Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Enough With All The Shouting!

I just hate it when God decides that you need to hear something clearly, don't you? Usually it is not on the list of things you wished you were hearing. No, it is usually what HE thinks you should hear.

If it's His idea, and you aren't listening well, have you noticed how loudly He can shout? It never fails that when He wants my attention, there are at least five other people He will recruit to expound. AND He always picks random people, who don't know each other to expound. There are days where I am certain there is a secret conspiracy in which everyone is a part of, on opposite sides of the country, to ensure I hear what God is trying to say. 

When this happens I usually look at whatever ceiling is handy and proclaim loudly - "I GET IT!"

Truthfully, I probably don't actually get it, but I certainly don't need the megaphone from so many different directions….or do I? I guess I must because it has happened a LOT in 2017!

I find it a bit humorous that I get multiple megaphones, because my daughter says God speaks too softly for her to hear, and my hubs says he's not even sure God actually speaks sometimes. So how is it that I can hear all the volumes and words? It is definitely not because I spend time trying to hear all the words. There are a pile of days I would prefer to hear NONE of the words!

I even listen!!! I have been in sit and listen mode for weeks now. It's all I can do!! So why the need for all the shouting? Well, I believe I have some answers, finally, maybe....we'll see.

Let's give it go though, because if these are really answers, than I should share them with others who may also be feeling hard of hearing. 

Answer #1 is that while I have been hearing words, I've not necessarily been listening to what is being said. As a mom, I am able to weed out babble from a child with precision, while still being able to listen well enough not to get caught or to accidentally agree to something I didn't mean too. Apparently I have this same skill when it comes to listening to God. The difference here is that God knows what I'm doing so...

Answer #2 is that the times where I managed to listen to what was being said, I didn't care for it. So I just ignored it. Again, as a mom, this works towards the children. However, if my child chose to ignore my words, well, my words would get a whole lot louder in a hurry. (Here is where you go 'duh Kim, could've told you that! And I go 'yeah, well....') 

Answer #3 is that if the message is repeated that many times, then obviously I am not just supposed to listen, hear and retain, but I am to RETAIN and OBEY! Quick like! Without delay!! Pronto!! 

I shall stop here for a moment, because by now you are feeling like I am feeling....this all sounds exactly like a parent and child. BINGO! I am the child and God is the parent/father/in charge/authority/etc.... I however am an adult, which means I stomp my feet and say stupid things like, 'But I'm a grownup! Quit telling me what to do!' 

On a budding young adult, this looks stupid, but normal. On a grown woman with grey hairs and her own young adult, it's downright ridiculous. 

We have no need for Answer #4 because this pretty much sums it all up. God uses multiple people, multiple ways, and multiple times to ensure we heard, paid attention, retained the information, and intend to obey. If we choose to NOT do any of these things, well, I won't tell you what happens then because it isn't pretty. Just don't do it! 

I wish I could say that it is always pride that causes the foot stomp, but sometimes it's fear. Sometimes it's flat out rebellion, and sometimes it's honestly that I just don't get what it IS I'm supposed to be hearing. That is frustrating beyond all belief. These are the times when I have learned to just stop, sit, listen, and go right back to the Bible with a heart that is ready to really listen and obey. That is when the shouting stops. The soft, still voice speaks, and I find peace. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Friends with Pastors, Part 2

Have you been impatiently waiting for part 2 on sheep? If you are like me, you weren't really! I have a tendency to want to avoid any mention of how I am prone to behave at times. Those short-comings and flaws that I would prefer to have hidden away keep me from looking forward to hearing about them!

However, I did say in Part 1 how 'sheep' like we as Christians are. Today I am going to expand a bit. Sheep graze and follow each other around. They wander away from the group. They get angry when you try to shear them. The tend to just keep their heads down, eat their grass, and wander.

My favorite breed of dog is the Shetland Sheep Dog. They were bred to herd sheep. Their whole job is to keep the sheep together and help the shepherd move them, as a group, from once place to another. My Shelties live with my family. They have no sheep or little children to herd. So, they spin in circles, and put a lot of effort into convincing ME that I "need" to be herded to wherever they think I should be. When my nephews visit, they routinely try to herd them towards their parents. This is actually hysterical to watch!!!

This past summer we took my Sheltie Mira out to my parent's house for an afternoon. She broke the "no dogs on the pool deck" rule as she got very nervous about my one year old nephew walking around. Every time he got near the edge of the deck, she would place herself between him and the step or the edge (it has a large, open stairway the width of a smaller deck). She hovered as he played in the 1" of water in the baby pool. She followed and circled him as he walked through the yard. He is only 1 and fairly containable. Now imagine trying to 'herd' a bunch of adult humans.

Pastors are often referred to as the 'shepherds' of God's children, or flock. We are often just like real sheep. Pastors then must behave like my Shelties. They must circle around the people, keeping them moving in the direction God has said to move. They must go rescue the 'stray' folks, keep the others grouped together, and watch for wolves.

I've heard sermons about shepherds and what their job looks like. Maybe if you only have 50 sheep you can manage it on your own. If you have 1,000 sheep, you have dogs to help. The shepherd trains his herding dogs. He also starts with dogs that are specifically bred for their natural herding instinct.

There are a ton of people who want to be the leaders of others. They want people to see them as mature, capable, strong in their faith, competent, etc… They want to be in charge because they "know" what needs to be done. Some of us were created to lead. Some of us were not.

We as believers spend far too much time attempting to position ourselves to appear a certain way. We spend a ridiculous amount of time vying for attention and fame and position. We seem to think we know better than everyone else. I think I could stop writing right here and we would all be happy. Who really wants to be called a sheep anyway?

The thing is, all of us sheep become the responsibility of the pastor. Unlike real sheep (you know, the animals), we use other people to get to the pastor. Or we bad mouth him and his staff. Or we treat people differently based on what we think will get us closer to him. Or we get cliquey.

I once had a pastor friend give me a list of things I should make sure not to tell anyone else about his family's home life, simply because he didn't want anyone to judge him….and it was all nonsensical stuff that no one should have cared about anyway!

We want our pastor's to survive on no pay, be available 24/7, live as paupers as proof of their commitment to God, while we want bigger houses, nicer cars, and more comfortable chairs to sit on. We whine and complain about how they do their job, while standing in judgement of them. If only we were as content to just walk around eating grass, and laying in the field all day like the animals.

We complain when they attempt to herd us back towards God. We complain when they use the word sin. We whine about how they don't meet our needs, make us more comfortable, and on goes the list.

We place unrealistic expectations on leaders in the church, then get mad when they fail to live up to our ideals. If I was judged as harshly as most of my pastor friends, I am not sure I would survive it well. I would be tempted to tell a few people off, and certainly would not want to kindly pray for them!! (Here is also why I DO NOT and WILL NOT do counseling or Pastor on Call. I have limited patience for constant whining!)

So to be friends with a pastor, means dealing with all of the other sheep. The judgements, the false friends, the wanderers, the social climbers, the everyone. It means listening to, and sometimes wishing you hadn't heard, the whispers and murmurs and judgements. This is hard friends. It's hard enough to be a sheep that doesn't always go along with the crowd, but it is super hard to be the sheep that has to listen to all the others complain about the shepherd! It hurts! 

Dreams Come True

Yesterday on my Instagram account, I shared two bible journaling pages I had done, after reading through a devotional on Joseph and dreams coming true. It was part of the newest Bible Journaling Kit from Illustrated Faith & Dayspring, called 'A Heart That Receives'. (I've provided the links to both!)

Usually when I am bible journaling, there is a specific verse or paragraph to focus on. Yesterday was 10 chapters expounding the life of Joseph. I found a place to start however, and then found an additional verse, Romans 8:28, that fit well.

It wasn't so much the "Life and Times of Joseph" that spoke to me, but how the Message Bible translated Romans 8: "Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along….He knows us far better than we know ourselves…. (verse 28) That's why we can be so sure that EVERY DETAIL in our lives of love for God is worked into something good….God knew what He was doing from the very beginning."

At the end of Joseph's very overwhelming story (up to this point) he tells his brothers that it was God who was in charge all along. Despite their feeble attempts to get him out of the way because of their own jealousy, God worked out every detail to ensure that Joseph's dreams came true.

When we read Romans, we can see how this happened. I'm certain that Joseph had days where he grew tired in the waiting. I'm sure when he felt overwhelmed by his circumstances he wanted to complain, cry, and ask God how a pit, a jail cell, and a false accusation were going to help him accomplish anything good, let alone arrive as the solution to a future problem!

What kept catching me, was how often I believe that my circumstances are overwhelming. How often to I question the purpose of the pit and how it will get me anywhere? In my faith journey, I've had many, many of my own versions of a 'pit'.

Currently, I'm walking through one of the most challenging times so far. In the midst of a health situation that is costing me independence, activity, and some days my sanity, I question how this will bring any glory to God….and how it can possibly be an aid in any dream He gave me coming true. In the moment, it seems to be a stop sign, or a bottomless pit. A no-win situation which is quickly leading me to a solitary confinement of my room (read jail cell, because some days it feels like one!).

However, IF, and sometimes it is a definitive "if", God is in all the details, shouldn't I be rejoicing in this time and making the most of it? Joseph used his time in jail to impact the lives of others. Paul did the same thing from his prison cell. Do I? Do we?

The last few weeks I have questioned the dreams God laid on my heart many years ago. I've questioned the direction, the calling, the tasks, and just about everything else! I've cried out to Him in my frustration over being stuck in a bed. I've whined about how I don’t see any purpose for all this yuck, that some days is so overwhelming, I spend the day just battling for my thoughts!

Here is where this section of journaling became so important. Before we get to verse 28 in Romans, Paul likens our faith to pregnancy.Now I have been pregnant. At the beginning of my pregnancy I was ecstatic! I was finally pregnant!! It had been a struggle to get there so I was beyond thrilled! Then morning nausea hit, and everyone said it would pass (it didn't - it turned into all day queasy). I started to gain weight and have braxton hicks contractions, everyone said it would pass (this too did not pass - notice a theme here of things that others said would pass that never did? This continued for the whole rest of the 18 year journey I've taken with my child! Now it is finally starting to pass as she is grown(ish) up!). I started to get bigger, and bigger, and bigger…well, my abdomen did. I looked like I consumed the largest football you had ever seen!! I have a picture, and it’s a straight shot out the front!! 30 pounds of extra all in the front.

I was uncomfortable, heavy, and SO ready to be done being pregnant by the end! Paul says that our faith, like a pregnancy, is filled with waiting that we know will result in our dream…. A delivery of a baby! That part wasn't a whole lot more fun than pregnancy, if I'm honest! But I had my baby, a beautiful little 7 1/2" pound girl. Holding her in my arms finally, was so worthwhile! The snuggles and cuddles and all that baby goodness!!!! I had always known my pregnancy wouldn't last indefinitely….and Paul says neither will our waiting in faith!

If we spend our days focused on the pit, or the nausea, or the overwhelming circumstances that seem to be derailing our dreams and hopes, we've missed the point entirely. We should instead be focusing on the end result - the baby, the provision, the dream becoming reality. If it takes longer that we think it 'should', maybe we should remember that God is right there and KNOWS us better than we know ourselves. He knows when it's time to give birth to the child AND the dream!

Take heart friends!! There is a day coming when we will ALL celebrate the dreams God laid on our hearts coming true…if they are of Him and for Him. That is the only catch. I wanted to be a mom, and I am. I was only given one beautiful child to keep and raise, not the many I dreamed of. Two beautiful babies are already with God, but I am just as much a mom with one to raise as I would be with 3. I am just as blessed, just as content, just as thankful. I see that God answered my prayers, allowed my dream to come in His time, and according to His plan. It is still the dream come true, just His way, not mine. And that is okay.

Today, I will choose to remind myself that this too shall pass. That the end of the waiting WILL come, and it will be every bit as amazing as I hope it will be!! I use this time to learn all I can about the dream. (PS - I used my time being pregnant to learn about being a mom. I can use this time to learn more about my dream!)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hello Spring and New Products

I know there is supposed to be a second part to my last post, BUT, I am putting it on hold for now. I've been back down for the last little bit, as I caught something, so my remission plans took a slight detour.

To highlight how off-track it pushed me....I thought tomorrow was the 1st day of spring so I'm officially 2 days off schedule for a pile of things! Sigh......

However, what that means is that on this beautiful, sunny, 60 degree 1st day of spring, I get to launch our NEW products!!! I am so excited!!!

Since I have been down for a bit, I've had nothing but time to get clear, focused, and moving towards what I know is God's plan for me and for the Studio. Ready??

I adore so many things, and like most everyone, realize that not all pretty things are needed, I have focused on high quality, handcrafted, inexpensive ways for people to be encouraged and TRY new things.

I am releasing a line of one-of-a kind, hand painted, water color notebooks. Sized for Traveler's Notebooks, each of these notebooks are made to capture a moment, and give you the chance to see if bullet journaling is a great fit for you!

Next on the list is Planner Jewelry!! I've added some Planner Charm Chains so you can decorate your planner for every season, week, occasion, etc... New charms have also been added to customize!

There are more goodies waiting to be revealed throughout this week!!! In the meantime, be sure to head over to our Studio Shop Website for some great deals on Spring Clearance items! Things are marked down to 80% off!!!!

I will resume my regular blog posts next week!

Stuffed Mushrooms

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