Friday, April 29, 2016

Five Minute Friday :: Pass {link up}

It's Friday, and I'm writing with others who like to put something down without overthinking it. If you'd like to join in, just click here for more info.

Today's prompt is:  PASS


If someone asked me how I feel about change, my response would most likely be that I'll pass. Even though it is usually beneficial, I don’t deal well with the stress of change. I have to rethink my attitude toward it, though.

You see, I will be fifty years old this year. I acknowledged that Jesus is my Savior and that I need Him when I was twelve, so I’ve been a Christian—in varying states of devotion—for a while now. But I feel, in many ways, that I am still a baby Christian.

People who know me might disagree, since I have a lot of scripture memorized, and I am an encourager—I love to point people to the Word and Truth. But the problem is I struggle to receive what I say I believe.

I have used the phrase I’ve heard from others, “I believe it in my head, I just need it to pass to my heart.” But I even have to rethink that. I mean, do I really believe it at all? Do I believe that I am redeemed? Forgiven? Loved and accepted, not rejected, by the Creator of the Universe and the Savior of the World? Do I live like I believe?

What I’m trying to put into words is that I’m really tired of all the stress and lack of peace. I’m tired of freaking out over stupid things, yelling at my kids, and not getting enough sleep because I don’t manage my time well. I’m tired of always feeling like I’m never good enough and being exhausted from feeling defeated all the time. I guess some would say I’ve been letting Satan have a field day with me, beating me up at every turn—and using my own thoughts to do it!

But I’m also tired of all the Christian jargon. Something that’s been floating around inside of me for a while is how we all want authenticity in the Christian community, but most of us are probably faking our joy to a certain extent because that is what’s expected from us by fellow believers—not to mention those who reject God. So, if we don’t feel like we can be real among our own flock, we are destined to crash and burn. And, again, so many Christians shake their heads in amazement of how this suddenly happened to one of our own. Even though it didn’t happen suddenly. It was a slow burn and everyone ignored the smoke.

Another popular phrase is that we often won’t change until we get so uncomfortable with where we are at that our only option is to change. In Christian terms this would be the “hitting the bottom, so you have to look up (to God).”

I don’t know about hitting bottom, since I don’t have a major crisis in my life right now. But I am very tired. So tired that I need something to change. Because I feel like I walk around in a stupor at times, spouting off Christianese and going through the motions of life, while silently rotting inside.

So, God help me, I plan to be more authentic. I want to own, not justify or make excuses for, my sinful tendencies. To stop judging. To pray with expectation.  To have no hidden hypocrisy (no matter whom I think is whispering about me). No faking; no feeling responsible to have all the answers when someone asks me a question. 

This may get ugly before God turns it into something good. But He promises to bring beauty out of the ashes of my story, and that is my desire. (Psalm 126:5, Isaiah 61:3)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Five Minute Friday :: Whole {Link up}

Here I am writing on Saturday to Friday's prompt, and not worrying about whether it is "good" enough. It is fun to write like this, so if you'd like to try just click here. Today's prompt is:


Do you tell the whole truth all the time? Or do you “fudge” things?

Do you judge others for lying, while you categorize your lies and act like they don’t matter because they are insignificant (to you), but the other person’s lies are a big deal (at least to you)?

When the wall of a dam gets a small crack in it, that small crack can turn into a major catastrophe. And the catastrophe it becomes—allowing a torrent of “unexpected” water to run over and destroy everyone and everything in its path—seems like an all-of-a-sudden thing. 

But it isn’t. Because the small crack was there and it went unchecked and it turned into a big mess.

Tiny, “white” lies aren’t that big of a deal, you may say. But, is that true? (see Proverbs 12:22)

How would you feel, if you found out that something Jesus said was a lie. Even if it was something small, like what He had for breakfast one morning while He walked the earth. Would it bother you to know that He lied?

The issue isn’t just the content, it is the motive behind the lie. Where is our heart at in the midst of it? If we are willing to allow a single, small area of dishonesty to enter our lives, if we aren’t ruthless in exposing ourselves before the Lord and asking Him to search our hearts and minds for any lies we have told or believed, then it becomes a slippery slope of compromise.

And the next thing you know, something bowls us over—and takes those around us in the rush—and we are all reeling from this “sudden” development, that was really lurking in the shadows all the time.

"Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day," (1 Kings 8:61 NASB).

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Five Minute Friday :: Focus {link up}

Today is a beautiful Saturday to write for five minutes without worrying about editing, and I’m glad there’s a bunch of us doing this together! Click here to find out more. 

This week’s prompt is: FOCUS


When you point a camera at something and take a picture, you’ll have an image of what you focused on. The same thing goes for our Christian walk—the picture of our lives is based on our focus (is it on Jesus?).

Often, we have a finger-pointing focus. Sometimes it is because we are hurting and want the pain to stop. And sometimes it’s because we feel we are superior to someone else in biblical knowledge, or maybe it is because we just get annoyed with that person. But our finger points, and our words flow, and we end up feeling blah.

Jesus wants our focus to be on Him. Yes, reading the Word is essential to gaining understanding and wisdom, but even Jesus said that isn’t where we’ll find Him.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life,” (John 5:39-40 NASB).

Jesus wants us to seek Him. The Bible tells us who He is, and it points us to Him, but it is up to us where we want to focus. What is our motivation? Always, that needs to be the question we ask ourselves. Do we just want to be rid of pain and irritation? Do we want to be left alone? Are we prideful, and by virtue of that pride, are we embarrassed by someone?

When our focus is in the right place, we’ll see the grand picture from God’s point of view, and our selfishness won’t blur the beauty.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Five Minute Friday :: Quiet {link up}

 Writing for fun for five minutes without any worry about editing is a nice way to start Monday! 

Join me, if you can make time. Just click here for more info.



That is something hard to get at in my heart.

Because when I am quiet, then I can hear all the noise in my head. All the things that I tell myself about how I’m not good enough or how I’ve failed. Or how I’ve done a good job but no one appreciates it.

That isn’t why I try to get quiet, but my brain doesn’t care what my heart thinks.

For over thirty years, I’ve struggled with coming before God with my failures. I’ve not understood how so many people can walk in the freedom that the Bible promises to all who come to Him. I just didn’t get it. I would cry and feel a release. But then the next morning would come, and with it all the noise in my head.

I’ve realized, though, that I have not been seeking God. I’ve been seeking relief. I’ve wanted someone, something, anything to quiet the ranting in my head and the pain in my heart. And even though I prayed, it always felt like letters floating up to the ceiling and tumbling to the floor. Not even remotely effective.

Now I know that instead of surrendering myself to God, I’ve been seeking to manage my feelings. To manage my sinful nature. To control things. Instead of giving my heart and soul completely over to Him, trusting Him to heal and restore and forgive, I’ve been trying to earn approval by doing the right Christian things—talking the talk, walking the walk.

But it’s like 1 Corinthians 13 says about all that stuff—it isn’t quiet. It’s just a noisy gong, when love isn’t involved.

And God is love. Without Him, it isn’t any wonder that I feel like I have.

But now I feel so free! I finally get it. I don’t have to do anything to get God to accept me. He loves me, and He isn’t looking for me to look like or act like or do anything (let alone be perfect at it). He just wants me—all of me. And He will bring the peace and quiet to my soul through His healing touch, when I surrender my control.

I’ll have to keep preaching this to myself, because I’ve believed something different for so long. But the Truth has a way of quieting the lies like nothing else can. Praise His name!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

LoveGodGreatly -- Praying!

Don't you love how easy it is to pray?  (Yes, that's a joke.)

I started a Bible study this week, and it is called, "Growing Through Prayer."  One of the admonitions we were given is to remember that prayer is not something our enemy wants us doing. After all, we are talking to the King of everything and everyone.

But it is hard. From making sure your Bible is handy, you have something to write with (and maybe a cup of coffee or tea close by), finding your reading glasses, and making sure the dog has been walked so she isn't whining in the midst of things, to ignoring the piles of laundry by the washing machine or the dishes in the sink...there can be endless distractions.

That is why it is important to be intentional about prayer (which is our challenge for this week). I've realized that I have not been intentional in the past. The biggest effort I've put into it is actually getting up early (around 5:30). But by the time I do a 15 min Pilates workout so I can sit without back pain, and I make coffee and walk the dog, and then gather all my "supplies," I look at the clock and an hour has gone by. Then I find myself listening when the floor above me creaks, because I want to have my alone time, alone (before everyone else gets up, ya know).

So, making sure everything is in the spot where I want to tarry with the Lord in the morning is important. Bible, reading glasses, journal, study book, pens, etc. And I can have the coffee pot ready to go in the morning. All of that will help to streamline things so I can get to the whole point of being up early and alone—praying.

But then, once I sit down, here it comes—the to-do's, and the anxiety about all that my day should entail. That, coupled with my listening for the patter of footsteps that will interrupt my quiet time, can cause me to spend my time holding my breath. Somehow, I don't think that is what God has in mind when He wants me to fellowship with Him.

The truth is, there's no perfect way to pray. We overthink it. God wants to hear from us. Just like our good friend whom we call when we are hurting or sad or excited (or bored), He wants to know what we are thinking and feeling. And He wants to tell us what He thinks and what He has for us.

This isn't a perfect process, and it never will be. But I am learning that I can trust Him to be there when I reach out. And it is my reaching out that is building that trust in my heart, so I can see how important it is to spend time praying.

Won't you join me? If you'd like to study along with me, click here to download the study.

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