Do you re-read books?

Do you re-read books?

I have a few I like to re-read.  These are part of my resources.  Books that speak over me and encourage me.

It goes without saying but just in case, the Bible is an irreplaceable resource for me.  It speaks to me and it amazes me how I can hear the same verse and depending on the day I hear it differently.  God speaks through His word and I believe He speaks through other’s too.

So while God is speaking to me through His word, He also comforts me through others words.  Books have been a comfort for me especially as I work through healing.

Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning was one of the first books that taught me I can come and sit at Jesus feet as is.  I can come to Jesus with all of my feelings that I’ve labeled good or bad.  I can come with my sin and sit at His feet and you know what He gave me in those moments, His love.  Deep gratitude began to grow in me towards God.

Then it was a few years and a lot of heartache later, God met me with the book Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray and it rocked my world.  I was in counseling working through trauma and Bonnie’s words spoke over me so clearly.  The heart of her message was that I need “space/rest” for God to speak over my wounds.  She has been a kindred spirit and I am grateful for her words and how God to used them in my life.  She also wrote Whispers of Rest which is a continuation of how we get spiritual whitespace in our life.  This book really helped me reconnect with myself, because God wants to be with all of us not just part of us.

Finally, two books that are impacting my new year.  Try Softer by Aundi Kolber  and To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue.  If you need salve for a worn out soul, if you need comfort, if you need space to just breathe and know you are safe-these book hold that space for you.  They draw you back to God and renew a fresh perspective that is better.  It is better to try softer and not be so harsh with ourselves.  God is a God with compassionate love towards us.  I believe He wants us to experience this here and now.

These are some of my re-reads.  I will pick them up when I feel misunderstood and hurt.  I will pick them up when I need a pick me up.  I will pick them up when I need to know I’m not alone. These books break me out of that “stuck” feeling and help me become more curious.

What are you reading that is speaking to your heart?

Encouraging you in a new way?

 

Grace upon grace

One story I have not liked in the Bible is David and Bathsheba.  How could God use someone who’s had an affair and then killed the lady’s husband.  I wrestle with this in my denial of my own sin sometimes.  Then David and Bathsheba are named in the lineage of Christ.  Jesus, Messiah, the Holy One.  They are named with countless others in Christ’s lineage that did not “earn” their way onto that genealogy, but they are used by God for a greater purpose even though they have many flaws and failures.  Their qualifications weren’t because they were good enough and did all the right things.

That is the God we serve.  A God who is willing to show us the worst of the worst and we say nah, He can’t use that.  And He does, every day.

His grace knows no bounds.  There is no sin we could produce that God has not already seen and forgiven in someone else.  He longs to give us grace.  But we settle for pride and try to work our way out of the bad situation.  When will we learn grace is always better and produces lasting fruit?

John 1:14-16 says,

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

Jesus came in grace and truth.  Maybe we believe if we come to God with our junk He’ll say, “Now I told you not to do that and you are bad.” But what He says is, I know.  I know what you do, how you spoke, or what you thought.  And my grace is here to meet you in that to help you.  Grace upon grace.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says,

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Paul boasts that He is weak because in that humility he receives what he ultimately needs, grace.  And God promises that His grace is enough for us in our weakness.  What are your weaknesses?  Yell at your kids?  Gossip about a friend?  Cheat?  Lie?   Grace will meet us in our weakness, if we seek Him.  Then, it will give us power to live in His power.

Finally, James 4:6 says,

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.””

All we need to do to get grace is to humble ourselves, and one of the best ways I know how is to pray.  Pray today and humble yourself before God, and before you get up and go, receive the grace that He promises.

 

Is it enough?

We live in a culture and time when it is hard to believe we have enough.

Enough stuff.

Enough relationships.

Enough health.

Enough activities.

Enough time.

Enough healing.

Enough energy.

Enough intelligence.

We have so many things telling us what we are doing is not enough. And then someone near us is doing something new so we think we need to too.

Is what you’re doing enough?

How do we accurately access if it is truly enough?

1. Listen to your body. It tells you when you’re pushing it too much. It has a limit and it will yell when you’ve passed it. Ex. Sleep problems, knee problems, tension, or just being cranky.

2. Allow people to speak into your life. Sometimes we are totally unaware of ourselves because we’ve always done life this way. We tend to have a closed mind when we are wondering if we are doing enough. Ex. Am I doing enough for my kids? My friends? My diet? My workout? My faith?

3. Pray and seek. God has promised He will provide all our needs (Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:33, 2 Corinthians 12:9). He will never let you down. And while we may believe that intellectually, maybe like me you need that truth to go to your heart. Because our heart says I need more clothes, more food, more relationships, more energy. But sometimes it’s just resting in what God has already given us.

That sounds easier than it really is, but I think if we use all three in our lives we can really access what is a need and what is a want. Do we have enough? We know the answer is yes, but why do we live like it’s no?

Asking for a friend.

What is your not enough?

God can be trusted.

A few weeks ago we began our morning, we got up and were running around all day.  I was tired and feeling overwhelmed because I hadn’t slept great from a storm the night before.  My husband was out of town, and we were in survival mode for the week.  I know myself enough to know that on weeks like this I need space and time to reset even during the day, not just at bedtime.  But I forgot in all the chaos.

So we made it to bedtime and I realized I hadn’t read my devotional.  And thought, “it’s okay I will just read it tomorrow, there’s grace.”  And there was and is grace for me missing my devotional (and you too if today was one of those days for you!).  But I felt a nudge to go ahead and read it that night.  So I did, and the title was “Medicine for the Midnight Moments” and it was on rest.  (Secret Strength: For Those who Search by Joni Erikson Tada)

How beautiful these words were on rest. Salve to my tired soul that night. Resting in His Sovereignty: He is in fact in control.  Webster defines rest this way: “to remain based or founded to cause to be firmly fixed.”  Many nights my thoughts can bounce all over, which happened that night after those storms.  And I forgot a phrase I like to say out loud before bed, “I can rest, because my God can be trusted.”  Might sound silly, but when I say it out loud it reminds my brain I can rest with the truth: the world is not resting on my shoulders, but His. In these moments I realize I do have what I need.  It is here if I will slow, stop, and listen. 

My youngest did a project at school, a Bible stop sign.  Red is stop and pray, yellow is listen to God, and green is go where He tells you.  The simplicity of God is amazing to me.  How he just speaks so slow and kind to us.  It is not condemning or controlling.  Its a wooing voice that calls us to rest and sit with Him.  So He can reteach us.  

I love these sweet moments, where God steps in and says yes!  Don’t despair daughter, I’m not done with you yet.   I’ll keep showing up, you don’t have to doubt for a second if I will be there, and then He does, shows up again for me and for you.

He is faithful, Sovereign, and true.  

How is God showing up for you?

Abba, help us to rest here, without having all the answers.  Help us to rest in Your Sovereignty.  You are great and mighty, help us to see how big You are so we are not overwhelmed with our present state.  We need you and ask that You guide us in the path of peace and rest.  In Jesus name.

Amen.

I can change my mind.

The mind.

It’s beautifully complex but sometimes doesn’t feel so beautiful. Oppressive thoughts, low self worth, and speaking defeated words over ourselves make us feel less than.

I fall into bad thinking patterns when I feel stuck and unsure what the right decision is to make. I feel guilty if I make a wrong decision and unsure if I make the decision because I’m unsure how’s it’s going to turn out.

Whew. Feel better about yourself?

I found some wisdom from this crappy thought life yesterday.

My son woke up with a sore throat, he’s gotten strep before, so I wanted to see how he felt once he was up for a bit. Not seeing much change, I decided to keep him home.

Thirty minutes later it was pretty clear he had a little cough, but was feeling fine, no fever. He confirmed he felt fine.

So we decided to get him to school even though he was thirty minutes late.

As I was driving home from dropping my son off late, I realized I didn’t feel guilty. Confirming how I felt, truth came: This was not a pattern for my kid faking sick or crying because he didn’t want to go to school. He’s pretty tough. And it really wasn’t a big deal for him to miss one day.

NEW THOUGHTS! Truthful thoughts.

Shocked.

Ah-ha!

I thought, hey I can change my mind!

We can change our minds. Turning this into a spiritual truth, we can take our crappy thoughts captive and make them obey Christ. We can change.

(Note: see Jen Wilkins book “None like Him.” She writes a whole chapter on how this.)

This simple reality of changing my mind to take my son to school opened wide the lie: this won’t work for you, you can’t change your mind, you are stuck.

I can’t do this on my own, but with Christ I will.

The weapons I get to use aren’t more strength on my own part, but trusting in a mighty God who never gets tired helping me to do His part!

He will never fail us.

Right where He wants me…

Sitting outside, it’s winter but it’s sunny and mild out today.

My kids are eating lunch at a kid painted picnic table in our driveway. They are happy to be together and with me.

The sun feels good. Warm. Inviting me to sit a while and take a deep breath.

Sometimes life comes rushing in and I’m ready to be out of that phase and onto the next. Ready to heal, to be well, and sometimes God just has more for me to learn. It’s not a step back but it’s a deeper stretch. Like when you workout, typically when you do the exercise again you should be able to do more reps, sink a little deeper into the squat, or run an extra half a mile.

And sometimes are just harder than others. So for right now I sit knowing I am exactly where God has me, where He knew I’d be. He is not surprised by my feelings. He is present. With me right now.

So I know I’m with Him and He is with me. So I can be okay, right here, right now.

Are you in a season of joy? Praise him.

Struggle? Pray and praise him.

Both? Praise and pray and praise and dance…

Know God is not surprised at where you are.

Psalm 139 says that every day of ours is already written down. He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Go check out Psalm 139-sometimes it is scary to be this known, but we are known by a God who loves us and never puts us to shame. Hallelujah.

Affirmation

I like for God to affirm things in my life.  Kind of like Gideon, if you really want me to pursue this show me a sign, I’ll put out the fleece and you make it wet or dry.   You know.

Clarity.

Show me a sign Lord.  Then another sign, because I’m not sure that was a clear enough.

Then maybe we don’t move at all, completely fearful we misheard God.  Unsure if He even cares.

Oh boy.  I am finite.  I am vulnerable and desperate to be known and reassured.

Is it just me?

I love that even in this frustration with myself He is not the slightest.  He sees this all working out, He sees all that I’m learning.  He sees the knew connections I’m making and He will restore and make all these things work together.

Typically I like to know what God’s affirming, but is that the point?  Are we supposed to move and then look up saying is that right God?  Or do I go left?  Do I serve you here or there?  Do I love this person, or make time for this one?  It can get very confusing.

What if He wants us to look up long enough so He can say I love you anyways.

I know You want to know.  I know you need this affirmation from me, but what if I told you I love you.  I love you, even if.  I love you, and I’m proud you are making steps.  Because once you get there you might face trouble, but if you know I love you…  Oh daughter, if you know I love you, if you abide in that love, then that will make all the difference.

As you go about your day, think about how God is showing you He loves you.  It’s everywhere.  For me it is flowers, taking pictures, my kids laughing, naps, slowing down, rain, my neighbor bringing me saltines for my sick kid, or curling up with a good book.

He is faithful.  He’ll show you too.

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Rewriting Your Story

Two songs that are speaking to my heart right now are Phil Wickham “Till I Found You” and Steffany Gretzinger “Letting Go.”  Go Listen!

A line in Phil Wickham’s song is “You are rewriting my story.”  Man, it’s is singing to my heart right now.  Maybe you planned life differently.  Maybe you hadn’t really planned at all and are taking life as it comes.  Even so, I’m sure you had an amount of expectation on what life would look like even if generally.  Those expectations can be great if life goes as planned, if it all turns out great.  But what about those hard pieces that inevitably come?

John 16:33 “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.

(The red felt appropriate, words from Jesus.)

So maybe we can let go of the expectation that life with Jesus will be easy.  That we shouldn’t have to endure hardships.  That’s why we came running right?  To him for salvation.  But I think it is when our faith endures these hard times that we are refined, our true selves brought forth.

Now the second song “Letting Go” has a line “I’m letting go, and falling into you.”

Letting go of what others think.

Letting go of fear.

Letting go of lies.

Letting go of who we think we are.

Letting go of self doubt.

Letting go of shame.

Don’t worry we aren’t letting go into an abyss, if we have Jesus.  We are letting go and clinging to him in the tough and in the good.  We are stepping with one eye peeking open praying “Oh please have me Lord.”  And I think we can let go, because His plan will be infinitely better.  Do we believe it is better?  Letting go requires trusting our God is really good.  And that He will be good to us, even still.

Another lyric, “You unwind me until I’m totally undone.”  Oh, let that sink in.  How many of you need Him to unwind you?  Yeah, me too.  Me too.

So let Him write a new story.  Start by letting go, so you can become the person who celebrates others, who is brave, who steps out, who has confidence in themselves, who looks up instead of down at their feet, one who stands tall proud of who you are and the God you serve.

I’m still figuring this all out.

New Mercies

I keep seeing this word: mercy.  In my quiet time this was the verse for today with the caption: choose grace.

Hebrews 4:16 says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

The old testament talks about God being slow to anger and abounding in grace and mercy.  We get annoyed with Israelites after a few rounds of their complaints.  We don’t always associate grace and mercy with God in our crisis or even our daily life.  Normally my words to myself are “Can’t you get it together?”  “Why are you anxious about that, it’s not a big deal?”  Frustration.  Lack of empathy.

We think if we show compassion to our neighbors or ourselves, we are giving a pass.  However, it is clear this is important way of living in scripture.  I think modern psychology would agree.  Punishment does not equal lasting change or a “good head on our shoulders.”

What if we let feelings pass, if we slowed down long enough to see if we needed something, made time to be quiet to hear and listen.  We are scared though huh?  Scared if we stop what we might hear.  Well, I can promise you this.  Just from this Hebrews verse alone, we can know our God is gracious and cannot wait until we come to Him to receive the mercy and grace undeserved, but that He wants to lavish on us anyways.

We can wake up tomorrow and do it differently if we know we have grace and mercy.  Perfectionism comes when we think we will be punished.  Punished for anything and everything.  Not a great way to live.

Example: I’ve felt guilty my kids don’t help pick up much, I bear the burden of most of that.  Now, I could stay there punishing myself-which means I will try harder to keep the house neat and tidy and get angry when our third runs through the living room pouring legos all over the floor or my oldest says he’s just too tired.

Or grace and mercy say, tomorrow is a new day.  Make a stride.  You can’t fail at this, because grace will meet you when you lose your cool as I teach my children to pick up.  And lets be honest, may grace meet me when I succeed, keeping me humble not trusting to much in my own ability to get it right.

So where can you give yourself mercy and grace?  Giving it to yourself means you’ll give it to others too.

Whatever it is, you got this.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself today!

Remember: Lamentations 3:23 “…His mercies are new every morning.”

 

Have you boxed God in?

Have you boxed God in?

Have you allowed Him to move freely in some areas of your life and not others?

Me too.

This was easy to do when I first became a Christian.  I let God forgive me for cussing and saying His name in vain.  But then I fell into this deep place of policing my life, which then turned into policing others lives, as well.

I wrestled with this for a while.

My deepest question: Would God really say what He says He will do?

I had hurt.  I had deep pain.  I had wounds that I didn’t know if I could give to Him or not.  Would He be that Good Shepherd I knew in my mind He was?  I had to remove the box from my heart so He could come in.

Then you realize you’ve been protecting yourself from the One you need most.

Boxes.  Walls.  Self-protection.  These have come down.  With the help of dear friends, my husband, my mom, and my counselor, mine are.

Like an addict to a drug, it is very easy to return to this place of self-protection.  It feels safe.  And in a past where I wasn’t sure I was safe, I craved that.  But as believers our safest place is in the hands of our Savior who places beautiful people around us, so we can slowly step out of this place of self-protection and into those pastures with beautiful flowers and sunshine.

It’s breathable outside of our walls.  There’s life.  There’s freedom.  There’s healing.  There’s hope.

So seek someone out today.  Allow them to speak truth or just to listen to your deepest questions about God.  Place your hand on your heart.  It’s okay to have questions.  He wants to answer them.  I bet who you are talking to has had similar questions too.

Know this:

He is good.

He is kind.

He will do it.