June 19, 2013

The Blessing of Leaving an Idol Behind

Last Sunday, one of our Sunday School mentors talked about idols.

And no, not statues of Buddha or Krishna or other gods. Other idols in our lives: money, a home, a car, TV, marriage, etc.

Basically, anything that we're depending on for happiness or security -- instead of depending on God.

As he talked, an image of my idol -- one I've tried hard to leave behind, but that keeps finding it's way onto my shelf -- appeared in my mind.

For me, it's recognition.

I've struggled my whole life with wanting to be the best. With wanting affirmation from others. Because if I get affirmation from others, that means I'm a good person, and I'm worthy, right?

Wrong-o!

Interestingly, I thought about a writing contest I'd entered. One that I was awaiting results on that very weekend. A major contest that would affirm what I was doing. That would tell me I'm worthy.

In that moment, God asked me to lay down my desire to final in that contest. For a second, I struggled...because what did it mean if I didn't final?

Then, when I finally said, "Your will, God," I felt such peace about it flow through me. What a blessing.

An even bigger blessing came not three hours later when I received a phone call informing me that I had in fact finaled in the contest. I was floored...not only that I had finaled, but that God's timing was perfect.

If I'd gotten the call before I'd surrendered to God's will, the effect on my heart would have been very different, I know.

I'm so grateful to him for everything I have, and I'm learning -- one contest, one book, one DAY at a time -- to trust in HIM for my identity. Because it's not what I do or how I'm recognized that matters.

All that matters is how HE sees me.

And that's enough.

Your Turn: What idols have you struggled with in the past? If you don't want to get personal, what idols do you see society in general struggling with?

* I'm taking a weeklong break from blogging, since next week I'll be visiting some good friends for a writing retreat in Minnesota! But the blog will be back next Friday (6/28) with a guest post from my lovely friend, Ashley Clark. I just know you'll be blessed.

**Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

June 17, 2013

Giving a Dog Her Day

This weekend, my husband and I went camping with our Sunday School class.

We decided we should try camping with our dogs this year. We have two golden retrievers: a 2-year-old named Chloe and a 1-year-old named Pascal.

We knew we wouldn't be up for the craziness of bringing both of them, so we had to choose.

We immediately decided to bring our little one, Pascal, because he's so incredibly calm. Chloe is by nature anxious and tends to get into stuff and not obey all that well.

However, just before the trip, we took Pascal to the vet and he had to be shaved a bit to take care of some wounds on his neck there from some rough play (gross? Yes.). So he couldn't go camping with us because I was afraid of his wounds getting infected.

So our choices: bring Chloe or bring no one.

We decided to bring Chloe.

And she was an absolute angel. Listened well. Didn't annoy people. Played well with the another dog on the trip.

We were shocked and pleasantly surprised.

The thing is, we judged Chloe before really giving her a chance to prove that she could be a good dog in this situation...to do something different. When she was on her own and had the attention on her, she did beautifully.

It just made me wonder...how often do I judge other people and think I know exactly how they'll react to a situation? Probably a lot more than I want to admit.

And yes, dogs are not people...but I think the principle works the same.

Sometimes, you just have to give a dog her day. And likewise, sometimes, you just have to trust someone and give him/her a chance.

They may just surprise you.

Your Turn: Do you enjoy camping? Any fun camping memories?

June 14, 2013

Fun Friday: Fathers

Daddio and me. Yes. We're strange. Actually, this was my idea, so I'm strange.

This weekend is Father's Day, as most of you know.

I'm really blessed to have a Daddy who is just...simply put...the bestest.

With everything I've gone through in losing my mom, my dad has been a rock in my life and I just respect and love him soooo much. He's taught me a lot and loved me in spite of...well, me being me.

So this weekend, I'm excited to celebrate him and all he's meant to me and continues to mean to me.

Your Turn: Who are you celebrating -- or remembering -- this weekend?

June 12, 2013

Worship Wednesday: "Carry Me" by Josh Wilson


A lot of times in life, we go, go ,go.

Until we can't go anymore.

We can't even lift a finger to do...anything.

Our legs won't hold us upright.

I'm speaking metaphorically, of course.

But even in the metaphorical sense, we understand what it means for someone to carry us when we can't go any farther on our own.

I've reached this place a number of times. Times when I came to the end of myself, saw that there was nothing left...and either tried to plow forward anyway -- always to the detriment of my spirit -- or waited.

Waited for God to carry me.

I love Josh Wilson's "Carry Me" because it talks of just that moment. Take a listen below. Soak in the truth. The heart behind it. And relate.

It's okay. There's nothing wrong with needing to be carried.

We may see it as a weakness, but actually, it takes strength to give it all up, humility to admit our limitations.

And you know what? When you call out to Him, He'll carry you to places you never could have gone on your own. Just wait and see.



Your Turn: Do you find it hard to let God carry you?

*Today I'm so excited to be guest posting on my friend Amanda Dykes' blog. I'm talking about waiting...and living in the here and now. Won't you come say hi?

June 10, 2013

Being Shaped, Not Defined

This...
Not this.

When something bad or unwanted happens in my life, my first instinct is to let it affect me.

It saddens me. Angers me. Makes me question...a lot. Lowers my self-esteem. Makes me consider life and what I really want from it. 

Natural, right?

But there's another way I let unpleasant experiences affect me.

They often begin to define me.

As in, I begin to take on an identity, one I was never meant to take on.

Like the time all of my school friends in seventh grade decided to stop being my friends, for no reason.

Because of that, for years, I took on the identity of unpopular. Unlikable. Unwanted.

It made me strive harder for everything. I threw myself into the things I knew I did well, like school. And slowly, THAT became my identity.

If you'd looked up "Lindsay" in my own private dictionary, it would say:

1. Unpopular, unlikable, unwanted.
2. Smart girl.

Then, in high school and college, I went through something horrible. My mom had cancer for four years, and when I was 19, she passed away from it. My definition of myself grew.

3. Girl to be pitied.
4. Doubter of the faith she's always known; shameful.

Recently, I didn't do as well as I wanted in a writing contest. Now remember definition 2? Smart girl? Girl who didn't struggle with school? Girl who strove to be the best because that's the definition she could control?

Yeah. Since I became a writer pursuing publication, my own personal definitions for myself have gone wonky.

And that is a very, very good thing.

Because I CAN'T be defined by an experience, or two, or three.

But we do it to ourselves ALL. THE. TIME.

What if, instead of allowing ourselves to be defined by our circumstances, we simply allowed ourselves to be shaped by them? To let ourselves learn from them, grow closer to our Lord because of them? Become more like Jesus because of them?

What if, instead, we found our identity -- our definition -- in something that would never change?

What if, instead, I erased the personal definition of myself and replaced it? 

1. Child of God.
2. Beloved.
3. Always and forever His, no matter what I do or don't do, no matter how I succeed or fail.

Your Turn: I know I've talked a lot about labels and identity this year, and that's because I'm learning myself what it means to find my identity in God. It's a long road, and I'm so blessed to have all of you travel it with me. Do you relate to this at all? How do you remind yourself to find your definition in who you are in Him?

June 7, 2013

Fun Friday: What Are You Reading?


As you've probably guessed, I looooove reading. It's pretty much my favorite pasttime.

And unfortunately, I don't get a lot of chance to read. Or as much as I'd like, anyway. But last week as my dad drove us to and from Oklahoma, I got lots of time to read.

'Twas glorious!

I read Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck...and LOVED it.


And Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer...and LOVED it.
 
 
And now I'm reading Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade!
 
It's so fun and yummy and I love it!
 
Your Turn: What are you reading? Or what's on your I-really-wanna-read-this-soon list?

June 5, 2013

Worship Wednesday: "Hello, My Name Is" by Matthew West

I'll admit it: I tend to define myself with labels.

Writer.

Singer.

Wife.

Doggy mama.

Wannabe dancer.

Those are fairly straightforward and innocent labels, right? And they do speak the truth about who I am. At least in part.

But what about those other labels I wear? The not-so-innocent ones? The ones I give myself based on past experience?

Like

Fat.

Ugly.

Not good enough.

Not popular.

Weak.

Undisciplined.

Unfortunately, I could go on and on.

Too often, I let those other labels define me. And not just define me, but affect my entire perspective. Because when I'm focused on my failures--and how they make me feel so utterly wretched--then I'm not allowing God to use me effectively. I'm self-centered. I don't see others' needs, because I'm too worried about how I'm perceived.

I love "Hello, My Name Is" by Matthew West (see below), because it names the identity we should be most focused on: Child of the One True King.

Let's work on replacing those "other" labels with the ones that matter, like

Saved.

Redeemed.

Precious in His sight.

Beloved.

Your Turn: What label(s) do you want to work on replacing? What label(s) would you replace it with?

June 3, 2013

How to Handle Someone Else's Tragedy

On May 20, a tornado ravaged Moore, Oklahoma.

Just this last weekend, another horrible storm hit the Oklahoma City area.

People were killed in both storms. Homes, destroyed. Lives, forever changed.

I watched the news coverage of both storms in horror, first, because I have grandparents, other relatives, and friends in the OKC area. And second, because I was in Oklahoma during the second storm.

Thankfully, I was about two hours away from the affected area, but still I couldn't hold back the fear that the storm would come my way.

Today, I started to reflect on these feelings and something hit me: I tend to feel more horror at a tragedy when I'm personally affected by it.

There have been several tragedies in the last year: shootings, bombings, hurricanes, etc. And yet, I didn't follow the news, didn't read every last detail, didn't meditate on the whys or the loss of life in quite the same way as when me and mine were affected.

Yes, of course, I felt for the victims of each of these tragedies. I prayed, though not very long or hard. I mourned, but my mourning was brief.

I went on with my life quickly.

That's really hard to admit. Because I don't want to be the kind of person that is only concerned about tragedy when it affects me. On the other hand, if I truly followed every detail of every tragedy, then my mind and spirit would become so saturated with grief that I'd be undone.

So where's the middle ground? How do we balance the two sides? How do we mourn for those who mourn without giving into gut-wrenching sorrow? Sometimes it seems our own lives have enough sorrow in them...and taking on anyone else's burden of grief is too much.

I don't really know the answer. I guess the best thing to do is pray that we are people of compassion. That we have opportunities to serve, and take them. That we look beyond ourselves to others who are hurting.

Because I have found that, even if we ourselves are mourning, to serve others and take the opportunity to comfort others heals something inside us.

Your Turn: Clearly, I don't have the answers. But I'd love this to be a conversation, so I wanna know: how do you think we should handle the balance? How do we avoid becoming overwhelmed by tragedy, or--the opposite--immune to its effects?

**Today I'm also posting at the ACFW blog, talking about the writer's journey...and what it has to do with the musical, My Fair Lady. Come say hi!

*Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net