Tag Archives: journey

Recognize

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While reading in Jonah, the book I’ve been stuck in for awhile now (better than a big fish, right? Yuk yuk) it hit me that Jonah didn’t know that he was getting out of that fish.He had no idea what the outcome would be. We know the end of the story and have for years, except for maybe the actual “vomit” part…they left that out when I was a kid. We realize he got out and finally did what God asked him to do. But while in the whale (and please don’t argue with me about what kind of fish it was…I’m not concerned about that.) Jonah had some time to think. God gifted him with that time by providing the huge creature. Does anyone else find that amazing and hilarious? My NIV study Bible literally says that He “provided a great fish to swallow Jonah” (Jonah 1:17) God does provide, I’m just wondering if Jonah had to laugh at the irony while covered in muck.

In all of his pondering, he had to disregard what his senses told him. He had to focus on the why, not the scary sights,eery sounds,and nasty smell. (I won’t go into the other senses but to say”taste” EW!) He had to control his thoughts and cry out to the One Who created that fish for help. So, quite a few hours/days, he spent crying, praying, and giving thanks. I would think that would lead to some pretty enlightening epiphanies.It wasn’t that he didn’t recognize where he was, Jonah knew good and well that he was literally in the pit of this big guy’s stomach, but he also began to recognize Who had the power and Who had possession.He eventually grasped the fact that God had ownership of the seas and the sailors that had hurled him into the vicious waves. This God knew Jonah. He knew him better than he could ever possibly know himself. All he could do in this moment of recognition was to confess and ask forgiveness. He had to shake his head and wonder what took him so long to understand. He finally comprehended that God would go to any lengths necessary to not only show His love for one of His kids, but for all of them.

As an added bonus to God’s plan, because once Jonah got that he was lost, he recognized that others were lost exactly like he was. Salvation comes from the Lord and all it took was a few days and nights in the stomach of a sea creature for him to see that very, very clearly. My absolute favorite line in this book is “What I have vowed I will make good.” Jonah was speaking of the promises he made to God during his special one-on-one time that the Creator made possible. (Hehe) How many times have we promised things to God and not made good? God recalls and makes good on His promises each and every day, no matter our scenery or situation.He has made so many vows to us when we certainly don’t deserve them. My goal today is to just be, where I am, whether I like that place or not, and give thanks to the God Who deserves each and every one.

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Pray, Read, Pray…Repeat

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Within this health-filled journey of  mine (you know the one to become not the healthiest person on the planet, but more so the one who gets up and doesn’t have to take a nap after a shower?) I got to thinking how we pray and wait. We pray and wait. We pray and wait. That may have even been more praying that what some of us do. Eek!

I have been on this journey for 8 years. 3 years longer than the 5 year-mark  I thought I couldn’t handle at the time. They, “they” being various doctors, told me I might recover in 5 years, as that had happened to other people, somewhere, sometime before. I remember thinking, 5 YEARS? How could anyone make it 5 years with these symptoms?? I’m here today to let you know, you can do it. Hurrah, hurrah. I truly wasn’t trying to be a cheerleader (although I am very encouraging to others…I took a test once that let me know hospitality and exhortation were my top 2 gifts! I had no idea what the 2nd was, but now that I know, I consistently remind others that I am an “exhorter!”)

Without this journey, I would have no idea how to take care of myself. I’m still learning to do this, but the whole “His temple” thang wasn’t exactly a concept I paid attention to when I was downing 12 packs of beer and pack after pack of nicotine sticks. So, as I was making a pot of nutrient-rich soup (my husband will take one look at it and blankly state: “That’s all you.”) this morning, I thought about how we eliminate the toxins, but then fail to build ourselves back up. God freed me from the addictions to chemical-laden junk, but I wasn’t aware of how depleted my body was of what it truly needed to function. He took away my craving for the bad, but I’m the one who has to take responsibility for the damage done. (Did anyone else cringe at the “r-word”? I know I did.) Plain and simple, there are consequences for our actions. I’m thankful that He allows me to be me, learning at my own pace, and quite frankly, puts up with my frustrations along the way.

I am very flawed, but I don’t dwell on it. He reminds me that I am pure, holy, loved, blameless, and then loved some more. He says in His Word that if we ask for wisdom, we get it. I’ve found that I have trouble trusting those “words of wisdom” I receive. He says we know His voice, right? I’ve talked to so many who don’t know if it’s His voice or not. I always tell them where I started: I would think it was God. Then weight the options. Do I want to do this? No. (Usually God takes us out of our comfy zone.) Would the enemy of my precious soul want me to do this? No. Does it go along with Scripture? Yes.

That last one kinda stumped me for quite some time. I’d ask myself these questions, and then shrug my shoulders on the Scripture one, as if there was no way to know. There is a way to find out. The only answer to this is to dig into the Scriptures. Open up your Bible. Pray. Meaning, ask God for help in understanding (*because if you’re anything like me, I could read 1/2 a book and not know what 3/4 of it said some days.) Then read. Read anywhere you want or do a specific Bible study. God will lead you in this as well. Then pray again. In doing so, we get to know the One Who created each of us. Who better to talk with about our issues? Lord knows I gots some issues. God says we’ll know His voice, but only if we practice listening for it and to it. There is nothing more comforting than knowing full well that we know full well. But it takes practice.

 

Hide and Seek

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Life gets rough sometimes. I’m sure that’s not a newsflash to most. Whether you have money or none, material things by the truckload or little, are full of health or on your deathbed, this life is not easy. It’s when the road we’re traveling gets extra bumpy that we can get to choose. We can choose to lose it or we choose to follow the advice we would give our best friend in crisis or a toddler when they fall: Get up. GET up! When we fall down, we get back up. Shake it off. (I apologize for any of you who know the song and now have it stuck in your head for the next 72 hours.) What has happened to you does not define you. What you do is not who you are. What you’ve been through is different than what you’re going through. And you’re doing JUST that: you’re going through it. This situation is not where you stop. This isn’t where your plane lands. It’s plowing right through. It  may not be smooth-sailing, but you’re still sailing through. Now, 10 points for anyone who noticed I just referenced life to three different vehicles: a plane, a tractor, and a boat.)

When life gets rocky, we go to the Rock. We look to the One Who created us to recharge us and give us that peace that we simply can’t get anywhere else. Our hope, yes, we are still called to have hope in light of situations around us, is in Him. I personally don’t believe that means we have to wear a plastered grin on our weary face 24-7. The words we speak are meant to bring others up and show everyone that He is Who He has always been, not a mean, unjust Creator, but a loving and compassionate one that is tired of watching us try to do everything on our own. He is our tower, our strength, our shelter and so much more.

This world is not our home, but it is where we live right now. God’s yoke is easy and His burden light. Why do we feel so weighed down if this is the case? Because we’re trying to take on the world and change it to suit our liking. We want to mold and reform people into the way we want them to look. All spit-shined and polished so we can stand proud and say, “Look what I, er, I mean, God did!” Eek. Can we let God work in His own timing and in the way He wants to so badly? Can we “judge not, lest (we) be judged”? It’s not about us, it’s all about Him and His glory. If we’re struggling to find that place we can run and not grow weary, maybe it’s because that hiding place we seek is behind us. Perhaps we don’t have to look up, we need to look behind us and see God, our Father, calling us back to Him. Have you left the Rock that you used to run to? It’s really easy to find your way back. The path isn’t hidden at all. It’s the one in plain sight that you’ve traveled before. We know what to do. Turn back to His face, grab ahold of His hand, and let Him lead you into rest and peace. That peace is unexplainable and we’re called to show the world that peace in the face of terror, ugliness, hateful acts, and crime.

His Will and Caffeine

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Leave me alone, I grumble under my breath. Get out of my way, I say in the most polite way possible. STOP talking to me, I think to myself, as I reach for my first cup of coffee. I just want some time, no, NEED some time to myself. To think, to wake up, to scratch. Instead, I have 2 toddlers, 1 much like me (cuddling in the lazy recliner grunting to any passersby) and the other, much like her father (awake, alert, ready to take on the day joyously). “Mom, do cheetahs lay eggs? What’s your favorite color? Can I have a cereal bar? One time, at school, my cookie was melted and I had to wash my hands. Can I have another cereal bar? Mom? Mom? MOM!?!”

I have always been one to enjoy my quiet time. I don’t feel the need to fill up every moment with words. I like to reflect, ponder, and pause. I have found that if I don’t, I am a grump. Unfortunately, I have not had the time. And yes, my facial expression resembles that of Oscar from Sesame Street. I am in no way ready for my day if I don’t make time to check in with myself and God.

This brings me to what I believe God asked me to do: Get out of bed AND get out of it EARLIER. (To which I said, “Whaaaaa? I don’t think I heard You correctly.” I then proceeded to give a list of excuses, including, I have 2 toddlers. (I’m pretty sure He already knew this, being Creator and all.) I go to bed late. (Simple fix, I heard.) I’m exhausted already. (Because you’re not doing what I asked.) Um…uh…Ok, OK. Begrudingly, which is far from cheerfully if you know what I mean, I agreed. So, tom morning, I will be waking at 5. I tried for 6 and even 5:30, but God isn’t the typical negotiator. Grr. Ok, 5 it is. The absolute hilarious side of this enthralling story is I’ve done this before. I woke at 5, every morning because God told me to. Know what happened? I got TONS accomplished. I had more energy than I knew what to do with. I talked with God, laying all my fears and worries out in the open. Then I listened to Him reassuring me of Scripture like Phillipians 4:13 and that I could do anything as long as He was with me. I learned things I couldn’t possibly have learned from any other book than His Holy Word. Why, you may wonder, did you stop? Exactly. All I can figure is it involves what the Bible calls “flesh.” I had to kill it then, meaning I don’t always do what I want to, I do what HE wants me to. I would much rather lounge in bed, contemplating how I can procrastinate cleaning out the fridge yet again, but God wants us to give Him the firsts. First fruits, first of the day, first 10%. (That’s another day’s article.) So, tomorrow begins a new journey. One that God’s leading the way, with His dear disheveled daughter padding behind Him in holey house slippers, searching for His will and caffeine.

He’s Got This?

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If you can heal me and your will is to heal me, then why am I still dealing with these symptoms? I can’t make it through this day. I can’t do it. I’m gonna lose it. What in the world is Your plan here? Wait, less work? I don’t have any less bills, God. And I thought this was the year we were getting out of debt? My hubby’s still sick after a week of this junk. How do I trust for more if I don’t believe You heal for a common bug? What about Dad? I thought he was healed…he surely doesn’t look like it as he has to rest after 5 minutes of activity. A double ear infection God? What’s going on with this kid?? I thought he was done with all this garbage. He’s already got enough of a testimony if you ask me. God, I need you to jack-slap me whenever you catch me being negative. Where’s my faith? What am I doing wrong? Who cares? I’m tired of trying so hard, God.

Every one of these statements have left my mouth this past week. As I type them out and get to see them first-hand, I see how much worry and anxiety each are riddled with. I think the point here is, I’m trying very hard. Do I need to try so hard? Or can I simply let God do what God does best? Which happens to be taking care of His kids. No. I simply cannot. As it turns out, that takes some work too ironically. As a human being, or as me, I have to be doing something to “help.” God has been walking me through this, but it’s not easy to kick back and let Him. (I picture us biting our nails and hangnails as God tries to grab our hand while we walk along His glorious beach.) Breathe in, breathe out and trust. I’m gonna try to open my Bible more and replace the worry with Word. Do a dance today as God just sent you a reminder that He’s got this!

Worth the Reward

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So, 16 seconds ago I was standing at the door of my kids’ room, praying that my youngest would stop wallerin’ his bed and fussin’ so that he didn’t wake up his sister. His sister, in an effort to not mince words (I’ve never been accused of this.) brought me to tears. I’m not sure where the attitude came from, but if I’d had time, I would’ve looked up boarding schools. I literally thought I might crumple to the floor, like the ever-growing pile of dirty laundry, under the weight of raising these children. I made a silent prayer that if they both went to sleep I would write. This is my outlet many times. It’s God, then the keyboard. Maybe they are one and the same for me. Either way, written/typed word has been a friend of mine for years as a means of therapy. It’s also cheaper. (Do you know what they make to tell you to “look inside yourself for the answers”??)

What do we do when the thought of cleaning up the kitchen or picking up toys or cleaning another sticky spill or listening to “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” or “Daddy, daddy, daddy!” brings on an instant headache?

I for one, think about quitting. Yep, that’s what I do. Not read the Word, not get on my knees and pray to the Almighty for strength, not call a “spiritual mother” (I’m still not sure what that last one is, enlighten me if you know please.) I think about what it would look like to quit. Let’s be real here: Shouting the words, “I QUIT!” and taking very large strides out a wide open door sounds preeeeeeeeetty good some days.

Then what? (For those of you parents still visualizing this scenario, back on track. I’m tryin’ to make a point here.) What would we do? We’d get some air, breathe a whole lot, then we’d realize we’d miss out on tons of really amazing blessings. The fight is worth the reward. It’s worth standing your ground (“NO more Gubble Puppies, er Bubble Guppies, tonight!” and prepping for the walls to shake due to screaming fits comes to mind.) to raise good Christian kids who become good Christian adults.

It works on the spiritual side of things too, for those of you who haven’t decided this already. Don’t you get sick of seein’ Bible-believin’ children of God getting sick? Don’t you just wanna quit sometimes? Knowing full well that’s not the plan God has? Why are we sick? Didn’t Jesus die on a cross for us to live the abundant life? The abundant life in my mind means not only 1.) No more cancer, but also 2.) No more colds and flu. In an effort to continue being honest and using unminced (deminced?) words, isn’t it discouraging? Don’t you just get so tired of being so tired? Why can’t we just figure this thing out?

Maybe that’s where trusting God comes in. We decide it’s not our “thing” to figure out. It’s just not for us. We accept what we’re supposed to and rebuke what we’re not and if it doesn’t go away right then and there, well? We accept that it’s part of His plan. Is it that simple? God is not the author of confusion. When’s the last time we grabbed our Bibles and claimed, out loud, what it said in there for all to hear, including the devil himself. When’s the last time we stopped, turned off all our screens, and listened for what God wants to whisper in our ear? When did we last breathe in, being still, and remind ourselves that He is God, our God?
Let’s start small: Take 3 ½ mins right now. Close your eyes and let God know that you know Who’s in control.
Then you can go work on your pile of laundry.

The Minimus…Ahhhh…

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So, I’m not one to advertise brand names, but I just ordered and received a new pair of New Balance shoes. On the tag, I noticed, under the name, it says “Minimus.” This got me to thinking. (*Note: See previous article on “thinking too much.”) Instead of this company shouting from the rooftops about their awesome “maximized” shoes, they took a different approach, a minimalist one if you will.

I began to think about the things we’re supposed to do as believers. Matthew 28:18-20 states:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”(NIV)

As humans, we complicate things to the point where we don’t even know what we’re talking about. We not only can’t explain it, we can’t follow it. If we simplified the Word of God and acted, how would our journey change? If you people, who are called by my name, would pray… the “minimus” of our “to-do” list…can it be that simple?

How many questions bombarded your mind right then when God asked you to pray? Oh, I had a few, I’ll admit. How? When? What do you want me to pray? For how long? Why on Your earth is it called a closet?? I can’t fit into my closet! That’s just an expression right? (Wouldn’t wanna lose my “Overthinkers Club” card.)

I was driving behind a van that was not going nearly the speed I felt she should be. I have a horrible habit of trying to make people travel faster with sheer mind power. It never works, don’t even bother attempting it. As I was about to floor it and pass, with a wave of course (we have to be neighborly Christians) I thought, Why don’t YOU just slow down? This is really difficult for me. Slowing down, whether it be physically, mentally, and any other “–ally’s” you can name. It’s a skill that doesn’t come naturally to me, even though I’ve been thrown into the “easy-goin’” category by friends.

So, to make a long story even longer, I noticed the van had a handicapped license plate. God instantly reminded me to pray. The very first thought I had was, Shouldn’t I lay hands on them? After all, that is what the Bible says. And if that’s the case, well, I can’t very well do THAT, can I?” followed by, “Oh dear God, don’t make me follow them to lay hands and pray!!” (EEK! Skeery! Adios Comfort Zone!) At this point, I pictured God dropping his shaking head and sighing, possibly uttering the words, “Have I taught you nothing?”

So after a slight discussion that could be considered, in some circles, an argument, I began to pray. Instantly the anger and frustration I had with regard to the van left the scene and a sense of overwhelming compassion for the people in the vehicle swept over me like a drenched surfer. I prayed for healing and peace and comfort and joy and salvation. I praised God that they would know him better than they ever had in the coming year. I sang Hallelujah’s because of it.

What if that’s all I had to do today? The minimus. Not the overwhelming maximus in my overworked brain. What if doing what God asks us to do is enough? What if we don’t have to have a meeting of the elders? What if God wants to work through us in a HUGE way, requiring less than we ever dreamed on our part?

What if He, the Creator of the Universe, doesn’t need our input, doesn’t need to be reminded of what His Word says? What if He just wants us to do what He asks, RIGHT then? No question. No doubt. Just DO it. New Balance and Nike in one article…maybe they’ll send me free shoes.

Go do something for God this week. You don’t even have to come up with it. He’ll let you know. Even if it means chasing a man on the side of the road down. Another story for another time. Life in Christ is anything but boring.