A Quieted Spirit

Aww…much needed time away. I am spending my birthday weekend with my husband on a little getaway from home. I am presently enjoying this view from my window seat in our hotel. 

As I listen to the water flowing, rather rapidly due to all the recent rainfall here, I am appreciating this time to quiet my soul. I have shared with you about my struggle with fear and anxiety. Last weekend, my friend made me this beautiful photo book filled with Scripture to calm my anxious thoughts. On the cover, was this verse Zephaniah 3:17….the Lord will quiet you with His love.

My mind is often not quiet. I attended a marriage retreat with my husband a few months ago where the speaker talked about a female’s mind running as though there are multiple apps going at the same time. Yup, that’s me. There is the work app, the fear app, the things I need to do for my kids app, the did a tornado hit this house while I was at work app, my dog needs more insulin from the vet app, did I really forget toilet paper from the grocery store app…you get the picture. My mind is seldom calm.

The past several months, my mind has been and continues to be opened to truths about myself. Things like worry, fear, and anxiety…I am beginning to understand where they come from and the depth of their control in my life. God is placing people in my life and situations to allow me to work through these. Thankfully, He is a patient and loving Father. 

I believe that once you open your heart to God and are willing to be vulnerable to Him, He will work in your life. Growth takes time and involves your willingness to be vulnerable, transparent, and open to what He is trying to say to you through situations and others.

As a co-worker apologized to me this week for something, she said this… truly being sorry requires a change in behavior. I am going to change my behavior.  Such truth rests in her words. A change in behavior also includes a change in thinking.

When I feel my mind begin to race with the “what ifs” and the “should haves,” then I need to quiet my mind.

One way I am trying to change my thinking is this….growth is not painful but rather exciting. Growth over time increases our faith and brings us one step closer to who we desire to be as disciples of Christ. Instead of me working so hard to change me, I am realizing I need to pray, listen, and trust God for His guidance in this…one step at a time, one thought at a time. I am learning to believe a quieted mind despite life’s craziness is possible. 

What Scriptures help quiet your mind?

Swim with Confidence

My best friend and I had some time between Sunday morning breakfast and church, so we headed to a state park to enjoy some peaceful reflection. The creek water was incredibly high and spilled over into the parking lot. We settled ourselves on a picnic table with our books. The sunshine filtered its way through the trees.

I breathed in the fresh air. My gaze traveled and fixated on two ducks. They swam in the overflow of the creek. They dunked their heads into the water as ducks do. As they swam along, they seemed to possess a carefree attitude. They had no idea that if they continued to swim forward, their source of water would end as it meshed into the grassy path. 

Proverbs 31 came to mind…

I wish I could swim through life so freely, so trustworthy of the One who holds my future in His hand. Like the ducks, I have no idea when my path might end and blend into new territory. That’s terrifying if I let myself spend too much time on those thoughts.

Instead, I need to trust God with my future. I need to trust His lead. Just as those ducks swam without fear of the water ending, I need to swim with confidence in Christ. 

In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Learning to Relax

You would think that relaxing would be something easy to do, right? Not so much for me. I am learning to relax. I can relate so much to Martha in the Bible. In Luke 10:38-42, Martha was busy with all the work as her sister sat attentive and focused at the Lord’s feet.

Martha missed what was truly important at that moment.

I am so much more like Martha than Mary.  My son wants to watch TV with me, but I feel the need to be doing something while watching. Dinner cooking? Why not load the dishwasher? It is so hard for me to be present. 

I work in senior care, and one thing I have learned from older adults living with dementia…you learn to live in the moment. They have been great teachers to me.

I tend to wake up early even after a short night of sleep. I can relax best in the morning quiet. I love the ocean, the mountains, the lake…they all help me relax. I know I need to learn to relax where I am. Resting is important for my well-being.

I also want to be attentive with my friends. I want to be present for my family. I want to learn to relax. I don’t want to miss moments at the Lord’s feet. These moments are present every single day. 

God is with us. Rest and relaxation are okay. In fact, they are needed to replenish our tired souls.

The Lord replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 

How do you relax? Am I the only one who struggles with being able to relax?

What do you want?

The joy of the Midwestern spring weather is that one day, you’re hot, and the next day you’re cold. Today was a cold day.

It is amazing how our moods can so easily mirror the tone of the day. It was cold, dreary, windy, and rainy today. Teenage boys seem oblivious to cold weather, though. I opted to stay in the car as my husband and son trekked across the soccer field for pictures.

As I sat in the warmth of our Jeep, I stared across empty fields. The stillness of the park, its emptiness, and lack of activity spoke to me. 

Today has been a reflective day. As I weigh through things in my mind, I can appreciate the mood of the day. The gray skies seem to offer permission, telling me it’s okay to have a quiet day. Last weekend, I cleaned and sorted. This weekend, I seek to be still, one question lingering in my mind from my morning devotions.
In Matthew, Jesus asks the two blind men, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Mark Batterson, author of Draw the Circle, says, 

We have no idea what we want God to do for us, and then we wonder why it seems like God isn’t doing anything for us. The great irony, of course, is that if we can’t answer this question, then we’re as blind spiritually as these men were physically. Most of us don’t get what we want simply because we don’t know what we want

Which has had me pondering all day….What do I want God to do for me?

I know what I am struggling with, and I know what I don’t want, but do I know what I want?

So, I am quiet, reflective, wondering….what do I really want? What is in the bottom of my heart? Am I brave enough to pray for God to reveal, to speak, to share? Am I listening?

What do you want? What are the desires of your heart? What are your hopes, your dreams? 

Are you brave enough to ask God for the desires of your heart and then trust Him with the answers without knowing what they will be?

I want to be that brave.

Friday Fatigue

One week back to work, and I am tired. 

Sigh…And I can’t really say, “I need a vacation”… I just had one!!

During these early morning hours, I choose to start my day in the Word. The past few days, I confess that I have jumped right into work stuff as soon as I was awake and then listened to my devotional in the car on the way into work. Perhaps, I have had my priorities shifted.

If Jesus walked on water, then certainly God can hold me through these challenges of day to day living. I have made some small changes in my schedule already, and I have faced opposition. Being busy is what I know. I am learning my need for rest.

Our church is in the midst of a prayer challenge and we are reading Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson. I am committed to praying and believing deeper that God cares about all the details of our lives-the big and small.

God cares about my tired. God cares about my sense of feeling overwhelmed. He doesn’t leave us in the middle of the ocean to drown. As in the movie The Shack, when Mac starts to walk on water, the character Jesus looks at him and says, “This works better if we do it together.”

So, I need to do my tired with God. He wants my honest, tired prayers. I am choosing to believe God can carry me through the tired. He who moves mountains can certainly make a way for tired souls. 

Blessings in our Mistakes

It happened so suddenly. It was a simple daily task. Washing dishes. I needed music. Perhaps, I should have heeded to the warning voice that suggested that setting my cell phone in the windowsill above the sink full of soapy dishwater was possibly a recipe for potential disaster…but I didn’t. Instead, I set the phone there and listened to music as I scrubbed the sink of dirty dishes.

It slipped…I am not sure why, but my phone ended up swimming in the soapy water. I rescued it and dried it and all appeared fine. Hours later when I went to plug it in to charge it, all was not well. The phone shut off and would not hold a charge.

Life without a cellphone is….quiet.

On the way to church yesterday morning, I asked God…what good can come out of a cellphone damaged by water? All my earthly mind could think of was $$$. And being inconvenienced.

During church after the sermon, the pastor gave everyone 60 seconds of silence. (Do I see a theme in my life lately??) It was in this moment of silence that God reminded me that good things can come from a cellphone damaged by water. He cares about everyday things in our lives. In the words of one of my friends…God can fix our mistakes.

So, in what ways are my eyes being opened by a water damaged cellphone?

  • The love of my husband…no judgment, no what were you thinking…Nope, just, “Honey, it’s a cell phone. We’ll get it fixed or get it replaced. No big deal.”
  • Patience. Life can be lived without immediate gratification at our fingertips. It really can.
  • God is a jealous God. What exactly does this mean? Jeremiah 29:13 promises, You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. How distracted have I been by my phone?
  •  In my desire for quiet, I can attest to this…life without a cell phone is quiet.

My phone is in a cellular repair shop awaiting a new battery. Fortunately, the repairman says it looks like my phone did not suffer water damage beyond the battery being shorted. Leaving my cellphone at the repair shop felt a bit, well, unnerving like leaving my third child behind. I know…dramatic, but it just goes to illustrate how dependent I have become on it. Yes, there are many wonderful things I can do on my cellphone including using my BibleGateway app, but it also has become a huge source of distraction, a source of mind numbing apps when my brain is tired after work, and a blockage from meaningful conversation with others. Just scan the people eating at any restaurant. I know I am not alone.

So, yes, by the end of the week, I will once again rejoin modern society with a cellphone. But, I hope the lessons I am learning from a week without a cellphone will change a few things in my life…communication, relationships, being more intentional with my time.

From Galatians 5:22-23 The Message…But what happens when we live God’s way?  He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard-things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to  marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Six months ago, I would have defined living as God’s way as doing the right thing, being obedient…all my responses driven by things I could do. Now, I see living God’s way as living a surrendered life. Not a perfect life. Not a life free from mistakes. A life that says here I am God, I am Yours, use me, shape me, grow me.

What happens when we live God’s way? He opens our eyes to the blessings in our mistakes.

blessings-in-mistakes