Day 10: Cast your cares….

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Do you ever feel worn out for no good reason?   I don’t mean that normal, bone-weary Mommy tired.  Although I get that.  I’m pretty sure I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since 1999.

And all the mommies said, “AMEN!”

But no, what I mean in this case is do you ever feel just utterly emotionally overdrawn?  Careworn.

It’s a product of living in the world and being deeply affected by it. Of loving and being loved.  Risky behavior, that.  It’s a product of having our hearts walk around outside our bodies as we send our children out to school each day.  It’s a product of weeping with a friend as she tells you of her great loss.  It’s a product of watching a loved one on a path to certain destruction and knowing they won’t hear you when you try and stand in the middle of the road hoping to turn them to the right or the left.

It’s a product of caring.  Of being alive.

And sometimes it’s just too much.  It hurts.

But.

“Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.”  1 Peter 5:7–MSG

I love that our Savior knew we’d be worn down and worn out and utterly frazzled by life.  And seriously, it’s probably good for us that this is the case.  Otherwise we’d be tempted to think we could go it alone.  But no.  We can’t.

We get it wrong.  We overestimate our abilities and we try way too hard to carry loads that aren’t ours to bear in the first place.

But here’s the thing.  Jesus said “live carefree before Me.”  Jesus SAID.  Now hear me, that doesn’t mean drink all the wine, max out your credit card and run away to the Bahamas.  No.

But it does mean you can drop all those cares, one by one at the foot of the cross.  And you should.

Because they’ll kill you, sweet sister.  You will be crushed.

Lay them at the foot of the cross.  Lay every burden down.  And trust that the God of the Ages will brush them away like so much dust, and breathe new life into your empty soul.

Why?

Because He is most careful with you.

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This post is written in conjunction with the #Write31days Challenge and linked up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday crew here and Nester Smith’s friends here.

Day 8: Say

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The words come to me often. Song lyrics.  John Mayer croons, “Say what you wanna say….say what you wanna say.”

I think of my daughters.  So much of their lives are lived with unfiltered speech.  If they think it, they feel it.  If they feel it, they feel entitled to say it.  Sometimes, the words they say are designed to cut the other sister to the quick.  They know each others’ triggers and they delight at pushing the buttons, it seems.

Other times, it’s not the words exactly.  It’s not what you say, but how you say it.  Passive aggressive.  Riding the edge of what is okay to say.  And what is not.

And really, how and what we say, choosing to say it the right way or the wrong way, that’s something we all struggle with, isn’t it?

My kids frustrate me and suddenly I find myself being snarky to my husband over something that is nothing at all.

The driver in front of me does something dumb and I call him an unpleasant name.  He doesn’t hear it but my daughters sure do.

Someone I respect at church hurts my feelings and I choose our words from a place of hurt, so they may know exactly how their words cut me to the quick.

But that’s not Jesus’s way, is it?  That’s not what He has in store for Jesus girls.  He must increase and I must decrease.  In every aspect of my life.  More of Him and less of me.  And in this case, I’m called to choose what I say carefully.  My words should reflect His words.

I’m preaching to myself here because this is not easy for me.  Maybe you feel the same?

Say what you wanna say?  No way.  Say what’s best or say nothing at all.  You never know what a difference that might make in someone’s life.  Especially your own.

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This post is written in conjunction with the #Write31days Challenge and linked up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday crew here and Nester Smith’s friends here.

Come and see…

Four days in the tomb.  It was on that fourth day that Jesus arrived.  Mary was heartbroken.  Weeping.  Grieving over the loss of her brother.  Martha heard that Jesus was near and went to meet Him.

No nonsense Martha.  But her heart was heavy too.  They talked.  Martha, hinting that she was confident that God would give Jesus *whatever* He asked.  Asking for the most miraculous of all miracles, perhaps?  Jesus, knowing the very outcome of these moments in time.  Yet fully present.

And He was moved by what He saw.

As Mary came to him, as Jesus looked upon her tear-stained face, as He saw the grief of those surrounding her, He felt their pain, palpable.  He knew it.  God in human flesh.  Fully God, yet fully man, and not without compassion.  Mary threw herself at His feet, completely done in by the sight of Him.  By the vastness of her loss.  And after hoping and praying and wishing that Jesus would come, empty when He did not.

Jesus asked very simply, “Where have you laid him?”  And with equal simplicity, Mary answers, “Come and see.”

“Come and see.”

In my mind’s eye, I see Mary reaching out as she utters these words.  She offers her hand to Him.  And I see Him taking it.  (And yes, I’m sure this is wildly inaccurate in regards to the culture of the day, but please, gentle reader, bear with me…)

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Mary reaching out because she knew Jesus had exactly what she needed, drawing strength from Him, pressing into His sovereignty.

They went. And Jesus wept.  For a moment, it seems like His humanness was larger than life.  He was exposed.

How often, I wonder, does Jesus weep over me?  When I finally turn to Him.  When I finally get to the end of myself.  When I hold out my hands and say, “Come and see…”

Come and see, Jesus.  Come and see the broken and dead things in my life.  Come and see the mess I have made.  If you were here, perhaps I wouldn’t be in this mess.  Probably I would have done better.  Been more.  Worked harder.  Gone farther.  But come and see, Jesus.  Come and see.

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But no.  I wouldn’t have done better.  Because I can’t.  And He was there all along.  Not limited by what I see or feel or think or do.

Come to me, I invite.  Hands open wide.  Surrendered.  Reaching out.

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I reach.  And He comes.  And He weeps.  Not because of the mess I’ve made.  But in spite of it.

He sees the big picture.  He was already at Calvary for my mess and brokenness and certain death.  He has already fought that battle.  But He weeps for me all the same.

Why?

Because He loves me.

It’s as simple as that.

And He reminds me of this:

“I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die…”  John 11:25-26

Jesus weeps as I stand in the middle of my brokenness.  But he reaches right back to me, refusing to let me there.  By rights, that’s where I belong.  Still, He draws me close and hides me in the shadow of His wings.  And in the middle of His grace and love and utter security, He reminds me to sing again.  To find rest.

And truly, in the shadow of His wings, I sing again.

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Day 7: Just go.

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One of the things I believe can haunt any self-respecting Jesus girl is the desire to be in the center of God’s will.  It’s what we long for.  We love Him and we want to serve Him.  We want to go where He leads us.  And we want to run the race well for Him.

But. How do we know?  How do we know what His will is?  What if we miss it?  What if we think we know what it is, but we really don’t?  What if we make a wrong decision?  Does that negate His plan for our lives?

And as these thoughts swirl around in our heads we get stuck.  We don’t move.  At all.  Paralyzed.

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me, stuck is exactly where the enemy wants us to be, doesn’t it?  

If I’m stuck, I’m not doing anything for the kingdom.  And that suits the enemy just fine.  He doesn’t need me to be robbing banks or instigating high speed chases.  Nope.  No need.  Just keep me bound up and second guessing everything in my life and I’m rendered ineffective. No threat to him whatsoever.

Here’s the thing….every decision we are presented with, every choice we make, well, they will have good and bad things that come along as part of the package.  We can make the most God-ordained choice in the world but that doesn’t mean the road is going to be easy.

Did you hear that?  Even when we do what God would have us do, it won’t always be sunshine and roses 100% of the time.

So how to know His will, to hear His call on our lives?  Get in the Word.  Know Him.  Spend time with him.  And then go.  Just go.  Step out in faith.  As I heard Lysa TerKuerst say this week, “The only way our faith will ever strengthen is to use it.”

That’s is, isn’t it?  Use your faith and it will grow. Spend time with God and then trust that He’s breathing wisdom into your life.  Because He tells us that’s exactly what He’ll do.  And then go.  Move.  Do something.

So go.  And quit making everything harder than it has to be.  God’s got you.  Trust always in that.

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This post is written in conjunction with the #Write31days Challenge and linked up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday crew here and Nester Smith’s friends here.

He knows me

31dayssquareaddressIn my quiet time this morning, I took five minutes and just poured over a verse or two of scripture.  Life is chaotic and busy and my head is noisy.  Even when I’m supposed to be still.  I tend to feel that Im doing something wrong if I’m not pounding through several chapters of scripture every day.  More is better, right?

As if, God, Himself, gave us one and only list of how to do it ….the Holy Expectation of Bible Study….to be a good Jesus girl you must read from the Old Testament, the New Testament, a chapter of Proverbs and a couple Psalms every day.

We might make up our own expectations but He doesn’t do that.  He hasn’t set up those rules.

So I’ve been slowing down and pondering one verse of scripture today.  And this is it:

“My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me.”  John 10:27

So often I focus on my part of this verse.  The listening part.  And in that I can get wrapped up in how I might listen wrong.  Or mishear.  Or not hear anything at all.

But today, what spoke to my heart was this…..”I know them…”

Ahhh.  He knows me.  The God of the universe, the Shepherd of my soul knows me.  He knows me.  Me.

Drink that in and understand that wherever you are, whether it’s in trial or joy, whether you’ve got dirty dishes stacked up in your sink and you forgot to run the overfull dishwasher and there is laundry strewn on your couch and the beds aren’t made…..He knows you.  He sees your need.  He wants to meet you right where you are.  If you’ll slow down and let Him.

Jesus is a gentleman.  He calls.  But we often forget to listen.

He knows you.  Listen to His voice.  It’s there.  Only slow down long enough, breathe that tender mercy into your soul rather than jamming another chore in there, and listen.  And then follow.

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This post is written in conjunction with the #Write31days Challenge and linked up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday crew here and Nester Smith’s friends here.

Day 5: I’m stuck…or am I?

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This morning, as our pastor began to bring us his message during worship these words flashed on the screen:

We all sin.

It took my breath away.  Not because I didn’t know it was true.  Oh, trust me.  I did.  But my heart nearly leaped out of my chest because I was sure I knew where this was going.

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Condemnation.  Try harder.  Do better.  Be more.  You’re not enough.  Do it all over.  I’ve heard that message of hell and brimstone a million times.

But no.  No, Pastor Pete reminded us that we were living in a grace place.  One where we no longer have to build a life stuck in sin but pretending as if we weren’t.  Where we no longer have to go to great lenghts to try to convince ourselves that being good and being happy is enough in our lives.

Because it’s not.  And you and I both know that.

We can keep trying to live our lives as though we can jam enough good things into place to cobble together some sort of life here.

Or.  We can focus on eternity.  One where there is repentance and redemption.  One where we can stop, right now, right this minute, right where we are in whatever it is that is nearly killing us, and we can do a complete 180.  We can circle right back around to Jesus.  We can embrace the call and plan he has for us.

Sure, we can stay stuck in the quicksand of sin and the trap of lies the world tells us.

But why?

“Rid yourself of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.”  Ezekiel 18:31

There is grace, bleeding through right beside you.  Closer than a breath.  Closer than a song.  Closer than you can imagine.

Don’t remain stuck in sin and lies and unbelief.  Turn around.  Turn around and let grace lead you home.

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This post is written in conjunction with the #Write31days Challenge and linked up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday crew here and Nester Smith’s friends here.

Lesson learned….

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My feet hit the ground and I’m off.  Running.  My head is full of chaos.  Going in too many direcitons at once.

Pack the lunches.  Sign the papers you should have signed last night.  Write the checks.  Make sure the big girl ate something.  Wake up the little girl.  Wake up the little girl again.  Wake up the little girl yet again.  Endure her wrath.  Send hubby out the door.  Send the big girl out the door.  Check the calendar.  Make the grocery list.  Step over cat-hair tumbleweeds rolling across the kitchen floor.  Make  mental note to sweep floor after I get back from the bus stop.

My life moves at the speed of rush and my mind is always spinning.  Always turning.  Trying to keep up.  Desperately wishing I could get ahead.  Always moving.  Until my heart is heavy.  And I remember.

You can’t hear that still small voice if you never take time to listen for it.  And goodness knows God is crying out to me.  Reminding me that He’s there.  Closer than a breath.  If I’d just pause.  If I’d be still.  If I’d listen for his voice.

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10

That’s what he wants me to know.  And I can only really embrace His blessing, hear His voice if I stop.  If I quiet my mind and heart.  If I listen.  Just as I ask my daughters to do when I’m talking and they are busy.  “Listen to me.  Put your eyes on my face.”

That’s what I need to do too.  Listen.  And put my eyes on His face.

Lesson learned.

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This post is written in conjunction with the #Write31days Challenge and linked up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday crew here and Nester Smith’s friends here.

Day 3: A New Voice

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Confession time again.

That voice in my head is very unkind.  You know the one I mean.  I know you do.  You have it too, I’ll bet.

It’s that voice makes big lists of my shortfalls and categorizes my sins.  And while we’re at it, might as well see how my mess stacks up with what I perceive your list looks like.

It tells me I’m not good enough.  Or smart enough.  Not talented enough.  I don’t wear the right size.  Or keep my house properly.  My children aren’t well behaved enough and that is a reflection on the sort of mother I am.  It tells me I don’t pray enough or study enough.  I don’t balance things in my life enough.

Do you see a theme here?  Never.enough.

Funny thing.  It seems that I’m always looking at my own blooper reel while looking at my sister’s highlight clips.  Her best days as opposed to my worst.  As if there’s a competition.  And if I allow it, that ugly voice will dominate my days and control my life. It tells me all the ways I do not measure up, as if this is the gospel truth.

But here’s the thing.  I measure up not because of anything I do.  Ha.  More like in spite of what I do.  Because I mess up a lot.  Like 100 times before lunch.  No, it’s not on my power. I’m enough because of Jesus’s redeeming work on the cross.  There’s no competition.  Only the filter of grace.

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He sings a song of love to me daily, calling out to remind me of who I am in Him.

The hearing is up to me.

Listen to the new voice.  There is peace.

This post is written in conjunction with the #Write31days Challenge and linked up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday crew here and Nester Smith’s friends here.

Day 2: The View

31dayssquareaddressWherever we go, I tend to take my trusty camera with me.  Or at the very least, I’m not afraid to whip out my phone and use that camera instead.  Now that my daughters are no longer babies and not so apt to pose or allow pictures without a fuss, I find myself looking more and more at the world around me and enjoying the view.

Looking outside, rather than being so much in my head.

And as I look at the scenery, the majesty which God has created, it often takes my breath away.  And it causes me to think on God Almighty.  On the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf.

How do I view the abundant life I’ve been given?

So often, when a difficult season presents itself, we can hyper-focus on the immediacy of that situation.  Of the needs it presents.  How it makes us feel.  And that can cause us to spiral to a place we were never meant to be.  I know that has so often been true for me.

Someone says something to you and you being to inspect the ways it has wounded you.  And you begin to assign intentions and motives that someone never said.  And the more we focus on that, the more hurt we feel.  And we think about what we could have said.  And what we shoudl have said.

ANd so rarely are those things what Jesus would like us to say.  *sigh*

In those moments, I have to reign myself in.  In the difficult times.  Both the small ones and the big ones.  ANd I have to decide.  Who is God *really* in my life.  What’s the big picture?

Are these trials bigger than God?  When we hyper-focus, it sure seems like it.  But if I can step back and really set my eyes on the God of the universe, suddenly the view changes.  Oh, the situation didn’t change, but my view certainly does.  Take out the hurt.  Take out the emotion.  Stop assigning blame and motive and value things of this world simply don’t have.

Take a look at the view.  Who is God to me?

My dear Abba, who tends my hurts.

Sweet refuge in the middle of life’s storms.

Like no one I’ve ever known.

Marvelous mystery, He is.  And I am so glad.  Because that’s a God I can invest in.

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This post is written in conjunction with the 31 Days Writing Challenge and linked up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday crew here and Nester Smith’s friends here.

Day 1: Who moved?

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Confession time.

There are days or even seasons in which I feel really close to God.  I hear Him clearly.  I see His hand all around me.  I just have this sense of His leading.

Today is not one of those days.

It’s been a long week, full of unexpected busy-ness.  When I have a full calendar, I can usually adapt to that fairly well, but when unexpected things creep in, it’s something else entirely.  I start forgetting things.  Sometimes I’m so busy, I forget to meet up with God.  It’s never intentional.  But with this Jesus girl, it happens.  *blush*

And in those moments, He becomes a bit distant to me.  And I wonder.  When did God move?  Why did He move?

In her new book, “The Best Yes”, Lysa TerKuerst reminds us that living with an overwhelmed schedule will cause us “to ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.”  And it doesn’t take long for this to happen.

Can you relate to that?  It’s amazing how quickly life gets away from us and how fast it seems that God moves from us.  But God is unchanging.  He didn’t go anywhere.  If anyone moved, it was me.  I moved into a place where I let the demands of life come first, promising God that I’d sit with him later.  Or I slam through a few quick prayer requests in the pick-up line at the high school.  Or quickly glance at my Bible app in the orthodontist’s waiting room.

When that sort of thing is happening, it’s for sure a sign that there was movement.  But it was me.

I moved.  And I didn’t move to a good place.

The Word reminds us of many attributes of God, not the least of which are His benefits, found in Psalm 103.

He forgives my sin.

Heals my diseases.

Redeems my life from the pit.

Crowns me with love and compassion.

Satisfies my desires with Good things.

And renews my youth like the eagle’s.

Did God move during this season of busy and rush and doing and running?  No.  He didn’t move.  But we drift quickly when we lose focus.  So press in, dear friends.  The road is a long one, but praise be, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.

Pace yourself.  Give yourself grace and keep moving nearer to His abundance.

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This post is written in conjunction with the 31 Days Writing Challenge and linked up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday crew here and Nester Smith’s friends here.