Resting Joy

hammock

I often wonder about a lot of things and I find myself coming to the same conclusion each time. Now I’m not talking about the cure for cancer, or the national deficit, or the latest bargain price for broccoli.  This isn’t a post to tell you my vote for President.

The two words “I’m busy” make me wonder and create a contradiction in my soul. I also wonder how many busy signals God hears. I’m busy blogging, writing, editing a book or two, writing another book or two, recording some radio stuff, cleaning, eating sleeping, and exercising. I get it. Me too.

I run to God constantly but sometimes I am distracted with problem solving on my own. Then when this happens…it’s as if there’s a tap on my little shoulder.

“Please rest in Me.”

Here I am in a season of busy activity and it seems super unproductive to take a siesta or halt to a stop with all this activity around me. I’m used to doing for myself, producing, and meeting deadlines. I’m used to feeding and dressing myself, but one idea I’m not good at is resting. So why would I need to rest now?

I found myself saying, “I’m too busy to rest.”  And the conflict comes down in my soul.

Then….I came to my senses through the help of the Holy Spirit. Needless to say, I repented of my wrong thinking, refocused my mind and put my thoughts back on Him. And now I can see more clearly, I’ve learned that rest is more than a season. Rest is an attitude I am adopting into my life permanently.

I don’t know if you have thought about rest in this way, perhaps you have been too busy. I believe God planned rest from the beginning of time and created a whole day intentionally for rest. I know you’ve read this over and over in Genesis, but I realized it was the very component I needed. To help you be more productive, more focused, and more intentional with your time, you might need rest to be more than just a season.

So I ask you, what would it take for you to stop the whirling world you live in and give yourself a long soaking rest in God? I get it…I thought I was too busy also take a long time to rest. Then once I experienced true rest, it’s now a part of my life I can’t live without. Try it, even if you think you are too busy.

God is trying to reach you in your busyness. And this just in…He wants to be MORE than a crisis manager to you. He specializes in perfecting the very details which seemed to go unchecked when you are busy. I let him manage my task list, my clock, and my seasons from now on. It’s important to Him, and I can rest on Him knowing He knows more about my needs than I know myself.

“Who you spend time with is what you value the most.”  – John Gray

I get it. I know. I see. Rest isn’t just a suggestion from our Creator. Rest is a place to center your will back where it belongs, in His rest. He gets it, He sees you, and He knows you need it.

Take my word for it, it’s worth it.  I dare you to try God in this too.  It’s better FOR you than you know.

Six Words To Get You Through

A photo by Wilson Lau. unsplash.com/photos/MvjO-aMRwkE

It was 20 years ago when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I’ve watched him struggle to a decent level of health with many medical complications as a result of his diagnosis. There have been some good days for sure, but as a wife and help-mate, there have been more days that I wish we could do over. Instead of harboring regret and resentment, I’ve learned that every marriage has “those” days when it’s cloudy and the skies are not singing a sunny attitude.

Change in attitude came by faith in his simple prayer one day, “God, help us to be optimistic about all things.” I realized what I had leaned on to get me through the hard years was more than the disappointments that life had to offer.

Six words that have gotten me through struggles like cancer and hard days since are:

“You’ll get through this, have faith.”

Life is full of many scenarios and simply said we didn’t “sign up” for trouble. Like it or not everyone has good and bad “stuff” to contend with. Problems aren’t specifically set up for the result in disappointment but rather problems present opportunities to see God get you through…by faith.

There’s a choice in how you respond to life and when holding to a positive attitude, it can get you through the toughest of days. Let’s break this encouragement down word by word. In those six words, I found these treasures:

1. “You’ll – You will: Remember, yes you, reading this right now…aren’t singled out. The world is not against you. No one is out to get you. You can’t control every circumstance that comes your way, but remember you CAN choose how you respond to it.

2. “Get” – You get: Don’t buy into the lie that a bad situation has come because God is upset with you or you’ve done something wrong. God is for the good and right in this world. Whatever the situation is God can reach down and help you. He is always on your side, in a good mood and you get to ask Him to intervene!

3. “Through” – Get you through: there is an end to suffering believe it or not. “This” too shall pass. Healing comes for the hurts and wounds. Tomorrow is a new day, there’s newness every morning. Even when it seems endless, storms don’t last forever. Pray continually and don’t stop once the clouds clear!

4. “This” – You and “this”: There are many events that come into our life that the Enemy uses to marginalize, isolate, and segregate us from hope and God’s love. Satan knows when we have loneliness, rejection, and oppression, we become weak and closed off. Our numbers tank spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. When we want to run from our conflicts or storms that’s when we should be reaching out for comfort and support through together strength with friends, spouse, church, and family. There’s strength in numbers. No man is an island and as humans, we weren’t built to go through life alone. Even in paradise – the Garden of Eden – God said “It is not good for man to be alone.”

5. “Have faith” – You MUST have faith: Jesus said you will have trouble in the world but John 16:33 ecnourages our faith by taking part of His heart, to overcome whatever has come to plague yours. When having faith it strengthens you to the end! Help is surrounding you, to navigate you through. There is a difference in talking about what faith is and believing God is your help and strength by faith. God is who He says He is!

Through it all, we count it all joy.  But how can you be joyful?  The truth is numbers don’t lie, but they often don’t tell the truth. Consider the joy that Jesus had as His reward on the way to the cross. What I know about crucifixions, the process is the most cruel way to die, but yet Jesus went joyfully. The process of life is often full of handling cruelties and torments of this world. But remember, you too will get through, because there’s joy to be gained by going through it with Jesus.

Hope that helps you this week as you are going through some tough situations. I would like to pray for you so please let me know what your situation is and I will!

When You Walk Through The Valley of Death

 

death

“The only thing we know for sure about life is that we won’t get out of it alive.”  Louis L’Amour

We don’t know when or how death will come and most of us don’t consider death until we have to.  In a lighthearted way, my husband and I discuss the worst ways to die.  When it comes to being eaten by a bear, it’s better to be frozen human Popsicle for a polar bear frenzy over a living steak for the Colorado Mountain Black bear.  We take such a light hearted approach to death because we both have the assurance of salvation, a serious matter we secured long ago.

For me death doesn’t hold fear but promise of an eternity with Jesus.  It involves me dreaming of my room with a view in the palatial mansion in a higher place.  An expansive estate my Heavenly Father has prepared for me and my family.  It gives me peace at night to know I have an open reservation for my immediate check in time, and it’s the fulfillment of wholeness which awaits all of us who believe.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.  He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”   This one verse connects me to God’s original intention for His children from our very beginning.  When God created the world, He pronounced it very good (Genesis 1:31).  Since the Creator cannot improve on the created order, then the best thing for us to acknowledge is all of creation was made and established in perfect order.  We live to enjoy the life we have, and accept when we die, the same order established in the beginning will usher us all home by His loving care and peace.

Having peace in times of death removes all the scary parts about dying.   Charles Stanley puts it like this:  “Absent with the body, present with the Lord.” Peace comes in knowing where you are going if you are a believer in Jesus Christ.

We spend most of our lives running from death when in actuality we all have an appointed time to die.  Think about all the ways we try to regain our youth from diet pills to spa treatments and tons of quick fixes for our ailments.  All to stop the natural process established by God’s order since the beginning of time.

Okay, so we can accept we all have an appointed time to die.  We, as believers, know our eternal landing spot, Heaven, so what is so scary about death we don’t like to think about it?  It’s how we are going out.  I always thought I would come crashing through the gates of Heaven.  Not from my careless living but as a result of someone else’s carelessness.

All this fuss is over the recent death of my father last week.  I was looking for joy and couldn’t find it.  After all, at 94, he had a full life and handed down a rich legacy of work to his children.  He worked hard all of his life until his health forced him into an “early retirement” at 93.  His life left an imprint of caring for a neighborhood church doing what he loved to do, gardening and mowing.  (Yes, he really did like to mow the grass).  His life statement was “I would rather wear out than rust out.”  Oh sure, he made mistakes like the rest of us but as far as his tenacity and responsibility for family, I find myself grateful and blessed to be one of his children who will carry on his rich heritage of caretaking.

Since his parting, there’s been a sense of urgency in my heart to share the personal perspective on death to lend a more compassionate view of death itself.  There are many who don’t know Christ sitting in the church pews.  Sure, they may know of God, and call on His name frequently but how many really KNOW Him to trust Him unto death?

At some point in life, we have to come to grips we are not invincible and will die.  Even further, our children have questions too, and as a mom I can honestly say I didn’t have the answers when my children were young.  Although as a family, we had to grip the fact of death for real in my husband’s bout with cancer, the subject never came up where we wrestled with the reality of death in his life.  Thankfully, he was healed of cancer and has walked cancer-free for 21 years now.  I shudder thinking about having to raise my two young children alone.  I wasn’t prepared to be a single-mom at any age.

Death should force us all to come to grips with the afterlife and the reality of our eternal home.  Death forces the issue of life in death.  From my personal perspective it helps to understand death is only a new beginning to our eternal rest.  My adult children believe I think about the morbid things too much.  I believe you can’t prepare too much for arriving on Heaven’s door.

I was surprised however when my daughter called and told me a conversation between my 5-year-old grandson, Avery, and his daddy.  “Daddy, are you going to die?” he asked.  I gasped, when I heard her relate such a big question coming from her little guy.  It was obvious he had been churning death around in his mind.  After all, the question came following the death of two of great-grandpas.  Let’s also mention he made a decision to secure his eternal home by accepting Christ in the same year.

My daughter continued sharing her husband’s fatherly response, “No, son I’m not dying, why do you ask?”  Avery replied, “Well, I saw the back of your head today, and your hair looked like great-grandpa’s hair.  And he died so I thought you were dying too.”

I smiled through my tears.   I was able to have joy in the death of his fear and it helped me have a light hearted approach to the death of my father.  Dealing with life and death matters through the eyes of a child are always less complicated.  But each and every time it does hit us by surprise.  Here are some simple steps to help us ALL accept death as a part of life:

  1. Be their “ear” through the pain and grief of loss. Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2 “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die.”  When it seems like everything is falling apart, remember there’s an order to death ordained by God.
  2. Be comforted through uncertainty and fears. Ecclesiastes 3:4 “A time to cry and a time to laugh.  A time to grieve and a time to dance.”   Peace is our anchor in every storm which chases life.  An anchor holds through hard winds and uncertainties, insecurities and fears.  It holds us calm in every storm.  My dad went peacefully in his sleep, it was the best point of entry he could have.
  3. Be God’s love past the hand of death to pass it around.  Ecclesiastes 3:8 “A time to love and a time to hate.  A time for war and a time for peace.”  Confusion is often an adversary in death.  When you understand death is a part of God’s love timeline for all of us, we can accept it as less of a harsh blow and more of a blessing.  In all actuality, death doesn’t steal life, but accelerates our eternal life with Jesus.    As believers, there is no better end than to live eternally with our Creator.
  4. Be time generous – spread joy and peace in the face of sorrow. Ps. 23:4 “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”  Yes, death hurts and we mourn our losses.  We are not alone in death but always (even in the dark days of death – He is with us!) have the presence of God in our lives.  If our loved ones, who go Home before us, could really share with us what they see now and how they are seen and fully known, we couldn’t ask them to come back.  Yes, we miss them but we celebrate they made it home before us.  What a reunion time it will be to see them plus ourselves whole and as we are fully known to God.

Points to ponder:  The reason you are still alive and reading this is your purpose on earth is not fulfilled yet.  There’s more people to love, spread joy to and bring with you through the Heavenly gates.  Don’t be sad when a loved one passes away, find joy in the fact they are whole and fully known now.  Imagine the finest drink from the fountain of youth!  And the view…Oh my…if you could see it….you would be telling your friends about it too.

In what ways have you helped a person through the pain of death?

When You Need a Reminder

names of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When You Compare

compare

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!

 

My unforgettable meet up with Jon Acuff

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One giddy girl with Jon Acuff, yes he was more excited than the picture reflects.

I was giddy like a school girl honestly.  I was in line to see my favorite “author-crush”, the infamous Jon Acuff.   Many of you know his humor from Stuff Christians Like.  And many books later, he has penned yet another best-seller, Do Over.  Through his writings I have had a secret “I want to write like him” obsession for years.

It’s okay to have role models in your dreams.  That’s really who Jon Acuff is to me.  You see, Jon Acuff is a dreamer.  He taught me how to dream.  But more than that he taught me how to see art within myself and he doesn’t even know it.

My husband has taught me to be the same.  Terry was my first fan in this whole writing thing.  But I always believed that he was because being married to me requires him to be.  I but I realized he’s been a supporter of my art since day one.  He has been awesome in his protection of my dream, as well as giving me permission and freedom for it.

I’m just now seeing some of my dream realized in what I have spent years developing on my own.  I have an incredible story that I am sharing in book form of losing 132 lbs. naturally by God’s most awesome help.  Do you know that Satan has been saying “my story isn’t big enough, it doesn’t matter, and isn’t significant?”  Yeah, a triple trifecta lie!  Can I just tell you how hard it is to fight the enemy on your own?

I find it interesting that this very weight loss battle became a battle when I crossed the enemy lines and had to fight my way out.  Now it seems like a battle in my new lifestyle as I’m trying to get my story out.    You see, sharing my story is something I know that I am supposed to do.  While I can’t control the outcome, I can share what God is doing in my life and what He has done for me.  He literally has saved me twice.  The first time was for my salvation need and then the second time, after I surrendered my will to overeat every food group on the face of this planet to Him, then He saved me from a certain path of self-destruction.

I get to share God’s glorious work by doing what God has gifted me to do.  As I trust God for the results of where this little book is going to go, I also trust God to be faithful that the work He is doing on the inside of me completes me as it’s completed.  It’s who I am and how I have been encouraged lately to do one of the things that God has called me to do.

So back to why I was giddy.  Upon meeting Jon, (because we are tight like that now) I didn’t know what I was going to say when I actually met him.  I was just praying that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself in front of him.  Instead he encouraged me with a HUGE way it was heaven sent. What Jon Acuff did for me my husband couldn’t do.

When you listen to a negative voice about dreams it takes a toll on that part of you that does the dreaming.  I wanted what others saw in me and it was if I was challenged to want to fight for it.  God overpowered the enemy’s lies as it took a complete stranger to validate me.  Jon Acuff did that because he’s in the “business of writing and dreaming”, says my husband.

Yes, that’s it!

I held Jon Acuff in a position of authority in my mind about all things dreaming, writing and merging the two worlds together, and after I received it I was able to move forward in my dream fulfill my purpose on this earth.  God delivered it THROUGH Jon Acuff for His purposes because I kept missing it from my husband.  I love how God does that, gets our attention in ways that only mean something special to just us.

As I shared that I was writing a book about my weight loss, Jon Acuff said this:

“Your book is going to help people!”  he said.  I asked him “How do you know you haven’t even read my story?”  Jon replied, “No, I haven’t but I know people.  And because of what YOU have done, they need to know.  But here’s the thing, YOU get to go first.  And it doesn’t have to be perfect.”  

I melted on the inside, one super-foolish girl tear.  Talk about powerful.  Everything he said was like a bar of gold, wisdom of it’s finest quality.  That’s all it took to set this little writer titillating, happy, and back to her little laptop and set up serious shop to crunch out this story.

Guess what my husband said…when I told him this?  Not “I told you so!” or “I’ve told you that so many times.”  No, he continued to support me as he always has.  He considers me a very creative person on her way to doing great and mighty things for God.  Now I may take my liberty in doing this via the “scenic route”, but he still remains of the best supportive fans of what I do.  It’s with God’s freedom and by our trust in God to take this weight loss message where only God can.

My husband leads me in ways that sometimes I can’t lead myself.  With my trust in God, I am validated in my role within my family, my ministry, the works of my hands, and in life.

Thank you Jon Acuff for being a part of this process.  I’ll never forget you.