The Thing of All Things

dandelion-302129_640

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…..

rainbow-261419_640

 

 

All the Rest

bench-71195_640

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.

scenic-185234_640

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.

sky-232000_640

 

Prisons of Rest

feet-19176_640

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

gate-191675_640

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.

chain-256985_640

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.

jesus-passion-of-the-christ-600

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.

matchstick-20237_640

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?

key-192202_640

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

rose-143421_640

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.
hand-173584_640
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.
daisy-75190_640
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.
sunbeam-292987_640
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.
heart-207414_640
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.
meadow-196567_640

Rest Under Arrest

 arctic-ocean-79833_640
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?

waves-circles-285359_640
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.

sea-198450_640
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?

wood-229732_640

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…

sluice-221619_640

“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.

home-29564_640

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’.

tree-76893_640

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.”

jesus-resting-1

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.

road-21205_640

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.

winter-260817_640

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.

drinking-glass-161034_640

“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?”

waterdrop-7721_640

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.

arizona-165094_640

Chocolate Dreams

oreo1_thumb

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.

choc-chip-cookie-stuffed-oreo

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.

1892166

  • 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.

14199302-gourmet-oreo-cupcake-on-white-backround

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.

maxresdefault

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.

chocolate-170445_640

 

We’re Being Faked Out!

heart-216728_640

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!

heart-268151_640

 

 

 

 

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

Image

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

Image

 

 

 

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

40YearWanderer_dot_com_117

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…

View original 1,566 more words

The Little Big Things

swan-293157_640

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

baby-swan-123715_640

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

smiley-237145_640

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.

smiley-107068_640

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.

humphreysfarm

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.

BrokenvaseKaragod

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.

il_340x270_385137040_1ffn

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.

passion_of_the_christ_8

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.”

Jesus_Cross

I see beauty in that ugly.

I see my Beautiful Lord and Savior.

passion-of-christ

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.

main

thebible_jesuschrist_diogomorgado_20130330

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.

serenity-prayer-rachel-adler

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…..

jesus-face-passion-of-the-christ[1]

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

miriam_god_loves_you_web[1]

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

c76e02eb445db3bdb53d6a302d6628d4[1]

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

2e47513081a5ac5d5c3da4471c9acd3a[1]

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

48e3174b33f0ebb8a5c3949fe4a744f9[1]

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

jesus-loves-me[1]

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

jesus-loves-all[1]

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

jesus-loves-you_4394_1024x768[1]

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

No-Greater-Love[1]

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

2_17_2013[1]

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

tumblr_mc5wpu6pRI1r7x6fro1_500[1]

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

love_jesus_web[1]

If you look for me, I will be there…

Jesus-Picture-Face-Inside-Heart-Shaped-Hands[1]

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

jesus-in-love[1]

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

John-3-16[1]

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

Passion-of-the-Christ-Jesus-Jim-Caviezel[1]

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

the passion of the christ jesus praying garden of olives sweating blood passion015[1]

But I will never leave you nor forsake you…

JesusLovesYou[1]

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

Jesus passion[1]

Allow me to love you and walk alongside you…

WalkWithJesus[1]

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

Jesus carries[1]

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

jesus_loves_you_overlooking_the_cit[1]

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

jesuslovesyou[1]

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

jesus-gift[1]

I’ve already done all the rest.

Sister Love

awesome[1]

I didn’t grow up with sisters. My brothers are AWESOME dudes and I love them! Yet a part of me still always wondered what it would be like to have a sister.

Then, I found all the things to hang on to that were great about not having one. I didn’t have to share my clothes and makeup. There weren’t two hormonal teenage girls in the house simultaneously. And, I found that I kind of enjoyed being the only girl.

However, as life progressed, I found that I didn’t always get along with women very well. Now, I am not blaming that on the fact that I didn’t have sisters - I think there were many reasons for it. But not knowing how to relate with a girl, live with a girl for years at a time didn’t really help me a whole lot in that area.

Only recently, I have found myself wanting to make closer female friends. God has placed that desire in my heart (and I’m only 47!). Decades ago I figured out how to get along with women, but I still found I couldn’t be close to very many of them. The relationships were just topical, you know? I didn’t know where to start. But God paved the way and it’s just….happened.

Well, I have a couple of women in my life now that I am getting closer and closer to, and I am blessed in new ways by these deeper friendships than I ever thought possible! Truly, these women are my sisters and I am so very grateful for them. What a blessing from the Lord!

One of these very special women is my dear Heather. I have mentioned her before, and I will definitely mention her again. She has enriched my life so very, very much!

I truly feel like God cut us from the same cloth. I always joke that we were supposed to be twins, but God put us in different places for some special reason. We aren’t really twins, but we are very, very similar in heart!

I love my new sister, Heather. You will love her too.  Please go check out her blog and facebook page and see how wonderful she is. Maybe you will get to know her the way I am getting to. If so, I have been a small part of making your life better and that makes me smile!

That Heather – that sister of mine? She is amazing. Here’s a link to get you started on your journey of knowing her better:

http://40yearwanderer.com/

Happy Valentines Day to my dear Sister, Heather. May you know how very much you bless me just by being the beautiful child of God and sister that you are! I thank God for you. You make me know more and more each day of what it is to love like Jesus loves. You help me to feel loved the way that Jesus loves me. I am so glad we get to do this life, and the eternal one together with Jesus!

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

9b562d17d17e57848087f54ceff4c626[1]

Thrive

THRIVE not survive

On the days that I slip back, health-wise, I fight it, but still seem to move backward spiritually. emotionally and mentally too. It always causes me to realize (again) that I have forgotten to remember how Great our God really and truly is.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God…..

I struggle. I drown in self-pity. I cry and wonder “why me?” I want to thrive, Lord. I want to be full of energy and verve and move and walk with joy and enthusiasm among your people. It hurts to smile when I feel this way. What is wrong with my body? Did you make a mistake? Can’t you fix me? I feel like you either don’t understand or you simply don’t care about this seemingly minor, yet so very pervasive problem I am dealing with here.

…Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable…

I am doing everything I am supposed to do. I even tried not doing anything and just turning it all over to You, Lord. Why am I so weak and weary? I just want to enjoy life. I am scared. Just when I think I am growing stronger physically, I am set back and seem to be worse off than when I started. I want to trust in You – that You will heal me, Lord. But if that’s not your will, I just plead with You – please help me to surrender and know what to do. I feel I have no strength left in my body and don’t know what You want for me to do, God!

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

I supposed this may be about patience, huh? Okay then – I get that, God. BUT….how am I supposed to do life this way? How can I take care of my family and other responsibilities when I am like this? What can I do? I can’t just stop life, can I? I  mean, I would, but don’t I have to keep going? I can’t just lay down and stay in bed until You  heal me, now can I? Can’t You just tell me how to handle things in the meantime?

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength….

Clearly, I don’t have the answers. I know that You do. I supposed I haven’t truly learned what You really mean by “waiting.” I am tired, God. I am so very tired. My heart is alive, and so is my mind. My faith is in You, but I still have a degree of unbelief You need to deal with in me. I still put too much stock in myself and my own capabilities. Is that what You might be doing here? Asking me to lay down and be still so that you can make me soar the way You always intended? Not of my own might or power or strength, but in Yours – that Divine and Supernatural God-Kind?

…they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary…  

I’m going to stop trying so hard, God. I submit this temple to You. I pray You decide to heal it. And as long as You equip me to do so, I will continue to walk. I hope to run one day. I hope to soar and fly. But only with YOU.  Help me to endure the pain, God. Help me to keep my heart and mind clean while the physical junk keeps dragging me down. Help me to love in ways I never loved before. Help me not only to keep going, but to walk strong with You, love with You, fly with You and…oh my God…THRIVE with YOU.

….they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

4a4e58c11aea4f6419537a9c84e909ae[1]

Unbelievable Praise and Glory!

Friends,

Won’t you take five minutes today to be blessed and revel in the love of God as you watch this beautiful video of worship? I promise, you will be so glad that you did!

I Still Hear Mama’s Heart

I don’t remember much from my early years. You know? I’m talking about when you are a very small child. But one thing I remember, and I recall it so vividly, is the way it felt when my mama was holding me.

I can remember one of the things that really comforted me was having my ear to her heart. I can still bring back that feeling – it’s some kind of sensory thing – not just a memory in the mind that is faint and fading as the years pass.

Sensory thing? Yes. I can remember that I liked to lay my ear flat upon her chest – right where her heart was. I liked the feel of the warmth there. I liked the sound of her heart beating. I liked the smell of her and the touch. There was a rhythm to it all that resonated for me in a way very little else ever has. It was methodical, yet loving and comforting in so many ways.

How I miss my mama’s heart. How I miss her arms and her reassurance. How I miss her friendship, her leadership, and her joy. How I miss her unconditional and generous love!

Oh, how I miss my dear mama.

mom

After mama left to go live with Jesus in heaven almost four years ago, my heart felt so very broken. It still does sometimes. There are days where it seems that nothing can fix that. I can remember seeking God and His comfort during the time mama was in hospice and my brothers and I were watching her slip away more and more every day. This lasted for weeks, and it was definitely the worst ride I have ever been on in life.

What would I do without my mama’s chest to lay upon any more? Where’s that unconditional love and support going to come from now? Who in the world could or would ever love me like mama did? Mama gets ripped off and so do I!

Oh, poor ME.

heart[1]

But the truth is, friends, no one got ripped off. It sucks, sure. If I could have mama and her awesome heart back here with me physically right now, well, selfish me would take it in a heartbeat! Yet, I am so grateful that the Lord continues to bring me back around when I begin to think this way.

It’s not only about you, dear one. I know you are hurting about mama, but she is mine – she is my child, just as you are. She always was. It was time for her to come home. I can and I will fill that space if you continue to allow me to do so. And you will see her again. You will. But you must trust me and focus upon all that you had with her and all that will be. Be happy for your mama, dear one.

I know deep down where mama is right now. And where she’s at, there is no pain, no broken hearts, and the comfort, love, joy and peace that she gets to experience on every level right now is something I know to be true in my soul.

Yes, I still hear that sound of my mama’s heartbeat when I recall those early days of laying upon her chest. I still hear the things she shared with my brothers and myself as she was preparing to meet her Lord and Savior.

I still hear her heart.

I haven’t forgotten the sound. I haven’t forgotten the warmth. I haven’t forgotten the feel of it all. But I don’t need the sensory experience anymore, although I miss it sometimes. Jesus has filled that need beyond what I ever thought possible.

Oh, I do miss her laugh. I miss being able to call her every day. I miss having my mama here physically with me. But God mends broken hearts in divine ways that no bandaid could ever do. Sometimes I need to lay on His chest differently than I am accustomed to in order to receive His healing, but He is always there for me. Always waiting. Patiently.

His ways are truly higher than any awesome experience, sensory or not, that we can have in this life. When we are in true relationship with God, there is no such thing as being an orphan.

I can’t wait until I get to go to heaven to see my Savior. But I am so thankful today that I can hear his heart, as well as my mama’s. I appreciate that the Lord hasn’t needed to cause that beautiful memory to fade in order to help me rely upon Him more than I did my mama.

He sees me through. He renews me. He and the vivid memories of my mama inspire, encourage, and convict me. I hope they hear my heart right now.

Do you miss someone terribly today? Does your heart feel like it is broken into millions of little tiny pieces, never to be recovered again? Seek Jesus in your grief, dear friends. Surrender all of the pieces to Him and trust Him to help you to heal.

KNOW that…..He. Is. God.

He too, hears our hearts. We just have to press our ears into His Mighty and Magnificent chest!

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and  my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

allthepieces[1]

Gracefully So

the-grace-of-god[1]

Oh gracefully so…

Of the mercy you bring my way, reminding me of your presence and never-ending goodness.

Amidst the clutching and the scratching and the times of distraction, your light is always here.

Oh gracefully so…

The magnetic light that you are; I carry it with me and you shine – even in the dark where the monsters lurk.

Yes, bugs and monsters, like moths they come – descending to take, destroy, and to blind- they wish to wipe me out.

Yet, oh gracefully so…

You dispel the swarms, permeate the darkness and illuminate the dark and hidden corners of the soul…

Creating another blessed black hole for the evil to be locked away in; and it burns, and yields to your magnificent power.

Oh gracefully so…

Mighty Father divine; you bring rest to the weary child that I am when I ask to stay awake but sleep is what is best.

As I listen for the lessons and the learnings, did I get something right that you said today? Did I hear you, Father?

Oh gracefully so!

You are patient as I pray and you read my heart, even when there are parts that are not submitted to you.

And gloriously instead, you help me sift through the clutter, bring clarity to my fuzzy ears, and whisper your answers in love.

Oh gracefully so…

You know the words of my soul, the longing that I cannot express with words or gestures; and I am your child!

As of late, with all the stutters; whilst I stammer, ears pounding, yearning, and heart and mind grasping for words that will do justice in my relationship with you…

You gracefully – so very gracefully read my heart.

Without a  word…..you just know.

Oh gracefully so!

 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[a] with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26

jeshrsp[1]