Day 20: Fear creeps in….

31dayssquareaddressIn certain seasons of our lives, it’s very easy for fear to creep in.  Sometimes it’s full on, hard-core, what*am*I*going*to*do panic that comes with a diagnosis or the revelation of a huge issue in a marriage or a letter from the school.

But I think a lot of times, when we step out in faith, even baby steps, when we try new things….and the enemy looks around and sees those acts of faith, he starts messing with us.  Because that’s all he’s got.  The messing with our lives.  His playbook is small and he just fires away over and over again.

Relentlessly.

It’s that fear of putting yourself out there at your job or with a new friend.  Why?  Because you’re quite certain that when they know the “real you”, when they discover your flaws and your mess, well, they’re going to be pretty turned off.

It’s the fear of trying new things.  Why?  Because nothing ever works out for you anyway.  What’s the point…..

It’s the fear of bad things happening.  Why?  Because, well, sometimes they do happen.

Fear can be subtle.  We don’t always recognize it for what it is.  In fact, most of us would probably say we’re not fearful at all.  That’s how the enemy rolls, isn’t it?  Messing, always.

But the Word is clear.  “Be strong and very courageous.” (Joshua 1:7)  God reminded the Israelites of this frequently.  Not that they listened.  But still.  He told them over and over again that He was not only WITH them, but he was FOR them.  And the same is true for us.  He is FOR us.

So how do become strong and courageous?  Because let me tell you, I’ve been feeling like a limp dishrag this week.  Kind of lost sight of things for a few days.  So how do we become strong and courageous?  Well, that portion of Joshua tells us exactly how to get ourselves together….  “Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” 

Our strength is in truth.  It’s in not just the hearing of the Word but also in the application.  The more we meditate on His precepts, the more room we give the Holy Spirit to move in our lives.  And when we do that, suddenly we remember that His ways in our lives won’t look like we imagined, but it’s good.  And those who come into our lives have their own mess just as we do, and that’s okay.  And there will be hard times and bad times and wonderful times and okay times that will compose our lives into a beautiful symphony of God-breathed love, refinement and redemption.

Fear will creep in at times, but truth sets it straight.  Truth is our freedom.

Be free.

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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 18: Taste and see….

31dayssquareaddressThere are moments in our lives which define us.  Moments where we are called to move.  Do or die.  Put up or shut up.  Moments in which us God calls us to live dangerously. In which He challenges us.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”  Psalm 34:8

There are simply times when God challenges us to step out.  To be bold in our faith and to move.  To trust in him and to follow the whispers He gives us even though we have no idea where they will take us.

But.

We like to be safe.  We like our comfort zone.  We like the things that we’ve always done.

And God whereas God loves us, He’s not overly concerned about our comfort zone.  Not really.  Because comfort zone is another word for “I feel good and safe and God is in His little box.”

Yeah, you can see why that’s not His plan for us.  Our dependence on Him is crucial.  We need Him.  Oh we need Him.

And in this broken world, we need to taste of Him and see that He is good.  There is so much around us that is so very, very bad.  But God is always, always good.  And not only is He good, but he’s working good on our behalf.  Simply because we love Him.

That’s how good He is.

Loving us even though we’re a collective group of hot messes.  And thank goodness.  Because tasting of him, and looking upon His goodness is a balm for or my weary soul.

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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 17: What my heart longs for…

In her song “Presence”, Kathryn Scott share these words….

You are all my heart longs for

The treasure and the hunger

I’ve tasted and I must have more

Of Your presence, Lord.

You call me deeper than before

I’m falling further into You God.

You are just so beautiful

I love Your presence, Lord.

Every time I sing this song, it soothes my soul.  It refocuses me.  Because truly, this is the longing of my heart.  To know God and to be known by Him.

In the rush that is life, it can be hard to prioritize and slow down.  The demands are many.  But the longer we go without feeding our soul, the greater the longing in our hearts becomes.

And that can be dangerous.  Because it’s really easy to fill that longing with other things in our rush.

But slow down and be still.  Your heart does long for God just as He longs for you to come to him.  Take time to be with Him.  To be totally in awe of his presence as you look around and see His good work.  To revel in the detail with which is plans your life.  To know that you know that you know that you are truly loved.  Well loved.  Held in His hand.

And all that is right now.  Not some day when you’re good enough.  No, right now.  Because you are enough, by the shed blood of Christ.  And that won’t change.

Your heart longs for God.  Come to him and be restored.  Refreshed.  Renewed.

Just come.

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P.S.  Just in case you’d like to hear this beautiful song as well…

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 16: I’ve got to adjust

31dayssquareaddressThere is an endless stream of demands on my time.  The obvious things of course….taking care of my family, my career, maintaining the household.  Those things are consuming enough.

So lets add to that, shall we?

A healthy dose of activities for my daughters, both extra curricular activities as well as my teen’s budding social life.  Sometimes it feels like I spend an inordinate amount of time in the car, dropping someone off, picking someone up.  Facilitating wardrobe changes and instrument pick-ups and re-dropping off for the next activity.

Then there is the ever popular volunteering at school.  I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t always love the volunteering but I almost always feel obligated to do it for some reason.  Good moms volunteer and good Jesus girls volunteer with a smile on their faces.

Even though what they want most is a nap.

My to-list is massively oversimplified here but let’s conclude with all the things we do at church.  It never feels like it’s okay to say no to things at church either, does it?  It’s God’s work.  Reaching the lost.  So that means I need to sign up to man tables and bake cookies and usher at the events my choir doesn’t sing at but direct the choir at the events they DO sing at and make shepherd costumes and lead worship and volunteer to hold babies in the nursery and attend meetings and serve on committees and….

And…and….and.

Who said a good Jesus girl does everything and does it all well?  Who was it that essentially lined up being an over-committed yes girl with being a good Christian?

But that’s how it feels, doesn’t it?

In her book “The Best Yes”, Lysa TerKuerst makes this (very important) point:

“Saying yes all the time won’t make me a Wonder Woman. It will make me a worn-out woman.”

True.  All true.

Doing too much, spreading yourself too thin, even for Jesus, is still doing too much.  And please tell me I’m not the only one who has found out the hard way that too much doesn’t work.

You can’t do everything and do it all well.  Oh, the world makes you feel that if you’re not doing it all and doing it perfectly you’ve failed.  But no.  Sweet sister, that’s a lie straight from the enemy’s mouth, designed to keep you living in lack, either on a perpetual treadmill of over-activity or not even trying since you feel like you can’t measure up.

There are a million good things we could do.  But we each can’t do a million things.  So choose wisely and give yourself permission to rest.  Be kind to yourself.  Go to bed on time.  Recognize when enough is enough.  Nourish your soul.  And trust that He who created you never intended for you to be so busy, you don’t even have time to give Him a shout out throughout the day.

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Take time to smell the roses.  Or look at the butterflies.  But please.  Make sure you take the time you need to nourish your soul.

It’s that important.

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 15: Doing life

31dayssquareaddressSo life.  It’s a funny thing.  As I think back over my life, especially the early years as a young wife and then mother, I wonder how I survived.  Especially the mom thing.  Shew.  It still amazes me that you have a baby and the doctors and nurses clean her up and send you on your way without a single clue in the world.

Talk about real life.  Taking that baby home is about as real as it gets.

At that time, I was really wrapped up in being essentially the perfect wife and mother.  I don’t mean that I tried to uphold the Proverbs 31 standard of a godly woman.  No.  I was striving for perfect.  As if that might heal me.

I was constantly knocking myself out to try and attain some imaginary standard.  Obviously I wanted to do right by my husband and baby daughter.  But I was a bit obsessive about it at times.

I may or may not have kept a spreadsheet of every calorie my daughter ingested as she began solid foods.

A spreadsheet, people!

Now look, there’s nothing wrong with keeping a spreadsheet of your kiddo’s food intake if that’s your thing.  But anyone who knows me well knows that spreadsheets make me break out in hives and lists give me a stomachache.  My brain isn’t organized to think in those terms….which I know is upsetting to those with logical thought processes, but yeah, it doesn’t work for me.

It got to the place where I realized life was slowly killing me.  It wasn’t a joyful life well-lived.  It felt more like a life sentence. And not in a good way.

And that’s when I got on my face and gave it over to Jesus.  Because as we all find out eventually, we simply can’t do it all on our own.  And that’s what I was trying to do.  Life on my own.   Kind of near Jesus, but not WITH Jesus.

The beauty of His promise is that he calls us to open ourselves up to him.  Fully. Completely.  Because he wants to do life with us.  Through us.  In us.

And that opens us up to just be ourselves in His presence.

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In many ways these babies saved my lives…..they taught me so much about Jesus in ways I never expected.  We do life together in pretty amazing ways.  And I’ve given up on perfection, choosing to just embrace my imperfectness, knowing Jesus has got it.  I can just relax and be who He’s always wanted me to be.

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 14: Running away

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Sometimes my thoughts get away from me.  I know we are supposed to take our thoughts captive and get them in line with Scripture.  With truth.

But sometimes it takes a while before I realize they’ve run away, casting me into a turbulent tide.  Gone.  Far away from where they should be.

The last few weeks seem to be full of birth pains of the end times.  There is such utter brokenness in our world.  And every now and then, if I’m not careful, I can focus on those things, the details of life, of worldly things.

The things that make headlines were never meant to rule my heart.

So in those times, I have to reign in my runaway thoughts.  I need to draw them back.  To refocus.

“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare.”  Psalm 25:15

Yes, I know exactly where my focus should be.  On the Lord.  Not on the the things that make news.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.”  Psalm 23:1-3

When I focus on Him, He sets me free from the things that ensnare me.  He quiets my run-away heart.  He restores me.

“I am still confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord.  Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  Psalm 27:13-14

And see, here’s the promise.  When I do take those thoughts captive and I line them up with truth.  My mind is no longer on hyper-overdrive.  There’s no more runaway freight train in my head.  And then, even amidst the headlines, especially amidst them perhaps, I can see the goodness of the Lord.  Right here.  Right now.

I just have to stop running away.

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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 13: Work, in its proper place….

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My alarm goes off, my feet hit the floor and I’m off.  Usually at the speed of run and catch-up.  There are days where I’m pretty sure I meet myself coming and going.

As a mom, even one who “only” works part time, I’m busy.  There is always, always work to be done.  A friend may ask if I’ve finished all my work for the day and I laugh.

Because every mom knows the work never ends in a busy household.  There’s never going to be a day in which the laundry is caught up completely, no one needs any more food, all the supplies are 100% stocked, the piano is fully practiced, the cats are fed and cleaned up after, the homework is complete, the papers are signed, the cars have gas and I’ve peacefully spent enough time in my Savior’s presence.

Perfect doesn’t exist and work must be done.  It has it’s place and in this life, it’s reality.

But work can steal from us if we’re not careful.  It influences how we spend our time, our attitudes and even our finances.  If I’m not careful I can find my attitude towards my responsibilities becoming increasingly negative.

Even my work for the Lord.

Ouch.  But it’s true.  We can get to that place, can’t we?  It might mean we’re overcommitted with things at church; things that are all very good and truly important but perhaps not ALL things we need to take on as individuals.  And in our own personal walk, there are times when our quiet times are noisy due to the speed of life and our scripture reading ends up being one more block of time checked off our already overwhelmed to-do list.

Oswald Chambers says it this way:

“The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for him.  It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him.”

These words are powerful, largely because they are ridiculously true.  It’s a whole lot easier for me to sign up for many responsibilities within our church than it is for me to get quiet, prioritize my time and get gut-level honest with Jesus.  I dislike admitting that, but there are seasons where I recognize how true it is.

When my to-do list is as long as my arm with work and chores that threaten to undo me, it’s a sure sign that my work/life balance is out of whack.  And when I’m feeling overwhelmed and out of sorts, the best place to go is to the foot of the cross.  And then, in that space of quiet moments spent with my Savior, I find rest.

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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 12: Rest. Just rest.

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It’s been some day.  It started around midnight when I realized I had left my iPad in the shopping cart at Hobby Lobby.  What I wanted to do was purchase yarn to make a dress for my niece.  Instead, I left my iPad behind for the next lucky user of my shopping cart.

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and stared at the ceiling for hours, falling asleep roughly around 6:45.

My alarm went off at 6:50.

My girls fought the entire way to church.

Thank goodness for worship.

My girls noisily sang the entire way home from church.

I thought I had all the ingredients I needed to host guests for dinner but I didn’t.

I’ve been all out of sorts for weeks.  New job.  New co-workers.  New church family.  New choir.  New friends.  And even in all the good things, even in following God’s call in our lives, there’s a cost.  And that’s not always easy.  The cost is what can keep us from doing those things God would have us do.  Because the cost can be painful.  It is usually hard.

The cost of doing what is right can, at times, not seem worthwhile.

And so today, on this Sabbath, I needed to make a decision.  Rest our burn out.

This week, as I listened to a Proverbs31 Online Bible Study conference call, author and life coach Lisa J. Allen said something that really resonated with me.

“Sometimes,” she said, “the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.”

I had all I could deal with today, after weeks of emotional upheaval and the daily grind of life.  I needed to reset my heart.  So I put aside the fact that I had family visiting in a short time and just gave myself grace and took a nap.  An honest to goodness hour there I closed my door, shut out even my family and just rested.

And I thought on this.  This morning in worship, Pastor Doug shared something that really spoke to my heart.  He suggested that there are times in our lives when we feel like escaping.  And when those times come, there are many paths we can choose. But rather than acting rashly, what if we choose to be still?  Just be still and rest for a moment.  And then what if we were to imagine Jesus–yoked to us; beside us?  What we if were to chose to lay our burdens down and to not only learn FROM Him but to learn OF Him?

What if?  What if we rested in those moments of overwhelm?  And rather than trying to solve our own hurt and pain and loneliness and disappointment, what if we gave it over and rested in knowing he took it, and handled it and brought us peace. What if we just came to Him, messy as we are, and just rested in His presence?  What if we did?

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 11: Teach me, O God!

31dayssquareaddressWe live in a world of constant media barrage and connectivity.  We are always bombarded with media images which, for many of us, cause us to question who we are, what we do, why we do it and how.

We see those whom the media suggests we should look up to and all they seem to do is highlight our lack.

Girlfriend, there’s never going to be a day on this earth in which my house is real estate open house ready, that my delightful daughters choose of their own free will to recite scripture in the backseat of our car and eschew a belching contest and I’m fairly certain that the much touted thigh-gap (what in the world???) is a standard I’m never going to achieve.

But who am I really?  I mean, deep down, who is this Jesus girl?

I think that’s where I need the education.  Because I seem to have a masters degree in who I am not.  But who I am really?  As in, who does God see when he looks at me?  How does He view me? That’s what I need to learn.  That’s what I need to drink in.  That’s what I need to have constantly washing over me so it penetrates my very spirit and I start to believe it.

Who am I indeed?  Teach me, O God!

And from the beautiful love letter that is His word, He’s already placed the answers before us.

This is who I am:

Treasured possession.

More than a conqueror.

The righteousness of God.

Born of God.

An heir to the kingdom.

God’s workmanship.

An overcomer.

Part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.

Transformed.

The head and not the tail.

His elect.

Chosen.

Loved.

A light to the world.

Redeemed.

Forgiven.

Delivered.

Justified.

Saved.

Healed.

Strong.

Provided for.

Gifted.

A part of the body of Christ.

Child of the King.

A new creation.

Obedient.

A dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

New.

Whole.

Dearly loved.

Sanctified.

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My friend, this is who I am, whether or not I choose to believe it.  And it’s without a doubt who you are as well.  But the part we need to learn, the part only God can teach is, is that which we find buried in His word and spoken over our lives at the dawn of time.

This is your education.  The lesson has been taught.  And there’s no test to study for.  Only receive it by grace.  And live.

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 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.