Monthly Archives: May 2014

Tidbits

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This blog post is a bit different because after a crazy week, I think we all need just a few tidbits of encouragement. Maybe you can relate-Monday sneaks up on us and we don’t feel prepared at all for the tasks we’ve assigned ourselves. And then life hits like a powerful tidal wave that knocks us off our feet, leaving us scrambling and grasping to get back to shore where it’s calm. How can we possibly accomplish the to-do-list we have created for ourselves plus the unexpected life tasks that are being flung at us each day? Often, we can’t.

How is this encouraging? It’s encouraging because it frees us from wasting energy and emotions on striving to be “God.” We are human. Success is defined differently when we realize this. We need to ask the One in Control to teach us how to honor Him with our daily actions. And most importantly, we need to stop creating our own to-do-lists without consulting the Creator first. Whenever I fall into this trap of thinking my agenda should be blessed by God, I try to envision this mental picture: I imagine a student throwing out her knowledgeable professor’s syllabus and creating her own topics and assignments. And then at the end of the semester she finds herself confused and angry as to why she did not receive a passing grade. Unfortunately, that is often what I try to do with life’s tasks.

I started Monday this week with my own ideas of how life was going to happen. Thank goodness, God reminded me quickly that I needed to change my attitude and actions to align with His plans. The rest of the week I woke up each morning and said, “Lord, please show me what you want me to do, think, and say today. Please tell me your agenda and help me to listen and obey.” Phew!

Here are some tidbits of encouragement that helped me get through this week and better focus on the King’s agenda. May you also be encouraged that you don’t have to do life alone. We have God Almighty to guide us!

“Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” 
~C.S. Lewis

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.”
~Kurt Vonnegut

“It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.”
~2 Corinthians 5:7

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”
~Proverbs 19:11

“God is fair and just; He corrects the misdirected, sends them in the right direction. He gives the rejects his hand, and leads them step by step.”
~Psalm 25:8-9

“Ask me, and I will tell you things that you don’t know and can’t find out.”
~Jeremiah 33:3

“The Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget.” 
~Deuteronomy 4:31a

SURPRISE!

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Two months ago, my husband booked a hotel and airline tickets for our fourth anniversary. He decided to surprise me by not telling me the destination of our vacation. What a romantic gesture! As the weeks started to count down until our surprise trip, I started getting antsy. Questions bounced around in my head: “What if I don’t pack correctly for the weather? How can I be completely excited if I don’t even know where we are going? What if I build up expectations in my mind unknowingly and then am disappointed when we get there?” I battled with these uncertainties for longer than I would like to admit.

Finally, I chose to stop my negative thinking and start to replace these doubts with confident hope: “If I truly need to pack something specific for the trip, Andy will tell me. I can be excited for the unknown because I trust my husband’s judgement and creativity. I can prepare for this adventure by not trying to figure out what we are doing so I can be pleasantly surprised.” Goodness! This was tough for me at first. I’m such a planner. It took a lot of trust and conscious effort to let go. But after I did, it felt so freeing! I didn’t have to worry about planning a big trip. I didn’t have to figure out childcare for our son. I didn’t have to do a thing except go along for the ride! Fun!

And of course, Andy did an incredible job with our anniversary trip! He took us back to where we met, fell in love, and went to college-Chicago. It was a truly refreshing trip. We have been pouring out so much energy and time lately into others that it was so encouraging to have friends in Chicago pour into us. It was also beautiful to relive our first dating moments and fun college experiences together. We both felt rejuvenated and invigorated to come back home and live life more enthusiastically. Thank you, Jesus.

I’ve learned something really neat through this whole process: God likes to surprise us and we need trust Him so we don’t complicate the beautiful journey. The King always has our best in mind. Even if we don’t like not knowing what the future holds we can trust that God has something awesome in store for us. Sure, bumps in the road will happen. But just because we can’t see past the next ridge of the path doesn’t mean there isn’t a glorious meadow of peaceful rest He has prepared just for us. I can imagine Jesus’ delighted expression as he uncovers our eyes with his loving hands and exclaims, “Surprise!” May you and I be encouraged this week to trust the Creator and let Him pleasantly surprise us along life’s journey.

“Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” (Psalm 25:4-5)

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Ready for Change

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I went absolutely nuts at the salon! I excitedly asked my hairdresser to do something wild and different with my hair. Soon after, I looked down at the floor where nearly a foot of my auburn locks rested. I gazed at the spunky reflection in the mirror. The woman staring back at me was smiling. This wasn’t just a simple haircut. This bold decision signified something much deeper-renewal and change.

This last year and a half has been extremely tough emotionally and spiritually. God has been walking me through some scary valleys of growth. I have been gripping his hand with white knuckles most of the journey, but He has so patiently guided my childlike footsteps. The last couple of months, we have slowly climbed out of the dark valleys and we are nearly to the lush meadows beckoning at the top of the cliffs.

God has been teaching me through this long series of hikes that He gives his children freedom to make choices. We don’t have to be wandering about aimlessly, waiting for a large neon sign to show us which path to take. God often lets us choose.

I’ve recently been speaking with several young people who are trying to seek God’s will in making big decisions in their lives. We have been discussing how that old saying isn’t actually completely accurate: “When we pray, God answers with a ‘Yes, no, or maybe.'” This isn’t entirely true because sometimes God is just silent. So how do we proceed then? We choose within His guidelines set in the Word. We can’t go wrong if our hearts are truly wanting to honor the King in everything we choose and do.

God is calling me to change. He is wanting me to choose how to live life more abundantly in Him. I’m ready to get off my keister and make changes:
I’m tired of being overweight and not having energy~I choose to exercise more and eat healthier.
I’m tired of being lonely~I choose to be content in the few relationships I have and invest in them more.
I’m tired of being burned out in service~I choose to focus in on just a few areas of ministry and not try to do it all.
I’m tired of finding out people have been gossiping and tearing down others~I choose to not engage in unwholesome talk, but to turn conversations into building one another up.
I’m tired of feeling stressed out and not having any energy left for my family at the end of the day~I choose to focus on all the things I have to be grateful for in life instead of the negatives.
I’m tired of not being as close to God as I want to be~I choose to make changes in my daily schedule to be more intimate with the Savior.
I’m tired~I choose the stamina and strength that only Jesus can offer.

So this week I praise God with you for change, freedom, and life! May you and I not be afraid to make life-giving choices. May we live enthusiastically with purpose-to glorify and love the Creator!

“For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

“Our God, make us strong again! Smile on us and save us.” (Psalm 80:3)

Failure and Faith

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I use to find it frustrating that things we work on (like having faith in difficult circumstances) are never really fully learned. They pop up years later and surprise us with their glaring challenges. But now I find comfort in growing through these reoccurring lessons in life-they teach me humility. I can’t learn something and be accomplished in it forever. I have to continually ask Jesus to teach and mold me into His image as long as I am on this earth. It is the process of becoming more like the Creator that brings Him and us true joy.

In light of some of my recent inner struggles, I revisited this poem that I had written in high school. May you and I be encouraged as we seek to grow and be teachable for the King’s glory.

~FAILURE AND FAITH~
Each morning I just push you out of the way, 
Making up silly excuses. 
And when time’s ticked out of the day, 
I’m the one who loses.

Crawling in bed I cover up my head, 
My victories are gone.
All that matters is what you’ve said, 
“Child, it’s been too long.”

My mind wanders back to the busy day, 
I shudder in despair.
“Why didn’t you help me, Lord?” I pray, 
“Child, I was there.”

“I was with you as you buzzed around, 
Busy as a bee.
You refused to hear my voice’s sound,
Or even look at me.

I watched as you tripped and fell,
Striving to be a winner.
I offered you water from my living well,
You chose to be a quitter.

But as a team we can accomplish great things,
Two are better than one.
I’ll make you soar on eagle’s wings, 
Turn your face toward the Son.” 

I reached into His outstretched arms,
Ah! What a hug! 
And soon my Father’s endearing charms, 
Made me warm and snug.

“Never let me go!” I cried, 
“I am nothing on my own.”
“Child, I’ll never leave your side,
This much I have shown.”