Shake it off!

Life has a way of shaking us. Just this last month I celebrated a miracle baby turning one, showered soon-to-be parents with lots of pink, and rejoiced as I realized prayers were being answered. I also wept as a friend told me her marriage was over, lifted up in prayer a little girl fighting for her life, and was so filled with anxiety that I was brought to tears. I was jumping with joy and shaking with sadness for this broken world.

This year is about being intentional and this last month has shown me how intentional I need to be with my heart. Do you ever wonder what God really wants of us? Or what it takes to spend eternity with Him? Psalm 15 has the answer…prepare yourself.

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
    Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,
    who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
    who does no wrong to a neighbor,
    and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
    but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
    and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
    will never be shaken.

Yikes, right? I told you to be prepared. Did that cut right to your heart like it did mine? I know as hard as I try my walk is not blameless, slander has come from my mouth, and I haven’t always kept my word or given my money (or time) to those in need.

But there’s some great news if you read Psalm 16.

Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
    or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,

Did you catch it? God promises to keep us safe and guide us as we strive to follow Him. When we fix our eyes on Him, we will inherit the Kingdom! So even when I mess up, let the worries of the day overwhelm me, or hold tightly to the things of world, I can trust that He is still with me. We can be at peace knowing our sins are forgiven and our lives are safe in His hands.

The best part is in verses 10-11: “Because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Jesus lives and is the path to Heaven! He alone is the Way, the truth and the life {John 14:6}. When we believe in His death and resurrection, in His love for us that is so immense he bore the punishment we deserve {remember all that stuff from Psalm 15?}, we can spend eternity with Him! And as we do, our hearts and lives are filled joy.

But joy isn’t always easy to come by or hold onto. Life happens. Hearts get broken, mistakes get made, cancer invades our bodies, jobs and lives get lost and with it our joy. We begin to question the decisions we’ve made and fear taking another step. Thankfully, we have Jesus and yet another promise I myself know to be faithfully filled time and time again. Look back to 15:5b “He who does these things will never be shaken” and 16:8b “Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken“. First God promises that those who walk with Him will not be shaken then David proclaims it as true because he has experienced it. And we all know David had some troubles of his own that should have caused him to be shaking! But he trusted in the promises of God, the security and refuge he knew God would provide. He trusted in God’s forgiveness and strength. So when life comes at you and threatens to make you tremble down to your very core, know that God is with you. He is holding you up and will be your strength. Know that no sin is beyond God’s grace and nothing you are experiencing is beyond His control. Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” {John 16:33} Believe in Him and trust in His strength and love for you. Life is going to happen so instead of being shaken, shake it off!

Shake it off

The truth is

The truth is last week was hard. I wasn’t ready to go back to work. My heart was full of anxiety and bitterness. My mind was full of thoughts on how to adjust, how to fight, and how to work for God’s glory. As much as I prayed, my attitude didn’t change.

The truth is people didn’t show up that were supposed to, my contractual “student-free” time didn’t happen, all the changes weren’t communicated as they should have been, and I never got any answers as to why all this was happening.

The truth is my heart was hard because I refused to let it be soft.

The truth is the changes weren’t as big as I was making them and I could have helped with the communication.

The truth is I held onto everything I knew I needed to rid myself of {1 Peter 2:1} and was refusing to love as I’m called to do {Romans 12:9-21}.

But as Friday morning began and I spent some quiet time with Jesus before work I began to feel the peace settle in, the anxiety and bitterness melting away, and the Holy Spirit reminding me why I do what I do. I teach because I love it. I teach because I can help my students. And I teach because it is what God has called me to do {for now}. I teach because it is my way of loving like Jesus does.

So as another work week begins tomorrow I will hold tightly to the truth that God graciously poured over me because the truth is love is the only way.

Book Club: The Best Yes

Words have power. Power to convey our emotions. Power to break our hearts. Power to motivate us. Power to take us into another world. This power is one of the many reasons I love books. I can escape the everyday and enter another time and place. I can imagine a life totally different than my own. I get motivated to make better choices, to live more boldly, to be more real. And I love sharing the wisdom and imaginary worlds found in books with my friends.

Today {and hopefully every month} I am sharing with you, my friend.

It took me six short days to devour the wisdom written by Lysa Terkeurst in her latest book, “The Best Yes“. Throughout her stories of life as a wife, mom, entrepreneur, ministry leader, and all around funny lady, Lysa discusses not only how to make good decisions, but how to make sure we make the BEST decisions.

At first I wasn’t sure if this was a “must read” for me in my current season of life. My calendar isn’t crazy busy {maybe because I already have that saying no part down} and I don’t have any major decisions to make before me. But it is always better to be prepared, right? I have no idea what the Lord has planned for me and it could be soon I will have a season full of crazy decision making. And the bottom line is this–“…a Best Yes is (me) playing (my) part”, (page 5, substitutions mine)–my life, my decisions are part of the story God has planned for me so I better figure out how to do it right and make it awesome!

Lysa fills the 231 pages with wisdom from her life, the experiences of others, and most importantly, God’s Word. Seriously though I underlined, starred, drew arrows, and Amens! all over the place. I’m talking like half the book. These are some of my favorites:

The one who obeys God’s instruction for today will develop a keen awareness of His direction for tomorrow.        (p 11)

It’s giving a voice to what otherwise just stays a quiet whisper locked inside. It’s about letting out that cry of passion God entrusted to you (p. 29)

How we spend our soul matters (p. 32)

Intuition and discernment are two very different things (p. 37)

We will steer where we stare. So stare mightily at God and His plan (p. 91)

The only way to diminish our regret is by making decisions that lead to peace (p. 99)

…Being present with a heart bent toward love and daring to look at what’s been placed right in front of you is honestly the best place to start. (p. 176)

Like whoa! Good stuff, huh?

Some decisions are easy to make…Do you want fried chicken for dinner? {No.} Do you want ice cream? {Yes!} But others are not…Do I go on a date night with my love even though we just got in a fight? Is it okay to see that movie? Should I add another activity/responsibility/meeting to my already filled calendar? Will letting that young woman live with me be beneficial or a burden? Do I quit my job or work to make it better? Decisions are part of our life. With the guidance of Scripture, godly people, and Lysa’s wise words, I am confident that with each decision, small or big, I will be able to find and live out my Best Yes. Are you ready?

 

book_sm

Take Action

What’s my goal for 2015? Take Action.
So often I wait for the perfect time, the just right moment, the page to look just so, and the list goes on. I get so caught up in my need to have it be either “right” or accepted that I miss opportunities and I waste valuable time.
My desire is just to start taking action, make decisions, get things done – whether they are how I want them to be or not – just get them done!!
My first action was to get my family reading the Bible together. So tonight, my husband and my son and I all sat for 10 minutes of Bible time. Did it go as I planned? Of course not! My son wanted to read out loud and make a “speech” out of it. My husband found the lights I had turned on too bright so I had to read in semi-dark.
Was it “perfect”? Yes, in it’s own way it was. And I look forward to this particular action taking place night after night.
So what about you? Did you make goals for 2015? Have you taken action on them yet? If not – what are you waiting for?
I pray whatever goals you may have that God’s will be done, and you are on a path that shines light on Him.
Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
English Standard Version of the Bible
retrieved from https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=let+your+light+so+shine+&qs_version=ESV

Be{ing} Intentional in 2015

Last month on my birthday I prayed for guidance for the year ahead. What would 31 look like if I gave it to God and followed the path He set for me? The Lord took me to 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12

“6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” 11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.”

And it struck me that so often when asked how I am doing, my answer is always, “Good, busy, but good”. But what was I so busy doing? Was I busy doing things for the Kingdom? Working for the glory of the Lord? Often the answer is no. Often I am just “busy”.

But this year I want that to change. I want to be busy, but busy in ways that honor God. This led to thinking about a phrase that would capture that desire and motivate me when I was watching TV for no reason, scanning Instagram for the umpteenth time, or when I find myself glorifying “busy”, something that would remind me I am not to just be “busy” but to do good and work with a purpose. Two words popped into my heart and haven’t left: Be Intentional. God wants me to be intentional with my heart, my words, my finances, my actions, my thoughts, my life. He doesn’t just want me wandering around squandering the blessings that He has given me, but to be intentional with them because that is what brings Him the most glory.

So this year my plan is to be intentional with…

My heart–by filling it with Scripture. Psalm 1:2

My love–by ensuring that it is real. Romans 12:9

My money–by spending less and giving more. 2 Corinthians 9:7

My thoughts–by worrying less and thinking of things that are true and lovely. Philippians 4:8

My time–by using it wisely–more time in the Word, serving, and spending time with godly people. Mark 10:45, Psalm 1:1

My words {spoken & written}–by carefully choosing them and not just talking to talk, but talking about Jesus!

My work–by doing it all for Him no matter how crazy my students drive me or if I don’t agree with decisions made, I will remember that ultimately I am working for the Lord. Colossians 3:23, Proverbs 31:17

It is my prayer that by being intentional this year that the Lord will be glorified and I will grow closer to Him, that I will find more joy in saying yes and peace in saying no, that my heart will be full of His word and with love for others. His will be done.

beintentional

What are your plans and goals for the new year?