Pushing the Envelope

I don’t know where the phrase, “pushing the envelope” originated but it’s something that I’ve been doing for the past few weeks. I love to eat, but most especially, I love to eat sweets. Since thanksgiving, I’ve been eating pies, cakes, and candies. I’m not supposed to eat these things because I have acid reflux.

It started out slowly—just a bite or two, then to a small slice or tiny handful, then to several servings or a full bag.  Some days I can eat chocolates with no problems and that only makes it easier for me to “push the envelope” to eat more until I end up with a horrible burning sensation in the pit of my stomach.

I think all of us try to push the envelope in some way—it might not be sweets or chocolates, but it is a source of temptation. It is something that we know we shouldn’t do, but we try a little and when it looks like “it’s safe” we go even further; then we go too far and get “burnt.”

I’m trying to focus on these Scripture verses this morning, 1 Corinthians 10:23 and 13,

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial… The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (NLT).

The fact is, all of us are tempted by something and instead of dabbling in the temptation and “pushing the envelope,” we should throw away the things that tempts us and put even more focus on God.

I don’t like to waste anything, but I think I will throw away that chocolate bar I bought at an “after-Christmas” sale— “So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away…” (Matt 5:29, NLT).

How are you “pushing the envelope” and what are you going to do to stop it?

Copyright © 2015 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Personal mission

My husband and I was at a 5-day conference a couple of weeks ago. On one of the days we looked at the importance of a personal mission statement. I knew that it was important for a company to have a mission statement, but I didn’t realize that we should have our own mission statement too.

My mission statement (although I never referred to it as that before) was to, “help people grow in their relationship with Christ.” In fact, I discovered it was the first sentence in the “About Me” section of my blog site.

Recently, I was offered an online adjunct position with a secular college after an acquaintance referred me. I have taught part-time at several Christian colleges but this would be my first non-Christian school. I went through the three week training and was assigned my first class (it starts in mid-May).

The whole time that I was filling out my paperwork, going through training, and waiting on my class to start, I kept wondering what my purpose was in teaching there. I tried to convince myself that God opened this door and that I could “witness” to non-believers there, but something didn’t seem right to me.

Today I thought about my personal mission statement—“to help people grow in their relationship with Christ” and I realized that this school didn’t fit my mission statement.

Proverbs 4:25-27 says, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes… Mark out a straight path for your feet… Don’t get sidetracked…” (NLT). Yes, it would be good to teach at another school, but if my main reason for teaching is to help people grow in their relationship with Christ, then this was not the right place to do that.

I wonder how many things we do that distract us from our personal mission—things we convince ourselves to do that turns into a distraction? We need less distraction in our lives.

What’s your personal mission?

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Deep waters

When we were in Hawaii, we spent a lot of time snorkeling in the tide pools behind our rental home. The tide pools looked rather shallow with calm waters. Even when I was sitting on the edge of the pools, it looked like the water was only a couple feet deep. 

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It wasn’t until I put on my goggles that I realized just how deep the water really was. In some places it was about 25 feet deep. I tried to stay close to the edges because I don’t know how to swim (I can float but I don’t know how to get my head out of the water without “drowning”). By being close to the edge, I can stand up if anything happened (leaking snorkeling gear, fogged goggles, etc.).

One time I decided to go farther out but still stayed close to the edges. After a little while, I climbed on a rock, looked around, and realized that I had ventured a good distance from the house. My husband found me and suggested that I go out towards the other side. I told him that as long as I had the rock edges then I would be fine.

I followed the rocks going in the other direction, then all of a sudden the rocks ended and I found myself in very deep water (about 15 feet deep). I frantically looked around for the rocks I had followed but I couldn’t find them. I started to panic—what if my snorkeling gear “messed up,” what was I supposed to do?

I saw my husband and he started to snorkel next to me. I wanted to hold onto him because I was afraid, so I tried to get his attention but since I couldn’t yell to him, he just kept going. I tried not to look down, but I did and I started to feel the pounding of my heart getting stronger (even now as I think about it, my heart starts to pound against my chest). I felt like I was going to hyperventilate. I had nothing in between me and that deep water—no security—no rocks to stand on.

I tried to hold my breath thinking that if I could keep the air in my lungs then I could float better, but the distance between where I was and where I had to go was too far. I took shallow breaths, praying for God to just get me through to the other side. As I waded towards the rocks at the distance, I pushed out the images of me sinking to the bottom. I tried to focus my eyes ahead of me instead of below me.

When I finally made it to “shore,” I felt shaky. The scary experience somehow reminded me of Matthew 14:29-30, “…Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!””

I realized two things: (1) God is the only Person we can rely on—when we are in scary or deep situations in life, only He can help us, and (2) We can’t let things distract us.

Peter was fine as long as he focused on Jesus, but the second he looked around, he became scared. When I was trying to get to the edge of the tide pool, I had to keep looking forward—I couldn’t look down, behind, or sideways; I had to focus and look straight ahead.

The point is, no matter what you are going through, keep your eyes on Jesus and keep going forward. Don’t let the past or the things going on in your life distract you from focusing on God.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Stay focused

Has anyone ever tried to paint you in a bad light? Has anyone ever said things about you that were not true? When this happened to me all I wanted to do was shout my innocence to the world— to prove to people that the person who said this about me was wrong.  Then I thought to myself, ‘if they believed that about me then they really don’t know me, so why am I trying so hard to prove my innocence to them?’

Proverbs 4:25-27 says, “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.  Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.”

I have come to realize that I can’t please everyone— there will always be someone who doesn’t like me. I can’t worry about that… I can’t get distracted in worrying about what people think about me. My main concern should be in trying to please God.

So don’t worry about what people are saying about you—stay focused on God!

Copyright © 2013 M. Teresa Trascritti