It’s about time

I love this quote about time…

“Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I have ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing…Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.” ~Mark Buchanan

My devotional this morning was about that rushing around that we all do. Trying to fit just one more thing into a day. Running around, stressed, over-scheduled and exhausted. The driving question of the devotional, “Who actually knows how to take time and live with soul and body and God all in sync?” This question and the thoughts it stirred up hit me hard this early, cold morning. If I take a real honest look in the mirror, my life is in a constant state of rush. I desire more than anything in my life to be close to God, to commune with him often, meaningfully. But it seems I try to do that by cramming him into a small window of “my time.” Dictating to him – the Creator of the Universe – how much time I have allotted him in my day. It is an absurd reality. God is the one who made me – who took the time to “knit me together in my mother’s womb” and yet I struggle to “find” time for him. Who ever finds time anyway? Where does one look for it? It should be my joy and privilege to GET to spend time with my heavenly Father…often, not just when there happens to be an open spot in my calendar that I can pencil him in. He is my first and foremost. My all. Does my schedule reflect that? Do I stop and slow down in the midst of all of the crazy that each day brings and simply soak in Him? I have to think that God looks down on us and aches for our attention. Longs for us to soak in His presence. To linger with Him in the quiet. My prayer today, Lord is to slow myself down and fully live in each moment with you…to enjoy each minute that you bless me with today. To see you in every bit of my day. Thank you God for helping me slow down and to live in sync with you.

 

 

Seeking God

I started a new devotional this morning. It seems that lately I keep seeking to find inspiration through people who I admire…people who I know are way further along in their walk with Christ and can maybe help light my path. Sometimes I beat myself up for this. This need to be inspired by someone else’s writings and thoughts. Why can’t I seek and find inspiration on my own? I go back and forth on what this says about my walk and my “study life” as far as God goes. I don’t think that being inspired by others is necessarily a negative. There are some amazing people out there who God has given beautiful gifts to and I am thankful they share those gifts. Then I sometimes think that if I can’t just merely sit down and open up the gift that God gave me – my Bible – then something is lacking in me. I am missing something if His inspired word is “not enough.” Yes – this is what I do – argue with myself, beat myself up, etc. After much reflection this morning, I actually think that a balance between studying the word of God and reading other’s words and thoughts is healthy and good for my soul. I don’t have to be a Bible scholar, but I can spend time reading my Bible and it WILL speak to me. God WILL reveal himself to me through those pages. I can also receive blessings, encouragement and inspiration through other people and will hear God through their words. I thank God for his guidance and instruction he inspired through the Bible. Time spent in those pages are time spent with my Creator. I also thank him for gifting people with such creative and insightful spirits whose words touch me and  make my spirit soar. Writers like Ann Voskamp are so talented and produce such beautiful thoughts to share that there is no doubt in my mind she is speaking out her gift from God. I spent this morning reading Psalms of praise and thanksgiving. Recorded for me there is a picture of true adoration of God and the words of David inspire me to live a life that praises more, worships more, thanks more, and adores more. And then, in the same time of study this morning, I read from Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts Devotional” about her understanding of thankfulness and what God has revealed to her about being truly thankful, and I know that her words are a gift from God as well. So as I continue to reflect on my walk and my relationship with God, I am realizing that I am doing ok. I know that the desire of my heart is to seek God in all that I do. And it is ok if I seek him in many ways, places, and words. His Holy Word will always be my ultimate authority. But I also realize that he can and will reveal himself to me through others. For all of it, I am truly thankful.

Empathy

Several years ago, I was introduced to a book called “Strengths Finder 2.0″ by Brian, who I had just recently met. The basic premise of the book is that we all have different strengths that form our personalities and character. There are 35 basic strengths and we all have a combination of some of those. The book takes the reader through several questions and scenarios and then based on those answers, the reader’s top 5 strengths are revealed. I must admit that I was skeptical upon starting the process, but I forged ahead anyway (I was trying to impress Brian!). I thought I already kind of knew my “strengths” – although I really counted them as personality quirks…not necessarily positives. When my results were calculated, I must say that I was quite amazed. They really seemed to be ME. Number one on my list of strengths was EMPATHY. I think I knew this to be true…I feel such strong feelings of empathy for others. That’s just kind of who I am. I guess I was just surprised that a book could see it too. So…all of that rambling to set up this idea…Today, I’m not so much feeling that strong sense of empathy as a strength. Today it feels like my kryptonite. And I don’t think I’m anything “special” for possessing this “strength” as I think that any woman who has ever called herself a mother carries such a strong sense of empathy for her children. Today I was nearly crippled with the desire to take my daughter’s place as I saw the fear and anxiety in her eyes. I saw the pain and worry in her face and I physically felt it in my heart. Today my empathy did not feel like a strength – but rather like a huge weight on my soul. As they wheeled my baby girl down the hall to her surgery, I wanted more than anything to be able to trade her places. I wanted to take it all away from her and protect her from any pain. I’m not feeling so “strong” at the moment. My empathy super powers seem to be my enemy at this point. I hurt for her.

Biggest Fan

I am a soccer mom. A football mom. A basketball mom. A baseball mom. I am my kids’ biggest fan. I love watching them do what they love to do. I am so proud when I see them pour so much passion into their sport. I love watching them succeed. But guess what…when they struggle in a game, or when they don’t score, or when they mess up out there,  I don’t love them any less. I still love them will all that I am. No question. No doubt. The more goals they score, or catches they make – that doesn’t make me love them more either. This may sound pretty simple – and really it is. It’s called love. Unconditional love. But as simple as it may seem on the surface, and as logical as it is to my brain, I sometimes forget that my heavenly father has the same kind of love for me (only on a much deeper level that is more than my brain can comprehend). So if I know how I love my children regardless of how they “perform,” and I know that God loves me as a child of His, why is it so hard for me to accept and embrace the fact that God loves me regardless of how I “perform”? I don’t have to try and please God just to make him love me more. He loves me infinitely regardless of my actions. He already proved that love when He sent His son to die for me. I WANT to please God and live a holy, sanctified life – but let’s keep it real…I’m very human and I will fall, try again, and fall some more. And even in my failures, God doesn’t stop loving me. God doesn’t love me less. And when I try to please and “do” and try some more, God doesn’t love me anymore. He can’t love me anymore than he already does. My kids don’t have to earn my love by “doing” things. It’s free to them. It doesn’t change based on their actions. I don’t have to earn God’s love by doing…I just have to accept it. I can stop being so hard on myself and accept that I am a beloved daughter of God and that He loves me for exactly who I am. He is my biggest fan.

carty zach

Productive Struggle

Sometimes the first step is the hardest to take. The first word the hardest to say. I was shaped by tragedy. My personality formed under traumatic circumstances. I say that not as my crutch – but just as my reality. I know that Jesus is my savior and that he has rescued and redeemed me. I get that I am no longer who I used to be and that I don’t have to live in my past – I get it – in theory. But the practicality of it is that I am who I am right now based on who I was shaped to be back then. Could God completely wipe clean the hard drive of my personality and make my character new? Absolutely he could. But I don’t think that God will do that because he knows that if I struggle through this change as he works slowly on me then I will be truly changed. Now – I pause here to say that I already have been changed so much. I no longer carry with me many of the destructive behaviors of my past. My decisions are guided now by the Spirit rather than by my own selfishness. My outlook is one of hope rather than hopelessness and despair. I have already experienced great change by the grace of God. But I feel more and more that I must become responsible for some of my own deeper growth and change (some of those personality things) so that then I will see the true me, the image-bearer me come alive. While none of us can really claim our own successes – we are nothing without God – I do believe that God will allow me to struggle through in order to build up my faith. And if I seek him in and through it all then that struggle becomes a “productive” struggle as I grow and transform. There is a lot about me that I wish were different. But me is who I am and merely wishing won’t change me. My faith in God, lived out daily, my trust and hope in his power to transform, and my desire to seek him and his guidance in every moment of struggle – those are the things that will bring about my desired change. Those things will be my transforming power.

Working with your neighbor

Originally posted on Brian Suman:

cubiclesOwe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. – Romans 13:8

Do you work with your neighbor?

We all do.

Well, maybe not the one next door or across the street or maybe not even the one that lives a couple of houses down that you just waive to as they drive by but in the context of the Bible it’s the person in the cubicle next to you. Your manager down the hall. That person in the lunch room that you secretly wished had a different break schedule then you.

The workplace is one of the best environments that will test your will to love. It is the place where not only will successes be shared but where things will not go as planned, co-workers will disagree, and change will bring out our…

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God is calling…

Originally posted on Brian Suman:

godiscallingme2If God is calling what is He calling you to? For some of us we feel like we go through our whole life seeking our purpose. Seeking a way to be able to give back, be meaningful, or have some existence. But as we go on the continued search for a title or position to fill in work or ministry, do we miss what God has called us to?

From prison, Paul writes a letter to the people of Ephesus summarizing our call.

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Being Human

There are a lot of things that are hard about being human. Life is messy. Sometimes it’s hard. And at times it just sucks. I think that the hardest thing about being human is emotions. Emotions are powerful! They can be debilitating. Sometimes they can’t be contained. Now before I go any further I will acknowledge that there are plenty of good, positive emotions that arty the same attributes as the bad ones. For example, pure joy can overflow and cause tears of happiness. But there are also plenty of “negative” emotions that are just as strong, if not stronger. One of these is anger. It can be ugly. It will control the mind and the tongue, causing thoughts and words that are not truly reflective of the person speaking them. Sadness, hurt, pain and loneliness kind of all wrap up into one big pile of messiness that can weigh down and smother ones spirit. I think that one of the hardest feelings I have dealing with is when someone I love is experiencing sadness or pain. This feeling should really have a name of its own. I have learned how to cope with (perhaps not in the best way) my own emotions…but for me to watch someone I love suffer through anger or sadness is nearly overwhelming. But the flip side is even sweeter too. The joy of watching someone you love be at peace and filled with their own joy is amazing (sorry that word is so overused). So I’m not really sure what my point is (if there is one at all) Exocet that I am truly fascinated with the ability to feel things the way we do as humans. It makes me wonder how Jesus dealt with his array of emotions while he was human. The Bible talks about his anger. And sorrow. And grief. And yet we know he never once sinned even as he dealt with those emotions. I’m fascinated by his mind and his thoughts. And it brings me comfort to know that since he did walk the earth as a human that he felt the same things I do. He understand my prayers when I ask for help dealing with my human emotions.

What should I expect?

Originally posted on Brian Suman:

expectationsThe definition of expectation: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. Said another way, it’s seeking to prevent disappointment by establishing in advance what can realistically be achieved or delivered by an undertaking or course of action.

An expectation is something we place on someone else. Something some of us place on God.

In our yearning for the expectation to be met, we envision joy, satisfaction, or something given to us. We expect another person to do as we would want them to and as long as we focus on the intent, another result is never considered. The other result that disappoints. The result that leaves us with hurt feelings and disappointment. As many times as we have all been disappointed we seem wired to repeat the cycle.  To set a bar that someone will fall short of.

Why do we do this?…

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