Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Confessions of an Idolater

Did you know that I found happiness in West Virginia????  I did!  I took a photo of it, see?

Ed and I were visiting favorite friends in Morgantown, West Virginia which included the football game of the year for the Mountaineers.  I saw this when we got gas...and I had to photograph it.  I knew it would be coming to a blog near you soon.

I started this series and acknowledged my idolatry here...but I stayed pretty benign and safe with my confession.  But I bow down to the idol of security and comfort (details to follow).   To review, the main idols in our lives that can manifest in a myriad are:
  • power/control
  • approval/affirmation
  • security/comfort
I admit it!  I don't necessarily go after highs or to feel spectacular...I just don't like to feel bad or uncomfortable.  I did not return to school until 46 to finish my undergrad (while working full time) and then went straight to graduate school (leaving an income behind) getting my Master's one month shy of my turning 50.  Scholarly work is solitary work...a lot of writing and reading.  And I would get anxious under the pressure...and I did not like that feeling.  Eating curbed that feeling...and I could do it while writing or reading!

After grad school, I had to develop my career, which means you go to boot camp.  For me it was doing outpatient therapy with children, adolescents and families in inner city Cleveland (an hour away), putting in 60 hours at least eacg week with immense pressure to meet productivity of billable hours. I would get home around 9:30 at night to follow with several hours doing paperwork.  I noticed I would experience a small woosah by stopping at Swensons for a cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake without leaving my car before digging into regurgitating therapy progress notes.

Eventually, I got into healthcare and a job that had been on my radar since I interned there. I was working in a premiere center where the performance bar was pretty high.  Weeks into the job, my father was diagnosed with terminal six months he was gone.  I had to perform (I was still in proving ground) despite the horrible feelings of grief and loss.  But what seemed like harmless calming with carbs had now become a stronghold  in my life.

I did not notice this when I took this photo, but do you see that evil creature in the corner of the window where you place your order?  I did not notice it because I was focused on the happiness.  In the same way, I did not see that I was becoming enslaved with worshiping security and comfort...seeking it through other ways than finding those things in Christ alone.  Not only have I allowed this stronghold in my life, but I have also crushed the heart of God when He wants me to worship Him only...  He is not only worthy, but He also knows that He can meet my need for security/comfort.  He's so clear on this!
Come to me all who are weary and beaten down, and I will give you rest.  Matt. 11:28
From the ends of the earth will I cry unto You: Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.  Psalm 61:2
Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the right time.  Casting all your anxiety upon Him, for He cares for you.  I Peter 5:6-7
When my anxious thoughts multiply in me, Your consolations delight my soul.  Psalms 94:19
So at the end of this series, it comes down to the conviction and gentle guidance the Lord has laid on my seek Him and Him only...casting my idol I continually renew my mind with His word.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Road to Bethlehem

Another person unsolicited told me they love reading my blog...

Humbled...I have no idea how much exposure it has...but God is using it...and I've been neglecting it.

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a big fan of Ann Voskamp's writings and blog.  I purchased an advent "wreath" handmade by her son, Caleb.  It was so fresh, I could smell the shellac when I took it out of the box last year.

Adding a candle for each day in December, it leads the donkey, Mary, and Joseph to the manger.

Another new advent tradition has been reading these 3.5 x 3.5 sticky notes from Ann you can download here.  Reading one a day has made a huge difference this Christmas...

I know many our experience desperate circumstances when this season emphasizes cheer and "troubles will be out of sight."  I sent a set of these to an incredible friend of mine who is hurting because I knew how they were helping me.  I've had my share of heavy, loss-laden Christmases. Mind if I share one?

I will believe in God's grace for
impossible things today.
Because no situation is more hopeless than
my Savior is graceful.
And no personal choice that
muddied my life can ever trump
the divine choice to wash my life clean.
That is always the secret to unwrapping
the biggest, greatest, grandest gift:
believe that the love of Jesus is in
the place where I don't expect it.

And THAT my dear friends is TRUTH!  Let's remember Bethlehem...where it all began...

...and let it lead us to the Greatest Gift.

PS:  My 31 days will finish before the end of the year...I'm waiting on God's timing for the next post as it is a difficult one.  Stay tuned!