balance of both being present in ministry on the inside without isolating ourselves from the rest of the world? If the light stays inside the building only to come out on special occasions (scheduled outreach events) how dark do you expect it to get before it’s all said and done?

Why not leave the doors open and the lights on at all times? You never know who needs to come in…or go out.

Follow me on twitter! @barefootpoet

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When Throwing a Fit Just Won't Do...

This week, I was met with some measure of disappointment. Something did not go the way that I had expected. It cost me, literally, and I had to decide how I was going to process this life lesson but not without a word from my emotional sponsors first.

While praying and crying it out simultaneously, I discovered the truth being spoken aloud from a place inside of me that was not shy about being exposed. The truth said: “I’m hurt behind this…that’s what I really feel, taken advantage of.” Once I heard truth with my own ears, I was able to accept that these words were in fact correct. You see, I had an expectation which was not met, actually, it seemed as though it was ignored and since this expectation involved another person, my disappointment doubled. When I addressed the other party and no real closure came from the situation, I then became hurt, but anger, my old friend, stood in front of hurt and decided to handle my dilemma for me.

After a few hours of anger saying the same old things and responding the same old ways, compassion and forgiveness began to nudge their way from the back of the room to have a word with me. They were quite convincing but anger managed to stand off to the side leering at me as if to say: “Come on you can’t let them off that easy!” Just as I leaned in a bit to read angers lips, truth put his firm hand on my shoulder and said these words: “ you've made mistakes too, for which you've been forgiven, what do  you say to extending the same forgiveness?” “But I've changed!” I reasoned and it’s the principle of the thing!” I knew that deep inside I couldn't hold on to that stance forever, so I decided to will to forgive, until I could truly forgive. Willing to forgive is like forgiving on credit until you have enough compassion and conviction to actually obtain forgiveness and use it. I will to forgive often; it’s my revolving credit account…

Later, when I went to take attendance to see who was still lodging in my emotional residence, I found that truth, compassion and forgiveness decided to stay and encourage each other. Every once in a while I could still hear the faint sound of anger’s distant footsteps out in the cold wandering around in the dark. I realized that he was not banished forever but in order for him to return, he had to promise to listen to the majority and confer with them before acting further on the situation. By morning, anger was willing to comply.

The whole of it is, people will disappoint us, take advantage of us and maybe even leave us feeling hurt. All emotions are honest but not all of them can govern our reaction if we want God to intervene and move on our behalf. After all of these years, I finally realize that God can turn any situation around for my good if I simply concede to handle it His way… 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ready, Get Set...WAIT!!!

Timing is everything. This I've learned throughout my life by way of impatience. It seems that whenever I get an idea, a goal or a want in my head and it starts speaking to me in excited tones: “NOW - WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!! – CARPEDIEM!!!”  If I listen, I am often sorry. There is nothing like discovering (on the other side of regret) that I should have waited for God’s timing.

I have found this especially true in the area of relationships. It seems that I meet amazing people, with incredible potential to bring love and joy into my life, yet, I meet them prematurely…out of season, if you will. Like beautiful fruit too soon for the picking, that's what these relationships remind me of.  I have come to the conclusion that God will often show me the end from the beginning, then walk me back to the beginning and insist that I follow patience’ protocol by waiting.

This has not always been easy because of mymust happen now” personality; it has taken quite a few years for me to understand the need to wait and the gift of living within my season. It is now that I receive waiting as a gift and I understand that something greater than what I perceive must be taking place in the heavens, and by acquiescing to this “delay”, my chances of enjoying the fruit of my desire increases greatly.

If you have met someone, a friend, a potential love or you are possibly reacquainting with an estranged relative, don’t jump into it expecting that all will sail smoothly and without incident. Take your time access it from a distance, in prayer and allow God to show you the possibilities and His timing. This will save you much grief and assumption.

Just because the opportunity is presented, doesn’t mean that the timing is right. Take your time, you waited this long and by doing so, you've gained some strength along the way.

Enjoy the sunrise…