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.

Stillness In Movement

It recently struck me how still you are while driving in a vehicle.  Sounds pretty dumb, maybe everyone else has realized this already, but for me it hit like a ton of bricks.  I was driving a golf cart down the road (this is a normal everyday occurrence in our community), wind whipping my hair, sun warming my face, and I was enjoying the stillness of life.  Then I realized that I was enjoying the still even though moving 28 mph.

Life flies by us.  We have errands to run, people to meet, meetings to attend, kids to chase and general busyness.  At the end of our day, we look around wondering, “Where did my day go?”  We promise ourselves that tomorrow will be different, we will say “no” more than we say “yes” to commitments.  We reassure ourselves that we aren’t a bad friend for not texting back because we ran out of time.  Then the next day ends the same as before, and we tell ourselves “I’m not enough.”

Sister, that’s a lie.  Don’t lose sight of the reality that, while you are flying through life, you are also living.  Be kind to yourself.  You ARE enough.  No one has perfect balance in their life.  That doesn’t mean don’t strive towards it, it simply means give yourself some grace to live life and be messy.

Every moment of every day you can choose whether or not you want to get caught up in the chaos of the moment, or if you want to enjoy the stillness of the moment.  When you’re frantically packing lunches in the morning before school, pray in your mind that God would bless your children when they eat the food.  When you’re racing from one event to the next, pray that God would use you to encourage someone when you arrive.  When you feel “not enough”, pray that God would be “enough” for you, that He would fill the gap.  Pray for yourself that you would feel loved in your messiness of life.

Today I choose to be still in the movement of life.  I pray that God would help me feel adequate and enough.

2 Corinthians 3:5 – Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 John 3:1 – See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Wash Your Hands

Livi is not a good handwasher.  I cringe every time she goes potty because I know those hands aren’t getting scrubbed well enough afterward!  It’s so disturbing when you think about all the dirty hands that are touching the same door knobs that I touch.

My hands are just as dirty, though.  I live a messy life with messy choices.  I’m far from perfect.  And regardless of how many times I keep washing my hands and starting fresh, I get them dirty again within minutes.  No matter how much we scrub our hands we can never get clean.

The same is true about sin.  There’s nothing we can do to remove the stain of sin from our hands.  It is only by washing with the blood of Christ that we can be made clean.  “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)  Belief that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that he rose again on the third day is the only way to truly wash away our sins.  Jesus loved you and I so much that he sacrificed his life so that we may live eternally with him in heaven.

Join me today in celebrating the freedom from sin that we have in Christ.

Titus 3:5 – He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit

Romans 6:3-4 – Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Acts 16:31 – And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”