What are you wearing?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I don't know about you, but I worry about what I'm going to wear each day. I want to make sure I look nice, neat, and thin in whatever I put on. Many times my outfit is dictated by the event, the weather, or my mood. Regardless of those things, though, my overall goal is to have a pleasing appearance to the world.

To accomplish my goal takes time and effort -- and a lot of it! So much so, that at times I think I worry too much about my appearance and what I'm wearing. As I pondered that thought, I was reminded of two Bible verses that helped put my misguided worries into the proper perspective.

Colossians 3:12,"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
Galatians 3:27, "...for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."

Faced with the truth of God's Word I had to question myself: Liana, what are you wearing? Based on my earlier statements, it's obvious how I'd have to answer that question! I need to shift my efforts and worries from my outer appearance and make sure that I'm dressing myself with heavenly clothing first and foremost.

Now when I look in the mirror and fuss about what necklace I should wear, or what shoes match my outfit best, I'm going to stop and make sure that before I finish my earthly attire that I am clothed with the spiritual outfits God wants me to wear. They came with a hefty price tag, why should I keep them in the closet? Plus, I know that wearing them would speak volumes to the world.

The Lord of Hosts

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Last week I was walking on the clouds....on Friday, my husband called from Germany and said he would be coming home earlier than expected from a 2 week trip; on Saturday, I completed and submitted a lesson by my self-imposed deadline and my family was back together the way it's supposed to be.

On Sunday, however, the clouds that I had been dancing on suddenly began to turn dark and gray as things beyond my control began to surface. Monday only brought rain and by Tuesday thunderstorms were rolling in. I went from bright and sunny one moment to being overtaken by the waters the next -- how could this happen?

What has occurred is not dire nor life-threatening to me or my family, but it has caused chaos and confusion in my life. I had a perfectly quiet week planned to abide by my writing schedule and get things accomplished, and now none of that has worked out. Instead I find myself distracted in my thoughts and my activities, allowing anger from stress to boil over, and trying to make sense of it all and wonder what I'm supposed to do next. Although I couldn't understand all that was going on, God knew exactly what I needed.

On Monday I started a Precept Bible study on 1 Samuel. Within the first two days we studied the name of God - "Lord of hosts" (1 Samuel 1:3,11 NASB). I had heard that name for God before but wasn't quite sure what it meant. During my lesson I discovered that Lord of hosts refers to God as the One in charge of human, celestial, and angelic beings. Basically, God is the One, the Ruler, in charge of everything and everyone. By Tuesday I had locked that away as head knowledge, but God wasn't going to let it stay there!

On Wednesday as I spent more time dealing with my issues and the uncertainty of some them, God whispered to me, "I am the Lord of hosts". And just like that I realized that although the circumstances were out of my control, they were not out of God's, and I just had to quit letting them overtake me. With this new knowledge, not of mind but of heart, the peace that I had on Friday and Saturday was slowly finding it's way back to me.

I wish I could say that my turmoil has ended, but it hasn't and I have NO idea when it will. Until it does my life will be in limbo. But I'm okay with that because I know the Lord of hosts and for now, that's all I need to know.

A new schedule

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A few posts back I mentioned I brought home 11 suitcases full of goodies. These were mainly clothes and books. My children are addicted to the clothes, I'm addicted to the books! One of the wonderful books I picked up, that isn't necessarily for everyone, is called Time to Write by Kelly Stone. It is the first book I have found that actually addresses the time management issues of writers -- something this organized, time management guru is struggling with!

It's not so much that I don't have time to write, it's just that I need to DISCIPLINE myself to sit down and do it! (Yes, I know, I used a dirty word -- discipline -- please forgive me!) And it didn't help that as I was reading this book I was also watching the Olympics, where every commentator talked about the discipline factor all the athletes had to have over the last 4 years in order to get where they are. Ouch! Was God trying to get my attention?

The combination of the book and the Olympics (and of course God's timing with it all) pushed me to set a new writing schedule for myself and I'm praying I can stick with it. I know it will not be easy, and I'm not off to a great start yet, but I am working on it. Distractions have already tempted me and there have been times when I've succumbed and other times when I have stood firm. Just one day last week the phone rang, the doorbell rang, and somebody stopped by, all while I was trying to write -- honest truth! I know that it will not be easy, but like the Olympic athletes I want the prize and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to reach it. That also includes sacrifice. I'm having to give up TV (including the US Open tennis tournament), Internet time, phone time, leisure activities, and time with friends so that I can accomplish my writing goals. But before you think I've locked myself away never to be seen again, don't worry. I'm using my "sacrifices" as motivation and reward -- when I reach a short-term goal or accomplish a small step then I get to enjoy those "sacrifices" without guilt! This is discipline. Right now it's not fun, but when I reach the gold then it will all be worth it.

I say all this because I want to inspire you today to think about you want in life. Is there something you desire that requires discipline, yet you don't want to endure the hardship that discipline brings? It may not be something similar to my goals, but something to do with your health, your home, or your spiritual walk. I encourage you to take small steps that may help you claim gold in your life. With prayer, God's strength, and yes, with discipline you can reach it. If I can do it, so can you! If you want you can drop me a note and let me know what some of your goals are and what you hope to do to discipline yourself to reach that goal. Accountability is a great help during those times and I'd love to partner with you!

I leave you with the words of Paul to ponder, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NIV)

Thankful Thursday

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My dear friend Susie writes a post on Thursdays called Thankful Thursdays. She does it in coordination with another blog and it is always encouraging to read her gratitude to God for all the great things He has done in her life. In keeping with Susie's Thankful Thursdays, I thought I would share something that happened to us a few Thursdays ago that we are truly thankful to God for. Thus, my Thankful Thursday post....

We were supposed to leave for Tokyo on Thursday, August 7th, a short visit to Disneyland before heading back to China. But due to poor planning on my part, we had to cancel that portion of our trip. When I called the travel agent to rebook our flight plans I had every intention of leaving for China on Thursday, August 7th. I was tired of traveling and ready to be in my own bed with my own things. My girls, however, wanted to stay longer as there was a free Raven Symone concert at Fiesta Texas on the 7th and they were dying to go. The travel agent could only get us on a flight back to China on the 10th, so whatever prayer my children were praying, it obviously worked.

We were able to make some arrangements for our close friends, the Rodriguez's, to join us at Fiesta Texas on the same day and so instead of boarding a plane to China, I headed to an amusement park. The girls were so excited and we arrived at the park precisely at 10:30 am. Since the concert was free we wanted to be there as soon as the doors opened so we could get tickets. Little did we know that Season Pass holders were allowed to enter the park earlier, sometime around 9:00 am, and by the time Clint and Kayley ran to the ticket office the concert was sold out. I chose to start standing in line for another ride and when I was finally able to contact my friend Lisa via cellphone, she said there were no tickets. I asked how Kayley handled the news and Lisa said she was disappointed but having fun riding rides. I felt terrible for my girls. They always feel like they miss out on so many normal "American" things (although I remind them they get to do and see things other people don't), so I was really hoping they would get this opportunity. It just didn't seem that it was meant to be. God, however, had other plans.

When I finally met up with everyone else I was amazed to find out that Lisa was the new owner of 6 tickets to that evening's concert! The story goes like this: Lisa was waiting on Kayley and her son, Robert, to finish a ride, and she "happened" to sit down next to a woman and start a conversation. Somehow they got around to talking about that night's concert and Lisa mentioned how we wanted to go but were unable to get tickets. That lady looked at her and said she had 6 extra tickets she would be more than happy to give to us since she had 5 boys who had no desire to go. Lisa gladly took them off her hands and joyfully passed them on! We were all so excited and praising God throughout the entire park for His goodness to us when we had all but given up hope.

But wait! That's not the end of this Thankful Thursday story. John and Lisa were celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary that very day and John mentioned to me he would like to Lisa to dinner if I would watch their kids during the concert. I told him it would be no problem since we had the tickets, but I wasn't sure if their two year old would need a ticket or not. John said if they didn't let her in with us they would just take her to dinner with them. I was hoping that wouldn't be the case and of course, God didn't disappoint. While we stood in line to get into the amphitheater, we talked about the situation we were facing and how we would handle it. The lady behind us "happened" to overhear our conversation and offered us an extra ticket she had so we could take the baby in! God just seemed to shower us with blessings all day long!

Needless to say, the kids LOVED the concert, John and Lisa celebrated their anniversary in peace and we had hearts overflowing with gratitude at the goodness and greatness of our God all around! It was definitely a Thankful Thursday.

Rethinking my thinking

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hello again friends -- so good to be back in the blogging world! We had a great time back in the States seeing our family and friends, but we are also glad to be back home. We needed to get back as we had no more luggage space left for anything else (we brought home 11 suitcases full of goodies)!

It is weird though, coming back to a place you know you will be leaving in a few short months. Most of you know that we are scheduled to leave for Germany by the end of the year. That leaves 4 months in China to do all the things I didn't do in the first 2 years. When I thought about how little time that was, my mind began thinking: So what's the point? There's not enough time to do much so why bother? At first I agreed with that line of thinking. I realized, however, that would would be wasting the precious time I did have. Four months is still a lot of time so why should I linger when I could be enjoying every minute of it!

So I decided to plunge right in and enjoy myself with some change. I started by rearranging my living room furniture. Granted, the packers will be here in 3 1/2 months to take my furniture away, but a change of environment seemed good at the time, so I did it. Here's a picture of my new living room:

I didn't change much really. I just swapped the locations of the chair and loveseat. That may not seem like much of a change to you, but to me it makes a ton of difference! The chair can actually be used now, and moving the loveseat away from the windows brought in more light and all the open window space makes the room seem bigger. Plus, it just feels more comfy this way!

I wanted to share this with you because I hope it will encourage you in some way. Maybe you're facing a time-limited option but you're thinking about not following through, feeling there's not enough time so it's pointless. Or maybe you're wanting a change but unsure about it -- just try changing one or two things and see what a differnce that can make. We have to rethink our thinking!! I'm so glad I went ahead with my rearrangement despite my thoughts and my time limits....I LOVE my living room and so does my family and isn't that what matters most? It's about the joy you have and the joy of your loved ones that's really important! We can't let wrong thinking or time limitations rob of us the joy God wants us to have.

Hoping you'll take a plunge towards new thinking and joy today....Liana