Monday, August 8, 2011

Making the Call

"I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies."
2 Samuel 22:4

Is there an area in your life you seem to continually struggle in? Haven't yet tasted the sweetness of victory?

Calling on God's power and strength is an act of worship- a form of surrender- that will bring you victory against many enemies... even if your greatest enemy seems to be yourself. As you humble yourself by exalting Him in the areas of your weakness, you will have won a major victory in the battle for your heart. 
“For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.”  
Psalm 149:4
The enemy wants nothing more than to steal your victories by stealing your trust from God- to make you question His authority and power, to doubt His goodness, His love, His unfailing mercy. If he can make you fear, or doubt, or worry, instead of worship, he knows you'll never walk in the victory God desires for you. If the enemy can make you question God's sufficiency and power, he'll have you right where he wants you- ineffective, frustrated, and powerless as you try to work things out unsuccessfully in your own futile wisdom, inadequacies, and imperfections... not getting anywhere fast and definitely not walking in the fullness of all Christ desires for you.

When you set your sights and trust in God in areas of your weakness- when you worship Him in those areas- you provide Him with opportunities to reveal to you that He really IS Who He says He is: He is our "All in all." That is, He is all the things we need in all situations, at all times.

Praise God for Who you need Him to be in this season of your life. Perhaps you need a Deliverer... a Fortress... a Rock... a Shield... a Refuge... a Savior... a Conqueror... Someone to trust... Someone to love you... Someone to protect you... Someone to carry your burdens. God delights in revealing Himself to you... each and every facet of His glorious character.

Focus your heart humbly upon Him and you'll find a greater victory than you could ever hope for.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What Are You Building?

"...the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself."
{Hebrews 3:3} 

They say building a house will either make or break your marriage. This statement has both intimidated and challenged us over the past 8 years as we have spent the majority of our marriage building our house. Both processes have taken lots of hard work, love, sweat, and tears to form solid, firm foundations. Those foundations have both been built with Jesus Christ as their Cornerstone. It has taken time and wisdom to learn how to build according to His plan and a whole lot more hard work to turn those plans into reality... to build a strong, sturdy shelter that will withstand the storms of time and outside forces beyond our control.

Sure, we've made our mistakes through these processes... and many costly ones at that. But, that doesn't mean we'll ever stop building. No, we'll hopefully learn from those mistakes and be able to do a better job of building in light of them.

Building is a loud, messy, difficult, and even painful process. We continue building because we look forward to living in what we will have built over time. We've made a decision to go at it again and again until we get it right. We don't want our home to just be a 'livable' one; what we want is a beautiful, healthy, thriving one. If we are going to work hard at something, we want it to be the best it can be; something that will show off Christ's handiwork in us, something to be admired and something that we can be proud of. 

It takes time to build something right... time and lots of hard, messy, even painful work. While it may be difficult, the reward of building something beautiful to live in and pass down over generations is worth the difficulties of the process.

Every day my husband and I have been learning to live out our marriage mission statement by making the Father's "joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind." {Philippians 2:2} . We're definitely not perfect at it, but we're learning. We're committed to seeing this thing through to the end... 'til death do us part.

Building a solid marriage isn't easy, but it's SO worth it... and today we're celebrating what we've built so far!

For Further Thought:

  • What kind of marriage are you building? What kind of home do you want to live in?
  • Are you committed to working hard in your marriage to build something that will withstand and outlast the tests of time? Will your marriage be something that you will be proud of as you leave behind its legacy to your children?
  • When times get tough, do you have a tendency to stop building? Or do you keep moving forward?
  • What have you learned from the mistakes you've made along the way that will help you build better, stronger and smarter next time? 
  • Do you need to seek advice, counsel, or wisdom in how to build a better marriage? Do you have a good plan? A good model?
  • Do you have a mission statement for your marriage?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Courage For Today

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." 
{Hebrews 3:13}
I wonder what would happen if we, as Christians, truly took this scripture to heart... and practice. What would our relationships look like? In light of this verse, we should be some of the best people to be around- after all, who wouldn't want to be around someone who was consistently giving out encouragement every day?
The truth is, most of us are too busy trying to get encouragement instead of trying to give it.
... And we wonder why we are so discouraged all the time? ...It's because we've got it all backwards! God's economy is so much different than the world's. The world says you need to get more to prosper... God's Word says you need to give more to prosper. Proverbs 11:25 says it this way:
"A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." 
You see, we can't expect to enjoy an abundant harvest of encouragement without first sowing a whole bunch of encouragement "seeds." Want to be encouraged all the time? Who wouldn't?! Sow encouragement into the lives of others on a regular basis and you'll begin to be encouraged on a regular basis. 

Encouragement should not be seen as something to be given out as a one-time event. After all, how would we feel if we only received encouragement as a one-time event? The truth is, we all need it much more often than we'll ever realize or even vocalize... otherwise, I don't think Paul would have exhorted us to give it out daily! 
Today, your uplifting words have the power to make all the difference in the world to someone.
And the good news is, not only will they make all the difference in the world in someone else's life, they'll also make all the difference in the world in your own. 

Want to feel loved today? Express love to someone else. Want to be stronger through seasons of trials? Sow words of strength into the life of someone you know who is going through trials of their own. Not only will their burdens seem lighter, but your own will too. 

Encouragement comes in many forms and is much easier to give out than you think. A quick note, a quick call, a quick email or text message... a hug, a smile, a hand to hold, a helping hand... a "Thank you," an "I love you." 

Not only will someone else enjoy the refreshing waters of encouragement as they flow freely from your lips, but you will too. The very courage you give someone else in the battles they face today will give you strength and courage for your own.

For Further Thought:

  • Who could use a word of encouragement from you today? Your spouse? Your children? A co-worker? A stranger?
  • How could your friendships benefit from a regular practice of giving more encouragement?
  • Who could you show support today? Maybe with a meal? A kind gesture? A helping hand?
  • Who could use some help or motivation? A timely and thoughtful gift? A kind word?
  • How can you express your gratitude to someone who has blessed your life?
  • Who would be blessed to know that you are praying for them?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dear Abby

“Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break.”  
–Wiliiam Shakespeare
Today's post is in honor the unborn child we loved and lost in a miscarriage a year ago from today's date.

Dear Abby,

My dear beautiful daughter, your Heavenly Father whispered your name to me before your father and I could ever whisper it in your little ear…. Abigail is your name. Abigail is the word we exchanged for the intense sorrow and grief our broken hearts experienced a year ago… the day you left my womb and took a piece of our hearts with you. While I didn’t know it at the time, Abigail, you see, means “the Father’s joy,” and it is truly the Father’s joy that you added to our lives.

Through you, Abigail, I was able to experience the Father’s joy so much more fully than I ever would have without this experience of intense grief and sorrow. Perhaps, Little One, the Father used your death as much as your life to teach me… Although you never experienced the beauty of the world when you would open your eyes for the first time, you opened the eyes of my heart to so much… to the fullness of love, hope, and comfort afforded me in depths I would never otherwise have known except through the unknown depths of pain, suffering, and sorrow I plummeted into.

It was you Little One, my Abigail, that the Father used to clearly illustrate to me the principle of exchanging death for life… 

... of exchanging the ashes of my brokenness for the hope of what beautiful things God might create with such unconventional elements… 

... of exchanging my tears of grief and mourning over your death with the ointment of joy over the Life still within me- the Life you and I share- and the joy that, despite these mere moments we are apart, we will soon be together in the present reality of eternity… 

...of exchanging my spirit so heavy with despair with the light and beautiful garment of praise for a Sovereign and trustworthy God - praise which, when wrapped around my heavy, hurting, disappointed, and grief-laden heart, slowly began to lift me in the reality and peace that you are wrapped in our Father’s arms, just as you always were... and as I always am.

Through your brief life and even in your death, God used you to birth new things in me, Abby. I have been inspired to live a little more… laugh a little more… give more of myself to the things that really matter and let go of the things that don’t. You taught me to more fully appreciate the miracle of life all around me... to treasure the gifts of each day, each moment, to be spent with the precious lives of those around me.

It was you, Abby, who God used as a light to reveal treasures to me that I didn’t even know I had or was even looking for… treasures that I would only discover in the darkness of an abandoned womb... an empty tomb in my body which will forever echo in my heart with the good news of an empty tomb of long ago... of one our Savior once abandoned. That, my dear one, is an amazing legacy to have left in my heart for such a short life you lived... for you have taught me all that I ever hoped to teach you. You lived your life fully, my Little One, and I am forever grateful.

Little One, my Abigail, you are my treasure forever laid up in my heart and in heaven. I love you.

For Further Reading: Isaiah 61:1-3

Monday, June 20, 2011

First Thought, First Choice

"You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God."
{Exodus 23:19} 
What was your first thought when you woke up this morning? Can you even remember? Recently, I heard a startling statistic from a recent poll which really shed some light on the state of our culture and the role that technology plays in our lives:
"...Thirty-four percent of women aged 18-34, roughly a third of the women polled, have admitted to Facebook being their first thought when they woke up; many said they check Facebook before doing anything else in the morning, including going to the bathroom."
Wow.  In light of this recent survey, it got me thinking: 
What are my first thoughts each morning?
Now, take that a step further in light of the fact that our actions stem from our thoughts: 
What is the first choice I make with my time, mental energy, and physical efforts each day?
The great thing about thoughts is that we have the ability to choose whether we will entertain them or not. I wonder what would happen if we chose to intentionally entertain certain thoughts and chose to decline others.
  • Are you quick to look for nuggets of wisdom or truth from social media outlets before plugging yourself into the wisdom found in the Word of God and prayer? 
  • Are you quick to approach your computer or your Creator? 
  • Are you quick to send a status update or to savor time with the Savior?
Tweets and status updates may appear to be short and sweet but the reality is that, if we're not careful, what might start out as a few minutes of 'short and sweet' reads has sucked us in for more time than we should be devoting to the higher priorities in life. Twitter wisdom and savvy status updates may be quick to tickle our ears and give us food for thought, but the important question is, after they've gotten our attention for any length of time do they really have the power to add value and meaning to our lives or sustenance for our souls? ...Or are they just another fix for our flesh's 'sweet tooth?'

Ok, so maybe you're not like 34% of women who struggle to keep social media in its place... maybe your first thoughts in the morning are completely unrelated to social media. What do you turn to first to satisfy the needs and cravings of your soul?
  • Do you tend to reach for devotionals, self-help books, email newsletters, or blogs in hopes of receiving some inspiration or motivation before reaching out to God in His Word and in prayer?
  • Turn pages of the newspaper before turning pages of Scripture? 
  • Getting busy with your to-do lists before taking the time to be still in the presence of God? 
  • Bogged down by worries or concerns before you've given any thought to bringing them to a Sovereign Lord who cares and is capable of handling them all?
Just to be clear, please don't hear what I'm not saying. I'm not knocking any of these things but merely posing questions for your consideration as well as mine... BECAUSE... I wonder what our everyday lives would look like if we worked hard to establish a good daily habit of making our first conscious choice to put our highest priority first... starting in our minds and then in our actions.

What do you think?

For Further Reading: Psalm 104:34, Proverbs 13:16, Luke 8:18, 1 Corinthians 15:34, Philippians 4:8, 2 Timothy 4:3-4, Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 6:33-34

For Further Thought:
  • What was your first thought this morning?
  • What do you want your first thoughts to be each morning?
  • How can you make an intentional effort to change your first thoughts each day?
  • How is your first conscious choice a reflection of your first thoughts each day?
  • What can you do to make your first thoughts and first choices of the day line up with your priorities?

Monday, June 13, 2011

First Line of Defense

Today I offer a few empowering and encouraging reminders for those not-so-gentle days filled with drama, doubt, or discouragement... for days you are filled with confusion or when life feels out-of-control... or when life has taken you off-guard. It is my prayer that you will be built up in your defenses and become more alert to attacks that you might walk in the fullness of life and victory that Christ paid to give you!
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith..." 
{1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV} 
Through Christ, you are empowered to resist, withstand and overpower ANY resistance you may be facing from the enemy...

Every line of scripture is your first line of defense. Speaking it enables you to stand strong in the struggles you face. It has power as a prevailing, conquering force in both heavenly and earthly realms.

Confessing the word of God grounds your faith... guards your heart... and enables you to hold your ground.

Christ didn't pay so great a price or fight so hard for your life only to have you sit down, back up, or shut up. When you feel weak or when life feels out of control, look to God's Word to encourage you. His Word is what feeds our faith and it is important to learn how to take the time to encourage yourself and build up your faith if it's faltering.

Don't ever let the enemy convince you to shut up, back down, or give ground. You are worth far too much for that! Think about how much Christ resisted for your sake and for all that He stood for to be able to give you. If you shrink back from the battle, you allow opportunities for oppression... opportunities for your life to be destroyed or devoured.

I pray you feel empowered and encouraged today to stand your ground in the battles you face and remember to wield your weapon... the Word!
"But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back... But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved."

{Hebrews 10:38-39 NIV} 

Monday, June 6, 2011

First Response

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”
{Ephesians 3:17-19}

There are many people I know who have been experiencing really difficult life situations recently. They've shared their story, revealed their burdens and asked for prayer. When you see someone going through hard times, it's hard not to want to be a part of their solution... to offer physical help, ideas, solutions, etc. I'm not negating that we are never supposed to offer help in those ways, but there are times when we forget what our first and best response should be: prayer.

Respond to the needs of those around you first with prayer.

There are all kinds of prayers you can offer, but offering to pray not only for someone but with someone will many times accomplish exactly what is needed most. I don't know about you, but I tire of hearing the phrase thrown around in the Christian community, "I'll be praying for you." There are times when what I really want and need is for someone to pray for me right now. Things can be settled in both heart and mind instantly through prayer... in both the physical and spiritual realms as well. Many times our best intentions to pray for someone who really needs prayer go unfulfilled unintentionally because of our lack of first response. And I'll be the first to admit that I'm guilty of it. 

This week I'm going to make an intentional effort to make my first response to be one of immediate, on-the-scene prayer. How about you?

How does it feel when someone agrees with you in prayer?
How do you feel about offering to pray with someone who expresses a need to you?
Do you have any unfulfilled intentions when it comes to your prayer life?
Do you need to ask someone to pray for you?
Ask God to use your prayers as a first response for someone else this week.

Further reading: Philippians 4:6-7, Jeremiah 33:2-3, Matthew 18:18-20, Romans 8:26, Psalm 68:19, Galatians 6:1-3

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sweet Surrender

"Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?"
{Matthew 9:5} 

There are days, and we all have them, when we just can't seem to get anything right. Yes, even I fall down and make mistakes. I sin, you sin. We all sin. It is an inherited condition we cannot escape. The sin-nature of our humanity cannot be avoided.

The thing about sin which is often easy to forget, is that its outward evidence (our behavior) is proof of a deeper, inner problem. It is easy to get caught up in frustration that we cannot seem to get free of a behavior; even more frustrating when we cannot seem to ascertain what issue of the heart is causing the behavior in the first place. 

Delving further into the depth of 'why' we do what we do (or don't want to do) is a daunting task. Those unknown depths can be dark and scary. However, it is gravely important that we move beyond the surface of our behavior and begin dealing with those heart-issues therein. Why? We can pick the fruit off the tree all day long, but until we deal with the issue at the root, we can expect to continue dealing with the same ol' fruit.

There are all kinds of causes as to why we may struggle with certain sins more than others. Your entanglements may be different than mine, but we all have those 'certain' sins that we seem to get caught up in more than others. If we were honest enough with each other, I think we'd all admit that there are days when we're ready to just give up and throw in the towel... days when we're at our wit's end in daily struggles against that ol' schemer who suckers us in (yet again) to that sin that so easily entangles us. Have you ever been there? I know you know what I'm talking about... those days when all the right buttons have been pushed, when you just can't seem to get the upper hand, when you have slipped and fallen more times than you care to count... days when you find it difficult to stand firm where you are, let alone try to keep moving forward...

It's days like these that we need Jesus the most, but oftentimes we find it difficult to even seek Him out. Perhaps we are paralyzed with fear or condemnation, or have succumbed to the shame of our seemingly helpless condition. Our unending struggle has moved us beyond aggravation and frustration to becoming just plain tired and weary. We find it difficult to find the words to pray or even find the strength to fight the battle any longer.

On these days, when we are worn and weak, it is crucial that we remember to get ourselves to a place where we can hear the words of Jesus. Read your bible, have a time of worship, listen to a preaching podcast, go to church, get around other strong believers who will lift you up and not put you down, seek prayer... etc. 

Jesus is never at a loss for words and always knows how to speak directly to those needs we cannot even begin to articulate. His word speaks to those deep and dark scary things in our hearts that are hidden from us but are plain in his sight. His word penetrates our hearts and has the power to get to the point much faster and better than we can. God knows us better than we think we know ourselves and He provides us with great comfort and rest as we put our faith in His word.

He alone knows exactly what will be fitting for us to hear in that (sometimes scary) moment when we surrender our weakness and inabilities to His power, authority, and ability. He knows whether we need to hear the sweet comfort of His words reminding us, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or whether it will suffice for Him to say with great encouragement and confidence, "Get up and walk." What is He saying to you in your areas of greatest struggle when you surrender? Whatever it is, be confident that you can take Him at His word.

Have you noticed something in particular you seem to be easily enticed and entangled by? Do you have a negative behavior you struggle with on a regular basis?

Have you ever allowed your struggles with sin to paralyze you with fear, shame, or condemnation that have kept you from Jesus instead of drawing you to Him? Have you ever felt so weakened or tired from the battle that you could hardly pray?

What area of weakness do you need Jesus to speak to? Be honest and talk to Him about it. Use your bible concordance, or use a website like BibleGateway to look up verses related to those areas and begin letting Him transform you with His word from the inside out. Meditate on and memorize those scriptures and use them often to pray for yourself.

For Further Reading: Matthew 9:1-8 , Luke 6:44-46 , Proverbs 24:16 , Psalm 37:23-24, Psalm 119:27-29, Isaiah 40:28-31, Romans 8:26-28, Hebrews 4:12-13

Monday, May 23, 2011

Vitality of Vision

"Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]--blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he."
 {Proverbs 29:18 AMP}

Having a hard time maintaining focus or lacking energy? Struggling with a lack of fulfillment or sense of worth? Spinning your wheels but not getting anywhere any time soon? Feeling like you've lost your mind? Well, perhaps you have...

...or perhaps you've just started losing your vision.

Vision is important. The bible says that without it, "people perish." Ever feel like you are dying on the inside? Or put another way, ever feel lethargic or apathetic towards life? 

Vision is a vital sign indicative of life. It brings with it an energy and exuberance that fuel us from the inside out. It is a driving force and fervor that propels us into our God-given destinies.

Another version of the bible says,

"If people can't see what God is doing,
   they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
   they are most blessed. "
 {Proverbs 29:18 MESSAGE}
 Something inside of us wants to be able to see... not only to be able to see, but to be able to see clearly. If this wasn't the case, optometrists would have been put out of practice long ago. I believe our spiritual eyes desire to see just as clearly as our natural eyes... although sometimes it can be more difficult to diagnose a spiritual-sight-deficiency. 

It's clear to see why we want to see clearly, in both the natural and the spiritual senses: if we can't see clearly, we deal with a lot of problems. When living with visual challenges, life is lived with much more strained effort and difficulty. Identifying and safely navigating around obstacles is just plain challenging. Naturally, when you can't see where you're going, you'll inevitably stumble and fall... or at the very least, bump into a few unsuspecting people and/or objects.

Other difficulties stemming from a sight deficiency include not being able to read, being unable to properly distinguish or identify people, being unable to find things, etc. And, perhaps the most painful disability related to a lack of vision, is just plain not being able to observe or witness the joys and beauty of life. 

Vision is essential to living a fully blessed life. Not the vision itself but, as the Message translation reminds us, the attending to what God reveals is what allows us to live a most blessed life.

This week, take some time to examine your vision. Do you like what you see? If not, ask God for healing; to restore your sight so that you can begin to make an intentional effort in attending to what He reveals to you. 

May you have a most blessed Monday and week ahead!

Do you feel connected to your sense of vision?
Have you asked God for vision for today? For this year? For your life?
How do you identify a lack of vision?
What can you do to make sure you maintain clear vision?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Confident Trust

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It doesn't fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." 
{Jeremiah 17:7-8}

Trust does not fret or falter- trust is rooted in faith. When we trust God in the dark soils of adversity that surround us, our faith germinates and takes root. It grows as it strains and reaches toward the Source of Life, storing up the life-sustaining nourishment provided. Faith is content with the ample nourishment available for times of growth as well as with the sufficient sustenance supplied for times of survival. 

Faith thrives, regardless of the season, because no matter how much it taps into the rich reserves of the Lord's goodness, faithfulness, and lovingkindness it never exhausts them. 

Complete trust in God leaves no room for fear because it fears God more than any other facet of life. This trust must be firmly rooted in the identity and sovereignty of God. When we develop a a deep inner root of confidence in the character of our God, we begin to fear external circumstances and the tough seasons of life less and less. As our trust in God is further developed and shaped over time, it accomplishes a quiet, steadfast confidence in us that cannot be disturbed by the changing of seasons. We will find ourselves being supported and sustained by this inner confidence from the inside out. 

Consider the proven character of Who you are trusting: your Creator, Savior, Father, Friend...

a God who created you with a specific and unique plan and purpose in mind... 
a God who loves you so much He died for you... 
a God who lovingly and compassionately guides you as a Good Shepherd...
a God who safely holds all of your secrets and who loves you nonetheless... 

Take time to tap into the Lord and develop that trust. When you know more about Who it is you're trusting, you'll find that trust comes much easier. Who you trust, without fail, in the One who never fails and you'll find yourself blessed by the fruit of your faith.

Do you trust God?
When do you find it easiest to trust Him? When do you find it more difficult to trust Him?
How has your trust (or lack of trust) in God shaped your faith over time?
In what (new) ways can you begin to express your trust and confidence in the character of God? 

Monday, May 2, 2011


"I lift my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will never slumber..."  
{Psalm 121:1-3}

Sometimes we need the reminder that we do need help sometimes.

In our relationship with the Lord, asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of surrender to the sufficiency of His strength as well as a declaration of our dependency on Him.

Other times, we need the reminder that God does want to help us.

He doesn't despise our asking for help... on the contrary- He delights in it! He is overjoyed to supply us with strength in every moment of surrender and takes great pride and pleasure in amply supplying our needs out of the abundance of His storehouses- both heavenly and earthly.

This week, do yourself a favor: don't forget to ask for help! 

When we shift our focus and secure our trust completely in our unchanging, competent, and capable God who keeps us in His watchful care, it does much good for our heart and mind. Not only does it put our worries and fears to rest, but our bodies can rest at ease as well knowing that we are safe in His sufficiency and that He'll never fall asleep on the job.

In what areas do you struggle to ask for help?
Do you have more trouble with asking for help or in receiving it?
What do you need help with right now... are your needs spiritual or physical?
Do you trust God to meet those needs? 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Still In A Storm?

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they TRUST in you." 
{Isaiah 26:3}

Storms are unavoidable and emerge unexpectedly. 

However, the next time a storm hits, instead of asking the Lord to still the external circumstances, ask Him to still you from the inside out- to calm your quivering heart and anchor your anxious mind...

Make a conscious decision to secure your trust in Him alone, standing steadfast in His perfect peace. 
"Trust Him and find out you ARE safe." Patsy Clairmont
In His peace we can rest safely, even as Jesus did, in the midst of fierce storms that would try to sink us or rock our boat. 

(Isaiah 26:3/Luke 8:23-25)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ponderings on Perfectionism & Procrastination

Some of my ongoing goals are to take better care of myself and my family; namely, to focus on implementing and improving my time, health, spiritual, and household management systems. This is a quite a process, I realize, and one I've actually been working on actively for the last couple of years.

Self-Discipline and Self-Control: agents of change.
One major discipline each of these areas boils down to that I've been working on is that much-dreaded discipline of self... otherwise known as self-discipline or self-control. Recently I've uncovered some bad mindsets I've had about the concept of self-discipline.

Yes, I've beat myself up in my mind for not having more of it, yet somehow I'm not sure if the 'beating' is doing me much good. One thing I discovered in berating myself for my lack of this highly-esteemed discipline is that my struggle was not so much with the lack of progress I was making in each of these areas, but more with my perfectionism. Initially, it doesn't seem to make sense that a perfectionist would struggle with self-discipline, but let me explain.

While perfectionism has always been a driving force in my life, it's not always driven me in a good way. In fact, a lot of times, when I know I can't do something "perfectly" I end up not making any attempts to do that thing at all... or, I'll put off doing it until I feel I can do it "the right way." Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. I'm sure you've done something similar, especially if you are a woman. However, something I've noticed is that, more often than not, those opportunities to later do something "the right way" never seem to present themselves.

One other thing I've noticed about perfectionism is that it has a tendency to feed my struggle with procrastination as well. Many times, when we realize we cannot attain perfection, it is easier to sulk in our disappointment than to attempt to do anything great at all. Notice my train of thought here... my desire for perfection was wrapped completely around myself.

Perfectionism and Procrastination: partners in crime  out to rob you of productivity.

Perfectionism is focusing on ourselves and not on God. Self-discipline, otherwise known as the fruit of the Spirit called 'self-control,' is not something we can produce on our own. It can only evidence itself through our dependence on the Holy Spirit... by wrapping ourselves around God.

Here's the point I'm trying to make; please grab onto this:
 Self-Discipline and Self-Control: fruit of the Spirit, not the flesh

In fact, it can actually work against attempts at self-discipline. It stems from self-centeredness and self-sufficiency which are both far from godly attributes.

If that doesn't do it for you, let me define self-discipline and perfectionism.
the ability to control one's feelings and overcome one's weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.
perfectionism |pərˈfek sh əˌnizəm|
refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.
• Philosophy a doctrine holding that religious, moral, social, or political perfection is attainable, esp. the theory that human moral or spiritual perfection should be or has been attained.
Perfectionism and Procrastination can prohibit progress and productivity.

I'm coming to the point where I have decided that it doesn't matter if I can do what I want to do perfectly or not; I'd rather try and fail than to not make any progress at all. I'd rather please God with my progress and not try to please myself so much with my perfection. I don't know why I think I can actually attain perfection anyway... of course, no one is perfect... we've all missed the mark! (See Romans 3:23)

Rather than complaining and grumbling about my imperfections, I am trying to focus more on my attempts at progress instead. Grumbling to myself or having a bad attitude about my imperfections only impedes my attempts at progress. However, when I maintain a positive attitude of gratitude for the fact that I am at least trying to head in the right direction, appreciating each step of the way in my progress, I find more instant gratification and am propelled to keep on keepin' on.

Let me encourage you with your goals: don't give up... but don't rely on your own strength either. Brush off any negative attitudes and mindsets (like those of perfectionism and procrastination), and keep on trying. Choose each day to rely on the ever-sufficient grace, mercy, and love of Christ. Let Him have His way in you, that you might curb your fleshly desires and appetites. Each day is a new day with fresh opportunities and possibilities. If you didn't quite measure up yesterday, it's not too late. Try again today. Abide in Him; allow His Holy Spirit to accomplish the fruit in you that you cannot create for yourself.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

21 Random Things About Me

I am currently reading through the book, Chocolatherapy: Satisfying the Deepest Cravings of Your Inner Chick, by Karen Scalf Linamen with a fabulous group of women that attend a group I lead called, Girls' Night Out.

In the chapter of the book we read this week entitled, "Visibility," the author discusses her decision to discover more about herself by putting together a list of 21 Things about herself. I highly encourage you to do this. It's truly amazing how much we lose ourselves and our identities along the rocky road of life. It's really easy to do, especially as women, with all of the different roles we play- think: wife, mom, team mom, businesswoman, carpool driver, volunteer, etc. With that, I have decided to share my list with you all. Hopefully you'll learn a little something about me and allow it to inspire you to learn a little something about yourself!

1. I love reading, especially with/to my kids. Love our regular trips to the library, daily reading and daily devotion time.
2. I love fresh flowers in my house, although I don't have them often. The best are the ones I have grown myself in my garden.
3. I love animals- I have 2 amazing dogs & 2 horses. I used to think I wanted to be a vet or work in a zoo when I grew up. Now I've realized I LIVE in a zoo sometimes.
4. I've learned a lot about life and have had some of my best ideas & conversations with God while shoveling crap err... I mean, mucking out my barn.
5. I could spend hours reading and studying the bible. It's my favorite book. I'm like a sponge: always ready to soak up its words of life and knowledge so that I can pour it into my life and the lives of others.
6. I relish alone time and have been known to get up (or stay up!) at ungodly hours to make sure I have it regularly.
7. I enjoy working with my hands whether it is to build, cook, or garden. I think I really just enjoy creating... not just that, but I love to give away whatever I create.
8. I have a fetish for graphic design. I love designing logos, flyers, ads, etc. I'm not sure where this came from, other than the idea mentioned in #7.
9. My husband and children are the biggest blessings I have ever received- all 4 were unexpected (yes, including my baby who has preceded me in going to heaven!)
10. I have a fetish for names. I love the meaning of my own & how it relates to my life and identity. I also love learning about the meaning & history of the names of others as well. I read the Baby Names Book from cover to cover- twice.
11. Recently, I've rediscovered my affinity for the warm glow of candlelight (especially on a blustery day) and classical music. SO relaxing and calming.
12. I am a recovering workaholic with perfectionist tendencies. 'Nuff said. I'm sure that doesn't surprise any of you...
13. I find it difficult to contain &/or purge clutter- mostly because of my disability to accurately differentiate what's really worth holding onto.
14. I like to write but put off doing it because I don't feel that I do it well- I really have to work at it and the process of working at it frustrates me to no end. Like I said, I've got those pesky perfectionist tendencies...
15. I have the most amazing family, including all of my in-laws... they support me, love me, pray for me... I really am SO blessed.
16. I love soaking in a hot bath but can never seem to stay in for more than 10-15 minutes- can't decide if I can't handle the heat for that long or being faced with my (fat) birthday suit for that long. I've discovered a nice 'blanket' of bubbles helps with the latter.
17. I have a pretty all-consuming passion to achieve a purer, simpler way of life. This includes eliminating toxins in my physical, mental, & spiritual health (and my household's). I could write a book on this journey... and I had planned to until my perfectionist tendencies got in the way.
18. I love seeing lives changed by the message of the gospel and by the fruit of faith. I love hearing stories of personal challenges & obstacles being overcome- especially those told by women.
19. I love my hair- not in a vainglorious type of way, but because I have finally found a hairstyle that fits my lifestyle... thanks to my amazing stylist!
20. I dream of traveling the world someday... there are SO many beautiful places I'd love to see and experience firsthand.
21. I am also a recovering Facebook-a-holic... it is my calorie-free, yet unhealthy substitute at times, that aids me in my craving for 'escape' and 'community.'

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


There are many of us who, through some marvelous moments of motivation, have determined to set goals for ourselves. Perhaps, like myself, you set some January 1 of this year. Or perhaps you set some long-term goals quite some time ago. I've been spending some time recently evaluating my progress with some of my personal goals. Unfortunately, as I've checked my behavior to see how well it matches my goals, I haven't really liked what I've been finding: not all that much progress has been made. I would venture to say that I'm not alone... I wonder how many other people are out there who, like myself, have not quite been measuring up with their goals... and are ready to throw in the towel.

At this point, it would be really easy to give up on a few of my goals, but something inside me tells me that even a few steps taken in the right direction are better than none taken at all... and are certainly better than steps taken backward in the wrong direction.

Now, for the questions at hand: Do I choose to continue moving forward? To stumble my way toward what I initially believed could be achieved? Do I dare to press on?

There are times in our lives when we have to decide that we have reached the point of no return; that we will press on and not give up, no matter what. We have to reach a point where we sink our teeth into something and decide that we are not going to give up any more ground but will instead begin to take ground. We must decide that the battle is worth fighting, that there are some things worth standing for.

What areas are you determined to see growth or achieve progress in? Has discouragement or fear prohibited you from making further progress? Or do you have marked determination that will see you through to the end?

I've noticed an interesting thing happens when we fail to pick ourselves up and move forward: we end up moving backward whether we realize it or not. Sure, it starts with a few moments of stagnation, but those moments can quickly turn into a monument of our impending destruction.

“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back. But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved." 
{Hebrews 10:38-39}

DON'T GIVE UP. You've come too far to give up now. If you've fallen, pick yourself up and go at it again. You can do it... with God's help, with strength only He can provide. Continue to advance and you will accomplish much in your battles for better health, a better marriage, better kids, better finances, or better business. You can overcome any obstacle in your way if you will only have faith and move forward. Just put one foot in front of the other and you will advance.

"With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall." 
{Psalm 18:29}