When you’re tired

valley

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.

 

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Knowing God’s Will In Five Easy Steps

hand in his will

Is it possible to know God’s will?  Do you recognize when an opportunity is really “yes” by God?  In a recent chat with a friend over coffee, we discussed the courage needed to walk through a door that God was opening.  How can you tell for certain that God has giving a green light or a red for “don’t go!”

“You have a green light until God turns it red.  Go until God says, “No.” Pretty Simple, really!”  ~ Graham Cooke.  Do you agree or disagree?

The Bible gives us some helps to encourage us in faith leaps.  There are ways to know God’s will.

1. His “yes” will keep in you in church.  If an opportunity takes you away from attending church, you can be certain it’s not God leading you away.  God’s Word tells us not to neglect meeting together for worship (Hebrews 10:25).   You don’t need the four walls to worship, but you DO need to remain connected to other believers to be encouraged in faith and unity to build up the body of Christ.

2.  His “yes” will keep you in His Word.  He won’t lead you to fail nor abandon you to go it alone.  His “yes” would never result in a personal compromise or cause you to be disobedient.  His “yes” would never go against what has been promised.  God can’t lie, or contradict Himself.  Now, the devil twists the truth, and tries to get you to doubt what you carry.  The enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy and he dislocates your ability to be used by God.  Plus he will do anything to get you to doubt that you are hearing God right!   Don’t shrink back in fear! (2 Timothy 1:7)

3. His “yes” will keep you close to Him.  We have such a relational God and knows every one of our personal details.  His “yes” always requires more of Him to accomplish and faith to experience Him in a bigger way.  If God is calling you to do something, it will never be outside of His will for you.  Many times that looks like we are being stretched and strengthed.   God is not going to give you something that will alienate you from Him or lead you to believe that you no longer need him. Hebrews 11:6 says: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.”

4.  His “yes” will line up with the gifts He put inside of you.  God will equip you to what He has called you to do.  Never forget that He is the best skills trainer we know.  And that means letting Him develop what He has put inside of you.  You were made in His image, and our creative God loves to have His way with you.  Often that requires us to step outside our comfort zone to discover the God-given abilities He has crafted on the inside (Ephesians 2:10).  When things get tough (and they will) remember God measures not by man’s standards, but God looks at the heart, and sees you with His heart of love.

5.  His “yes” will always be a “yes”.  We have a good, good Father who is always on your side and in a good mood.  If you ever thought He was out to get you, punish you, or spank you, well…you have a skewed picture of who loves you.  His “yes” is His will for you and when you sense that this is “too good to be true” remember Luke 1:37 ” For nothing is impossible with God.”  Remembering the context of this promise to Mary, the mother of Jesus, she was found highly favored and annointed to be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world!.  That was her chosen role in the history of Christ, and her purpose and destiny.  God has the same important role for you to carry too!  What looks impossible is possibly setting you up for a miracle!

Many times an “yes” from God is often missed because of fear.  We make decisions on two ideas according to Dr. Caroline Leaf, either faith or fear.  I choose faith, although sometimes I miss the mark too, it’s the goal of God to grow us and carry Christ-likeness.

Micah 6:8 says it simply, “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness].” (AMP)  

Remember His “yes” works FOR you!  God’s grace goes before each one of us and faith always trumps fear!

How the Word Can Make You Stronger

Bible and journal
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!

The gains of 2015

holding hands

I don’t know how to get into a summary of this year.  You see, “she” said it couldn’t be done.  Let’s just jump right into that thought.  I had connected with someone years ago on Twitter who was a writer.  I told her that I just wanted to discover God in my life and then write about it.  She said, “Everyone wants to do that!”  When she gave me that response, I assumed that “my name wasn’t on that assignment list”.  If everyone was already doing that there “would be no reason for me to attempt to even try.”  If I was successful in a similar venture, “then why would it matter, no one would read it anyway.”

Today, I know that these were all lies to get me to not believe in the way God has built me to operate.  At last, I’ve come to the conclusion I must accept this journey for what it looks like and what God has given me to make of it.  Many of you know that I have a dream of becoming a published author.  Now, I know that this idea falls in line with God and what He has placed on the inside of me.

I have come to accept that.  Now I’m learning not to criticize my own work.  Many of you have said my dream will come true, but up to this year, I couldn’t accept that it would actually would become my reality.  Therefore by not seeing the talent that God has placed inside of me I suffered from what is called “hope deferred.”  Admittingly, by my own denial of God’s handiwork.  I can see now that I wasn’t ready to accept it.

Accepting gifts is one thing, using them is another.  It has taken several stabs at this blogging thing to realize a lot of what I am built to do and what ideas are NOT mine not to do.

All I can say is “me too”.  I sense I am not the only person out there searching for God’s plan in this troubled world we live in.  I have gained a lot of wisdom about a lot of things but things about the Internet, relationships, and loving people where they are, basically  are hard things to tackle on a daily basis, and I, like you, don’t have all the answers.

Once I realized that I was in denial and forgotten what I was capable of, I simply asked God what I was made of and why this the tendency to write was so strong within me?  Just imagine yourself asking the Lord that power-packed question!  All I got back is “Do you trust Me?” from God.  What I got from other people are these phrases about their own doubt.  “No one reads blogs anymore.” “Everyone wants to write about God.”  “What do you have to say that hasn’t already been written?”  I’ll let you figure those statements out.

Can you see how doubt is one of the biggest enemy’s of a writer?  I started looking at the people I was hanging out with and then changed my set of friends.  So before I go on and on about what I am not, I accepted this year that I am an honest writer that seeks to write about my faith, my faith process, and where God is in the middle of it all.

When looking back at my year, I see lots of gains and a lot of confidence.  I see a lot of growing and stirring.  Perhaps the biggest measure or gain that happened is found in the fact that I finally wrote my first book in four weeks time before going to Africa in October.  Now yes, there is a major amont of editing that needs to be done.  I also realize there will be changes to the orginial manuscript.  But I got it out of me and that was a process for sure.

A process worth waiting for (said with tongue in cheek) but by doing it showed me a lot of personal growth.  Just knowing that I can is HUGE to a writer.  You don’t know how many days I wondered if I ever could.  I’ve sent it to an editor who messaged me back to say “Congratulations, you have done what only 10% of people do.”  I said back to him, “What’s that?”  He replied, “90% only talk about what you have already accomplished.”

I was pleased momentarily.  There was a tinge of regret that it took so long.  By writing the book God reconciled my past issues with food and rejection.  I cast off a lot of shame, guilt, and self-blame in those pages.  Because of going through the struggles, I am more free than ever before and have a stronger voice for what I have been through.

Losing weight requires hard-work and focused dedication to a goal.  Writing about it requires the same kind of hard-work and focused dedication.  It’s one thing to only apply this to the physical side but a whole new realm to pursuing reconcilation with God about your past.

When I see what helps me, I want to keep on saying, “me too.”

I don’t have to share my struggles but its in our weakest places can we discover God in them.  My wrestling may be same as yours or completely different, as you don’t know the doubt and denial I live with.  But it does help to share in those times, where we can all say “I feel you.”

Life is full of those opportunities to quit and say “that’s not for me”.  Or we can choose to come alongside another and say “me too”.  It’s just that, a journey and any time we can connect with others and say “I feel you”, it opens the door for God to work His reconciliation power in us and through us.

That’s a good place to be and something I’ve been dreaming for.  What would you say your biggest gain of 2015 is?

 

 

 

 

 

Just around the corner

around the corner

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manager.”  Luke 2:8-12

Imagine the shepherds with their look of surprise!  It was a night like no other when the angelic announcement came out of the dark night.  I sense they were afraid, because the first words heard from the night sky were “Fear Not.”

I know that in shocking situations, fear rises quickly. Think about how many times we’ve heard “don’t be afraid,” “this isn’t as scary as it looks” or “it’s not what you think”. In those situations, our mind tends to escalate quickly to the worst possible scenario. The nurse says…”this is just a routine test, it’s not the big ‘C’ or anything like that.”

She was wrong, it was cancer.  It’s true that fears are part of our normal life.   It’s a big, dark, and scary world!  Just put yourself on that hillside for a moment, now put a staff in your hand, and plunk your mind in the dark.  Imagine your reaction!

Now think about how God spoke His peace in the dark.  He sent the angels to sing over caretakers of the dumbest and smelliest of animals, in a remote area and to a people who were known for taking care of those who couldn’t think for themselves.  These shepherds had to been the most alert and prepared to fight for all kinds of things that go bump in the night.

I find it interesting that Mary heard the same peace-driven introduction “Fear Not!”.  After considering that it was a pre-cursor to such important messages, I found the comfort I was searching for.  Each announcement brought in a heavenly presence and perspective.  Each fear gives way for an opportunity to let heavenly presence come into a place of darkness or change of perspective with God’s comfort.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18

I’ve cast out some fears to move forward in my life and whenever I realize a fear of something, I want to give every opportunity for God to perfect His love in it over me running away from it.

We come away from the hillside with the gift of peace to men and God’s presence, Jesus – Immanuel, which means “God is with us.”  That’s nothing to fear for sure.  In fact, it comforts me beyond belief to know He is active and sent Jesus to comfort me.  Knowing that calms me down from those fears that needs some heavenly light!  His presence is everything that fear isn’t and when I remain steadfast in that comfort, my fears are cast out.

We all remember where we were when we received some fearful news or a life-changing phone call.  Those moments are milestones that we never forget.  Isn’t it comforting to know that Jesus is with us at all times!  That His comfort is just a cry away when fears come suffocating into the darkness?  That we can rise above those things that bump in the night?   God knows what is around the corner and has already been there casting out the fear for you!

His peace and presence comfort us in ways that are for sure sent from Heaven.  As He chases fear out of your life and brings His comfort, there is a joy and strength to overflowing.  He cares enough to watch over those things that bump in the night and His love perfects them all!

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

So when fear hits your mind with an all-of-a-sudden feeling remember that fear is one of Satan’s primary schemes for crippling God’s children.  That’s why God’s presence is so important to remember because it gives us what we need to push past making friends with it.  Fear is the opposite of faith, and faith helps you step over the threshold of opportunity.

What will you choose today, your fears or a fearless God?  God is fearless, so we can be fearless too.

As we wait

advent wreath

We know that advent means prepare. It’s challenging to prepare for something when you don’t know what the future holds. We tend to run every thinkable scenario through our minds to equip ourselves with everything just in case. There’s constant wondering planning, stewing, hoping, and dreaming. And there’s waiting.

When I first found out that I was carrying my daughter, I started dreaming of our family’s future right away. I planned and planned for our tomorrows. To think Mary was going to carry Jesus, the Savior of the world, does that make her planning more significant? Her wait less intense than a normal pregnancy? I think about how Mary was preparing not just for a new baby but a new husband. Imagine her busyness!

So why do we need to prepare for Christmas? How do we wait well to really prepare? Why do we need this time to get ready? After all, we are familiar with all that Christmas means right?

In the recent years, I found in my own Christmas celebrations, that traditions were becoming too familiar and routine. I felt I was missing moments to behold the manger, the Savior’s birth and I was just going through the Christmas tradition on auto pilot. Its funny (not really) how habits become just things we do. Soon habits, without reason, become the “way we do things because we’ve always done it this way” ideas.

How does that leave room for hope and anticipation?

It didn’t for me so I decided to make some changes. I stopped being so busy at Christmas and started making room for more Jesus in my mind and heart. Something wonderful happened. After the holiday rush settled, I was able to keep Jesus close all year round. By letting go of a few unimportant things, there is more room in my mind and heart to treasure the important things.

Is it really possible to wait well with joy and hope filled anticipation? How does one prepare to mother the Savior of the world? We all wonder what our children will become, so how do we anticipate those unspoken dreams?

As a momma, all ideas you hold regarding dreams and babies, need words of life spoken over them. They also need words to the Father who knows how to give life to everything. He is Hope, so when praying hope into our lives, be it for our children, dreams, or otherwise, we pray in faith.

Praying in faith includes God’s perfect timing. It may surprise you that God stands outside of time. Do you know He chose you and planned for our salvation before the foundations of the world, before time began? Do you know that He holds the entire world, the universe as we know it, and all life in His hands?

When I think about those hands of His…I treasure being held by them.

Isaiah 29:16“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” Our names are carved into His hands, and with Jesus every name was carved upon His heart. Mary held his baby hand that would later hold hers. With those hands, we can treasure that kind of eternal hold.

And speaking of plans, this verse is often missed at Christmas but it speaks of who has made some hope-filled future forward plans for each of us.

Jeremiah 29:11  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I treasure that image of Him planning for me.

I learned to wait well, knowing my life, my plans and my dreams are held by God’s hands. That makes Him my most personal kind of God who knows what my dreams are, how long I have waited, how long I have trusted in His plan, and how I have focused on Him to speak life over the things He has given.

I treasure and hold those moments close and leave the plans in His hands. To watch His plans unfold and know that He cared enough to give me what I needed and not a moment too late are breathtaking. I treasure those moments when I could do nothing but cry and yearn for Him to move in my life. I hold close those times of comfort during adversity, when He planned something different than I expected and prospered my faith through it. I dance and smile at the joy in His surprises. And my heart leaps for joy in those “aha” moments as I realize something new about Him.

When I think about how He thinks about me, I treasure that constant attention. I treasure those moments when I can feel His presence through the storms of life. I treasure the waiting times because He’s always been there for me, and to know God is to love Him. I love how He loves us in the wait.

I treasure how God prepares me in the wait. Faith prepares us all, but God’s great love burns and purifies our lives. A purified faith prepares us and gifts us with His holy anticipation. Take Heart and wait well, whatever life may bring, no matter the clouds, they will lift sooner or later, but we can take heart and wait! And treasure God in the wait!

When you are fearful

forest path

“Suddenly she understood. She was beholding a wondrous and glorious truth; a great multitude whom no man could number brought like herself by the King to the Kingdom of Love and to the High Places so that they could now pour out their lives in gladdest abandonment, leaping down with him to sorrowful places below, to share with others the life which they had received.” from Hinds Feet High Places by Hannah Hunard.  (the book I am reading right now).

I don’t know if you’ve ever read this book.  It’s about a character called Much Afraid, that is given a new “heart” and is asked to do something really hard.  She is crippled and The Great Shepherd (Jesus) asks her to follow Him to the High Place.  This is super hard for her and we often face the same hard thing everyday.  What in the world could this be?

Fears vs. Surrender.

When God asks us to do what looks like a hard thing to us, what’s the first emotion that comes to your mind?  Is it control?  Or freedom?  Is it total surrender?

Nope, for me it’s fear.

When we react with fears we are called normal.  But the other day, I just sensed that the Lord wanted me to press into what was at the root of some fearing emotions.  Once the Holy Spirit pulled back a couple of layers, there was something that I wasn’t exercising.

My trust.

I immediately asked the Lord for more more faith and assurance to obey.  What does this have to do with Much Afraid’s story?  Her initial emotion was fear when the Great Shepherd asked her to follow Him.  He even promised help to get her there.

Ever think about subtle fear can be in your life?  Ever try to moving forward on a God-sized project on your own strength and confidence?  Do you think Mary, the mother of Jesus, was fearful when she received the grand angelic conception announcement?

I’ve been a mom twice and each time there was a little fear of the unknown.

Trust is an anchor that connects you with God’s character.  My hard thing was a personal fear, and it was time to face off with it!  Fear is always a liar.  A month before I left for Africa, I typed out 13 chapters, to complete my first book.  There was a day I thought I would never finish it. I was focused, driven, and determined to get out as much of my weight loss story as I possibly could.

I have a wonderful confidence in the accomplishment of the book itself.  The writing of it has brought healing to my life.  Now I get to trust the process. Just like Much Afraid,  and as she takes it one step at a time, I am also keeping pace with God’s timing.

To pray in faith includes God’s perfect timing.

I sometimes need a reminder.  Much Afraid realizes that she is not alone and has some helpers, that come alongside as she discovers her own hinds feet.  She follows the Great Shepherd from her heart of love and obedience.  There is no fear that can stand up to Perfect Love.

Why does this encourage us?  To know that we are God’s sons and daughters, that He is with us, and I choose to trust in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not my own faltering fears, well, that means everything in my book.  I am not a slave to fear.

But now, this is what the LORD says– “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” ~ Isaiah 43:1

God shows us the strength of His character in times of fear because He has already seen the valleys that we will go through. And He knows what we need to get THROUGH those vallys to the High Place. In fact, He has already been into our tomorrows to anticipate our needs.  We all need encouragement from time to time, so be encouraged by this one fact:  God loves you, you are not alone, you don’t have to do today by yourself, just look up and see God loving down upon you. 

Through the valleys we meet Him to rise above our circumstances, look past our fears, and trust Him for the results, which are way bigger than we can ever produce.

What hard thing are you looking at today?

When You Feel Invisible

cathedral

I didn’t know my insecure feelings were so close to the surface when I looked out of my kitchen window the other day and saw the cardinals.  The red birds were sitting on a spindly pasture branch and going about their business.  They were working and picking at the seeds from the dried weed heads creating a rhythm.

Suddenly feelings of invisibility came to mind.  Momma cardinals like to be hidden to protect their young while daddy cardinals are bright red, showy and secure in their roles, taking the lead in seed gathering.  The feathered friends distract the enemy from the nest, each in their own way, creating rhythm.

Perhaps I was out of my rhythm.  The problem with invisible feelings is that they often spiral leaving me isolated, rejected, and alienated.  I needed a new rhythm or maybe I just needed to refocus on a rhythm that worked.

Then, through the winged action of my red feathered friends, Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal, God softly spoke some courage to my insecurities.  It was then in my invisible time at the kitchen sink, I got honest before the Lord, and I admitted feeling stuck and that I had let doubt overcome my thinking.

“Don’t you see me God?”  Then something happened.  I realized that being visible wasn’t the point.  I knew in my heart that God’s point was His leading and my learning to hide myself in Him.

God sees us all.

There are some invisible builders who have built great houses for God.  Cathedrals are known for their architects and bishops.  But their invisible rhythm, the vast majority of the labor, the masonry, the carpentry, stained glass windows and hand carved doors were all done by people who names history will never credit.  Scan the history books for yourself and see, most of the work was done by someone who is listed as unknown.  Many of these cathedrals took hundreds of years to complete.  That’s more than my lifetime for sure.  These cathedral workers devoted their whole life to something they would never see finished.

They would never see the grand unveiling of the fruits of their labor.  They would never get to look upon what was accomplished but they did it anyway.  That’s devotion and being dedicated to the end to something with a passion, as if their work was a spiritual act of worship.

I wiped the moisture from my eyes and looked for the cardinals.  They flitted to another branch or back to their nest.  They had became invisible in their rhythm of life.  So, when I’m feeling alienated, isolated or insecure I take these verses to heart and remember my conversation with the Lord by way of the cardinals.  When I remember that He sees me, my visibility doesn’t matter.

Romans 12: 1-2 (MSG) “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life— your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”  Yes, Lord, I will take my every day and ordinary life and place it before you as an offering, the seen and unseen.  It’s all yours!

2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV) “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”  God is our El Roi and He sees everything.  All of it, He doesn’t miss a beat of our lives nor rhythms we are in.

Psalm 33:13-14 “From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth”.  God sees us, and we are seen from the windows of Heaven.  We are watched by God who cares about every single detail, life, and feeling.  We are always visible to God.

How have you dealt with feelings of invisibility?

 

How I Avoid A Class Act Freak Out

pumpkins

Years ago, I gave up on my magic pill idea to fix my bad eating habits because diet fads don’t work and swallowing a pill is too easy.  To lose my weight, I resorted to more sound strategy like eating right, exercising, and managing my appetite.

Eating and living, it’s just that way.  I mean seriously, with all the Thanksgiving traditions and recipes, there’s enough food on most tables to feed an army.  There’s also plenty of pressure to get it right without burning something.  Should we include every one of our grandmother’s favorite dishes this year?

What is your eating tradition?  Being grateful for the food and family around your table or how much turkey a person eats before going comatose?  How many slices of pie does it take to convince you to camp out in a line for few hours for Black Friday shopping?

For myself, it’s always what I’m eating everyday.  The bigger question is how will I not eat everything in sight this week?  Every meal, I’m met with the opportunity to stick with my healthy eating or give in to my desires to eat it all, every last little crumb.  I’m sure you are thinking right now, that I am having a class act freak out caused by the lack of sleep.  After all I am posting this at time when I should be sleeping.

You see, there are plenty of fears out there.  I’ve wrestled with lots of those bad boys.  I’ve dealt with a lot of mine and fear in itself is just awful and scary. Since we’re being honest here, fighting the battle of the bulge doesn’t get easier.  Some days are as challenging as “day one days”.  But I’m learning to manage my appetites better.

So Thanksgiving…how will I not gain back my 132-pound weight loss all in a meal or two, or trigger week long binges?  Hold your breathe…I think of me.  I remember where I have been and how long it’s taken to get here.

I’ve often said my claim to weight loss fame would be the invention of an “after-binge pill.”  I dreamt of creating like a crazy-mad scientist.  This magic pill would eliminate all calories from a previous food frenzy.  This same magical pill would release a needed chemical into your body.  The brilliant formula, would intensify pain and temporarily paralyze your body to result in the agony of not having exercised at all in five years!  Yes, that would do it.  You know, the muscles that scream “This was the worst idea I’ve ever had!”  Much like the pain I feel right now because, yesterday I ran for the first time in a month.

Food friends, managing appetites is hard work, everyday.  So when big eating holidays come around, I have to admit that I panic just a little.  Now my friend, Sandy, would say I’m being ridiculous and being fearful of losing control.  For the record, I still have a righteous fear of rats and mice.

The good news is that gaining that much weight back in one meal isn’t going to happen.  Since food is my trigger, I’ve learned enough to know that there are lots of different appetites to manage.  Most just think in physical terms, but there is the appetite of your soul that constantly needs filling and comfort.

Since this is getting long, I will suffice it to say that I am the only one who is going to take care of what I eat.  I have to think about how I’m going to feel tomorrow.   Each day I am so grateful that I am not carrying around extra weight, which overrides my desire to eat pecan pie, mashed potatoes, gravy, and my mom’s famous dressing.

In my memory, my mom’s dressing is…to die for, even cold.

I survive Thanksgiving just like every day, with gratitude for each morsel of food taken in.  I know there is going to be another meal plus I remember what size clothes are hanging in my closet.  It’s not about the numbers or appearance but about the constant work, sweat and a lot of tears of thankfulness.  I know who I am and what I have accomplished.

The point is that I know me and what I should be eating, but I make mistakes like you.  People, we don’t need as much food as we think we do.  I offer myself more grace when I mess up.

But, I can’t let myself go to the fear of not controlling my self-control.

I pray, I plan, and I give myself margin for error.  That’s all I do.  God has delivered me from the chains of over eating.  God has also given me a brain to sort out my eating patterns.  As a foodie, meals will always be a temptation for me, but it’s my actions, feelings, and permissions I deal with to survive.

Eating healthy in a way that honors God is my desire now.  I didn’t always think that, but I’ve come too far to know that there are consequences for my choices.  I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty.  When I put thoughts like this down on paper, it helps me be accountable.

I avoid a class act freak out on Thanksgiving by being thankful for all that God HAS changed in my behavior around food.  He gives me strength to resist the most tempting of recipes.  Why, there is even chocolate in my house right now!  Are you serious, really come on! (Yes, it still calls my name!)

My best daily survival is consider the cost.  The basic science of calories still apply on Thanksgiving, just like they do any other day.  I pray that I can feed my family, control my appetite, and enjoy the day like you.  I ask God to give me the strength to control myself plus I remember the “rules” of calorie science.  But moreover, I rely on my relationship with my sweet Savior to get my heart and mind through it.

The problem with confessing all of this to you?  Is that I must walk the talk now.  I can let my head hit the pillow every night knowing I have done what I can and trusted God to do what He does.  God so good at saving me from myself.

So, what’s your food biggest challenge when you are celebrating Thanksgiving?

 

When you feel like a failure

dontpinyourheart

Just days earlier life was going so well.  All of a sudden, everything changes.  Who would have thought that in the subtraction of things, that we could see gain?  Just when you think things are leveling out or just when there’s a little financial peace that settles, just when you think you accomplished something great (at least in your own mind), or just when you achieve a type of professional confidence, loss hits.  Failures, losses, setbacks feel like we have been shoved down a tall ladder of successes and we are left with nothing, empty hands, and the feelings of loss.

All of a sudden you are stalled in the middle of wonder, the desert, the deep waters of faith and wondering how to tread water, or to keep your head ABOVE the fears and dangers that are consuming your mind and strength.  You wonder how we are going to make it through.  Where will we find the strength for the next step?  Is it because we tend to believe that the loss will never bring a gain?

Sometimes in our losses, we have to look for the gains.  Is it true that less is more?   When fear is present we have a choice, to see a failure or turn it into a perceived loss to see the victory in the release of the circumstances.  Could it be the stripping or the pruning brings bigger fruit-bearing?

Genesis 13:14 – 18 “The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring[a] forever.  I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

Back up to the beginning of Genesis 13:1 …”Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him.  Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.  From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.  Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.”

Abraham had devoted his life to following and obeying God.  Just as wealth came to his household, there was trouble.  Dissention within the ranks of success and then division.  His story continues:  Gen. 13:8 – “So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”  Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company:  Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.”  Lot made his choice, and chose the best land by appearance.   As it turns out, Lot chose evil over good.

Oh if only, we stood on God’s promises instead of looking at our perceived failures.  What if we considered the strength and joy of pleasing the Lord in faith, instead of letting doubt and fear overcome us and our moving forward in obedience?  Is it possible to override human reasoning and trust with confidence as we move forward on what our heart tells us over our brains?

If only we get to the level of survival upon the wings of a prayer, the trust of our Savior, and the affection of God’s heart!  We could see that less IS more!  If only, we could see that God is always on our side, that His heart is ALWAYS for us, and the everlasting way we are loved.

“I never have a real God until I have come face to face with Him in Jesus Christ, then I know that there is none but Thee.”  Oswald Chambers.

We have these promises to move forward on when we feel like we have failed:

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  All still means every last little thing in my book and “him” is referring to Christ.  Perhaps when it looks like we failed, we were attempting to do things on our own strength, or reason, or ability.  Last time I checked, Jesus has the LAST word about every victory.

2 Corinthians 3:5-6 “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  We aren’t supposed to find our confidence in the flesh (or minds for that matter) but in the Spirit that dwells inside of us.  Sometimes, it takes a loss of pride to see that we have to be a vessel for God to work THROUGH us.

In conclusion:  The promises of God are of no value to us until by obedience we understand the nature of God.  Once we obey, the nature of God is opened up and we see things and His promises in a new light.  Our “yes, God” and “Have your way in our lives, Lord” are born out of our obedience.  By obedience of our lives we say “Amen” meaning a “so be it!” to His promises that God has already given!  Christ has guaranteed our success and makes us adequate.  Understanding His great love FOR us and is at work FOR us, how can we fail?