Resolutions

Happy New Year!  Yes, it is the beginning of a new year and the time when many of us set goals and resolutions for ourselves.

Some of us are fairly disciplined and can maintain action beyond the 30-40 day mark to actually form a positive habit in our lives. Others are not so disciplined and will have abandoned our goals in a couple of weeks. Still others of us are so disillusioned and disheartened by our past inability to stick to a resolution, that all goal setting, dreaming and vision casting are simply abandoned.

Certainly there a number of reasons why goals are discarded.  But what if one reason we fail to stick with our goal and resolution is because it really isn’t ours to begin with?  We just think it is a good idea because everyone else is doing it. But maybe your admirable resolution isn’t something I am physically, financially or emotionally capable of achieving at the moment. Guess what…that’s ok!

Or, what if the goal is for us but the manner we try to achieve it doesn’t fit? What if we are adopting an execution plan of another instead of seeking and implementing one tailored made for us? We may have similar goals, but the way I achieve mine may differ than yours. The action plan of someone who thrives on solitude and structure to accomplish a goal looks vastly different than the one who needs people and variety. And that’s ok!

And what if sometimes it just takes awhile to figure out what works well for us. That’s ok too.

Maybe this year it is time to have a bit of Grace for ourselves and others. Grace to grow and learn. Grace to develop our Divine gifts and talents uniquely. Grace to know that each is fearfully and wonderfully made and Grace to call that forth from one another.

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

” Let us consider how we may spur one another to love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)

 

Living Loved

Recently a friend of mine felt impressed by God to, “Live as a loved woman!” It’s easy to gloss over the depth and magnitude of what these words mean. Yes, I am loved. Jesus loves me this I know. God loves everyone. Kumbaya.

However, I must confess that many times I do not approach life from this place of ‘loved’. Sadly, I often live from the place of trying to ‘earn love’. Subtle as it may be, they are very different places.

Earning love is on-going, insecure and constantly shifting because it’s dependent on my behavior and circumstances which can be extremely inconsistent. On the other hand, loved is a gift which is secure, final, complete; a God centered place of grace that motivates and gives meaning to my life as I receive it.

So, how would our world change if we stopped trying to earn love and instead received and embraced the gift of true Love? What would life look like if you and I lived in this place of security and grace? What if we lived as loved people?

The Apostle John writes in 1 John 4:19, ” We love because He first loved us!” God loves you. He loves me. We are loved. And He calls out, “Live as loved people!”

Oh that it would be the most natural thing to do!

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

 

There’s Just Something About a Name

A dear friend of mine was out for a run one morning and passed a ragged looking woman dragging a small suitcase.  LOVE spoke to her heart as she ran by and said, “She has a name.”  Faced with the choice to continue or turn around and acknowledge the woman, my friend chose the latter.  The woman lifted her downcast eyes in surprise as my friend approached.  Eyes now locked on each other, my friend was struck by how beautiful the woman was and said, “Hi, I am Susie. What’s your name?”  The woman’s name was Jane. “You are beautiful Jane. I have two dollars with me. Would that help you buy a burger or something?”  The woman’s eyes filled with tears as she accepted the money and the compliment. She was not invisible. She was not insignificant. She had a name.

There is just something about a name. A connection happens when someone knows our name. We are no longer just part of the crowd. We are identified and given uniqueness. For some this need of significance can be so strong that great extremes of good and, sadly, evil are done to make their names known.

So then, what if you and I sought to purposely ask people their names? What affect could that have; to know and be known even just a little?

We don’t have to go far to find those who long to be seen and known. Perhaps that person is staring back at you in the mirror. Well, LOVE is not a respecter of persons. He knows Jane’s name and you can be confident that He knows yours as well.

Today may we see ourselves and others with the eyes of the ONE who intimately knows us. May this knowing emboldened us to action; to recognize and give Divine significance to those so desperately in need. It cost my friend two dollars and 30 seconds of her time to pause and be a light under that bridge. A seemingly small act of kindness, but to LOVE, absolutely beautiful.

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine.” Isaiah 43:2

Hanging it on the Wall

ArtPrize!  Downtown Grand Rapids is once again transformed into a city wide art gallery. The competition hosts 1500 artists in over 160 venues and brings 400,000+ visitors to the downtown area. It’s an incredible event that celebrates imagination, creativity and vulnerability. Art … Continue reading

Intimidation

Fifth grade.  Middle school.  A building full of 5th-8th graders, 10-year-old children to 14-year-old puberty stricken adolescents. Whose bright idea was this?

It wasn’t so bad at first.  I wasn’t the only ‘child’ in the school.   There were other short, skinny, knock kneed, flat chested girls.  The problem was I didn’t know them yet.  My friends were the woman childs and apparently I wasn’t fitting into the image they wanted to present to the rest of the school.

Ignore the child.  That was their first line of attack.  I was a bit naive I guess because that didn’t work.  Stand at the door and when the child enters stare at her and tell her you’re gonna beat her up.  Now that got my attention!  I stayed away.  However, just to make sure I received the message and didn’t wander my skinny behind back onto their path, they met me at the entrance to school many mornings and reminded me.

Intimidation – to force into or deter from action by inducing fear.

Intimidation can take on many forms.  It can be extremely harsh like bullying or sly and subtle like being tongue tied by someone’s status or gifts.  The goal is always the same;  to make us timid and discourage us from action. It is a major weapon in the war against Love and an obstacle to living the fullness of our masterpiece.

Unfortunately our world is full of intimidating forces.  Everyday we see and hear the most devastating consequences of those who do not comply.  Often that alone has the power to silence and suppress our gifts and voice.  It is about survival.  Who in their right mind would choose to suffer such great lose?  Keep quiet, comply and stay under the radar.  But is that how we are created to live?

In fifth grade the intimidation finally stopped.  In reflecting back to the reason, it is clear that I chose to believe I had value and something to offer. That belief was affirmed by a beautiful vocal music teacher. She saw the natural gifts and talent fashioned and birthed in my DNA and she validated and called those gifts forth.

In what ways are you being intimidated today?  Are  you are feeling timid and fearful?  Are you are being intimidated into not expressing the gifts and calling you have been bestowed?

You may never have a music teacher by your side, but you do have Someone more powerful.  He is the Lion of Judah and when you and I choose to live this masterpiece He has created HE roars and all that seeks to suppress and silence, even death itself, will never prevail.

To Him be the glory forever and ever!

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

“They were stoned,: they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword….The world was not worthy of them.”  Hebrews 11:37-38

Mission 101

You are a one of a kind masterpiece. There has never been and will never be anyone exactly like you. ‘Thank God!’  some may be thinking!  But it’s humbling to think that each of us is truly unique.  There is no one else with the intricate mixture of personality, talents and passions as you.  Although fundamentally we may share a common purpose, you have a specific assignment; a mission that is unique to you and one which only you can fulfill.  Others may have similar missions but it will never be lived out in the same manner or with the exact results as yours.  Your mission is your mission and your life is important and vital.

So what is a mission?  In the book The Path…Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and Life, author Lauirie Beth Jones says,

“A mission is a clearly defined area of responsibility that is assigned by a High Headquarters, which is part of a larger plan and is felt as a ‘calling’.”

Simply stated, a mission statement is a written down reason for being.  It is the purpose and motivation behind your actions.  It is a statement about the lens through which you see life; the core value that motivates and drives you.  Ideally a mission statement should be a single sentence, easy to memorize and recite, and understandable to a twelve year old.

A personal mission statement is something that is true about you at all times.  It is not limited to a job, role or geography because those things will change in the course of a lifetime. The best place to start crafting a personal mission statement is to identify your core value by asking yourself a few questions.

What quality would I most like to represent to the world?  What am I passionate about?  What do I get excited and enthusiastic about and why?

The truth is we each are living out a mission whether we can articulate it or not.  The question is whose?   Oh may our answer be Love’s!

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

My mission is to stir-up, inspire and speak Divine encouragement!  What’s yours?                                                                       

Out on a Limb

This past weekend I received the craziest text from my sister-in-love. It was a picture of her dog Xander up in a tree!  Xander is a 75 pound cockapoo with a very adventurous and focused spirit. He obviously was chasing or on a scent of something. Before he knew it he found himself in danger on a tree limb high above the ground, unable to turn around and descend. He was one stuck pup! Somehow my sister and nephew coaxed Xander into a blanket /net which helped to break his fall. He landed unharmed and with a shake of his head was off on another adventure!!  Crazy dog!

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There’s Xander!

Xander’s tree climbing mishap is a perfect illustration of what can happen in our lives both personally and corporately when we are sidetracked from our original purpose and focus on the wrong things for too long. If we aren’t careful we can find ourselves in some pretty unnecessary, uncomfortable or destructive situations. We may not intentionally set out to be stuck high above the ground on a tree limb but if we don’t take inventory from time to time of what we are doing and the direction it is taking us the tree limb is certainly a possibility!

Where is your path leading you?  Is it taking you closer to your purpose or drawing you farther away?

Sometimes we can be so preoccupied by our own lives. We can get on a path that is motivated by self-interest, self-promation and self-preservation and that always leads to a dangerous place. Why? Because a life motivated in that way draws us away from our first and ultimate purpose in life; to bring glory to our Father.

Today may our lives be filled not with self but with Divine purpose. Today may our lives be focused and motivated by Love. Today may our paths lead to glory for the One who loves us beyond our wildest imagination!

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!