Monday, May 31, 2010


Is PMS -Pity My Self or Please My Self?

Do you blame PMS for your “unGodly” moments? Is PMS your excuse or how often do you make it your excuse? Well, if your PMS is like my PMS, it is just that, an excuse, an excuse to pity myself; and to please myself.

What I value most is time. It can’t be bought, and there is never enough of it. Free time for me is —God Time, Quiet Time, Stan Time, Family and Friend Time, Flower (and Weed) Time, Cooking Time and Reading Time. I always seem to have Busy Time-Go Here, Go There, Do This, Do That Time.

So I vowed during one of these PMS “moments” that I needed to find a new PMS. Not something where I blamed everyone else, or envied what others did with their Time, but a “moment” where I could realize all that I have to be thankful for: a husband who loves me, and puts God first in our lives; friends who care about me; a job that I like and that lets me help others; and a close knit family, with plenty of role models in the past and present to remind me of what God expects of me.

Paul said to the Romans: Rom 12:9-16 “Brothers and sisters: Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.”

He said nothing about My Self, but a lot about Others. He said nothing about taking care of me, but a lot about serving others. He says to share in rejoicing and weeping, he says to serve the poor. And he says to “Persevere in Prayer.”

So I thought about the friend who had to quit a job she loved because of health issues; the friend who mourns the lost of her best friend, her husband; the friend who is trying to patiently wait while her husband “finds himself;” the friends who have quarreled and can’t find it in their hearts to be the first to tell the other they are sorry, or to forgive; and the friend who is taking care of and worried about a sick family member.

And I realized that I would love to give each of these friends what they so need: a job to love, health, a best friend, peace, comfort, forgiveness.

So I decided to make PMS be something new: PRAY MY SELF. (Not FOR myself, but For Others).

What Paul talks about cannot be found in a Pity and Please My Self Time; but they can be found in a Pray My Self Time.

How much time do we have for Prayer? Do our prayers of thanks for what we have, open our heart for our friends who need what we have? Do we even realize all that we have, or are we too wrapped up in “self?”

Dear God: Forgive My PMS, pity and please, and help make it be my reminder to Pray. Thank you for my health, my husband, my family, my friends, and my job. Help me to appreciate what I have and to remember that there are many others who do not have so much. Bless my friend so that she will find a new profession where her health isn’t a problem; give comfort and peace to my friends who have lost their spouses; give perseverance and patience to my friend who’s husband is seeking more God and family time; restore health and bless my family and friends who are suffering illness; and help my friends find forgiveness and reconciliation. Thank you for the things that money can’t buy: love, faith and friends. Amen.

So next time you are blaming PMS—Change to Pray My Self. There is Always Time!


Monday, May 24, 2010

What are You Wearing?

Women of Faith:

Was this one of those mornings when it took you 20 minutes and 5 outfits? Or did you wear the first thing you found in the closet?

How did you decide what to wear? Was it a uniform, or did you set it out the night before? Who did you dress to “impress:” your spouse, your boss, your clients, or yourself (the most comfortable thing you could find)?

I remember in my senior year of college taking a “short course” on “dressing for success:” what to wear to an interview, and what to wear on the job. One of the comments that I most remember was not about “what I wore,” but “how” what I wore made me feel and perform.

What we wear on the outside transforms us, it changes the way we behave and the way we feel. Likewise, what we wear on the inside, our attitudes, also transforms us. I can dress to let sin have control of my attitude: I can be frustrated, angry, impatient and seek revenge when someone does me wrong, or when I don’t like the “system” I have to work in (whether that system is the government rules or our “house” rules).

Or I can choose to put on Christ, listen to the Holy Spirit that dwells in me and all of us, and put on a smile, peace and love. I don’t always have to “like” what I am wearing—it becomes a matter of “who” I want to please, of the attitude I want to feel, of how I want to perform.

And that inside decision of choosing my attitude can take 5 minutes and be the first thing I pull out, or it might take me 20 minutes of prayer, asking for God’s help in choosing the right attitude. Just like throwing out the low cut top, or the too tight jeans which give me a “devil may care” attitude, I have to ask God for help in “dressing for success;” in finding the modesty, honesty, caring and professionalism of my Christianity.

In Ephesians 6: 11-20 Paul gave us this “dress for success” guidance: “Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all (the) flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones and also for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.”

Paul tells us to be ready to “resist evil” and sometimes the very way we dress, by wearing “low cut” provocative clothes, or even too comfortable clothes, gives us an attitude that doesn’t protect us from the outside world (the principalities, powers and world rulers)—letting in anger, tempting adultery, or showing an attitude of “I’m all about me.”

So just like we need to always “be ready” for the client we didn’t expect to show up, we never know when God’s final judgment will be. We need to lead by example in our outward dress (modesty) especially to our daughters. And we need to dress for the right person—God on the inside, and just as importantly our spouses on the outside, showing we value their opinion more than anyone else’s (by choosing their favorite outfit—not necessarily ours).

Think about this: we don’t wear a suit to bed, or our pajamas to the job. And hopefully low cut tops, too tight clothes, or too short shorts, are not seen in public, but are kept for the privacy of our bedrooms (or cleaned out of our closets).

We dress to meet the job we are doing for the day, and our daily job in our Christian life is to put on a “Jesus” attitude; to transform ourselves with the Spirit of God, with His love, and with His servant attitude.

We should also put as much time and energy into “choosing” our “inside” dress and our “outward” Christian appearance, as we do choosing what clothes we are going to wear for the job we have to do today. Our “dress for success” in God’s world is much more important than our “dress for success” in society.

Dear God: Help me to Dress for Success. Show me the armor that I need to wear each day to allow your Spirit to be seen by the people I come in contact with. I am sorry for the times I have worn anger and frustration. Help me to clothe myself in compassion, to wear (speak) the Truth, to make the tough choice of choosing an attitude fit for a King. Thank you for giving me the courage to “wear” what’s Right. Amen.

So what did you decide to wear to work today?

Did you dress for success?


Monday, May 17, 2010

Look Up!

Does it bother you when your kids, friends or coworkers, or employees say: “Is this enough?” “Can I quit now?” Or “I’ve already done that.. once.” Matthew Kelly in ‘The Rhythm of Life’ calls these “minimalist,” “just getting by,” questions.

Have you heard yourself say: I fed my kids breakfast this morning, I kissed my husband when I got up, I exercised yesterday, we talked yesterday, I visited with my friend last week, I practiced … last week. Everything we do requires constant recommitment, constant “redoing,” constant work if we are going to be “our best self:” if we are going to be the “best mom, have the best marriage, the strongest relationships, or be the healthiest.”

Because we are human, we also tend to ask God questions which suit our human wants and desires, so that we can “just get to heaven.” We want an easy answer to “will I be saved?” We hope that saying a prayer when we think of it, answering an altar call, going to church when we have time, or saying we believe in God is “enough.”

Are we asking the “wrong questions” so we get the answers we want to hear? Or are we asking the “right questions” so we get the “right answers, God’s answers?” Do I say, “What can I do?” or do I say, “What does God want me to do?”

We ask and expect God to answer our every prayer, to perform miracles with our “minimalist” attitudes. We tend to say “God, what can you do to help me, or to fix the problem?” or “God, what is my purpose in life?” or “Why?” “….God, why did you let this happen?”

Unfortunately, when we ask these questions we are asking and expecting someone else, or God, to do our work for us, so that we can “just get by” on our faith journey.

What we should really be asking is “God, How can I serve you?” or “God, what is your purpose for MY life?” “What/who do you want me to “be?” or “What can I do for you?” “What, God?” (These are the same questions that both spouses should ask in marriage so that we can better serve and take care of each other.)

When Jesus ascended to heaven Acts 1:1-11, his disciples were left looking up to heaven. “I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” …

“When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

Even the disciples, knew they needed to LOOK UP. They knew Jesus had offered them the “right answers.” And yet they too, had to be reminded by the angels, to “get to work.” That, “looking up,” was the answer, not the solution. They needed to let the Holy Spirit guide them, they needed to continue working, to continue Jesus’ mission. They needed to recommit, to remain constant, to continue to tell the stories and remind the people of the miracles God performed.

How many times have you asked a question and gotten an answer that was completely unexpected? Was it because you asked the wrong question? Or was it because you didn’t like the answer (the truth) that you were told?

Being our “best self” has to do with asking the right questions of ourselves: What is God’s purpose for my life? How does God want me to live my marriage? Treat my family? Serve my husband, my friends, my community, my world? What is the individual gift I have been given to complete God’s picture here on earth?

Our purpose is to LOOK UP, to reach for heaven. His answer to us is for us to be our best self: To use our talents to serve (and love) as Christ did, every day, selflessly, with no limits, no boundaries. Like the sky is endless, “looking up” gives us infinite possibility; like the stars are countless, our dream to “be our best self” should have no boundaries.

Dear God, Praise be Your answers, Your truth. Help me to ask the right questions and to be open to answering your call. To hear, not what I want to hear, but to listen to what you are telling me and teaching me. Thank you for reminding me that Your purpose is for me to LOOK UP. Thank you for giving me Sunday to rest and to refresh my soul. Amen.

So am I asking the “right” questions? Or are my questions asked so that I hear the answers I want to hear? Am I truly “looking up” for Heaven, or am I searching for the happiness and success our culture has to offer? Am I looking for inspiration or confirmation that I have done enough, so that I can “just get by.”

Blessings, Charlotte

Monday, May 10, 2010

This is My House

Women of Faith:

Have you ever said (or heard), “This is my house, you will do as I say?” I know as Mom’s (and sometimes even wives) we have probably said this to our teenagers more than once.
We feel this way not only about our homes, but even our possessions (like when our teenagers take our cars, or someone borrows a special item.)

I think God must be feeling that way right now about the world he created; like “I, God, created this house, why aren’t you doing as I say?” “Why are you trying to create your own rules?” “It would be so much easier for you if you just listened to and did as I asked, and as I have taught you to do.”

Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him,and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.”
Jn 14:23-29

God gave us what He said were the most important commands to “love him” and to “love each other.” And He gave us the 10 commandments to live by—to not have false idols, to keep Holy the Sabbath to obey our parents, to not steal, lie, commit adultery, or have false pride.

And yet look at our ways as sinners: We worship money and continuously “need” things other than food, clothing or a shelter—our decisions being made not by what will help others, but what will help “me.”

Only 30% of the 50% (that’s 15%) of those of us that profess that we are Christian attend church every week.

We break the covenant of marriage, not because of abuse or for safety reasons, but because we are “tired of working,” “aren’t happy,” or “feel something less than “in love.”

We think we “deserve” something, and we teach our children they should “have” everything; or we “give” them things to “make them happy,” because we want them to be our friends.” And then we wonder, at home and at work, why we can’t or don’t have kids who take responsibility, know how to work, or listen to their parents or bosses, but instead are trying to live by “their rules,” or make their own paths.

Sometimes the reason we don’t obey is “we think we know better.” And sometimes the reason we don’t obey is we don’t like the rule, or we think the rule will “hurt” or be too difficult a path.

The same gospel, Jn 14:23-29, finishes: “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”

So what can we do in our lives to “listen to the Spirit;” to not “let our hearts be troubled,” to listen to the Father’s teachings and the Spirits reminders of Jesus’ teachings? How are we seeking the spiritual instead of the worldly? How are we rejoicing in the simple pleasures? Do we count our blessings and find joy in what we have, instead of what we think we deserve?

Who, or what, is He setting before us each day with the gentle and sometimes commanding words of our parent, our Father, telling us to live by His rules, His commands because “this is His house, and we are supposed to live by His rules!”

Dear God: Thank you for putting me in “your house!” Forgive me for trying to make my own rules, for worrying about how to “control” my destiny, for setting my own rules to make life easier. Help me to be satisfied by what I have and to see the simple pleasures which are part of each moment. Help me to live by your rules. Thank you for giving me “things” I don’t need or deserve. Help me to use them and my talents wisely and for your glory.

Have faith and listen to God’s rules this week—Hope to see you around “in His house!”

Blessings, Charlotte

Monday, May 3, 2010

Challenge for Encouragement

Women of Faith

Today I write a challenge: I am fortunate that I know that this writing goes to “active” believers, so the challenge is to encourage us to MOVE not to do something for ourselves, but to do something for others! to quit being quiet complainers, observers and “to busy” and to start being active participants making a difference by being an encouragement for others.

Have you ever sat in a room and quietly “observed” all that was going on? Or around a table with a group of friends and thought “that’s a great idea,” and then went home and did nothing to further that idea.

I have had constant reminders this week that I am not just suppose to “observe” and “absorb” but that I am here to “participate” and “encourage.”

I know that there have been times when I have made an excuse for not helping someone that I knew could use my help. I know that at times it would be easy to make an excuse not to go to church this week. The excuses for these “inactions” are always the same: “too tired,” “too busy,” “out of town,” “boring,” I’m doing “something else” which “replaces” the called for action, “my friend knows I am here” or “I pray every day, so God knows I am here.”

I have had a friend or a sermon point out a weakness or shortcoming and realized weeks or months later that I have done nothing, that I am still in the same place, the same circumstance as I was before; that I still haven’t given Stan 5 extra minutes this day, called or visited my kids (or for those of you with kids at home played a game with them), exercised, lost any weight, helped out the person next door, or taken time to spend with a family member. Why is it that we tend to listen to our friends, hear a well intended message, and we simply “absorb and observe.”Is it because we are not “encouraged” to take action?

Who or what in your life “challenges” you to change yourself or your attitude? What is it about them that makes you want to change? Is it their words, reminders, affirmations, or their example? Who in your life needs you to be their encouragement and example?

This weekend we witnessed a wedding. We have also recently attended baptism, first communion and confirmation services. As a witness in these services we were called to “active participation.” Not to just watch these special occasions but to actively encourage, affirm and show our love of these young Christians in their new roles: as two who have become one with Him, as newly affirmed children of God (baptism), as members in full communion with the Body of Christ, and as the reaffirmed (confirmed) young adults in our churches.

Matthew Kelly in “The Rhythm of Life” suggests that when we attend a church service we should seek one (not several) “message” in the service that challenges us to become a better person. He suggests writing “this message” as a “goal” in a journal, as our “work” for the week, so that we will change our attitude and commitment to Jesus Christ during the following week. Do we write down our goals and encourage others to strive for their goals?

Family and friends shouldn’t be an obligation, a duty, but an opportunity to grow ourselves. Likewise church shouldn’t be a one hour obligation; it should be a one hour “opportunity.” God’s message calls for our service and love of others and worship of Him to be active and a search for continuous improvement and love. We are not supposed to be entertained by our friends, families or churches. We are supposed to participate with, actively show our love and give encouragement to our family, friends, and church families.

Unlike the other disciples, Barnabas believed in and affirmed Paul in his conversion in Acts 13:44-52. We too must also show our belief in God and our willingness to be his servant, by showing our love and affirmation of both the Christians and non Christians around us. “Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Dear God, Help me to be like Barnabas ready to encourage and support those who are seeking you in their lives. Make me always watchful of my “busyness,” that it is not an obligation, but an opportunity to encourage and serve. Thank you for constantly reminding me that I did not “create” my gifts, but that they are given to me by you, so that others may be fulfilled through you. Amen.

We have two challenges this week: to become active church and life participants, to not be just an “observer,” or a “duty filler," but to become active, participating “witnesses” by encouraging our family and friends to attend church not only when it’s convenient and not just to be entertained but by actively looking for the challenges issued by the gospels; and by becoming role models for young Christians, the newly confirmed and the newly married.

And secondly to respond to this weeks Gospel’s command: “love one another as I have loved you, so you should also love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35

Blessings on your week,