For someone – Shaking off Labels
Matthew 13:54-57: (Life of Jesus) “Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?’ they asked. ‘Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.’”
Who does he think he is?! This is what people from his own hometown thought of Jesus. Who does little Jesus, the carpenter’s son, think he is? Where did these miraculous powers come from? Where did this wisdom originate? Who does he think he is to teach us and say these things?
Surely a carpenter’s boy isn’t teaching us.
They took offense to him as if he did not know what he was doing or who he really was. As if his identity, role, and destiny was what made sense to them. The carpenter’s boy from a few houses down, and nothing more spectacular than that!
To live by their labels 🏷 is what they expected of Him.
They thought what he was doing defied who they thought he was.
But God! God said Jesus is his son and that is exactly who Jesus is. God created Jesus by his own power and sent him to Earth for his own purposes. He led him by his own presence.
And they can’t change that, even if they can’t recognize it. Moreover, if they can’t recognize it, they just can’t benefit from it. Jesus lost honor, but they lost an opportunity.
So similarly, in our own lives, regardless of what people around us may say, despite what labels people may expect us to live by, be confident of your identity in Christ. Throwing off the chains of old labels and purposes. Walk tall. God is the one who appoints and anoints. Your identity is crafted by the Creator. The talk and thoughts of people around you about where you came from don’t change where you’re going or what you’re destined for. Or especially, the powerful God who lives down on the inside of you.
If Lord Jesus himself dealt with it, you can expect you might as well.
The son of God is the son of God, period.
As a result of salvation, you are a child of God as well, period. Your works and words that God calls and guides you to spread are of kingdom impact. Some people can’t recognize where the so called miraculous powers and wisdom comes from because they don’t recognize God.
So like Jesus experienced, we may sometimes expect the same kind of scoffing and questioning in our own lives. That whole who do you think you are kind of reaction is exactly what to expect when you’re a brand new creature in Christ – when you are acting brand new with your mouth and deeds! When you’re walking in his purpose and will, your way of life and being may look a little different than it did ever before! (Maybe you’re not woodworking anymore.)
But don’t stop doing what you’re doing just because it defies what the old crowd was expecting!
Sometimes God’s directions, instructions, goals, and purposes are different than what may make sense to other people at a first glance. Sometimes he uses the lame to speak and lead, a mercenary to carry the message of Life, a mere sheep herder to lead a kingdom! And people don’t get it. But what about you? Expect the unlikely. Anticipate the impossible. God is God!
People who don’t know the Lord don’t know who you are, they see only at a surface value – and call and paint you as what makes sense to them. Like “just” the carpenter’s boy from a few houses down. More like just the Son of God. Dummies.
Avoid people of a “just” mentality anyways. Who compare the present to the past like it’s an ultimatum. People who remind you of what you were, what you did, and where you come from. And people who don’t recognize where miraculous powers come from. God is power. And if people don’t get God, they don’t get you! (Especially if you’re walking in the works & obedience of the lord)
But don’t stop loving. Just keeping walking and keep doing. Shock the world by the change that the living God inside of you ignites!
This last Saturday I woke up with all sorts of exciting images and ideas in my head. I thought my husband and I would head two to three hours east to the Bavarian village here in Washington. I thought we would then go on to swim in a mountain enclosed lake in the area. In the end, I imagined we would have slipped into an affordable hotel in the area for the evening… resuming our adventures on Sunday. I was hoping to capture photographs of the beautiful scenery there. I was hoping to explore an overwhelmingly gorgeous countryside with a grand smile on my face for two days.
Reality bit me! You heard it here first: Things don’t always go your way.
As it turns out, my husband and I had a grand miscommunication the night before. He seemingly did not understand what we were going to do. I was making out of this world plans. Meanwhile, he was very unaware of the grand picture I was painting. Very honestly friends, this last Saturday held a great deal of disappointment. I knew I wanted a wonderful and magnificent weekend escape. He realized less. Discussion revealed that this trip would have been too much for him this weekend. We do indeed have some stressful situations on our hands lately. Yet as it turns out, it would have been too much for me too. My pregnancy suddenly had me feeling wiped out by the later hours of that day. I did not even feel comfortable walking in the end. I simply felt faint.
So what did I do? Well honestly, I may or may not have pouted at least for a little bit. I felt a bit emotional because I truly wanted a getaway. I have felt swamped lately and thought it would help. I also temporarily felt angry that my husband was not compliant and willing to do what would make me happy. That is the simplest way to truthfully relay the situation. I wanted what I wanted. He was in my way! Why wasn’t he being compliant and wanting exactly what I wanted? Yet I killed that negative attitude. I tried to keep my mind on Jesus through my troublesome thoughts and feelings.
I figured some things out that day. My mindset and mentality on that day was toxic in the beginning. It was all about me. I needed to go. I needed gratification. I needed complete compliance from my spouse. It had to be one hundred miles away. There was an issue there. Furthermore, an escape doesn’t actually set you free from anything. An escape is not the source of peace. That’s God’s territory. I think maybe this is why I did not need to go out of town this weekend. I needed a fresh reminder as to who is the boss of peace. I was letting desire get to my head.
As it turns out, we spent half of our day working out our thoughts and feelings on various issues and topics. I feel confident that we understand each other’s most recent needs and concerns better now. After our talk was concluded, it was time to eat before the child inside of me decided to start digging his or her way out. We decided to run through Popeyes.
Next, I let Angel take us to the place he wanted to go. I told him that I did not want to be the boss anymore for the day. Well, he took us to the one of the lovely beaches a few miles from where we live. I assure you that the weather was fantastic. The temperature was phenomenal and the sky was clear. Aurora ran barefoot along the shore giggling and shrieking for an hour. We held little crabs. We collected neat rocks and shells. We took gorgeous photos together. We had such an incredible day together. I truly do not think there was any better way to spend today.
We drove around for a while after that. Next, we grabbed a coffee from our favorite place. Then we headed home. Angel finished the day tinkering on the car. I finished the day resting, because it turned out that I desperately needed it.
In conclusion, I am glad that we did not go out of town. Saturday was not the best time for us to go. I think God knew what was best for us. I am thankful for the time we enjoyed this weekend. The memory of that day will forever remain special to me. I continue to look at our precious photos even today. Additionally, if we had went out of town we would have missed church on Sunday. This past service was such beautiful teaching. It was all about the Father for Father’s Day, of course. It was a special day. My heart and mind was blessed throughout the entire weekend. Things will not always go my way, and sometimes that is because something better will take place. God is good.
Happy Father’s Day to our great Father!
A picture from a book of one hundred illustrated Bible verses that I discovered:
I would like to quickly remind you all that your tongue has the power of life and death. You can sin with your words. Your words can have a lasting impact on another human being. You can build someone up or you can break someone down with the words that come out of your mouth. You can literally save or ruin someone’s life. Your words have consequences. God hears you! Other people hear you! Your words are revealing your heart.
So…. what’s in your heart? Do you love others? How do you speak to people? Do you encourage them? Do you bless them? Do you sweeten their day? Do you correct them gently if they offend you? How do you speak to people, whether it be strangers or family? Please control what you allow the world to ingest from you. Please spread love, kindness, encouragement, positivity, and light. Train your mouth to gush things of goodness.
That’s all I wish to remind you today, friends.
Why is this on my mind?
I have seen that some people think it is okay to tell someone who does not speak perfect English in the United States to “go back to your own country.” I do not agree with this. Someone is not wrongfully in the United States just because they do not utter every English word perfectly. It is foolish to think so. Furthermore, learning another language is a lot of work. The fact that someone can communicate well enough to work and survive here if they are not originally an English tongue… is a lot more to commend rather than repulse. Moreover, I feel that in the United States, the melting pot of the world, people should not be crushing or ridiculing anyone in this way. Even if they are not born here, why do you care? And what makes you so entitled as to decide where they belong or tell them where to go? They probably work harder than you do. They probably bless your community more than even you do.
My best friend’s mother is Korean and she does not speak perfect English. She moved from South Korea and taught herself English as an adult. It is known that sometimes people have mocked or insulted her, whether they did it in front of her or behind her back. She does not deserve this. She is a brilliant and commendable woman.
Do not try to hurt, ridicule, or ostracize people just because you decide you do not like something about them. Do not walk around with a haughty attitude. Let us all love and encourage each other. Let us be warm toward each other, regardless of race, speech, sex, age, appearance, and all of these things that are of our world. Jesus told us to love one another!
I have gone through seasons where I just felt like everything was work. I felt like everything was a pestering, festering nuisance. I hated cooking, even though cooking is generally one of my talents. I hated cleaning up after everyone, regardless of my neat freak state of mind. I hated taking care of myself, even though I am known to be psychotically obsessed with following a regular personal care routine and getting dressed every single day.
I have experienced these moments of UGH. I can really get caught up in a bad attitude. A day’s worth of bad attitude can taint a week. I swear I create a domino effect with negative thinking.
Well here is the heart of what is on my mind: turning your cheek away from the UGH virus!
I want people like me to look away from the haughty Mr. UGH. We don’t need him. He wants to suck us in. He wants you to get stuck on a downward slope. I say no thanks on our behalf.
I have been contemplating what I actually do to pull myself out of the grips of UGH. I am not an inspirational how to live your life positively guru, so don’t expect me to say eating zucchini bread and mediating is the cure. But here it is, my plain old observations about my plain old self….
1. One thing I notice that is happening when I suddenly jolt back to life is that I begin praying extremely hard and even journaling to God. Some of you may not believe in God like I do, but seeking regular communication with Him changes my life continuously. Being honest and open with Him about everything lifts my spirits. If I sink into a distraction or slump into myself, I notice my moods and attitudes start trying to boss me around. If you love Jesus, my advice is to talk to him about that when you’re feeling like everything is UGH. Something has got to give, and the problem is probably not your problems, but it is you! Turn the right way. If you believe, notice when you’re not telling him everything… notice when he’s not your priority. We must constantly seek him, and we must love him with all of our heart and mind!
2. Another thing that I do is literally force myself to get my personal space under control. I clean EVERYTHING. I ache and sigh through mopping, vacuuming, sanitizing, washing, dusting, wiping, scrubbing, and organizing. I clean my house up, people. I actually do it all. I don’t do one job and call that fine enough for now. I get the entire penny shining. This includes laundry. When I feel like I’ve finally done it all, I feel a mental slot fling open within. I am not sure why it happens, but it really does. A sense of accomplishment in one area gets hope and excitement flowing. You may read it everywhere but it is simply so true. Clutter messes with your head. It’s hard if you live with messy people, and I understand that. However, complaining will not change the situation. If you are very particular about living conditions like I am, sometimes you just have to set thoughts aside and bombard through it, even if you’ve just done it a measly two to three days ago.
3. Especially personal option number three: Give yourself time to enjoy a thing. A thing, as in… whatever in the world you might feel like. Writing, journaling, reading, knitting, baking, walking, photographing, etc. Do the thing that you really like to do, that you’re pretending does not exist in your UGH slump. You might feel like it is this same old-same old type of deal, but you really might just need to be true to yourself and do it. I always feel differently when I finally do the thing that is natural to me or that I internally love. I often discard it in a slump. Waking up my old senses rattles my whole mental expanse! When’s the last time you actually finished a book (if you love reading)? When’s the last time you actually went on a walk and played all of your favorite old songs on high? Do something for yourself. I recommend adding ice cream to the picture.
4. Do something kind for someone else. There is nothing that is as uplifting and exciting as blessing someone else. Write a letter or card full of sweet thoughts and genuine expressions… mail/hand over a sweet little something… surprise someone with their favorite coffee or lunch… tell someone how incredibly valuable they are to you… buy a stranger’s dinner or groceries… offer to help someone with a task like reaching a shelf or putting a cart away out and about in the world. Bringing a big smile and a sense of being loved/special to someone is indeed the most important and beautiful thing you can do! Doing one teensy tiny thing to bless someone else out of sheer love and kindness blesses you too – immediately. It is one of the most absolutely rewarding experiences on this planet. Loving someone will make new life flow through those old clogged UGH pipes!! Moreover, the more love and kindness you share, the more YOUR heart swells and UGH recedes. More is better in this case! If you have the means to surprise two people… three people…. darn, an outstanding group of six people… why not!!!
5. Brainstorm! Here’s an ambiguous one: come up with something new. A new idea. A new motto. A new hobby. A new destination/place to visit. A new recipe. A new book. A new restaurant. A new type of journal entry. A new body care routine. A new workout. A random excursion. A new addition to your daily routine. Seek a new acquaintance. Just go crazy, be wild, be spontaneous! Do something totally different for yourself. Wake up at six in the morning on a Saturday to treat yourself to an exquisite dine in breakfast rather than a Saturday dinner/lunch out. Start a new book in the day and stay up past your usual bed time to finish the whole book before you fall asleep. Eat an obnoxious amount of watermelon on a park bench in your favorite park on a beautiful day. Get all dressed up and go out and take photos in all of your favorite places and poses, for absolutely no reason. Sit down and write all of the reasons that you have to be happy/thankful (be detailed) – you’re alive, loved, employed, etc… explore what is good in your life… and it doesn’t have to be in MLA format!! Whatever you do, let it be new and exciting for you. One thing as simple as this could really make a big difference in your life. This might be a wave of new inspiration/motivation that you need, a splash of refreshment, or an entire transformation… who knows? But do not be lazy and do not shrug it off. Push yourself!
That is about it for now. These are things that work for me. If you are going through a slump… I wish you well. I hope my own ideas and thoughts help you. You deserve to be happy. Do not let yourself be grumpy/depressed/overspent/just feeling ugh for long!! Enjoy your life. How much time we have here is unknown, and ultimately, all of it is short anyways. Live live live! God bless all
Blessings are fully bloomed in my life, so how do I keep missing that?
Today I have been thinking about what is good in my life. I spent the last few weeks harboring a rather sadistic and pessimistic attitude. That was really making things gloomy around my house. Everything has been a nuisance lately as a result of my attitude.
I feel like God is helping me wake up from this silliness. I do not even quite know what I have been thinking. Yet suddenly, I realize how many wonderfully exciting and beautiful people and things I am engulfed by in my life! And all of the reasons and sources are found in none other than God.
The first wonderful thing on my mind lately is that I celebrated my birthday yesterday. I have been able to live long enough to stuff another year under my belt. I am thankful that my life has been as long as it is thus far. I am thankful for all of the wacky, exciting, and even painful twists and turns that have led me to where I am today. Although I get discouraged or blinded by minor frustrations and difficulties sometimes, much of what I have right now is what I used to plead and yearn for in years past. I wanted someone to love me. I wanted something to believe in or to find God. I wanted to escape the feelings of oppression and entrapment. I wanted to belong somewhere. I wanted to feel at home. I feel so much better now. I feel that God did hear my prayers and cries. I feel free from much of what troubled me before.
I am loved. My sweet husband, Angel, is appropriately named. As cheesy as this may sound, I feel like he is an angel to me. He is always taking care of me. He tells me he loves me every single day, and I know that he genuinely means it. We have not worn out our lovingkindness. I know that he would do anything for me. I know that I would do anything for him.
Being with him makes me more happy than almost anything else. I always enjoy talking to him. We are always laughing together. He makes my heart happy.
I am also loved by my tiny daughter. She does not know many words, but she still manages to express how much she loves us without all of the grandiloquence. Whether it is kisses, hugs, laughter, or resting her head on you, she makes you feel very special. We are lucky to have her. We are blessed that she made it through the traumatic first few days or her life. She is so healthy, bubbly, and happy now, and this is beautiful. As I care for her day to day, she drains and uplifts me all at once. I cannot describe how exhausting chasing her can be. Yet I also cannot describe how much light, learning, and love she pours into my day. I do not even deserve this little wonder.
The greatest days of my life are certainly right before me. I am always downscaling and downplaying the significance and excitement of right now. I often act as if a day is simple, boring, mundane, or even mediocre. I am often extracting gratitude. I instantaneously strip days of potential and rejoicing. I have the people I love the most in my life. I am constantly under the eyes and ears of God, who I trust loves me very much. I have nothing to fear. The days are here for the taking! I can spread good things. I can give love. I can shed light. I have opportunities to do good, and this is what I am certain I long for. I long to serve, help, mend, and bless. I feel that God intended for me to do this. I want to do that. I want to bless others. I wish I did not sometimes forget this. Sometimes I become selfish and self-centered, and I do not want anything to do with anyone. I am certain this causes a fit of discontentment and depression. Yet I live for these moments when I wake up!!! Forget the lies and excuses, now is the time to love others and embrace the good in life! Now is the time to express gratitude to God by letting my daily life be an expression of what he has taught me.. and what his grace stirs up in my heart.
The little of activities of the day are special even when I forget that they are. Washing dishes is a reminder that I have food to eat and plates to eat them on. Changing a dirty diaper is a reminder that I have a healthy, growing little girl in my arms. Cleaning the toilet is a reminder that I have running water and sanitary living conditions. Aching all over and yawning more than I thought a person could is a reminder that God is growing a beautiful little life within me, a person that we both love so much already. Picking up long forgotten dishes and littered work socks is a reminder that I have a husband that I love more than anything right before me. Washing clothes is a reminder that we have clothes on our back, and the means to keep ourselves warm and clean. Diffusing a mortifying toddler tantrum is a reminder that I have a beautiful, learning, growing, and all the while, vulnerable little girl that I am here to teach, discipline, and nourish into a healthy, positive woman. Taking little Bam Bam out to fertilize the earth is a reminder that I have a furry friend who loves me very much constantly at my side. He is newly discovered source of joy and companionship to little one.
Whether I go to the grocery store or the mountains, I want to enjoy all of the beauty around me. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and it is drop dead gorgeous here. I want to make the most of the time that I have here by exploring and enjoying the beautiful scenes only minutes, miles, and hours away. I have never seen sights like those that I see here before. I am so lucky to see all of this, and especially to share it with my love. The excursions I have went on recently have been very special. We visited Mount Rainier National Park again. We made another fun stop in Seattle. We visited the bridge of glass. Our most recent boat ride was on a perfectly cloudless day. We have seen more waterfalls and rivers. We may even explore Oregon coast again soon. I have made lasting memories. I have taken photos that will never be forgotten. I will have stories to tell my children and grandchildren one day.
There is a lot of unknown in my life right now, and this feels a bit overwhelming at times. We are supposed to move to Germany. We have a little one on the way. We do not know if we will move in less than three months or if it will be later. We do not know if our plan may be recreated altogether. We do not know if our destination may change. We do not know what the next steps are in our life quite yet. We have to wait and continue to follow a snail process that is far overdue to get more information. Yet I will stay confident that God loves me, and that God will guide us through this as we seek Him through prayer. God knows right where I am. God knows just how I feel. God knows exactly where I am going. I can be thankful for the blessings God has saturated my life with.. right now. Today. Right here. I have more than I need, because I even have things that I want.
I hope this post finds you all well. I hope you can count your own blessings today. Even the frustrating or hard things might simultaneously be a reason to be happy. Keep smiling friends. You are loved, special, capable, and valuable.
I guess you just can’t express gratitude when you’re entirely bitter inside and out. I’m doing more than one thing wrong lately!
Some blessings are morphing and flowing… ever so constantly and quietly before us. I have hated my emotions for almost all of my life. I have always tried to repress and conceal them. In a children’s book today, I read that “eyes are for seeing and they are for crying too.” It made me ponder. We are watching and seeing this life clearly and vividly, but we are experiencing it in every possible emotional way too. We are free to see, cry, laugh, scream, and imagine. This is all a perfect response to this incredibly complex existence that we find ourselves in today. I do not want to shame myself anymore for how I feel. I always preach this, but I do not truly live this. It is beautiful to live emotionally tumbling through the unexpected and unknown. I want to embrace this. I do not want to fight or resent this. God must have given us these emotional capabilities for a reason.
I feel that I need to shed light on some hidden truth in my life tonight, whether anyone sees it or not. I feel that maybe writing out the issue will help me to ponder or resolve it. Writing as if an audience will review the issue helps.
I have been feeling hopelessly unmotivated, uninspired, and careless lately. I feel this way when it comes to applying myself to an activity, hobby, or task that would involve my free time, will power, skills, and talents. I do not feel that I care to do anything productive or positive with my time when I have some to spare. I spend all day doing what I have to, and I do not attempt to care for my own interests or activities. I continue to find that I sit in silence without doing or thinking anything overly important when I finally have “me” time. I vaguely procrastinate a few possible activities and quickly discard them in that same moment. I feel as if I find that I just do not care to do anything. It seems that I would rather bask in nothingness. I don’t understand this, but I find myself up against this very boring, gray wall every day lately.
I don’t have any ideas. I don’t have any passions. I don’t have any inspiration. I just find myself without a care in the world. Nothing matters so much that I have to do it. I feel utterly unconcerned and uninspired.
(Please readers note, I do not mean that I am depressed. I am very happy in life. My point, as it remains, is that I find myself lost when it comes to doing anything other than the daily activities that I have to. “Me” time is very empty, and this is what my issue is.)
What do you guys say? Does anyone have any thoughts, ideas, or advice? Has anyone ever went through a season like this in their life?
My simple reflection is that if I were to die tonight, I ponder what my last words would be. I ponder what my lasting trace would be on the people I knew. If anyone was to take any sort of knowledge from my life, I would hope that it is that I found my true life, purpose, and hope in God. God created everything in splendorous, artistic, creative, balanced, and beautiful fullness. God is full of all existence. He billows with power and glory. I am thankful for the meaning and light he instilled in my once empty, void, confused, and suicidal being. I remain nothing, but I now remain with my small soul and laughable inadequacy in the supernatural master of all. He is great. I am meek. He does extraordinary things, he manifests miracles before me, and this is something that I fear… because the most sacred, divine being in all of existence… loves me. He wears scars to prove his love. For this, I work out my salvation with fear and trembling. His love, how good He is, baffles me. He is the nourisher of my soul.
Though this is simple thought, this is essential thought. Our existence is impossibly possible through the existence of God. We are blessed by the breath of life. We are blessed by the knowledge of the hand that formed us. We are blessed by the ability to turn our heart to our Home. The greatest blessing of all time is God Himself, and we must ceaselessly thank Him that He allows us to be interwoven into his great fabric of life.
Let Him not be forgotten.
I supplicate in prayer that anyone who reads this is empowered by perceiving just how deep the love of Christ is that surpasses all knowledge… and I pray that you be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3).
The Glory of Christ- Easter Day 2008.
Oil on canvas
30 x 24in/76 x 61cm