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Hat Check

10 May

Humorist Erma Bombeck had a special hat. “It is graceful and feminine and gives me a certain dignity,” she said, “as if I were attending a state funeral or something.

“Someday, I may get up enough courage to wear it, instead of carrying it.”

It does take a certain panache to wear a hat. Singer Frank Sinatra told people to cock their hats (like Kate Middleton is doing, below), because “angles are attitudes.”

Though I don’t wear them, I’m totally fascinated by extravagant hats. I’m intrigued by the hats sported on opening day at the Del Mar racetrack in KateMiddleton_BlushHatSouthern California. Every year I see the “best of the best” on the news and think, “Did they really wear that?” They remind me of the sometimes-outrageous British hats at the Royal Ascot horse races.

The headgear at William and Kate’s wedding certainly made a news splash, and the lovely Duchess of Cambridge continues to spark interest in fashionable hats.

In recent years, I’ve seen hats that look like a hot dog, frog, pizza, cow, fruit bowl, lobster, watermelon, kitchen sink, bacon-and-egg plate … you name it, there’s probably a hat for it!

DogInPinkHatI have to admit to passing on photos of dogs wearing hats (to Facebook Friends).

Maybe my obsession with hats began as a young mom, reading Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat to my boys. I was amazed how that crazy cat balanced a teacup and an entire birthday cake on top of his striped stove-top hat! (And I just remembered:  Seuss also wrote The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins!)

But stacked hats. That always makes me smile. Have you ever seen people trying to balance a stack before everything comes crashing down?

So like my life.

Balancing is always a challenge.

Women normally do, I think, wear a lot of hats: woman, church member, wife, parent, child, sibling, employee, employer, volunteer, friend, mentor, care-giver, volunteer, mediator … you can probably think of many more.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of learning to balance what God has given us.

In that case, there I think there are five steps to keeping balance:

1. Determine biblical priorities and what you value most. Figure out what kinds of tasks and responsibilities come with those priorities. Don’t forget your priorities and values – no matter what comes your way.

Consider these Priorities:  God (Deuteronomy 6:5); Your personal Spiritual Growth and sanctification through the scriptures (John 17:17); your Spouse (Ephesians 5:22, 25, 33); Raising godly children (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4); caring for elderly parents (Deuteronomy 5:16); Ministry to Believers (Hebrews 10:24 and many other scriptures); and the Gospel outreach to the world (Matthew 28:19).

Also consider your physical and emotional Health—which can affect your ministry. (Some add finances and career to these priorities, but be sure these two don’t overly influence the other priorities!)

2. Decide to say “no” to whatever detracts from those priorities—even if it’s temporary. (In other words, is there a hat you can put on a “hat rack” until later?) But sometimes the “no” will be more permanent. Beware of things that distract, even good things that can seem important at the time. Weigh your choices in light of your priorities. Do you really have time, energy, resources for something else?

TooManyHats3. Delegate what you can to others—especially when a task fits their priorities better than yours! You may be robbing them of a blessing!

4. Dump “flashy hat” thinking. Learn to be content with doing your best and relying on God to help you. When you try to impress others with “hats” that don’t fit well, or try to impress others with a “superwoman” hat, you’re bound to end up disillusioned, exhausted, maybe even bitter.

5. Delight in your true priorities. If they genuinely are important, plan time for them! Rejoice in them! Glorify God in them! (In other words, if your family is a priority, spend time with them. If your health is a priority, make wise choices. If God—your Creator and Lord—is truly a priority, put Him first!)

But sometimes … I wear a lot more hats than God ever intends for me. Maybe you do too.

A couple of years ago, I took on more and more, all the while insisting that I could “handle it.” Long story, short—my collapsing health proved I couldn’t.

A woman I deeply respect says: “Jesus only did what the Father told Him to do.” Maybe she gets that from John 5:30. Jesus said, “I seek not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”

More likely, she was quoting John 17:4: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”

I never get the impression that Jesus wore too many hats.

Sure, He was busy. There were times He even chose to “escape” the crowds, the people who had their own agenda for His life. Even Jesus needed to rest. But He was purposeful, intentional, passionate about doing the Father’s will.

That’s what I want my life to look like. When I wear my hats, I want to be sure they fit. I want to be sure they are God-designed for me.

When I was overwhelmed by the hats I wore a few years ago, I knew some of them had to go. There were tough decisions to make. I wept over one of them. But they were decisions based in right priorities, wisdom, and a desire to obey God.

HATS OFF to you if you are living out your God-given priorities with obedience and joy! But don’t assume you’re “in balance” because the hats aren’t falling … yet.

It’s good to do an occasional hat-check.

Do you need to ask God for help in balancing your hats? Do you need to ask Him if there are any hats He’d like you to remove?

 

 

 

Ticked Off with Eve

10 Jan

Sometimes I get downright ticked off with Eve. She had everything going for her, and she blew it!

Eve had:

  • A handsome, one-of-a-kind husband (Ok, the choices were slim, but he was perfect!)Eve_Vignette
  • Companionship … God and her husband (and she wanted to talk to them … and they listened!)
  • Cute little animals to play with (as well as some that would intimidate us today ~ “lions and tigers and bears… oh my!”
  • No worries about a budget … or taxes.
  • No “diets.” (No Krispy Kreme donuts nudging the scales upward…. and what scales?)
  • No “appearance” issues. (How many issues can you have when there’s no wardrobe to deal with… or bad hair days?)
  • No clothes means no laundry!
  • No stretch marks, wrinkles, rolls of fat or age spots.
  • No need to plan meals … just a stroll around God’s weed-free garden yielded everything she needed. (Hmmm… no chocolate … but I digress.)
  • No struggle over her choices versus her husband’s. (No “Now Eve-ie, I know you want a new stove, but I really need an iPad.” … What? No electronics? How did  anyone survive before technology?)

I mean, this woman had it perfect! But Eve blew it big time. And as I stood at the bathroom mirror this morning, patting lotion on my persistent crow’s feet, I decided, “This isn’t fair, and I’m more than a little ticked off!”

Before Eve made her fatal choice, there was no sickness, no pain, no “loud discussions” with her husband, no painful childbirth and no emotional drama. In this perfect setting, there were no stresses, struggles, trials or tribulations. But there was the enemy’s temptation, artfully set against all of God’s perfect world.

It’s natural to have a lot of questions. Why didn’t Eve see what was ahead? Why was she so easily convinced that the outsider (the Serpent) was seeking her good instead of planning to deceive her and lead her into a life of enslavement and heartbreak? Why didn’t Adam choose to do right in spite of Eve’s sin? And even, why did God allow the choice in the first place?

These are theological questions that could be tackled (and many have done so), and the answers point to God’s sovereignty and love ... but this is not where I’m headed today.

As I stood at the bathroom mirror moisturizing my wrinkling face, I realized I was blaming Eve for something that I might have chosen to do myself. I’ll never know. But I do know I am a daughter of Eve in that I cast blame rather than dealing with personal sin. I also know my sinful nature leads me to do a lot of nasty, nonsensical things. And that’s something I can do something about.

After all, I’m not just a daughter of Eve; now I’m a Child of the King!

It is God the Father who loves us and transforms us in Christ, making us fit for eternity. It’s the Spirit of God who convicts and teaches so we can grow in our faith and obedience. God is the great Instigator in our redemption. It is by His grace we are saved and changed, not by our own works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

MakeADifferenceSign_ChoicesBut we do have choices. We can’t sit around like a bump on a pickle. We’ve got a job to do! We are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained” for us (Ephesians 2:10). God allows us to cooperate with the redemption process, but many – through pride, independence, apathy or irresponsibility – hinder His work.

Ephesians 5:15-17 tells us to “look carefully” to how we walk, “not as unwise but as wise.” When we understand the will of God, we are to walk (live and act) as “children of light” (5:8). Our Mighty God gives us a warrior’s power and armor to stand against evil (Ephesians 6:10-18) and calls us to Spirit-filled living (Galatians 5:22-25). We are equipped for victory and effective living; we have the spiritual tools to faithfully serve the Lord.

So it’s pretty fruitless to stay ticked off at Eve, blaming her (or anyone else) for my state of affairs. God wants His children to get on with living in Christ and walking with eternity in view. That’s where the choices come in. They are daily, and they make a difference.

I can choose my attitudes. I can choose joy in the midst of struggle and patience in the midst of waiting. I can seek God when my days look dark. I can think of the details of my life in view of eternity with Him.

[Ah eternity … no wrinkles, diets, arguments, pain …the absence of a lot of nasty things. And I’m still hoping for some heavenly chocolate.]

Friend, are you still blaming Eve, sitting around and not cooperating with God today – not pursuing the wise, godly choices He wants you to make? It’s far wiser to get proactive, to ask God to speak to your heart.  What decisions and choices does He want you to make today?

– Dawn

Up with Upgrades!

3 Jun

Upgrades. We all love them, don’t we? My husband flies internationally many times during the year, and with his long legs, he always is eager for an upgrade to sections of the plane with more leg room!

I saw this photo that made me think how desperate we get sometimes for an upgrade. This is one man’s attempt to upgrade while waiting to move up from his iPhone to an iPad! LOL.

I also saw an overworked computer mouse that needed a serious upgrade!

Upgrades are fun, and often a wonderful blessing. We might upgrade appliances when we remodel our homes, or upgrade our wardrobe when we lose a lot of weight.

Did you know you can upgrade something every single day?

As a midlife woman, I suddenly came to the conclusion that I had spent all of my life serving others, but needed to focus some time on much-needed changes in my own life. My appearance was a little ragged. My quiet times were a little desert-like. My times with loved ones were a little scarce.

It was time for some upgrades! I discovered that even little changes each day make a difference, and it doesn’t matter the season of life you’re in, either!

Let me give some examples:

Appearance: Making sure my hair is neat and wearing simple makeup helps. So does watching what I eat. (For me, cutting out wheat is a major change ~ but simple choices every day are still required.) Writing in appointments for the gym make a difference (when I make the choice to keep them)! I’m starting to feel like a new woman, one choice at a time!

Quiet Times: Just as in marriage, doing the same thing the same way brings a level of comfortableness, but if we’re not careful and creative, the relationship can get stale. Likewise, in my relationship with God, I don’t want my interaction with God to suffer from sameness. So I started memorizing bits of scripture, and praying them back to God. I imagined God saying many of the “red letter” parts of scripture to me personally. I put a Bible on a chair near my Quiet Time spot to remind me that the Living Word is always present with me. Simple things.

Relationships: My girlfriend Pam Farrel is such a people person; but I’m a blinders-on task-oriented person. If I’m not careful, I’ll go a whole week and not see anyone! That’s not healthy, and it certainly doesn’t contribute to building a marriage or leaving a legacy with children and grandchildren. I need to see, interact with, and serve people. I need to rub shoulders with people who don’t know Jesus, too. So I have scheduled “timer breaks” from my work to either pray for or call people, or to jot down a note about something I want to share with others. And I clear out spaces in my calendar each week to “see people” ~ lunch dates, social gatherings, church, special meetings, “dates” with a grandchild, etc.

The point is, I can do a little bit of something every single day to upgrade these weak areas (and others) that need change. Every little choice helps!

Four questions help me know how to upgrade, and I hope they’ll help you!

1. Ask: What’s Going on Now? ~ You have to see and admit where you are, what your circumstances are (your weaknesses as well as your strengths) before you can see clearly what needs to be changed. Before you can upgrade, you need to drop any pride (Proverbs 18:12) and stand humbly before God, asking Him to show you your heart attitudes and behavior as they really are.

2. Ask: What Do I want to Be Different? ~ Get specific about upgrades. You have to decide what you want to do or change before you can make any plans for progress. You might also want to clarify what you don’t want … but spend more time on what you do want to be different. Let that be your focus. (Where you place your attention is where you’re going to see the greatest benefits and blessings. )

3. Ask: Lord, Is This Something YOU Want Me to Upgrade? ~ Always check with God to be sure your goals are good, godly, wise, worthy, and in His will (biblical) ~ see Romans 8:28.  If they are, you can ask Him to help you upgrade (believing that it is possible, because He put it in your heart).

4. Ask: What Choices Am I Going to Make TODAY to Get There? ~ This is the tough part, but it’s necessary. Ignore the arguments in your mind. Eliminate the excuses. Just act … take a first step. And a next step. Take baby steps, if necessary, but get moving forward on your upgrade. The point is to make a situation or attitude better.

When you change one little thing, you may find that an entire pattern of life changes, necessitating other changes.  How fun!  (Your habit patterns got you where you are, and new habit patterns will take you somewhere else! This Replacement Principle is illustrated in Romans 12:2.) When it comes to the nitty-gritty of life, upgrades happen in day-tight, bite-sized pieces.

And the wonderful truth is, God is in the process of a major upgrade in each one of us who are in Christ! His eternity-focused upgrade goes beyond “a little bit better” to total transformation ~ He is transforming us into the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:292 Corinthians 3:17-18).

When you woke up this morning, it was another day for God to work in and through you for His glory and purposes and for your eternal good. Praise Him … thank Him … cooperate with Him!

No matter your season of life … think of at least one thing you can do right now to change your life for the better (An action? An attitude?).

Consider it an adventure with God. Up with Upgrades!

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