Sunday, July 2, 2017

Working in me

Why is it that I can hear many compliments and affirmations, but the one condescending comment is the one that rolls around in my mind?

When that happens, I need to humbly ask myself if there is truth in that comment. What can I learn from it? Maybe the comment seemed cruel, but is there a kernel of truth in the midst of it? 

After giving some serious thought, if I do not see truth in it for me, can I see that the person who made the comment is hurting? Is there something I can do to lessen that hurt?

Then I must remember to put that one negative comment in perspective. Sometimes it makes sense to throw out an odd data point -- at least throw it out off the treadmill in my mind. It should not bring me down to the point of self-deprecation and self-doubt. (This would be the work of the enemy.) I can remember I am made in God’s image, that I am striving each day to walk in the Spirit, and that I am not perfect but growing every day. I ask the Lord for help in representing Him well. I remember that He is in the process of completing the good work He has begun (Phil 1:6).

The importance of preserving the quiet in our lives is that we take time to process these affronts and not let them build up or threaten to destroy us. In the quiet, I will find God’s perspective again. I see more clearly the truth as He sees it, and feel His wonderful affirmation of who I am and what I am made to be. 

Gracious God, thank you for working in me, for loving me and affirming me. Thank you that you don't give up on me. These difficulties remind me to press in and press on. You are still the one in control and I will trust in you.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

He makes all things new

New signs every day (see my baby rhubarb?) show us that spring is evolving. Our Creator is doing a makeover. 

Do you see God's mighty hand at work? Just as the dormant and dreary are being revived and there is new life all around, He is available for our refreshing, too!

The enemy would like nothing more than to keep us distracted… to keep us from that fulfilling practice of sitting at Jesus’ feet and finding our refreshing daily. He wants to saturate us with busy to-do-lists, lies rolling around in our minds and every kind of distraction. Even electronics and social media can help him with his job.
  • How much time does the world have to influence you in a day? 
  • Do you remember there’s a power greater than yourself at work in your life? 
  • How important is it for you to hear each day that someone loves you? ...that you are beautiful and created for good things? Do you really know that God goes before you and stands behind you and that He has your back? 
If it feels like a fight to find the time for that refreshing, it is!
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph. 6:12
I’m sure I miss so many things God would rather have me know sooner. I’m not as sensitive as I could be to knowing His voice and observing His ways. But the more time I spend in quiet, the better it gets! I need His wisdom to help me navigate this fallen world; I need His grace to forgive all my missteps; and I need His love to strengthen me and remind me who I am.

When I spend time finding God in the quiet, I see that He makes all things new -- that nothing is without hope when He is in the equation. I feel more peace, more harmony with the world around me. I feel like I have more to offer – because I do! 

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love, your wisdom and direction, your approval and encouragement. Thank you for new signs every day that you are near.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A father's love

Imagine all the best qualities you might see in fathers today...

  • A daddy who is playful with his children, who snuggles and cuddles them and takes time for them.
  • A father who is present in teaching his children to ride a bike, to skate, to read or to draw.
  • A papa who forgives quickly and offers feedback his child can handle.
  • A daddy who builds up his daughter with words, telling her she is beautiful and special and has a lot to offer the world.
  • A dad who asks his daughter how her day was, then tells her he is proud of how she handled herself.
  • A father who sits across the table over coffee and offers wisdom to his daughter's questions and concerns.
  • A daddy who gives eye contact, attention and affirmation.
  • A father who would talk to someone on his child's behalf, opening the door of opportunity for her.
  • A papa who scoops his daughter in his arms when she returns home from a weekend away.
  • A dad who respects others and quietly serves the needs he sees around him.

I have seen every one of these scenarios in the world around me and when I do, my heart is warmed. This list could go on and on... watch and see. These traits may not all be present in one man, but collectively, we know what fatherhood can be.

Whether or not we have these things with our own fathers, and whether or not our children have these things from their daddies -- these are the traits of loving dads and we know them when we see them. They bring security, peace and confidence. The child can feel loved, valued and treasured.

All the above describes our Father in Heaven. All of these traits were designed and are modeled by Him. This is the way God our Father loves each one of us. Soak in that. Can you believe it? Can you really receive it?

If we knew this with all our hearts, minds and souls, why would we ever doubt?

Our Father, loving Daddy, please reveal to me what my relationship with you could be like. What would you like me to know about you? Would you help me to hear your voice and to understand the way you see me? Fill me with joy and peace as I trust in you so that I may overflow with hope. (Romans 15:13)




Thursday, March 2, 2017

Finding God in the Quiet

Family demands, long to-do lists and no time for self… This is where many of us find ourselves today – or might it be more accurate to say ‘lose ourselves’? But God knows the longings of our souls, including our great need to feel loved, accepted and connected to Him, the source of our ultimate strength and deepest refreshing.

Living connected to the Vine is turning our hearts to Him consistently and making time in our day for Him. Finding some quiet time in each day and finding God in that quiet is so important. It's not easy when there are so many distractions, but taking this time is worth fighting for!

“Solitude is the ONE place where we can gain freedom from the forces of society that will otherwise relentlessly mold us,” according to John Ortberg, pastor and author. “The great danger is not that we will renounce our faith, but that we will become so rushed and distracted that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.”

The discipline of doing it is probably the hardest obstacle. Look up Kerwin Rae and his 3-minute "Pathway to Freedom" video -- it's excellent! It's not a spiritual video, yet it's full of pure truth and very motivational.

Rae maintains that the ultimate key to freedom is structure and discipline. "Because structure and discipline creates freedom," he says. "Unfortunately, for most of us, we don't see structure and discipline as freedom, we see them as an inconvenience, an obstacle, as something we're being forced to do. But structure and discipline creates habit, and the habit sets you free."

On April 22, I'll be speaking at the Women's Breakaway on the topic, "Finding God in the quiet, when my life isn't quiet." I will share insights on how to carve time for that essential revitalization -- to find God in the quiet, when our lives may be anything but quiet.

Heavenly Father, please quiet my spirit today and help me hear your voice. There are so many things that are beyond me to figure out and I long for your wisdom and direction.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Called to BE

I call out to God in a busy place. I’ve got many plates in the air that I’m trying to keep spinning. I’m hurried and busy and stressed with wanting to get things done. The more I get done, the better I’ll feel, right?

Oh, that is my wrong way of thinking. I’m somehow trying to carry the burdens of the world (or at least the world around me) on my shoulders. Trying to think it all depends on me. How arrogant is that? Yes, I can have an impact, but apart from Him I can do nothing. He is the Vine and I am the branch that is dependent on Him, and not the other way around. When I abide in Him, I surrender that He is God and I am listening. Then the answers come more quickly, the peace comes more fully and the world around me is impacted more effectively.

The truth is I need to take time to just BE. I have so much to do but I am called to BE. I need to soak in God’s goodness, and in the fullness of His light I will see how to connect the pieces of life that fit together.

As I look outside, I see winter. Today I see quiet grey skies, a small blanket of snow, bare branches and quiet. A sleeping earth, receiving rest and replenishment. In the Midwest, we see a longer span of this. Is it because we work hard and need more rest, or does the longer rest produce our great Midwestern work ethic?

Nature reminds us that rest is good and quiet is good. God rested on the Sabbath and I will too. He built in a time for rest, reflection, recreation and replenishment. 

God, I will rest in knowing that you will provide all that I need for each day. You’ll guide me in the right priorities when I take time to abide in you. Thank you, God.