Hear my heart, friends: This past few weeks, I had to remind myself that God does not need the filtered, buttoned-up version of myself. He wants my reality. He wants my honesty. He wants to forge the most honest relationship with me and that means I cannot hide or hold anything back. So these days, […]WHOSE VOICE ARE YOU LISTENING TO, YOURS OR GOD’S? — The Godly Chic Diaries
The more I learn, the more irritated I become with what I see all around me. Disrespect, abusive behavior towards both people and animals, intolerance, hatred, anger, prejudice, racism, narrow-mindedness, self-centered, arrogant, egotistical and narcissism, just to name a few.
The more I learn, the more I notice all those ugly behaviors. The people around me haven’t changed, I have. It never bothered me before and I didn’t notice because I too was self-centered. Now I am aware of it and my heart breaks everyday because I don’t understand how people can act like this.
It’s real easy for me to become judgmental and self-righteous now if I forget where I came from. I was a very ugly person before Jesus came knocking at my heart and believe me when I say, I heard him knocking several times before I invited him in. I still have a very long road ahead of me, but I know I’m on the right path now.
With all the ugliness around me, I feel the urge to isolate, but I know that discovering who God is cannot be achieved in total isolation from other Christians. Separation and division are two of the many weapons that satan uses on us, therefore when my own nature and society cause me to drift away from God, it’s those beneficial relationships that give me greater confidence and faith to get back to God.
The more I learn, the more knowledge I crave and desire to spend time with God’s word. This is what my bible looks like. This is also the reason why I don’t do Bible apps – I must highlight, and I must write notes. I need to do this because it helps me understand and remember and absorb – the Holy Spirit is there helping me to comprehend and see exactly what He needs me to hear at just the right time, and then I take notes and highlight so that I remember. Very simple process, but very effective for me.
In the beginning I thought marking up God’s word might be wrong in some way. I mean we take great care when handling the bible and where we set it down. We don’t use it as a coaster or a booster seat and we certainly don’t toss it down like yesterday’s newspaper, so marking it up just felt weird at first. And then I saw this photo/quote about a marked up Bible and it made everything all better again in Kim’s world.
So where am I going with the post? I thought I knew, I sat down all fired up and started typing like a crazy person all revved up on caffeine. The post took on the appearance of a discouraged and frustrated christian who has seen too much of this broken world and it became one huge disorganized rant. Although, it did feel good to get that out, this is just not the place to do that. Besides, I’d much rather spend all that energy doing something positive than focus on the negativity and adversity in my life. When I’m focusing on the ugliness, I’m not focusing on the Lord and that is just wrong.
Sometimes it’s hard to understand God’s purpose for adversity. In the midst of tragedy, the Lord’s sovereignty seems like impractical and unrealistic theology to me. But the truth is, God works all things together for the believer’s good (Rom. 8:28). 28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” I need to write that verse on several post-it notes and put them all over my house so that I’m reminded hourly! Perhaps a few at work would also be beneficial.
The bottom line is – I need to make more time for God. Instead of developing anxiety and restless nights worrying about all the ugliness and turmoil going on around me, I should be spending quality time each day getting into the Bible.
“The Word can’t get into me, if I don’t get into it”
“Then Jesus said to him, unless you see signs and miracles happen, you [people] never will believe (trust, have faith) at all.” John 4: 48
Last month a friend of mine whom I have not seen for a couple of years, kept popping into my head. For two days I found myself thinking about him. For reasons I cannot completely understand, I decided it was God who was putting my friend on my heart and therefore, I’d better contact him. So I did. I only have his e-mail address, so I sent him an e-mail telling him that “God directed me to get in touch with you and pray for you.”
I received an almost instant response from him – he was so shocked to receive my note and that it was a huge comfort to him at the exact time that he desperately needed some hope. Unknown to me, my friend was going through some big changes in his life, financial, jobs, and relationships. All of it taking a toll on him to the point of discouragement. He felt alone and thought nobody cares. But guess what folks – God cares! He loves us all so much that we cannot even wrap our heads around the thought of how deep that love really is. And He hears our cries for help and He answers those cries!
God uses us to answer those prayers of others, so be aware of the people God is putting in front of you – there is a reason. I firmly believe that people come into our lives as a blessing, or a lesson. In my particular situation, God used me to be a blessing to my friend. I don’t know what my friend would have done if I had not reached out to him, maybe nothing….maybe something, only God knows.
The point is…if God has been revealing Himself to you, please share that with the people in your life. God chose you to witness His divine interventions for a reason. If you don’t tell anybody about it, you might miss the very person it was meant for.
“In this fast-paced world, let’s keep our frenetic (fast and energetic, in a rather wild and uncontrolled way) double-clicking to a minimum before something important is lost instead of misplaced.”
Too often I quickly put something away, and then later forget where I have put it. And yet I’m convinced that I still have it, but where? My mother would do the same thing when she baked Christmas cookies in November. Afterwards, she would store them away, or more accurately, she would hide them from me and my constantly hungry brothers. When it came time to bring out the cookies for Christmas Eve, it suddenly turned into a scavenger hunt, or if we still had not yet found them by the following spring, an Easter cookie hunt.
It didn’t matter whether we had the cookies for Christmas or Easter, they were still delicious, the point is, I do so many everyday tasks in a frenetic mode of operation. Webster’s Dictionary defines frenetic as, “characterized by feverish activity, confusion, and hurry.” Unfortunately, this describes my life lately, how about you?
I’ve always been told that life speeds up as you grow older, and my life certainly feels like it’s becoming Disney World’s “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.” During the end of the Mr. Toad’s wild ride, you go through a train tunnel and apparently you lose your battle with the train, because the next stop on your ride is Hell. This would be the time when I want to say, “stop the ride, I want to get off now!”
So many times I catch myself dashing from errand to errand, busy, busy, busy. Meanwhile, the “to-do” list continues to get longer and longer. I can’t possibly get this all done, I’ll just have to do it all quicker, right? This is where the problem really jumps in – feverish activity in a hurry – trying to cram 50 lbs. of life into a 10 lb. day and before I know it – I’m missing things – important things. I’m frequently having conversations with myself that begin with, “where did I put that?” and “how did I miss her birthday?” or “their anniversary?” etc., etc., etc.
The other night I saw my life on the desktop of my computer in all those icons. I sat there staring at them all and wondering how in the world did that end up on the desktop? And, “dang, I was looking for that file the other day – it doesn’t belong in that folder!” I also found a few important files in the recycle bin! Thank God I looked inside it before I quickly double clicked “empty the trash.” The past 16 years has become frenetic double-clicking, ouch … time to take a deep breath before something is permanently lost instead of misplaced. It’s really time to remember the gift God gave us – the Sabbath and the important purpose for that day.
Sabbath-keeping is rooted in, and gives rise to, a conviction that God is sovereign. Either God is in control, or He’s not. If He’s not—if I am, or you are, or the president is, or the U.N. and World Bank are—then who can rest? We have to be worried, and very, very busy. If matters are in the hands of anyone other than God (or in no one’s hands), then there is no rest, and not just for the wicked but for the righteous, too. The only sensible thing in such a world is frenetic double-clicking, “characterized by feverish activity, confusion, and hurry.” You must run and run, work and work. You must always watch your back, sleep with one eye open, keep one hand on your sword if God be not God.
But if God be God, then there is salvation in repentance and rest, and in quietness and trust is strength. Philipp Melanchthon once said to his friend Martin Luther, “Today, you and I shall discuss the governance of the universe,” to which Luther replied, “No, my friend. Today, you and I will go fishing. We’ll leave the governance of the universe to God.” If God be God, then often the most effective, redemptive thing we can do is simply recline with Jesus.
But how do we enter this rest, leave the universe to God, say yes to a prolonged reclining with our Savior? Think of Sabbath as a Snow Day, the gift of an entire day that is all yours for anything but business as usual. Now consider this—you get 52 of these a year.
It’s the opposite of a Sick Day. We call in sick when we’re writhing with stomach flu or fever, coughing like crazy, or lacking strength to stand. We’d be useless at our job, and besides, we’re likely viral and would be a pox on our colleagues. So we take a sick day. But some days we wake-up so filled with life and strength and curiosity that we don’t want to waste it on work. So we phone in well. We take the day to do something fun – go to the zoo, the beach, read a book while relaxing in the hammock on beautiful sunny day. But you don’t need to call into work well: God does it for you once a week. Sabbath is God’s gift to make you look, feel, and live more redeemed. That’s something we should never turn down.
What kind of a God do your neighbors see when they see you? A God who rests? A God who invites His children to rest? Or do they see, in the blur of your coming and going, frenetic double-clicking – a God who never lets you stop? If we want them to believe in Jesus, we’re going to have to look more redeemed. And maybe the best way to get there is to relax and recline more with Him.
I was confident that the Lord would not call my father home until I arrived, but my best laid plans are not always God’s will for me. The Lord called him home in the early morning, and I had a long 10 hour drive ahead of me. 5 hours into my journey to Michigan, I wanted to be alone with my thoughts and Jesus – I turned off the radio. I drove while having one of the best conversations I’ve ever had with Jesus. Well, after all, it was Jesus who was doing the driving, not me since I was already operating on approximately 7 hours of sleep over the prior 5 days. I was tired and an emotional mess to say the least. So there I was, or there we were (Jesus & me) in the car having a great conversation about my father and who I’m going to call when I need help installing an electrical outlet, or a new faucet, or discuss car problems with, or any of that “guy stuff”? Who can I call when my friends or employer or anybody else lets me down???? My father’s advice was the best! He was so calm and reasonable – he could make anyone understand the “other side” of the story. He could point out a perspective or angle that never occurred to me. After talking with him, I’d walk away with a whole new understanding – the end result was always a feeling of hope again. So now where do I go for this kind of advice and love? I was feeling so small and so alone. I never felt so incredibly empty and tiny in my life. Believe me when I say that I’ve had plenty of opportunities and lots of experience with feeling like I couldn’t get any lower, but here I was at my all time lowest.
After a 3 hour conversation mingled in with a bit of a pity party for me, I decided to turn the radio back on. And this was the song that was playing. (click on link below to hear the song)
Oh my, oh my, oh my! Yes, I strongly believe hearing that song at that particular moment was nothing but a “God-thing” God spoke to me at the exact moment I needed it. Isn’t that what the Word says???? Lean on Jesus each and EVERY day?
5 days later when I was going back home – 1 hour into the journey, the song came on the radio again. A beautiful comforting reminder to me at the exact moment I needed it!
After arriving home, I did not hear the song any more. I always listen to christian radio, “why the heck don’t they play that song? I need to know the artist so I can purchase the CD! Come on…I need to hear this song!” Ok, shouting at the radio didn’t work. I went to the store to look for the CD, even though I didn’t have an artist name or title of the song. When I heard it on the radio those two times, the DJ never announced the title or artist. Urgh! Fine, I’ll do this on my own and find it myself…yea right Kim.
I never did find it – even though the lyrics kept playing over and over in my head – I still couldn’t find the song – I searched everywhere! I did lyric searches with the radio station and contacted my worship pastor at my church – surely he would know – he knows ALL christian music – right? Nope, sadly he did not know the song.
Ok God, you obviously don’t want me to hear that song again yet – I guess I’m not ready to emotionally handle it. So I wait – again, that’s hard for me to wait gracefully on God. I know, He’s in control – hmmm, there’s that patience thing I continue to work on – that’s a rough one.
After 18 months since my dad’s passing, I was feeling low and tiny again. Friends let me down, my employer after 9 years of service pulled the rug out from under me in spite of my extreme loyalty to the company, the dish washer died, and my washer/dryer (the exact model my dad had) just pooped out on me! I ended up in an emotional, breathless and total exhausted heap on the floor – not to mention, anger! Urgh!!! Darn it dad, you knew the strong history of cancer in your family – why the heck didn’t you go for your colonoscopy at age 50? Ooooh, was I mad and sad all at the same time. “Darn it Dad, I need you right now. What the heck am I going to do about this, that, and the other thing?” I can’t forgive my boss, or my friends for being terribly insensitive, or forgive my obnoxious neighbors. Actually, I can, but I choose not to because misery loves company and I’m feeling so incredibly lonely now.
After spending an hour on the floor crying and moaning and throwing yet another pity party for myself (except this time I didn’t send invitations) I collected the puddle of myself and crawled in bed. I grabbed the remote, turned on the tv and the station was already set to the Christian music video channel and guess what was playing? Yup, that song! I can’t believe it!!!! There it was at the exact moment I needed to be reminded to lean on Jesus!!! People let us down all the time – they can’t help it – it’s our imperfect, sinful selves. But God will NEVER let us down. He will ALWAYS be there for us to lean on. Amen to that!
With each passing year, right about now when we’re so close to spring – I start thinking about my brother Jerry. This picture you see here is, from left to right, me, Michael, mom and Jerry. What a good-looking crew if I might say so myself! This photo was taken on Mother’s Day, 1977. Just 4 short months before Jerry’s death. Seems like every Ground Hog day when we find out if we’re to endure another 6 weeks of winter or start looking for the tulips to begin sprouting, that I get feelings of rebirth or starting over. Everything is fresh and clean and then we start going through our homes with the vacuum cleaner and all the toxic spray cleaners that remove the past year’s dirt and grime from our lives.
Jerry would be celebrating his 54th birthday this year and I’m filled with thoughts of, would he be a grandfather, did he marry his high school sweetheart, Marcie, would he even have kids, how many kids, where would he be living – would he still be living in Port Washington, would we still be friends, etc. All those things bring a smile to my face when I wonder about it all, and at the same time, a tear to my eye because it will never be.
The one thing I can hang on to is that we will see each other again. Below is a link to a song I listen to frequently – its beautiful and it helps a heavy heart. It’s by Kenny Chesney “Who you’d be today.” Enjoy it – I know you will. God bless.
“Well the past is playing with my head, and failure knocks me down again
I am reminded of the wrong that I have said and done, And that devil just won’t let me forget…”
Lately I’m having more trouble turning off my head – conversations that are done and over, but yet I keep replaying them with “I should have said this,” or “I should not have said that.” Or cursing myself for my actions & behaviors when I should be praying for more self-control and patience. The “would-of, should-of and could-of’s” are killing me inside. I know it’s satan messing with me again as usual, and sometimes he gets the upper hand. But…I have Jesus on my team! And then a very wise person told me “When satan reminds you of your past…remind him of his future!” I love that!!!
The lyrics of songs can be very powerful, and one particular song, “I’m forgiven” by Sanctus Real, helps me tremendously when I feel like I’m sinking again. It is my hope that if anyone reading this blog feels like they need a lift in their mood, listen to this song – I promise, you’ll feel a little taller and “hope” has been restored. Enjoy!
So here is how it all began. Dad, the little squirt, and his grandpa. The grandpa who hated everyone, especially kids – the grandpa who moved out of the house because of dad’s arrival into the world. Yet, here he is, the grouchy old bear, showing a tender side long enough to actually pose for a photo with his new grandson.
Dad’s love for tractors was passed onto me. Or more correctly, his interest was passed onto me. Here I was doing my best Vanna White impersonation. This photo was taken on one of our many trips to Sebewaing, MI where we stayed at the hotel that the Hoffmeisters owned. That was a very interesting summer, my other brother, Michael, was not able to come with us because of his paper route back home. So Jerry, my mom and I had a ball together. Dad was not around much as he was working long hours at the power plant. Several times he took us over to the plant to show us what he does and point out the enormous size of the diesel engines. He would tell me “you would fit easily into one of those pistons and nobody would ever find you.” Wow, great dad, thanks for the scare.
I believe Mr. Hoffmeister used Big Red to mow the field/runway. After this chore was done, he then gave me and Jerry a ride in his plane. The plane rides were obviously the highlight of the entire vacation!
During the evening hours, dad and Mr. Hoffmeister would discuss the problems with Big Red. Dad was always helping out with either working on the tractor’s engine or installing, cleaning, sharpening or removing the mowing deck. Of course, Jerry had to get his nose in there too.
Through the years dad’s love of tractors continued. As much as he loved his elaborate model train display he had in the basement at home, it paled in comparison to his love of tractors.
This is the “year of firsts” The first year I didn’t spend Memorial Day weekend, or Labor Day weekend, or Halloween weekend with my father in MI. The first year I don’t have to tape all the Packer games or all the Mike McCarthy Shows or Inside Lambeau Field shows for my father. The first year we won’t be celebrating our birthdays together, and as our birthdays approach, the heavier my heart becomes.
Slowly I’m progressing through the box of photos and “stuff” that dad gave me and my brother on New Year’s day this year. Based on the rate at which I’m going through this box, you’d think it was the size of a refrigerator. It’s a slow process, but the goal is to celebrate my father’s life.
Here we are – Dad and me. It was my 3rd birthday and his 29th. Wow, looks like I wore him out with the celebration! Either that or he’s in sugar shock from all the frosting on the cake. Of course, I don’t exactly look like a live wire myself. I’ve got that “shhhh, don’t wake the baby,” look on my face, or perhaps “I’m sorry mommy, I wore out daddy.”
Dad was a huge Packer fan, of course. The weekends that he was home, there was always a whole lot of yelling at the TV on Sunday afternoon. We all heard, including the neighbors, everything that Bart Starr and Ray Nitschke were doing wrong and what they needed to work harder at. The yelling wasn’t constant, thank God, it was sporadic, so if I happen to be sitting in his lap with the popcorn when the volcano exploded, both me and the popcorn were launched right out that cream colored leather lazy-boy.
Here we are celebrating my 6th birthday and dad’s 32nd birthday. Of course we have to go outside and pass the football around for a while. Dad had to make sure I knew how to properly hold a football, I’m not sure why the helmet was necessary, but I do wear it well.
What I find so endearing about this photo is all the rose bushes behind us. Dad loved his roses right up to the end. And that house in Milwaukee was loaded to the lot lines with many, many rose buses. All of them red. We’re standing in the front yard here in the picture, but in the backyard there was 5 times more bushes than what we had in the front. That was Mike, Jerry & my chore on Saturday mornings – weed the bushes! Wow, there was nothing that we hated more than that. And now, what I wouldn’t give to weed those bushes one more time. Also note – the sign in the lawn behind dad says “Please keep out of the bushes.” Like I said, dad loved his roses and NOBODY is allowed to touch them, unless of course, it’s Saturday morning and they need some weeding done or watering.
This year to celebrate mine and dad’s birthday, Mike and I are going to Lambeau Field in Green Bay on Aug. 30th to watch the Packers take on Kansas City. It’s going to be both amazing and sad to be there without dad, but he’ll be there in spirit I’m sure – smiling at us and probably yelling down at the quarterback, Rogers, letting him know exactly what he’s doing wrong!
Happy Birthday dad, we miss you…