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Have a Case of the Blahs? Show Up Anyway!

Here is a special post that was meant just for my writing journal; however after completing it I felt the need to share. Here it is. Me uncut and unpolished! 

It is another one of those days when I am writing just simply to check off the fact that I have written for my blog. Writing needs to be a daily discipline, but some days I have nothing awe inspiring, funny, or pointed to say. Some days I feel empty, and I wouldn't want to bore you with the details of the blahs. I am the helper. I don’t like to be the burden. I hope there is something one day to be said for showing up and putting in the work even when I don’t want to; when the road isn't exciting and the progress isn't rapid.

It is challenging to write something great when you don’t feel great. Seth Godin, however, made a powerful statement that I recently read. He said that to him, writing was like talking. He went on to say that he never woke up and forgot how to talk so he couldn't see how he would get “writer’s block”. He just writes. I guess to a point that is what I am trying to do. Just write and not worry about the profoundness of the writing. And just maybe there will come a point where the writing is productive. Where my thoughts turn to living a life of freedom. Where I could inspire you to push through even when you don’t feel like it.


So what is one thing that you should show up for even when you don’t feel like it? 

Do You Have What It Takes to Forgive?

The Issue of Forgiveness –

There has been a long lived confusion on the issue of forgiveness (well at least in myself). Some believe that we are not required to “forgive” until the offender turns from the offense and asks. Others believe that we forgive regardless the circumstances.

As a Christian, here is where I have landed on this issue:
I think more often than not it’s our idea of the meaning of forgiveness that causes the problem. 
Let’s look a little deeper.

Take Luke 17:3 for example: If a brother offends you, talk to him about it, if he repents then forgive him.

Ah ha, you say! I don’t have to forgive unless the person who offends me stops the offense and asks for forgiveness.

How about this statement found in Colossians 3:13: Forgive even as Christ forgave you.

Oh yeah! I hear the debate brewing. One side protesting “Christ didn’t forgive me until I asked for it!” The other side stammering back “He died for you before you even committed the first sin. So He really did forgive you before you asked.”

Oh man! I have wrestled with these verses too. 

Here is the definition of the word forgive from the Greek Lexicon: to let go; to free a debt (or your right to collect on that debt); to restore a relationship.

Now let’s wrap up!

In Romans 12:19, which reads, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God,” we are told to let go of our right to repay a hurt. Sounds like an act of forgiveness, right?

In Ephesians 4:31, we are told to check our own hearts, attitudes, and actions. It states:  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.

Ephesians 4:32 goes on: Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

This is a command on what our lives should look like, and we still can’t escape this idea of forgiveness.

The conclusion:
The ‘restoring a relationship’ type of forgiveness takes two people (the example I believe that is given in Luke 17:3) One willing to let an offense go and the other willing to ask that it be let go. Then there is the ‘release my right to collect on a debt or right a wrong’ type of forgiveness. It’s usually a one sided process. It starts with Romans 12:19 and us surrendering our desire for revenge. Then, it continues in Ephesians 4:31 with a personal appraisal and cleaning of ourselves. Finally, it is completed in Ephesians 4:32. This is where we are “as Christ”. Where we make a way.  A way for the offender to freely come and find a restored relationship.


Where are you with forgiveness? Have you been carrying the wrong responsibility? 

Spartan Up! A Day I Will Never Forget.

Have you ever set out on one objective seeking to accomplish a specific goal and find when you're finished you actually accomplished something even greater.

Here's a quick example: 

Recently, I ran a Spartan Race with my husband and a couple friends.

For my husband and I, the objective of the race was to have a fun day hanging out doing something different. Plus we thought it could only strengthen our relationships with those who joined us. Personal growth and relationship building. Score one for Team Kiefer! 

I had my fears. There would be hundreds of people. What if I failed an obstacle or just fell. How would I look? Would those with me see me differently? Would I lose respect? Did I have respect? Would I just leave my friends and seek my own agenda? It didn't matter I had to go. Thanks to John C. Maxwell, I have learned a thing or two about personal growth and this had to happen. 

Race day was like this: The weather was horrible. It was cold and rainy. The course was more muddy than ever expected. We couldn't get our footing to run because of the depth of mud and tracks from previous participants. The course was longer than expected. Then there was the barefoot walk back to the car where I could't feel my toes. 

Needless to say this wasn't our ideal day. That would have been more like sunny, 75 degrees, less mud, and the ability to actually run and/or feel our extremities.

Yet something amazing happened in me. I didn't care how I looked or how I finished. Our team was just that, a team. We were pushed to limits that we didn't know we had. We helped each other. Encouraged each other. Pulled, pushed, and lifted each other. At the end, my accomplishment wasn't merely some fun relationship building experience. It was actually a lesson in authentic relationships! 

Here was my takeaway: 

You don't have to be famous, perfect, or have all the answers to have great friendships because great friendships are less about how you perform and more about how much you care! 



Undeserved Kindness

One simple act of undeserved kindness could transform a life.

During a very dark and confusing time in my life I learned the value of kindness.  My life was chaos. The perfect picture of brokenness, and there it was, undeserved kindness.  An acquaintance reached out to me, took me to lunch, listened to my heart, and let me know she understood.  There was a sweet release in knowing my story wasn't finished. There were chapters to be written. Hope remained. And today as I walk in restoration and healing, I still remember her kindness.

Then there is the story of Zacchaeus. It was an act of undeserved kindness that changed him from a wealthy thief to a giver to the poor.

Kindness, especially the undeserved, softens the heart and lowers defenses. Practice it today. Smile big, speak kindly, and chose not condemn. You may just change a life while setting a part of your heart free in the process.

Have you experienced undeserved kindness? What did it do for your life?


Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.    Romans 5:2 (NLT)

Parenting Fail 101

“Saint Patrick’s Day.  All things Irish, gold, and green. Green! Did you say green?”

Yes that was me as I sat in the car line to drop my children off for school on Monday, March 17, 2014 (complete date just so we can always pinpoint the exact day this epic fail occurred). Not one stitch of green between the two of them. Oh, the pinching and mischievous little Leprechauns that would be chasing them all through the day.

I had to prepare them for the worst. I confessed that I had forgotten until that moment about Saint Patrick’s Day. Furthermore, neither of them had chosen an outfit with even the tiniest spec of green.

When my son realized the mistake he was a little disappointed. He then asked, “Why did we need to wear green anyway?”

Great question! I mean it is Saint Patrick’s Day. Come on! Everybody wears green on Saint Patrick’s Day. We don’t ask questions. We just do it!

My answer as smooth as butter (all natural, organic, unsalted butter that it), “I don’t really know. I know that Saint Patrick is credited with telling the people of Ireland about Jesus, but I don’t know about the green.” 

I’m not saying that green isn't significant. I am just saying that I truly and completely don’t have an answer.

So let’s recap: I forgot about Saint Patrick’s Day, sent my children to school with no green, and couldn't answer a simple question about the color green. And they were almost late even though they were up and ready early!


There you have it my friend - Parenting Fail 101!  

Smile and have a great day because together we are learning to live free even through the mistakes! 

My Husband is a Jerk and My Dog is Dumb

My husband is a jerk, and my dog is dumb. Catch you off guard?

Yeah me too. As I was thinking of the great things in my life those are two very strange things that popped into my head. Obviously no one wants to be married to a jerk or have a dumb dog. At our house however these two phrases have become words of endearment. 

Clearly this is not a family counseling blog. Please do not take this technique and try it at home.

My husband and I have a very humorous relationship. I do not really believe that he is a jerk.  It is normally in the times he makes the most sense or is the sweetest that the word jerk comes into play. It is our special way that says your right, you have out done yourself. Now of course that is not the only way we communicate. That would just be weird. We use it at random moments to keep things a little less sappy.  Or when we prefer not to say “You’re right. I’m less right.”

Our dog? Well you see the picture. He is a small fluffy white Maltese. I have never been an animal lover. My husband didn't want a lap dog. Somehow this little guy has made his way into our family. He doesn't understand the value of personal space. Most of the time he is curled up on one of us. If we aren't available, he has his head propped up on a pillow somewhere looking well “dumb”. Okay, so that’s just the word we have chosen to keep cute from slipping out of our mouths. It wouldn't be acceptable because I am not an animal lover and my husband prefers big manly dogs.

Now before you get offended, the truth is we care very well for this little guy. And yes we love him. We just have a strange way of expressing it.

Here’s the point: Thinking about these two different scenarios made me realize that sometimes we take life way too seriously. I’m not suggesting we abandon responsibility and head for Vegas. We could learn to loosen up a little. Laugh more. Find a safe place to express humor that the rest of the world doesn't get.  Doing this will be a great help on the freedom journey.


Where could your life use a little laughter right now? 

Live For Fame

       
          (pic via foxnews.com)


Do you want to famous?

Jon Acuff, author and speaker, shared a story about his desire for fame. He said that he once found himself praying, “God make me famous.”

The prayer was answered like this. “The Creator of the universe knows your name. How much more famous can you get.”

This story has stuck with me for a while. I use it often to remind myself of who I am. I tell others the story to remind them of who they are. This idea will even be used as my husband and I kickoff our 2014 season of Cool Table Ministries.

Then there is this idea which is a lyric from Hillsong United’s song, “Go”: We offer our lives to bring You fame.

As I sang this during worship on Sunday, the first thought that came to mind was ‘Your life has so many failures, flaws, and falls. You will never bring God fame. You are miserable. Not good enough. People won’t listen.’

Then I was remind that I am free in Christ. It was time to practice living in that freedom.

The thought process changed: ‘In myself and left to my own devices, I will never bring God fame. That’s why I need Him so desperately. His fame isn't dependent on what I have done apart from Him. It is the amazing work that He has done. Redemption, restoration, forgiveness, healing, grace, mercy, loving kindness. That is how God is famous through my life!  He has never left my side. He is a rock and refuge. A present help in a time of need. He is trustworthy. His works should be proclaimed from generation to generation. I am free. I will chose to live free.’

Where are you? Have you heard the same voices that tell you that you are unlovable, not good enough. Will you make a choice to start (or continue) the process of learning to live free?

How has God been in famous in your life?

You Can't Be Compared


 (via Pinterest)

Have you ever found yourself caught in a trap of comparisons?  The one that has you measuring yourself against everyone. If so, you know that it can be a complete battle field. Sometimes you leave feeling like a winner. Other times you feel so badly beaten that it may take weeks even months to recover.

Win or lose the battle, I want to pitch this idea: the comparison war is not worth fighting.

Here’s why:
When we measure ourselves against others the system is flawed.  There are too many variables to have a control. Often times we compare our strengths to another’s weakness and vice versa.  It leaves us with a tipped scale.  Sometimes we use it to our advantage. Other times we use it to torture ourselves. Either way this sort of comparison never shows the entire picture.

This quote sums up the “tipped scale” idea of comparison: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  - Albert Einstein

If there is no comparison how will I chart growth? Great question. Glad you asked!

Seek personal growth initiatives. Do a self-evaluation rather than a self to peer comparison. Set personal goals and measure yourself against yourself. This gives you a controlled variable.  The data is now reliable and true confidence can begin.

As you leave be encouraged by these words:

Your life work is important and it needs your whole attention. You are too precious to be side railed by inapt comparisons.  Live your journey well and embolden others to live theirs. In this there will be fulfillment and unity which is a catalyst to many great works.


Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. Galatians 6:4 NLT 

Your Story Makes You Who You Are - Use It Well

                                             
I think a lot about the words I share in this blog. My desire is to share thoughts to inspire, encourage, and challenge you to live a life free from whatever entangles you.

The "live free" result that we are working for is an exciting thing. The path to it however, is sometimes a challenge.

Each one of us have a story. We have a past that has sculpted who we are today. We have a future that is filled with hope of who will can become.

The tree below has a story as well. It is a story that I had written a time ago. I want to share it again because it is still relevant for us today.

                                                 


Here is a small excerpt from that post:

Could it be when we become stripped from all that we think makes us safe it is actually the point when we have the greatest ability to standout and make a difference? Is it when the beauty of what is underneath becomes visible that we truly have a platform for success?

Read the entire post here. You'll understand why I no longer see just a tree but rather "the tree".

Embrace your journey and find the treasure along the way.