Tag Archives: faith

Love is seek and find

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Love is seek and find

I had this funny thing happen the other day. I wanted to spend time with the Lord, but my son and husband were having a “camp out” in the living room where my Bible, devotionals, and journal were. I lay in my bed wandering if I could try something new instead of being stuck in my box of “this is how I do my quiet time.” Upon which the Lord reminded me that I had noticed an old journal and some pens in one of my bathroom drawers. What was is doing there you might ask? I have no idea. Since it was so out of place I remembered it, so I grabbed it and purposed to journal there. As I opened it, I saw prayer request from 2013, and I spent some time in awe of God’s hand as I could see specifically now each one had been answered abundantly. I praise and rejoiced and my faith was once again stirred. Next I noticed that I had written a challenge to myself- get outside more. Funny, that is still, in 2017, the same challenge. Here is what I am learning, to love myself well, which consequently aligns me to love others more, I have to honor what makes me come alive, and one of those things for me is the outdoors. I am making a choice to be intentional about getting outside and doing some outdoor activity multiple times a week.

As I am slowing down to focus on loving myself and others well, I thought it would be a good idea to read the Song of Solomon. It is a book in the Old Testament filled with love poetry between and woman and a man who are deeply and madly in love with each other. However, the book is full of seeking each other out, finding each other, and then having to seek once again. Sometimes, when one would find where other was, the other one wasn’t ready to be found. The book ends with them seeking for each other once again, not the ‘happily ever after skipping down jolly lane’ we expect from a great love story.

At first I thought this was strange but I sought the Lord to teach me something new. He began to show me how love is never finding the one you love and then staying in that blissful place forever. Love is being committed to seek and find, forever. We are always changing and growing and becoming. Along the different parts of that journey, different types of love will be required. I believe this could be a true piece to every relationship, even with myself and with God. As life flies at us, we have to continue finding new facets of God which in turn unveils new pieces of ourselves. Sometimes we find something new and amazing and sometimes we uncover something hard to process. We can choose to show up and love if we choose to invite Jesus into it all. Apart from Him, I think the notion of this eternal game of seek and find would be overwhelmingly exhausting.

I’m just beginning to embrace this notion and trying to live it out. It definitely feels less ‘wrapped up in a neat box with a bow’ than I want it to. But I can tell this type of perspective on love is more genuine than I previously expected and yet tremendously less likely to set me up to be deeply disappointed than what I’ve understood before.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about love or how you plan to love yourself well this year!

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Love others as you love yourself……

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Love others as you love yourself……

Moving at a snail’s pace this year helps me to really encounter the gifts inside of the people I get to be near. It is a beautiful gift to see, you know really see, someone. To see their value, hear their heart’s cry, and engage with who they really are. I love people. I mean that. People are my greatest treasure and the only source of true wealth I know. Taking the time to focus my energy on loving others well is such a deep gift to me.

One of those people I want to love better is me. I want to treat myself kindly. I want to say nice things about me. I want to see what is right about the girl in the mirror. I want to celebrate my imperfect progress and cheer on the woman I am becoming. Maybe that sounds strange, I know it certainly feels it. However, I believe this will be one of the highest and most effective investments I can make on my journey.

I  say that confidently because the fruit of small steps I have taken so far have had a broad reach in how I see, value, treat, and honor everyone else. Isn’t interesting that Jesus commanded us to love others as we love ourselves? Maybe that’s the part that has been missing. Everywhere I look, I see the temptation to hate myself a little more by comparing myself with everyone else. Well, I threw that game away a while ago, and now I’m finishing up clearing out all of it’s remains. Comparison- you are no longer welcome here.

I mentioned last time about a few new things I am adding to my life to help me slow down, but now I want to share about a few things I am lessening. Early last year I read a book where I finally learned the importance of non-productive activities. Meaning that we should all spend some time doing some things that are just fun,playful, or relaxing. I’ve shared before that I really like to work, I also love to learn, so before adopting non-productive activities into my life, I thought when people did those things that they could have been doing so much more! It seemed wasteful and wrong. But it was actually me who was wrong. So I began trying. I used that time in my life for browsing social media and watching Netflix. (Ok so maybe binge watching would be a little more honest.)

This year in an effort to connect more through slowing down, I’m purposing to shift my non-productive activities into life-giving ones. Here are some ideas I have so far- taking pictures, looking at pictures, and creating photo-books. Canoeing, hiking, and being outside way more. Painting, writing, and reading more.

I can’t wait to share with you what has come out of these shifts already.What helps you connect with yourself, with God, and with others?

Ready, set, SLOW

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Ready, set, SLOW

As I sit here to write, honestly I feel incredibly rusty. Life has been….busy…that’s a nice word to sum it up. So many good things, some hard, and a lot of new has been unfolding. Sometimes new takes up a lot of emotion, time, space and energy. Funny, come to think of it, having to small children takes a lot of that as well. Oh, and then there’s the whole keeping a marriage alive part. Whoops, let’s not forget about homeschooling. Whew, I just got plain worn out. Somewhere in the bustle, I forgot about myself, my needs, and taking care of me, and you know what? I ended up sick for a month!

As this new year turned, I watched so many receive incredible words for their year filled with purpose, achievement, and accomplishment. Yet me, I’m over here with a different flavor altogether. What I got for my year was, SLOW DOWN, this is not a race. I felt an encouragement to rest in all things, to stop pushing so hard. To relax into the beauty of these moments I get to live.

How in the world do you do that without growing lazy, weary, or complacent? Do I even know how to live life from rest? I like to work and I like to make things happen, would I still be able to do that if I first choose to slow down? I’m really not sure yet, but I believe God always has my best in mind, so I am taking steps to find out.

Here is what I’ve tried so far:

  1. I’m getting outside more. Starting slow by committing to 3x/week walk with a friend.
  2. I’m writing again. Ta da…..this is the first fruit of it.
  3. I’m playing with my children more. (This is my favorite so far!)

I will share more about this next time, but lastly I wanted to encourage you with an acronym I received. Perhaps this will be helpful if you are stepping in a new direction too.

S-tart

T-o

E-ncounter

P-rogress

S-lowly

Let’s step slowly in the direction of our dreams together beginning now. Happy New Year to you. Looking forward to slowly unraveling the gifts this year has to bring!

Rush rush rush

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Rush. Rush from wake-up to the gym. Rush from wake the kids up to get the little one  off to school. Rush from the school to back home to homeschool the bigger one. Rush to pick up the little one. Rush home to make lunch. Rush to have “quality time” before nap time. Oh, I have to work during nap time, rush to get that all set up. Oops, the house is a wreck, quick quick, hurry hurry, clean it up before anyone comes. Rush to clean up after work, and then to get them fed. Laundry, oh theres always laundry. Did you really just spill the entire container of ____________. No we don’t glue that to walls! Now where is my magic eraser? Little brother has a stinky diaper. Is this day over yet? Wait, now I have to prepare for tomorrow. Rush to get it all ready. Rush to fall asleep so I don’t start tomorrow tired.

Rush. Somehow, it has become my lifestyle and I did not even notice the switch. You see, I am not a natural rusher. I like to go slow and take my time. Like so slow, and usually in the left lane, and I make rushing people even more stressed than they were. (It’s ok if you hate me a little more now. I get how bad that habit is. I’m in process people!) Usually, I allow things to go undone so I can cherish the people in front of me (because like all of you incredible multitasking women,God did not give me that gene.) I tend to play on the floor with my kids, create art, build towers, play silly games, and be in the moments. This is the only way I know to be.

But something happened this week. My husband took my older child with him, so I did not have to rush home and get school started. I dropped my little curly headed cutie off, said my, “Good Morning, how are you,” to all the women I wished I had time to get to know, and began rushing back to my vehicle. That’s when the Holy Spirit nudged me, “Where are you rushing to?” I literally just stopped walking, and realized, I had no where to be. (Sure I could always find plenty to do, but nothing I particularly HAD to do at a certain time.) He continued, “Go back to that woman you wished you had time to get to know, and see how she is doing.” So I did, and we had breakfast,and we cried a little (maybe I cried a lot) and it was like finding hidden treasure. I began to ask the question, “Jesus, what’s with this rushing stuff?

He gave me this acronym:

R-esisting

U-seful

S-tillness

H-abitually

He began to show me that He has been trying to teach me to be, “Patient in trouble, and always be prayerful.” Well I’m learning that to me, trouble is anything that feels dangerous because it’s out of my control, which happens to be (ahem) L-I-F-E. So be patient in life, and always be prayerful? He began to show me that rushing through all that has to get done, is a (dangerous) way of coping with the fear that you will fail at it all. He began surrounding me with women who were feeling led of the Lord to “remove a plate,” in their lives so they too, could slow, and release the overwhelm a little. So the next question was a simple, natural progression: What is stillness then?

S-avoring

T-ime

I-nstead of

L-osing

L-ife

So now I’m returning to the land of allowing the Holy Spirit to have control over my moments. I have a plan, but its flexible. Lord, here is what I think I’m doing today and who I am doing it with and for, but You get to write this story. In the midst of these important pieces being handled, if You want to send me help, help me to accept it. If You have a divine interruption, help me to recognize it and let go of my control. If I can let go of something to be more available to my moments, show me and give me the courage I need to lay it down. Help me to let go of the notion of failure/success like those are my only two options. Help me to see, admit, and embrace, that it’s always both. I’m growing, I’m becoming, and that is beautiful.

So friend, I’m not sure if rushing has snuck its way into your life too, but I want to encourage you to ask the Lord. Ask Him to show you where you are missing the beautiful in order to not fail. Or if you are being drained dry anywhere and He wants to fill you up. Maybe see if you need to slow and learn the relief of stillness. I am actually being amazed by how much more I “accomplish” when my rhythm and pace matches the Lord’s. There is no life to be found where He isn’t present, so I’m officially done trying to race ahead of Him. Join me?

The Mind of Christ

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The ocean seems to be a place of rest for my soul. It seems while I walk upon the shore, feel the sand all round my feet, and hear the constant melody of the waves breaking, I can really exhale. I can release the pressure from the day-to-day, clear my whole self, and just be.

In this place of emptying out, I often find myself being filled. It seems as though when I release all of the yuck from the faster-than-the-speed-of-light life stuff, and I loosen my grip on everything I’m inevitably trying to maintain, that I can really receive.

The last time I was in such a position, what I found myself asking for, was for God to take my thoughts and transform them into His thoughts. I was intrigued by hearing myself ask for this. I just wanted to think about the things He was, and to see them through His heart, His perspective. I began to encounter His presence as I asked, and what I understood was that I was asking for the Mind of Christ.

I knew this wasn’t a one time prayer, and I determined to ask and keep asking. This has become quite honestly one of the deepest desires of my heart. But what I didn’t fully expect was how this prayer would begin to change everything about my life. I want to share 2 examples that have marked transformation to me personally.

One morning within a matter of moments, our air conditioner broke, our toilet overflowed, and our vehicle wouldn’t start. The thought arose, “Does this stuff happen to everyone?” And then immediately the truth came, “No! It doesn’t! The majority of people living on the earth do not have air conditioning, indoor plumbing, or their own vehicle. They aren’t lucky enough to have enjoyed these gifts in the first place to have to endure them needing to be repaired.” As my husband and I spoke of these truths, instead of growing overwhelmed, irritated, or frustrated, we began to give thanks to God in the midst of it for all that He has so freely given to us. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! As  I asked the Lord why were we able to have such a different experience than has been our norm, He showed me that it was an answer to the prayer to have the mind of Christ.

Most recently, there was a public attack against my character and as my husband presented it to me, the words that came out of my mouth were victory and love, even though I was not experiencing that emotionally. There was so much power in my response of truth that it totally diffused the anger that was trying to entangle us into being offended. As I later processed through what had taken place, the Lord showed me that again, I was equipped to have this response as an answer to praying for the Mind of Christ.

I share this testimony not to boast about myself, but to encourage you to join me. The reason these were notable is because for the past 30 years I have responded to similar circumstances in much different ways. This is a miracle to me to have reactions that do not devastate myself or those involved. It is growth that I mark personally as miraculous and give God all glory, honor, and praise for.

There have been victories in my life recently that I have never even believed to be possible. In fact, most areas that God is dealing with right now, I have for years just believed it was my lot in life. But as He is growing my vision and perspective to be united with His, I am beginning to really believe everything is possible with Him.

Will you join me? What areas in your life have you just settled into defeat about? Is there anything you aren’t willing to talk about with God and give Him the authority to be Lord of in your life? I want so deeply to continue to grow in His love, His truth, and His purpose for my life. It is so refreshing to actually believe that is possible! Praise God!

 

Rejoice

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Eyes open, first thought, I’m still tired. Next, oh well, you must keep marching on. Then, ok- I have so much to do, where do I even begin? Upon rising and brewing up hope for energy in a cup, I begin- already feeling behind. My whole day seems in the deficit. Not enough. Not enough energy, time, patience, self-control. All I see is lack. Everywhere. I hear the ‘shoulds’ in my mind. My children should know better. I should have exercised more. My house should be cleaner. Maybe I should be working. Should I wear this? Should my marriage be more? Should I serve others more? Should I have said that? I’m plagued, worn down, depleted. Day after day, the exhaustion, the frustration, just piles. I don’t even have energy to sort my piles. The piles eventually become a mountain. The mountain becomes hopelessness. How did I get here? How do I get out of this? Is this just normal life? Am I ever going to feel good again?

I sit with Jesus, and I say, “Lord, why do I always feel exhausted, frustrated, running behind? Is there hope for my future? Can I make a change? Is this what life will be like from now on?”

He showed me that He has poured out into my life blessings of every kind. He has given me salvation, life, health, food, shelter, friendship, love, hope, purpose, amongst many other things. He said that it was His delight to pour it out over my life, but that He cannot make me rejoice in it. He cannot make me actually enjoy, notice, celebrate, or rejoice in all that He has freely given me.

OUCH! As I heard this from the Lord, tears silently streamed down my face. I realized that, just like the Israelites, the Lord has provided abundantly for me and yet, I still find things to grumble and complain about. My heart broke and I repented before the Lord. I asked for grace to cover my selfishness and sin.

Repentance has two parts, turning from is first.  Turn from any destructive activity, belief, or motive that is less than the Truth. Then, turn towards something true, constructive, and motivated by love for ourselves and God.  My very next question, as I dabbed the tears from my cheeks, what how Lord? How do I replace my grumbling and complaining to rejoicing? What am I called to rejoice in? All I know to do, to find the answer, is search the scriptures.

First things first- He showed me that the word rejoice actually means to make oneself glad. It’s an action. It is up to me. None can make me glad but me.

Next He showed me was that the Scriptures call us to rejoice in the Lord, in our salvation, and in the righteousness we have been given in Christ, which makes having an intimate relationship with the Father possible. That alone, in my heart, is plenty to rejoice in for all time.

Finally, for my practical application, He gave me this scripture:

Deuteronomy 12:7

“There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.”

I have to share that as I read this passage, my current perspective on the undertakings I’m tending to was in stark contrast to what this was calling me to. I was feeling like, “I have to ………” You can fill in the blank. Now as I read these words I saw that the things God has trusted me to tend to were actually blessings and to be rejoiced in doing. So my perspective shifted from I have to, to wow- God trusted me to do this.

He reminded me of all of those times I prayed, “God use me. Send me.” And showed me right now, this is the answer to that prayer!

I’m definitely not declaring that I never have bad moments or days, but I can say I believe this key of rejoicing is turning around my anxiety. Now a morning might look like this:

Wake up- Thank You Lord for another day of life. I have a lot on my plate today Lord, I admit right now that I will need You to do any of it well. Would you go with me and help me? Brew my coffee and anticipate what treasure He has for me in His Word that morning. What truth will I have to cling to as I live a life unto Him that day?

After my time with Jesus, the tape begins playing in my head of not enough. Now I am equipped to take whatever is not enough yet, and give thanks for it and ask the Lord to bless it. To thank Him for what I do have, and to hopefully expect an increase. In my rejoicing, the thoughts that used to defeat me, now lead me to prayer.

In the undertakings I’ve been blessed with, I’m so often aware that I alone am not enough. He has called me live a life beyond myself so I would need Him and others. Living out what I am called to leads me to relationships, which require love. The call on all of our lives is to love God and love others. I need Jesus, and I need you. And now, I rejoice in that! Join me?

Which invitation will you say yes to?

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Lately, the Lord has been revealing to me how each interaction and set of circumstances is simply an invitation. I get invited to be offended. I get invited to love in the midst of adversity. I get invited to be afraid. I get invited to trust God. I get invited to join in celebrated. I get invited to feel alone. I get invited to love. I get invited to hate. I get invited to life. I get invited to death.

So, as a result of this sort of simplistic yet powerful revelation, I have found myself more often than not, evaluating what I am being invited to. When I see that the invitation is to engage in a hate filled, death breeding word battle- I am starting to be empowered to simply RSVP not attending.   When I recognize I am being invited to be stretched beyond my self-imposed limits and all my senses are screaming YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL- I, timidly, RSVP that yes I choose to attend. When I recognize I have two invitations in the same set of circumstances, I am trying to be intentional on choosing the one which leads to life.

Let’s dig deeper into  this life and death talk. Life-giving thoughts are thoughts that agree with the heart of God towards you and/or others. Our thoughts eventually become our words, and our words usually become our actions. Death breeding thoughts are any thoughts that are less than or against what God says about you or others. What we come into agreement with eventually we bring into our reality.

Matthew 12:34-35New International Version (NIV)

34 …….. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

Ephesians 4:29New King James Version (NKJV)

29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Proverbs 18:21New King James Version (NKJV)

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Agreeing with God- through believing He is who He says He is- and can do what He says He can do, brings life. Anything less than that- truly brings a slow, miserable death. Kind of harsh- or just kind of simple? Perhaps both- you get to decide.

So when I am invited to justify my emotional decisions- and stay stuck in that destructive cycle- I know now that I am empowered to simply state that I will not come to that party. I can choose instead to RSVP yes to take responsibility for my decisions and seek out the Lord’s best for my life, find out his constructive cycle and then begin intentionally living that out. When I am invited to have an opinion about an organization or another individual based on my limited understanding or personal perspective, I can choose to say no to that invitation and instead choose to seek the Lord and ask for His thoughts on that person or organization and choose to agree with His heart.

Most recently, both of my children have been very ill. I have had MANY invitations to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and completely unfit for the tasks before me. Sure, maybe the first few days I had a great attitude and a can-do spirit, but by day five and six, when the symptoms had reached their height and I was exhausted and felt like I was somehow failing them-I recognized that those thoughts were an invitation to be distracted from doing the task I was entrusted with and I RSVP’d NO! I chose instead to reach out and ask others to encourage me and pray for me so I could be enabled, by His strength and power and Spirit, to continue on.

I feel this message is for more than just me- and in my totally exhausted state I fear I may not have articulated it as well as I would have liked- I pray that somehow the Lord uses these words to challenge you, and to continue challenging me, to consider where we are allowing ourselves to go, and on the flip side- where are we inviting others?