Category Archives: Motivation

PEACE

In the devotion I was reading this morning, I immediately noticed the multitude of times the word PEACE had been added to the day’s reading.

From the shared verse (John 14:27) to the lesson, the word had been used 21 times.  At first count, there were 20, but something told me to look again…I found one more.

21 seemed relevant but I wasn’t exactly sure why.  So I looked up the significance of the number 21 in regards to the bible.  Needless to say, I didn’t get the answer I was looking for.  I don’t really know what I expected but since my word was PEACE, I thought I would find something a little fluffier than “exceeding sinfulness of sin”.  Another source says this:

“…the great wickedness of rebellion and sin.”  Later on saying, “…beginning a new level or effort that is sinful and disobedient against God.”

Guess I hadn’t expected sin and disobedience to somehow describe my discovery of PEACE.  Ah!  But in that sentence lies the very answer that God may just have spoken [to me] about this very message.

In John 14, Jesus was preparing his friends after their last supper together.  Perhaps one of the greatest things he reminded us is that we can experience a “sense of well-being in the midst of hardship.”

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do no let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

When I thought about what the Holy Spirit might trying to reveal to me, I thought of two, very important things.  Both have significant meaning to me at this very time in my life.

The first thing He revealed is that He has given me a Spirit of PEACE.  Amidst the turmoil in the world, I am able to have PEACE – true and total PEACE – in Him.  Any time I let the problems of this world affect my mood, I must remember this gift that He gave me in such a time as this.

Secondly, He reminded me that sin and disobedience do affect my PEACE.  Distractions and deterring from a plan that keeps me alongside Him strips me of the very PEACE He so graciously promised.

So now what?

God’s trying to tell me something and I really want to listen.  It’s like an old television show with the word of the day.  My word of the day is PEACE and I will carry it with me today, just like it was part of my outfit.  Then tomorrow, I’ll get up and do the same thing, maybe even writing a card and sitting it next to my bed so that the first thing I see in the morning is a note that says PEACE.

I don’t know if this message was just for me or if it’s meant for you as well but I certainly do believe that God’s PEACE is promised to us all. Regardless of your situation or the outcome, you have been given a PEACE beyond all understanding.  Take that gift and use it to set your mind free – free of distractions, free of disturbances and free from the disobedience that is bringing you farther away from your Heavenly Father.

I pray that today, you experience PEACE like you haven’t found in so long.

Faith Through the Flooding

This was a difficult time for many.  The flooding brought with it destruction, devastation and heartbreak.  For some, it wasn’t about displacement but inconvenience.  For others, it wasn’t about loss but about impatience.

At a time such as this, when one could choose to have an attitude of gratitude, instead, focuses were on the traffic, the cancellations, the things we weren’t able to do because of the flooding.  I just nodded my head as a lady referred to our “island” just as so many had done before…making a joke of it all, while all I could think about was how blessed I was to be one of those who lived on said island.

How quickly we forget about those in need when we have to take detours — when we have to sit in traffic — when we can’t do all the things we want to do but have all we could ever need.  Sure, I’ll admit that I was bummed about all the school days missed, but I prayed about the outcome and I know that God will come through in His way.

We made the most of our days together — enjoying free lunches out, getting caught up on some things, sleeping in a little.  My husband went to work in the city each day, despite the continued rumors that there was no way out.

People made excuses for their poor attitudes, shared in complaints, joining together to talk about how inconvenient this all was when so many have lost so much.

As the waters recede, I’d like you to take a few minutes to reflect on this past week.  Did you spend more time complaining than you did helping?  Did you feel more sorry for yourself than for those who truly experienced loss?  What have you learned that you can take from this week to share with the next generation?

Let’s stop complaining about the rainy days when they’re few and far between.

Let’s not focus on what is a momentary inconvenience when so many others are hurting.

Let’s take some time to give back when we can instead of staying to ourselves.

The next time you start to get frustrated and feel the need to complain, think about those who really have something to complain about.  Most of them aren’t wasting their time talking, they’re getting their hands dirty.  Maybe you should to.

Expectancy and Gratitude

I’m crying.  I mean really crying.  I’m a girl and it’s not the “typical” time when you’d expect me to be emotional.

What’s going on…

I just realized how incredibly thankful I am.  My tears are of gratitude.  It’s been SO long since I’ve felt like that.

I’ve been minding my own business, praying through things that used to frustrate me, praying while I exercise, listening to music that helps my mind stay focused, choosing the thoughts that I allow in my head.   I could go on and on about all the things that I’ve been working on lately, but we don’t have that kind of time.

This morning, I woke up, read the verse of the day and immediately started to get distracted.  Then I got out of bed, got on the scale, grabbed a cup of coffee, then got back into bed to write a few things down.  I left my job about 2 months ago to pursue writing and focus my attention on being the  woman, wife and mother that God has called me to be.  Since that day, just over 2 months ago, I’ve lost 15lbs and found my WANT TO right in the middle of my do I have to?

It’s been a whirlwind of emotions ever since then.  Some days I feel great, others I feel like I’m missing the mark.  But something felt different this morning.  I felt different this morning.

After I got up and made my daughter and I our typical breakfast smoothies, we laughed through our goodbye hug and she left for school.  When the bus came, she texted me (like she normally does) to have a great day but then she added something…

“Go stand outside, the birds sound really cool chirping so much!”

Well I didn’t go outside because I had some devotions to finish, but I did open the windows before sitting on my bed to read my morning devotions.

Afterward, I wrote in the two books that I write in daily.  One is a 5-year journal Aubrey gave me close to 3 years ago.  The other is a set of books I started when I met my husband 7+ years ago.  I’ve written one reason I love him each day since that very first day.

As I wrote this morning, a feeling of thankfulness came over me and I started to cry.  I wanted to pray then but all I could do was cry.

God urged me then to come here and write.  It has been so long since I’ve had (and followed) that urging.  He is so good to me and yet, I still fail to follow His lead, even at the smallest things.

I sat here for a moment and just cried like a baby.  My prayers of gratitude were my tears; something I didn’t even know was possible.

Oh how I want to stay right here, right now, in His presence with thanksgiving.  So often we walk right past the very thing He’s trying to show us.  We don’t listen when He’s calling our name.  We go our own way for so long that we begin to think our way IS the way.  Then, when we find the way again, things start to become clear.

Fear is pushed aside.

Self-control becomes easy.

Anger isn’t an issue.

Forgiveness comes easily.

Our minds are no longer a way for the devil to control us.

Gratitude is in the forefront and we truly experience things.

I am feeling the release of pressure and the gift of expectation.

The gift of expectation may not sound right but it’s so true.

Psalm 5:3 (NIV) says this:

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

The gift of expectation simply means that we are not to be worried about tomorrow.  We are IN today and we’re expecting that whatever God brings tomorrow, He’s going to see us through.

Think about it…

Consider it a great gift that God gives us; that we can lay our prayers at His feet and wait patiently with expectancy.

I want you to give it to God today.  I mean really give to Him whatever it is that’s burdening you.  Then wait expectantly AND with gratitude for however He answers you.

 

 

Go Back to Picking Up Starfish

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It’s what I read this morning at 4:15 am. Of course, I had to read on. What stood out next might surprise you.

“But somewhere along the line I stopped saving starfish.”

The fact that this particular sentence stuck out to me reiterated my need to be right here, right now in this very moment. I didn’t need an explanation of this sentence, I came to my own conclusion and it was very personal.

We are so distracted by the things around us that we are beginning to miss what it is that gives us what we need the most. We turn on our minds when we need them the least and turn our heads at what needs us the most.

We’ve become inundated with technology, ignoring its place in sociology.

Our time, which used to be a hot commodity, has been freely given to things that can disappear, that mean nothing, that will not make a significant impact on our lives or the lives of those around us.

The author of a book* that I’ve been reading on and off for about 6 months (yes, I get distracted and it takes me that long to read a 200 pg book!), really hit home with this chapter. I think you’ll see why here:

“Healthy parameters provide the structure, motivation, and insight to say no to the things that can harm what is most precious to you. But be warned. Establishing boundaries is not always easy. It means having to reject mainstream trends and expectations to be true to what you believe is in your best interest. It means having to to stand up for yourself and make difficult decisions that may not please those who want your time, energy, and attention. Yet by creating limits on the excess that can flow into your life at any given time, there is space to laugh, live, love, pray, play, and breathe. Establishing boundaries allows you to go to sleep at night knowing you did your best to protect your one precious life from the corrosive elements associated with worldly distraction and pressures.”

You see folks, it is all around us. Those distractions that you will argue don’t take away from your life, yet are allowed to each and every day. You want to pretend that by prioritizing, you’re actually doing it right, but putting things into place on paper don’t put them in the right place in your life.

Maybe it’s time for you to step back and look at the bigger picture so that you can see the tiny, intricate pieces that are put together to make it a beautiful masterpiece. You may not recognize some things because you’ve pushed them so far back that you’ve forgotten about them, or just don’t remember what to do with them.

It may not be starfish that you’re trying to save, but there’s something that needs your attention before it’s too late.

I’ll close with this, “What we breathe life and energy into will thrive; what we neglect and abuse will suffer.”stars

*Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distractions, Living Better, & Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford.

Is Being Comfortable Making You UNcomfortable?

Have you ever been at a place in your life where you didn’t know what to do next?  If you’re not a planner or someone who likes to have a schedule or at least a “to do” list, this might be somewhat hard to understand but follow me here…

Recently I have been out of sorts, mind wandering, not knowing what the next move was supposed to be.  I was simply getting by each day with no clear direction as to what road to travel or even if there was going to be a road around the next bend.  I waited, often confused and overwhelmed that I didn’t have more of a clue that I do.

Feeling like I was out of place almost everywhere I went, no matter who I was with, yearning for that comfort that I typically always had. I wasn’t unhappy, just *blah* and not really even sure why.

Aside from making better food choices, I started exercising with my family outside.  We went for walks, hikes and bike rides nearly every day lately and boy, did that feel better!

Then, as if someone hit me with a brick, a conversation with my husband made it all come together.  Ironically, we were feeling somewhat of the same way!  Although he doesn’t have the female hormones that make my brain somewhat questionable (yes, I will admit that!), he did feel kind of complacent and wondered what is next.

Ever since we met, we dreamed together, talked about our future and up until recently, had goals and a list of things we needed to do in order to reach those goals.  Although we haven’t reached them all, we are well on our way and fairly confident that what we’re doing, if we keep on keeping on, we’ll accomplish each of them right on time — God’s time.

That brings me to THE conversation…

What do we want? Why don’t we have clear direction?  What are we working so hard for every day?  It’s not just to work so what is it that we’re working hard to achieve?  For either of us, it’s not success.  We could care less if our names are in lights as long as we make a difference right where we’re at.

Then there’s the question of finances.  If we’re on the right path, saving and spending wisely, what is it that we’re going to do later?

We used to dream — a LOT! It’s not that we aren’t dreaming, we just don’t know what we’re dreaming about at the moment.  We’re going through the day to day, knowing that we’d like to have property, that we want to be further in the country, have cows, chickens and more dogs but what else?  For either of us, it doesn’t just have a happy ending in the grand scheme of things.

When we retire, or before that if we can help it, we want all of these things but there needs to be a purpose.  WE need to serve a purpose.  That’s where we feel that things have changed lately.  We know that we want our resources to help others and that, once we have this dream home on our dream property, that it will serve a purpose to help others but we just aren’t sure in what way.  We don’t know where to look or, for that matter, where to start.

That’s when he said it…those words that I didn’t realize I would dread.

“Maybe God has us here because he wants us to rest.”

“Rest?” I said.  “Neither one of us likes to rest.”

He knows as well as I do that even on the days we plan to do nothing, we end up doing things that need to be done.  It’s just how we are.  We can’t sit still.  I can think of only a handful of days in the 6+ years that we’ve known each other that we have actually sat down and watched tv or movies all day.  We just don’t stop and that’s all for good reason.  As much as we don’t like being busy, we do. We’re go-getters and I’m pretty sure that’s how God intended it to be.

If we want something, we work for it – or – we think about it and decide if it’s really a want, a need or something that eventually we’ll get over and wish we wouldn’t have bought.  We analyze only because we want to be sure that we use our resources wisely.  But most importantly, we have been in a place where what we are doing or planning to do is making a difference.

The unclear picture for our future as to what we’re working for and why is driving us both crazy.  But here’s the deal — maybe he’s right — he probably IS right.

We work so hard all the time for something that God just wants us to take some time to just be right where we are.  He wants us to chill out and be OK doing so.  It’s a lesson of sorts.

In the  meantime, while we are trying to find out what’s next, we connect with one another by simply knowing we’re on the same page, incorporating more prayer and being open to what God reveals to us.

When I searched the word “comfortable” of course a lot of things came up but a portion of this one struck me:

“However, sometimes comfort can be a stumbling block.  Sometimes comfort can rob us of our strength and dependence on God.  Think of a man who is so comfortable in his life with so few problems that he doesn’t do much of anything let alone worry about anything.  He relaxes and enjoys life.  He also becomes weak and dependent upon his routine and life.  So too the Christian who is very comfortable in his life, can also become weak and dependent upon the securities of life instead of the Lord.  There is nothing wrong with being comfortable, unless that comfort makes us depend on God less and cause us to become complacent about the lost around us.”

So this is where we are.  We may not be able to identify with the entire piece, but we are here, in this very paragraph, praying that God will show us what we can do with our future that will bring about change in others by allowing us to use our gifts as a blessing.

We really want to help people.

We both have unique skills in which to do so.

We have wordly dreams that we fully believe can play into the idea of helping others.

So what’s next?  Do we rest where we’re at? Pray for direction and a clear mind?

The end of that same devotional that I read summed up some ways that just might help. I’m sharing them with you because I don’t doubt that there are others out there feeling the same way.  As Christians, we aren’t supposed to simply feel comfortable for long periods of time.  We are supposed to step out of our proverbial box and do something — daily.

“…. pray to the Lord and ask Him to reveal your sins to you.  Confess them and do your best to repent as you continue to rely on His grace.  Second, read your Bible regularly and ask the Lord to apply to your heart what you read.  Third, ask God to put a desire on your heart that is in accordance with your spiritual giftings so that you may not only grow and edify the body of Christ, but also to reach out to the lost.  If you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are, that’s okay.  God will show you.  Fourth, don’t be afraid to take risks for the Lord.  Don’t be afraid to become a little un-comfortable.  Tithe.  Pray.  Intercede.  Read the Word.  Confess your sins.  Speak the gospel.

Remember, our life is not about our comforts.  It is about loving God, loving others, and spreading the word of God.”

I think the author hit the nail on the head for me when he got to the third part of his suggested prayer.  I know you may not be in the same spot as we are, but I guarantee we could all use a little prayer time to determine what it is that God wants us to do.  We sometimes focus so much on what we want that we forget to bring God into our dreams.

After all, He should be in the driver’s seat, don’t you think?

Next time you pray, ask God what He wants you to do then be patient and wait expectantly.  Sometimes He reveals a plan that seems far out of reach but I guarantee, whatever it is, if God is your driver, then you’ll always be right on track!

 

Where Did I Go?

People wonder why I’m so happy all of the time. There’s lots of reasons actually…like the fact that I have an amazing husband, daughter, family, friends, and a church family that I love. But honestly, over the past 10 years, my reasons have been deeper, much deeper then those amazing people, things, and places in my life.

When you find out that you have a serious medical condition, your life will forever be changed. Sometimes things can get better sometimes they get worse and sometimes, well sometimes you just have no idea what will happen next…

It’s been a couple years since I’ve had any issues whatsoever until these past few weeks. I didn’t say anything to anyone, not even my family, because I wanted to wait it out. I decided not to wait any longer because it bothered me enough that I was in tears at my desk at the office one day. Of course I knew what the doctor was going to say…that he would put me on a heart monitor see how things are going. That’s what was going to happen and quite frankly  what should happen. But what happens from here, I don’t know.

It brings me back to the very reason that I wanted to share this with you today. Although I have so many reasons to be happy with my life, to be happy in my life, and to be happy each and every day, the most important reason but I’m happy is because I’m alive. I was given an opportunity to be who I am, to live through a very difficult time and to actually make it out better than I was when I first started. I don’t know about you but I’ve come to realize that life isn’t just about the things, the places, or even the people alone. It’s about the very reason that God put us here in the first place. Sometimes those reasons have to do with people sometimes they have to do with a lot of people. But know one thing folks, you’re here to serve a purpose greater than yourself, greater than the individuals around you, and far beyond anything you could have ever imagined.

Be thankful.

Be happy.

If you don’t show it on your face, people will know you don’t feel it in your heart. As the saying goes, fake it till you make it. We’ve all heard that but it’s the truth. If your heart doesn’t feel something it’s hard to make the rest of you go along with it. One day, things will catch up.

Last night I was reading James 5, something Pastor Josh had just spoken a great message on this past Sunday. I got to verse 16 and stopped cold:

“Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer if a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].”

I was reminded of a conversation I had had with my husband, my daughter, my mom, cousin and a friend. In these (all separate) conversations, I openly shared with them the disarray of my heart, my lack of and often times overabundance of emotions, and feelings of sheer emptiness.

On top of the heart issues, I was also feeling “off” with no explanation as to why. In one of my conversations, I shared something very important that I wanted you all to hear and that is, I need to practice what I preach.

So many times I’ve written what words that I believe God has laid on my heart for others, all the while wondering if in fact those words were meant for me. I can talk a good talk when it comes to giving advice and knowing how to handle difficult situations but truth of the matter is, life isn’t always easy for me either. I read the words knowing I should be following them myself, earnestly seeking God’s guidance yet hesitating to put forth the effort it will take to actually change the situation.

I’m here to tell you that my lack of perfection is what makes me the best candidate for God’s correction. My love of life and people is what makes my love of God and all things good produce fruit…when I’m on the right path that is.

Want to know how I know this?

It’s when nothing is going right, so many things are in disarray, yet I still feel the urge to make a difference. I get worn out, feel beat up and simply out of sorts.

Want to know how that happens?

It’s from losing track of myself somewhere amidst taking care of everyone else. My concern for others can sometimes stand in the way of the blessings God has for me. And trust me when I say, most of my blessings end up leading to ways I can bless others. So in closing off myself, I am standing in the way of God working through me to help others.

Do you see this circle I’m in?

Trying to do what I feel is right while losing track of the light. Instead of telling God I don’t know what’s wrong and asking for help, I try to find an explanation, try to fix it or flat out ignore it.

I’ve laid it out there for all to see and WOW, it feels good. Do I feel like a fraud? Nope, not at all. I feel like the person who tries to do it all, who sees the best in everyone, who finally realizes that not everything is peachy. Not everything has to be “right”. I don’t always have to smile every dang minute of the day!

I don’t know at what point I got off track but I’m certainly glad I finally admitted to myself, to others and to God that I just didn’t feel like myself.

Here’s to getting back to ME.ily10

You Have Potential

Have you ever thought about the number of lives you have the potential to affect every day? Notice I said “potential”. You see, it isn’t often that we are intentional about going out of our way for someone, that we take enough time to think before we speak or act out of love for one another, regardless of the possible outcome.

All around us are people who are hurting – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – yet we have become so self-focused that we often fail to see it. We have this unique opportunity, day in and day out, to make a difference in the lives of the people we know, we’ve briefly met or who we simply encounter while going about our day.

I don’t know about you, but when I think about that, it gives me hope. Hope that my life is going to make a difference simply by acknowledging that I’m not here to live for myself. I’m here to make this world better, one person at a time. I’m going to acknowledge that what you see, isn’t always what you get because not everyone wants us to see all their junk, their hurt, their tears. Then, I’m going to look beyond what can be seen with the naked eye, to the person who is inside each and every individual. You don’t have to spend a lot of time with someone to know that they are worth more than a wave. We all need that little extra encouragement, conversation, and in certain situations, benefit of the doubt.

Whatever, wherever, whoever…it’s your choice. You can either choose to take a backseat to what’s going on or you can step up and make a difference in the lives of those you meet. Either way, you’ll be living the life you’ve been given…but I guarantee, if you choose the latter, you will be richer for it.

I was thinking about you…

So I got to thinking about you this morning…

I know there’s something bothering you and you wish it would all go away. I know you want these moments to end and this situation to just be over.
I know that your heart longs for more but your head tells you the time isn’t right.

But are you interested in finding out what else I know?

I know that “this too shall pass”.
I know that at this very moment, Jeremiah 29:11 is screaming loudly in my head AND…
I know that you need to hear it right at this very moment.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

But what if you read a little further…

Jeremiah 29: 12-13 “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

God’s response isn’t simply that He knows what’s best for us, it goes much further than that. In the next two verses, He tells us that we must come to Him in order to see it all come to fruition. It isn’t just about knowing He has plans and being just “ok” with the fact that someday it will all come together. Nope, it’s about fully putting your trust in Him. Knowing that once you go to Him and truly rely on Him that you will start to see things a little differently each day. The answers will become more clear. The direction you are to go will begin to show like never before. Things will unfold, unravel and open up right before your eyes. Believe it and you will see it!

It WILL come together in His time. He has plans. Just be sure you understand this, take it all in and continue to believe in a future that is brighter because of this very belief.

Hope this helps whoever it was for today!

No Worries!

Do you know that there is literally no help in worrying? I would say there’s no reason either, but there’s always a cause for our concern, even if we know there’s nothing we can do about it.

If there is something in your life that you cannot change, I encourage you today to let it go. Give it to God and let Him do His work on the situation. I know this is difficult, but your worries are going to be no help in the situation. Just because you think you’re “right” or that your advice might help, doesn’t mean that you should insert yourself into the situation.

Maybe it’s time to pull back. Maybe if you gave less of yourself and more to the One who’s trying to direct your path, you’d start to see that the worries and concerns lie only on the surface of the situation. Deep down, it’s all getting worked out, it’s just not happening as quickly as we’d like for it to.

Let me ask you this. If you were to not worry for just a bit, do you think the situation would seem better or worse? Do you think that, if you took your eyes off of that very situation for just a few moments, that things would get worse? I think not!

So why don’t you try that today. Take a step back. Remove yourself from the line of fire, take your heart back and refocus your mind on what you know to be true. Then pray that God does what He does best in the situation. Give it to Him and be thankful for His leadership. After all, isn’t this His baby anyway?

Hope this helps someone today!

Feelings…

There are moments when the answers seem so obvious, yet we choose to do the opposite. We often choose to follow our feelings versus the direction in which we’re being led.

Every day we have a choice to be ruled by our feelings or take charge over them. We may have a momentary breakdown, a “pity party” if you must, but we cannot stay there. For our own health, for our future despite our current situations, we mustn’t waller in what’s lost.

Stop thinking about what you don’t have or what is gone and turn your focus to what is here, what is true and what you can make of the situation you have right now. It isn’t about what is no longer present in your life, it’s about what you have to give right where you’re at. You have the chance to give your all no matter how difficult the circumstances.

You can’t lay low and let the world go on without you — you’re too important! You DO make a difference. Don’t be a product of your circumstances but rise above, take hold of your feelings so that they no longer dictate your days.

This is your chance to do what you do best. You are at this point, now what you do next determines where you’ll go from here. Don’t worry so much about the difficulty of the journey, just know that you will be able to handle it. The hard times will pass and you will come out ahead but only if you put first things first. One step at a time. You are stronger than you let yourself believe sometimes.

Whoever this is speaking to this morning, I pray that your every breathe today and moving forward is filled with warmth, confidence and the ability to decipher between what’s real and what is simply a “feeling” that you can choose to get past. Don’t reflect on what has passed at this moment, only look forward because it is the direction you are to go.