When I feel like I do it all wrong

Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. (Prov 16:3 KJV)

This is Proverbs 16:3 as I first learned it, a younger me. I read it from a heart wanting so much to learn how to establish my thoughts. I copied it down and chewed and chewed on it’s words. And I was confused. I wanted so much to learn more about what it looked like practically.

The last few weeks the words keeps rolling back through my mind trying to take a seat there. They show up when I make decisions that I regret, when I decide to go and end up wishing I would have stayed, when I hit publish and end up wishing I hadn’t, when I don’t say anything, and end up wishing I had. They show up, Spirit bidding listen to the secret, the secret to established thoughts and fruitful plans.    

“Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.” Prov 16:3 AMPC

In practice, it’s true. When I commit it to the Lord before I take that step, I’m at peace and I am free to move on with my day. When I don’t, I am afraid – wondering what I could have changed, wondering if I should have done it at all. When I commit my steps to Him, He gives me confidence to live them knowing that He is the One living through me. When I don’t commit my steps I have fear.

Am I committing the decisions I am making right now? Am I bringing my plans to Him before I do them? Or am I living from my own fleshly wisdom in which I will never have true confidence?

May we take the next step of our day bringing it to the One who has the power to make our thoughts agreeable and our plans successful. May we confidently trust the One who tells us He is able to shine His light through our broken bodies.

This is Day 18 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Am I Listening?

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My Bible study this morning spoke of Jesus as “him who has the sharp, two-edged sword,” (Rev. 2:12) and referenced Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

I thought over that for awhile. I took it too lightly and while I respected it’s truth I couldn’t figure out how it applied to me right now. Then, this afternoon, I opened the book I’m in the middle of, and it had this to say: “Stop trying so hard to read the Scriptures to look for answers but instead, let the Scriptures read you.” (Emily P. Freeman – A Million Little Ways) Coincidence? No.

Perhaps I’m meant to listen more to Him with the sharp two edged sword. I’ve named my October writing 31 Days of Listening, and perhaps I need to learn what it means to listen. Maybe I try to insert what I think He’s teaching me, or what I want to learn, into the words He gives, when listening looks like something quite different. I think that I’m the one, the one trying to read the Scriptures for answers without realizing that they are the Words that must read me.

May I hear His Words with surrender to what they have to teach me. May I come to Him dropping at His feet everything I want to hear. May I just surrender to be still and know He is God. He is the One with the sword who will hold out the truth I need in my present.

This is Day 16 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

How God is Bold and Free to Shepherd His Children

Bible study fellowship today was on the Revelation letters to the churches. So needed. Studied Ephesus and Smyrna this week, on rekindling love and persevering in suffering.

The statement was made by the leader today: “Has your love for Jesus become secondary to what you do for Jesus?” (Marsha Holmes) I need to be asked this question every day.

It’s tempting to measure myself by the things I do, because my works are what I can see. Those are the tangible things. But I can’t measure my love and sometimes it’s hard to pursue something when it isn’t easy to see your progress. I obsess with seeing my own progress now, when in fact Jesus is offering rewards much greater and much more motivating than what I look for…

“To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7) It’s so wonderful to have a God who realizes how much I need reminders of the reward at the end of the race. He has compassion on my human need for extra encouragement. I’m so glad He’s not anything like me – I debate over whether I should offer my daughter an incentive because I don’t want to be seen as a bribing mother. But in His Word, He boldly tells me about the reward. It’s refreshing to be shepherded by a God who is free of all my human inconsistencies. He doesn’t debate over whether it would be too forward to remind me to love Him. He doesn’t hesitate to show Himself to me as the God I need in my moment. (Like Jesus introduced Himself differently to each of the seven churches. He knew exactly what each one of them needed from Him.) He comes to me offering exactly what my soul needs.

May we be reminded of the greatness of our God who Fathers us unhindered by all we are limited by. He finds me where I am, the God I need, and reminds me to rekindle the love for Him that my soul desperately longs to know.

This is Day 13 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Words for Insecurities

I read this today. I so needed to hear it…

Were you made on purpose? Is there a unique blend of interests, desire, wisdom, quirks, insecurities, and loves that are within you? Can we agree those things are not a coincidence?

Do you believe that the Holy Spirit of God, the same one who moved over the surface of the waters and moved out of heaven onto the surface of the land, has also moved into you, to take up residence in the innermost seat of your personality? (Emily P. Freeman – A Million Little Ways)

It made me want to read Romans eight. The Message paraphrase of this passage really is beautiful and I think it explains the Spirit in us so well.

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. 

But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s! (Romans 8:5-11 MSG)

I hadn’t read this whole passage in the Message before tonight. It makes me want to cry. It’s often that I forget the truth and look at myself. May my mistakes there be something to glory in though (2 Cor. 12:9-10). His grace is perfect in my weakness, even in this. May He use my weaknesses. And may I look to the One inside me, and let the Person He’s trying to be in me come out.

This is Day 9 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

The Balancing Act

Yesterday was full and the writing I had planned didn’t happen. Yesterday, I was frustrated with the fullness of the day. I didn’t take time to hear the blessings. I was on a mind rant, a bad attitude, mad at anyone and everyone who ever said you could have an organized home and life with a newborn and a toddler in the house. In imaginary land, I was accusing them all because they had to be lying to me.

Today I’ve been thinking on Proverbs 31 and two blog posts that both sort of touched on yesterdays struggles and attitudes.

The first post put into words a little bit of the balance my soul longs for.

“A clean house might help your soul breathe, but a clean house doesn’t give you value.” The cleanliness of my house usually takes the back burner. When my house is clean, it’s usually always because I’ve neglected the people in my life and focused too much on clean. So, I tend to try to lean on that idea that a clean house doesn’t give me value, and prioritize everything else above clean, but sometimes I put it so low on the priority list that life feels out of balance. I forget that a clean house helps the soul of those who live in it. And I can’t figure out how to pull the great balancing act between relationships and responsibilities. Maybe this all speaks to more than just my house.

Proverbs 31… it’s such a perfect description of a woman. Certainly, the Proverbs woman doesn’t label housekeeping as a low priority, and keeps her house while managing to put the truest value on relationships. She looks to have it all together and it feels like an unattainable standard.

I read this today (another article) that helped it make better sense. Another lady who felt the same way about that passage…

I have… come to realize that this passage is not the description of a woman who has had it all together from the start, but of a woman who has grown in character and spiritual maturity through life’s experiences. Wisdom is not just timeless; it takes time.

I like her words. And maybe this is a piece of what He’s telling me. Simple things… knowing that wisdom takes time, trusting that He is providing the things I need to grow in wisdom, being earnest in prayer, asking for wisdom… maybe these things are my simple call for the present.

And tonight I read these words, that help me hear more.

Maybe you have certain ideas about what it means to do your thing the right way… but you are stuck in a pattern of defeat… In the midst of all your try-hard effort to do love right, you are missing out on loving well. Are you allowing your own expectations to hinder you from freely expressing yourself? Is your idea of the right way keeping you from your best way? Are you too distracted to show up?  (Emily P. Freeman – A Million Little Ways)

Her words make me realize that I look too much at my own self. I think I’m the one who has to do it. I try to do the balancing act, looking at my own feet, looking at all the reason I could have to fear. I’m like Peter looking at the waves tossing at my feet. 

I pray I live free, trusting He’s already done the balancing act for me. Knowing that while I can’t, He can. There I am free, and there, while I still can’t balance it myself, He can live it through me and that is the most beautiful thing I could ever ask for. May He live in me.

This is Day 8 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Almighty Jesus

When you mother babies, or do anything where quiet times are so very scarce, the little bits of truth you come across here and there, become so very treasured. It forces you to cling to the pieces of truth that do reach your ears and do what you can to unpack their meaning.

Today the truth that caught me the firmest, with my baby falling asleep in my arms, were the words telling me that Jesus is Almighty God, and the question asking if I believed that. Do I have faith in that truth?

Belief is a funny thing. I can place my belief in something once and for all and make eternal decisions about my soul. But just because I place my belief in something doesn’t mean I will always live like it’s true.

Jesus is God, I have placed my faith in that, but there are times that I don’t live like I believe it. Is there any truth more important than the fact that Jesus is God Almighty? Yet, I can be tempted to treat those words so simply as if there’s nothing profound in them, when in fact they tell me the most profound piece of knowledge there is.

Jesus is Almighty God. If I am believing in that truth in a day, in a moment, if I am living in the knowledge of how profound that is, how will the lens of faith that I look through dress my day?

This truth is the only truth that can take the most chaotic day, the most ordinary day, the saddest day and dress them in all the beauty of knowing He is Lord over it.

Jesus is God and He is Sovereign. May we take that up and hold to it so tightly that our moment is dressed in so much beauty that the brokenness of ourselves and all the world cannot darken the joy we find.  

This is Day 6 in 31 Days of Listening  

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

“Seek God, not just answers.”

“Seek God, not just answers.” – Bro. Robby

These were among my favorite words of the day. Bro. Robby was preaching on Psalm 27, and spoke these words in considering verses seven and eight:

“Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

My soul needs this question. In seeking answers to life, do I get wrapped up in the details and miss the most important thing? Maybe the Sunday school Kindergarten children have the best answer after all. Maybe the best answer to everything is simply Jesus.

In our soul’s deepest searching may we never cease to be astounded at the truest answer of God, Himself. May our questions bring us first to be still and rest in the simple knowledge that He is God. Psalm 46:10.

 

This is Day 4 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

What does it mean to be blessed?

My soul needs to breathe in deep the blessings God gives, and my prayer is to keep my heart open this October in listening to the words that He uses to bless me with each day.

Breathing in deep the blessings, it was what I had on my mind when I read the question in the Bible study guide I was using this morning: “What does it mean to be blessed?”

This is what I found at Biblehub, (one of my favorite free resources) the Strong’s definition:

“makários (“blessed”) describes a believer in enviable (“fortunate”) position from receiving God’s provisions (favor) – which (literally) extend (“make long, large”) His grace (benefits). This happens with receiving (obeying) the Lord’s inbirthings of faith.”

So, to be blessed is to be a person standing in the flow of God’s favors (the ways by which He makes grace large in our lives). We stand in that place as we receive faith in our moments.

Keith A. Butler gives good Scripture for this in a lesson on blessings:

Proverbs 10:6 says that “blessings are on the head of the righteous.”

And Psalm 5;12, “For you bless the righteous, O Lordyou cover him with favor as with a shield.”

Blessings belong to the righteous and Bishop Butler gives the reminder: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

Blessings belong to those who are the righteousness of God, to all who have accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation from sin and death. The blessings belong to me. If you’ve accepted that gift, the blessings belong to you.

And we may receive what rightly belongs to us simply by receiving the faith of this day.

Today I am reminded to step into this day knowing I am blessed, and to step into this moment knowing blessings await me.

This post is Day 1 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

The one simple thing that could make the greatest difference…

It’s easy to notice the negative isn’t it? Sometimes it feels like we’re just programmed that way, but of course we’re not. We’re made in the image of a God who makes all things good. We’re made to bear that image. Only since we fell from that image do we tend to see the negative most prominently, but the thing is that it doesn’t have to be that way. God gives grace to see through the dark into the light. Ann Voskamp speaks valuable words when she says it. “In a fallen world, how profound is it to see the cracks?… Brilliant people don’t deny the dark; they are the ones who never stop looking for His light in everything.”

I read a friend’s blogpost this Saturday and some things she said stirred up something in me, especially when she spoke of church unity and how Christians are to be known by our love. It stayed in my mind all weekend and it came up twice on Sunday. Nano’s lesson in class made me think of it, and it was the Scripture Bro. Robby preached on too. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples. If you have love one for another.” John 13:35

Known by our love… I have always thought of it in terms of love for the world, and of course we are to be known by that love, but the thought blessed me Sunday morning, that there is something special about our love for each other within our churches that shows Jesus. “If you have love one for another…”

Love… the greatest of these is love. And these people God used to point me to love this weekend have given me a gift. Even after their words have been spoken they’ve been teaching me a lesson that I needed to hear. All the things I think we all need, stand in the shadows of the greatness of love. Because maybe living your purpose in this world is mostly just about love, something that might look small and simple.

And what if we were not only willing to give love, but willing to receive it? What if we were willing to be deeply impacted by the love another person pours out through a lesson preached, a written word, an advice given? Maybe that will make the greatest difference.

They will see we are His church by our love. Cracks are everywhere because we’re all human people who mess up. And we’ll see the cracks. Sometimes, we are called to respond to the cracks or even distance ourselves from them. But maybe I need to know that if I look too hard at a crack I won’t notice what I can see through it. Maybe He wants to tell me that the greatest thing that I can do in my church, in the Christian groups that I am choosing to place myself in, is by going to my brothers and sisters, to my church, prepared… Prepared, not just to refrain from pointing out the cracks, but prepared to look between the cracks and be deeply moved, deeply blessed by the love people are pouring through them. Maybe being willing to be deeply blessed by another’s love so much that you are driven to share it is one of the greatest ways to spread love and make a deep difference.

I am a messed up person, but I was #BlessedAtChurch this week. I bet you were too! Here’s to receiving another’s love so much that it overflows out of us. Here’s to spreading some love!

 

Here is my friend’s blog post if you’d like to read it!

And Bro. Robby’s lesson should be on this page soon. :)

Nano’s lesson isn’t available anywhere. :( Wish I could share it too.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

On Being Needy

Needy. We know it’s not healthy to carry our need, our burden, always in front of us, for our needs to be forefront in our thoughts, our words, our conversations. It’s an unhealthy extreme, but sometimes in trying to stand our distance from that extreme we live in another. Sometimes I live with the idea that I should refuse help when it’s offered, that when people offer help they probably don’t actually mean it, and that I should keep my real needs to myself. It’s not a healthy way to live.

I’ve lived that way with my Nano, too. A few weeks ago I was feeling bad for getting so much help from him with the girls and with housework when I feel like that’s my responsibility and I voiced that to him, and he told me something that’s been sitting on my heart ever since. He told me that when I say things like that it makes him feel like I don’t think of us as a team. He said that when I ask him not to help, I’m asking him to stop showing me love through service when he delights in loving me that way. He asked me to be more needy.

Needy… It caught my attention when he said it because needy is the word that has been on my mind since Liesel’s birth. It’s what He’s teaching me through Liesel, through my helpless baby who needs me.

When I’m at my lowest, being needy brings the sweetest refreshment. Because needy is the word we go through to get to God. Our need drives us to find a Savior. And daily, our need takes us to the only place we can find real refreshment… C. S. Lewis said it: “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.”

Need also produces friendship. I like to know that I can help someone through their needs, but often I’m not as willing to be helped myself. And when I find myself lonely could it be my own doing? Could it be me to proud to go to people with my real emotional needs?

Everyone wants to know their life has a purpose. Knowing that gives our life meaning, it gives us energy to live another day. But, when I refuse to let others help me, I refuse to let them fill a purpose where they had the eyes to see that they could be useful. Perhaps, sometimes, I refuse the blessings God is trying to give me through them.

When I refuse to believe people, refuse to believe that my brother’s and sisters in Christ really do want to help me, I’m refusing to think of us as a body. I’m refusing to trust. But we are a body and when I’m hurting the whole body hurts. They may not know why they are hurting, but because we are one, the hurt will be there for them too. No matter how much they want to help, the rest of the body may not know how to help the hurt, but how can I expect them to, if I don’t speak it.

So here’s to being needy, because sometimes we need that, sometimes the whole body needs me to be a bit needy. We need each other. We need Him. Here’s to admitting that and having the courage to live it.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.