Saturday, January 31, 2009

His Feet Don't Fit in the Boat

My son got a ton of toys for his birthday this year… I mean a TON!!! One of the presents I got him was a little figurine set, similar to Little People, but it was a Christian version. It was the “Jesus Walks on Water” set. It had a boat, Peter and of course, Jesus.

I smiled when he opened it because he knew right away who it was… he said, “I got Jesus for my birthday!” with great expression and excitement. I felt so proud that I had taught my son who Jesus was. I asked him if he would like me to tell him the story that went with it. I was sure my little angel whom I had obviously taught so well about respecting Jesus our Lord and Savior, would quickly kneel before me with doe eyes and say, “Yes mommy, please tell me the story!” But that’s not what happened. He tossed Peter, the boat and even Jesus aside and said, “No. Can I open another present?” (humbling dagger-in-the-heart moment). He didn’t even ask who gave it to him.

Later, he was playing with the figurines, trying to get Jesus to fit inside the small boat, but his feet were too big. The only one that fit in the boat was Peter. Brett came to me troubled.

Brett said, “Mommy, why doesn’t Jesus fit in the boat?”

AH HA!!!! This was my chance! I said, “Peter is supposed to be in the boat. Why don’t we sit down an
d I’ll tell you the story, then you will understand.”

He looked up at me and said, “Nope. I don’t want you to tell me the story,” then quickly ran off, leaving Jesus on the kitchen counter.

Agh… another humbling dagger-in-the-heart moment for mommy.

A little while later he was playing with the figurines again, still trying to make Jesus fit in the very same boat but, of course, he didn’t fit. He got frustrated and called for me. In a whiny, frustrated tone he said, “Why doesn’t Jesus fit in the boat?”

More humbled about my superior Jesus teaching skills, I said, “Jesus isn’t supposed to be in the boat, if you let me tell you the story, I think it will make sense.”

He rejected me a third time with the same whining, frustrated tone, “No, I don’t want to know the story.”

I finished our conversation about it with this, “Okay Brett, when you’re ready to hear the story, let me know… and… stop whining please.”

While making Brett’s specially ordered birthday dinner, tacos and broccoli, it occurred to me that many of us Christians do the very same thing my son had done. We view our Christianity sort of like a toy. It is one of many gifts we have been given yet we don’t ever really think about who it was that gave it to us. We get it out every once in awhile (every week or two) to tinker with it then about an hour later when we’ve lost interest, we put it back in the toy closet. In addition, it looks kind of cool on the outside and we sort of have an idea what it’s all about, but when it gets down to the nitty-gritty of finding out the real story, we slough it off thinking that part is bound to be boring and too much work. We leave it on the shelf satisfied with just knowing what we think we know about it. “Jesus, yeah he was a cool dude with sandals. He had some disciples and he died on a cross. I get presents on his birthday… a bonus.”

Okay, so that may have been a little harsh but you get the picture (BTW, if you’re offended by what you just read, you might need to take a closer look at your own relationship with Jesus – in my experience when I get offended it’s because things hit too close to home).

Because of this attitude, I think we humans tend to try to live segmented lives. We have our holy, Christian life (the one we put on when we go to church for that hour a week or two, then pull it out of the closet for special church events). In that life we are kind and gentle. We don’t drink booze or smoke cigarettes. We carry our Bibles proudly, even if the only time we ever open it is when we flip it quickly to see which page it lands on hoping that will be the answer to our pressing problem. We don’t admit to the awesome rated R movie we saw the night before that was filled with nudity and violence. We don’t talk about how we got put on probation at our job because we cursed out a client (who happened to deserved it). We neglect the fear that our 16 year old daughter might be pregnant or using cocaine because if we don’t think about it, it won’t be true… and oh my, if someone knew… what kind of parent… what kind of Christian would they think I am?

We manage to keep our Christian lives and secular lives completely separate, even if we don’t realize it. At work, we would never tell the boss the reason we can’t come to the company party is that we have Bible Study that night. When the water-cooler talk gets ugly about how the married head of accounting and the IT manager are “getting it on”, we find it easier to throw in our own comments than to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus say?” in this situation. When our kid’s teacher tells us little Johnny was cheating on a test, we defend him and blame the school system for failing. After all, if the teacher had done her job, Johnny wouldn’t need to cheat. This blame game is done in an effort to not admit to ourselves that perhaps we haven’t been involved enough in Johnny’s life lately. When the guy in the red corvette (that we secretly covet) cuts us off in traffic, we quickly flip him the finger that says it all instead of saying a quick arrow prayer of grace and protection for him.

I passionately believe God really wants us to find a way to combine our two lives into one. Many of us may have grown up in a church that taught us we must be ashamed of our sins and problems. We must repent and keep them quiet for God is to be greatly feared! Others of us may have grown up watching Christians play out these two very different lives and called out “HYPOCRITE!” Determined never to be one of “those people,” they consciously choose the secular life because it’s fun and there is no need for guilt. There are so many levels in between that I can’t even fathom it… but that doesn’t change my passion for wanting to draw these two very different lives together and make them one.

While I do feel I am pretty good at living a blended Christian/secular life, I will also be the first one to admit that the type of life I have makes that rather easy. I work from home, we are financially sound, I have a very well-behaved child (and husband) and my connection with God has already been worked on a lot. If I were out in the corporate America working world, struggling to make ends meet, and having battles with my child/spouse or fighting just to survive, I’m not sure I’d do a very good job at it. But I do know what all of that is like. I was once poor, homeless, lonely, troubled, drunk, broke and even after I was married and had security, my life felt empty and desperate. I wasn’t living a God-centered life then though… coincidence???? Even though life is comfortable now, I do have my troubles. I face monsters such as fear, uncertainty and anger everyday. When I call on God, he reassures my soul. The King James Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Comforter.” In my life, that is exactly what He is.

I have a lot of respect for those who are out there in the world, facing the super tough stuff of life like bastard bosses, sinister co-workers, unemployment, terrible debt and unfaithful spouses. I’m sure it can’t be easy to bond the Christian and the “regular” life together as one. But hear this, every Christian…. every single one of us… is just a regular person. Having troubles is more of a reason to embrace Christianity. The reason we are Christian is because our lives are such a mess! Not one of us is perfect, without problems or issues. It’s okay for God’s children to watch R rated movies or to have a late night at the bar complete with a hangover. It’s okay for God’s children to have trouble at work or with their teenage daughter. Guess what… it’s expected!!! God deeply desires for us to find comfort in His loving arms. In addition, as God’s children we should be able to find support, relief and answers to our problems in our church community. If we don’t find that true in our lives, if we feel we need to hide our realness from our Christian life… then maybe it’s time to change the way we think about church or… perhaps it’s time to find a church that better fits our needs.

I urge you to make a step, even if it is a small one, in trying to bond your secular world with your Christian world. Take your Jesus figurine out of the toy bin and ask someone to tell you the story…it’s okay if you’re a Christian and you don’t know it. In fact I dare say that the majority of people who call themselves Christian do not know the full story but they are afraid to admit it. Admitting that might make them look like weak Christians… while in reality it’s the fear and the lack of action that may turn their Christianity southbound. If that’s you, take a leap of faith and ask for the story. I guarantee, someone like me is dying to share it with you! And trust me, I need the practice. One of these days, my son is bound to ask me the real reason Jesus’ feet don’t fit in the boat!

Monday, January 26, 2009

My One-Month-to-Live Bucket List

Before recovery, I used to think about death a lot. It's sad, but true. I would wish for death for two reasons... 1) payback - I thought that my death would somehow hurt the people I felt had hurt me and 2) escape - sometimes the only way I thought I could make it, was to... not make it. That's what drove me to recovery. I didn't want to live my empty life another day. Something HAD to change. God saved me from that final suicide attempt in a way that I knew I had to give my life to Him. It's been a long road filled with twists, turns, smiles and tears since then. I now have a life that I love though, and the funny thing is, the only thing that changed was me. God put His hand on me, I OPENED MY HEART and He came in.

We just finished a series at Community of Hope in Mansfield this week called “One Month to Live.”
In the message, we were urged to make our own “bucket” list of things we’d like to do, changes we’d like to make before we pass on. The hope was for us to try to begin to live a “no-regrets” life.

Actually sitting down to make this list never really crossed my mind.
I feel as though living a life in recovery has given me an inside advantage to the “no-regrets” life change. The very essence of staying sober is about trying to live a “no-regrets” life. When I make a mistake (and boy do I make them), it is my responsibility to right them, or make amends for them as soon as possible. The 12 step life tells me I must be accepting of life… life on life’s terms they say… and that means I must be accepting of people as well. As a recovering alcoholic, anger is not a luxury I can afford! I had to clean up all the old anger just so I could have a shot at sobriety. Now when new anger comes, and it does, I have to deal with it pronto. Of course, all of that is a tall order and I am constantly surprised at the ways I fail, as well as the ways I succeed. It is an ever-evolving motion, but one thing is for sure… if I don’t adhere to the “no-regrets” philosophy, I will drink again. For me, drinking means death, both physically and spiritually. It is serious business.

I’m not sure why but today I decided to give my bucket list a try.
At first I was completely blank. I’ve already made the sincerest of apologies to most of the people in my life that I owe them. My family and friends know how much they mean to me. I get to spend nearly every day playing and bonding with my son. My husband and I work hard and keeping our relationship strong and loving. I’ve traveled plenty, I’ve been published for both written word and digital design. I’ve spent the last few years of my life studying God’s word and diligently building my relationship with Him. Aside from making a trip to Colorado to spend some time with my brother’s family, whom I haven’t seen in over 5 years, I really don’t have anything I “have” to do.

I remembered a few months ago when I told my husband that if something were to happen to me, I wouldn’t want him to be sad, I’d want him to be happy.
He looked at me like I was crazy and he required an explanation. I told him I actually look forward to the day when I will be able to be in heaven, with my Father. When I think about dying, I actually get excited because even though I have no idea what it will be like, I know that it will be better than even my wildest dreams. I am eagerly awaiting my homecoming. I want my family to know that as long as I am with God, I will be happy.

Scripture says it perfect for me, Philippians 1:23-24 “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”

Let’s get back to the bucket list.
Since I was coming up empty, I decided to take a different approach to it. I asked myself what God would want me to finish before I went on my way to be with Him. I’ve kind of had an idea of what my purpose has been for awhile but I don’t suppose I have ever really known beyond a shadow of a doubt. The answer to my bucket list question revealed something very cool to me. The answer showed me my purpose more clearly and I was surprised. There is this one thing I’ve been working on for… years. It’s a book, a fiction story that paints an amazing, beautiful picture of Christ in today’s modern world. Trust me when I say, it didn’t start out that way but wow… God certainly knows how to make roses out of pure crap. I just haven’t been in a hurry to finish it because it has been such a Spirit led journey that I cannot force it. I’ve had to learn patience and only move forward when the time is right and the Spirit is nudging me. I realized today, I have been viewing this project as a “back-burner” kind of thing when in reality… I need to take it a lot more seriously. I’m feeling like finishing this story is my purpose. I’ve known for at least the last 6 months that when I am finally done with it, I will not be shopping for a publisher. My plan is to give the story away for free as an act of good faith to God for giving me the opportunity to write His words for Him. I am hopeful that a few people will read it and walk away with something useful, but the truth is I think I’ve learned far more from the story than I could ever give away.

Here is my best attempt at my bucket list:

1) Continue a conscious search for God in my life
2) Continue to love and honor my husband and son
3) Continue to actively cherish my family and friends
4) Continue to make amends every time I screw up
5) Go to Colorado to spend time with my brother and his family
6) Finish my book for God

I will finish with this… in the beginning, I told you that I used to think about death a lot.
I have to be honest and say that really hasn’t changed much, only my reason for thinking about it has changed. Knowing that the overall purpose of my life here on earth is to prepare the way for my eternal life makes me want to use the greatest of considerations for even the smallest of actions. I do not want to miss out on the life God has planned for me after this. I long to meet Jesus face to face, but for now I will do my best to do good not bad, right not wrong, His will not mine and to search for His next purpose for my life.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Walking Across the Stage

If you’ve read my recent post, you know that I’ve had a problem with humility lately. I’ve prayed for a way to clean that up. Writing the article “Beyond the Glitz and Glam” was one of the ways I decided to humble myself. We are directed by the Bible to share our struggles, our failures as well as our triumphs with one another so that we might help one another. I’ve continued to pray for humility. In one prayer I think I actually asked for a “stage” to correct the lack of humility problem in my heart. Well, today, God gave me that stage, literally.

I was asked to take part in a portion of a church celebration gathering where a group of us would write one of our biggest regrets or issues on a giant piece of poster board.
We were to carry it to center stage and show it to the audience, bearing our weakness for all to see. When I was asked, I immediately said yes… but as the week began to come to a close, I started to wonder if I really wanted to do it. That was my ego talking (imagine that). This morning, I was handed the poster and giant sharpie and it was time.

Today, I stood in front of approximately 400 people with a sign that displayed the most current and biggest failure in my Christian walk.
It was painful, but I wrote this word on my sign:

EGO

The joyous part is that I got to turn the poster over and reveal my resolve:

I AM SECOND
It is only though the grace of God that I am able to hold my head high and smile despite my grand failures. Thank you to those 400 people who allowed me to stand before them and admit who I am. Thank you God for loving me anyway, may You always be first!

Monday, January 19, 2009

"Stay to the Right"


A few months ago, my husband, Ryan, and I took our son, Brett, to River Legacy Park to go for a nice long walk. If you’ve never been there, the park is huge! It’s like being out in the middle of nature yet you know you’re in the midst of Ft. Worth. There is a big river (that is rarely full of water, but pretty yet the same) and the walkways are paved so bikes and rollerbladers can cruise the 7 or 8 mile path with ease. There is a thick red (or blue depending on where you are) line smack dab in the middle of the concrete path to remind you to stay on the proper side of the path in hopes the patrons won’t run over each other.

We brought Brett’s tricycle with us because he is really getting into that lately.
It was his first time at the park with his wheels so we had to teach him about the line and what it meant. We told him to stay to the right (after explaining what “right” meant of course) of the line and to watch out for other bikers, runners and people. We said it was important to be aware. I’m not sure how much he understood but, off we went.

I loved watching him peddle his little heart out from behind!
I could just imagine the great big toothy grin on his face and the wind passing through his hair as he powered his way through the countryside. That first time, he was just in heaven out there! He had endless road in front of him with unknown excitement around each corner. It was one of those super special parent moments for both Ryan and I as we walked behind him watching him enjoy the freedom of having his own ride and road for the first time ever.

We hadn’t gone far before little Brett started to slowly glide over the line into the left lane.
My husband reminded him quickly, “Stay to the right, buddy! Stay to the right.” With obedience our little boy got back over to the correct side of the lane and continued on his merry way, peddling steadily not missing a beat.

Soon, Brett was drifting to the left again.
“Stay to the right buddy. Stay to the right,” said Ryan in just the correct tone to show gentle yet authoritative direction. Brett listened and corrected his path quickly. I’d like to tell you that my son was so smart and receptive that he got it right then and never had to be reminded again but… that was not the case at all. The pattern continued for the rest of our 4 mile walk. Brett slowly gliding into the wrong lane and daddy or I kindly reminding him to “stay to the right.”

Towards the end of the journey, after having reminded Brett to, “get over to the right,” at least 50 times it dawned on me that God does the same thing in my life every day.
He is up there looked down at me constantly sending His Spirit to gently but firmly remind me to “Stay to the right, Wendy. Stay to the right.” It’s the love of the Father, just like Ryan with Brett. Patient, loving, protective, watchful, diligent, tenacious, stern yet kind. Yep, that’s God. How blessed am I to have such a wonderful God. I had to smile. Even with His abounding patience, I still picture God shaking His head at me at times wondering why He must keep saying the same things to me over and over and over.

A little later, I wondered if Brett had been testing our rules and authority on purpose or if he had just been so excited about his freedom that he forgot about the guidelines.
There was really no way for me to know for sure. I could ask him but what were the chances he would admit, “I’m just ignoring the rules mom!” In a great flash I realized God doesn’t have to wonder for a second. He knows what’s in our heart and therefore doesn’t have to ask if we are being disobedient out of ignorance, defiance or distraction. He just knows. HE KNOWS and we can’t fake him out or lie about it.

I’m really good at lying to myself, I always have been.
Through sobriety I have learned to be more honest for it is only complete self-honesty that can lead to the heart of any problem. Imagine that… honesty leads to the truth. It’s crazy to me that even though I know all of this, I still try to hide from my shortcomings, thinking I can secretly keep them from God. I have to laugh out loud for it is such a waste of time! Why not just lay them out right then and there instead of playing the game. The bottom line is… God knows all… and He loves me anyway so He is willing to continue saying, “Stay to the right, Wendy. Stay to the right.”

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Beyond the Glitz and Glam

It’s amazing to me how when I put myself in the Word of God with other people (that second part is so important) how God finds the perfect way to answer my questions or heal my wounds. Don’t get me wrong, studying the Bible alone is great, but when I say being with others while in the Word is important, I mean it. I have learned significant lessons from others in every single Bible study I have been a part of. It’s not necessarily that they themselves knew anything particularly awesome or insightful, it’s that God’s Spirit was able to use their mouths to say His words to touch me right where I needed to me touched. When one studies the Bible alone, God doesn’t get that opportunity. I’ve heard Him time and time again in small rooms filled with regular sinners just like me who think they have no business being there. This phenomenon always leaves me in awe.

The last month has been rough for me. Part of it has no doubt been due to a hormonal flux related to a medical issue but a bigger part of it is simply put, my own darn fault. This recovering alcoholic got a little too comfortable with herself and her own will. She got confident in matters that no one should ever be confident in. She was riding proudly upon her high-horse and lost her humility. I’m not gonna lie, pride and humility are big issues for me so I have to keep them in check. Unfortunately I let my checks and balance sheet fall on the floor and get shoved under the nightstand along with some dust-bunnies and a few lost socks.

My pride is always matched with simultaneous insecurity – it’s an alcoholic trait and I have to say, if there is anything I am good at it’s being a classic alcoholic, even though I haven’t had a drink in years. Walking around with incredible insecurity covered up by great pride can only result in one thing for me… crash and burn, bottom-of-the-barrel self-loathing and depression. Yep… so that’s where I was headed… faster than you can say… stupid girl. I was filled with anxiety and every little issue in my life was becoming a Goliath sized obstacle I felt I would never be able to tackle. I remember crying because an ice cube fell out of the ice tray and onto my foot (ouch). I was sure it was some sort of demonic personal attack when in reality; it was just gravity and bad timing. My pride was trumping my faith.

Only by the grace of God, and the beautiful way Jesus and the Spirit intercede on our behalf when we are speechless was I able to make a cry for help before it was too late. My cry was also heard by “my prayer partner troop” who quickly marched in and surrounded me with prayers of protection and awareness. I’m thankful that my pride didn’t keep me from sending out that prayer request e-mail to my trusted friends because the power of prayer in times of need is… overwhelming.

My anxiety subsided almost immediately but what remained was disappointment in myself that I had failed God yet again. I was sad, sorry and humbled… humbled to the point I didn’t feel worthy of the love of God. What a terrible feeling that is… and a selfish one too. Who am I to decide God can’t love me?

I waited until the last minute to prepare for my Bible study because that’s what I do when life is rough, put off all the things that I know are good for me… stupid girl. The lesson was John 13:1 – 14:14. It’s the part where Jesus takes the disciples to the upper room for the last supper and tries to prepare them for His pending death. As I read and answered the questions I saw something I had never seen before. The disciples were kind of ticking me off. In my little mind they seemed far more concerned with the glitz and glam of being one of Jesus’ chosen few. It seemed they expected Him to do something amazing like kill all of their enemies with the wink of an eye… then they’d be left standing with smirks on their faces as if they had done it themselves. I got a bit judgmental (another flaw of mine) thinking all they cared about was being in His presence and feeling special. Through the ladies in my study group, the Spirit quickly reminded that the disciples had no idea what was to come so I should cut them a break. Even as Jesus was trying to tell them, they just weren’t getting it.

The Maundy Thursday message (the last supper message) was a new command (that’s what Maundy means)… Jesus told them to “love one another as I have loved you.” This was their new commandment, if you will. I imagine them sitting there staring at Him with blank faces saying, “Huh? What do you mean??”

In the closing message of our Bible study, God’s spirit spoke to me through our leader, whose name is Mary. Mary told me (she was talking to everyone but I swear it was just for me) that the disciples got all wrapped up in pride. None of them wanted to pick up the basin to wash the feet that night because none of them wanted to be the lowest man on the totem pole. (As the story goes, Jesus ended up doing that dirty job but with the ultimate servant’s heart.) Earlier, the 12 were griping among themselves about who Jesus loved the most and that night when Jesus told them He was going to be leaving them… oh they just couldn’t handle it. Their pride wanted to stay with Him so they could continue to be special.

In that moment, it all came clear in my head. I realized if I had been in the room that night, I wouldn’t have gotten it either. I would have been just like them, enjoying the rush and attention of being with a very wanted, powerful guy. I would have been a groupy, hanging on every word most likely for the wrong reasons. I would have been wanting Jesus to squash all those who had wronged me, just because He could. Pride would have ruined everything… and that was exactly what I had just been doing in my own life. I was just like them, prideful and missing the point. I needed to be humbled.

That’s when the Spirit guided Mary to say, “Any of you who love the Lord your God, know that you will always be His. Once you are His, you are always His.” It was then I realized that my human failure wasn’t a reason for God to disown me or stop loving me. Of course I knew that already, but I had somehow forgotten it... in my human wisdom. I am so thankful I was reminded that He will always love me, for I am His. Finally, I was able to forgive myself, again.
Temporary pride didn't make me a bad person... just like it didn't make the disciples bad people either. I am so comforted by the fact that God filled the Bible with people just like me!

Committed to finding humility, I washed my husband’s feet that night. It was a very cool experience, if you’ve never done that…read John 13: 1-17 then give it a try. Humility is a job for me, a full time job. Knowing this, I must be diligent and not let my checklist float to the floor and rest with the dust-bunnies.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

When the Fight Becomes Natural

I had an awareness come upon me this Christmas that humbled me. As I share this story, it is my hope that you will read it knowing that I do not say it to brag. In fact, none of the thoughts and stories I write and share with you are meant to brag and they are definitely not the things I innately want to write. If you want to read things that I want to write about, you should read my book Desco. No, this isn't a shameless plug to boost sales for I will gladly let you read Desco for free but I do that cringing since I don't think anyone who read it walked away feeling like a better person for it. But I suppose that is my point, the things that I write because I want to write them are essentially crap. The other things that I write, like this... I write because the Spirit tells me to. So, my bragging rights belong to God... He is the one who does the hard work. He just tells me what to share and when.

Whenever I am getting ready to head to the East coast, I always get a little anxious.
I think it is mostly because the old places tend to remind me of old behavior (in my case that is super selfishness along with drunkenness). As I prepared to travel home to Virginia for Christmas this year, I was reminded of one of my favorite verses from the Bible, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor” (Matthew 13:57). Jesus himself experienced what it was like to not be able to overcome what the people who think they know you will allow you to become. I am in no way comparing myself to Jesus or saying I am any type of prophet. I am just saying, it is comforting to know that Jesus knew what it felt like to go back home after miraculous things had begun within him. I can't say I blame my old friends or my family members for perhaps being annoyed by my “new life.” They have seen me at my worst so... how could I change so drastically? How could it possibly be real? Only God knows and thankfully, His opinion is the only one that matters! I rejoice in that.

There is some petty ugliness to this story, its called human nature.
But there is also some triumph... and that part is called God's nature. But let’s get on with it. We went to my parents’ church on Christmas Eve. I've been there a few times before but it isn't my church so it's not in my comfort zone. Here is a little known fact about me that might shock you who know me fairly well... I actually have a touch of social anxiety disorder so when I am out of my comfort zone I tend to get sweaty and uncomfortable. We got to church early but there were already a lot of people there. We picked a row and sat down. Because of my anxiety, I like to sit on the end of the row, that way there is a reduced chance of having to sit next to a stranger. There were 5 of us so we spread out and took up the whole row. In my head I sighed (phew... I don't have to sit with anyone I don't know and I can just spread out and be comfortable – ahhhh.” As the church filled up my conscience began to pick at me telling me that I was selfish for taking up the whole row when we could have easily slid down and made room for more people. My brain dismissed the thought quickly, determined to stay exactly where I was; fat, comfortable and selfish.

The next thing I knew I was standing up telling my parent to slide down.
I was picking up all our coats off the pew and placing them in a better place to make more room. That made room for one or two more people in the row, open right next to me. In my head I really didn't want to sit next to a stranger but I had made the change anyway. I don't know why or how it happened – my body just did it as if on autopilot.

On Christmas day, after all the presents were opened and it was time to get the food going, I had the thought of how nice it would be to just sit back and enjoy my new “stuff” while awaiting the grand feast.
I could sit back in a comfy cloud of laziness awaiting dinner to be served. That sounded way more fun than helping (also known as working) in the kitchen. My sister and mom were starting to get to work as this thought came to me, “they don't need me, they can do it themselves. I'll just be in the way.” The next thing I knew, again with the autopilot thing, I found myself standing in the kitchen asking my mom what I could do to help. I remember thinking, “What are you doing Wendy... you're going to ruin your own lazy fun.” I ended up helping/working a lot to get the Christmas meal on the table yet I still had time to play with my new stuff later.

Later in the evening, long after the food coma had passed, the kids were playing whiffle-ball in the backyard with my husband.
They were having a great time but I didn't join in, it was too cold for me! I remember thinking, they better clean up after themselves because I'm sure not gonna go out there and pick up all those balls, bats and plates. After my sister's family headed home for the night, I peaked outside. Guess what... the kids (I include my husband in that group) had not picked up their toys. All of it was strewn about the yard beginning to collect frost in the 31 degree night. I grinned internally with an evil laugh going, “he he he... I'm so glad I don't have to clean that up... it's cold out there!” A little while later I took my dog outside to “do her thing.” The next thing I knew... autopilot had taken over again and I was out there picking up after those darn kiddos. I had a smile on my face too.

It wasn't until the day after Christmas that these three things piled up together in my head and I realized I was actually making progress with my selfishness.
I have to be honest with you. Now that I am aware of my ability to fight selfishness and find success and now that I am aware that it is becoming more natural for me... there is this part of me that says, “Darn it!” Why you ask? Well, it's because now I know... I have no choice but to be more responsible for my own actions. It is my job, if you will, to try to continue to defeat my selfishness with even more intention. I must not rest on my laurels for a moment! I shall not stop to pat myself on the back (at least not for too long). You know what they say, if you're not moving forward you are moving backwards. Now that I know I can successfully fight my petty selfishness, I have a responsibility to keep it up. I reiterate “Darn it!” I have no excuse for laziness! Of course I know I will never be perfect and I will never defeat all my selfishness because I am human. But since the whole point of the Christian journey is to become more Christ like, I recognize that I can't just sit back and be satisfied with the progress I currently have made. I need always aspire to be more like Christ. I am overcome with a feeling of responsibility. At one point as I thought about this it actually felt like a burden. Quickly I was reminded of another one of my favorite verses. Jesus said, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). I have confirmation! My feelings are justified the burden is real... but if I let Jesus lead, if I stop kicking like a stubborn mule (I really wanted to use the word 'ass' here because that’s what I am a lot of the time), the burden becomes light. When I think of it that way and realize that Jesus is ready, able and willing to guide me through it, that burden miraculously becomes an honor. Today it is my honor to share this with you. I thank you Spirit for changing this 'donkey's behind' into a useful tool.