Having FuN?!

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It was a simple text Huni received just over a week ago:

 “[Since becoming serious about your relationship with Christ] Answer me honestly.  Are you having fun?”

And it got me thinking. . .Christians have a reputation of being so serious about Christ that they smolder all of the fun out of their lives.  Is that a true representation of Christ?  Do I have enough fun in my life?

And what about you? Would you consider yourself someone who takes their relationship with Christ seriously?  Does the idea of fun seem trivial or unimportant in the Christian life?

As I’ve grown and matured into a woman, wife and mom, I understand why I should seek joy and not merely happiness.  I understand why peace is far more enduring than presents.  I have come to value my friendships more (even though I often do a terrible job at keeping in touch) and I drink in the wonder found in the life stories of others.  I can see the danger and detriment of comparison.  I get it.  I do.  I get all the stuff that comes with growing up and I get that I haven’t gotten it all figured out yet.  I don’t have half the answers.  But.  Unlike people, I don’t think that fun ever gets old.   So, as people who love God and seek to serve Him and do His will, why aren’t we having more of it?

I’m not trying to make some big statement except to say that we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously that we forget to honor God with our whole lives–the serious bits, and doubled over laughing til we snort bits.  I think the idea of “The Zero Fun Christian Life” is what makes it so difficult for some people to come to and/or remain in Christ.  Particularly younger people or those who have sipped the sweet nectar of the world longer than others.  I’m convinced that fun is not the issue.  It’s the emphasis we put on it and where we think it comes from.

God desires to be Lord over every area of our lives.

He provides for every need.

Even the need for fun.

Pleasures Are Meaningless

2 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.

4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem[a] as well—the delights of a man’s heart. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.

Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless

12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
and also madness and folly.
What more can the king’s successor do
than what has already been done?
13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
that the same fate overtakes them both.

15 Then I said to myself,

“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said to myself,
“This too is meaningless.”
16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die!

Toil Is Meaningless

17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.

24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? ~Ecclesiastes 2:1-25 (NIV)

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The Network

verzion network

Verizon boasts to have one of the largest 3G cell phone networks available.  The cellular provider claims that no matter where you go in the United States, you will have coverage and, therefore, be able to both receive and make phone calls from your cellular device.  It’s a pretty grand offering.  Since my primary place of residence is somewhere between John’s barnyard and Mary’s farmhouse, I play “chase the signal” a few times a day as I move skittish throughout my house shouting, “Can you hear me?  Hello?  You there?  Can you hear now?  Hello?  Hello?  Wait, I can hear you!  Wait, don’t hang up!  Helloooooo!!”  :0/  Yea.  Oh what fun.  Clearly I don’t have the Verizon network.  But, it got me thinking about another network.

This weekend Huni had the great fortune of visiting his alma mater, North Carolina State University, to participate in a leadership panel.  On a whim and at the very last minute he convinced the girls and me to join him.  Whilst there, I had the great, good fortune of talking to and spending some time with family and friends.  During one conversation, I had a friend describe the latest happenings in her marvelous life (she wouldn’t describe it that way, but hey, that’s what friends are for!).   She told me that she and her roommates, three single ladies, are doing a study on purity together.  The other night one of the roommates led the time and it was phenomenal.  She told me about how she prays with a different friend in the mornings either before or after going to the gym.  The day that we were chatting she was tired after having a sleepover with a friend/colleague in support of two women who are currently raising financial support and preparing to go into full time ministry.  And there it was that she and I were talking, laughing, crying and reflecting together.  She does have a marvelous life, right!?!?

Since I live quite a distance away from all of my Frans, I was feeling quite sad after our conversation. I was like, man, how lucky you are to have all of these great connections and great women in your life.  And most of them are at your fingertips!  Comparison and self-pity are two venomous arrows in satan’s quiver.  He aims them right into your eyes, blinding you from the glory that surrounds you and somehow simultaneously highlighting someone else’s.

Sunday we went to our church.  I missed my favorite part of the service, praise and worship, I was tired from a restless night of tossing and turning and although I was happy to be there, I just wasn’t feeling it.  Honestly, I just wanted to go home and crawl into bed.  After service was over, I talked to a Fran from undergrad.  She’s so fabulous and always greets me with such a warm reception.  This time we were able to talk a little while longer than usual and she was just as sweet, gracious, funny and cool as ever.  As I finished my conversation with her, I looked up and saw a dear sister who I’ve intimately studied the word with over the past few years.  I was only able to give her a quick squeeze before a big sister in the faith came and squeezed the tears out of me.  Literally.  Just the sight of her brought a flood of tears.  Her prophetic wisdom knew that my tears were more than just the sight of her, so immediately she inquired for the real story, wiped away my tears and prayed for me.  Once we were done, I looked to the row directly below and there was yet another sister in the faith, looking at me compassionately, embracing me with her eyes, saying more than words could say as she offered me her home as a homebase for me and my girls whenever we came to town and wanted a change of scenery.  Later that night I hopped on OoVoo with Huni and we goofed, teased and chatted with some couples, the wives of which are more of my sisters  in the faith.  Together we shared some of the latest news in our lives and talked intently about how we saw the Lord calling us and directing our lives.  And this doesn’t include all of my Frans.  Only a handful.  Only a handful.

These women keep me grounded.  They know my heart, they know my hurts, they get my humor.  They love me, they enjoy me and they want me . . . just as I am yet they actively participate in my growth; they pour into me and root for me.  Even when I cannot wrap my arms around them, lay my eyes on them, or hear their sweet voices, I know that they are for me, thinking of me, praying for me.  I too have a marvelous life.  Not because of the things I have but, in part, because of my network.   All of these women are a way that God shows His love, concern and compassion for me.  They remind me that He sees me and He knows me.  No matter how lonely I feel, the truth is I have a network.  And it is sweet-potato-pie-with-whipped-cream-on-top-amazing.

What about you?  Who’s in your network?  How about showing them some love this week either via text, phone call, lunch date, good ole snail mail, or something free and simple like a stroll through your local Target?  The moment you start reaching out to each of them, you’ll receive an instant reminder of just how big and bountiful is your life.  And you’ll smile.  And your heart will feel all warm and fuzzy.  And it’ll be better than a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day.

Happy Monday!

Yes! Happy Monday, You Beautiful People!!!

Happy Monday

Thinking of you and praying for you today.  I’m actually praying that we’d be tickled pink to start this day today!  Wouldn’t that give satan a kick in the teeth?!?!!!  I’m convinced that with as many people who dread Monday mornings (or Monday altogether), he thinks he has our joy on lock today more than any other day.  But we can have victory in Jesus.  Remember to take your medicine.

May you have a blessed, encouraged and positive start to the work week–whether you work in your home, outside of your home, or not at all.  I’m praying blessings, effectiveness, provision and fellowship with the Lord for you today.

I’m finishing up Beth Moore’s 10 week bible study called Believing God and it has been phenomenal.  This is the prayer that I’m praying for myself as I start my day today:

My Lord and my God, I thank you for another day to know You and believe You.  Whatever means you may choose to increase my faith today, I commit myself to that end.

~ Beth Moore in Believing God

Believing God takes courage but it also takes us on a fantastic ride.  You may think your life has enough excitement, for good or for bad, but dare to actively believe God in every area of your life and allow the Lord to thrill you with His revelations and His goodness and your life will never be the same.

Pray this prayer with me today?

Oh For Shame . . .

I’ve been doing the Esther study written by my Fran, Beth Moore.  ;0) In the week three video session, she says this:

“One of the most important parts of fulfilling your destiny will be your transparency.”

Now, I loves me some Beth Moore, but I was quite irritated when I heard her say this.  In a room full of other women eager to hear the word of God, I wanted to shout, “Hey Siesta, mind your own business!”  :0/  I was just so frustrated that the Lord would be using her to, once again, make me uncomfortable with the covering I had afforded myself adapted by and from shame.  ugh.

Has anybody out there ever struggled with being ashamed of themselves other than me?

Those of you nodding your head yes, know the things that we do to try to make ourselves feel better and look better.  But it never works.  God is authentic and He came that we may have life and have it to the full (see John 10:10).  Operating under illegitimate shame cannot work in tandem with His work for us to have an abundant life.

But hold on!  Help is on the way!

There are two kinds of shame: legitimate shame and illegitimate shame.

“Legitimate shame is the same inner experience as biblical humbling.  It is the recognition of our state as desperate and our response to our rebellious condition as deplorable, deserving condemnation and death. . . Legitimate shame, in other words, always leads to a sense of being lifted up by God to possess what is surprising, unnerving, and undeserved. . .Shame is experienced before the one I’ve entitled or given the right to judge me.  Ultimately, that is the prerogative of  God alone.  To give that privilege–in essence, the opportunity to bestow or retract life–to anyone other than God is idolatry.  This concept helps clarify further the difference between legitimate and illegitimate shame.“~Dr. Dan B. Allender

If you have sinned, repent, receive God’s forgiveness, and move toward Him.  Do not take direction from our great ancestors, Adam and Eve,  who sought cover through fig leaves and hid from Him (Genesis 3:7-8).  Satan knows what he’s doing.  When he can convince you to walk around with a lowered head, feeling less than who God says you are, and living beneath what God has for you, not operating in your destiny nor getting any closer to it, he’s won.

We serve such a loving God.  Even after Adam and Eve sinned, God was there to correct and deal with the sin but He was also there to provide.  He got rid of those pitiful fig leaves and “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)”   Every attempt we make to act independently of God will render us pitiful.  Whatever your fig leaves are, drop ’em.  Let Him clothe you in His love.

Photo found on Google, from http://rockthenations.deviantart.com/art/sadness-64267947

Oh Be Careful Little Mouths What You Say . . .

Recently I started to feel strong negative feelings about someone who I dearly love and is very close to me.  I didn’t understand where the feelings were coming from or altogether what was going on because there had been no distinct event occur to trigger such a staunch and growing disdain.  I went from being excited to share company with this person every time I got the chance, to dreading our next encounter days before it would even come to pass.

So, I started to explore what was going on with me.  I talked to Huni about it and told him how I was feeling.  He, being just as baffled as I was by the sudden onslaught of negativity, was very concerned and discouraged.  He worried about me and what was going on in my often troubled mind that would make me feel the way I was feeling.  So he listened.  And he prayed.

Weeks passed, months, but with each moment, I confessed the way that I was feeling.  I talked about it with Huni when it would come up in me, and I fully felt all that was going on in my mind, giving it flesh with my words.  I had something of a trinity moment as I spun myself out into three; my thoughts, myself and me, and we sent this mysterious presence out to live among people, representing us and allowed it to become the force by which we interpreted the world.  From one simple thought, I created a living, breathing, form that I took with me everywhere I went and I greeted it, cared for it, confirmed and addressed it every time I noticed it.  The more I talked about it, the bigger it grew.  The more I nurtured it with, “I just don’t like her.”  “But did you hear the way that was said?”  “What do you think was meant by that?”  “I can tell that she can feel it too.”  “She made me feel so terrible when . . .”  “She doesn’t like me just as much as I don’t like her” and soon that baby thought was fully grown, with a mind of its own, no longer controlled by my thoughts and actions but controlling my thoughts and actions by its mere existence.  I had talked myself into a mess.  I left no room to reverse the way I felt or consider another viewpoint because of all of that talking and processing.

Ever been there?

I’m in no way suggesting that we shouldn’t decompress, explore, vent!!!  Lord knows, we need to vent.  We need to purge and get the gook out of us, so that it doesn’t fester and blister sore hurting us and others around us.  But be careful how you do it and your motivation behind it.  What would have been better for me to do with all that I was feeling, is to speak it, vent it, YES!!  and then cover it with prayer and scripture.  These two elements together have a way of exposing what’s truth and what’s lies.  And I can truly say, with my 20/20 hindsight vision, that what was I was feeling was a LIE!!!  (thank you, Rey.  you were right.  it was a LIE!!!!–and no, for all of you inquiring minds, she isn’t the one I’m referring to in this post!)

Satan is so crafty and he uses us against ourselves more than we realize.  Of course, we give him lots of material to work with, which is all the more reason for us to abandon our way of coping and existing and have our minds and hearts renewed and refreshed daily by the Father.

Woooooo!  It’s crazy out here Frans.  But take heart!

Loves me some William Matthews (thanks Huni.) And this song flows well with what Beth is talking about in her series about Loving Kindness (because it takes a whole lotta heart and strength to be kind in a mean world) and what I’m speaking about here in this post which is a bit of a transparent view of some of my mental struggles.  There is much more to come, but in the meantime, take a listen to my Fran (not really, but in my mind we’re Frans) William Matthews.

“In death by love. . .He wears the scars of our freedom . . .In His name all our fears are swept away, He never fails, So take heart . . .All our failure and all our fear, God our love . . .He has overcome!!!!

If any of you have ever struggled with your mind, I’m praying you’ll experience Him through worship with this song.

xoxo

photo found on google, linked to naturalremedyfordepression.org