A Lot Can Happen in Three Years

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Three years ago when I stepped out of the radio studio I had no real clear goals other than the fact that I wanted to reach the lost with the Gospel, be involved in connecting with people, and help to build God’s Church all over the world. At the time, I knew what He had laid on my heart to do concerning the nations, and I’ve held Africa in the deepest recesses of my heart.

I didn’t know what the next step would involve, but God simply asked if I would trust Him in my next move.  Yes, I said move.  When that word first came to my awareness, I was a bit shocked.  I had been asking God to use me in a bigger way but was thinking (although very limited in my finite mind), I imagined a new plan would come to fruition someday.

I also believed that I would write books someday and several would be published for many to read. I never knew HOW or WHEN these dreams and trips would come to pass, but currently, as I sit here typing this, I see things unfold that I once could not even articulate.

Today on the fresh heels of Thanksgiving and returning from Africa, I am even more grateful and in awe of what has occurred in the past three years.  I have no magic formula, but over the years here is what I have learned:

Give yourself the space to dream again.

Get involved in your local church.

Do wholeheartedly whatever is before you.

Don’t have any agenda, but serve willingly.

Wait for God to open doors.

Submit to leadership.

Trust God because He is always in control when we are not.

There is no wasted experience; God uses everything.

God makes a way where there seems to be no way.

Have faith.

Be courageous.

Stay the course.

Be faithful.

Always remain part of something bigger than you.

Stay teachable.

Surround yourself with wise advisors.

Do nothing from selfish ambition.

Keep stretching and growing.

Continue gratitude.

Rally others to journey with you.

Bloom where God plants you.

Believe God for who He says He is.

Bonus: Obey God, He will not lead you astray.

Now I assume you are thinking, this makes a fancy pants list and all, but why should this work for you?  Or perhaps you have different goals than I.  Both could be true.  When you consider the infinite plans that God has for all of us, it’s easy to think small about what God can do through us.

The biggest truth I have realized over time is we rarely know the details of the journey when we start; like Abraham, we often go forth not knowing where we are going. But when you keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus and the covenant promises, He will always take you to your destination.  Whether you come kickin’ and screamin’ or run willingly to Him, either way, God always knows what journey is best for each of us.  He is the only One who knows us better than we know ourselves and has gifted each person the uniqueness that makes us who we are.

He is good at being our Judge, our Father, and but also our Friend.  Some additional thoughts about following God are (and it’s important to remember these things too!)

God’s plans will…

Take longer than you think,

Cost more than you think,

Hurt more than you think,

BUT GOD AND you are…

Braver than you know,

Stronger than you seem,

Smarter than you think,

And loved more than you know.

Recently I was shopping with my husband and he purchased the above saying on a wooden sign. I asked him why he wanted to buy that for me and he said, “I will not always be with you, but I want you to remember these things.” The Lord also encourages believers in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  As if you are the only one, God steps into time, to author your story, and to develop you with a unique plan all your own but He loves it when you partner with Him in the grander scheme of His plans.

When you don’t know what to do, take the next step and trust God. Sometimes it looks like you are going in a different direction than you thought, but obedience is worth it. And when you grab ahold of the Father’s heart for you, then you will realize you are loved more than you know.  His heart will lead you no other way but the right way.  Follow, trust, and take heart.  Oh and hang on, it’s wild out here!

 

Learning Joy In Rejection

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I’ve told the story before about a giraffe named Gerald who dreams of being a dancer with the other animals in the jungle.  Gerald has the desire but his ability to dance like the others isn’t quite up to par.  His knees are crooked and his legs are thin.  All the other animals mock him when he approaches the jungle dance floor.  His swagger  (as they say in jungle-eeze) isn’t zig-zaging like the others.

Gerald took lessons, studied the moves, more grooves, and eventually developed his own style. One day, on jr.audition day, Gerald showed up prepared to zig and zag in a confident direction.  After many hours on the dirt floor, he perfected a secret move all his own and still wasn’t chosen.

As he lumbered off in a dejected fashion, the lonely lanky spotted giraffe felt rejection from his “wanna-be’s”.  Downcast, he met up with his cricket friend who chirped “Gerald, you just need a different song.” Gerald’s heart lightened a little as he took the cricket’s advice.  He retreated to his own little jungle corner to let his heart dance free.

Soon, Gerald was prancing and sashaying once again.

Suddenly, a crowd gathered in amazement and recognized Gerald could dance after all.  All he needed was his own little space be brave and bold, freedom to unleash his rhythm by the light of the moon.

It might seem strange to you to tell you I think about Gerald often.  I know how this kind of rejection feels.  What the story doesn’t tell you is Gerald had a lot of doubt going into dancing.  So much doubt he wanted to give up.  He wanted to do anything else instead of dancing.  Gerald also had a big heart to teach others to dance but he couldn’t lead out because he felt unqualified.

The story didn’t mention how Gerald was faithful to his craft.  There were lots of practices he only watched from the outlying and surrounding undergrowth as the other animals gracefully swayed.  Gerald watched in wonder at their magical skill.  He longed to be included and seen by them.  But shamefully, self-doubt kept coming against him.  Opposition came in the jeers and taunts of his so-called friends.  Provocation came from his inner critic.  He was discouraged and just wanted to give up.

Why does this story move me so much?  It has a happy ending like most children books do and Gerald found the courage to recover a dream.  For me, it also speaks of how we should never give up uncovering who God created us to be.  If you are honest with yourself, wouldn’t you admit you want to belong somehow?

The search for purpose sometimes leads a person to unexpected places.  Michael Hyatt says to do “what makes you cry” in life.  What I’ve found so far is dreams are full of hard work and lots of practice.  There’s lots of pieces to making a dream work.  There’s even more work to get someone to notice your dance in a jungle full of excellent dancers.

So why should we try?  If Micheal Hyatt were here now I would ask him, “What’s the point?”  It doesn’t matter if you are a musician or not, please watch Victor Wooten’s talk. His lessons about life, success, creativity, learning, passion, permission and smiling are profound.

In using my creative confidence, I still have some lessons to learn.  Like Gerald, my dance doesn’t look like others, but mine is a worthy and weighty move .  I have also learned to not lean on feelings but to dance anyway.  Taking action on an idea requires applied practice and a dedication to stay the course.  Dancing takes courage, skill, and ability.  It takes guts to put your best foot forward.  It’s risky, hard and you may lose.  But… you will never know discovery unless you try.  It’s never to late to be what you might have been.

What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.

Speaking metaphorically, life is a dance.  We all have a unique design made by a God without rival.  And when an incomparable God has placed His uniqueness within, it’s our best response to practice and sing in the octave He gave you.  There’s no two dancers the same, each are unique in every way.  And finally, God just loves it I show up for practice, even with my deficiencies.

So where are you in this dancer’s world?

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.

 

Living a life of stillness in this busy world

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Friends, let’s be honest on this day, today.  My  heart is heavy with stuff.  Yeah, I try to put it all together out there for others to see, flawless and whole.  But that’s not me.  I’ve been honest with myself and have taken a long look at what my life what it is about.  In this busy life we call ours, it’s really becoming a management of one urgent crisis or another.

My shoulders are heavy and tired and weak.

“Lord, I lift my burdens to You alone and I lay them down at your feet.  Will you give me some simplicity today?”  I prayed those words the other day.  I simply put it all out there for God to hear.  Liberation came in just in the confessing and I realized that I was trying to do things on my own.

Immediately, I was convicted of some false insecurities that continue to rise up (in my soul and spirit) and drag, weigh, and bear down upon my mind.  My problems, my cares, my duties, my hopes, my dreams were anchored in my own efforts.  “Wait…I thought to myself…I have freedom in those areas.”  Or at least I thought I did.

In the confessing, I realized I was trying to create a comfortable life for myself and my feelings.  On top of that, I also realized that I was covering my life with right “to-do’s” or tasks and such but I was forgetting about the one important thing needed.  Can we just be honest today?  Aren’t there those days we all face, where it takes this kind of realization to see where you need to grow in your simplicity of managing life?

What I heard back from God, (yes, I know it was His voice) was “Will you just walk with Me?”.  

There were a lot of tears involved in the process.  Then I remembered a season in my life that I used to cry often everyday and all day.  My life was full of regret of a list of things that I never accomplished.  My next thought became one of rejoicing because of a major shift and many changes that have occured in the recent years of  my life.  I don’t live a life of regret-filled days anymore.

I rejoiced in the fact that those days of regret are over and now I can choose to adopt the pace of God, my Father, in the life of my today.  If I could let you into my brain for a moment, there’s a stillness that needs to happen inside of your thoughts that causes you to choose your best life in considerations of what you have around you, the blessings in life instead of the regrets of life.  (I am realizing this lifestyle goes deeper than your task list or the things you think about any morning like…”I’m behind on so many things!” kind of thinking.)

Now I’m getting stuck in the multiple list of thoughts that come rising up in a woman’s mind especially when she feels behind, unfulfilled and a list of unmet needs are left open in her life.  Okay, now back to the choosing.

There has to be season that as you are emptying your life of what it isn’t, and there is a choice to rejoice in what it is.  In the choosing to accept the rejoicing, the living, the owning your life, the doing of life, you must celebrate with what you have, and begin believing that anything is possible with God in the middle of it all.

There I said it, not simply said, because life isn’t like that.  At all.  It’s complicated, full of tensions, stresses, and problems.  But when we confess that we can’t do life without God, then that’s when the miracles start happening.  In that way of thinking, you have to admit there is more than what God has intended FOR you and designed you for and you MUST surrender the controls over to HIM.  He knows what is best and right and good FOR you.  He knows how big your tiny shoulders are.  He knows your capacity for loads and He hasn’t forgotten your to-do list.  He put the passions inside of you to accomplish what He has designed you for.

He hasn’t forgotten where He has put those things.  Have you forgotten where your strength comes from?  I did.  I honestly thought…”okay God, I can do this (believing that I had to do what He has called me to do on my own.)  That’s not right honestly, because I need God to accomplish what HE has put inside of me to do and what HE wants to purpose in my life.

Simply said, I need Jesus every hour of the day to live.  Honestly, this IS the life I am in (and I don’t know how it is with you).  I need Him to carry me, to help me choose what I need to be doing, to carry out what He wants me to do, and most days I am overwhelmed simply by His goodness in my life.  I am complicated, full of tensions, and stresses just like you.  Challenges come and go, but I can’t live or exist as His much loved child without Him.

These are the things that are on my mind today.  What’s on yours?

 

How the Word Can Make You Stronger

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TRUST ~ HOPE ~ FREEDOM ~ VISION ~ REMAIN

I’m one of those girls that enjoys praying through a word for an entire year.  Not only does it keep you focused on noticing the word, but God will often define it in ways that you haven’t thought of.  I’ve been practicing this for five years and what I have learned in the process gives a deeper meaning to living.  Each year brings a new adventure to digging deeper with God in faith.

“Have you ever thought about writing a book about your ‘word of the year'”?  Good question!  When my friend posed that idea to me, she had me at “writing”!  I wondered if I should pray about that idea first, then I realized I already am doing that.

It’s called journaling.

I’m a verbal processer, just ask my husband.  He says I can talk to a post about anything, even when I know the post isn’t listening.  I have that gift (smirking here).  I also accept that I have a different perspective about a lot of things, mostly because I am a girl and wasn’t blessed with an “empty box” like you dudes!  There are many days I desire to check out too.  Oh how I wish I could put my hurried thoughts and ideas to the side.

I can’t!  It’s the way I am wired and how my brain operates.  For me, if I’m giving my time to something, I’m all in on that something.  What that means is that I will look at an idea from every angle, perspective or meaning you want to throw at it.  I examine every possible detail.  Ironically, though I don’t have to know the details to follow an idea.

I know…don’t try to understand it because it’s the female human condition, but what I have learned from being a deep thinker is that there is always something to learn by taking a second look or looking at it from a different perspective.  I would like to take this process a step further to suggest, that once the negative influence is removed and the positive aspects are brought to the surface, there’s always a gem inside.

It’s much like the gold digger show my husband watches on TV.  They go to great heights to discover one little half ounce.  They consider it worth their time to dig more to find the hidden value, and desire to spend more time doing just that.  Digging in, even if it means time spent produces nothing!  Even when there is a risk involved, (they go to some precarious locations), even against all odds.  They still consider the costs of the desire and then match their motives up with what drives them.

Since I want a personal relationship with my relationship-driven God, then I am going to go for, dig in, and realize as much as I can about the relationship!  I consider it like this:

 Jesus is all about people and loving them where they at in the journey, so that drives me to respond as Jesus does, giving as Jesus does, and loving in a way that changes people toward their destiny.

The process gives me a stronger meaning of it all, but it’s hard work to focus on one thing.  Overall, the process is good, and requires determination, dedication and consecration of everything that you are.  You must faithful unto this as He has been faithful to teach us all. Here are a few lessons I have learned so far about my “words for the year.”

TRUST ~ HOPE ~ FREEDOM ~ VISION ~ REMAIN

When I need clarity, God teaches submission.  
When I need solutions, God teaches abiding trust.
When I need truth, God uncovers deception.  
When I need hope, God shows faithful.
When I need comfort, God teaches how to listen closer.
When I need direction, God shows His protection.
When I need strength, God gives opportunity to show weaknesses.
When I need His heart, God shows His deep love.
When I need faith, God shows me fears.
When I need more light, He pulls back my darkness.
When I need confidence, God shows me how to lead.
When I need freedom, God shows my chains.  
When I need healing, God shows power.
TRUST ~ HOPE ~ FREEDOM ~ VISION ~ REMAIN
Many things are never like I expected but each truth is right and good.  Life is a great teacher for sure, but the biggest lesson is one of humility and learning to listen well and loving in the most excellant way.  That’s a word that we can all grow on!

When You Compare

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Pinning your hearts on what the world says about you instead of believing what God says about you is damaging.  The world is a twisted version of what God intended and it takes a relationship with the One who made you to live from His approval of you.  Your worth was worth dying for by Jesus.  You might think this sounds cliché, but it’s true.  Your identity was sealed on the day of your accepting that there is a better way in Jesus.  So why do we compare ourselves with others or with ourselves?

It’s dangerous, and full of pride.  Don’t go there!

  1. Comparisons kill. 2 Corinthians 10:12 says, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”  It’s not a good practice to measure yourself to the standards of man. That makes you a fool!
  2. Comparisons destroy humility. “We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or clever, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking, there would be nothing to be proud about.” ~ C.S. Lewis.  Comparing only measures where you fall short, or fail at something, again foolish and that’s a poverty mindset!
  3. Comparison fools our focus. When you compare you are fooling yourself, allowing resentfulness and bitterness take root in your life.  The road to entitlement is a slippery slope often bypassing gratefulness and contentment.  “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. ” Philippians 4:11-12.

Remember Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God loves you, and has chosen you to be His child before the foundations of the world were created.  Accept that He made you to be you!  You have been given a unique and purpose!

God doesn’t compare His children, so why do you?  Knowing who are in Christ is also knowing who you don’t have to be.

Think of your life like this:  You are an apple tree seed, designed to bear a certain kind of apple.  In a sense, the tree is already in the seed; God put it there.  The seed is the glory of God that is divinely placed, your potential.  Before the apple seed can realize its full potential and become an apple tree it must be planted in the proper environment where it can be nurtured and cared for.  When all the conditions are right – fertile soil, irrigation, the proper climate and the plenty of sunshine—the seed will sprout and produce a tree.  That is the way God designed you, the tree, and the fruit is your glory with crisp, juicy apples.  The apple seed will “become” a fruit-bearing tree, and the kind of fruit that God intended it to be.

You are uniquely you with a God placed vision for your life!   God has made you with His glory inside and He always sees beyond the obvious!  He looks past what is to what can be.  God has planted in us dreams, ideas, passions, imagination, creativity and hope.  These things require the right environment in order to flourish and come to fruition.   Choices we make every day affect both the environment in which we live and breathe and grow.  How we spend our time, our money, how we feed our bodies, the ideas and images that fill our minds form books, movies, or the internet…all of them have an effect on our “trees”!   So don’t compare your tree, patterns of behavior or imitate any fakers.  You have what it takes inside of you to become what God has planned for you!

Keeping yourselves clean, pure and free of comparisons brings contentment and allows God’s perfecting work in you to become what He intended.  That doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes or have flaws but in your weakest moment, you are still powerfully loved.  God’s love overpowers all that you are not!  If an apple tree dies in the seed, we never see its fruit, its glory.  God wants to release you to your full potential.  So be you…you have been divinely designed!  Jesus has given you all the approval you need and nothing compares to that!

 

When you need rest

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I wasn’t sure what to expect in this season.  I received an open invitation to a season of rest and was, quite honestly, afraid of it.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens.”

Why would a person be afraid of resting?  Could it be that there was something to learn in this season too?  Most people crave a break from the normal routine, but an odd feeling of unrest was rising up within me.  It was a battle to open my mind to the idea of resting.  But God has proved a worthy point in this season too!  The very thing I was afraid of was the very thing I needed to realize.

Rest is a gift from heaven.  The Holy Spirit whispered…”what if I could show you an easier way…”  My mind immediately spiraled into a “oh no, (regretful sigh) I’ve been doing this wrong!”.  Ever found yourself in a proving season that you are pointing inward instead of outward?  I have and that’s NOT a fun place to dwell.

Let’s talk in analogies here.  Imagine you are making a pizza with all the wonderful toppings on it and then baking it to perfection with the cheese all melting perfectly golden.  You slice it up to individual slices and then serve it.  You watch the taster just sigh with delight, and know you have hit their cheese nerve of delicious-ness!  It’s so wonderful, you know how to replicate this delicious delight plus how to serve a wonderful pizza product.

Rest in God is like that perfect sigh of delight that you want to replicate in your life.

But how do you get to this kind of rest?  Think of the pizza and it’s many slices.  The gifts inside of you are like those pizza toppings.  The crust and the sauce are like a foundation of faith in God.  The Holy Spirit adds the cheese, to help with those divinely placed gifts to grow and give the delight to you and back to God when you are doing what He has designed you to do.

God has placed His design upon your life a long time ago.  Maybe you are in tune with those gifts or not.  Fact remains there is divine “something” inside of you and you long for that to show in your life.  I’ve had those same longings to know and show God’s working in my life too.

Is what I write here the cheese?  Is this what God has called me to do?  Or is there more?  Yes, and yes.  I believe there is MORE of God to discover and how it’s proven in my life is something only HE can do.  So when I was faced with the thought that I might of missed or messed this design up, well, then I recognized I needed to rest my heart on His.

I needed another dose of holy confidence and assurance that this season was the place of rest for my pride and to go gently unto Him again with all my stuff and lay it down.  Rest assured that entering His rest is nothing to be afraid of nor reject.  It’s His perfect design inside of you, a longing to align with His heart FOR you.  You can’t mess up His work because He is more than that.

God’s work is bigger than your human efforts.  He works in the supernatural realm, which means outside of your human effort, or outside of your way of thinking, or outside of your realm of human influence.  God is at work in your life in all and every one of your life seasons.  No matter what you need, even when you don’t know what you need, you can have rest and He wastes NOTHING!

When looking for the work of God it’s often left at the bridge of faith and put in the doorway of our minds.  We have a choice to believe it and receive it, thus believing that God has gifted you with His divine “sweet spots” of grace over your life too!  Faith is a gift in itself and has to be received supernaturally to believe God for who He says He is.

Now, I don’t know where you are in all of “resting” idea.  Having faith is a good thing, believing God for who He says he is a great thing!  The Supernatural way is the “more” things of God.  To have confidence in your faith will get you there, and will keep you where God wants to work in you and through you.  So don’t question His invitation when the seasons change for you, or look different than you expected.  Even in seasons of rest He is operating from His heart FOR you.

Rest in His confidence is a sweet place.

Resting on Him is a great pleace of trust, is good FOR us, and often missed as needed healing in our lives.  Rest is a choice that even God made on the seventh day of creation.  When I think about how intentional He was in setting aside an entire day to rest on what He had done in the previous six days of creativity, I realize that rest is needed to remain in a creative place plus the fact that rest is a HUGE part of His design for our lives.

Resting, assurance and confidence are sweet places to dwell on and in.  I think, no…I believe, I don’t have to be afraid of resting when it aligns with His creative design in me and around me.  Thank you God that you give us rest.  Yes I will come to You to receive the lighter burdens you have assigned for me.

 

 

When You Are Disappointed

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“Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.”  Romans 12:12

There are times when life is full of one disappointment after another.  Or so it seems.  Disappointment comes in all shapes, sizes, and at different times.  There’s worry, fretting, and anxiety.  When reality actually shows up and doesn’t meet our expectations, it often leaves us with the lack of contentment.  Disappointments are hard to navigate through, so here are three heart-hitting questions:

  1. Are these just your unmet expectations?
  2. Have you forgotten to be thankful for what you do have?
  3. Is there something to change to turn your disappointment into a God-appointment?

Ever been disappointed and said “me too?”

Usually after self-examination, it’s best to look for what God is teaching through the unmet expectations.  Asking for wisdom and anticipating His better good, plan and purpose helps get you back on track.

Our good, good Father really does know you best and the best for you.  No matter how many disappointments emerge, there is always hope.  There are times to surrender your need to understand to override the doubt.  There are times when we don’t need to understand, but just obey.  There are times we need to trust more.  Often, God’s purpose isn’t realized until a later time.

There’s a little project on my heart right now that is finally birthing life.  It started with a simple thought but took a lot of hard work to pull it out and off.  Bearing the fruit took guts, courage, and a whole lot of prayer, but loaded with hope for the next generation.  It also came with many disappointments along the way.  I just kept focusing on God’s purpose.

I’m grateful that God had a purpose and a promise in it all.  We have a Savior that is in the business of reconciliation and hope.  Jesus never promised it would be easy.  While walking this earth, even He encountered many trials and troubles, but He died so we could be overcomers of disappointment and have joy and gladness in all things.  Disappointments often don’t feel joyful or make you glad, but the purpose may still be for your benefit.  I’ll never forget,  in the middle of searching for answers, those great conversations with the One who holds the plan in His hands.

So grateful that His love is undeniable and His peace is unspeakable.  We have a good, good Father and nothing is wasted in His purpose for you.  People can disappoint you but God never will.

 

When you feel stuck

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My head hit the pillow with an extra dose of weariness that day.  There was a part of my mind that just wanted to stop altogether.  “If I could just give myself a break,” I thought.  But yet in the very next breathe I uttered, “Are you sure about that God?”  My mind vacillated between doubt and confusion, weighing the past and present, and was super injected by fear.

This all happened on my search for a focused word for 2016.  God kept speaking the word “remain” over and over to me.  Instead of feeling peace about it and receiving it as an exciting leg of this joy filled journey, I took in the fear of remaining stuck where I currently grew past, which was fueled by insecurity and doubt.  I didn’t want to stay there, in the land of confusion!

Our talks (between me and the Holy Spirit) quickly turned to arguments, or rather, like whining and complaining.  Never a good idea to start your conversation with God by wearing the captain’s hat in the complaint department!  We worked on it for days.  God suggested, I rejected.

“Are you sure about that word for me God?  I’ve changed so much from who I was.”  I said.

God said, “Remain.”

Every time I thought about all the changes from my past, I was worried about the remaining, thinking I would get stuck there.  And then fear came in and I didn’t want to stay stuck in that either.  (Now saying this back to you, I realize this is all irrational thinking!)  The changes that have come due to the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit have brought such healing and freedom in my life.  I can’t imagine being stuck in my own personal prison again.

I didn’t want to remain in that place – bound, burdened, and full of doubt.  I couldn’t stay there…I wouldn’t stay there…I was determined to change God’s mind.  And then something beautiful happened.

As I was talking to my missionary friend Mitch, God sent some encouragement through him.  Next, I cried on the phone to my friend Lori, and she prayed with me and then I went for a run.  While running down the county road, I saw a ditch full of mud and immediately felt the “stuck” feeling creep back into my soul.  But God reminded me to keep my eyes on the end of the road, and I whizzed right past it.  God was, without a shadow of a doubt, in all those conversations, as He helped dry my tears, and gave comfort my mind.  Immediately, the confusion was gone and I had a peace in the receiving of God’s word.

I hit the pillow hard that night with exhaustion from wrestling my will with God’s plan.

Fast forward to 3 a.m. the next day and I’m wide awake, and the Lord visits my bedside and asked, “Are you ready to learn how to remain in Me?”  I went in for my last ditch effort with God.  (Please don’t judge me, but learn from this story!)  I simply said, “If you give me an acronym for the word Remain, I’ll accept it.”  He said, “Go get your pen and pad of paper.” (He meant business!)

With blurry eyes through tears….I started writing immediately.  It came in an instant and the words were just what I needed to hear.  I didn’t stumble over them nor pretend like I was hard of hearing at this point.  God is patient in the ways He deals with us.  We could all learn a lesson from Him about his slowness of anger!  I wrote….

Remain

Remember

Eternity

Matters (so)

Abide

Intentionally

Now.

And there it was….full understanding of why this word was so important to know this year.  As I abide in Him, I will remain in my identity and purpose for my life.  As I abide, remain connected, and am intentionally faithful, and obedient in what He has asked, I will remain in intimate fellowship with the Great Shepherd.

I thought back to the time in the summer of last year where I practically memorized John 15, and couldn’t get past that section of teaching for two months.  I kept reading it over and over and over.  Finally God moved me on to learn more about love, and how to give it without condition. (Those lessons are for a whole another coffee date…or two!)

Ps 23:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.”  We often think about how God supplies our needs and have that promise in Philippians 4:19 for His supply that He has already provided in Christ Jesus.  That is a good promise to stand on.  The Lord won’t call you anything where His grace won’t sustain you.  I sense the writing of David in this Psalm however was in a time of searching for direction.  He had a vision of peace and contentment and I sense he was writing about what he saw regarding his relationship with God.

The Lord not only takes care of your needs before you know them, but He also makes provisions for your wants and desires.  When your desires line up with His desires, it’s for sure those are supplied.  If you are looking to grow in your relationship with God, please accept this journey however it looks.  We all need to grow in our faith, and it’s not a good idea to remain stuck in a place of stubbornness, pleasing self-will and fear coupled with doubt.

Take my word for it, gratitude paves the way to those green pastures of peace that we all want.  And as we enter His rest, we have everything we can ask for or imagine if we just remain in relationship with God and by living intentionally through trusting by faith.  As we are remain anchored by His love, we abide in His grace and mercy.

The journey for today and this year is to have joy in this and to walk in intimate fellowship with Jesus every minute of the day.  Why is this so important to know now?  This is only a foretaste because the best is yet to come!

When you need a new beginning

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My pastor says “Sometimes you have to give up the things you love for the things you love more.”  This truth has stuck hard in my life.  It actually set my heart to dreaming with God, after I first heard it on that one Sunday morning over three years ago.

On this New Year’s Day, God brought it back to my mind.  “Now, there’s been a change in plans.”  God said again this morning and I responded in my heart’s silence.

“As change is God’s love language, my trust in Him is the language of my heart.” – Janelle Keith.

Little did I know that three years of holding to God’s vision would grow me in such an immense and intense way.  I expect that this is a part of the wonder of God.  It was on this day, three years ago, that God planted His new beginning in my heart to bring my love of missions and my love of writing together.

Since that day, it’s been bouncing around in my mind.   I’ve been stuck in a few of those “how” corners but now finally see the light of the vision set before me.  It’s simple really, but complex.

The prophetic vision I had was that God was going to bring my two heart passions together which in this simple dream actually blew my socks off.  When I told my friend Julie the story of it all, she laughed and said, “See those socks over there?  Those are yours!!”  To comprehend what all this means is still beyond me.  That’s why I’ve been praying for the Holy Spirit to what I can’t do.

I’m still unpacking the dreams that God has laid on my life but it feels like I am years closer than I have ever been.  Today’s beginning is different in that I sense bigger opportunities that are very, very near.  Most of you know that I have traveled to Africa several times, and am now planning my fifth trip back.  There is a reason I keep remaining with this vision in my life.

The journey to discover your purpose is life-long and sometimes full of detours.  It’s worth pursuing though and worth dedicating yourself to it, if it’s from God.  There will be many things that don’t make sense along the way and that’s okay, you aren’t supposed to figure out all the turns or twists, that’s God’s job.

Your job is to follow AFTER Him in the journey.  You can trust that His will never lead you where His grace can’t sustain you.  When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart.  When God says “no” a better “yes” is coming.  When I set out to pursue God with all intention, I had to reset my attention and affection on Him.  To do that I had to let go of what this journey would look like and knew that it’s not about what I’m leaving behind but about Who I am following.  I look to the Author and Perfecter of my faith for every step.

“When you don’t know what to do next, just do the next thing.” Elizabeth Elliott.

I have continued to blog, write, and serve in missions and most importantly trust my obedience to God.  I also trust in the wisdom I receive from Him as His plans unfold.  There are days I don’t know what’s around the corner but I believe that He has already been there.  My faith is always challenged to live under God’s goodness.

“Faith brings answers, but enduring faith brings answers with character.”  – Bill Johnson.

The real truth is that I started to believe in the ability that God has lovingly placed on the inside of me.  I am not confident in my own ability but I am confident in my availability.  There are places that He has yet to take me not only physically but spiritually.  This might just hit you all hyper -spiritual and all but it’s the journey that I am on.  God’s ways are higher, deeper, and still a mystery.  Miracles are often on the other side of our comfort zone.  His Voice is heard in my life and because of that I respond by releasing the love I have FOR Him and letting my heart response eclipse everything else.

There is a purpose in the waiting and His Presence is sustaining.  It’s all for that reason, that I move forward, onward and upward with hope.  My word for 2016 is Remain.  This year God is having me focus on what remains – His fruit of the Spirit – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.”  (Galatians 5:22-23)

There is nothing that can come against the things of God, the Spirit of the Living God, nor the plans of the Lord.  No enemy can thwart His love for us.  No earthly disaster can detour His care and protection.  No fears can come against the refuge of Perfect Love.  The grave can’t contain it, His power is mighty and strong, and the remaining Hope of Christmas is dwelling among us.

As a believer, I have all that I need to do what He has asked of me, living inside of me.  And it’s not too late to step into the plans that God has for you!  This is the year to release the “remaining” and “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”  (Galatians 5:24-25).

What is your word for 2016?  Please comment!