Long Suffering

 

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What is long suffering?

Patience under repeated wrongs, forbearance under ill will, endurance in the face of adversity, steadfastness when everything is coming crumbling down. Long suffering. Often times when we think of long suffering we think of people struggling with illness or disease- like my grandmother or my aunts sister fighting cancer.

But long suffering has so many more faces, long suffering is the person who bites their tongue rather than snap back at the person who has yelled at them or put them down. Its the person who can walk into church with her head held high even though the church gossips call her a tramp- even though she is there only to serve Him.

Sure the others may not know that the reason she was branded a tramp, a heathen with no right to darken the churches doorstep is because she refused to share why deacon so and so left the church to those same people who now slander her name. The truth may never be known, but still she will not open her mouth, will not stoop to their level and roll in the mud.

Its the person who is unloved by their family- the one that no matter how many times they hurt them always opens their arms again and forgives them. Its the person persecuted and willing to die to worship Christ. The one who says I will serve Him and none other. You can have everything is in this world just give me Jesus. These are the faces of long suffering.

Long suffering- we are surrounded by it every day, in some cases its a single mom just trying to get through the day. Sometimes is an elderly church member in the hospital with no family that cares. Do we even notice? Do we honestly care? I know we’re busy. Someone else will go. Someone else will care. Its someone else’s responsibility. Its not my job. It will hurt too much to care. I am just as guilty of saying these as the next person.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Mathew 25:35-40

But it is our responsibility. Reach out. Maybe all you can do is give someone a hug, or tell them you are praying for them. Or maybe its bringing them a meal.  See beyond their past (Jesus does!) Do something. Reach out, pray for them- and keep praying for them until you see a result.

When Fear Looks Efficient

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Everyone has fears. Categories of phobias can range from the animal kingdom to personal pain and more. Among them all, most individuals can identify with the ever-looming “fear of failure”. God showed me something about this one this morning that caught me a little off guard. You see, I never really considered myself a fearful person. Cautious, yes; wary, sometimes; worrisome, rarely. Yet, I realized that there is a huge part of my life that is based on fear, without my ever knowing it: ACTION. Follow me on this one, it doesn’t make much sense now, but it will.

Up until this point, I have over-thought, over-analyzed, and over-complicated a lot of things that I know God wants me to take hold of in my life. While there is always the necessity of being in His will and doing things in His timing, there has been far too many times that I have allowed fear to hold me back from action. I mislabeled this though, and never truly identified my lack of activity as fear. I was though; I was afraid that I wouldn’t get it right, that it wasn’t God’s timing, that there were others who were more skilled, that I didn’t look the way I wanted to yet, that I hadn’t prepared enough or researched enough, the list goes on and on. You see, my fear didn’t look like anxiety… it really just looked like I was trying my best to efficient! I wanted to make sure I had all my ducks in their waddly little rows before I took action. Planning is necessary for life and so many things… but over-planning kills all productivity.  There’s no point in trying to make sure every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted when you never finish what you set out to do!

NO LONGER! I will no longer be held captive to an invisible tether. I will not hold back in apprehension to the calls God announces over my life, and I will most certainly never doubt my own abilities (or lack thereof) because it’s not about me anyway… it’s about Christ! How many of you are holding back on something that you know God has called you to do? Is a mislabeled fear the reason? Maybe you think you’re just being “sure” before you take that leap. Waiting on God is one thing, waiting because you’re scared is quite another. That fear can take hold of us and render us essentially useless to the Kingdom. We can be fearful of others’ opinions, our own opinion of ourselves, failure, not understanding something fully, appearing incapable, and countless other things.

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The problem with fear is that it is a liar regardless of your current situation. While, granted, there are times where extreme caution and planning are essential, but overall fear that cripples your success in life or your growth as a person is poisonous. Satan is the father of lies and thus the father of fear. When we give in to the fears that plague our thoughts, we are deciding that the lies that scare us are more powerful than the Truth that is within us. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. We cannot claim to walk in the Light and remain in darkness. So, with the personal revelation that I was, indeed, afraid of moving forward… here I go. I will jump in and disregard any feelings of apprehension, all the while staying sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. No more fear, no more regret, no more hesitation. This is the year my friends, 2016 is the year of no fear!

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

A Different Kind Of Peace

A Different Kind Of Peace -rosevine

Peace. Everyone wants it but few truly have it. When most people think of peace it involves world peace, Christmas, everyone getting along, or just a day laying on the beach.

The word ‘peace’ is used 429 times in the King James Version, but what does it mean?  I can mean tranquility, harmony, security, prosperity or well being. In the Old Testament the word used is “shalom” for peace. It is often tied to covenants or promises kept or in some cases a familiar friend. So technically peace is something like a best friend… that one person who holds your hand and walks through life beside you.

Shalom – completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. In modern Hebrew the word is Shelem which means to pay for, and Shulam meaning to be fully paid.

Paid for. The only way for us to find Peace is embracing the one who paid for us with His life. Its the only way to complete. To be whole, to prosper, to find rest.  When Jesus came he came as a friend to fulfill a promise that we could find peace and forgiveness. In the Jewish culture Shalom is used as a greeting like “hello” and “goodbye” but it isn’t just a simple greeting its a blessing.

Peace is a Person

PeacePeace seems to be pretty hard to attain sometimes, doesn’t it?

Even when it seems that life is going right- personal balance and contentment can occasionally be just out of reach. For some of you, an inner feeling of calm comes naturally and not much can ruffle your pretty little feathers (I envy you). For the rest of us, there are many things DAILY that threaten to steal our joy and sense of balance. While I absolutely believe that peace comes through prayer and the closer we are to Christ and the more we allow His Spirit to live through us, the more inner-chaos retreats. However, there are still times when anxiety, fear, doubt, impatience, frustration, bitterness, etc. all take a stolen seat on the throne of our hearts.

When you find yourself in this place (and yeah, you will), you can either do one of three things…

1. You can allow it to permanently steal your joy, sinking you into a dark pit that convinces you God is ignoring you and that you have lost your purpose.

2. You can “survive” day in and day out by treading the waters of life and simply get by until the circus inside of you finally pulls out of town (if it does).

3. You can realize that the type of peace necessary to overthrow those troubled times will only come by drawing close to the Father.

Reading Scripture, praying, serving others, etc. are all completely necessary for growth as a believer and doing the job God has called us to. Sometimes though, it just doesn’t seem to be enough (through no fault of God’s of course- but simply because we’re human and, at times, cannot fully get to a place of calm without it coming straight from the Father’s hands). So, how is this attained and what exactly is this kind of peace? It isn’t just contentment, it isn’t simply an absence of anxiety, true peace is a PERSON. The Prince of Peace created it, embodies it, and gives it freely to all who desire it. The closer Christ is to us, the more peace He brings with Him, and the less room stress has in our hearts.

James 4:8 says;

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

That means that when we reach for our Abba, He reaches right back for us- THAT’S where the peace comes from. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times- it’s my life’s mantra and I believe it is the key to anything we may have to endure or wonder about in this life-

We have to get close enough to God to feel His heartbeat! You can quote me on that.

We have to essentially climb up into the loving lap of our Heavenly Daddy and lay our weary heads on His chest. There is a peace that passes all understanding when we are cuddling with our Creator. Sound overly mushy? GOOD! When’s the last time you pictured God like that? When we can hear His heartbeat, the world stops being so loud. All of a sudden the things of this world aren’t quite as important because we can hear the breath of the Spirit of God. I dare you to find a peace that matches that.

How exactly do we get closer to Christ? Well, of course He speaks to us through Scripture, He holds us in prayer, and He uses countless other things to grow us… but He LOVES to lean in and hear His children praising Him. (Is it egotistical? Would it be egotistical for you to create breath itself and then feel happy when that breath thanks you and says it loves you? Of course not!) When God leans in, we get all the benefits that come with His closeness. That doesn’t mean we’ll never struggle and that life will always be peachy-keen. What is does mean, is that the peace that follows in the footsteps of the Father acts as our strength and shield when facing life’s challenges. With peace- comes joy, with joy- comes strength, and with strength- comes the ability to become and accomplish everything that God has destined for us in this life. Get closer to Him this year, it’s the best resolution you could make.

 

 

Hello to the New-Old You!

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We’re almost to the year 2016- WOOHOO!  We made it, in one piece, probably a good bit relieved that we have another year under our belt. Regardless of your opinion on the whole celebration, the idea behind the hoopla is one that I fully support: taking the opportunity to be thankful for the year behind (even if it was a rough one), to plan and set goals for the year ahead, and to reevaluate oneself in order to become a better person. I see the New Year as a great time to wipe the slate clean, create a new calendar, roll out some brand new goals, and start up an ever-evolving project list. (However, I also think this needs to be done periodically, regardless of the time of year… it’s just good sense.)

Once again, however, my nit-picky self rears it’s annoying head and finds the flaw in the plan… this time it’s the fact that so many of us set such incredibly high expectations on ourselves when the new year rolls around, that when we (inevitably) fail or at least fall short of that goal, we get depressed about our progress. I used to be this way when it came to my own, personal growth. If I had a weight loss goal, an educational goal, a familial goal, or whatever, that I failed to meet- I saw it as a huge problem! The real problem wasn’t that I missed the target and was hardly ever a lack of trying… the real problem occurred in the beginning planning session. You see, I have a tendency to set such high expectations on myself that when I do not meet them, I crash- hard; I’m working on this. I know now that while it is necessary to always strive to be the best YOU you can be, it is also crucial to do it within realistic boundaries. If you always set the bar fantastically high, you will always be disappointed.

Here is my trick for making resolutions (for whatever point in the year that they are made)… KNOW YOURSELF! Challenge yourself, set goals for yourself, and lay out the steps necessary in order to best plan for success, but ALL of this will be in vain if you do not first know who you are what makes you tick.

In years past I have set goals such as the following morning routine:

-get up every morning at 5:00 am

-have my God-time

-exercise

-then when the kids are up- fix breakfast, and start the day.

 

This sounds like a simple plan for a lot of people, and one that probably works for most… but I know myself better than that…now.

Here is what I know about Cassie-

1. I am NOT a morning person! I’m not lazy, I just don’t function well until I have enough time to wake up and get my day going… this does NOT happen at 5:00 am! I cannot compare myself to early-bird moms who pop out of bed with a smile and a song, exercise for an hour, then have breakfast made before the kids open their sweet little eyes. Do I wish I were like this? SURE! Do I struggle to try to put myself on their playing field? Not anymore! I have to set my morning routine and any other goals to the tune of what my body naturally dances to… if I don’t, I will most definitely fail that goal!

2. I know my character traits (and flaws) were not developed overnight and they cannot be changed overnight. That means, that I can create a goal of say- exercising more, being more patient, yelling less, always listening to my children, etc. But it’s not going to pop up and happen in a day just because I set a goal for it. I need small, tangible steps to take, in order to create new habits and break old ones. One example/goal of mine is the following: I want to listen to my kids more when they want to tell me something (even if it’s seemingly unimportant). So, instead of just saying “I’m going to listen to my kids every time they want to tell me something” and being disappointed in myself the first time I tell them to hush when they try to start a conversation in the middle of me planning dinner, I institute a plan. Part of my plan is this: if I know I’m in the middle of something or am a little too stressed/distracted to have a real conversation I’ll say something like this; “I really want to listen to what you want to tell me, but I have to concentrate on this right now… remind me after I get supper started and we’ll sit at the table and talk then.” If I forget, that’s ok, but at least I have a plan that’s realistic and the more I work on it the more of a reflex it will become.

3. I AM NOT MY NEIGHBOR! (I mean this literally and figuratively… my neighbor is an older lady who’s tall, thin, classy, and very well educated). What I mean is this- I can say with great fervor that, more often than not, I know better than to compare myself with any other woman. TV women, church women, neighborhood women, school moms, Bloggy moms, Pinterest princesses, and more… I AM NOT THEM! I can certainly learn from them, pick up good ideas, and find encouragement and inspiration, but I AM NOT THEM! I cannot put a remarkably high expectation on myself that is derived from someone else’s life! I am not tall, stick thin, extremely educated, or insanely crafty. I cannot cook like the Pioneer Woman and I do not have Michelle Duggar’s patience. I respect and admire women for their strengths, understand they have their own weaknesses, and know- in turn- what MINE are. Any goal I set for myself must be based on my own strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s realize and try to remember that, while making resolutions and setting goals is a very good practice… you cannot expect to be successful when you’re trying to be something you’re not. You are not trying to be the “All New You” or even “Be Whoever You Want To Be!” Stay who you are and simply strive to improve where you know God wants you to. You are living for an audience of One anyway, so who do you think you’re trying to impress? (I’m speaking to myself here as well). Set high goals for yourself but make them attainable based on the person you already are! Be YOU- simply a new- old-YOU.

What are you good at? Play those things up and strengthen them!

What do you want to change in your life? Think about the ways that you learn things and what types of things you are most likely to stick to… then come up with some small steps you can take to make small, trackable changes.

The New Year is a great time to make some big changes in your life: just make sure to take small steps to get there… on a path that is made for your feet.