May 25, 2015

Discerning the Seasons

If you're struggling to find peace in this season you find yourself in then maybe you need to SEE things through Someone else's eyes.  
I found myself in the middle of a less than desirable season.  
It was lonely.
It was uncomfortable.
There was so much change.  
I squirmed.  I complained.  I felt agitated.  
I remember saying to my pastor, mentor and friend over lunch one day...."This is the loneliest place I've ever found myself in."  She quickly and confidently said, "This is not loneliness.  This is transition."  


Tomato. ToMAHto.  
I didn't like it.
But as soon as she said that I KNEW.  
I just knew.
God was here too.
God was at work.
Preparing me.  Reshaping me.  Undoing things that needed to be undone.
Confirming things that needed to be confirmed.  Sharpening my focus and shaping my vision.  Fueling my faith and passion.  

And until I let Him finish the work {HERE} I would either stay here indefinitely or transition into another season with something missing.  
I immediately found peace in knowing that I was right where I was supposed to be.  
Discerning the seasons.
It's so important to finding peace and contentment in whatever season you may find yourself.  
There is a time to be silent and listen.
A time to speak.
A time to live and a time to die
A time to move and a time to just be still.
A time to build up and a time to tear down.
Sometimes it's uncomfortable.  But change is necessary.  Change is inevitable.  
But there is ONE constant.  
GOD. IS.  GOOD.
and God's got BIG plans for you.
His grace will sustain you in ALL of your seasons but He specializes in making all things new.  Spring from winter.  Life from death.  Something beautiful from ashes.  Always moving you forward into that hope and future He planned for you long ago.
Peace will come when you can surrender to {NOW} knowing that He is just as present and at work {HERE} as He is tomorrow.  

May 14, 2015

Do you WANT to be well?

     When I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arhtritis I was forced to make a choice.
Was I going to do whatever it took to get well?  
Did I even WANT to be well?
The obvious answer is "YES!"  a thousand times over.....

The not so obvious question that I was tempted to evade answering .... "Could I give up eating certain foods?  Could I adapt to a new way of living and eating?"
Yes!  I want to be well!!  

To be honest....all that brought me to this point was poor decisions, and half-hearted broken promises made to eat right, exercise and take care of this body God has given me.  STRESS.  I took a beating and my body took the brunt of it.  


I think we all agree that we would answer that question the same way. 
Still-why is it we do those very things we KNOW will be the end of us....or at the very least will leave us in a place worse off than before?  We continue to make self-sabotaging decisions. Somehow we KNOW it in the back of our minds, in our heart of hearts
.....THIS is NOT beneficial for me.  
And yet....our flesh wants it enough.  We THINK we need it.  We justify it.  We pretend we haven't heard that still small voice that says, "No thank you. I'm holding out for more." 

This THING in front of us is tempting enough.
This sin.  This desire.  This temptation.
It appeals to our flesh just enough to get us to doubt, question our conviction, second guess our motives.

One of my dearest friends often asks me  "Where do you want to be 2 months from now?  2 years from now?"
The underlying question that has to follow....are you WILLING to do what ever it takes to get well?  Are you willing to lay THIS down now----to be free tomorrow?
 

We ask God to set us free from strongholds when we're the ones left holding the flag.
It's time to decide.  It's YOUR move.  

Whatever your stronghold may be....
Whatever state you find yourself in today....
Where do you want to be tomorrow?
2 months from now?

2 years from now?
Somehow we let it creep into our spirit that Jesus is holding out on us.
That what we have in this moment is WORTH the trade off.
Pushing aside the TRUTH that what we've exchanged it for was FAR greater.
and we MISS out on the GREATER.
It's not easy.
Denying the flesh.
Saying *NO thank you.* to THIS.
It means WAITING.
and oh PAINFUL it is to wait.
There are too many unknowns.
It leaves you vulnerable to the "WHAT if's".
What if I don't get well?  What if I let go of this bitterness and unforgiveness and nothing changes?  What if I let go of this sin and I find that I am broken and alone?  What IF.......He doesn't come through for me?

They who sow in tears----- (willing to let go of THIS in exchange for THAT)
 shall reap in joy and singing.
He who goes forth bearing seed and weeping [at needing his precious supply of grain for sowing] shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.  Psalm 126:5-6

Laughter from tears.
Dancing from mourning.
Wholeness from broken places.
Blessings from lack.  
Joy from despair.
Health from sickness.

What we are willing to let go of makes room for God to give us the GREATER. 
  

ARE YOU WILLING TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES?

So often we're waiting on God to do something miraculous when the whole time He's waiting on us.  Waiting on us to figure it out.
Waiting on us to let something go.
Waiting on us to LET HIM WORK.
We want Him to work but there are things we JUST AREN'T WILLING TO RELINQUISH TO HIS CONTROL.

Only you know what they are.
But if you really want to be FREE.
Free from THIS.
Free from regret.  Free from the past.  Free from heartache.  Free from the ashes.
He's a GOOD God, friends.
HE. IS. A. GOOD. GOD. 

And everything He has for you is GOOD.



May 9, 2015

Gardening is Dirty Work


My husband was enthusiastic about gardening.  (That might be an understatement.)  He drew diagrams, he did research, he would lay out his gardening catalogs and plan out the seasons (what would grow best in which season and when to plant it), he spent DAYS preparing the ground, and then days planting the seeds and the days after tending to what he'd planted.  Watering, weeding, and guarding against unwelcome guests.  
It took TIME.  It took EFFORT.  It took ENERGY.  It took DILIGENCE.  Some seasons 

brought disappointment.  The weather didn't always cooperate.....but he planned, he planted, he watered and labored just the same.  EXPECTING.  

Approaching Mother's Day I thought about my husband's garden and all the work that's required to produce something of value and I thought about being a mama and all of the time and effort that goes into raising children.  


It takes time.  It takes effort.  It takes ENERGY and diligence. Time spent in earnest prayer.  Time spent planting the seeds. Some seasons bring disappointment. But it is our job to prepare, plan, have a vision, tend to, weed out the bad, and protect the seeds we've sown against the unwelcome danger and unexpected circumstances that would threaten their existence and ability to THRIVE and FLOURISH. 

Sweet mamas, your children have a purpose and a destiny outside of your watchful eye and keeping care. Jesus had dibs on them before you ever laid eyes on them. Every moment counts. We should be teaching our children not to just be survivors....but raising them to be GAME CHANGERS! One day we WILL see them walking in Truth in some of the most difficult seasons of their precious lives ......and we will find no greater JOY than that! The time we invest NOW will pay back GREAT dividends one day.

While we may live 90 years on planet earth....we only have our children under our wings and under our constant care and watchful eye for 18. (Some more.....some less).... It is at times an incredibly unglorious, thankless job. Don't spoil today by grieving what has passed or longing for the next milestone. Be with them TODAY. In all of its chaos and noise and messes. Welcome all of it. Be fully present. Be aware. Listen. No matter how insignificant it may seem to YOU. they take notice when you're attentive to their every word. Don't spoil today by living in yesterday or longing for what's to come. Be here. Today. Because in all of its mess you'll find teachable moments and opportunities you will never get back. All the little moments count. The kingdom of heaven embedded in their hearts takes place as we are doing life together. In the small stuff.......
In the seeds sown every day.

There is no sphere of influence MORE significant than the 

one within your own walls with your own people.


Just like a Mother Goose....guarding them with a watchful eye, and does as much as she can to protect them from harm.  It's what she does.  For as long as those babies need her....she's on duty.
You don't have to remind Mother Goose to protect what's hers.
She does it naturally. 
FIERCELY.


But it requires being ALERT, present, AWARE.  It requires HARD WORK.  It can be a thankless messy job sometimes.
But one day----those seeds sown and tended to will reap a HARVEST of righteousness as they become the young men and women they were created to be.


May I always be fully present, fully aware, fully available to these precious children God has gifted my life and entrusted me with. May I redeem the time I have with them and be grateful for the Grace of God that has met me where my limited lack of knowledge, faith and flesh have failed me. Wanting to spend them in laughter and gratitude, growing together in wisdom and not waste a moment that I have. I am forever grateful for the gifts that I have been given. I am blessed. 


Psalm 90:12 Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. Making *TODAY* count. It's what we have been given.......and I for one am grateful for whatever it holds.



Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God 
may not be something you DO

 but someone you RAISE. Andy Stanley