Friday, April 18, 2008

Top Dog

I have an adorable Boston Terrier puppy that is 9 months old. I love this dog, named Buddy. So it was a no brainer when a local Christian radio station held the “WPER Perfect Pet” contest, that I’d enter Buddy. They had 600 entrants, and Buddy made it to the top 125! Then came voting by the public. Week One Buddy made it to the Top 50! Week Two Buddy made it to the Top 25! Next came the Top 10 - - but Buddy didn’t make it. He came in 12th out of nearly 600 entrants. I was happy, but a little disappointed. He isn’t the perfect pet?

But I got to thinking, what makes a “top dog.” A hedgehog and a goat, to name a few, beat out Buddy. A goat?! That goat isn’t necessarily a more “perfect pet” than Buddy – he just got more votes. But how often in life do we base our worth on others “votes?”

I remember when I was competing to be the Official Ambassador for Easter Seals in 2002. I competed against 15 other Junior Club candidates. We went through months of interviews, contests and culminated with a charity ball. I remember having the self-confidence to tell my husband, “If I don’t win, it doesn’t mean I wasn’t the best person for the position, it just means THEY don’t think I’m the best person for the position.”

I won! Well that was the hardest job I ever did and many times I wondered why I had competed for it! And I remember thinking, “Just because I thought I was the best person for the position, didn’t mean I was!” And so it goes.

Our self worth is often tied up not only in others opinions, but also in our accomplishments. And the fact is, none of that makes our worth. We are worthy, simply because we are children of God. Psalms 139:14 says, “I praise you {God} because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” We are wonderful, not because of anything we have done, but because all of God's works are wonderful, everything he has made, including us!

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” No matter how “good” we try to be, no matter how many votes we get (or don’t get!), we are God’s children and that is where we find our worth.

Although Buddy wasn’t judged to be the “Perfect Pet” by the voting public, that doesn’t mean he’s not the perfect pet to me. (But I still could have used that $1,000 prize!)

** If you'd like to see the Top 10 finalists, you can visit **

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Shut Up and Listen

I have a close friend who struggles with depression (well, "the blues" is what she likes to call it.) When we get together on a good day the conversation never stops, and I think we may even scare other people we get so carried away. We laugh until my mouth actually hurts from smiling. But she also struggles with the blues, and with knowing God. She believes in God, but to paraphrase Beth Moore, there is a difference between believing in God, and believing God. I think at times we all struggle with that - - knowing that God has a plan for our hope and future (Jer. 29:11). She emailed me a wonderful email and with her permission, I'm sharing it with you all:

"I was feeling really awful the last few months. Not eating, hurting all over, no energy and just plain miserable. So very very unhappy. I went outside very early one morning (couldn't sleep). It was around 5 AM. I was sitting on the porch and just almost reciting (to myself) over and over and over again for God to show me a sign that he was there for me and would help me. I would not shut up in my thoughts though. It was almost as if I was frantic, just saying it over and over. I kept just asking and asking and not listening. All of the sudden it hit me that how could he answer if i didn't listen so I just all at once said "shut up and listen". After a moment or two I gently said "God, I didn't mean you shut up, I meant for me to shut up" I SWEAR I heard him chuckle---he knows me so well.

Anyway. I closed my eyes and tried to think of nothing (a very difficult feat for me). I could here the birds and there was a very slight very comfortable breeze blowing. The temp was perfect. I felt my feet start to relax and felt as almost they were floating. I felt me mind begin to start rushing again but quickly stopped it. Slowly that feeling in my feet worked it's way up my legs. Eventually it went up my body, down my arms, up my neck and then to the top of my head. I felt like my whole body was floating. I was afraid to move. I didn't want this feeling to go away. It felt SO good! I felt RELAXED! yes, that's right, ME! I FELT RELAXED. My brain wasn't buzzing with the millions of things that are always running around in there. I felt at peace. There is absolutely NO DOUBT at all that the Holy Spirit entered me and reminded me that he's there. I just need to shut up once in a while to hear/feel him. I must have sat there like that for 10 minutes.

Then I knew I had to get up and start breakfast and getting the kids up. I stood up slowly, hating to move but you know what? When I went inside, the feeling wasn't quite as peaceful as it had been but it was still there. I did the things I needed to do and I felt relaxed while doing them. I NEVER feel relaxed. It was such a wonderful thing. It was a miracle that I needed. I was at the end of my ropes. I was hurting SO badly mentally and physically. Yes, my back still hurt afterwards but I was able to stand up straight and not crouched over. I smiled at the kids and didn't yell HURRY UP HURRY UP. (I still had to say it but I didn't yell it).

Well, of course over time the thoughts came rushing back and I still don't feel great (but I do feel better). And every now and then when I remind myself to shut up and listen I can feel it. It hasn't been as completely consuming as it was that one time but now that I have been reassured that he is there. I can relax just a bit and every now and then even remember to "give it to God."" (End quote)

What a wonderful God we have! He wants to let us know he's there...if we'll just "shut up and listen." Pray for my friend, for not only her physical and mental health, but for her relationship with God to grow.

And while you're having your prayer time, be sure to "shut up and listen."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wait Training

I don’t particularly enjoy exercising. Okay, I don’t at all enjoy exercising. There are many kinds of exercise programs, but there are basically only two types of exercise. Aerobic exercise is meant to increase and improve oxygen consumption by the body to create endurance. Weight Training is meant to increase and improve muscle tone to create strength. But what about Wait Training?

I don’t particularly enjoy waiting. Okay, I don’t at all enjoy waiting. Anyone who has waited on God for anything knows how long and painful waiting can be. But is God training us? What is the purposed of this Wait Training? Could it be to increase our strength? Our faith? Our hope?

Let’s get some clues from a few bible verses (NIV) on waiting:
Psalm 27:14: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (strength)
Psalm 33:20: “We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” (hope)
Psalm 38:15: “I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God.” (faith)
Psalm 40:1: “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.” (perseverance)
Psalm 130:5: “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (hope)
Romans 8:25: “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (perseverance)

Through our waiting, God is training us, building our strength, building our hope, building our trust in him, which also gives us endurance. It’s like weight training and aerobic exercise all rolled into one!

There is an exercise phrase that states “No Pain, No Gain.” Biblically put it sounds like this: “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

I still don’t like exercising, but as I see the muscle become more defined I realize I like the results.

I still don’t like waiting, but as I see my character become more defined I realize I like the results.

“Blessed are all who wait…” Isaiah 30:18