Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thinking on 'Community'

   Sometimes over a period of time and conversations, I pick up a particular word that keeps pecking away at my thinking.  Recently the concept of community has been the buzz word.  The definition of community is: 1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common  2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
   So starting with the given that a group of people who have intentionally gathered because of a common interest or need, let's look at what makes a community maintain stability as well as enriching the lives of those involved. Here are some aspects I see in a healthy community:
   A.  Common interests - Whether it is peaked curiosity or intense knowledge of a subject, having a common interest invites dialog and exchange of thoughts. While there may some absolute truths about the subject, the opportunity to share and even challenge allows for opportunity to expand knowledge and commitment to the community.
   B.  Common needs - Actually we all have some needs in common.  The need to be loved, to be valued, to be needed.  Therefore a community provides a setting where needs can be shared, can be met and can be another demonstration of commitment to the community.
   C.  Genuine fellowship - A place where a person feels invited, included and invested in.  When this type of fellowship is presented, it allows each person to be genuine - true to self - which in turns brings out the best they have to offer back to the community.
   D.  Always growing/changing - a healthy group doesn't stay in one place not stay in one form.  It grows with the seasons of life.  It adapts to meet the needs of the people.  It addresses the present and readies for the future.
   E.  Can't force it - When a group attempts to force being involved, when stipulations are such that you either perform to x standard or aren't allowed to participate, or you don't meet approval, then you are strangling the life out of the community. The freedom for each individual to commit themselves to the community from where they are in life is just that - freedom.  Freedom to allow for those winter seasons in life, to allow for a reprieve from the storms of life, to allow time and seasoning to mature them to continue with the group.  Go back to A, B, C and D.  But remember that community starts with people.  And people are made up of more than one person.  A person, one who has a common interest, common need and desires genuine fellowship.
   F.   Invests - A healthy community invests in the welfare of each other.  This is why a community is always evolving.  The people of the group have different needs at different times.  Some of the group are more able to meet certain needs over others.  And then there is a shift to the next arising need(s) and new members step up.  There is always give and take.  It is when there are more takers over a period of time than givers, that community suffers. 
   Keeping the common interests and common needs at the forefront along with genuine fellowship, will allow a community to thrive through the seasons of life.
   Just my thinking on community while eating leftover cheese/onion enchilada and chile relleno...

Monday, December 16, 2013

"Stop It"

"Stop It", said like a little kid that doesn't like what is happening.  That's what I feel often during this h.o.l.i.d.a.y season. 
H - Hurry and I do mean everything is a hurry
O - Overwhelmed with the 'must do list' and 'want to list'
L - Lost in the chaos and rush, where's our focus on the reason for the season
I - Idols of all kinds emerge; traditions, family expectations, decorations, food
D - Depression, the blue feeling of knowing you can't create the perfect holiday you have in your head
A - Anger at myself because I can't do it all
Y - Ya'll, let's get over this and on the count of three, shout "Stop It".

One, Two, Three...STOP IT

Friday, May 17, 2013

Trying To Be Still

It's just not a good sign that I'm awake in the middle of the night.  Not a good sign for how I'm feeling now and not a good sign for how I'll feel later in the day.  Two sentences and I've used the word 'good' twice.  Actually I've referred to good with "not" in front of it.  If something isn't "good" then does that make it "bad"?  Only God has the ultimate defining purpose of good.  And anything He purposes will have its "good" in its time.  I'm talking/thinking in circles trying to hear Him in this.  "THIS" encompasses more than I can put into words.  Mostly I'm trying to not be hurt, not be angry, not be fearful, not fall apart, not blame, and not allow the words bubbling through my emotions a voice.  Jesus is the Word and He gives life.  The words in my head are not life giving.  They are truth.  They are how I feel.  However, I doubt they would have any impact other than negative if spoken.  So I'm typing - but still can't put the words down - someone may read them.  I know there is only One who can hear these words and take what I have to say, still love me, can forgive me, can shoulder the emotions. The frustration, the disappointment, the hurt, the anger, it is all too much for me.  Trying to be still...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I Know....but...

First lesson:  I understand that I must let others seek revelation and use discernment for their own actions and reactions to situations.  Even knowing this doesn't lessen the perception I have of the hurt feelings, my own included.  It doesn't lessen the hardship of seeing someone struggle.  I am learning to use these perceptions to fuel my intercession for the person/situation.  A part of this lesson is brushing my palms together as I release my hold on anyone/anything and leave it at the feet of my unfailing, neverending Almighty God.

Another lesson:  When I'm resentful (I'm being honest here) of what I don't have because I've made a choice to sacrifice my 'wants' for someone else's 'wants', I can ask myself if I'm taking care of what I DO have.  When I focus on taking care of what I already have, it is amazing how much shinier it looks all of a sudden.  Not giving up on what I want.  Just laying down the resentment....well, getting there anyway. 

Last lesson for the day (it's only 2pm, there might be more of course):  It's perfectly admissible to speak into another person's life in the very area you are struggling with!  I know the scripture that talks about 'splinter vs. log' so I'm not talking about judgment and sin.  I'm saying someone recently spoke to me with words that they knew applied to them as well and were life giving to me.  I wasn't thrilled at first.  I wanted to stay in my bad mood, feeling resentment, feeling disappointed in others, feeling pity.  I was choosing that attitude.  A few loving words of encouragement couldn't be denied for long if I gave them even a tiny opening.  My attitude is better, it's in process at least.   I'm praying the person who spoke those words will give the small tiny opening and benefit from their own words.  Because truly, the Words were from Christ anyway.

May the rest of the day unfold new found joy and peace to you.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Do It "Well"

To "Do It 'Well'" has been a recurring theme running through my thoughts for several weeks.  Those words came to me in a situation that I knew was beyond my understanding and ability.  In fact, to do it well is usually beyond my own selfish desires.  In order to fulfill the expectation of that statement, it requires trusting God to shore up, fill in and circle the entire situation which ultimately means it has nothing to do with you at all but is purely His sovereignty at work through you. 

To "Do It 'Well'" requires several things to happen:
1.  Recognize your need for Him.  ASK Him to "Do It 'Well'" through you.
2.  Get yourself out of the way.  Die to your emotions, opinions and self-agendas.
3.  Trust He will complete what He has purposed.  Know His character.
4.  Be patient.  Very patient.
5.  Focus on 'Jesus' and no one else or anything else.
6.  Praise Him because you KNOW He is faithful and good regardless of how you feel or what you see.
7.  Give thanks for another opportunity to practice "doing it well".

To "Do It 'Well'" means:
1.  There is an Opportunity:  For His glory to be shown in this situation.
2.  There is a need to Exercise:  Putting your trust in Him and not yourself.  Again, know His character.
3.  It is time for an Investment:  Using the gifts and talents He has given you as He directs for His purposes.
4.  Applying Wisdom:  To know when to move, speak or pray.
5.  A need to Develop:  A patience that passes your own understanding
6.  The ability to let go and let God.
7.  Having confidence:  that God is Sovereign in ALL things. 

I don't want to spend my life just persevering.  I want to spend my days on this earth "doing it well" for His glory.  When I find myself frustrated with life, it is often those times I have allowed my focus to drift to me instead of Him.  I know He has so much more to pour into me.  It's all available to me for the asking.  As I keep my heart and soul turned toward Him, He will show me how to "Do it 'Well'" for Him.  That is my heart's desire....for Him.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


At the end of my days I want to know that I've been accountable for asking forgiveness for my sins, have done all that I can do to live peacefully with others, been able to give account to what I believe in scripturally both about salvation and about being Spirit led, have loved God first and foremost in my life and have loved others with compassion, grace and mercy.  Some days I do better at living my life the way I would like it to be seen at the end.  Some days I'm not very good at one or more of the areas listed above.  And that's okay.  What matters is that I seek His presence, His wisdom, His guidance.  As I learn to do that more and more, as I remain mold-able to the plans He has for me, the more I WILL BE ALL HE HAS CALLED ME TO BE.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Celebration and Sorrow

This is a story of two families that spent many hours together in the heat, the cold, the windy, the rainy and the perfect weather behind the fence surrounding a softball field.  We all knew that this was just a taste of life, watching our daughters play ball.  We knew there was so much still ahead for them to experience, to enjoy, to fulfill their destinies.  This was a team of families that cheered for each player as their own daughter.  Celebrating their success today, anticipating their success tomorrow.

Five years ago, these two families' lives came to a fork in the road that wasn't anticipated, neither was it a desirable twist of curves and cliff edges.  One Friday morning, with both doctors out of the office,  a very nervous nurse had to share what could be a life changing diagnosis and it required urgent treatment.  Interestingly enough, when the sweet nervous nurse said the word 'melanoma', this momma felt a resolve rise from a faith I didn't yet know I had, and this resolve was simply "we will overcome this".  Yes, there was some initial fear but mostly it was a feeling of sadness that my daughter had another medical issue to deal with.

So the phone calls began to schedule surgery to remove a larger portion of the tissue where the melanoma had been located.  Plans were being made to go on with life.  Work this procedure in asap while conducting life as normal.

In the late hours of that Friday, the other family's road hit its curves and cliffs.  The uniformed law officer rang the doorbell in the early morning hours (was he nervous too?) to share that their daughter lost her life in a car accident.  There wasn't a chance for resolve to rise that  'she will survive this'.  There wasn't any phone calls to seek urgent medical treatment.  This life was over.  Period.

The following Thursday this little town saw one of the largest attended funerals in many years, if not in its history.  Christina Lavone "Beaner" Collins touched more lives than she could ever have imagined.  She was one smart, talented, athletic, energetic and honest young lady.  As the funeral came to its close, we rushed off for Jody to have the surgery that would confirm that ALL of the cancerous cells were removed.

One life laid to rest, one life starting a new beginning.  One family learning how to live without a daughter, a sister.  One community learning to live without a friend, a ray of sunlight.  One family learning how to live believing in answered prayer in spite of medicine's shadow of grim prediction.

It's been five years.  Interestingly, God had Jody randomly run into the Collins family on the 5 year mark of the diagnosis and the accident.  Hugs and laughter were exchanged.  You wonder, you hope, that there was some comfort and healing for all in those few minutes together.

Over these last years, further moles have been removed for testing.  The praise worthy news is that before the melanoma, all biopsies came back with dysplatic cells, meaning abnormal with a higher propensity for becoming cancerous.  The last biopsy, and I remember praying as the doctor removed it that this cancer was done and over, came back completely normal!!  It's been five years.  It's the landmark for medicine to declare her cancer free.  But I believe God declared the cancer to be gone five years before as an answer to prayers.

So while my heart celebrates God's goodness in answering this prayer, my heart feels sorrow for the hole left with Christina's death.  There are questions unanswered about her eternal home.  We find hope in knowing she heard the gospel and could have responded at any moment.  It's one of those questions we won't have an answer to until we arrive at our eternal destination as well. 

While I celebrate today and praise Him for the plans He has for Jody, I also pray for the Collins family, that they may feel His comforting presence and embrace the plans He has for them as well.

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing (through the experience of your faith) that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.  Romans 15:13 Amplified Bible