31 Days of Surrender: His Love

31 days….I started on this journey a few days after October, and I have missed a few days here and there but all in all, reflecting on what it means to truly surrender to God has been a personal and spiritual journey for me. It continues to be.

One thing I am learning and still having to remind myself  is that God loves me simply because He loves me. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me more or less. He loves me. He created me. I am worthy of His love simply because He loves me.

You created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13-14

Everything flows from accepting His love. He is standing with arms wide open, waiting for us. No matter what season you may be in your life right now, He loves you, He is working in your life. He is never far away. In the dark of night, He is there. In the quiet of the morning dawn. In sadness, in dreams that seem so far away, in pain….His love is there. Every season of our lives, He is with us…He loves us so much. What a wonderful thing to surrender to….His love.

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31 Days of Surrender: Waiting

There are lessons to be learned in waiting, in trusting in God’s perfect timing. I am waiting in a few different areas in my life. Waiting for direction. Waiting for doors to open. Waiting for answers. I know He is working while I wait. Patience. Trust.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.
Lamentations 3:25

Today, as you wait for God to answer prayers, trust He is working out the details in His perfect timing.

31 Days of Surrender: Fear

Fear….

Stealer of Joy.

Stealer of Peace.

Stealer of Sleep.

Fear.

Last night, as I closed my eyes to sleep, fear threatened to creep in. Fears of unknowns…health issues, job situations….as soon as I realized it for what it was-fear-I began to pray. As I asked God to take these fears and anxieties from me, peace fell over me, and I fell asleep.

Some fears are common…the fear of heights or spiders. These fears don’t impact our everyday existence. I love mountains, but I don’t go anywhere near the edge. My husband and I love hiking, but I admire the view from a distance, not from the edge of the mountain. The fear of heights keeps me from tiptoeing towards the edge.

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Other fears can be paralyzing, keeping us from moving forward. The fear of failure. The fear of rejection. The fear of leaving all that is comfortable. The fear of the unknown.

God is greater than any fear.

The Lord is my light and salvation-so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? Psalm 27:1 NLT

Whatever you may fear, hand your fears over to God and allow His peace to wash over you.

31 Days of Surrender: Perspective

Perspective changes everything. It doesn’t change the circumstances…it changes your outlook on the circumstances.

One of my favorite songs by Casting Crowns… Just Be Held… “your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place.”

Perspective. When everything around me seems to be falling apart, perhaps it is just falling into place.

This past summer, a small group from my church went to Kentucky for a mission trip in the Appalachian Mountain region. We spent hours planning a Vacation Bible School program for the children and their families. Slowly, people began to come to the event. As kids played on the playground equipment and worked on the crafts we had set up, we prepared for a skit and music, only God had other plans. A fast moving storm pummeled the area with rain. Everyone huddled together under the open picnic pavilion area. The close proximity forced everyone to interact. We shared food with the group. The kids began to calm…many of them scared by the storm. No, we didn’t get to carry out the VBS as we had planned but God provided an opportunity for us to really connect with the people we had come to serve.

Casting Crowns… “If your eyes are on the storm, you’ll wonder if I still love you but if your eyes are on the cross, you’ll know I always have and I always will.”

God used the storm in Kentucky, and He can and will use any storm in our life to speak to us and teach us.

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Perspective changes everything.

31 Days of Surrender: Discipline

Discipline is not usually a word we think of in a positive sense. By definition, it means, training to act in accordance with rules or an activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill. And then there’s self-discipline…training of oneself, usually for improvement.

I remember the first time someone used the word self-disciplined to describe me. It was my fourth grade teacher. We kept daily journal writings as part of our writing curriculum. I am not sure what the particulars were that I had journaled about except that it had  something to do with wanting to be a writer. She wrote a short note back to me about how self-disciplined I was, and she admired that. I had to look up self-disciplined to see what it meant…no one had ever used that word before to describe me.

But discipline…just the word discipline…is something we usually think of in a negative sense. We discipline our children when they disobey. We discipline out of love although our children certainly do not appreciate the discipline. Just this morning, my son was told he couldn’t play his video games because he didn’t put away the controllers. Believe me, he is not saying, “Oh, mom, thank you so much for not allowing me to play my video games this morning.” But, I’m sure he’ll remember to put the controllers away next time.

What about discipline from God? Recently, our Sunday School lesson was on discipline.

And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So, He humbled you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your  foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Deuteronomy 8:2-5

That passage from Deuteronomy is referring to the desert experience that the Israelites experienced after their release from Egypt. It’s easy to whine along the way when things aren’t going our way, and life is hard and God seems distant, but He may be disciplining us in preparation for His future plans for our lives.

Discipline is not usually fun. My work situation tends to be negative…I am trying to remain positive, trying to surrender, and learn the lessons that God desires for me to learn. This discipline is hard, but I am growing in my faith in ways that would not be possible without enduring the hardships along the way. My current health issues are also teaching me to further surrender and lean on Him.

Discipline encourages me to trust God more and to rely on Him.

What lessons might He be wanting to teach you through His loving discipline?

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31 Days of Surrender: Unbelief

Lord, help my unbelief.

The prayers we pray…the things we need, the things we long for…do we really believe You listen, that You will answer?

All is possible with God…do we really believe?

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we can not see. Hebrews 11:1

In 2007, our family began the journey of international adoption…a long process…a process that teaches patience and trust. We submitted our paperwork known as the dossier, and we waited. We learned in September 2007 that our dossier had been accepted. We waited some more. Months went by without hearing anything. And then…September 2008, the day after Labor Day, I received the phone call. We had a son in the Philippines. The paperwork was overnighted. His picture, the eyes…the eyes that said so much. And then, we waited some more. Everything that could go wrong in the process to hold it up seemed to be happening. A co-worker came up to me in the hallway at work and asked if things like this ever fell apart. I spoke in confidence that no, everything would work out. Then, I remember going back to my desk in the solitude of my office and clinging to the promise of Hebrews 11:1 which I had penned on an index card… “now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we can not see.”

Fast forward a few years…our son will be celebrating his 12th birthday in a few weeks. He is well-adjusted. He loves his family. He was baptized this year in August. God fulfilled the promise of my desire for my son.

God has been faithful in so many things. As I face the challenges now of work issues, health issues, and other life stuff….I pray, but I wonder, do I truly cling onto the promise that He is faithful. As I reflect on His faithfulness through our adoption waiting, I know there were times of questioning, but He was faithful.

Lord, help my unbelief. I surrender my unbelief when life seems too hard and circumstances all-consuming. Lord, help my unbelief. Help me to focus on Your promises, on the hope of things unseen yet to come. And thank you for your reminder of Your faithfulness through the words of my son Jay-R and his childlike faith:

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31 Days of Surrender: Dreams

Dreams…those deep longings in our hearts.

Dreams…as a child, I had all sorts of dreams. I wanted to be a ballerina. I wanted to have four kids. I wanted to move far away from small town America. I wanted to be a writer.

It’s easy to dream as a child. As an adult, life becomes, well, life. Yet, despite the day-to-day realities of life, if we are really honest with ourselves, our dreams don’t go away. They may become buried beneath the “stuff” of our life, but our God-given dreams remain as desires of our heart.

I recently listened to Patterns of Grace by Debbie Macomber on a long car ride. It’s a collection of her devotions. This is what she has to say about dreams…

“God created us to dream. When we fail to dream, we rob Him of the opportunity to do great things. Sometimes we shy away from dreaming big dreams. Maybe we don’t want to ask for too much. Maybe we somehow don’t feel worthy. But over and over again in the Bible, the Lord instructs us to envision what He can do. Our job is to dream.”
―Debbie Macomber, Patterns of Grace

She also believes that God plants our dreams in our hearts so we must rely on Him and trust Him.

I have dreams…my life has not unfolded the way I thought it would when I was a young child dreaming, but I know God’s hand is upon my life. I need only to surrender my dreams and trust Him with the details.

Are there dreams lingering in your heart? Surrender them to God and trust Him with the details.

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