In the bag

Our situation changed suddenly again this morning, so as soon as I could get the right people on the phone, I started making calls for help…and sent out more calls for prayer. As I scrolled through incoming messages of encouragement, we also learned of the passing of a dear, sweet friend. It wasn’t exactly the way we had hoped to start the day, but I grabbed my bag and we ran out the door to reach those who could, hopefully, make a difference.

For years I’ve carried a book with me almost every time I’ve left the house…just in case there might arise an occasion when I could eek out a few minutes of reading. It’s not always the same book, of course, or even the same bag, but the action remains the same.

This month, I’ve added a small notebook. It’s one where I’ve been listing my “Thank you, God!” notes every day. I used to wait until I was lying down at night to mentally run through my day and make sure I expressed my gratitude for the beauties of the day just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I try to say my “thank you” in the moment, but…just in case, you know… (ok, maybe that’s just me.) Anyway! I decided to start writing them down because I had such fun listing them at night and then, by the next morning, I knew I’d already managed to forget some of them. While God’s mercies are new every morning, He never promised that my memory would remain as fresh as a daisy, you know. (grin)

Over the past several weeks, I’ve also added some medical files to my collection of things to carry with me. We’ve been facing some new challenges, just as many others have, and as we’ve tried to navigate them, it’s just been easier to have a central place to put things for easy access. My book bag seemed to be the best option.

As a result, things have continued to pile up and my bag has gotten a little heavier than usual: the different books, the notebook of thanks, the medical files, business cards, receipts, an extra key, a couple of pens, and some sticky notes to remind me of things I wish I didn’t have to do, just to name a few. Something occurred to me today, though, as I sifted through my papers and sent out the latest update to those who’ve been praying: I’ve been carrying my own personal reminder with me as we’ve gone from place to place.

No matter what comes or goes, what we remember or forget, the things we see as blessings and all the things we still don’t…God’s got them all in the bag, too. It will never get too heavy or too much for Him to manage. He won’t stress or strain or lose a single thing. His mercies are new every morning and, as my daddy texted me back today, “God doesn’t work an 8-hour day.” Thank you, Jesus!! He’s right up in the middle of everything that’s going on 24/7/365 and He’s got a plan that has nothing to do with my personal comfort and everything to do with increasing my faith and dependence upon Him as He works to make me more like His Son. He’s got nothing but time, so I might as well get with the program…and I thought it might help you to know and do the same. (wink)

Regardless of what you’re dealing with or how heavy your load seems today, I just wanted to share a little bit of joy for your thank-you-list, as well. God’s got your stuff in the bag, too.

“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (CSB)

(Pssst! If you need an extra blessing, go read the whole chapter! It was especially meaningful to me as I read it in memory of our sweet friend and thought of all the beauties and blessings that he is able to tell God “Thank you!” for in person today. ❤️)

Grace and Peace!

Love, God

I have an old creamy-white platter full of heart-shaped rocks that I have found over the years. I have written before about how they’ve come to be something that I look for as I walk and how they always seem to show up just when I need the reminder that God loves me and that He is still paying attention to my prayers.

I know that’s true, of course, because Scripture says so…but…it’s still nice to have a tangible reminder of it when you still haven’t seen the tangible answer yet.

I’ve found myself in need of that reminder again as I’ve waited (doesn’t it always seem like forever?!) on the answer and resolution to multiple prayers around here lately. People I adore and admire are hurting and that’s frustrating for this “fixer” personality. I cannot fix these things or they would have already been done. God must do it.

I’m aware that He’s continuing to build my faith–and theirs!–in this wait, but quite honestly, even after all these years, I’m still not a fan. I grow impatient and frustrated. All that I know about Him screams that He could take care of each situation with a single thought, and I know that He’s up to something good in each case because He IS good! I just can’t see His end game yet…and so I do what I can: I keep praying.

One of my favorite places to pray is while I’m out in the yard. I make a point to go out and do “something” almost every day. There’s something healing and contemplative about mowing the grass, pulling weeds, and picking up fallen branches. I’m putting things to rights as I do those things. I’m making a difference. I’m making it better. While I’m at work fixing what I can, I’m usually praying about something I can’t.

Yesterday, I spent several hours doing just that. With some early morning help from a strong young friend, I began to fix what I could. Oddly enough, for this one who usually doesn’t like monotony, the idea that this task is a regularly needed and predictably repeatable one doesn’t frustrate me. I think that’s because each conversation with God is a new one…even when we’re covering old ground.

Sometimes I can become so task-focused that I forget to look up. I keep my eyes on the task and not on the goal. Yesterday, in the midst of the task, I looked up. What I saw made me stop in my tracks and be grateful that my camera was close at hand.

God sent me another heart! You can see that it isn’t new. It’s been there for quite some time. At some point, a branch fell off. It was a big one–and one I probably picked up and carted off to the fire pit a long time ago…all without noticing what God was doing. I love that! He kept planning and providing so I would FINALLY look UP and find it…right when I needed it most.

It was like a great big “Hey, Becky! I’m listening! Love, God” sign out in the woods. More than that, it was a reminder that He is still faithfully at work providing all that is needed for all of these prayers and all of these people I’ve been praying over for the longest long time.

“Message received, God. Message received…and, well played, by the way! That was cool. I know we’ll have more of these conversations in the years ahead. Thanks for taking the time to work on my heart (both of them!) and for making me look up to You for what needs fixing.”

As you talk with God today, think about how you can share His love with those around you. What can you do while you wait on Him?

Grace and Peace!

Don’t waste the fast

I was almost asleep when four words flashed through my mind. Usually, I reach over and write things like that down so I don’t forget about them in the morning. I didn’t do that this time. I didn’t need to. Forgetting them wasn’t going to be my issue. Being obedient? Now that might be a different story.

It’s been a bit since I’ve written anything. Our world has been so full of words–most of them so loud, hateful, obnoxious, or inflammatory that my “quiet”ambitions felt as though they would get lost in the noise, so I waited…and began to renew my study of simple things. In fact, I posted my last blog with something I had written months ago…and it was all about being obedient in the simple things. God has been working on this for a little bit with me. It is, perhaps, that I am a slower learner on some things than on others, and on this topic, in particular. (hmmm…)

I’m a “fixer” and when something’s wrong, I’m usually the chick with a plan, but I cannot fix all that is wrong right now. My best option is to be in the Word and keep asking God to do all of the fixing and, if He wouldn’t mind, could He please start with me? You have to mean it when you ask God for stuff. He tends to take you seriously. (insert tiny grin here.)

Way back in 2018, God began to push me about adding Margin to my life. Every time I thought had I cut my schedule “enough” I would start to feel pushed to trim even more. It was disconcerting for this one who has always stayed busy doing something…anything, not to appear lazy, I guess. Laziness is a sin according to the way I was raised, and I was determined to let that be the least of mine, so God’s call to Margin took some getting used to for me.

I began to collect a pile of books–which I never made it through…because I was still so busy. FYI, gentle reader: Collecting books is what stubborn learners do when we’re not really sure we want to go “all in” on something. It gives us more time to process, makes it look like we’re being totally cooperative, and provides us with an excuse for why we aren’t just doing it already. (insert eye roll here!) There were books about Sabbath and slow living and simplicity. Seeing those thing listed out here, I am struck that they all begin with an “S” just like the most important other words in my life: Savior and Salvation..and another word that I had also given WAY too high a priority: Schedule. I didn’t know it at the beginning, but God was saving my life in a new way. I’m still not to the end of that and I may never be. It’s so often still a struggle to let go of what you’ve chosen to value and practice with such diligence over the course of a lifetime. I am determined to try, however, so here I am, two years later and still slowly working my way through Margin…and a stack of books.

In her book Abundant Simplicity, Jan Johnson encourages us to truly examine our heart issues.

“Skipping the heart exam puts in grave danger of making simplicity practices about external behavior only. The Pharisees partially ruined fasting and Sabbath-keeping by making them external practices without looking within. They did not practice these diciplines with an openness to hearing God speak or to discern God’s invitation for today.”

She follows up a bit later with a challenge to read Matthew 6:24 every day for a week and ask God to show us how our actions have revealed the “masters” in our lives. When I did that, I found that I had begun to stray from Margin and long for the return to the master of Schedule.

Schedules aren’t a bad thing unless you let them be in charge instead of God being in charge of them. God had used the practice of Margin to save me and my sanity back in 2018, just so I could actually survive 2019. Having done so, I was revving up to return to “business as usual” in a number of life areas during 2020. Not every area, you understand…just the ones that made me feel more in control. It turns out that God isn’t the least bit interested in my being or feeling in control. Imagine that.

So many changes to the entire world have occurred in this year of 2020, that I have begun to think of it as the “year of the fast” in which we are refraining from all kinds of things for a season. If I fail to use this time of necessary fasts and ignore the spiritual lessons to be gained, I will have wasted it. Wasting time still sounds like laziness to me, and I am still determined that that will be the least of my sins.

How have your actions revealed unintended priorities lately? Who/what is in charge of YOUR schedule and does that need to change? How has God used the events and circumstances of 2020 to speak to you? Have you asked Him how He wants to use this to bless you in the years ahead or are you simply chafing under the challenges? Don’t waste the fast…even if it wasn’t your idea to refrain from certain things in the first place.

Remember, God is still in control. He has a plan–and it is for our good.

Grace and Peace!

Make it simple

My day was a simple one. I got up when the alarm went off. I made breakfast for my husband. I got him off to work and started in on my plans for the day. I couldn’t wait! I was doing what God has been pushing me toward for quite some time. I was creating.

I’ve written before about how one of my favorite things about God is that one of the very first things we learn about Him is that He is our Creator. Imagination comes straight from God and today, I used mine to finish up a present for a friend. I can’t post it yet–it would ruin the surprise–but just knowing that I was doing what He has been asking me to do was enough to make the day amazing.

As I completed the last stroke and washed out my brushes, I realized I would soon be turning this project loose. I have to say that thought makes me a little sad. A part of me is on that canvas. While I hope that it will find an appreciative home, that’s not up to me. My job was to paint it…and pray for my friend while I did so.

I know all of the details about this painting. I picked the canvas size on purpose. I chose the subject matter and created a design based on many of the details that I know about my friend. I did all of that…and yet, I also believe that GOD was doing it through me…just for her. Once again, He’s showing up to remind us that we are connected in many ways-not the least of which is that we both belong to Him.

After working on this painting for several days, I wish I knew more of the details about what He’s up to with it, but…does it really matter? Isn’t obedience in the moment enough?

It should be.

Obedience should always be just that simple. 

What is God asking YOU to do today? Don’t overthink it; just get busy doing it. You’ll be glad you did.

Grace and Peace!

P.S. I actually wrote this blog on December 4, 2019, but I never got around to publishing it. I thought today might be a good day to do that. Here’s a picture of the painting and she loved it. (PTL!)

Corresponding

This pandemic has a lot of us in a muddle. Our plans and schedules–and many of our goals!–for 2020 have, so far, gone right out the window.

It’s difficult to plan and plant for growth when you’re still reeling from the latest blows of hard winds and whim. That’s what a lot of this feels like to me. Wind and whim. Questions abound about whether or not the wind is gale force and whether or not the responses to it are whims or solutions that will actually provide protection. I’ve had more than a few conversations about simple life tasks that we used to take for granted–like breathing without a mask!–and questioned if they’re an overreaction or an underreaction to what we’ve been told. It’s all more than a bit surreal and a-rhythmic…and not at all comforting.

Sometimes my own comfort levels with timing and personal rhythm blinds me to beautiful fact that God made us individuals and not cloned automatons. Oh, I am well aware of the fact–all the while often failing to celebrate the beauty of it! We are gloriously “messy” in our differences…and yet…those same glorious differences can frustrate the daylights out of me at times when I’m certain my way makes the most sense and would be ever-so-much more efficient.

I tend to power through tasks so I can be available to focus on relationships. “They” may actually use the tasks as a vehicle to focus on building relationships. Both approaches get things done and value relationships. Neither one is right or wrong. They’re just different…and different often bothers us more than we want to admit. I hope the differences also teach us something valuable for the day when we’re finally able to return to more and larger social gatherings.

I found myself contemplating these things as I read Genesis 2:18 this morning.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.” (CSB)

More than just the story of God creating humanity, it is a blueprint for relationships. Even a deeply introverted person like me can see that! We need helpers to get the work done. We need responders to build relationships. It helps us be most effective for both tasks and relationships when we are CO-responders to those around us. Total isolation can kill the work load and the spirit.

I got stuck in that word “corresponding” and I started thinking about our recent times of being confined together–and separately. In order for there to be a need for response, someone must step up and take an action, make a decision, or simply bring up a topic for discussion. Leadership means using wisdom as we choose what areas need change and which ones should be allowed to remain in place.

I see the value of a unified approach to our current circumstances and yet remain uneasy about “herd mentality” thinking.  What works in one household (or marriage, or friendship, or nation!) may not be as wise in another. Once again, our differences make us messy, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing?

Here’s hoping we all find our rhythm soon…or, at the very least, learn to find joy in our a-rhythmic dances together.

What differences are you finding, celebrating, and learning from in this season of life? How are you co-responding to make life better for those around you? What tasks are you able to lay aside for the moment and which ones have helped preserve your relationships and make life better for you during this time of social distancing? Sharing is caring! (grin) Your solutions may lighten the load for someone else!

Grace and peace!

It is finished

I finished my Every Word challenge yesterday! It was a “read the Bible through in 90 days” challenge and although I had expected it to take me 97 days and end on Easter Sunday, due to my taking some time off early on in the process, I… ummm…got a little bit excited and read ahead. (grin)

Tuesday night, as I sat down in my chair, my eyes teared up enough that my husband asked me what was wrong. Nothing, actually. I had just realized that I would be through in less than 12 hours. He picked on me a little bit about it because we had already talked about my plan to start over and do it again…at a slightly slower pace. 

While I understood that, this challenge and the sharing of it with my friend Jody and her husband, the Lenten season, the discipline it took to stay on course, the joy of connecting with these ancient words and with the Ancient of Days that they illuminate and illustrate (especially in this current time of year uncertainty!)…well, this read-through has been absolutely amazing.

Along with connecting some previously unconnected dots, this chronological reading has consistently reminded me that God has a plan and it is still for our good even when we aren’t aware of it, don’t like it, or are fully committed to it! That consistency and commitment to an ages-long timeline is impressive–especially in contrast to a culture known for instant gratification, changing whims, trends, and pursuit of the “now”/”me first” focus that we typically see today.

This reading has been grounding…and I’m typically considered to already BE pretty grounded. It was challenging to my schedule and to some of my previously held ideas about what God expects of me personally, while it has solidified other areas in my faith and life-walk. In short, it has been the perfect Lenten challenge that, oddly enough, since “I” didn’t plan it (grin)…ended on the last day of Lent.

It is finished.

Those words that Jesus uttered from the cross stick with me because they are true of His short life here on earth. They are true about his personal, physical Presence in the daily lives of those He knew and lived with during that time. They are true of His unimaginably painful death on the cross. They are true in that they signal this assignment from the Father was ended and He was choosing to complete it as they had always planned. These words are true…

…and yet there’s still so. much. more!

They mean that WE–all these centuries of time later!–can still have a personal relationship with God today! They mean that our assignment to share this Good News is not completed! These words mean that our lives have a higher calling and a deeper purpose than just “getting through” and the pursuit and accumulation of personal awards and acknowledgements.

These words mean eternal life is possible for us! They actually mean that GOD IS NOT FINISHED! He has, in fact, a lot more left for us to do. 

As we celebrate this Easter in all of its familiarity and all of the simultaneous strangeness that has accompanied our current battles against a pandemic, I find both the peace and the challenge inherent in being finished with this reading through the Bible to have changed me for the better. I am celebrating with an intensely personal joy this year because I’ve been drawing closer to God through the reading of His Word. I have a deeper desire to please Him and tell others about Him. I look forward to starting over and learning even more–at a much slower pace!–as I  make my way through the pages of God’s Word AND the days ahead in my calendar.

Yes, it is finished…and life has just begun.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CSV)

If you’re not sure what the verse above means, please contact me! I’d love to share some good news about what they can mean to you!

Grace and Peace!

He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!

Prepared?

Sooooooo… who saw all of THIS happen ing in 2020 and how are those New Year’s resolutions going for you? (Insert eye roll here!)

There have been so many strident voices across the airwaves and throughout social media over the past several weeks that I just decided to stay quiet here at the blog for awhile. Quiet doesn’t mean inactive. I’ve been preparing…for a lot of things. Feeling prepared makes it easier to see the joy, find the fun, and take better care of those I love. While I know we can’t prepare for every eventuality, being prepared for basic needs frees me up to find ways to enjoy life no matter what else is happening.

Having older loved ones and loving those with compromised immune systems means preparation and occasional self-isolation is a standard part of life for us. It also means that “social distancing” is probably a little easier for us than it is for a lot of people. (grin) We’ve been practicing it for years. (Although I must confess that my rebellious streak struggles more when I’m TOLD to do something…even if I would have chosen to do it anyway. Yes, another eye roll is appropriate here, as well.)

Staying home together during this time has been even more fun than I initially imagined…and I was a little bit excited about it, to tell you the truth. It helps that my husband and I actually like each other and are easily entertained whenever and wherever we find ourselves together. We laugh a lot…yes, even now, and perhaps more so these days since he’s been working from home more.

Aside from making sure we had adequate medicines and a few extra goodies to get us through the “flattening the curve” portion of this excitement, part of my preparations have been about preparing  my heart to keep hearing God’s “still small voice” (1Kings 19:12) in the midst of all the chaos. That gets tougher to do when all of the talking heads and doomsday theorists are vying for our attention… especially if we spend more time with them than we do with Him.

Earlier in the year I started a project to read the Bible through in 90 days. That’s not going to happen. It’s going to take me 97 days, but that extra week was spent loving on family, taking care of some personal business, and taking a much needed rest. I’m satisfied with those choices and the result which means I’ll be finishing up this project just in time for Easter! In fact, I’ll be celebrating both the Resurection AND the Return of Christ in the same day. It seems a fitting thing to do.

Reading through the Word–even at this accelerated pace–has made this time easier on me. I am reminded daily that God’s plan is still in process, He is still in control, and nothing–not even our panic, a pandemic,  or our doubts–can change that. In fact, as I’ve traveled the Word these past weeks, I’ve drawn significant comfort from the fact that God continues to CHOOSE to use the imperfect, the doubting, the fearful, and even the rebellious to accomplish His will and spread His Good News to others in the midst of difficult situations.

Could it be because those characteristics provide the perfect foil for a living, loving, never-changing, always perfect God with a plan to save us from our sin and, often, from ourselves? I think that’s a big ole “YES!”

Have you said your “yes” to Jesus yet? If not, right now is the perfect time to do so. We aren’t promised tomorrow–or even the rest of today. That isn’t a scare tactic. It’s a fact. Saying “yes” to Jesus and asking Him to take away the sin that separates you from God IMMEDIATELY changes your heart, your mind, and your future. Saying “yes” means you are making the most important preparation you will ever make!

Are you prepared for eternity? If not, I would love to share more about my Jesus and how He can change your life today.

“You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.” Isaiah 26:3 (CSB)

Grace and Peace!

Time to share! What steps, if any, have you taken to prepare for “the pandemic”, the changes in your routine, or how to take care of your loved ones as we ride out this storm? What are you doing to occupy your heart, your mind, your time, or encourage your spirit?

Unintended Benefits

My friend Jody (hey, 3!) inadvertently sent me on a mission as she shared about participating in an online Bible study through her church. I’ve been out of the “official” Bible study loop over the past several months as we’ve worked to settle our loved one into her placement and routines. In the process of that, my own routines have quite gone out their own window and, as anyone who is part of a care-giving team for a loved one can tell you, concentration abilities can sometimes take quite the hit.

Mine did, anyway. I understood the why, but I haven’t liked the process of trying to regain ground that had always felt so ingrained as to be considered permanent. Stepping away from leading and then from even doing my own in-depth study was quite an adjustment. (So was regaining ground on some of my neglected chore list!) I reveled in the Psalms after my daily walks and God allowed David’s writings of his own struggles to help sooth my own. Over and over I read them. They are familiar ground to me, so I chose to read them in a “different” translation (ESV–English Standard Version) so I wouldn’t gloss over the meanings on my way through them. That helped. I saw things I’ve never noticed before and these new-old words were a balm and a blessing, so when Jody shared her new challenge, I jumped on board immediately.

Her online group is using a book by Susan Goodwin, Jennifer Peterson, and Molly Sawyer (all new to me), entitled EVERY WORD A Reader’s 90-day Guide to the Bible. It’s short and just exactly what the title implies:  a guide to reading the Bible through in 90 days. I’ve read through the Scriptures many times, but never really put a defined timeline on it. Even so, the 90-day thing sounded just like what I needed:  an opportunity to dive into the Word with some concentration and discipline. This isn’t intended to be a “deep” dive. It’s supposed to be more of an overview reading and the authors have included some general questions/commentary/points of interest for the reader to consider along the way. Ninety days through the Bible translates into about 10-15 chapters a day, so far, and although I generally read pretty quickly, I am finding that I’m deliberately pacing myself to match their targets instead of just racing through as I had previously thought about doing.

(Annnnnnddddd…Falling behind makes for a tough catch-up process. Ask me how I know and insert an eye-roll here!)

This journey through the Bible follows a chronological reading schedule instead of the more traditional route, so that change has been intriguing to me, as well. I already knew that Job and Abraham were likely contemporaries, but reading Job right after Genesis made me truly connect some of their cultural dots in a new way. Perhaps that is also due to my decision to read through these 90-days in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB)-translation instead of my trusty NKJV with decades of notes in the margins, dates out beside SO many of the verses, and sticky notes protruding from many pages to mark topics and notes along the way.

I’m a “word nerd” and that means I’ve always loved the lyrical nature of the King James English. I typically use the New King James because that translation retains the lyrical poetry without the formal Thees and Thous for readability. I’ve used my burgundy leather-bound copy of that translation for years, so I wasn’t quite sure I would really enjoy a more contemporary language styling for these ancient Words. I wanted a fresh start for this project, however, so I picked up my purple-bound (I love purple!) CSB translation which I have used for additional clarification during previous studies. The CSB remains faithful to original text and translates in a word-for word and thought-for-thought manner to give us a wonderful readability of the truth within the covers. Win-win! (Did I mention that this one is purple?! Love it!!)

I expected to use this challenge as a way to marshall my now-all-too-often-scrambled thought processes and help me regain some stability of study habits. I hoped to be alert to learning along the way, of course, but the 90-day pace doesn’t allow for in-depth study right now, and that seemed to be all I could handle. That’s really different for me, but the logical side of my brain says I have to start somewhere to regain the ground, so this was my shot. What I hadn’t prepared myself for was something I should have thought of from the beginning: the Word of God is powerful and healing and interesting and entertaining and instructive…and just reading through it in this measured pace has sparked my interest in finding out more/digging deeper to the point that I’ve had to actually force myself not to stop and dig deeper along the way…every few minutes or so! (grin) The “new” language for these ancient truths has made me fall in love with the Words all over again and I’ve found myself caught up in the drama and the history of it all. (Even reading through Leviticus wasn’t a chore this time!)

Along the way, I’ve also been highly entertained by the way the more contemporary phrasing has caught my attention and made me laugh and see imagery I know that I’ve missed in previous readings. I’ve started a small sticky-note reminder of some of my favorites. I’ll close with the two that made me start the list:

“If only you would shut up and let that be your wisdom.”  Job 13:5 (CSB)

and

“…All fat belongs to the Lord.”  Leviticus 3:16b (CSB)

I’ve got to tell you, those two gems–and the wisdom and the hilarity that ensued in my mind as I read those words–are worth the entire project! I needed that truth and humor combination. Maybe you did, too.

Spend some time in the Word today to deliberately draw closer to the One Who made you and loves you most. I think you’ll learn more than you intend…and God has way of giving us gifts that we didn’t even know we needed as we choose to be obedient.

Grace and Peace…and laughter with God!

 

Road map for life

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Most of us have at least heard these words before. Many of us can quote them. How many of us, I wonder, apply them?

Trust in the Lord–Well, sure! Who doesn’t know that they’re supposed to trust God?! Lots of us give lip service to this part. We SAY we’re trusting, but all the while, we’re scheming and planning our own ways and trying to work the system or get the people in our own systems to meet our own goals and meet our own desires with little to no thought about whether or not those plans actually line up with God’s Word or His heart. While it sounds like a no-brainer to trust the only One in charge…do we really trust Him? What do our prayers say? Are we telling Him how we want things to go or telling Him that we’re willing to go His way? Are we even talking to Him at all?

with all your heart–Oh, my. If we’re having trouble with that first part, whatever are we doing with this one? With ALL your heart? (Did You really mean, our whole heart, God?) What are you doing with your whole heart? Are you focused–in ANY area of life–with your whole heart? Divided hearts seem to be the norm these days. Are we willing to look simple and foolish because we focus our whole (Definition: “all of; entire; total, unabridged…”) heart on the Eternal God who is actually the only way we can have a whole (definition:  “in an unbroken or undamaged state; in one piece; intact; unbroken; unimpaired…) heart?

and–you mean there’s more, God?! Yes. There’s more…SO much more!

do not lean on your own understanding,–What happens when we lean? We allow our weight to be carried by something other than ourselves. Hmmmmm…What if we were truly willing to allow for the possibility that we don’t have all of the information needed to navigate this life? Anyone else in NEED of the ability to take a break from trying to do it all on our own and get rid of the self-inflicted (not to mention totally unreasonable and unattainable!) pressure to be infallible? Would that lighten our loads in any way? Don’t we need that?!

in all your ways acknowledge Him–Oh, dear. There’s that word again:  all. Every single one? In EVERY. THING? Yes, and there’s still more! Keep reading! In every single thing we do we are to “acknowledge Him. That word means we’re supposed to:

  1. accept or admit the existence or truth of.
  2. recognize the fact or importance or quality of…to celebrate, to praise, to speak highly of, to accept the validity or legitimacy of…(Becky’s definition: believe!)
  3. show that one has noticed or recognized (someone) by making a gesture or greeting. (Becky’s definition: make a change!)
    That sounds like the ABCs of salvation to me! Admit, Believe, Confess…and be CHANGED so that all the rest of this is even possible.

and He will make straight your paths.–So many times we want to know where we’re going and what we’ll see/do along the way. Keep in mind that this verse does NOT say our paths will be easy, simple, without issues and fault lines and mountains and valleys and…we’re still going to have all of those things and–that’s what makes a trip SCENIC, y’all!! Our final destination changes once we’ve done all of that acknowledging, however, and our path will then lead us straight to HIM even when the route along the way gets “scenic” at times.

Father God, Thanks for giving us a way to come straight to You and making it possible to rest in all that You have planned for our journey. We make that harder than it has to be sometimes. Thanks for being patient and giving us a brand new day in which to make better choices. Help us to lean into You today no matter what part of the road we’re on and be at peace with knowing You’re in control. We make that harder than it has to be sometimes, too. Give us You today in ways that allow others to be blessed and see that they need You, too. Help us to represent You well, God, and give us the ability to praise You on purpose no matter what our “scenery” looks like today.

Grace and Peace.

 

Undivided

I was back on the porch after my walk this morning and back in the Psalms, as well. I love reading through these familiar words that suddenly grab my attention as though they are brand new to me.

Today, God used Psalm 86:11, to do that:

“Teach me Your way, Lord, and I will live by Your truth. Give me an undivided mind to fear Your name.” (CSB)

“…Give me an undivided mind…” it says. Wow. How long has it been since you had that?! The ESV translates it this way: “…unite my heart…” and I suddenly know and remember out loud that we are the ones who divide our hearts and minds.

We call it multi-tasking and say we’re making progress, but it really isn’t progress if we lose sight of what we’re supposed to be doing: walking in His truth and fearing (honoring, giving reverence to) His name.

Somewhere along the way we got that mixed up. We began to make our own “truths” and revere our own names. No wonder we find ourselves with divided hearts and minds unable to see what is real…and  too often afraid to speak it lest we annoy someone or step on toes that walk in ways contrary to what God says is good.

And sometimes, those toes are our own. Connected to minds that race when we should be resting and are still when we should be working, our divided hearts still fight for relationship with more–when GOD is the only MORE that we ever really need. 

I needed this Word today as I make plans to celebrate this season. I want my celebration to be meaningful and God-focused, praise-filled and prayer-full–AND I want it to continue throughout the upcoming year! Yes, we set aside this season to celebrate the gift of God to mankind and we decorate and we purchase and we revel… and we’re different…for a little while. I wonder what would happen if we used this time of celebration to unite our hearts and minds so that we can walk in HIS truth and be who we were actually created to be: undivided.

Hmmmm…I wonder.

Grace and Peace!