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I turn 30 in just a few months, and lately I have been reflecting on the awesome adventure that has been my 20′s. One of the highlights of my 20′s was when my dear friend April and I took a trip to England…
We really wanted to see a castle while we were there and, due to a change in plans, we ended up going to Windsor Castle just outside of London and having a blast!
The Queen herself was actually in residence at Windsor while we were there, and because Windsor is still a home for the royalty, we were not able to see some parts. There was still plenty to see–we were at Windsor for an entire day!
But, in spite of the chilly March day, we had a blast taking the tour and then exploring the grounds on our own for a while….
Whenever the Queen is in residence at Windsor Castle, a specific flag is raised (I have a picture in my scrapbook of this, but not online). It shows that specific protocol should be followed and, most importantly, that royalty is in the house. <raise the roof> In other words, when the flag is raised, people act differently at Windsor.
As Christians we are called to live like royalty, to act in such a way that people know that we are children of the King. That means…
…we live with contagious joy
…we treat one another with love, kindness, and respect
…we work to redeem that which the enemy has tried to steal, kill, and destroy
In other words, people should know that we are different…in a good way!
One of my favorite Scriptures that I’ve blogged about here and put on Facebook many times over the past years is The Message version of Colossians 3:12-14:
“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
The kids at the studio joke that I am a Disney princess. If the singing, dancing, romance, adventure, and cute animal sidekicks are any indicators…they might be right.
Seth and I have been on a Disney movie kick for the past couple of months. It’s been fun to pull out some of the movies that I haven’t watched in a while…Enchanted, Beauty & the Beast, Lady & the Tramp, Hercules (somebody call IXII!), The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Tangled.
There’s a part in Tangled where Rapunzel is singing about her morning routine and all the things that she crams into a morning. Her little lizard sidekick Pasqal helps her out. We were watching it and Seth laughed and said, “That’s how you are in the morning…”
He and the little birds that help me get dressed each morning…
I was really excited to receive Notes from a Blue Bike in the mail, because Tsh Oxenreider is one of my favorite bloggers. We are cut from the same cloth–the desire to live intentionally amidst the crazy world of being an entrepreneur and a family person. This book chronicles Tsh’s own journey and is a whimsical glance at her family’s life lived all over the world. And…bonus…Tsh and her family are taking a year and traveling all over the world, which is awesome and a goal that Seth and I have at some point. Check it out–it’s a great read!
This month I did some re-reading of one of my favorite series of books: These Highland Hills by Kathleen Morgan.
I LOVE these books and can reread them over and over again. They are set in 16th century Scotland amidst the powerful Campbell Clan, and they are sooooooooooooo good! If you like historical fiction, they are a great read!
Seth and I also committed to reading one marriage book a year, and this year we decided that we wanted something different. We chose this:
“Beyond Ordinary” is a neat, different marriage book. The authors do it in a “he said/she said” format and honestly take the readers through their own personal journey of heartache. Thankfully, God turned their heartache into a beautiful story of redemption and they use their trials to teach the readers how to have a marriage that is extraordinary. Seth and I started reading it together in January and it took us about 7 weeks to finish together. Good read!
So…whatcha reading this month?
It’s human nature to have favorites. Most people, if asked, could easily name a favorite book, movie, or place to eat.
But how about playing favorites in your organization? Whether they are a group of “yes men” who acquiesce to your every need/want/hope/wish, or a “star pupil” who works fifty times harder than the others in the group, it’s easy to play favorites when people do what we want or act in the way we think they should.
It’s one thing to be observant as a leader…to recognize those who work hard, those who want to grow and be better, those who want to be there. It’s good to take notice of those people, to encourage and build them up so that they can one day be better than you at your job. Being a confident, secure leader means that you are a servant leader first and always looking to better those around you.
Playing favorites, however, means that you specifically reward those who you deem worthy because of how they have served you, and it is so very wrong. Why? When your organization, ministry, or life in general becomes all about YOU, then you have lost.
Christ calls us to love and serve people differently.
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
-Matthew 5:46-48 (NIV)
I love coconut oil. We often use it to replace butter in our cooking, but it never occurred to me to use it for skin care. It also never occurred to me that cats could use it for skin care either. So I’ve been experimenting over the past two months…
Being a fair-skinned, natural redhead, I have incredibly sensitive skin. And so when I started getting some sort of eczema (haha, that’s as descriptive as I will get) on my hand, I tried a variety of different lotions and heavy creams to no avail. I didn’t want to go to the doctor and get a steroid cream because I don’t like the whole idea of steroids. But, nothing was working and I was frustrated and in pain and about to go to the doctor when I started researching how coconut oil worked on skin.
I started massaging a little bit into my hand twice each day–once after my shower in the morning and once before going to bed. The results were almost instant! Within one week I was completely healed! Whoa, baby!
I thought that if it worked so well for me that it had to work for Prince Caspian. PC is a shelter cat. I adopted him from the Humane Society almost six years ago, and he came with a variety of health issues that we’ve had to correct over the past few years. Among those issues, he also has dry skin and he gets really bad dandruff. We know that most skin issues like that are actually related to interior health (like your gut) with people, and I thought it might be the same with cats.
So I conducted a little experiment. Starting with 1/8 tbsp. of coconut oil and increasing it to 1/4 tbsp. of coconut oil over the period of a couple weeks, I gave him some each day. Some days he would just lick it off the spoon (animals LOVE coconut) and other days I would melt it and sprinkle it on his food. Again the result was within days. His fur was softer and healthier looking, and his dandruff disappeared!
Why didn’t I think of this sooner? Have you ever used coconut oil for anything?
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV or the internet. My thoughts are purely based on my own experiences and experiments.
I’ve experienced it often, and you probably have, too. You’re sitting around with a group of people (9 out of 10 times they are all women–I’m not hating, I’m just speaking the truth), and the conversation will inevitably include the following statements:
I deserve this dessert. I ran five miles this morning.
I’ve had a rough week. I deserve this extra drink.
Or, how about this conversation (usually on that “beloved” social media site we call “Book Face”–Office reference!):
Person A: I can’t wait to go on vacation! Ten more days…
Person B: It must be nice to be able to take a vacation.
Person A: I’ve worked hard all year long and saved my pennies for a LONG time to be able to take this vacation! (Translation: Back off!)
And lastly, a favorite conversation between myself and someone else:
Me: Did you watch “Once Upon a Time” last night?
Other Person: No, I don’t have time to watch TV.
Me: Oh, sorry… (thinking: a simple “no” would have sufficed!)
Other Person: Just wait until you have kids. You won’t have time to watch TV!
Me (thinking to myself): I suddenly feel very lazy…even though I worked a 90 hour week and worked while I watched “Once Upon a Time” last night…
Why do we feel the need to justify our choices to others? I see it all the time on social media, I hear it in daily conversation, and–as evidenced by the conversation just above–I have felt the need to justify my choices. When I think back to that conversation, I feel silly for allowing that person to make me feel bad about myself. That person does not know how I operate each day, and unless they are our great Lord Himself, that person does not need to know. I don’t need to report to anyone. Yet, I–like many of you– feel like we have to justify our choices to others–whether it is a bite of dessert (or ten bites!), a vacation well-earned, or even something as simple as taking a break. Why is that?
#1: We feel guilty. “Survivors Guilt” is a feeling of guilt for having survived something that others did not. It’s a real, genuine thing that people have to work through. I would suggest that people who are successful or have worked hard do feel that sort of “survivors guilt” when they do something special or even simply rest. We look around at the rest of the world and all the suffering that goes on, and we feel guilty for being happy.
#2: We are made to feel guilty. Sometimes I will see a thread on Book Face or on other blogs where people will just attack another person. How dare they be happy when I am so miserable? How dare they worship when I have turned my back on God? How dare they this? How dare they that? I just get so sad because there’s no reason for it on either end.
So how do we combat this justification conundrum?
#1: Be sensitive and gracious to others! If something good happens to you and you feel compelled to share it with others, do so in a sensitive and gracious way. Book Face is a great place to get the news out to a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean you should always use it like that. Before I post anything on social media, send any text message, or share any good news with my friends/family, I check my spirit first. Is it bragging, or is it just sharing good news? Is it something that will bring glory to God, or is it something that will bring glory to me? What is the purpose of me sharing it? Who is my audience? Asking yourself those questions will save you from a world of hurt and it will keep you humble.
#2: Rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15)! This is a HUGE one to me. Whenever I hear someone else’s good news, I love to celebrate it with them! Why not? As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should work to build each other up…not tear each other down. I’m not saying we should be fake about it…if you can’t think of anything nice to say, or you can’t be real in your joy, don’t say anything at all. Be like Thumper, yo!
#3: Resist the urge to justify yourself…or expect justification from others! I’ve been working to catch myself whenever I feel the need to justify myself to other people. And we shouldn’t expect it from our peoples either! Remove that seed of insecurity or bitterness from your heart before it takes root and makes you appear a bitter, hateful person who no one wants to be around.
#4: Remember that it’s not about you. I say that phrase to myself ALL the time for many different reasons. Grin. One of those reasons is that I am an incredibly sensitive person and I have those artistic emotions where I experience every.single.emotion. very deeply. And I have to remind myself that I can’t control what other people say and how they think of me–I just have to live my life in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord and Him only.
The most important thing, however, is to remember that Christ does not require you to justify yourself before Him. In the end we will all stand before Him and every deed that we did here on Earth will be tested by fire. 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 paints a picture of the time to come:
“…their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”
But the Good News is that Christ died and victoriously rose again for each of us…and we are justified freely through Him!
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” – Romans 3:23-24
And that, I believe, is some great news worth sharing with the entire world…
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