Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Competition

I’ve never really been competitive.  I like a challenge.  I enjoy competitive games…… ahem, board games.  I try not to “up one” or to “out do.”

The bakery has been kinda slow these past few weeks.  I mean turtle pace slow….. watching grass grow slow…… snooze-fest slow.  You get the picture.  So naturally, I check out the competitions’ websites.

Sigh.

From where I’ve been sitting, and I don’t think the PC screen would lie, they’re B-U-S-Y.

Sigh.

So, I pull out the party hats and streamers…… time for a pity party.

A small one.

I quickly put them away when my employees arrive.  This boss wants to have a warm smile and a cheerful disposition.

Nobody wants a grumpy boss……

So, that night I climb into bed and crack open my Bible Study.  I am plum worn out but I want to read and get a God hug.  And I did…..

Immediately, I started praying…… “God why is it that the bakery is sooooo slow? [yes, I prayed soooooooo..... just like a little brat]  Everyone is doing sooooooo well.  I just don’t get it.”

Then I open the study and find……..

…….For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory.  But, Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. (2 Cor 10:16-17)

Now, I know that the author was pointing out boasting in the ministry…… but I think God had a clear message waiting for me right there…….

I am not pointing fingers and say anyone is boasting.  But, I think God is trying to tell me that it isn’t about what is being sold or how much or anything like that….. He wants me to boast about Him and our relationship.  That’s what is important….. not a number on cupcakes.  Rather, the reason I am God’s baker.

To spread love and cheer…… and of course to speak and to motivate.  Besides, God opened those bakery doors, I doubt He is going to slam them shut……..

 

Mistaken

Back in Jesus’ day……. the people were looking for a savior.  Their Messiah.  The King that would conquer all kings, lift the oppression, and bring peace.

Isn’t that what we want as well??  Life is tough.  Exhausting.  Just plain hard.  Some of us struggle with addictions, crime, lust, anger….. some of us are the victims of all those and more.  Some battle health problems.  Others financial problems.  Then we hear of the Savior.  Our Messiah.  The One that will take all of this and more away…… lift the depressive oppression, and bring the peace we long for……

God promised a Messiah.  God promised peace.  God promised freedom.  And He sent Jesus.

The folks in Jesus’ time was looking for that knight in shining armor that would swoop down, whoop-up on the bad guys and make the world right in a very political manner.  Instead, God sent a baby.  A baby that will one day become the Lamb of God.  Very quietly.  Very subtle.  Not the vision they had in mind…….

But would you say that we are under that same mistaken impression?

We are told that once we accept Christ.  Clean up our act……  Go to church….. Serve a few meals to the homeless……. Write a weekly check to the church/charity of our choice…..  You get the idea.  If we do these things, life was going to be free of so much oppression, depression, and just old fashion yuckiness.

Ahem…..

I think we assumed too much just like those back in the New Testament days.  We are totally mistaken….. misinformed…..assuming waaaaayyyyy too much!!

Jesus is keeping God’s promise to us.  We just put up boundaries, create self-help fantasies, and even romanticize our rewards.  We’ve assumed too much.  Jesus didn’t die for me to pass the blame when I run into a little rough times.  I subconsciously do just that……. or at least I used to…….  I don’t hide the fact that I assumed that life would be a bed of roses.  I mean that is what I was told.

But God’s promise still holds true.  In a very subtle way.  Kinda like a beckoning…… I assumed He hasn’t  but He held and will hold to His promises.  His definition a different than my expectations.

 

Did You See Me??

Alright, I dusted off an old Bible study on character. I did this independent study about 8 years ago. I was at the lowest point in my emotional and spiritual life. It was the time that I was wanting to literally disappear because I didn’t think anyone would notice if I was no longer around.

With some girlfriends and a very supportive hubby, I began the slow climb upwards in spiritual maturity. Not that I have reached the pinnacle of my climb….. not even close but it has been an uphill battle with my pride fighting every step of the way.

Interesting enough the first chapter of the study is about humility. Not humiliation mind you…… humility. You know one of the two words Jesus, Himself, described His character….. gentle and humble (Matthew 11:29).

And to truly understand how we interpret humility John Ortberg summed it up in two simple sentences…..

We’d all like to be humble. But what if nobody notices?

Um….. isn’t that soooo true.  We practice humility for someone else’s sake.  Is that what God wants?  Um… NO.  Why should we care if our humility is noticed?  If that is what we find important don’t you think that is the total opposite of humility?  Uh…. Like….. Pride.

I will be totally honest with you……  I have “been humble” just for recognition.   Oh yeah.  And I am not proud of it.  Bet I’m not alone.

Do we practice the “look at me” humility because we see humility as compelling?  an attractive quality?  likable? Irresistible?? It feels good to be recognized.  But here’s the kicker…… the thing that is so attractive, likable, irresistible and compelling is the attitude of other-centeredness.  When we put on the “look at me” humility, we are self centered.  We are doing it for our own benefit.  We are getting the reward….. or at least we think (or choose to think) we do.  But  in all reality, we are left with just the residue of empty self pleasing pride.

Do I want to strive to be truly humble?  Yes, of course!  How do I do that???

Perspective.

That’s the key.

We must keep in mind our relation with God.  Yes, that’s right.  Where is God in all this humility that I am producing?  Is He the center?  the drive?  I mean look at it this way.  Humility is the result of an accurate view of God.  Think about it…… if we really see our relation to God, and I mean honestly look hard and deep, naturally our perspective is humbling.  We shouldn’t compare ourselves or our humility to others.  Nope but to Jesus Christ.  It is only then we see our true nature.  Our sinfulness.  Our pride.

Another perspective…..

This one is a bit harder to do…… I mean when we see the awe of God’s goodness and compare it to our little lives….. humility happens.  But what if we turn the perspective to our cohabitants of this little planet.   Yes, the very people we want to hear recognition from…….  Hang with me here….. This is a little harder to wrap our minds around.

When we start placing value on God’s perspective of our lives and less value on others’, we begin to see that not only are WE valued but every person on this Earth is valued by God.  We share His favor.  We can not go around thinking everyone else is better than us….. and we definitely can’t go around boasting our “look at me” pride….. but in the middle there is this value factor that is called humility.  We take our eyes off of other’s viewpoints and off of our own…….  Basically, we should live out our days thinking about the fact that every person we meet has the same value factor in God’s eyes as we do…… nothing better….. nothing worse.  Kinda strips the old pride thing away.  And it kinda wants you to help others as well…….

So let’s take off the “Did you See Me” attitude of humility…….  And for heaven’s sake, strip  yourself of the “Everyone is so much better than me” thoughts……  And let’s look out of God’s eyes and see….. everyone does have a value.

Humbling isn’t it.

 

Shhhhhh…….

I had a dream about you, Regina……

Oh really??

Yeah, you died……. I woke up in a panic. It seemed so real.

Talk about making one feel great!! I wasn’t expecting to hear that I had died. Done something hair-brained or funny, yes…… but dying. Ahem…… no.

The next day….. I joked about the dream. Then, my cell phone rang. It was a sales call. For. Funeral Arrangements!! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I must have been white as a sheet for my employee ask if all was right. I half-laughed and said, “funeral arrangement sales call….” I probably wouldn’t have thought twice but since I just joked about the death dream……. uh…. well…..

I quietly stated, “Think God is trying to tell me to take care of myself.”

Not two hours later, I found myself in the hospital with an allergic reaction. When your throat is closing and you are gasping for air the whole death dream…. funeral arrangement call…. kinda comes into perspective.

A little side note here…. when Mark was called about me going to the hospital, he was working on a funeral home commercial. And out of all the funeral homes in Arkansas, he was making one for the one two blocks from the bakery.

Makes ya kinda stop and think…… yeah, me too.

Since we have opened the bakery I have been working non-stop. 13-16 hour days….. I’m supposed to be off on Mondays but I always find myself in the store getting inventory or getting ahead of the weeks baking.

I conk out before 8 each evening. I clock out mentally, physically, and emotionally just so I have the energy to get up and go again the next day. I hate it. But I love it. God has been put to the back burner….. sorta. I pray more now than I ever did. I just haven’t cracked my Bible nor stayed awake during a sermon for months.

So after the hospital stay….. I realized that things needed to change. I miss my life before the bakery….. I’ve missed out on a lot, too. And it took a night away from the norm to actually see it.

I have told myself that things have to change. I make a list. Then I hear the “you can’t do that…..” “Do you want the bakery to close???” “You have to do this…. that…. and more of this and that….” “Do you want to fail??”

Oh, that FAIL word…… I am conditioned to think of that word whenever I try to branch off into something good. I tried to uplift myself. I tried my time-out techniques to get my mind off of that word. But, by the end of yesterday, I was feeling like a complete failure. (The house hasn’t looked that good in like forever because of the energy I was using to keep from thinking the failure thoughts)

By the time the night was closing, I was beginning to believe those failure words. Can’t do anything right…… I might as well close the bakery…… What was I thinking??? The usual pity party thoughts…..

They got sooooo loud that I just had to…… shhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

Silence.

Then, I heard God’s pep talk. When I see you…. I don’t see anything other than my Son. You are mine. You are the pearl I have searched for….. You are good. You were made by Me. I love you. You are my child……. Not a failure. Mine. My. Child. Good. Wonderfully Made. Mine.

It was final…… things were gonna change. I need God more than I ever realized.

That Old Sweater

That old sweater. Red in color. Worn to perfect softness. Unraveling sleeves. Stretched out of shape and superb for wrapping yourself in order to keep out the chill.

Sigh.

I miss that old sweater.

Every time, I slipped it on….. it felt like coming home. Safe. Secure. Something familiar.

It has been months since I have felt that “slip-on-my-favorite-worn-out-sweater” feeling…….

Don’t get me wrong….. I love the bakery. It is definitely hard work but I love it.

However…..

Today, I just wanted to feel like ME. Not the business owner. Not the baker. Not the Boss. Just me. You know the quirky, book worm, housekeeping (ahem….. not a perfect one), just hung out the laundry, talk to my chicken, weird self.

I don’t know what got into me this morning. I just decided to be me.

Yeah, I cleaned house. Did the laundry. Tried to talk to the chicken but she was more interested in running away from me than talking. But it wasn’t until I sat down at the computer that I felt the soft cotton sweater feeling.

I’ve missed this. I’ve missed hearing the clicking of the keys as I furiously type. I miss pulling out a book, researching, learning, and seeking counsel. I miss listening to God’s small quiet voice.

Yes, I haven’t been listening as much as I should have…… ahem, honestly, I haven’t listened in a very very long time.

But, last night, I dusted off the Bible and found a little something on rest. You know that break God kinda insists on us having….. Breaking away from the grind and focusing on Him. Just a moment when we can sit and be ourselves in the presence of God.

It was like the veil before my eyes were lifted. I haven’t rested. I’ve vegged in front of the TV. I’ve crawled into bed exhausted. But to truly rest. I haven’t. And I kinda miss it.

Like my sweater.

God’s rest isn’t to vegetate. It isn’t to lay there numb with exhaustion. No. It is a rest that only He can provide. Maybe it is to crank up the old Toby Mac CD’s and dance like crazy while sweeping. Maybe it is to take moment and reflect on the blessings He has given me like a home, a family, and yes even the mountain high pile of dirty laundry. Maybe His rest can be sitting there with a friend and talking about yesterday’s sermon. Or could it be just to sit in the quiet of our home and pray.

That was the me before the bakery. That was the old sweater life.

I guess now my job is to figure out how to incorporate the two lives. After last week’s hospital visit thanks to an allergic reaction, things kinda came into perspective. I’ve been neglecting everything and everyone in order to make this bakery thing work. Perhaps it is time to wrap this new adventure in my old sweater life….. at least it will be warm and secure.