Thursday, April 26, 2018

Is Their Compliment Your Criticism?

Don't you love how the Lord uses our kids to teach us things?!?  It's not always easy when He points it out...but it is for our benefit for us to grow and become more mature. It's gentle...and gracious correction! He is always slow to anger, and rich in love! Just like we should correct, lead and guide our children!

I'd like to share with you something that the Lord highlighted to me last week.  I haven't been able to get it off my mind. It's something that has come up several times in my own life over the last several days! So here's what happened at dinner last week.

Our family was sitting down for dinner after a very productive day working outside in the yard.  We had all worked very hard and while tired...we all felt great because of all we had accomplished!

Our youngest son has some communication issues. He isn't always able to participate in our conversations.  He listens...but doesn't always jump in an talk with us about what we are talking about.  My husband and I felt we needed to praise him for what a great job he did and how hard he worked.  So during our conversation, we started to brag on our youngest son.  We said things like.. "Wow Shep! you worked so hard today! You did a terrific job!! We are so proud of you!!"  Several other things like that....but he just beamed.  He needed that encouragement!

No sooner than we had finished praising our youngest son...our older son said " I guess I didn't do a good job today??" In disbelief that his thoughts immediately went there...we first corrected him.  We helped him see that Shep's compliment was not his criticism.  Then we managed to encourage him as well...because obviously he was feeling insecure.  He couldn't see that our younger son needed that!

Someone else's Compliment is Not My Criticism!! 

As I pondered that dinner conversation over the evening and next few days...the Lord began to show me how I have viewed others compliments, or others opportunities as criticism of me.  Ouch! It's true...but I have to believe that we ALL do this!

How many times has another friend been complimented on how nice she looks, or how cute her outfit is, or how amazing her hair or make up looks, and you didn't get that compliment? Where did your mind go? Did you think... "wow...I guess I don't look that great today??"  Did you immediately become insecure and feel criticized because someone else was complimented?

What about when someone else gets opportunities to do things that you'd like to do and are obviously capable and qualified to do? Do you immediately think because YOU were not given the opportunity that you are being told you're not good enough to do the task??  Just because someone else gets asked to do something does not mean that people think you're less qualified.

Seriously....we all really know better than to do this! We know that comparison is the thief of joy! Why do we do this?!?! Why can't we be happy and excited for someone that is blessed with kind words?  Why can't we find joy for others when they get the opportunity to do something we'd really like to have the opportunity to do?  Why does it need to be a negative for us?? It doesn't have to be!

Romans 12:15 says:

"Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.Live in harmony with each other."

As seems easier for us to weep with those who weep. When someone is grieving or going through a hard time...comforting those who need it is a Godly, caring thing to do.

Why then, do we not look at being happy for those who are happy, (being happy for others when they're complimented or when they get opportunities we don't) as an equally Godly and caring thing to do? Don't you think it shows just as much maturity and empathy as sharing sorrow?

These are all thoughts that pricked my heart when I saw our child struggled with it himself...even on something as small as a compliment for working hard in the yard.

We ALL have opportunities every day to celebrate with those who celebrate and to be happy with those who are happy! Remember...their compliment is NOT your Criticism!! As always...this is just another bit of wisdom I'm learning...another "Pearl of Purpose" God begins to grow in my heart! I hope it challenges you in some way as it has me! Now go and make today a day you will look at others blessings differently!!! 

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Gospel According To Biff - Life Lesson #3 - "How You See Yourself Determines Your Reach"

Biff was seriously the smallest full grown dog I have ever known.  Full grown he weighed 3.5 pounds. He was tiny!! Soaking wet he looked pitiful!! HA! But when that beautiful white fur was groomed he was so adorable!!

Biff definitely realized he was quite small.  It was obvious there were things he wouldn't do. He wouldn't do them because he didn't think he could do them.  One of the things he wanted to do so badly, but just never tried was to jump up on the couch with me when I was sitting there.

My couch was fairly low to the ground.  It wasn't tall at all.  He would always put his front paws up on the couch when I was laying there and beg to jump up!! I spent so much time encouraging him to just do it!! He would shake like he was so nervous to try. You could see that he wanted to do it so badly...but he could never see past his view of himself. He saw himself as too small and his view said he couldn't do it.

You see...I saw the bigger picture.  It wasn't as tall and big of a jump as he thought it was.  My view and perspective provided me with the whole picture.  His view...was only the steep, seemingly un-attainable leap right in front of him.  But I could see that he could do it and wouldn't be as hard as he thought it would!! He was more than capable to jump up and be with me.  Unfortunately...he could never see past his view of himself.  He never did it.

That is kind of sad to think about.  He was just a dog...but how many times in our we see things we REALLY desire or would love to do, and we don't do it because we see so many reasons why it won't work, why we can't do it, or just our limitations in general?  Do we not see ourselves and our situations through God's eyes?

Don't you know...HE sees the bigger picture.  He sees around all the road blocks and things that in our eyes and perspective limits us.

What is the "tall, big, out of reach couch" in your life? What do you so desire to do, but see all the reasons that you can't do it? Think for a moment....God places desires in our hearts when we are always seeking Him.  

What if that seemingly insignificant desire you a desire HE has placed in your heart and because of the way YOU see are placing limits on God's plan in Your life?
How you see yourself determines your reach!! You have to see yourself through God's eyes!! His view is so much bigger and broader of our life than ours!! Stop looking at all the reasons why you can't do something!! You CAN do it!! You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!! Through HIS strength and power you can!!

Don't be like Biff was and limit yourself to never getting up on that "couch"....whatever that couch is in your life.  He never even tried!! That is so sad!! We MUST get God's perspective!!! We are limited in all we do if we don't!!

Such a simple lesson....but a profound one when we really stop and think about all we don't do, because of our view of things! Get God's view!! There is so much waiting for you through His looking glass!! Change Your Perspective and DREAM BIG!!!

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Gospel According to Biff - Life Lesson #2 - "You Can Make A Difference"

You may be asking yourself..."Does she realize that Biff...was just a dog?!" HA!! I sometimes ask myself that question too.  Yes...he was just a dog, but hind sight...he was something God used to help me through an incredibly difficult time.  Did he realize it? Obviously not! He was just a dog!! But I sure felt his impact and warmth in my life during such a cold, hard season.

There are a couple things that I'd like you to remember.  Biff, being rejected from his litter, and set aside probably to just die, was never believed to live a good productive life.  He was written off.  He wasn't given much hope.  But in my eyes...Biff was a gift.  In his own unique way, he blessed me and made me feel great joy and love.  When I was sad, he brought me a smile.  He made a difference in my life.

This is a short life lesson to remember....but very important to remember.  You may think you don't matter.  You may think you've been written off.  You may even believe that no one sees you, or feels that you can do anything of significance.  I'm here to tell you...that is a lie!!

Ephesians 2:10 says that YOU are God's handiwork!! He created you to do good works!! These good works are to make an impact on people!! were created for a reason and a make a difference in the life of someone else!! Don't EVER let someone belittle you and make you feel you're not important!!!

You are...and you CAN make a difference in someones life...even if it's something small.  You may never know how you have impacted someones life. You may never know how your word, your smile, your kind deed makes a difference in someone life.  But it doesn't only matters to that one you helped to lift up!!

Today I'd just like to encourage DO make a difference.  You're loved and valued!! Walk out each day knowing that no matter how small you may feel....your life makes a big impact!!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Gospel According To Biff - Life Lesson #1 - "Chosen"

One of my all time favorite Bible Stories is the story of David, the shepherd boy.  I love that he was in an obscure place...hidden away from everyone and seemingly forgotten in the "important" things of life.  When Samuel was coming to choose the king....I think David was definitely considered the underdog.  

On the day that I had to go and choose my puppy, the one I wanted to be a part of my healing process after my 17 year old brother was killed, I couldn't wait to walk through each kennel and look at all the puppies to find MY puppy. They were all so adorable!! When they all look like this you'd think it would be so hard to choose!! 

We looked at litter after litter.  I remember that day vividly.  I was so disappointed because even though every dog I saw was so fun...sweet and cuddly....I didn't see the dog for me.  The dog that would leave an imprint on my heart for years to come was not there.  

Finishing the tour...I asked the gentleman if he had any other puppies and he said he didn't....then paused to tell me about one that had been rejected by it's litter. He was also rejected by his mother and father.  He told me that when that happens there is something wrong with a puppy.  I told him I wanted to see him anyway.  He took me in the house, away from all the litters to this one that was all by himself.  He was tiny, and very shy.  He wasn't full of spunk and life and wasn't very playful.  But my heart was drawn to HIM!! This was the one for me.  I told the man that this dog was the one I was choosing! 
Any potential issues or problems with the dog didn't matter to me.  He was the one I wanted.  I wanted to love this sweet dog and let him know he was special and important to me.  In the grand scheme of things...I do realize he was just a dog...but at that time to me...he was a lifeline during a very difficult season of life.  Loving and nurturing him helped fill an empty place in my heart as I grieved.  He was chosen out of all the other "highlighted" puppies and litters.  

You see....many times...we feel forgotten ourselves.  We feel because we aren't in the "highlighted litters" and are tucked away from everyone else...that we are less, or unimportant, have nothing to give or are unwanted. We may have even been rejected by happens.  But I'm here to tell you....that our Heavenly Father knows you're there!! He knows what He has planned for you and even though there are so many others out there that overshadow are are dearly loved!! 

Ephesians 1:11
In Christ is where we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

So while my sweet Biff was tucked away, out of sight...he was supposed to be in my life and there wasn't another puppy that would do. He was brought to my attention because I kept looking.  I didn't stop until I had the right fit! I was Biff's purpose.

I want to encourage you...God hasn't forgotten you either!! He has his eye on you and has a design for you that no other person can fulfill.  Don't get discouraged, give up or loose heart!! In His timing...your purpose will find you too!! You are chosen!! 

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Gospel According to Biff - Life Lessons From My Dog

It has been almost 20 years since we have said good-bye to the sweet little dog.  You see...this little life saver came into my life during a very difficult time.  My 17 year old brother was killed in a small engine plane crash...and we were all a little lost.  My family wanted to get me a dog to help fill some of the void that we all were feeling at loosing my brother.

When we went to pick our dog out from the breeder...he took us and showed us all the litters he had.  We looked at puppy after puppy....but none seemed to jump out and tug my heart.  At the end of the tour I asked him if that was all he had.  I wanted to see if he had any more puppies because the one for me, I didn't see.  He proceeded to tell me that was all he had....but with a long pause...he said "Well...we do have this other one...but it's been rejected by its litter and mom. You won't want him."  I assured him that I wanted to see him.  So he took me inside to see this runt of a puppy....and my heart leaped outside of my chest....that was the one for me! I knew it!!

He was indeed a "special" dog.  But he taught me so much during the 6-7 short years he lived.  When he was alive I wanted to write a book about all the neat nuggets and insights he taught me...but I never did.  So today...almost 20 years later...I felt like my blog was a good place to share with you the nuggets this sweet dog taught me.  I always said its "The Gospel According to Biff" because the life lessons I learned from this sweet dog are lessons we can all remember to take with us throughout life.

So I welcome you to join me over the next few blog posts as I reminisce about these simple life lessons from my dog!! God teaches us amazing things through all of life...if we will just open our eyes and hearts to hear Him!! These are the few things that Biff taught me....

1.  You Are Special AND Chosen
2.  You Can Make A Difference
3.  How You See Yourself Determines Your Reach
4.  Our View Limits Us...God's View Empowers Us
5.  Walking Straight Gets You There Faster
6.  Don't Eat Scraps when Fresh Food is Waiting
7.  Your Presence Is A Blessing
8.  Get All Feet In or You Have A Mess
9.  Jealousy Divides....Joy Binds
10.  Little Things Can Change The World

I hope you will join me as I share the sweet life lessons in this "Gospel According to Biff."  God teaches us through all kinds of things....even our sweet little dogs!! I look forward to sharing these little nuggets.  They are indeed "Pearls of Purpose" from my 20's.  Have a wonderful Christmas!! Blessings!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Receive It So You Can Give It!

Have you ever found yourself making critical judgments about someone else? Maybe it was not anything you spoke out loud…but just a judgment based on a moment in time.

I found myself in that place today.  I was waiting in a line and thought to myself about the person in charge  “Wow…she is just not nice.  Look at that mean scowl she has on her face.  Would it hurt her to lead with a good attitude?”  I’m being honest here…so don’t judge me!  As soon as that thought popped in my head the Lord corrected me and said “Buffi, I love her! She is loved by me and has had a hard day, don’t be so hard on her.” 
I stood corrected and repented for my thought.  I could not help but allow my mind to linger there a little longer though.  Why was my reaction toward this person not first that of extending grace?  Why did I judge her with such a lack of compassion and love?   The revelation hit me;

I can only give to others what I can first receive myself. 

Receiving grace from others is difficult for me.  I am so hard on myself and place so many expectations on myself that should not be there.  Anyone else relate?  If I can’t receive God’s grace daily in my life for all my shortcomings, then I definitely cannot extend grace to others in my life when they need it.  It’s one reason that is so important that we DAILY receive a dose of God’s grace, mercy and love.  If we don’t, what are we possibly extending to others?

Turning on the news you can hardly ignore the fact that there are so many in this world that cannot extend grace, that cannot seem to extend love, and they judge others with such harshness.  It breaks my heart.  But keeping in mind that we cannot extend to others what we do not receive ourselves puts a whole new spin on what I see. 
No longer do I see hateful, rude, selfish people…I see a soul that God loves, that has never experienced His kindness. His kindness leads to repentance.  I see a soul that needs to experience the true love of God that isn’t rude, or proud, self-seeking, or easily angered.  I see so many people that have never experienced the fact that God loves them so much!! They can’t extend grace and love because they have never received it.

That is where we come in.  We are the body, the hands and feet of Christ! We have to be the ones to extend to others around us what they have never received, so they in turn can give what they have never given.  God so loved the world that He gave his only son….so that we could have LIFE!!! Life isn’t worth living if you don’t feel loved, if you aren’t extended grace, and if you don’t have the hope that there IS a plan for your life and you were created for a reason and a purpose!!
Our world is in a MESS and we are the messengers! We aren’t the judges! We have to be rooted and grounded in love so we can be filled (to overflowing) with ALL the fullness of God!! (Eph. 3:1-22) We must spill over God’s love if we are ever going to see our world change!
As I read that scripture in Ephesians…I was drawn to the word “rooted.”   A root is an anchor or support to a plant. The root is the origin/source of a plants nourishment.  What that root receives is what it is going to give out! So if we are “rooted and grounded in love and know the love of Christ that surpasses all of our knowledge”, no matter what comes our way or who rubs us the wrong way, what we are taking in at our root is going to come out in our fruit toward that person and situation!

This is definitely not a ground breaking revelation, but I do feel it is something we  have become a little slack in. This world of social media makes us feel it’s ok to air our opinions everywhere. But it is not! We air HIS opinions to the hurting and dying world.
Take a good look at your life.  What is daily coming from it?  Do you experience frustration and aggravation with others around you? You could be lacking Patience! Ouch…yes…I just said it! But don’t be hard on yourself.  If you’re having trouble extending it, I’m sure you’re having trouble receiving it.            Number 14:18 says the Lord is slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness!  

When is the last time you have allowed God’s loving kindness to flood your heart and soul when you knew you had blown it? If you want to extend it to others…you’ve got to receive it first!
The list could go on and on.  Take inventory of your life.  Get a journal and write down the areas where you seem to be really missing the mark in your relationship with others.  Then pray over each area and ask the Lord what part of His character you need in your life so you can extend that to others.
We are called to be hope bringers, grace givers, and to lavish love and kindness on others! As women of God, we cannot do that if we first don’t accept love and kindness, receive his grace and hope in our own personal lives on a daily basis! It’s a daily walk my friends. We all need it. 
I am hopeful that tomorrow when I see a grouchy lady, my first response isn’t going to be judgmental or negative, but it will be one of kindness and encouragement. That is definitely what God extends to me! When I receive it, I can give it! We are His hands extended to this world!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Ultimate Designer

Ok, I admit it! I LOVE HGTV!! I love all the DIY shows and House Hunters and Flip or Flop. You name it…I could watch these shows 24/7.  If you’ve been around for anytime at all…you are probably no stranger to repurposing furniture, taking something old and making it fresh and new again!! It’s absolutely inspiring to watch.
It never ceases to amaze me how someone can see past all the imperfections of an item and can visualize what it CAN be instead of what it is.  A whole new purpose can be seen in objects.  Something that was once trash, an old beat up shutter could be the perfect jewelry display holder! Something that was discarded as unusable and not effective anymore, like an old rake, could be re-purposed and hung by the back door as a dog leash holder and look as cute as can be!  I’m sure many of you have plenty of things in your home that you are re-purposing yourself!!   You looked past the imperfections of an item and cleaned it up and called those imperfections character! You saw in an item purpose for something it wasn’t made for…but you could see past its current condition make a new purpose!! It’s SO inspiring!

Honestly though, it’s not a new thing…to take something broken and make it beautiful. It’s not a fad to find trash and turn it into treasure!! I would say... 
God has been the ultimate designer since the beginning of time!!
 He has taken people who should have or could have been thrown away or discarded because of sins, failures, & mistakes, and re-purposed them to new meaning and purpose!! He has awakened people for generations to their original designs!!
What is absolutely amazing…is that all the things in our lives that we see as imperfections…the things we think would make us not good enough or unworthy, are the things that God sees and says “NO!! THIS is what makes you the person I have created you to be!!”  None of us are perfect! We all have flaws and major imperfections.  He’s working on us daily!
Sometimes I think how in the world can I be 45 years old and still see myself as lacking in so many areas?!? I look at what I “should be” from a flawed perspective.  Yes…I DO compare myself to others. I know I shouldn’t.  But I do!  If we’re honest, many of us still do! We’re all works in progress!!  But when I do that and compare myself, I’m not looking at myself from the master designer’s perspective!
When a DIY artist envisions a new purpose for something they have found, I don’t always see it.  Sometimes even up to the end of the show I’m still thinking…how in the WORLD are they going to use that thing for anything!?!? You see…I am looking at it from my perspective. I don’t see the worth of that thing because I’m not that master designer.   He sees it perfectly!
My friends, God sees you as a TREASURE!!! He has paid a costly price for you because you are so worthy!! You say, “Oh…but I’m this way, or I lack this or that”….but He says “That is what makes you YOU and perfect for what I have created you for.”  You have to see your worth from the designer’s perspective.  
Psalms 139:13-16 says: He formed you in your inmost parts!! He knitted you together in your mom’s womb! He fearfully and wonderfully made you!!! You were not hidden from him when you were being developed in your moms tummy! You were intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  He saw you with his eyes before you were even formed.  He dreamed up every day of your life and wrote them in your own personal novel!! He did all of this just for you before you had even taken your first breath!

Next time you’re tempted to look at your imperfections, your dents, your brokenness….I want you to remind yourself of these DIY/Trash to Treasure shows, and I want you to remind yourself that God is at work in you.  These things you’re working through with Him are creating an amazing and inspiring piece of His handiwork!! Don’t compare yourself to what you see Him doing in others! You have a different design!  It reminds me of this short “wisdom story.”

“A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on one end of the pole he carried across the back of his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream, the cracked pot arrived only half full. This went on every day for two years, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his master’s house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishment and saw itself as perfectly suited for the purpose for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived as bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself and I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”

“For the past two years, I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws you have to work without getting the full value of your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and out of compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the wildflowers on the side of the path. The pot felt cheered.

But at the end of the trail, the pot still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and again it apologized for its failure. The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I knew about your flaw and took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them for me. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. If you were not just the way you are, he would not have such beauty to grace his house.”

God knows you…just the way you are and still thinks your amazing and so worthy of what He has called you to do!! Be encouraged today and know…You are His Masterpiece!