by Texas Stready
Even though it kinda sounds like it, this is not a blog about prostitutes on drugs. My mom started a new women’s group. Brazen. That’s the book they’re reading. It’s about turning your back on the bogus you and encouraging the real you to step it up.
They read three chapters a week, then meet and work on their “Brazen Boards.” Not wanting to miss out on the fun, I joined up. All it took was the first read to realize, brazen is no underdeveloped attitude in my life. Per direction of the Holy Spirit, I forfeit my book.
Keep Your Pants On
Hussy—it means flirt or temptress. It’s also the first word that comes to mind when you mention brazen. I’m sure I’ve fit into this category a time or two. Bold and shameless, that’s who I am no matter what I’m doing. This attitude came to fruition in my life by a negative source, but God is faithful. He’s revolutionized even that into something good.
It’s easy to get ourselves worked up about things we have no control over. What a waste. Trying to figure it all out is more weight then we’re designed to carry. Even the word focus suggest we narrow things down.
Followers of Christ are instructed to dedicate themselves to Him. Otherwise, we’re easily misled and could end up in bed, shall we say, with anyone. Isaiah 61:10 is a beautiful picture of the hope, salvation, and righteousness we’re entitled to when we remain dressed in the beautiful wardrobe He’s prepared for us.
A popular saying right now is, “Don’t go gettin’ brand-new.” It means “Don’t forget where you came from.” This is a dangerous thing to do. We can’t get so puffed-up that we place ourselves higher than others. If we don’t remember where we’ve been, it’s likely we’ll end up back there.
What needs to be fresh in your mind is Whose image you’re created in (Genesis 1:27.) Our God’s promised to be everything we need (Luke 12:30-31). He’s the first, the last, the beginning and the end. (See Revelation 22:13.)
I mean, what else could we possibly need? He’s all that and a bag of chips.
Yesterday’s behind you, tomorrow’s yet to come. So why not learn to appreciate the details you find yourself in today. There’s much to be accomplished and becoming courageous is a necessary thing, if you plan to overcome life’s hurdles and finish the race as the champion you’re designed to be.
Line in the Sand
There are many defining moments in our lives. The choices we make are what prescribe our future. There is nothing wrong with being upfront about who you are, if who you are is someone worth being.
“Blatant” is thought of as a bad word, but with wholesome development it can produce a brave woman who’ll be admired—a heroine.
Reminds me of this quote, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” This tells us we can lose our footing if our foundation is shaky. What we stand for determines whether our behavior resembles a hussy or a heroine; one will lead you in a negative direction and the other helps you achieve greatness.
Only I can make up my mind, and I’ve chosen to be a woman of righteousness. After all God’s done for me, it’s the least I can do. How ’bout you?
by Cathee Poulsen
It’s spring and this girl’s heart turns to redecorating. If you live in Wisconsin, you’re still in the deep throes of winter, but here in Florida, the Pinterest Boards are all focused on rabbits, bird nests and tulips in galvanized containers. And I want to change everything.
Alas, just like most of you, I don’t have an unlimited budget for decorating. And even if I did, I live in a cottage, which is by definition “a small, simple house by a lake or beach.” There’s very little room for stores of seasonal decor like pillows, table top decor, throws and vases. It’s a challenge finding a way to use the same things for four seasons worth of style.
But Is That Really What I Want?
I’m partway into a study group with 10 women. We started in January as a way to redirect our focus for the new year. We’re doing the book Brazen by Leeana Tankersley. “The courage to find the you that’s been hiding.” Part of our weekly assignment is to spend 20 minutes of “Soul Time” alone with our thoughts and bring them into the presence of the Lord. Leeana says this is how she practices the first part of her Soul Time:
“I set my phone timer for twenty minutes and listen with deep compassion to myself instead of jumping right to judging, overriding, denying. Instead of assuming the longing is coming from an untrustworthy source, I simply give myself permission to listen.”
As the urge to redecorate and rearrange everything presses hard by February 1st, I practice some Soul Time to see what this is all about. Is it really about losing myself in Pinterest ideas or yearning for a Pottery Barn living room, or at least buying new pillows to spruce things up a bit? Is that really what I want?
What I Need Most
I open my green leather-covered journal with the tree embossed in the leather and the silver Celtic knot for closure–the one that’s been waiting quietly on the shelf for three years–and I just list them all. The worries, where my body hurts, my concerns for others, my disappointments in myself. I don’t judge or analyze. And then I wait.
Leeana suggests we do this next:
After about ten to fifteen minutes of soul-recording, I write, “God, what do you want to say to me about all this?”
This is where we invite God right into the chaos of our lives. We pour out our bewilderment, our sadness over unnamed questions, and then we ask Him to speak.
Quite frankly, I’ve been faithfully practicing “Quiet Time” or “Morning Devotions” forever. Over the years I’ve alternately read books of the Bible, Streams in the Desert, My Utmost, and Jesus Calling. All of them have played key roles in my spiritual growth. But I’ve been hungry for something more for a very long time.
Practicing Soul Time requires a bit more than reading through the portion allotted for each particular day. And truthfully, I don’t get to do it every day so these other beloved texts still minister to me. But what I’m discovering is that this time of me telling God what’s on my heart and then listening to what He might want to say or show me about those things, feels so much more like a real relationship that I return to it as often as I can.
What I Found Out
Stopping is difficult for me. My monkey brain speeds along the track of What next? with the thrust of a rocket. Daily, before my feet hit the brown carpet, I’m already racing towards the day’s To Do List, irritated at those who interrupt me. No way to start the day. As an anecdote I choose to breathe out the words of the Psalmist David “I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child…” First thing. Before my head leaves the pillow. I found out that if I open my computer or look at my phone, I’m hijacked.
Instead, it’s grab-a-cup-of-coffee and head to my reading chair or outside on the dock if the weather’s nice. I notice things, like the limkin foraging for lake snails or the grey-green moss swinging from the oaks overhead. The caladiums grown in fields nearby by the thousands but planted around me. I can breathe deeply here and still myself again. I can call out the me that’s been hiding.
As February has unfolded, I’ve found out it isn’t the new pillows or Mason jars with ferns that I’m after. It’s that I want to know I can find truth, goodness and beauty in the life I live everyday. In the folding of clothes with their lavender scent, the conversation over steaming coffee with a dear friend, the Kingdom Around the Table when our small group shares a meal and we talk about our lives. I feel like I’m more present and it’s because I’ve let Him be present. The things He tells me in those moments when I listen is that life is good. But that there is also sadness. It’s part of a broken world and it will haunt me at times. That I’m loved and highly favored and that if I will stay close to Him, He’ll walk me through every fear and anxiety and overwhelming situation I encounter.
And I think that’s just so much better than new pillows.
by Texas Stready
Most of my life’s been spent around selfish people. Maybe you haven’t been to prison, a halfway house, or a drug program. Still, I venture to say your feelings are similar. The reason I can gamble this is true is because, no matter how good people consider themselves, something about being born with skin on makes us a bit “fleshy,” shall we say.
Hum… isn’t the thought that someone else being selfish is itself established in selfishness?
All About Me
Our society’s become sharp and progressive. We stay on the cutting edge of technology. This is a good thing. However, indulgence in any area can be dangerous. Life in the US of A, can easily be described as a self-serving, have-it-your-way existence.
Wonder if that’s what the Pilgrims envisioned?
Now-now, don’t get scared. Politics is not where this is headed. No doubt our system’s broken, but I refuse to engage in that controversy. Not here. The questions I’m asking originate from an area void of regulations. One whose biggest demands are produced with a coarse and dangerous intensity. A cannibalistic place called basic human needs.
Acceptance is a fundamental desire. Thing is, we’ve become a culture that is so self-absorbed that other people’s needs have become secondary. When will we realize that healthy living requires we deal with each virus that invades our members.
True friends are extremely necessary, yet few and far between. Everybody knows this, but little is being done to remedy our diseased behaviors. It’s foolish to know what’s wrong and refuse to repair it. Cultivating change is possible—all that’s required is one step at a time.
In eighth grade I signed up for the volleyball team. The thing I remember most about that season was Coach Crawford saying, “Okay girls, look alive, look alive!” When she first said it, I thought it was strange, but before long, hearing it made me pay attention.
During those practices I truly learned what teamwork looked like. It’s important to remain aware of what’s happening around us, but what’s most important is that we do our part. Like my grandma always said, “To have a friend, you must be a friend.”
Here are three ways to be the friend people want.
- Stop, look, and listen – Nothing validates folks more than being heard. In today’s world we have the horrible habit of multi-tasking. Engagement in assorted activities makes everything we do less effective. Being a good friend requires our undivided attention. (James 1:19 NASB)
- Backup and shut up – Maybe you think you’re the only one who knows, but you’re a long way from perfect. This fact alone leaves us with no right to take jurisdiction over someone else’s issues. Not judging is the most underused antidote a friend possesses. (Proverbs 17:17 VOICE)
- Encourage enterprise – Risk-taking is risky business, but it’s also what keeps us relevant. If no one is willing to try something new, then we’ll all end up stale and crusty. A friend who is full of encouragement is a great friend to be had. (2 Corinthians 1:6 VOICE)
Take A Chill Pill
You can start now. Take the first step in losing the unwanted fat of “self.” I’m well aware there’s only so much you can do, but there are things to do. Learning to give back is a huge one. You’d do well to remember that always taking and never giving is what lands you centerstage on “The Biggest Loser,” so full of yourself no one else can stand you.