Tuesday, October 20, 2009

YES to GOD study: CH. 3: When I Feel Like I Don't Measure Up


where we are discussing the new book by our Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries.
I am really loving this book. Chapter 2 made me cry and this chapter made me laugh. Before we get to it, let's talk for a minute.

This past weekend Alivia, Amiyah and I took off to KC for a well needed Girls Getaway with Kelley and her family. We don't get to see each other often, but when we do we just have such a great time. Saturday night we went out of dinner with my girlfriend Megan who just moved to KC with her family from Lincoln. Nothing like great fellowship over some wonderful Mexican food served by Ricardo, the best waiter from Peru. Ricardo who has a little boy named Little
Ricky. Seriously.

It had been quite awhile since I had laughed until I almost lost control of my bladder, but the three of us together made for a great evening. Although they were not very nice to me.

I mean, how was I to know that people from Peru are Peruvians?
Not Persians as I lovingly called him.
Supposedly, Persians are cats.

I have only birthed three babies, but apparently when one is pregnant with baby #4, you gain some knowledge. One would think Megan had traveled to Peru before the way she held a conversation with Ricardo about Peruvian food and the beauty of the place.
Nope. Turns out that when her husband had to get a third job to support the family while in Lincoln, his boss was a Peruvian and she learned a lot about his beautiful country at the Christmas party. Incredible she could put that knowledge to use in less than a year.

Anyway, Kelley and Megan let me say "Persian" for quite some time. I was trying to sound intellectual like Ms. Megan when I asked where our sweet Persian waiter was for a water refill. I was wondering why Kelley kept meowing and Megan was saying "here kitty kitty" and didn't catch on until Megan schooled me on what the beautiful people from Peru are really called.

We all had a great time and made some more great memories while Gene was home watching football and Aaron was taking out his first date to homecoming. He assured me to not cancel my plans that have been made for 2 months since she asked him to her school's homecoming just last week. My Mom blessed him and took him shopping and he just looked so handsome....even though he was looking at the wrong photographer and what a beautiful date he had.

Okay...let's get to our book study.

Anything in blue is a quote from the book.

Starting this chapter out, Lysa shared a story that happened to her just last year which she refers to as the "great brownie failure of 2008".
Lysa was making brownies for her children's school bake sale.
100 brownies.
Fancy brownies.
Turtle brownies with caramel swirl.
Cut up and packaged in individual baggies.
Lysa would carry her baked with love brownies to school in a wicker basket.
How perfect.
Lysa was proud and would surely look like a doting Mom to the other bake sale Moms.
Three minutes left until she had to leave to take her kids to school when she remembered.
These turtle brownies had nuts in them. Lots of nuts. And there I was standing over individually wrapped brownie number 97 listening to my daughter's reminder that our school is, in fact, a peanut-free school.

Then she had to make that dreaded phone call to the bake sale coordinator to tell her that she could not count on Lysa to bring brownies that morning.
No shining star. No Really Good Mommy Award. No ooohs and ahhhs over my rectangular wicker basket filled to the brim with the deliciousness known as turtle brownie. No happy, proud kids elated with their mom's efforts.

When my 15 year old son Aaron was in kindergarten he played t-ball. Wasn't really his sport as he would draw in the dirt during the game. One hot summer game I was watching my son draw as his teammates ran after ground balls when Skyler's grandma Ann asked me what I brought for snack.

Ann was assigned to bring the drinks. Which she had in her cooler.
And I was assigned to bring snacks. Which I had completely forgotten.
I told her I was going to run to the store and would be right back.
Fortunately, she had reminded me before the last inning so I had plenty of time to make myself look like a prepared Mom.

When I got back I asked her if I could put my brown paper bag in her cooler until the game was over.
It was so hot and after the kids told the other team "good game", they all came running full speed toward Ann and I.
Ann, who had handed me my bag and opened her cooler so the kids could see her display of icy cold pop.

Aaron was so excited and rushed up to my side as I pulled out two boxes from the bag.
A shriek of excitement rippled through 12 little boys when they saw the picture of the snack on the box I was opening. I'm sure one boy even patted Aaron on the back as if to say,
"you have the coolest Mom ever".

This would be one of those "what was I thinking" moments in my life.
I opened the box and started to hand out the cute yellow treats.
Happy, yellow smiley faces on a stick.
Or in my case,
white wrappers dripping out yellow melted smiley face popsicles.
All down the boys' hands.
Who did not have smiles on their faces.

I was horrified.
Ann started laughing. Hysterically.
And the boys just held their sticks staring at me.
And most of the parents did too.

WHO but Lelia Chealey takes popsicles to an outdoor game in 90 degree heat as a snack?
Oh it was so sad.
I kept apologizing to the parents and each child and just like Lysa, I received no Good Mommy Award.
Then I took Aaron to wash his sticky hands and get some Dairy Queen.

In the grand scheme of life, this was not a big deal. I realize that now. But in that moment, it felt huge.
Suddenly I was overcome by a tidal wave of memories recalling many other events in which I'd fallen short. The more I let my mind free-fall into the pit of negativity and shame, the more disabled I felt.
And that's exactly where Satan would have loved for me to stay. That's his daily goal, actually. If Satan can use our everyday experiences, both big and small, to cripple our true identity, then he renders God's people totally ineffective for the kingdom of Christ.

Wow. Did you hear what Lysa said there?
If Satan convinces us that we are nothing but failures, he wins.
Because he knows nobody who believes low of themselves will allow God to use them.

Lysa goes on to tell how Satan delights in our feelings of inadequacy and he wants to help us stay there.

Satan wants us to start questioning God when we feel like failures.
But instead of questioning the One who is always adequate and asking
"Why doesn't Jesus work for me?"
Lysa began to ask
"How can I see Jesus even in this?".

How does she do that?
Because for me, I can get so fixed on what I did wrong that I can't see anything else.
I never thought of looking at my situation the way God showed Lysa to.
So, how does she ask herself
How can I see Jesus even in this?

The only way I can ask myself that question is when I pull back from the situation I'm facing and separate my circumstance from my identity.

One thing that drives me nuts is when people talk about teenagers getting pregnant and how they've ruined their lives. I've told my daughter over and over again that this can enhance her life. Yes, she is a 19 year old with two little girls under the age of 2, BUT what would happen if she stepped back from her situation and asked herself
"How can I see Jesus even in this?".

Separate her identity from her failure.
That is exactly how Lysa saw Jesus in the brownie let down.

Lysa learned much from the nuts in the brownies that day.
She saw that she is not identified by her failures.
She became more intentional about being prepared for school events.
She did a heart check and to see what her intentions of volunteering really were and whose approval she was seeking.
And she learned that God never intended for us to rely on others for our sense of well-being. Only He is equipped to provide that.

Mrs. T ended the chapter with telling us that it's a matter of the heart and encouraged us to not rely on others to complete our joy. Because we will never measure up.

I have to rest my heart with Jesus only.
Remain in Him.
Obey Him.
Stay faithful to keep His commands--even when I want to yell and scram and pitch a fit over nutty brownies.
Then my joy will be complete.
Not because I got an award or measure up in everyone else's eyes, but rather because I am secure in the fact that God loves me and must have had some good reason for allowing the great brownie debacle!

Oh, how I wish I would've learned that lesson with the melted popsicles.
But God's timing is so good, because now I get it.
Right on time in case I get assigned to take snacks to Alivia's gymnastics class.

Next week: chapter 4: Beyond Sunday Morning.

If you have something on your blog to share, please put your link in the comments section. I have to head out the door to take Gene to Omaha for his
pre-op appointments.

~Many Blessings~

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

YES to GOD study: CH. 2: Flitting To and Fro


YES to GOD Tuesday
on Wednesday this week.
Due to life getting in the way I am posting today. Alivia and I have been both sick since the weekend. I'm better, she's still running a fever and it was confirmed this morning she has asthma.

For anyone who has no clue what I'm talking about, we just started reading through the newest book by Lysa TerKeurst.
Lord willing, we gather here every Tuesday and discuss one chapter.
Click here to read the study FAQ's.
It's never too late to join in and even invite your friends. your thoughts or leave them in the comments and I'll post mine later.
Oh, and if you haven't seen Lysa's new look on her blog, click on her name above and go visit her.
It's beautiful!
See you soon.
Anything in blue is a quote from the book.

Last night I was at work reading this chapter and the tears would not stop. I know God is working on my heart and is changing so much at one time, but when you relate to something in print it tends to trigger emotions you didn't even realize you were holding in and boy did I let them out last night!

Last summer when I attended the She Speaks conference I remember listening to this speaker talk about having a "platform". I sat in my chair questioning why I was even at the conference. I had no platform. I'm not a published author. I'm not a speaker. So why was I at this conference? I remember how down I felt until he said this..."Your platform can be your blog."

Who was I to be working with a Christian ministry? Especially a ministry that taught women to love their husbands, nurture their children, and follow after God every day? None of this seemed truly possible for me. I was a hollow woman, not a holy woman. I had said yes to Jesus being my Savior, but didn't have a clue how He could be the answer to my emptiness.

Who am I to be used by God through a blog?
This morning it hit me after reading this chapter that if we don't allow God to be the One to fill us up in every area of our lives then we are on a chase of a quick fix.
I am learning to be content right where God has me and He is opening doors on His timing.

When Lysa shared how she looked for others or things to fill her empty cup I really understood her thinking. The only thing that filled my cup was regret. I now know the difference between being filled with Jesus Christ and the world. The world always has you searching and leaves you feeling so empty. Many women have found themselves on a journey hopping from bed to bed thinking, this guy is the one who will make me feel loved.
They leave that relationship with the same emptiness they entered into it with plus much more loss.

The reality is no person, possession, profession, or position ever fills the cup of a wounded, empty heart-----not my heart, not your heart. It's an emptiness only God can fill.
Anything we use as a substitute for God is an idol, a false God.

Oh, to be able to go back in time and apply what I know now.

I loved how Lysa took us through different areas she struggled to fill with things of the world and the before and after of letting God do the job He is the only One qualified to do.
Lysa tells us that every single thing the world offers is temporary. These fixes can never fill our void long-term.

I think that is one of the many things I love about this author is she is just so real. Real as can be and we can relate to someone who has "been there, done that". She shared with us on page 32 about her battle with the "If I Only Had" temptation.

I could be really happy and fulfilled if only I had...
a skinnier body. (YES!)
a husband.
a husband who was more tender and romantic.
more money. (YES!)
a more successful career....

What is your "If only I had" list?

This past Spring all of our kitchen appliances went haywire. We had already planned on getting a new fridge, but then I needed a new stove (could've waited) and we really had to get a new dishwasher (could've washed by hand).
With my all new black appliances I couldn't have a white microwave.

I was fulfilled with all of my new appliances.
For about a week and then I moved my focus from the kitchen to the living room.

"I would be so happy if I could get a new couch".
Yes, I know Gene is out of a job and has another surgery coming up, but look how worn my couch is Lord!
And our mattress is so old. Gene's back would be much more comfortable with a new bed.
Like a top of the line pillow top mattress.
And my bathroom needs to be remodeled.
The backyard needs to be landscaped.
The front yard needs to be landscaped.
I want to paint.
I need a new house.

Oh, I have no idea why the Almighty One hasn't struck me down with lightning!
Probably because He wants to keep me on earth at arms' length instead of having me follow Him around up above.

I don't know what your "if only I had" statements are, but I do know that none of them will bring fulfillment.
Becoming more than a good Bible study girl means realizing that, apart from a thriving relationship with God, even if you got everything on your list, there would still be a hollow gap in your soul.

What are you talking about Lysa T???
I told myself I'd be a happy girl if we could replace our leaking fridge.
But then our dishwasher broke so whowouldn't be happy with not having to do dishes by hand?
And I was happy.
Until the stove needed to be replaced. I mean, it only had one working burner!
My new stove hadn't even been used yet before I had Gene convinced that we needed a new microwave.
In black.
To match all of my other unfulfilling appliances.

Just a never ending chase ladies.

Lysa then walked us through how she now responds to people, possessions and positions that in the past she tried to get to do the job of fulfilling that only God can do.
Instead of saying "If only I had" she now speaks God's Word into her life.
Whatever your gap is, God is the perfect fit for your emptiness.

This is no quick fix ladies, it's a daily giving Christ control of what we think might fill us up.
Make us happy.
Yesterday on Facebook, author Mark Batterson's status read,
"your ultimate destiny will be determined by your daily disciplines."

So thankful we have a God that cares more about us than our happiness.

I must continue to pursue truth that keeps me grounded and God's love that keeps me filled.
my desperate hollowness is replaced by a desire for holiness.

If I could walk into my life when I was in my early 20's this is what I would say...
"Lea, don't go out tonight. You will end up with a man that will never love you, take care of you or even care about you. That empty feeling you have is something nobody or no thing can satisfy. You have a desperate hollowness that can only be filled by the God you asked into your life in 2nd grade.
Pursue Him instead of a man and see the difference."

My daily lack of discipline led me down a path of never feeling satisfied. Until I really met Jesus.

In my last post I said I had something to share, but then my girl and I got sick, so I'll be back this weekend to share it.
God is just way too good!

Last week we took a poll to see if you wanted to read 1 chapter a week or a section each week and the vote that won was to continue discussing 1 chapter a week.
If reading 1 chapter a week drives you nuts, then just come back and give your thoughts. Reading 1 a week really gives me time to "chew on it" as my dear friend Donna once told me to do. I learn more when I let things sink into my heart. Funny how that works.
Next week, Tuesday October 20th have read
chapter 3: When I Feel Like I Don't Measure Up.
Hmmm...think I'll start reading it now.

~Many Blessings~

Monday, October 5, 2009

YES to GOD study: CH. 1: Trying to Be Good Enough

Where every Tuesday we will begin discussing the newest book written by the beloved

If you have done a blog study with me before then you know what we do, but if you haven't then you just need to get a copy of this book and join right in at your own pace!
Here are some FYI's of the YES to GOD studies.

This morning I got off work and we had to leave town by 7:30 to meet with Gene's surgeon in Omaha. I will have an update later this week, but there is more back surgery coming very soon. Three major surgeries in one year.
Job back on the market.
Disability pays 60% of his pay.
No paychecks for the next 3 weeks from his job.
Another 6-9 months of recovery coming his way.

We got home and Gene asked if we could pray together and pray we did.
We are choosing to keep our focus on Jesus and Jesus alone.
None of the stuff above.
Not easy, but it is a must that we keep Jesus Christ as our main visual target.
Because really, He is the only One Who is in control.
I'll be back later in the week to share more about our incredible God.

Okay...let's get to it.


Anything in blue is a quote from the book.

People label and categorize so they can define who fits where and with whom, but I had neither the spiritual depth nor the mental maturity to break free.
So, trying to become more acceptable, more worthy, more lovable became my pattern, and worrying about what others thought of me a consuming, often condemning way of doing life. Their opinions were my measuring stick by which to answer the question, "Who am I?"

I have done this in my own life. I have changed who I was to become what I thought I was supposed to be and lost myself in the process. Letting others dictate who you are is such a dangerous game to play.

Throughout the first pages of this chapter, Lysa shares her story with us.
Her very absent yet present Dad.
Her 3 year sexual abuse from someone close.
Her parents' divorce.
Finding religion.
Her Mom's remarriage.
Her new siblings.
The loss of her little sister.
Her loss causing her to feel forgotten by God.
Forgetting God.
With my fist raised toward heaven, I vowed I would never love God, serve God, or believe in God again.

The thought that I wasn't good enough was more than just a feeling. It had become the filter through which I processed life.
Letting go of saving herself for marriage.
Looking for love in all the wrong places.

Life became a wild party full of temporary moments of happiness. The deeper I sank into this lifestyle, the more desperate I felt.
Walking into an abortion clinic as a mother.
Walking out of it with an empty womb.
I went home that day horrified at who I'd become.

Paraphrasing Lysa's story so much of my own life passed before me.
I never had a Dad who didn't love me...I have an incredible Dad.
But trying to fill my life with the wrong kind of love...been there, done that.
That is such an empty lifestyle and the ironic part is that you just want to be loved,
accepted and wanted.
Life outside of God's plan for my life is by far, the biggest risk I have ever taken.
A risk that had horrible consequences and have left terrible scars on my heart.

Lysa goes on to share much more with us, but I really got this part of the chapter when she talked about
Jeremiah 29:11-13
"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Seeking with all your heart requires more than just the routine Christian good girl checklist:
Read the Bible.
Do a Bible study.
Go to church.
Be nice.

I can't count how many times I have filled myself up with all that stuff and yet still feel empty.
I need those things in my life, but that can't be it.
My life has to be filled with Jesus.
I can tell when I'm distant from God, by choice and I have to reel myself in and re-focus.
In this world it is too easy to become distracted.

True fulfillment is never found in seeking to do enough, be enough, have enough, know enough, or accomplish enough.

I have a feeling God is going to use this book to take me to a new place in our relationship. I'm so willing Lord...

Next Tuesday~chapter 2.
Also, please take the poll about this study on the sidebar. Your input is very important. It's underneath the picture of Lysa's book on the sidebar.

If you have something posted on your blog about this chapter, please sign up below so we can visit you.
Check out the encouraging word Lysa left you in the comments.

~Many Blessings~