Faith in Action

I’ve slowly grown to realize a sermon strikes the target of my soul when it lingers in my thoughts throughout the day (and often many days afterwards!) as it travels from my head to my heart.  This time last year our church pastor preached on the I Am Second series….thankfully, they are taped because I missed too many.  I’m especially thankful God prodded my lazy behind and got me moving that particular Sunday!  The sign out front should’ve read, “Hey Celeta! This message is for YOU!” And boy, howdy….was it ever!

My “one word” last year was surrender and here’s an honest moment for ya…I haven’t exactly made a vast effort to even think if my thoughts & actions reflect such a thing.  Ouch.  You see….this is why I write. Or don’t write.  God is so merciful to help keep me from writing just for the sake of writing.  The thing is, when I do write, it’s raw…it’s vulnerable…it’s authentic.

And just in case you missed it…for me, surrender leads to vulnerability and vulnerability results in faith in action aka writing.  What’s your faith in action? What gets you to your faith in action? I think it’s different for everyone and rarely one thing – isn’t it simply wonderful how uniquely different God made us?IMG_0187

Back to the sermon….it was awesome! The key scripture was Proverbs 3:5-6 and our pastor used the analogy of a trapeze act.  There are two roles: the flyer and the catcher.  As our pastor described, “Faith in Jesus can be compared to a trapeze flyer being caught by the catcher. I am like the flyer. God is like the catcher. MY PART is to trust, surrender, give up my life. GOD’S PART is to catch, to hold, to do in me and for me what I can’t do for myself. That’s what surrender looks like!”  And there we are….back full circle to surrender.

When I get in my head too much, I fall back on wanting to “do a good job” for God…in some form leaning on my abilities versus leaning on Him to provide …for Him to do in and through me what I cannot do for myself.

So here’s to letting go of the trapeze bar…surrendering to my Catcher…God.

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Practice – Practice – Practice

IMG_1063I started following along with Stepahnie Ackerman’s Documented Faith in late June.  I love the concept!  I know I’ve shared I for before, but here’s my take: it’s an effort to focus on God’s Word in manageable, bite-sized chunks…one word each month accompanied by weekly scripture relating to that word.  Simple, manageable, memorable.

So I’ve been practicing… practicing by writing consistently… something I haven’t been successful with in the past.  And writing in bite-size pieces versus the entire buffet of my life.  When I committed to #write31days, something I wasn’t aware of was that I limited myself to two handwritten pages per day…bite-sized pieces…manageable vulnerability.  Usually I make things more complicated, but it seems this decision is actually turning out well!

My focus is on God and how He is consistently working in my life, through me…to reveal Himself to me.  When I slow down to take one step at a time, the mountain isn’t so big, the task at hand isn’t so overwhelming and Matthew 6:32-34 takes on a deeper meaning.

32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Shattered

So often when I visualize the impact of witnessing, I see shattered glass. I find myself mesmerized by the beauty and intricacy of the design….how one act can have such a far-reaching impact.

 

Picture with me:

  • Zoom in – our perfect model is Christ’s sacrifice for our sins…His crucifixion, burial and resurrection is at the center; you can literally see the impact of those closest to Him!
  • Zoom out – not only can you can see impact from the initial act of sacrifice, look at how every one and every thing is connected…even the furthest shard (person) is connected to another shard (person) and yet still connected to the center (Christ)! I envision the bursts as willing vessels allowing God to work thru them to reach others…can you just imagine Paul?????

Now…picture your life….what kind of glass does it represent? Regular run of the mill glass that shatters with minimal pressure or heavy duty safety glass?  With Christ, we have security.  Although broken, we are held steady at the center…the Holy Spirit in us…with the ability to work thru us to reach others. The thing is, for God to work thru us, we have to act! Does it have to be some grand gesture? Absolutely not.  Every little act of faith exercised has a far reaching impact when used by the Holy Spirit.

What holds you back from exercising faith?  We all have struggles of one sort or another.  Me? I’ve often struggled with validation – acceptance – whatever you want to call it….doubt creeps in….ususally when I’m trying really hard to carry out God’s call on my life to share a journey of faith through writing.  My head knows Truth, but pieces of my heart faulter and stumble.  In retrospect it’s also clear to see that’s when I’m relying on my own strength – see how easily the glass can shatter without Christ as the center?! Thankfully God is so merciful to provide encouragement when confidence wanes by sharing a glimpse of how authentic obedience can impact another life.  The thing is, we rarely get to see how God uses our acts of obedience.  What to do? Choose to rest in His Word for guidance, assurance and affirmation

5 I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. 7 My salvation and my honor come from God alone.  – Psalm 62:5-7

What about God’s call on your life? The big and small – how do you choose to respond?

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Pick up Your Cross

Courtesy posting by my boomerang gal and all-time AWESOME sister – I couldn’t have written it better!

IMG_0224Today as I sit drinking my coffee and reflecting today is Good Friday and what that means to me as a Christian, I see the crosses which decorate a wall in our living room. I wonder what a non-Christian thinks when they see those crosses and then I thought about what it should mean to me. It should be a reminder as a Christian that I die daily to myself (my selfish thoughts and wants) to follow a risen Savior who died for my sins. And truthfully, I fail….again and again. I chastise myself, but I press on.

For I’m encouraged to pick up His cross again because I serve a risen Christ who is loving and forgiving. I am an imperfect person following a perfect loving Christ striving to be more like Him.

Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for my sins!

 

It’s all about the Pace…

Lookie what I found!!! A post I started almost SEVEN months ago!

As I’ve been focused on Embracing a New Norm and now reading back over the draft, I’m not sure what I thought needed to change…maybe it was me…maybe I wasn’t ready (or willing) to pace myself and enjoy this new norm!

There’s a popular song out…not sure of the exact name or the artist, but the chorus goes something like, “it’s all about the bass, ’bout the bass…” – while I may be naïve to the meaning of the lyrics, they are catchy and the phrasing stuck with me.

image found on Google - since I'm not sure who owns image I kept the link!

image found on Google – since I’m not sure who owns image I kept the link!

 Contrary to my plan, the first round of chemo (4 2-week cycles) from late October to early December knocked me for a loop and landed me in the hospital, so the second round was postponed to allow my system time to recover. Pride and lack of patience tends to get the best of me far too often! I wanted to drive myself places… I wanted to go grocery shopping by myself… I wanted to change the linens myself!  The list of wants were stacked high and perceived accomplishments were non-existent. The problem? Unrealistic expectations.

And like a boomerang, the words I’d spoken a gazillion times to my daughter and others were being echoed back to me from every direction: pace yourself.  

 I was so focused on what I wanted…when I wanted it…sound familiar?

The thing is…our spiritual journeys aren’t so different…at least that’s been my experience.  Again pride and a lack of patience gets the best of me…being patient with God’s timing…not just knowing His timing is perfect, but believing God knows what He’s doing and not allowing doubt and fear to creep in while I’m waiting… oh, and then there’s the dilemma  of not getting so caught up in the doing that pride rears its ugly head and the once clear sight of true motives get muddled.  So what does pace have to do with it? Everything.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Finding balance through consistency…a spiritual pace where I’m not running so far ahead focused on my plans and goals – and not frozen in fear to the point I do nothing at all. You see, both tend to have the same result: God gets squeezed out of the equation. 

 So exactly how do I do that? Well, for me it starts with simple obedience…start by ending my day with God.  Ideally, I’d do that through prayer and/or journaling….but since I’m really getting back to basics, I’ve made it even simpler! I go to bed with a pocket cross – I absolutely adore this cross! It’s small and smooth and comforting…God naturally comes to mind and my spirit is soothed in a way that’s difficult for me to explain.  Once I settle down (that still thing again!), I’m drawn to pray, read devotionals, and jot thoughts.  Since I’m still dealing with a good bit of bone pain, I usually awake during the night – the cross is still in my hand…I chat with God a bit and off to sleep I go.  When I wake up in the morning, the cross is still in my hand! As I rub my fingertips across the smooth surface, I can’t help but think of Christ on the cross…dying for me…encouraging me to begin my day with prayers of thanksgiving.

For me, it’s a pocket cross….for you, it may be something totally different.  I encourage you to find something tangible that draws you into a quiet place to enjoy God’s presence – perhaps scripture cards by your bed, going to sleep & waking to instrumental Christian/gospel music – whatever works for you…just keep it simple….and remember….it’s all about the pace.

Lookin’ for Love

Interesting…I completely forgot I’d written this post (APR’14) and never published…

Talk about an oldie but a goodie!  The song was made popular with the hit movie Urban Cowboy and the lyrics ring true on more than an emotional level – with this part of my journey – inviting you Behind the Mask, looking for love is at the crux of my barriers – physical, emotional, and spiritual.

heartsI was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
Lookin’ for love in too many faces
Searchin’ their eyes, lookin’ for traces
Of what I’m dreamin’ of

While the song may be speaking of finding that special someone, the pattern I seem to repeat in different ways is seeking to fill a void reserved for God alone. Quizzed, intellect dictates my response.  Carefully observed, my beliefs – rather unbeliefs shout an opposing view far louder than any intellectual response.  My guess is quite a few folks can readily identify with this conundrum.

A couple of years ago, God revealed a pattern of me seeking affirmation from a potential life partner – talk about a painful realization! While the root cause was obvious and I truly desired a change – time revealed the truth: A: I didn’t permanently give it to God.  B: I’m powerless to change myself.  Of course, now that I’ve journeyed through some pretty rough pitfalls, it’s easier to recognize certain behaviors – in the moment though? I didn’t have  a clue – I was too busy trying to drive the direction of my life!  You see, masks have a tendency to limit the view – a broader perspective – and as a result, I often missed diligently looking to God for the answers.

Oh how easily & seamlessly I push God out of the driver’s seat! The places we look for human love to fill what only God can…not just in a life partner, but in a job, friendships…you name it! I wonder if I wrote this last year just after I realized I’d been searching to fill that void with my job…affirmation…yes…circling again and again around worthiness.

Is my mask more transparent today compared to this time last year? Definitely.  Is there still work to be done? Absolutely. God so gentle – so merciful…the closer He draws us to Him (light) we always see much clearer than before.

Paying it Forward – the Liebster Blog Award Nomination

liebsterHow cool is this! I received a notification on my last post from another blogger at Life as I interpret it about this thing called the Liebster Award and they felt led to nominate my blog (along with others) in connection with their interest in Cancer.

So… Mr Google and I were curious- hoax? or a genuine avenue to connect bloggers with like interests.  I vote for the latter.

My take on the Liebster Award? It’s sort of like a Pay it Forward for the blogging community to encourage connections sprinkled with a condensed insight to what each blogger is about on a particular subject of interest…sounds pretty cool to me!  If you’d like to learn more, just ask Mr Google

Oh yeah….and apparently there are the rules, which I sorta followed – not exactly sure how many followers each blogger has and since I ask questions with a bit of meat on them, I stopped at 5.  The most exciting part? I seized the opportunity to explore and expand blog readings!

Rules:

1. Thank and link the person who nominated you.
2. Answer the questions given by the nominator.
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers, who have less than 200 followers and link them.
4. Create 11 new questions for the nominees to answer.
5. Notify all nominees via social media/blogs.

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For this award, I have chosen to nominate the following bloggers, who share their faith openly and authentically…as a gal on the journey of faith, I enjoy reading how mightily God works in and through the lives of willing vessels.

I nominate the following bloggers/websites – I pray they are each open to the idea of a nomination and willing to share their thoughts.

Nominees:

  1. New Life
  2. The Devotion Cafe’
  3. A Way With Words
  4. Susan Irene Fox
  5. Full of Roses Inspirationals
  6. caterpillardays
  7. Where Grace Abounds
  8. faith, “sigh”, and diy
  9. The Mark
  10. Headed for Home
  11. stones from the quarry

Questions to nominees:

  1. What prompted you to start writing/blogging/journaling?
  2. Tell me about an influential person in your journey of faith.
  3. What is one (or more!) example of how God has shown His faithfulness to you?
  4. Tell me how a prophet in the Old Testament dramatically impacted your relationship with God.
  5. What is your take on the decline of religious freedom in the US?

 

Answers to questions by Life as I interpret it  are:

1. How do you feel about connecting to others going through cancer in the social media?  I think it’s an excellent way to encourage/minister to others.

2. Do you think connecting to other cancer patients would be useful in supporting you and them while going through the disease? Yes.  Now that I’m past the initial numb phase.

3. What are the words, sentences, or questions you think are appropriate to hear from others when they first learn one has cancer? Gosh…that’s tough! Honestly, I think listening is key – the one thing I’d say is definitely is not a great comment?  “If there’s anything I can do, let me know” – I realize it comes from a good place (I’ve said the same thing countless times!), but RARELY will the individual ask for help.

4. Do you have care-givers? or Are you a care-giver? My two primary go-to gals are my daughter and my oldest sister – they are AWESOME!  I’ve been a care-giver in the past so it’s easier to be aware of compassion fatigue in those providing care! 

5. What kind of support would you like from cancer-related organizations and the government? It really does take a village in these situations, so family – friends – neighbors – churches, etc. is critical.

6. Do you think you sharing your experiences in the social media help others going through similar experiences?  It’s quite possible – it’s easy to feel alone with cancer and any type of life altering diagnosis can be overwhelming.

7. What is your favourite book? TV show?  Each book I read is my current favorite – right now? Kyle Idelman’s “Not a Fan” is rocking my world!

8. What is your favourite season?  Fall in East Texas – humidity is low, fires are burning, and the air is crisp!

9. What is your favourite breakfast?  My indulgent breakfast (once every few years) is coffee & pumpkin cheesecake – yum!

10. Do you have artistic creations, such as poems, stories, drawings, paintings, and hand-crafting? I like to doodle Scripture and I LOVE taking photos of trees!

11. Is there something you would like to share about your experience with cancer?  Yes! It’s deepened my relationship with God – He is the answer to cancer – He is my Healer!