Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mean-Spirited People

Her name was Mary Beth.  I remember it like yesterday, even though it happened in fourth grade.  She was so mean to me.  She made fun of me, stole my friends and even convinced the boy I liked that I had cooties so he ran away from me.  That was my first taste of pure dislike (probably more like hate) of someone. 

But it wasn't my last.

Unfortunately, there are people in our lives that just irritate us, berate us or make us feel like we are not loveable.  These people are easy to hate.  But they are hard to love.  Mean-spirited people can bring out the worst in us. And yet, Jesus tells us clearly that we are to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:44-45).  I remember thinking that was impossible the first time I read it.  But it is true - when we pray for our enemies, the Lord does something very miraculous in our heart - He changes it and gives us a love for people that we never thought we could love.

I never took revenge on Mary Beth, mostly because I was inexperienced, but in my life I have tried taking matters into my own hands with people who were ugly to me and it was never a favorable outcome.  Now I think I see why...

"Don't rejoice when your enemies fall; don't be happy when they stumble.  For the Lord will be displeased with you and will turn His anger away from them."  Proverbs 24:17-18

Whoa. So when I find sadistic joy in someone who I don't like falling (or failing), God actually turns His anger from them and is displeased with me.  It's like this invisible force-field of protection that I put up around the one with whom I am irritated!  How crazy is that?

I know it's tempting to want to get even.  I know people can be downright difficult to live with.  I know there are times when it seems appropriate to be the avenger.  But the next time I feel like I need to get even, I need to remember that when I try to do it myself, I'm in essence telling God, "No thanks, I've got this one" and He then protects that person from me. 

So....my question for you is Who are you praying for today? I know the list is probably a long one of the people you love, the people on your prayer list from church or bible study.  But what about those who are under your skin, irritating you to the point of frustration?  What about those who laugh when you fail?  Or try to take your job?  Or make fun of the way you look?  Or talk behind your back?  Or maybe this person broke your heart? 

The challenge for today is to pray for someone you don't necessarily feel like loving.  I know that God can change your heart for this person because His Word says so.  And I know it because He's done it for me.

Matthew 5:38-39 You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." But I say, do not resist an evil person!  If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also."

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Stepping Away to Focus

Every year around Christmas time, my husband and I decide to start praying for a single word from
God to sort of "theme" our coming year. We've been doing this for a very long time. It's interesting how as we look back on the year, we can see how that one word was woven through the things we went through, grew through and experienced (good and bad)! This year our word is FOCUS.

I knew right away and Rod and I were in agreement that focus was the word for 2014. God has been putting it on my heart for quite awhile. I think as a busy wife and mother, speaker, writer, radio morning show personality and all the other stuff I try to squeeze in to my already busy life, I knew God was telling me to slow down. That would take focus.

When I began to pray after we decided on the word, I knew that some things had to go in my life. I couldn't imagine giving up anything though! I love every single thing that I do and I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Nothing feels awkward or like it doesn't fit, nothing feels wrong or disobedient. But I'm exhausted and I'm more than a little stressed at times. So obviously, something had to go.

After much prayer and talking with my husband, we have decided that I am going to give up my speaking ministry indefinitely.  As much as I love it and as much as I want to continue, my heart knows it's just not the right time for it. I love my position at His Radio and feel God has placed me there for a purpose. I know I'm not done there yet. Traveling on the weekends and the time it takes to prepare for events really takes a lot out of me and trying to balance the two is just exhausting. I don't feel this will be a forever decision, but I do feel it is a right decision for the time being.

I do have a couple of events that I've already committed to for this year that I will definitely be fulfilling. But as of January 1, I will not be accepting anymore speaking engagements. I want to protect my time with my family on the weekends, I want to focus more on doing my radio show with excellence and intention and I want to grow closer to God in this process. All of those things will take time - something I seem to have very little of as I try to juggle all of my roles in life! 

If you are looking for a speaker for your event, may I recommend a few? These are women who I know personally and adore. They are kindred spirits and have powerful and important messages for women that I know you will enjoy:

Renee Swope (www.reneeswope.com)
Lisa Whittle (www.lisawhittle.com)
Gwen Smith (www.gwensmith.net)
Carol Davis or Luann Prater (www.encouragementcafe.com)

You could also visit www.christianspeakers4you.com and find some great speakers. The ladies who run that site are wonderful and will help you find just the right person for you!

Blessings to you as you begin 2014!  I'm excited to see how God uses this time in my life to teach me even more about not only myself but Him and His plan for my life and my family's life. It's going to be a great year!

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