Category Archives: Attitudes

A Big Slice of Humble Pie

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Last week I gave a lesson on the need for both humility and self-esteem. The result for me (that didn’t really hit me until yesterday,) was a big slice of humble pie, and a little voice inside my head with the question: “did you even hear yourself?”

It was not a good presentation (and I am not, NOT, NOT fishing for reassurance, so please don’t go there.) I stumbled over my words. I tanked on trying to explain “asceticism” and tie it in to the lesson. My power point wasn’t readable. I relied too much on my notes. I was boring. (Wow, there are a lot of “I’s” and “my’s” in that paragraph…my first hint that something is wrong!)

So, I’ve been fretting over it ever since. There are a lot of other frets that took up valuable brain space (and heart space) last week, too. Like my fret about my continuing fight against fat, and how I looked, and how my clothes fit (or didn’t), and hating my glasses and how I have to forever take them off and put them back on and how they make my eyes look like I’m ogling the person I’m talking to…and how my scaly heels needed a good pedicure (just keepin’ it real, y’all!) And then, did I hurt someone with my words or opinions given in the afternoon forum that same day? Did I mention that the reason I have these opinions is because I’ve made these mistakes and learned from them? Does someone think I’m a hypocrite? (Wow, do preachers wonder these things every week??) Will someone think less of me if I admit these insecurities? Will someone think I’m somehow disingenuous if I write about my own lack of confidence and humility – and then post it publicly? Fret, fret, fret.

Wow, lots more of those “I’s” and “me’s” and “my’s”.

Back to the lesson last week. What I was trying to relay to the audience was that our confidence and self-esteem shouldn’t come from how we think others perceive us…or from things or looks or smarts or from the admiring masses. Our humility shouldn’t be “pretend” – all the while enjoying the attention that our “modesty” attracts.

The light bulb came on yesterday morning. I already knew that the more I focused on me, myself, and I, the more Satan could distract me from my task at hand. But what really hit me yesterday is how he REALLY uses it against me when the me, myself, and I isn’t a matter of pride at all, but rather disappointment with me, myself, and I. My self-esteem had taken a hit because I was not pleased with how I might have been perceived or misunderstood. Basically, I was simply preoccupied with myself.

In last week’s lesson, I tried to convey that Godly humility looked like the heart of a servant, like Jesus. That humility says “I came not to be served” (or, I suppose, “liked”, or “admired”, or “fawned over”) “but to serve” (Matthew 20:28).  Humility is doing “nothing from selfish ambition or conceit” but counting “others more significant than yourselves,” (Philippians 2:3-4). Hard for me to do, when I’m only focused on myself.

I hoped to show that regardless of how we look or sound to the world around us, God sees our heart (1 Samuel 16:7). The Maker of the universe knows me better than I know myself, and the precious blood of His only Son redeemed me. I am a daughter of the King (Romans 8)! That, truly, is the only confidence I need. Feeling like you’ve presented something with clarity is a good thing. Complimentary, supportive friends are nice, too! But I think they’re the “gravy” in life. My confidence and self-worth has to come from God.

“Physician, heal yourself” came to mind yesterday morning while cleaning the kitchen and thinking of the things I wished I’d said and done differently last week. How sadly ironic. Did I even listen to my own words? I know I believed them. But did I apply them to MYSELF last week?  Evidently not.

I’m trying, now!

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So Far As It Depends On You

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Tailgaters annoy me. Not the barbecuing-before-the-big-game tailgaters, but the ones who zoom up on my tail going 65 in a 50, because their business is so much more important than my business.
tailgater Then, because I have tendencies that I am most definitely not proud of, I am tempted to slow down, which becomes even more of a temptation when someone is driving the speed limit next to me and the tailgater can’t get around either of us. (Evil grin.) But then I think about Romans 12:18:

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Practically speaking, this means I am not going to purposely antagonize the crazy-eyed guy behind me in the big 4-wheel drive pickup with the Pit Bull and the gun rack. Not because I’m afraid of him, but because I’m a Christian. (And – maybe a little because I’m afraid of him.) (Incidentally, I don’t have anything against big pickups and Pit Bulls and guns, so long as they are all controlled by sensible people.)

Seriously, though. In the middle of a chapter chock full of exhortation to actually do the opposite of what we feel like doing to people who aren’t nice to us – Paul makes sure we know that we bear responsibility to maintain peace.

This particular chapter has been on my mind a lot lately after recently finishing a study on Romans. “Live peaceably.” It’s easy to say, and I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t so easy to practice.

It means not speaking unkindly to the waiter who is slow, gets my order wrong, and forgets to refill my tea glass.

It means not taking out my frustration on the innocent sales clerk who tells me that the sweater I want is not, in fact, on sale – even though I found it on the clearance rack.

It means that I will assume that “I like your hair better when it’s long” really means “I like your hair better when it’s long” instead of “your new short haircut makes you look like a poodle.”

It means that I will extend grace to my husband when six pairs of dirty socks pile up next to his side of the bed.

It means that I will not use Facebook, or Twitter (or any of the other social media outlets that four-year-old children understand better than I) to bait, belittle, provoke, or hurt the reputation of any soul.

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

What else does it mean?

• I will choose to stomp out irritation before it blooms into anger.
• I will respond with patience to someone who should know better.
• I will treat those with whom I disagree (religiously or otherwise) with dignity, respect and kindness.
• I will not seek revenge against someone who has hurt me.
• I will include and welcome newcomers and outcasts into my circle of friends.
• I will pray for and be kind to someone who has hurt my child.
• I will view an adversary as someone loved and treasured by God.
• I will remember the positives about an individual, and forget the negative in them.
• I will expend time and energy seeking to lighten the load and enrich the lives of others around me.
• I will respect those with different dietary habits than mine.
• It means that when I am young, I will respect my elders, and when I am older, I will value those who are younger.
• I will hold myself to the same standards I expect from others.
• I will not act or think haughtily toward anyone.
• I will hurry to make things right after a disagreement, and be the first to forgive, eager to make things right.
• I will recognize my own weaknesses.
• I will overflow with a spirit of humility and fight against self-promotion and self-importance.
• I will not pout when my opinions and ideas aren’t followed.
• I will look for and focus on the endearing qualities of an individual whose personality might not knit together with mine.

I’m sure you can think of many more examples, and I would love to hear them.

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

Even the crazy-eyed, truck driving tailgater.

Meet An Old Lady

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An old lady in the Costco parking lot got really mad at me yesterday.

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(By “old” – I mean that she appeared to be in her late sixties. My apologies to my friends who may be advanced in years – YOU aren’t old!)

I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that the entire city of Austin decided to go to Costco yesterday, and there was an automobile slugfest in the parking lot. I was on the wrong side of the aisle when I spotted her pulling out, and as she was backing up, I pulled slightly forward and to the right to get out of her way.

What followed was a lot of arm waving and rude gesturing and angry eyes and words I couldn’t hear (thankfully.) As I sat there in disbelief, she laid on her horn and then gunned her fancy BMW SUV toward the hood of my car. The look in her eyes was memorable – as was the nervous look in the eyes of her passenger – a woman that looked old enough to be her mother.

Maybe she’d had a bad day. Maybe she’d just had someone shout at her. Maybe she was sick. Maybe she hadn’t started her Christmas shopping yet. Didn’t she know it’s the most wonderful time of the year??

But I couldn’t help thinking of something that my mother passed down to me (and has given to a lot of other women) – an essay called “Meet An Old Lady”. The author is unknown. It might take you a couple of minutes to read – but it’s sobering and well worth the time.

“You are going to meet an old lady someday. Down the road ahead, ten, twenty, thirty years; she’s waiting for you. You will be catching up with her. What kind of old lady are you going to meet? That is a rather significant question.

She may be a seasoned, soft and gracious lady. A lady who has grown old gracefully, surrounded by a host of friends – friends who call her ‘blessed’ because of what her life has meant to them.

She may be a bitter, disillusioned, dried-up, cynical old buzzard, without a good word for anyone or anything – soured, friendless, alone.

The kind of old lady you will meet will depend entirely upon you. She will be exactly what you make of her – nothing more, nothing less. It is up to you. You will have no one else to credit or blame.

Every day, in every way, you are becoming more and more like that old lady. Amazing, but true. You are getting to look more like her, think more like her, and talk more like her. You are becoming her.

If you live only in terms of what you are getting out of life, the old lady gets smaller, drier, harder, crabbier, more self-centered.

Open your life to others, think in terms of what you can give, your contribution to life, and the old lady grows larger, softer, kinder, greater.

The point to remember is that these things don’t always show up immediately. But they will – sooner than you think. These little things, seemingly so unimportant now – attitudes, goals, ambitions, desires – are adding up inside, where you cannot see them, crystallizing in your heart and mind. Some day they will harden into that old lady; nothing will be able to soften or change them then.

The time to take care of that old lady is right now, today. Examine your motives, attitudes, goals. Check up on her. Work her over now while she is still pliable, still in a formative condition. Day comes swiftly soon when it is too late. The hardness sets in, worse than paralysis. Character crystallizes, sets, gels. That’s the finish.

Any wise business person takes an inventory regularly. Merchandise is not half as important as the person. You had better take a bit of personal inventory, too. Then you will be much more likely to meet a lovely, gracious old lady at the proper time.”

I am thankful for that mean old lady yesterday – she reminded me of who I don’t want to become.  I’ve known a lot of gentle, kind, and beautiful “old” ladies in my time. My mother and my mother-in-law are at the very tip top of the list. Gwen Worthy. Ruth Locke. Inaleen Varner. And so many, many, many more! I’m going to meet an old lady sooner than I think – hopefully she will be soft and gentle and kind and admirable.

“Help Me To Be”

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We are blessed to have sweet Nancy as a member of the church here in Dripping Springs. She is from Fort Worth, and, as a matter of fact, she and my mother knew each other as children, because Nancy’s mother and my Grandma were friends. Nancy has been blind since birth, and she has some other impairments as well. Her father and mother have both passed from this life.  Nancy now lives at Hill Country Care, the same healthcare facility where Grandma (who will be 102 on August 3) resides.

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Nancy is not bitter in the least about her condition. If you ask her how she’s doing, without fail she will reply “Hap-PY!” with decisive emphasis. She loves Lawrence Welk, and she LOVES to sing. She sings her heart out. Bless her heart (and you know, when a southern girl says “bless her heart”, something uncomplimentary might follow, but I mean this sincerely) she sings with gusto – the kind of gusto that makes small children turn around and stare.

We sat in front of Nancy yesterday, and as we sang the song “Purer in Heart” I couldn’t help thinking to myself that there might not have been a purer heart than hers in that assembly. As she warbled her way through the song, with some squeaks that might not have been pleasing to human ears – I thought that God’s heavenly ears must have been pleased with her pure, heartfelt worship.

In fact, there are probably other aspects of worship that aren’t pleasing to us that are pleasing to God. Looking back to Old Testament worship – sacrifice in particular, I wonder what it was like to be present as animals were slaughtered. It’s hard to imagine a pleasant scene – but numerous times it is described as a “sweet savour” or a “pleasing aroma” to God (Exodus 29:18,  Leviticus 1:17, 8:21 and many other places). I’m thankful it’s different today.

But who am I to have a different opinion than God? My opinion is unimportant. He is seeking people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). Nancy’s voice may not win any singing competitions, but she is not competing for any reward except for God’s favor. Shouldn’t that be the goal of every Christian?

One of Nancy’s favorite songs is “Amazing Grace”.  “I once was lost, but now am found – was blind, but now, I see.” I wonder if perhaps Nancy doesn’t see better than any of us.

Do Nouns Make You Happier Than Verbs?

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I just got an email from eBay that said “Carla: still looking for a handbag?”

Hmmm. Is someone watching me? I’ll admit, I do have this tiny problem with handbags: I like them. And cute dishes, and Tervis tumblers and Yellow Box flip flops. And I like it when John takes me out to dinner. I don’t really like being the center of attention, but I don’t mind – on a small scale – when it’s “all about me!”

But – the world doesn’t revolve around me.

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Shocking, isn’t it? Here’s more: it doesn’t revolve around you, either.

We all want to be happy. I want to be happy. You want to be happy. Our kids want to be happy. We want to make them happy. “Happy, happy, happy!” (Thanks, Phil.)

Here’s the problem, though. Where does our happiness come from? Nouns, or verbs?

Recently, while preparing a lesson about ways to influence and teach teenage girls, I was thinking about how we tend to use NOUNS (people, places, and things) to make our girls (and GUYS, for that matter) happy. Did someone hurt your feelings? Let’s go buy you a new pair of shoes. Bad day at school? Let’s go to the movies. Your friend got a new purse? We’ll get you a more expensive one. This will make you feel better, baby.

It’s sort of like the drain in the bathtub with no stopper…we keep trying to fill it up. But something else will always come up…a new want, another bad day, and the THINGS just keep pouring down the drain.

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But what if we used VERBS to make our kids happy? What if we used verbs to make US happy? Did someone hurt your feelings? Let’s stop right here and ask God to soften their heart and also to open our eyes to our own insensitivities. Bad day at school? Let’s go by and see how we can help this hurting family in need. Your friend got a new purse? Let’s go through your closet and see what we can share with someone who REALLY needs it.

Believe me, I’m talking to Carla, too.

This isn’t anything new. God said it centuries ago.

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:1-4

“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for RIGHTEOUSNESS, for they shall be satisfied…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:6, 16 (emphasis mine)

Nouns make us happy, but it’s a temporary happy. We are always going to want another new pair of shoes. But verbs – now THOSE will really make a difference. Not only in my life, but in the lives of those I am helping! Our kids might balk at first. They might drag their feet (or we might have to drag their feet for them…) 😉 but given plenty of opportunities, they (and we!) will see the lasting happiness that comes from being a servant of God.

Then, instead of a draining bathtub, we can be like those beautiful infinity pools we see in magazines…the kind of pool that spills over and shares beauty and flows out with God’s living water. Who wouldn’t want to be there?

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My Silly Personal Pity Party

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I have a confession to make: today, I had a tiny bit of a personal pity party.

You see, I woke up with a headache – the kind that doesn’t go away. And John is out of town again. Then I didn’t push my coffee cup lid down hard enough, and I poured hot coffee down my chin (so it has been cherry red all day) and on my shirt (the one I wanted to wear) and it dribbled on my white pants (which I wore anyway.)  Then on the way to take Micah to school, someone a few cars ahead decided to be nice and let another car in…but it slowed us all down, and the teenybopper with the phone in her hand behind me didn’t slow down with us. By the time she did decide to slow down, I could see her uvula reflected in my rear-view mirror. THEN, Flores put beans on my taco, which (as Mike Rowe is fond of saying) was unfortunate.  And when I went to have a pedi to make myself feel better, the lady (who was very sweet, but I think we were each having a conversation that neither of us understood) rubbed some kind of lotion on my legs that I must be allergic to, and now I have these cute little red bumps.

And it was my birthday, and I had absolutely no plans. With anyone.

I felt sorry for myself for a while. I didn’t feel very special. Then I started feeling really ashamed of myself. I was humbled. And I started questioning myself.  How often have I made other people feel special on their birthdays? (Not very often, I’m afraid.) Have I been as thoughtful towards others as I should? (Not always.) Have I been self-absorbed, instead of serving others? (Yes.) How spoiled am I, to think everything must revolve around me? How silly, to feel sorry for myself when I have so much to be thankful for! How blessed am I, to have been made to feel special all of these 45 years I’ve been on this earth!

Every time I’ve looked at my phone today, I’ve seen birthday wishes from treasured friends everywhere.

The most wonderful man on the planet loves me. ME!

My family is happy and healthy.

I ate a Flores taco (which I haven’t allowed myself in two years.)

I enjoyed my pedicure (despite the bumps.)

I got a birthday call from Rig!

My dog just licked my elbow, which I take to mean “Happy Birthday” (or maybe, “may I please have the leftover chicken?”)

And Micah and I are about to sit down for another few episodes of LOST.

Life is good. I am blessed beyond measure. Thank you, God! Happy birthday to me!

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IMHO

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Women could never be accused of being opinionated.

Co-sleeping or crib sleeping? Cry it out, or soothe to sleep? Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding?  Cloth or disposable? Shots or no shots? Home, public, or private school? Lots of kids, or no kids? Stay-at-home mom or work-away-from-home mom? TV or no TV? Skirts only, or pants too? Sugar or no sugar? PTA or no PTA? Makeup or no makeup? Band or athletics? Too much Facebook, not enough Facebook, or no Facebook? Long hair or short hair? Courtship or dating? Kids should have phones, or kids shouldn’t have phones? Vegan, vegetarian or carnivore? Organic or inorganic? College or trade school? Be fit and exercise, or embrace the body you have? 

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Okay, so maybe we DO have a lot of opinions. Like Lady Violet, we think we are never wrong. And IMHO (in my humble opinion) that means a lot of different ways for us to feel superior – or inferior – to one another. I know I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of this – and I’m trying to remind myself that in matters of opinion, I need to be more careful with my attitude. (And even in matters that aren’t opinions, but doctrine, I still need to be careful with my attitude toward others!)

We shouldn’t quarrel over opinions (Rom. 14:1). We should put on “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another…forgiving each other,” ( Col. 3:12-17). And we should be “of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves…” (Phil. 2:2-4).

We women need each other. We need to lean on one another, to cry on each other’s shoulders, to laugh together, and to know we aren’t being scrutinized or criticized when our backs are turned. We need to build one another up instead of tearing one another down. We need to be more gentle and less harsh and assertive about our views.

But that’s just my opinion. 🙂