Underachiever Award Goes to: Brenda Czarniak 47th Year in a Row

2018

I am not one to set new year resolutions because I only find myself on the floor the eve of a new year making the same old promises to myself and God, knowing in the back of my head it is all just talk.  Empty, worthless drivel.  Goals I will not set incude:

  • I will not exercise more in the new year.
  • I will not take more walks then the year before.
  • I will not be any more organized than what I am at this very moment.
  • I will still wait for the last minute to do things.
  • I will not push myself to write.
  • I will not make all the right choices when it comes to healthy eating.
  • I will not stop coloring my hair and embracing the gray.
  • I refuse to set goals and ambitions for the new year only because I am afraid of failure and the mentally of “I can’t do anything right” haunts me year after year.  It is my wound and I have been protecting it all this time.  I cannot fail if I don’s set goals.  My wound cannot get any worse if I choose not to set things in motion for the new year.

There.  Now that I have established everything I am NOT  going to do in 2018 I feel so much relief.  No expectations to fulfill.  No standards to keep up with.  No commitments.  No chance of failure or not doing something right.  If I write, I write.  If I exercise, I exercise.  If I choose cake over carrots may the cake be chocolate.  If I get my desk organized then I will celebrate probably with ice cream.  No pressure. No problem.

EXCEPT

Psalm 42

1 As the deer longs for streams of water,
    so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
    When can I go and stand before him?
Day and night I have only tears for food,
    while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

My heart is breaking
    as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
    leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
    amid the sound of a great celebration!

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!

Now I am deeply discouraged,
    but I will remember you—
even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan,
    from the land of Mount Mizar.
I hear the tumult of the raging seas
    as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
    and through each night I sing his songs,
    praying to God who gives me life.

“O God my rock,” I cry,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I wander around in grief,
    oppressed by my enemies?”
10 Their taunts break my bones.
    They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”

11 Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!

 

As deep cries out to deep, God calls us to higher and higher levels in Him.  He wants us to have everything He has destined for us to achieve.  He wants us to be healthy but it does not need to control our every thought.  I am sure He would like us to be organized simply to help keep us focused on His next step for us.  He wants us to be happy in our own skin and if something needs to change, He will lead us in that direction. At times I feel like such a mess almost as if I was an unraveled ball of yarn that someone took apart and then just left in a pile on the floor.  In and of myself I cannot put myself back into shape, I will need to trust the Creator to do this.  With that being said, if I spend 2018 just seeking Him, He will guide me in the right direction.

By me setting up goals and standards for the new year I am almost saying, “Don’t worry God, I got this! See You in 2019 and I will be ready to move forward with what you have for me.”

So what am I going to do in 2018?  Just be.  Just be in an attitude of gratitude.  Just be thankful for where I am at the moment.  Just be in an atmosphere of continual praise and worship.  Just be silent in His presence so I can hear the next step.  Just be content with what I have knowing God has some much more for me.  I am just going the be me and see what God does in and through me.  Romans 8:18 seems to be the verse for the year for our family.

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My prayer this year for all of you reading this is for you to see making a new years resolution in a whole new light.  Let God into your goals.  Let God into any resolutions you feel you may need to make.  Just let God be in your life.  Just be in His presence.  Just be who He created you be.  You will discover in a very short time that His desires for your life are nothing like the standards of the world we so easily measure ourselves against.

Happy New Year! 

May 2018 show up in all it’s intended glory and show you who God really is.  May you be able to Just Be and pursue that which God desires for you to follow after.  May you find peace and joy in resting rather than working harder.  May you be blessed and highly favored as you begin to believe what God says about you rather than the world.  Most of all, I pray that you can Just Be.

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Is He Worthy of It All?

WORSHIP

They say it came upon a midnight clear on a silent night, a holy night.  It happened in the little town of Bethlehem and brought great joy to the world.  The first noel from angels we have heard on high sang as the shepherds asked those around them, “Do your hear what I hear?”. 

“Hark!  The herald angels sing, ” they said to the people everywhere.  For away in a manger lay sweet little Jesus boy causing many people to wonder what child is this and asking Mary, “Did you know?” Many traveled for miles, saying along the way, “O come let us a adore Him and proclaiming, “God rest ye gentlemen, for the King of the world has come!”  As three wise men followed the beautiful star of Bethlehem we are willing in our hearts to go tell it on the mountain for peace has come to earth.

Year after year we sing the traditional Christmas Carols mostly from memory not meaning.  Many of us learned these songs when we were very little along with Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is coming to town.  So this year I am pausing to reflect if these songs really have any meaning for me.  I love to worship.  I love to sing songs to the One who created us for this very thing.  Nothing brings me into the courts of His Presence like worship.  So today I ponder what all the fuss is about Christmas Carols.

In a way I feel like we should sing them all year round as a witnessing tool, after all they proclaim the birth of Jesus and what He came to do.  And personally do we even really know for certain December 25th is actually Jesus’ birthday?  But, let’s put all of that aside and truly focus on what Christmas really is.  Webster’s dictionary defines Christmas like this:

Christ·mas
noun
  1. 1.
    the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ’s birth, held on December 25 in the Western Church.

In the description of Christmas it says celebration which means to me a happy, joyous time, yet so many spend the holidays depressed and unable to enter into the celebrations.  Many are wounded and are pushing Jesus away rather than bringing themselves into His presence and allowing Him to heal them.  Jesus came to save us from sin and in that moment on the cross he bore every sickness and disease.  To me this is cause for continual celebration, more than just a season of songs.

It matters not to God which song we choose to sing when we come into His presence it is all about the heart and a song which comes from a  place a gratitude and thankfulness.  It’s not about the tune or the lyrics, it’s about the attitude and motive. If we are just worshiping out of obligation or it’s just what we do on Sunday mornings our hearts may not be in it.  Worship is a continual succession of praise to God.  A moment to moment intimacy with God Himself.

So this Christmas season as we pour out our worship to God let’s remember His amazing grace and sing praises to His name.  Let us sing here I am Lord, come abide with me.  Sing to Him how great thou art and great is Your faithfulness.  Let Him know it is well with your soul and crown Him with many crowns.  Turn your eyes upon Jesus and sing holy, holy, holy.  Surrender  it all and sing hosanna!  Just tell Him that He is worthy of it all.

Dear Lord, it is with a humble heart we come to You asking You to show us what true worship is.  We thank you and praise you for creating us to worship and we long for a deeper intimacy with you.  Show us how to enter your courts with thanksgiving.  Teach us how to praise You.  We open our hearts to a deeper intimacy with You.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Will You Meet Me in the Stable?

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Can you imagine for just one moment what it would have been like to gaze into the eyes of Jesus as a newborn infant?  What would it have felt like to hold him?  What if you were the one who could soothe is crying for just a moment?  Suppose you had traveled days to be in his very presence?  What would be your anticipation level as you ponder the thoughts of holding the New Born King in your arms?

When Jesus was born all heaven and earth rejoiced at the birth.  Many came from miles and miles away just to get one peek at this wonder.  Can you imagine if you were in that stable gazing upon the infant child who was going to save the world and Mary picked you out of the crowd and asked you to hold him?  The sheer excitement of the moment…

UNTIL THIS HAPPENS:

What if I accidentally drop him?

What if he screams the moment I take him?

Am I even worthy of this?

Am I good enough to hold this precious child?

Suddenly like a flood you are filled with a bazillion insecurities and instead of responding to Mary with great joy and excitement you wonder why she even picked you to hold him in the first place.  Because of the circumstances of your life you feel so inadequate in the moment.  So defeated by your own malicious thoughts that you begin to believe that the King of the world would want nothing to do with you.

So many of us have this defeated mentality when it comes to Jesus.  We often shy away from opportunities of intimacy with God because we feel unworthy, unloved, unwanted, undesired and unable to connect.  God created us for worship.  He created us for an intimate relationship.  What happened?  Where is the disconnect?  The very being who will accept us for who were are is the very one we run from because of our insecurities and wounds.

Well friends, Jesus came to take all of that away.  He came to wipe every tear.  He arrived in a quiet intimate setting as an invitation to those who felt unworthy.  His very presence in that lowly stable invited even the humblest person to seek Him.  He was not born in a palace where rules and regulations would have kept many from even seeing Him.  No, He was born in a place where there was an open invitation from the heavens.

Will you meet me in the stable this year?  Will you come witness the most intimate birth in the history of the world?  Will you allow yourself to feel worthy, loved, accepted and wanted just long enough for the Newborn King to smile at you and let you feel safe?

Dear Lord,  Will You help each of us to visualize ourselves at the foot of the manger.  Help us to see the love and acceptance in that tiny humble stable setting.  We thank you for loving us all right where we are with no reservations.  We invite you into our insecurities and wounds so we may have a true intimate relationship with You.  In Jesus Name we pray.  Amen

Thankful for FORGIVENESS

Thankful for FORGIVENESS:
Sometimes you just gotta say out loud “Jesus You love them because right now I can’t”
And remember forgiveness is your gift not theirs BUT in forgiving you are ALLOWING God to do What HE WANTS to do in their lives!!  Holding back forgiveness is really not trusting God to handle the offense.
 So often  we want to fight our own battles when the Word clears says that vengeance  is God’s!
Choose  today to trust  God with your offenses  and let it go. He is preparing a  table in the presence of your enemies!

Thank You for Offending Me!!!!

offenses

Thank you for not noticing I colored my hair.  Thank you for stealing my parking spot.  Thank you for not saying hi at church today.  Thank you for not buying me coffee.  Thank you for forgetting my birthday.  Thank you for not remembering I am allergic to green peppers.  Thank you for ignoring me yesterday at the store.  Thank you for not inviting me to go out to dinner.  Thank you for cutting in front of me.  Thank you for not asking me to be a bridesmaid.  Thank you for not buying me something when you went to the store. Thank you for posting what you did on Facebook.

SHOULD I GO ON?

Offenses are literally EVERYWHERE these days.  As the world grows colder and colder and we are busy building our walls of defense against one another, we are suffering on the inside and no one seems to notice it much anymore.  We shrug our shoulders and move on to the next offense which just adds fuel to the fire already blazing on the inside.  We misinterpret things.  We react to situations based on our past hurts.  We are literally destroying our bodies with all this harbored bitterness. Often we take on offenses that really are not even there.

offenses3

So how can we overcome offenses in our lives?  Our women’s Bible study is reading a book called “Who Switched Off My Brain” by Dr. Caroline Leaf and just in the first two weeks I have learned a few things. (you can look her up YouTube and watch her amazing videos)  The main thing I want to focus on for the purposes of this blog is good trees verses bad trees.  When we are offended we have two choices:  take the offense and create a black tree or reject it and create a green, healthy one. (see Dr. Caroline Leaf videos for further understanding)  From the moment something offends us we can either choose life or death.  It really does something to the chemical balance in our bodies.

offenses2

Let me give you an example which just happened this morning.  I was driving my husband to work and he simply said to me, “Ya know, you need to slow down.”  Um, What?  I was going 40 and was ready with my defense when he further explained the speed limit had changed to 35 a few blocks back.  As I listened to his explanation I realized I had a choice to make:  Green Tree or Black Tree.  Here are the two scenarios:

  • I take on the offense:  My mind starts racing.  My blood pressure begins to elevate.  So I begin to build my defense case.  I have been driving for 31 years and have had 1, yes one, violation.  Then pride begins to boast in all its glory, my mind tries to dig up ALL of the things I have witnessed while being a passenger to his driving (which the list was very short–he is a great driver).  If I proceed with this avenue I will then become bitter and EVERY time I am driving my husband somewhere I will feel like I am not driving right according to his standards.  I would also open the door to me being critical about his driving as well.  Do you see where the bitterness grows and festers until it’s a BIG ugly black tree?
  • I decide not to be offended:  I choose in that very moment to capture this offense and give it to Jesus.  My blood pressure does not rise.  There is no place for bitterness to grow.  I know that pride will only get me into trouble and possibly a future “told you so”, besides,  growing a green, healthy tree is much simpler in the long run.  Besides I plan on spending the rest of my life riding in the car with my husband and this could have grown into one BIG UGLY black tree.

I am so THANKFUL God is renewing my mind in this area of my life.  Letting offenses fester only leads to a bitter life and possibly damages to my health.  I want to be able to love people and not take on any offenses.  The journey will not be easy, yet I accept the challenge.  I have had several instances this week where I have failed to not take on an offense, but then I remember it is a learning process.  It merely is in slowing down and making the clear choice rather than the one tainted by past hurts.

Dear Lord, I thank You for renewal of minds.  I pray You will help me to keep seeking deeper understanding in this area of my life.  I thank You that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and You meet me right where I am at.  Thank  You for healing me and guiding my steps towards greater freedom!  In Jesus Name!  Amen

 

Auto-Pilot Distracted Living

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I am almost embarrassed to tell this story yet I know that freedom comes from sharing our testimony, so here it goes!  

It was an ordinary Sunday afternoon, church was over and dad needed to go to the grocery store.  Let me preface this story with dad is 85  and can no longer live alone so we try to help him out as much as taking him to the store and doctor appointments.  Being in bad health his demeanor is usually grumpiness and some confusion so the usual running conversation on Sunday afternoon goes something like this:

Me:  Dad, are you ready to go shopping?

Dad:  I would have rather gone this morning.

Me:  Sorry Dad I had to go to church.

Dad:  Had to go?

Me:  Yes dad, we have Bible Study and I am on the worship team.

Dad:  Ok, well, I hope I can make it…

This is the conversation we have almost every Sunday.  Then we get to the store and he is frustrated with how full the parking lot is and how many people he anticipates to be in the store.  Once we get in he worries the whole time the electric cart is going to leave him stranded in the middle of the store.  It is really sad to see how much fear riddles my dads life and frustrating at the same time, especially when those around us have no idea what we have been through just to get to the dairy section of the store.

So on this particular Sunday I was thinking a strategy in my head of how I was going to drop dad off at the grocery section of the store and I was going to go in the other entrance because I knew we needed hand soap.  So as I was parking the car I was planning my trip into the store when I pulled into the parking spot only to notice the car in front of me was about to leave and I thought to myself, “Boy I bet they are mad because they can’t just pull through to leave.’ (which is surely a thought I would have had if it was me)  Then  a car pulled up two spots away with a really loud stereo and my attention was drawn to that instead.

After all of those distractions I went back to focusing on the task at hand:  Operation Hand Soap. I entered the store as planned, grabbed the hand soap and headed across the store to the produce section where dad was waiting not so patiently and we spent the next hour acquiring groceries and disputing whether we needed items or not.  Almost done and dad is in a panic because the electric cart is at half battery so I tell him to proceed to the front check outs and I will finish getting the last few items. (which I took too long to do and prompted a cell phone call to inquire what happened to me)

We get to the check-out, I pack up the cart and the usual routine is dad pays and I head off to load the car and pick him up.  I reach for my keys and they are absent from my purse…already in a state of frustration, I begin to panic.  I had hoped they were not locked in the car because my husband would have no way to bring me a key and so this scenario begins in my head about how he will be upset and what about dad and what about the frozen foods……

I arrive at the car only to discover with somewhat relief that indeed the keys were in the car and I had somehow managed to leave the door unlocked.  So once I calmed myself down a bit and forgave myself for not taking the keys out and locking the door, I loaded the groceries in the back of the car and got in to pick up dad only to discover that not only did I leave the keys in the ignition with the car unlocked I had in fact also left it running.  What?  How?  Why?  I ran through my head the events leading up to this and I decided I was just too distracted.  This was so out of my character.  How could I have allowed this to happen?  Only by the grace of God was my car even still in the parking lot.

Well, this got me thinking for sure and the Lord started showing me how we have become so distracted with the things of this world we have kind of left our Christianity on Auto-Pilot in hopes that it will still be there when we return.  We go through the motions of our days often being distracted by this thing and then another until we are almost running around like chickens with our heads cut off.  We are barely thinking straight and often allow the things of this world to upset us far more than we should.

When we finally do take a moment to come to our senses and spend some time focusing on the things of God we often discover the spirit part of our lives is often left to fend for itself.  We find it hard to read the Word.  We try to fit in a Bible Study when we can. Often we just don’t want to listen to Christian music and enter into His Presence.

BUT GUESS WHAT!!

God’s grace is there.  He will keep us running.  He will be still be there when our focus returns to Him and the distractions have gone away.  When we face our fears and overcome our anxieties we once again realize that it was His grace the entire time that kept us safe.  It is His Grace which keeps our spirit in perfect peace when chaos erupts around us.  It is His Grace which keeps us safe even when great storms seem to separate us from seeing Him in a situation.  It is His Grace that keeps us from falling apart at the seams when we are too distracted to notice.  It is His Grace and Love which prevents us from ever getting to distracted to notice He loves us right where we are, lost or found

Dear Lord, Please help me to stay focused and not to be distracted by the things of this world.  Keep me safe and headed in the right direction.  I thank You for the peace which passes all understanding and I thank You for always loving me no matter where I have wandered.  In Jesus Name  Amen

Time to Adjust My Crown

James 1:12 
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

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Under normal circumstances, I would NEVER have posted this photo of myself.  But, today is not a normal day by any means.  After a little bit of road rage on the way to the store, while driving my dad, then a few people “in my way” at the store, and a grumpy dad because of it, and then 3 hours of healthy food prep for the week only to have someone say to me (I am sure in love and concern):

Have you lost any weight since you started making all this “heathy food” because it sure doesn’t look like it.”

Preface this with the night before my body acting out of whack and not getting much sleep and this makes for a very “fleshy” day.  Under normal circumstances I usually don’t have road rage and I am not irritated by those also shopping for their weekly groceries but for some reason today was just one of those days.  Then when I heard the words of defeat concerning my weight I was just done.

On a day like today I just need to take the advice of our pastor this morning and “Adjust my crown” and know who I am in Christ.  On a day like today I need not worry about the mistakes I have made, I just need to adjust my crown and move forward.  When one realizes they are the daughter or son of the Most High King the perspective of life should change.  One should be able to stand up tall and put their shoulders back and accept who God says they are not what the world just threw at them.

I could walk around the rest of the day moping and sulking because nothing I seem to do changes my outward appearance.  I have cut out soda (6 months), I have GREATLY reduced my sugar intake and gluten.  I cook fresh veggies for lunch and eat salad…I could go on but I think we all know the routine.  What will it take to lose the weight?  More healthy eating?  More exercise?  More defeat to push me to try harder?  I have been there and done that for months now with no results.  I even was doing my Faith and Fitness videos and feeling really motivated until I saw no results so I just gave up.  Defeated I stopped encouraging others all together.  Why bother?

Well, it’s time for me to put on my “Big Girl Panties” and buck up to the plate and try harder.  Do more to be active.  Do more to be healthy.  Concentrate all my time on measuring and monitoring my meals.  Time for me to be very meticulous about what goes on health wise for my body….

WAIT…(INSERT SOUND OF A RECORD STOPPING ABRUPTLY)

I do not need to do any of those things if they are causing me to worry or be stressed.  I must simply adjust my crown and move on.  Move to prayer and resting at the feet of Jesus, for it is at His feet that I will received all of the answers I need.  It is in my resting where God can do His most mighty miracles.

I am at the heaviest I have ever been pushing 210 pounds.  No wonder I am tired.  No wonder my body is out of whack, however, I can’t do anything about it if I am worried and stressed and over achieving.  Pushing myself to get motivated.  I am only going to achieve weight loss if I take Jesus with me.  If I allow myself to be still long enough, He will show me what to do and give me the desire to complete it.

Well, now that I have decided to straighten my crown and not to accept what the world thinks about me, I can enjoy the rest of my evening with my beloved husband knowing that I am loved by the Most High King and He is happy to see me with my crown on straight and my heart in the right place.

Dear Lord,

Today I pray for all of those who are struggling with poor self image and weight issues.  Help them to see themselves as You see them not like the world does.  Help them to rest in You and to be still long enough to hear what the next move is.  I pray Lord for hearts to be healed and lives changed.  I pray for crowns to be straightened and for minds to be renewed.  Thank You Lord for direction in all areas of our lives.  Thank You that You accept us just as we are and You love us right where we are.  In Jesus Name Amen.

 

By Your Testimony Others Will Be Healed