but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
I have seen these words several times lately: “You Can’t Pour From An Empty Cup”. I suppose here is truth to that saying and I think the original intent was great. I think it’s important to take care of yourself but the more I think about it, the more I see it differently. Honestly, the more I thought about it, the more I realized it bugged me and I found it completely false. I scratched my head wondering why I was reacting so stubbornly to a line meant for good. After lots of thought and prayer, I realized God was using this line to get under my skin and remind me of some important things I had been forgetting. Since I can’t seem to get this off my mind, I’m guessing this might be a message some of you need to hear too.
The truth is, YES YOU CAN! We do it all the time. As parents, teachers and friends we often give even when we don’t think there is anything left in the tank. If a child comes to me frustrated and hurting I’m sure not going to look at them and say, “sorry child, please come back when I’ve had a little “me” time.” If a co-worker, parent or friend stops in to share their struggles I’m not going to ask them to come back after I’ve taken a nap. Teaching during a Pandemic has stretched me so far I thought I’d snap but as teachers we just keep finding a little more in the cup to pour out. As parents, we do the same again and again and again. We just keep pouring, hoping there are enough drops left to get us through the day.
The world would have us believe that success depends on our effort and energy. The world would have us believe that we deserve to be happy and we have to carve out that happy time ourselves and we deserve to take time for ourselves to re-charge so we can do more stuff. The world would have us believe that if our cups aren’t full we will crumble up in a heap in the corner somewhere. As usual, the world doesn’t get it right! Thank goodness we have something more truthful, hopeful and joyful to turn to…a Father who loves us so enormously we will never be empty.
The Father loving reminded me that he’s in charge of my cup! It is precisely in those moments I feel like I have nothing left to give I’m supposed to turn to him and he will give me EVERYTHING I need…he will give me EVERYTHING he’s asking me to give to one of his children. He will give me more than enough. His love, his grace, his compassion is more than enough!
One last lesson…don’t wait until you feel empty to turn to him. Pray continuously throughout the day as you pour again and again from your cup because sometimes we pour things out in places he hasn’t called us to pour. The final reminder were words spoken in the Gospel when Jesus said “I have not come to be served but to serve.” Those words are our mission on earth too. I’m supposed to serve God and serve others and I suppose the emptier my cup, the more I have done the work the Father put me on this earth to do and that should bring a joy that fills my cup to overflowing. This life really isn’t about me at all and I needed to be reminded of that. Worrying about MY cup and expecting to always “feel good” about life is crazy but trusting the the Father will always make sure I have what I need to pour brings a sense of peace and contentment to these crazy days. I think the saying should be “I Serve A God Who Always Fills My Cup!”
A Seed To Plant: Spend a few extra minutes in prayer these next days and don’t forget to take your cup to the Father for a re-fill.
Blessings on your day!
The Second Be
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise think about these things. Philippians 4:8
So after what I hope was a “BE LOUD” sort of weekend, it’s time to move to the second be; “BE WIDE-EYED” Before I launch into the second Be, we need to go back to an episode of Little House on the Prairie. (If you weren’t a viewer…is that even possible? think of any old western with plow horses.) The horses working in the field or hauling the family to town in the wagon often wore blinders. These little square leather pieces were meant to focus horses on the path and avoid distractions. It seems logical and safe don’t you think? There are days I think it would be helpful to have a pair so I could focus on one task at a time instead of looking around and seeing a dozen things to do and jumping from task to task.
Sometimes we are like those horses with blinders and we plow full speed ahead focused on one thing. The problem though, is when we struggle with anxiety and worry the thing we’re “laser focused” on is usually adding to our struggle instead of leading us away from it. The second Be challenges us to Be Wide-Eyed and notice what’s on the other side of those blinders. There are a hundred things wrong with this world today. There is tragedy, violence, disaster and evil in all corners of the globe. There is also sorrow, pain, sickness, financial struggle, relationship trouble and plain ole worry settled into all the corners of our daily life and it’s easy to get caught with “blinder vision” and see only those things. St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians encouraged them to look WIDER and he even told them exactly what to focus on.
Today, I’m going to pull a St. Paul and tell you exactly the same thing. You absolutely can see the yuck…there is a lot of it but I’m going to encourage you to take off the blinders and look to the left and to the right. I’m going to ask you to look for the things that are good, just, noble and lovely. I don’t for one hot second want to diminish the reality of the hurt and confusion that may be sitting on your heart, I’m just asking you to notice all the other stuff God is showing you. Bad news always leads. Lies and negative spins on stuff seem sparklier than a story about a four year old spending all his birthday money to buy cake mixes to make cupcakes for the firefighters and policemen in his neighborhood which he sweetly delivered in his little red wagon. A story about deceit and violence will get more reads, likes and comments than the article about NICU nurses who dressed premies for Halloween or National Kindness day. It’s a good idea to take down the blinders and see what you’re missing. We have to ask hard questions and make touch choices like turning off the news, cutting back or eliminating social media or other places that are feeding our worry and anxiety. When I quit watching the news I was afraid I’d be “out of the loop”. Funny thing is, I didn’t really want to be in the loop in the first place. Another funny thing, the world didn’t change when I stopped watching the circus; but I did.
We live in a world of great people doing great stuff…do you see it? I had a visit from a group of 5th grade boys on Halloween night who brought me hot coffee and I have a student who copied my favorite Scripture verse in perfect cursive with a glitter gel pen…beautiful! I watched a 6th grade brother visit a first grade sister who forgot her lunch delivering half of everything that was in his lunch pail. The sandwich was torn in half and a half a bag of Doritos were poured onto the sandwich and wrapped in a paper towel. He split the apple in half with his desk scissors and gave her one of his two Hershey Kisses. The whole exchange happened in silence behind the coat rack in my classroom. Words aren’t needed to define that kind of love and humility. I still cry every time I remember that morning. If I hadn’t been wide-eyed I would have missed something beautiful. If you’re struggling I’ll ask you to look for the positive, the good, the lovely and excellent going on all around you. If you love someone who is struggling I’ll ask you to point it out and maybe even be the one who creates a little positive event in their life. A note or text, a flower or favorite snack delivered anonymously or personally with a hug and a prayer make a huge difference. One more thought, when we’re struggling, there is nothing that can pull us out of a slump faster than turning our focus to someone else. If I’m having a lousy day, seeing only my own yuck, doing a positive act for someone can snap me out of a funk faster than anything I can think of. There is a quote from a favorite movie, The Shack and it just seems to fit this BE. The line comes when God is speaking to Mac and God says, “When all you see is your own pain, you loose sight of Me.” BE WIDE-EYED this week and look for the positive things St. Paul points us to.
A Seed To Plant: Add the second BE to your list and then begin looking! Please share the wide-eyed things you’re seeing so we can all enjoy!
Blessings on your day!
The peace of God will guard your minds and hearts. Philippians 4:7
Have you ever had one of those crazy moments when you nearly did something completely ridiculous and then stopped and said, “WHOA, I better step back and take a breath, I’m loosen it”? I had that moment last week. It’s been a little hectic lately but God is good and I was clippin along with everything he was asking me to do and then came the God thump. It came when I was in my kitchen which is the place that centers me in the chaos. In my kitchen, I am happy because I love feeding people; it’s good for my soul! It brings me joy when people enjoy what I serve them and it always gives me a time to pray for my family and those who will eat what I’m whippin up in my kitchen. I love the feeling of serving that bubbles in my heart when I’m busy in the kitchen. When the God thump came, I was making a batch of cinnamon rolls for somebody who needed a little lovin and a little lift. Like usual, it was late and I was trying to cram one more thing into the day. I had the dough all rolled out and it was smeared with warm butter and sprinkled generously with brown sugar and in a quick twist to the cupboard I grabbed and was about to sprinkle a big ole dose of cinnamon on top of the sugar. Thank goodness the thump came and I paused a nano-second to realize that I was about to plaster the buttery, sugary dough with CHILI POWDER instead of cinnamon. After finishing up with the appropriate spice, and putting the rolls in the pan, I decided to close the kitchen and just be still.
As the rolls raised and baked, I had a chance to sit still and I asked God for a dose of peace as thick as the brown sugar I’d just piled on those rolls. He obliged, and I sat there and soaked up the gift of his peace. It gave me a chance to think about how nutty the pace of life can get. It gave me a chance to think and pray about how we use our time. I’m very grateful that I don’t get rattled easily but I began to do some thinking about how we handle stress. Just for fun, I googled stress and one of the first thing I found was a list of the top 100 books on stress. Top 100; I was floored…if there were 100 on top, how many more were under that 100? Next, I found 33 Scripture verses about peace. There was the answer! We were ingenuously created with an amazing immune system. That system works round the clock fighting off germs, and other microscopic stuff to keep us in balance. We have a stress relief system like that too. That system goes into action when we tap into God’s peace. In John’s gospel Jesus tells us his peace surpasses the worlds peace. It is greater, deeper, more conquering than anything we can get from a book. It comes with free, instant delivery; it always fits perfectly and it is precisely customized to fit all your worries, fears and anxieties.
There is a prescription for strengthening your peace system. It’s a three step process; take a dose of scripture reading, follow it with some quiet stillness soaking up the wisdom of those words and repeat! Nowhere in scripture does it tell us to go forth and be crazy. The book of Genesis doesn’t say that on the eighth day God created stress and worry. Those things are not of God and anything that is not from him is something we can ask him to help us avoid and remove. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get all tangled up in it and forget to remind myself that it’s not his, but he will sure take it away if I ask him. It will require sitting still and applying the three steps, but for me, it’s a much better thing to do than making cinnamon rolls with chili powder.
A Seed To Plant: Write yourself a note right this minute scheduling the time today you will strengthen your peace system and do those simple three steps. It will be the most important thing you do today!
Blessings on your day!
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