Saturday, September 8, 2012

Not just P31 but a little Titus too........

My focus, for the most part, seemed to be on what it meant to be a proverbs 31 woman for the majority of my adult life.  To be that wife of noble character.  To make sure that my husband lacked nothing of value and that he had full confidence in me.  To go out and gather the food (or run to the market).  Select the finest wool and linen for the household (run to Target or Macy’s).  To wake up and prepare for the days adventures before any of my love's put one toe on the floor.  And, when there is someone in need…,give what I am able and maybe just a little extra.  All this so that one day I could be clothed in strength and dignity.  And to have that ability to laugh at the days to come.  And maybe the words that would fall from my lips would be enriched with wisdom, and I could have that faithful instruction on my tongue.  And let’s not forget to toss the bread of idleness right in the trash.  To be able to cease the conversation at the gossip party.  To know that one day, yes, one day my children would wake up and say, “We are really blessed!”  That all seems so easy when you read Proverbs 31: 10- 31.  But in all reality putting it all into play in my world seems often so difficult. To be the” go getter” that this p31 woman was/is takes a lot of grace and mercy.
This past week, each morning before my feet hit the floor, I have been praying that the Lord would show me where I am failing in my journey as a P31 woman.   I knew that I was asking Him to reveal to me some very grey and dark areas in my heart and in my actions. So, in turn, I laid my request for Him to strengthen me with a fresh fill of grace and dignity. 

Monday morning I woke up, had a little conversation with my heavenly Father, and was feeling lead to read Titus 2.  As I sat at the table, feasting on these words, my heart dropped.   I came to the realization that I had areas in my life that needed to change.  I had this bad routine or habit that had developed over the years.  I’d wake up in the morning,  grab my husbands hand, pray for my household , shower, feast on a fill of God's word, sip on a fresh brewed cup of coffee, check out the latest and greatest on the Internet, straighten up the mess that was left behind from the night before, feed the pets, pack some lunch, wake up whoever needed to be alive, leave for work.  Then I'd come home from work, walk in the door, kiss my husband hello, say hello to anyone else seated in the living space, and run to the bedroom to change into my pj’s , then back to the kitchen, start dinner (P31 duties) and now for the habit……grab a wine glass or two (misery loves company) and the bottle and head to the sofa a.k.a. couch and pour.  This all started with a small glass every night.  And gradually became a sharing of a bottle.  To most people this is no big deal.  But for my kids it was a huge deal.  They began making excuses like, “Mom is still depressed about Grandpop’s graduating into heaven.” And maybe that held a little truth.  But it was a very poor excuse and even worse example.  I am a kid of the King.  What is my deal?
 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” ~Titus 2: 3-5
As my week progressed, I continued to pray that God would keep me accountable.  I knew that I wasn’t capable of doing it on my own.  Life around me was still the same.  The stresses of work, home and every day weren’t going anywhere.  It is God’s grace that would and will help break any and all of my bad habits. “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,  while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” ~ Titus 2: 11-14
So, here I sit on this Saturday morning still hungry for His grace and dignity,  I am filled with the knowledge that I must always strive to not only be that P31 woman; but that I must also develop the Titus 2 traits as well.  I have one fantastic husband,  four wonderful daughters, one spectacular son,  a terrific son-in-law, one absolutely beautiful granddaughter , a courageous mom, two beautiful sisters,  a loving  brother, eight gorgeous nieces, three smart nephews, one sensational great-niece, a multitude of accepting  in-laws and an abundance of inherited family.  I want to be a blessing to each them as they are a tremendous blessing to me.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Covered in His Dust.

What would Jesus do?  Could I for one solid year commit to asking myself this question every time I was about to venture into a conversation, an uncomfortable situation or just another basic moment of my very own shallow life? 

As I sit here writing this blog there are so many awful things happening in the world around me. Mass shootings, political slander, and children growing up without the understanding of what it is to have respect for others and for self. I live in a world of chaos and destruction. I have spent the past few years of my life full of some really big "woe is me" moments as well.  So much so that I have often allowed them to take ownership of who I am. I have felt let down, taken advantage of, and abused.  People are people and human is as human does......And as a result of my own human nature I continually allow things, and people, to rent space in my head.

God is God and He is faithful.  And His ways are higher then mine.  The more I pray, the more I sit at His feet,and the more I seek His face, the more I begin desire to be like Him. Yes, to be covered in His dust.  I need to follow in His foot steps and be completely covered in the dust from the path He is leading.  In order to prepare for the journey ahead I need a few things. An understanding of the truth, a willingness to obey, and a desire to seek.

How do we even begin to grasp an understanding of truth? In a world full of deception and lies it is often difficult to discern between a lie and the truth. It is human nature to want to look good. Even our leaders show that very human nature. They slander their opponent. Looking in every crack and crevice to find a flaw that they can build on to make the other candidate look horrible and not worthy of the vote. All this so that they can take the focus off of their own hidden flaws. Jesus never said magnify your neighbors flaws. He reminded us that we need to take the plank from our own eye first.  The truth is that our hearts aren't always in the right place.  More often than not we do things for selfish gain.  Even making the decision to be a follower,these days, has become for our own selfish gain.  We deceive ourselves into thinking that it is okay to continue in our sin because we are "sinners saved by grace".  Ouch.  And we hang our hat on "our deeds are like filthy rags" and lay down and do nothing because we got the "free express pass ticket" on the "gravy train".  So, instead of having the "I deserve salvation" attitude, we need to seek the truth.  And the truth is that we need to have the attitude of a servant. To follow the lead of Christ, who was and is, the greatest model of a servant to ever walk these dusty roads.  God put on flesh and came to serve up a huge plate of everlasting life.  We should savor each bite.  Allowing eash tasty morsel to nourish us and give us the strength to carry out our mission.  Let's humble our dusty selves and be a good student.  When following in the steps of the greatest servant and Rabbi of all time we will then begin to see and understand real truth.

As a student, covered in His dust, we are called to be obedient.  Being obedient isn't always easy.  Especially when you live in a world that tells you it's okay to put yourself first. God tells us that we should do unto others in the same manner we would have them do unto us.  Think about that.  Now here is a good WWJD scenario.  Your "neighbor", who has pretty much neglected you for years, comes to your door.  They need to borrow your brand new car.  Their car won't start and they have a very important job interview.  And they need to leave immediately.  You have a split second to make the decision.  What is your answer?  I can tell you that my split second answer would probably be, "What are you out of your tree?" But wait, I am not looking very dusty now, am I? WWJD......Let's flip the situation.  Remember that plank in your own eye?  What if the "shoe was on the other foot"?  And the interview was your deal and you needed a car.  You know that if your neighbor allowed you to borrow their car you would feel like you were just given the greatest blessing of the day.  I know this is a really big ticket item.  But what about the little things.  Your phone, the computer, the lawn mower, a cup of sugar.  What is that possession that God is asking you to "lend" to your "neighbor".  How dusty are you going to get in your obedience?  God's grace is new and overflowing every morning.  He lovingly gives us a fresh fill every single day. And it is overflowing for a reason.  Be obedient and share His grace.  Be that biggest blessing in your "neighbor's" day.

God makes it easy for us to find Him. We just need to have a willingness to seek.   I remember as a child playing hide and go seek. The whole neighborhood full of kids would get involved in the game.  It was always exciting being the hider and the seeker.  I remember burying myself deep in the depths of the closet and hearing the sound of the seeker's footsteps.  I could sense their presence right outside the door.  And, sometimes I would move slightly because I had a desire to be found.  Usually, it would be because I had an admiration for the seeker.  But most of the time I would hold my breath in hopes of not being the first to be located.  I also loved being the seeker.  I would go on the hunt.  Looking for everyone.  It was exciting.  Just to find the prize under the bed, in a tree or in a cabinet. When we begin to seek God's word and all His treasures we should have that same excitement in our hearts. The prize of a life filled with an abundance of grace and forgiveness.  To never fear a lie.  To know that the dust that is covering you is His everlasting love.   Imagine how exciting each minute of the day could be if we made the decision to be the seeker of the Lord. If you seek Him you will find Him.

I pray that the power of the Holy Spirit be upon each one of the Rabbi's student's.  As we take these baby step and begin to imitate Jesus' every move.  I pray that we continue to observe You through your most precious word.  And also that those very words,"What Would Jesus Do", be tattooed upon our hearts, minds, and mouth.  I know that I desire to be a straight A student.  And, I know that when I wander off the dusty path, You will hold the line and wait for me.  In my eyes I may only be an average student.  But, You, Lord always see me as a prize.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Not the Prodical.........

To be jealous is to be envious or fearful of being replaced by a "rival".

I often feel like I live in the story of the prodical son. In my life it's not the Prodical vs the "I am right here" son.  In my world it is the Inherited vs the Biological.

I am certain that there is a jealousy on both sides.  There has to be.  The inherited's no longer live at home.  The oldest inherited lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey.  And the second inherited moved out, got married and is now expecting our first grandbaby at any moment. And then there are the three biological's.  And all three of them still live at home.  The oldest,who is currently working as a nanny and going to school, is preparing to move away within the next few months.  The second biological is in her fourth year of nursing school.  And the youngest is heading to our local Penn State campus for his freshman year.  All five of them have very different lives but the one thing they all have in common is this "home" and the privilege of being a part of this very dysfunctional family.

Five very different individuals that want to be treated equally.  God created each and everyone of us to fulfill a very specific purpose.  And not one of us is treated equally or the same.  For me, the Lord has given me the blessing of a big family.  And there are individuals to that don't have any family at all.  It isn't because God loves me more that He blessed me with an abundant family.  And it isn't because God loves those other individuals less.... or more depending on how you perceive the situation at hand.  We are given what is needed. I know that God is a faithful God and He is a fair God. He gives each one of us what we need when we need it.  His grace is sufficient and He is a very gracious God. Very gracious.  In case you didn't read that I said a very gracious God. So, with that being said, how do I treat these individuals and give what I can to each of them when they need something from me?  I too am one person.  I have that same, "What about me" attitude.  I often feel like others are getting more attention, more joy, and more love than me.  I throw a little tantrum in my head.  And often become withdrawn from the world.  Woe is me.  How can I, a person who struggles with the same "I want, give it to me, me first, I want it all, hey why did you do that for him/her and not me" attitude, show my family that each one of them will always be given what they need.....when they need it and if I can give it.

With an attempt at following the example of the Father, I try my best give to each one as I see fit in my heart.  I rejoice over each one of my  five kids.  I am sure that at one time or another each on has played a duel role in this life. They have each been the prodical and have all stepping in to play the role of the tried and true. I just pray that eventually they will all be excited about each others welcome "home" celebrations. As each one of the five "prodical's" have and will return there will be a a time of rejoicing! And as the "I am right here's" get wind of the celebration, there will most likely be a touch of jealousy that brews in their heart. Just like the other brother in Luke 15: 11-32 they feel like shouting what about me. The "I am here's" instantly forget about the grace that was and is shown daily to them. Jealousy is a very ugly and destructive emotion. I know that there is a tug going on. They too want to rejoice but their jealous hearts can, and often do, get in the way.

The Father rejoices and blesses the returning son.  Even when this child spent all his dad's hard earned money, slandered his family name, and went against the grain. Dad's arms are extended and still wanting to embrace his lost child. The only thing the prodical was able to give was himself .  Imagine how difficult it must be to be so disconnected, physically and or mentally, from the family because of distance, lies, actions and other choices one made.  It  makes for a very humbling experience to walk into a room of "I am always here's".  I praise God that He has given me the example of what unconditional love is truly about.  The prodical needs grace.  And, I know that I myself, a former and currently struggling prodical, continually receives a fresh fill of his grace every day.

God's grace is enough. And I am so thankful that He is God and I am not.   I try hard not to be one of those parents who gives only because I expect to receive something in return.  But, I often find that I am overwhelmed by the lack of gratitude.  All my jealous heart really desires in return is respect.  You know clean up after yourself, say thank you, have a willingness to help with stuff.  I all reality my list of "all I want in return's" could go on and on and on.  Because I am a brat too.  I give and that is the easy part.  The hard part is giving unconditionally.  I pray that God will continue to direct me.  As I seek His truth that I will remember each day to give to my prodical's and always here's the abundant grace that my Father in heaven continually give to to me, His prodical, every day.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

From Translucent to Transparent

The past few weeks/months God has been training me on the art of sitting at His feet. A lesson on being patient and waiting on Him to reveal the plan. And for those who know me, this isn't an easy task. I am not much of a sitter. I am more of a multitasker. I had this bad habit, still have a touch of it, of running myself into the ground. I stretched myself so thin that my life started to become very translucent. I was trying to be a light. However, there wasn't much clarity. You might say I am a bit of a "diamond in the rough".

I have been doing a lot of thinking, praying and seeking. My mind is blown away by His faithfulness. In scripture, I read two powerful words, Jesus says, "Follow Me". When my Lord and Savior calls on me, He is direct and to the point. "Kathleen, drop everything. And follow Me". My heart is overwhelmed. He wants me,the biggest sinner I know,to walk with Him. To sit at His feet and break bread with Him. Crazy! It should be so simple.....right. "Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart. And lean not on your own understanding. The thought of relinquishing everything. Dropping my net. Leaving everything behind. Not worrying about what others think about me. No looking back at the life I lived in the past. To keep my hands, both hands, on the plow and keep my eyes focused on His plan. NOT mine. Is terrifying to say the least.

God has and always will be consistent when He calls us to follow and trust in Him. Recently I took an adventure with a man named Jeremiah. He totally trusted in God's plan and followed without hesitation. You see the Babylonian's were coming to Jerusalem. And they were strong and they just defeated a town off to the east. And the people of Jerusalem weren't even close to being as strong as the towns people from the east. Some of the leaders believed that if they stood along side of the Egyptians they might have a chance. But, Jeremiah said, " Hold up. I don't think that is necessary we are going to be defeated. So let's just go out there and surrender. Why waste our time and energy fighting?" Can you imagine? Give up without a fight? Jeremiah must be out of his tree. But, he was trusting in the Lord with all his heart. He heard God, trusted His plan and shared what was put on his heart. Jeremiah never had to surrender. His fellow "friends" and leaders thought he was nuts and put him in prison. So here I am now. Thinking to myself. What if God told me to surrender to something that I thought was totally off the wall? Would I listen and follow. Or would I ignore the calling?

While my new friend, Jeremiah, sat there in prison. He was encouraged, comforted, and given wisdom. ("Moreover the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. Jeremiah: 33:1-3). God says to each of us, "call unto me!"

God is ALWAYS faithful. Again, I will say it. God is ALWAYS faithful. And sometimes He may need to go to some extreme measures to get us to call out to Him. For me, the most recent, that tribulation that brought me within the cell walls, was the event of fabrications being told about my household family members. And those vilification's came from one of our own "towns people". But these events, as they continued to unfold, made me feel insecure, broken, and confused. I sat back, fell to my knees and waved the white flag. "I surrender". And as I said, "He, God, is ALWAYS faithful". Just as He did with Jeremiah, He began to give me encouragement by telling me, "Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you" ~2 Chronicles 20:17. And comforted me with, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" ~Psalm 34:18, "Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again." ~Psalm 71: 20-21, and He gave me strength with "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." ~Isaiah 40:18-31.

God's timing is always perfect too. Every trial, tribulation and prison stay is His way of saying, "Be still and know I am God." He can and will calm the seas, move the mountains and fight the giant. He can and will right all the wrongs. He is ALWAYS faithful.

My heart will still get hurt and I will probably get overwhelmed in the things that I choose to get involved with. I am just praying that I will be a light in my husbands eyes and also in the eyes of my children and my children's children. I want to leave a legacy that has great clarity. My desire is to become less translucent and more transparent. God knows the deepest and ugliest parts of my heart and soul. He created me and knows every crack and crevice. And He also know how to refine this stone into a gem.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A trip to Paradise.....paid in full.

This morning, before getting out of bed, I thanked God for this days fresh fill of His grace.  I then proceeded to go make the coffee to get the fresh jump start on my adventurous day.  As I sipped on the fresh brew, I flipped on my kindle and started to read.  The statement I fixed my eyes, my head and my heart on was,  "There is no believing without following".   John 3:16  states,  (come on, say it with me) "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."   In this verse the most resounding words in my mind and heart are "whosoever believes".  This is an open invitation. It is kind of like the Valpac that comes in the weekly mail.  It doesn't discriminate and it is delivered to every house.  We all know that there are some pretty nice deals in that envelope.  But often the recipient of the envelope just throws it away without even looking into the deals.  I myself like to look through to see where I can save. Inside this weeks Valpac, is a coupon for John 3:16, is an invitation. It's an all inclusive, paid in full, with luxurious accommodations, trip to Paradise.  All I have to do is dial 1-800-YES-LORD.  And press one for "yes" or two for "not now, I am really enjoying the trip I am on." But there is more to this phone call.  Once I press #1  I get transferred to an agent of the Lord by the name of Luke.  Luke reviews the invitation. He wants to be sure I have a very clear picture of what it meant when I pressed one for "yes". He explains that Jesus, the sender of the invite, wants to have a deep, passionate, and very real relationship with me.  A relationship that will last an eternity. Now, Luke inquires, are you ready to accept this paid in full journey to Paradise?  I respond with, "I have a question.  Why is it that I got this invitation? Why would Jesus want someone like me sitting at His table.  Why would He want a sinner, one of the biggest I know of, sitting at His feet just so He could gaze into my eyes.  And, is He really okay with me following Him at the risk of ruining His own reputation?" "Hmmm, Luke responds, that is a very great question.  Jesus' heart is overwhelmed with joy!  You see from the beginning of time He has had His eyes on you.  He was waiting for just the right moment to send that invitation.  He loves you and is willing to wash away every horrible thing you have done." "Is it really that easy?" I ask.  "Well, I am not going to tell you it is an easy journey.  You are going to have to lay a lot of things down.  You may even lose some friends and family members.  But you will never be alone.  The burdens may, at times, feel heavy and unbearable.  But I can tell you first hand that you will never regret pressing one for "yes".  Can I put you down for a reserved spot? "  I nervously say, "yes".  There is a brief pause and I hear a very calming voice.  Jesus gets on the line and says, "follow me."

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." Luke 9: 23