While on a recent visit to our local ice cream shop, I said something cringe-worthy. My grandson and I waited in line and when we finally reached the counter, I turned to him and blurted out:
“I’m not having ice cream today so I can get thin enough to have ice cream.”
As soon as the words left my mouth and fell on his ears, I wanted to reel them back in. But it was too late. Epic fail. Self-condemnation doesn’t exactly qualify as a teachable moment.
It’s true I skipped the ice cream and normally would gladly accept a high-five for my self-deprivation, but I can’t. You see, I wasn’t in the mood for ice cream anyway. So no brownie points for this girl’s self-control when no control of self was necessary.
To top that off, the woman in line in front of me had my legs. Well, not my legs, but the legs I wished I had…
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I did something new this week. I went back to school.
Evidently my brain was due for a workout since, “I used to know this….” has been the catch-phrase of the week.
It’s no secret one of my favorite quotes is by a wise man, CS Lewis. He said: “You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” I’m glad God is in the business of new, aren’t you?
Have you felt a tug on your heart to step out in faith and reach for a new dream?
If you’re struggling to find answers I’ve got one for you. Head to the Word.
I say that because there’s this lie we believe about the Bible, the lie that we’ve been there, done that, heard that verse before. We know it. We’ve read it. We’re good. Notice the past tense? Have you ever had those thoughts? Yeah, me too. But those thoughts rob us like a thief in the night.
We’re not good. We’re far from good. Transformation comes from renewing our mind through the Word. You’re right, that’s in the Word and we’ve heard it before. Yet with every delicate page turned there’s something new to learn. We grow. We see things our eyes didn’t see before, because before is when we glazed over that one word that makes all the difference in what we need for today.
Have you read the passage about a place called Gethsemane? Me too. But this time it touched me so deeply. The weight of His Jesus’ sorrow is beyond our comprehension. Jesus knew what He would endure. The weight of our awful, horrific, devastating sin put upon the One who knew no sin. To be crushed beneath the weight like olives in a press. Aren’t we thankful for mercy and grace? He took our place.
Then there’s the way Jesus prayed: “He fell with His face to the ground.” I’ve read those words before yet the picture was missing. We’ve seen images of Jesus on His knees in the garden looking up to the Father, but evidently Jesus face down in the dirt isn’t picture worthy. This posture of prayer is a thing of beauty, a position of reverence and total submission. As He lies face to the ground, He asks the Father if the cup could be taken away.
Jesus’ prayer doesn’t end there though, it’s what comes next that teaches us the difference between what we want and what we should want…
“…Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39b
That’s key. Jesus prayed this prayer not once, not twice, but three times presenting the same request, yet in all those times He never wavered in submitting to the Father’s will over His own.
Am I prepared to accept God’s will over my own?
What God allows to happen in my life often times looks very different than what I would choose, but I’m still learning and He knows the big picture. My big picture is smaller than a speck of dust compared to the infinite grandeur of a picture God has designed. I need to trust the writing of my story to Him. He knows all.
Let’s not believe the lie that we’ve learned everything we need to know. Trying to depend on dusty knowledge will leave us stale and thirsty. It may serve us well for a time, but the well will run dry. Keep learning and stay fresh in the Word.
I’m thankful for this new journey at Liberty U. I know God led me to this place because I’m still not exactly sure how I got there. Boom. You’re back in school. What? I know, I said that earlier. But really, what?
Don’t lose sight of your big dreams and pray God’s will be done. He’s already made a Way.
Have these words touched you in some way? What dreams are you reaching for?
My keychain says each day is a gift from God. While I know that’s true, some days just don’t feel like a gift all tied up in ribbons and bows.
You know what I mean? Those hard days. The ones when we ask…
The Father gives good gifts, and every good gift is from above. So when the day doesn’t feel like a gift, we have a choice to make. What are we going to trust as truth?
You know what?
When life takes a difficult turn, lift up your head and turn to the Son.
His love will satisfy the deepest places no feelings could hope to fill.
What is the gift? Is it the day itself?
God’s unconditional love every day. It never ends. His mercies they fail not and He is faithful. Everyday. That is a gift no matter what happens in that 24 hour chunk of time.
Have you ever taken a walk on the wild side, because you know what’s wild?
God put on flesh and got His feet dirty. Then He washed other people’s feet. God did this. A gift.
He taught us how to live, how to love, how to serve. He took our sins upon Himself, died on a cross, rose on the third day after being shut up in a tomb, reconnected with the people He loved, then ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us. God is getting a place ready for us.
Now say this:
God is preparing a place for me.
And if that’s not wild enough, He is wild about us.
Maybe the question isn’t whether today is a gift, but rather, what are we doing with the gift of today?
When our today doesn’t feel like a gift, we can ask God to help us unwrap it. Inside is the purpose and plan for the day. No matter what it is, He is in it. He is in all of our days, not only the rest of our life days on earth, but the rest of our eternal days at that place He is making ready for us.
I’ve been guilty of it too, so no finger-pointing from this girl.
We know how it goes. The I’ll try to make it results in I’m sorry I couldn’t make it. We have good intentions initially, but when go-time comes around, are we showing? Are we going?
Try. It means to make an effort to do something. What if someone asked us, “Well, how hard did you try?” Oh snap.
What if we changed the way we thought about our time? What if we shared more of it instead of keeping it to ourselves?
Before you hit me over the head with your purse, protecting our time for good reasons is essential in keeping some resemblance of sanity.
Spending time with family, time in the Word, time in prayer, all good. We need refreshment for our souls and nurturing for our faith. We can even take time for ourselves without feeling guilty, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
There’s a difference between taking time for ourselves and being selfish with our time.
We don’t have to say yes to everything, but let’s be sure our no is for the right reasons.
Confession time: There have been times I’ve said no for selfish reasons. Imagine that? You too?
I know there have been times when I should have said yes. Times when I was meant to be somewhere for someone, but I wasn’t.
Couldn’t it just all balance out?
Couldn’t we just count all the times we did show, did keep a divine appointment, did extend beyond ourselves, to make up for all those selfish time-hogging-didn’t-try-all-that-hard times? Something tells me it doesn’t work that way.
But saying yes for the right reasons is also important to remember. Besides being selfish with our time, we can also spend too much of it. If the yes isn’t meant for us we could be unintentionally robbing it. How?
We can easily become over-zealous and step on the toes of someone else’s calling. Ouch.
The yes or no dilemma can make us dizzy. The key is prayer and seeking God’s face and His will in all things. We want to be the kind of Jesus follower who answers the call. Our call. We’re not the answer to every need, Jesus is.
What comes to mind when you hear the term “timeshare”? Most of us, including Google, associate the term with telemarketers selling vacation weeks. Perhaps we need to take back that term for the body of Christ. Just a little time shared from each of us can change lives.
Snippets of time add up to a lifetime and chunks of time are being squandered when they could be sacred.
Even just an hour of our time shared could impact someone else’s life for eternity, or at least for an hour.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV
This weekend we set our clocks ahead one hour. Daylight Savings Time. We change time. The purpose is to make better use of natural daylight. How can we make better use of the light we’ve been given? Let us consider how our time can change the world for Christ. Even a snippet goes a long way.
There’s a better way to tell time. We can set it to the eternal clock and spend it for a purpose. Time shared can change lives.
How can we be more intentional with our time today?
Share your thoughts…
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Can we be real?
We collectively spend an exorbitant amount of time struggling with feelings and emotions. One day we’re good, we’re getting it done. The next day we’re a blubbering mess. We don’t plan it that way and it often takes us by surprise.
We say things like, “Where did that come from?” and “Wow, what is wrong with me today?”. We blame it on hormones, lack of sleep, disappointments, mean people…
I do it too, so believe me, I know.
Absolutely true, there are physical and medical reasons for emotional melt-downs. We live in these mortal bodies and they’re not perfect. But wouldn’t you agree, a good number of emotional melt-downs are the it’s all about me reason? The I, the self? Maybe we find it hard to readily admit the truth behind the messiness.
Photography is not my gift. I have no talent for capturing candid shots. Half the time even my cell tells me I “cannot take photo”. I know it’s nothing personal, my storage is full or some such ridiculous reason, but after a while it could give a girl a complex.
You know what’s scary?
That feature on the cell camera that flips you from focusing outward to seeing your selfie self. I don’t know about you, but it startles me. Can you relate?
Even though I have zero interest in becoming a photographer, there are cool life lessons we uncover when we expand our horizons.
Here’s an interesting fact:
When attempting night photography auto-focus will not work, there’s not enough light. So what do you do? You adjust the focusing ring to align with infinity. I have no idea what this means in photography world, but in every-day world, it makes complete sense.
While I might associate infinity with Buzz Lightyear (simmer down auto-correct, it’s Buzz’s last name) or mathematics, it brings to mind another “nity” word:
When we rely on auto-focus and allow our emotions to run on auto-pilot, a hot mess ensues. When we adjust our focus to align with eternal things, light flows in and we reflect it.
It’s no surprise auto in the Greek means self.
True, we need to self-reflect and keep ourselves in check. The whole plank out of our own eye and love your neighbor as yourself. But the cautionary tale is this:
Another great thing about photography, it’s not about the selfie, it’s about looking outward. It’s about looking beyond self and seeing things in a new way.
What or whom are we focusing on?
Life can have us going in all different directions. We’re not necessarily distracted by evil things, sinful things, but even good things and pleasant things.
Even those good and pleasant things can draw our eyes away from Jesus. It can be subtle, and isn’t that more dangerous than obvious?
Jesus came so we could have life and life more abundantly, but not at the cost of losing sight of Him.
But we’re talking about emotions here. I began writing this post a week ago, and after a blubbering-mess-melt-down, decided today was a good day to finish it. Once I took my eyes off the distraction and placed my focus back on the goodness of the Lord, the waterworks dried up and I’m good. Been there? My poor husband. He’s more glad I’m good than I am.
Living out our message makes truth a powerful thing.
When we feel disconnected and distracted by emotions, remember Jesus said this…
“‘…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'” Matthew 28:20
When we allow our day to be ruined by emotions, we’ll miss opportunities to be a light to someone else’s lens.
Let light in. Reflect light out. Be light.
God will help us, this He has promised. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help He so generously and mercifully gives.
You are not alone. Ever.
When we focus on the Lord, our emotions transform from a blubbering mess to a joyful message.
So instead of allowing our emotions to get the best of us, let’s show the world the best of us is Jesus.
I’m not one for cliches, are you?
Of course we will wish each other a Happy New Year. It’s what we do. But I’m not one for evaluating the past and making promises for the future. Ones I can’t keep. Those resolutions never stick and who wants to set themselves up for failure?
It is important to continually improve, grow, learn, dream…
Let’s trust God when He says He will do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. Let’s be pleasantly surprised by grace instead of terribly disappointed by empty promises we make to ourselves.
Let’s be intentional about doing instead of saying what we’re going to do.
I found a local dance studio that offers adult Ballet classes. I signed up. I’ve been stretching and twirling in anticipation of rekindling a childhood dream. Getting back to dance. I love it. There’s great health benefits, but actually it’s the grace and beauty I’m drawn to. If you want to get healthy, try doing something you love instead of punishing yourself for eating all those Christmas cookies.
We can believe in the promise of immeasurably more, but let’s not stop there…
The verse in Ephesians goes on to say, “…according to His power at work within us.”
His power is at work within us. To God be the glory because it’s all through His power, yet He chooses to do a mighty work in and through us.
It’s beyond amazing and it’s absolutely true. So clear the doubt, there’s no room for it when His power is there. And there’s no room for it in 2017. Doubt, be gone.
Another popular activity when a new year rolls around is choosing a word.
If I were to choose a word for 2017 it would be discover. It’s time to discover new things, but not only new things. It’s time to discover what’s been covered up.
Like today, I was craving something and I had no idea what. Then hubby puts a subliminal message in my head. It wasn’t all that subliminal actually, it went something like, “How about a chili dog and a chocolate milkshake?” Then suddenly, I wanted it. Bad.
But I discovered something. If I stayed away from the car I wouldn’t drive to Frosty King to pick up the hot dog and milkshake that I’d wind up feeling bad about consuming later. You know what? I stayed away from the car. It wasn’t easy.
Sure, I could have gone as far as turning that ignition. I would have still had time to change my mind, but let’s be real. It more likely would have been the point of no return. I needed His power at work within me, because my own power would have resulted in a chili-dog heartburn right about now. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, but don’t let the word self fool you.
And don’t be swayed by temptation. The enemy is cunning and he can’t tempt you to turn the key in the ignition if you stay clear of the car all-together. I think you get what I’m saying.
My example of avoiding a chili-dog and milkshake was a first right step to better health. Is there a person, place, or thing God is drawing you away from in 2017 so you can draw closer to Him?
Seek Him and you will find Him and He will direct your steps when you surrender your feet. And your car keys.
I wish you a Happy New Year and I would love to hear what’s on your heart.
Take each new day one at a time and remember, you are loved with an everlasting LOVE.
May His all-sufficient grace envelop you in 2017 and always,
They say my nest is empty.
I never truly understood what it meant until now. It slipped in quietly while I wasn’t looking and it magnifies at Christmastime. There’s something about children in the house that adds a special dose of delight and wonder (and craziness) to the season like nothing else can. Decorating the tree, hot chocolate, Christmas movies, and staying a step ahead of snoopy present hunters are just a few of the joys. You may have noticed, I didn’t mention baking cookies. There’s a reason and you can read about it here.
Now my nest is quiet, not always but most always. I enjoy the quiet moments, yet still miss the silly loudness and sticky peanut butter hand-prints smeared on the glass.
I reach for fleeting memories just beyond my grasp. My heart yearns for those crack-of-dawn Christmas mornings when little hands shake me awake in anticipation (and silly me wants to sleep-in a bit longer). I make them wait as I go out first to “put the coffee on” and light up the tree. I pop cinnamon rolls in the oven as the wrapping paper flies. Christmas lists materialize in the middle of the living room and I watch their faces light-up brighter than the star on the tree.
And then there was that time I accidentally doubled the measure of salt in the breakfast casserole. Ever do that?
But no matter the current status of this mama bird’s nest, I will choose joy and I will choose to be glad. For although life brings seasons and cycles and changes, life brings new and wonderful and fresh.
My nest is what I choose to make it. It’s a nest filled with love. A safe place.
And why not choose the full rather than the empty?
My children and grandchildren visit the nest and although they may only stay for a time, I am overcome with love and the realization that my nest is not empty after all. It is continually refilling as the years go by. I’m sure hubby agrees.
There is fullness of joy when I see the man and woman our son and daughter have grown to be.
I am fulfilled to overflowing as loving arms of grandchildren wrap around me like a warm blanket, and I smile as they sweetly kiss my cheek.
This is part of the path of life. And God will not allow us to journey it alone. No matter what, He is there.
So young moms, enjoy every moment and know this: sleeping-in on Christmas morning is overrated, even if you just went to bed an hour before. Careful not to blink because all that talk about time going by quickly? It’s not a cliche. Savor every moment.
And empty nest moms, hang on to your memories, but don’t miss the new ones waiting to be made.
This is not the end of the story because the old story is not gone, it stretches and grows and becomes something truly wonderful.
My nest is where abundance flows with the fullness of peace, love, and hope. My nest is where the Holy Spirit dwells and Jesus is Lord.
No matter our journey or whether we have young children, grown children, or no children at all, when we invite the presence of the Lord into our nest called home, we will find fullness of joy always. That’s a promise.
But maybe it’s not your nest that feels empty, maybe it’s you. Friend, this promise and truth applies to the deepest parts of our soul. The key is His presence. Invite God in and therein lies the fullness of joy.
Sometimes God allows the empty so we have room for more of Him.
Our nests are not empty, our nests are blessed.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
Merry Christmas friend, and may your heart be glad…
Rejoicing in the reason for the season,
Can I ask you a personal question?
Ever feel like a third party to your own email?
Maybe the question isn’t all that personal, but it’s what I’ve been feeling lately. I open my inbox and a dam breaks as I watch a flood of emails load one after another. They’re addressed to me, but it doesn’t feel personal. I’m not talking about work email, I’m talking about personal email. It’s becoming impersonal. Can you relate?
These people emailing me?
They’re not uninvited guests. I’ve subscribed. I’ve Followed. Some offer encouragement and others offer discounts on items or courses that would benefit me. That’s not a bad thing. But I can’t do it all or buy it all. That doesn’t mean I won’t later, just not now.
So what do we do?
- Unsubscribe to posts we never open
- Set a time to open emails, then delete or take action
- Try interacting and change the one-way street to a two-way street
I went through my emails a couple of weeks ago and determined which ones I never read. Nothing personal, I just don’t have time to read them all. First, I unsubscribed. Then I entered the name of the company or blog in the search field and deleted all their emails all at once. That cleaned up the clog-up and freed needed space.
After all, I don’t love that message “cannot take photo there’s not enough available storage” while trying to take a pic of one of the grandkids attempting a soccer goal. A-nnoy-ing.
That last tip of changing the one-way street to a two-way?
Comment. Share thoughts. Interact. Even the most introverted of introverts can comment without leaving the couch. Once you narrow down the focus, you can become a more willing participant.
We can ditch being a third-party spectator by being a first-party communicator.
Those famous, well-known, too-important-to-have-time-for-me people? They are people. They have struggles, doubts, dreams, flesh and blood. Step out and comment. Even if they don’t respond, they’re probably reading their comments. True, someone may manage their comments for them, but show up anyway. Show up and get in the conversation.
You may be pleasantly surprised. It may be easier than you think to communicate with that someone who has encouraged, inspired, and influenced you. They need to hear that too. Because sometimes even they wonder if anyone is listening. Numbers don’t talk, people do.
We can translate this from cyber life to real life, but that’s another post.
So simplify your life. Unsubscribe or take part in your subscription. Take action one way or the other and you’ll find the effort rewarding.
When we change from a third-party to a first-party, that two-way street can propel us to that place we subscribed to be.
Same is true with our faith. We have our own measure but we have to participate. Stepping out in faith is showing up when we make a commitment. What we have to say can encourage others. But let’s choose our commitments and communities wisely, including whom we follow and subscribe to. Pay attention to what they’re saying because their views and values can change.
My most important subscription? I subscribe to follow Jesus and He never changes and He doesn’t need my email address. He’s the famous One, but not too famous for me. Or you.
We don’t have to be a slave to our email. We can take control.
I’m taking first-party action in regards to my email. How about you?
Just a simple message today. I am so thankful for you. May you have a blessed and joyous Thanksgiving.
In Christ’s Love,
Feeling a little picked off, ticked off, and worn out?
It’s no wonder. We’re on the radar. We’re that bullseye on the target.
I love the book of Esther. Can’t wait to meet her someday. She’s the true Queen of Hearts.
Through the providence of God, she saved an entire people from total annihilation.
I’m as appalled as you are something like that could even happen, yet we know it wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last. Anne Frank’s diary gave us a tragic glimpse.
So how does this relate to us Gentiles?
Are we surprised Christians are continually persecuted? Martyred. Singled out in schools, universities, in the work place, in the media… Targeted.
There’s an undeniable connection on how this relates to us.
Believers believe this…
Gentiles have been adopted into the family of God. In Christ, we are part of a chosen people, a holy nation. We have been grafted into the lineage of Christ. We are of Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise. It’s divine and It’s God’s plan and it’s only through His grace and the blood of Jesus Christ. It’s our heritage along with whatever other bloodline heritage flows through our veins.
That makes me an Italian/Irish Christian girl with a Jewish heritage. I’m a combo of lasagna, corned beef, and matzah ball soup. A smorgasbord of culture transcendent of time.
So that picked off, ticked off, worn out version of us?
We need to recognize what’s happening here. The enemy is targeting us, again. And again. And again. We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers. We know that, right? Yet, our foot keeps getting caught in the barbed wire fence.
It’s time to walk free, walk tall, and walk worthy of the calling.
I know. I’m right there with you. I’ve used the term “throw in the towel” a few times this week.
But we’re not done. We’re just getting started. Hang on to your towel.
We are in good company and we are family. We were made for community so let’s not go isolating ourselves. We don’t want to make the target even easier to hit. Esther didn’t cower in a corner. She didn’t hide away alone. She called on people to fast and pray with her. For three days people fasted and prayed. We have a lot to learn about asking for prayer and denying the flesh, can I get an amen?
And we know how to deflect those fiery darts, don’t we? Ephesians 5 and 6.
Walk in Love, Walk in Light, and put on your armor. Every day.
I love when Esther says, “If I perish, I perish.” Courage comes from the Lord. Our flesh may fail, but our inheritance is imperishable.
We are targeted because we are chosen. We are singled out because we are set apart for a purpose.
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32
Our mission may not look like Esther’s, but it’s every bit as important. Keep seeking the face of God, keep persevering in the face of persecution, and keep serving to glorify Him, because remember this:
It’s harder to hit a moving target.
For more about sanctification, check out this post on Desiring God: http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/how-the-spirit-sanctifies
Grace & Peace,
By the way…
Shopping for gifts? My book, Goodbye, Regret is on sale for a limited time. Check it out here.