Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What's In Your Closet?

So, we come to the end of another year...2009. What a year! There were challenges and triumphs. There were heartaches and celebrations. God has blessed us so this year with His faithfulness and provision. He carried me through back surgery. We were blessed with a granddaughter. I have re-connected through Face book with many friends I knew from church and school  growing up in Texas. It's been so fun to catch up with many of them. In fact, if any of you are reading this post, I would just like to thank each of you who have encouraged me and prayed with me through this year. I would love to have a reunion at my house for you all!
But I always find myself at the end of a year, so thankful to have it over and done with and ready for a "fresh start" in the new year.
But does it always work that way?
Have you ever wondered why all the New Years Eve celebrations have pictures of old men representing the current year and a little baby representing the new year coming in? I believe the point they are trying to make is that one life has ended and a new one has begun. That's kind of depressing to me. I have decided to think of it a little more like cleaning out a closet....out with the old and in with the new. Throw out all that old stuff that you don't like anymore, or doesn't fit anymore, or just doesn't seem to be working for you and start fresh.  A new day...a new beginning...a new start.
But how many times do we start "fresh" and fill that closet with the same stuff we had before? 
Our "new" beginning isn't so new, is it? Have you ever looked at that closet and thought "I don't wear any of that stuff, I should get rid of it." But then, you don't because if you threw it out....your closet would be empty? I have a closet full of clothes I never wear because they don't fit anymore or I just don't like them. Some were clothes that were given to me and I feel bad about getting rid of them. So, they just sit there filling up my closet. Because if I got rid of them...what would I put in their place?
What's in your closet?
*Is it full of old promises waiting to be fulfilled? Promises made to you? Promises you've made to someone...or perhaps even to yourself? Promises you've made to God about things you will do or things you will give up?
*Is your closet full of expectations? Are they expectations you have put on someone else? Perhaps they haven't done or become the thing you had "expected" them to do or be. Or perhaps you haven't become the person that someone else has expected you to be. Expectations you have put onto yourself?
*Is your closet full of regrets and  disappointments? Disappointments in what you have or haven't done? Disappointment in God for not having done what you asked or expected of Him? Disappointment in not being where you thought you would be by now? Regrets for mistakes made or missed opportunities?
So, let's clean out that old closet. 
Let's take the old promises and look at them again. First of all, who made the promise? If it's someone you love, give them grace. We all make promises and do our best to fulfill them. But sometimes things just don't work out the way WE plan them. If it's a promise God has made you...his promises are yes and amen. They will come to be. But we must wait for HIS time....not ours. Put the promises others have made to you back in the closet and wait with grace and patience. I have some things in my closet that I'm holding onto "just in case".  Those promises may still come to be. But take God's promises out and wear them. Remind Him of His Word and in doing so, remind yourself of His faithfulness.
Next come the expectations. Oh my goodness...most of those expectations are just garbage!! Get rid of them! I have come to learn in the past few years that I will NEVER live up to the expectations of others...either real or imagined. Did you know you can imagine expectations of others? And sometimes the expectations we put on ourselves are so unrealistic, we set ourselves up for failure. There is only one person whose expectations I am required to live up Father's. He is the only one who can lay out the standard to which I am expected to work towards. And I am so grateful that His grace and mercy cover my failures and inadequacies. Look at the expectations in your closet, evaluate them,throw out the unrealistic ones and don't go get anymore!
Now let's go through those regrets and disappointments. What is regret? Let's think of it as that favorite blouse that you saved up for months to purchase. It's a beautiful deep royal blue and you look amazing in it! But, the first time you wore it, you decided to start a load of laundry before you left the house. And while adding bleach to the wash you dropped the bottle and the bleach splashed all over the front of your blouse. Now it's ruined!! You'll never be able to wear this blouse! Oh, the disappointment, "but...I can't throw it away! I just bought this blouse - it's brand new! I'll just put it here in the closet." Why? So you will be constantly reminded of your mistake? Of your disappointment? You can't fix it; you can't change it; you can't reverse it. We don't need to carry around our "bag of regrets" as my sister calls them. You will, unfortunately, have enough people in your life to remind you of your mistakes and failures. You don't need to do it yourself. Throw them out!
So now that we have cleaned out the closet, what do we keep? Well, we have the promises of God, the expectations of God, His robes of righteousness, the armor of God that He has give each of us. We have the hope and future that He has for us. Let's add one more thing....Dreams.
I have a confession to make. I don't dream anymore. I used to dream....don't all little girls? But there were so many of those dreams that never came to be so I just stopped.
There is a sweet young lady who attends my church that I have had the pleasure of knowing  and watching grow over the last 20 years from a young teenager to a precious, loving wife and mother. In fact, it was her blog that encouraged me to begin my own. Her post this week was entitled "Dream a little dream with me" and it touched a spot deep within me.
Walt Disney wrote "a dream is a wish your heart makes."  I guess all dreams do originate in your heart. Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Can you imagine what would happen without dreams? Automobiles started with a dream. Computers began with a dream. Airplanes, space travel, television, telephones....all began as a dream someone had to improve our way of life.
What if Joseph had never dreamed? Yes, he was a bit young and foolish and boasted to his brothers about his dreams. But I imagine as he sat in that pit, and later as he sat in that prison cell, those dreams were what got him through each day.  God had given him a glimpse of his future and the greatness he was promised. 
Dreams are those things we hope for; and faith is being sure of what we hope for. So, if our faith is from God, then wouldn't our dreams be from God?  I've had dreams of what I wanted to be, or what I wanted to do. But, unlike Joseph, I have not hung onto them as I should have. I have boxed them up and stuck them on a shelf in the back of my closet. Some of them I have tossed out with the old. 
As I said earlier, the end of a year always brings a thankfulness that it has ended and the anticipation of starting over. All things new! Lay it all down...put it behind you. But then, I found myself in 2 Corinthians 8.
"So here's what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart's been in the right place all along. You've got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can't. The heart regulates the hands."
Just when I thought I could end this year and start new, Paul tells me to finish what I have started. Go back to the dreams I've been given and continue to work on them. Though some of them haven't come to fruition yet, God has given me what it takes to finish; to keep at those dreams.

So, Lissa, this post is dedicated to you. Thank you for reminding me that I need to dream. As I look over the past year and "clean out my closet" I will remember those dreams and include them. I will take them out of the box and put them with my other "clothes". So each day, as I put on my robes of righteousness, my belt of truth, my shield of faith; as I carry with me the promises of God and walk in HIS expectations, I will take with me my dreams. And together I will "Dream a little dream with you".
To all my friends and family, I love you all! 
Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Baby...

"You will be with child and give birth to a son, 
and you are to give him the name Jesus."
Luke 1:31
I am a Grandma! I know, hard to believe, huh? But my son and his wife have just had their first child. A girl...little Allison Lucy. She is precious! And I do believe the most beautiful baby in the world!  I may be a bit prejudiced however.

Sharaya gave me a beautiful gift. She allowed me to be in the room as she gave birth. Having had five children myself, I am fully aware of what goes into giving birth. But, I have never witnessed it myself.
What an amazing accomplishment! 
The gift of life...the miracle of birth. 
Giving birth is no easy feat. It's a lot of work having a baby! Even with all of today's modern technology. Sharaya gave birth in a nice clean hospital. She had lots of medical professionals coming in and checking on her every few minutes. She had gizmos and gadgets recording her vitals and those of the baby. She had medication to help with the pain. She had her mother and myself to help her with expectations of labor, birth and delivery, and her husband by her side...wishing he had a Grilled Stuffed Burrito from Taco Bell. And a waiting room full of family ready to welcome in this new little life.
Perhaps it's the season, but it got me to thinking of another young girl and another little baby.
Mary didn't have the use of a nice clean hospital. She didn't have the assistance of medical professionals coming in every five minutes to check her vitals. She didn't have monitors hooked up to the baby to keep check on the heartbeat. She didn't have medication to help ease the pain. She didn't have her mother nearby to tell her what to expect or how to "breathe" through the pains.

Mary had a stable. A dirty, smelly barn full of animals. Mary only had her husband. And her husband wasn't the father of the baby. She didn't have family waiting, ready to shower love on this little one. Most of them had probably turned their back on her...not believing her story of who the Father was and how she came to be in this situation. Mary didn't have anyone to tell her what to expect. No one to tell her if what she was experiencing was normal, or if perhaps something was going wrong.
Mary was alone...
A young girl giving birth...
to the Son of God.
Mark Lowry wrote an incredible song called, Mary, Did You Know.  He raised some very interesting questions.
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?

This sleeping child you holding is the Great I Am.
Sharaya gave us Allison Lucy Ehlert. And while she will forever change our lives, we have no way of knowing what God has in store for her little life. I don't know if she will be a prissy little girl or a tomboy. Will she like apples or oranges? Will she like to sing or want to play an instrument? Will she like chocolate or vanilla? Will she become a leader? Will she prefer to serve? Will she have a heart for missions? Will she rather to teach children? 

One thing I do know...God has a plan for her. He has purposed that she be born at this time, in this place, to these parents.  

Mary may or may not have known the answers to any of the questions Mark Lowry posed. The only things she knew were what the angel had told her. That He was the Son of God and was to be named Jesus. But  she rested on the same promise we do...God has a plan.

God planned that Jesus be born at that time, in that place, to those parents. To become flesh and dwell among us. To save a people from their sins.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
       and the government will be on his shoulders.
       And he will be called
       Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
       Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Isaiah 9:6
And He came to us as...
A Baby