Do you need to be held?

rope

My friend reassured me there was no need to worry.  “You’re going to LOVE it!” she promised.  I bought into her zip-lining adventure as an exciting one until my fear of heights rose up into my throat.  In a moment I realized it was too late to back out and it felt my heart was going to beat right out of my chest.  Then I remembered, that day, I had left my big girl pants at home!  I became doubly afraid.  Anxiety had secretly gripped my heart.

Not sure if you have ever experienced zip-lining before but it’s an adventure all on its own level.  Don’t even think about it if you are even a teensy-weensy squeamish about heights.  At least you’ve been warned.

My friend kept saying how much fun it was again and again.  Fear of falling gripped my mind.  Seriously, how could a person survive a 5-second ride tethered by a skimpy harness, and hooked to a thin wire which stretched tight over so many trees?  I gulped hard, and put on a brave face for her.

I stepped up to the platform.  I listened to each word of our guide.  I took in his advice and with all the gumption I could muster, I clenched the cord.  I’m pretty sure my knuckles were white.  I said a quick prayer, “God, hold me tight.”

In the woods, atop the trees, where the monkeys go to hide from humans, is where fear is heard.  Echos of the wild and free ricocheted off of the tree tops.  (It resembled a blood-curdling scream.)  If you’ve been, you know what I’m talking about and I bet you screamed like a 5 year old girl too!

Next, something wonderful happened I didn’t expect.

I was held by the harness, secure and firm, with no threat to my personal security.  I was safe and sound at the next platform.  I did come away with one piece of advice:  “You will love this, it’s more fun than you can imagine.”  Now this makes for a nice girl adventure and all, but there’s more.

God spoke the moment I started to let go of my fear and anxiety with His reassurance, “Trust me to hold you!” 

There are some days you just need to be held.  On those days when you feel insecure, unsteady or just flat out fearful of how things are going to work out or what will happen next, there’s power in praying these simple words, “God, hold me tight.”

Trust in His hold and let go of your fears.  In our spiritual journey, there are many circumstances which bring tons of opportunities to trust God.  Recently faced with the unknown, I asked God to increase my faith but quickly realized I was asking for what I already had.  The situation before me was an opportunity for God to lead me into a new level of trust.

Trust always involves making room for an active faith.  To let the perfecting work of faith complete its action, you must push fears out of your mind.  God’s faithfulness and security holds you close and guards against sneak fear attacks which tend to creep into your mind.

God is on your side, and is giving you daily opportunities to put your faith into action.  He’s got you!  Just like a harness, safe and securely tethered by His heart for you.  His love never fails to hold you when life is uncertain.  When you speak or scream, “God, hold on to me!”, feel His strong arms wrap around you.  Close your eyes to silence your anxiety, release your fears, and the place your trust and dependence in His hands.  He is the only One who says, “I am with you until the very end of the age.”  He never lets go of you!

Fears are overcome by faith alone.  As you let go, you’re held by His mercy, strength, and you are kept safe and secure.  You can trust God to keep you where He leads you!  Are you feeling shaky or fearful, afraid to look down?  LOOK UP to the One who holds you tight!  You can trust His hold on you!

When you’re tired

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Every edge of my mind was frazzled, tattered, and frayed.  The time was 3 a.m.  I quickly realized, along with the lack of sleep, the Lord was still dealing with me on my word for 2016.  Or rather, I was dealing with the Lord.  If you follow this blog, then you might remember my word for 2016 is “Remain”.  However, for the last two months God is deepening my awareness of another word and its meaning.

Rest.

Revelation is progressive and deliverance is slow.

Back to the lack of sleep, isn’t it true everything seems to hit a wall or sinks to a low when you are tired, spent, or worn out?  Is there anyone out there reading right now needs a good nap?

My husband is a great “napper”.  He has a nap daily to operate on his best strength.  Believe me has practiced the art of napping over the years.  Even though he knows how to take a good nap, there are nights he doesn’t sleep well at all.

I’m another non-sleeper, and often get out of bed more restless and tired than when I started.  I used to blame it on my habit of getting up at 3:45 a.m. for a radio job.  However, it was my choice to get up at such an early time.  I also don’t sleep on planes or in cars.  I don’t know how you travelers do it.  So what does the word rest really mean?  Is there such a thing as a good nap?  And what does this have to do with “remain”?

When the Lord said I will show you how to “remain at rest” one early morning, I thought He was indicating I needed to get caught up on my sleep.  But friends, a good fat, Sunday afternoon nap wasn’t what He had in mind.

Did you know God’s idea of rest is a place?  Let’s get honest real fast…I didn’t know how to rest until God led me into it.  Everything about resting, stopping activity and ceasing productivity was very uncomfortable to me.  I confess I’m a bit of an over-achiever.  Somehow I think God remembered.

We think we know how to take naps or vacations, but do we know how to be really still in the Presence of God?  Do we really know how to still our lives, minds, or hearts to hear the heartbeat of Heaven?

I needed another lesson in the art of resting.  Another interesting fact is my “word of the year” five years ago was “rest.”  Perhaps this was the year I rushed through the cliff notes version.  Can it really be as simple to stop all activity?  What I understand about rest so far, and about 50,000 words later, is if you are being asked to slow down there’s a deeper need for God’s rest in your life.  But something inside me was struggling with the idea.  Rest looks like a non-productive pit into quick sand; certainly stuck, stagnant, stale, and sterile.

“The enemy wants to tire you, but REST is a weapon.  Destroy the enemy’s life by being at peace!” -Graham Cooke

I’m learning to rest and be actively resting.  I still fight the “girl on the go” stuff and I don’t still for long.  But learning the rhythm of His breath…and slowing life down a bit.

The struggle is real friends.  I’m not sure where it’s all headed, after all this is only May.  But I do know this:  only God knows the parts of your life which need mending on the inside your soul, and He can handle the fixes quite nicely without any help or from your overachieving.  So if you need a nap or a good break, take it.  If you need to dwell in the valley, go there.  Perhaps you just need to go climb something.

What I’m learning is God is in the valleys too.  Yes, you will often find Him in those mountain-top moments or revelations but there’s always a valley to get through to get to the next mountain.  And the problem with mountains, you don’t live there.  It’s hard to breathe for long periods of time.

I’m also learning the soil in the valley is rich and often fed by a River which flows through it.

Perhaps it’s in valleys you learn strength for your battles and struggles.  All of a sudden I feel so tired.  How about you, are you needing a good nap right now?  In this time of resting, how about another dose of heavenly strength? I often don’t know what kind of strength is needed in life’s valleys until I walk through them.  As it turns out, I am learning to regain strength and know a rest but in a much better way.

 

When You Need a Reminder

names of God

I quickly wrote a note in my little notebook for thoughts, the one I carry with me at all times just in case, as not to forget something important.  Earlier I had been talking to God about a turnaround in my life.  It occured to me God never turns around.

He doesn’t need to, but we do.  (Turnaround wasn’t what I wrote down however) 

The Bible is full of stories and reminders of who God is.  It lists many names of God as He is known by those who walk in relationship with Him.  Some names are hard to pronounce and many we don’t talk about.  I found a list of them in my Bible and it reminded me I don’t use them all near enough.

So I was praying for a turnaround in my perspective to see God in a new way.  Often don’t we view God from our own limited perspective?  I will go first and say I do.  I forget He’s got the panoramic view set on our lives.  I forget He holds all the details in our lives safe and secure in such a timely and orderly manner.

Recently, I boarded the Atlantis simulator at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.  I remembered how God keeps my world on it’s axis. There’s a God who cares when my world goes off kilter and wants to set things back into a right perspective.

We have a God who cares and I don’t want to forget.

He holds panaramic view my world, and I stood back (well actually strapped back at high G-forces) and remembered His amazing creativity and endless pursuit in my own life.  But then it hit me once again, He hadn’t moved and I’ve been the one who been on the run.  So why is this such an “aha” moment?

I realized once again of God, that He doesn’t have “aha” moments.

It took a jolt like a g-force to remember God’s power, or rather to remind me of a powerful and effective way to live is to remember who God is over the things I tend to forget.  You see, often when growing in our faith we forget where we have come from or how much we have grown, and tend to just think of ourselves as one who needs a TON more positive changes.

God reminded me my walk with Him was just where He wanted me to be.  (Confession: I want to jump ahead to the mountain top moments full of “aha” moments and skip the valleys where the real reminders are learned).

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve not arrived but still have overcome a lot of strongholds in my life.  Those hindrences used to hold me back and keep me at a distance from God’s best.  So what’s the big deal about “Aha” moments with God or what catches us by surprise?

The note I wrote was “What if I remembered who God is instead of what I’ve forgotten.” I often find myself remembering what I have forgotten, instead of all He has delivered me from.  When I am grateful for the freedom He has brought into my life I am reminded of God’s providence.  When I affirm God’s over arching good character, He has a way of affirming His good character in my lifeline.

Remembering the goodness of God is definitely a good thing.  He keeps my world spinning right.  I must forget the wrong things which tend to lead me astray.  I want to remember His good words to me over the lies I tend to believe about me.  I want to remember how He’s changed me and my life for the better, not what I have lost in the overcoming.

Someone once said, “You learn by doing.”  I think I’ll remember the doing of God in my life over my “undoing” to get to where I am.  When you focus on your wrongs, it tends to have a negative affect on your life.  When you focus on the positives, it builds up your self-esteem and character.  Not in a puffed up kind of way but in an honorable way.  The benefits of His becoming real and evident in life helps you walk taller, be kinder, live intentionally and love, the most positive way.

When you remember the good, it helps.  When I remember God, I’m reminded I must increase my perspective and I must decrease my small thinking.  When I remember who God is then I am reminded who I am.  When I know who I am, then I know how to live.  When I live with focus on the positives I can help others remember who God is and what He has done for all of us.

Let’s all remember God more, and forget the former things to make more space for Him to set our worlds back in line with Him, renew our perspective on what life is all about, define our purpose and add some g-force to our minds to see Him more clearly.  The most important thing to remember is:  because of Jesus, remember God is a matter of enjoyment. May our relationship with Him not be settled around issues of conflict, pain, sin and sacrifice but around freedom, celebration and delight.

Yes, God is our deliverer and saves us from trouble. But before all those wonderful things, He is our friend, our Father, our good, good Pappa. This connection is rooted in pleasure of intimacy through a one on one relationship. He is a wonder to behold, a power to be feared, a mystery to be explored but chiefly He is a person to be loved.  I want to remember how to love Him like He loves me.

Yes, let’s all remember God.  And don’t forget to strap in, it’s a wild ride!

When You Need To Love

To every girl who has ever wanted to be a mother…

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One of the biggest pieces of momma guidance my mother ever gave me was, “If everything in life was as easy to do as the dishes, then we wouldn’t have any problems in this life.”  Ironically, she always proclaimed (what her mother probably said too) as she was washing dishes.  As she was doing life she was giving life.  Okay now maybe I get it now.

If I were to tell you one piece of advice to help you be a good mother, I couldn’t contain it into one word (except I can but I am going to make you read all they way through the post to get to it).

What mothers need today is…(because mothering is risky!)…

To the mothers who gave life to your first child or another child, I celebrate a new life with you.

To the mothers who lost a child, no matter the age, I cry with you.

To those who are in the trenches, aka dirty diapers, constant plates of cold food, wearing stained shirts on a daily basis, I appreciate you.  Go get yourself a cup of hot coffee, it helps.

To those who walk the hard path of handicap and/or special needs child, infertility (complete with month after month of frustration) with pokes, prods, many tears and disappointments, I walk with you. (I don’t know how you feel, but would guess it’s more than you bargained for.)

To those who are foster moms, adoptive moms, mentor moms and spiritual moms, I thank you from the bottom of my heart – you’re doing what someone else could have done but didn’t.  We NEED more moms like you.

To those who lost their mothers, I mourn with you.

To those who have an empty nest, or your little birdie is flying off to college soon, you’re going to be okay, even though it feels like you can’t breathe right now.

To the mom who had to hold the hand of cancer (this year or ever in your life), you are brave, a woman of valor even if it was to hold a hand and help someone limp through it.

To the mom who is pregnant with new life, I anticipate with you.

My best advice to you, if you are a mother or want to be, can be contained in one word, however please…take this to heart.  You won’t get today back so…

love…(yes, you will have trouble in your mothering life)!

Love is risky and sometimes without reward but it has a value and a worth that is measured unlike gold or silver.   For some of you it’s all you can do to hold it together.  I feel ya, and might know your pain.

No matter what season of life you are in, love is the common chord in which holds your world together.  You can know all the wisdom in the world, build the biggest spaceship, solve cancer, and cure ailments but “if you have not love” then…

even if you have given it all away, given up all you wanted, or ever dreamed of and “have not love” then…

Love… is what Mother’s Day is all about.  We, as moms, love you, right now, right where you are. Even if you don’t see it, we work hard for you for a little hug.  We sacrifice for those few words once said…”I love you.”  One thing we don’t do is assume.  We need to hear that we are valued, appreciated, and worthy.  I know…we are needy like that.  Might I just suggest that you are too?

You may not know this, but we measure ourselves with you.  We don’t like that about ourselves but we do.  And if you could just walk a mile in our shoes, we only want what’s best for you.  We want the best for you over our own needs.  There are some days that inadequacy gets the best of us, even on those days we feel silently weak.  We want to be brave and courageous, and it’s hard to do this mother thing day after day.

I wish my mother would have told me how hard it was going to be as a mom.  On the other hand it’s best she didn’t say a word, except love me when I was the most unloveable, very needy for a hug, and gave it all away without condition.  She wasn’t perfect, but I can say she wanted more for me than she ever had.  It’s not until you are older do you appreciate the nurturing kind of love a mother gives so readily.

To experience this you have to have love, lost love, and hold to a love that “bears all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” (1Corintians 13).  To know an endless love or a deep love, or a love that doesn’t pass away, makes a difference in your life.  Now that I am older, I am beginning to get a fuller picture of a love in which I am fully known.

So this Mother’s day, I have more “faith, hope, and love” that abides, endures and bears a love that brings a life of renewal more than once a year.  Pursue love, friends, it’s risky to find it, to enjoy it, to let it be the greatest, but it’s the biggest and best to give love when it’s the hardest.

After all, you are here because of love.  Don’t forget that.

 

When You Need To Let Go

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Recently I’ve backed off of my running habit for about 6 weeks as a result from my left hip shifting out of place.  There was a part of me that wondered if I would ever run again.  The pain was so intense that I wanted to just give up.  I was also afraid that if I returned to the road that a re-injury would occur. So I choose to rest the habit for a while and return when I had given myself some time to heal.

During this time, I lost my drive to try.  All I recall was how much running or even walking hurt.  I wanted to protect myself from pain.  Thankfully, over time, the drive returned and I overcame the fear, encouraged myself, embraced the process and tried again.

I talked myself into pushing through it.  There were many days I only walked but felt like I could handle a little more pain.  I had my hips adjusted and let my body heal more.   Yesterday it happened that I broke through a threshold of pain to run free.  I wasn’t calculating the pain, counting the cost nor considering the toll it would take upon me later.  I just pressed through the ache to run.

It was marvelously liberating to bring change in my perspective.  Often we look at changes as painful or from a place of fear when really it only takes a different run at the process.

This can go as deep as you want to take it, as far as success, failures, motivations, growth and destiny.

It’s the same with our spiritual walk with God.  This is not a race but a journey where sometimes changes come slow and steady, sometimes it’s an immediate turnaround.  Both perspectives matter, but the process is important.  Some are heart painful, other changes only need a few small tweaks.  The perspective of the process is termed by God as pruning in John 15.

When you think of pruning, you understand it’s needed to get rid of a bad habit or something that is non-producing.  But who of you would would be first in line when a good thing needs to be cut?  How about several great things?  How can cutting several good producing branches be seen as a benefit?  Some great questions that need a different perspective.

I have always thought of pruning in a negative sense as cutting out a dead place that needs to go or something that is painful.  Think how hard it is to let go of a tree which is still producing fruit.  How do you decide which branch to prune, for the benefit of the whole orchard?  Intentional focus is an important part of producing, bearing fruit  and must take on a strategy.

Pruning could be termed as training, practice, or correction of a habit. God is changing my perspective of cutting and training of habits.  I am learning to bear more patience with change and transitions, and bear through the pains in the process.  I still have a lot of grace to realize in this to help me find freedom in the pain.

As believers, we are changed little by little to reflect Jesus as we let go of those non-producing branches.  But also in the process, there are some good branches that might be caught up in the cutting.  It’s okay to let them go as well.  Remember not every branch should be a fruit bearing branch, some are supportive for strength or a preparation to the fruit production.

It’s all about your perspective really.  It’s painful to remove good parts of our lives for the good of the whole.  We can’t see that something good causes damamge or pain until it’s removed.  Often those branches need to go for the greater good, and it’s often to prevent a deeper pain or futrther damage in the future.  God sees our harvest and knows how many bushels of fruit that He wants to bear in your life.  He also sees the non-producing branches that need to be cut and those which are weighing us down, or will do so in the future.  He sees our greatest good from His best perspective.

Consider the greater good of change, pruning and training.  Even though sometimes painful, from God’s point of view it’s always for THE greater good considering THE bigger picture of perfection of our lives.  Even if we can’t see it right now, you must  keep training, practicing, or pressing through the aches and growing pains.  Be teachable.  There’s fruit to bear, and a potential harvest of goodness awaits on the other side of your growth.