Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man: My Response



My last two weeks have been full of household appliance repairs, a car in need of repairs, ministry strains, etc, etc. On top of that, I've experienced disappointment in my writing career. But that's a story for another blog...

So this past Sunday, after a quick nap, I did what any fed-up-with-real-life woman would do.

I went to the movies.

And not any old movie. A comedy. I chose to see "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man", based on the book by comedian-turned-actor-turned-radio host-turned-bestselling author Steve Harvey.

Let me first say, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I enjoyed the humor, the fresh take on relationships, and the all-star cast of upperly-mobile African American folks.

So today, I thought I'd take a look at the movie -- what I'd take away and what I'd leave.

Take Aways

First of all, the movie was terribly funny. Despite the profanity (I've gotten pretty sensitive to profanity in my older age), I found myself laughing-out-loud quite a bit. The cast played off one another with quick wit.

And I applaud screenwriters Keith Merryman and David A. Newman for taking a nonfiction book and translating it into a lighthearted drama. Very creative indeed.

Also, I like much of Steve's message to women. He obviously wants to empower us ladies in our relationships with men, in a culture where we have often been misused and abused. His underlying message: we should be respected, loved and cherished by our men.

Steve encourages women to set the stage for that kind of treatment in the earliest stages of our relationships. And when we don't receive it, he tells us to slide into our walking shoes.

An example of Steve's message that speaks volumes: "Boys shack. MEN build homes." Now that alone could preach!

Leave It There's

I know Steve Harvey doesn't claim to be a preacher, but my mind immediately sized his message up with the Word.

Now let me just say that if the book and movie had come from a biblical perspective, it wouldn't have sold a quarter of the books or tickets it did. So I get that.

However, let's talk a little about the "90-day rule."

(Plot-spoiler: the 90-day rule instructs a woman to wait at least 90-days before she becomes intimate with a man she's dating. Steve calls this "giving up the cookies.")

I appreciate setting a standard for a woman giving up "the cookies." In this day of one-night-stands and revolving doors, somebody has to start setting some standards.

But what about encouraging folks to wait until marriage? How has celibacy become such an archaic concept today?

I'm finding that even in the church, people often believe every single thing the Bible says -- except that sex should be reserved for marriage. What's that about? I'm not saying people don't make mistakes. But there's a generation of people today that have chosen to completely toss any reference about pre-marital sex out of the Bible. And I just don't get it.

Either the Bible is totally true or it's all a farce.

My Version of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man
  • First of all I'd entitle it Act Like a Lady, Think Like Jesus, the God-Man (I know, I know. I'd sell about two tickets!)
  • My underlying message -- Be the woman God wants you to be so you're ready for the man He has for you
  • Also, trust Him to bring that man in His time, not yours
  • And absolutely, as archaic as it might sound -- Save "the cookies" until marriage, not just 90-Days!
There's so much more that can be said, but I think you get the point. Be God's Girl. Search His Word for your dating rule book. You'll be blessed for sure.

Love ya,

Carla

Have you tried things your way with dating in the past? Has God's way been proven better? I'd love some feedback!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pat Summitt: A Beautiful Legacy



This week we've experienced the ending of two careers. Icon Dick Clark, considered an ambassador of American pop culture, died this past Wednesday from a heart attack. And Patricia "Pat" Head Summitt announced her retirement from her 38-year coaching career at the University of Tennessee, due to her diagnosis of early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type eight months ago.

During her career, Summitt led her Lady Vols to 1,098 wins, more than any other coach in NCAA history -- in men's and women's basketball. This year, President Obama will honor her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

What can we learn from Pat Summitt's amazing career?

Do Not Despise the Day of Small Beginnings

Women's basketball has come a long way since Pat began coaching. During her first year, she earned a meager $250 a month. The program offered her few resources, but she worked well with very little. In fact, her first team wore uniforms purchased through proceeds from a doughnut sale. In the beginning she even washed her players uniforms.

Now that's humility.

And that's love.

And that's the kind of woman Pat Summitt is.

And we'd do well to follow her lead, using the resources God's given us (our talents, gifts and personal resources) to build on what we're given. Then trust Him to make the thing grow.

Work Hard

Pat didn't lead her girls to 1000 plus victories by sitting on her rump all day. She worked hard, and she encouraged them to do the same. No, she didn't encourage them. She insisted they do the same.

And they've got the NCAA championship medals to show for it.

But Pat hasn't only demanded hard work on the court, she's expected it in the classroom as well. Every single player that has completed her NCAA eligibility under Pat has earned a bachelor's degree.

Need I say more?

Discern the Changes of Seasons

Ecclesiastes 3 speaks of seasons in life:

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."

During her press conference on Thursday in Knoxville, Pat said, "It was really a great ride for me. I just felt like it was time for me to step down... It's never a good time, but you have to find the time that you think is the right time, and that is now."

Pat's illness has dictated the ending of her coaching season, and she is wise to end this season now. We too must take heed to the ending of seasons.

As I type this, I am seeking direction in a writing project I began years ago. Do I close the season of this writing project and give it over to God? Or do I begin a new writing project that I feel Him nudging me towards?

Like Pat, I want to follow the seasons of my life with poise and grace. Let's learn from the life of this powerful lady, and live in the moment, in the season God has laid out for us.

Hats off to Pat Summitt and her beautiful legacy. She's slam-dunked the ball once again.

May we do the same in our own spheres of life.

Love,

Carla

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Walking Through the Dark Forest of Miscarriage



This morning God laid something heavy on my heart. Maybe it's because I have a good friend that's currently walking through this scary forest. Maybe it's because I've walked through the same overgrown brush and thistles that she's walking through now. Maybe because I've walked it not just once -- but twice.

For whatever reason, God laid this topic on my heart. So today, I want to share a few words about miscarriage... from someone who's been there. (Feel free to share this with your husbands. They may find a few clues about how to love you well through this time.) I don't claim to have all the answers or the perfect scriptures to set things right again for you, but I can share what God did in my heart and life during that dark, cold and lonely walk.

I fought my feelings of GUILT

There's something about tragedy that makes us blame ourselves. I remember worrying that maybe I'd worked out too much or maybe I had eaten too many McDonald's french fries or maybe I'd allowed too much stress in my life.

But hear me. You are not to blame for your miscarriage. There's nothing you did to cause it. There's nothing you could have done to prevent it. So let yourself off the hook.

Once I let myself off the hook, then I was able to...

Allow myself to GRIEVE

This may sound like a no-brainer, but if you've experienced a miscarriage, you've lost a child. Even though you never rocked your child to sleep or gazed into her eyes, your sweet child has died. That's a tremendous loss, and don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

Actually, the fact that I had never cradled my babies or witnessed their first steps only magnified my grief. When a loved one dies, your mind immediately recalls event after event that you shared with them. You remember how funny he was or how intelligent she was. You remember past conversations you had with them. When you miscarry a baby, you have no such memories. That alone is cause for grief and pain.

My husband Anthony and I received grief counseling after our miscarriages (and an adoption loss, by the way), and our counselor encouraged us to have a memorial service for the children we'd lost. In the privacy of our home, we named both of our babies and spent time memorializing their short lives. I can't express how real that made our children to us, and how much it validated our grief.

Bask in the GRACE of God

When a loved one dies, and we know, that we know, that we know that they're now in heaven, it is a blessing indeed. Even on my worst, grief-filled day, I have faith that my babies are with their heavenly Father. And even though I wanted them here with me, I know that they're safe and warm in a place where they'll never experience an "owie" or hurt feelings. They're experiencing love and joy that I can't even imagine here on earth.

I can have peace because I know my babies are healthy and whole in the Father's presence.

It makes me think of the old hymn I've loved since I was a little girl in frilly ankle socks and braided pigtails:

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow 
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living 
Just because He lives

An added bonus in my life is the joy of God's grace as He increased my family. He's brought every single child into our family with gusto and purpose. And they -- all four of them -- navigate life with gusto and purpose. (Some days it actually drives me kinda nuts!)

I often ponder an interesting fact: my miscarriages took place in 2001. My Christian was born in Moscow, Russia on January 1, 2001. (Yes, that's 01/01/01!) If I'd given birth to either of those children, I know with certainty we would not have adopted my sweet Christian. 

And today that thought brings me to tears.

Just wait, my Sister. God's got an amazing plan for you. Your miscarriage is not some happenstance or meaningless event in your life. God will use it to transform you and make you a better you. He will bless your life, not only in spite of your losses, but because of them. You may not have all the answers right now, but look to the One Who does.

Believing God for you,

Carla

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bubba Watson: God Loves an Underdog

Bubba Watson with Mom Molly after Masters Win


When a long-time pro like Phil Mickelson hits a disastrous shot like the one on Sunday that landed him deep in the woods and another shot in the bunker, obviously something's gone awry.

And when the name of Tiger Woods, four-time wearer of the green Masters jacket, fails to grace the list of top scorers, one might question the alignment of the solar system.

And... when an underdog like Bubba Watson sneaks up and snatches that green jacket from veteran golfers from around the world, you know there's something amazing going on behind the scenes.

My thoughts? God loves an underdog.

Throughout history, people with lesser means, less training, less opportunities have often risen to the top of their game. Some call it raw talent. Some call it luck. Some call it providence.

In the case of Bubba Watson, I think God might be up to something. And here's why:


Bubba Proves That Anyone Can Dream

If you judged by resume alone, Bubba would have been a surefire loser in the Masters this year. The dude has never had a professional golf lesson. He claims to have Attention Deficit Disorder, yet plays a sport that requires the utmost concentration and focus. He was virtually unknown by anyone outside the golf world until Sunday.


Prior to this year's Masters, most would have stamped Bubba's golf profile "Least Likely to Succeed." Boy, did he prove "most" wrong.


Bubba Has Faith In God

Bubba's Twitter profile reads: "Christian. Husband. Daddy. Pro-Golfer. Owner of General Lee 1." The man's got his priorities straight. He's a Christian first, then a husband and father, then a pro-golfer, then the owner of a cool big-boy toy (General Lee 1 is the famous car from the television show "Dukes of Hazzard") -- in a day when many men would list their careers and material possessions first in life if they're truly honest.

Don't look for Bubba to shout about his faith in God, however. He seems to live a quiet faith, allowing his lifestyle to do the shouting for him. Admirable, I think.


Bubba with Wife Angie and son Caleb



Bubba Makes Being a Family Man Attractive

Lastly, Bubba's family life speaks volumes about his faith. He can hardly speak about his wife Angie without crying, as evidenced during his interview with CNN's Piers Morgan. And don't get him started on that little baby boy he and his wife recently adopted. The man obviously adores his family.

He also brings adoption to the forefront, in a day when there's a great need for parents for orphans in our country and world. He and Angie discussed adoption while dating, and jumped hurdles to see that dream realized. According to Bubba, "Four years ago we started that [adoption] process. We got turned down a couple times."

But they did not give up. And on March 22 they received a call from an adoption agency in South Florida with the news they'd been waiting for: they had been matched with a month-old baby boy, now their son Caleb.

And the rest is history.

And so is Bubba Watson's jaw-dropping win at the Masters on Easter Sunday 2012.



Carla

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Seven Last Words: A Reflection



As a skinny little girl in pigtails, I never understood the "Seven Last Words."

"If there were seven last words, why in the world is the preacher saying so many words?" I'd think.

No longer a skinny little girl in pigtails, I've come to know the Savior that spoke those last words. I thought I'd share a few words about each of the seven words with you on Good Friday, and more importantly, right before Easter Sunday.

I. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do

A powerful first word from our Savior. Can you imagine His eyes surveying the crowd as He spoke those words?  His mother Mary, his beloved friend John and other loved ones surely wept until they had no more tears.

But His enemies were there too -- jeering and casting insults. And how did He respond?

With mercy and grace.

Oh, may our lives reflect the heart of our Savior. May we be vessels of mercy and grace -- not only for our loved ones, but for those that reject and oppose us. May we love like He did.

II. Today you will be with me in paradise

Again we see the grace and mercy of Jesus in these words. A criminal hanging on a cross beside Him, cries out during his last hours on earth, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Luke 23:42 Jesus looks on the guilty man with eyes of compassion, and releases Him of every sin he'd ever committed.

Have you cried out to Him for forgiveness? No matter how minor or heinous our sins, we can all be forgiven at the cross of Christ. Don't go another day without Him. Like the criminal on the cross, today could be your last.

III. Behold your son: behold your mother

I love when the bible illuminates Jesus' humanity. He was fully God and fully man. And as a man, He loved His Mama. He needed reassurance of her welfare after His death. So He looks to John, the beloved disciple, and says (in my 2012 translation), "John, my man, take care of my Moms. I'll be with her in Spirit, but she's gonna need you in the flesh."

Are you loving and honoring your Mama? Are you caring for your parents well as they grow older? They spent many years taking care of us. It's the least we can do in return.

IV. My God, my god, why have you forsaken me

The Bible says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21

When Jesus hung on that wooden cross, He did so for you and me. The burden of the sins of the world weighed down on His steady shoulders. My sins, your sins and every sin ever committed hung Him on that cross. Our sins made God turn His eyes away from His Son.

What amazing love He had for you and me. Let's bask in that love, not take it for granted. His grace is free to us, but cost Him much. Let's not waste His precious grace.

V. I thirst

Again, we witness the humanity of Christ. As He hung on the cross, He experienced physical thirst.

As humans, we too experience thirst -- physical thirst and spiritual thirst. We thirst for love. We thirst for approval. We thirst for significance.

Whatever you're thirsting for today, bring it to Jesus. Only He can quench your thirst.

VI. It is finished

When Jesus mentions His thirst, someone finds a jar of wine vinegar, soaks a sponge with it, and offers it to the lips of the Savior. "When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." John 19:30

Those three words meant much more than Jesus' death. They were words of triumph, not defeat. They proclaimed His victory over death and hell -- not just for Himself, but for us too. When we place our lives in His hands, we too will be victorious over death and hell.

Like the repentant thief, we too will be with Him in paradise. Hallelujah!

VII. Father, into your hand I commit my spirit

The book of John records Jesus' absolute last words before His death. The sun ceases to shine, the curtain of the Jewish Temple rips in two and Jesus speaks these words in a loud voice.

Jesus performed countless miracles during his short ministry on earth. He'd turned water to wine, He'd healed lepers and blind men and the woman whose body never ceased to bleed. He could have performed His last miracle that day by removing Himself from the cross and avoiding death altogether.

But He stayed on the cross for me. He remained on the cross for you.

He willingly committed His spirit into the hands of the Father because He loved us. He chose to die a shameful death reserved for the worst of the worst criminals.

A cross reserved for you and me.

You see, He took our place on that rugged cross. And for that I'm eternally grateful.

Love,

Carla