Peace Out!

peace

“Praise the Lord!  I will praise the Lord with my whole heart.” Psalm 111:1

“Life’s full of tough choices isn’t it?” Ursula in The Little Mermaid

Let’s be real…life can be hard! We live in a culture that seems to chant the mantra, “Whatever makes you happy must be right.” Where did we get the idea that we were meant to be happy all of the time? It’s an unrealistic expectation to put on ourselves. Life will hit us with all kinds of tough stuff. Job loss, divorce, sickness, pain, relational drama, car accidents, stress, the list is long. The reality is that the good stuff is often born in our response to the bad stuff. We have a choice to respond in faith or in fear.

When we allow circumstance to drive us, we end up fractured. We kick and scream against the pain. We worry. We lose sight of the light in what appears to be overwhelming darkness. We forget that the light doesn’t ever stop shining even when it is blocked by the storm. Even when we can’t see it well, the sun is still shining. Our trust and faith should allow us to find it regardless of the current view.

I choose to live my life from a whole heart. I choose not to allow circumstance to dictate my joy and my compass. I don’t have to be happy, but I can choose to be whole. I WILL praise the Lord with my WHOLE heart. My heart is full even when my world seems empty. My heart is whole though the world seems broken all because I choose to believe in a God who sees me, who loves me, and who makes a way for me when there seems to be no way. He has always provided and He won’t stop now.

If life hits hard today, just keep moving. Realign your focus and choose to praise when you feel like panicking. Adjust your eyes to find the light. You have the choice. Peace isn’t the absence of trouble. Peace is the knowledge that trouble doesn’t win, doesn’t define us, doesn’t get to control us. Peace is found in praise and trust. Peace out everyone!

When the Bottom Drops Out

fallen

Ever feel like Elijah? Elijah was one of the prophets. He accomplished so much for the Kingdom of God. In 1 Kings chapter 18, we see him have an amazing victory against the prophets of Baal in which he called down fire from heaven. He was a warrior, a conqueror, a man who clearly heard God’s voice. He was a man.

Fast forward to chapter 19 of 1 Kings, and we find this man running for his life and eventually hiding in a cave depressed and discouraged. I’ve often wondered how he went from one extreme to the other. It would seem that the man of God who just called fire from heaven would have enough trust and faith to believe that God would help him out when the Queen threatened his life. It’s so easy for us to read the story and judge isn’t it?

I think if we are completely honest with ourselves, we do the same thing. We probably haven’t called down fire from heaven lately but we have our victories. Things are going well and we believe! Then the bottom drops out and we wonder where God went. Still in those moments of weakness when we’re tired and struggling to hold on, God has not abandoned us. He still faithfully feeds and cares for us. Remember that it was there, in the dark moments for Elijah that God chose to reveal Himself to him.

“So he [Elijah] said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’ Then He [The Lord] said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:10-13

God can break the mountains in our lives in an instant. He can shake the earth, trample the enemy of our souls beneath us. He can do anything. But remembers, He has a reason for everything. Sometimes, he’s not in the earthquake or the fire. Sometimes, he’s the still small voice reminding us that He’s in control and we just need to trust Him. The best part is, His still small voice is still bigger and louder than any other if we choose to listen.

Keep it Simple

I can be so forgetful! I am stubborn and independent in nature. I have this way of going about life as if it were solely mine to live, as if I can handle everything just fine by myself. The weight and responsibility of the world rest upon my shoulders alone. The earth and all its inhabitants are at the mercy of my strength and abilities. God help us all!

I’m sure you’ve already guessed that this trait can tend to get me into trouble from time to time. If nothing else, it leads to my becoming overwhelmed and having mini meltdowns every now and then. The meltdown episodes serve as reminders that I was not designed to hold the world in orbit or pull the stars into position. Whey my best efforts drive me and everything around me into chaos, I remember to cry out for help.

Psalm 116:1-7 “I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!’ Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”

Inevitably, there will be times when I find trouble and sorrow. Sometimes it’s my own fault for trying to do everything my way. Sometimes it’s just life doing what it does…throwing a curve ball or two my way or blasting me out of the current all alone and seeing what I do next. (See the following video to understand the last reference)

I hope and pray that when trouble surrounds I remember to look up. When I call upon the Lord, He hears me. He is gracious and merciful despite my simplicity of mind. When I keep it simple and remember to remember Him, He reminds me that I can stop trying to conquer and vanquish every obstacle and simply return to my rest. I can trust His ability to carry me through everything. He protects and preserves me, meets my every need and has dealt bountifully with me. I can rest in Him.

Today I will resolve to keep it simple. I will slow down, take a deep breath, say a prayer of thankfulness, drink a cup or two (or pot) of coffee, relax and go about my day with the confidence that I can do everything I’ve been called to do in Him and that’s totally awesome!

Lazy Soldier

My quiet time is evolving. Where I once sat cozy on the couch with coffee on the table beside me and a mountain of books, three different translations of the Bible, a devotional, whatever Christian living book I happened to be in the middle of etc., now I sit with baby on one arm and tablet or IPhone in the other perusing my Bible app and the R.A. Torrey book I downloaded with my Kindle. I sneak in verses from the “real” paper and binding version of the Bible here and there throughout the day when passing by. It’s not bad, just a different experience.

This morning I was reading in Jeremiah and then Matthew and what kept coming to me was that the amount of relationship we have with God is entirely up to us. He constantly encourages us to seek Him. In that, in our seeking, He is faithful to be found and to draw near to us. We hold in our hands the ability to either be near Him or distant. Not the most earth shattering revelation but as I adjust to my new routine, I find myself needing to sneak in moments of intimacy with the Lord. I have to grab a scripture here and there instead of spending an hour soaking up the richness of the word. I have to remind myself to pray when I’m glued to the chair being a mommy. All of the sudden, my relationship and intimacy with God isn’t easy or easily attained. I have to dig for it. I have to seek and pursue and want it desperately, something that admittedly, I forget to do sometimes. I’m starting to think this is a good thing.

As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12

We tend to fight for and work for the things that matter the most to us. I so often hear people complain that they have no time to read the Bible or no time to pray and I can understand this completely. It is difficult to carve out moments in the day when the demands of this world can be stilled in the mind long enough to truly focus on scripture. It is difficult to silence the voices of this world that press into our minds (all the things to be done, all the things said to us, all the happenings around us) long enough to engage in active and meaningful prayer. I contend that in those difficulties, we can attain the greatest prize. We, with violent persistence, can resolve to fight for that which really matters. We tiptoe clumsily through this mundane existence, watching life go by us and forget that this is merely a drop in the ocean of eternity. This life, this here and now, is fleeting and only that which is eternal will matter. Shouldn’t we diligently fight to find those moments of clarity? Shouldn’t we run with all that we are to the wellspring and remember to drink deep?

I fear I have become a lazy soldier. I pray today that I will begin to violently run toward that which matters. I pray that in that pursuit, I might become strong. I pray that in ALL things, I would learn to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. At the end of the day, that is the prize and nothing else matters.

IMG_0421 IMG_0423 IMG_0498Sword Drill

 

Everybody Talks

I hope I’m not becoming a talker. I’m sure you’ve met people who you can sit down with for any length of time and you quickly see that they can have a conversation with anyone and escape can be difficult. Before long they might even be having a conversation all by themselves while you are plotting a polite exit route and thinking about a million things that have nothing to do with the words floating in the air. Often, I realize I can’t even understand them anymore. They are suddenly speaking an entirely different language referencing things that clearly interest them, but have no meaning or value to me. I sit there nodding along, faking a smile, trying so hard to be a patient and Godly woman and praying they don’t find me callous.

I’ve never been good at making conversation so in part I’m thankful for the talkers of the world. I think this comes from my mixed heritage. My mother is a talker. My father is one of the quietest men on the planet. Together, they made me, a strange concoction of timidity and passion. I may not be able to start a conversation but if you get me going, look out! I can talk a person’s ear off and not realize I’m doing it until I recognize the blank stare forming on their face and I can read the thoughts behind their eyes saying, “Good Lord, how do I make it stop!”

It doesn’t help that I have an opinion about everything. I feel very strongly about what I believe and this passion can sometimes become a myriad of soapbox appearances that others can find amusing or annoying or a mixture of both.

Over the past few months, I’ve made a commitment to work on controlling my mouth a little better. The tongue can be an unruly little booger. I hate those moments when I say something and I instantly feel like I shouldn’t have said a word. I know that a wise woman considers the words she’s about to inflict on the earth around her before she speaks. I want to be a wise woman.

Proverbs 15:1-4 “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”

Scripture is very clear about how much of a mess we can make with our mouths. Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” I feel like this verse is often taken completely out of context and abused, but that’s a soapbox for another day. If you read the verses preceding this scripture, it’s speaking about offenses and strife. It can be so easy for us to say something that would offend someone or sow strife and animosity. This can cause others to fall into a spiritual state of emergency. Taming our tongue is important for us, for others and for our spiritual health.

James 3:2-11 “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?”

Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you. Let me learn to be quiet when I should. Help me to bite my tongue when anything unruly tries to take control. Help me to think of the effect my words have on others and be a woman of wisdom and self-control.

Sunset

What do you even call the color where all the shades & hues of the spectrum collide and meet  in the middle of the sunset? It corresponds with the nature of soul and spirit itself, a mixed kaleidoscope of beauty; inspiring, inviting, connecting to the core of me. It slides and fades; brightens and deepens in mere seconds. It’s just like your voice, a constant of brilliance, a myriad of excellence, a conglomerate of majesty before me. It breathes in and out freedom and wonder, intimacy and radiance. You sing and I am new.

The waiting world holds its breath now eagerly anticipating that moment… that flash when you speak. Explosions of color emanate from your mouth. You breathe and we live. Then when the fire of your glory touches the earth, light transcends shadow. Meaning surpasses the coming night. The promise of morning looms heavy in the salty air.

Brilliance becomes you. Color and light grasp in vain to describe you. You are vast.

Speak Lord, I am listening.

Color meets Sea

Collision