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!

 

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?

 

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!

Can anyone hear me?

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This morning, I woke up at 2 a.m.  I couldn’t get a thought off of my mind from yesterday.  I got up and made my coffee the same.  But this morning instead of sitting in the same place, I declared war on a space that needed a victory.  My voice.

In case you haven’t seen the movie The War Room, I won’t spoil it for you.  But if you have seen the movie, then you will know that we have things worth fighting for.  For me, it’s what I have wanted had for a long time.  And it’s something that the Enemy also knows the power of.

My voice.

I woke up with the thought that no one was listening to me, I was even screaming it in a dream.  I jolted awake at 2 a.m. with the thought that no one was.  I have come to realize we need to yield more voices to fight the good fight.  We are equipped to fight many things that the world throws at us.  We are stronger than we think we are, and we have it within us to fight for the things that are important to us.  The best weapon I know is the Voice of God by the Sword of the Spirit, God’s Word.

There is another thing that is important to me and worth fighting for.  The right to be heard and being a constant source or a place for a positive voice to speak in today’s mixed up world.  A voice that is taken seriously.  His Voice is what I’ve taken seriously and have allowed change in my life to be change around me.  A good voice that speaks truth into people’s lives. His sounds in my life remind me that God is still sovereign and mighty.  The Voice of Heaven calling out to His children to gather people in unity and love.  A sound consistently on repeat with words of love, joy and the ways of peace.

What are you reading?  What are you hearing?  What are you learning? Can anyone hear me?

Yesterday, I started out to run 6 miles, and I remembered a day when I couldn’t walk one.  I’ve changed this habit by putting one foot in front of another consistently.  I have adopted something helpful when I start out to take my mind off of the pain that floods my body and think upon a voice that super-charges my soul to run forever.  I tune into the voice of God.  I listen to podcasts that give a voice of truth which speaks volumes from my little iPod Nano.  Listening to great teachers that inspire me to grow in faith has helped me get not only physically fit but also spiritually fit.  I might as well listen to something that inspires me while trying to improve myself.

Yesterday, I had to slow my run to a walk so that I would listen better to the message flowing through my headphones.  I literally crept home as not to miss a word.  The Voice of Truth is always worth listening to.  This morning at 2 a.m..I had to confess to God that I wasn’t heard in a conversation between my husband and I yesterday.  I had to stop my words and ask the Lord if I was listening to HIS VOICE correctly in our recent rooms of conversations with each other.

I believe that’s why He woke me up at 2 a.m., to take another listen to His voice from my heart of love because Jesus and I, we talk and I listen too.  Part of speaking anything with your voice is tone, and if your heart is somewhere other than a place of love then, it needs to remain silent until you can speak with love with whatever you are wanting to voice.  I recognized that even though I am awkward at saying what I really want to say, I am awkward at listening too.  That is really the root issue of most people to people conversations and this morning God reminded me His voice of truth comes in the stillness, when I am best at remaining silent and at a slow pace.  The way to listen well is from a heart of love.

After writing and talking it out with God, I vowed to not be caught off guard anymore.  I will remain in a silent state when listening to God alone and work on improve my listening with a more open heart.  Not for the sake of wanting to be heard or validated by how it feels, but to know His heart of love for me in a deeper way.  I don’t need the world’s affirmations, validations or confirmations to know that one purpose set before me is to be a better representative of His voice, including and unto my own life.  Speaking of guarding, well I need to remain on guard of what goes into and comes out of my mouth but also what I allow into my heart and out of it.

May I always hear the question that heaven is asking all of us, “Can anyone hear me?  If so, then love everyone, in every way, and with every voice I have given you.”