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Posts Tagged ‘trust’

today_grateful

In this first day of intentional gratitude, I want to remind you of those unexpected blessings we all receive…and when I say unexpected, I mean, never-in-your-life-thought-this-circumstance-would-turn-out-to-be-a-blessing blessing. Like being unemployed.

If you know my husband and me at all, you know we recently spent six years with no full time job and very little income. It was tough – for my husband, because, you know, men look at having no job as having no meaning in life. He struggled a bit (I’m kidding, he struggled a lot)…and had quite a few conversations with God about the whole thing. But that’s his story to tell.

It was a tough time for our kids because everything they relied on appeared unstable. They weren’t sure where we would live, how we would live, where they would finish high school, and how we were going to pay the bills. Now that I think about it, those were mostly my worries – I’ve never asked what concerned my kids back then…I should probably do that.

Nevertheless, looking back, that whole six year time period was full of God’s blessings. He provided finances for every single obligation (we paid every bill and always on time). Out of the blue, people would stop by the house to give us money saying, “God told us to give this to you today.” God blessed us with the emotional and spiritual support we needed. I read and studied the Word, and prayed on my long walks, crying and begging God to give us something, something to put our hope on…and He never let us down. Don and I had more and deeper conversations. God gave us supernatural health during a time when we had poor insurance coverage, and then provided a way to get better coverage, for the whole family, right before our son started travelling with his band. I could go on and on with story after story…not the time or place.

We learned a lot about ourselves. We learned about humility, and trust, and faith, and grace. We learned that we don’t know very much, but that God knows the beginning and the end. We learned that some people will stick with you, no matter what, expecting nothing in return. We saw God’s hand at work in our kids as He provided funds for college and travelling, when we had nothing. We cried buckets of tears – in frustration and sorrow, rejoicing and thanksgiving.

Am I glad we were without a job for that long? I’m not sure. It was rough. Our Christmas’ were sparse. We ate at home, took no vacations, purchased no new clothes. We had no church to call our own, but we were privileged to help a couple of congregations transition to new pastors. We learned a great deal about what is really important. Family. Real friends. Health. Our own relationship with Jesus, away from ministry.

 

And most of all, we learned God’s promises are true: He will never leave you or forsake you – even if you don’t have a job, even if you are struggling with poor health, even if you are in a difficult circumstance. He is your Rock and your Redeemer. He will turn your mourning into dancing. Ask Him to show you the unexpected blessing of this tough time and watch Him show up. God will never fail you.

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fear stops life

Some of us are afraid of specific things (as I talked about in part 1) but most of us deal (or don’t deal, as the case may be) with a fear we seldom admit…the fear of man. Or more accurately, the fear we won’t measure up, the fear we will offend someone, the fear we aren’t good enough, the fear we can’t perform as we think we should. This fear can be and often is, as crippling as any phobia, because it’s not something we can hold in our hand…it’s an attitude, a choice we’ve made, to allow someone else power over us.

When I fear “man” (and don’t go all feminist on me – this applies to male and female), I’m afraid of how I appear to someone else. “Am I too fat to wear those pants to church? Wait – should I wear a dress instead? Wait – I’ll be in the nursery, maybe I should wear jeans. No – that one lady always frowns when she sees women in jeans at church. But these are really cute jeans.” The endless cycle of conversations we have with ourselves in our heads…mental exhausting…and totally unnecessary.

We have been set free from trying to live up to others’ expectations. It’s God in whom I trust. He is the One I need to please…and He does not care if you wear jeans to church…really! In Proverbs, it says that the fear of man brings a snare.fear of man snare It’s a trap from the enemy of our souls. If we are constantly looking for the approval of others, we won’t have our eyes on the One who loves us best. We’ll spend untold hours in confusion and misery trying, trying, trying to please people who are as messed up as we are. Or worse, trying to please someone who doesn’t even know you’re trying to please them.That same verse says that “whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” And there is such security and peace when I feel safe.

Allow the Lord to be your rock, your shield, your strong tower. No one on this earth should have the power to keep you from being the woman of God He designed you to be. Stay strong – push back against your fear of others’ opinions – and sink into the arms of your Heavenly Father. He will strengthen you and help you and uphold you. He loves you with an everlasting love and is pleased with you…no matter what.

 

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Sean and David 1

Parenting is hard.

In fact, the actual act of giving birth is the easiest part. Once those big brown (or green or blue) eyes look into your soul and those little fingers get a grip around your heart, you are toast. And the pressure to be everything they need is overwhelming. It’s really the hardest and longest battle of any parent’s life ~ the battle to let them go.

It starts around age two. Some call it the “terrible 2s” – not sure why – just because my beautiful compliant baby has now learned the word “no” and refuses to wear clothes in public?

We work so hard to help our kids learn right from wrong. We teach them colors and numbers and letters…we listen and love…doing fractions homework and science fair projects…agonizing together through middle school, watching them struggle, succeed, struggle, succeed, over and over and over.

This parenting gig is gut-wrenching.

High school – late nights listening for the garage door to open or the text to ping. Meeting new friends… people of both genders passing through your living room. You pray the lessons on purity and kindness and integrity are being lived out away from your watchful eyes. Attending the “last” of anything brings out the waterworks – last band concert, last baseball game, last youth group, last family vacation, last Christmas together in one house.

That empty nest feels like a staycation…for about a week. Then the house is too quiet, the bedroom too picked up, the laundry basket and kitchen sink too empty.

It is not easy…releasing the chick to fly on his own. And now I know – releasing would be easier if you absolutely knew they would never encounter any obstacles.

So I sit and pray…listen and love…give advice only when asked but trusting always in the wisdom that only the Holy Spirit can give…to me and to him.

He must face life now, somehow without the seat belt we buckled him in 20+ years ago. The pressure on him is intense…pressure that I know can crush. If I didn’t trust in the only One who loves him more than I do, I would be lost. He faces struggles unknown – financial, emotional, mental – as all of us do in this life journey. The adventure which was once exhilarating is now lonely and dark and fraught with danger and shadows. Fear of failure threatens him – broken dreams and battered promises line his path. He must now rely on his own faith journey, without me or his dad as a buffer.

Parenting never gets easier. A pattern never develops. There is no book that has all the answers (even the Bible couldn’t help me with the “why won’t he wear clothes?” question).

I’ve gone from parent to teacher to coach to cheerleader with stints as referee here and there. Just when you think you’ve got it, you either have another kid who is the polar opposite or the first one changes personality and temperament overnight.

My husband and I pray every morning that our kids make good choices, that doors will open and doors will close, that they would be salt and light wherever they go, that they would have favor and financial provision and wisdom. Always wisdom. May they have the courage they need to fight each battle with bravery and conviction. And that they would never give up on themselves or their dreams.

I’ll pray the same for you today…as you parent your children. We love these little bundles of joy and heartache ~ may you be armed with strength and courage, love and kindness, hope and long-suffering. May the Holy Spirit guard your mind from doubt and give you wisdom for the darkest nights and brightest days ahead.

jeremiah_hands

 

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lack-of-money

Day 17 – Dropping my Poverty Mindset
Let me give warning right up front. This blog is not an expert’s advice on how to get rich, get out of debt or win the lottery. This is just a few thoughts I’ve had recently about how much I allow my mind to be consumed with money, especially the lack of it. And what I intend to do about it.

Let it be said that no one says, “I have enough money. Stop giving me anymore.” Well, maybe someone somewhere, but no one I know personally. In fact, most of us could use a little more every once in a while. We all have bills, some planned for like mortgages, car payments and school loans. Others are bombarded with emergencies like car repairs, doctors’ bills and “Yikes! I owe the IRS?” But there are actually some people who need money but don’t fret about it. And that’s where I want to be.

I have a poverty mindset. It manifests itself in worry, anxiety, stress, anger, bitterness, depression, envy and greed. It also takes away my joy, my happiness and my spontaneity. The words “No! We can’t afford that!” flow from my lips a lot. That attitude then spreads like a cancer into my kids, my husband, my friends…whomever has to listen to it, over and over and over.

Maybe you can relate? Ask yourself a few telling questions.
• Do you justify your lack of funds and make excuses?
• Do you complain about paying taxes on an unexpected bonus or reward?
• When something is free, do you grab as much as possible, even if you don’t need it?
• Is the concept of working for free crazy to you?
• Do you promise God you’ll tithe when you can afford it?
• Are you jealous when others are blessed with money or physical things?
• Do you go to bed most nights worrying about money?
I have to admit – I’ve had to answer “yes” to a couple of those things.

I have found it’s all about attitude and obedience. I tithe. Not because it’s some formula for getting rich but because God says I should. If I can’t be obedient in the little things, how will I ever handle the really big stuff?

I’m learning again to trust God (BTW – this lesson is never one you learn and move on…its presented over and over and over again). He is my source…not my employer, not my husband, not the government. With God there will always be more than enough. The only lack with room in my life is lack of worry, lack of stress, lack of anxiety.

I’m going for extravagance. Extravagant love…extravagant giving…extravagant grace…extravagant trust…extravagant obedience.

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Existing = breathing, eating, sleeping, drinking water. Operating with a bare minimum of effort in order to keep yourself from death.

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Living = All of the above on steroids PLUS:

Embracing life head on.

Choosing risk and change over ruts and routine.

Giving more than taking.

Trusting your heart to someone.

Risking more than playing safe.

Running forward more than stepping back.

Changing more than being complacent.

Knowing you are only one breath from death so committing to breathe deeply.

Loving people and using things, not the other way around.

Courage in place of fear.

Listening at least twice as much as speaking.

Authenticity, not fake “How are you’s”.

Thanksgiving in a world of complaints and whining.

Forgiving over harboring hurts and grudges.

Allowing love over suffering indifference.

Laughter over silence.

Dancing over standing still.

Learning something new each day – and then passing it on to someone else.

Lifting your face into the wind, accepting with laughter and enthusiasm all that life throws your way.

 

Too many people only exist. How sad.

Seize life!

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