Still

Psalm 46:10 contains the popular and quite useful piece of scripture:  “Be still and know that I am God.”  Today I am going to remember that.  Be still.  Still.  Also, I am going to live in expectation of hearing from God, because He has been speaking to me BIG TIME lately.  Like, I am planning my next tattoo and this past week I settled on Psalm 46:5 – “God is within her, she will not fall; God is with her at break of day.”  So, in church yesterday Pastor Brandon says, “I’m going to read Psalm 46, because this wrecked me a while back and I seriously could teach on this for a year.”  I was like, !!!!  I mean, JUST LOOK AT MY PSALM 46 IN MY BIBLE:

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I was like, !!!!  I was debating for a few days about talking to my pastor about stuff that’s going on with me.  Halfway through the service I was like, “Nah, I’m cool.  I got this.” (Famous last words.)   And then he started reading all of Psalm 46.  I was like, “Okay God, I am totally listening.  Gotcha.  KTHNXBYE.”  So after church I was talking to him about this stuff that is going on with me, and, among other things, he reminded me to be still.  Be still and let Him fight for me!  I finally had it driven home to me (even though you “know” things doesn’t mean that you really KNOW them) that the Lord saw all this coming, and He has already forgiven me, and He is with me.  Steadfast and never-changing and loving me as much as ever.  Even when I fall, I can live in total expectation of hearing His voice, seeing His face, and learning His Truth.  Praise the Lord.  That gives me the strength I need to do the things I want to do, and courage to do what I need to do.

Psalm 46[a]

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth.[b] A song.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

A prayer for an average September morning (and beyond)

On page 143 Lysa challenges us to pray for the next 30 days asking God to reveal Himself to us and fill us with a desire for him like never before. Write your prayer here.

Father God,  you are sovereign over all things.  You are in me, around me, above me and below me.  Your Truth flows out and becomes my truth, too.  You are leading me in the precise direction you have planned.  You have placed the people in my life for a reason.  You have given me all my quirks and faults and good parts for a reason.  I know this.  I have always known this.  But I also really want to know YOU.  I want to hear you speaking, and recognize when it’s actually YOU and not my agenda.  I want to be obedient, I want to say yes to you every day.  Every day is a new chance to refine the way I live my life here on earth.  When I fall, You are there.  You are there because you already know exactly where  I’m going to fall.  You are always there.  That is so awesome.  I want my desire for you to reach a place I’ve not yet experienced.  Thank you for little, wonderful experiences like last night when I sat with Lisa and Christine on Lisa’s porch and we drank kombucha and listened to the night critters singing their songs while our kids played inside and we talked about You.  They probably didn’t realize what I was thinking.  That I was just SO HAPPY to be with them and with You and to be a mother and a sister and a friend.  That I am so thankful for healthy, happy kids and nature and freedom and choices and second chances.  You are just full of surprises and I know that the closer I follow you on this journey, the closer we will become.  We can only become closer through Jesus, whom I am looking forward to getting to know better every day for the rest of my life.  In Jesus’ holy and awesome name, Amen.

p.s.  I was also about to thank you that my kids were playing very quietly under the table at my feet while I wrote this.  Then I peeked under there and they both had my makeup bag and were smearing makeup on each other.  I was about to get annoyed when Max looked at me, covered with lip gloss, and said, “I want to look pretty for my dance party!” And then he started laughing hysterically. Yes, lucky for us you are an awesome and creative God with a fantastic sense of humor.

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A Heart At Rest

How has saying yes to God through this study helped you find a heart at rest?

Well, I gotta be honest…right now my heart is NOT at rest.  Right now my heart is heavy and sad because I got some bad news.  But that’s okay, because:

Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I am going to rest in Him today.  I am going to apply these truths that have been reinforced throughout this study.  I am going to seriously REST IN HIM.  We all belong to Him, and He has written the story.  I need to remember that the purpose of this study is not just to get through it, but to truly come out RADICALLY OBEDIENT on the other side.  That means I will listen to His whispers.  Follow hard after Him.  Not believe the lies of the enemy.

I started my year-long study of Matthew last night and was really inspired by our new teaching leader.  Her lecture was sweet and beautiful and inspiring.  One of the best things I heard was, “Truth satisfies because truth is a Person.”  A disciple is literally translated to “one who looks like Him.”  And that’s what I want.  I want people to see the Lord in me and the incredible work He’s done in me and others and what He can do for you, if you let Him.  My ministry may never reach farther than the 4 walls of my home and the handful of people that read this blog.  And that is okay.  My heart is at rest with whatever He’s got for me.  He is a God of order, and a creative Creator.  He’s got this.  HE’S.  GOT.  THIS.  Just be obedient to Him and not only will your cup be filled, but it will runneth over all over the place and splash everyone around you.  What a beautiful thing.

Jesus is not surprised by my sin – NOT AT ALL.  He knows me.  HE KNOWS TEMPTATION.  If I come to Him, He will give me rest.  If I repent, I am truly forgiven.  Coming to Him is our greatest joy and responsibility.  And when we come to Him, we need to be ready for His command to GO:

Matthew 4:19
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

You can’t be all like, “Okay, Jesus!  I love You and I want to follow You!  Just don’t make me do anything too hard, okay?”   No.  That’s not how it works.  He lays on our hearts what He wants us to do to glorify Him.  And hey, whaddaya know?  It usually lines right up with all the talents and gifts we were given when we were created.  Interesting…

So, here I come and here I go.  Jesus calls us to come EVERY DAY.  Rest in Him EVERY DAY.  Go do His work (in whatever capacity that may be) EVERY DAY.  There is no day off from this once you’re there.  You can try to take a day off, but you will be convicted.  God will lean on your heart a little bit and try to steer you back home.

I pray that God reveals Himself to me in His Son and in His Word as I read and study the Gospel of Matthew for the next 9 months.  I really cannot wait.  I fully expect to meet Jesus in a way I never did before.  And then, once again, every day, every minute, I can come to Him and rest.

What a beautiful thing.

 

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Berks County sunset

The Great Life

Psalm 81:10

I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.  Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

If we open ourselves up to Him fully, He will fill us.  HE WILL FILL US.  We just have to say yes to Him.  It’s a pretty simple request.  So why does it seem so hard sometimes?

One thing that I struggle with is feeling inadequate.  I don’t know where this comes from – past incidents or just human nature or just part of the way my brain works.  But I need to remember that every mistake does not define me, and every weak moment is a chance to become stronger in Him.  To open myself up fully to Him means not only to let Him work through me to help others and glorify Him and all that stuff.  It also means to accept His grace.  If I don’t accept His grace when I repent – if I dwell on it and continue to beat myself up over things – then all that Jesus did for us means nothing.  NOTHING!!!!  He died to close the gap between us and God.  It is not a good witness to treat myself like poop.

I know I struggle with guilt when I screw up because I don’t want people to leave me.  This is just based on my past and has nothing to do with what my life on earth looks like right now.  God will NEVER LEAVE ME.  Jesus is right here with me, peering over my shoulder and whispering in my ear what He wants me to write next.  I don’t have to pray for forgiveness 16 times for that one thing I did.  Repent and reset.  He has forgiven me.  If I ask Him to keep changing my heart to be more like His, HE WILL.  PERIOD.  End of story.  I say this all the time, but it’s the easiest and most difficult thing in the world.

Psalm 81:16

You would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.

What does temporary satisfaction look like versus real satisfaction?

That’s a tough one to explain.  The best way I can muster is, real satisfaction is an investment.  If we do the work – rest in His Word every day, develop a meaningful prayer life with Him, say yes to Him and let Him change our hearts – the ROI (Return On Investment – and not to go off on a tangent but I am SO GLAD I don’t live a life where I have to hear, decipher, and then use acronyms like that anymore!!!!) is going to be more amazing than we could ever imagine for ourselves.

Temporary satisfaction is like, “Oh, if I buy that dress I will look so cool and everyone will think I look awesome and when I go out to the bar to get my drink on people want to know where I got it and think I am so with it and together because I am in this hip place with my hip dress and hip friends WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

(Not that I did it.)

1 John 3:18-19

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.  This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence.

How do I apply this verse to my life?  It’s not what I wear or do or look like or watch or listen or even say that defines me…unless I am speaking from my changed heart about His truth.  To set our hearts at rest in his presence (which is such a beautiful phrase) means that when I do that, HE WILL TAKE CARE OF THE REST.  That is ALL HE WANTS.  When we say YES to Him, when we REST in Him, when we listen to Him when He speaks to us, we are living in His truth.  Example:

On Saturday morning,  I was reading my Bible.  Sometimes I just flip through and scan the pages until something jumps out at me and then I kind of roll with it.  Somehow, I ended up on Psalm 139:23-24 and I loved it.  I circled it, highlighted it, drew my famous squiggles on it.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

So, then I wrote down the key words on the back of my Bible:

SEARCH

KNOW

TEST

SEE

LEAD

A few minutes later, I popped on Facebook on my phone and was reading the comments of one of the Proverbs 31 posts, and what did I see?  THAT SAME VERSE.  This is how God speaks to us.  He was telling me to pay attention to that verse.

So, that is my challenge today.  To let Him search my heart and really listen to Him so I can say yes to the challenges before me.  Maybe you would like to do the same.

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I found that leaf in a Bible at church a few weeks ago.  I opened it up and it fell out and it was such a perfect leaf…I wonder how long it’s been in there, and who put it there…I just love stuff like that.

Whoah.

Lysa Terkeurst, author of “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God” (the reason I started this blog) and “Unglued” and “Made To Crave” and a slew of others, is offering up writing training.   Tips.  Tricks.  Secret Sauce.  WHOAH.  This is VERY MAJOR.  I am sharing this because I said I would in the comments of her blog (thus entering me into a contest to win this free for a year).  But I’m also sharing it because I know there are other writers reading this that want to find their voice, glorify Him, and make it not only readable, not only interesting, but AWESOME.

I saw Lysa speak at a conference in May, and I’m going to another one with some ladies from church in November.  I highly recommend seeing her speak if you are a fan of her writing.  She is a total blast and so in love with the Lord.  It’s a hoot.  Do it.

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Glimpses of God

Philippians 2:14-16

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[a] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

When I read this, I immediately think of being a wife, mother, and homemaker.  How easy is it to start grumbling when we get stuck in the rut of wrangling the toddlers, cleaning the litter box, scrubbing the toilet, hearing “NO!!!” from little mouths all day, figuring out what to make for dinner, stepping on the cat thinking she is a Pillow Pet (not that I did it), not being able to pee in peace…

When I reread this, I immediately think of Jesus, and how he suffered beyond comprehension to save me.  How he never grumbled or argued.  I think of the phrase “hold firmly to the word of life” and what that means to me.  I think of my sweet children who are figuring out this crazy world, just like I still am.  I think of how fortunate I am to have a toilet to scrub and I’m not homeless, going to the bathroom in an alley.  I think about how blessed we are to have enough food to eat and clean water.  I change my vision of this rut:  what a beautiful rut to be in!

Without the Word of Life, without God, without Christ, without the Holy Spirit, I have no vision.  I don’t even remember how to see without Him.

When I see the phrase “warped and crooked generation,” I think of how every generation probably thinks theirs is worse than the last, as far as morality and crime and drugs and the like are concerned.  I know my mom thought the world would end in the 60’s because everything was just so crazy.  “Blameless and pure” is tough to imagine.  Christ was blameless and pure.  And we are made new through Him.  It’s still so hard to let those whispers from the enemy just float away while I remember that truth.  That enemy is a crafty one, I tell ya.  Just when you think you are really with it, really in tune with God (which you are), he comes along and throws a wrench into things.  At least for me.  It’s a constant battle to keep my vision in focus, keep my palms up, stick with it.  And it will be a constant battle until I go home.

When I see the phrase “you will shine among them like stars,” that creates such a beautiful image for me.  And it also means it’s a lot to live up to.  I often stress about being a good witness because I am so open with my faith.  Some people are just waiting for you to mess up so they can call you a hypocrite.  Which, let’s face it, sometimes we ALL ARE HYPOCRITICAL.

When I read this all again, now that I’ve thought it through, I get a glimpse of God, and His righteousness, and His mercy, and His goodness, and His gifts, and His perfect timing, and His blessings on my life.  They are PLENTIFUL these days, they really are.  I have never felt so loved, so perfectly loved.  I want to remember this feeling of perfect love the next time I actually get to sit down and paint my nails and one of the kids has a poopy diaper 5 seconds later.  Or when I finally get around to making the bed and the kids rip it apart immediately.  Or when I get so frustrated at my daughter not letting me brush her hair that I throw it across the room in frustration, and it breaks and she cries.  Not that I did it.

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Lower Your Nets

When Simon Peter was approached by Jesus, he was obedient and subsequently blessed.  So much so, that Simon Peter left everything behind right there on the spot to follow Him.

Jesus is asking us all to lower our nets.  What little thing is God asking of me today?  What seemingly small act of obedience will result in blessings beyond comprehension?

Who knows.  Not me.

The things pressing on my heart are to stay calm with the kids, enjoy these moments with them at this young, snuggly age where I am the most important person in their life.  Sometimes that gets really hard.  But it is so crucial.

Also I am reminded that my body is a temple, and I need to treat it as such.  I want to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

I want to renew my passion for the Lord every single day when I wake up.  Every day is a fresh start.  My passions of yesterday do not need to be my passions of today.  It is totally fine to change my vision as I listen to God – as long as my vision lines up with His Word.  I admit that sometimes it is easy to tweak God’s vision to match mine – but I need to remember that just because something is PERMITTED doesn’t mean it is ACCEPTABLE.

Finally, I want the love in my heart to overflow today.  Overflow for Jesus, my husband, my kids, my friends who are coming over today, my mom whom I will surely speak to before the day is done…even my crazy cat, Gertie.  I love that crazy cat.

Dear Lord,  I want to see You today in all I do.  I want to honor You as much as I can in my words and actions…but most of all with the purity of my heart.  Please prompt me to lower my nets just like Simon Peter did; in that very moment, I want to do as You say even if I think it’s wiser to do otherwise (which, let’s face it, is ridiculous).  And then in that moment, I will be following You.  Thank you for the cool breeze wafting through my windows on this sunny day, and for helping my kids play nicely and quietly so I can write this blog this morning.  As you know, many times I am typing with two 2-year-olds literally hanging from my neck or trying to get me to stop writing and put on some Curious George.  Thank you for Curious George, which seems to have a magical calming power over my rambunctious children.  Thank you for forgiving me when I fall, which is all the time.  Thank you for giving me a confidence I never had before.  Thank you for saving me.  Thank you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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This verse doesn’t have much to do with today’s post, but I thought it was so lovely!

#FreshVision (Fresh Passion)

The Lord made me a passionate person.  Period.  When I get into something, I GET INTO IT.  Big time.  Like, I can remember every male celebrity obsession I had since I was 5 years old (yes, I had a celebrity obsession at 5 years old.  It was Bob from Sesame Street).  I moved on to Henry Winkler (Fonzie!!!), and Robin Williams (Mork!!!)  and then on to John Schneider from the Dukes of Hazzard, then Ted Danson from Cheers (I was in 4th grade.  It still seems wrong), then Jack Wagner and then Michael J. Fox and Kirk Cameron and Michael Hutchence from INXS until I finally settled on Jim Morrison.  That lasted all of high school and a little bit after.  And who am I kidding, just a teensy eensy bit now, too.  I still get into my Doors moods when I just think they are the bee’s knees.

God made me this way so I would eventually figure out that my passion needed to be on HIM.  Not some bloated dead rock star or a goofy teen idol.  I have always loved to write…I’ve wanted to be a writer since 1st grade when I wrote that as the first sentence in the first journal I ever started keeping:  “I want to be a writer.  I want to be as famous as Shakespeare.”  Bold aspirations for a 6-year old.

So, my fresh passion is this:  I want to write about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and crazy things about my life and my walk in faith and what I think about things and how I do things.  I want to keep doing this blog as long as it takes to refine my writing, my style, my voice, until I get to a place where I figure out how I’m supposed to continue with this thing.  This is my passion.  Okay, let me rephrase that:  God is my passion.  I want my gifts to be used for Him.  My gifts include my husband and children, extended family, friends, church family, and my writing.  I enjoy doing many other things, but nothing else can really reach others like this.  Sometimes when I speak one-on-one to people, I insert a lot of “dudes” and “mans” and “knowwhatimeans” into the conversation.  This is somehow easier for me.

I want people to know the God I know, see the Jesus I see, feel the Holy Spirit I feel.  It has transformed my life and I want to share it with others.  This comes naturally through writing.  So you might see a lot of posts this week.

One thing I wrote in my journal yesterday:

“I must let go of some worldy things that constantly tempt me.  I want to stand WITH God, not oppose Him!  He is so good to me, and I have seemed to lose my obedient spirit this week.  Where did it go?!  Is this normal, to face more opposition the closer we get to Him?”

And then I wrote, “YES!!!!”

I also wrote that is is pointless to navigate through this life obediently without Him RIGHT THERE WITH ME.

I like that.  It’s true, too.  I am learning that I am really, REALLY hard on myself when I mess up (I always have been this way).  And I don’t have to be.  I don’t get any special extra points in heaven if I dwell on my mistakes for a week.  We ALL fall, and we all have our different things that bring us down.  I need to remember to repent, reset, and MOVE ON.  MOVE IT ALONG, PEOPLE…NOTHING TO SEE HERE.  God forgives us in that moment of repentance (that is, really truly intending with all your heart to follow Him and not repeat that transgression).  Jesus suffered in ways we cannot imagine so that we can have that.  Our suffering in comparison to that is like…well, I can’t even go there right now.  That’s for another time.

God uses our experiences to equip us for our calling.  This usually means “bad” experiences.  Tough experiences.  I’ve got a lot of those.  Let me stew on that and write about it soon…

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Fresh Vision #1

It’s never too late for a fresh vision. I thought my vision was clear:  seek God.  Follow Jesus.  Serve my family.  But I am realizing that while all these things are crucial, it’s okay to dream BIG.  Go big or go home, right?

This week in the study is about asking God to share His big dreams for us.  And He will reveal them if we are radically obedient.  And I must confess, I have not been radically obedient for the past few days, and I feel like God was using the experience to open my eyes.  To show me the things that I make an idol, and to show me how much I missed Him when I was being radically disobedient.  And I guess that’s an exaggeration; I just let myself get wrapped up in things that were a distraction.  And maybe that’s okay once in a while…?  Because the timing was perfect, actually.  I woke up this morning with my fresh vision firmly in place.

I’m going to pray and pray and write and write about my fresh vision this week.  My big dream for myself is to write.  For Him, about Him, and because if Him.  I feel that He gifted me with a certain style and communication skill, and I am to use that to glorify Him.  Which I guess I have been doing for a while now.  But I want to get bigger and better.  I want this to be not just my little morning Bible study exercise.  I want this to be kinda major.

Okay.  Things I am going to ponder (you may feel free to ponder them, too)…

1.  The inevitable fact that is that the more obedient to God I become, the more opposition I will face. (which ties into this week’s verse, James 4:7)

2.  My life will follow where I focus my vision.

3.  God uses our experiences to equip us for our calling.

I’m going to write as much as I can this week on the above thoughts, and also the suggested topics from the study.  Mama’s got a lot to say.

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I found a quote by Renee Swope from “A Confident Heart,” which is a great book and is next up in the Online Bible Study:

“Every time I fail to be the woman God calls me to be or the woman I expect myself to be, God reminds me of the progress I’ve made.  Even though I may not be who I want to be, I am not what I used to be.”

Amen to that.

#YesToGod

On page 103 Lysa shares a short prayer she prays every morning choosing to say yes to whatever assignments God places before her. Write your own personal morning #YesToGod prayer.

Heavenly Father, You are the God who sees me. You are going to meet me wherever I am. My story is already written, and I know that if I say yes to You, I will be following the story the way you wrote it. You are within me, I will not fall; You will help me at break of day. I want to say yes to you today, Lord. I know there will be moments when I forget that you are within me, and I pray that I can repent and reset and accept your gift of grace in those not-so-graceful moments. Thank you for saving me…

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(Lysa’s prayer)

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