SPEAK THE TRUTH

2020 was a year that brought lots of changes. All of us have had to learn to do everyday life in new ways. When such drastic change happens in the world around you, it exposes weaknesses and strengths in the structure of your current life. I have taken the month of January to ask myself some hard questions. The one that brought me up short was “How did 2020 change me?” As I was honest with myself I had to admit to this one huge weakness that I had allowed in my life.

I HAD CHANGED FROM BEING OPEN AND HONEST TO SOMEONE WHO IS AFRAID TO SPEAK OUT.

My nickname as a child and even as a young wife and mom, was ‘honest John”. In fact, my in-laws always said, “If you want to know the truth, ask Susan. She tells it like it is!” I was honest to a fault!

Over the years I found out people didn’t want me to be too honest. Because I served in ministry in our church, I was often asked to councel those I served when they needed help. I learned pretty quickly that many of them didn’t really want to hear an honest answer to their situation. When I was honest with them about what I felt God showed me, oftentimes, they never asked for my council again. Over time I learned to test the waters before I offered any council to see how honest they really wanted me to be.

This year the art of hiding what I am really thinking has gone to another level. In fact, I have learned that if I say what I really think or even share what I know as truth, I am often ridiculed and shamed for speaking out. As a result, I have found myself choosing to be silent because I’ve been afraid of opposition.

I haven’t really liked this new me. It has made me feel uncomfortable, like I’m hiding in a cave, afraid someone will find me and do who knows what to me because they don’t like what I stand for or believe. I have never been a ‘hide in the cave’ sort of person!!

So I asked the Lord, (who is my ultimate counselor) “Is it a bad thing to choose to be silent and let others assume I agree with their view in order to avoid saying what I believe to be true because I’m afraid of rejection and ridicule?”

This is what I heard God say, “When you chose to follow me, you chose to be ridiculed and rejected.”

Being afraid to speak the truth or speak out against a wrong I see is something I face almost everyday. It’s easy to just hide in my corner of the world and pretend I am ok with things that are going on around me when I am NOT. When I chose to follow Jesus I wasn’t promised a life without opposition. All I have to do is read the New Testament to know that the life of a follower of Jesus was not easy. It is full of situations where believers were put in prison for what they said and did. They were beheaded and their children were killed. Life was scary! Do I think those things could happen to me? I sure hope not!!! But I can’t let the fear that they could keep me from sharing the gospel and speaking out against wrongs that are being called right.

Truth has become whatever people want it to be. We even hear statements such as “Well, that is my truth.” There aren’t any absolutes anymore. But if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ you should know what the truth is and it should set you free, not put you in prison!!

I HAVE TO BASE MY TRUTH ON THE WORD OF GOD!

He is the TRUTH! Therefore what He says is true. I have to know what the Bible says about how to live in this world. I have to know what my life is built on and make sure my foundation is sure. So many people who say they are Christians aren’t even sure they believe what the Bible says is for today. In order to be sure of what I believe, I have to be studying the scripture and check out what I am hearing from others to make sure what they are saying is based in scripture. I can’t just believe everything I’m told.

The days of the ‘lazy’ Christian are gone. We have to know what we know and when we don’t know we have to search the scriptures and depend on the Holy Spirit to teach us what is right!

How will 2021 be different from 2020 in my life? I plan to say more and read more. No longer will I accept what people are saying on social media or TV as truth. I plan to make a point to educate myself so I’m not afraid to speak out when I need to. 2020 was a wakeup call for me and I am excited to see what God is going to do in 2021.

I’d love to hear about the changes you want to see in your life this year.

IS IT TOO LATE TO FIND PURPOSE?

No matter what age or season we find ourselves statistics will suggest we have missed the opportunity to be our best. For instance, if you didn’t learn a second language by ages 7 or 8 it will definitely be too difficult now. If you didn’t run a marathon at age 28 then…..good luck! It’s interesting that for each of the statistics I’ve mentioned I can find someone who defied these limitations.

A person’s capacity can be unbelievable when they are determined to accomplish their purpose.

Here are some amazing examples I found on marathon runners: Ginette Bedard in 2019 at the age of 84 ran in her 17th Marathon. Then there is Harriette Thompson who in 2017 became the oldest woman to COMPLETE a Marathon. Fauja Singh has been heralded as the oldest active marathon runner at the age of 106.

These women didn’t let their age or season of life keep them from doing what they knew was their purpose.

A question I hear from so many women is “Who am I in this season? Are my gifts and talents still significant?”

NOW IS THE TIME TO SAY YES TO PURPOSE.

I recently heard a message from a pastor that helped me tremendously. He spoke from the book of John chapter 15. Jesus was with his disciples in a vineyard and He used the example of fruit-bearing trees to explain how we grow spiritually. There were two points Pastor Magongi made that caused me to see this chapter in a new light. 1. God expects fruit in our season. (He does so much to help us be our fruit-full.) 2. I, personally, need to produce fruit. (I can’t leave it up to others and use excuses of age or even hardship to be less fruit-full.)

So, here are three things you can do to encourage ‘fruit’ in this season of life:

  • Admit to yourself you have been considering trying something and have used every excuse possible to keep yourself from stepping out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s starting a Bible Study or getting more involved in your community or school. Maybe it’s blogging or writing a book. How about learning a second language or even running a marathon!!
  • Take a step forward. If you need to take a class, sign up now. Find a friend that has taken that step and join them. Read a book that will help you explore the very thing you are pursuing. Listen to Podcasts on the subject. There are so many ways to explore any subject you are interested in.
  • Set a goal. By such and such a date I am going to _________. Then tell someone so they will hold you accountable. This can be the most difficult step but the most rewarding!!

Don’t let this season of life slip by when you are so very valuable and have so much to give.

SOMETHING I WOULD TELL MY YOUNGER SELF

PRIORITIZE THE “S” WORD IN YOUR MARRIAGE

My ‘younger self’ and my fiance! Taken in 1974 at a Fair and made into a button I loved to wear!

Ah ha….I got your attention! The “S” word I’m talking about is one that is rarely used in our generation. In fact, it is seen as weakness but in reality brings strength to relationships, especially marriage. That word is SUBMIT. I would like to tell my young married self to be more intentional about laying a strong foundation of submission. Now that I am 45 years into this relationship I am thankful I learned what that word meant early on because I didn’t understand then the profound effect it would have on my marriage now. Although it was difficult to do when I was young, it would be even more difficult to do at my age.

Early on in our marriage I realized I had better figure out what this word meant if I was to be a happy and content wife. I knew the scriptures from Ephesians but as I studied them I realized they were usually only half quoted. The real reason for the teaching was for everyone (not just wives) to understand that we are all under authority and that submission has to be a part of all relationships if they are to be successful. Paul says in Ephesians 5:22 that we should “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” I also read a book after we had been married about 5 years that changed my whole way of thinking about submission. (Of course I don’t remember the name of the book!) It focused on my attitude toward my husband and the importance of honoring and respecting him. I learned that he is responsible to God for me, his wife. My responsibility is not to make sure he makes the right decisions or to constantly correct him, but to support, honor, respect, give my advice and input, and then pray for him. Even if he makes a wrong decision I know God is going to take care of me if I am doing my part. I began to be intentional about putting him first and encouraging him to lead, not worrying about how things were done or if they were done my way. It was a painful process, being that outspoken, first child that I am, but after a time I began to see that my responsibility in our marriage is very important!!! I support, encourage and give advise and all the responsibility is on his shoulders. Well, not ALL but we are a Team and we each have our place!

What I didn’t realize then is how important that foundation of submission with honor and respect in our marriage really is. I am writing this at a time when there are shootings in our schools, higher than ever teen suicides, and the basic family structure in our society is falling apart. Honor and respect, let alone submission, is laughed at and ridiculed. Men are made to look stupid and women are supposedly the answer to everything. Kids these days don’t really know what a home is supposed to look like. We started out together almost 45 years ago, just me and him. And now we are once again just me and him. If we hadn’t taken the time to prioritize our life together and build our marriage on submission with love, honor and respect for each other we would have nothing now. We have had to travel some bumpy roads and have struggled with big decisions. We know each other better now than we did 45 years ago. Honoring and respecting doesn’t get any less challenging, but it does build a strong marriage. As I make him my priority, he makes me his priority. Our lives are full and we still have each other!

AN UPDATE ON HOW I’VE BEEN “ENJOYING” 2019

Finding purpose and joy in this season of life.

Enjoy is my word for 2019 and I have been challenged to see the joy in every experience I have this year.

January in Florida was kind of cold and dreary but ENJOY IT I DID!  So many people come to this part of the country in January to escape the rigors of winter in the north and as a result many of our friends and relatives have come our way.  It has been fun to have coffee every Thursday morning with friends and dinner out with other friends, having the joy of catching up with them and their families.

Then in February I spent almost three weeks in that beautiful cold and snowy climate up north helping both of my kids with their families.  My son and daughter-in-law and two grandkids needed my help because mom had broken her ankle and she was not able to walk on it at all!  After helping there I went to help my daughter and son-in-law and 9 grandchildren as mom and dad and two of the kids went to Florida to a conference for 5 days.  I also had the joy of being with my mom who turned 92 during that time. I ENJOYED EVERY MINUTE OF IT ALL!

Needless to say, those three weeks flew by.  I was so busy I didn’t have much time to think about anything else AND I quickly and easily slide back into my old life of responding to the needs of those around me.   The easy thing for me is to serve…..the hard thing for me is to use my other gifts and talents and stretch myself to go beyond the familiar into the unfamiliar.  I enjoy being with my kids and grandkids and it has been hard being so far away but I also know I am right where I am supposed to be.  By the time I came back to Florida I was tired (physically) and I’d had enough of the cold and the snow and I was reminded again that my new life in this season is the one meant for me.

So, here I am being open and honest and using this blog to talk to myself (and hopefully others who find themselves in this season of life).  My word for 2019 to ENJOY is a choice and some days it has been difficult.  It’s not hard because of the weather or any hard circumstance in my life.  It’s hard because everything in this new season is still so unfamiliar.  I don’t HAVE to DO ANYTHING, which is so different for me.  Every day it is up to me to make my life purposeful and to CHOOSE TO ENJOY even in the unfamiliar.  One thing I do know is that I am determined to press forward…..forget the past……enjoy 2019 and see what my future holds. Time is precious and not unlimited. Every day is a potential open door of purpose to walk through and I don’t want to miss it because my eyes are closed.

Along this way I am going to begin to be more purposeful in sharing with you all some practical steps I will be taking to pursue this journey of finding purpose and joy in this season.  If you are finding yourself in a season of change similar to mine and are having difficulty finding your way, let me know what you are doing that is helping you navigate and I know we will benefit each other.  #ENJOY2019