Concrete Feet

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I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Oh how I miss jogging.

I was a jogger – a very dedicated one, too. Not a fast one, mind you, but one who loved to run…practically every day. I appreciated it for what it was and all it could do in my life, that’s for sure. And I acted upon that – Big time.

There was a lot of freedom to be found through jogging.

I loved the feel of being able to just go and go and breathe in the air. I loved the feeling of lightness after the muscles warmed up and I hit my stride. I loved just the very action of pounding it all out…step by step…over and over and over again.

It’s funny too: I am not one who likes to remain in place. I like growth. I don’t really like change for the sake of change, but I wouldn’t have ever guessed in a million years that I would be someone who would like something that has so much…”same-ness” to it. I like the methodical nature of it all. I think it helped me feel grounded in the face of an ever-changing world.

I knew true balance and security came from Jesus, but jogging was nice too.

Yes, I loved jogging, friends. I just absolutely loved it. The balance thing was cool, but also the endorphins brought about from it were pretty great as well. The results from it don’t match anything I have ever experienced with any other kind of exercise. EVER.

** Matching your breathing to the movement of your feet
** Getting into a groove; a zone and staying there…
** Letting your eyes focus on a point just ahead for an hour straight…
** Allowing your mind to dump…thinking, then not thinking at all.
** Praying whilst enjoying the act of what entails so much movement, but seems almost like floating all at the same time.

Jogging was a beautiful thing in my life.

I worked hard and prayed hard not to allow jogging to become my god. Another false idol? NO way was this girl having it! But as diligent as I was in my prayer life about this, it also entailed that sinking feeling inside – the knowledge that even if I didn’t let it become a false idol in my life, one day, it might be removed. Sometimes that happens – and God has a plan.

God knows what He is doing, and He does things His way and in His timing if we are truly seeking after Him. We have to listen and give up or move toward something else if He nudges us. All things that He allows can be “worked together for our good” by HIM.

I asked God in my prayers many, many times something like the following:

“Oh God, you know I love this jogging. You know how grateful I am to you that you not only allow me release through this activity, but even for the many little things you have brought about as a result of allowing me to incorporate it so consistently into my life. I have lost weight and maintained those strides, I have more clarity of thought and can listen better in my prayer life with You, and many people have come to me for ideas, motivation, support as a result of this having happened in my life. I also know you may allow me to go through seasons in which I can’t do this any more – please help me to enjoy this while it lasts – and if You decide I can keep it, I will be very happy about that. If not, please help me to accept it – because I know you are always working in me to do mighty and wonderful things.”

You guessed it ~ this physical stuff has finally stopped me pretty much in my tracks when it comes to my beloved jogging. I hung on for quite a while, even when the pain had been around for quite some time. But now, I can see that when I try to do it (barely above a walking pace even) I am hurting worse than before.

  • I have gained 30 pounds – some from menopause (probably half), the rest from no jogging
  • I feel gross – polluted – but every time I jog I am hurting far worse with the arthritis than before
  • I am fuzzy – feel bottled up – but I still have freedom in Jesus. Just miss the physical release.

I have had trouble truly embracing this, but I have accepted it, I guess. As much as I know how, although the Lord continues to surprise me in many areas as to just how much more I can surrender.

Because, you see – I also was praying for something even greater at the same time I prayed about getting to keep jogging. I was praying to draw even closer to Jesus – to know Him better, and to be used to do His will, His way. And a big part of that is surrender – even of the “good” things in life. Sometimes it’s a permanent thing, and other times, it’s not. Don’t know which way it will go with this jogging thing.

But I do know which way it will go with Jesus. He’s sticking around. For an eternity.

Aside from not getting to job, I am doing other things, so that is good. But just as I said before – nothing compares, exercise-wise. Quite frankly, lately it seems even those things are too much, but I am trying. I am trying stretching and yoga exercises, some stepping up and down on a step, walking stairs, although that one is pretty tough on the pain stuff, and may try some elliptical when I can. But friends – I got JESUS!

Will you pray for me friends? Will you pray that I use this time to press in to Jesus, appreciate where I am at, and maybe, just maybe one day I will get to jog consistently again? Will  you pray that if I am never able to really jog again, that the Lord would help me to find a form of exercise that gets me into shape, helps to heal my pain, and draws me even closer to Him? Most of all, will you continue to pray that I can accept whatever happens as long as it’s HIS will?

And where I’m at now: I shall make the most of what I can. God is gracious and good. He meets us where we are and lifts us up from that place to heights we never thought we’d reach before. He takes us down paths we never even knew existed. He has already blessed me so very much. I am His child. I need to remember that every day.

No amount of exploration through jogging trails would ever bring about divine encounters such as those that I have with my Jesus, my Savior.

I’m running to Jesus, friends - even if my feet can’t carry me. No amount of concrete can stop me. He cuts through every single thing that tries to stand in our way.

And Jesus is freedom.

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Tell A “Stranger” that She’s Your Sister!

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Hi Friends!

I have mentioned someone quite glorious many times on this blog and His name is Jesus. And there’s someone else I know who is connected to Jesus as well, and is pretty wonderful too ~ and that’s my dear friend Heather.

Today, I’d like to do something different – something fantastic and wonderful for my dear sister-friend. I made the picture you see in this post for her and asked others on my facebook page to place a comment beneath it ~ something of encouragement for this wonderful Sister in Christ. I was hoping you might take five minutes and hop over to Heather’s page and find the photo there, and add a comment or two underneath it.

  • You could offer a small prayer of encouragement or support…
  • One word even, that conjures up joy and love…
  • Or a comment about something you have found to be inspiring about the body of Christ as we bind together – “All In” for Jesus, as Heather says all the time.
  • Anything kind, sweet, supportive, nice, loving, or just plain awesome.

Even if you don’t know Heather personally, we are all connected by the love of Jesus ~ no one displays that and acts upon that better than our dear Heather. She is always loving on and encouraging others. Her blog and posts are always a blessing. She is even writing some wonderful books that share her love of Jesus and of people.

Heather is truly ALL IN for Jesus. And she LOVES His people!

You can hop over to her page from the link below. It’s easy. You won’t be sorry.

I have no ulterior motive in this other than to spend a moment encouraging a beautiful soul today. Please, if you feel so led, will you help me in doing that and putting our arms around this dear child of God?

Thank you for loving others the way that Christ first loved us! I appreciate your loving kindness.

Heather’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/HeatherMertens

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness Galatians 5:22

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Bubble Banter

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Bubbles, oh my bubbles, my life they do surround,

Bubbly peace and quiet, keeping out the sound.

Beautiful and floating; evading the rugged rocks,

Always warm and fuzzy (until, of course, they pop)!

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Bubbles, little bubbles, you know just how to hold me,

My bestest, bubbly buddies, oh how I do love thee.

Light and airy, shiny; you are always there,

My protectors from all that’s dark, I’m never feelin’ bare

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Bubbles, dear, sweet bubbles, let us make ‘em think

That bubble worlds are awesome; that they never sink.

Flying and rising, up, gliding effortlessly, up, so high

Always perfect reflections; what we see with just our eyes.

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Bubbles, perfect bubbles; make my many beholders,

Bubble over with glee; as your power just grows bolder.

Fake it, master magicians; mirror it, help them to see,

Just what we want them to, or what they expect or want in me.

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But hark, my bubbly cocoons! ‘Round a’ comes this day,

It’s here! This bubbly, bogus life, it has to go away.

I see you now, you bubbles; you are not really real,

No truth and pure love is here; not inside of this seal.

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Bubble membranes, all around; why are you so thick?

I’m trying but can’t pop them - even with my sharpest stick.

But something else is stronger; He lives deeper inside,

Sorry, my bubble captors; from Him you cannot hide!

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You are such pretty bubbles; that much I know is true,

But there’s someone who’s more faithful, He loves me more than you.

I want His truth and grace; yes, even when it hurts,

So now I give fair warning; it’s time for you to burst.

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Bubbles, billions of bubbles; yes you do abound.

Bubbles, goodbye bubbles; it’s time now for some sound.

It’s time now for true light; today’s bubble battle’s won,

By Jesus Christ my Savior, He’s the real thing; the Only One.

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2: 6

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you. 2 Chronicles 20:17

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God’s Kind of Grace

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I was pondering this verse the other day. Then again, last night. Then just now, I checked my facebook newsfeed, and up it popped again – this time from my church’s website.

God is with me ~ and He  is trying to make a big point. He is trying to help me absorb this verse in a deeper way right now. He’s trying to help me see something new about His grace.

God’s kind of grace.

See, God’s grace isn’t a “kinda”-kind of grace. It’s full. It’s beyond adequate. God’s grace is unending.

God’s grace is the only of it’s kind.

Here is something that I have concluded over the past couple of days: I have not been allowing His grace to be sufficient for me. I’ve been standing in the way of the fullness of it all.

Yes, I have been meditating on the second part of this verse much, but forgetting about the first part. The very important, soul changing, utterly awesome first part. The grace part, friends.

“My grace is sufficient for you.” It is sufficient.

Sufficient: Enough, Substantial, Competent, Adequate.

I don’t need the grace that others do or don’t offer me when I am having a hard time – it’s nice when it happens, but I don’t need it.

I shouldn’t need their understanding, or their compassion, or even their acceptance or bare tolerance.

His grace should be sufficient for me. In fact, He says that it IS. I just haven’t been accepting that. Not fully. And I am in a situation right now regarding my health and how it’s affecting me that intermittently requires that I know this – it requires that I live this – requires that I stand firmly upon His promise to me regarding his beautiful and unending grace and believe this. Fully.

I haven’t been allowing His grace alone to sustain me. I have been wanting others in my life to understand me, to help and support me, to be there for me when I really need it or feel alone. Not too many have been necessary in my little mind, but at least a few felt….”crucial.” Mind you, sometimes they do understand me, offer up grace to me, show me compassion, love and mercy. Way more often than I deserve. But there’s been this nagging feeling inside. And now, I know what that is. He’s been trying to tell me something and I haven’t heard it until today.

It’s that it needs to be okay even if or when others do NOT understand. It needs to be “well within my soul” because it is truly only HIS grace that I need.

  • It needs to be okay to allow others to think what they may if I can’t bring myself to smile through the pain when I’m having a bad day with this arthritis/fibro stuff.
  • It needs to be okay with me that maybe it “looks bad” if I can’t make it to church, or run around and do all of the fun things that everyone else seems to look forward to with glee.
  • It needs to be okay even if I get a little cranky and don’t handle it perfectly, but see the err of my ways and make it right with whomever was in my path in that moment.
  • It needs to be more than okay with me, because it is covered by His grace. He’s got it ALL covered.

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Is there something that you are walking through right now in your life in which you think you have grasped His grace, but see you haven’t allowed it to be suffiicent? Maybe you’ve accepted part of it, or most of it, but not the full of it, like me. We tend to think we are only selling short the impact his grace really has in our lives when we are coveting a better situation. But sometimes, even when accepting (as much as we can) that situation, we aren’t allowing His grace to sustain us.

I have been angry with myself when I screw up because of having bad days filled with pain. I have been upset that I can’t always do the things I’d like to do to serve others, lift their mood, or build them up and edify them the way that I can when I don’t have to focus on getting through the next hour without wincing. I’ve been worried that if I do rub off on someone else that they won’t forgive me. Most of the time, I receive grace from others anyway, but what if I didn’t once or twice? Why is that so earth shattering to me?

There’s a fine line between making things right when you rub someone the wrong way and stepping into territory where you need things to be right or your well being becomes rocky. That’s the place I can no longer allow myself to be in all the time. That’s the place where man becomes more important than God. That’s the place where we find that grace, human grace is NOT enough. No grace I can give to another is enough and no grace they can provide to me is either. It’s important to give it, there’s no question about it.

But only HIS is really sufficient.

I think sometimes God allows us to feel alone in something (or alone in a part of that something, at least) so that we can really soak this truth into our hearts…let it seep into our souls. We tend to need such reminders – reminders such as “my grace is sufficient for you.”

Is it? Are we truly allowing it to be sufficient?

And isn’t the paradox in that just beautiful? “sufficient” means adequate, not abundant. But God’s grace, on the other hand ~ God’s kind of grace is abounding and goes way beyond “enough.”

That’s a pretty big dose of something pretty magnificent, if you ask me. It almost seems to be an understatement in it’s own powerful, divine, and beautiful way, doesn’t it? Leave it to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to continually surprise us in these glorious ways.

I know I will remain challenged in this area throughout my life, amongst a multitude of other things. But today I am moving out of condemnation and into conviction regarding the fact that His truth ~ the truth about Him, His grace, His mercy, His love, and His Compassion, is enough for me.

I just need to be reminded. I need to be reminded a lot.

Thanks be to Him that He reminds me in the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly. His grace transcends every mood, every situation, every reaction or non-reaction.

His grace is sufficient. It is enough.

Know it.  Live it.  Believe it.

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A Weird Kind of Week

This post does have a lot to do with Resurrection Day. It has a lot to do with Jesus and all that He has done for us. It is pertinent to Easter weekend, but also to every single day for a Christian - disciple – a lover of Jesus Christ. So bear with me knowing that fact. Bear with me and believe me about that.

This week – Wow. Just Wow. What a weird week it was for me in my spirit, friends. What a weird day it still is for me today.

The section of scripture I am placing right below this paragraph is what I feel God is really asking me to mediate upon and work on with Him in my life right now. Maybe some of you are in a similar place. So, understand that this post is a display of the wrestling I am doing. It is not one that will show that I have finally grasped this, learned everything I need to about this, nor is it a story of my own personal triumph. Not at all. In fact, it is really a telling of the struggle I am facing in regard to all of it right now. God is growing this in me right now, friends. Most of the time, I would write about something like this once I come out the other side of it. He is leading me without question this time, in this area, to share the place I am in regard to all of this while I am thick in the MIDDLE of it all.

Ready? Here it is:

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Today, we celebrate Resurrection Day – the day of all days. The day that Christ rose again and defeated the grave. The day we can celebrate that He is Risen! Today, this day, we celebrate the unquestionable fact that in doing so, He shows the world that it is truly “finished.” That death has lost it’s sting.

  • Sin’s reign over us; it is finished.
  • Death’s attempt to conquer all and lock us up forever – finished.
  • Satan’s desire to keep us apart from God – it is finished.
  • He has defeated it all – for us. He finished it.

This is SO Awesome. Please understand that I am not diminishing that. Christ is Risen and I am soooo happy about this. WE get to celebrate it. We get to live it. We get to know it, bask in it, revel in it and breathe it in. Praise Jesus, friends. Praise Jesus!

But this last week – passion week.  This very day? I sit here in my home and think about how strange everything seemed to me all week long. I am thinking about how strange everything still feels for me today. Today, as we celebrate Him, we celebrate that it is “finished.”

Even while I celebrate along with many of you, I feel strange still – melancholy mingled with joy. I feel….weird. Saved, but weird all the same. Most of you who know me well would not be surprised about that – it kind of goes without saying. Yet I find myself in awe all the same at how strange of a bird I really am. I find myself wondering how many others out there are strange and weird the way that I am. I find myself wanting to share my part of this story with those who may be the same way.

I have to wonder: when all this happened almost 2000 years ago, was that mixture of feelings going on for many of the disciples of Christ too? Or were they all just….”happy?” Please don’t take this as me condemning anyone who is feeling nothing but elation today…that is not what this is about. I am simply sharing my heart today. My story that He is writing in this life of Annie as you read this. It is unfolding as you read it, dear friends. Still unfolding. Just like all of yours are – we all have a wonderful story that hopefully Jesus is still writing in our lives.

So I know…. leave it to me to bring the dark side into the equation – the not-so-feel-good-stuff at the exact time that most people are enveloped in the light side of things. But, I have been praying to Jesus about this all morning. Here is what I have been conversing with Him about:

Jesus I am so grateful – beyond that even, for all you have done for us. But not just today – every day. I don’t show it or express it every day, although I want to. I don’t want today to be the only day that I celebrate You and all  you have done for me. I don’t want Good Friday every year to be the day that I mourn all that we did (and still do) to You, either.

Today as I celebrate that You have conquered the grave, I am keenly aware, (as much as I think I can be, which still falls way short) all at the same time, of why you had to even do it. I can’t shake that feeling right now, even though I am supposed to have “transitioned” from mourning on Good Friday, to celebrating here today, the fact that you are Risen. I am happy – I am grateful – I am thankful that you are alive and have conquered EVERYTHING. But I am still somewhat sad too.

Is there something wrong in my heart that I can’t just “move on” from the mourning piece of all of this? Is it an indication that somehow, some way, that means I am not in the right place with You and my relationship with You? Or is it simply that you have given me a spirit of empathy and these things are hard for me to move past in a mere two or three days?

By the way: If anyone out there is in a similar place with me today, you know what I mean when I say it’s hard to fight condemnation creeping in if you are experiencing this. Let’s just say it’s not “popular” or accepted very well even, to be one of the few who seems to be “dwelling” upon the ugly parts of all of this along with the good stuff. Not at all. And I get that. I understand that. But it doesn’t make it not be true for me.

So, I share the truth here. That’s what I do and will continue to do. Even if the truth isn’t pretty.

I sat in church last night and struggled. I struggled to celebrate. I thought this was because I myself, well, I haven’t felt well physically all week (to say the least) and that it was finally taking a toll on me emotionally. I was still in pain during the whole service, and after I was very cranky. I even took it out on my husband in front of a couple of people. I was not the normal “Annie” last night. Church brothers and sisters in Christ? I tried to stay away from them. I wanted to bolt out of there so I didn’t take anyone down with me in my misery. I didn’t want anyone to experience my black heart.

I was walking in condemnation all night long after this because I couldn’t move past all of it – the focus on self. Even while sitting there in service, I was hearing this in my head: (I couldn’t hold back the tears as this was happening, either)

“What is wrong with you? Look around. Look at everyone smiling. Everyone is happy and focused upon Jesus Christ right now, not on themselves, their pain, their problems. Can’t you do that? Why can’t YOU do that? You are so selfish.”

“You shouldn’t be here – people who are sensitive in the spirit are picking up on your vibes, sister. You are bringing people down.”

“Can’t you put aside all of this and focus upon Jesus and what He has done for you? You can’t even do that today – THIS day?”

Guess what? I loathe Satan.

Then, after praying a lot tonight and this morning, I realized there is probably something more going on. I’m going to try to articulate it, but I’m not sure that I can.

  • I cry in my soul that Jesus Christ had to be crucified, beaten, mocked and flogged for our sins. Deep soul crying.
  • It shatters me as I watched the Passion of the Christ and read the passages in Scripture about those last days Jesus walked this earth, even though I know that the way it “ends” is something to celebrate and is only the beginning of everything wonderful for each and every one of us who loves Him and accepts Him as our Savior.
  • Simultaneously, I am so filled with peace and joy that Christ is risen – that “it is finished”, that I get to spend all eternity with Him in heaven, and that He is alive and actively loving us the way that only He can to this day. That He always will.

But it – the ugly part of it all? It doesn’t feel like it’s over for me. It may be for our eternity, but right now, something is still happening here. (By the way, show me a colorful easter egg right now, and I can’t be responsible for my reaction – hee hee).

My sin may be wiped out – and that’s excellent news. My eternity is secured, and that’s even better. But for me, I don’t feel it is finished. And that’s because not EVERYTHING is finished. The most important thing is (thank Jesus for that!) But I haven’t figured out how to find a way to live this life to the fullest and not long for home.

I am keenly aware of the fact right now that I not there yet. I am not in heaven. I haven’t walked out of the grave and into eternity yet. He IS with me – right this moment. Today, this day, He is with me. Today and every day. But “it” – this life on earth.  “It” is not yet finished for me.

And guess what else? I don’t have a horrible life here on earth either. That’s what makes this longing for home so very strange. Why can’t I just be happy with this part and not wish I were there already? I don’t know. That’s the part He is working in me I guess.

So…I am being selfish. I am. And maybe that’s why I am so sad still. Not only because I am sad for what we and our sin have done to Jesus, our Savior. But because I am feeling sorry for me.

In the face of THAT, I am still feeling sorry for ME.

I am a sinner. I am a sinner who NEEDS her Savior.

Then I realized….I haven’t finished taking up my own cross yet, have I? I still have to live this life day to day taking it up and carrying it – dying to self.  And it is painful. I must say, I really stink at the whole thing. I need my helper. I can’t carry it alone. I just can’t.

Yes, what I have realized, is that instead of celebrating what Christ has done for me to the utmost, I am still mourning what we did to Him. What we DO to Him. I am mourning more than I am celebrating.

I am still in mourning.

I am still grieving selfishly that I have to stay here. That I haven’t “finished” my walk on this earth. That He has conquered death for me, but I don’t get to go home yet. I want to remain here for my family and to be an instrument for Christ. Yet I want to go home at the same time. This week I couldn’t move past the desire to just go home.

It’s been a weird week, yes. And there are more to come.

My eyes continue to be opened to just how selfish, yet saved and redeemed, that I am. Those two things definitely can and do co-exist for this girl. Yes they most certainly do.

Guess that’s proof of why I need my Savior. Guess that’s proof – ongoing proof, that His sacrifice was and is absolutely necessary in order for us to enter into God’s kingdom.

I am the weird project on display – and it serves an awesome purpose. It is living evidence of why our King needed to live and die for us – living proof of why He had to conquer death and rise again for us to be saved.

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I just pray that my weakness – my ugly – my selfishness – my struggle with the line between conviction and condemnation - I pray that all of it will display without question just how strong and sovereign and divine that Christ in me truly is.

I pray that my ongoing relationship with Him and my day to day learnings about relying upon Him and not self can be a living testimony to His grace.

So that….

  • Maybe others who are blind might see Him.
  • Maybe others will turn their eyes upon Jesus.
  • Maybe others will crave and reach out and desire a relationship with Him.

Nothing we can do can justify ourselves or what we have done. Not. One. Thing.

Only His grace can save us. But hopefully our weird stories – the ones He is still letting unfold as we walk in Him, live on this earth in Him, long to go home one day with Him, will make all the weird weakness we experience shine light – much more light – upon just how truly wonderful that He is.

So glad nothing can separate us from Him. Not even death. I pray that this life doesn’t get in the way of our relationship with Him either. This girl is ready for the day she gets to have her glorified body. This chick wants to go home. But it is not finished – my time here yet. He will decide when it is.

Just as He always has. He will decide when we no longer have our own cross to carry.

HE will decide. He already did the hard part anyway.

Thank Jesus that we who know Him and accept Him as our Lord and Savior – thank HIM that we know the end of our story. I guess it’s just this middle part I am still working on, huh?

So let the weird-ness continue.

The weird – the really, really weird - kind of “weak”.

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The Thing of All Things

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What is this thing we do with the journey we are on in life; that expectation we place upon the fact that it is only meant to be walked in a completely straight line? This idea that curves in the road, even moving backwards, is always a step in the wrong direction.

You know…it’s that thing.

It’s that idea that we are always supposed to move in one direction (only “forward”) and never, ever look back. That deal where we either move up, move out, or move on, because that’s how it’s supposed to be. I agree we need to keep moving at times, but at other times we are called to stay put.

I have figured something out although sometimes I forget to remember: It’s not always just going to come down to “A” or “B”.

That only A or B mentality? It’s that thing again.

The thing where if we change something, we never, EVER go back.But what if “going back” is sometimes a different experience that yields a new set of excellent results? We fall into the trap of thinking that it would be wrong to come back around full circle. That somehow that means we are just spinning our wheels.

Maybe it does mean that sometimes. But maybe it doesn’t.

We act like it means we are somehow degenerating, second guessing, doubting, or not walking in faith to return to a familiar place. But we forget we might have fresh eyes. So might others.

Know what I think? No matter where we step – forward, sideways, on top of our own feet in the same place (jumping up and down right where we’re at, even) – as long as we do it with Jesus and where He guides us, we are gonna be okay.

This thing is something I don’t get or fully understand even though I do it myself at times. It’s kinda like that other dealie-muh-bob I always talk about that happens to us when we are older as a result of something that was ingrained in us as children. You know. The illusion that we will return to that childhood schedule, for example, because we were able to pull it off for 18 years, weren’t we? So it absolutely MUST still be possible!

You know what this one looks like: As a child you always get the weekend off (pretty much). You know that once Saturday morning comes, you get to watch cartoons. Whoo Hoo! Bugs Bunny! You know you get to have time off to play and really enjoy your friends. You live for the next break, summer vacation, two weeks off in the middle of the school year, and you can pretty much count on it coming around every single year. Then, you become an adult and somehow you think that’s supposed to continue. It always did, so why shouldn’t it still keep on going now? You reach middle age, and you are still standing there – in AWE – at the fact that the weekend never really comes. Neither does the “summer break.” Heck, maybe not even a real vacation for many of us. At least, not the kind you used to have – the carefree kind.

Hmmmm. Maybe we should return to that kind of childhood schedule. Just sayin’.

But….we can’t????? Anyway, I digress. Guess that’s another topic we could expand upon some day.

So the expectations just never get adjusted. We don’t want to adjust them. We all just remain in the collective illusion. The collective false hope. The collective “it can’t be done” mentality. Yes, we keep hoping – dreaming – wishing we could make it real just because of the memory of it and again, because it worked for 18 years! We keep on living in la-la land even though we are about half a century OLD, yo! We keep on thinking it is going to magically change on it’s own one day and the childhood schedule will return – all by it’s little old self.

It’s that thing that’s ingrained but doesn’t make sense. False hope? I don’t know. See why I have to call it a “thing” now?

Well this particular thing I have been thinking a lot about lately is not exactly like that childhood/vacation/break analogy, but it is similar in that it’s this crazy thought or idea that we just continue (stubbornly) not to adjust our mindset, even though years and years have gone by and the polar opposite of it has been proven true.

Over and over again – we just keep thinking this weird way. Kinda like the definition of insanity isn’t it? Continuing to do or think the same thing or act the same way over and over with no different result.

We know better than this, but we keep on clinging. I just don’t know why we do it.

Here’s the thing on my mind right about now that I see us doing all too often: We tend to act like if we leave something behind, we never should go back to it. Not EVER.

That it somehow means we made a mistake to leave it and do something differently for a while, only to return to it. Like it means we are gluttons for punishment or we don’t learn our lessons if we do so. Guess what? That’s just plain stupid.

That it must mean if we go back to something we have done before that we regret ever doing the other stuff, or we’re running scared from change.

That somehow, this “returning to something” means we failed…we either failed by moving out of it in the first place, or we are failing to come back to it and leave the new or different thing behind. Stupid again.

We especially do this in Christian circles. I think that might be because the enemy likes to fake us out in this way. I think it’s one of his favorite tricks.

  • “Oh, well it must not have been meant to be” (means, move on and never go back to it or you were wrong in the first place to have made the change).
  • “You are meant to be right here right now” (is true, but that doesn’t mean we never go back to a place we have been before under completely different circumstances).
  • “God opened another door for you” (doesn’t mean He won’t allow you or even ask you to go back through that old door again one day).

I think about Jesus in regard to this notion a lot. Didn’t He frequent new places but return to the old places too? Didn’t he return to Galilee, go to the desert a LOT, and spend more than one occassion in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Doesn’t Jesus draw lines in the sand sometimes, but turn around and then break down the boundaries in bigger and even better ways?

Doesn’t He show us that He will always be there for us if we only seek Him in forgiveness and love? In fact, He’s always standing at the door – knocking. Even after we’ve slammed it in His face more than once.

Isn’t that what happened with one of the criminals alongside of Jesus on the cross? Isn’t that what Jesus did for every single one of us there? The cross and the resurrection display Jesus in all His glory being willing to do what must have looked to the world as “one step back” for a King if we’d ever seen one!

Am I wrong?

He came down to earth to rescue us. He came for us to save us from our sin and offer us eternal life with Him. He didn’t say “I’m sorry, I’m the God of the universe for all eternity and coming down to earth to spend time with you, give my life up for you, save the WORLD is a step back for me, so I can’t do that, you see.”

He lingered here…He lived and breathed among us. He still lives IN US.

He loves us THAT much.

Now that’s a THING.

So to me, being willing to follow after Jesus and His example – willing to go anywhere He leads us, is the biggest step forward we can ever take!  As long as we are moving where Jesus wants us to move, with HIM right by our side, it doesn’t matter if it’s to new places, or to some of the places that we’ve been before. We are always moving forward with Christ toward our real home where we will reign with Him forever! How awesome!

The difference is this: Wherever we go, if it’s hand in hand with Jesus, He will make all things new. He does that you know – He makes ALL things new. We are new creations in Christ Jesus. All we need to do is follow Him.

And that – that kind of stuff? Well, that is what I simply cannot adequately express in words, friends.

It’s just what I’m gonna have to simply call…..

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All the Rest

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As I complete this blog series on rest – resting in Jesus – I hope you have been encouraged, friends. I pray that even when it’s hard, and even when we have to remind one another, we know deep in our hearts that our Savior – He’ll take care of all the rest.

He takes care of All the Rest.

All the rest of the stuff to do. All of the rest of the things that are weighing on my heart. All of the rest of the stuff I never get to see come to fruition – in people, places, goals, endeavors, hopes. All of the rest.

Today I know…He’ll take care of all the rest. Do you know this too? Will you help me to remember on days that it’s tough?

He takes care of All the Rest.

The rest I need for my body. All the rest I need from the battlefields of the heart – the mind – the fight to live and walk His path in a dark world. He will provide the rest that I need. The shelter. The warm place. All of the rest.

Today….this day, I shall rest in Him – for He is Rest.

He takes care of All the Rest.

Sit back…enjoy a while. Know Him. Love Him. Believe in Him. After all, He has overcome it all. For Us.

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Resting in His promises,

Resting in His love…

Resting in His faithfulness,

His guidance from above.

Resting in His holy wisdom,

Resting in His light…

Resting in His sovereignty,

His power and His might.

Resting in His pathways,

Resting even if it’s cold…

Resting in His triumph,

In His wings, so strong and bold.

Resting in His presence,

Resting, drawing near…

Resting in the understanding

My home’s with Him; it’s not here.

Resting ’cause He knows me,

Resting in Him is best…

Resting no matter what goes on,

Him first; He takes care of the rest.

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Prisons of Rest

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What are the barriers to Rest in our lives? What blocks us or derails us and takes us off track? Has another train come along that’s bigger, stronger, more powerful than the one we are meant to be on right now?

There are many things that thwart making rest, and resting in Jesus Christ, number ONE in our lives. Yes, they come in all shapes and sizes. But I would venture to say that there is really not just ONE big prison where resting in Jesus gets locked up.

I think there are a lot. Upon reading this, you may read that last statement the way that I do – that it is a major understatement. Unbelievably so.

The prisons of rest are scattered on every corner, just as churches are. The enemy is no dummy; he is fully aware that his battle is not a game of Candyland or Chess.

(he), that enemy, is fully aware. (his) eyes are wide open, but they aren’t focused upon Jesus. At allstone-figure-117503_640

Some of the prisons aren’t even on the outside, just lingering and waiting in the dark to capture us and lock us up forever. The enemy continually ups his game, my friends. Once you think you have it figured out so as to create some kind of awesome defense, it will change. You can count on that.

The scariest and darkest prisons of rest – the ones that many think they can never escape from – those are on the inside. They are locked away in our hearts. Hidden in the tiny cracks. Layered with great and shiny stuff on the top so as to be protected; fortress-like; and never detected or found until it seems….”too late.”

These interior prisons that hold rest captive? They are no joke, dear friends. There are many walls around them – many soldiers guarding from the inside out. Those who run the prison are magicians of the most magnificent sort. They are masters at deception, utterly devoted to protecting what they think is their own. They are relentless, they are powerful, they are demonic and commited to their lord and master, Satan.

This is the stuff they live for, friends. And they don’t care if we die in the process.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

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So, what are some of the prisons of rest and why are there so many? I believe it’s because the desire in our hearts has been placed there by Jesus to connect with Him, be in relationship with Him, and to love Him. That is beyond powerful. That is divine.

So, it follows suit that the prisons must be pervasive as well. They must be absolutely everywhere all the time. They can’t take that innate truth  and desire to know and love God away, but they can try their hardest to block it, lock it up, and try to stop us from acting upon it and nurture it.

They can and will try to make it a living hell to follow after that desire to love and to know Jesus.

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Some of the prisons I have identified in my own life are below:

Prison of Pursuits: What do I pursue after with energy and zeal? How much time and energy do I give to that cause? Is something I am pursuing more important to me than resting in Jesus and that relationship? For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

Prison of the Paths: Along with that, comes the paths which we choose to go down. Is the one that I am on the easy way, the path of least resistance? Have I been called by Christ to walk that way? Is He there, by my side? This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16

Priorities Prisons: Do I have the right desire – do I wish to pursue Jesus and walk His path, but find myself caught up in other things – time suckers that throw me off track? What am I making top priority in my life? Am I letting the rest then fall into place? Is it Jesus first, then the rest, or is it the other way around? Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.Matthew 22:37-39

Principles Prisons: Principle is defined as “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning. A fundamental source or basis of something.” (Merriam Webster Dictionary) What is my guiding light? What is driving ME? Is it being a hard worker? Is it being a good wife, mom, or friend to others? Is it serving in my church? Is it making sure the bills are paid? Or is it time spent resting in Jesus? For, “he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything“  Colossians 1:18

Positivity Prison: I’ve written about this recently and it’s really been on my mind and my heart. There are two culprits here: endeavoring to only “experience” that which feels good or positive – that’s one way that “positivity” can chain us up. Or, secondly,  wallowing in negativity and letting depression, pain, anxiety or difficulty overtake us can imprison us as well. It’s not just A or Just B. The enemy knows that. It can be both. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life. Matthew 6:25-34

The Pleasure Prison: What do we strive for to help us to feel good in this life? Are we walking down a path of pleasure, knowing something we are doing isn’t really holy or pure in the eyes of the Lord? Or worse yet, are we spending all of our time finding feel- good things – things that aren’t really sinful or “wrong” in and of themselves, to achieve that sense of rest in our lives, but sacrificing time with Jesus while we are at it? Feeling good, when not sinful is not a bad thing. But if we are unable to find rest in him without the sensory experience of pleasure, how will we maintain such rest during difficult times? Just sayin’. It shouldn’t be the primary driving force in our lives to seek after only those things that make us feel good. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

Prison of Places: Timing is everything? I can’t do this cause I am here and don’t have the time to meet with Jesus? I’m too busy, I have too much work to do, I have to go here, there, do this or that first. Jesus didn’t operate that way when He walked this earth. No matter where he was, He made time to meet with the Father. Even upon the cross. Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14

Purpose Prison: What is my purpose in life? Is it MINE? Do I allow the Holy Spirit to guide my actions, my endeavors, my path and purpose in life? Is it to follow after Christ Jesus, no matter where it may lead? Or is it to be a good person, even a “good Christian” even more than that? But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you. Acts 26:16

People Prison: Who am I following? Am I letting others dictate my every move? Am I a people pleaser more than a Christ follower? Do I care more about meeting their needs than doing what God is asking me to do today? Do people matter more than my time with Him? Who do I love first? Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

Prayer Prison: Is this the last place I give attention to in my day, my week, my life? Does time spent with Jesus entail my “leftovers”? Am I distracted so much when I try to quiet myself and pray and talk with my very own Savior, that I finally give up and put it off? When do I meet with God? I can talk with Him throughout the day, but do I set time aside to quiet myself before Him?  Prayer should not be a prison, but it does need to be protected. We need to guard it! But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:6

We can’t fully remove these many prisons by ourselves - their existence, I mean.  But think of Jesus and how He lived day to day.

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Think of Jesus – still praying to the end, while upon the cross. Even when nailed to it, He broke outside of those chains that tried to bind Him. He defeated the grave! He stayed focused on the Father!

Think of Jesus - busier and invested more than anyone who has ever walked the earth. The Savior of the WORLD. But Jesus prayed. Jesus put God first. Always.

Think of Jesus, friends. Jesus pursued the Father first. Jesus walked the path laid before Him by the Father. Jesus had his priorities straight and lived by only Godly principles. Jesus wasn’t captured by living for only positivity, pleasure, or people. Jesus spent time with the Father in every place, prayed no matter what He was going through that day, and lived and breathed the will of the Lord.

This was His purpose. This is our purpose.This was not His prison. It shouldn’t be ours either.

It is our privilege.

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Yes – the enemy is a formidible foe. Yes, the prisons he erects in our lives are real, and they are powerful. But nothing can bind us up and separte us from Christ if we follow after Him. Just like Jesus. Nothing can stop us from resting in Him – His power – His love – His truth.

Not if we don’t want it to. Not if we turn to Him.

We are His. Privileged Ones, not the imprisoned ones.

We are His.

I think…..I think it’s just a matter of answering the ultimate question that we all must face: Who are we going to allow to hold the keys?

Who?

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And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39

Soul Rest

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I rest when I admit and surrender the weight,
Admit that I’m not strong enough…
Admit that I’m not big enough; good enough
Admit that I possess nothing that is sufficient
Not by myself…never on my own.
I rest when I step outside of me and move toward HIM.
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Do I take what He offers to me, freely?
In such, I find divine rest and learn.
Resting in His understanding;
Basking underneath His gentleness and self-control
Tucked under His wing; dwelling safely
In the midst of His power, I find serenity.
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I am promised abundant rest in Him,
I only have to come; accept it gladly, never reluctantly
Not just mere rest in body or mind,
But the promised rest that He offers my soul.
Soul rest, comes only from my Lord Jesus
It is HIS kind of rest, through and through.
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Released from the weight of the world
Beyond rest for our mere physical burdens
Rest from eternal separation and emptiness,
Soul rest – eternally abiding in Him.
Unweighted by the chains of our sin or the law
Free to rest in Him; His love, and His sovereignty.
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Soul Rest ~ the only kind that is real.
Soul Rest ~ The only kind that really matters.
Soul Rest ~ The only kind that is sufficient.
Soul Rest ~ The only place we can really call ….. Home.
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Rest Under Arrest

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When we search the Word of God, often we can focus upon one or two areas only that the Lord is teaching us about and inspiring us in, but forget that the whole of it is important. I am a master at this!

If done unto the Lord….

  • Hard work is important…
  • Service to others – important.
  • Not having idle hands – important.
  • Sacrificing our time, money, desires – important.

And guess what else is deemed as important by God?

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Not just physical rest, but many kinds of rest is shown to be something that should be a very high priority in the Christian life.

Jesus lived it…walked it….breathed it. Rest and Jesus go hand in hand.
By the way: I STINK at this! I’m getting better, but I still STINK!
So, I am going to do a series on rest through this blog. You ideas are beyond welcome! I want them!

Today, will be the day I share the big picture the way I see it playing out in my own little life. Then I will narrow things down for the next few posts.

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All of my life, I have valued hard work. I mean hard, as in giving it my all when there’s a task before me. The times I have not given my best have usually been when I am either burned out, or I see no value in what lies ahead and choose to give my energy to something that is more important. This has not always been out of good motivations or inentions either. Sometimes I was performing for the wrong reasons. Other times, I really just had the best of intentions and want to give my best to all that I do. Either way, I usually found myself neglecting rest in some form or fashion though.
Yes, an area I have failed utterly and completely in is the area of consistent rest. 
Rest: You are a friend of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Why have I not welcomed you into my life sooner? Why do I greet you in fleeting ways, then dismiss you completely? How can I nurture this relationship and give you the time and attention that you deserve? I feel like I should know you better by now, but clearly I have not been a good friend. I have shunned you, berated you, devalued you, put you aside and pulled you out for a rainy day only, and minimized how very great that you really are.”

Many of us are guilty of this, I’m sure. We hear about it all the time. Life is too busy. We work full time, so where’s the time to get everything else done? I don’t have time for this…yada yada yada.

It’s hard when you are well-intentioned. That’s where the enemy gets us. Even if we can find a block of time to “rest” sometimes our mind is not at rest. So it’s not really rest then, is it?

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Here’s part of my own list of sorry excuses. Maybe you would like to see if you relate to any of these?

  • I work all day long outside of the home and when I get home, I drain my brain and “rest” it a little, but there’s still quite a bit to get done before I can go to bed. I find myself leaving some things and still feeling pressure to do others. I plan to use my days off to get the bulk of it done, but there’s still only so much you can put off. Or could I, but I am still choosing not to? I think we all know the answer to that one.
  • On the weekends, it’s all I can do to get to church (which I want to do), clean the house so it’s in order for the next week, do laundry for the family of five, and run errands. I sneak in pockets of time to play a little game, read part of a book, but it’s always sandwiched in-between all the other stuff. I long for blocks of time to rest versus just squeezing it in. Again, I need to make some choices here – clearly. And I’m being stubborn. Probably sinfully so.

Yes, this is how we “busy” folks tend to do daily life. But God has given me one thing here that He’s helped me to work on – and that’s good.

Here it is: This is part of the key of daily rest – finding the little crevices of time in which we can wedge a little bit more in there.

But that’s till totally fragmented. It’s still not giving my full attention to a block of time in which that is all I do…

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“Rest: I hear you moan and cry out for your friend. You have been neglected and you have such wonderful things you wish to share with me. I hear you when you say you appreciate that I check in with you in the little spaces throughout the day. But I hear you too as you share that you wish I could find some time to focus upon you and me – JUST you and me for a while.”
So, I clearly have figured out how to check in with my friend a little here and a little there. That’s more than I could say compared to how I used to be. Wow…I’ve come a long way, baby. NOT.

Does that make me a good friend – the BEST one that I can be? Does that mean I am nurturing that relationship to the fullest, or just keeping it going as much as I can since it has to take a back seat to all the work and toil? Where is my value in life – where’s the majority of my focus and time and effort? Hint: It hasn’t been upon rest.

Here’s what I think: I think both rest and work (all unto the glory of God – not just work for the sake of work) are important to the Lord. BOTH are important. BOTH deserve our attention, love, time, investment.

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Obviously, we can’t just step away from our responsibilities. (Or can we?). Maybe some of them. Some stuff needs to be discraded. Some stuff needs to be revamped, or approached differently. But then I find myself spending time revamping and reprioritizing. I spend too much time planning for where to find rest that I don’t rest. Ha ha. It’s a mess! I’m a hot mess. Oh, I’m so happy Jesus gets me. And He loves me anyway.

It is clear that we must do what lies before us and do it with excellence. It should be an honor and a privilege and something we are highly motivated to do if we can bring glory to God through such things. Yes, it’s creative to run the stairs on break at work, step aside to pray or text a friend, take a moment after work to check notes from friends, do some yoga in-between laundry loads, but it’s also important to find blocks of time to concentrate our focus upon our good friend, Rest.

Just to sit. Just to listen. Just to drain the junk and fill it with Jesus and Him alone. This is where the monks in Tibet might have a leg up on all of us. Just sayin’.

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Rest from work – all forms of it for a block of time. More often.
Rest Refills - Rest from constant output, and not taking time for input.
Rest from busy – running around – errands – meetings – appointments.
Rest from chores.
Rest from planning.
Rest from schedules.
Rest from only giving and not accepting opportunities for receiving.
Rest. Plain, long, thought out and lingered in Rest.

“Rest: You are calling my name – I hear you clearly. I need to spend time with Jesus and you together. My greatest rest, small or big is found in that. I need more time in the Word that is not fragmented or hit and miss….longer blocks of time in which I can linger there…soak it in. To do this, I sometimes have to sacrifice physical rest….sleep time. I feel in my gut that’s not the way. But I know the answer lies in God’s word and my communion with Him in prayer. You are found there. Jesus is found there. Love is found there.”

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Maybe Jesus will enlighten me as to how He did it – stepped away in prayer, recharged, for blocks of time as well as throughout the day. I don’t think we hear much about how much sleep Jesus got, but we sure do hear about how much time He spent in prayer and with His Father. I don’t know if Jesus learned to sacrifice sleep in order to step away from it all and spend time “resting” in the Lord in prayer and devotion….I don’t know.

But I do know one thing: He just DID it. The “how” must be found by just doing it.

I’m doing it wrong, friends. I’m doing it wrong.

It’s hard for us, isn’t it? We need physical rest for our bodies, and I struggle to find even that (enough of it). Something always seems to have to give. But I won’t give up. God’s put this desire firmly in my heart. I just haven’t been a very good girl.  Listening without action….not okay.

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Here are some of the ways I have found to spend time with my friend, Rest. Also on the list are things I know I want to do and haven’t figured out the “how” of it yet. I’m going to spend even more time in the Word and in prayer and look for Jesus there – He will give me the How.

Rest through Reading the Word of God and praying – typically I take 30 minutes to 1 hour at night before bed to spend uninterrupted time in the Word of God, and intermittently I find time during at least one break during the work day. I feel like it’s not enough for me right now. But I also have hope….God will deliver.
Rest through Connecting with Others – I am recharged when I spend time setting aside a chore to connect with others at the end of my work day – through an email, a chat, or a text. Talking with someone in my family about their day and not rushing the process is always awesome when we can get together and make it happen. And then throughout the day at work, I get little bits of this too. This, has been something that has changed my life…doing more of this.
Rest through Exercise – I used to be GREAT at this. Over the last couple of months I have neglected my friend in this area – not found the time block where I can be consistent. This girl tends to throw up her hands in this area if she can’t be consistent. The pain in my body has also been a wall I have put up here. This time was a block that I could use to rest and recharge while doing it. It also cleared my mind so I could better meet with rest throughout the day. I am struggling to find consistency here now. My friend is screaming at me to bring this back into my day to day for at least an hour. Where will I find the time? I do not yet know. How can I work through the pain? By the grace and mercy of Jesus – He will help me. I know it.
Rest through Service –It sounds funny, but it’s true. When I am able to serve at the church once a week for a season, I find time with rest there. It’s hard work to serve, but at the same time, it’s a way to recharge other areas in life. Stepping away from the chores and focusing upon another group’s needs can revitalize them, as well as ourselves. Giving is receiving.
Rest through Prioritizing Better –What will cause my mind and heart to be more at rest throughout my day? Is it more stressful to get all of the chores done, or leave them and step away? Do I listen to that inner voice telling me which is more important today? Do I think I can simply make my plan for the week and stick with it for the sake of saying that I did, or am I flexible based upon what God has for me TODAY?
Rest through writing, blogging, reading or hobbies –Do I find rest when I blog and share with others? When I don’t, I stop doing it. Is it a way to serve, yet recharge my own heart, my own mind at the same time? Do I listen? Blogging is a way to share with others, commune with God, get the junk out with Jesus, and create community all at the same time.  Journaling in general, is proven to offer mental and emotional rest – if done with the right motivation and intention, it can be a way to serve others too. I haven’t made the time to blog as much as before – and my stress level has definitely increased as a result of it.

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I look at my list above and all the areas in which I fail or don’t fail, and it always comes down to those two things.

Here’s a thought: If we aren’t spending enough time in the Word, and in prayer, how can we attune our ears and hearts to be able to truly listen? That needs to come first.

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“Oh, Rest: I know I have neglected you greatly. Oh Jesus…I have also neglected YOU. You, dear Jesus – You are my rest. I know that when there’s a doubt, I can find you both in the Word and in time of prayer with my Savior. I have been a bad friend. You are so good for me, yet I neglect you both. Oh dear Jesus, dear Rest, thank you for always being there and being ready to meet me through any time. As fickle as I am, you are constant and true. I pray you will help me to match my actions up to my heart in regard to time spent with you. Can you help me?”

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Might you share some of your list with me in the comments below? I would love to hear about how you successfully find and make time to rest in Jesus, but also the areas in which you are not doing so.
What stops you from resting?What helps you to make rest a priority? What topics on rest would you like to hear about?

AND, the key question: How do you balance it all? How do you give the attention to work and rest that they both deserve?

Making Jesus number one in the face of it ALL. Is that possible? It must be…with God.

For He tells us so.

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Chocolate Dreams

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Last night I dreamed of Oreo Cookies – lots and lots of them. Most of the dreaming was pleasant, but there was a part of it in which a slight war ensued as Thin Mints tried to come in and get in on the lovin. That didn’t last long though – the battle part of it all.

Quickly and deftly, my Oreo friends took the wheel again as they ousted their competition. They were loving on me big time and came at me every which way.

Liquid Oreo in squeeze bottles…
Regular good old cookies
Oreo in ice cream
Oreo layered in more chocolate
Oreo bit sized pieces in an Oreo casserole
Just….Oreo. Every kind of Oreo.

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They all had faces too – my little chocolate buddies. Smiling and laughing; giggling and jumping, they tried to get in and live as Annie every way they could. During a part of the dream, some other part of my brain said “Should you be scared right now?” but quickly that feeling dissipated and was replaced again with sheer joy and gluttony without shame.

One of them decided to be Oreo top cookie and stayed on my shoulder everywhere I went. He whispered sweet Oreo stuff in my ear and cajoled me into thinking I wasn’t going to get sick if I enjoyed all of his friends to the fullest.

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  • I heard of the benefits of chocolate and the way they would soothe my tummy…
  • Twas told of the beauty of happiness found through round chocolate wafers stuffed with white creamy icing…the more you eat, the better you feel.
  • The added benefit was thrown in several times that the more of them I would eat, the more they would multiply and this little tidbit spoke volumes to my inner hoarder and practical nature of saving up for a rainy day.
  • Probably the most convincing argument my little friend had was that I would be “filled with endorphins” upon waking and that all arthritic (or whatever it is) pain in my body would be gone. Plus, my mood would be boosted for eternity.

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I must tell you, my friends: I woke up feeling quite fabulous. For a minute I felt like something was missing, however. Something on my right shoulder. No matter. Their story whispered in my ear for what seemed like hours on end will last for quite some time. I’m good for a while.

It worked for a while, the dissipation of pain – and that is a good thing, isn’t it? I didn’t go out and buy any Oreos today ~ I guess the thought of them all night whilst dreaming was enough.

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The Lord works in mysterious ways and He most definitely has a sense of humor. I thank my Jesus for sending me chocolate dreams just when I needed them the most.

He knows me. Oh, what love is this. A Mighty Savior who knows that the thought of chocolate will make my little day.

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We’re Being Faked Out!

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I have been thinking a lot about the ways that Satan likes to fake us out with stuff that may contain a degree of truth within it, but if taken literally, is quite the big lie.

He IS a big, fat liar, after all. And he’s no dummy.

If I were evil through and through, I would do my best to play games with others’ hearts and minds the very same way: Find that which appeals to the senses or feelings, that which is layered with what seems like beauty or good, and twist it so as to pierce the heart and make those I wish to conquer think I actually have their best interest at heart.

I would choose to divide people.

Check it out: These are just a few of the “positive quotes” that I have seen out there in our world lately. Really look at these in the context of the supposed blanket truth they claim to be sharing with us. Can you honestly apply these to every situation you might ever encounter? To your husband, let’s say. Or your child? How about someone you really, really love who is going through an immense struggle, sickness, trial, or otherwise hard time?

  • “Surround yourself only with people who will lift you higher.”
  • “Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything or anyone that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.”
  • “Let go of those who bring you down and surround yourself with only those who bring out the best in you.”
  • Choose people who lift you up.”
  • Don’t expect to see positive changes in your life if you surround yourself with negative people.”
  • I don’t have an attitude problem…You have a problem with my attitude and that’s not my problem.”

Some may say “Well, Annie…you are taking these out of context.”

I have little choice but to reply…”Most of the time they are only given in a blanket context, friends. When these things tend to be shared out, they are not explained in any other “context” than stand-alones…all by themselves. They are shared as blanket truths.They are professed as our guiding light.”

Maybe they aren’t statements that were really ever intended to be used to apply to every situation; I’ll give it that much. Maybe the original creator of such statements truly meant for them to be shared or applied in our lives for certain things, people, or situations. But I must say, I am disturbed at the astronomical increase in frequency I am seeing quotes like this of late. I am disturbed about the pervasive adaptation in behaviors to these types of mantras. Things like loyalty, servanthood, empathy, and selflessness.

Yah. Those kind of things.

Life is not all about us and our own little feelings! I have to say it, and if I offend anyone who may be reading this today, please hear my heart on this one.

I get that we need to try not to be constantly placing ourselves in situations that are negative with no hope for fruit from sticking with it in sight. There are times we are to “dust off our feet” as Christians, and move on to share Jesus with another group of folks who are actually somewhat receptive. I get that. Context. ‘Nuff said there.

But when I read these types of quotes and see them infiltrating our entire culture every which way I turn, all I can think about is what Jesus might say about it all. What might He think about the way we apply these things in our culture, our schools, our workplace, our families? What might Jesus think?

Did Jesus Christ surround Himself with only those who lifted HIM up?
No….in fact, he came down to earth – our God and King – and lowered Himself to walk amongst us in a sin-ridden and imperfect world. He came and sacrified Himself. For US.

Did Christ only hang out with those who would make Him feel better about Himself, motivate Him because they made Him feel good, or lay at His feet in worship and adoration all the time?
No…in fact, He hung out with lepers, sinners, tax collectors, and utterly imperfect and flawed people who needed love – who needed lifting up themselves. He was nailed to a cross so as to offer us the chance to be lifted up and be able to live with Him for all eternity one day!

Did Christ teach us that we are placed on this earth to be served, adored, loved, and protected from all that might seem negative or feel less than good?
No…He spoke about taking up our cross, loving our enemies, and that no servant is greater than His master. If He gave His life for us, why should we only surround ourselves with those people or things that make us feel like Kings and Queens?

I think it’s good to spread positivity and good cheer. I think it’s crucial that we try our best not to bring others down; in fact, to lift them up and edify them. But for this girl, I pray every single day that if someone in my world is sad, sick, downtrodden, grief stricken, filled with frustration, bitterness, or even hatred comes my way, that instead of cutting them out of my life because they aren’t lifting ME up, that Jesus Christ would give me the strength and grace to be there for them. Even when I don’t like it.

By the way: I don’t do a very good job when I try to do this in my own power. Just sayin’. This girl needs God’s grace. This one needs His supernatural and divine intervention to love even a little like He does.

That is what I call true positivity: Being that light to others – all others. Those who want to be uplifted, and those who resist such things, but have holes in their hearts that need to be filled? Those folks need the real stuff. Not the feel-good mantras. Those folks are the ones who are being left in the dust when they need someone to come alongside of them and love them in the face of what they are dealing with that is by no means pretty or “positive” by this crazy world’s standards.

Most especially, the people in this world who think they don’t want or need love, care, and support may just be the very ones who need it the most. I think we should fight for them.

Just like Jesus fights for US.

I’m so glad that Jesus loved us “while we were still sinners” aren’t you? He even gave His life for us – while we spat upon him and mocked Him to the very end. That’s some serious “negativity” right there, friends; nailing the Savior of the world to a cross to die a gruesome death. Spitting in His face while doing it. Turning our backs on Him after all that He has done for us.

His grace in the face of that ugly and evil is what is truly positive, if you ask me!

His love for us in spite of our failures is true “positivity”. It’s not a false negative, or a false positive, by any stretch of the imagination. It is real. It is love. It is truth.

It is Christ.

My prayer today is that we guard our hearts from prettied-up little lies the enemy tries to tell us. That we will love BIG, especially when it’s hard. That we will have the wisdom that comes only from the Lord, His grace and the discernment to see the truth through the ugly that masquerades itself as real beauty.

Love – the true kind? It’s the kind that isn’t often very easy to give.

Let’s be the real kind of positive, friends. Just as Jesus Himself is for us.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Let Jesus, and only Jesus hold the key!

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Strength In Grace

Friends,

This sermon last night from II Timothy is probably one of THE BEST I have ever heard. Our pastor, Eric Cartier, teaches directly from the passage in scripture on grace and how we are to find our strength in that grace – offered to us by Jesus Christ and Him alone. If you have time, please check this out. You can also go to RMC.org to hear any messages from the Word that come from Rocky Mountain Calvary Chapel.

Beyond Exhaustion

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On days like today, when I am low (way, waaay low) on physical energy, I sometimes wish I could say out loud what is going on and that people would understand.

Let me clarify that: I want them to understand that even though I am weary on the outside, I still care for and love them. I pray my face or the way I am carrying myself does not convince them otherwise.

On days like today, I have more energy and verve inside of my heart than my body will allow me to express.

  • A crooked, or not as wide as normal smile – truly sincere – coming from the inside out. But the kind of thing one would notice when it’s not that normal, bright and open smile you might be know to usually have for them.
  • Eyes that are tired, or lacking some of the brighness they normally would exude when the body is cooperating with the heart and the mind, and is allowing, or even helping us to express how excited we are and how very much we care.
  • A gait that does not reflect the same level of excitement to be alive and filled with Jesus that the soul knows and wishes to translate outward to others without question.

On days like that, all we can do is allow the Lord to work through us in the mysterious ways that we all know that He can. We tend to judge sincerity or how a person feels by how they look from the outside. We have to trust that the Lord can help others to see through such things when we are not top notch.

He can manifest His face through our broken bodies, and even during times that maybe our emotions or hearts are hurting. Just take a look at what He did Himself! That beautiful Jesus of ours, as He was nailed to that cross; he was bruised, beaten, bleeding.  But He moved beyond that. Way Beyond.

“His strength is made perfect in my weakness” has been a part of scripture that I keep coming back to these past months ~ it runs through my mind at almost every moment, it seems. This has been going on for possibly over a year now. I am learning this and understanding this more and more as time goes on. As my body seems to be shutting down, my heart is just more and more filled with the desire to love others to the fullest and show them God living inside in spite of it all. Yes, even through this physical brokenness.

Maybe even because of this brokenness.

When we have days like I had today, and they begin to become more the norm than the exception, we can cling to this truth from our Savior. We can hang on tightly to the fact that He will shine through our weakness and that His face will be seen by those who seek Him, whether it is through us and our broken “whatever” or something else. Even if we can’t physically grasp onto another single thing, or place one foot in front of the other normally – He is still perfect in us, and He is beyond strong.

We get to know Jesus ourselves in a more intimate way through our ugly stuff, don’t we? It’s that stuff that we cannot transcend or overcome on our own. That junk that bothers us or we think might be holding us back – even holding back what we can do to spread His love – it is not a formidible enemy to the One true King. HE is the love spreader – HE is the One who does all of the work anyway. And it’s not hard for Him. Not at all.

These little barriers are like specks compared to the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. Specks, I tell you! They seem insurmountable to us, sure. But maybe that’s the point. It points out in a very clear way that what seems so big and bad to us, is nothing for Jesus Christ to overcome.

Mind blowing, if you ask me.

Yes, Jesus and what He can do in and amongst us is way beyond any perceived weakness or limitation we could ever imagine. He is mighty beyond physical brokenness. He is victorious and beyond our frustration! His peace surpasses mere human heartache. His power is beyond anxiety, beyond disease, and yes, beyond utter and complete human exhaustion.

Jesus is beyond even death. He is risen!!!! He defeated the grave! Surely, He can defeat a little bit of human imperfection and weariness.

Most assuredly He can. And most definitely, He does.

My spirit is alive because Jesus lives inside of me! It is more alive, more energetic, more enthusiastic and more motivated to let Him work His will within me and through me than ever before. Nothing can stop Him from shining through. Not even that which tries to sap every last bit of my physical “much-ness” that it can.

Not. even. that.

He will renew me and refresh me even if He chooses not to remove what is running wild inside of my body.  I feel like lately Jesus is saying to this mere human shell, and the iniquities of this world and the attacks that are being launched upon my body… “Bring it on.” Although that’s kind of scary, I feel His power growing inside of me every single day. Maybe my body just needs to adjust to all that power. That’s a thought. Kind of a wonderful one, at that. (I’m a bit twisted, I know…I know).

I want for my body to aid me in letting the joy and love of Jesus seep outward for the world to see in ways that are unmistakable. But at the same time, I know He doesn’t need that “aid” at all.  I trust Him and what He is doing even when this body chooses to be resistant. And honestly, as much as it literally hurts, I kinda think that is pretty cool. He does great things.

He is just….Beyond.

Beyond, yet right there. Right here, this very moment.

I will continue to serve the Lord Jesus Christ now, in the midst of the good times, and in what seem to be the bad ones too. And yes…this includes times like today –  when I am feeling “beyond” exhausted. My outer shell may not align with my inner excitement, but maybe it never will until I go home to live with Him. It really may be.

Isn’t it glorious to think on the beautiful promise that one day we will have heavenly bodies? What wonder it is to ponder the fact that there will come a day – that day where time stretches out into an eternity – in which our bodies are actually capable of matching up with our souls and the boundaries they try to impose upon us are completely obliterated?

In the meantime if you are struggling with feeling that you are broken somehow, or exhausted beyond compare, just try to remember that Jesus and the power He has to work His will in and through you has no boundaries or restrictions - even now! Just keep that zest and love alive and continue to yield to Him. Stand upon His promises and remember this life is not what defines us. This life is not where the story ends for us. This life, these trials, these exhausted bodies or broken hearts – they are but a tiny piece of the journey we are on – the one that eventually leads us to our permanent home. It’s coming soon, friends. That day is coming soon. This is just another speck – this right now.

There will be no pain there… at home. No crying, no fighting, and most certainly no exhaustion. Let that be what you stay excited about in the face of it all. And stand back (or sit down if need be) and watch Him work while you do so. Enjoy that. I plan to along with you.

There’s nothing more refreshing than that, my friends; watching Jesus work no matter what the circumstances. Even if you are feeling exhausted.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:11

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29

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Who’s the Best Role Model, Anyway?

Originally posted on 40YearWanderer ~ ~ ~ Heather Mertens:

We welcome, Annie! Annie’s first guest post wakes us up to who and what we emulate ~ and it might surprise you! You can read about Annie, the newest contributing writer to 40YearWanderer, on the contributing  author page.
Enjoy!
~ Heather

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What is a good role model, anyway?

Is it that perfect person? You know. The one who never does anything wrong. The one who has it all together. That one?

Is it the person who achieves excellence in all they do and does it with a smile?

How about the one who just sticks with it no matter how rough the road gets and can tell a great story one day about “that time they just stuck it out and came through the other side?”

Those things aren’t necessarily bad…sticking with things, trying to give it our all or our best. So please don’t get me wrong on this one. However…

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The Little Big Things

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You know, over time I have found that if I don’t act upon something right away, small as it may seem, I just won’t act upon it at all.

And if we carry on that way, well…

It adds up to a big ZERO.

Zilch. Nada. Emptiness.

You’ve heard it said many ways and many times, I’m sure: The little things make all the difference in the world.

It’s said a lot because it is TRUE.

A whole bunch of little things – little or small acts of kindness – yield the great stuff of life.

The BIG stuff that’s really, really awesome? It’s made up of a bunch of little things that have all added up over time to actually mean something.

A relationship nurtured little by little over time….

A thought that crosses your mind – and is turned into action - to do a small thing to make another’s day….

Time spent with someone that ends up making all the difference in their outlook…

A hug, a kind word, taking the last seat, opening that door…

Big and awesome things are good, but a bunch of little things can be GREAT.

Those seemingly insignificant things – or the things that only seem cool for a moment – they can make the impression of Jesus and His kind of love upon a person’s life.

Guess what else? A whole bunch of those little things delivered consistently every time and over a long period of time? Those are actually very, very BIG.

Those are BIG life-changers.

Those are BIG impressions made in another’s experience, life, heart.

Those are BIG testimonies of the truth that a heart filled with the love of Jesus – one that follows through – one that is there every single possible time, time and time again.

Those are the ones that make it count. They count for something.

They count a lot.

They matter a lot.

These little things – well, they just plain make BIG.

BIG is good if it’s something that is made up of little bits of love and truth every step of the way.

Big is good if it is the end result of walking in gentleness, truth, self-sacrifice, and most of all love.

The little things of Jesus and His ways? They aren’t small, my friends. They are packed with mighty molecules of Jesus, who He really is, His character, His love, His – ALL.

If you, like me, sometimes grow weary or start feeling helpless when you are only able to do one thing that just seems…well, “small” or insignificant – please, please remember not to stop. Don’t let the devil make you think it’s not worth it. Every single thing we do with the desire to please Jesus and share His love matters.

It matters BIG.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves  has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know  God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8

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Give it Away, Give it Away, Give it Away Now!

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Sometimes we get weary.

We are tired, worn down, or even sad and grumpy.

It’s as though the mere thought of smiling might cause our faces to crack into a million little pieces if we even dared to do it.

But on the days that I am not the weary one, I can forget to give away my own smile. It’s all too easy to forget to remember.

If you aren’t overwhelmed today, won’t you join me in giving your smiles away? I bet that if we joined together in prayer, the Lord will provide plenty of them to go around.

It makes a difference. Maybe not right away, but it does make a difference.

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True Glue

Here’s something strange for you to ponder along with me today. I don’t know what to call this thing that I have observed throughout life. It’s really quite frustrating and strange, but also strangely liberating in a way when I think about it.

It’s the fact that quite often, things just don’t seem to “gel” in the way we think that they will. See, I am kind of thinking that the glue that holds us together actually spills out over the sides of all the puzzle pieces sometimes. It’s a messy kind of glue, yet a strong one. It’s not perfectly stuck together in a pleasing-to-the-eye kind of way.

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Let me elaborate just a bit with you, using myself as an example again since I can only speak for me and not anyone else’s experience.

I have gone through seasons in my life where everything was rolling along smoothly physically. I was enjoying the utmost regarding health, energy, vitality, just the whole deal. Yet many of those pockets of time in my life that I had the physical good stuff were laced with a simultaneous darkness that was pervasive inside of me. Physically I was awesome! Mentally, emotionally, and heart-wise? Not so much.

I have also experienced periods of time in which things are going well on the inside, but I am falling apart somewhat on the outside.  For example, right now my body is giving me a lot, I  mean a lot, of trouble. I have yet to find out along with my doctors and therapists what exactly is going on. I hide it well – so I have complete and total awareness of the fact that it could be much, much worse. I know people can reach a point physically where it is no longer possible to hide the pain. However, it is still very pervasive and can be consuming, because the pain never goes away.

I pause for a moment as I write and share with you as the Spirit whispers inside of me, “Is your pain your best friend, or am I?” It may always be with me, that ugly pain, this is true. But it can NOT define me.

I belong to HIM.

I am filled with joy and peace and love right now, even though I don’t like my pain enemy. My body seems to be falling apart, but my heart is more whole (although it always needs work – daily) than it has been before when I had the physical stamina of something that seemed almost – supernatural.

So it’s true – the physical and the spiritual are just not gelling the way I want them to and I don’t enjoy that much.

 But I’m whole nonetheless.

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See, that’s got me really thinking a lot, friends.  That’s got me praising Jesus for just how Awesome that He truly is. He can make me whole even when my body is falling apart! He was able to take all the pieces of my emotional and spiritual mess from darker times and put them back together in a new way – His way – and make me whole again. I’m sure He will regarding this pain stuff too one day. If not here on earth, when He takes me home.

This I know.

Maybe some day that stuff will stay together and then the physical pieces will be in a better place and it will  happen all at the same time. God can do whatever He wants.

But I must tell you something. Right now? I tend to think it won’t happen that way. Right now I really think this may be the way God likes to do things with His children. He doesn’t want some kind of fake masterpiece of a puzzle that looks like a gorgeous piece of art for all the world to enjoy for the superficial beauty that it possesses. He wants others to SEE the glue. He IS that glue. When we go home to heaven, I think it will look different than it does now. But here? We need to show the glue.

I think He wants people to see HIM and our wholeness in HIM through our flaws and through our brokenness.

The beauty in the ugly of it all.

That’s kind of cool when I think about it. This duality of things that look like they don’t make sense or fit together the right way, yet they, when glued together with the blood of Jesus Christ are totally and completely whole. The real kind of whole. The real finished puzzle that keeps being re-created and re-worked to become even more beautiful over time.

Our way is not the right way. It may be prettier way, or the feel-good kind of way, but it doesn’t necessarily bear witness to the saving and healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior.

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When people occassionally tell me they think I really “have it together” I know it’s time to get to know them a bit better and have a conversation. I know then that it’s time to share a bit more with them about just how very flawed and imperfect I really am. I know then, with no doubt whatsoever, that when I share just how ugly my puzzle or story may look, but just how beautifully my Savior has crafted it, I will be able to bring true glory to Him.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

In some ways it’s better to have to look for the beauty in things isn’t it? Instead of it being just right there in your face, you have to dig and search. I think it’s part of what makes us relatable, as Christians who follow after Christ, to others who may not know Him. Jesus Himself came as a common looking man, chose the profession of a carpenter, hung out with sinners and tax collectors, and wore a crown of thorns instead of one made of gemstones and gold.

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I see beauty in that, don’t you? I see beauty in that blood, beauty and truth and compassion underneath those thorns. I see beauty and mercy and love in that sacrifice seen in the torn up flesh and the scrambling to hug the cross that meant everything for you and for me. I see beauty in the crying out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

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I see beauty in that ugly.

I see my Beautiful Lord and Savior.

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And guess what else? Because of Jesus, we get to know something about what it is to be held together by true glue.

Oh, and by the way……It WILL all gel together the way it was always meant to again one day.

Yes, oh yes, it WILL.

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Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given.  Romans 5:3-5

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:3

The Gap

The theme of surrender has been pervasive in my life over the last two years. Sadly, I cannot report that it was important to me over my entire lifetime.

What comes along with that though, is not “happiness”, so to speak. It is a lot of angst and frustration that is ironically, but divinely, mingled with joy, growth and peace.

It’s a weird gap to reside in ~ that gap between surrender and acceptance. I tell you now: the serenity prayer feels like it was made just for me sometimes.

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How about you? Do you sometimes feel, as you press in to know Jesus more and let HIM live through YOU, the heaviness of the battle your flesh is waging? Do you feel like it’s dark and crazy in the gap sometimes? Do you wonder if you are all alone while you are there?

I so often must ask myself about certain things: Am I giving up on this or am I letting go of control and letting God take the reins? It’s hard, isn’t it? To discern the difference at times. That’s where the wisdom part comes in to play. That’s where true surrender really lies for me. Surrendering to the waiting game. Existing in the gap for a while. Remembering that Jesus is with me there. Trusting in Him to give me His wisdom. And then obeying His leading in my life ~ obeying.

What is the difference then between surrender and acceptance? I don’t have all the answers. I just know that God eventually enlightens me and brings me out of the bad one of the two if I am “doing it wrong.” He brings me out of it if I truly pray and wait upon Him. He whispers to me in ways I cannot explain to not give up – to let Him take it – to keep going. And yes, sometimes He reveals that I have to let something go. Sometimes those somethings are things I don’t want to let go of at all!

But the gap is the worst place for me, even though I am strangely thankful for it. How about you? I so often cry out to the Lord and say “please just tell me whether I am supposed to let go or keep going and try to change this.” But then I realize that part of my surrender to Him is being in the place of the not knowing for a while. He is faithful and merciful, and in His own timing, He draws me out of the gap and into the light.

He’s done that recently for me in one area of my life, and it’s abundantly clear. In another area, I’m still in that in-between place.

But I’m not alone.

It is so important to remember that the gap may seem dark, but His light is one that illuminates any crevice if we just let it take over ~ if we surrender. I think that’s what that peace and joy stuff of Jesus is all about. It’s not contingent upon human feelings, human vision, human experience. It’s the divine stuff that we truly don’t have adequate words for but that God knows how to translate directly into our hearts.

I don’t know about you, but I am almost always in the gap regarding one or two things (or more). But I try to remind myself that in so many other ways, I’ve been pulled up out of the ditch when I was close to losing hope it would ever happen. It’s easy to focus upon the parts we don’t like and the places we feel stuck in and forget to remember the ones the Lord has pulled us out of already.

So, I ask you today: Is there something in life right now that you aren’t sure about in relation to surrender and acceptance? Do you know if you are giving up, or if you are letting go, waiting upon, and turning it over to God? Maybe just asking that question prayerfully will yield an answer for you.  And maybe it won’t yet, and the waiting will continue for a while.

I think the burning question for us is are we going to wait with the Lord? Have we invited Him to reside there with us? If so, let’s not forget that He really is there with us even if we feel like we can’t see Him. Let’s trust ourselves to Him and have faith that if we seek Him, He will reveal to us – in His timing – whether or not we need to do something different or continue to wait for Him to bring His plan to fruition.

Let’s also not forget to happily and willingly step out of the gap when He tells us it’s time. And until then? We get to hold His hand while we are in there. We get to call upon His magnificent and holy name and He will be there.

Only He can bridge any gap that we experience in a truly lasting and redeeming way.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10 ESV

Jesus is A

Far Greater than Hearts and Flowers

I know you are about to betray me, but I still love you…..

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You don’t even realize who you are to me, do you?

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Look to me for love – not to others or even yourself, my child.

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Every single thing about you matters to me, and is valuable in my eyes…

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Do you know that I understand, or have you forgotten?

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Did you know that everything’s been paid in full already?

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No one is too far gone to accept the gift of salvation – NO ONE…

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There is no brick wall that can keep my love from you – you only need to receive it…

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I willingly suffered for your sake because of how very much I love you…

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I know that sin has a hold on you but my love for you is far stronger than that…

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It is by and through me that you may accept salvation and live for all eternity…

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I will not force you to love me back…but I pray that you will choose to…

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If you look for me, I will be there…

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Because, in case you still don’t understand….I’m telling you again….

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

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There is NO GREATER LOVE than to lay one’s life down for His friends! (John 15:13)

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This life may not be easy, especially if you follow me with all your heart…

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But I will never leave you nor forsake you…

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Search your heart for what you already know to be true…

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Allow me to love you and walk alongside you…

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I will carry you whenever it is needed…just cry out to me, my child…

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I want to bear your burdens and share joy and peace with you…

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Accept my love and offer of salvation, so that… where I am you may be also (John 14:13)

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You don’t have to be able to fully grasp my love – just receive it.

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I’ve already done all the rest.