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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

I’m a list maker.

I put even minor things on my to do lists.

First, because it relieves the stress of trying to remember every little thing I need to do.

But my favorite part of making lists is being able to cross things off.  When I’m able to cross even one thing off my list, I feel like I’ve done something with my day.

A couple of weeks ago I made of list of things I needed to get done as I wrapped up winter quarter.  I also included the title for a blog post I was thinking about writing: Choose Joy.

The next few days, every time I checked things off my list I saw it staring back at me:

Choose Joy

It wasn’t long before I decided I’m keeping it on my list.

Because you know what?  I forget to do it ALL the time.

How can that be?  I mean, it’s JOY.  It feels AMAZING.  It makes my heart burn – in a good way.

But I often find myself choosing everything else.

Stress.

Boredom.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Discontent.

Why do I do that?  Why do I so easily forget the things that bring me joy and fall into the things that keep me down?

Does this happen to anyone else?

(Let me say, I believe joy is different from happiness.  Joy can exist in the face of adversity and even sadness.  It makes the worst of situations bearable.  It’s a sense of peace.  A sense of contentment.  A deep, abiding love for life and all that comes with it.  But when it’s not there, everything is off balance, irritating, upsetting. In short – wrong.) 

So true to form, I spent most of my spring break doing random things.  I appreciated the unusually warm, early spring weather, but didn’t really get out to enjoy it.  So on the last day I had to myself, I decided (with a little coaxing from my husband) to go to one of my favorite places to take some pictures of spring in all it’s glory.

Because that brings me JOY.

Here’s a little preview.  I’ll share more in the coming days …

~mwe

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Enough

Note: Yes, I know.  It’s been forever.  I have no excuses except that for me, blogging is something I am able to move around on my list of priorities.  While I miss the daily process of writing and connecting, life is full right now.  I imagine that at some point I’ll be back to write daily, but for now, a short thought about a lesson I recently learned …

In the eyes of the world I may never be ________ enough.

Smart enough…

Pretty enough…

Thin enough…

Productive enough…

Nice enough…

Assertive enough…

Good enough.

But no matter the outcome of whatever I do, I will be alright.

Because I am a child of God, wonderfully made, strong, and RADIANT.

And that is enough for me.

~mwe

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I have a few ideas percolating around in my head, at least one I’m procrastinating on, but none to put to paper (or computer, as the case may be.)  So I’ve decided to take the slacker approach to a blog post – go back and look at some previous ones.  I haven’t been blogging for very long at all compared to some, but with over 100 posts I at least have a feel for what people have read and what they haven’t.  Sometimes big bloggers post their most popular posts – but I thought, why do that?  If they are the most popular, most people have read them.

So I’m going to go against the grain and share with you 4 posts that I wish more people would read.  They were all written before most people subscribed to my blog, so they are near the bottom of the pile (reader-wise), but I think they are worth giving another try.  As I picked these, I noticed they represent four facets of my life – parent, musician, educator, and Christian.

Parent – Fish Wisdom (23 views)

Musician – Music alone shall live – Or will it? ( 31 views)

Educator- Questions that count (41 views)

Christian – So what am I? Worthless dust or a priceless miracle? (34 views)

I hope you’ll take a minute and check them out.  I think they’re worth a read.

~mwe

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the questions I posed in yesterday’s post.

(This might start to veer off on another course from where you thought I was going, but it was a pretty important realization for me, so I thought I’d share it in case it helps anyone else. Plus, writing about it helps me clarify things in my mind, too.)

I finished yesterday asking these three questions:

At what point do you move on?

Do you just keep loving?

Or do love in a different way?

As I wrote that post, I was referring to the people in our lives who don’t respond (at least in the way we think they should) to our offerings of love, friendship, and kindness.

I am a person that aims to please.  Yes, my name is Malinda and I’m a people pleaser.  So when people don’t respond to what I’ve done to please them, it’s disappointing.  Yes, there is a part of me (a hopefully shrinking part) that wants to please people so they like me, but I also do it because I like how I feel when I do it.  I like how it feels to put a smile on someone else’s face.  I think this world is largely lacking in kindness and I try to be someone who provides a bright spot in someone’s day.

But here’s the startling revelation I had while I was thinking about all of this – I aim to please myself, too.  The even more startling part?  Just like other people don’t always accept my kindness, I don’t always accept my own kindness.  Just like there are some people who don’t always have my best interest at heart, I don’t always have my best interest at heart.

Hmmmm.  What do I do with this?

Well, here are my thoughts…

I’m called to love others and myself.  I want to love others and myself.  But in life, there are people who for whatever reason aren’t ready to accept love.  Their thoughts and actions don’t always have my best interests at heart because, well, they are busy with their own stuff.  My best interests aren’t at the top of their list to worry about.  In the same way, there is a part of me that is busy with its own stuff.  My overall best interest isn’t at the top of its list to worry about either.

And that’s when it all clicked.  I think the answer to those questions from yesterday lies in loving in a different way.  Loving one another doesn’t mean I have to attach myself to someone’s response.  I can be interested in the welfare of others regardless of how I feel about them.  I don’t believe I’m called to love anyone – including myself – in a way that takes away from attaining the best life God has planned for me.

So I think the question I need to ask myself is, “Is this thought or action going to express my love and is it a step toward attaining the best life God has planned for me?”  If I can’t answer yes to both parts, then I need to rethink it.  Because if I think my thought or action expresses love but it moves me away from being my best, it can’t be in my best interest.  Or should I say God’s best interest for me – because this isn’t about being selfish – it’s about knowing that God has a picture of what the best me looks like and trying to reach it.  I can even ask these questions when it comes to taking care of myself – because sometimes something feels good but isn’t moving me toward being my best.  Or – and these are the scary ones for me – sometimes it doesn’t feel good but it is moving me toward being my best.  That may be the hardest act of love there is.  For myself and for others.

It seems like this is a long way from where I started yesterday and it may not be the clearest expression of my thoughts, but I think as it sinks in, it could be something that changes how I approach life.  What do you think?  Does it make sense to you?  Can you see any application for your life?

~mwe

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A few weeks ago my daughter came to me because she was upset.  She felt like she was always being nice and trying to make someone happy but this person was never nice to her.  After agreeing with her that this was frustrating, I gave her this piece of advice: It’s wonderful to be nice and try to make people happy, but only do it because you want to – not because you expect something in return.

I don’t know how much that little nugget sank into her head since then.  After all, when you’re 12 you don’t really run and write down the wisdom that drips from your parent’s mouth.

It did, however, start to sink into mine.  Or should I say it keeps creeping up.

You see, there are a couple of people in my life who I’ve recently found myself thinking the same thing.  Without going into details, let’s just say I’ve done the grown-up version of, “Hi, I’m Mindy – want to be friends?”  Since they publicly look like they are warm and friendly, I expected to hear, “Sure! Let’s hang out!” (Or some sort of grown-up equivalent.)  But I got nothing.  N-O-T-H-I-N-G.  (I know people can be different in groups and individually and that some are more comfortable in one setting.  But I know these people stay “on” for a select few and go noticeably “off” at other times. I can respect the need to turn off.  But that’s another discussion for another day.  You’ll see that I’m actually more interested in convicting myself than others as I go on.)

This bugs me.  It probably bugs me most because it gets those pesky insecurities going.  Am I not nice enough? Funny enough?  Engaging enough?  Pretty enough?  If you have that voice in your head, you know how it can keep going.  After going down this road a few time, I found myself saying, “Fine.  I’m done trying to be nice.  If I’m not going to get anything back, why bother?”

AHEM.  It’s wonderful to be nice and try to make people happy, but only do it because you want to –  not because you expect something in return.  Um … yeah.  I guess that whole “love one another thing” didn’t quite sink all the way in yet either.

So now I’m trying to find where the line is between loving one another and being a door mat.  I think I’ve learned to not be a door mat, but I wonder how much you love without getting anything in return.  At what point do you move on?  Or do you just keep loving?  Or love in a different way?

What do you think?

~mwe

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(Note: The sentences in italics at the end of the second paragraph were added after publishing to clarify my thoughts.)

The other day I was reading an article written by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in response to an evangelical minister’s attempt to “win” Anthony Weiner over to Jesus.  First, let me say that when I started reading the article I expected to agree more with Rabbi Shmuley than the Baptist minister.  I have a great deal of respect for the Rabbi.  He is a wise, thoughtful, man of God who rises above popular opinion to speak his mind about this society we live in.  Above all, he is kind and always seems to believe in the goodness of people.

So I was surprised when I was reading this article and came to a sentence that stopped me dead in my tracks.  “Redemption comes about not through anything we believe but how we behave.”  Whoa.  It’s very seldom that I read something from someone I respect that is the complete opposite of what I believe.  But this one sentence did.  Because I believe that “a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” (Romans 3: 28)  In the same way, I believe “a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)  Of course, actions are important.  But I don’t believe we can ever hope to “win” God’s favor by our actions alone.  We make mistakes.  We make bad choices.  We do stupid things.  If and when, however, our heart is God’s, we try harder to do His will – not because it adds to our “good acts” column, but because we want to please Him.  And it is our faith that draws us to this point in our lives.

I’m not writing about this because I want to do to Rabbi Shmuley what the Christian minister did to Anthony Weiner.  I respect the Rabbi’s beliefs.  I have no doubt that he has a strong foundation for them.  But, I’m thankful to Rabbi Shmuley for stating his belief in this article, because in doing so, I am able to stand firm in mine.  When I read his words, it was like the two similar poles of magnets repelling each other.  At first, that feeling bothered me.  But then I realized I felt this way because he contradicted my core beliefs.  And it feels good to know there is something I believe that deeply in my soul.

There are times when I wonder if my faith is strong enough.  There are days where my questions outnumber my answers.  But thanks to this article, I know some of my beliefs can’t be shaken.  And I’m glad this is one of them, because if I only had my works to save my soul, I’d be in big trouble.  I believe I have a Lord who will be at my side when my works are counted and stand in the gap for my salvation.

(And Rabbi Shmuley, if you happen to read this, I’d love to talk to you about our beliefs.  I promise to only tell you my reasons for my faith and not try to convince you to try Jesus – unless I’m so convincing that you decide Jesus is the answer 🙂 )

~mwe

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If you didn’t catch the explanation of the 30-Day challenge, you can read about it here.

Here is the verse for day 30 of the challenge:

1 John 4: 11

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  (In context: 1 John 4: 10-12)

Woohoo!  You made it to day 30!  I pray this challenge has been as much as blessing to you as it has been to me.

Don’t forget to share your success and/or challenges!  You can read about how I’m doing here

~mwe

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