Suffocating Reality

Today I was suffocating in the reality of life.  Nothing bad really, just stress upon stress.  I had to get some air.  Do you ever have those times when you envision taking a plane to a remote location on the other side of the earth where no one will find you, where you have zero guilt or regret, and you run away from all your problems?  I needed to step outside my world to reflect and breathe a minute.

Every minute of every day we are dying.  Every second that goes by is a second closer to death.  And we get to choose how we spend those seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and decades.  We get to choose if we want to live free in Christ or live suffocating without him.

In taking a time-out to breathe, I realized I wasn’t trusting in God.  My plan, my way, my ideas were better than his.  He wasn’t going to handle my problems how I wanted them handled.  Then I surrendered.  Lord, I surrender all to you.

The moment you surrender everything to God you will feel a weight lifted off your shoulders.  We are not meant to carry the burdens of this world alone.  For it is through those trials that we lean on Christ the most and, by leaning on Christ, we grow closer to Him.

If you are suffocating in the reality of life today, stop and breathe.  In your moment of stillness, surrender, truly surrender, all of your problems and worries to God.  He will take care of them in ways that are bigger than you could ever imagine.  Trust that His plan is greater than yours.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

You’ve got this sister.  You CAN do this.  You WILL make it through.  To God be the glory for ever and ever.

Psalm 34:8 – Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Isaiah 40:28-31 – Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Romans 8:31 – What, then, shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So Lush and Green!

My favorite road to drive down is Ottinger Rd. in Westlake, TX.  The trees on opposite sides of the road are so full and lush that they form a canopy over the road.  When you drive you’re transformed into a different world, one of beauty and possibility.

Here lately the trees have been extra green and the grass has been extra lush.  We’ve had rain almost every day for the last week, and the landscape is loving the relief from the heat of summer.  It makes the drive down Ottinger that much sweeter.

Just like the grass and trees, we, as individuals, can’t grow without the rain.  Sometimes rain in our life is gentle, sometimes the rain is a harsh, pounding storm.  For whatever reason (probably my own hard headedness!), my life seems to be comprised of more hurricanes and tornadoes than gentle lulling rain showers.

It’s through the greatest trials in life that God’s glory can shine the brightest.  God uses our sufferings in life to reach others for Christ in a way that only God could orchestrate.  He has grown my trees, watered them abundantly and woven them together intricately to display his beauty through his creation, my life.

Our lives are on display for all to see, dead or alive, messy or clean, perfect or not.  I pray my life appears abundant and lush like the trees on Ottinger Rd., and I pray that God continues to bring me storms so that I might continue to grow in my knowledge and understanding of Him.

Check out The Day of the Ugly Cry and also Blessings by Laura Story for additional encouragement.

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 1:12 – Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

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.

No Perfection Here

My life is messy, like stupid messy.  It’s highly likely that I bring all the drama on myself; however, I presently choose to live in denial on that subject.  You definitely won’t find the key to stress-free living on this blog!  Hopefully, to God be the Glory, you will find hope, joy, love, grace and mercy-filled living, though!

My heart has recently been greatly burdened by a personal ongoing trial.  It’s the kind where the situation’s tentacles reach into every orifice of every facet of your life.  I felt  so lost and overwhelmed (and still struggle with those emotions!).  My quiet time consisted of a lot of tears, a little snot and an empty heart.  I cried out “God, I don’t know what I’m doing!”  I was lost and seeking resolution to my hurt and relief for my pain.

When you have those situations where you don’t know what to do, pray to God.  Surrender control of the situation to Him.  He has all the answers and, not just the answers, but the perfect answers.  When you are lost and don’t know which way is up, pray to God that He show you the way.  Looking for God’s direction?  Stop, pray, seek and ye shall find.

It’s painful when sometimes the answer is “wait” while we are amidst our suffering.  There’s no clear “solution” to my situation at the moment.  There’s no do or don’t do, stay or go, lift or drop.  That means the solution is to wait and pray.  My calling at this moment is to love God and that includes loving Him through my suffering.

I pray that God would bless others through the trials in each of our lives.  Live your life as a witness to God’s grace, love, mercy, joy and hope.  May God be glorified through our sufferings and pain.  Lord give us the strength and wisdom to surrender all to you even when it hurts.  Bless, encourage and uplift us as we weep at your feet.

Matthew 7:7-8 – “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”

Philippians 4:7-9 – And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Psalm 31:7-8 – I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.

The Parts We Don’t Like

Okay, I can’t speak for all men, or even for all women, however it seems to me that almost every woman has a part about her body that she doesn’t like.  Thick ankles, mommy tummy, love handles, too big “this” or too small “that”, the list is endless.  In a day and age that glorifies personal appearance and self worship, we are all too apt to focus in on those areas of our bodies that we don’t like.

And I’m no exception.  Regardless of my pant size I don’t like my midsection or shape.  I don’t like my scars from past surgeries.  My body is bent from scoliosis.  Insecurities, each and every one.  (Public confession has to be good for the soul right!?)  I can’t change my scars or my spine, but I like to pretend I have control over my pant size.  The constant striving to drop pounds and inches will drive you mad!!

The Bible says to lose is to gain (Luke 9:24-25) and while God wasn’t talking about weight, or even body issues for that matter, that scripture got me thinking.  I’ve been so focused on what I want to lose that I haven’t focused on what I stand to gain.

Our battle over sin isn’t about losing/stopping the act of sin itself, it’s about a heart change that leads to loving, submitting and serving God more and more.  If you are stuck in the cycle of sin, don’t try and focus on eradicating the action of sin.  Instead, pray for a heart that would love and serve God more.  Pray that God would intervene in your habit of sin.  You’ll find that the more your heart centers on a growing relationship with Christ, the more that sin will die.  For where light is, present darkness cannot exist.

Luke 9:24-25 – For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

Psalm 119:25-29 – I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.  I gave an account of my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.  Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.  My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.  Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me your law.

Hebrews 10:23-27 – Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

1 John 1:7-9 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Galatians 5:19-21 – The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Mark 8:35 – For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

 

 

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Honking Horns

I hate being honked at! It makes me jolt and become disoriented, worrying more about what I did wrong than what I should be doing to drive my car forward.  I don’t get honked at frequently, but when I do and the initial “what did I do wrong” thought goes through my head, I then start to blame the person who honked the horn. “They didn’t even give me a chance to see the light before laying into me.”  or “They didn’t have to honk so loud; a polite tap would have done the trick.”  This is all in Texas where the commutes are as easy as apple pie when compared to New York City or Los Angeles.  My nerves would be shot before I ever started driving out there.

As Christians, it seems we are rarely willing to honk our horn for Jesus.  And when we do honk it, we give it a little love tap that sounds more like “peep peep” than “HONK HONK.”

We are called to be disciple-making disciples (Matthew 28:19).  How are we going to make disciples if we don’t first let the world know that we stand for Christ?  You can honk your horn by hanging a Christian sign in the yard.  Or by wearing Christian t-shirts while running errands or mowing the lawn.  Put a bumper sticker for God in the back windshield of your car.  Email everyone in your department at work inviting them to Bible study.  HONK that horn, don’t love-tap it.

Make sure to pray for God’s direction on when and where you should honk the loudest.  Just because we should honk doesn’t negate the fact that we need to follow Christ while doing so.

Check out Waving Flags for additional encouragement on this topic.

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 4:19 – And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Mark 3:34-35 – Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

Everything Dies

This post may be more therapeutic than purposeful but I pray God will weave His words through my fingers so that He will be glorified, and that His glorification will find its way to your heart.

Our AC unit is a year and a half old.  People kept saying it was too hot in our house for it to be working properly, but I lived in denial.  I didn’t want to have an AC problem.  We called a repair company out, and then another and another.  Our lifetime warranty with the original installers apparently meant nothing since they are now out of business, and you hear “your call cannot be completed as dialed” when you call them.

A couple of days later, the dishwasher died.  We knew that it was dying for a while but, with everything else going on in life, we ignored the problem until one day it was done.  We’ve been without a dishwasher for three weeks now.

Then a couple of days after that, our two-year-old, still-under-manufacturer’s-warranty fridge died.  It’s been almost three weeks and we still don’t have a fridge.  Samsung told us Thursday that it isn’t repairable.

All within 6 days.  It has been an interesting last three weeks to say the least.

What situations in your life are you ignoring until you are forced to confront them?  What relationships are you neglecting?  What are you turning a blind eye to?

Had I fixed the dishwasher when it first started going out we wouldn’t have been without a dishwasher for a month.  Had we used a reputable AC company instead of trying to save money we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now.  Not everything is fixable, some things can’t be saved, but you do move forward.

I urge you today to address those situations which you’ve been ignoring.  Seek repair in the relationships you find the most trying.  And don’t forget about repair in our relationship with Christ.  Without repair in our relationship with Christ no other repair is possible.

You may not have the same job, the same friends, or even the same house (I’m frustrated with ours at the moment, venting!), but you will always have the same God.  He loves you even through all this mess.  He wants nothing more than to walk you through the repair and break the cycle of fear, anger, remorse and grief.

Everything dies and is made new in Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 – We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Philippians 4:12-13 – I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

1 Peter 5:10 – And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

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.

 

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There’s Always More

There is always a never ending list of stuff to do, things to buy, places to go and busyness to partake in.  Grocery store lists, errands to run, phone calls to return, kids’ activities to race to, it’s the stuff that makes life, life.  It’s also the stuff that makes life suffocating.

I find that the busier I am, the less quiet time I spend with God.  The day is busy from the moment the alarm goes off, and there “isn’t time” to start the day with prayer and relationship with God.  The busier I am, the more I rely on myself to get stuff done and the less I rely on God.  “I can get it all done,” “I can make it happen,” “I can get it accomplished”—there’s no room for God in any of those thoughts of the heart.  The more time that goes on like that, the wider the chasm in my relationship with Christ.

Our God is a good, good Father and He is waiting for us to return to His arms.  I imagine him sitting on the front porch, light on, waiting expectantly for our return home.  He wants nothing more than to spend time with us each day, just sitting and talking one-on-one.

If you are far from Christ today, or maybe just haven’t had a focused quiet time in a while, now is the time to stop and spend time with your Lord.  He is waiting for you.  He can’t wait to hear your heart and share his love in return.

Zephaniah 3:17 – The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Psalm 73:28 – But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

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.

Mark 1:35 – 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.

Psalm 62:1 – Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.

Revelation 3:20 – Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Isaiah 2:17 – The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

Psalm 73:25-26- Whom have I in heaver, but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but my God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

 

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