In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Monday, January 28, 2008

What's your passion?

I believe we're each created with gifts to bring to this world.

Each of us has a passion, a part of our heart that when ignited, burns to bring light to both ourselves and those around us.

Just this morning I read the following words in Jeremiah 20:9 (NIV):

But if I say, "I will not mention him
or speak any more in his name,"
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.

Jeremiah's passion was to proclaim God's word. Even if people didn't respond (and they didn't) he still proclaimed because that's who he was, what he was born to do. His passion burned so strong that it was as if he almost couldn't keep himself from doing that which he was born to.

What's your passion? What lights the flame of your life?

I've been thinking about this, trying to ascertain what's my passion. I guess one way to do it would be to look for themes in our lives. Where has my heart consistently led me?

For me it's the hurting. Whenever someone is hurting I almost can't contain myself from reaching out to them.

That's why I ended up working in the mental health field. A large portion of my work has been with the mentally ill. No one seems to care about them and most people find them offensive.

I remember an encounter I had when I was running this one facility. The facility had never made money; the company who owned it kept it simply because it was locked into a lease agreement with a group of other facilities that did make money. When I became the administrator one of my goals was to find a way for the facility to make money. The company didn't really expect that, no one else had and I was a brand new administrator, my first facility. But I believe that to be a leader means to do what you believe is right. So I prayed and prayed and looked and looked. During this process God brought a company that did drug research across my path and I met to discuss the possibility of them purchasing a few beds from our facility. (God blessed and it took me over a year to get the program up and going. But, although I'm no longer at that facility, the facility does now make money due to the revenue from that program.) The president of that company met with me one time in the beginning and toured our facility. Afterward he totally surprised me by saying that he did want to do business and that it was because of me. My surprise must have shown on my face because he went on to explain how he really liked the way I knew all the patients names and interacted with them as we toured the facility. Initially I found myself thinking, don't other administrators of psych facilities do that too? Then I realized that his statement wasn't really about me at all, it was about him. He wasn't comfortable around psych patients. His company was by no means limited to psych med research and he was not a fan of the mentally ill. I remember that incident because it underscores my observation that people really don't like the mentally ill and would rather their lives did not include them.

That's part of what draws me to the mentally ill. They're hurting and, by and large, no one wants to help.

My passion extends beyond just the mentally ill but that's where many opportunities have opened for me in the past. It'll be interesting to see what doors God opens in the future.

What about you, where have your passions led you? Where do you see yourself going?

Can you lose yourself?

In the old movie, A Man for All Seasons, about the life of Sir Thomas Moore, there's a great line that I'm thinking about today.

It's when Sir Thomas Moore is faced with execution and is asked by the king and his court to recant his views of the king's divorce and remarriage. His family arrives and asks him to change his views. Sir Thomas Moore says:

"When a man takes an oath...he's holding his own self in his hands. Like water. And if he opens his fingers, then he needn't hope to find himself again."

Moore makes such a profound point. To believe in something, to be filled with faith and passion, and then turn your back on it - is to lose yourself.

Today we read so much about finding yourself and being true to yourself.

Perhaps we are never more true to ourselves than when we take the time to find out what we believe, find our life passions, and then remain true to them whatever the cost.

Friday, January 4, 2008

What's the basis for our self worth?

I am significantly overweight.

I live in a culture where it's been said "you can never be too thin". Being very thin is considered beautiful in America and being beautiful is something that all women have been taught from the time they are born, both directly and indirectly, is of the utmost importance.

From personal experience, and interactions with numerous over weight women, many overweight women have low self esteem and struggle with feelings of worthlessness.

But I've been meditating lately on the basis for my self worth.

The truth is, if my self worth is obtained by comparing myself to others around me, I will never measure up. I will never be pretty enough, thin enough or young enough. There will always be someone prettier, smaller, taller, smarter, younger or whatever else.

I'm reminded of the scripture from Galations 6:4-5; I love the way it reads in the Message version:

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

The reason God clearly says not to compare myself with others is because it doesn't lead to anything good. He's made me who I am (yes, of course I let the person He made get fat; but like other defects of character I'm learning to cooperate with His work and change in this area too!) and has a purpose for my specific life. I'd do best if I set about seeing what He has set before me, and how I can join in His work here in my daily life. It's the old "grow where you're planted" philosophy.

But for those who feel worthless, unlovable and unacceptable, it's almost impossible to get on with life.

Only when I learned that my self-worth is based on who I am in Christ, could I learn to be joyful no matter what. God never changes. He doesn't change His mind about how he feels about me.

In this world I believe that it is what God thinks that really matters.

When I think about the fact that God really knows me, I'm reminded of Psalm 139:1-3 (NLT):

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.

I overwhelmed by the fact that God really loves me (even though He really knows me!). There are SO MANY scriptures that tell me how much God loves me. One of my favorites is found in Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV):

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

I think what really gets me in this scripture is that He not only loves me but actually takes delight in me.

I need to read these scriptures and think on these truths on a regular basis. This is the kind of food I need to feed my soul. Then I can rest in the truth that right now where I am, despite my weight or how I feel . . . God loves me. He finds me acceptable. Accepting this truth is what gives me self worth.

What gives you self worth?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Goals for 2008

Goals are helpful to me because I can have something I'm aiming toward instead of just wandering aimlessly.

I spent some time in prayer and came up with some goals for this year that I want to take some time a few times during 2008 to evaluate my progress on. Here's my goals:

1. Find a meaningful activity I can do on a regular basis that really helps others.

2. Read these books:

*"Lost: Discovering Ways to Connect with the People Jesus Misses Most " by Jim Henderson
*"Lord, Teach Me to Pray" by Kay Arthur
*"Becoming a Woman of Influence" by Pam Farrell
*"Weightless Flying Free" by Joni Jones
*"Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading" by Eugene Peterson
*"Love & Respect" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

3. Increase the frequency of holding my tongue with my husband when I'm upset and choosing to act respectfully no matter how I'm feeling at that moment.

4. Lose 40 lbs.

5. Develop at least one close friendship in this new town.

6. Find something fun I can do with my 2 sons who're still at home. This may be different activities with each son since they're very different from one another.
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