Chronicling 40: Day 91 of 365

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This morning, a little lie was exposed… but it has me reflecting on a bigger moment from the past.  I’ll get there in just a second.

I listed an item on ebay for sale a few days ago, and the auction was due to close this morning.  I received a message late last night.  The person said that their child had accidentally bid on my item and asked if I wouldn’t mind cancelling the transaction.  No big deal, I did.  This morning wake up, the auction is closed, I print out the shipping for the winner,  packed up, ready to drop off at the post office.  Another message comes in from the person who requested that I cancel their child’s bid.

In essence the message claimed that he had bid on the item, then his child bid on the item from their account accidentally.  He claimed I cancelled both bids.  I responded that I only cancelled the one & explained the process, and shared the auction ended thus the item wasn’t for sale any longer.  Another message comes back, now he’s argumentative.  Honestly, I have no idea what this guy wanted me to do about it. I responded back that the item had already shipped to the winner.  Messages flurry in.

It became apparent as I read the messages that he had lied from the start.  My first educated guess is that he made multiple bids on the same item, and panicked when he realized he was about to win all of the auctions.  Not needing more than 1, he tried to get out of the other commitments.  My second educated guess is that in the end, he probably lost the auction that he kept and now isn’t getting anything.  Again, not sure what he expected me to do about any of this… my auction ended fair and square (not to mention, I didn’t have to cancel when he requested it.  I was being kind).

In the communication he must have realized that he was getting caught in his initial dishonesty, as he back tracked to cover up.  He need not worry, I’m not reporting anyone to Ebay today.  Ha.   If I’m right and he lost out completely on the collectible item he wanted… then that is punishment enough.  Right?

All of this brought me to think about how people react when they get caught lying, or doing something wrong.  We pass the buck on to someone else (their mistake, they misinterpreted, etc.).   We lie more to cover up our error.  Or, sometimes we just try to avoid it or the person completely.

Within the last couple of years, the latter played out.  Some people said somethings they shouldn’t have, and when confronted they tried to throw me under the bus.  Well, actually all but one did so successfully.  Even though I was addressing the issue head on, and even though one other person admitted the truth… so many spoke against me that it outweighed my own defense and the one other person from the group who was totally honest.  I get it, self preservation will often win out … when you feel backed in a corner.

Knowing that I was was honest, that I had been wronged, I made two decisions.  I would face them head on, holding to the truth.  I would also forgive them, even if they didn’t ask for it.  They never have, to this day.   Even though I still showed up, said hi, met for lunches… they never said a word.  No explanation for why they did what they did, nor a sorry… not even an inquisition on the fall out from it.  The subject was the elephant in the room, you could sense it, but no one dared look at it or speak of it.

Over time, those relationships waned.  Not because of me, but rather because they distanced themselves from me.  I think the weight of it was too much to bear.  Imagine facing someone you wronged, week after week… knowing what you did, never acknowledging it, and knowing that this person has every right to be angry with you and yet they are not.  The innocent person keeps showing up, keeps loving, keeps caring.  I think this is what “heaping coals” means in the Scriptures.  Mind you, I wasn’t intentionally trying to make anyone feel guilt or remorse, nor force an apology.  I just think that over time, you begin to feel the weight of your actions that you have not repented of… to the point you must do something.

You either face them, or hide from them.  These women have hidden from me.  They can’t face me.  I am beginning to wonder if they will ever be able to face me without reconciling what they did.  Do they not realize that is all it would take for them to release this guilt they are carrying?  Needlessly, I might add… because I’ve long forgiven them.  I’m not angry, nor hurt.  Yes, I’d be super appreciative if they came clean to those involved and cleared my name.  However, I don’t linger over it.  That relationship has already been moving toward restoration (although I suppose it would happen faster if my name was cleared, but I’m ok with letting time heal this too).

I loved those friendships dearly, and I am sad that we can’t enjoy our time together like we once did.  I also know I’ve done all I can.

Sometimes being honest from the start, even if it means you are going to face some sort of consequence, is better than walking around for years avoiding people because you feel guilty.  And, even if you can’t bring yourself to come to the person and apologize… if you can go back and rectify the situation, that is at least a gift to the person.  Both speak volumes about how you feel and your desire to do the right thing.  But, if you can’t bring yourself to do that… at least own your feelings to yourself.  Understand why you are doing what you are doing, why you are avoiding that person (place, project, situation).

Not that long ago a mutual friend said:  “She thinks you are mad at her.”

I replied, “I think she’s disappointed in her self.  I’m not mad, I was never mad.  I was hurt, but I’ve already forgiven her.”

I’m 40, I’ve got no time for drama and petty grudges.  I think we can live in peace with one another.  I think we can say “hey, I goofed up here… can you forgive me” and move forward without keeping a record of wrongs against one another.  We are all imperfect, we all make mistakes.

If you hurt someone, if you never said sorry, if you never confessed the truth, if you never set the record straight about something… there is still time.  And if that person is anything like me, they’ll appreciate it.  Whether it has been minutes or years.

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Chronicling 40: Day 90 of 365

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It’s been an interesting couple of years.  Natural and man made disasters, astronomical events, etc. have cause a lot of conversation about “signs and wonders”.  I’ve had people ask me directly if I believed these things were a sign of end times.  The question has rolled through my social media feed repeatedly.

I understand the human need to make sense of chaos.  The mind doesn’t like it, we need to sort it, we need reason, we also need hope.  As Christians, when we are in complete despair… the hope of Christ’s return tells us that we don’t have to endure more or much more for very long.  We long for the day He returns to make right the wrong of this fallen world.  I get it.

I also recognize the Scriptures tell us that there will be birth pains, as we draw closer to the day the Son returns… it will grow harder and darker.  We also know that signs and wonders will accompany His return.  So, it makes it really easy to look at all these things and see them as signs and wonders.

In the very generation that walked on the planet with Christ, during his life… they too sought signs and wonders.  God himself was here, and they wanted proof.

And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”

Mark 8:12

Since then, there have certainly been miracles.  We can read about them in the paper or on the news, people share their testimony on how God showed up in their lives in miraculous ways.   When it comes to these larger signs and wonders that will accompany the return of Christ, based on what I read, it appears that there will be no doubt to the believers as to what they are seeing.  These are not normal weather events and disasters, but things that are extraordinary.

Because of this, I have a hard time believing that an astronomical event that can be charted on a calendar qualifies as a miraculous sign and wonder.  Or, an event that has happened throughout history and has an exact date on when it will happen again.  I question weather patterns that are predictable.  And yes, even when a large amount of these things happen at one time, I lean more to coincidence than divine signs.

Why?

  1.  We are told that we will not know the day or hour that the Son returns.
  2.  Because of #1 we are supposed to live as if it could be tomorrow or any day, ready for the return.

Is it possible that these are birthing pains?  Sure.  I’m not discounting the possibility, but I’m also careful not to claim something to be more than what it is either.  Our credibility as believers matters, and if we walk around all the time shouting that the sky is falling… our voices are easily muted.  I save my voice for the thing I’m called to share, the Gospel.

I go about my everyday being obedient to what He has put on my path that day and not focused on watching for signs and wonders, nor focused on trying to interpret what all these events me.  My faith sits firm in that He is coming, I won’t know when, and that I’m to be ready for it.  Being ready for it doesn’t mean sitting at a screen watching news trying to connect dots but instead following The Great Commission.

At a conference, several years ago, one of the speakers Pastor Voddie Baucham said that our job is preparation for Heaven.  Preparing ourselves, preparing others.  I can’t be prepared, or serving others if I am tethered to my seat fixated on the news.  I trust that His Word is true, that when Christ returns it will be undeniable, and I’ll be ready…

… whenever the day arrives.

Chronicling 40: Day 89 of 365

awakenReally excited to start off a new devotion, and to do this along with some other local ladies.

It’s been a while since I’ve led or participated this kind of a group, as I’ve been busy leading other projects.

We must feed our soul, nourish ourselves with the Word and in fellowship with other believers.

If you are a leader, you can sometimes forget to feed yourself.  Sometimes, as a leader, we need to be a part of a group instead of leading it.  It helps us remember what it is like to be a participate and gives us a glimpse of a perspective we may have lost over all the years of leading.  Sometimes it feels good to be just “one of the girls” instead of the lady in charge.

So, instead of leading an official study group, we’ve come together for “Conversations and Coffee” where we are going to share how the devotion is impacting us, how these words each day are driving us to a deeper relationship with the God who speaks.

Chronicling 40: Day 88 of 365 #MeToo

#MeToo
It was just a few years ago, that this exchange happened:
 
Neighborhood boy knocks on our door to ask the girls to play. The girls head out to talk to him, I’m just on the other side of the door listening.
 
Boy: You guys want to play?
Girls: No, we are going to hang out here today, just us girls.
Boy: “I’m going to tell your mom that you are being mean to me, and get you in trouble, unless you play with me.”
 
At that point, I had to have a “no means no” conversation with a 9yo boy.
 
No. Is a complete sentence.
No. Is an acceptable answer.
 
The foundation of what led to the current ” #MeToo ” movement flowing through social media begins when girls feel as if they have no voice, no power, no choice. When they feel threatened to comply. Manipulated to comply. Coerced to comply. When others feel they can wield words and actions against them, without any repercussion.
 
The more people who are willing to share their #MeToo, the more we realize how widespread this is. But there are those who can’t post their “Me Too” story because their safety is priority, because they are still healing, because for whatever reason they can’t. They are still brave and strong, and survivors.
 
For those of us who say “Me Too” , we are not just speaking it for ourselves… but for those who can’t speak up yet.
I’ve shared some of my “Me Too” on Twitter.  It wasn’t easy.  And as I addressed the first, another came to mind, then another, then another.  Oddly enough no matter how many situations and groups of people I have removed myself from, it still happens.  For every one I shared, there were probably 2 more that I just couldn’t bring myself to bit “submit”.
Lord, that we would bring up our daughters with voices of strength, conviction, and resolve.   That we would bring up our sons with compassion, mercy, and seeing women with such value that they would never mar her with words or actions.
A few days ago an image rolled through my Facebook memories, in essence it was a screen shot of a conversation that stated:
There should be some sort of unwritten code among women, that if a guy is making you feel uncomfortable that you can approach a group of women and whisper that a creepy guy is bugging you, and ask if they mind you pretending like you belong to their group.
1.  No matter what ladies, if you are near me, there is always an empty seat with your name on it.  We’ll laugh and pretend we’ve been besties since the womb.  If you need a ride out of that place, I’ll make room.
2.  We shouldn’t need such a rule.

Chronicling 40: Day 87 of 365

quit

My daughter quit her job, is unemployed, and we’re not even one bit upset about it. 

My eldest daughter is 18.  Around 13/14 she began working as a mother’s helper during weekends and summers.  By 15, she was baby sitting on her own and even on retainer during the summer by a particular family.  By 17, she was working at the mall and at 18 she began working as a waitress. 

We never asked her to get a job, and honestly we’d have been happier if she hadn’t.  But, we also understood that teenage need for money.  We had hoped that by making an agreement with her to cover her expenses (car insurance, gas, etc.) that she would forgo working during college.  We agreed that we felt her primary responsibility should be her education.  We have the means to cover those costs and her educational expenses, at this time, and wanted to lift that burden of having to balance work, school, and social life.   In the end, we followed her lead.

Yesterday, she quit her job.  And we are not even a little bit upset about it, and happy to afford her an opportunity that many kids are not given.  We know how incredibly lucky we are to be doing this for her, and trust me we are not rolling in the dough financially.  We have made sacrifices to ensure this is possible (thanks Dave Ramsey).

Adulthood isn’t easy, and for some reason we as a society are really pushing our kids there faster and faster.  My daughter has shared how many of her friends were basically told to get a job and move out at 18 years old.  Now, they are coming out of high school and having to look for apartments, find roommates, and pay bills that most 18 year olds can not afford even if they have a full time job.  If you have had a teenager looking for a job recently, you’ll know what I mean.  The picking are slim, and the money isn’t great.  I know several girls who are carrying multiple jobs and trying to focus on college, at 18.

I understand that not everyone is in the same financial space we are, that can offer their college age students the same deal we did.  But goodness, can they not just keep their bedroom a few more years?  Do they need to understand the weight of carrying two jobs to make ends meet when they are barely out of high school? 

Lest you think me judgemental, let me establish my own history.  My mother was a single mom, my dad barely paid child support and there was no alimony ever.  In fact, he didn’t start paying his arrears until I was married (I’m the youngest of 3).  My mother worked multiple jobs, during many of these years.  I busted my butt for scholarships, and family members had paid into a college fund for me.  My mom never required me to work, or to move out.  So, I understand that even when circumstances seem tight, we still have an option to support our kids the best we can and give them the best hope at a good start.

Chronicling 40: Day 86 of 365

arrogance

I couldn’t sleep, so I began poking around on Instagram.  I came across several images that had the phrase “A Queen walks in Confidence not Arrogance.”  I stopped to pause.  This phrase took me back to my recent series “Don’t Confuse a Deborah with a Jezebel”.  I would definitely describe Deborah as confident, and Jezebel as arrogant.  What is the difference between Confidence and Arrogance and why does that matter?

The first thing I mulled over was that historically Kings and Queens believed their ruling appointments were by divine authority.  Yes, over time they understood that they held the position because of royal lineage… but that lineage was established by God.  Therefore they led their countries in confidence because they believed the Lord had placed them there to do so, that the Lord was on their side.  Interestingly enough the Scriptures talk about many Kings and leaders who didn’t have the Lord’s favor, although He allowed them to be in rule to serve HIS purposes not the other way around.  What began to happen over time was that confidence would become arrogance.

This last sentence is imperative to consider, and any of us walk forward in the confidence of our faith, that we do not allow it to become arrogance.  Look at King David, a man after God’s own heart… and the poor decisions he made from his own arrogance.  Whereas, Queen Ester was presenting herself before the King, not due to her own arrogance but instead through a confidence in God sovereignty.  She was willing to do what He required of her, even in her own fleshy uncertainty and risk.

Scott Burken, an author of several leadership books, defines the difference as this:

An arrogant person only feels smart if someone else feels stupid. Their sense of themselves depends on thinking less of someone else. They insist on correcting other people’s grammar or showing them their flaws, as it’s the only way they can feel an approximation of confidence. Arrogance is about intent: its when ability (or perceived ability) is used to look down on others.

A confident person feels competent from the inside out. They use their talents to genuinely try to be of use, or to succeed at the task at hand. They might seek external validation, but they don’t depend on it to define their sense of their ability or nature.

In some cases an arrogant person may have more skill than a confident person, but the confident person will tend to wield whatever abilities they have with more calm control than an arrogant person can.

By his definition, arrogance means that I define my value based on making others smaller than me.  My intentions are all about making myself look better, stronger, more attractive, etc.  I validate myself.  It is selfish, self serving, and ego-centric.  However, the confident person doesn’t need any validation. As my friend Faith James says, “you know, what you know, what you know.”  The use of our gifts and talents are not to elevate ourselves, but to genuinely help others or improve circumstances.

What all of this point to, for me, is the issue of the heart.  What are my intentions in how I present myself to this world.  Am I walking in confidence, that the Lord has given me gifts and talents to use for His Kingdom purposes?  Or, am I walking in arrogance, as if I am God’s gift to right this planet of His?

I was recently speaking to my friend Aimee Nelson, and we were discussing iron sharpening iron, and lifting one another up.  Aimee shared that in her community women helping other women toward success is not common.  It’s very competitive, everyone concerned about themselves, and it’s unusual to see someone enter that space with a genuine desire to help others more than themselves.  (Aimee, I hope I did justice to your words here.)

When ever Aimee introduces me to people, something she almost always includes is my heart for helping other women above myself.  Listen, this isn’t a pat on the back moment for me.  But I share this because it is truth.  When I speak to someone about their ministry, I come from a place of “we are all in this together”.  How can I help you get to where you want to be.  And, I mean it genuinely.  I believe when one rises up, we take the rest of us too.  Your success is my success, even when you are more successful than me.

Because of this belief, I have a confidence in how I present myself, my skills, and my knowledge to others.  I am genuinely trying to be of use or help the task at hand, as Scott Burken defines it.  But, even I have moments where I want to scream out.. “why won’t you listen to me, I know what I am talking about!”.  Is that arrogance?  I don’t know, maybe.  Frustration, more likely.  But this question certainly has me asking the Lord to search my heart, and show me my iniquities. If arrogance is starting to take over confidence, I want to know and I want to put a stop to that immediately.

Perhaps there is a very fine line between the two, and it may be easy to walk that line dipping your toes into either side with minimal effort.  I rather swim in the confidence of the Lord, than wade in the shallow waters of arrogance. 

Chronicling 40: Day 85 of 365

BJFB3I decided I wanted to give Bullet Journaling a try, and I didn’t get much more than a week into it before I was already figuring out my own way.  But, in all honesty it’s also a struggle.

Perhaps you know someone like me… very artistic/creative… but also a little bit neurotic/perfectionistic.  My right brain and left brain are constantly in conflict.

I look at other people’s Bullet Journals and I’m inspired by their creativity.  I don’t seem bothered by their imperfections.  Yet, for myself I struggle with those.  My first thought was “It would be so much simpler if I could just print up these pages”.  I was already taking the creativity out of it.  I don’t think I can even help it.  As soon as I made a page, I could already think of how I wish I would have done it differently, or that if I printed it up I could have made more room.  Lord help me let go of those controlling, need to be perfect ways!

I created my first “month” of pages for my schedule and tracking different information.  I already found myself wishing I could add pages in.  I suppose I could have taped in new pages… but instead I scrapped the whole thing and bought a small binder.   This way I could add pages when I needed to.  It was too confining.  I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the right thing for me.

Then, yesterday, I an epiphany.  It was the realization that the smaller amount of space meant I had to prioritize better.  What are the most important things that I am wanting to accomplish… my goals, tracking habits, and even in my schedule.  As I planned out my weeks, having less space to fill meant that I was choosing the things that were most important to me to write down into the daily blocks.

I wondered… if I don’t consider it important enough to write down… why would I want to do it in the first place?  Maybe these bookends on my time, small squares with limited space would ensure that I didn’t overbook myself… that I was creating margin in my life.

Curious to know if anyone else who Bullet Journals noticed this same thing, or if anyone else feels like we could all use a little more margin in our lives.

Food for thought.