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Thoughts from God's Favorite Child
By Kristina Smith
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Kristina Smith
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIntrospective Reflections
SLEEPING IN THE MIDDLE
I have a confession to make. Well, maybe "confession" is not the right word, but here goes: I am a single woman who does not utilize the full length, width and breadth of her queen-sized bed. There, I said it. I am a "right side of the bed only" type of girl. The other side is usually covered up with books, my e-Reader, papers, magazines and a plethora of other stuff that I fall asleep with. I come by this foolish habit honestly. My mother also only utilizes one side of the bed. And while I accept this "flaw" in myself—every time I see her sleeping on the edge of her bed, it drives me BONKERS! Many a discussion with her about this habit has started with me exclaiming, "Why are you sleeping on the edge of the bed? One wrong turn in the middle of the night and you are gonna hit the floor!" And she always looks at me, scoots over half an inch and goes right on doing whatever she was doing—including sleeping.
What a waste of the rest of the bed! All that room to wiggle around in. I mean, isn't that one of the inherent blessings of NOT sharing your bed with another human? [Side note to all my married friends: Yes, I know there are SOME benefits of sharing a bed, but that ain't my point right now] My point is: there is a blessing I could be taking advantage of EVERY NIGHT if I would just clear the debris off the other side of the bed, position myself in the middle, and hunker down for a good night's sleep.
I don't do it because (1) I'm comfortable on the right side of my bed. The mattress is contoured perfectly to my body. The pillows sit just right for snuggling down each night; (2) who has time, before going to bed, to go through all the paperwork that is piled up during the day—it can wait until the morning; and (3) the book I'm reading to put me to sleep needs a place to rest as well—might as well be the left side of the bed. Ok, ok—I get that these are all just excuses, but they work for me.
How often do we make the same excuses when it comes to the blessings that the Lord has in store for us? Sometimes by stepping outside our box (or moving to the other side of the bed), we find that there are more blessings waiting for us. By exploring the possibilities of unknown waters, we might find out things about ourselves, and the people around us, that will help us to grow and achieve the things that we say we want to achieve. Maybe by moving to the middle (or even the other side) of the bed, I can find a different kind of sleeping experience that might just be better. One never knows until one tries—right? Right.
So, I'm going try sleeping in the middle of the bed for a while. Let's see what wonderful things will unfold from the experience.
GOSSIP V. COMMUNICATION
I have a confession: I love being the facilitator of information ... I love "being in the know" and passing on the news, whether it is information on a new restaurant I discovered, or a place I visited on my many vacations to locales exotic and new, or a movie/DVD I watched, or a new artist (whether musical or theatrical), or ... well, you get the picture. I am signed up for (it seems like) hundreds of email blasts so I can always know what is going on where and when and how ... and that usually is a good thing. My family, friends and coworkers often call upon me when they are trying to plan social events around town or making plans to travel to a new location. But there is a downside to being the "go to" person.
At what point does "sharing information" become gossip? When do you cross the line between the two? This is a question that I have been confronted with more than once in my lifetime. Sometimes I have shared information that I thought needed to be shared. For example, I was requesting prayers for a certain situation, and was "reprimanded" for putting someone's "business" out there without their permission ... go figure! Or, at a recent gathering of friends where I was called out for the number of emails I sent relaying information about a variety of things. Amazingly, those same people who chastised me in one instance have reached out to me in other situations to "pass the word along." So, again, the question becomes when is it "gossip" and when is it "communication"? I am not sure that I know.
The Bible gives this admonition in Proverbs 16:28: "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends...." This leads me to believe that, like with many spiritual things, it all comes down to motive. If my motives behind sharing the information is not malicious in intent, it is communication. But if I know I am being gleeful about passing along bad information about a person or a situation, I think that leans more towards gossip. Word of advice: when you ask God to show you something about your character, you better be prepared to deal with whatever He shows you. After a long struggle with this issue, I will say this: I have definitely become very conscious of when my conversations, emails, writings have been "malicious" and when they have not been. And that is a good thing, don't you think?
CLOTHED IN MY RIGHT MIND
All my life I heard people pray, "and thank you Lord for waking me up 'clothed in my right mind,'" but it is only as I have become an adult that I have realized how powerful a request that truly is. We take for granted each night when we lay down to sleep and rest that, not only will we wake up in the morning, but that when we do, we will be aware and cognizant of what is going on, where we are, who we are—and most importantly, Who God is.
How amazing is it that God takes the time to breathe the breath of life into our nostrils each morning—and while doing so, makes sure that we have whatever we need to get through the day ahead—including good mental faculties.
Now, some of my friends (and especially my relatives) might disagree that I am ever "in my right mind," but what do they know? They are entitled to their opinions, no matter how erroneous they may be ... but I praise God each morning that I wake up and am aware:
aware that every blessing I receive is from Him; aware that it is not just happenstance that I made it through the night without incident—no phone calls to come to the hospital or mortuary, no invasions of my home and property;
aware that He is God and that He loves me ... in spite of myself most of the time. What an awesome, amazing, fabulous thing to recognize each and every morning.
I pray that you are "clothed in your right mind" as you read this, and as you go through this day and every day of your life.
WHY (NOT) ME?
Why is it that whenever we are going through something, the first thing we holler is "Lawd, have mercy—why me?" I would like to suggest that we need to change our paradigm—maybe we should question, "Why not me? What is it that God is trying to develop in my character that will be made manifest once I get through this?" Well, that is what I am pondering this morning as I sit at my desk, at work but not working.
The worldwide church of which I am a member recently spent three months studying the subject of crucibles—what they are and what we, as Christians, should do to get through them. I will admit that I didn't study my lessons as I should have and now, with 20/20 hindsight, I am kicking myself in the butt, because God was trying to teach me something in preparation for the storm in which I currently find myself. But you best believe, I will be pulling out my quarterly and going back to study. Ain't it grand that we serve a God who gives us "second chances" for a myriad of things?
I currently find myself in the midst of a crucible experience and I am sort of wondering ... "why me? What did I do to deserve this?" Of course, I have "friends" and "well wishers" who say things like, "Girl, you know I got your back. Who do we need to get?" All that is well and good, but it is also distracting.
This morning, during our prayer call, as I asked for special prayer for me and my coworker (who is also going through this experience with me), the pastor made an interesting statement that I had not considered: "Maybe you are going through a "Job" experience. Maybe God was bragging on you and turned to the enemy and said, 'Have you considered my servant, Kristina? There is no one on earth like her, she is blameless and upright, a woman who fears God and shuns evil.'" (paraphrase of Job 1:8) [Ok, those of you who know me well can stop laughing now!] It could happen. God looks at our hearts when considering our characters, and He knows that, despite my actions that may seem to the contrary, my heart is bent towards Him. I truly, desperately want to be like my favorite Bible character, David, and be called a "woman after God's own heart." He knows that and loves me accordingly.
Years ago, when my grandfather was dying from cancer, I attended a prayer meeting service where I poured out my heart before the congregation about how I was feeling and requesting prayers for his healing. As we prayed, I left the sanctuary and went into the bathroom to cry. A friend of mine, Vonda, followed me into the bathroom and I will never forget what she told me: "Kristina, I don't know why I am saying this to you, but God has given you this trial because YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON WHO CAN GO THROUGH IT." In essence, the trial of losing my grandfather was specific to me. The crucible that I am currently going through is specifically designed for me. There is a lesson I am to learn, there is some flaw in my character that needs to be changed, eradicated, and removed. Amazingly, it is all done for MY BENEFIT because God loves me and wants to save me.
So, a paradigm shift has happened and the question has become: "Why not me? Why should I be spared from this trial?" I shouldn't be spared because it is within the will of God and He wants only the best for me. (Jeremiah 29:11). I end with this quote that I received in an email recently. I was going to revise it so as not to offend, but realized that it is perfectly stated as is:
Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, "Oh shit! She's awake!"
ON BEING ADVENTIST ...
I have a confession to make. I am a generational Seventh-day Adventist ("SDA") Christian, but I haven't always enjoyed or liked being one. My maternal grandfather was a minister, and my paternal grandfather might as well have been one. Both of my grandmothers were very involved in ministry and the expectations of "the saints" for me as part of their lineage was always great. It seemed like, as a child, I was always in the spotlight: "We need special music, let's get her to do it." "This week's children's story will be brought to us by ..." Whenever my brother and I would visit my grandparents, whether in Connecticut or Florida or wherever else my grandparents were living, I was pushed up front. Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing: it helped develop my character and gave me the confidence and knowledge, at a young age, that I could do any and everything I set my mind to do, or that I was asked to do. BUT, being "different" from my friends always made me uncomfortable. "Why do you go to church on Saturday?" "Why don't you eat pork?" "Why don't you watch cartoons on Saturday morning?" "Why aren't your ears pierced?" I didn't have the words or knowledge of what it all meant to explain it to my friends who were not Adventist.
As a young adult, I rebelled. Yeah, I was still going to church, still doing the welcome and children's story and singing in the choir, but I was also going to the clubs three or four nights out of the week (ah, to be that young again with THAT much energy!), putting clip-on earrings and pinching my earlobes to death! And doing everything I thought I was big enough and bad enough to do. While my spirit would be pricked sometimes, I didn't want anyone to tell me that I couldn't do what I wanted to do. After all, I was grown.
I remember a New Year's Eve weekend celebration where the plan for me and some of my friends was to "party all night" from Thursday night until Sunday night. Somehow, some way, we ended up at my best friend's parents' house for dinner and worship on Friday evening—you know, the start of the Sabbath—and the plan was to appease her parents by staying for worship, but we were hitting the club as soon as we left the house. Her father, a minister (of course!), prayed the LONGEST PRAYER I HAVE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE! Further, he called each of us by name and prayed for our souls and our salvation and well, you get the picture. It sort of killed the mood for going out for most of my friends, and I remember thinking, "Great, just great. Just what I needed ... a guilt trip about doing what I wanted to do." Half of us bailed on going out and the other half went anyway. I will not admit to which group I belonged, but you can probably guess.
For a long time in my 20s and 30s, I "resented" what I felt were the restrictions of being an Adventist. Without going into great detail here, I finally realized that being Adventist is not about "the rules"—the "do's" and the "don'ts" that had been beaten into my head as a child and teenager. As an adult, I have realized that the MOST IMPORTANT thing is my relationship with Christ. The framework of that relationship just happens to be the doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist church. What I mean is this: how I worship Him, how I live my life (well, most of the time, since God is STILL working with me) is based on the Biblical principles taught by the SDA Church. That makes it a lot easier to explain why I "don't" do certain things. It is not a matter of what I am not "allowed" to do. It is more a matter of, because of my relationship with Christ, what I CHOOSE not to do. Could I pierce my ears? Sure, I could. There are places in every mall that would be happy to take my money and do it for me. Could I eat a pork chop? Every day, three times a day if I wished. After all, God is a God of free will. He wants me to make choices and decisions. That is why He gave me a brain, thoughts, and feelings.
As I grow older, I have come to realize that, even within the Adventist Church, we all are just striving to serve the best we can. You have saints and devils sitting right next to each other every Sabbath (and depending on what's going on, I can be one or the other). But God loves us each ... knows us each individually ... died on Calvary's cross for each one of us individually. And that is a wonderful thing. Thank God for parents and grandparents who introduced me to Him at an early age and gave me that foundation. But thank God that now I know Him for myself and I know He loves ME ...
... warts, flaws and all.
On a more personal level, I think God (who sees all and knows all from the beginning of time to the end of time), when He was creating the world looked down through the annals of time to today and said, "you know, my daughter is going to be tired around 4:30 p.m. when it's time to get off work. If I don't set something in place that will give her "permission" to put her cares and worries aside for a moment, to come and rest in Me, she will work herself into the ground. I think I'll set something in place that will make her pause and think and regroup and rest. I will call it the Sabbath and maybe, just maybe, she'll appreciate it. Maybe she won't, but why don't I set it in place anyway, just in case she will."
He knows me well, don't He?
He knows you in the same way. I personally believe in the seventh day Sabbath. For me, that means my "day" of rest is from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. This is not the time, place or forum to get into a discussion about Sabbath worship v. Sunday worship. I simply suggest that you find some time every week to commune with the Lord. Whether you do it in a church building, out in nature, or in the comfort of your own home, I encourage you to take some time to get in touch with your Creator, commune with Him and find rest for your weary spirit. No matter the challenges of the week past (or in your life as a whole), trust in Him.
Excerpted from Thoughts from God's Favorite Child by Kristina Smith Copyright © 2012 by Kristina Smith. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsCHAPTER ONE: Introspective Reflections....................1
CHAPTER TWO: Thoughts on Faith....................67
CHAPTER THREE: Thoughts on Social Networking and Technology....................125
CHAPTER FOUR: Thoughts on Interpersonal Relationships....................153
CHAPTER FIVE: Thoughts on Celebrations....................203
CHAPTER SIX: Thoughts on Work and Church....................237
CHAPTER SEVEN: Thoughts on Historical and Global Events....................257
CHAPTER EIGHT: Thoughts on Death and Dying....................289
CHAPTER NINE: Miscellaneous Thoughts and Ramblings....................305
CHAPTER TEN: Final Thoughts on Faith....................361