31 Days of Gratitude: Worship

Worship creates freedom.

 When we worship God and choose to take our focus off our problems, challenges, and issues, it shifts our perspective from us to Him.

I spent almost 4 amazing worship filled hours at a Casting Crowns concert Saturday night. Worship service Sunday morning at church was so Spirit led and Spirit filled. 

It is when we step out into the real world, surrounded by our problems and life challenges that it is very easy to lose sight of the worship perspective we were engaged in when we were in community worship.
This is where focus has the power to change everything.

The question posed at church during the morning message:

What would happen if we were to change our focus even though our circumstances don’t change?

I know….that is hard stuff, but focus changes everything. 

I have been struggling with anxiety lately. A lot. Consuming anxiety. Thankfully, I have a wonderful friend who has been encouraging me and listening to me and reminding me to stay focused on the One who never changes.

This morning, I am tired. My house is a disaster. I have a busy week ahead of me with too much to do. Life doesn’t feel fair. I could easily slip into resentment and bitterness which breed worry and anxiety. Instead, I need to focus on these words from worship yesterday…

We don’t worship because how we feel, we worship Him because who He is.

This takes the focus off us and off the stuff of life that doesn’t feel good. It is an invitation to rest in Him. 

Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to worship my good, good Father despite being tired. I choose to focus on Him.

31 Days of Gratitude: Fridays 

It has been a long week. I have missed a few days of my 31 days of blogging, but I have been spending time in His Word, journaling, with friends, and in prayer and reflection.

This Friday morning after a long work week and one long day ahead of me, I am reminded that He walks ahead of me, with me, and alongside me on this journey.

I am grateful for Fridays…a breather from the busyness of the week.

Let’s have a Faith over Fear Friday trusting that God is walking ahead of us, with us, and alongside us.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

31 Days of Gratitude: Peace over Anxiety 

I love fall…the changing colors, pumpkins and apples, soccer and football games, sweatshirt and jeans weather…it is my absolute favorite season.

But it’s what comes after fall I don’t get excited about…winter. Snowy road conditions. When you work in healthcare, there are no closures and snow emergency levels meant to keep people off the road do not apply to you. 

That’s a lot to worry about.

Worry, anxiety, fear, second guessing…all wreck havoc on our lives. 

I shared about grace the other day. When you accept God’s grace, you can rest in His peace.

The Bible has a lot to say about peace…

I am leaving you with a gift– peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give as a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 NLT

Life is filled with anxiety provoking situations at home, at work, at school, in the car, on and on and on, but we do not have to live this way.

Do not worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

If only it was that easy, right? Fighting anxiety and worry is not an easy battle, but you don’t have to fight it alone. In fact, we are not supposed to fight these battles alone. God is with us.

Something that has been really helpful for me in fighting anxiety is to break down Philippians 4:6-7, fill in the blanks,  and pray over it…Do not worry about anything.

Instead pray about everything:

Tell God what you need:

And thank Him for what He has done:

Another huge comfort is for me to write verses on sticky notes to post around my work office, at home, and my car and to commit to memorizing His Word.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34 The Message 

The journey of living with peace instead of fear and anxiety is just that, a journey. Keep His promises close to your heart. Pray often. Find a trusted friend to walk the journey with you. Seek a Christian counselor if you find anxiety is ruling your world.

Today I am grateful for peace over anxiety. It is a journey I am on, but I believe in His promises of peace.

31 Days of Gratitude: Grace

The past couple days have been filled with challenges and anxiety. God has been speaking to me and revealing some areas where I need to release to Him and trust.

Anxiety is very real, but it is based on fear and not faith. The reality is that the majority of our fears never ever happen. We spend so much time on terrifying what ifs.

Instead, what if we surrendered those fears and anxieties to God? What if we trusted Him with the most challenging, scary situations in our lives? What if we opened our eyes to the lessons in the challenges? Maybe even see some joy in the challenges?

What if we accepted His grace?

Grace is the free and undeserving favor He pours out onto us to intercede in our challenges, our struggles, our anguish, and heart cries.

God has been showing up time after time extending His grace in this situation I have been struggling with. His grace has nothing to do with my performance. Nothing. 

The painful lessons of growth that He is teaching me…fear, anxiety, performance, perfection are not of Him, nor what He desires for me.

Instead, I need to listen. To watch Him work. To have faith He’s got this. To wait on Him. To trust.

Embrace His grace.

Are you going through a challenging situation? Does life feel impossible? Are you focused on your mistakes, that you have messed up once again? Are you trying to fix something or someone but you just can’t seem to make it work? Are you trying to figure it all out?

You know what???

You don’t have to fix anything or figure it out.

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:5 NKJV

Like a free fall…let go and trust Him to extend grace and catch you. He shall bring it to pass.

31 Days of Gratitude: Settle 

I generally wake up early. By early, I mean before 5 a.m. Mornings are my quiet time, my creative time, my “me” time, and my devotional time.

Typically, my mind is racing through out the day of a million things that I need to do at work and home. My to do list grows faster than I can tackle it. My free time is so very limited so I sleep less so I can have this precious morning time.

The other morning, I read my devotional readings and the Bible. I had quiet time with God. I was running late that morning. I remember my son asking, “Mom, do you know how late it is?”

Yup, one of those mornings. I took him to school and headed towards work, an hour commute to mentally prepare for my day. My mind was racing unable to be calmed by the music playing on my radio.

As I drove and work became closer, I remember knowing that I needed to calm my thoughts before I approached my busy day. I grappled for the words of my devotional readings. I couldn’t remember them.

The overwhelmed, sleep deprived mind of mine was blank. Nothing. How could such powerful words I had read only hours earlier be gone already?

Immediately, I began to cry out to God as tears pooled in my eyes. 

I needed His Word. 

Settle.

That one simple word washed over my soul like the refreshing coolness of a mountain stream.

The words of my morning Scripture…

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strength, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:8-10

Settle. I love words. Some words have multiple meanings. Settle is one of those words. Yes, it can mean to end an argument or to make a decision, but it also means to quiet or to come to rest.

We often tell children to settle down. We desire for their noise and activity level to come down a few notches.

That is exactly what my mind needed to do. It needed to be quieted. It needed to come to rest in Him.

Settle… come to rest…in His tender embrace.

My mind did settle. The day was crazy, but I held onto that gift of a simple word.

Settle. 

31 Days of Gratitude: Writing Connections

What I love about stepping out in faith, is it often leads to completely unexpected blessings that flow from a simple yes to God.

I wrote about unexpected blessings a week or so ago, but I wanted to share a little more about this in the context of writing.

I have attended a few different writing conferences and from these conferences, from stepping out in faith in a scary way, I have made some amazing connections. I want to share about my experience at the Breathe Christian Writing conference a few years ago. During the conference, I met a woman named Linda. We sat together at a few sessions. At the closing session, the speaker encouraged us to find a writing partner. I leaned over and asked her if she had one. She did not, and she agreed, although she did not share my ambitious desire to wake up at 4 am to write!!

Fast forward…our writing partner connection has become friend connection to best friend connection. We write, we laugh, we travel together, and we both just attended the Breathe conference again this year. She just started her blog. I would love for you to stop by and take a moment to read her musings on life.  Linda’s Blog

Today, I am grateful for connections.

listen-and-connect

 

31 Days of Gratitude: Mundane Moments 

A lot of people are going through the motions. They live life walking the routine Monday through Friday 9-5 and spend the weekend catching up from the week, squeezing something fun in, and then dreading Sunday night because the weekend is almost over.

They miss the magic of the mundane.

Mundane is defined as common and ordinary.Ordinary. Common. Nothing special, right?

I disagree. 

I have witnessed time and time again how God uses the mundane moments to speak to me if I am only listening and paying attention.

When I am struggling with feeling overwhelmed at work, the words of a family member or resident remind me that I am serving exactly where I need to be.

When I am doubting whether I am being the mom my children need, one of them says the simplest thing that makes me laugh and smile.

God uses everyday, ordinary moments to grab our attention.

The words in a book. The message in a song. A smile from a friend. A rainbow on the way into work. The purple pink cascading sunset on the drive home from work. 

The most mundane moments often speak the most profound lessons. 

On this ordinary day, I challenge you to refuse to just go through the motions.

Instead, find the magic in the mundane.