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Living Life with Purpose

Month

May 2015

Sacrificial Giving

This weekend we remember those who gave their lives in the service of our country. The brave men and women who stepped forward with the knowledge that they might sacrifice their very existence for a cause they came to support. Some came forward with excitement and willingness and some were volunteered into a service that would cost them everything. I am humbled and thankful to all the men and women who went into battle to ensure I would have the freedom to say what I want and to worship as I would want and to live without fear of my losing everything. I so very much appreciate their sacrificial giving.

The kind of giving in which we are called to give our lives doesn’t come along too often. Perhaps we hear stories of the firefighter who lost his or her life saving a child in a burning building. Perhaps we hear about the parent who lost their life rescuing their child in an emergency situation. We have heard stories of men pushing women and children into safety in plane and train crashes, giving away the time to save themselves. These stories are rare enough that we are amazed and brought to tears that one would give their life for another in such a dramatic way.

It’s interesting that when I went to look for Bible verses about “giving” that I was referred to “service.” So I dug a little deeper to better understand the meaning of this weekend. Dictonary.com defines service as “an act of a helpful activity; help; aid.” They define giving as “to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow.”  And sacrifice can be understood to “surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else.” When you look at the meaning behind the terms we will throw around this weekend, we begin to see something rare and special. Something that many have accepted as their calling and something others of us are humbled by.

Many of us will never feel the call to military duty while others of us will feel a call to ministry or service to others. As we remember the sacrifice of those who were willing to surrender their lives and their futures for the sake of our freedoms, I challenge you to seek ways to honor them in the service of others. Where can you sacrificially give your time to help another? Who can you reach out to and offer a helping hand with no expectation of compensation or reward? What can you do to change the life of someone else by freely and willingly giving yourself that they may benefit and grow? Please share your ideas in the comment section or on my Facebook post that others might be motivated into action.

I leave you with the Prayer of St. Francis, one who truly understood unconditional sacrificial giving:

The prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred,

Let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

Tt is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

Thank you to the many who have given the most and to their families for your sacrifice as well. God Bless you.

Maggie

 

Blank Pages and Dry Bones

It’s a beautiful day outside. I should feel inspired by the cool breeze and the time I have to myself today. Unfortunately, I lack the motivation to write. I am taking in the inspirational words and enjoying the beauty of a spring day—but I am not finding the words to put on paper to inspire others to think about transformation or change in their lives. So today you get a little piece on what it is like to feel empty or as my friend said the other day, to be in a season of “dry bones.”

I still remember when my friend, Robbie Pruitt, first read The Valley of Dry Bones from Ezekiel 37 to our youth group.  I had never heard the passage before. It paints a pretty dark picture of dead dry bones in the valley which the Lord commands be brought back to life. The breath of God brought new life to the bones—from hopeless to hopeful. I have reflected on the story and Robbie’s teaching many times in the years since.

When my friend said she was in a season of dry bones I knew what she meant. I didn’t admit that I too was in that state. I mean come on, how am I the encourager and hopeful going to admit that I’m just not feeling it? I have been through the fire and have come out the other side. I see the light. I believe I am forgiven. I believe…..but I’m not feeling it.  So how can I write words of encouragement when I am discouraged?

Today I am better. My spiritual director and blessed friend and I talked. She helped me see that I have not lost faith but maybe I am on the cusp of more change. I can feel it coming and I’m terrified. I may lose some friends in the process. I may open myself up even more to criticism and negative support.  I may have to leave behind the familiar. And today I know it will be ok.

When we find ourselves wondering in the dry desert, feeling like a sack of dry bones, it is really important that we reach out and share that with someone who will pray with us and let us express our thoughts without judgement. Maybe that person is a spiritual director, a coach, a pastor, or a Godly friend. We need to get out of our own heads and hearts and let someone translate what we are saying and to see the light. It might not happen the first time, but we need to keep extending our hand and asking for that revelation about ourselves.

God has never left my side. I have read his words and I still believe. And as I come out of this fog I know that there will be a new blessing. I can see a glimmer of hope and realize I still have a faith that just as God has done before, He will lead me where I need to be. I need to be patient with myself as I move through this. Mostly, I have to keep moving because this is not where I want to be stuck. I pray you too will seek out the wisdom of someone you trust if you are stuck in the fog. The light is so much better!

Blessings on your journey,

Maggie

The Joy of Receiving

I’m a giver. My mother was a giver. I learned it from her and I heard about it in church. Giving is good—it blesses others. Over the years I have found great joy in seeing someone else light up because of a gift they received. I admit I have even had some pride when I have given to someone in need. Giving is good.

On-the-other-hand, I am not so great on the receiving end. Probably pride there too. I hate to admit when I am in need. I hate to ask for help. I am meek about seeking opportunities that I think I am qualified for because then I have to receive the opportunity and my humility side kicks in.

I watched my mother as a giver. She would sneak a little money in someone’s purse on Sunday if she knew they were having a rough patch. She would pick up something extra and give it to a neighbor telling them she got it by mistake and didn’t want to return it. She did without so her children could have things. She was such a quiet giver that there were people whose lives she touched we didn’t know about until she died. I want to be that kind of giver.

She also would never ask for anything. The few times she did, I think she was mostly rejected. She settled a lot and probably suffered for not seeking help. She waited to ask for help for her marriage, her drinking, and even her health. In her pride and her shame she hid the truth about her pain. If she had only been willing to ask and receive the blessing, her life could have been lived with such joy.

I gave away most of my household possessions when I moved last fall. It was so much fun to empty the clutter out of our lives and to see others benefit from the things I didn’t need. I had to ask for help in the process. I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t do these things on my own. I was terrified that no one would see how desperately I needed help. Yet, when I asked my friends and my church family they came out of the woodwork to help me. I even had a friend show up at my door in the middle of the night with Advil when she read on Facebook how tired and sore I was.

I discovered an unbelievable joy in their giving. I was so amazed by their love. I was so blessed.

As I rebuild my household, still keeping it pretty basic, my friends continue to bless me. I have new vacuum, new living room furniture, and now a new bed. I am learning to ask when I need something and to allow someone to experience their gift of giving without my feeling shame. As I think on these moments my heart swells with overwhelming warmth and joy.

I also realize that the asking and receiving fear in my life was a stumbling block to healing the wounded areas in my life. I held back from receiving the love of God and the healing grace of Jesus because I didn’t think I deserved it. I held back from admitting that my way of living was destructive because I didn’t want to tell anyone what was really going on. I kept my pain a secret as I smiled and moved forward—except I didn’t really move forward because I was trapped in my past. I thought my sins and mistakes were just too overwhelming to let anyone get too close to me. I put up a wall because I thought once you get to know me you will be out of here.

When I became willing to receive help and forgiveness for myself; my whole world changed. If you are sitting in pain or sitting with needs, don’t let your shame trap you another minute. Start on your knees asking for God’s forgiveness and help. Then get up off the floor and reach out to that one person you think you can trust and tell them the truth. Let the healing begin by letting someone know you are ready to receive their help. Do it today. Your blessings of new life are waiting for you.

This post is dedicated to the wonderful givers at http://www.thehardmanteam.com/

Faith Search

I search for you,

In the rooms  I enter,

In the quiet of my fear;

I look for you.

Are you really there?

Do you see me?

Do you really love me?

Is it me, or is it you?

I am weak.

I am unsure.

I am alone.

And yet, I feel you near.

Fill my heart.

Fill my mind.

Change my heart.

Change my life.

Out of the shadows I come,

Into your light I run

Into your presence I sit

Here you are real

Here I believe.

Here I thirst.

In the light I find hope.

In this corner I grow.

Forever changing

Forever healing

Forever searching

Forever Finding You

We’re all Superheroes

Each of us has skills, talents, and ‘super powers’ with which we have been gifted. Some of us may speak while others prefer to write. Others love speaking in front of groups and teaching. Some of us use our gifts to help others. Sometimes our gifts are intended to bring joy to others. Some get ideas that others figure out how to implement. The list of gifts and how we use them goes on and on, but I think you get my point. You have something that you feel most comfortable doing and you don’t understand why someone else is uncomfortable doing what you do. It is your gift. Their “power” is something different and most likely not your gift.

I used to measure my self-worth against the gifts of those around me. For example, I can’t do math to save my life. I shudder at numbers and live in fear that someone will discover that I can barely add. I hide my inability because I am afraid that other people will think that I am stupid or uneducated. The fear of math is one of the main reasons I did not finish my college degree until I was in my 40s. I was terrified that I would not pass my math class and not graduate. Numbers are not my gift.

I love to write though. I love communicating, including giving speeches or speaking in front of crowds. I also seem to have a knack for organization and administration and often find myself wondering why my friends are not more organized and structured. I try to teach them my skills but to no avail. In my mind they refuse to embrace the process. I even once developed an analytic framework to help students organize their research and writing. They loved the process even though they didn’t fully use it! My skills are not their skills.

Can you imagine how it is to be a superhero and recognize your power for the first time? There is a slow realization that you have been given something special. You experiment to see how your powers work. You begin to accept that you have something supernatural that no one else has. And then you enter a phase of celebration and excitement for your gift—like a new toy to play with. Maybe you recognize that you have been given a talent to  for good. And then you see other superheroes with different talents. You don’t envy their talent because you know what you have is just as special as that which has been given to them. And then you realize how together you are a powerful unit that can change the world.

When we come together in a group, organization, or ministry we will discover that we all bring different talents to the table. If we are fortunate, we will find that in bringing our superpowers together we might create something almost supernatural. It is far better to celebrate our differences and the ways in which we complement each other as part of a system. An effective project/program leader should explore what each person believes to be their personal gifts. We may need to take a little time at the beginning to ask questions of each other and to record each person’s gifts to determine how we fit together and complement each other. Remember to ask the right person to do that for which they are gifted. You will most likely find yourself with a happier and much more enthusiastic group. You may even find a surprise talent in the pack that you didn’t know you needed.

I like to think of this system process as God’s way of teaching us to see the value and worth in others. If we think that only our talent is needed or that only certain talents add value, then there is no need for building a team. This applies to mission or ministry teams as much as those teams we build in organizations and businesses.  However, if you want to work to build a successful and cohesive group or committee, then take the time to look at what gift God has given each person and be willing to let God’s full vision come to life. Unleash the superhero in each person!!

Regrouping is Not Quitting

Every now and then on our journey forward, we need to set the pause button and evaluate where we are going and what we have accomplished. I found myself in that position recently and decided I needed some time to look back at what I have been doing the past six months and how the process aligns with my long-term goals. What I found is a gap between where I am and where I want to be with no real roadmap to get across the bridge. So I set the pause button and began to look at my vision, my mission, and my plan.

Taking time to evaluate your strategy is a good thing; as long as you don’t totally derail the process. I came close to that. I haven’t written in ages. I still seem to wake up every day with a new title for an article or I am inspired with topics from my morning reading and meditation. I simply didn’t do anything with what I believe God was whispering in my ear. Talking with my spiritual director and coach I was reminded that by not writing I am not doing what God has called me to do—I am being disobedient and willful. And I know where that gets me in the end.

Life may also throw us curve balls as we build our bridge toward our goal. It is natural. Life doesn’t just travel on a smooth road. We have bumps and derailments along the way. And these bumps may cause us to question if we have what it takes or if we are doing the right thing. Rather than stop, I would prefer to think that I can learn from those experiences and use them to strengthen my determination. If every bump causes us to stop what we are doing, we will never lay all the planks to traverse the bridge to accomplishment.

So here I am today. Fingers to the keyboard and recommitted to daily writing, on the blog and on my book. I am still working to fine-tune my process; however, I am going to keep moving forward at the same time. To completely stop looks like a lot like quitting. I would rather implement a course correction while moving forward or at least remaining committed to the process. I am learning—about writing and about myself. These are good things. They indicate progress and I’m all for progress!!

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