Saturday, May 28, 2011

Unqualified and Not Good Enough

Ever notice how it's easier to preach something than it is to live it?  Kind of what I say, not what I do?

Our fourteen year old son is very competitive and plays several different sports.  Any time his team loses a game, I am always quick to remind him that you can't win every time and that losing sometimes is a part of life.  I usually go into how the whole experience can teach him good sportsmanship if he allows it to and how he can grow from the mistakes he made and be a better player next time.

Recently I received an email about a writing contest that I entered. I was nervous to say the least.  My eyes skimmed down the page and stopped...  "Thank you for entering.  Sadly, I must say...."

My heart sank.

Why is it so hard to lose?

Immediately I began to have feelings of "I'm not good enough"... "I'm not going to go to the writing conference and make a fool of myself"...  "Write a book?  Who am I kidding?"....

 And then I took a deep breath and remembered the advice I had given so many times before - of course it probably helped that my fourteen year old was sitting on the couch staring at me.  I was honest and told him that it was easier to give him advice than to take it for myself.  He was so sweet.  He got up and hugged me and said, "I'm sorry you didn't win, but maybe next time.  I love you, mom."

Losses and disappointments are sometimes a part of life.  They don't define who we are, but they can encourage who we become. 

Yesterday I was expressing my feelings of inadequacy about ministry in general to my spiritual dad on the phone.  He said, "If you feel like you're not ready, you probably are." And that makes sense.  When we feel like we have it altogether and we know everything, that's when we mess things up.  If we knew everything and got everything perfect all the time, we would not need to depend on God.

So I am pressing forward, feelings of inadequacy and all.  And no matter how many times I fail, or don't win, I will keep moving.  It's not about me anyway.

Don't allow circumstances or people to keep you from stepping out into the ministry you feel God calling you to.  We will never be good enough or smart enough or qualified enough.  It is God working through us Who supplies the power and ability to accomplish the things He puts before us. 

And trust me, He IS qualified.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Finding Something in a Time of Loss

I close my eyes and I can see his face.  I can hear his laugh and the shuffle of his old, tired feet in his worn out cowboy boots.

Today, I said good-bye to my grandpa.  Even though I know our good-bye is only for a season, this dull aching deep inside will not rest.  I know time will heal and the pain will lessen, but tonight my heart hurts.  He lived a long 92 years and it seems selfish for me to want him back.  He is no longer in pain, no longer without....but complete, fulfilled and perfect in the presence of our sweet, sweet, Jesus (and my grandma who was the love of his life). 

In times of brokenness, our heart is exposed and we spill out....messy and imperfect.  God picks up our pieces and gently reminds us that He is the Potter.  As life unfolds and the reality of pain, disappointment and loss are known, we can be molded as clay in the Potter's hands.  In our healing we can find that every pain has a purpose, every heartache can make us love better, and every hurt and disappointment can be used to reveal and expose and bring us closer to the One who loves us most.

Today, I am keenly aware of my temporary and limited life on this earth.

My selfish ambitions and motives are being exposed, my heart is being enlarged, and my broken pieces are being molded into a vessel to illuminate His goodness, mercy, grace...His love, forgiveness, and healing poured out...if only I will yield and allow the Master to finish the work that He has started.

In times of desperation, when our world has been shaken, when we cry out with all that is within us, when we find ourselves grasping, reaching...needing something to hold on to...He is our resting place and our shelter.

I do not understand why we have to go through the things we do and feel the things we feel.  But my faith and my trust are in the One who promises to be with me even then.

Tonight, I quiet my soul....and listen.

Tonight, I hear Him speaking, and choose to yield.

Thou will keep in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee; because he trusteth in Thee. ~Isaiah 26:3

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Questions, Preparations & A Writing Sabbatical

Often I sit in my "writing chair" (aka: the cuddler recliner I stole from my husband), the place where stories are formed and words are strung together to take on new meaning, soaking in moments of solitude when the only movements left in the house are those made by sleeping beauties.

Today, I sit alone at my breakfast table (aka: dining table, craft table, game table) reflecting on the last five months and peeking into tomorrow. 

And listening for divine direction.

After years of being a stay at home mom, I am now in the middle of my pursuit of a degree in teaching.  This past semester proved to be difficult and challenging, perhaps of my own doing, as I wrestled -once again- with the famous question "Is this it?"  And with the current education dilemma in our state and the loss of 59 jobs in our school district alone, I have decided to take a step back and re-evaluate this plan.

I know I am called to ministry.  Have my education pursuits been but a distraction to a higher calling?

I have just recently allowed myself to say "I am a writer."  I know this is part of the ministry God has called me to. Should I focus all my efforts here and not register for school in the Fall?

After having our own home based business for five years, a decrease in contracts resulting in financial pressures caused my husband to return to work for "the man" in November of last year.  Should I also look for a part-time or even full-time job outside of our home?

I am believing these questions will be answered over the next few months.  I am following God's leading and attending a Writer's Conference, as most of you know, in July.  I am going expecting and anticipating great things, but most of all, to hear Him speak to me.  I will be gathering knowledge, meeting with publishers and editors and connecting with other writers and women who feel called to ministry.  By faith, I will come home armed and ready to go where He says to go, speak what He says to speak, and do what He says to do! 

Please say a prayer for me. :)

I am spending this weekend away with my mom and sister for my sister's birthday.  My return will mark the beginning of a 30 day research and writing sabbatical as I prepare for the conference.

What's going on in your neck of the woods?  Have any of these questions haunted you lately? :)  Is there anything I can pray with you about?

Establish my steps and direct them by [means of] Your word... Psalm 119:133a