’tis the season to thrive…not just survive

sand-dunes-1350244

This is the time of year where it is so easy for me to get swept up in the schedule of events, and I’m sure it is the same for you. We get busy making lists, checking calendars and making sure we don’t offend anyone by saying no. At times it can feel like survival mode. Just get the next thing done. Just make sure everyone is happy. Just survive. But what if we took some time to think about why we are doing what we are doing? Is everything I’m doing completely necessary? Is this God’s best plan for me? I tend to have such a narrow focus when it comes to my life…and I wonder why I feel anxious half the time.

You may or may not have noticed that this post is a little later than what has been my norm so far. I find I have the most free time on the weekends so, for now, I have used that time to write and tell you my story. This past weekend I decided to use that time to just relax, be with my family and breathe. I can’t tell you how refreshed I feel today! For two days we stayed around the house and I was able to work on some creative projects for my bedroom, including my writing space. I’m not quite done so I’m going to wait before I post pictures to show you, but the main idea I want to convey today is: Think about what makes you thrive. Take some time to escape the craziness and devote some time to YOU. Even if all you can get right now is 15 minutes, take it! Even if it means saying no to someone, say it! Taking care of ourselves and spending time letting Him fill us, is crucial to our growth and effectiveness. If we could glimpse even a fraction of  His plan for our days and our life, I am convinced we would be dumbfounded. When I take time to reflect on some of the areas of my life that turned out differently than I expected, His result was so much better. What if we trusted God with the results more? What if our decisions encompassed God’s will each and every time? The results would be astounding, I’m sure! We would then be spending our lives thriving instead of surviving.

The next time you sit with God think about what it means to thrive:

Thrive: to grow or develop successfully; to flourish or succeed

Now ask yourself:
1. Am I thriving or surviving?
2. Which areas of my life am I trying to grow in my own power? Do I need to let go of these or do I need to let God grow them?
3. Where am I seeing success in my life?
4. Which areas of success make me come alive? Am I spending time in these areas?
5. How has God gifted me? Am I using those gifts?
6. Is honoring God with my time more important than pleasing others?

God wants us to flourish! He loves us more than we can imagine. If we let that thought permeate our mind this season, the anxiety will melt away, we will rest in His power and we will thrive!

Let go of your desires and find something better

Delight Abstract
My kids had an abstract art lesson that seemed like so much fun I had to try my hand at it as well. 🙂

It started with a reference next to my yearbook picture.

yearbook pic

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

As a teenager this verse became my mantra. All I had to do was live for Jesus and I would have everything my heart desired, right? After all that’s what it said, “Delight…and He will give…” I thought that by choosing that verse as my caption for my picture that it was just one more way to seal the deal. “See Jesus, I am living for you and even telling everyone that I do. I can’t wait to have all of my desires fulfilled because of my obedience!”

Fast-forward three years and now I am getting married to the man of my dreams. Once again I give credit to God I’m sure to let everyone know why this worked out so well for me. My verse was beautifully printed on bookmarks that were passed out to each and every guest. “See, I am living for God and now He has given me the desire of my heart, a Godly husband. It’s all working out.” Live for Jesus = Desires fulfilled. Check!

Wedding Bookmarks

Fast-forward three years again, and this time we are in the midst of fertility treatments which would last for five long, emotionally draining years. All I ever wanted was to be a mom. This was my desire. I was living for Jesus. What went wrong? All of a sudden, the equation was not adding. I became angry and depressed but every so often the Lord would put that verse in front of me all over again. Almost as if to say, “Do you still trust me? Are you still willing to live for me when the desires are delayed, or worse yet never fulfilled?” It was not easy. Those were some of the darkest years of my life, and sometimes it was all I could do to keep going, but Jesus did not give up on me, not for one second.

Fast-forward almost ten more years and I have become the mother of three. In-vitro was one of the hardest experiences in our marriage, but it was the tool that God used to give us three pretty amazing kids. It’s 2005. My kids are 4, 2 1/2, and a newborn. Earlier that year we moved 2500 miles from everyone we knew and loved because God was calling us into missions. Here I sat in a place I did not know, with people I did not know, with three kids to take care of. Depression set in, deep this time, with a feeling of loneliness like I had never felt before. Where was God? Why did he bring me to this place of desolation, especially after I obeyed? Where is the fulfilling feeling that is supposed to accompany that obedience? I was angry, post-pardum, and lost. Still God would gently place my verse in front of me, “You are married to a Godly man, you have three beautiful children. Isn’t this what you wanted? Isn’t this what you desired?” This is when I began to experience the shift. The shift of realizing that no matter how many desires I had, they were nothing compared to the desires God had for me. This is when I heard God say to me, “Are you ready to learn about desire?”

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Over the next ten years, as the Lord led me through truly understanding what this verse means, I began to see myself and my desires in a whole new way. I began to see Him in a whole new way. The delighting He is talking about here is not just simply “live for him” like I had been doing. It is being with Him. It is being glad to spend time with Him. It is to experience Him in the deepest parts of my heart. The Hebrew word for “delight” has a component of “being soft or delicate.” That says to me that as we delight in the Lord we need to remain soft and pliable in his hands. We don’t head into it with our own agenda, we head into it ready to receive His. And as we do we realize that His was a thousand times better.

The more I lean in to Jesus, the more I take my desires and place them in his hands, the more His desires for me BECOME my desires. The more I get of Jesus, the more I want of Him. Not what I thought would make me happy, but what I know will fill me with lasting joy.

Recently my mom introduced me to the Hebrew Picture Language. This is not a direct translation of Hebrew but lends some insight into the meaning of the word. Here are some of the words that relate to the Hebrew letters used in the word “desire.”

mem – chaos
shin – consume/destroy
aleph – ox/strength/leader
lamed – control/”toward”
hay – Lo! Behold!

Here is what I see. Desire has the ability to consume us. It is a strong emotion begging for control. If our desire is not placed on the right object it can lead to utter chaos and destruction! But when our desires come straight from the heart of God they consume us with light, with love, with peace. As his desires lead us, we are no longer grasping for control, but finding the strength it takes to let Him lead. We are moving toward greatness instead of away from it. I am still learning what this looks like. I don’t have every day figured out. But I do know where I need to go when it seems to be spiraling out of control. To the very one who is in control and in whom I find my rest.

How an old desk and a coat of paint can really be so much more

It is happening. Remember when I told you about how my husband cleared a space for me to make my own? A place to write, and think, and pray, and dream. Well, I am writing from my new desk this very modesk space beforement. My heart is full. It is amazing how much a little piece of furniture can change your perspective. So many times in my life I struggle with “flat-lining.” I feel like there is nothing to feel, nothing bad necessarily but nothing good either. Just a case of the “blahs.” But I also notice that when I seem to need it most, God holds out His hand and says, “Here, will this help?” And he gives me a little gift. It could be a butterfly that comes out of nowhere, or a sky that is turning the most beautiful color of pink, or even an unexpected compliment from a complete stranger. God love to bless us, in big ways but I think He gets a special kind of pleasure out of the small ones. Today, for me, it is my desk. 🙂
This is the place that I will come to be still, to listen, to pray and to write. I practically laughed when we moved it into it’s spot and put the drawers in. I gasped and flung my hand over my mouth! It was even better than I imagined it would be. I love it so much! And my encouragement for you today is that God’s blessings come in the smallest of ways. Don’t miss them. We need to be watching or we will miss so much.

I found this little desk in a Craigslist ad for $25.
desk beforeDesk after I experimented with chalk paint for the very first time. I sanded and sanded and sanded some more. And then this little piece came alive. My creative juices are flowing and I can’t tell you how much fun this was! Ideas are flooding my mind with how I can dress up the entire space using the desk as my focal point. This little blessing from God will by my inspiration to add things to my space that I might have normally passed over. I think there is something to that. Sometimes we get so busy or stressed that we don’t take time to be inspired by the little things. But as we take time to notice, God takes time to show us. When that happens there is this flutter of joy inside me as I realized that He has done it once again. He has called me friend. And that’s when I realize that a desk really is so much more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you asking Jesus the right question?

peach-rose-questionsDid you know that there are over 3.5 billion searches on Google every single day?! We all want to know stuff and we all know that Google has the answers. But what about the questions that Google can’t answer? The ones that are deep inside us. The ones that threaten to shake our foundation and rob us of our joy. The questions we are afraid to ask.

This past week, when our small group met, we arrived at the topic of, “What question would you ask Jesus?” Most of our answers came in the form of “whys” or “whats.”

Why am I still in pain?
Why is there suffering?
Why are we still here?
What is the point?
What are you waiting for?

We all affirmed each other and the questions we had. It was all pretty unanimous. But then I realized that those questions, the ones I was already thinking, all come when I am focused on myself and my problems. When I mentioned this thought to our group, our leader asked me, “Well, what would be your question on a good day, then?” As I let this settle in my mind, a different feeling came to the surface. One of gratitude. And as I thought about what a “good day” question would be they all seemed to start with “how.”

How can I be used in this situation?
How is it possible that you love me this much?
How do I best share with others the amazing things you are teaching me?
How can I be a part of the solution to this broken world?
How can I be most effective while I sill am here?

Here is what it boils down to. Our “why” questions come when our eyes are not on Jesus. It reminds me of Peter when he walked on water. In Matthew 14 as Jesus is walking on the water towards the boat, He calls out to Peter to meet him. In faith, Peter steps out of the boat and walks on water. Have you ever stopped to think about what might be going through Peter’s mind at this point? “I’m walking on water! HOW is this possible?” or “HOW does Jesus have this much power?!” 

But as soon as he takes his eyes off Jesus, it all changes. The water underneath him begins to give way and he finds himself sinking. At that moment I wonder if the question in his mind sounded more like this. “Why am I sinking?!” or “Why did the Lord trick me?!”

His “how” changed to a “why” when he took his eyes off Jesus.

If it seems like your mind is filled up with unanswered questions, just stop, take a minute and just ask yourself the most important one:

“Where is my heart looking?”

The more I train my heart to turn to Jesus first, the less I obsess over my questions. My focus is brought back in to a place where everything makes sense again. Where my thoughts line up with my heart, because it is seeking after His heart. Perspective is found and peace is the result.

What questions are swirling around in your heart and mind? This week, bring them to Jesus and watch Him transform them before your very eyes. See how He takes your “whys” and turns them into beautiful “hows” that bring you contentment instead of anxiety.

I would love to see us share our questions with each other. Comment below with your “question testimonies” and let’s be encouraged as we see that we are not alone with our questions of desperation, but together we can watch them be turned into questions of confidence and hope

This week let’s surrender our questions, let it encourage our hearts, and cause our minds to become still.