Dear Younger Me

This week, an online friend asked her other friends to give their best life advice in three words or less. She then asked her audience to write what advice they would share with their 16 year-old selves. (This is applicable when looking back at any age, really!)

I was inspired and wrote, “Find the good.” Then, I reposted her questions on my own page. I loved reading all the phrases! Afterward, another online friend shared it from there.

All week, I have been following each of the three posts for catchy little words of wisdom. It’s amazing what a little time and distance can do for our perspective. The things we thought mattered often don’t amount to much. Experience is a great teacher!

Some people answered with a humorous approach. I saw advice such as, “Chill out, lady. Don’t do that!! Go to sleep. Be Wonder Woman. Eat more cake.” Haha, yes!

Some people turned the focus back to God, writing, “God is good. Jesus loves you. Jesus is Lord! In Christ alone. Put Jesus first. Walk with Him. Trust in Him.” Praise God!

Some of the comments focused on character qualities, like, “Be thankful always. Be kind. Be more honest. Be the good. Be adventurous. Be flexible. Save your money.” I agree!

Some phrases were more inward-focused, almost like personal coaching. “Just breathe. You are enough. You are loved. You are beautiful. Let it go.” So good.

I also noted other words along similar lines. “Don’t settle. Trust your instincts. Follow your heart. Embrace the imperfections. No regrets. Never give up. Make it work. Life goes on. Take the chance. Don’t be late! Forgive, move on. Just be yourself.” Yes!

I had just a few phrases of my own, originally. But then I kept refining and adding to my list! I was trying to collect all my thoughts and capture all the others shared already. 🙂

Life is beautiful. Sure, life is tough…but it is quite beautiful when we pause and take it all in. Beauty surrounds us in nature and in each person we meet. Let’s take notice.

Find the good. Sometimes the negative parts of life are glaring back at us. But it takes a special set of eyes to find the good. See beyond the present moment. See the potential.

Do your best. Just show up. These two can go together. We can only do our best each day and trust God for the outcome. Part of doing our best is to show up and be present.

Set your mind. Whatever it takes. These two phrases also can go together. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Some days, it’s a challenge to stay focused, but do whatever it takes.

God’s got this. I use this phrase often, especially when writing blog posts, apparently! Whatever the struggle, I know God can handle it. He will empower me to do what I need to do, and then He will do what only He can do. He’s more than able!

Regardless of any advice we might share, what God says about us is key. I love you. I forgive you. No matter what. You are free. You are mine. Come follow me. Receive new life. Do not fear. I am with you. Nothing is impossible. It is finished. You are secure. Peace, be still. 

I will be thinking about all these great words of wisdom for quite some time. It’s encouraging to hear what other people find helpful. We all have our own journey and it’s important to monitor what we are telling ourselves. Let’s be gracious with ourselves. 

When we look back and summarize our experiences, even in just a few short words, we realize how far we have come. Thank you, Jesus… Life is short. Live it well.

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Heavenly Father, thanks for loving us so much. Your words are full of grace; they bring LIFE to our hearts. Be with us, Lord. Give us wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it. Help us make good decisions, not choices we’ll regret. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What advice would you give to your younger self? What words of wisdom would you share with someone else? Which of these words (above) resonate with you?

Tasks: Share your advice (three words or less) here, or with someone who would benefit! Listen to the song, Dear Younger Me, by MercyMe.

 

On Tying Shoes and Learning New Skills

Lydia has already grown so much this year, both in height and skills. She has lost her first two teeth and has grown almost three inches in six months. Even more exciting, Lydia has grown into her larger bike and no longer needs the smaller one from last summer!

Lydia recently asked me to teach her how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was a little messy even with supervision, but I’m glad it cultivated independence. She’ll need more practice before I let her do it completely alone!

Lydia sometimes enjoys doing chores around the house, too. She likes helping with laundry, garbage, and dishes. Like any kid, her enthusiasm comes and goes. 🙂

This week, we’ve been focusing on tying shoes. I asked Lydia a few months ago and decided she wasn’t ready. “No thanks, Mom. Maybe another time.” But now she has grown into a pair of sparkly tennis shoes so she is eager to wear them!

As I am teaching her, I’ve been remembering when I learned to tie my shoes! I learned differently than I am teaching her. Nonetheless, I think the new way is a little easier.

Sometimes, we’ve both been frustrated. She’ll get upset when she can’t make the ‘bunny ears’ and I don’t like to watch her struggle. But I’m resisting helping her too much.

So, I’ve decided to have her practice about ten minutes a day and then let it go. If she wants to do more, great. Overall, it’s been a positive experience as we celebrate her small wins!

Even though I am watching Lydia struggle, I know she will appreciate the freedom it brings. It will also help her in the near future when she starts school again.

It might take a lot of practice, but in the long-term, the struggle is worth it.

With each new level of independence or growth, we all have new challenges to overcome. These challenges can be good or bad, depending on how you look at them.

Each challenge brings an opportunity to learn. What causes one person to struggle, may be simple for someone else. How one person learns is likely different from the way someone else learns. In the end, though, it’s rewarding to see someone learn and grow!

In Jesus Christ, we have a perfect example to follow. By His grace, we can come to Him for help and direction. He is a wonderful Teacher! Ask Him to teach you how to get to the next level. He knows exactly you need.

I’m glad God teaches each of us according to our unique purpose. Some of the lessons may be more difficult to learn than others. A loving Father, He is so proud of us for trying! Obedience is key, but there’s an abundance of grace!

God is not limited by our challenges, but uses them to help us grow. Thankfully, we are never left on our own to just “figure it out” as we go. The Lord is right beside us, cheering us on. He’s only a question (or prayer) away.

God’s timing is perfect. He never asks us to do something without teaching and equipping us to do the work. He wants us to succeed and live in Victory!

With God, all things are possible. He is patient with us as we practice, learn, and grow. He does not expect perfection and is gracious when we need a do-over. Thank You, Jesus!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for Your grace. Lord, teach me Your ways and guide me in Your Truth. Give us courage as I live for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What is something the Lord is teaching you right now? Is it difficult or fairly easy? (Hopefully, it will become better with practice!)

Tasks: Take the first step in faith and obedience today! Pray and then do what God is asking You to do. He will be with You! 🙂

Live Like You’re Loved

I’m tellin’ you somethin’
This racing, this running
Oh, you’re working way too hard!
And this perfection you’re chasing
Is just energy wasted
Cause He loves you like you are!

The lyrics above belong to the song, “Live Like You’re Loved,” by Hawk Nelson. I’ve enjoyed listening to the song since I first heard it. But lately, I have been listening to the lyrics a little more.

For whatever reason, I feel like I’ve had noticeably less energy lately. My lethargy could be related to the weather, stress, lack of sleep, etc. (or a combination of factors). However, I’ve been enjoying the rain we’ve had, don’t feel overstressed, and have been sleeping pretty well. So, who knows?

Quite possibly, I could just be worn out trying to doing too much!!

So go ahead and live like you’re loved
It’s okay to act like you’ve been set free
His love has made you more than enough
So go ahead and be who He made you to be

As I have considered these lyrics, I have taken the song to heart. When I think of all I still have to do, I take it to Jesus to help me sort it out. He loves it when we come to Him! I don’t have to be chained to my to-do list!

So, I have been intentional about taking breaks and resting. I’ve enjoyed reading, catching up on a favorite show, and calling a friend. Lydia and I have walked to a nearby park to play, colored, and made a fun treat together. On a couple of days, I’ve even squeezed in a short nap!

And live like you know you’re valuable
Like you know the one that holds your soul
Cause mercy has called you by your name
Don’t be afraid to live in that grace

I am grateful for God’s grace when I feel weak. I know with Jesus, I can do everything I need to do! He is my strength and my song. When I’ve specifically asked Him for help this last week, ultimately, I have been more productive throughout the day!

Yes, the Lord has given me everything I need. His mercies are new every morning and His grace is sufficient. Nothing can compare to His lovingkindness. Praise God!

Live like you’re loved, walk like you’re free
Stand like you know, who he made you to be
Live like you’re loved, like you believe
His love is all, that you ever need

This part of the song (above) is my favorite. It feels a little like a personal anthem. When I remember how much God loves me, I can hold my head up higher. I can smile and laugh and play. I can walk in freedom, knowing He gives me Victory. I don’t have get bent out of shape over imperfect progress. I can enjoy myself instead of stressing out!

“Live like you’re loved” could mean something different to each person and could vary by season of life. I love that we are all unique!

For me, it usually means acknowledging and honoring my weaknesses, inabilities, or failures. This often means asking for help and letting the Lord meet me where I am. Coming to Jesus is the best and first step. Lord, I need You!

I find ‘living loved’ also means recognizing when someone else needs help, because I’ve been there too. When I serve someone else, I notice my problems are not so urgent. Showing compassion is a win-win for all of us!

When I take the time to pause and soak up His love, I notice God all around me. He renews my joy and I can share generously with others. I don’t have to focus on my lack of energy (or other resources)… because with Jesus on my side, I will always have enough!

Life is short. Live like you’re loved!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for all You do for me. Thank You for renewed strength every day. As I depend on You, please give me energy and direct my steps. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What does “live like you’re loved” mean to you? What is something you can do to live loved right now?

Task: Listen to the song, “Live Like You’re Loved,” by Hawk Nelson!

Finding Grace #59

I love the concept of giving God a shout out for what He has done.

We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot. I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

Where did I find God’s love and favorHis abundant grace—this week?

This week was wonderful! We celebrated Easter and I met a new eye doctor.  We enjoyed our normal activities, too. Lydia learned about Jonah and the whale/fish at school. To illustrate the point, Lydia’s entire class was able to go inside a HUGE blow-up whale. It definitely made for a memorable story!

With the beautiful weather, we spent several afternoons outside with the neighbors. I tackled cleaning the garage, putting out my wind chimes, and putting out patio furniture for the season. A morning rain shower on Tuesday made the grass brighten almost instantly. I also noticed more flowers starting to grow!

At church this week, I met a really cool couple from Chicago. It was great getting to know them better and see what God has done in their lives. We talked about how sometimes people think we are really strong after going through difficult times… But we all agreed that it’s because we’ve relied on God’s strength to bring us through!

I also enjoyed getting together with another friend while our girls were in preschool! She and her younger boys came over to play and catch up. With the beautiful weather, we walked to the neighborhood park.

In fact, I am so thankful for all the connections I had with people this week. I felt useful at work, which is always a great feeling. I was able to pray with another friend and encourage her! I talked with other friends about future plans and events. All in all, I am thankful God knows just what I need!

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

A Great Privilege

When someone asks me to pray for them, I consider it an honor. Even if someone doesn’t request prayer, if I see or hear of a need, I add it to my list.

I have been praying for several people regarding what I consider heavy topics. Currently, these topics include mental, physical, and/or emotional health concerns; spiritual matters; financial stability and/or job situations; and a variety of relationship issues.

I also have my own prayer requests and share them accordingly. If I’m not careful, though, all of these prayer requests can weigh me down. Yet I know I cannot bear the burden myself. Prayer is so important because there are some things only God can do.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works, prayer is the greater work.” Prayer is not the only thing I can do for someone, but it is the best thing I can do. I am not ‘off the hook’ from meeting someone’s practical or physical needs, but prayer is a powerful tool!

I’ve had to learn that if I try to encourage someone or meet their needs in my own strength, I’ll be overwhelmed. It’s just too big for me to handle.

But, praise God…He is not overwhelmed! Nothing is too big or too much for Him!

I’m so thankful we can take our needs to Jesus directly. Even before we say anything, He knows exactly what we need. What a privilege to come before Him!

Prayer unlocks God’s power. We can pray God’s word and pray with the help of the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 6:18). With prayer, we can persevere in trials.

Praising God reminds us of who He is. When we see how majestic and mighty He is, our problems melt away. Praising God makes us grateful! Praise and thanksgiving go hand-in-hand. (see Psalm 13:6)

We partner with God in prayer. We agree with Him, and get on board as He brings the answer. We can also pray with other believers, because where two or more of us are gathered, He’s there too. (see Matthew 18:19-20)

We can petition God with confidence, knowing He always hears and answers our prayers. We can pour out our needs before Him, yet need to let Him be God. He loves us and knows what is best for us. (see Hebrews 4:16 and 1 Peter 5:7)

Prayer changes me. Whether I am praying for myself or someone else, prayer brings transformation. As I yield my heart, mind, and will to the Lord, I am changed. Prayer prepares me for God’s answer and aligns me with His heart. As I intercede for someone else, I can see the difference in their life as well.

“Prayer is a declaration of our Father’s compassion toward us, a confession of our own inadequacy, and a reminder that he meets our daily needs.” –Mark Rutland

There are many other things to consider or meditate upon when it comes to prayer. Prayer is communication with God, so there is no way this single post could be comprehensive.  Other topics include the Lord’s Prayer, praying through Scripture, and prayer with fasting.

Nevertheless, prayer is a duty and privilege. Let us come before the Lord in prayer!

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Heavenly Father, You are good! Thank You for the privilege of prayer. Thank You for listening and answering us when we come to You. You love us so much. May we always come with confidence before Your throne. In Jesus Name, Amen

Questions: Do you have a trusted prayer partner? What is your favorite way to pray?

Tasks: Prayer is two-way communication with God. Balance praying out loud with listening. Try journaling your prayers so you can have a record of Gods answers!

A ‘Life Vest’ Kind of Love

Earlier this week, I completed a thirty day early morning challenge. The goal was to rebuild my morning habit, which has been off-track for some time. I find my day really does go better if I get started early. So, I decided to try it once more…relying on the Lord to sustain me. I’ve focused on tracking progress, not perfection.

Each morning of the challenge, a moderator posted a question on social media. Liking it or commenting was our way to check in for accountability. My favorite questions involved our daily verse, Psalm 143:8. One day, the moderator asked us to describe God’s unfailing love.

Participants listed some of these adjectives: inexhaustible, limitless, unending, eternal, always, forever, continual, secure, dependable, reliable, steadfast, sure, complete, active, competent, constant, persistent, solid, never gives up, perfect, trustworthy, sufficient, unchanging, non-judgmental, and unconditional.

Some of these, of course, have similar meaning. But, I was impressed how one word can mean something slightly different to so many people. And that’s just one of God’s many attributes! It’s amazing to think that while God is so big, He cares so personally about each of us.

Another person wrote that, to her, God’s unfailing love is like a life vest. I love the idea of being safely wrapped in His love. To that, I added God’s unfailing love is ‘timely, as in right there with no delay’… when you really need it!

Indeed, I cannot do anything in my own strength. More than once, I have prayed through the verse… God I need your unfailing love so I don’t climb back into bed! 😉

Since that morning, the Lord has showing the pervasiveness of His unfailing love. It’s 24/7! I keep seeing the words ‘unfailing love’ as I read. I’ve also heard stories or songs on the radio with those words, reminding me of just how much He cares.

God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Every morning brings the wonderful news of God’s unfailing love! No matter how bad or good yesterday might have been, today is a new day full of His grace and love. Praise God!

Because of my renewed habit, God’s unfailing love is the first thing on my mind each day. Despite what else may happen, my focus is on the Lord.

In the midst of stressful decisions and transitions, God’s unfailing love is an anchor.

When I receive bad news unexpectedly, His love brings hope and strength.

When I just don’t know what to do, I know He is trustworthy.

When confusion comes, His love is reliable. He brings clarity and keeps me steady.

Jesus is my helper and my sustainer, my rock and my refuge. He protects, comforts, and delivers me. His love knows no bounds.

His love IS inexhaustible, limitless, unending, eternal, always, forever, continual, secure, dependable, reliable, steadfast, sure, complete, active, competent, constant, persistent, solid, never gives up, perfect, trustworthy, sufficient, unchanging, non-judgmental, and unconditional. 🙂

Nothing catches God Almighty off guard. My circumstances are no match in comparison to how much He loves me!! With a heavenly ‘life vest’ kind of love, He hugs me close and carries me to safety. Despite challenges and setbacks, I know with God’s powerful strength, abundant grace, and unfailing love, I have Victory!

And, the more I think about His unfailing love, the more I am changed.

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Awesome Father, I love you! Thank You for loving me so much! Help me remember to turn to you all throughout the day. Help me rest in your unfailing love and extend your wonderful grace to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What does ‘unfailing love’ mean to you? Have you put on your ‘life vest’ today?

Tasks: Think about or pray through Psalm 143:8 and see how it impacts your day. Or, join the next HelloMornings challenge!

 

Gifts Galore

As I previously mentioned, this entire holiday season has been the best in quite some time! The last several weeks have stood out for many reasons. Each situation—including Halloween, Lydia’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and Dave’s birthday—has seemed extra special this year. Praise God!

So far, Christmas has also been distinct. We’ve decorated more, started new traditions, and even skipped a few tasks. We’ve simplified where needed, but have also celebrated at a deeper level this year.

This year, Lydia and I are keeping it simple. I am enjoying the slower pace. Lydia…well, she’s super excited what’s already around the tree. I don’t go overboard, but loved ones have been sending gifts!

That said, I’m not super creative when it comes to gift-giving. In the past, I struggled if I couldn’t find ‘the perfect gift.’ Sometimes I would end up giving nothing if it wasn’t ‘just right.’ But I have since put off perfectionism and put on grace! And gift cards still count. When given with love, everything falls into place. It’s not so much the gift, but the heart that counts.

Jesus is certainly the most precious gift we could ever receive. At the same time, we give gifts to show love to each other. And, we show our love for God by living for Him—doing our best and giving our best back to Him.

I didn’t always understand this. I often felt like others had better gifts and talents—or were better at using them. Perhaps they were just willing to give whatever they had!

I felt like whatever I offered had to be super special…something extraordinary.

Yes, it took me awhile to figure out my God-given talents and abilities. Thankfully, I have learned so much these last few years. He can use anything given back to Him with the right heart. When we use our gifts to serve God and bless others, that’s when we find the most fulfillment, joy and peace.

When I didn’t have much emotional reserve, I brought my tears. I also brought my grief and uncertainty, fears and doubts. I guess you could say I gave out of my lack.

And in return for my weaknesses, Jesus gave me His strength. He also gave me even more of His love and grace, peace and joy. Yes, God has brought healing! He always gives out of His abundance! Gifts galore!!

This year I have seen beauty instead of ashes, color instead of shadows. He’s given me gladness in place of mourning (see Isaiah 61:3). And this holiday season, I have given the Lord praise with a grateful heart.

This week, we’ve had the honor of hosting a friend with her little toddler. Each day has been different but really fun. My friend made plans to stay with us months ago, and we have been looking forward to it. But her visit has also been such a gift to me!

We have visited other friends, watched movies, played in the snow, and shared childcare duties. We’ve enjoyed good food and stayed up late, talking and encouraging each other. These one-on-one skills use my strengths and bring me joy. And as we discuss what’s on our hearts, I can see more evidence of God’s healing my own.

This year, it really has been simple. I’ve been able to rest and give back to the Lord out of the abundance He’s already given me. And, as I have given hospitality, time, and friendship, I have been blessed with even more of the same!

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Father God, thanks for giving us Jesus. Thank You for Your gracious healing and dear friends. Help us give our best back to you each day. Change our hearts and perspective as we experience Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you have special plans for Christmas? What was the best gift you have ever given or received?

Tasks:  Write down your God-given talents. If you don’t know your strengths, pray about it! Ask God and other people what you do best. Then, serve and bless others!

Hope and Healing for the Holidays

What a difference a year can make!

This year, my holiday preparations started back in September! One Sunday, I went up front for prayer during the church service. I asked the volunteer couple to pray with me; I was a little nervous about the upcoming holidays.

I needed peace and reassurance, because the entire last quarter of 2015—October through December—was pretty rough grief-wise. So I was praying for a non-repeat.

I’m so glad I asked for prayer.

Praise God, we’ve had by far the best holiday season yet. We’ve had many special moments with family and friends over the years, but this entire season has been good.

It’s not just what we have done—but also what we haven’t done—that’s different. We’ve hosted visitors, attended holiday events, and enjoyed new traditions, sure.

One thing we did not do: Send Christmas cards.

I felt I would have been running short on time to crank out cards to our many loved ones. And because our season has gone well, I decided to be still and take it all in.

Sure, the picture below is unedited (with other peoples’ heads in the way). 🙂 But, I have more peace and joy as-is. Honoring Jesus by not being so stressed feels way better.

Also, this season, Lydia and I reached a happy milestone! We decided to put up the ‘big’ six-foot Christmas tree for the first time in at least five years.

For the last several years, it was just too much physically and emotionally to handle decorating the tree on my own. It brought me more tears than joy. Yet this year feels vastly different—I am grateful for God’s gracious healing!

Last week, my neighbor helped me bring up the tree out of the dusty closet, so Lydia and I could decorate it. Now that she is old enough to understand more, it is so fun to see her excitement! Lydia is delighted with all things Christmas.

For me, this holiday season feels like a gift. It’s like I am seeing things in full color! To be honest, for the first time in years, I am truly excited to celebrate the wonder of Jesus’ birth!!

I am already looking forward to Christmas, without even knowing my exact plans!

Instead of rushing through the season from one event to the next, I’ve taken time to pause and enjoy each moment. We hung a new wreath outside and bought new bright red, Christmas decorations for inside. We’ve played games, made treats and watched holiday movies. It’s been fun!

Dear friend, I pray you are also having a wonderful season of celebration. I hope you are able to feel the joy of Christmas. But, I also know how you feel if this feels like the worst season yet. Last year was unexpectedly difficult for me. So, I’ve been there!

Maybe this year you need to simplify your decorations or buy something new. Or, quite possibly, you might just skip decorating altogether. I understand!

It might be less stressful to stay home for Christmas or maybe you will feel better by traveling to visit loved ones. I’ve done both!

Yes, each season has its own unique challenges. Remember to treat yourself well.

Ask for help, when needed, and adjust your expectations.

If you want to read my holiday posts from last year, click here for the start of my December 2015 posts. I hope you are encouraged!!

You may feel like each day is a battle, when everyone else is laughing and carrying on. You might have to fight just to put on a smile. I get it.

I also know the best thing you can do…. Whether you are facing fear, loneliness, discouragement, or immense sadness, bring it to Jesus.

If you feel like you have nothing to bring to Him for Christmas, bring whatever you have. Your honesty is precious to Him! He can handle it and use it to heal your heart.

Jesus loves you deeply, and He will never leave you alone.

You don’t have to have your life perfect…Just come!

Someday, Life will be good again. It will get better! But, it’s going to take some time to heal. Let our dear Savior King touch your spirit with his grace and love.

Linger in Jesus’ presence. Even if that is all you can do today, that’s okay. The rest will come. Take it one day, one hour, or one minute at a time. Don’t forget to breathe. Conserve your energy, and reserve your best for Jesus.

In the midst of your struggle, God is there. His plan for you is GOOD. Remain close to Him and you will find peace and grace in your time of need.

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Father God, thanks for Your gracious healing. Thanks for making all things new. When our hearts are burdened with grief, pain, or discouragement, remind us to turn to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: Do you have any special holiday traditions? Who, or what, are you missing this season? How can I pray for you?

Tasks: Find someone you trust and ask for prayer. Find a quiet spot and just be still before the Lord. Let Jesus fill your heart with peace.

Here in This Moment

Often, when I write these posts, I have a million things on my mind. Right now, I also have a never-ending list of tasks, such as going through mail, reading a mountain of books, and putting away the dishes. Most of the time, I get started…and then get interrupted.

For example, I might process half the mail, read half a book, and/or unload half the dishwasher…and then I’ll remember I still have the other half of the laundry to finish!

But don’t worry! I will get back to these tasks soon enough…

For now, however, I am enjoying this moment.

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Currently, it’s so quiet I can hear a clock ticking in the bathroom down the hall. In my home and in my heart, I can feel God’s presence. I’m grateful for His peace.

While I have many things I could do, I am simply sitting still…taking it all in. Everything else can wait. I’m grateful for God’s grace.

As I look all around, I see many blessings. There are blessings in the form of mail from friends and family, and books inviting me to go on a journey. There are dishes from a delicious meal. I see boxes that held Lydia’s birthday gifts. I see bills reminding me of warm water, clean clothes, and electricity. I’m grateful for God’s provision.

Like most people, I have several ongoing decisions to make. Most are routine responsibilities, like monthly budgets, meal planning, and managing our schedule. Sometimes there are bigger decisions, too, that require more prayer. But I won’t worry. Here in this moment, Jesus leads me to Victory! I am grateful for His wisdom and direction.

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As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’”

“But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42, NLT).

Yes, instead of thinking of all that needs to be done, I’m going to stay in THIS moment.

I am not procrastinating. Before long, the ‘busy-ness’ will begin again. Something or someone (Lydia) will beckon me. But, for now, this moment is the best place to be!

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As I rest, I relinquish any unreasonable expectations for the day. God knows just what I need to accomplish and He is more than able to help me!

As I relax, I release heavy burdens and place them at Jesus’ feet. I realize I don’t have to do ‘everything’ on my own. There is freedom in His love and mercy!

As I relish the calm, I am restored. Jesus renews my energy. He refreshes me with His everlasting strength. His grace is sufficient!

As I refocus my attention and readjust my thoughts, I reconnect with my Heavenly Father who loves me dearly. His Truth is what I need!

Sometimes we all need a quiet moment (or two) to catch our breath. Even when chaos and noise surrounds us, God is always with us morning, noon, or night. So wherever you find yourself today, you can breathe in God’s grace in each moment!

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Father God, in this moment, I turn to You. Draw me close, Lord, and let me feel Your warm embrace. Give me strength as I go about my day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: How long has it been since you were still in the presence of God?

Tasks: Take a short break and reconnect with God! Enjoy solitude if possible…or pray, journal, listen to soft music, or take a walk if you need. If you have difficulty being still, review and reflect on God’s names and attributes.

Waiting and the World Series

It’s been really fun watching the Chicago Cubs make it to the World Series. I can feel the excitement in the air! (Though last night’s game was a little disappointing.)

The Cubs franchise certainly knows a lot about hard work… and waiting. But while the roster has changed over the years, the discipline and desire have only grown stronger. It is thrilling to think that their ‘breakthrough’ could be at hand!

cubs-stretch

This week, I saw an interesting connection with my personal life. Lately, the Lord has me revisiting the waiting process too! It seems God is both challenging me and encouraging me, because I keep finding ‘well-timed’ books, articles, or podcasts about waiting on Him.

For example:

Wait and See by Wendy Pope

Waiting on God by Wayne Stiles

If God can help the Chicago Cubs make it to the World Series, I know sooner or later, MY breakthrough will come too, if I don’t give up!

I’ll admit though—it would be much ‘easier’ to just jump ahead in several areas of my life right now. Instead of toiling each day, why not just skip to the reward?

Because waiting serves a purpose.

wrigley-field

(PC: Olivia Paul)

First, the outcome wouldn’t be as sweet if it was always so easy to obtain what we desire. On the plus side, most of us will never have to wait 108 years for a breakthrough! 😉

Second, waiting proves that the best things are worth the effort. Think of all the practice the Cubs have put in, both as a team and individually!

Third, waiting builds character so we can keep what we have worked for. We grow spiritual fruit, too. Negative attitudes, hidden motives, and bad habits are uncovered, which could otherwise hinder us from moving forward into what God has for us.

Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Waiting on God is not ‘doing nothing.’ It is taking active steps in the right direction, but pacing ourselves according to His timing.

Think of it as training camp!

baseballs

But waiting itself can feel quite challenging, because we want to move on to bigger, better, and often, more exciting things. Maybe you are stuck in the outfield currently, but don’t overlook what God is doing—He is equipping you for greatness.

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (James 1:2-4, MSG).

In our fast-paced society, waiting longer than we think we should have to can feel unjust. Why me?! If we wait long enough, we tend to doubt ourselves and our abilities. But it’s not about us—or the outcome. In the end, what we learn about God and ourselves is most important.

When we are stretched to our limit, we find God’s grace and supply know no bounds. As we refocus on His ability to see us through, we remember Jesus’ faithfulness. His timing is perfect timing and His plans for us are good!

Waiting can leave us feeling weak and worn out. But in Jesus, we already have ultimate Victory. So, we can enjoy life while we rely on His everlasting strength!

ephesians-3_20

Waiting can make us question the validity of our dreams—or even our calling. But, we can trust Jesus to develop us and lead us through each trial. He is trustworthy. And, we can leave the results to Him, because He is able to do abundantly more than all we ask or imagine (see Ephesians 3:20)!

I don’t know what you are struggling with today—or waiting for. Perhaps you need healing, provision, or a promotion. Jesus hears your prayers and cares about every little detail of your life. Ask Him to help you maximize your waiting period so you are fully prepared to step in to all He has planned for you!

It is coming!!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for always working on my behalf. Thanks for all you teach me while I am waiting. Help me remember that Your plan for me is good—and the best things take time. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions:  Are you relying on God in your waiting period? What might you learn in the process?

Tasks: Write down all the benefits of waiting in your current phase of life. Review it when you are tempted to rush ahead of God’s timing!