Monday, March 23, 2009

Getting To Know You Part 2- Strengths and Weaknesses

I ended last time by saying that learning about your temperament is a good place to start to really understand who you are because, like a blue print, it gives you a general overall big picture. But in actuality, blueprints are often more detailed than just rough draft plans and as I thought more about it, I concluded that a study of temperaments can and, if properly applied, will reveal to us a far more detailed look into our selves than just an overall big picture. Let's take me for example. By truthfully answering the questions about myself on the temperaments assessment I learned that I am a Sanguine/Choleric, the extrovert of all extroverts! I have very strong Sanguine characteristics such as talkative, optimistic, emotional and demonstrative, makes friends easily, thrives on compliments, energetic and enthusiastic. And I have a few Choleric ones too, such as dynamic and active, exudes confidence, establishes goals. Those are considered strengths. However, I am also a Sanguine in the sense that when I am not careful to submit my will to the Holy Spirit (and yes there are some days...) I talk so much that I tend to go on and on (is this post getting long, already?), I can be loud and overbearing, undisciplined and disorganized, I need to have center stage and I look for credit for every little thing I do. The Choleric in me is at times inflexible and often struggles with the notion that I can do everything better than the next person. Considering both my strengths and weakness, I can now say that knowing and understanding my temperament helps me understand how God created me and gives me the grace to be myself. When I was younger, I was often told by people who perhaps were neither fond nor tolerant of my temperament that I was obnoxious and way too talkative. They were right but it hurt me to hear them say so and I although I always had lots of friends, I would often retreat to a corner trying to figure out how to get those people to like me. Thankfully, gone are the days when I need everyone to approve of me. Thanks to realizing that I just am who I am (and submitting my Sanguine need to be accepted to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit) I can comfortably get in where I fit in and allow my strengths to shine to the Glory of God. I am also well aware of my weaknesses and the places where I am prone to displease my Lord so I can be careful to submit all these weaknesses to Him so He can make of me what He wants me to be- a vessel of honor, fit for His use. It is the Holy Spirit's job to sanctify us and conform us to the image of Jesus Christ, and I for one and very grateful that image is not reflected exactly the same way in all of us. What a boring life this would be! God is far to creative to make a Stepford- like world. (Did you see that movie? In the town of Stepford, all the men wanted a certain type of wife so they replaced the wives they had with ones they created all looking and acting almost exactly alike!) I believe The Lord enjoys interacting with all of our distinct personalities. Certainly, as a result of sin, we are not the perfect beings He created in the Garden but the remedy for our imperfection is to regularly live out Romans 12:1-2 "...that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, Will of God." (KJV) The renewing of my mind means that once I find something in myself that doesn't line up with the Word and Will of God, I acknowledge that thing and submit it to Him to work out of me. It requires me to change my thinking and take on the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5) and partnering with God as He works in me just as His Word promises us He will in Philippians 2:13,"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (KJV) That's right, He is working in me so that I want to do what pleases Him. He knows how He made me and what He is pleased for me to do. So as I commit my life to serving Him, yielding my will to His, He does the work in me, changing my desires to what He desires for me and helping me do that which we then both want for me to do! God is not delusional, He knows what happened to the nature of man as a result of Adam and Eve's original sin. He is well aware of what I am capable of doing and of leaving undone if not for His intervention. Thanks be to God! He loves us enough to meet us where we are but too much to leave us there! He also created us individually with a unique plan and direction for each one of us and His desire is to see us each live out that plan to it's fullest. Jeremiah 1:5 is a perfect illustration of this point in Scripture. God says, "Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that's what I had in mind for you." (The Message Bible)
Of course, God didn't set us all apart to be prophets to the nations (think Stepford!) but He has "holy plans" for each of us, just as He had for Jeremiah. Jeremiah wasn't a "super man" so to speak, nor was he obviously qualified to fit the task to which God called him. But, instead he was a man with strengths and weaknesses that yielded himself to be used by the hand of God to accomplish His Will in the Earth. Once I got to know myself, I wondered how God could use me for anything. Sure, I thought, I am the absolute antithesis of shy and I would probably say anything to anyone so I might be cut out to be a mouthpiece for Him. But what if the people reject my message or they don't like the way I look or how I speak or...? I am sure that would all cause me to be stymied and my efforts thwarted almost immediately. What if I wasn't discouraged by he crowd but I rather embraced by them and began to enjoy the acclaim so much so that my ministry became all about me? Then I would potentially go off on a tangent somehow and again, get in the way of the Lord's intended work through me. Or worse yet, what if I got bored with the work of being a full time Homemaker and homeschooling mother, and was drawn away by the idea of something that seemed bigger and better an much more glamorous? What if I decided that preaching should take precedence over Homemaking and get the timing and priorities that He set for me out of order, on a quest for acclaim and gratification now? Then I came across this passage of scripture found in Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (NIV) This verse struck me immediately as a confirmation of the call of God on my life. None of what I am doing, or am in pursuit of, is my idea. I didn't come up with this on my own. He prepared these good works in advance for me to do- in advance being before He shaped me in the womb. Wow! What a sobering thought! He created just the right balance of Sanguine and Choleric that would be required to accomplish the work He prepared in advance for me to do and the same is true for all of you reading these words, whatever your temperament may be.
What about all my weaknesses? Certainly for me the list of weaknesses is as long as the list of strengths and therefore a very prevalent part of my personality. Yup, you guessed it. They are all part of the plan- the "shaping me before I was in the womb" plan- too. The Lord is Omniscient. He knew what weaknesses are a part of the package so He built in a plan for troubleshooting all my issues. My troubleshooting plan is in two parts. Part one is to push what I like to call "the reset button". The reset button is for those times when I am all grand and wonderful and everyone is telling me so. It's for when there are several days in a row when I wake early in the morning to have quiet time with the Lord, my checkbook is balanced, the house is clean, the laundry is folded and put away, I've followed my family meal plan all week, school is going well, the kids are happy, my husband is satisfied and I still have time to sit back and reflect on how great I am for being able to accomplish all that. Right about then, with all that extra time, is when I start working on an article to submit to a magazine or a message to share with the next Mom's group that calls on me to minister. After all, I am doing it all right, certainly someone else would benefit from my expertise in this area! That's when I begin to feel like all this good I am capable of is wasted where no one but my family can see it, especially considering the fact that sometimes they don't even notice! Just about then, the Lord allows all the right circumstances- oversleeping and tardiness, burnt dinner, bounced checks, lost library books, etc.- to push the reset button, which brings me back into reality and face to face with myself. The Apostle Paul had a similar experience as well. This is his account of it in 2Corinthians 12:6-7 from The Message Bible, "If I had a mind to brag a little, I could probably do it without looking ridiculous, and I'd still be speaking plain truth all the way. But I'll spare you. I don't want anyone imagining me as anything other than the fool you'd encounter if you saw me on the street or heard me talk. Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty!" Most theologians believe Paul had a physical ailment or handicap of some sort. I don't, unless you count laziness, disorganization, run-on sentences, restlessness and misplaced priorities. They are not physical handicaps, per se, but they certainly re-emerge quickly, "reset" my thinking and keep me from serenading myself with, "How Great I Am!" and get to singing "Lord, help me to hold out!...." instead!
Now sometimes, after being stripped of my bragging rights or if I have far too many consecutive days when my weaknesses are more prevalent then my strengths, the enemy convinces me that they also far outweigh my strengths and I begin to cry out to God and beg for deliverance from the not so favorable things that make me, "Me". That's when the Lord graciously employs Step 2 of the troubleshooting plan, the "re-focus button". Paul had that one, too. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 "At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become." As I yield all of me to God to use as He wills, for His Glory alone, I find a greater peace than I have ever had and joy in being me. I am more apt to recognize when I need to push the re-focus button and turn my attention toward the Grace of God that He shares so freely with me. He takes the good with bad, applies His Word to it all and "works all things together for good" because I love Him and I am called according to His purposes, just as He says in Romans 8:28.
This post has gone much longer that I intended so I appreciate you for reading this far. Next time we'll talk about what "according to His purpose" actually means.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Getting To Know You Part 1- Spirit Controlled Temperaments

Edited to add- I don't know what's going on with the color of the text. Please let me know if you can't read it!
Whew- I got rid of those ads so I can feel comfortable inviting someone to read my blog! I also went back to fix the typos from my first post. Spell check is great for spelling but if the tool doesn't know that you meant to say then and not the, it won't correct that word. Typing is not something I do often or well but as I grow in blogging I hope to hone my typing skills more, so please be patient with me! Thank you everyone who is becoming a regular reader or "follower" and if you're just joining me, welcome! I appreciate comments and feedback. Ok, and in case you are wondering, my time alone today was great! The kids have really enjoyed their "Daddy time" this week. We're studying Amelia Earhart and Neil Armstrong for school so they went to the the Air and Space Museum today and really got a kick out of everything there- especially the huge McDonald's food court! I am blessed that they had such a good time and my Spring cleaning got off to a good start. Now if I can just get through everything I need to accomplish before it's actually Summer!
Moving on.... Today, I want to begin a series about getting to know yourself. At first, I thought it was better to start at the beginning, observing where we came from, to determine how we got to be where, or should I say, who we are today. But as I have journeyed with myself, very deeply and introspectively over the past several months, I am realizing that I must first figure out who I am now- even if that person is constantly changing- before I can really look back and see who I was and why. Now that might sound like a bunch of Jibberish to you, and that's ok, sometimes I speak Jibberish, but if you stay with me through this conversation you might find this to be one of those times when you learn something about yourself in the process of listening to me talk about me.
I recently attended a workshop on Spirit-Controlled Temperaments. The presenter provided us with an assessment that helps you determine your dominant temperament and blend and then talked to us a little about the strengths and weaknesses associated with each one. I was already very familiar with the various temperaments because I had read the book he used as his primary reference some time ago. The Spirit Controlled Temperament by Tim LaHaye is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to know more about temperaments in general and more specifically how the Lord can get the Glory out of each one of us when we yield our natural man to His divine control. Learning about my own temperament was such a blessing to me and it opened up an entire level of understanding about myself that I had not before tapped into, and oh what freedom it is to really understand myself! It turns out, that while I had learned all these things about myself years ago when I first read Tim LaHaye's book, the refresher last weekend was so important for me as I am now entering a phase when, at almost 40 years old, God is concretely defining for me how very intricately He designed me to be and do what He predestined me to be and do before the foundation of the world. Psalm 139:13-16 says it this way, "For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them." Certainly these verses tell us that He was intimately involved in our formation as much, or dare I say, more so than our biological mothers and fathers. The circumstances surrounding my parents' relationship certainly played an integral part in my life and in my becoming who I am today, but even all that was orchestrated by the omniscience of God who set the plan in place for me to become who He wanted me to ultimately be. And exactly who or what is it that He ultimately wants me to be? How can I tell what His purpose for my life is? For the answer to that question, we must examine the blueprints. Learning about your temperament is a good place to start because it gives you a general overall big picture.
I highly recommend Tim LaHaye's book but if you can't get your hands on it right away, there are quite a few temperament assessments available online. If you don't already know, Google one and see what yours is and I'll be back to talk some more about this topic in part 2!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thank God For Daddies!

I am really tired tonight and although I have another post in the works, I thought I would just save that one to draft and finish it later. I am working on a series which I will try to begin tomorrow but tonight I wanted to share about how our kids are being blessed this week. My husband is on Spring Break and decided he wanted to spend some special Daddy Time with the kids. Of course, they don't get enough of that, so they are elated! Today was our daughter's turn. We are a homeschool family and our school is NOT on Spring Break this week so they got her school stuff together and went to the University Library to work together. What a blessing that was for both of them! He got to be really intimately involved in her day to day routine and she got to see where he goes every day when he leaves us in the morning. Having him work with her was a refreshing change for both her and me and he said she worked really hard and was very productive. They finished up school, had a special lunch together and then went to a movie. When she got home I asked how she liked her time out and she said, "Daddy rocks! It was a great day." Tomorrow he'll take the boys out to have school time at the library too, then outside for a frolicking good time at a park or something. Their day will be shorter since the youngest still naps but they are going to have such a good time, I am so excited for them! I am blessed to be able to stay home with my children everyday, teaching them and learning with them, shaping their wills and dealing with the drama day in and day out... but Daddy seldom gets that privilege all day long, for 3 days straight! He needs the time with them and they need him too and I need a break! Best of all, Thursday he is planning to take all of them downtown DC to the Natural History Museum. Our 4y/o wants to ride Metro so they'll drive in closer and take the train to the Mall. I love the Smithsonian Museums and I really enjoy watching my kids enjoy these types of outings but thankfully my husband knows I really need some Mommy time so I am going to take advantage of their absence and balance my day with quiet meditation and working on their dressers and closets in preparation for Spring. My husband works really hard and has a tough schedule but setting aside his time off from school to spend a few quality moments with his kids is important to him and it will impact their lives greatly. I am going to be sure to explain to them how many children don't get this privilege and help them see just how blessed they are to have a Dad who values them and enjoys their company. I think a man who take an active role in his children's lives is very attractive and I know it pleases God as well. He's upstairs washing the dishes right now which is a real blessing to me too, so I am going to get off this computer and go keep him company in the kitchen!

Monday, March 16, 2009

My First Post

This is my first blog post and I am so excited! I have been writing this blog in my head and my bedside journal for about a year now and it is about time! I have to say that I didn't think I would ever sit down and actually work at it until our church's New Year's Revival this year. Sheryl Brady form Durham, NC was the Wednesday night speaker and she preached Say it Loud and Say it Clear! In that message, Pastor Brady was encouraging the church to awake from it's apathetic, outdated, played-out state and do something for the Kingdom of God. I loved it!!! I have to acknowledge her sermon right from the start because the Lord used her to begin to stir up some stuff in me that had been lying dormant for a while. Then recently when my husband came downstairs at 1:00am to find me still on the computer, he asked "what are you doing?" when I told him I was reading So and So's blog he said, "Why don't you just write your own?!" It was like the V8 smack on the head. Anyways, that explains the name of my blog and the timing of it's inception, now about the content. I love to talk (big surprise, huh?) and I love an audience. I do. I am not ashamed to say that so don't be embarrassed on my behalf. I am sure it is how God made me because I am very much aware of my temperament (Sanguine/Choleric with a touch of Melancholy) and what makes me, me. The Lord is in the process of making all that even clearer to me and in some sense, redefining some of those things, but for the most part, I recognize myself and I am finally comfortable in my own skin. Ok, so having said that- I love an audience and I'm very comfortable sharing with individuals and groups of people. I am an ordained minister but my children and home are my primary responsibilities right now so I don't go out much to preach or teach at this time. The Lord allows me a few opportunities to take engagements each year (call me, I might be available!) but I know He prefers me to be home more often than not. I also know there is a book inside of me but it hasn't come out yet (LOL!) so in the mean time I will blog!
So, what will this blog be about? Lot's of things! Homemaking, Christian living, women's issues, marriage, my family and me!, parenting, homeschooling... the list goes on and on. I have a few more "posts" in my head waiting to be published and I will get to those sometime this week I am sure but after that, we'll see where it goes. If you read something you like, want to discuss more, need to add to, or offer constructive criticism about, please leave me a comment.
Until next time...