Spiritual Growth

Be Still

Be Still

As I sat on a bench and enjoyed sipping on my coffee, it was difficult to not just break out in song to our majestic King.  In the silence of my heart I was singing but I was careful not to interrupt the holiness of the silent stillness.  (And I don’t actually sing and didn’t want to cause anyone experiencing this moment to be distracted.)

I didn’t want these moments to end but I knew the stillness would at one point become broken.  I grabbed my iPhone in an attempt to capture the beauty through a lens but of course any digital version pails in comparison to experiencing it with physically with all of your senses.  A photo lacks the true depth of the lake, the changing colors as the sun begins to glisten across the water, the feel of the gentle breeze and the smell of the water.  I want to capture this magnificence into a bottle and continue to live in this moment but I know that I cannot.

Forced Rest

Forced Rest

During this season Jesus was speaking to me, asking me to reframe how I see my life.  I see life as a full plate.  Busy, loaded.  If something new comes, I just shuffle things around so everything can fit.  I bet you do too.  I see rest taking up a very small space on that plate.  Like an olive.  Or a pickle.  It’s a garnish, not a main component of my day.  And when I indulge in it, I tend to feel a little extravagant, wasteful even guilty.  

My full plate got tipped over.  During my recuperation life was not a full plate with moments of rest.  Life was full rest with moments of activity.  It flipped.  I lived the inverse of my previous existence.  Of course it was situational, temporary.  We can’t live on the couch and we aren’t called to.  But it taught me something.  I am not the sum of my activities.  I simply am.  To Jesus that is enough.  It’s enough.  This is the starting point.  Add to your life carefully from here. 

Proverbs 31-ing

Proverbs 31-ing

I know I personally struggle with fear rooted in a perfectionist mindset and with wanting to try everything out there instead of honing in on a few things I’m already passionate about and building margin into my life to *be* rather than just *do*… virtue may express itself through our actions but not all action is virtuous… if God Himself took time to rest and enjoy His creation, why do I tend to think I’m above that?

I simply cannot possibly be everything to everyone at all times — and I’m learning to be thankful for that rather than trying to ‘overcome’ it.

A New Creation

A New Creation

And so I found myself faced with this question — do I really want to be a follower of Jesus?
When I really begin to understand what that looks like, when I dig into scripture while also expanding my world view beyond American Christianity, it’s astounding how much more there was to what I thought I knew, and how much heavier it weighed.

To be completely honest, for a moment in time, I really wasn’t sure.
I wrestled with the whys and the hows and the what ifs of it all. I struggled with feeling like I really didn’t understand what I was getting myself into when I declared myself a Christian however many years ago and I wasn’t sure I wanted everything that actually came with it.

Desiring God's Presence

Desiring God's Presence

Having moved 2000 miles from VA to TX, I dove into the study of Moses and I assumed the Lord would ask me to stop my complaining. I just survived a hot Houston summer, bugs the size of small rodents, and a record flood and hurricane season, but hey who is complaining? Of course the passages on the grumbling Israelites would put me in my place. Much to my surprise, the Lord had a bigger issue in my heart, which needed tending to.

Week after week, I was continually drawn to Moses himself as so many aspects of his life and his walk I admired and desired to strive towards. I spent many hours thinking about how desperately Moses desired the Lord’s presence above all and it was this very thing, his intimate face-to-face relationship with the Lord, which made the difference in his life. The Lord promised Moses victory over his enemies, promised him land flowing with milk and honey BUT Moses knew the better choice. Moses was willing to give up all those things and stay camped in the desert if the Lord refused to go on with them. Moses wanted the Lord’s presence!

Miracle Red Cowboy Boots

Miracle Red Cowboy Boots

When the Lord first moved our family to Dallas we lived on my husband’s military pension while he looked for the job that would launch his second career.  We were so blessed to have the resources that permitted us to move, plant ourselves in a wonderful neighborhood close to family, and provide our kids with a private school that accommodates their different learning styles.  Our needs were fully met, but we had to watch our pennies.  We had to put little luxuries on hold, just for a season.  Our discretionary abilities were on restriction.  Life became smaller, and in some ways sweeter. 

In my daily prayers for my husband, one of the things I would ask for was peace and confidence in his provision of our family.   Looking for a job is hard on a man and I didn’t want to knowingly add stress to his burden to provide.  So I prayed, and God helped me imperfectly live out my intensions.  This season was hard for me.  My friends who know me well could tell you why.  I want stuff.  I know, we all want stuff, but some of us are better at putting our desires on the back burner.  I’m not so good at it.  We had a new home and I’m one of those who loves to fuss – a little coat of paint, a few new light fixtures, maybe a rug here, maybe a lamp there.  Curtailed, for a season.  In prayer the Lord said, “this phase seems like a test for your husband but it is also a discipline for you, to prune away unnecessary desires that won’t satisfy you…can’t satisfy you.”  

It’s Really All About Jesus Anyway, Isn’t It?

It’s Really All About Jesus Anyway, Isn’t It?

Have you read the Bible from beginning to end? I am sorry to say that I have not, despite being a Christian my entire life. (Nothing like starting off with a huge confession, right?) I have read parts of the Old Testament and the entire New Testament, but I have not read the entire Bible. It’s interesting now to reflect on why I haven’t.

I remember the first time I tried to read the Bible from start to finish. My parents had given me my first nice leather Bible for Christmas when I was in 4th or 5th grade. This was way back before there were as many translation options as there are today, and my new Bible was the King James Version. It probably won’t surprise you to know that I barely made it past Noah and the Ark!

Hope-Filled Brokenness

Hope-Filled Brokenness

When we had first moved to Houston, I was struggling to adjust to my new normal and the Lord gave me a word picture of how He wanted me to live my life. It was a very broken and cracked vase, which had definitely seen and experienced a lot of life. It was so cracked that it could not hold water. As water was poured into the vase, it would begin trickling out of some smaller cracks and gushing out of the larger cracks. This vase appeared quite useless and without a real purpose, other than as a new décor piece for a mantle. This was not really the look I was aiming for however at this point, I definitely felt like that broken vase. I felt quite tired and useless being placed here in Houston far away from family and friends. The easiest thing would be to stay on the mantle and reflect on all the wonderful memories but the Lord wanted me off the shelf to be used once again. This is always easier said than done.

Shifting Seasons

Shifting Seasons

While we may be settling into a season, what is shifting is my perspective on that season — allowing Him to help me view the work He has called us to, not through the lens of the world and its shallow praise, but through the lens of His Kingdom and the joy of bringing Him glory in any and every facet of this life  — not just the big stuff, not just the stuff we display, not just what our community at large sees — but the relational stuff, the hard stuff, the messy people in a broken world stuff. Because at the end of the season, of the day, of the month, at the end of this life, isn’t that what we want to be able to declare? That it was all for Him? Not just that we did the big things, that we shouted from the rooftops, but sometimes I think even more importantly, that we honored Him in the little things — in the things the world may not shine focus on — because isn’t the world upside down without His presence to filter our priorities through? Maybe what matters most in our ministry is what happens on a small scale…not because the big, bold stuff isn’t important — we absolutely serve a big and bold God — but because there can be so much substance in the “in between” moments, in the personal connections — and we also serve a personal, relational God. I don’t know about you, but I often find those to be the things that are the hardest to focus intentionally on, to work through, to glorify Him in — because they really take the most investment. The things that tend to get the most attention in our culture are the big splashes, temporary and fleeting, but I’m learning to see more and more the immense value in swimming upstream to reach people at a heart level — and to invest my priorities accordingly. The things that really make the biggest impact are the ones that are carried through the shifting seasons, side by side, hand in hand. The ones that have a name. A story. That require the writing of pages together. Sharing this life is about giving and receiving — what I give to others, and how I receive them. I’m starting to believe that ministry isn’t primarily about what we give to others — but that they see Jesus the most in how we receive them — into our circle, into our home, into our moment. Though the situations and depths will vary, I believe that truly serving others is more relational than donational.

A Mother's Christmas Gift

A Mother's Christmas Gift

One of my favorite things to do each December day is get up before anyone in the family is awake, go downstairs and in the dark, turn on only the lights of the Christmas tree.  While sipping coffee and my Bible in my lap, with just the twinkling of the Christmas lights, I spend time with my Savior.   It is such a sweet time.  I look forward to it all year long.  There is just something about staring at the lights of the tree and pondering the God of the universe who chose to come down from heaven Himself, in human flesh, to show us how much He loves us.  Morning after morning, this renews my focus.  This intentional and special time with Jesus fixes my eyes on Him, encourages me to lean in to Him, fills me with His Spirit and helps me keep this season about Jesus and not what the world has made it to be.  This time with Jesus overflows into the rest of my day and becomes a gift to my family.  My heart is full.  My focus is clear.  My joy is real.

Heart of Thanksgiving

Heart of Thanksgiving

Whether you are looking forward to Thursday, or attempting to wish it away, I want to pose a challenge. Is it possible to view Thanksgiving, not as only a holiday, but as a choice of our will that directs our attitude?

At times, we can be so overwhelmed by our circumstances the thought of being thankful for them, knowing that He sees the end from the beginning, when we can’t, is repugnant to us. I challenge you; I challenge me, to start by bringing our needs to Him.

Coffee and Fellowship

Coffee and Fellowship

I decided to take a break from the computer and get a bite to eat. After eating my frozen meal (quick and easy so I could get back to “writing“), I went outside to bring in my Amazon delivery and saw an unexpected bag from another store. What was in that bag brought me to tears, gave me the topic for this blog, and reminded me of what God wants us all to remember. In it was a new coffee maker, given in love from dear friends, secretly delivered by them to my front porch.  Why? Because my existing maker has decided to be temperamental, and won’t always work.  And, my friends know me…they know I don’t function well without my coffee… they know what is going on in my life and want to help in any way they can… they care… they love as Christ loves.

Staying in the Lane God has Assigned Us

Staying in the Lane God has Assigned Us

I take my eyes off of my own race as a mother. I begin to look at how other moms parent their children, or how successful their life appears juggling and multi-tasking the demands of a busy family.  It is particularly hard when I see someone a few steps ahead of me in a season of life; I begin to unfairly compare my life to hers.  

Social media and the world of comparison we live in with "selfies" and documenting the highlights of each day taunts us constantly. It is as if the runners around us flaunt the fact they are running the race better and faster. We become distracted and consumed and our eyes begin to wander. 

Leaving Your Nets and Your Boat: Finding True Peace and Rest

Leaving Your Nets and Your Boat:  Finding True Peace and Rest

Trust His perfect plans for you, even when He speaks the word immediately to you.

There were days when I wanted to ask the disciples if they ever looked back, if they missed just being a fisherman or if they missed their friends and families?

Then I hear Jesus’ words from Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”