Fear is…

Fear sells. Fear divides. Think about the news whether you watch it on mainstream TV or follow soical media fear is flooding the airwaves. Violent crime often leads the headlines, yet according to FBI statistics violent crime occurs at half the rate it did in 1990. I know these stories grab my attention over a feel good story.

Fear causes us to be reactionary. It sneaks in and takes over before we even recognize that it is driving. Our bodies are are intricately created to sense and react to fear. This happens through our sypathetic nervous system instantaneously before the brain gets involved. The sypathetic nervous system reacts the same way regardless if it is an immanent threat or a serious concern. 

I have noticed lately that fear is leading me to parent in less than helpful ways. Fear of addiction and death can easily take over how my husband and I try to guide our teens into adulthood. Both of us have family histories with addiction. We have watched it destroy life. We have both walked alongside loved ones who have lost children far too young. It can cloud our approach and it definitely clouds our hearts.

Over and over again, God tells us through scripture, “Do not fear.”  I revisit scriptures such as this to refocus. 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).

God continually reminds us to focus on Him, lean on Him, and trust Him in all things. I really want to be in control, but I know I’m not. But, God is. God knows how to walk me through all of the challenges life will bring. Letting my life be lead by fear removes the love and joy that is intended for me and my children. I continually go back to the scripture in Matthew 5 that tells me not to worry. It won’t add a day to my life. Slowly, I’m getting better at loving and trusting God with the lives of my children.

Fear is insidious. Are you letting it run your life? Is it preventing you from loving well? What are your victories over fear? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

Tagged with: , ,

Stubborn is…

It was a simple task take down the container of protein powder and don’t knock the lemon juice off the shelf in the process. Pull the powder forward. Push the glass bottle of lemon juice back. Go slow; it will all be fine. This is what I kept telling myself as I negotiated the powder off the shelf. I could have simply put the juice on the floor, and taken down the protein powder. I thought I could make this work. My plan was perfect. Why should I take the simple option? Stubborn is insisting on doing it my way even when the option is simpler.

Suddenly, something shifted unexpectedly. The bottle tipped forward, fell off the shelf, and hit me squarely in the eye. The swelling, bruising and pain were instantaneous. Some ice, ibuprofen, and makeup and I was off to work. The next morning my head, neck, face even my jaw were throbbing. Ibuprofen was not helping. It was time to enlist a chiropractor all because I was too stubborn to set the juice bottle on the floor.

I can be the same way in matters of faith. I have turned a deaf ear to God at times. And, at times it has left me with a black eye. 

God keeps renewing the promise and setting the date as today, just as he did in David’s psalm, centuries later than the original invitation: Today, please listen, don’t turn a deaf ear . . 8-11 And so this is still a live promise. It wasn’t canceled at the time of Joshua; otherwise, God wouldn’t keep renewing the appointment for “today.” The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. (Hebrews 4: 7-11 MSG).

God has been persistent and patient with me. Thankfully, His promises are for today and everyday. On the days when I am stubborn, God gently reminds me that His way really is less painful even if it seems hard at first. When He encourages me to have a difficult conversation, I can exemplify what stubborn is. When the difficult conversation ends in a restored relationship, I am grateful. God’s way always ends up being the easier path. I pray this is my last black eye. 

How has God been persistent and patient with you? Do you often turn a deaf ear? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

Tagged with: ,

Thanksgiving Is…

Thanksgiving is typically filled with lots of family commotion. I have a large family, so Thanksgiving is usually an abundance of food, laughter and small conversations to check in with each one. We are spread out across several rooms. We are too large to be in one room together. It is a form of organized chaos. I love it, and look forward to seeing everyone. 

This year was different. We gathered with a small subset of my family. We all fit around one table. There were long conversations and still lots of laughter. It was intimate. Relationships were strengthened. It was different, and I loved it, too. 

Thanksgiving is about so much more than being thankful for this country. For me, it is about the blessings of God, the gift of family, and the opportunity to share it with others. It’s also a time to remember those who are missing from the table. Thanksgiving is a reminder to pray, as Paul did in Ephesians, for those I love.

That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! (Ephesians 1:15-19 MSG).

The truth, Thanksgiving is more than a day of celebration. It is a way of life. Scripture tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. There are many things that happen in life that are difficult to be thankful for, but love, mercy and grace from God are always present. I am asking myself, “What can I do each day to live a life of thanksgiving?” It changes my attitude. It brings peace to my heart. It reminds me of what really matters. 

How are you living a life of thanksgiving? Is it more than one day a year? Share your story here and breath life and bring hope to others.

Tagged with: ,

Faith Is…

I have been thinking a lot about what faith is. An old friend, Mike Yaconelli, used to talk about faith as this wild ride, a reckless adventure. He had this incredible passion for faith and life. When I’m feeling a lackluster in my enthusiasm for this thing called faith. I turn to him and other old favorites to remind me of the joy of this wild ride and put a little adrenaline into my drive for what faith is

These words were originally written in My Utmost for His Highest. They are double starred and highlighted as are many writings that inspire and challenge me. I return to these types of writings and scripture when I need a boost. 

Faith is the heroic effort of your life. You fling yourself in reckless confidence on God. God has ventured all in Jesus Christ to save us. Now He wants to venture our all in abandoned confidence in Him…The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering…Agan and again, you will get up to what Jesus Christ wants, and very time, you will turn back when it comes to that point, until you abandon resolutely…Jesus Christ demands that you risk everything you hold by common sense and leap into what He says…Christ demands of the man who trusts Him the same reckless spirit…that is daring enough to step out of the crowd and bank his faith on the character of God. (Oswald Chambers)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. 3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:1-2 NIV).

Periodically, I need to pause and check my spiritual pulse. I need to remind myself what faith is. I need to remind myself that is not about what I know or what I see. It is about trusting wholly. 

How do you know what faith is? What gives you a boost when needed? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

Tagged with: ,

Waiting Is…

Waiting is not my strong suit. I don‘t like waiting for others to do their part. I don’t like waiting for something to happen. I don’t like waiting for doors to open. I don’t like waiting for circumstances to change. I don’t like waiting.

In the midst of my waiting, a dear friend sent me author John Ortberg‘s thoughts on waiting. He states that Biblical waiting is nothing like what I stated above. Biblical waiting is not passive. Ortberg describes waiting as a confident disipline that is expectant, active and sometimes a painful clinging to God. He says that it is saying to God, I will trust you even though the circumstances around me are not turning out the way I want them to, and may never turn out the way I want them to. 

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.                                  5Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.                        7Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.                                     8Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil. (Psalm 37:4-8 NIV).

Ortberg goes on to identify three requirments of a trusting heart. First, it requires that I will trust that God has good reasons or having me wait even if I don’t know what they are. I will trust that God knows what He is doing. Second, waiting requires a confident humility that recognizes that I am not in control. Third, it’s important for me know how to recognize God’s voice.

 My heart would like to think this is no problem. Biblical waitng is easy. Right? My head, on the other hand, says waiting painful and hard. My head fights it every step of the way. Truth is this is a work in progress for me. I waffle between my head and my heart. My head want to control and my heart wants to trust. So, my focus is the third step. I will focus on listening for the voice of God. Listening quietly for direction from Him always provides comfort, peace and renewed strength. 

How are you at waiting? Does your head or your heart win? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

Tagged with:

Defeated

God shows in Genesis that we need to rest. The Ten Commandments tell us to keep the Sabbath. Everything else around us tells us to do more, make more, go go go. It is easy to fall into the trap of doing more. I think I’m the master of it. But, what do you do when you feel called to what you are doing. Where is the balance and the rest? How does the soul leave a place of being defeated,calm itself and make space for the holy? 

I’ve been going full steam ahead for some months now. My soul is weary. I find small moments of rest, but the “to do” list dominates my days seven days a week. A few hours set aside for family means a pile up for the coming days. I made a plan to create some space to let go of what seemed like the obvious choice. This was to bring balance back to life. This was going to create space for my soul to rest with God fully. 

Needless to say, I was told no that my plan woudn’t work at this time. My spirit was crushed. I felt defeated. Now what do I do?

And me? I pray. God, it’s time for a break! God, answer in love! Answer with your sure salvation! (Psalm 69:13 MSG).

That has exactly been my prayer for months.  The problem is it’s not working. I still feel defeated, and my soul weary. I need patience. I need hope. I’m changing my prayer.

[ Developing Patience ] By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. (Romans 5:1-2 MSG).

I will keep looking for a way to create space for my weary soul and pray with hope for that moment when I find myself in the place I hope for. Instead of begging God for relief, I’m choosing hope filled with gratitude. It will happen. This is not an easy or natural choice, but a choice non the less. I will not be defeated.

Where do you turn when your soul is weary. How do you find hope? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

Tagged with:

Let Them Grow

Change is exciting and scary. There is the excitement of new experiences, watching dreams come true, and challenging the self to be more than one thought possible. There is this strange tug of war that begins to happen in the heart. I want to encourage them to fly, to  let them grow, but in my heart there are pangs of not being needed anymore. Fear sets in that they will be hurt or bad decisions will be made. 

Just as there are times of excitement, there are bumps that cause pain, hurt. I work hard to prevent my loves from experiencing pain, and suffering. The problem is I am guaranteed to fail. With life comes joy and sorrow. They are going to get hurt and I can’t stop it, and if I pause to think about it, some of my greatest moments of growth have come through failure, pain and sorrow. As much as wouldn’t trade my moments of growth, I still don’t want to let them get hurt.  

How does God do it? How does he let us grow knowing there will be pain and sorrow? I know. He’s all knowing. So how does a human heart let them grow because so often mine can’t take it.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil! (Proverbs 3:5-8 MSG)

Trust. Trust is always the answer. Trusting God with my fears and my loves is the only way through the growing pains. I still want to fix everything and not have any conflict. I continually remind myself that God is in control. I need to listen carefully for His voice and He will keep me on track, my loves too. I know He can fix the hurts, and bad choices. He has fixed so many of mine. I have to trust that He will do that for those I love, as well. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’d rather be in control, but there is comfort in knowing the One is really in control. 

How are you at letting them grow? Are you able to trust them in God’s hands? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others. 

Tagged with: ,

Should I?

I am often asked and even wonder myself, “Am I doing what God wants me to do?” I really love it when God is crystal clear in what He wants me to do, but that doesn’t happen as often as I would like. I ask for signs that I am doing the right thing. I worry that the ripple effect of my choices will backfire and leave me in a worse place. This leaves me thinking, “God, should I?” 

We recently sold our cabin. We would rent it out when we weren’t there, and it started to feel like a burden especially to my husband. He carried the burden of the work. As I asked God, “Should we

When we made the decision, I think many around us were surprised and thought we were in haste. There were ways for us to keep it, if that was our choice. This choice was about lifting a burden, so on the market it went. The sale went very quickly, and brought with it all the stress of selling. It has also brought us peace, and an unexpected assurance to make other tough decisions for our family to lift burdens. There was also the fun decision, at least for my husband, to build a pole barn. 

For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. (Hebrews 4:3 NIV).

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).

I spent years simply asking God, “What should I do?” I expected specific answers because I was His servant and to do His will. I didn’t want to disappoint Him or do something wrong. He has since shown me that there is more to our relationship. I am more than a servant. I am His daughter and there is joy is us creating together. There are a variety of choices we can make together that will build relationships, love and grace.

This is not to say that there are not times when God asks us to do something specific. This type of discernment only comes with spending time in prayer, reading scripture, listening for God’s guidance and even seeking the counsel of others. Discernment is tricky. Love and grace are good barometers.  Yes, it takes practice, and yes, it brings joy to the relationship. 

I’m learning to enjoy the process with Him and not be burdened with should I.

Tagged with: , ,

Pure Joy

It feels a little strange around the house with the eldest off to college. He’s not far away, yet there is a strange emptiness around here. There is something to be said for less dishes and laundry, but mostly I miss him. I miss our conversations, and yes I miss the drumming. His absence has given me a glimpse of the pure joy God must feel when we return to Him.

Recently, he returned home for weekend. He ended up coming home earlier than expected. I heard the front door and new it was him. My heart leapt with joy, literally. I felt it in my chest. I was so excited to see him. I didn’t know joy could feel like that. It reminded me of the story of the prodigal son and the pure joy described in this story.

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15: 11-21 NIV)

This parable is an example of how God delights in us returning to Him. Whether it has been a lifetime or a few months, He still runs to throw His arms around us. We are His pure joy

How have you experience joy? How do you feel when something lost is found? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.


Tagged with:

Show Me Who I Am

The gang was back together. It had been several months since the Best Life team was together for a conference. It was far enough away that it required traveling the day before. This meant an old lady pajama party. We shared, we laughed and we prayed. At some point in the conversation, Tiffany shared a simple prayer, “Show me who I am.” 

My favorite Psalm is 139. I love it. It starts with a beautiful reminder of how intimately God knows us. 

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me. (Psalm 139:1-5 NIV)

But, there is more to the Psalm. The Psalm asks God to search within us. It asks God, “Show me who I am.” The final verses read like this:

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139: 23-24 NIV)
.

Know my anxious thoughts or any offensive way in me is a prayer for God to do a major work in my life, in your life. We are essentially asking God to show us who we are. The hard part is we might not like what he shows us. 

This is a prayer that challenges us to grow in the likeness of Christ. It challenges us to increase our capacity or compassion, grace and mercy. It challenges us to look deep into our woundedness and let God free us of deep pain. 

Addressing the deep pain is hard. It brings up fears, anxieties, and shame. It takes trust to allow God to bring those up within us. We have to trust that His care for us is as Psalm 139 describes. We have to trust that His promise to clean our inner house is true. 

From my experience, it is so worth it. I didn’t know my heart could be free of dirt and shame from the icky neighbor. I won’t pretend it was an easy process, but it was worth every moment. It was worth letting God into the deep pain and show me His love and care for my wellbeing. 

Are you willing to pray this prayer; God, show me who I am? Have you prayed this prayer. Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

Tagged with: , , ,
Top
%d bloggers like this: