Keep Moving Forward

I love the opportunity to “reset” on the weekend. One of my favorite things to do is go for a very long walk with Quill.

My mind has the freedom to be free from distraction and to reflect on life. A lot is going on in this mind right now so my walk yesterday was especially therapeutic.

I thought I would share my reflections with you…

1. Keep moving forward.

2. Don’t dwell on what is behind you.

3. Believe great things are ahead.

4. There is joy in the journey even when the path before you is uncertain.

As I walked, I listened to this new song by Jonny Diaz… Let Faith Move You.

https://youtu.be/-10O7HGjcbs

The song has a great line about packing your bags to take a journey of no regrets. What would I pack in my bags? Confidence, hope, faith, trust.

What would you pack?

Keep moving forward!!

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Who do you say He is?

Who do you say I am?

This is the question Jesus asked his disciples. He wasn’t interested in what they thought other people defined Him as. He wanted to know who they defined Him as. (Matthew 16:13-15)

Our pastor asked us to close our eyes during the sermon. We were to ask ourselves that question. In the quiet of the church, with my eyes closed, I dared to ask myself that question.

Rescuer.

Jesus is my Rescuer. As my Savior, He has rescued me from the depths of hell. He has rescued me from the storms of life. That’s not to say I haven’t endured the storms, but He has walked with me to the other side. And most often, He rescues me from myself.

How often are we slaves to the bondage we enslave ourselves to? The pain of our past. Bitterness. Anger. Fear. Anxiety. Complacency. Unworthiness.

What is enslaving you?

As I sat by myself enjoying some much needed quiet time, I glanced down at my feet dangling in the water.

What did I focus on?

The chipped off paint from my nails. Life chips away from our feelings of completeness, worthiness, and beauty. Just as the chlorine stripped away the paint, we allow the irritations of life to strip and chip away at us.

So, yes, Jesus is my Rescuer. He rescues me those feelings of unworthiness, of failure, of fear…

When the world screams that I should just give up, throw the towel in, walk away, be knocked down, surrender to defeat…He whispers to me that He is right with me in the midst of every storm, every failure, every feeling of defeat and inadequacy that I feel. He knows those hopes and dreams deep in my heart. And, He knows the fears that surround them.

I am stronger from the struggle.

When I can analyze not internalize and self reflect for my growth and spend 1-1 time in prayer, yes, I know I will be okay. The struggle is real and the battles seldom cease, but Jesus is my Rescuer.

His promises are true. He sustains and carries me. He anchors me.

I challenge you to ask yourself…Who do you say He is?

Whispers

Uninspired.

That’s what I was feeling.

Exhausted, too, but that comes with the territory of life sometimes.

Then, an unexpected voice sharing with me that she reads my blog, my little collection of thoughts…it caused me to pause for a moment.

It always surprises me, humbles me to learn that someone takes time to read my words.

Words. They have such power. They can lift a person up, or they can destroy a relationship. Sometimes, there are no words. Sometimes fewer words are best.

Sometimes, we come so close to missing the words that matter. In a very noisy world full of noise where everyone thinks they have something to say, do we sometimes miss the important things? The words we need to hear?

One of my favorite Old Testament passages is this…

Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.

1 Kings 19: 11-12 NLT

We want big miracles when sometimes, it is the simple words of another like I experienced today that uplifts our weary spirit and refreshes our soul.

What ways has He whispered fresh life into your weary soul?

We’re Not so Different…

Today, I am tired. It was one of those nights where you just lay there and try to will yourself to sleep.

I pushed through the day. Many of those surrounding me were doing the same thing. It didn’t help that the weather was somber and rainy skies.

Towards the end of the day, I had an interaction with someone which made me realize something. 

We’re not so different.

As I listened to her make a completely irrational statement and follow it with, “I guess that just comes from the anxiety,” I couldn’t help but think, I get it. I get it.

Max Lucado defines fear as something that sees a threat whereas anxiety imagines a threat.

It often takes only one thing to trigger the anxiety before it spirals into a volcano of what ifs.

It’s really not the easiest way to live. 

I know. I’ve been there. And to be honest, every day is a concentrated effort to decide that I will not live like that.

How have I traveled this far to a place where peace comes easier and sooner?

By the grace of God.

Last year, I was just beginning this journey to battle anxiety head on. Click here to learn more.

The past year has definitely been a journey. I have realized that men and women, young and old, rich and not so rich suffer from anxiety.

We’re really not so different.

God meets us where we are and loves us as we are. He is opening my eyes and heart to a willingness to be vulnerable with safe people. 
Anxiety is a journey, but He promises to be with us for the duration of the journey. 

That alone should bring some peace.

And my interaction from earlier? I simply reassured her, smiled at her, and let her know everything in that moment truly was okay. It’s so wonderful that I can now be a source of steady and calm encouragement for others who struggle with anxiety, too.

That is only by the grace of God.

Community

Some people have neatly put together living rooms. As I look around mine, it is a collection of mismatched furniture. I have an off-white love seat. I have a brown leather ottoman and chair. I have two recliners of slightly different tans-one a hand me down leather one, the other a soft microfiber design.

I think they come together okay, but I’m not one for interior design. I am more about what’s practical. If it still works, then why replace it?

Mismatched furniture. Slightly used. Heavily used. Each piece has a different story, a different origin yet it all comes together to create my safe place of home.

I am reflective this morning in my quiet living room filled with mismatched furniture. My thoughts are on people, the events of our world.

What about people? You and me? Do we accept people who are different from us? Those whose stories don’t match ours? 

I think of Jesus and how he reached out to those whom society called misfits and outcasts. He welcomed them, gave them hope and healing. It didn’t matter if they were mismatched from those whom society said were the acceptable group. Do we do that? Do our churches do this?

In times like this as our country braces for the uncertain impact of Hurricane Irma, there is one thing I am certain about. Tragedy brings us together. It won’t matter who is different or who is an “outcast” because Irma will not be selective. 

We need each other. Life is hard. 

I have been on my knees. I am burdened for Florida and others in the path of Irma and Jose who follows close behind. I have friends and family in Florida. Those in Texas are still recovering from the aftermath of Harvey. There are forest fires and earthquakes.

God never promised life would be easy but He has blessed us with the community of others to come together to support, encourage, and lift up one another despite our differences.

Maybe we’re not so different after all. We all have hopes and dreams. We all have fears. When mismatched people come together to lift each other up, He is there in the midst.

Let’s pray for others and lift one another up. Life is hard. We don’t have to do it alone. God never leaves our side. Reach out and love those who are hurting and need someone to be there. 

Bring some hope to a hurting world.

#prayerchangesthings

Living Stones

To linger here for just a few more minutes…

I love mornings tucked under a blanket with tea or coffee in hand. It is my quiet time to reflect on life and the Word before the day begins.

Last night, we attended our county Fair. The weeklong event draws upwards of 300,000 people to our small community. We walked the fair, visited with people, and rounded to our favorite fair food vendors. It was too much for me…the noise and crowd…I just wanted quiet. My husband and I agreed that the older we get, the less we enjoy crowds.

So, this morning, I am especially enjoying the quiet. In between devotional books to guide my morning time with God, I started to read 1 Peter and found myself fixated on the second chapter…living stones.

Stones can be used to build something up. Stones can also be used to tear someone or something down. We don’t usually think of stones as having living qualities, but figuratively, I like this analogy.

Stones. Are we living stones… building up others and encouraging them? If Jesus is the cornerstone of our lives, then we should be the living stones to share his goodness with others. First Peter 3:15…but sanctify the Lord your God in your hearts and always be ready to give defense to everyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that is in you. 

Today,  may we be living stones sharing the love and hope of Christ with others!!

Also, if anyone has suggestions for a devotional, please let me know. I just finished reading Draw the Circle, the 40 day prayer challenge, for the third time. I like devotionals that challenge me, are filled with spiritual truths, and incorporate Scripture reading. If you have not read Draw the Circle, I highly recommend it!!


God, grow me…

I should have anticipated this might be a hard week. I should have expected it would not be easy. As I struggled and wrestled through some difficult issues last weekend, I found myself at the one place I know can make all the difference…on my knees.

I prayed through these situations last Saturday in the quiet of my home. I felt uncertainty. I felt like a failure. The tears flowed freely as I prayed, “God grow me.”

I kept praying through the weekend and as the week started. I prayed. I’m​ not going to sugar coat this…it wasn’t easy. The anxiety was at an all time high. I woke up in the middle of the night with anxiety. I have learned, though, what to do when the anxiety strikes. I pray through Philippians 4:6-7. It helps the breathing to calm so I can I sleep and so the dark clouds of doubt do not overshadow peace.

As I worked through the issues, God was there. In the midst of my anxiety, He was there. Anxiety tries to tell you the worse thing possible. It tries to blind you from all the positive things around you. I know. I have lived in the land of anxiety.

This time, I decided I would not stay in that land. I would pray through the anxiety. I would take ownership. I would share my reflections, my ah-ha moment with someone. I did. God extended His grace. God answered my prayers​ and continues to answer my prayers…God, grow me.

What does it mean to be a better person? People say this a lot…but what does it mean? To be a Godly leader, a good mom and wife, and a loyal friend…so much truth is found in Proverbs. 
For me, this concept of being a “better person” is grounded in “God, grow me.” It is being open to His teaching, His loving discipline, and His revelation of areas in my life where I need developed and refined.

I told my amazing leader that growth is painful. She provided a much different perspective for me in her response…”Growth is exciting.”

She’s right, so right. 

Tonight, something I saw something on Facebook related to my issues from this past week triggered an anxiety attack. I wasn’t staying there. I prayed. My friend prayed for me. I went for a walk. I filled my soul with life breathing words of truth through the music flowing from my headphones to my ears to my heart.

Yes, God’s grace is so sweet. Dear friend, don’t give up. Stay the course. Stay very, very close to Him. And don’t be afraid of growth…it is so exciting. It may seem slow. It may be subtle. If God is in the midst of it, it is worth celebrating!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV
Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. Psalm 37:5 NLT
You see, when God gives a grace gift and issues a call to a people, He does not change His mind and take it back. Romans 11:29