The Gift of Receiving

Tis the season…

Of giving; of joy; of Christmas tidings; and family.

Which often translates to the season… Of getting; of stress; of anxiety; and conflict.

It is a season is built around great intentions, but beyond the sparkling lights and brightly colored paper, sometimes all the “giving” leaves a trail of disappointment, selfishness and ingratitude.

So in the midst of all the GIVING, I am wondering what it feels like to truly RECEIVE. What is my HEART RESPONSE when I receive?

Often my “receiving” is dependent upon how I feel about a relationship or myself. If I am not feeling worthy then having to receive makes me feel guarded, ashamed or more unworthy. If I am bitter or resentful in a relationship then receiving is about entitlement, or perhaps increasing bitterness. If I do not love in a relationship then receiving makes me feel selfish or guilty. I am not saying I am always in a negative space!! Rather , I am aware of walls that reflect a negative emotion when I have negativity in my heart and spirit.

So this is what I am coming to understand … receiving is about an open heart. It is about being vulnerable. It is about lowering my defenses and setting aside fears. If I am to enter fully into a state of receiving – my heart must stop its frantic and frenetic defensiveness… and just receive.

The Act of Receiving is my response to the Giver and the Gift. It is about letting the gift – whatever it is, tangible or intangible, material or without physical form – deliver a message. And I have a choice; I can receive it or refuse it. I can let the gift hit a wall, or I can reflect the beauty and grace of receiving. Gratitude, appreciation, sharing, grace, joy and belief are emotions that flow out of an open responsive heart. Genuine receiving is allowing my spirit to be fully open to beauty, to love and relationship.

This is so much more than the packages under the tree!  As my heart and spirit become more responsive, I have more joy and love and delight in the gifts that each day brings.  Each day God lays before me an array of gifts, it is my response that determines what I receive.

Perhaps the greatest gift is not in the giving but in the response. As the season of “giving” approaches, be an open-hearted gracious receiver – your heart will be a blessing to  the world around you.

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Footprints

My life is not linear. It is not just one single event after another. It is the result of extravagant, complex, multidimensional strings of actions, reactions and interactions. This very moment is a sparkling moment compressed in time – a product of occurrences 10 minutes ago, 5 years ago, 50 years ago. My life is like a spring compressed – all the known and unknown actions that have preceded this moment, waiting for the energy to be released with unknown potential. It is a miracle.

I was saved from drowning by a young man when I was a toddler – he heard me fall into the water, and caught me as I floated around a bend in the spring-flooded creek. Medical technology intervened during the birth of both of my sons – had I lived a century before the outcome may have been a matter of life and death. My marriage, hanging on by a quickly fraying thread was saved when we attended a Choices seminar – we found strength to fight for the important things in our lives. A thousand little things, a million little things, preceded all of these BIG things.

My life was saved because a mother decided to put her son in swimming lessons. My sons are healthy because someone sought medical advances in childbirth. My life is changed and my marriage is renewed because someone believed they could help people make better decisions.

Whether I live with INTENTION, or without direction – what I do impacts the world around me. There is always an energy I pass on. I can be disengaged and disinterested, or I can be engaged and involved. Whatever I choose, I leave a footprint.

In our fast paced, driven world we talk about “reducing our carbon footprint.” We invest in reducing the impact that our energy use has on the environment. But I WANT to leave a footprint in my world! I want to invest in changed lives and MIRACLES. I want the footprint of my presence to make a difference in the world that I interact with today. If you already practice acts of kindness and gratitude – remember the potential energy that you are releasing in the lives of those you touch. Perhaps your smile or kind words will remind a tired mom to tell her child “I love you”, or remind a stressed father to hug his wife extra tight tonight. The “action” doesn’t end with the action – each moment we engage in is like a compressed spring releasing its energy to the world.

I have a million steps to make in my life. I may not leave my footprint on the moon – but I can leave an impression of LOVE and PEACE and HOPE on the hearts I touch today.

BE the change you wish to see in the world … -Gandhi

What footprints are you leaving today?

Come Away

“Come away with me

Come away with me

It’s never too late

It’s never too late for you

I have a plan for you

Its gonna be wild

Its gonna be great”

(Lyrics from Come Away by Jesus Culture)

I began this journey, this adventure, with an invitation.  Perhaps it is the season in my life, but I feel the call to challenge my fears and self imposed limitations.  Writing with the intention of eventually putting my words “out there” in a blog was one of my challenges.  The world of “my spirit” was another area of challenge.  I have asked a lot of questions and explored many avenues and forms of spirituality.  I have found the place where my heart resonates and is at peace, but I wanted to press beyond the confines of my understanding and take it deeper.

I have been intentional and accountable and committed.  My world has shifted.  I am experiencing a new level of joy and satisfaction in my life. It really has been marvelous.

Then I made my blog public.  Blessed by the response, I feel invigorated by the fact that others have found value in my words. And once again there is a shift.  Now the words tumble to the page with thoughts of how they will appeal to potential readers. I wonder if profound expressions of my faith will offend someone who doesn’t share my beliefs …

How quickly I am distracted!  People pleasing, performance and desire for affirmation overshadow my quest with suffocating speed.

So this morning I return to the call of my spirit by responding to a much greater and glorious Spirit!  I believe God has invited me to “come away with Him.” This does not mean to step away from the reality of my day-to-day life, but it means to ask deeper questions.  It means to seek moments and occasions to press beyond my comfort zone.  It means to hunger for more peace … and more passion in my life.  For me it means to reach deeper into my creativity and partner with God in the various forms of its expression.

I invite you who are participating in this journey – to step away from the noise and busyness of your day.  What is your spirit quietly asking you to respond to? What is your heart yearning for? Where are you going today – ask yourself why? Just turn your music up LOUD  and let your heart SING! I challenge you to take a chance and respond to that deeper resonance in your spirit.

Its never too late, it is NEVER too late.  Who knows what you will find waiting BEYOND your comfort zone!

A Touch of Mercy and Grace

It’s a white snowy day today; I thought I would write something of the beauty of the day while I am curled up in my warm cozy home.  My thoughts wandered to a place I wasn’t expecting – and the emotion I am feeling tells me that this is the right time to write these words.  I feel the need to preface the words because this isn’t about me moving forward, but about looking back.

Several years ago my I faced a gut-wrenching crisis in my life.  From where I am now, I understand the underlying issues, but then, as now, I was responsible for some terrible decisions that brought devastating pain to those around me.   The journey of repairing and rebuilding was difficult beyond measure at times.  Today I savor the health and healing that the journey has brought me.

But there were DARK days.  I wanted to die.  I was angry with God because I wanted to stop breathing, I just wanted to STOP.  And He wouldn’t let me.  I desperately wanted to melt away into the darkness of the night, to disappear from life, to be no more.  Yet every morning the sun rose … every day it rose to shine light on the pain.

It is a curious thing how we respond to pain.   Perhaps it is the revelation of this dynamic more than anything else that has shaped how I live my life now.  I lost relationships – many for reasons I understood, and some I didn’t.  I understood the judgments of me, but as people withdrew from relationship something in me died.  It confirmed that I was not worthy of time or relationship.  It confirmed that I was lacking in value and undeserving of love. It devoured any sense of hope.

In the midst of this darkness – there was light.  My father-in-law was light for me.  Every Saturday he would visit me at my flower shop.  He would show interest in my latest arrangements, have a short conversation, then he would remind me by SAYING THE WORDS of how much he and my mother-in-law loved me, and valued me.  Then he would hug me.  Even now, after my darkness is gone – I am moved to great emotion because of that tender gentle gift of love he gave me every week.

His actions turned the tide of my pain.  His words were MERCY, and his hugs were GRACE.  He looked past my mistakes and created a moment in my life where I felt valued and worthy of being loved.  Ultimately it opened a door of hope for me to receive forgiveness and healing.  The actions of my father-in-law were the touch of Gods love in my life when I needed it most. And I am forever grateful!

So this is my question today – who in my life needs to feel that tender gentle gift of love?  Who is undeserving – and yet desperately needs to know that they have VALUE and WORTH?  Who is lost in the darkness and needs to be touched by mercy and grace today?

Someone needs the gift I have to give.

WHO SAID THAT?

I watched a You-Tube video this week – a clip from X-Factor UK 2012, the singing audition of Christopher Maloney. Christopher was battling an extraordinary case of the nerves – and then he began to sing. With an amazing voice he belted out a powerful and moving rendition of The Rose. It was one of those moments that take your breath away. At the end of the standing ovation he received from the audience, the judges expressed their amazement at his talent.

One of the judges asked with emphasis “Do you not believe in yourself? Can you not hear yourself?”

Christopher stutteringly responded that people had told him not to embarrass himself.

In unison – the chorus of judges reacted “WHO SAID THAT?”

“People… just people.” Christopher Maloney responded.

The questions resonated in my head … “Do you not believe in yourself?” “ Who said that?  Who told you that?” I struggle with my self-confidence and belief in what I have to offer. I have lived a great deal of my life overwhelmed by the voices that tell me that I don’t have what it takes, not to think too highly of my self and that I will never measure up. WHO SAID THAT? – I want to shout at this moment. More importantly, why do I choose to keep listening? The words paralyze, handcuff and bind me into inactivity. Why DO I give them the power to sabotage the dreams and purposes in my life?

I believe in the treasure that God has placed in every one of us, and of the gift He wants us to share with the world. Am I sharing my riches with the world when I listen to those echoes in my head? Am I living the life that God has called me to live? Am I being the woman God has called me to be?

Psalm 139: 13-16 The Message translation Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; 
 you formed me in my mother’s womb. 
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! 
 Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! 
You know me inside and out, 
 you know every bone in my body; 
You know exactly how I was made, bit-by-bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. 
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; 
all the stages of my life were spread out before you, 
The days of my life all prepared
 before I’d even lived one day.

This is the challenge in this season of my life – to step beyond fear, to step beyond self-doubt, to step beyond self – limiting beliefs and to step beyond voices of condemnation. It is time for me to step INTO life. Because, “body and soul, I am marvelously made!”

www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1T9-I3wx8I

Listen….

I have set several ambitious goals for myself this month.  I have made a commitment to spend a certain amount of time every day seeking God, and a certain amount of time writing.  I struggle with goal setting and being accountable, so I made the decision to be committed and accountable!  But it is week number three, and life has been busy … I haven’t met my commitments this week. So today, I am going to GET BUSY, do the job, complete the task …get it done.

I am doing my “God time”, making an effort to slow down, but my mind keeps rushing ahead to what I should write about.  I am doing my daily Bible reading – searching for a good theme.  I am journaling – and my mind races ahead, always racing to the task ahead.  It is a struggle, and today this is frustrating.

This is what I write in my journal… “It is hard to sit and listen.”

LISTEN

I am taking a counseling course, and one of the modules deals with Listening Skills.

Oh.

How are my listening skills with God? Do I listen closely enough to repeat back His words? Do I listen to the intention of His words, not just to my projections? Do I listen intently enough to ask good questions? Do I really know HOW to listen? Or do I just grab a few “good words” and race off with my interpretation? Do I listen?  Am I listening now?

Shhhhhhh…… listen.

 Ronda, this is about the time you spend with Me.  It is about the time you spend talking … and the time you spend LISTENING. It is about the conversation.  It is about our interaction.  It is not about the task. It is about our relationship. It is about you and Me. 

 Samuel 3:10     Then God came and stood before Him exactly as before, calling out, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Samuel answered, “Speak.  I’m your servant, ready to listen.”

 

Father, I did hear that… I am ready to listen.

I want my listening skills to be better than my talking skills.

Help me today to be in an attitude of LISTENING.

Help me to listen … and to hear.

 Shhhh …..I am listening.

Mountains to Climb

God created me with a restless spirit.  As long as I can remember I have always longed for adventure.  I have always wondered what is waiting around the next corner or over the next hill.   There is always a new trail to explore or a new treasure to find.  I always have a new thought to ponder or a new question to ask.  Words like “routine” or “settled” cause panic to rise up in me.  And I have seen the panic in the eyes of those around me when I feel the impulse “change things.”  Why can’t I just be happy where I am?  I have a torment in my soul – why CAN’T I just be satisfied?

I have had a great life – with many satisfying pieces, but the questing has always remained.  Sometimes I have filled that yearning with God, and there are times I have not.  I have searched for wrong pieces, wandered down wrong paths, chosen wrong adventures – and I have landed in dire situations.

You may think I am crazy.  You may long for constancy, continuity and routine.  The thought of “pushing the envelope” causes panic in your heart. You may be cautious, careful and consistent in order to create an environment that satisfies your spirit. Do you know why He created you with a need for security and safety?  So that He could BE Faithful, Constant, and Unchanging for you.  Deuteronomy 33:12 says  “He surrounds them continuously, and preserves them from harm.” He wants to be your refuge, your strong tower and your fortress.

We were created with a space that was designed to be filled by God – and God alone.  There is a cry within us for that void to be filled.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has set eternity in our hearts.  My life, your life, and lives all around us are reaching, searching to find that piece that will satisfy that longing.  But fulfillment of that need will only be met by when the One who created it fills it.  The things we DO or USE to satisfy our hearts will always lacking if God does not fill the spot FIRST.

I love my “adventuring” spirit – and I believe God loves it too.  But I have learned that I must be fully anchored in God before my adventure begins.  My life must be centered on living the life that Jesus called me to live – filled BY Him and THROUGH Him.  Christ must satisfy my heart and then He will satisfy my longings.  There is a popular song with the chorus “ There’s always going to be another mountain, I’m gonna want to make it move.”  God has given me mountains, and a deep longing to climb them.   But HE is the mover of mountains and He desires for my climb to be with HIM.

Father, I LONG for you

I pray that you would fill the longings of my heart with the fullness of who you are.

I pray that the desires of my heart would cause me to turn to you,

Guard my heart; keep me from turning to other things to satisfy.

May YOU and YOU alone fill the space that was created for YOU.

Lord Jesus, take my hand …

I want to have an adventure with you!