Friday, February 21, 2014

Bored With Christianity

I was thinking about this earlier this week// the bored christian.
How is that possible when we serve such an amazing God? Yet it happens all the time.
We grow weary. Our senses grow dull. We stop responding to his still small voice.
And soon it's as though we need a LOUD, BOOMING voice to wake us up out of our daydream.
The daydream that has come from living the boring christian life.

As I watch people float in and out of church, months in, months out. Or people float in at out of the passion and devotion for God, I begin to watch their lives become repetitive and mundane. Work, home, bathing, eating, sleep, work. Over and over.

I've watched myself lose interest in all things God at times. And when I do, I lose interest, at least passionate interest, in all things important. You know the big things. The meaningful things. Family, Marriage, Ministry, Friendships.

We do what we gotta do to get to the next day alive. And that's it. That's life.

Suddenly life seems dull. Family seems hectic. Marriage is blah. Church is definitely going through the motions. But it all started where? It started when I got bored with Christianity. Or maybe I should say bored with God. I know that sounds absolutely hideous for me, a preachers daughter to say. But let's get real people, it happens. No matter who we are.

But why? Is it because God is boring?
I'm convinced that all the little pieces of our lives are affected by our relationship and passion for God.
The joy of the Lord IS our strength after all. If there is no joy there, then there is no strength or joy anywhere.
It all trickles down from Him.
And for the record, laughter or good times do not equal joy. Not true joy.

I looked up the word boring and I came across synonym words like these// unimaginitive// unvaried// repetitive// monotonous// dull// uneventful.

The whole reason we become bored in anything is because we are not being productive. We are repeating the same thing over and over again, not using our imagination to accomplish new goals or try new things. Same thing goes for our walk with God. If we are unproductive, if our relationship with our creator is based on church on Sunday once, twice or even three times a week, it does get boring. Absolutely.

There is something about productivity that makes life exciting. That makes us feel satisfied and accomplished. And as a Christian, we need to be both productive inwardly as well as outwardly. I can tell you this without a doubt. There is nothing boring about spending time with Jesus. I swear, sometimes I am at his feet or digging in his word and I feel like running around my bedroom. I mean seriously. I get completely  hopped up on it. It's a high for me. It's when I start slacking on my time with God, that I feel bored with life.

2 Corinthians 2:7 says "Where the Spirit of the Lord is , there is FREEDOM."
It never said, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is boredom. If we are truly into this thing we call being a Christian, there is no room for boredom.

Especially true, if we are taking new adventures in our Christianity. Meaning, it's not all about my relief of boredom. It's not about me. But it's about sharing this Jesus I know in the ways I know how to the people I know...or don't know.  There is a new step of exhilaration that you feel when you know you've touched a life, sparked inspiration...even when someone specifically comes to you for prayer because they trust you. It is something to be experienced if you never have before.

You may think you are just so-n-so, living your little Christian life. It's just you and God.
But there is more. There is nothing dull about it. Not once you satisfy those cravings of creativity and adventure and passion. Not once you realize how you can affect people around you...
and the high you get from spending time with Jesus.

I challenge you to take Christianity seriously, this time. Don't just say you love him.
Really act on that love. Don't take love for granted. Don't get bored with it. Ever.
You will look back and wonder how you ever got bored with such an amazing person to begin with.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Sincere Love of Disicpline. The Sweet Love of Quality Time.

As a parent, sometimes the parent/child struggle is one of the hardest things to do. It's exhausting when your instruction or discipline is met face to face with defiance or an attitude. Yet it is our responsibility to discipline with the sincerest of loves, not just out of frustration. When my kids question me in that moment, I tell them if I don't correct this and I let you act how you want, then I am not being a good mom. My job is to raise you to respect people, love God and to not be lazy.
If I don't train up my child in the way he should go, and am being selfish with my time or complacent with instruction, then I'm not expressing the same love that Christ displayed for me at the cross... and the love He gives each day as he guides, corrects and instructs me.

However, Jesus does so much more than discipline us in love. He shows us blessing and favor. As parents, let's not let our instruction or responsibility be our only form of love shown. Kids can't always feel love in that moment, so we need to balance it out and demonstrate love with our words too...and our actions and our time spent with them. After all, isn't the sweetest of moments feeling the love our Heavenly Father felt when he spends quality moments with us whispering his perfect love into our ears. 

It does require sacrifice and adjustment within ourselves, because we don't always feel like doing it. But letting the only communication between us and our child be instruction can have a reverse effect and cause them to feel unloved. Whisper the sweet love of quality time and encouraging words to your child's ears.

To discipline is a responsibility of our love, but to show love requires more than just that responsibility. It requires filling a place in your child's heart that only you can fill as a father or mother.

Don't let that void be filled by someone or something else, or worse, don't let your child grow into an adult with that void left empty.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Facebook Rant (camouflaged by scripture)...

 Alot of stuff I post on here started out as a topic of discussion on facebook. I have to admit, I've always been sort of the kind of person who likes to give out wisdom or opinion, but I fear hearing the comments in reply to me. Because I'm super sensitive. And any comment that remotely disagrees with me, I get hurt feelings. Dumb, I know. But it is what it is.

Obviously I know that we don't all agree, so it has been something I have had to work out on my own. And I have. I've gained confidence in who I am and what I say so that not every ounce of criticism drives me to offense, but I gather up the pieces that might be true and I use them to work on myself ...and on my facts, so that I am a person of integrity, not just pride.

But even so, it's not often that I will start a discussion on facebook, because I hate confrontation, nor do I think debate or argument is right. Especially when there is no end. Or if there is no specific moral right or wrong. Obviously, I am unashamed of being a follower of Christ and I will defend his truth to the core, but if you want to argue with me, I smile politely and shut up. If you want to talk or discuss something rationally and calmly in respect of one another, I will. 
Just know, I still might cry. Haha.

Usually when I say something, I do say it with confidence in what I believe. And I think hard over things and pray about things and make sure it's something I even need to share.

Maybe there are people that have no business sharing every thought that enters their mind, but I feel confident enough in myself and what God has placed in me to use discernment and write out my thoughts now and then, or to share what God is dealing with me on. And I look up to others who do the same. There are just certain people, who God placed compassion and wisdom in and who voice it well...
and somehow we all come to respect them...
and there is nothing wrong with learning from people who God placed in our lives, even if it is via social networking. We might like it or hate it, but it's a part of our culture now, and as much as we want to cherish the good ole times of talking on phone and writing letters, I doubt it's going away anytime soon. So we make good use of it.

But I have been guilty of the occasional facebook rant or vent. Now that I think about it, most facebook rants, vents or complaints that I see are by women. Ha! Hilarious. Women are so emotional and respond out of emotion. And I've seen in myself in times past, my attempt at "correcting' someone's attitude or actions or theology in the form of an generalized facebook rant, obviously backed up by scripture. (Because if it's backed up by scripture, then it's not a rant, right?)
In hopes that 'so and so" would see my status full of Godly wisdom and fall to their knees in repentance. Or is it my anonymous way to publicly shame them and hope everyone knows who I am talking to and agree with me and "like" my status?
"Yes! Amen! I know exactly who you are talking about! THEY need to hear that!"
  I don't sound mean ( I don't think), afterall it is just the word of God, but the heart behind what I have said here and there has been more out of irritation than Love...

Am I the only one?
I know I'm not, because I've seen other people do it too and it prompted me to ask this question on facebook over the weekend and I was honestly loving the feedback. Even though I KNEW I was guilty of it. 
Now, how's that for growth, huh?

This is what I wrote:
Do you think that its ok to correct or instruct someone subtly & anonymously on facebook? Even if you are using scripture to back your thought up?  I feel as though God corrected me on this awhile ago, because I've been guilty of hinting via facebook that what someone is doing or saying is wrong.
If our heart truly is to help someone specific when we go into Gods word and dig up a scripture and post it on facebook, then why not just speak or contact them directly?
Instead we use the word of God to publicly shame someone who is usually just misguided or having a bad day. And we hope they will see our status and everyone who are our mutual friends will know we are indirectly talking to them. To me, that doesn't seem like the correction is done out of love, but rather out of our own personal annoyance with what they did or said...
and it could wind up hurting someone we care about or making them feel talked about, rather than spoken to. Again, I've been guilty of this...and I felt like God spoke to me on my intention and to really watch myself on what I do or don't say something publicly, no matter what it is.
Do we get glory out of it? Does everyone applaud us for saying what needed to be said?
Or does He get the glory? Is someone really helped in this manner...?
Something to think about, I guess.

And that was what I said.

The feedback was great. No tears here! I even had some people who do not profess Christianity to join in...
and I loved this comment, very true, not taken from scripture, but truth dripped from it...

"It seems to me that making a generalized statement... In hopes of reaching a specific individual. Is cowardly and self serving... Shame, fear, and humiliation are the least effective vessels of leadership. If you have genuine concerns with an individual... Contact them directly... Without making yet another generalized statement seeking justification."

Could that be any more true? How self serving are our remarks we make? Are we only out to prove we know more scripture? That we are right?And gain the hi-fives of those around us? If our hearts are genuine, and meant to "speak the truth in love" to a specific individual, then public shame and humiliation aren't the way to do that, even if you never mention a name or are "anonymous" so to speak...

I also received this comment, which spoke volumes to me.

"I've been seeing certain people do this a lot lately. It makes me sad when I see these passive-aggressive posts that are so obviously directed at somebody...trying to disguise it behind scripture. This is definitely the opposite of being a witness. I was very upset about something I saw just yesterday and this post put a smile on my face. Bravo♥"

Granted I wasn't writing my facebook post to receive her "bravo", but simply because it resonated with me and things I would say so often, and God had dealt with me so often on it. But it was good to know that I wasn't the only one aware of these secret motives of the heart, camoflaged behind scripture make us feel justified in spouting off a rant on facebook or to make it look like we are only trying to help in our all our vast wisdom & knowledge...
and perhaps arrogance? 

Perhaps when God has challenged us or corrected us on something, from that point on we see it more often in others. But whether or not we say something about it has to come from a place of genuine LOVE, never out of irritability or disgust...and never should publicly and indirectly preach a combination letter of humiliation & correction.
This is not speaking the truth in love.

God's word isn't sent to humiliate people into obedience, but to help them...
Nor does he ask us to humble people, but people are to humble themselves.
As a matter of fact, WE are to humble ourselves...

Guidance or instruction (coming from our thoughts) in the form of a blog or facebook post may or may not be directed at a specific person or a specific group of people. Only WE know within ourselves. It all boils down to our attitude or heart while we write it or publish it. We ask ourselves, do I say this hoping someone will see this so they can see how wrong they are?
Or do I say this, out of love, because God has dealt with me on this very topic and it helped me get a grip on life a little more?

It's a matter of our heart...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

20 Facts About Me & Being Pregnant

1. I have three kids and have never gone experienced going into labor on my own.

2. With 2 out of my 3 pregnancies I had to deliver early due to pre-eclampsia.

3. With my first baby, I was induced at 36 1/2 weeks, in labor for 36 hours and wound up having a c-section after two hours of pushing with nothing happening.

4. The epidural did not work for me.  I could feel everything depending what side I was laying on. The medicine seemed to rest on whatever side I laid on and would move if I was flipped over.

5. With all three of my kids, I took progesterone suppositories throughout the first trimester (yes suppositories, fun) twice a day.

6. After both a first and a second trimester miscarriage, I asked to have repeat progesterone tests done with all my kids. And with all my kids the first test came back with good numbers, but I made them do a follow up test, in which my levels dropped so I was put on progesterone.

7. I had good levels with my current pregnancy again, but after explaining my history,they give me progesterone for my 'peace of mind' without even testing a 2nd time. I only took about a months worth though throughout the 1st trimester.

8. I gained between 55-70 pounds with each of my pregnancies.

9. I lost all my weight with each pregnancy within 6 months.

10. My children's birthdays are now scheduled, thanks to repeat c-section. Of course the scheduled date only happened once, since I went in early the other time.

11. My smallest and tiniest child now, was actually my biggest child at birth. Jada was the only one delivered on the date she was supposed to be.

12. I have morning sickness until about 17-18 weeks. With each pregnancy, the extent of the morning sickness wasn't as extreme as the previous time.

13. I never lost weight due to morning sickness, because in order to avoid the nausea, I ate to keep my stomach settled. So I ate every 30 minutes, but rarely threw up.

14. Every pregnancy I gained 20 lbs by 20 weeks.

15. I developed carpal tunnel in my right hand/arm/wrist with 3 out of the 4 kids (4 includes my current pregnancy). Most of the time it wasn't painful, just numb, but some days I woke up in extreme pain from my elbow down to fingers.

16. I grew some sort of a blood blister on my side with my 3rd pregnancy that wouldn't stop bleeding if it was uncovered. I was told it was due to the increased blood flow and would leave after I had the baby. Thankfully, it did.

17. I couldn't fit any shoes when I delivered any of my kids, because of extreme swelling.
My feet were literally 'humped" after I delivered. It was horrid and funny at the same time.

18. After I gave birth to Jada (my 2nd baby) I felt like I had been punched in the gut for about 2 weeks and was so winded. I am guessing it had to do with organs getting shifted slightly during the surgery. It scared the heck out of me and I thought I'd never be able to exercise again.

19. I breastfed all my kids past six months, but my daughter Jada lasted 14 months and quit on her own. I was so sad when she refused the boob. Haha. She never had a bottle and went straight to the sippy cup.

20. Probably in thanks to my excessive weight gain, I suffer from 'excessive skin" syndrome. Although I lose the weight, only a surgery to remove the skin will fix my tummy. It has taken a toll on my confidence at times. Clothes are always better after you have kids =) 
At least for the majority of us.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Why My Heart Breaks For Hollywood

Sunday afternoon, the news broke me.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman died with a needle in his arm.

His interesting roles captivated many. So many in fact that I saw people in a simple state of shock that we had lost a true talent as I watched my facebook throughout the day. I can't say that I have a vast knowledge of all his roles, but the simple fact that I've seen many movies with him in it broke me just a little inside, once again, as another of our beloved celebrities lose their life.

Each and every time we lose a celebrity, I see people complain about the 'shock' that rings through the nation about one man or woman dying by their own actions many times, when people are dying every day by the thousands all around us. Yet, there is something inside of me that begs to plea difference. These people are just as stuck and lost as the rest of the hopeless. They are just doing it with more money.

My heart breaks for Hollywood. It really does. They have all the money and access to all the doctors and prescriptions and addictions they want. I can't ever bring myself to judge them for it. Addiction is a state of hopelessness. Fame is a state of hopelessness. And I don't envy any celebrity for what they have or endure by any means.

I totally get that we need to protect our families and ourselves from pouring garbage into our souls, so we make ourselves aware of what is going on with people to some degree so whatever infiltrates them doesn't get to us. I was blissfully unaware of this until last summer when my 7 year old daughter started singing "I want to see your peacock, cock, cock, cock" from backseat of our car on vacation. I quickly scrambled to update myself on finding pop music with more uplifting lyrics for my kids to listen to.
But the fact that Katy Perry (Katy Hudson) did some sort of witchcraft type performance at the Grammy's or that Justin Beiber just got arrested, when both were raised in Christian homes, does not shock me. It doesn't give me reason to blast them, to hate them, or to even shake my head.... with a tsk tsk tsk, they should know better.

It does give me reason, to cry, just a little for them.

Truth be told. I was one of the few people that owned a "Katy Hudson" cd in the early 2000's before anyone else even knew who she was.
And I can't help that think that no one going into 'stardom' has a great aspiration of becoming a drug addict, or getting caught with a hooker, or getting arrested, or losing their faith as they make their journey from being a 'no-one' to all their dreams coming true.

Suddenly, the talent that they have is noticed, and they have the promise of wealth. And which one of us can say that people noticing our talent would not feel promising...or finally being able to not have to live paycheck to paycheck doesn't sound like the perfect life?

Those of us who have families & spouses and different aspirations now that we are older and wiser, perhaps feel that we would know enough not to get sucked in to the fame game. But if we were 15, 16, 19, 20 years old, with nothing holding us back and the promise of everything we dreamed of was knocking at our doorstep, do we really think we would not jump at what seems to be "opportunity?"

This is why my heart breaks for Hollywood, Nashville, New York...whichever city represents whichever celebrity, because most of them have great aspirations to fill and instead wound up empty, sad, miserable, alone, addicted.. They have all the famous people around them, all the onlookers that admire or even idolize them and yet no one sees them for who they are, people hopeless, not just looking for another fix, but looking for peace of mind. Looking to find a way to numb the world they live in....
and I can't shake my head at them. None of us can cast a stone. And most of us have not been in their shoes. Most of us had not had the promise of everything we thought we wanted at the age of fifteen...but this somehow makes us lucky, doesn't it?

Because we find out much easier, much quicker that life can be fulfilled in the simple way it is, with our families and with our faith in God. We realize we can still be happy with making just a few thousand a month.
Before most celebrities are even adults or have experienced a great deal of 'normal' adult life like the rest of us do, they are in a world filled with wealth and drugs and women. What does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? They lose themselves and they lose hope. And to them, THAT is normal life.
We are truly blessed.

None of us are exempt from temptation to hide, even in our own small paycheck to paycheck world. People we know, maybe even ourselves have given over to a fix of some kind, just to numb the pain. Imagine just for a moment the humiliation and demands of the whole world watching you and you slip in and out of marriages, rehabs, bad movies to good movies, criticism, bad photos, articles, lies....
and you have access and  have a way to hide. You have your guard up. You can act a little crazy and get the world to notice you, talk about how you need psychiatric help. Or you can smile for the camera, wow the world with your talent, and go to your room and stick a needle in your arm. Whichever it is, the temptation to hide behind something is great to us all, because we all are human.

The truth is, we shake our heads at a celebrity or even someone we know personally when they abuse their character or reputation, their bodies, their identity over and over again. We get tired or fed up with them not just changing, giving into temptation or addiction. And we give up on them. We talk about them. We get angry at them. We miss them. But do we pray? What would have happened if we prayed before we lost them? Do we ever empathize rather than shake our heads at them? No, this is not what they 'asked' for or what they dreamed of becoming...

On Sunday, I couldn't bring myself to say RIP Phillip Seymour Hoffman, like so many others do. For all I know, he isn't resting in peace, as comforting as it sounds to all of us. I simply don't know. That is between him and God. But what I did do was pray for his family, and the people that his life and death affected. That somehow, God could take this great tragedy in their lives and reach in their hearts so they would look up, to Him for rest.

And I let myself ponder that brokeness for Hollywood just a little and challenged myself to pray for people I love watching on the big screen. Pray for the voices & talent who grace our radio speakers. Pray for those who shock the world with their seemingly misbehavior.
Because something is lacking. It's not just brain cells...or that they are not a few bricks short of a house. We want to make jokes or look down on them or talk about how selfish they are.
But loneliness and feeling lost and hopeless is no more of joke for someone with money than someone with out.
They may just be a few prayers short of Jesus.

Instead of just admiring someone's talent, let's pray. And instead scoffing at someone's downfalls or lack of talent, let's pray...If you don't pray for them, do you ever wonder who will?

Matthew 19:24
Mark 8:36

Sunday, February 2, 2014

To My 18 Year Old Self...On My Birthday...

Today was my birthday. I don't even want to tell you how old I am, but if I said that 20 years ago today I turned 18 years old, would that help? I can't believe how quickly 20 years has gone by since I 'became an adult.' Ha! An adult! Suuuure!
I spent the day out. All by myself. Trying on clothes. I don't know about you, but all maternity clothes are simply ok. I never LOVE anything. I make what they have work. I ended up buying a maternity nightgown, because the only thing I have to wear to bed that fits me is fleece. I can't do fleece during sleep. I wake up in a puddle of sweat. I like warmth up until the moment I am about to fall asleep, then I have to put on a tshirt or tank. And, lets just say all the tshirts in the house were made for someone without a basketball in their stomach. So, I did it. I bought myself pajamas. I don't know when the last time I bought 'a nightgown' was. Maybe when I turned 18?
And after shopping for pj's, I sat down at starbucks...and started to read... I say started lightly, because something came up.

Anyways, for my birthday, I wanted to write myself a letter. A letter to my 18 year old self.

Dear 18 Year Old Julie:

Chill Out. That's it. That's all I have to say. LOL, I'm Kidding. Oh wait, you don't know what LOL means. They haven't invented the internet yet. What's the internet you ask? It's the devil. Or at least invented by the devil.

All joking aside.

Do yourself a favor & never try to be someone you are not to please people. You can love people, without trying to be someone for them. The only thing you have to be for them is Jesus. And that will come naturally when you listen to the rest of what I have to say.

Don't wait until your mid 30s to embrace who God created you to be.
Life is harder than you realize. Things come up. Tragedy, hurt, depression, temptation...things that you probably can't even imagine right now, but that is why you need to stay strong. Always keep your confidence in the Lord. Keep your life centered around him. He will be your only strength when it feels like everyone else has given up on you. Don't let yourself be fooled into thinking you missed out on life because you were raised to love Jesus.

Jesus IS life.

I don't say that lightly. I don't say that adultly. (I know that's not a word).
But what I mean is, I'm not trying to be a bossy, controlling, I know more than you adult. It is simply that, well, I know more than you. You were raised well and you need to be thankful for being grounded. Be so thankful.
Because one day, you will need your faith in Jesus. I mean, you will NEED it, in order to survive and breathe when you feel like you can't do it any longer on your own. When you just want out. Yes, you will beg him to help you to breathe. And you will finally feel grateful for who you are and who you  know.

And when you realize that, suddenly those parts of you that you thought you were searching for will fall into your lap. Those reasons God created you will shine through all the crap. But it won't be until you realize how badly you have to rely on Grace.

I would love to say I hope you never have to go through the hurt I went through to get there, but obviously I know you will. I just want you to relax more. Stop worrying about things that don't matter. Or people that won't be there. Don't believe that everything you think you want is what you really want. Because in the end, (not that I am anywhere near the end) but down the road, you will find out all you really wanted was to love and be loved by genuine want what every person wants.

Love everyone. Have compassion on everyone (I already know you do). But don't let your compassion and love for others turn you into a doormat just to please others. You're job isn't to please people, but to love people because you want to please the one who first loved you.
Just because you are shy does not mean you are not strong. Just because you aren't vocal doesn't mean you don't have a voice... Just because you don't grab the attention or the stage in an obvious way doesn't mean God hasn't given you something to say.
He has. And he has called you with purpose.
I wish you would see it more now. I wish more people your age would see it. The potential.

And ending with what I started with. Chill out. Stop stressing or spazzing or hyperventilating (you probably don't realize you could be so stressed). Just breathe...cry a little...and talk to God.  When it involves money, talk to God. When it involves your kids, talk to God. When it involves your marriage, talk to God. When it involves any moment of your world and existence, always be talking to God. Never stop. Or slow down. Especially when life seems too easy and you feel like you don't need God. Keep the communication lines open at all times, because when you are desperate for him, you will be confident He is there.

I wish you well the next 20 years of your life....

Your 20 Year Older Self....

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