Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hummingbird Brain

Last fall I watched the hummingbirds fight and bicker over our two feeders we have out in our garden as one fought for his territorial food source.  These birds have no concept that these feeders will not go empty because they don't understand that there is a human who makes sure there is always bountiful food available, enough to feed many hummingbirds.  I laughed at the irony of this habitual behavior but was suddenly struck with the realization that I have the same problem when it comes to God's provision for my life.   It seemed I too was unable to grasp the concept that God is always at work providing for me. (ouch!)  He, being my Heavenly Father, willingly, joyfully and freely is giving me what I need each and every day.  But here I stood no longer laughing at the birds, realizing I was being a total bird brain! I, like the hummingbird, was trying to protect what I had been given because I did not trust God to meet the needs in my life...all areas of my life.

Lack of faith? Maybe.  Actually I think it was more a lack of understanding, at least in my case and maybe in many of us.  What I had been taught by experience was that I could not trust in anyone for what I needed or I would be open to neglect or disappointment or hurt. Who wants any of that?  Not me!   Even though I wanted to be able to trust someone else I found people always failed (a sad truth) and have held onto that belief in all my adult relationships...even my relationship with God. So at this point my ears were burning and my heart convicted by the revealed illustration before me.  I had little faith in God's ability to provide for me through people or otherwise.  Even after learning what Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 and Luke 12 of the Bible as He states that our Heavenly Father who leads the birds to their food and clothes the lilies of the fields, that this same God also knows our needs and will provide for us, I just didn't get it.  I didn't know what trusting God for these things looked like.

Because of this inability to trust God in the area of provision I often acted an awful lot like those birds, always flitting around trying to make ends meet, overworking myself really and fueling the fires of anxiety within myself.  I would get very defensive towards others if they got in my way or messed with my plans, at times feeling the need to have complete control because I knew things wouldn't turn out the way "I" thought they needed to otherwise.  This birdbrain thinking was most evident when it came to my attitude about money and affected a whole lot of other areas of life. (big ouch!) So lets get back to the birds for a minute here.

The hummingbirds seem to put up with my presence in the garden near their feeder except for the odd times  when I gather the feeders in to clean and refill them.  You should hear the scolding I get.  "Chit chit chit" I get near their food, even getting dive-bombed if they are feeling especially protective that day.  My worried complaints and propensity towards sudden outburst of anger when feeling afraid about money or losing control over circumstances is not unlike this bird behavior.  Yep its official...I was being a real birdbrain.  Ugh!  Everything was fine in my world until God needed to mess with my comfort zone so He could get His work accomplished...just like when I went to mess with the feeders so the birds could have good clean food. I acted exactly like the hummingbird!

The timing of this lesson could not have come at a better time in my life as our household had been facing a longstanding lean season at a time when my body had also became hobbled with pain keeping me from being the driving workforce I used to be. I was stripped of things I could put my trust in and forced to rely on God's providential supply which He would demonstrate to me was never late and always exactly what I needed.  Even if I might not think it was exactly what I needed at the time I learned it was "all" I really needed.  So I've had to learn to let go of control over things being done my way by me and control over my needs being met by my own strength.  I've had to learn that I didn't need what I thought I did and that if something really needed getting done it would get done in God's timing not mine.  That's a lot of letting go, let me tell you.

I know I am not along in this illustration of how much we act like hummingbirds in our angst over things that make us feel safe and secure is pretty profound if you really think about it.  I see it in people in differing measures all the time.  We take careful stock of our resources; money, food, housing, clothing, health, relationships, determine in our own understanding what we can live with and can't live without.  If we are not trusting God, not understanding where our source truly only leads to the anxiety, presumption, fear and even selfishness. It brings us to the point where we stand over it protectively and eventually causes us to lash out at others because we are afraid of losing it, of it being taken over by others birdbrains, of it not being there when we want or need it or better put...think we need it.

So the case in point...hummingbird angst over their food and my/our behavior.   We watch these birds aggressively protecting their food source battle in aerial assault with loud voices until one comes out the victor and owner of the food when all could eat freely.  We've yet to see anyone get struck by a beak during these bouts but they seem completely capable of doing it at times.  Its not that way in human relationships though is it?  People are always wounded.

Finally, it seems birds are pretty funny in how they have their ways but it seems everyone gets fed.  Isn't that amazing?!  Their habitual protecting of these feeders is not born out of fear or selfishness but their very nature so they can survive within the given range of "natural" food sources they are given and so all of them get to eat eventually. What serves them well in their natural habitat looks foolish at the feeders.  And aren't we the same too?  What serves us well when we are walking only in natural worldly knowledge looks foolish when we begin to walk in the knowledge of God and His truth.  It is walking counter-intuitively as my good friend Rae likes to say and which is true.  Trusting God is a counter intuitive act.

When we exibit these seemingly same character traits it is not out of instinct as it is in the birds, but rather out of a lack of trusting our Heavenly Father to be able to supply for our needs. This is not to say God supplies all of our wants which we often confuse with true needs and which are endless.  (The marketing gurus of our day are masters at fueling the fires want in our hearts and minds.)  This provision by God brings us to love Him even more as like a loving father this provision will demonstrates His love as a father over us and we will begin to understand more fully how deep His love for us is.  I recognize so many attitudes in myself that I learned from my days of not trusting Jesus and it seems each new circumstance is another opportunity to learn trust God more completely.  Our God provides what we need liberally without reservation.  Its funny how God's provision is now what I want more than ever..those demonstrations of God's loving provision for me. I still get tempted to act like a birdbrain but now I have a reminder of this truth lovingly given to me every time I look at the hummingbird feeders and especially when I see the hummingbirds fighting over feeding territory even though there is no need to.  Guess some things God sees the need to remind us of daily...and Lord knows I need it some days.

Copyright © 2010 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What's Eating You?

I am one of those people who delight in most all living things.  Researching what they are about, their purposes, life cycles and all that...especially the ones that live in my garden.  Oh and lest I to control them if they are a pest.  This helps me to understand how everything in the garden works together and helps me to see where each has its place as it were. There is one creature however that I find truly disgusting, the cutworm.  The only good thing I can say say about these guys is that they make delightful bird food for the robins in my garden.  My distaste for them is so strong however that I find it delightful to dance happily upon their little smashed bodies...sorry that was bit graphic but you will understand why here in a moment

Cutworms are these greasy looking Jaba d Hut-like larvae that sneak out from their hiding places in the soil at night to feast on all those lovely things you've been working so hard to grow.  There have been times they have left my foxgloves in shreds, made the leaves of my rhubarb look like skeletons and reduced what should have been a bounty of salad greens to a chewed mass of shredded leaves, many with only the midribs intact.  Who wants a second hand salad anyway?  Not me!

Last fall we brought in compost for our vegetable boxes out back.  This was to replace some really bad 3-way mix we purchased a few years ago that we found impossible to grow much of anything in.  The new compost brought with it great anticipation of the future harvest. One might say I was giddy with anticipation and immediately got to sowing our winter crops.  The seeds of leafy vegetables, starts of hardy kales and overwintering broccoli and garlics and overwintering onion sets.  I sat back and dreamed of the delicious harvest that would spring forth.

The seeds sprouted nicely in the rich warm soil and crops grew very quickly.  I carefully monitored the soil moisture for the seeds and seedlings and relished in the thought of all the yummy things we would soon be eating.  Then just about the time I was to begin harvesting I noticed them...the chewed leaves.  It was the first sign "they" had arrived...a little nibble off the edge of one of my swiss chard plants. Before I knew it "they" had mowed down an entire row of lettuces and the bok choy was so chewed up there was not stir fry to be made of it.  Who put up the sign that said "Buffet Now Open"  anyway???  Cutworms...grrrrrr!!!

In spite what I knew I found myself brushing off the signs of worm poo or the few notches in the leaves, picking off a worm or two but in the back of my mind I knew I was only asking for trouble. It would be my own darn fault that things would get as bad as they did in the end.

I had dealt with cutworm in my mixed flower border three years before. The year prior to that I had misidentified the pest as slugs...silly me, no slug slime its not slugs.  That attack had sent me to do some serious studying on them so I knew how to control them and even though it really wasn't that difficult, I still kept putting it off for one reason or another, figuring I'd get to it sooner or later. Then last week when the weather called me out to the garden and I pulled up on of the spent plants that was a sad reminder of their voracious appetites I uncovered three cutworms just beneath the surface of the soil.  NOOOOO!!!!!  I felt this shudder go through my body, the hairs on the back of my neck raised up and my stomach lurch with disgust.  There really is nothing I hate more than cutworms in the garden.

Any other plans I had for my day quickly dissipated as I shot into action with all the vigor I could muster, determined to grub out every single one of these disgusting creatures before they had to opportunity to lay their hideous lips on any more of my food!.  It took nearly three hours of very carefully sifted through the top six inches of soil to get out what I hope were every last one of them from just one of our 4'x12' boxes.  *shudder*  I'll let you know how successful I really was after I get our spring crops growing.

There were a couple of things I began thinking about as I was digging away, picking out cutworms and dropping them safely into my bucket for later disposal.  First was...Why?  Why would such a thing be created?  Well I figure I'm not going to get that answer till I reach heaven, so I'm not even going to go there.  Next was something fairly profound only it was not about the cutworms themselves at all.  It was about me.

There have been times in my life when I have let things that are not healthy for me remain in my life passing it off as not that urgent.  Every time, just like I thought I could do with these cutworms I just let it go until later. These things like the cutworm invading my garden, always seemed to take on a life of their own and invade the whole of my life, whether I wanted to admit it or not.  These things would always compete for my thoughts, emotions and time.  Everything we do takes up space in our life and the bad stuff seems to be the greedy grubber wanting the biggest juiciest part of our life, just like these cutworm creatures.  These things start out seemingly harmless or at least small enough that we can laugh them off.  The cutworms showed up as little tiny green worms...not such a big threat.  They ended up eating up almost the whole of our winter crops because I did not attend to getting rid of them.  How different things would have been if I would have attended to putting them to death before they destroyed it.

This makes me wonder how often have I been jealous of someone, just a little wormy bit, or angry with someone for selfish reasons...just a little wormy bit...or how about this one...I've wanted to be on Facebook or doing something else when my husband or someone else deserves and needs my full attention and I get mad, feel justified and keep on doing what I was doing instead of looking at the worm that is beneath the surface of my heart's soil that lays in wait to ruin the good crop of things God is working to bring forth in and through me.  (ouch)

In not dealing with these things I afford them the opportunity to grow in my life, to overtake my lay waste to it.  The flesh is never satisfied, the Bible speaks clearly of this.  However, God in His mercy promises He will restore what the cancer worm has eaten.  When we confess our sins, He will forgive us and heal us.  He's even made payment for the cost of those sins through Jesus death on the cross.

This is not that things will be as they were before the worms of sin and fleshly desires began to run amok, but this restoration will come with new insight and wisdom and new humility born through better understanding.  We can understand the enemy of our soul better, be on alert more quickly as I should have been but was not.  

So here's my questions.
What's eating you???

If you already trust Jesus then do what you must in obedience to God's word regarding your sin.  If you do not yet trust in Jesus I want to share this with you.

Jesus died that we might have life and have life abundantly.  Life not as the world gives but eternal life in Him.  Today if you hear His voice, if He is knocking on the door of your heart and speaking to you about the worms of sin in your life that no matter how hard you try you cannot seem to overcome and you are full of guilt over, know this; that Jesus died for your sin.  His blood cleanses from the guilt of those sins for all who will trust in its power.  For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Jesus died to pay the price that we might live to glorify God.  That we might have joy unspeakable.  I did not understand this myself for many years until God spoke quite plainly to me and asked me "Was my Son's blood not enough?"  His blood is enough...He paid the price for sin once for all.  I'm living that life now and it is the most amazing life ever.

May God bless you all and have a wonderful day.  I'm going to work in my garden before it starts raining again.

Copyright © 2010 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

You Never Know

How or why do people write short snippets?  In reality I have trouble doing that, writing brief things.  Guess my mind finds so much in things that sometimes there is just no other way to communicate but in a long dissertation on what I've discovered.  So I was wondering...does it really matter to the reader?  Does it keep folks from reading something?  Maybe.  Maybe because we are all limited on the time we are able to spend because there are so many people writing blogs and so much information on the internet.

There are times when one word spoken at the right time has sent my mind and heart into orbit.  Other times it comes in the reading of an entire book or an article in some publication.  So I'm thinking it really doesn't matter.  What matters is that we are listening, paying attention.  It matters that we do share what we learn, our life experiences.  Share them in the short or the long.

The little bee on the fencepost pictured above is one of those things that makes me smile, lets me know that there are happy things in life when life gets gloomy.  It always makes me smile to see these little guys.  I put them on the gates and on every fencepost because they do so much even though they are very small.  Just one of those goofy things.  Who knew something like this would make a difference.  But they are a reminder to me.  I like and need reminders...especially when things get crazy.

I often wonder how many people read my blog.  I'm sure there are some who don't sign on as followers and the only way I hear is on Facebook or via email or other conversation.  It appeals to my flesh to know that people are reading it.  It encourages me too.  I also wonder who will find it interesting or inspiring or helpful or just plain entertaining.  Oh well...just my thoughts.

Hope your day is filled with interesting and inspiring things...if not...maybe you will be the one encouraging or inspiring others.  You never know...and neither do I.   May it be so for us both today and everyday even in some small brief way.

Copyright © 2010 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Friday, January 8, 2010

It's Not What You Think. this is a bit of a rant about an all too common practice that I finally cannot keep quiet about.  I know how everyone likes to forward and copy and paste stuff passing along to "all" their friends but I've had it.  We all receive so many thoughtlessly forwarded emails every day by people who say, "Oh this is nice" and just click the "all" button and poof its in our/my mail box. I'm guessing I have a cheering section that is shouting Amen and is doing the wave by now.  This is about things that, beneath their surface, are really not so "nice" at all but quite devious in their nature.  I make no apologies for what I am about to say but ask that you consider what I share here carefully.

You know those emails or status updates that say how Jesus was thinking of you as He went to the cross or have some testimony or talk of Jesus love or dying for our sins; the ones that all end with a statement that infers that if you don't pass them along to 10 people or copy and post "this" on your own status you somehow are ashamed of Christ?  Well, they actually make my stomach churn.  I find them offensive.  They make me want to give my email box a bath and scrub my Facebook clean of them. They feel creepy crawly and icky.

These messages come in a myriad of flavors and there are hundreds and thousands of them circulating which means I have the expressed joy of being repeatedly offended by the same ones over and over and over again.  I receive them in emails at least 2 to 3 times a week and over holiday seasons seem to get overrun with them.  On Facebook they have begun to pop up every single day, several times a day!  Makes me feel all warm a fuzzy inside ya know.  So what is it about them that makes me feel this way?  I've been mulling over this for some time and let me share what I've been considering.

Contrary to what some people may think this is not a personal offense to me that leads me to share here but rather it is a dangerous deception fostered by these messages .  These types of messages grate on my spirit because of how these closing statements brings forth the foul taste of guilt and anxiousness and fear, all of which I was at one time bound helplessly by and no longer wish to have anything to do with if I can at all help it.   The closing statement does not produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness nor stir me up to greater faith or to love and good works in Jesus Christ, which is what we are to stir up in our fellow believers. It does not purvey the love of Christ nor conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit either for it is not a sin to not pass along the email or post the said status on my profile.  It only adds a burden of guilt which binds up with fear so "enough already"!

Also offensive and disturbing are those that are in effect chain letters which promise blessing if you forward them or a curse if you don't!  Really!?!  Why would anyone want to pass a along a possible curse to their friends?  Now I know you may be thinking I'm making a big deal out of nothing here but I strongly disagree.  There are some who are weak in their faith and others who do not yet trust in Jesus that will look at these notices and be lead astray instead of lead to Christ.  These dear ones will be unable to not fear the awful thing behind door #1 and will trust in the vain presumption of an assumed blessing behind door #2.  They will because of their lack of faith and understanding chose to pass along the devious message like it has some magic power to unlock one or the other because of what they do or don't do.  They will unwittingly send it to everyone they know or to a Christian friend because Christ's name is in it so it has to be good, instead of choosing to trust in Christ for the saving of their souls.  Hey I've been there before, I know what I'm talking about.  So how about you?  And what about them!?!

With that said and if you feel you are honoring Christ by passing these along my question to you is this; Has this message actually brought them closer to Jesus?  Your answer should be a resounding "No"! It has brought them just the to the exact opposite.  So do you still think its not a big deal?  You may be tempted to argue with me here but I would say that what you are doing is stroking your fleshly desire to feel good about what you are "doing" like its some good work that will somehow earn you something and nothing more.

"If you are not ashamed of Jesus...", this is the other thing that is always stated.  So if I don't re-post this "Status Sticker" or email the email to the required minimum number of people I am ashamed of Christ!?!  REALLY! That goes straight to offending the faith that God has given me in Christ my savior and it should yours as well!  That somehow I don't love Jesus or that I am ashamed of Him if I don't post it is absolutely ludicrous!  Anyone who has seen and read my profile page knows otherwise. "I rejoice that it is not by any strength or wisdom of my own that I am able to do even the smallest thing, but that it is by His good grace and will that I may glorify Him and that Christ be made known to all men."  That is my statement on my profile beneath my picture along with the numerous notes I've written including my testimony! I work hard to take the testimony of Jesus everywhere with me.  I'm even crazy enough to witness to people on the Farm Town game where I also pray for and encourage people too.  The gospel goes with me where ever the people are just as Jesus went where the people were.  So if you want to post that you are not ashamed of Jesus Christ I heartily urge you to do just that, but consider carefully the rest of what you say afterward and only when you are certain it will produce good fruit, pass it along to others lest you unintentionally lead them astray or offend them.

I believe these "Status Stickers" as I've decided to call them, are offensive to the Gospel of Christ also.  Not the part that is truth of what Jesus did, but only the later portion which lures people from true faith and hope in Christ and into fear, anxiousness and even lust for blessings.  Before the days of social networking this was done via email with all the emoticons and pretty pictures.  The emails stated that if you pass them along you will receive a blessing in 10 minutes or something horrible will happen if you don't!  Hey that's a chain letter isn't it!YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!!!  The author of this dribble is non other than Satan who would love nothing more than for you and me to be afraid and to not trust God.  Just enough truth to at the front end to tickle the ear and the rear end is, well, just putrid swill that incites in us fear, guilt and lust. Do we really think by passing these things along that we are in any way pleasing God? this point I'm guessing not.

So with all that said I challenge all of you who are read this who are followers of Jesus Christ to stop posting Status Sticker updates, stop sending those chain letter emails and go for the real gusto.  Start quoting scripture.  Tell what God just did for you or someone else you know!  Testify of His goodness in your life!  Make Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace and other social networking opportunities a living tract!  By that I mean, if you use any social networking sites on the internet, read your profile information and consider carefully what that information conveys about your being ashamed of Christ or not.  Do you state without apology that Jesus is your Lord and Savior?  IF your profile information does not scream "I am not ashamed of HIM who died for me" then I have a question for you.  "Are you really not ashamed of the gospel of Christ???"  Does your profile information speak of your faith and love for Jesus Christ and of your love for your neighbors or do you look just like those who do not yet trust in Him?

Now that you have taken a look at your profile and if you have found yourself wanting in this area, what will you do about it?  Get rid of the things that clutter the view of Christ in your life!  Make room for His word and stories of His love.  Start a blog or send your testimony in a note to all those social networking friends of yours. Tell any who will listen of what God has done for you in saving you from death with a glad shout so that others might hear and also come to Christ!

I pray as time is growing ever shorter, that God may help us to walk as those brought from death to life, giving Jesus Christ the honor He is due and no longer walking as those ashamed of the gospel of Christ where ever we may be.  May we hold fast to the royal law which is to love the Lord God with all our heart, mind soul and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves.

Copyright © 2010 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Winter, Leaves and Compost

It seems that most of us somehow get the idea that winter is a completely dormant season, dormant in that on the surface we see nothing going on.  This is two fold, because some things are actually beyond our ability to see but also because we are just not looking closely enough.  In the garden the soil is teaming with life beneath its surface.  Roots continue to grow...yes the cells of those plants are splitting and making more cells even in the cold.  There are a myriad of fungi, bacteria and creepy crawly creatures that are working within its depths so our plants will be able to take up nutrients from the spent plant material on top and beneath the soil.

The picture above is of one of my Hellebore plants which I uncovered this week so the emerging flowers could be seen.  The flowers began emerging a couple weeks ago but were buried beneath fallen leaves.  Hellebore are among the first flowers to bloom in my garden and always bring a flush of joy at their sighting because it is the signal that the cold and somewhat dreary winter will soon be past for another year.  When I went out to shoot the pictures of their emerging I discovered Hellebore seeds had also begun to sprout at the same time.  I suppose it should not be surprising really as they are one of the hardiest plants in the garden and winter is their season of glory.  This reminded me that even in winter seasons of life...we are always long as we are breathing we are growing.

The sweeping away of the leaves that covered these emerging flower buds brought something to mind for me that I want to share here.  God often hides from us the work He is doing within us. His hiding is probably a good thing as just like the leaf mulch provides protection for the plants beneath it, His hiding provides protection from us getting our mitts on things prematurely...a thing we are prone to do sometimes in our wanting to get things done quickly.  Just as the seeds in the ground sprout at a specific time, flower at another and produce seed and go dormant at yet another time, so God sees best the needs of this work of growth in us...what the roots of it are, when the emerging of it should be revealed and when the full flower should be seen and enjoyed.

The leaves of our past experiences are rich in nutrients that, in the proper time through God's breaking them down for us, will be released for our nourishment as well as the nourishment of others around us when we share from these experiences in testimony or council or comfort.  The experiences we have during the seasons of life fall and cover the soil of our hearts.  They, like the leaves, can offer protect us during the seasons of adversity, be they winter's icy blast, the winds of passing storms, floods or drought.  Looking back on our experiences during seasons of trial with an ear to what God has taught or shown us is taking up the nutrient rich benefits of spiritual compost.  It is us drinking that which is rich with new understanding, knowledge and wisdom, all of which aid in keeping us in our faith in times of difficulty, as our roots of faith continue to grow ever deeper by the holding fast to God's promises to us.  This is God's provision for us that our faith would not fail as Jesus prayed for us all in His final prayer for His own before he went to the cross.

Just as the hidden growth of a plant is important to its future health so is this hidden work in us.  It is also a tender work and often deep within us.  If this season is a winter season and you are longing for spring to break forth, be encouraged that spring will come in its proper time.  God is at work even if you cannot see it for He works in secret and knows the hidden things of the heart.  He will not leave you nor forsake you but is ever mindful of you, keeping your tears in His bottle.  May you be comforted and encouraged in Christ today by the Holy Spirit.

If you know of someone who might need this word please share it with them.  These things I write are not for myself nor for my glory but as testimony to those who God desires to encourage by helping them to understand they are not alone and winter is not forever.

Copyright © 2010 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Road of Good Intentions

My Facebook status today went something like this: "The road of resolutions is paved with good intentions and the roadkill of passed failures." 

I am the first to admit that I fail often at things I have intentions of accomplishing...especially when it comes to resolutions.  How is it that this happens?  We/I seem to constantly be in this state of inability and it seems worse at some times than others.  This year for some reason I seem more acutely aware of all the things I planned to accomplish and failed in.  Its a very long list as I am that person who's favorite saying is "Oh wouldn't it be cool if we could....!"  Yep, that would be me...the dreamer or I prefer to call myself the visionary or the "idea" person as I am forever coming up with ideas.  However, my remembering is not fraught with guilt as many find when they fail but is now tempered with a quiet understanding that I am not really the one in control and that non of us are no matter how much we would like to feel or believe we are.

In reading status updates of people on Facebook this past  week I realized that there are many who seem to feel there is a need to set New Years resolutions.  A resolution is like a promise to work at bringing forth what one sees as necessary or needed change. I honestly have to say that I have rarely set New Years resolutions for myself and failed miserably at every one I ever did make. You see I don't need a specific date for mine to be launched  I made them all the time.  I think most of us are like that really but we find the new year a great place to make a public statement of our intentions.  So as the new year approached I became curious as to why we ever make them in the first place if there is so little hope of success.  I've had my ear to the ground and here are some things I've found on the subject.

Did you know that people who are unhappy or depressed (about 80%) make resolutions more than those who are not and that happy people rarely if ever make these types of resolutions?  The fact that unhappiness seems to lead people do it most gave me pause to consider why I ever made them myself.  I only remember ever making New Year's resolutions a couple of times actually but made thousands of other resolutions at other times.  I believe it has more to do with our feeling of self worth and contentment than anything else.

The Bible says quite a bit about us making plans and is full of lessons on the subject.  But then is says also that it is not us but God who is the one who determines our steps...even our words and those He knows even before we speak them!  If you take a good look at New Years resolutions you will notice that most of them are self serving even when they seem on the surface to not be so.  I think this in itself is a major cause for them failing.  There is bitter fruit in selfish ambition.  Yes I said selfish ambition.  You see when we make a self centered goal and proceed to see it met our ambition is selfish.  OUCH!  I've been there too so don't say I'm pointing this finger at you...the other 4 are pointed back at me remember.

If your resolution is to feel better about yourself my question would be why do you feel bad about yourself in the first place?  Do you feel you are worth less because of who you are?  Hmmm.  I see it all the time.  I need to lose weight.  I need to get in shape.  I need to be "better".   Here's a question for you that I want you to really think about...What if God could use you best just the way you are????  REALLY!  YOU"VE GOT TO BE KIDDING?!?  Did you just scream that in your own mind?  I mean it when I say to think about it.  I've had to.

Four years ago I had successfully lost fifty pounds and was physically fit with my blood pressure being that of an athlete.  I got my hair cut and colored, was able for the first time in years, have fun shopping for clothes because they fit.  The circumstance of my new body image made me feel happy!  With the weight gone I walked taller, my posture was near perfect and I felt wonderful.  My husband would call me his little whisp of a woman, which I loved as I'd always felt I was built more like a pack mule...sturdy and low to the ground.  You see I was not happy with how I was made and did not feel feminine because I was not one of those whispy women until now.  In reality I was just plain not happy with this body I'd been given in the first place but tried to cloak my resolve in a self righteous attitude about keeping my body healthy to serve God.  UGH!  What a load of horse pucky!

My success in meeting my goal would not last.  In less than a year after losing the weight I began getting a tightness in my thighs when I would stretch after walking.  My back, which was injured a few years before, began to give me so much trouble I had to greatly reduce the time I spent exercising to maintain this new healthier body.  My resolve to be a healthy, fit woman went right out the window.  It seemed better to God to set me down in a chair so He could get my attention than to have me out working out and looking all whispy!   That I needed to learn to listen to Him was more important to Him than to keep me strong in my body.  He put a hobble on me so I'd learn how and learn my lesson well.  I had no way of knowing when I set that resolve to lose the weight and accomplished it that I would do a total reversal physically and gain it all back.  I was certain I could keep it off because I loved the way I felt and the way I looked.  I even would walk by the plus size section in the clothing store and thank God that I was never going to shop in that section again.  Boy was I wrong.  Funny thing about all this though, I'm actually the happiest and most contented I've ever been.  My body is the weakest its ever been but my faith the strongest.  My discomfort has brought about eternal benefit.

So if you have been tempted to make a resolution this year or find yourself always trying to make yourself a better you I would ask you to seriously consider if it is really necessary.  I have found that this new me is far happier and grounded than the old me.  I'm sitting on prime real estate with longer racing down the road of good intentions.  So what how about you?  Take some time to ask God what He would have you do.  I think you will find the payoff to be amazing.

Proverbs 5:21-23, 16:9 Matthew 6:24-27,33,34

May God bless you with ears to hear, eyes to see and a heart of understanding this coming year.  And may you see that He has made you just as He needs you to be.  Happy New year. 

Copyright © 2010 by Patty Hicks

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