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Give in, Get rest

fightingsleep

This morning when I got up, I kept hearing Chris Tomlin’s song “Lay me down,” in my spirit.  I like the song, it’s upbeat and catchy.  But, I really started thinking about the lyrics and what it actually says.  Often I can hear something, but not really listen to what its saying.  I hear the sound, but don’t listen to the message of it or just don’t really think about it.  While I was thinking about it, I started visualizing a kid who fights a nap.  I’ve seen kids do everything possible to fight sleep and avoid rest.  Kids can do some really silly things to stay awake.  They wiggle, ask for food or drink, go to the bathroom a million times, cry, sneak and play after the parents leave the room.  But, after a long fight, usually sleep just overtakes them or they skip the nap and become unbearable the rest of the day.

If I don’t get enough rest, I know that I can be hard to live with.  I try to medicate myself with enormous doses of coffee, but that’s just a quick fix to the problem.  Anyway, after thinking those few thoughts, God spoke the verse “Be still and know that I am God.”  The thing is, if you are still and not fighting rest, you find it pretty quick.  Your eyes get heavy and the next thing you know, you’re in dreamland.  After thinking about that verse, I wrote down some key words that I felt went along with my whole visualization that I know God gave me, for at least my own personal life.  The four words I wrote down were lay, listen, rest and know.   I started digging in the word and wrote down some verses to look up later when I had more time to examine what God may be trying to show me.

First, for lay, I read about Jesus laying down his life for his sheep….for me and you.  (John 10:11)  Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice.  Next, I read 1 John 3:16 and it says that Jesus is our example of love because He laid down his life for us and that we should do the same for our brothers.  Sacrifice involves laying down things that are hard to lie down; otherwise it wouldn’t be a sacrifice.  The thing about sacrifice is that God isn’t going to force us to lay that sacrifice down, he wants us to be obedient and willing to do so (John 10:18) Jesus became willing to go to the cross.  So, back to the thought of a kid taking a nap, in order for the kid to receive rest, he has to first decide to lie down.

Second, listen.  Listen is an action word.  I cannot hear well, I wear hearing aids and often I have to really focus on the person speaking to hear them.  Other noises that are louder will distract me from actually hearing someone who is speaking soft.  When I was a kid myself and couldn’t go to sleep, my Dad would tell me to just close my eyes and think of good things.  I would most of the time listen to his advice and do that and fall asleep.  But if I listened to the worries of the day or the fears that lingered in the shadows, I’d toss and turn and have trouble falling asleep.   So, the first thought is that to find rest, I need to listen to my Father (Heavenly one).  John 10:27 says “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  Proverbs 1 says that those who are wise listen yet fools despise wisdom and discipline.  I don’t think I want to be a fool, but I know that I have been and sometimes I’m foolish and stubborn because I don’t listen.   1 Samuel 3:9, “So Eli told Samuel, Go and lie down, and if he calls you say, speak Lord, for your servant is listening.  So Samuel went and lay down in his place.”   In this verse, the word servant stands out to me and the word Lord.  The Lord is lord of my life, He reigns over me and I need to be willing to be submissive to hearing what He wants to tell me.

Third key word is rest.  My first key scripture took me to Job 3:17.  Job is upset and he’s tired, he wishes to never have lived and wants death because he sees that as the quickest answer to his problems.  He wants to find rest and he thinks that death is it.  I’ll admit that I’ve had those thoughts myself in the past.  What I can take from this verse or the whole passage is that when I look inward, I’ll only find wrong answers.  I’ll hear the wrong voices that want me to quickly destroy what God’s answer is instead.  But, Psalm 62:1 says my soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.   I don’t have the answers to my problems; I can’t save myself or others, my rest and salvation come from God alone.  How do I find that rest?  Matthew 11:28 says “come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”  So, I have to go to Him to find rest.  I know when I was a kid and if just thinking good thoughts wasn’t enough for me to fall asleep and find rest, then the next thing I needed to do was seek my Dad and have him hold me.  It was easy to fall asleep in my Dad’s arms.  I was safe there.

Lastly, know; when I rest what do I know? I know that He’s God (Psalm 46:10). I have to know that God is above all, He is in control, not I.  John 14:17 reminds us that the world doesn’t recognize God because they don’t know Him.  As His child, I know Him and I know His voice.  I can trust Him, because I know Him and know that He loves me.  Romans 7:18 reminds me that apart from Him, nothing good lives in me.  I am sinful by nature.  Romans 8:28 reminds me that I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.  God is working in all situations, even when I can’t see it.  I have to rely on this love and because I see and know this love, I’m supposed to show the fruit of love to others (1 John 4:16).  Finally, 1 John 5:14 – 15 says “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”

So, in conclusion, I lay me down, I’m not my own.  I belong to you alone…….

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Posted by on December 3, 2017 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Unconditonal

amazinglovePeople are so fickle.  I was thinking about how easily others get upset with people on social media because they aren’t getting enough attention or likes. They threaten cleaning out their friends list because people don’t talk to them enough or God forbid they vote differently from you or have an opposing viewpoint. It seems more often than not, that we attach many conditions to friendship.  Why do so many people not allow for others to think for themselves or have their own opinion about something?  What happened with listening to each other and agreeing to disagree on certain matters?

Since Easter is this weekend, it makes me realize how wonderful it is to have a savior who loves mankind unconditionally.  We all can be punks sometimes.  I wonder how often Jesus feels neglected by mankind, even by Christians. I know personally that in busyness, I often push through life and neglect to give Jesus the attention or credit He deserves.  When Jesus walked the Earth, he taught radical living, opposite from what our flesh wants to do.  He ticked people off because His teachings didn’t line up with theirs.  Many walked away from Him. But, he didn’t move.  He wasn’t afraid of the lepers.  He touched them.  He didn’t care to be seen with a questionable woman.  He breathed real love upon her. For those who had questions,  He sat and answered the questions.  He spoke truth, but didn’t force it on the audience. He endured betrayal, physical lashings, ridicule, anger, and still forgave.  He knew He would be denied by Peter, yet sought him out afterwards for breakfast, after the Resurrection.

Explaining how extreme Jesus’ love for mankind is really unfathomable.  But, once you realize it and come in full contact with it, it’s overwhelming to know you are loved without condition.  When you are smacked with that kind of love, how can you not follow Him?  His love is a magnet.  It moves me out of myself and draws me to Him.  If you haven’t met Him, I hope that you will soon.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2016 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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A Beautiful Mess

mess

Tear stained face with a bruised heart,
Sitting between walls of solitude
Falsely reasoning within herself
That no one understands.
She’s a complete mess
Who’s waiting to be mopped off the floor of her despair.

She listens to inner lies that have lingered from harsh words
That was spoken in quick temper or without thought.
The accusations, disappointments, the inability to achieve acceptance
Have created this complete mess
That is tangled in her mind.

Interwoven and pulsating from her veins
A need to be seen, heard, and most importantly loved.
He sees her and knows her.
He hears her questions and doubts.
Her heart is naked before Him, but she thinks He doesn’t see.
He knows that she isn’t a complete mess.
He knows how to mop her tears and untangle her mind.
He sees that she is a beautiful mess waiting to be cleaned up.
He’s awaiting the word from her to help.
He can’t help without her asking.
He watches and waits with a heart ready to gush out love.
His arms are ready to grab hold of her and untangle her mess,
He’s ready to recreate the pieces of her that is broken
Into His original masterpiece.

 

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Building Upon The Rock

Last night, I ran into an old friend of mine from school. We locked eyes and were genuinely happy to see each other. We embraced each other and talked about how quickly time passes and she nodded toward her daughter when I asked if she had grandchildren yet. Her daughter was pregnant with her first grandchild who would be arriving in a few months. She spoke briefly of struggles she had been dealing with but that she was doing better. The new baby gave her renewed hope and direction for her life. I encouraged her and told her that she could continue to come out of her struggles. Hope is often something that seems lost in the moment of struggle. At least it does briefly, until you refocus on the goal at hand, but more importantly hope is found in God.

Our community has been hit lately with some tough weather. We’ve had two weeks of snow and slick roads. Then it warmed up, which was great, but then yesterday morning the rivers and streams began to overflow. Many areas are dealing with flooding and being trapped once again in their homes by weather. Today it is sleeting, so the roads are very icy. The weather is affecting business. It’s also affecting others paychecks because they can’t get to work. But, we can’t let it get us down. We have to still live and do. I started thinking of the much quoted scripture in Jeremiah. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That verse has often reminded me that God’s hand is on my life and that He wants the best for me. But, I decided this morning to explore the whole chapter. I think we should really remember to look at the whole context of the passage. Jeremiah wrote a letter to the exiles in Babylon, this is what Jeremiah 29 is about. He reminds the people that God knows where they are and why there are there. It makes no sense to the people why they are captive and dealing with trouble, but God knows the full picture. Jeremiah reminds them that God hasn’t abandoned them. He also warns them about listening to false prophets. These false prophets were telling them that their captivity would be brief. That wasn’t the case; their captivity would be for seventy years. Jeremiah tells the people that in this time period continue to build homes, plant gardens, and marry their sons and daughters. It’s hard sometimes to continue living even when the circumstances aren’t good, but we have to continue on. If we just sit down and do nothing when things are bad, we would not do ourselves or our future any good. Why does Jeremiah encourage them to keep building, planting and marrying? They needed to continue doing so because they are readying the future generation to come into the Promised Land. When we are struggling, we have to look past ourselves and look toward those who will benefit in our struggling. We have to teach the next generation that hope comes from God. We have to endure, so that we will survive, but more importantly so that the future generation will survive.
Think about your life and tough moments in your life. It was tough to go through those things, but have they helped you to be compassionate to others who’ve went through similar circumstances? Have they given you the ability to feed into someone else who is going through what you have already overcome? I know that through tough moments in the past and even current ones, I question God and ask why. But, we have to be ok with the fact that He knows and that His plans aren’t to harm us. He wants us to call upon Him and seek Him. He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to rely fully on Him. He wants us not to be selfish but to think of others. He wants us to build our future through people, our offspring and our community. We need to keep building and planting. Our relationships with mankind need to be reaching and lifting. Our arms need to embrace each other. We need to encourage one another. We need to pray for one another. We need to love one another.

“For the Lord says, ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and keep My promise to you. I will bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will look for Me and find Me, when you look for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will bring you back and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have made you go,’ says the Lord. ‘I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you away.” Jeremiah 29:10-14

 
 

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Winter Storms

coldwaves“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:2-8.

January is always tough for us. This January is even more so. They say when it rains it pours, that is so true. My husband and I own two small businesses. It’s wearing on you physically, spiritually, and emotionally when money trickles in and debt/income ratio is unbalanced. Adversity has reared its ugly head and it’s trying to make us falter. I’ll be honest; I just want to give up. But, I can’t. I’ve just got to push through and believe that God will make a way. When I’m stressed and at the end of my rope, only going to God will help sustain me. I thought of the above scripture in James. I always remember the first few verses, but decided to continue reading. First off, I will admit that I lack patience. I want my problems fixed immediately. I want answers right away. Problems and answers take time to be solved. I’m still learning and asking God to help me there. With the problems, I need to ask for wisdom. I need to in turn trust the wisdom that God has given me. Trust and not doubt! Oh doubt, how I hate you, yet I listen to your wretched voice. Doubt tosses me to and fro, making me not trust God. This is something I need to let God help me with. See in my impatience, I start doubting that God isn’t working. But, He is. Things look scary, I can only see the obvious but I’m supposed to have faith. I’m supposed to trust Him. I’m allowing doubt to toss me around; it’s causing me to be unstable. I know also that as bad as I feel and how huge I think my problems are that there are others in worse circumstances. But, I’m looking at what storm is over my head. God, help me to trust you. Help me to not be double minded. Help me to see that you are in the storm, walking on the sea. You are stretching your hand over me and my circumstance. You want me to trust you. Help me to trust and not doubt. Forgive me for doubting and allowing it to toss me along the waves.

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
― Haruki Murakami

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
― Maya Angelou

“Struggle is the food from which change is made, and the best time to make the most of a struggle is when it’s right in front of your face.
“Now, I know that might sound a bit simplistic. But, too often we’re led to believe that struggling is a bad thing, or that we struggle because we’re doing something wrong.
I disagree. I look at struggle as an opportunity to grow. True struggle happens when you can sense what is not working for you and you’re willing to take the appropriate action to correct the situation. Those who accomplish change are willing to engage the struggle.”
― Danny Dreyer

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.” Romans 8:18-21

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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My Christmas List of Favorite Christmas Songs

I personally don’t start listening to Christmas music until the holiday is right upon us.  There are a few songs that are my favorite, so I thought I’d list my top five, hope you enjoy them as well.

#5  Little Drummer Boy – Bob Segar

I love the soul that Bob Segar adds to this song and have always liked this song.  When I hear this song, I am reminded of the excitement I’d feel watching the Claymation Christmas special of The Little Drummer Boy, along with all the other cheesy Claymation specials.

#4 Do They Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid

I love this song because it reminds me that they world outside of my own are in need of way more than I am.

“There’s a world outside your window And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears”

#3 Away in a Manger

This was one of my favorite songs to sing as a kid because I actually knew all the lyrics, I had to memorize them for a Christmas special one year in church.

“Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay, close by forever and love thee I pray.”

#2 Silver Bells – Andy Williams

Every time I hear this song, it reminds me of shopping downtown with my Mom and grandmother.  The city was busy with bundled up people going in and out of buildings, the stores were decorated with all the holiday flare, and the Christmas lights downtown shined upon the streets. I remember it being a time of excitement and people seemed genuinely cheerful and excited themselves.  This was a time when the holiday didn’t seem as commercialized as it is now.

#1 The First Noel – Bing Crosby

I loved hearing this song on the radio, Bing is the best one to sing it ever.  This has always been my favorite.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2014 in Lists

 

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Choose your own Adventure

chooseadventureI used to read the “Choose your own Adventure” stories from the library when I was a kid. I liked the fact that I could read along the same storyline and see how one decision could tailspin the story into another path or series of adventures. Sometimes, I would get aggravated if I chose something that would end drastically or abruptly. But, I was satisfied that I could return to the page before the decision and change the outcome with the other choice. There are times in my own life that I wish that I could’ve done the same with my personal story. Are there particular chapters in your journey that you would’ve chosen to erase if you could?

I imagine the author of the adventure series has the perfect plot laid out first before he adds the side stories. He probably ultimately hopes the reader will pick the right storyline that makes the greatest adventure. But instead, he gives the reader the free will to decide which path to take.

When I used to read the series, I often picked what I knew would bring a bad outcome. I did it because I wanted to push the limits of the story. Sometimes, I was just ready for the story to end because of boredom. I’ve done the same thing in my own life. I’ve come upon decisions and picked the wrong one, fully knowing it would be a bad choice. I did it out of curiosity, rebellion, or selfishness. I did it to see if I somehow could change the outcome, even though the Author already knew where the outcome would lead.

Thinking through all of this, I’m reminded of this passage, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV

There are other times in my life that I let fear of the unknown stall me on a page in life. I’d lay the book down and sit down on the journey. I wanted to choose the safe path when Jesus wanted me to pursue His adventure. He reminds me that He is the author of my faith to step into those unknown pages. I need to hang onto the next word as he writes it and trust him to make it all end with an outcome that I could never do on my own. Why? Because he is also the finisher of that faith. He already knows where the path leads and he’s excited for me to follow that path instead of me choosing my own. He knows the beauty at the end of the story. And those chapters I messed up, no longer matter because of his grace and love. He uses them to remind me of where I came from and to be cautious with veering from his lead. Ultimately, if I want the best story, then I need to I look to Him to lead me through it.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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