One Thing

It’s a preschool day for my son and my husband volunteered to do drop-off this morning.  I stepped out of the shower and into the rareness of a quiet house.   A brief sigh of relief was quickly ebbed by the thousands of “should-do” thoughts that came rushing into my mind.  As mothers, we have but few moments to ourselves so they must be used ever so wisely.  I should unpack those bags still sitting in the living room from our trip last week, I should start a load of laundry and definitely get those dishes done, I should turn on some music and clean (you know REALLY clean) this house, I should water the flowers and pull those weed, not to mention everything I should be doing for our business.  I’ve got messages to follow up with and notifications on social media blinking at me eagerly waiting to be opened, along with a list of phone calls to be made.  Then one tiny voice in my head whispers, “or write”.  Write; the one thing God has been so patiently and lovingly nudging me to do for the last few years and the one thing that always seems to come last.  We all have one thing; that one thing we love doing but it always takes a back seat to the many “have-to” moments in our day.  Maybe yours is reading or praying. Maybe it’s creating artwork or music.  Or maybe yours is just sitting quietly in His presence.  Whatever your one thing is, if you’re like me you don’t let yourself do it very often.  Why is it that the things that feed our spirit the most we all too often give the least amount of space in our lives?  Maybe life just gets busy, maybe we’re so busy pouring into others we neglect ourselves or maybe it goes even deeper.  Maybe we don’t even feel worthy of this precious time with our One Thing.

I so frequently find myself striving for perfection in every area of life that instead of excelling in one aspect, I feel like a failure in all areas.  I’m not sure how many roles you play in this world but most of us are juggling several hats.  Yours might be employee, student, daughter and friend.  Mine are wife, mother, daughter, friend and business owner.  Each one takes up a vast majority of time and when you add them all together, sometimes it feels overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to be “the best” at each one.  I blame social media and the Pinterest mom generation for this need to excel at our daily tasks.  What else are we to do? We’re constantly bombarded with images of the mom who just made her kid a snack of fruits and vegetables in the shape of a train (how in the world?!!), the crocheted blanket someone crafted up for a friend’s new baby (while you just grabbed a gift card last minute) and the beautiful spread of (yes, all organic) foods the wife loving prepared for her husband, while you realize it’s 5pm and haven’t a thing in mind to make.  Yes, I blame social media because that’s where we see this portray of perfection but that’s not really where the blame rests.  There is an enemy who would love to defeat us at every turn and if he can use a picture of a fruit and veggie train to do it, he will.  The problem isn’t everyone else and what they excel at, the problem is us.  The problem is me buying the lie that I’m supposed to be the best at everything I do.  What if we’re just supposed to shine in our One Thing?  What if the very thing you put off till last is the one thing you need to focus on the most?

So I’m writing.   Today, I choose my one thing.  I choose to quiet all the other voices pulling for my attention and focus solely where God is leading my heart.  The beauty of this life is that yours isn’t the same as mine.  Maybe you need to go focus on making baby blankets or cooking dinner because that is where God has called you.  Maybe pouring into your children or your husband is exactly where He wants you to be.  Or perhaps you are reading this on your lunch break and God has called you to invest in your career.  Then excel.  Do what it takes to make that your One Thing and be the very best at it, but don’t try to be the best at all the things.  Staying in your own lane and keeping your eyes on the path uniquely planned for you can be one of the most difficult challenges in this life.  Their grass may look greener but it will never feel as soft as what is planted beneath your own feet.  So I’ll do my one thing and you do yours and together we can create a beautiful garden.

Ephesians 2:10, 1 Peter 5:8, Proverbs 16:3, Proverbs 3:5-6, Luke 10:42

Sank You

I have always believed we can learn so much by watching children. In fact, it is one of the reasons I became a teacher. I just never realized how great a lesson one could teach you, until today. Now that I work from home, my son only goes to child care a few days a week but we always make that drive time special. Each morning we pray and sing songs and each afternoon we talk about his day. Today was no different. We started out by thanking God for the sunshine and the great time we had on vacation this week. We remembered to pray for Grandmas and Grandpas, cousins and our dog and to thank Him for things like trucks and tractors. But my three-year old does something else each time we pray that today touched my heart in a distinct way. He thanks God for his biggest fears. This kid is fearless when it comes to heights, heavy equipment or airplanes but is terrified of the hand dryers in public restrooms, hates elevators and is not a fan of escalators or using the potty. About a month ago, I noticed he would thank God for these very things as he prayed. “And sank you God for elevators and escalators and hand dwyers and the potty”. At first I just thought it was really sweet, but as he prayed it today my eyes filled with tears and God spoke to me in a very real way. Thanking God for our current circumstances creates a cord of hope that connects us to His ultimate desires for us. Sometimes God changes our situation and other times he offers the strength to endure it. Either way, our current struggles have been lovingly planned by a Father who will never let us bend so far we break. I spent years going back and forth in this constant struggle of viewing every problem as an attack or at the very least an obstacle. Life became me versus the world and at times even felt like God versus me. There were times I even began to look at problems as punishment. When my son was born, anxiety issues I had dealt with my whole life were suddenly magnified and on many days I found it hard to breathe. I knew God was big enough to take that feeling away and my prayer was that he would, in an instant. I kept praying and waiting for the magical moment when God would just say “storm be still” and all that was raging within me would be no more. That was not the way he chose to deliver me. From that dark and frightening place, God chose to draw me near to his side; to come to know him in a new and more personal way. He became my very breath, my strength to rise and my song. The cord of hope was extended and the journey to the me he created me to be began. My struggle did not end in an instant and my circumstances were not suddenly changed; I was. I began looking at things differently and learning from the trials in my life. As my perspective changed, my situation changed. Years later, I can look back on times of trial and realize God was doing something there. For some situations, I still have no answers but I trust in the One who does. As my son thanked God for his four biggest problems in life, I began thanking God for mine. I started visualizing what blessings might be born from brokenness and started speaking those blessings out loud. I thanked Him for the things that irritate me and the things I still wish I could change about myself. That act opened the door for God to begin working in those areas. The cord of hope grew. What if one day, I looked at everything as one more love knot in the tapestry God is weaving in my life? This journey to our ultimate home in eternity could be so much more vibrant if we only let love win. If we learned to be grateful for our faults, fears and failures and let God use them for his glory what an impact we could make with our time here on earth. This one step, this one lesson from a three year old will be my starting point. “Sank you God…”

Heart’s Desire

Sometimes it is easier to pour out my fears, weaknesses, sins and shortcomings to the Lord than it is to place my hopes and dreams in His hands.  It is easier to believe God forgives, heals and rescues than it is to believe he blesses, accomplishes and favors.

It is hard to believe these desires of my heart will come to fruition.  After all, what have I done to deserve them?  Yet His words says, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  This passage isn’t directing us to dream up any want we can think of and expect the Lord to grant it like a genie in a bottle.  What it is saying is the Lord actually places His desires for you within your heart.  When your eyes are fixed on Him and you are walking this life journey with Him, you will begin to desire the things that are pleasing to the Lord.  And because you desire the things that please Him, he will surely bring them to pass.

What are the deepest longings of your heart?  What is your heart cry?  What do you desire above all else?  Sometimes these deep desires are difficult to even put into words.  Maybe it is for a loved one to know the Lord, a child to find grace, or to find that special one to share your life with.  Perhaps it is a goal, a vision for ministry or a dream for your family.  Whatever it is, give it to God. If he gave you the desire, give the outcome of it back to Him and allow him to work it out to completion in your life.

How do we know if the desire we have is from the Lord?  Does it bless him?  Honor him? Bring life, hope and joy to others? If it is something other than for selfish gain, it is likely from the Lord. After all, He created you.  He gave you your talents, gifts, likes and dislikes. He gave you a unique personality that would long after the path he planned for your life.  Think back to when you were a child, innocent and uninfluenced by the world.  What did you want to be?  What brought you the most joy?  So many times, those desires get washed away by the harsh reality of the world we live in. This broken land robs joy and steals dreams.  It tells us we’re unworthy, unlikely, and undesirable.  But God says we are chosen, holy and dearly loved.

God says he will carry out his plans in our lives. We only must believe God has the power to do what he has promised.  When God promised Abraham he would be the father of many nations, Abraham had a choice to make; trust God’s word or believe what was his current reality.  He chose not to consider his own weaknesses; “his own body, already dead or the deadness of Sarah’s womb”, rather he chose to be strengthened in his faith.  “He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”  That is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Abraham chose not to look at the obvious; his old body, his old ways, his current circumstances.  He chose to look to the One who made the promise and was able to accomplish anything.  The deep beauty of Abraham’s example is grace.  Abraham did not work for God’s blessing.  He didn’t earn merit badges by being a good church member or going door to door.  He was highly favored because he believed God.  For “to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt”.  “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace.”

Let us look then at the desires God has placed in our hearts and look only unto Him as the one able to accomplish them through us.  For we know that “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given us”.

Psalm 37:4, Philippians 1:6,  Colossians 3:12, Romans 4:20-22, Genesis 17:5, Romans 4:4, Romans 4:16, Romans 5:5

Praise from the Garden

The sun takes its moment to shine forth in brilliance. Its rays beam and burst out in all directions with four strong points to north, south, east and west as if a blazing cross has been set in the sky. As the trees wake to the breeze they clap their morning praise. The sun seems to pulse in and out of the leaves; the heartbeat of the sky.

All creation shouts your praise and I delight to join in the chorus. What can I say? What could I sing? I pause. I simply sense your greatness in this place; the magnitude of your presence. I stand silently in awe of your glory. This is worship.

The veil is torn. The coal has touched my lips. Your love has seared my soul. Your grace has cleansed my heart. This is holy ground.

Psalm 148:5, Matthew 27:51, Isaiah 6:7, Exodus 3:5

It is Well

It’s just the two of us. His greatness and my frailty are mingling together. We are one in this place, though the thought is almost unbearable and nearly unimaginable. My facades are removed. Every mask is taken off and dropped at His feet.
I am Bare.
Shame attempts to intrude but He gently pushes it away. My heart exposed, He begins to mend, restore and tend to each need. This is a process. Each time I come, more work is accomplished. Often, there are new wounds. This broken world easily produces more brokenness.
No matter to Him. It is as if He doesn’t notice. He is unshaken by anything I could bring. My worst, He makes his best. This process, so tender and so gentle, brings waves of peace and undertones of tranquility.
I rest.
I know all will be well. In this place, more than any other, I can truly say it is well with my soul. It is here I am made alive and anew. What is not complete is held in his hands, reserved for another meeting. It needs time; a process of healing. This rests well with me as He knows better than I.
I wait.
In hopeful, joyful expectance I wait. He breathes life in my lungs while the warmth of peace and the cool rush of anticipation fill my soul. There is more, much more. There is a promise; a sweet hope. For here, I see dimly. This is only a portion, just a small glimpse, of what awaits. It is but a foretaste of what He has prepared.
I hope.
My hope is placed fully and only in Him. It is well. It is well.

Lamentations 3:22-23, James 1:2-4, Psalm 23:6, John 14:3

Holy Ground

Morning barely makes its appearance and she wakes, taking her Bible in hand and tip-toeing through the house. She walks past the laundry pile begging to be folded and curtails the dirty dishes in the sink. Her destination is that secret place. She swiftly makes her way to this favorite spot where she meets with Him once again. Quietly she opens the pages of that worn Bible with the underlined passages. She prays no one wakes to disturb this precious time. This time she needs. This time she craves. Even a few moments here in the garden of His presence is enough, but she always craves more. He is tangible in this place and she has come to need that more than anything else in her day. She needs Him first. Some need a cup of coffee in the morning, but she needs the One who quenches her soul. He is the one who meets her greatest desires. Here in this place, deep cries out to deep. Creation dances with creator. Breath and soul meet the giver of life.
It is good.
It is needed.
She sits quietly breathing in his presence. She praises by sensing his greatness. She asks by revealing every thought to Him. She confesses by bearing her heart. Nothing is hidden. Nothing is wasted. Here, there is no condemnation. Here, every weight is removed. Burdens are lifted and every desire is taken, held and considered for the perfect time.
His love overwhelms her and his peace envelopes her. She is seen. She is known.
This is holy ground.

Luke 10:42, Genesis 16:13, Exodus 3:5

Creed

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I am not my accomplishments.
I am not my appearance.
I am not what others think of me.
I am not my own.
I am loved.
I am chosen.
I am His.
I am forgiven.
I am made worthy.
I am made new.
I am a child of the One true King.
I am not driven by the ways of this world; by money, lust or greed.
I am not moved by things.
I am called.
I claim a higher purpose.
I follow His plan, His ways, His steps.
In Him I live and move and have my being.
I will not be shaken, though the earth give way and the mountains crumble into the sea, because this is not my home.
I am not of this world.
I am only and completely found in Him.
He is my way maker.
He is my peace.
He is my light.
He moves me.
He makes me.
He guides me.
Constant He will be.
Forever I am changed.
One thing remains; I in Him, He in me.
Unstoppable
Unshakable
Immoveable
Life-Changing
Breathtaking
Good
Alpha and Omega
All I ever need
The One
True
God.

Acts 17:28, Psalm 46:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Revelation 22:13

Free Gift

giftbox

Christmas was two weeks ago and I am still trying to figure out where to put all the toys my son received. It is amazing how much loot one little person can acquire in 24 hours! What’s even more amazing is that none of it even matters to him. At 22 months of age he is just as content with the gift box as he is the present inside. Yet, even though he was not asking or expecting, he was showered with packages. Our God is like that. He longs to give us all good things. He, who did not spare his own son, freely gives us all things. From his storehouse he desires to pour every good gift of Heaven into our lives. These gifts can not be measured in earthly terms. These are Heavenly treasures. Gifts of more value than any material possession; these gifts of the spirit he yearns to graciously offer us, if we will but ask and accept. He gives in great abundance. God’s intent was never for us to merely “get by” in this life. Christ came to bring abundant life, now and for eternity. Unlike the innocent nature of my son, who willingly accepted each gift bestowed upon him, we are too often driven to strive for these good gifts. In my heart I know I could never earn or deserve the gifts of Grace, however I often find myself striving as if I am trying to. Unlike my son, I know what sin is. I know where I have been. I know who I once was and I know it is only by God’s love and forgiveness that I am set free. The more I come to know the Lord in real, personal and intimate ways the less I find myself striving and the more I learn to accept the gifts he so freely gives. Today I choose to come. I come as a child, in innocence, with my hands open, amazed at a Father who would love so much as to lavish upon one so undeserving. He is only good.

Luke 11:13, James 1:17, Romans 8:28, Romans 8:32, Galatians 5:22-23, John 10:10