Monday, May 23, 2011

Possessiveness vs. Giving





I will confess: I am an extremely possessive person.

Extremely.

My clothes are my clothes. "Ah, Jayme? Are you wearing my hoodie? Um, could you go put that back?" My pencil is my pencil. "Has anyone seen my pencil?" My time is my time. "No Caleb, I can't [er, won't] play ball right now; I'm busy with other stuff." My money is my money.

And how do you suppose I feel when my possessiveness is challenged?

Convicted. Uncomfortably convicted.

Recently, we've been going through The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn, and it's one of those books that makes you kind of squirm - well, at least I do. I'm not saying I am a tight-fisted Scrooge, and I do enjoy contributing to ministries/families I am blessed by or know could use some help financially...but my giving sometimes comes with reluctance out of the possessiveness I described above.

Randy Alcorn presents "Treasure Principle Keys" throughout the book, and the one which has (so-far) really grabbed my attention is number one: "God owns everything; I'm His money manager."

Ouch.

It's not my money? It's not my possessions? It's not my time? It's...God's?

I have totally grasped this with the gifts God has given me: music, writing, art, designing, etc., and I absolutely acknowledge God as the Giver and Owner of those, and I love giving them away for His Glory. But when I start examining other areas of my giving life, I've discovered I am more of a stickler - pretty selfish to be blunt.

But God has gently been moving me, prodding me to really examine my giving, and not only through The Treasure Principle...

- Our conversations around the table, in the kitchen, or anywhere :) often have been directed toward this new topic over the past few weeks. So together, we are all learning about giving, and of course, family conversations always jump start my interest in a particular subject.

- In the Revive Our Hearts Summer 2011 Newsletter, Nancy Leigh DeMoss had written about the things her father taught her and lived. One of the paragraphs stood out to me in particular:
"Don't spend your life. Invest it. We don't own anything; God owns everything, and we are merely stewards. One day we'll stand before Him and give account for what we did with everything He entrusted to us. The question will be, Did we invest our lives and resources for self or for the glory of God?" ("10 Things I Learned From My Dad" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss)
- Yesterday morning after our concert/worship service at Moose Lake, MN, the pastor came forward and spoke a few words. He shared that during our concert, these acronymns for our family and band came to him (I saw him writing something down during the concert): Great Adventure Gospel Band (GAGB) = Give Away, Get Back Garms = Give Away, Receive More (but he didn't know what to do with the "s"!). It was so ironic, especially to me, that both focused on giving. [Hint, hint, wink, wink.]

- Then there was this article in my email inbox today from Lies Young Women Believe, with this line jumping out at me:
"Why on earth do I hang on to my money (make that His money) so tightly when God makes such grand promises about how He'll provide everything I need when I give cheerfully and generously to others?" (emphasis mine)
Sometimes I just have to smile when these sorts of nudgings happen and say, "Well, thank You, Lord. I guess I should wake-up and pay attention to what You're trying to teach me!" :)

I am supposedly "financially intelligent" (according to CashFlow, a money game of which I am "champion" in our family ;) ), but when it comes to spiritual intelligence in finances, I am still a "baby". God is always bringing light to things which need attention and work in my life, and I guess it's time to begin looking at my possessiveness and selfishness.

It's time to start letting loose, letting go, and learning to give. It is my goal to start investing in spiritual matters instead of wondering if I should invest in stock, instruments, cameras, etc.; to seek how God would like me to use His money (I'm just His steward and the tool) and consult Him before I use it.

I'm going to get back to tithing. And I am going to challenge myself to give not only financially, but in every area of my life.

How about you? Is God tugging at your heart, convicting you in some way? Consider this post another nudge.

Ready? Set? Give!

Lacheln!
Taylor

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Are You Investing in Your Future Children?





It is brown and black, with shades of brown, pink, and green as it's accent colors. The cover is reminiscent of a scrapbook, with a large butterfly and several embellishments adorning the front.

The little notebook was given as a gift from my foster sister for my birthday, because she knew it was "totally me" and I absolutely love writing and journaling. She knew I'd find some meaning for it, something special for its use.

And after much contemplation, I finally discovered it's purpose.

If you open the stiff cover, you discover my artistic writing covering the lined paper, beginning with the words:

"May 1st, 2011

Dear Daughters."

(And it continues...)

"I do not know you yet. I do not know what you look like, though I imagine your features and personalities. I like to think of you, and I do pray for you.

At this time, I know not what my future holds and what God has in store. In fact, I have no idea if I will actually have daughters - flesh and blood daughters - to present with this book of lessons. Indeed, who knows if I will even marry? So though while at this writing the mystery of your father's identity, and yes, your very existence is in question, I proceed with this little book.

As you turn the pages which contain numerous penstrokes of time, may you learn and heed the lessons I share from my heart.

I desire to reveal to you the accounts of the lessons I have been taught by the Teachers of Life: namely, Experience, Advice, and Observation. I pray you will give ear to the tears I have shed (shed from the pain of my mistakes), the laughter which results from godly joy (joy from doing right), and the hope in Jesus Christ which I have found to be my constant anchor.

I look forward to meeting you someday, and I anticipate some wonderful times of fellowship and learning together in the future.

But as I gaze over the blank pages, which stare so solemnly back at me, I tremble slightly at what hard lessons are before me. Yet I know that I learn not only for myself, but for those God places in my life to be taught [to teach].

'Listen my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.' (Proverbs 1:8-9)

Until next time.

With love,
your mommy,
Taylor

P.S. You don't know how odd it is for me at 19 to be signing off as 'mommy', but that is how I shall be to you. :) -TKG, 'Mom'"

So, how are you investing in your future children? What are ways you can invest in their spiritual lives and growth today?

"May 2nd, 2011

Dear Daughters,

It awes me somewhat to consider the fact this little book will someday be transmitted to your hands. To think of it's involvement with my future and your present...that is something so wonderful and thrilling that [it] is almost overwhelming and scary..."

Lacheln!
Taylor

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's Your Favorite Thing About Spring?

Spring is here!

YES! I am tickled pink excited about the warmth and sunshine finally invading our land!

You know, one of my favorite things about spring is MOWING LAWN! Ben just informed me as I was typing up some blog drafts that the front lawn needs to be mowed. WAHOO! (Trust me, I don't use capitals unless I'm really excited!) I love zooming around on the small red lawn tractor, enjoying the bright sunshine and dodging bugs - well, I could do without that part! Usually my mind is barraged with creative and crazy ideas, and I'll end up composing many blogs, book drafts, seminars, and songs by the time mowing season is done. :) So many times the others will look out the window and see me driving around, my mouth moving as I speak passionately to the dandelions and bees about modesty or sing a huge ballad I just wrote to the blue sky, etc. etc. :) The only thing I do not appreciate about mowing is steep ditches, flying rocks, getting stuck, and having motor problems.

So, what's your favorite thing about spring? I'm curious! Let me know in the comments.

Well, I'd better finish my computer stuff so I can get mowing! Tootles!

Lacheln!
Taylor

P.S. Remember in a previous blog I mentioned I was even looking forward to the time when bugs ran into my face as a sign of spring? Well, it has officially happened several times now, and even last night as we kids rode bike, I had a bug crash into my eye - yuck! Oh well, such is the stuff of life! :-D

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mother's Day Musings




Yes, Mother's Day has come and gone. And yes, I did not post any blogs around the day itself. But I've come to embrace the cliche: "Better late than never!" :) (Procrastination is one of my most prominent faults, if you haven't noticed.)



Last year the day slipped by uncelebrated on my blog, and I regretted it. I wrote up blog drafts in my head (I'm constantly composing blogs, songs, and stories/books throughout the day, especially while cleaning our church, mowing lawn, and doing mindless tasks - and yes, I am weird) and envisioned what it would look like, but I failed to actually do it.



This year I am resolved to at least say a few words.



My mother.



When I think of her, I smile. I hear her contagious laughter. I think of her funny stories. I remember all the interesting situations we've been through together. I think of all her blunt comments that she's not afraid to say.



Ah yes, the memories...



Fixing my hair for dance recitals...Setting a pizza aflame while on the phone with Dad...Pruning lilac bushes...Rocking crying babies to sleep...Helping us with school...Trying to teach me to how to count notes and play piano...Watching her emulate Signature Sound dance moves and figuring out how to choreograph one of our songs...Teaching me the right way to clean a bathroom...Seeing her cry when she felt like she couldn't go on...Persevering through heartbreak after heartbreak...Lying extremely ill on a hospital bed...Standing firm for the truth when no one else would...Listening to her rich alto voice, thinking she was better than Amy Grant and wondering why she didn't sing with Rich Mullins and Michael W. Smith...Singing "If We Never Meet Again" for one of the first times together...



Most of all, I remember these teenage years, the time I've needed her the most. Tears running down my face, rebellious feelings welling up inside, angry retorts spewing from my mouth, confusion about life, faith, and family, repentence and guilt...all these have come from me. And Mom has been there. We have had many heated conversations as my strong-will and her strong-will have often collided (with me being in fault, by the way!). There were times I doubted her love because I felt like a failure in everything, but time after time was proven wrong by her unconditional love.



She has pointed out my faults and inspired me to be better - to strive for godly ways. She has warned me of the pitfalls on the road of life and encouraged me to walk on holy highways. She has reminded me of my commitments and urged me to live as a godly young woman. Many times she has come alongside of me to inspire me, comfort me, and walk with me.




For an example of her teaching and relevant life's lessons, here's one of the most compelling lessons she has taught me (it's from several years ago, so please don't mind my poor writing/typos!): The Wheelbarrow Story. I am grateful for her teaching.



I have observed her for years making sacrifice after sacrifice for us kids. She selflessly says, "Oh, I don't want one" whenever there isn't enough dessert to go around. She demonstrates her love to us by serving through cleaning, care, and coaching. I am grateful for her sacrifice and servant attitude.



Several years ago I remember listening to her patiently helping Caleb with his school and thinking, "Wow, I would have lost it by now. She is so patient. I need to be like that." I am grateful for her patience.



She has boldly stood for truth when others may have been shy to take a stand. She reads God's Word and applies it to her daily life. Every day for as long as I can remember she has held daily devotions with us kids at the breakfast table and we have all explored God's Word through and through many times together. She openly struggles when she doesn't know what to do when confronted with stress and hard trials, and openly searches God's Word for guidance. I am grateful for her faith and faithfulness.




I have gone from fearing her as my worst critic (for years I hated - yes, I used the word "hated" - criticism and rebuke, but now have learned to embrace it as my dearest friend) to be my role model and source of encouragement. I can now say with confidence: I want to be a mom like her.



Well, I have become rather rambly, as usual. I love my mother more than ever and appreciate her more and more with each passing day. Yes, she is not perfect, but she lives as a sinner saved by grace. I am grateful for my mother.



I love you, Mom!



Lacheln,

Taylor