Cleaning the Junk Out of Your Closet by Samantha A. Wright

Spring is in the air and Easter is just around the corner. Most retail stores have the intoxicating fragrance of Tulips, Hyacinth, and Easter Lily’s permeating the air. It is an abrupt reminder to me, that along with blooming bulbs, the need for spring cleaning to be done is around the corner. I mentioned to my husband that I would be starting a Honey Do List for his cleaning list, and it jogged his memory about a conversation he’d recently had with a friend about life P.C. (Pre-Christian) and the struggles and failures his friend had experienced. Why is it so easy to share our P.C. struggles and failures but we struggle opening up about those things we’ve struggled with while a Christian. The friend likened it to the church building. Church staff work diligently to keep the areas of the church that everyone sees spotless, but if you go poking around where lay people never trod, there is always that pile of junk. Similarly, we close the door on the ‘closets’ of our own life so no one can see the junk.

We hear of drug abuse, infidelity, pornography addiction, greed, jealousy, and the list goes on and on. Most church members will come forth and admit they too had a problem, but it was years earlier: P.C. Yet statistics and those willing to share their life experience conclude that many church attenders are struggling with these same issues. Why are we so afraid to share our struggles with others? Are we afraid they will judge us? Look down on us? Think they are better than we are because ‘they don’t have that problem?’ The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. God is not a God of fear—He is a God of love. (I John 4:18) It has been said that when we bring our struggles into the light, the struggle loses its power because it can no longer hide and it ceases to be a thing to be feared. We need to open the door of the proverbial closet and allow our struggles to be illuminated by the ‘Light’.

I have recently been convicted of the junk I have been hiding and have started cracking the doors on some of my closets. I am tired of trying to look like the spotless church while hiding my mound of junk. And although everyone doesn’t need to know the entirety of the struggles throughout my life, Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for every season—this includes with who and what you share. I don’t flaunt the contents of my closets, but carefully consider those I can trust and extend an invitation to help me clean out my closet. I am trading the energy I have been spending hiding the junk in the closet for energy needed to clean the junk out.

I am a sinner. I have always been a sinner. Those of us who are believers are covered by the blood of the Lamb, but sometimes I do the very thing I do not want to do. (Romans 7:15) Some sins are more socially accepted than others—some have greater consequences. But we have to remember that God is working within each of us, and rather than stuffing more junk in the closet, or busying ourselves with worrying about what other people have in their closets, maybe we need to ask if it’s time to personally do a little spring cleaning in our closets.

By: Samantha A. Wright

Anne Graham Lotz Event

Anne Graham Lotz

~7 Points of Anne’s Message~

Person of the Holy Spirit: the Holy Spirit is not an it or dove or flame of fire, but a counselor which is ‘exactly the same as me [Jesus].” John 14:16. The Holy Spirit is present with us 24/7 whether we see him or not.

Presence of the Holy Spirit: He is available to us. Moment by moment surrender to moment by moment control.

Power of the Holy Spirit: He is available to us and is adequate for whatever God has called us to do.

Precepts of the Holy Spirit: He is available through the Scriptures. The Bible is the channel to help us gain wisdom for which we need to live a godly life.

Purity is the agenda of the Holy Spirit: Purity is available to us and should be our agenda. In our words, actions, motives…it affects what you look at, listen to, who you hang out with and what you do.

Prayer of the Holy Spirit: He prays for us when we do not know how or what to pray. Romans 8:26. The Holy Spirit is emotionally caught up in our lives. (Anne used her mother Ruth as an illustration). When we do great, the Holy Spirit is excited and is our cheerleader. When I mess up, He grieves because He loves me. He knows and understands me and is therefore able to fully communicate to God my prayers and longings.

Priority of the Holy Spirit: He brings glory to God. Jesus is the priority of the Holy Spirit. The written word of God is how we get there– the Spirit of Truth is written through the word of God.

What about you? What did God  place on your heart when Anne spoke? Share your comments below.

New Year’s Resolutions, Again? by Samantha A. Wright

I remember a time when my Christmas newsletter was written, printed, in postage paid envelopes, hand written notes on all 125 of them, and ready to be mailed by December 1st. I’m not sure where that woman went. And as I think about it, I am not sure whether I really want her back?

It’s the time of year when billboards, commercials and magazine articles are filled with advertisements to join XYZ gym or to lose weight. Ads even line the walls in public restroom stalls; you can’t escape it. We are now half way through what might be called, guilted into doing it January. Countless scientific studies have proven that up to 100% of New Year’s Resolutions are broken by February 17th. Okay, some studies actually claim there are 5% of people who actually keep their resolutions. I don’t know if any of these people, do you? Either way, it is the minority that keep resolutions, not the majority. Have you made New Year’s resolutions? If so, how are you doing in the resolution keeping category? Or, are you one of those people who figures you will just break them so why even make them?

Age makes you do more soul searching, or maybe it’s the hormones. Either way, contemplation has been one of my main activities the past few months which has lead to a desire is to be more intentional in making goals that matter. For example, does having my newsletter mailed out on the first day of December really matter in the scheme of eternity? Or does having a newsletter at all matter? What does God really desire of me? What aligns with His purpose for my life and how He designed me? Setting goals is not a bad thing, what we need to ask is, ‘are we setting the right goals?’ I like the word goals rather than resolution because it seems less cliché.

So, how do I set the right goals and succeed in keeping them? Here are some ideas.

First, determine what energizes you. What makes you smile from the top of your head down to your tippy toes? These are the things that God has designed you for. Do MORE of these things and get your goal aligned with them. If more of your goals are about improving your weaknesses you will be like the majority who break their resolutions. For a more extended version of this idea check out Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham.

Second, have a mission/purpose statement for your life. Write it out in 10 words or less. Unless you know where you want to go in life, your goals will not get your there. Your life statement should be based on your spiritual gifts and how God designed you. These things fuel your tank and give you more energy even after a long day of activities. Take a look at Get More Done in Less Time, by Donna Otto.

Third, pick goals based on your life statement and write them down. Ask yourself “how does each goal line up with my purpose/mission statement?” If they don’t line up, cross them off. Now put your written list where you can see if often. For help here, check out Life Mapping, by Dr. John Trent.

Lastly, but most importantly, write down HOW you are going to accomplish these goals. If you don’t have a plan to get them done they are likely to just be words on paper at the end of the year. Remember the old adage, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

When I look at my goal list for 2010 I am energized, excited, and ready to take them on. Some are things that are difficult, like listening to 12 hours of Greek and Roman history. But, each is necessary to accomplish a bigger goal of mine. For example, the Greek and Roman history is a step toward writing a historical fiction novel. How about you? What are your big bodacious dreams? Have you broken them down into realistic goals? Are they in writing? If not, what are you waiting for?

When Holiday Family Gatherings are More Prickly than Polite by Samantha A. Wright

sillouette nativityHave you ever played the word association game? Lets try~I say chocolate, saliva develops as you sternly bark….’get me some!’ Or, I say ‘fruitcake’ and you say, ‘that wouldn’t even make my dog drool. Move on.’ How about if I say, “family holiday gathering?” Be honest. Do you start perspiring even though it’s 65 degrees? Your eyes start to glaze over as you painfully realize Christmas is just around the corner. You are about to spend hours with people who don’t really like you. In fact, the family tree may be the only reason they gather with you at all.

This time of year we ponder Jesus as light of the world. But, Matthew 5 states that we, Jesus’ followers, are the light of the world. Is it possible to be the ‘light of the world’ spending time with family members? Yesterday while I was shopping, I gave the lady behind me in line 2 of my extra coupons. You would have thought I had given her a $20 bill. She was elated. That was easy. Why is it easier to be a light for Christ with a stranger? What happens to that thoughtful spirit in me when I get around my relatives? What is there about us that can be so stubborn about demanding our way when we are with family? Do I demand more from my relatives? Am I a poor communicator? Do my actions corroborate my words or discredit me?

Recently I had to answer these questions when I received a email from a family member that left me shaking. Angry. Hurt. Angry. Disgruntled. Angry. Hopeless. Did I mention angry? It, however, was not a righteous anger. I had to ask myself why the letter caused so much anger within me. Perhaps it was because some of the things in the email were painfully true. Initially, I chose denial fervently building a case for myself of all the things in the letter that were not true. Not a good plan. Fortunately, after much prayer and seeking counsel, I snapped out of denial mode.

Many of the things in the email were not necessarily true, but the result of poor communication. But, regretfully, some of the things were true. My pride did not want to see where I was not being Christlike. Baggage from past interactions prevented me from loving as Christ calls me to love. But when I sought counsel and realized my actions were causing pain in the life of someone, I discovered that I needed to confess those things to God and ask His forgiveness. More importantly, I needed to ask my relative for forgiveness. That, my friend, was not an easy task. If I hear the word apologize the first thought that comes to my mind is, “Gulp, how do you eat an elephant?”How-to-eat-elephant_thumb[1] Well, as I tell my girls, “you eat an elephant one bite at a time.” What do the first bites look like? Let me suggest the following.

    • Read Scripture. Perspective is everything and nothing provides perspective like God’s word. We need perspective when asking if there is something I have done to cause conflict in this relationship.
    • Go to the Person. No emails or texts. Communication is 90% non-verbal and only 10% verbal. If distance prevents a face to face interaction, make a phone call.
    • Listen. Listen. Listen. Did I say listen? Our tendency is to defend ourselves. Resist this temptation. God is your defender and protector.
    • Admit Wrong. I had to say, “You are right. I have___, would you please forgive me?”
    • Make a Commitment. Tell the person you will try and not commit the offense again and take the necessary steps to back up your words. For me, the culprit was poor communication. I made a commitment to call in the future and not rely on others to communicate for me.

Does it work? A few weeks after our interaction, our families had the chance to get together. Instead of dreading the interaction, I went with hope that things would go better than they have in the past. I felt God’s peace and joy in doing what He has called me to do. Was it easy? No. Were there times I needed a breather and needed to be alone? Yes. But, I can honestly say I had a great time and am not dreading our next family get together.

What about you? Do you need to go to someone before that family holiday gathering and make things right? If so, here may be some utensils to help you eat that elephant one bite at a time~

silverware edit 2

Read scripture

Go to the person

Listen. Listen. Listen

Admit wrong

Make a commitment