Smoggy Stars

The moon looked so perfect this evening.  Just like in the story books that show the crescent and then shadows that make it look like a man is sitting there fishing.  It made me smile looking up and seeing it.  Then I started looking for the North Star.  The problem is I have no clue how to differentiate the North Star from any other star.  So naturally I started looking for the brightest star (because it feels like someone somewhere maybe told me that once).  The only problem is that living in the city means there aren’t any “brightest” stars, or really very many stars at all.  The smog and the light polution of the city made it hard to see the stars.

Sometimes in life we can get so engrossed in life we can’t see the way forward.  We are so fixated on what the next step in the path is that we miss the journey.  We so badly want to know what the future holds that we forget to live in the present.  We are so buried in our own selves that we don’t see the world around us.  We are entrenched in sin to the point that we can’t see hope or redemption.

Don’t lose sight of the forest through the trees.  Don’t fixate on the puzzle piece you have but, rather, on the puzzle as a whole.  Don’t stop walking the journey just because you lose sight of the path.  When the stars are hidden in the smog the answer isn’t to abandon course and assume the stars are gone.  No, you start to take measures to clear the smog.  Remove the barrier.

Sin is that barrier in our life.  Sin is death.  Where darkness is, light cannot be, and where light is present darkness cannot exist.  Jesus is light.  When you live in sin you are pushing Christ away.  When you draw near to Christ you become more like Christ and thus sin inevitably will fall away (although no one is sinless except Jesus).

If you are feeling lost, confess your sin.  If you are feeling far from Christ, repent of your sin.  If you are feeling alone, know that God is always there.  Just like the stars are always there, even hidden under the smog, God is always there with you.  All you have to do is reach out and take his hand.

John 8:12 – Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Psalm 18:28 – “For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.”

Ephesians 5:8 – For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.

Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Psalm 18:28 – For you light my lamp; the Lord my God illumines my darkness.

Ride to Greenville

God is so great and so faithful.  He recently taught me how small my faith truly is and, through that experience, how great He truly is.

I was recently at an airport flying from Atlanta to Dallas Fort Worth.  It had been a long travel day (two flights over 19 hours) and I was worn out.  I decided to read my Bible while waiting on flight number three.  (Don’t think highly of me, keep reading…)  A kind lady, we’ll call her Sarah, sat next to me and engaged in conversation about how much she loves God’s word, how different Christian speakers had impacted her, and so forth.  Through that conversation she mentioned that she intended to take an Uber from the Dallas Fort Worth airport to Greenville for a conference.

Greenville, Texas is not close to anything, especially not close to the airport.  Uber would be an expensive option and it was apparent that she hadn’t budgeted for the distance, and cost, that this Uber would entail.  We pulled up driving directions on my phone and yes, it was an hour and fifiteen minute drive.  There was no way she was going to be able to afford an Uber to Greenville.  After two flight delays, two hours of conversation and dinner together, we parted ways to board the plane. Our conversation ended with my saying “I’ll pray for a ride to Greenville for you.”

But if we’re being honest, there was no way she was getting a ride to Greenville.  At least, there’s no rational way she would get a ride.  I did pray for a ride for her, absolutely, but no one goes to Greenville.  There was no way she was going to find a ride.

I found my seat on the plane and sat next to a lady, whom we’ll call Chloe.  Chloe was on her third flight as well, headed home from a two week mission trip in Kenya.  Through her mission trip she had encountered Christ in the most unexpected ways.  We talked for the next two hours about all the great and mighty things Christ had done in our lives over the last couple of weeks.

It was an hour into our conversation when she mentioned that her husband and six kids (yes you read that right) were picking her up at the airport and then making the two and a half hour drive home.  She lived in a small town I’d never heard of and when I asked her where it was located relative to the airport and surrounding cities, she mentioned it was north of Greenville.  (Which is random in and of itself because no one talks about where they live in relation to Greenville!)  I about died right there in my seat.  I said “Did you say Greenville?”

You can probably imagine how the rest of the story goes.  In the end, Chloe, her husband and six kids gave Sarah a ride to Greenville.

The song “How Great Thou Art” keeps running through my head.  Within 1 hour of reading my Bible and pouring my heart into worshipping Christ I became doubting Thomas by not believing that God would really deliver a ride for Sarah.  Oh ye of little faith!

How often do we doubt God’s greatness?  God’s goodness?  God’s glory?

Our God is a great and mighty and faithful God.  He taught me that day that there are no small prayers, there are no ridiculous requests.  He can absolutely do miracles, big and small.  That day, even though I doubted, God delivered.  Even though I failed, God persevered.  Even though I stumbled, God did not fall.  He is greater and mightier than we’ll ever comprehend.

Never give up hope.  Never give up faith.  God is with you all the time.  Right now.  He’s with you walking beside you through life, good and bad.  He never leaves you nor foresakes you.  You are loved and cherished.  There’s nothing too big or too small for God.  Go to him, seek him, lean on him, talk to him.

May God receive the glory for the miracle he did that day.  Many thanks to Sarah and Chloe for playing a role in changing my life.

Ephesians 3:16-19 – That according to the riches of his glory he may grant to you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith –  that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is in the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Mark 11:22-24 – And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.  Truly, I say to you, whoevere says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Luke 1:37 – For nothing will be impossible with God.

2 Corinthians 5:7 – For we walk by faith, not by sight.

 

20,000 Words

Did you know that the average woman speaks about 20,000 words a day? (Not a scientific statistic.)  Well they clearly have never met Livi.  She most definitely speaks minimum 40,000 a day!!  But, if we’re being truly honest, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  One of the things on my “must work on myself in this area” list is to be quiet more, i.e. shut up Lindsay.  Writing doesn’t count does it!? *Insert winking smiley face here*

It’s funny how we are each communicating all day long.  Sometimes on social media, sometimes over email, other times in our own head, and even more often verbally.  We often hear about reflective listening skills and it’s importance in the transmittal and receipt of communication.  When someone is expressing something to you, you demonstrate active listening by stating “What I heard you say is [blank].”  We also know that before we fire back with our first instinctive response we take a deep breath, process the information we just received, and then craft a response from a place of grace-giving love rather than hurt-filled anger.

What we sometimes forget to realize is we are constantly transmitting communication with our Savior as well.  When we are too busy to have our quiet time.  When we cuss at the driver that just cut us off.  When we go to bed and realize we completely forgot to pray all day.  Or even when we look in the mirror and all we see is flaws and imperfections.  All of it is communicating loud and clear to our Lord and Savior.

What are you communicating to God today?  How are you communicating with God?  We are all broken messes, and we will forever have areas in which we can improve.  God loves you, he loves me, and he wants us to live in the freedom that the saving grace of Jesus Christ brings.  In a relationship with Christ, we can be messy and be forgiven.  We can know the true meaning of unconditional love.  Take this grace, take this freedom, and run with it my friend.  Love others, love yourself and most of all, love Christ.

Ephesians 6:18 – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

James 5:13 – Is anyone among you in trouble?  Let them pray.  Is anyone happy?  Let them sing songs of praise.

Jeremiah 29:12 – Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Psalm 17:6 – I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.

Best of Places, Hardest of Times

My backyard is one of the most peaceful places on earth. At least the most peaceful place closest to home without the headache of traveling. (Ha!) Have to give credit where credit is due; God has made lots of wonderful places on earth. Anyway, we have a small pool with a stone fountain, tall hedges, lots of privacy and the hot tub has a waterfall into the pool. You can lounge on the sofa in the shade of the gazebo and listen to the birds chirp. Squirrels run along the fence line and rarely do you hear a barking dog. There is nothing better than sitting outside, waterfall in the background, breeze blowing, Francesca Battistelli playing on the speakers, eyes closed and praying to Jesus.

God and I do lots of talking outside. We do lots of talking on my couch inside too (Texas heat!). It is in the quiet  that I hear him the most. Unfortunately, there isn’t much quiet in my life. I have to make the quiet happen. Whether it’s after everyone goes to bed or the 15 minutes between picking the kids up and getting dinner started, I make it a point to find the time for the quiet. Sitting outside sets the stage for quiet and sets the stage to be vulnerable (I guess because no one else is around?). Make your quiet time intentional. Start small, don’t try to conquer the world in a day.  Even just a minute or two is a place to start. 

It is in the best of places that I have my hardest of times. It’s when God speaks to my heart and the tears roll down my cheeks. It’s a place to confess my sins, to breakdown and tell God I’m a mess.  It’s my place to sob about death and mean kids at school and consequences I am suffering. It’s a safe place to cry out to Jesus that I don’t have it all together, and I don’t know what I’m doing so I sure hope he does. Then he holds me and loves me. I can imagine his arms around me, just holding me and comforting me, letting me get it all out of my system. And once I’ve got all the messy out he simply says “I forgive you. I love you” and continues to hold me.

Those words, those simple words are life-giving words. They will set you free for an eternity.  You can start your eternity with Christ by accepting Jesus today.  

James 4:8 – Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded.

Matthew 6:6 – But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Mark 1:35-37 – Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.

 

Respect the Inbox

Man!  The spam junk emails never stop coming!  I’m not a New Years Resolution type person, but if I were going to make one, eliminating spam junk emails would be at the top of my list.  It seems like every few months I get on an unsubscribe kick and sit for an hour clicking “unsubscribe” at the bottom of every junk email.  Within a couple weeks, sadly, my inbox is just as flooded, if not more so, than before.  It’s impossible to find the emails I really need through all of the junk!

Even more frequently than we receive junk emails, we receive junk emotional, spiritual and physical messages.  “You aren’t smart enough.”  “You aren’t pretty enough.”  “You aren’t good enough.” Those are just a few “frequent flyers” that swirl around my head and heart.  These negative statements are in each of our lives.  All the negative junk messages in our head make it impossible to truly hear the loving and encouraging ones, which are the ones we really need to hear.

This year, join me in an effort to intentionally declutter, not only our inboxes, but our emotions as well.  When the voice of insecurity rises up, speak LIFE louder!  When the voice of fear and angst speaks up, speak LIFE louder!  When God is for us, who can be against us?  “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13)

Go “Marie Kondo-style” on the voices in your head.  If they don’t bring you joy, eliminate them!  Get rid of them!!  Now, that’s not to say you should remove the voice of reason, or accountability, or the Holy Spirit.  Those may not always bring you joy, but you can’t live without them.  🙂

PS:  If anyone wants to have a spam junk removal party, women’s Monday night Bible study is a great place to receive God’s truth in a loving way.  We cling to His truth and hold each other accountable to God’s word.  Comment or message me if you’d like more information.

Ephesians 4:25 – Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Zechariah 8:16 – These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;

Proverbs 10:19 – When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Psalm 25:5 – Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 86:11 – Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Hungry for Purpose

We all want to be someone, belong to something, have some purpose.  We hunger to know our place and draw comfort from knowing our identity.  Sometimes we go through seasons where we don’t know our place or our purpose, though.  I frequently struggle with the “why God” and “when God” and “where do you want me God” questions.

Friday I was at an all-day business meeting for work.  Our leadership team was wrestling through some really big issues, issues that would impact the direction of the company for years and years to come.  Everyone came to the table with ideas and suggestions.  We were all excited for a resolution and a clear direction in which to move forward.  You could literally feel the energy in the room!

Our implementer kicked off the meeting by asking everyone for their suggestions and input on a specific topic.  We went around the table and everyone’s ideas were written down on the whiteboard.  What a massive and broad list!!  Then we started the process of combining ideas, or eliminating some.  Then again, and again.  Everyone had strong feelings about one idea or another.  Passionate debates ensued.  Then more debates, and more.  People started to grow weary of the process and just wanted to jump to the meat, the conclusion, the purpose.

That’s when it hit me:  it’s more about the process than the purpose.

The process of wrestling through the issues made the final result so much more meaningful.  The process of passionately debating made us a stronger leadership team.  The process of God working in my life through divorce has made more of an impact than had there not been a struggle.  The process of God working in my life through the car wreck has made more of an impact than if there had not been pain.

The process is what makes us grow.  The process is what makes us appreciate the purpose.  Don’t miss the beauty of the process because you are too hungry for the purpose at the end.

Romans 5:3-5 – Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 8:17-18 – Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.  I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Philippians 1:6 – And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Dusty Distractions

My favorite quiet time spot in the house is actually our living room sofa, around 11pm, after everyone including the hubby have gone to sleep.  Overhead lights off, lamp on in the corner, just me, God and the Word.  Sometimes Alexa streams Christian music softly, sometimes not, it just depends on the mood of the day.

The only hard part is the “11pm and everyone asleep.”  Livi still doesn’t sleep through the night so usually during this would-be-quiet-time she’s strolling through the living room half awake needing a drink of water.  The two dogs are just getting their second wind and don’t understand why I can’t pet them and read the bible at the same time.  (And what’s super funny is it is 11:10pm and I hear someone coming around the corner now!!)

So, post interruption, where was I again?  As I stare off trying to refocus on where God and I left off, my eye catches a fuzzy growth in the distance.  What in the world?  (Livi has now gotten up twice at this point.)

Back to God, or rather the fuzzy growth on the lamp at the end of the sofa.  I struggle to focus with distractions present.  Sure enough, upon closer inspection there is a mound of dust on the lamp.  How in the world could this heap of mess have piled up right before my eyes, day after day and night after night?  How could I have missed this?

Areas of sin in our life are much like the dust on the lamp.  We get so distracted by the busyness of life that we don’t stop to clean house in our hearts.  Habits of apathy and distraction settle in and slowly but surely sin creeps in and starts to settle.  Before you know it you have a messy fuzzy growth of sin you didn’t even realize was there.

If we weren’t a mess, we’d have no need of a savior.  Today I’m thankful for my dust because it gives me a greater dependence on Him.  When the Lord reveals these areas of sin to you recognize it as an opportunity to grow with Him.  It’s a chance to confess, clean house, purge, and then start afresh walking in fullness of joy with the Lord.

PS:  The picture is my actual lamp and my actual dust.  I am not perfect.  I am a mess.  My house is messy and my heart is too.

Psalm 119:133 – Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

Psalm 51:1-2 – Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

James 4:8 – Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Romans 3:20 – Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.