Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Venturing Out of My Comfort Zone

Every year our family makes an annual trip up to Mt. Baker to spend the week snowboarding, sledding, and enjoying the beautiful out-of-doors. Well, to be quite honest everyone in the family enjoys the snow sports, except for me. I go up to the mountain for fun family time, but I do not excell at snowsports. I've taken snowboard and ski lessons, but after days of slamming my face in the snow or falling I give up. Two years ago I declared to my family, “I’m done! It’s not my thing!” There are no new tricks for this old dog. I'm too old!

Each year since I declared "I quit", I have felt a sense of regret.

This year I intended to have a great get-away with the family, but skiing was not in my plans. I did ask God how he wanted to “grow” me during the week, but I thought it would be about relationships or through studying His word in a quiet surrounding. Deep down I had a real sense he wanted me to get out of my comfort zone.

The day we arrived I don’t think it was any coincidence that the lodge, was filled with gray-haired skiers. Everywhere I turned I ran into an older person geared up and ready to hit the slopes. I started to think, “If they can do it…” But still the conditions weren’t perfect yet.

The next day in the lodge an OLD man came up to me and asked why I didn’t ski. I didn’t even know him, nor did I look to him to start up a conversation. I told him I don’t ski. He proceeded to show me how to ski, “Hands on your knees, head up, and smile.” I was embarrassed by this display, but it stuck with me.

That night I wondered if there was something to these things happening, but still the conditions weren’t perfect.

The third day of our trip we woke up to beautiful sunny blue skies. This was a perfect day. I was ready to try…or at least rent skis. I rented skis and then my 5 year old gave me a lesson on the handle tow. This lasted about 40 minutes until she fell asleep in the snow. That was the end of my ski day. I was disappointed, but I had tried. I was out of my comfort zone and had rented skis.

Was that the growing God wanted to do. Did he just want me to gain courage to try or was there something more?

During the week up at the mountain, my bible study dealt with a lesson about perfectionism. I admit I struggle with that, but was that affecting my experiences with my kids and husband? I sensed that bigger than the risk of falling was the feeling of failing. If I couldn’t be Pikaboo Street or Shawn White, why try? Was that what my actions of not trying were really about?? If I couldn’t be really good at it the first time, I wouldn’t even try?

I went for a walk the next morning. We were planning on heading down the mountain after lunch. I talked to God along the walk and looked at the beautiful blue skies and listened. I felt a really strong sense to try again. This time more than renting…I was going to take a lesson. I went back to the lodge and told my family of this. They were SO excited for me!

I took the lesson and was blessed with a very patient instructor. I had a great time and really stepped out of my comfort zone. My husband said I look like a turtle coming down the hill, but I WAS COMING DOWN THE HILL! I got out of my comfort zone and allowed God to grow me and trust Him in the process.
Turtles Rock!

Love a Great Quote

I love a great quote especially when it arrives at the perfect time. Today I was greeted by a series of great quotes that have blessed me and have ministered to me just where I'm at.
In Praying the Names of Jesus, Ann Spangler writes, "Belonging to Jesus does not make us immune to tragedy. But basing our lives on him through faith will enable us to stand rather than collapse in the face of unbearable pressure. Our standing will have nothing to do with luck but everything to do with where we are standing--on the cornerstone (Akrogoniaios Lithos), tested and true.
The other great quote of the morning was from an article in Homeschooling Today. The article was titled, "The Timothy Mandate" by Rachel Starr Thomson. She writes, "We all have expectations placed on our lives- by others and ourselves. In many ways, they control what we do. The Timothy Mandate calls us to live for God first, without reference to what others expect of us. God's call is for each of us to step up and be counted, to live the Christian life to its limits no matter what everyone else is doing."
"God's mightiest servants throughout history have been those who learned to live for God alone. People's expectations may have burdened them, challenged them, or hurt them, but they did not dictate them."

Friday, March 13, 2009

In Memory of Precious Baby Chandler Grace

This has been a tough week for some close, precious friends.
Chandler Grace was born and died at 4:19 March 8, 2009.
We continue to support and pray for this dear mommy and her family.

At the memorial for Chandler Grace I was asked to speak and read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11. These verses are taken from both the NIV translation and The Message.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to hold on and another to let go,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace,
He has made everything beautiful in its time.

I’d like to repeat…He has made everything beautiful in its time. Our Sovereign God has a perfect plan. He had a perfect life plan for Precious Baby Chandler Grace and she has forever changed Elissa and many others who have been affected by her short life.
Psalm 139:13-14, & vs. 16 tell us that God created Chandler’s inmost being; He knit her together in Elissa’s womb. We praise Him because she was fearfully and wonderfully made; His works are wonderful, we know that full well. All her days were ordained for her in His book before one of them came to be.
We can hold on to the Truth that God knew ALL of Chandler’s days. Her days were full of love by a mommy who adores her.
I think back to the day Elissa shared with me that she was going to have a baby. She had recently returned from YWAM and life happened. We met in the commons and I knew something was in her eyes. They sparkled with joy and excitement, but the tears of uncertainty welled up and spilled onto her cheeks. She had been given a great gift, but knew not what the future would hold. One thing is certain Elissa loved this little girl from the moment she knew she had conceived.
God is the amazing creator of life and He has a perfect plan for Elissa and Chandler. I’m crazy about Elissa and have loved her since she was a vivacious young AWANA girl experiencing life to the fullest! She remains the strong, vibrant person God designed her to be, but she has grown into a woman of character throughout these past months with Chandler.
Throughout her pregnancy God poured His grace into her life and she received it with open arms. Her strength and determination to provide a good life for her daughter has inspired many. She sought wise council, she pressed into Jesus and she sought Him in the Word, through prayer and while gathering with other believers. Among words people have recently used to describe her are:
Strong, inspiring, amazing, mature, brave, faithful, a passion for Christ, excellent, beautiful, precious, encouraging, amazing faith, one who leans on God and I would like to add worthy, valued, loved and adored. Lives have been touched by Elissa as she carried Chandler Grace.
I have seen Elissa grow her relationship with Jesus since her return and have seen her focus especially on building her foundation on the Rock! Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV) reads:
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
I know Elissa has a firm foundation on the ROCK and this storm has come, but she will not fall, she will stand strong and God will bring forth beauty from the ashes.
Isaiah 61 tells us that God will comfort all who mourn, and bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Lastly I’d like to close with a prayer of Psalm 34:18 from Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word, “You, Lord, are close to the brokenhearted and save those who are crushed in spirit. You are surely close to Elissa, Lord. Help her sense your presence in her life. She needs you more than she needs her next breath. Amen.”