Purposeful Faith

Category - grace

1 Way to a Better Day: Challenge

Better Day

At risk of sounding like a narcissist, I observe myself. I notice how I am. I take inventory of the little things I do – or know I shouldn’t do, but do them anyway. I see it all. The thoughts that go helter-skelter and wishy washy and down-in-the-dumpsy. It’s a cartoon. Me.

I just moved somewhere new. Everything was late. The whole house didn’t show up. The family got sick. You’ve all heard about all this before. People acted up. Blah. Blah. Blahdie blah.

These things happen a lot:

Sky-high plans throw my emotions overboard.
Devastating days end up tossing me to and fro.
The unexpected sinks me.
Clouds hang low and dim.
Threatening.
I watch them move in; I see how they work me.

better day

Paul says to he’s learned to be content in all situations.
I’ve learned to be content in none – that aren’t advantageous.

Why can’t I just be Bible Barbie – all beautiful, shiny and perfectly obedient? Dang. I have to deal with me.

The other day, thinking along these lines, and all that wasn’t right, I drove my kid to school. I recycled the same junk in my head: “I will never get things done, I can’t do that, I don’t know how to handle that person, I feel like crud, it is hot, I am sweaty, how fast can I get them to school?”

But, something flipped, in a moments notice. At first, I hardly noticed her – the little old lady shuffling by…

…until she worked her way directly in front of me and my two nearly-leashed kids. She stopped, turned, looked, smiled and said, “It is such a beautiful day isn’t it?”

I wanted to glare.

“No. It’s not beautiful. It’s humid – over 100 degrees humid, hot and uncomfortable out here.”

I didn’t say that.

Instead, I remembered from somewhere deep within, “Respect old-folk.”  I half-smiled, nodded, “Yes.”

She sauntered off, knowing her job was done. The old are wise. They know, less words hit with more power. Anyway, now, not so much glaring – and more staring – I stood, watching as she worked her way to the door.

Old-lady was a day-changer. 

 She chose to hand out good, even when she stood right in the center – of bad.

I can be like her.

Because, what I see determines how I will be.

If I see the good, I will feel good.

If I see the dire, I will feel dire.

If I see hope, I will feel hope.

If I feel hope, I can give hope.

If I see the King, I will shine him. So others might see too.

I started observing other things, things outside of myself.

The next day, I came across that same crossing guard lady – the one I’d seen every day for the past week. The one with a smile as wide as a mack truck. Yep, there she was.  She waved at me – again. I got the goosebumps. She not only chose to see her day as good, but handed it out like food. With every passing car, she offered morning love, well-wishes and abounding hope. Only her arm and face moved, but that was enough. She was a day-changer.

Could I be like that?

Might a small shift towards God’s goodness make me ooze goodness? 

Could I be a day-changer in a world heavy, dense and dark with distrust and defeat?

Thinking further, I remembered – that janitor. She worked as if she was in heaven. I’d go in the gym locker room and there she’d be, singing her heart out. My husband told me there was something special about her. She never stopped smiling. One day, I asked her, “What’s the deal with you?”

“Jesus,” she said. “Jesus.”

Go figure.

She is a day-changer.  She doesn’t have to spill one bible verse; people get to see him- face-to-face – through her. Despite the deplorable job of cleaning the over splash of toilet seats, the crevices of odorous lockers and the pool water piles near sweaty benches, she finds her joy  – and shares it – unhindered. She lights up that locker room like no one’s business.

better day

A day-changer.

A day-changer is someone, who, by faith,
believes in the everlasting joy of God more than the ongoing pain of this world.

A day-changer is someone who sees the outcome of good,
before she trusts the outcome of bad.

A day-changer is someone who knows that a small word of encouragement
can make a world of difference.

A day-changer is someone who grabs grace like a much-needed brace,
so God can show good face.

A day-changer is someone so sold out to God’s mission
that people take one look and feel recommissioned.

 

Simply said, a day-changer is one who stops continually processing bad
and starts 
– incessantly processing God’s good.

 

Could you and I be day-changers?

 

About the Day-Changer Challenge:

Grab hold of the most overwhelming thing in your life right now. Do you have it by the neck yet?

Start here. Let go of your stranglehold. Know, God can, where – you can’t. Ask Him to believe, by faith, and not by sight. Ask him for a positive outlook over your negative one. Ask him to unveil his banner of love, like a parachute, high and wide, over you.

See it. Hope in it. Respond to it. Let grace seep in. Let grace seep out.  Claim it.

We just wanted you to know how much we love and appreciate you! Thank you for everything you do for us. -) (2)I am not talking prosperity gospel – getting fame, fortune or fantasies. I am talking about walking – in the light of God’s promises instead of – the death of your day. 

 

Bottom-line challenge:  Find God’s positive before you dwell on your negative –
and then let it ooze into the world.

 

In a backup on the highway?
Thank God for the moment longer you get to stay with him – and smile at the person stuck next to you.

Have screamers in the back of the car?
Praise God that he protects them. Delight them and play the screaming game too.

Confronted a testy family member?
Remember how God has loved you in weakness. Give them a hug.

Dealing with a medical issue?
Consider the ways it makes you rely on God. Encourage that other sick person in the waiting room.

Let his love transfer – reach deep for him; his compassionate arms will extend. Like the wise old lady, he’ll step in front of you with simple words with profound impact. You’ll do astounding – because of Him.

Become a day-changer.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Eph. 3:20-21

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Lost in The Wilderness

Lost in The Wilderness

Today, it is my joy to welcome Tracey Rogers to Women’s Ministry Monday. Her words both uplift and remind my heart that there is safety in my struggle and hope in my longings. Thank you, Tracey. 

I got lost in the wilderness.

I hadn’t planned to even go out there, but there I was right in the middle of unfamiliar territory. I did, however, know what was on the other side. THAT I knew, so I was confident on how to maneuver myself through the uncomfortable deserted land.

But I got lost.

No, not literally. The deepest I have been in any kind of wilderness is a color-coded, well-worn hike through many Tennessee State Parks; hardly a place for loss.

No, my wilderness was God’s doing. Leading me out of my comfort and leading me into a place of uncertainty and trial and pressure and temptation.

The wilderness is not an unusual place for God’s people.

He often leads them into the wilderness. 

Moses was called by God from the burning bush while Moses was in the wilderness.

Elijah receives encouragement from God while spending 40 days in the wilderness.

The children of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness
unlearning the pagan influence from Egypt and becoming a people of God.

They found their identity in the wilderness. 

Even Jesus, Himself spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted before beginning His earthly ministry.

David, too has a season in the wilderness. 

David was anointed king of Israel as a young man, and through a series of God-ordained coincidences he found himself in service of the present king of Israel, Saul. I imagine David saw the path to kingship. He imagined that he would learn from Saul; be mentored by this present king so he could one day step into the role that was destined for him. Although David knew the way the story would end, with him being king, I think the process ended up being very different than he expected. Saul began to see David as a threat and David was forced to run for his life. Where did he run?

To the wilderness. 

The wilderness is a place ripe for God to shape and grow David into the king He called him to be.

1 Samuel 21-31 record David’s time in the wilderness. I don’t think this turned out to be the way he expected God to grow him into a king, but that is exactly what God did. In the wilderness, David went from shepherd to leader. 

David learned how to handle opposition.
David was met with challenges, yet followed God.
The wilderness was where David found shelter in caves, yet knew the shadow of God’s wings.
It was where David found rest beside still waters and found his soul restored.
And David, had tests and temptations, but resisted them and proved worthy of the call.

The wilderness isn’t just for God’s people in the Bible. He is still calling His own into the wilderness today, and that is where I found myself.

But I carved the path. Wondering, how can I get out. How will God actually work things out?

Real surrender is not the act of acknowledging hard times,
but of letting God walk you through them, altogether.

What path do you follow? Is it providing refuge?

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, 

For my soul takes refuge in You;

And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge

Until destruction passes by.

I will cry to God Most High, 

To God who accomplishes all things for me.

He will send from heaven and save me;

He reproaches him who tramples upon me.     Selah.

God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.” Ps. 57:1-3

And so I remained in the wilderness, but no longer felt lost. I found comfort and I think that is exactly what He had in mind.

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About Tracey Rogers

View More: http://keonik.pass.us/traceyrogersTracey Rogers is a gifted Bible teacher who brings passion and enthusiasm to the life-giving Word of God. Tracey speaks with authority and authenticity leaving her listeners wanting to spend more time with God in His Word and inspiring them to live lives that shine His light. Tracey has also taken her revealing teaching lessons and unique insights and put them in her new book, Life Lessons from the Book of Job.

She lives in Franklin, Tennessee with her husband of almost 19 years, Kevin, along with their children Preston, 15; John John, 13; and Josie, 10.  In addition to serving on the adult groups staff at Church of the City, she has been incorporating her love of scripture by teaching Christ-centered yoga for 4 1/2 years.

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Do you Unknowingly Worship Perfection?

Pursuit of Ideal

First house: Smelled like urine.
Second house: Was painted orange and red.
Third house: Was on a super-highway.
Fourth house: Was a construction zone.
Fifth house: Felt like a cave.

Every house didn’t work, yet, every city before this one didn’t work either.

First city: Wasn’t business-centric enough.
Second city: Wasn’t pretty enough.
Third city: Wasn’t modern enough.
Fourth city: Wasn’t exciting enough.
Fifth city: Wasn’t clean enough.

I crashed on the couch, tears streaming. We had 3 more weeks left before kid had to go to kindergarten and, with an expiring lease, we were going to be homeless. In dark and non-impressive hotel room, I wondered if it wasn’t the fault of the city, or the houses, or the climates or the ice or the people? Who was to blame? I also, resistantly, wondered if the problem was much, much worse.

Was the problem – me?

Did I want to give up because God didn’t give me
every check-marks-the-box item on my list?

I stood up, staring at the city’s horrid heatwaves, the dirt, the grime and the lack of hot restaurants – from on high. I wanted something better than what was pretty good. Each place, there was a something that prohibited me from my everything.

pursuit of ideal

When you search for perfection like a flawless diamond,
you pretty much always walk away with nothing.

I turned my hands; I hold nothing.

Lately, I’ve been spinning my wheels, considering how to market a book I am desperately afraid of. The idea it won’t do well – blockbuster even – stops me in my tracks. It makes me nervous.

So I waste days. I hold nothing.

God puts someone on my heart. He gives me a gently nudge to gently love. I don’t want them to think poorly of me. I don’t want to seem overbearing. I don’t want to rub them wrong way. I get insecure I won’t handle it well, right even.

I turn away. I hold nothing.

What have you been subconsciously turning down because you figure there is no way it will:
1.) Be good enough?
2.) End up good enough?
3.) Make you look good enough?

When we seek ideal, we usually make idols out of desired results. 

We set up perfectly folded and lined items on our shelves and dictate they sit perfectly, yet if one should unfold – or look out of place – we get ruined. The image haunts us.

But the truth is, God has, nor never will be, a God of false images. He is a true God who calls on his children to have true faith. Abiding faith that knows things don’t always have to look well – to end well.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7

Do I believe this way? Do you?

What would happen if rather than sulking in self-pity,
we rose up in selfless-thanks for what God will do through a small seed of trust?

I haven’t done this, but I want to. I’m resolute I will.

Starting right now, in order to beat my inner-demands for perfection, I will start a new cycle:

  1. Pray
  2. Believe
  3. Wait (& act if prompted)
  4. Pray
  5. Believe
  6. Wait (& act if prompted)
  7. Give thanks – even if it’s no-man’s-land.
  8. Pray
  9. Believe
  10. Wait (& act if prompted)
  11. Give thanks – even if it still appears to be no-man’s land.

Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. Ps. 38:9

O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear… Ps. 10:17

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Remember our BIG God

BIG God

DSC_8325 copyAToday, I would like to welcome, Sue Allen, as a guest poster for Women’s Ministry Monday. Sue, is in women’s ministry at Northside Methodist Church in Georgia. May her words remind your heart, as much as they did mine, that God’s love is bigger than our widest conception of it…

 

Guest post by: Sue Allen

I was on an elliptical machine in a hotel fitness room in Asheville, N.C. when my phone signaled her group text. Throughout the day, five of us Bible study friends had been texting support, encouraging our friend whose ten-year-old daughter was undergoing her six-month scans for the cancer she has battled for the past five years. As always, we prayed that the scans would reveal three sweet letters: N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease).

“Really bad news. They found 2 large bumps.”

Instead of three sweet letters, these eight frightening words broke our heart. We all quickly texted back loving words. “Let this be a bump in your road, not a bolder.” “Love and big prayers are coming your way.” “Praying for you and wishing I could give you a big hug.” “We are your prayer warriors.” “Sweet friend, leave it in God’s hands.”

Clearly God at work, Susan Anderson Yates, beloved Christian writer, had just sent me a copy of her new book Risky Faith. Right before the group text came in, I read the following words on page 14. “I had let my concern for this child grow and grow. It had become so big in my heart that the problem itself became my focus. Perspective was lost. Instead, I was overwhelmed by this current issue. I finally realized I had forgotten who God was.

I had forgotten how very much He loved my child and me. I had forgotten He knew my child much better than I did. I had forgotten He was working in ways I could not see. He was in this issue, totally involved, and His love was perfect. He was so much bigger than I gave Him credit for. It wasn’t that these concepts were new to me. It was more that I wasn’t living day in and day out in the assurance and knowledge of how BIG He is. I was missing out, and the result was anxiety, loss of perspective, and an anemic understanding of God’s personal love.

In that scary moment when I stopped working out and started looking in to find the words to text my friend, I integrated the wisdom I had just read. “I am so sorry. I know this is so frightening and so overwhelming. Remember our God is bigger than cancer, bigger than any circumstances, and the LORD shares His power freely with us. Crumble before Him, sweet friend. Let His loving strength take over for a while. Please call if you want to talk or text until your fingers are tired. We are here for you in any ways you need us.”

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do, James 1:25 (NIV)

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More about Sue Allen:

big godEnjoy a daily inspiration this summer. Sue Allen, Northside’s Women’s Ministry Director writes a morning blog for men and women, young and old. The 2016 Summertime Devotional, “Breathe God Everywhere”, will come into your inbox each day from June 1 to September 1. To receive this motivational message sign up hereVisit her website to read more blog posts.

Reply here to contact Sue Allen personally.

 

 

How a Black and White View of the World is Ruining Our Witness

ruining our witness

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

My seven-year-old has asked questions for as long as he could string sentences together. He is a sponge learning about the world around him, and he loves figuring out how things work.

Often, he asks me a question I don’t know the answer to. And parents are supposed to have all the answers, right? But I don’t, so I simply tell him I’ll have to look into it and get back to him, or I’ll help him find the answer.

A few months ago, I discovered he was learning about storms at school. He loves engineering and science, and was repeating some of the things he’d learned about tornados, hurricanes, and floods.

Partly because he goes to a public school, I like to hear about his curriculum. I give him reminders about how God orchestrated all of this, and how nothing is out of his control.

I don’t do this so that he won’t ask questions, but so he will have a strong foundation for asking them. He continues to ask, and I am humbled because often, I have to search. I have to request wisdom from God, who generously gives it to me when I come to him.

After a recent conversation I jumped on social media and found a rather heated debate taking place about whether it was okay for Christians to drink wine. Some of the comments were downright degrading.

I wondered, when did we stop asking questions and assume we were always right?

It’s as though the age of social media has gotten rid of any knowledge that we may, in fact, be human. That we may not always hit the nail on the head the first time.

That we may still be fallen creatures.

And yet we stand loud and proud on our platform, hidden behind the screen, proclaiming we know everything.

I’m not disputing there’s right and wrong. The clash between good and evil is clearly shown in scripture. And yet there are so many issues the Bible does not address. Things where we are required to follow the Spirit’s leading and exercise judgment.

And yet all too often, we speak as though we are Jesus himself. We make assertions about right and wrong in his name, regardless of whether his word affirms any of it.

I don’t know about you, but the last time I looked in the mirror I did not see Jesus’ reflection. I don’t want that authority and I’m sure if I had even an inkling of it, I would abuse it.

His Spirit lives in me, counsels me and directs me, but I am not him. I am still very much a human tainted by sin, flesh and selfishness. I pray everyday others will see a little bit of him in me, but I still fail.

I’m afraid that many of us who call ourselves Christians live, whether knowingly or not, in a world of black and white. But friends, not everything is black and white.

And if we stand up and proclaim we know it all, is there room for growth? Is there space for us to move forward in our walk with Christ and be made into his likeness if we’ve already arrived at the pinnacle, knowing all things?

I don’t think so. There’s no space for humility either, because our pride has made us think we can’t be wrong.

When we enter into a relationship with God, he doesn’t clothe us with robes of self-righteousness. He clothes us in his righteousness.

When we think otherwise, we go down an ugly path of self-sufficiency. But his power isn’t made perfect through my self-sufficiency and arrogance. It’s made perfect through my weakness.

As we interact with others online today, things may get heated. Our nerves may get pricked and we may encounter some hurtful comments.

If this happens, let’s give ourselves space to breathe. Let’s extend the grace Christ gave to us toward others remember there is only one person who has all the answers.

And he isn’t of this world.

 

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015

Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

A Pep Rally For Those in a Bad Mood

Bad Mood

Hey you, things not going well?

Hey you, struggling again?

Hey you, people driving you batty?

bad mood

I am so sorry it feels everything is working against you, I know how that is. I really do. It’s tiring. It’s hard. This world has rough edges. It is not gentle with them either.

I also want to say, “God is for you.” I can almost hear your response, “Ya, ya, ya, Kelly, we’ve heard that one before. It sounds nice in theory.” 

Let me tell you something – you can know it – and not live it. But, when you live it – you more and more start to know it.

What takes voice is not vile or vitriol but, love, grace and hope; it heals.

It may look something like this:

Screamers in the car? “God is for me. God wants this to work out. God will equip me with patience.”
Waiting around for something to happen? “God is readying all the players, so his game can be won.”
Enduring a trial that won’t quit trying you? “God is training me. He molding me and making me more like Christ.”
Deathly tired? “Today is #anightmare, tomorrow is #newmercies.”

What if rather than seeing how life is fixin to ruin me
I sought to see how God is renewing me?

To let the weight of God’s love sit heavy, is to not allow worry to break your back.

What if we saw things differently?bad mood

Sure, it may feel we are on our last leg, about to tumble over. Sure, we may feel tired. Sure,we may feel like our emotions are a hot mess. But, what if we chose to give a little hat nod to all that and then determined to fix our eyes somewhere else?

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. (Psalm 94:18-19)

Notice this, it says: “My foot is slipping.”
Notice the fell-swoop rescue: “Your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.”

Daddy-bird protects his young; God lifts us from our injury through the power of love. 

Notice this: “When anxiety was great…
Notice this: “Your consolation brought me joy.”

Anxiety was plentiful, but joy was available.

What does joy in distress look like?

5 Little Glimmers of Joy against Distress

1. It looks like, “Thank You.” God, thank you that you love me. God, thank you that you are with me. God, thank you that in every single moment, you are singularly focused on helping me. Thank you that Jesus proves it isn’t always easy, but you are always faithful. Thank you that there is life beyond this wretched life.

2. It looks like, “Worship.” God, you are mighty. You are strong. You are capable. Where I cannot, you can. You will redeem, because that is who you are. You are Redeemer. Faithful and true. High and lofty. Holy and worthy. Greater and stronger. I am small, you are big and, because of this, you can do the impossible. I see a mountain, you just see a molehill.

3. It looks like, “I trust you anyway.”  God, let the chips fall where they may, because where they fall is just where you want them to land. And, when they do, it will be your jackpot that rings out. For what you are working, is greater than what I am seeing. And where we are going, is greater than where I feel my emotions stand today.

4. It looks like, “Help me.” God, I need you. Restore my joy. Hear my cry. Answer my call. I need you.

5. It looks like, “I will go with you.” God, I choose to see you in my day. I choose to see the little gifts of joy – the smiles on my kid’s faces, the butterfly passing by, the river that rolls on steady, the sun that is ever at my back. I choose to let you in, when darkness abounds. You are there. I will search you – and then, find you.

bad mood

Bad Mood Prayer:
I don’t have to, God – for you will. I don’t need to God, for you are. It is okay that I feel down. It is okay to struggle. It is okay to have a hard day. God, you can handle my worst day. You will be faithful to me. Restore me, bring me back to the place of love, of consolation – for that is all I need. Amen.

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7 Ways to Speak Grace Into Your Life

God Will Punish

Every week, after church, I ask my son what song he sang. I wait. Half the time, I get no answer, the other half, I exert patience until he starts to belt it out from the back of the car.  Almost always, a smile spreads across my face. Almost always, I can’t wait to hear his little voice reflect on God, but this time, it was different…

“Pat, the bible. Pat the bible….,” he sang out a couple of times….
“Or, you will get a con. se. quence.” he finished off.

Every time he sang it, it got a little louder, until the full volume of his voice filled the car. Sister joined in. It’s been the song of the week.

God will punish

Is it the song of my life?

Why do I pat the bible?

Do I do it out of love or do I do it out of fear?

Do I draw near to God, because I fear God’s disapproval or
to sit under Jesus’ undue, but already-gifted approval?

To perform, due to fear of disapproval sounds like this:

– I must pray more.
– I really need to be more loving.
– I have to do my morning reading time.
– God won’t bless this.
– I will never meet his expectations of me.
– I will be less loved because of it.
– I am obligated to go to church.
– If I mess up, severe punishment awaits.
– I am a bad Christian.

God will punish

I feel these ways sometimes, friends. I fear God will want to disown me because I haven’t paid the right Christian dues. I haven’t paid the piper enough. It is a horrible way to live; it serves the wrong kind of daddy – an impatient, punishing and demanding one.

“Pat the bible. Pat the bible – or you will get a con. se. quence.”

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” (Psalm 145:8)

God knows I sin. God knows, even my good acts are bad (Is. 64:6).

I know it too; this is my fear. I look at my heart, it strays. I look at my mind, it doubts. I look at my ways, they reek of impatience.

God, do you hate me for the ways I hate myself?

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 Jo. 4:18)

With gentleness, these words remind me, He waits for me – not like a jailer, but like a releaser, with the key. He’s ready to fling wide the gates of outpouring love as I truly draw near to his heart. To get there, I have to find myself sitting under grace.

To sit under undue approval sounds like this:

I am sorry, God. Thank you that you still love me.
I don’t need to do anything, for it is only you that I need.
If I find your love, I will find my life.
I seek your Word, because I love your Words.
My best is not good, but your good is all I need.
Your kindness leads to repentance, so walk me to it, God. (Ro. 2:4)
Thank you that you continue to love me, even though…

God will punish

The gentle truth is: God doesn’t look at our performance, he looks at our heart. He goes beyond curtains and stages and facades to get a look at the behind the scenes footage. Why not, let God in more?

Why not, lay down our shows?  Sure, we won’t rule the hows or the whens, but God will mold us in the reflection of his face of love and adoration.

Getting “Good with Grace” Prayer

God, I am not who I pretend to be. I want you to see me as a good girl. So often, I feel like a bad girl, though. Thank you that, with you, there is no need for masks and makeup. You want to see me as I am; I don’t scare you. You can handle my worst as I bring it to you. With this, I no longer want to cower before you, I want to kneel – arms-wide-open – and look into your face of love. I want that face of love to change me. I want to know there is no fear present in your love that will always flow towards me. I want to sit under the cross of Jesus, knowing that it shades me from your contempt. Help me stay there. You are the face of freedom. I thank you for Jesus.  I love you; may it prove genuine. Amen.

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5 Ways to Keep your Eyes on God

Keep your Eyes on God

I brought my kids to the beach. I needed to find some refuge to let them a.) play so that I could b.) get a moment with God. Doing this kind of thing is essential, in life, by the way. Sometimes, you have to break away from what you are immersed in so you can find yourself immersed in love, that way when you are re-immersed into life (mothering, relationships, work, health issues, etc.) you survive. This is what I figure, anyway.

Doing this kind of thing is like pre-CPR, it saves you before your signs go vital – from the anxieties and worries of life that intend to put you 10-feet under. I knew the warning signs for myself, so I hightailed myself over to my personal refuge.

The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. Psalm 37:40

When the beach party was done and all were packed in the car, I slowly meandered down the road to home. The birds chirped, the seagulls floated on the water, the landscape was cloud layers perfectly hovering right above the ocean horizon. I breathed deep, inched on and turned my head ocean to road, ocean to road. Life was good.

your eyes on God

I wasn’t missing anything! So big, and so proud – God’s love nearly gave me a hug. We united and it was a beautiful thing.

Until, that guy did his thing. Until, he became – a tailgater. My face tensed, my eyes squinted, “If only he could get a glimpse of me and my contorted and ugly face through the rearview mirror.” Left and right I scooted trying to make sure he saw me!

He was ruining it all. He was my problem. My heart was pumping with the fresh blood of aggravation.

your eyes on God

All I knew was that I was getting tailed by pressure, and it was stealing peace. I guess it happens all the time, when I stop, and really think about it.

I feel that others are climbing faster and farther and quicker into writing success than I am. They tail me.

I let demands tower high – be a great mom, author, marketer, wife. Don’t mess up. They tail me.

I have issues, pressing things that need to be handled – bills, agendas, contracts, promises that may not come through. They tail me.

What is tailing you, demanding you to take your eyes off of God?

Work? Others? Finances? Fears? Demands? Children? Health? Progress? Pride?

When we allow external pressures to make us testy,
we can easily miss God’s majesty.

Yet, when we let people or things do what they may do, but we keep our eyes straight, we find ourselves driving straight into peace, calm and serenity. 

How do we do this?

Let’s investigate 5 Ways to Keep our Eyes on God:

1. Be present – If you look for God everywhere, you will find him.

2. Delight in him – If you worship him and commune with him like a best friend, he will become your best friend.

your eyes on God

3. Detangle with him – Let the best counselor, the Holy Spirit, counsel your heart when it goes haywire (John 14:26). He will, you know, and you’ll find a way.

4. Observe Gods’ teachings intended for you – Consider the question, “What is the Lord trying to teach me through this?”

5. Say thanks – When you get offering thanks, you get knowing who you really are – a loved child, who God will always provide for. You relish in the feeling, your God and your forever standing.

Sure, that man nearly bumped me. He nearly bumped my heart right away from receiving the love of God, but this is the ultimate truth: Even if you get away for a moment, as a believer, your heart will never be removed for an eternal lifetime.

With this, we can just get our heart, our being and our focus back on his trajectory. We can drive, and keep our eyes on God, knowing that we are heading into his glorious riches. 

***All pictures taken by my 4-year old son! 😉

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Sparkling Bright for Christ

Sparkling Bright for Christ

Do you have the sparkle?

It’s the shine of more. It’s the clean of perfect. It’s togetherness and wholeness.

It looks nothing like me.

I look like tiredness personified.
I look like worry building upon worry.
I look like one who tries to trust – but still doubts.
I look like a battlefield where godliness goes up against selfishness.
I look like a girl trying to fit herself into mold “good mom.”

That’s me. Not so shiny. Not very sparkly. Hardly.

It feels hard to keep the glimmer of Christ existent amidst the grime of this life.

But, what if glimmer was not me – or you? What if the pressure was off? What if glimmer was just a matter of letting God’s light bust through our darkness? 

What would that look like?

God’s glory is always found within our tension points (Romans 5:3). It is a hard thing to consider, isn’t it? Usually, we run from these places, thinking they spots sent to inflict pain. Little do we know that sometimes, these exact spots, when pushed are what are going to deliver us to freedom – and to greater mobility to reach the world.

Where we feel pressed, God is working things out, so one day, we land at – blessed.

We shimmer. We shine. We find glory!

Do we believe it is possible?

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces
(Romans 5:3)

When great joy emerges out of great struggle, people notice. Glory!
When peace is found over hardship. Glory!
When God grants unspeakable calm in the midst of doggone electricity storm. Glory!
When insight speaks into an impossible situation. Glory!
Glimmer! Sparkle! Shine! Power! Light unquenchable.

When we endure and then endure and then say, “No matter what Heaven awaits!” Glory!

We can lean into pain, knowing that God, by his very nature,will always use it – for spiritual gain. In that we can trust.

Is it hard? Yes. Impossible. No.

It is not, because it is also a work of the Holy Spirit – he makes you go about all Tigger-style, abounding in hope (Romans 5:13).

Hope is:
Seeing Jesus constructing mission out of our pain.

Imagining people changed after relational turbulence.
Standing on God’s masterplan rather than our personal ones.
Believing that God really is at work to make us into Christ’s image.
Going beyond self, to reach the nations. 
Thanking God for the new thing he is building in us.
Understanding the cross and all the pain that came with it. 
Looking at the captives and depressives and wanting to love them.
Getting a feeling that we have to pass around. 
Knowing we found home and longing for the fullness of it to come.

Hope. It is all you need to sparkle, no matter how you feel. Nothing can steal it. No one can rob it of you. It is a knowledge you’ll be blessed, even if you straight up land at heaven’s gates.

Let it sing in you. Let it rise from you. Walk in its fullness and feel its freedom – then hand it out to all you meet.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 5:13

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Take Off from “Blah” to Blazing New Heights

Blazing New Heights

I know, I know, this is going to sound weird. I am infatuated with the whole idea of airplane take-offs. Always have been.

I feel the rumblings of something new, the speed towards adventure and the call towards something greater.

I love it.

New places.
New people.
New encounters.
New opportunities.
New feelings.

Usually, as the plane rises, I know I am about ready to head to somewhere better.  The stress is off; I have no control over the speed, the timing and the path – it is all in the captain’s hands. It is a trusting kind of thing; I know he will do his job.

I wonder though, why day-by-day I don’t rise with this same sort of
eager expectation towards life?

What really makes it any different?

I could wake excited.
Knowing God will send me.

I could look expectantly.
Believing God will lead me.

I could anticipate.
Seeing life from the heights new opportunities.

I could be willing.
Letting in feelings of purpose and passion, all the while – nodding yes.

All vision of my end destination belongs to him. All the controls are in his hands.

Why not let go?

We need no plans, except to be with him. He steers, we fly. He leads, we end up at the good works he has already designed for us.

If we have expectancy,
we won’t be prone to live complacency.

We see new journeys.
New heights.
New views.
New callings.
New pressures that he alone manages.

And right in the center of it all is our chosen seat. The one that allows us to enjoy the heights of his glory, the sprawling colors of his ownership and the gentle covering of his clouds.

So we go. We let go. We move. We explore. We adventure.

Tomorrow, let the morning alarm goes off. But, take a new look at your new day. Let expectations rise and – fly.

Will you join us?
Sure, there may be turbulence,
but rest assured there will be magnificence too.

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