There Was a Time …..

There was a time when the night before Ash Wednesday would have my attention more for what was happening at Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Rio than for any spiritual meaning.  Tonight is different.

I’ve had an interesting week and am feeling very blessed!  I was given insight into a situation that had been on my heart and the message was very positive and hopeful.  I’ve once again had the opportunity to participate in a big way in making a difference in some one’s life and there is nothing that compares to the feeling!!!  I’ve also had a situation that could have been fairly upsetting, but instead I’ve seen the miracle in it and am giving thanks.  And I mean miracle, plain as day.

I believe I’ve mentioned my current Bible study and it gets into the whole concept of miracles, what’s real, what’s not, what can we ask for and what can we claim.  It is so timely in my life.

I’m coming up on the three-year mark of what  I believe to be being healed of brain cancer.  Three years ago at this time I was enduring unbelievable headaches, pain beyond description, even for someone who had suffered intense migraines for decades.

I’ll not recount it here, as it’s a life event that occurred and is in the past.  Lent and Easter of 2006, though, were intense times and many lessons have been learned and many memories made since then.  I said then and have lived it since – no health challenge is going to define me.  Shape perhaps, maybe even refine or hone some of my beliefs, but defined by a physical challenge?  No thanks!!

So embarking on this Lenten 2009 journey of leaving behind SHOULD and its ensuing guilt,  I’m a very grateful, very thankful, very fulfilled woman, living daily in wonder at the blessings I have and see all around me.  Everything peachy?  Not quite, but compared to where I’ve been, things look pretty good.  The French refer to la vie en rose; I’d say it’s all in how you choose 🙂  Adieu……

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Smiling at this Lenten Memory

Who knew when deciding to embark on the next 30 days to leaving the Shoulds and an Illegitimate Ruler behind that it would coincide beautifully with Lent?  Well, Someone knew and ya gotta love how these things work out 🙂  So my Lenten journey it will be.

I’ve never been one to “give something up for Lent.”  Why?  Because I was raised in a traditional Protestant denomination and we didn’t do that.  As an adult I did, however, observe Lent in some way.  The one that sticks out  in my mind ALWAYS was the year I decided to switch to a Lent focus for our breakfast devotional time, more than a decade ago.

Those were still the days of getting children out the door to school each morning.  They were growing up, though, not little girls any more – both freshman that year (longer story) – two different schools, different start times, one requiring me to drive  12+ miles one way.   But we continued breakfast together every day – cereal, oatmeal, french toast, whatever, served on the breakfast counter with juice and supplements and a quick devotional to send us all out the out the door wrapped in peace and love against a cruel world.

The year in question I chose to switch to a Lent focus by reading portions of one of my favorite authors, Max Lucado.  Max has great books for everything but my favorites for Lent are  Six Hours One Friday, No Wonder They Call Him Savior, He Still Moves Stones, Applause of Heaven.  My thought was to use a small portion of one of the books each morning, but that was not so well received.  One of my daughters began to protest about the extra time it would take, and we all know time in the morning can be at a premium.    One thing led to another and in short order our morning sharing time was not so pretty.  I was hanging on to my right as the mother to insist.  My daughter was hanging on to her position as a young teenage girl.  So sparks began to fly, with the other daughter caught in the crossfire.  So much for sending my children out into the cruel world wrapped in peace and love each morning.

My good friend, Marlee, veteran Bible study partner and (at that time) mom of teenage daughters a few years ahead of mine, was a great resource.  So I went to her with my dilemma and lo and behold, the advice was not what I was anticipating.  She was supposed to tell me that I was absolutely right in my right to insist and that I should stand firm.  Didn’t happen.  What I got was the advice that perhaps the time had come to release my daughter’s relationship with the Lord to my daughter and the Lord.  What??  I’m her mother!!  It’s not time yet and I’ll decide!!  Think maybe I had challenges with the “Shoulds” way back then 🙂

I had to do something and gave sincere thought to Marlee’s suggestion, took it in prayer, and went to separate breakfast times and back to the original plan of a brief teen-centric devotion and less strain in the morning.  I don’t remember how long we continued the routine of devotion in the morning, but I believe through most of high school.  One of those rites of passage, but a treasured memory in this mother’s heart.  AND I just took a moment from writing this post and called Marlee.  We had a brief conversation, chuckled together at the memories and made arrangements to get together soon.  And Lent 2009 begins in a few days….

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The Tyranny of Should

You should go …  You shouldn’t ….  I should… I should have ….  A loaded word, one syllable, indicates that the subject of the sentence has some obligation to execute the sentence predicate.  So the subject, in this case moi, has an obligation to do whatever follows the should.  How does that work?  Who’s deciding that I have an obligation and how do they have that right?  Did I hand it over? And failing to fulfill the obligation am I then supposed to feel guilty?

Say it’s me who’s deciding I should ….  Why?  According to whom? So many questions from a single word – did I say I love words ?  🙂  I have a challenge with this “should” thing.  A dear friend, one of my brothers, actually, called me on it AGAIN in the last day or so.  He said, “LeeAnn,  you have GOT to let this go.” One more of many conversations we’ve had over life challenges – mostly mine. I know he’s right;  I regularly struggle with  “should” thinking.   That said, then we know what follows – the guilt thing.  And that is what he’s referring to as having to get out of my life – false guilt.  Done, over, the price paid, victory won.  The guilt carried to the cross on my behalf and who am I to pick up again?

I really like one of the origins of the word tyranny: The word derives from Latin tyrannus meaning “illegitimate ruler.”  Illegitimate ruler – how’s that for a description of should and it’s baggage in my life?  As we can have only one Ruler in our lives, the shoulds and the accompanying illegitimate guilt have no home in my heart and life.  So while Her Father’s Homestead is about home, not everyone is welcome, nor every thing.  In this home it’s all around wholeness,emotional and spiritual health and wellness, no illegitimate rulers here.

So my campaign of improving my outlook over the next 30 days is to rid myself of the tyranny of should.  I Can, I May, I Will, even I will not, but no I should.  What a lighter world I’ll be dwelling in, wrapped in grace.  I extend it to others, now I accept it for myself.  I look forward to the progress I will make in the coming month – being kinder and more grace-filled to myself, remembering that Amazing Grace has been granted me.  Reminds me of one of my newer favorite songs, Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) Stay tuned as I move forward with my purpose to let go of an illegitimate ruler and fill the space with  amazing grace.  Amen!

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What’s in a Word?

A quick peruse of Roget’s online Thesaurus gives many synonyms for the word hopeful.  My favorite? There are several, but blithe and buoyant just kind of roll off the tongue.  I love words and languages, and words, as I am known for saying,  matter. And frankly, I’ve been witnessing some challenges with words.  Are the challenges with words alone –  improper usage, negative, harsh words –  or with life situations or attitudes, the deeper issues?    All of those apply and they’re all valid to some extent. Ask my girls –  “Mom, I’m sick,”  was likely to draw the response, “Keep saying that and you probably will be.”  A student who makes the mistake of saying, “I can’t do that,” is likely to hear, “Keep telling yourself that you can’t and it’ll probably be true.”  I love having an eight-year-old tell me, “Miss LeeAnn, I’m having a challenge with this music.”

I can almost hear the eyes rolling 🙂  Here we go again, the mind over matter speech, the positive thinking approach.  You bet.  It matters.  After I titled this post I downloaded the video for my current Bible study, and sure enough, there’s one of my favorite Bible teachers, Beth Moore, talking about hope, being hopeful, and using words that DO matter.  One of those little Sparkles of confirmation.  And sure enough, my ErinLee called and said, Mom, “I’m getting sick, I mean, I’m fighting off an illness.”  Words matter.  How much better to be fighting off illness than to be sick or worse yet, feeling “awful”.  Say the words, hear them.  Much better to be fending off than succumbing to or worse.

Even more important when challenged by an emotion like fear.  Do not, for one second, give fear a foothold in your mind.  For sure never, ever give it a voice!  I am NOT afraid, fear not, I will fear no evil, on and on.  Better yet, leave the word- fear- out completely.  Try:  I am feeling strong; I am trusting the Lord to protect me.  I have EVERY confidence.  Get the picture?

Who cares?  I do.  There are a variety of books on the subject, among them, The Tongue, a Creative Force by Charles Capps.  There have been many teachings and there are many people  who believe in the power of words.

Try it – make it a game in your family until it becomes habit in your life.  Choose your words carefully – to encourage a positive attitude, to change a less-than-happy mood, to drive out fear and/or negativity, to overcome challenges, to accomplish great things,  fulfill your heart’s desire.

Words matter and I’m most hopeful that you’ll agree with me and give it your best shot 🙂          à plus tard….

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