All in a Dream

I had a dream last night that I don’t remember a lot of, but I get the feeling I remember the part that matters.  In this dream, a small boy was telling me what the most important roles of God were to him: Protector and Savior.

Then, the first couple verses I read when I woke up for my devotions were Psalms 18:1-2

I love you, Lord;

   you are my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;

   my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.

He is my shield, the power that saves me,

   and my place of safety.

I love when God works this way.  It’s hard to ignore the correlation.  So, this led me to really take the time to think about what God may be trying to tell me.  Why these two words: Protector and Savior?  I’m feeling pretty stable and safe.  So, it seemed like other words may be more important for me right now.

I began to break down what God’s role as these meant in my life right now, in my current stage, in my current roles.  He is my Protector – today and always.  This doesn’t mean for when I feel unsafe.  This means all the time.  I don’t have to worry because my protection comes through Him.  I don’t need to worry about what may happen, what I can or cannot control.  I don’t need to worry about finances or how to best help people.  He is my rock and my place of safety from all the world throws at me, big and small.  He needs to be my place of safety from all I throw at myself.

He is my Savior.  I tend to sometimes think of this in the past tense.  He saved me.  HOwever, that is inaccurate.  He saves me.  All the time.  I can enter into any situation, any role, anything with the security that the battle has already been won.

tumblr_ltawn1r7Xt1qi95c1o1_500This is great knowledge, but what does it mean for me in my action, in my thinking, in my feeling?  I need to stop and check myself at the door.  I need to start trusting my Protector and Savior.  He has a plan.  I need to trust that and stop worrying about the details or my own insufficiency in His plan.  He’s taken care of it.

He is my shield, the power that saves me,

   and my place of safety.

(everywhere, anywhere, by myself, in a crowd, in the known and the unknown)

-S

Start a Fire

Yes, having such a fire of faith is costly, requiring energy and commitment. But when you use your life to fuel the faith in those you love, as you burn brilliantly and intensely, your children have many opportunities to light their own flame of love for God. ~ Walking With Women of the Bible

I love this!

People like to think faith is an easy thing, and admittedly, for me it is.

But (like every relationship) a relationship with God requires effort! If you start a friendship and then disappear, so will the friendship. If you start a fire and walk away eventually you’ll have ashes. You must keep tending to the fire in order for it to burn brilliantly.

The same is true of the fire within us! If we stop tending to our faith and our relationship with God, it will (like everything else) burn out.

There’s a certain beauty that comes in showing up. In forcing God to be a priority. I say force because there are about 100 other more ‘practical’ things I could do with my limited free time. None would have the same effect.

Not only is there a deeper peace and connection with God, but we also burn differently and thus act differently in all things earthly when our faith fire is at its peak.

You see, when you’re on fire everything you touch catches fire. Everyone and everything you interact with can feel the Christ flame in your life (They may not know that’s what it is, but they will want the good burn too).

This is true of strangers, friends, and most importantly family.

I believe children are born innocent and wanting to believe in things unseen. Hence the easy belief in Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, and monsters under the bed….but there will come an age when the questioning starts.

I pray I can light such a fire in them that they won’t ask, “who is God” (they will already know)

But instead …. “How can I burn brighter?”

-J

An Emotional Thermostat

emtoional thermostatAs a mother and wife, I set the emotional climate of our house…

What a privilege (and big responsibility) that I really do not deserve given my proneness to emotional outburst.

Example #1: just yesterday I had a hissy fit in the car and we turned around and came home before ever reaching our destination….we were half way there….my 1 year old was sitting nicely in the back seat…

Ya, that happened (Chris can confirm this story).

Maybe God should really reconsider putting the female in charge of so much…especially when she’s so hormonal and, well, me.

Then again He (God) probably knows a man certainly couldn’t multi task well enough to get it all done…so occasional emotional outbursts were worth it.

Back to my point.

One of the biggest responsibilities he gave (and the first one I usually forget about) is that I set the emotional climate of my house.

(the saying “ if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happ” is true)

I like to remind my husband of this saying. But when I am honest with myself (and him), I can acknowledge that happiness is an inside job.

I’m not talking about realizing I have a blessed and wonderful family/life. I’m talking about finding daily peace and happiness within and sometimes despite those blessings.

And that my friends is no ones job (or ability), but my own.

When I rely on others for happiness (when it actually works), it is fleeting:

Example #2: my wonderful husband surprised me with flowers when he ran to the grocery store (also for me).

I love flowers! They always make me happy!

Then 2 weeks later they dried up and I had to clean up with remnants and smelly flower water.

Happiness in objects is fleeting.

Happiness in being content in where and who you are, that is a peace that lasts while cleaning up smelly water.

Don’t get me wrong that’s not easy. It’s easier to keep buying new flowers (and Chris if you read this post ALWAYS buy the flowers).

All things worth having take time and energy, that goes for peace and happiness too.

I love this quote from Eat, Pray Love

““Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”

Amen!

For me, that means getting up early, even when I’m beyond tired because I slept with a 30 pound child on my face. It means making quiet time with my God and my thoughts a priority before the crazy day begins.

And yes, the nice lip balm and surprise flowers, and cake with coffee (because why not) all help with the external smiles.

But the soul smiles and true deep happiness only permeates my being when my thoughts and desires, my days and my nights begin with God.

-J

When the World Feels Heavy

Today the world feels as heavy as my eyelids, which are struggling to stay open.  Everything feels monumentally important overwhelming ~ even the good things.  The responsibility and big stakes seem daunting.

What’s a girl to do?

Stay centered and let Your love wash over me!

I need to center on purpose.  Take time to authentically and objectively evaluate what is happening, what I am doing, and my intention within each of these.

I also need to appreciate that sometimes there are are just days like this and that’s okay, too.  I just need to cut myself a break

Recognize things that I am doing well.  Identify things that I need to continue working on.  Just celebrate the journey of life God gave us.

I pour out my complaints before him

   and tell him all my troubles.

When I am overwhelmed,

   you alone know the way I should turn.

Then I pray to you, O Lord.

   I say, “You are my place of refuge.

   You are all I really want in life.

Hear my cry,

   for I am very low.

Psalms 142: 2-3a, 5-6a

-S

In My Wilderness, Let There Be Grace

I have a love-hate relationship with Lent. I love the idea of self-control. Heck, I love the idea of self-sacrifice.

The older I get, the more my soul craves for a season with my God, not just daily life, but a retreat. An oasis of self-recognition in the reflection of His grace and sacrifice: Lent.

Yet, most of my young and adult experiences with Lent has been from the sideline. Watching non-spiritual, highly religious persons use this holy season to jump start their diet, save money, see how strong their self control is…who am I to judge though…

However, it’s given me a love-hate relationship with this mysterious season I long to partake in.

A few excerpts from A Holy Experience (via Ann Voskamp 2012) spoke loudest (and softest) to me on my quest for an understanding.

“ Let the things of this world fall away so the soul can fall in love with God…

Jesus with a crown of thorns, Jesus bent low, God carrying my rotten mess, Grace doing what I cannot do…

She who knows her sins much loves much, and the road to heaven is paved with the realization that I deserve hell…”

Meeting Christ for 40 days in the wilderness of my life, my soul, shouldn’t be hard. I am so wild and faulty it hurts.

photo.PNGI need a shepherd. I need grace. I need mercy. I need 40 days reflecting on my cross, my sins.

Truth be told, the next 40 days of my life are jam packed with chaos and change. Both internally and externally. And life feels too full to stop and focus on God, too full to stop preparing for the next thing and simply be in my wilderness with my God,  who graciously bends down and meets me where I am. Wild girl as I am.

Oh but how I need Him most now.

I cant help but think that was part of Christ’ prayer in the wilderness:

Oh but how I need you most now!

Any lent sacrifices I come up with seem superfluous. Not nearly adequate. Who am I to judge?  Does He love me so little? He who knows my heart cry and has written the words in my soul.  Any tiny thing I can do to bring me closer to Him is not superfluous or in vain, for every second extra I spend near Him is joy, is peace.

I am giving up screen time this Lent, and spending those minutes turned to hours reflecting on my wilderness. My cross. My sins.

Focusing on how better to cry for my Lord in distress and weary anxiousness. Leaning not on my own self control, ability, or understanding, but fully believing; thus, fully trusting in his nearness despite my cross.

So that, come Easter morning I can roll in the glory of His ever present grace.

The joy of His resurrection.

The joy of not just a savior, but also shepherd, and companion in all my wild places.

-J

It’s Ok to Not Be a Happy Go Lucky Person

Maybe I’m not a happy, go lucky, silly, overly positive kind of person.

So, I don’t like board games or cards or have time (or enjoy spending) countless hours lost in a book.

There’s a lot on my plate all the time.

I am tired and stressed and prone to snap out of pure exhaustion (something I’m working on).

I was born wired tense and passionate, and have always voiced my many opinions – not so properly all the time.

For years, I’ve been working on finding joy, happiness, and peace- searching for a heart full of gratitude.

Last year, I reached 4,102 items in my thankful journal (and stopped recording them in October when the pregnancy sickness hit).

Everyday God gives me moments of joy and happiness and peace.

And (most) days I am keenly aware of them even in my exhausted state.

I am blessed.

I take notice (or try very, very hard to).

I am happy on the inside even when I’m tired (i.e. crabby) on the outside.

its ok to not be happy go lucky Showing the world that happiness is something I am working on.

However, I’ve decided it’s also ok to be wired tense and passionate.

It’s ok to not like board games or cards or nonsense-ical books.

I’m working on the snapping thing, because that brings no glory to God or pleasure to anyone else…and because the blessings that make me so tired I wouldn’t trade for the world.

But here’s the thing, stop assuming I’m not happy or grateful because I show emotions differently.

I’m tired, overly busy, and overly stressed.

I’m also overly grateful.

-J

No More Buts

It’s funny how different stories/passages strike you each time you read the Bible.  I’ve heard the story of Gideon in sermons and I’ve read it once or twice.  Part of it has really stuck with me since reading Judges 6 last week. 

God calls on Gideon to save the Israelites from the Midianites.  What is Gideon’s resonse?  He has heard directy from God ~ surely he gets up and goes..Nope.  His response is, ” But, Lord…”  he does this not once, but 3 TIMES ~ not always in exactly those words, but in the spirit of those words.

How many times have I done this?  God nudges me to do something and my response is

“But Lord, have you thought about…”

“But Lord, what if…”

“But Lord, remember…”

“But Lord, I’m not ready, prepared, good enough, stable, [fill in appropariate phrase]”

God’s response to Gideon is His response to me, to all of us.  Each time Gideon “oh buts,” God gives a different reason ~ each of which should be enough.

  1. Go in the strength you have…I am sending you
    • He wouldn’t send us unless we had enough strength through Him.
  2. I will be with you.
    • Enough said
  3. Peace.  Do not be afraid.
    • If we submit our fear to Him, He can handle it.  He has everything under control.

I also find it interesting that this is the order in which God responds.  It’s like He starts big and hopes Gideon will obey, but each time Gideon doesn’t, God breaks it down further until He gets to what is holding Gideon back and prompting all his questioning ~ fear. 

God knows our hearts, my heart.  He doesn’t always call it out because He hopes I will respond on His first command in trust that he has prepared me and the way.

I just have to change my “but Lord” to a “yes Lord.”

-S