Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Holiday Blues~ November 19, 2013

Ever have one of those days where all you want to do is cry?  You may be crying for a very specific reason or, like I sometimes do, for reasons that you can’t quite explain.

Welcome to my Tuesday, and if I’m to be completely honest, it’s how I spent Sunday and Monday too.  I haven’t been able to get a grip, and do you want to know why?

Guilt.

How the world makes me feel.

How the world makes me feel.

What has me feeling guilty?  My kids Christmas list.  More specifically, my boys list.  Like most boys their age, every request they have made is a pricey one.  They are no longer content with legos, nerf guns & balls of various sizes.  Now the list consists of a laptop, cell phones & a huge trampoline for the yard.  It’s not that our kids are ungrateful for what we give them, it’s more about their hobbies and interests changing drastically that causes the rise in price of gifts.  Naturally we can’t buy all of these things so they will have to settle for the items at the bottom of their list.  And they will be content with that.  Christmas morning they will give us a sweet, understanding smile and express gratitude for what they have…and that makes me cry even more!

Here is the problem, I have let my guilt of not being able to give extravagant gifts steal my joy.  This time of year is my absolute favorite.  I look forward to Thanksgiving more than any other holiday.  But this year I’ve lost sight of what the holiday is about because I’ve been so consumed by the very opposite.  I have gotten sucked into the trap of materialism and the commercialization of the holidays.  So I decided to sit and list all the reasons I have to be thankful…and it’s too long to share.  Next up, I decided to list all that we can and do give our kids and weighed it against what we cannot provide.  And you know which list was longer?  Of course you do.

Does all of this stop the flow of tears?  Not yet, but it will.  I can’t help but desire to give my family more.  I do suffer with guilt because I don’t add to our family income.  I can hear the words of my sweet friends who reassure me that I am giving my family something of greater value by just being a wife & mommy, but still I struggle.

I share these very personal feelings with you all because I know I am not the only one who battles these emotions, especially this time of year.

Are you the parent who wants to spoil their kids just this once?

Or maybe it’s your spouse that you long to lavish with the beautiful jewelry she deserves for all the love she pours out year round.

Perhaps your parents are the ones you wish to repay for all the years that they have given selflessly to you and you’d love to surprise them for a change.

It could be that all of the above apply to you and then some.

May I ask that we pray for one another today?  Can we take a moment to call on the Lord on behalf of others who are in the same position?

Lord, I ask that you be with me and those like me today who are struggling with feelings of inadequacy due to what we are unable to give.  Shift our focus to all that we have to be thankful for.  Show us ways in which we can express to our loved ones just how much they mean to us without feeling guilt over lack of material things.  Remind us, Lord, what these upcoming holidays are about: gratitude, family and most importantly, You.  Let us not be so consumed with what the world pushes us towards that we miss what you are calling us to.  And when the overwhelming emotions come, comfort us as only you can by speaking straight to our hearts. 

 

~Warning Signs~ August 2, 2013

grace over sinWednesday night during Bible study, our Pastor made a great analogy that I will attempt to paraphrase & expand on because it really made me think.

I’m sure you all have at some point in your life seen an athlete ruin his or her career because they didn’t take off the necessary time to recover from an injury.  The quarterback who takes a nasty hit to the head sending his brain bouncing around like a pinball in an arcade game but refuses to be benched.  Next thing you know he’s facing early retirement due to extensive brain damage.  What about the track star who feels a constant pain in her calf muscle but is so determined to win that she pushes herself even harder hoping the pain will work itself out.  She tears the muscle and is forced to quit the one thing she truly loves.  Or maybe it’s a pitcher who twisted his knee into an unnatural position but he fears he’ll be replaced by the rookie who’s been drooling over his spot all season long so he lies about just how bad it hurts.  The very next pitch, he totally blows out his knee, never to take the mound again.

The thing about physical pain is that it serves as a flashing red sign that you may need to slow it down, take a rest or have that “thing” checked out!

You may be starting to wonder when the analogy comes into play…well here it is.  Just as physical discomfort serves as a warning sign to an athlete that something could be seriously wrong, guilt is the warning sign that something is wrong in your spiritual life.  Say what now?

If you are in the middle of doing, watching or saying something and you get this awful twinge of guilt, that’s a pretty good indicator that you need to cease and desist immediately!  Sure you could push those guilty feelings down and make excuse upon excuse to yourself as to why you are justified in your actions, but can you afford the long-term damage that will cause?  For just as the athlete who ignores their body’s warning system toys with the possibility of a career ending injury, the person who refuses to listen to the Holy Spirit when it brings conviction takes the chance of blowing their eternal reward.

I know there isn’t a one of us who is free from sin.  We all are susceptible to different weaknesses and the enemy knows each and every one, but so does God.  And He has equipped us with all we need to battle our sinful cravings.  If you find yourself in a situation where you suddenly feel the need to look over your shoulder to make sure no one is watching, don’t ignore that feeling of guilt.  Capture it, repent before God and ask for His help to overcome your fleshly desires.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

(Philippians 4:8 NLT)