Tag Archives: life

Jump Over Yuck

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I mentioned a few posts back that joy does not have to look like happy. What I didn’t know then, was that the Lord would quickly unlock a major key to maintaining joy in my life.

There was an ugly message waiting for me. One laced with all the manipulation and undercurrents of superiority that could possibly be shoved into a few sentences. And suddenly, my joy was on shaky ground. I was tempted to hate, to expose, and to cut off all ties. Until a friend of mine, who I was totally honest with, offered, “that won’t feel as good as you think it might.”

With the insertion of truth into the swirling chaos of my reaction, my thoughts began to slow. I chose to breath deep and still my mind. I asked Jesus for truth. He showed me Hebrews 12:2,MSG “2 Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.”

Suddenly, I could see that this attack was just one of the enemies weapons of mass distraction. My enemy wanted me to be distracted from the entire point of my life. Instead, God called me to fix my eyes on Jesus, consider where I’m headed, and get back on track. As I asked Him to help me, He gave me the most amazing and simple vision to overcome.

I saw a trap laid out in the wilderness, and it was camouflaged with leaves. Holy Spirit removed the camouflage so I could see the trap. He asked me, “Are you their prisoner? I say you are free. What do you say?” I decided, “I am free!” Then He showed me to walk around the trap set for me, and keep going forward. And I DID! Praise the Lord!

Shortly after that choice, I was around the one who sent the message, and I can tell you that I truly harbored no anger or frustration or hatred for them. I AM FREE! This is a huge miracle. So I asked the Lord, how can I continue experiencing this freedom as life continues flying at me?

He said to maintain JOY, you simply, Jump Over Yuck.

J-ump.

O-ver

Y-uck.

JOY!

So today, I want to encourage you. Are you their prisoner? Or are you free in Christ? Will you choose to fall into the traps set before you? Or will you ask Jesus to help you see them, so you can JUMP over them.

Let’s all choose to Jump for Joy today! Let’s triumph and rejoice together in this great freedom Jesus has bought for us with His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. He is worthy of ALL glory, honor, and praise!

Father, help us have eyes to see the traps being set for us. Help us Holy Spirit to jump over them. Help us to become more like You Jesus, never losing sight of where we are headed. Remove any distractions that keep us from the main thing. Help us to be about Your business totally, and flowing at Your rhythm and pace for our lives. We need You! We love You! It’s by Your blood, Your spirit, and Your power I ask these things in Your Holy, Perfect, Saving name Lord Jesus! Amen!

 

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Tenderhearted??

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Philippians 2:1 Are your hearts tender and sympathetic?

I mean, honestly, it depends on the moment right? My heart might be tender and sympathetic if I just heard about a horrible, sad, occurrence that took place somewhere in the world. However,  if I just waded through the immense stress of the check out line with two small children, where the person in front of me had nine thousand coupons and it just happens to be the cashier’s first day, by time I get to my car, chances are my heart won’t be super tender.

Hmmmm. So what’s that about? Is my heart tender and sympathetic? What about if I get the opportunity to be offended? Or horrified? Or disgusted? Or inconvenienced? Or maybe all of the above? Lord, are you requiring that my heart always be tender and sympathetic? How is that even possible?

Pursuing this truth caused me to consider what the opposite of tender and sympathetic would be. Cold? Disconnected? Unforgiving? Hard? Unapproachable? Impatient? What do you think of when you consider the opposite? As I contemplated these words in relation to my heart, I began to understand the question the scripture begs more.

What is going on in your heart? “Pay attention to what triggers you to act opposite of Christ. This is where you need Me.” Oh, I see, this is not an opportunity to shame myself for (once again) not measuring up, falling so short of the standard. In fact, nothing the Lord calls us to, is that at all. Instead, each standard is only the sincerest beckoning to run to Him. Without Him, we cannot reach any standard of RIGHT, it’s only with Him and through His blood. But the good news, the very best news is, He never tires of lifting us up, carrying us through, reminding us, and encouraging us. He is faithful.

I asked Him for more. He showed me, Colossians 3:12, “Since God chose you (I mean we could stop right there! What a JOY!) to be His holy people, whom He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” As I meditated on this scripture, I was reminded of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit out of Galatians 5. Relief swooped in, I am called to clothe myself in who He is, but I don’t have to find it alone. I prayed, “Holy Spirit, fill me up afresh, I choose to put You on, so that when the world sees me, they will really see You. I need You more now, than ever before, and I know tomorrow I will need You even more.”

Sometimes, the enemy wants to aggravate us, to sidetrack, and distract us from what Jesus has called us to. Most often this will come through some opportunity to be offended, hurt, enraged, depressed, or totally overwhelmed. I choose to see that attack as a tip off: Ohhhhh, I have an important mission today, so my enemy wants me defeated. Then I use that to fuel my fire for this world knowing they are LOVED through and through, by Love, Himself.

My resolve will be modeled after Jesus’, as we find in Hebrews 2:2, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.”

I have a goal, to make Jesus by living for Him and with Him.  I will continue to study how Jesus did it by being connected to the Father in utter submission to His Will. I will continue to model my steps, my choices, and my beliefs,

after His. I will finish my race with endurance, by receiving all the Heavenly helps available to me. And with YOU! We will triumph together in Christ!

 

Not afraid of the dark

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I found myself thinking, “I can’t do this.” And I heard the reply within my spirit, “But I can.”

I knew immediately that Holy Spirit was ready to help me. He wasn’t ever expecting me to go at life apart from Him. He is not disappointed in my limits, or my humanness. He made me. He sees me, He knows me better than I know myself.

I listen to the words being read from Psalm 139, “but even in the darkness, I cannot hide from You. To You the night shines bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to You.”

As I hear those words, I consider how often I try to hide when it gets dark. I hear the lies that I can’t be Debbie Downer, and that they are all so sick of my sad story, my pain. But the truth is, God is not afraid of the dark. He will not avoid the dark seasons of the soul. He is ever near.

A friend told me, “Lately, I’ve been thanking God for laments.” To which I instantaneously replied, “I welcome laments from others, but generally despise them coming from me.” She said, “He doesn’t just welcome them, He delights in them.” With those words my heart stopped beating for a second.

Can you believe that? As I contemplated on that thought, I chose to believe it. God never tires of hearing from me. He knows me better than I know myself.  In fact, He lives inside of my heart. He is truly the only One who can fully KNOW me. Why wouldn’t He delight in me opening my heart to Him, even if when I open it what comes out is sorrow?

Psalms 56:8 says, “You keep track of my sorrows. You have collected all of my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.”

I asked, why? Why would You collect tears? If they are that important, maybe there is something powerful in them. I imagined God pouring out our tears into the gardens of our hearts, it was the very substance that brought tremendous growth, delivering incredible fruit.

As it continued, I saw my tears being poured out into the hearts of my children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren. I found myself understanding, just slightly more than before, why my life seems to require so many. Peace and resolve settled in.

Therefore today, I continue to give Him plenty to collect as an offering. I will lament to the Lord if the need arises. I will not try to hide. I choose to ask Him for help. He is showing up, and I’m finding relief.

Resolve to choose joy while simultaneously experiencing what I need to, to be real. Joy doesn’t have to look like happy. Joy is believing in my great salvation in Christ Jesus, and all of it’s benefits, which will never change due to earthly hardships.

Romans 8:18 encourages us, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.”  Joy unspeakable, not hiding in the dark, being genuine, and asking for help. Today will be victorious and my future looks brighter than I can imagine. Praise the Lord!

Just a little more, and then……

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I’m hungry. I’m hungry to create something. Something that matters. I find myself desperate to be a part of something beautiful. To create beauty. To join in. To be a part. I want to write something that will change the world as we know it. I want to paint something that will heal a broken heart and bring the walking dead back to life. I want to be great! I want to do something inspiring and amazing.

I cry out to God! Here I am! Send me. But its more like waving my arms, as in, don’t forget me. I want to be used mightily. And He smiles, turns me around, and shows me the life I already have. He shows me how He has called me and sent me. He sent me to be his wife, and their mother, their teacher, their friend, their daughter, their sister, their confidant. I am called. I am called right here in the place that I’m already in.

Why doesn’t it feel like it’s the GREAT I desire? Why does it feel so insignificant? Why do I always feel this sense of wanting something MORE? It like a constant nagging, that even though I can’t put my finger on it, what I have is not enough. Discontent. Exhaustion. dissatisfaction. He reminds me that all I have right now, began in a place of prayer. I asked for this life, for these callings. And He answered.

You see, I believe this “not enough” sickness is a ploy from our enemy to steal our joy. To steal our moments, to steal our hope. I believe that, at least for me, comparing what I am called to, to what others are called to, is one of the most exhausting parts of this cancerous not enough plague. I have decided to declare war on not enough. I have decided to embrace what I have in my hands and heart, and offer it up to God in thanks.

I choose today to sow my whole self into what is already before me. I choose to no longer wait for the great. I choose to put my full weight into the great that is now. Today, exactly where I am, exactly what I have and what I don’t, is enough. I will honor God by honoring all of the ones He has entrusted me with.

Father, please keep turning me around to see the beauty of the life before me. Help me to guard my heart and mind from thinking everyone else has it better, or simply just easier, than I do. Help me to rejoice in the beauty that is my life, status quo. I trust You with my life, with my present and future. Thank You for covering my past. I admit that all I need more of, is You. Bless me with Your presence and truth all day long today, my daily bread. I see you, and I want more of You. In Jesus’ Mighty name I pray, Amen.

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!

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!

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?