Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Listening in Prayer

I'm about to watch The Princess Bride with my kids. Love that movie - great casting.

I once heard actor Mandy Patinkin (from the movie) talk about the time he met Princess Diana. He and the others invited to visit the royal palace that day were told what to do and say as they came through the receiving line. Wait your turn in line. Do not extend your hand to shake until she offers you hers. Let her guide the conversation and then move along quickly for the next person in line to meet her.

While waiting in line, Patinkin thought through what he’d like to say to the Princess. He wanted to mention a cause near and dear to this heart that he thought she would appreciate. When his turn came, the princess smiled warmly, extended her hand to him and said something like, “I love your work in film.” And Patinkin replied, “That’s not really what I wanted to talk to you about.”

He proceeded to say what he’d planned. Only later did he realize his guffaw and feel embarrassed. The princess responded to Patinkin’s violation of protocol good-naturedly.

Patinkin tells the story well – making you feel sympathetic for him. Of course, we naturally feel for him. Who wouldn’t feel nervous and rushed under such circumstances? Who doesn’t spend time in conversations thinking of what they plan to say next?

I think his story sticks with me because it reminds me of myself in prayer. How often I come before the throne of God, with the opportunity to hear what His Highness would say. And instead, I want to move straight to my pre-determined agenda. I want to pull out my list of requests – rattle them off –  and tell Him how He could address each one.

And then let Him move on to the next person. As if this were a receiving line rather than a relationship.

I’m sure Patinkin was happy to have chance to share his cause with the Princess – a woman with the heart and ability to do something about it. But I wonder if he doesn’t also long to know what she might have said to him that day had he let her guide the conversation.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Radiant notes

Last week I stumbled across this video and fell in love with spirited, young Jessica who is an excellent self pep-talk giver.

Sometimes a gal needs a little pep talk, because we slide so easily into insecurity and self-condemnation. We get self-concious about our house, our shoes, or our hair. And we get so tired of feeling less-than over such things.

Truth be told, we long to be great. Jessica gets that. Jesus gets that too. But as I discussed last night at Port City Community Church's Radiant event, Jesus defines greatness a little differently than we tend to. Jesus essentially tells us - in Mark 10:35-44, Mark 9:33-35, and Matthew 20:20-28 - that if you want to be great, serve.

Serve God and the needs of others.  Rather than serving our self and the opinions of others. For the first results in greatness in the eyes of God, and brings spiritual rewards.  The latter results in insecurity (public opinion is a fickle master!) and brings regrets.

I don't think Jesus minds if we want to wear cute shoes or color our hair, or clean up the house before company's arrival. This is more of an allegiance thing. Who is on the throne in the seat of your soul? Is it us, is it our company, or is it God?

Last night I shared a list of four things that helps me to keep God on that throne in my heart, and keep insecurity at bay.

1) Soak up Scripture. Soak it up like your life depends on it  ... because our self-assurance, our ability to obey God, and our eternal reward often does. When I'm soaked full of scripture, I'm less swayed by superficial, temporary things. In soaking up eternal truths, my faith grows larger than my insecurities.

2) Reach out to those in need.  When I encounter people who are truly suffering in this world, fine lines, a dent in my car, that new recliner I want, or the fact that I frequently forget to return library books on time just doesn't matter much. When Jesus and others' needs come to the forefront, I gain needed perspective. Serving does a world of good, for all involved.

3) Understand who you are as made by God.  Knowing how God made me helps me understand what He's designed me to do and what He probably hasn't designed me to do.  Unlike Jessica, I know I can't do everything good.  I wasn't made to. I'm not gifted for everything. This realization helps keep me from spinning my wheels, and from feeling like a failure at life. But in Christ I can do all that I'm made and called to do.

Take some personality inventories and spiritual gifts questionnaires. Ask God to reveal His designs for you. And don't put unrealistic pressure on yourself to do everything well - that describes God alone.

4) Ask, "Will this matter later?"  This one question frequently pulls me out of an insecurity tailspin. When you find yourself obsessively worrying over something, ask yourself: Will this matter much to me a year from now?  Will anyone else even remember this a year from now? And will this matter eternally - does it matter to God?  Often the answer is "no," and then I can relax.

I heard we had something close to 900 women there last night, and a whole slew of them afterward told me this was a topic they could relate to.  That's because the longing to be great in some significant way is universal.  Jesus doesn't condemn that desire, He just redirects it for us so that we'll know how to truly become great. And in the process, He lovingly rescues us from the tyranny of insecurity.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One Good Egg

Last weekend my elementary school son climbed onto my lap and asked, "Mom, have you eaten breakfast yet?"

"Nope, have you?" I replied. He is always the first one up on weekends in our house.

"No, do you want to have breakfast with me?"

"I sure do. What should we have?"


A sideways look from me. Rick is the only one who makes pancakes in our house. Rick and the kids are the only ones who eat them. I'm not a pancake person. I can, however, eat a waffle on occasion. And yes, there is a big difference.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Want to be great and love your life?

Just between you and me, I want to be great. Peferably at everything, but at least at a few things. I'd like to own some great things too.

So how does one attain greatness?  Is it earned, achieved or developed?  Or is it just something you embrace.  Like something you already have and just need to acknowledge?

Jessica is pretty sure it's the latter.  And this video of her cracks me up.

I'm pretty sure Jessica and I aren't alone in this desire. That's what I'll be talking about a week from today at the Radiant event at Port City Community Church. This team has some fun things planned for this event and the "after party" so if you are near the Southeastern NC coast, come join us.  Register here. 

It's gonna be greatYeah ..yeah...yeah 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wise Choices, Romantic Reads (and Shaunti Feldhahn)

Popular Christian author Shaunti Feldhahn weighs in today on our recent discussion on reading romance novels. Shaunti is the author of numerous books on sexuality and gender. Here's her views:

"I enjoy an escapist beach read like anyone else. I’ve got no literary pretensions. That said, however, I was concerned to learn that many romance novels are not as harmless as they look. In fact, some marriage therapists caution that women can become as dangerously unbalanced by these books’ entrancing but distorted messages as men can by distorted messages of pornography.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Do You Read Romance?

I decided to let this week's post on emotional infidelity run a few days because the comments there (as well as here at P31) are quite powerful.  I think every woman - married or single - should read them. At the P31 blog I responded directly to a lot of the comments, so follow the link to read those. PS. I'm working on getting that comment capability here in a new blog design. PSS. AIMZ is the book winner!

I have lots of questions for you today and I'm hoping you'll jump into the discussion with your thoughts. I'm wondering if you ever read romance novels? And if so, how they impact you?

This topic has been on my mind for a number of reasons. One is I just finished a couple of secular novels and a few of the scenes were a bit steamy. Nothing major. Seriously, this was nothing major compared to what I know is out there in print. I'm no prude, but it was enough to get me thinking about what it means, or takes, or costs, or impacts to read (or write) such scenes.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Emotional Affairs

Welcome if you've come over from my P31 devotion "Soul Mates."

On this blog we've talked before about lust, affairs, and why men cheat (according to research). Today we're tackling the sensitive topic of emotional affairs.

Here's why I ask. A sweet friend contacted me to confess that she is teetering on the edge of one ... perhaps even crossing the line. She wants to resist it, but he is filling needs for her that have not been filled in a long time with his words and attention. She doesn't want to do anything wrong; she is a believer. Yet she is finding the feelings he evokes and satisfies so hard to walk away from.

Have you ever found yourself in this situation - or close to it - with someone that is not your husband? If so, how did you get to that place - and how did you get back out of it?

What advice or prayers can you offer my friend?

PS. I promised to give away a copy of my book It's No Secret to a randomly drawn commenter on this post, but I'm going to offer the winner a choice between It's No Secret and Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome: How to Grow Affair Proof Hedges Around Your Marriage. I'll announce the winner on Wednesday afternoon.

Monday, June 6, 2011

What it's Worth

I came to a knowledge of Christ when I was in college. My college years were quite possibly the most difficult of my life.  I lost a significant loved one. My inheritance from that loved one went missing. My family took several major hits. We nearly fell apart. Our chain of Hallmark stores were closed or sold. Our house was sold and we moved in with my aunt. A customer was shot outside of our restaurant. I had a stalker, with a history of violence and molestation, and a suspected murder on his record. The list goes on.

But between my junior and senior year of college, I found Christ. That single event changed me. And changed everything for me.

I can remember sleeping with my Bible some nights. Occasionally I would fall asleep reading it. Other nights I'd turn out the light and clutch it to my chest. As if I could absorb its contents into my heart as I slept. As if my ability to wake and live another day depended on it. I was just so thankful to have that book, and its Author, guiding my life.

The portion of Proverbs I read this morning reminded me of those days and nights.

"Follow my advice, my son; always treasure my commands. Obey my commands and live!

Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes. Tie them on your fingers as a reminder.

Write them deep within your heart.

Love wisdom like a sister; make insight a beloved member of your family."

 ~ Proverbs 7:1-4

Once again, I am so thankful for this book. It is treasure to me - worth more than the large inheritance(s) I've lost. It is life to me. It affords me sight. It helps me see what is real and what is lasting. And it folds me into the best possible family.

When was the last time you felt really grateful for your Bible? I'd sort of forgotten for a while just how much this book means.  But, thankfully, I've remembered today. And in remembering, I find I'm filled with hope. And my faith is strengthened.

Is it any wonder that the Bible so often ecourages us simply to remember?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June 2011 Reading List

My June reading list:

1. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
2. The Confident Woman by Anabel Gillhan
3. She Makes it Look Easy by Marybeth Whalen
4. Georgia's Kitchen by Jenny Nelson
5. I'll Never Be French by Mark Greenside
6. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

I'm three chapters away from finishing #1, which is leftover from my May reading list. Pretty good writing in this one. I was several chapters in before I even noticed the writing - that's when it's really good.  Writers, you know what I'm taking about. Warning, this isn't Christian fiction.

I've also already started #2, while walking on my treadmill over the holiday weekend.  It's an older book, but kind of a Christian classic. So far I'm appreciating the truths inside but honestly, I'm not really liking the book all that much.

I also started already on #3, my friend Marybeth's new novel. So excited to finally read this after talking with her about it for months. I called her right away to tell her that just a few pages in I could tell her writing is even better than in The Mailbox.

I got #4 today from the library. It's large print edition which means I can read it easily while walking fast on my treadmill - love that. It's not a Christian book either but I'm reading a lot of novels like this right now. And secretly planning a trip to Tuscany. Only now I guess it's not a secret anymore.  I really should think before I type.

I also got #5 from the library today. It's a memoir I had on request. This, along with Marybeth's book, will be my poolside reading this month. Again, not a Christian book. Right now I'm into travel memoirs and books that cook.

Finally, #6.  I have a weird thing about not reading "best sellers" while they are hot. I usually wait a few years before I read them. Don't know why, except that a recent personality test told me I'm pretty highly non-conformist.  Maybe that's it. Maybe I don't want to read what everybody else is reading. But my daughter saw this in Target and begged for it. She read it in one sitting and liked it.  She told me about it.  Now I have to read it so we can talk about it!

As always, let me know if you've read any of these, or if you've got any good recs for me!