Telling your story

We all have a story or two to tell. There are incredibly interesting things about each one of us and the lives we lead.  I love chatting with people i meet from day to day because usually if you get them talking they have some interesting story to tell.

Sometimes I am shocked that people take interest in our little farm and then I remember how enamored with farms I had been before I had one. Lets face it, I am still enamored with farms –  I love to see silos in the distance.  I love to watch those large tractors drive up and down the fields.  I love to see horses, sheep and cows grazing…and I love to hear farm stories told by anyone who has one to tell! Tell me about your goats getting out, how many eggs you get a day, your compost pile! I am hooked!

I am a mish mash of stories. Some changed my life.  There are some stories I tell very easily and others I hold to myself.  We are all probably like that to a degree. Sometimes I wonder why I might be holding a story in. Am I embarrassed – or is it too private (as some are), am I avoiding something, do I worry what other people might think?

One of the stories I don’t tell often is my Christian testimony.  For those who are reading this and don’t know what a Christian testimony is :”A testimony is a compilation of words that tells others about your faith.”   I dont tell mine very often because I don’t feel like it is that interesting really- it does not have the big bang – it is more of a discovery on a slow moving steam.   And frankly I know I don’t share it often because I worry I might offend the audience.

I had that experience recently  I wasn’t invited nor was I planning to share my entire testimony with a person I was speaking with. But I knew during the conversation I was having that expressing a part of my testimony might be important.  I also knew it might offend the person if I didn’t say the right thing. I have to tell you I hemmed and hawed through the small part I told.  I was frustrated with myself!

Why do I do that?  Why is it so awkward to me to express that Jesus Christ changed my life?  That once i came to know Him my heart was changed- that I was changed?  I want to be so eloquent with my words and express the changes that have occurred in my life after I decided to give my life to Jesus Christ. Instead, I  don’t feel like I made much sense. But today a good friend told me that it is better when we don’t sound so perfect in our makes it all less intimidating.  That made me feel better- because I was not perfect!  Maybe in some way God spoke through me -not in my words but in my expression-  I am not sure but I hope so.

I thought later that my words might have opened a crack in the armor  This person felt that people of faith often were hypocrites.  Maybe by explaining that I was a hypocrite sometimes, a sinner a lot(a forgiven sinner!), and completely underserving of God’s redemption maybe that person would understand that those people they thought should be so infallible because they called themselves christians…were just human.  That being a Christian does not mean we are perfect…  We will never reach that bar if that is what people are looking for when they see a Christian.  To me it means being changed in heart, trying to please and serve God each day with what I say and do- and when I fail that I ask God to forgive me and that my heart means it.

My friend had also been badly hurt by a person who said they were Christian. I won’t deny there are some unkind, and just bad people who might label themselves as Christians. I know when someone is really harmed by a person who claims to be a Christian this can push the hurt person away from God – as it did with my friend.  My only answer to that is – that was a person  – not God. Please don’t turn your back on God because of what a human does to you. Please trust that God did not lead that person to hurt you. God is love – not hate.

Can I help get a person, who has been badly hurt by another person who claimed to be a Christian, to stop blaming God and turn to Jesus?   I have no idea – but the only way I can try at all is by telling my story – no matter how muddled I get in the telling.

So please tell your story – not only the Christian one – tell any story because they matter and you matter and you never know how they will effect someone.  In my case, I hope I made some difference.  I think facing life is much easier knowing I have a creator who loves me and a wonderful place to go after I leave this temporary world.

Thanks for reading—-

I knew I had pickling spice–one of those little God moments

I was trying to make corned beef for St Pattys Day- I was doing it the day before because we had a church activity Sunday night the actual St Patty’s Day.

I realized that my corned beef did not come with a pickling spice packet. I normally have pickling spice in my spice cupboard. I did not recall using it all up but I could not find it.  I took a bunch of items out and there was no pickling spice! So frustrating!  I knew pickling spice had cloves in it- at least I thought it did- so I put cloves on my meat. Then I decided to consult the internet on how to make my own pickling spice.  So I looked on the net and put together a list of spices I thought I had and decided to use those to make my own version of the spice!

I walked back to the kitchen and opened up the cupboard and was reaching my hand in- I had not touched anything. All of a sudden something fell in the back of the cupboard! I had a weird feeling…. I reached back and there were my pickling spices!  I had looked all around in there but not well enough! Coincidence….hmmmm maybe to some… but that was a God moment for me! However simple, I know He and his angels had a hand in helping me find that spice! All I could do was smile and whisper thanks.  It is nice to know we are being watched over….all the time….

The corned beef was pretty good I might add!

Thanks for reading!

Having Compassion…

I wrote this last fall for our church newsletter. It was election time and I felt that there was so much hate tossed around – it really made me sad. So this was what I wrote:

Perspectives……Anne Sweeney

Everyone Needs Compassion….

Today on my Facebook newsfeed, GodVine shared a sign that read “Don’t Judge Someone Just Because They Sin Differently Than You.” This made me really think about how easy it is for me to be judgmental. For goodness sake I even judge others for judging others! As if I have it all figured out. We all sin. All of us. Sometimes I think we humans feel like we need to belong to something so we join this bandwagon or that to feel important. We react before we think. Sometimes maybe we need to look at ourselves and the stand we are taking. Are we not sinners too? Some sins are easy to see and other times they are only known by us and God. But we are all sinners…it is just human nature to sin. I know I am a sinner!- and I know I am blessed to have my Savior Jesus Christ to save me from me. We need to try to separate the sin from the sinner and treat the person as a person. Isn’t it said “Hate the sin, love the sinner”?…I hope people do that for me… I hope I can do it for others.

Psalm 19:14 says “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” This is a tall order for human beings! I can be so judgmental!Some days I feel like I keep thinking and saying things that are so unpleasing to God but I can’t seem to stop! Is it just my nature to think surly things and say unkind words? No—we all have moods…joy, sadness, anger, crabbiness, etc. When I am joyful it is so easy for me to be loving and non-judgmental because I am feeling loving and kind. When I am crabby, tired, stressed, those kind thoughts and words can be so hard for me to find! But I do have choices. I can choose to make the words kind and try to chase those negative thoughts out of my mind.

In having these choices we get to thoughtfully consider the plight of others. This can help us avoid harsh judgement against other sinners…or when others disagree with our beliefs….or live differently than we do. Looking at others compassionately may not come naturally but its a choice we can make. We can choose to step back and look at someone and their sin and if we can really separate that person as a person and see the sin as a sin we can see the child created by God. This is compassion. This is love. Love is a choice not a feeling.

The Bible tells us how important it is that we love each other. In Romans 12:10 it reads:
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” We know Jesus said that we need to love one another. Jesus knew all humans are sinners – he knew none of us had a right to judge another. He had love and compassion for every person he met during his time on Earth. He wanted us to love each other and be devoted to each other because humans need other humans to support them through life. Ephesians 4:32 says: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. As Christians we are so lucky to have salvation. The only reason I need salvation is because I am a sinner! It is only because of the unconditional love and compassion of God that I have received this gift of salvation. Better for us to love the sinner the way we, the sinner, want to be loved.

Where am I going with all this? I don’t know. It just seems that lately I have seen a lot of hate. I don’t even watch the news and I cannot get away from all the negativity and judgement. Maybe it is because we are in the midst of voting for president. Hackles seem to come up more easily during these times, I suppose. It just bothers me to see so much hate and judgement. It reminds me to try to be less judgmental as I am in no position to be a judge. Disagreement and differences can be healthy if love and compassion are put forth. We can actually learn from each other –and sometimes just agree to disagree. My view may be naïve but I try to take what I learn from the Bible and the important messages that are taught there. What is stressed most is love and compassion. This earthly home of ours is temporary. We can make a difference in this world by just trying a love a little more, judge a little less, and show lots of compassion. I am challenging myself to improve in my tendency to judge. I want to show more love and understanding….I am choosing to do this…how about you?

Thanks for reading!

An Authentic Life?

I wrote this in May 2012 for the newsletter for the church that I attend…

Perspectives…by Anne Sweeney

Am I living and Authentic Life?

I attended a memorial party for a friend who lost her life recently to cancer. During that party they showed a video of pictures taken throughout her life. They were just beautiful and such a reflection of who she was and the life she led. She was really a wonderful, funny person and during her 16 year battle with cancer she lived her life to the fullest. What I call an Authentic life. Maybe when a person is faced with a life threatening illness they know they need to live their life as best they can…maybe the reality of facing death takes the fear out of living life.

What is an Authentic Life? Mike Robbins author of “Be Yourself- Everyone Else is Already Taken” defines an authentic life as “enjoying a new sense of freedom to be who you really are – yourself, natural and without a mask.” He explains that there are five principles of authenticity –
1) Know Yourself – this refers to self-discovery and growth about yourself
2) Transform your fear – a willingness to express, own and face your fears
3) Express Yourself – honestly express your emotions
4) Be Bold – going for it- even it you are scared
5) Celebrate who you are – loving and appreciating the person you are.

I would add a sixth principle to the list above – trust God who gave you life – to help you to find an authentic life. Without a relationship with God I see the five principles above being hard to reach. It is God who will carry us through every trial. God wants us to live an authentic life.

I have done a lot of changing over the years. I used to be trapped in trying to please everyone, I had trouble saying no and I often did things that others thought I should do. As I matured I realized I wasn’t happy conforming to what the norm was for others. So I sought out my own normal. Often when I had an idea that was out of the norm a lot of people liked to tell me why I shouldn’t do it. Then I knew that my idea was a good one for me! Take our farm- we would not be here if we had not followed a “normal” path. It was our faith in God and ability to step out of the box that led us to this place.

I still battle with having an authentic life. I battle with anxiety – and sometimes fear stands in my way. But my relationship with the Lord has helped me so much. The more I trust him the better I am able to face my fears as in step 2 above. I am not always opinions are often different than others – should I be real and express them? I think if asked my opinion I should give it and that is when being real can be hard. Questions like “who are you voting for?”- can make me mute- should I answer with the truth even though I know this person is voting for the other guy and he might get upset and argue with me? Or should I just go along with the conversation to avoid argument? Maybe politics is a bad example but you get my drift.

I often don’t want to offend people by talking too much about my relationship with Jesus Christ. Why do I do that? My relationship with Jesus has only brought amazing blessings to my life. I look at life in such a different way. It is a gift I long to share but I often feel like I will offend someone if I share with them. But to be truly authentic I really need to feel I can speak about something that defines who I am. So I am a work in progress. Where are you in this journey? Maybe you had never thought about this until you read this article! Maybe you never will think of it again! But for some, maybe your like me – on a journey to find the most authentic life you can. I can’t think of anything more freeing than living a life authentically. But it is getting to that freedom that is the journey.

I think being able to bring who we really are to the table will enhance our relationships. Deepen them. You know how it feels to see an old friend from the past- one who you knew when you were young? There is so much comfort there probably because at some point when we were young we felt freer to be ourselves. So the connection is deep.

The Bible tells us the type of life we can live. All of Paul’s letters clearly show us what is important in living life. Proverbs is another source to find the life God wants us to lead. The Bible can be a guide and a comfort in a journey to be more authentic. Jesus was completely authentic. He could not have been anything but. He was who he was – he spoke what he felt and taught what he knew God ,his father, wanted him to teach even when he knew many people would dislike him – hate him- fear him – for what he said and who he was. It is hard to live that kind of life because as humans we want to be accepted and loved. To live authentically though we have to understand not everyone here on earth is going to love – or like us- but there is always one that loves all the time- that is God the Father. We also have to let others live their lives authentically.

There are some famous people who understood the need to be authentic:

Henry David Thoreau went to the woods to search for authenticity in his own life. He is quoted as saying “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Thoreau went to the live in the woods in order to find a more authentic life.

Steve Jobs said: ”Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

We don’t need to go to the woods to live to find our authentic life. We can look inside ourselves right in our own homes. We can trust God to lead us to the life He planned for us. And He can be the bridge over our fears.

When in doubt read Philippians 4:6-7 says “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV). Bring your worries to the Lord and he will give you peace.

Thanks for reading….