COMMUNITY

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Remember the show “Cheers”? The theme song said, “you want to go where people know, troubles are all the same. You want to go where everyone knows your name.” Norm would walk in and everyone would say, “Norm”. That was Norm’s community. It was a bar, but people there knew his name.

We all want community. We all want people who know are name, who know if we don’t show up. Who care if we don’t show up. Who know us.

I had the chance last night to spend a few hours with one of my communities. A group of five ladies that I have known for 15+ years. Women I have served with, done bible studies with, cried with, laughed with, and shared with. We were not all able to get to be together last night. We don’t get together very often, it’s hard, jobs, kids, commitments, life gets in the way. But it was great to take a few hours on a week night and be women together, eat, laugh, talk, share our hearts, and catch up.

Even though we don’t get together as often as we used to, if I need prayer for anything, these are five of the women I text. I know they will pray for me. Likewise, no matter what is going if I get a text from any one of them I will stop and take a few minutes to pray. There is a bond build on love and trust.

This is one community I have. I have a community with my small group, a community with my CR girls. All people who know my name, they know if I don’t show up, and they check up on me to find out why. We all want that.

Do you know what all of my communities have in common? They all come from a bigger community. Church. Redemption Church to be exact. If you don’t have a community find a local church. It’s a great place to find your people, your peeps, your group, your community. A place where people will know your name.

Thank you God for the community of people you have placed in my life.

BE STILL

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Be Still…………

Be still? I feel like my mind is a tangled ball of yarn. Like it is one big knot. A big mess. I can’t find an end to even begin to unravel it.

How can I find stillness in the chaos of my thoughts? I feel like that ball of yarn is life size and I am tangled in the middle. Like a kitten that plays with string and gets it all wrapped up around them. It has made me stagnate and unable to think.

What does be still mean? It means stop striving, stop fighting, relax. I am striving less than I ever have in my life. God am I fighting you? I don’t believe so. I don’t feel you are asking me to do anything I don’t want to do right now.

When I read this verse I always think of it in connection with my heart. That my heart needs to be still and know you. But right now God I need it for my mind, my thoughts.

I need my mind to be still and listen to you, listen for your direction, for your instruction. God today don’t let my mind be Satan’s cat toy. Let my mind be filled with your thoughts. May my thoughts be one accord with you. May my mind be still and know you.

PEOPLE FRUSTRATE ME

I don’t know about you, but I will confess, I have a tendency to get frustrated with people. I get frustrated with people who just continue to talk, when you are trying to explain something to them. I get frustrated with people who tend to do the same things over and over, (like I ever do that). I get frustrated with people who don’t learn from their mistakes. I get frustrated with people who say one thing and do another. I get frustrated with people who lie. I get frustrated with drivers sometimes. I get frustrated with Brett sometimes. Let’s face it, we all tend to get frustrated with other people at some point or another.

As I was reading in John this week I thought about how frustrated Jesus must have been with people. Even the people who were the closest to him. At the last supper, at the end of his ministry here on earth, he must have been the most frustrated. Frustrated with his disciples, who had spent three years with him.

He must have felt like have I not taught you anything? Have you not listened at all? Do you not know who I am?

“Peter will you really lay down your life for me? Before morning comes you will deny me – not just once but three times.”

Jesus, “you know the way to where I am going”. Thomas, “we don’t know where you are going, how can we know that?”

“Philip, I have been among you all this time, and you do not know me?”

Jesus was tempted in every way just like us. He knew the frustrations that come from doing life with others. How did he handle that? He loved them. He had patience with them, and he believed in them. He knew how they would turn out. That they would spread his gospel and become mighty men of God.

God as I become frustrated with people, let me remember Jesus’ example. Help me love those I become frustrated with. Help me remember you have a plan for them.

When Something Old Looks New!

In one of my devotionals this week in John the following verse was referenced, Isaiah 53:5. “But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities, punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds.” That is one of those verses that I have seen and read tons of times, but today for some reason it was like reading it for the first time.

Pierced because of my rebellion. I know on the outside I have never really seemed like a real rebellious person. I tend to color in the lines, obey the rules, and do as I am told, that is how it looks on the outside. But what about the inside, my rebellious thoughts, my mind and my heart? Jesus was pierced for those.

He was crushed for my iniquities. I looked up the word iniquity. I always think sin. The definition says, immoral or grossly unfair behavior. The similar words are wickedness, sinfulness, immorality, impropriety, vice, evil. We all have those lurking inside us, and Jesus was crushed because of it. CRUSHED. When you do something wrong do you ever have that heavy crushing feeling on your chest? That crushing feeling is guilt, and Jesus took it all for me.

Punishment for our peace was on him. PEACE, it’s a craving in my life. When my alarm went off this morning I lay in bed for a little while, and I remember laying there and thanking God for the still and peace before my day began. Brett and the dogs were still, the room was quiet. I could hear my mind think. I relished in those unhurried minutes. As precious as those moments of peace were, they don’t compare to the peace referred to in this verse. God gives us peace in knowing I don’t have to do anything but believe. Jesus did the rest.

Lastly, we are healed by his wounds. Not only did Jesus’ death heal me in the heaven to come. It heals me in the day to day. Because of his wounds I am made whole. I am healed from anything in my past and anything to come in the future.

Thank you God for opening my eyes today and making a common read verse fresh and alive.

2020-LESS!

It’s a new year and a new decade. I don’t want to think about how many decades I have seen begin. That kind of sounds ungrateful doesn’t it? Thank you God for the number of decades I have had the privilege of getting to see begin.

The fact that this post comes on January 5th and not January 1 describes how I want the New Year to go. More laid back, less stress, less unrealistic expectations (in me and in others). Maybe just less in general. Less things, less clutter, less strive, less pressure, less judgement, less going and doing, less rules to follow, less no’s and more yes’s. Less of me and more of God, less of me and more of others.

Funny cause I sat down to write about what my word of the year was going to be. I had been waiting on God to give me one. When I didn’t have a clear answer or one didn’t fall out of the sky, I picked a few of my own. Compassion, my husband actually laughed at that one. Respect had been floating around in my mind for a few days. I knew it needed to be a word for my marriage this year and decided maybe I could use it in general. I had even copied the definition on a card and put it in my Bible. Trying to make it fit into my life for the year. Already thinking in my mind what I might need to do to make it “work” as my word. How I could put it into practice in my spiritual life, my marriage, my relationships, and my job. Respect was going to be my word.

But as I sat down and started typing about less, I realized God just gave me my word. I would not have picked that on my own, it’s not profound, or holy, it’s not deep, it’s not impressive, it’s just a small four letter word. But I feel and know in my heart that is what God wants me to work on this year, LESS. Mainly less of me. Stay tuned, and follow this year to see how God uses this word to work in my life. HAPPY NEW YEAR, HAPPY NEW DECADE.

As You Find Me

I have been back in this pit of anger and resentment the last couple of weeks. It sneaks up on me. Just like a trap someone might dig for an animal and cover up. Before I know it I have fallen in and can’t seem to find my way out on my own. And yet at the same time it becomes a comfort to me, if that makes sense. I hold on to it with tightly clenched fist. It becomes my best friend, my favorite place.

During these last two weeks Robert (our worship Pastor) has been playing this certain song. I kept hearing it on Thursday nights at CR and on Sunday mornings. It’s by Hillsong United and is called “As You Find Me”. There is a line that God kept repeating in my head over and over, your love’s too good to leave me here.

God’s love was too good to leave Daniel in the lion’s den, He didn’t leave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire. He didn’t leave Noah on the ark, He didn’t leave the Israelites in slavery, He didn’t leave Joseph in the pit or in jail. He didn’t leave David in the caves. He didn’t leave Mary a single Mom, He didn’t leave the woman at the well alone. He didn’t leave Lazarus in the grave, He didn’t leave Zacchaeus in the tree, he didn’t leave the disciples alone, he sent the holy spirit. Most important He didn’t leave Christ in the tomb. Because he arose and conquered death, I/we have a hope and promise to rise from our ashes; whatever that might be, anger, resentment, addiction, fear, shame, lust, defeat, loneliness, pride, depression. God’s love is too good to leave us there.

I don’t know what your struggle is today, just know that God finds you, and loves you, right there where you are, and His love is too good to leave you there.

CHOICES

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Choices, we make hundreds of them every day. Some choices are small, what shoes shall I wear today, and some are big, do I take a new job? They all impact our lives. My daughter and son-in-law have started to give Bella choices. She just turned two, but if she learns how to make wise choices now, that will help her with choices later in life.

Right now they let her choose which color sucker she wants, or do you want apple juice or water. They let her pick between two books to read. Sometimes she knows right away what she wants and will say “apple juice,” other times she will say “which one”. Sometimes I am like Bella, and just say, “which one”.

Brett and I recently bought a new bed. Shout out to the “Mattress Store” in Marion. We had no idea what we wanted when we went. They were informative and answered all our questions. It came down to laying on each bed and “choosing” which one felt better. Thank you Suitt family for all your help.

But even harder than picking out a new bed was picking out a new headboard. I spent hours on web sites, Overstock, Wayfair, and Amazon. I went to three different stores, two in other towns. Who knew there were so many styles, colors, shapes, and prices. I wanted the best deal for my money, and I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. I wasted so much time on a choice that is not that significant. I finally found one and it is on it’s way, but in a couple of months I probably won’t even notice it is there.

This morning I read some verses in Deuteronomy about a choice, a choice of life or death. It is instructions given to the Israelites before they cross the Jordan into the promised land.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Seems like a pretty logical choice doesn’t it? Choosing life means to choose to love the Lord, obey him and commit our lives to him. God in a world full of hard choices thank you for making this one so clear. Maybe not always so easy to follow, but at least easy to understand.

SEEKING

God, I know you have been calling me to seek you more. Seek who you really are according to scripture, not according to what some book and author tells me. I have read 100’s of those. Not according to what some sermon or pod casts tells me. I have listened to 100’s of those but, according to who you tell me you are. So, it’s no surprise that a lot of the revival this week has been about seeking you.

Matthew 7: 7-9 Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks finds, and everyone who knocks the door will be opened.

God, we say seek him, seek his face, seek his will for your life. I don’t even know if I know how to do that. I want to seek you, yet not even sure where to start. I want to have a close, personal, real relationship with you. But, I am not so good at those, relationships. I don’t trust easily. I am not an open person. But, I do know the one who created relationships, and I do know I was created to be in relationship with you.

I know the three things I need to do to start.

  • Read your word, study your word, know your word.
  • Pray – talk to you in open, honest, bare, raw conversation-trust you can take whatever I say. You are a big God.
  • Be still – live in the blank, don’t have expectations, don’t always have a plan, don’t have the solution. Be still and wait.

Where do I begin? Thankfully we have google, so I just googled, verses about seeking God. There were hundreds. I jotted down all the references and just started reading through them. Not just reading the verse. but reading the passage around it to find out what was going on.

Then I started a list. I am adding to that list daily, and keep reading over the list. I am starting to see a picture of what God says about seeking him.

We should seek him above all else. If we seek him we will find him. He rewards those who seek him. We should continue to seek him. We should seek him earnestly and with our whole heart. God isn’t hiding, he wants us to seek him, he wants us to find him.

Seek Him today, time could be running out. Time is running out, the clock continues to tick off how much time each of us has left.

CAN I BE HONEST WITH GOD?

I have been in a slump lately. A slump I just have not been able to pull myself out of. I have tried. I have said today I am going to wake up and do better. I am going to be happy. I am going to chose to not let things get under my skin or bother me. And I make it part way into the day but something always happens to put me back in the cycle of unhappiness, anger, hurt, ungratefulness, miserable really. Not someone I want to be, or someone I like. Which makes me feel even worse. Maybe even bordering on depression, just slightly, but for no apparent reason.

This weekend was our annual get away with our kids and grand kids for a couple of nights. We went to St. Louis and spent Friday and Saturday night. We rented a house on the Hill, and enjoyed great Italian food. We went to Grant’s Farm Saturday and had a good weekend. We even ran into some old St Louis friends Saturday night when we went out to eat. Great seeing the Womble’s. A wonderful and blessed weekend, yet still this nagging, unsettled, not myself feeling.

On the way over Friday afternoon in the car, I opened up a book I have been reading off and on for six months or so. It is a great book, one of those that every time I open it, it’s as if it’s ordained for me to read the next chapter at that appointed time. The book ironically is called, “Sacred Mundane, How to Find Freedom, Purpose, and Joy”. I normally am a speed reader, and a lot of times read a book so fast I don’t retain very much from it. So, I have been purposely just reading bits and pieces of this one trying to process it as I go along.

I read and reread two chapters on the way over, it was as if every word was written just for me. One of those where half the book is highlighted. One paragraph really hit home, and I had it in the back of my mind all weekend. I was pondering it. So, I had time tonight to sit down and read both of those chapters again, and spend some quiet time thinking on these words.

The point is not to have perfect circumstances. Having all our expectations met won’t work thankfulness into us because disappointments aren’t the problem. Failing to honestly acknowledge our disappointments is the problem. We hide how we feel. Why? Out of fear. We’re afraid that by admitting something hurts, bothers, or disappoints us, we’ll be seen as weak, shallow, unspiritual, or needy. By others, by ourselves, by God. So we pretend, and often we don’t even know we’re doing it.

This is a small part of two chapters. But in a nutshell this is me, especially with God. I am afraid to admit to God if something bothers me, or disappoints me because I am afraid he will see me as shallow, and unspiritual, that he will see me as ungrateful. I AM AFRAID TO BE HONEST WITH GOD. How crazy is that? Because I know he knows, it just seems wrong to admit it verbally to him. To voice it out loud.

Too often we think that thanksgiving comes by ignoring these small things. It doesn’t. True thanks comes by entering in to them honestly and discovering God is there. Finding him is what fuels our authentic thanksgiving.

I know that God has been speaking to me about being more thankful the last couple of months, but I was trying to fill that with fake thanksgiving. I need to work on being honest and finding him in the disappointments and hurts of each day and being grateful he’s there. That is where true joy begins.

Anyone else out there brave enough to admit they are afraid to be honest with God?

An Old Friend

In Celebrate Recovery we give out blue chips. A blue chip represents day one. It can be day one of sobriety, or just the beginning of a new journey to give something over to God. It is a starting point, a reminder of a new beginning. I have a bowl full of blue chips sitting on my dresser. Psalms is kind of a blue chip book for me. When I have been away from my Bible it is a good place to begin again.

So, I have been reading in Psalms the last couple of days. Today as I sat down to read, I just started making a list of how David saw God. God descriped David as a man after his own heart. That being the case, I wanted to see David’s God. I was in chapter 25 so I just started a list. (I love lists). In a busy life lists give me a quick glance overview. David says you are the God who:

  • saves
  • compassionate and full of unfailing love
  • merciful
  • good and does what is right
  • leads and teaches
  • unfailing love and faithfulness
  • a friend to those who fear Him
  • a rescuer
  • hope
  • sanctuary
  • light and salvation
  • fortress
  • merciful
  • helper
  • goodness
  • rock
  • strength and shield
  • safe fortress
  • shepherd

And in the middle of those verses I get to an old familiar verse, one of those I had clung to at a certain point in my life. I am bad about remembering where verses are so when I came across it, it was like running into an old friend. Psalm 27:8 ‘My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” and my heart responds, “Lord I am coming.”

Thank you God that you are all these things that David list, and that you are also patient. Like an old friend, or a grandparent, we may not have had contact with for awhile. Yet, when we reach out they are always there, waiting, and ready to pick right back up, no judgement, guilt, or condemnation. Thank you that you continue to call me to come and talk with you.