THE UNKNOWN

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So, with everything going on I have started to blog numerous times. I just didn’t know what to write, so many thoughts, so many angles, so much confusion. As I sit here on the couch it has been such a strange last two weeks. Yet today seemed like such a normal Saturday. Actually not really a normal Saturday, the Saturday’s I dream of having. Brett and I slept in, hung around the house, watched mindless fun TV (no news), walked the dogs, made chili, did some laundry, some cleaning, had a nap. A relaxing day because with everything going on we chose to stay at home. Normally we would be out running errands or shopping, doing busy stuff. Yet so many people I know are on the front lines of this, and their day was far from normal or relaxing.

As this started it was like a train wreck for me, I couldn’t turn away. I watched and read everything I could on it. I was addicted and couldn’t get enough. I read but couldn’t process all the information. This is where I am now two weeks in. I do not personally have a fear of getting this virus, not that I don’t think that I won’t. I know there is a good chance I probably will at some point, but I believe it would be mild for me. My fear, and has been from the beginning is not to spread it to someone else, who can not handle it.

I am still working. I work in the transportation industry, trucks are still running. So, I am in contact with people at work, drivers who have been all over the country, bringing in paperwork from all different people and places. I am washing my hands more, I am using hand sanitizer. I am working on keeping my hands away from my face, I didn’t realize until now how much I do that. Bad habit I am now trying to break. I am just going to work and coming home, not venturing out besides grocery store when needed.

If you would ask me what my biggest fear in all of this is. It would be the unknown. How long will this last, how many will get sick, how will this affect my family financially, will anyone in my family get sick, will there be stricter guidelines on what to do or not do, how will this affect the country in general, how long will it take to bounce back, will we bounce back? Those are the fears that run through my head.

Yet, Thursday morning as I was backing out of my garage to go to work, I glanced over and saw the tree in my front yard. It is just starting to bloom. I took the time to stop and look at it for a few minutes, as I took time to look at it I also noticed birds singing. And I was reminded of these verses from Matthew 6, “If God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”, and “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Now I did not know where those verses were but I knew they were in there. I had read them enough times, and heard sermons preached on them, and read them in devotions, and heard them in song. I was able to goggle and find them right away. What I am trying to say is, we don’t have to know the bible by heart, we just need to know the truths that are in it.

Spend some of this time while you are at home reading the bible, or reading a devotion book, download some apps, I have a few on my phone, try out the YouVersion app, First 5, SheReadsTruth, Redemption Church App, RightNowMedia. Get in his word know whats in there, so when struggles, and fears come your way you have a anchor to hold onto. You have truth to calm the fear. None of this is a surprise to God, he saw it coming and he already knows the end. He already knows the answers to all those things that are my unknown. I trust that if he takes care of the flowers, and the birds he will take care of us.

ENDURANCE

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One of the devotions I read this week by David Platt said, “Ask the Lord to give you the grace to follow Him in faith and in glad obedience.”

Grace – The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.” A divinely given talent or blessing.

Following God on my own in faith and obedience is hard. Not just hard but impossible. I will follow for awhile but eventually I will fail, I will fall. So often for me, that is the problem. I try to do it on my own power. This says, ask the Lord to give you the grace to follow. And grace says a divine given talent or blessing. Meaning it comes from the power of God, not my power. My power will fail.

With His power we will have the endurance that Paul talks about. The endurance of someone running a race. I have a friend, Candy, who runs 50 and 100 mile races. She does Iron Man competitions. I am amazed by her endurance to do these things. To push herself to those extremes. I have run a couple of 5K’s and I know the endurance it took for me just to complete those, but those are nothing compared to a 50 or 100 mile race.

Me running a 5K can compare to me trying to follow and be obedient to Christ on my own. I can do it for a little bit. I can push myself. But me following Christ for a life time is what it would be like for me to run a 100 mile race. I can not do it on my own strength. I need a divine intervention to complete it.

I think as Christians we feel like failures in saying that, I do anyway. Saying I don’t have the will power or desire to constantly follow you on my own. It feels like letting Him down. But isn’t that what God wants? He wants me to depend on his strength and not my own.

My thoughts on endurance are beginning to change. For so long I felt like endurance in my Christian walk was just for the hard times, the times of loss, of despair, of fear, and doubt, when I could not go alone. Just for the 5Ks.

I am beginning to see that endurance is also for the daily walk. Those small things. Like tonight in CR I caught myself judging someone. Then God stopped me and said you have no idea what this person is going through. So instead of judging I prayed God let me give this person a genuine smile, a sincere, heart felt, I am glad you are here. At work, I am kind of first point of contact. There are days I don’t feel like talking or smiling, but maybe that is what the person walking in the door needs. There are times when Brett and I both feel we are right about something, some days being right isn’t the most important thing. Instead of being frustrated, showing patience. A kind word in place of a curt answer. An encouraging word instead of a negative response.

When you can’t say another nice word, or give another smile, listen to another story, hold your tongue, CYF, on your own power. When you ask the Lord to give you the grace to follow Him in faith and in glad obedience. That’s the 100 mile endurance.

God, like Paul let me run the race with endurance that comes from you.

CYF

Last week when I met with my group of girls, we came up with CYF. I have been working on a blog about it. It all started with a conversation about masking your face, not letting it show all your emotion. Bella seems to be in fast training in this picture. Her frustration with her Mom is all over her face. Years of stuffing allows me to be boiling mad at you on the inside and smile on the outside. Now according to Brett, eye rolling is apparently a different story for me.

For this particular group of friends though the face is a difficult thing. Lisa was telling about a time when she was upset with someone at an event. She said she was talking to the person and from across the room Kim sent her a text that said, “Cover your face.” Brittany said CYF, and it stuck. So we have been having fun with it this week. On a side note Kim adamantly does not remember sending the text, and doesn’t believe this sounds like anything she might say. But that is a completely different blog.

This week I have been thinking about that. Should we cover our face? Is masking wrong? Is it wrong to show our true expressions all the time? Honesty is always the best policy, but is that true with my face?

I think there has to be a middle ground there somewhere. Masking all the time is wrong. You can’t be genuine, and sincere, open and honest if you never show your emotions.

However, I think sometimes it is important not to let our expressions give away our feelings. If someone is sharing something very personal with you and your face shows disgust, shock, or judgment they may be afraid to share with anyone else. I struggle with this in CR. When people are telling horrible stories from their childhood, I know my face reacts. It isn’t reacting to them or judging them. It is reacting to how sorry I feel for what they went through, but my face doesn’t tell them that.

Sometimes we just don’t know what someone else is walking through. They may be dealing with sickness, grieve, waiting on test results, a spouse that walked out, a wayward child, loss of a job, depression. Showing anger or frustration with them may be more than they can take. Even though you may be angry or frustrated with them, a smile on your face could be the one thing that turns their day, or life around.

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” What if these were the things we covered our face with today? Could you make a difference?

I will be over here working on HYE – hold your eyes.

GERMINATION

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This paragraph was in a devotion I read this week.

“Are you weary today? Spend a few quiet moments inviting God to refresh your soul. Ask him to strengthen you, to speak tenderly to your heart, and to show you which way to go. Sit worshiping at the well of your Father and drink deeply.”

I don’t know that I have ever asked God to refresh my soul, or to speak tenderly to my heart. I feel like I should be able to arouse refreshment on my own power. I know that God is a loving God, however, if I feel like I am not up to “my standard” or not where “I think” he expects me to be. Then I don’t expect him to speak tenderly to my heart. I expect reprimand or disappointment. Actions of my own struggles.

Sit, worship, and drink deeply. Even as I read that and want that. A part of me says, “that’s not the way it should be.” God doesn’t just want me to sit and ask and expect. He wants me to DO. (Old habits, and struggles die hard). But, maybe just maybe I am wrong. Maybe there are times when God says, you are tired, and worn out and its OK. Just sit for a bit and rejuvenate.

There is a part in the plant growth process where a seed sits in the dirt before it burst forth and grows. It is called germination?

Germination – 1) The development of a plant from a seed after a period of dormancy. 2) The process of something coming into existence and developing.

I looked and there are 5 steps in the germination process

  1. imbibition – water fills the seed.
  2. The water activates enzymes that begin the plants growth.
  3. The seed grows a root to access water underground.
  4. The seed grows shoots that grow towards the sun.
  5. The shoots grow leaves and begin photomorphogenesis.

Those are the same steps we take when we accept Christ. He fills us with the holy spirit, The holy spirit activates growth in us, we grow deep roots, we grow and are drawn toward the Son, and we develop disciples.

Maybe the germination process in our spiritual life isn’t a one time thing. Each time we start something new, or move to another level, or develop a deeper bond there is growth. There is germination. Maybe I am in a season of germination and that’s OK for a little while.

A plant that isn’t growing is dying. The same is true for us. Thank you God that you continue to grow us, no matter how old we are.

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.

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