Tuesday, September 23, 2014

This is not a Facebook status... I promise.

Does competing for who's the busiest or who has the craziest life make you feel more accomplished? Busyness does not make your life fuller... it makes it less fulfilling and have a lack of quality, because when that busyness and craziness is gone, what is left?

This is a Facebook status that I attempted to post... but didn't. Why? Because I didn't think it was encouraging, but could be viewed as rude, mean-spirited, and pointed to someone or someones in particular (which it wasn't... or was it? lol). I realized it would not be encouraging or helpful for anyone to read, so instead of posting that status I decided to make this post to discover the real problem beneath the symptoms.

THE PROBLEM:
We associate busyness with productivity. When you have more to get done you feel like you have accomplished more. But many times the things that we busy ourselves with, in reality, do not matter. So we are spending our time and ourselves doing things that are unimportant, irrelevant, unproductive, and sadly... do not matter.

We associate craziness with importance. For some reason in this day and age sanity is viewed as ordinary, boring, and ineffective. If you have time to work out regularly or read a book you obviously don't have anything better to do. Reading a book or spending time journaling is a luxury rather than a good use of time. People with an important job, or with kids, or with a large family, or with a full life just don't have those kind of options (or do they?).


SOME SUGGESTIONS:
Let's focus on what matters, not how to fill our day planner. I am human and a women, so I know the satisfaction of making a huge long "to-do" list and getting to mark off all that I have accomplished. It is a wonderful feeling! But I am also human enough to realize that a lot of times the things on that "to-do" list can get marked off and we still haven't accomplishment much of anything. We can get so wrapped up in our lists, schedules, and appointments, that we completely miss what is between the lines. There are opportunities, things to be done, that aren't written in our lists. I like to think they are written between the lines... it is God's list. There are things that God has written in... people to talk to, old ladies who need help loading their groceries, a smile that needs to be given... and they are between the lines of our ever so long to-do lists. But when we get so caught up in our lists, schedules, and appointments, we may mark everything off our list, but God's list is left untouched. I fear that we may be so busy, we simply have no time left to do anything truly productive.

Let's focus on quality, not quantity. So when did running around like chickens with our heads cut off become the new normal? When did that become the lifestyle of choice? I believe there are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, I truly believe that when people are living that kind of lifestyle they do feel a sense of importance. Again, going back to the busyness, we feel like if we always have somewhere to be, something to do, etc. we are in demand, we are important. Secondly, we may feel that the more we can handle the stronger and more efficient we are. If we can multi-task cooking a meal, getting kids dressed, cleaning a room of the house, doing laundry, calling the cable company about an issue, emailing a teacher, and putting on lipstick, is there anything we can't do?! Finally, I think people opt for a crazy life because they can't handle being still. The art of silence, just thinking, meditating on the Word of God, and listening to the voice of God, is one that is desperately in need of reviving. Even now there would be people who read that last sentence and thought,
"Boy would I love to have time to do that."
No you don't. If you are not making time to do those things it is because you don't want to or you don't think you need to.
"No, it's because I can't. When would I do that?"
I'll tell you when you would do that, when you decide to.


We need to stop focusing on the quantity of life, the number of things we can do or be involved with, and start focusing on our quality of life. Are we doing things that matter? Are we really living and enjoying the important things? It's not about seeing who is the busiest or who has the craziest life. It is about who has a solid foundation. Who has a life that they would still enjoy living 10 years from now? Live a life that you can love... and others can love too.








Tuesday, September 9, 2014

LET THAT SINK IN


#truth #letthatsinkin

Don’t you just love it when God’s word confirms itself to you? God’s word is consistent & completely true, but I love it when God seems to line up the message to fit perfectly together in a way that challenges & teaches you. As I read my bible today it seemed to do just that. I have been reading the Proverb that coincides with the day (so Proverbs 9 today) along with other books. Today I was also looking at Micah (I decided to go back to the minor prophet books because they seem to get a little forgotten). Honestly I was not expecting to get anything super challenging or revolutionary from Micah… don’t judge me, my expectations were just low (hehe). Proverbs 9:7-9 made me stop… think… digest… and read it again. “Did I get that? Hmmm…”

Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

At first glance, I thought, “That makes so much sense. People who are acting dumb (mockers, fools, wicked men, however you wish to refer to them) don’t like to be told they are acting dumb. People who are living out of the will of God don’t want to be told they are living outside of His will. They want to pretend like everything is good, like they are good. Then I kept reading; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. Hmmm, I want to be wise. I pray for wisdom. But I don’t necessarily love it when someone rebukes me, especially when I need it. That can be a tough pill to swallow. Some times it hurts, but to gain wisdom and understanding it apparently is necessary.

Fast forward to Micah. I read on about how Micah is prophesying & people want him to shut up. The king, other prophets, the priests, all people of supposed wisdom are trying to keep him quiet, why? Because he is saying things that they don’t want to hear. Here is Micah, standing in the place for God speaking wisdom and understanding to people who refuse to listen. Micah 3:5-7 says,

This is what the Lord says:
As for the prophets who lead my people astray, if one feeds them, they proclaim ‘peace’; if he does not, they prepare to wage war against him. Therefore night will come over you, without visions, and darkness, without divination. The sun will set for the prophets, and the day will go dark for them. The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will cover their faces because there is no answer from God.

They didn’t want to hear what God had to say, so God stopped speaking. Wow. Now that would be scary. This concept made me think about myself. Am I allowing people to speak correction into my life? And more importantly, am I allowing God to speak correction into my life? I would hate to wake up one day to find that because I didn’t want to listen to what He had to say, God had stopped speaking. I have written out 5 non-negotiables for my life, things I will not budge on, and one of those is “His voice is the one that I will listen to,” and another is “To always be teachable, moldable, and humble.” Those are things I want to live by always.

Today’s truth reminded me if I want to seek wisdom that is going to mean hearing the difficult truth some times. It will mean receiving rebuke and correction from God and from God-led people. Don’t reject it. Don’t get defensive. Accept it. Embrace it. Love it. And I would challenge you to do the same.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Baby J


Meet baby James! 
Born May 27, 2014.

After 2 1/2 weeks, I finally got to meet my new nephew. I of course took some pictures and thought I would share some on here since he is the newest edition to my life. I am already looking forward to the fun kid-talk conversations we will have and all the adventures we will go on. All the stories we will read together and other stories you will write for your own life. And most of all I am excited to see how God uses your precious life; how you will grow in your love for the Lord and how His love will grow in you. But for now, stay little. No need to grow up too fast. 
Love you Baby J!







Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Timeless Question

I am going to discuss a question/position/opinion/idea that has been posed to me many times in my life. Honestly I didn't always know how to answer when someone would ask or suggest this, but the older I get, the more I learn, and the longer I am a part of the body of Christ, the better I can answer it.

Why is it so important to be a part of a church?

Now this discussion usually has many side disputes that accompany it, but I am not going to get into all of that sensitive business. (I will say yes, I do believe you can be saved through Jesus Christ without going to a building used for church services, but I will say I believe it is harder to be saved without church. There, that's all I am saying about that.) There are many, many reasons I could shoot out there advocating for attending church, but recently a new illustration has really renewed the understanding for me of why the local church is so important. 

There are many purposes for the church. The church is created to be a place of corporate worship, a place of growth (through discipleship), a means to reach those who do not know Christ, and an agency of compassion. The bible calls the church the body of Christ, and for a reason; the church is supposed to be the hands and feet of Christ; reaching and going physically as Christ goes spiritually throughout the world drawing all people unto Himself. The bible creates the picture of the church being the body of Christ to illustrate how the church (referring to the worldwide church as well as the local church) is suppose to function; and that is together.

So, why is it so important to be a part of a church? Let's use the Bible's picture of the church as a body. So everyone who has accepted Jesus as their Savior is a part of the body, right? There is a hand, a foot, a finger, a nose, the whole bit. We are all a part, but we form one body. Let's imagine ourselves as whatever part, I will be the elbow. So me (the elbow) am a part of the body, which is my local church. But me (the elbow) decides I don't want to be a part of the church anymore. I want to stay home for whatever reason. Nonetheless I choose not to be joined with a church. There I am (the elbow) out there unattached and all alone. 

Scenario: Wait a minute, I am not alone! I go to a friend's house every Thursday night and discuss the bible. My friend is Eye, and then Pinkie Finger, Big Toe, and Front Tooth come too. 

So there you have it, all these great members of the body of Christ. But they are all unattached, out of place, and incapable of serving their purpose within the body. I am an elbow, which is the joint connecting the upperarm and the forearm. I allow the arm to bend and move. I am an important part (all body parts are important I might add). Without being in a body of Christ that means two things, first I am not fulfilling my role as an elbow. Second the body has no elbow! That is the same image (I believe) God gets when He sees us, part of his body, out of church; He sees us unattached and not serving our purpose. But when the body parts get together in unity, God can do miraculous things through them. You see, just like our physical bodies, the body of Christ is not functioning at it's highest level of potential without all of its parts... Without you.

You are important. You have a place. God has called you to be a part of His body, the church. 

Don't just take my word for it, check out what the Bible has to say about the body: 
Ephesians 4:15-16; Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-26


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Some brief thoughts

We are taught from a very young age to always do our best at what we set our hands to do. If we are going to play a sport, it's okay if we aren't the best as long as we are doing our best. In art class, we might not be that talented but as long as we draw the best stick figure we are capable of, what more could the art teacher ask? Giving 100%. It's a value that we are taught from a young age. But how does that translate in other areas of our lives?

In relationships, whether with friends or with a spouse, we are taught that the relationship is two-sided. You can do your best, but if the other person drops the ball then the ship is still sunk. I think many times this is the reason for failed relationships, because it was just one-sided. However, in relationships I am reminded it is not 50/50 responsibility. That would mean (if we are looking at this from a scholastic aspect) both people are getting a failing grade. For a relationship to truly work and truly be balanced it must be both people giving 100%.

That brings me to something that I have been thinking about. In life with Christ we also have a two-sided relationship. Yes one side is incredibly perfect, so we can truly say He is our better half! But so many times I have heard people say, "If you will do your part God will do His part," giving me the impression that God is depending on me to do some portion of the work. Yes, I completely agree that many times God is looking to see if I will do what I have said I would do. Many times He is looking to see if I will be obedient, but God never does part of the work. God isn't asking me to do 70% before He takes care of the other 30%. I believe He always puts in 100%, and I am suppose to put in 100%. God is fully capable of doing anything and everything without me completely, but the amazing truth is He doesn't want to, but He doesn't want my portion either. He wants my everything; my 100%.

So when we are working for the kingdom this translates as well. We shouldn't be comforting ourselves by saying, "Well, I've done my part to reach my city," or whatever the work might be. God doesn't want our contribution, He wants our participation. This concept has been challenging me. I don't need to give something for the kingdom; I need to give everything; my 100%. It is not about my abilities or my capabilities, it is about my heart. Am I giving my all or just giving what I consider to be my contribution? #loadedquestion


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The trouble with following through...

I have found that it is ALWAYS easy to start something. Whether it be a project, a change of routine, a good intention, a goal, etc. It is exciting to try & start something. The motivation is there. The anxiousness to get it done is there. It is easy to start, but it is much harder to finish something. It ends up being a bigger project than we realized. It is going to take much longer than we anticipated. We start to lose our motivation. We get discouraged perhaps, & eventually we decide to take a break. Then that break turns into an extended break, which turns into something that is left undone. And there it is... that rut that we get stuck in, with many things half-done, but nothing to show for our effort; with all those goals that never were reached.

It is frustrating & irritating. We walk past that half-done project every day and think, "I am going to finish that this weekend." But of course that doesn't happen. We walk by the scale and think, "I am going to work out tomorrow," and almost laugh at the joke of an idea as it zooms through our minds. All of those things left undone and we lose the satisfaction that comes from completing something. It feels so good to finish something; to work & have something to show for it.
It doesn't matter that we start, what counts is that we finish.

I am so thankful that God doesn't have this same problem that I have. He has begun a work in each one of us. One work that will continue on throughout the duration of our life, but then there are also "projects" He starts in us. These projects may look like life lessons or, as I like to call them, faith lessons, or they may look like new opportunities & new chapters in our lives. Whatever the project is, God will not give up or walk away, He is always faithful to complete it.

Being confident of this, that he who begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

This can be comforting to us to know that we may beat ourselves up or get frustrated with all the things we haven't finished, but God will not leave us unfinished. He has a plan for each of our lives. And He plans ahead; He already knows the end from the beginning, & He is faithful to get us there if we will stick with Him.

If you feel like things in your life are a little out of control... or out of your control at least, know that God is still in control & He is still carrying out the work in your life. He has never stopped or given up on you & He never will. Guaranteed.

And if there are things that you have left undone, let me encourage you to finish them. No matter how small a goal or task it is, the satisfaction of just completing something is so rewarding. Whatever it is, just do it. There is no better time than now.

Here's another great quote/picture that I came across & wanted to share with you:

It is not my ability, but my response to God's ability that counts.
-Corrie Ten Boom

Use today for greatness.



Friday, July 19, 2013

And Refresh


We all reach that point. 
The point where we feel like we have nothing more to give. You feel stuck and dissatisfied. I want to get out of this hole that you are in. You long to be refreshed.
You have been there, maybe you are there now. I have been there. We have all been there. I was asked to share a few words about this very topic the other night and here is what the Lord laid on my heart 3 steps to being refreshed.

Reflect
First of all reflect. Where are you at? Sometimes that is the hardest question to answer. There have been times where I could not for the life of me come up with an answer for that question. Life happens so fast and we are many times just caught in the torrent of it. We need to take time and gage where we are. What is God doing in your life? The truth is, God is always at work in our lives, but rarely do we recognize it because we are not looking. If we can stop and reflect on what God is doing we might just find what has been the source of our frustration is just about to be used for God's glory.

Renew
There are two parts to this. We need to be renewed and then renew ourselves. First we need to be renewed. This comes through prayer and time in God's presence. Psalm 51:10-13 is a passage that I make my prayer almost on a daily basis.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.

Pray this prayer that asks God to give you a pure heart, pure motives, a steadfast spirit to persevere, restore the joy of being saved, and a willing spirit. As Christ followers we have often received a lot of criticism and blame for the way we treat others. We should not be surprised by this, Jesus warned us of this when he told us to love each other, because this is how the world will know that we are his followers. But perhaps the reason Christians have a bad track record is because we are just going through the motions of life & faith. One of my sayings is “fake it till you make it.” But all too often this is what Christians are doing in their life & with their faith. They are running on old oil. What would happen if a car was running on old oil? It would definitely not be operating at high performance. How can we expect any different in our lives and in our relationship with Christ. We need an oil change; We don't just need to pour in new oil, but empty the old and put in new. Psalm 51:10-13 is that prayer. Renew me Lord.

The second part of this is renew yourself. Do what energizes you. Take a scenic walk if you are energized by being alone. Go for coffee with a good friend if people energize you. Write. Write down your dreams. Do something that will ignite you again. It really is so important.

Restart
The next thing we have to do is start again. Too many times we continue to fall back or just never start again. We continue to walk down a path of discouragement and we are constantly overwhelmed and stressed out. That does not sound like the victorious life that God called us to and Christ died to give us. Start again afresh and anew and don't look back. There is a time of refreshing ahead of you, just reflect, renew, and restart.

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