Tag Archives: plans

Be Encouraged!

Image Last week I wrote about how difficult it can be to write honestly when I worry about people’s reactions.  I know that I shouldn’t care about that but I do. I want to be liked.  It’s important to me (sometimes too important) that people are happy and not offended and everyone plays nice together.  Plus, I really like “likes” on Facebook and hits on the blog and I can get wrapped up in numbers and all those outwardly ways we measure our importance.  And then I know better.  I know it’s not about me and I want to share God’s message of hope and love and I want to and need to let Him lead so then I feel guilty and selfish and I feel like I failed.  So there it is. Just laying it out there again in case you missed it.

God responded with these encouragements:

1: Post from Anne Lamott:  “This brings us back to the best riddle of all time. Q: What’s the difference between you and God? A: God NEVER thinks He’s you. So write what’s on your heart, even if your best friends won’t love it. We are in the striving business but God is in the results business, so the exact right people will read/like my book, and yours; and you know what? This is SOOO awful–the other’s won’t.”    (I bolded that sentence myself because it’s SO GOOD and spoke directly to me.  I have to say I was relieved to read that she struggles with these same issues.) Read the whole post here:   https://www.facebook.com/AnneLamott

2: Post from Alisa Keeton with Revelation Wellness:   “Don’t look around to see who is following or listening. Keep looking ahead at the One who is leading you. For all leaders, He has to be enough.”    Read more from her here:  https://www.facebook.com/revelationwell

Isn’t He good?

When we lay our burdens and our shortcomings out on the table, he can transform those things.  We have to admit where we need grace.  First, we have to admit that we need grace at all.

We started a Bible study group at our church this week and it’s called Stuck.  Some people (okay, sometimes me)  don’t want to admit they are stuck or broken.  They don’t see themselves as sinners.  But we have to start there.  We have to admit we are in need of the good news.  The word “Gospel” means good news.  For something to be good news, it has to invade the broken spaces, the not so good spaces, the spaces where we are stuck.

Where are you stuck? Where are you broken?

Some of you may be cringing right now thinking that you are not broken.  Some of you are offended.  You have worked hard to build up your “goodness”, your “perfectness”, your face that you show the world.  Heck, you may have even convinced yourself.  But if we were not broken, if we are not sinners…why would we need a Savior?

For the good news to be “good”, we must need to hear it, right?

I did not experience the transformative power of God’s grace in my life until I admitted that I need it.

Lay it out there.  Speak it.  Write it.  Pray about it.  Bring Light to the ways you are struggling.

He will hear you.  He will respond.  Probably through others who have walked this path and heard His voice and courageously follow His lead.

Be encouraged friends, you are not alone.  We are all in this together and He is good!

©2013 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big YES™ All Rights Reserved

What’s the point?

I wonder, is there a time in everyone’s life when the surface stuff seems really pointless?  I mean, does everyone get to the point where they say, “There has to be more to life”?

I feel that so keenly at this point in my life.  Maybe it’s because I have kids.  Maybe it’s because I’ve lost people I love, maybe because I’ve seen destruction and sadness and disease and addiction and divorce and death.  I’ve seen healthy young fathers die suddenly and tragically, I’ve known children diagnosed with cancer or brain tumors, I’ve known kids who suffer with epilepsy and I’ve seen their parents struggle to find answers, I’ve seen families torn apart, I’ve witnessed lying and cheating and stealing.  I’ve been part of relationships that are in need of healing and reconciliation.  I’ve sinned.  I’ve fallen short.

I’ve known the people with the perfect house, perfect cars, perfect clothes, perfect kids, and I’ve heard from them about the unrest in their hearts.  I know there is no such thing as perfect yet I’ve spent time striving.  I’ve strived and I’ve achieved and even after I’ve gotten  what I wanted, what I’ve worked for, what I thought I needed, I’ve realized it’s not enough.   I’ve seen the lies that undermine us.  I’ve heard the secrets behind closed doors.  I’ve watched things fall apart.  I’ve been scared.  I’ve asked the question, “What if all this is all there is?” and that thought has left me hopeless.  This can’t be it I think…no way…it’s so empty.

I seek for meaning.

I seek because I know I don’t have all the answers and some days I don’t feel like I have any answers.  Some days I’m mean and cranky and bone tired.  Some days I gossip and lash out.  Some days I refuse to forgive.  Some days the question, “What’s for dinner?” sends me into an angry tailspin…”no one “gets” me…I’m not a cook…should I go back to work?…why are there empty water bottles in the yard?…why are there food crumbs all over the couch?…Why does it cost $75.00 to fill up my gas tank?…How did I gain 5 pounds since YESTERDAY!…what’s the point of all this?”

What is the point?

This is the question that leads people to seek for something spiritual to hang on to.  I believe we all get to this question.  To me, this is the most exciting question of all questions!

I wrote a blog post about my friend (“Mountain Climbing”) and he commented on it.  I’m worried no one will see the comment since it was a couple posts ago so I’m copying it and printing it here.  It’s really good and really honest and I didn’t want you to miss it.  These are his words:

Allow me explain my point of view on climbing, life and religion. I’m an atheist. But I do believe in spirituality. To me, spirituality has nothing to do with religion or God. My definition of spirituality is the thing that makes you feel whole. The thing that makes you warm inside. The thing makes you feel like you are part of a bigger thing or purpose. The thing that makes you feel like everything is going to be ok. The thing that makes you feel insignificant yet huge at the same time. For a lot of people, this thing is religion. Religion makes them feel whole.

For me, it’s nature. Being on a mountain and looking down, sticking my head in an ice cold raging stream, laying on a giant rock that’s warm from the sun, wrapping my arms around a 100 year old tree, seeing bazillions of stars at night, looking out over an ocean or an endless prairie and hearing the sound of silence. All these things make me feel whole. They make me warm inside.

Spirituality is something that everybody needs in their life. Life sucks without it. I don’t believe in God, but if someone chooses God because it gives them spirituality, then I respect that. Some people spend their whole life searching for the one thing that makes them feel good and never find it. You’ve found yours in religion. I’ve found mine on a mountain.  They are similar yet so different. 

We are all seekers.  We are all looking for something that will make us “feel like everything is going to be ok”.

Where are you seeking?

I heard Diane Sawyer talking about a father who asks his kids every night, “What good questions did you ask in school today?”  Isn’t that great?  I want to encourage my kids to ask good questions.  Heck, I want to ask good questions.

Some “religious” people shy away from asking questions, some are afraid.   Some “religious” people think it’s wrong to doubt or to wonder or to seek.  I don’t.  But then again, I don’t call myself a “religious” person.  I have to correct my friend in that one part of his comment.  I have not found my spirituality in religion.  I have found my hope in Jesus Christ.  This is different.  It’s a critical distinction for me.

Religion in the dictionary means:  a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

I am a member of a church and I think community is a very important part of living life as a Christian.  However, Religion can be messy and political and flawed and cumbersome and hypocritical and boring – not always but sometimes. I even believe there are times when “religion” can actually get in the way of a personal relationship with Christ.  I keep it simple.  I seek Jesus.  Jesus is love.

I’m getting to know Jesus better and His Father God and the beautiful gift of the Holy Spirit.  The more I learn the more excited I become to find out what’s next for me and for the world.  But in order to get to what’s next, I must seek and ask and follow where I feel I’m being led even when I don’t have the answers.  It seems the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.

I do know my God is big enough and strong enough and real enough to walk with me wherever I go.  He’s not going to leave me because I question.

In fact, I picture Him asking me at the end of each day, “What good questions did you ask today?”

What about you?  How would you answer?

©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved 
 
 

If you were a tree, what kind of a tree would you be?

“It’s my birthday and I’ll _______ if I want to”

See the blank?  I get to fill it today.  I know the song says “cry” but I don’t feel like crying.  With all the caffeine I had this morning, I feel like flying.  Actually, that would be awesome…except I’m a scaredy cat.

My husband went sky diving once and loved it.  He was all jacked up on adrenaline.   I was happy for him but it’s not for me.

My friend asked me today if I was excited it was my birthday.  It reminded me of something.

When I turned 6, I memorized a poem by A.A. Milne.  Here it is and here’s me at six!

When I was one, I had just begun.
When I was two, I was nearly new.
When I was three, I was hardly me.
When I was four, I was not much more.
When I was five, I was just alive.
But now I am six.  I’m clever as clever.  I think I’ll stay six now forever and ever.
 

I used to run around reciting that one.  Obviously, I did not stay six forever and ever.  And I haven’t used the word clever since then.

So, in honor of today, I’d like to offer some new thoughts.

Our life’s work is like building a tree.  (Stick with me here, I’m working up to something.)

Childhood is the trunk of the tree. It takes years to build a steady, solid base.  The trunk has nicks and cuts on it, it is bruised and worn in parts but it is strong.  “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” really makes sense thinking of it this way.  These are the years we build our character.

Young adulthood is where we build the branches.  Each one jutting out in a different direction based on what we choose.  The branches represent school, dating, marriage, children, career, friendships, faith, and passions.  Each individual tree is shaped differently based on our lives.  Please note, in this young adult area, we may build some branches that need to be pruned later.  Just sayin…

When we are in our 40’s and 50’s, we add the leaves.  We beautify the tree.  We add leaves and flowering buds with our works of charity, our loving, our volunteering, our parenting, our guidance, our accomplishments, our listening, our understanding, our wisdom.  Again, some branches may remain empty depending on our mood when someone asks us to volunteer.  I can just picture it now…my beautiful tree and on the branch that says, PTA, it’s void of any life…not even a bud.

This is the stage where we accept that our tree does not look the same as everyone else’s and we embrace it.  We may even try to stand apart by adding a swing or a hammock.  We may get really crazy and offer ourselves up for a tree house!  We laugh more, accept more, embrace more…we get comfortable.

When we are in our 60’s and above, we enjoy the tree.  We can still add if we want to but by now, we have a beautiful, joyful, nurturing, protecting, loving tree.  We are content to sit in the shade it provides or to lay on the hammock it holds or to swing on its swing.   We have built something real, something solid, something sacred.

If we are lucky and God grants us the gift of more birthdays…we can enjoy the tree for many years.  We can continue pruning (getting rid of the rotten buds like anger or resentment or regret) and taking care of it (with love and gratitude)  so we can leave something beautiful and life giving for future generations.

So, back to the question…am I excited about another birthday?  Heck yes!  I’m getting closer to the part where I lay in the hammock.

Life is good.

age

 

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

– Jeremiah 29:11

©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved
photo of tree with swing by brittlift.blogspot.com
photo of me at 6 courtesy of my mom 🙂