Thursday, September 28, 2017

What it Looks Like to Be #Blessed...

I was wading through Psalm 115 just the other morning.
It begins with heart-felt words that I pray often:

I truly desire that my life glorify is, after all, the purpose behind my existence (Isaiah 43:7).

Psalm 115 also reminds me of the kind of PERSONAL, LOVING God I serve - there is NONE like Him (verses 3-9).


My God acts, listens, speaks, moves on my behalf. 

I needed these reminders.

I have a women's event coming up this weekend, where I'll be sharing.

May God be glorified (!), but for Him to do so, I am desperate for His personal intervention on my behalf.

I still wonder "why me?"

I can hardly get out a cohesive sentence most days.

Those reminders were great timing. In fact, God's ability to bring a comforting Word is always perfectly placed.

And, His strength is also made perfect in our weaknesses. This, immediately, went through my mind:

Then, Psalm 115 surprised me.

The Psalmist actually confirmed my thoughts with these words:

The Lord has remembered us; 
He will bless us.

Even the Psalmist would have hash-tagged "blessed" on his Facebook account; and, he goes on to word-that-out.


At this point, I was reminded of a message I heard this past July on that one word - blessed.

In our world today there are a lot of ideas about what it means to be blessed. More often, than not, it is pointed at as "luck." Luck has nothing to do with blessing...

The speaker had done an actual Facebook search using the hash-tag. So, I did the same.

The following things came up (these were the first 7), along with pictures, of course:
*our perfect family reunion - #blessed
*such a busy year thus far - #blessed
*250 new Facebook friends - #blessed
*brunch with the girlfriends - #blessed
*new super satellite TV - #blessed
*saw Lebron James on beach - #blessed

I stopped at this one: Sara Underwood's new boobs (one with nature), we think they call this - #blessed  (Oooooooooooooooooo Kkkkkkkkkkkkkk, and, sorry, there will be no picture to post here).

In our world, we consider ourselves blessed if we are able to gather more possessions, or prestige, or power, or people, or if we can manipulate our circumstances to our advantage. Then, we might say: #blessed. But:

This is not what the Psalmist meant.
It's not what New Testament writers mean, either.

The two words used for our being blessed have two different connotations.
--- the first is to be spoken well be honored with words and responses
--- the second is to experience a deep sense of peace and security in knowing God's validation of me (did you read the Ephesians passage?); a sense of happiness, or an attitude of contentment found in being a Jesus-follower.

As Jesus did most times, He looked at life through upside-down-perspectacles.
He also gave us a list of what #blessed really looks like in Matthew 5.

Want to receive happy?
Here are some of Scripture's suggestions (Psalm 115 coupled with Matthew 5):

⇨ Seek God's glory for the sake of His steadfast love and faithfulness.

⇨ Recognize God's ALIVENESS (His personal responses to His children, His compassion, His care). He is NOT like any other god.

⇨ Trust Him (yield and obey). 

"Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it." 
(Lk 11:28)

⇨ Be in AWE of Him (which requires paying attention, seeking Him, hungering and thirsting for Him).

⇨ Maintain an attitude of "want-to-be-more-like-Him" - His mercy, His meekness, His pure-heartedness, His peace making.

⇨ Develop a daily Thanksgiving mind-set, rejoicing in all things (this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus!).

I am truly #blessed - in the spiritual sense of the Word - in Christ!
And, once again, I will never look at that word the same again...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

God Speaks: Not Overwhelmed, Overcoming

Ever feel like some of the tasks on your to-do list are just...well, daunting...


Some undertakings are simply difficult in a multitude of ways...even when they are part of some enthusiastic YESES that fit the JOURNEY God has for my life (see last two blogs).

I (I can't assume you have my problem) lack motivation.

I lack insight.

I lack inspiration.

I lack courage (there's that fear of failure sneaking in again).

On top of it all, there are a kazillion little distractions, and it's much easier to do the small, easier task than to tackle the BIG ONE.

Somehow, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to battling THE LIST.

It's easy to postpone,
put off til later...
and, then...
(and, I simply forget to breathe at times)

I KNOW the Lord did not make me (or any of us) to live like this...


Of course, there are systems and methods to help us prioritize, and I've always been fairly good at organizing those types of things.

However, this week, with seven BIG TASKS ahead (that really result in wonderful opportunities for me at the completion of them). I find myself on the verge of feeling overwhelmed.

That's an interesting word: overwhelmed.
Sometimes, I've taken note, Christians use that word instead of "worry," or "fear" (those things are, after all, considered sinful) - overwhelmed seems better...safer...more spiritual.

The Psalmist even prayed:  "When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Ps 61:2b)."

But, to be overwhelmed means:

to be overcome by a superior foe.


When I use "overwhelmed" as my go-to-word, I am declaring that my duties are far superior than my ability to master them.

Truth is, I am really saying that they are an enemy that Jesus-in-me is unable to defeat.

There is NOTHING the Lord can not defeat!

The New Testament tells me:

in Christ I am an OVERCOMER...

This verse below, in the Old Testament, struck me this week. We've all read it, heard it, sung about it in many different choruses, so it's not new to any of us. It simply resonated with me a bit differently as I was systematizing and beginning to order my work...

With God...
I am a force to be reckoned with...

With God...
I am strong and courageous...

With God...
I am an overcomer...

With God...
no enemy (from distractions to the devil, himself) can stand!

There is only one key to not letting the to-do-list emerge the victor:

With God!

Wrestle like Jacob until I have His Presence.

Stand stubborn like Moses: "I will not go if You do not go with us."

Be fighters like Joshua and Caleb who believed without a shadow of a doubt that there was no need to be dismayed (overwhelmed), because the Lord God was with them everywhere they went.

Be determined like Paul: "The God of Peace will crush the enemy under your feet."

With God...
I will breathe again!

AND...the word overwhelmed has been abolished from my vocabulary.

You want to rethink it?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Wrong Side of Ambition

As I begin this journey of just saying "YES!" to the right things, and finding my place in this new space of life, I recognize there's a whole new world of defining words that I have often looked at wrongly.

An example.

I am a goal-setter.
One might look at the list of goals I concocted for 2017 and think, "Wow! That's ambitious."
...and, to be honest, I've always been a bit prideful of my goal-setting.
"Look at that which I am striving after!"
I hold it up like a medal-earned, waiting for pats on the back.
It speaks to my organizational bent.

However, I am also a goal-stopper.
I start, I quit, I begin again...repeat the process...then stop altogether.
Which means, in reality, that ambition may not necessarily be something to give a whole-hearted, YES! to chasing after.
AND...truth is that leaves me feeling GUILTY!

When Solomon talked about "chasing after the wind," ambition may have been one of those things to which he was alluding.

This week, this word "ambition" is exactly what I've been pondering...
because in truth, it isn't propelling me forward,
perhaps, even backward.

As I've reflected on the semantics of the word, wouldn't you know I ran across a statement that seemed to do two things at once:
-confirm my course of thinking;
-convict my way of living.

Here's the statement (a coincidence? I think not; more of a God-incident):

is a word that lacks any real ambition,
ambition is frozen desire...
the current of a vocational life immobilized,
and over-concretized, 
to set
unforgiving goals.

It's ok, if you need to re-read that thought.  Believe me, I've read and re-read it, now, oh, a few dozen times for it to sink deep within my dense brain.

What really hit me is the part about frozen desire.

Essentially, this author is saying to me "You are lost in the middle of your mission," and "you are not even aware of it."
Why? Because of ambition...and, unforgiving goal-setting.
I have been chasing after the wind.

So, this morning (and I agree, this is semantical, but bear with me), I am saying "no" to that kind of goal-setting.
The kind of futuristic-planning that doesn't take into consideration God's mission for me...
but, instead focuses on what seems-in-the-moment more about perfection, at least in my eyes.

James, the brother of Jesus, warned about this.

So did the sage of Proverbs.

Instead, I am re-visiting God's call on my life.
(...and, I encourage you to do the same...)
I will sit, once again, with the mission statement I wrote so very many years ago, now, and which the Lord has never seen fit to change as I've aged.
I will look deeply into how to lean into that calling to the fullest extent, and have a conversation throughout each day with the Lord on how to best fulfill that mission - WHOLE-HEARTEDLY!

I will say "yes!" to those things that resonate with God's call ---  especially, as I seek to respond to each day's to-do-list.
I will embrace failure and success.
I will learn and grow, sink and stand, and because of both, move forward into new arenas.
Will there be "ambition"? Of course!
Yet, that ambition will come as a part of God's desire, His will for me, as each minute and hour of every day plays itself out.
As it does, my "yes" will turn into "fulfillment" that is deeply satisfying.

AND... I pray that the author's final words (the author I quoted above) will be true of me:

"Perhaps the greatest legacy we can leave the world from our work is not ambition..."
for me, in my words,
the privilege of passing on a courageous desire to follow Jesus one step at a time, being fully surprised by his personally, awe-spiring plan.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Say YES!

No one knows how much life is left in us.

(What a way to start a blog entry! If my girls were here, they'd call me a "Debbie Downer." Yet, I would tell you to read on, because what the Lord's been speaking to my heart is, in fact, a LIFE-LIFTER.)

However, this statement about life is an undeniable truth.

More and more, I am aware of how fragile life can be.

It's made me say many times over that, while I have breath, I want to be more present.

Pay attention more.

Soak in each day and feel the fulness of the little moments.

To live life wide-open, whole-hearted, fearless...

I laugh - "Wide open?" "Whole-hearted?" "Fearless?"

These are not words anyone who knows me would use to define me.

They would use words like: fear-filled, cautious, hesitant, insecure, comfortable-on-my-couch-in-the-corner-in-my-jammies...

Part of what holds me back is my fear of being imperfect (saying "yes," because to do something without a guarantee is very scary for me)...

I want to be a "say-yes" kind of gal, to whatever life has left for me.


So, let me clarify something first: there are plenty of things to which I need to say "no!"

I've had to practice that word many times in the mirror.

It's been a hard word to learn.

For too long I said "yes" to requests that had left me too busy, too rushed, too overwhelmed, too tired, too enslaved to a to-do-list.

Those are toxic yeses.

There are also unhealthy yeses.

I am not the kind of gal who would say yes to rock climbing, or marathon running, or extreme skiing, or anything DANGEROUS (some things are just STUPID for me at this stage of life).


But...I want to throw open my back door each morning and step out onto the porch to breathe in a fresh new day, and say "yes," with enthusiasm.

To say "yes" to all the Lord has for me in this brand-new-day.

To say "yes" to being a Good Samaritan, if the opportunity arises.

To say "yes" to all things JOY.

To say "yes" to long walks down unknown trails.

To say "yes" to fulfilling opportunities.

To say "yes" to making heart-connections with others.

To say "yes" to crocheting little hats for preemies in hospitals in Kenya...and being delighted in the smallness of them, and the space that making them creates to pray for these small-ones valiantly fighting for their lives.

To say "yes" to lengthy horse rides in the forest with my husband, sometimes bush-barging through places we've never been, even if it means my knees will pay the price for a short time.

To say "yes" to sitting down by the river with a cup of coffee and my journal, no matter how big my grocery list is.

To say "yes" to a spontaneous day away over the pass, to a Big Meadow, and a wonderful sit-by-a-quiet-lake to chat with a chipmunk, and listen to fish jump, and watch the love-of-my-life fish (in spite of the fact that I need to be writing seven brand new messages for two upcoming retreats).

To say "yes" to learning to paddle board (I've been saying I've wanted to go for three summers, but still haven't).

To say "yes" to taking meals to others who are out of commission.

To say "yes" to Jesus-whispers, when He sweetly says, "Come away with me, my beloved." He has! He does...often! And, sadly, sometimes my knee-jerk response is "I just don't have time."

To say "yes" to the Spirit of God, when He says, "Worship the Lord and bow down...kneel before the Lord, Your Maker, for He is YOUR God, and you are the sheep of His hand, the people of His pasture..."  AND TO DO JUST THAT!

To say "yes" to my God, when His word says, "Today (meaning: EVEN NOW) if you hear my voice, do not harden your heart..." for when you say "yes," then you will fully "ENTER MY REST."

I long to be a Say-Yes-Woman!
To make the most of each day I have.
To breathe in and breathe out a kazillion little yeses every day that make every day a Sabbath Rest.

May we never regret not saying a WHOLEHEARTED, often COURAGEOUS, YES!