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.

I Just Really Don’t Want To

Right!?  Please tell me I’m not alone in this.  Sometimes I just really don’t want to.  Don’t want to do the dishes, don’t want to fold the laundry, don’t want to respond to that text, don’t want to adult in general.  My face expresses what my heart feels: “Enter at your own risk”, “Do Not Disturb” or “Beware, guard dog on duty”.

Sometimes those “sometimes” last longer than I care to admit.  Those moments become days, days become weeks and before I know it, weeks have become habits and patterns that define a larger period of time.  “I don’t want to” becomes more of a lifestyle than an attitude.  It becomes more of a passive condition of my heart than an active choice.

God has been tugging at my heart about my lack of writing lately.  At first, it started as “I’m too busy.”  Then it became “I don’t know what to write” which quickly turned into “nothing that I write matters.”  Did you notice how many “I” statements that was?  All of them, which is all of them too many.  And yet in life, none of it is about us.

Every bit of life is about our relationships with others.  I write because I am called by God to write, not because I enjoy it or have an extra abundance of time for it.  Writing isn’t about what matters to me, it’s about uplifting and encouraging others in their walk with Christ.  As long as we are stuck on ourselves, or within ourselves, we will be unable to experience true growth and freedom in Christ.

I can tell you that not writing the last few months has been nice.  I haven’t had to stretch myself into territory that is uncomfortable.  I haven’t had to be vulnerable or scared of rejection.  I haven’t had to check numbers or care if anyone reads the posts.  I haven’t had to research Bible verses or study extra hard.  But I also haven’t experienced true joy in Christ.  Joy that only comes when we are fulfilling our purpose and our calling by God in our lives.  The joy that comes from resting in Him knowing you have served your God well.  The joy and purpose that comes from hearing “…Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.  Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23)

Tonight I rest in the fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11) in the presence of my savior.  I invite you to rest in His fullness of joy with me.  Whatever you are wrestling with, whatever you are putting off, now is the time to surrender.  Stop wherever you are and give it over to God.  Let him remove your sign of “Beware, enter at your own risk” and instead replace it with “Welcome, Joy Abounds”.

Psalm 16:11 – You will make known to me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; In your right hand there are pleasures forever.

1 Peter 1:8-9 – and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

John 17:13 – But now I come to you; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have my joy made full in themselves.

Romans 15:13 – Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will about in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Worst Day Ever

Last Friday was a day anticipated more than Christmas!  Through a school PTA fundraiser the girls were given a “Ride to School on a Firetruck.”  The girls waited patiently through the Christmas holiday for school to go back in session and for me to arrange their ride.  We got the arrangements made and the plan was for the truck to pick them up on Friday at 7 a.m.  The girls waited and waited, counting down each day of the week until finally the big day (Friday) came.

Everyone’s alarms went off at 6 a.m. on Friday, thirty minutes earlier than normal.  The kids shot out of bed, even though they went to bed over an hour late the night before, and raced to get ready.  I dragged out of bed, after having slept less than two hours, and threw on clothes piled on the floor that I had worn to work two days earlier.  (Truth and honesty here, right??)  Everyone was excited for the firetruck to arrive!   The girls because, hey, it’s a firetruck, and me so I didn’t have to hear them talk about it all day every day any more.

7 a.m. came.  7 a.m. went.  7:15 a.m. came.  7:15 a.m. went.  7:20 a.m. came, and Livi insisted that they forgot us.  7:25 a.m. came, and we all piled into my car and went to school.  Every morning I tell them the same thing: Have a super, awesome, fabulous, stupendous, amazingly incredible day.  Livi responded “This is the worst day ever!”  When I picked them up from school and asked “How was your day?”  they both responded “It was the worst day ever!”  I tried to console the girls by letting them know the ride was rescheduled to the following Friday.  They weren’t moved.

Finally the big day came.  This time the alarms went off at 6:15 (we learned how quickly we could get ready with some motivation last week) and everyone, including myself, hurriedly got ready.  It was another successful morning of everyone fed and ready by 7 a.m.! 7 a.m. came.  7 a.m. went.  7:15 a.m. came.  7:15 a.m. went.  7:25 a.m. came, and we all piled into my car and went to school.  Livi insisted that the firemen forgot them and that I was a liar for saying they probably had an emergency like last week.  When I dropped them off at school with their standard morning encouragement, Livi once again responded “This is the worst day ever!”.

After making some arrangements, I surprised the girls by picking them up 15 minutes early from school.  Both girls were truly surprised when they saw the firetruck sitting outside the school waiting to take them home.  The firemen were incredible and drove them all over town.  They let us wear the headsets, and we talked and laughed the whole time.  It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  At the end, as we walked up the driveway after waving goodbye to the firetruck, everyone agreed it had been the best day ever.

God’s plan in our lives works the same.  We see the pain of today, but God sees the hope in tomorrow.  We see the mess of right now, but God sees the beauty in the future.  We feel the hurt in this moment, but God sees the joy in days to come.  What may feel like “the worst day ever” may actually be “the best day ever”.  Don’t let waiting for your firetruck make you miss your ride to school.

Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Isaiah 14:24 – The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.”

2 Chronicles 20:6 – And said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven?  You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations.  In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”

Philippians 4:19 – And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.