Monthly Archives: April 2014

Elusive Quiet, Where are You?

 

BeeIt was going to be a beautiful morning. I had gotten up early to enjoy some quiet time before exercise and work beckoned. I made myself a hot breakfast (a rare treat) and poured myself some aromatic coffee. I tiptoed down the hall and gingerly retrieved the well-worn Bible and journal that had been sitting far too still on the nightstand the last few crazy days. With my treasures in hand, I hurried back down the hall like a giddy school girl. I had just taken the first sip of delicious coffee when I froze. A gentle cry wafted down the hallway and rested on my ears. Yes, the precious little one tucked snuggly in the nursery had decided that he needed to be up thirty minutes earlier than normal this morning. I looked down at the words that begged to be read and the pen that longed to flow onto the journal pages. I let out a soft sigh and left my picture-perfect scene to walk back into reality.

Does this sound familiar to you? Maybe it’s not family that pulls you away from quality quiet time. Maybe work, worries, fatigue, lack of motivation, or other outside forces steal you away from those intimate moments with the King. Whatever the reason, we are being drained and worn out spiritually. This leads to frustration, guilt, irritability, and loneliness-I know this because I am feeling all of these qualities right now in life. I am embarrassed to share my “lack of spirituality,” but I feel God is compelling me to be vulnerable so that I can grow and so that hopefully this encourages others in the process.

During Easter week I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. I was so down when thinking about my personal circumstances that I used whatever little energy I had left to focus on Jesus instead. The previous week on Palm Sunday I taught the children at church about Jesus’ last days before he died. The coolest thing happens when we teach-we usually learn tons ourselves! I realized when I was reading Jesus’ journey to the kids that He made some interesting choices that fateful, jam-packed last week before being taken captive. He rested. He retreated to a quiet place to pour his heart out to God. These wise choices probably wouldn’t be found on most bucket lists. But the priority that Jesus put into acquiring rest and fellowshipping with God really touched my weary spirit.

So how could I follow His example by making quiet time a reality while working two jobs, raising a child, and running a home? I started brainstorming. Here are a few ideas that I am going to try to implement this coming month:
~Read the Bible 5 minutes before bed at night and 5 minutes before getting out of bed in the morning.
~Get up 30 minutes earlier than normal one morning to read and pray.
~Write a verse on a slip of paper one day and put it in my pocket to look at and meditate on frequently throughout the day.
~Set an alarm to go off a few times one day to remind me to stop for a minute and pray or read a couple verses.
~Turn off my phone for 10 minutes one day and take that time to just be still and quiet.
~Listen to a praise song one day that relaxes me and turns my thoughts to Jesus.
~Talk to God while driving to activities.
~Listen to one podcast a week that encourages my spirit.

I would love to hear some of the ways you are making time to rest and be with the King too. May you and I be faithful in the little things this week and place a priority on being still.

“I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 52:5-6)

“God-you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such a hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains.” (Psalm 63:1-3)

 

 

Savor Every Sip

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There I was, gulping down the fancy blended coffee drink I had just ordered. I’ve been drinking these delicious treats a couple times a week for a while now. It’s a fun splurge. Well it was, until I realized how bad they were for my body!

In an effort to get healthier after having our first baby, I found an app for my phone that helps record my eating and exercising habits. I started writing down everything that entered my mouth this week. It has been such an eye-opener! I discovered that the sugar free blended coffee drinks I had been gulping down contained 350 calories and 74 carbs each! Gross. I liked the coffee drinks, but not that much. I decided to save those 350 calories for something my body actually needed each day.

I still enjoy coffee, but drinking it plain allows me to still enjoy other tastes in my day as well. If I ever want to go crazy and get one of those loaded fru-fru drinks again, I can. But I will do so knowing that I need to give something else up in return. And the next time I indulge in one of those blended drinks, I will savor every sip. I won’t gulp it down because it will be much more of a treat.

I started thinking about how the discipline of calorie counting is very similar to the discipline of living in the present. With eating and living, the little things add up so we need to make every moment (bite) count. We shouldn’t gulp down the moments or rush them. We need to savor them. Rest. Enjoy. We need to assess what our goals are and ask ourselves if our actions are aiding or hindering those goals.

I think the biggest discovery this week during the calorie counting process has been that the small bites count just as much as the big meals. One extra spoon of peanut butter can throw me over my daily allowance in a split second. So the small victories are actually huge wins. Every time I choose to eat something healthier, I am benefiting my body and future. In the same manner, every time I choose to live in the present and enjoy the moment I am benefiting myself and others around me.

I am excited to be learning new disciplines this week! I am already benefiting from rejoicing over the small victories and living each moment with purpose and joy. May you and I strive to glorify the Savior through our tiny and huge actions today! Let’s savor every sip.

“You desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being.” (Psalm 51:6)

Worry: a misuse of the imagination

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It happened again last night. I was tossing and turning in bed, not catching a wink of sleep. Nights like this have been happening less and less, but I was caught off guard by my muddled thoughts swirling around in my tired head. Worry was hindering my precious rest.

I looked up various definitions of the word “worry” to better grasp the sneaky robber of my z’s. These two describers stood out to me in a challenging way: worry is a state of anxiety over potential problems. Worry is to allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulties. I did not find a single positive attribute about worry. So why would I allow something so negative to permeate my thoughts? The answer I discovered really cuts to the quick- pride.

Wait, what?! Yes. God has convicted me that worry is selfish. When I dwell on all the problems in my life, I am not able to be a blessing to others around me. I am too busy thinking, figuring out, wrestling with my own difficulties that I don’t have room to have compassion or love for others’ troubles. I’ll be honest-it’s sometimes fun to wallow in my own misery and have a pity party. It gets me attention sometimes. It’s dramatic. It makes me feel like I have more going on in my life than I really do. It’s fun to be selfish…for a little while. Then the attention and drama turns sour and I become miserable, self-loathing, and useless. Worry makes us weak, not strong. It’s never worth it.

I saw an anonymous quote a while back that I try to say every day to myself now: “Worry is a misuse of the imagination.” It’s so true! Think of all the dreams we could accomplish if we stopped using our energy and time on worry and started pursuing the things we’ve always wanted to do! The world would be a completely different place.

When my brother and I were younger, we would use our young imaginations to pretend that the living room floor was hot lava and all the pillows on the carpet and the couch were safe rocks that hadn’t been consumed yet. We would ever so carefully jump from pillow to pillow to couch as if we truly thought we would get burned if we missed. If one of us started to lose our balance, the other sibling would reach out and pull the stumbler to safety again. We trusted each other.

Maybe you’ve had someone tell you this before when you were consumed with worry: “You just need to trust God more.” Is that ever really helpful? Worry isn’t defeated by trusting God MORE; it’s conquered by trusting God INSTEAD of ourselves. We are going to stumble in life, but if we quit trusting our own ability and start trusting in the King’s, we won’t be crushed when we need to reach out for His hand to help us get from point A to point B.

So the next time you and I catch ourselves dwelling on our problems and own abilities to fix them, may we stop looking horizontally and look vertically up to the Savior. He is trustworthy. He is imaginative. He is unselfish. He is present. He is Lord.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure our everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)