Psalm 143:8

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143:8

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Living in the flow...

I woke this morning under something of a cloud...worries, irritations, sadness, fear...all things compelling me to let go of joy and instead allow myself to be sucked under the flood of negativity. 

Financial burdens that threaten to crush.  Worries of how to shepherd my children...to teach responsibility and integrity and uprightness of character.  Relationships that seem overwhelming at times.  Sadness for friends who are losing loved ones all around.  Sadness for friends who are battling life-threatening illnesses.  Fear of...well, many things.  Frustration over weight so easily gained...and so difficult to lose.  Frustration over my own lack of motivation to do the things that are good for my body and my health.

And then I realized as I was getting ready to go to work this morning, that I am spending far too much time listening to the whispers of the world and the evil one...and not nearly enough time listening to the Word of the Holy One.

So, as I prayed to the Father to show me a better way today...to open my heart to what He is doing around me...to let me see His glory happening...I heard a still, quiet voice telling me to change my focus.  To just for one day try something new...to take each thought captive....to turn those negatives and focus on Jesus...the author and perfecter of faith. I heard Him say that my eyes should be on His Son...on the blessings that come to me...on only Him...His Word....

So today, I will focus on verses from His Word that challenge my negative thoughts...I will allow myself to live in the flow of the Holy Spirit...open to following the path set before me by a gracious and loving God....

Take each negative thought and slice it through with the Sword of the Spirit....

Here goes!  (I'll be back to share how my day unfolds...)


Updated at lunch break:
 I link my posts to my facebook page and this morning I found this verse in a comment there from a friend, Alex:    

Psalm 118:24

24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.
And another friend, Joanne, reminded me at work this morning:

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 
Hmmmm....do you sense a theme here?  


Updated to add:
So something else happened today. I spent some time praying about my financial situation...asking for a miracle...hoping for a solution...and these verses came to mind:

Matthew 6:25-34
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? 26 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Now this is not the first time the Holy Spirit has reminded me of these words...and I am getting better at trusting the Lord for help. But today, my son spent two hours at the financial aid office at his school to get some help and answers. And!!!! He found out that we can still get financial aid for next quarter...and even though I still need to make a tuition payment tomorrow..it only has to be one third! Praise God!

hmmm, maybe I will try this again tomorrow!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Joy and gratitude

I have to admit, my attitude lately has been rather stinky...not so joyful, not so positive, but really rather stinky.

The sun's been shining.

My kids are all healthy and doing well in school.

My bills are paid.

I have a comfortable, warm place to live.

People who love and support me.

ah...and there it is...I've been forgetting to be grateful.

I've been forgetting to look at the positive and instead dwelling too much on the negative....the $5 change the kid at the concert forgot to give back to me and I forgot to get...the cost of this, that and the other that threatens to suck my bank account dry...the lack of sleep that makes me drag...

So let's take a look at some positives and get back to being "thankful always"...

219.  for the shining sun and the warming up days
220.  for the signs of spring - bulbs almost ready to bloom, geese flying back to the area, birds singing in the trees in the early morning
221.  my kids are all healthy
222.  ...and doing well in school
223.  tuition is due for the next quarter at the community college...and I don't know how it will be paid but I do know that this is a good opportunity for faith and trust...
224.  my other bills, however, are paid and up to date!
225.  I do have a comfortable, warm, affordable place to live my days and rest my nights
226.  I have a job that I love going to each day...
227.  ...with people I enjoy spending my work days with...
228.  ...doing ministry
229.  I have family, a boyfriend, and many friends who love and support me.
230.  my training to be a Christian Life Coach is going well and I'm excited about this new opportunity!
231.  I got to see an excellent concert at my oldest son's university last night
232.  ...and inadvertently gave an extra donation to their music program.  :)


Oh hey!  That's better!  There's a loosening in the chest, a lightening of the spirit, a little lift to the corners of the mouth...thank you, dear Father, for all the many blessings.




Friday, March 8, 2013

A weekend of quiet....and dreams







So last weekend, some dear friends loaned me the use of their RV for a much-needed weekend getaway.  My goal was to spend some quiet time with the Lord, in His word, in prayer, in reflection.  It seems like like is a constant whirlwind of activity, and I just needed some time to slow down and reconnect with my God and my purpose in life.

My weekend actually went much differently than I had planned...but that was just fine.  I took along this book: 

God-Sized Dreams by Holley Gerth (cover)

I read the first chapter, and then journalled my answers to the questions Holley asked at the end.  Took a little break...and went back to the second chapter.  The weekend continued in this way...read a chapter, answered questions...little break...until I finished the entire book in the weekend. 

I love the way Holley writes...just like she is sitting across the table from you with the cup of something hot she offers at the beginning of the book.  Her book challenges you to listen to God's voice...to what He is calling you to do.  Your God-Sized dream may be to stay home with your children and give them a strong foundation, or it may be to travel the world speaking to those who need to hear His Word...big or small they are all God-given dreams and important to your life purpose. 

I left my weekend getaway knowing that I am doing what God wants me to do...that this path of writing, and Christian Life Coaching is the path He wants me to follow.  I have no idea where it will ultimately lead...but I feel confident that the pushes I feel are from Him and that He will direct my steps forward.  There are parts of this future ahead of me that scare me silly...but as Holley points out, that fear can be useful. 

I'm excited to see just how far this God-sized Dream takes me!  And even if its not very far...that's ok, because I know it will accomplish whatever purpose He has in mind!  What are your dreams?  Where do you think God is taking you? 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Faith, Joy, Love...values...

What are your values?  My top three are faith, joy, and love.  I also highly value integrity, excellence and creativity. 

See, here's what's been on my mind a lot lately (and I have no idea if this is going to make any sense because it's been swirling around in my head in a crazy whirlpool kind of way)...we all have core values.  Those things we feel are important to the way we live our lives.  But I wonder...do we actually live our lives by them?  Or judge others by how they live according to OUR own values?  Everyone is different. God made us that way on purpose.  So that we all have different gifts, values, the things we offer the world.  He did that so that we can all work together...as if in one body.

Romans 12:3-5

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.


So....I think what is bothering me this week, is we each have our own values to live by...yet, we often forget to let those guide our behavior.  AND at the same time, we use OUR values to judge others...when that truly isn't fair for them.  God blesses us differently, built us differently on purpose.  

We need to think long and hard on our own values and gifts and see if they ARE truly guiding the way we live for God.  I value faith, joy and love...so, you should see those values shining out in my life.  You may value peace, truth, and integrity...so the people around you should see those in the way you treat others.  The way we behave...the way we speak...the way we serve our Lord... 

If what we do isn't guided by our values we find we are in stress or conflict.  We struggle with doing the right thing.  We have a hard time making decisions.  We forget to seek the Lord's wisdom.  What would life look like if we lived according to the values God instilled in us? 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Journey into Joy - Nehemiah's dream

Nehemiah was a man with a dream.  To rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  Nehemiah was not a builder..no, he was the cup bearer to the king.  Yet, Nehemiah felt the nudgings telling him to do something...Jerusalem was broken, and his heart was broken for it.  He knew he had to do something about it...

He had to go to the king, ask permission to go and do this work...this other work that had nothing to do with his own position as cup bearer.  Nehemiah took his fear in hand, and went before the king - but not without praying before he went, as well as right there in the presence of the king!  And, he was granted permission.

Was it an easy job?  No.  Nehemiah met opposition many times along the way.  He had to stand up to the naysayers, organize the workers, teach the them how to work with one hand and protect themselves with the other...on and on.  He could have given in to despair and fear.  He could have given up when enemies attacked, trying to impede the progress.   He could have said "I am a cup bearer.  I don't have the skills for this.  I give up!" But he kept at it...with his eyes focused on the dream, the goal of a Jerusalem whole and sturdy.

And when the walls were rebuilt, he set up for the city leaders and teachers.  They spoke the law of the Lord, read the sacred Word to the people.  And when the people realized how far they had wandered from God, they cried out...and Nehemiah, Ezra and the Levites reminded them of God's love.  He reminded them that God was always faithful.  He told them not to grieve, but to celebrate the goodness of our Lord...our God of second chances and forgiveness.  He reminded them that God stands before us with arms outstretched, offering joy and strength... "the joy of the Lord is your strength."  (Nehemiah 8:10)
 
The joy of the Lord is your strength.  These words are true for you and I, as well.  Yes, we've done things that grieve the heart of our God.  Yes, we have done things for which we must repent and turn away, turn back to God.  Yes, we've allowed the walls of Jerusalem to lie crumbled around us.  But, we can rebuild that city in our own hearts.  We can dream and do the work the Lord sets before us.  We can, because we have the joy of the Lord and it gives us strength to stand against the evil one.  The joy of the Lord gives us hope to look into the future and see past our current sufferings to the growth that will surely come.  The joy of the Lord is our strength.  He holds us up.  He stands next to us in all things.  He is faithful...even when we are not. 

"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."  (Phil. 4:13)  Yes.  I can.  You can.  He gives us strength.  And joy.  Choose it.  Accept it.  God-given joy and strength for every day, every trial, every tear, every suffering, every moment of growth, every step taken forward in faith, every success.  You may choose to give in to despair...or to take the hand of the Lord that is held out to you and choose strength...and joy.