Jump To Conclusions

Sometimes I jump to conclusions. I get excited or anxious and think I know the outcome before I have all the information. I was given the green light by my husband to shop for new carpet for the family room. We had tried shopping together and quickly discovered we were not going to agree. My husband, in his wisdom, decided to let me pick out what I want. Part of me felt bad that we weren’t doing this together. The other part of me couldn’t wait to start shipping.

It was in my enthusiasm to start shopping that I headed out to a flooring outlet knowing the best way to keep hubby happy is to find a good deal. I only had a couple of hours, but I wanted to see what they had. I thought I knew where I was going. It was Sunday, and I wanted to be home in time for the football game. I was certain this clearance center was part of a larger store. I was wrong. Not only was the store not where I though it was, it wasn’t part of the larger store. The kicker, the outlet store is not open on Sundays. Ugh. I was so bummed that I had jumped to conclusions and wasted my time.

I jump to conclusions in many ways. I jump in work situations, family situations, and even church situations.. I think I know other people’s intentions and perceptions. I make snap judgements about what others are thinking. I assume I know the best course of action before I have all the information. All of this haste usually end up with me in the wrong. These scriptures from the wisdom of Proverbs remind me that jumping to conclusions is most likely going to cause suffering.

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. (Proverbs 21:5 NIV).

Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them (Proverbs 29:20 NIV).

When I pause and listen for God’s guidence, I am more likely to gather all the needed information. I am more likely to ask appropriate questions. I am more likely to give the benefit of the doubt, and I am more likely to show grace. When I jump to conclusions, there is more hope for a fool.

How about you? Do you jump to conclusions? Does it work out well? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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Christmas Is…

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Christmas is the season of giving, it seems most appropriate to take time and remember and read the reason we give. We received the greatest gift in Christ. This little babe wrapped in swaddling clothes forever changed the world through grace. He restored my heart. He washed me clean. Gratitude often overwhelms me, so I invite you to sit with Him and rest.

Merry Christmas!

THE BIRTH OF JESUS

2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angelof the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

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Love Is…

It is that time of year. It’s my favorite time of year. I love the Christmas season also known as Advent. I love the decorations and giving gifts. I love spending time with family and the spirit of generosity. Not everyone has the same experience of this season. Not everyone knows what love is.

I recently saw this quote by Bob Goff, “Love picked us so grace could find us.” There is a lot packed into this statement. Love picked us, I read that as God picking us whiich He did. Remember the scripture, “For God so loved the world?” God is love and God chose us. God so loved us that He chose grace over any other option. 

As I let this quote merinade within me, I am overwhelmed by God’s love and grace for me and all humankind. I am also challenged to be love to others so grace can pick them up. I am called to be an example of love to others in the world. Am I doing that well? It is a great time of the year to reflect on this scripture and take inventory. Am I showing others what love is?

So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without loveLove never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. 
8-10 Love never dies.  (I Corinthians 13:4-10 MSG).

This scripture helps me take that inventory. It reminds me of all the ways that love can show up. It reminds me that love can be hard and often counterintuitive.  It encourages me to be an example of what love is. It is my prayer this season that we all live into Goff’s statement, “Love picked us so grace could find us.” 

How does the Christmas season impact you? Has grace found you? Are you challenged to love better? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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