Archive for January, 2011

January 25, 2011

Sneak Attacks

2 Timothy 2:26 “and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

I warned you I’d update you on my Beth Moore study. Here it is, still week one of homework and I feel the attacks of Satan. Do you ever notice how it’s when you are making the most progress that you feel the most attacked?

Sometimes I almost welcome the attack. Because it means I’m dangerous. God has something good in store for me and Satan can’t stand it. I make three steps forward to only make two steps back. It’s frustrating – but that’s still one step ahead of where I was.

Progress my friends. Progress.

I don’t have all the answers and feel like this Bible study journey is going to be a tough one. (I need to guard myself against the enemy’s attacks). But I think it’s going to be worth it. I’m looking forward to breaking some strongholds but this will be a battle my friends.

Psalm 91:11-12 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

 

January 24, 2011

In the Secret, Quiet Places

By now, you know I’ve been re-reading Alicia Britt Chole’s Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years And Yours. I highly recommend it. Chole’s writings were honest and encouraging to those who find themselves in life’s transitions, unexpected times when we’re called back into the shadows, or find ourselves fighting to emerge from the bench and set up to bat.

What I’ve come to realize is sometime it’s in the hidden, quiet years that we grow the most. Our character is refined in the quiet, anonymous places. It is in these times that we are shaped for the future. If we wait to embrace the life’s lessons in the public, applauded times we will miss all God has in store for us – and it is a beautiful, difficult journey – but worth it. If we don’t use these anonymous seasons to grow and be still in the presence of God, we are left unprepared for our time in the lime-light leaving us in the wake of destruction.

The following are a collection of quotes I gathered throughout Chole’s book. I hope you consider reading it. (Also, a disclaimer that I am not being compensated for this review.)

“From God’s perspective, anonymous seasons are sacred spaces. They are quite literally formative; to be rested in, not rushed through – and most definitely never to be regretted. Unapplauded, but not unproductive: hidden years are the surprising birthplace of true spiritual greatness.” P. 13

“In other words, trials tell us less about our future than they do about our past. Why? Because the decisions we make in difficult places today are greatly the product of decisions we made in the unseen places of our yesterdays.” P. 15

“Time is not really spent. Instead, it is invested in a future we cannot see.” P. 59

“By definition, hidden years are uncelebrated years. These are the seasons when we feel underestimated, unappreciated, or even invisible. In other words, no one is clapping. In that silence unsupported by rounds of applause, hidden years provide the opportunity for us to wrestle with what truly makes us significant. In the absence of others volunteering to explain why we are so valuable, we have to answer that question for ourselves. This quest can be especially difficult when it is not anticipated, when we have known applause and perhaps even authority and find ourselves hidden again. Rarely does hiddeness visit us only once in our lifetimes.” P. 114

Finally, I loved how Chloe took readers through key aspects of what we can glean from our hidden years. I know I’ve experienced many of these points in my own life and hope to grow in them even more as I use the time given to me today to invest in the future I cannot see.

What grows in anonymous seasons?

  • The anchor of God’s Word in our souls
  • Self control
  • An accurate portrait of God
  • An unshakable identity
  • Our trust in God’s timing
  • A disciplined imagination
  • An eternal perspective
  • Submission-based authority

How have you seen God work in anonymous seasons? Have you noticed a gentle change in your heart or character through the times when you felt like you were in the shadows?

 

January 19, 2011

29 Before 29

My commitment to intentional living and my One Word 2011 word of the year, “faith” (read more here), encapsulates all areas of my life. I want to live a well-balanced life because it allows me to live as God desires – working hard but also seeking to enjoy what he has given (read Choosing Joy and In Pursuit of Joy).

As a part of this new journey, I decided to create a “29 Before 29” list to guide me. I was initially inspired by my friend HopefulLeigh to complete a list of goals before my next birthday. She recently completed 31 Things Before Turning 31 and is now working on her next list. It’s been fun to see how she’s lived her life with intention, freedom, and challenge through her goals. I want the same for my life.

My next birthday is in just a few months so I’m giving myself until May 2012 to complete this list (though I may finish sooner).  I’m excited to see how my “29 Before 29” will challenge me and I’m looking forward to a fun-filled year plus. I expect to find that I will grow, live in faith, freedom and grace. Periodically, I will post on my progress. Hope you’re up for accompanying me on this journey!

Without further ado, here’s my “29 Before 29:”

1)      Take more risks (i.e. engage strangers in conversation, do things by myself, do something out-of-the-norm).

2)      Take an exercise class.

3)      Read 75 books.

4)      Get involved in a Bible study.

5)      Run a 5k.

6)      Develop blog (help me by commenting and spreading the word).

7)      Go on a vacation.

8)      Find an art project.

9)      Look for a new ministry opportunity.

10)   Go coffee tasting.

11)   Attend 3 concerts.

12)   Cook more (try 10 new recipes).

13)   Find a treasure at a thrift store.

14)   Attend a conference.

15)   Test out my GPS.

16)   Move.

17)   De-clutter my life (deep clean, minimize unnecessary time and money-zapping activities)

18)   Hike through a forest preserve.

19)   Host a dinner party (a REAL one, for grow-ups).

20)   Get health insurance and go see a doctor for a routine checkup.

21)   Be still and know that He is God.

22)   Be a mentor.

23)   Be mentored.

24)   Fast regularly.

25)   Bake a blueberry pie from scratch.

26)   Live as a missionary would – with intention, sacrifice, purpose, and seeking opportunities to share the gospel and be where God has called me now -not later.

27)   Spend more time with children.

28)   Dance.

29)   Be open to new adventures and lean into what God has in store for me!

Do you have a birthday bucket list? Let me know and I’d be happy to link to it.

January 18, 2011

Intentional Living

I’ve been writing this post in my head for months. I can’t seem to get it right but here it goes. Please bare with me (or is it bear? Either way – love me just the same).

I’m a planner. Many of these posts and musings occurred as I realized I was at the end of my plan. But I’m at the beginning of something new. Something beyond my grasp and understanding. I don’t like change. It scares me. But, God is up to something. In the turbulence, He’s given peace. I don’t like risks but He has begun to cultivate a love for adventure in my heart. Today, I can honestly tell you I’m excited about what’s to come. I have no idea what the next year will bring or even tomorrow but I’m ready to take a risk and seize the adventure just the same. The ‘Type A’ in me is softening. I want to grow less rigid and accept the fact that life is fluid.

I want to surrender my will (which has so frequently caused me anxieties, stress, and so much wasted energy) and embrace God’s will for my life.

A part of embracing God’s will for me is for me to live intentionally where I am. He has me where I am for a reason. I’ve been fighting too hard to get to a place I might not suppose to be. In the past months I’ve considered relocating, massive career changes despite just finishing my graduate degree, and taken an honest look at my faith. Praise God for allowing me to wrestle through the hard questions.

Here’s what I know. God loves me. He has a plan for my life. He knows the desires of my heart BUT that does not mean I should be sitting around twiddling my thumbs until lo and behold – the situation of my dreams arises. Nope, He said GO and make disciples. Not, wait until you have your life figured out. Go.

In light of this, I want to live my life with intention. I want to seize the opportunities presented to me today. I want to talk to strangers. I want to speak openly about my faith. I want to love those that are “unlovable.” I want to live in freedom. I want to be an example.

And as I live my life with intention – I am trying to follow His command and GO.

More on intentional living tomorrow.

January 17, 2011

A Brand New Day

My new bible study is just starting up. We’re studying Beth Moore’s “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things.” I’m excited. But excitement aside – the opening session provided me with some fresh perspective on how God redeems our past and uses these points of complete brokenness and utter despair to turn us to him (you know if you’ve been there). The awe-inspiring thing is God uses this to bring us to a new day – complete surrender and to allow us the joy of walking in His will. He loves us too much to remain uninvolved in our lives. The all-powerful Creator could have made the world and washed his hands of it – but He didn’t. He chose to love us. Wow. Because He loves us, He can redeem our past, brokenness, and hurts. This continues to amaze me and leave me utterly grateful.

I’m sure over the next few weeks I will periodically be writing about what God is revealing to me. But until then, I felt the need to share that a new day is coming. Someone out there needed to hear that today. Someone needs to know God is capable and WILLING to sweep your situation upside down in order to bring you to a place of healing and joy. And someone out there needs Psalm 30:5.

Psalm 30:5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

I do not profess to have abundant wisdom or incredible insight into the future but I can pretty much guarantee one thing. Change. God wants our attention and often will obtain it by putting change in our lives – good and bad. Some change will be due to choices we make. Some will be because of choices others make and some change will be due to circumstances beyond our control. But know that God will provide a new day as you find strength and solace in Him and Him alone. Your situation may not change. You may not even be able to erase the things you did or done to you – but your heart can be healed. You can forgive and be forgiven. Peace is available to you. It’s a new day.

And because I love music, I’m leaving you with this song by Joshua Radin. (Copyright 2010 Warner Music Group / mom + pop music)

 

January 13, 2011

Uniquely You

We all have a calling. A gift. It’s different for each of us. We all have a unique role to play. I like working with senior citizens. It’s my way to give back – to say thank you for contributing to my life, community, country, etc. I love listening to their stories – gleaning from their mistakes and treasuring their wisdom. But not all would find my job exciting – yet it fits me because of how God has placed a unique passion in my life for the widows, lonely, and aged.

I have a friend who yearns to help Islamic women regain their freedom and independence. Another friend wants to open a home for pregnant teen moms and mentor them. A former coworker serves in an underprivileged neighborhood because he is passionate that these children should have some sort of father figure in their lives. An old classmate wanted to move to Hollywood to share the Gospel with the entertainment industry. I’m proud of my friends and excited by their passion.

All of these dreams help me see how we each have a role to play in this world. We are all uniquely gifted and have different passions. (Praise God because there is so much need in our world!) It’s amazing to think that if we were all faithful to minister in the ways we have been called (examine your passions, gifts, talents and opportunities to help you discern where God may be leading you), the entire world might know the name of Jesus Christ! That is a thought that is astounding to me. Embrace your distinct gifting and talents. We are not all the same (again, praise God because that would be boring!) and should not compare ourselves against one another. Play a part in the grand scheme. Get in the game and be YOU – the unique you.

1 Corinthians 12:12-27  Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a part of it.

 


 

January 11, 2011

Sweet Dreams?

Harnessing our thought life can be difficult, but if we take a step back and examine our thought life we may realize how it impacts our outward demeanor and our feelings of contentment. Discipline in our thought life should not escape our notice.

Author, Alicia Britt Chloe wrote the following:

“Watching children exercise their imaginations to picture themselves as mommies, doctors, or astronauts is delightful; we call it playful pretending. As adults, though there is a difference between using our imaginations to build a better tomorrow (being visionary) and mentally self-medicating through self-aggrandizing daydreams.

Disciplining our imaginations can be an enormous challenge especially when we perceive ourselves as deprived of affirmation, attention, or acceptance. But in those seasons – perhaps even more so than in applauded seasons of influence – it is absolutely critical that we not live out in our thoughts what we know we should not live out in our lives. The principle we examined in layer one (when tempted by immediate gratification of our appetites) is still true in layer two (when tempted in our thoughts by the attention and awe of mankind): we will reap what we sow, even in our minds (see Galatians 6:7-8).

For example, consider a new parent drowning in diapers who daydreams about freedom and time he would have if he were still single or childless…who wakes up with less patience and more resentment toward his spouse and children. Or a woman lost in daydreams of being swept away by an attractive Prince Charming…who wakes up, rolls over, and wonders why her husband is looking more and more like a frog. Or a young professional smiling, lost in a daydream about high-profile companies fighting over him with ever-increasing pay scales and benefits…who wakes up somehow less satisfied and motivated in his current job.” Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years And Yours, p.121-122

Do you find yourself struggling with contentment? Wishing for the next best thing? A new job? A better financial situation? Do you crave the applause or attention of those around you? Cast it aside. Focus on what is true (Philippians 4:8) and what God has laid out for you today. Trust God to provide for all your tomorrows and hold your hopes and dreams. But do not lose focus on what He has given you today because it is a unique gift.  Even in your times of struggle, God is giving you the opportunity to lay the foundation of your character and trust in him. Ultimately, do you trust him? Yes? Then focus on today. He has already been to your future and He has given you your present situation – so be faithful to pay attention to it and do as he leads. Just as the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), God desires us to be faithful and utilize what he has given us. If we are always dreaming, wishing, and hoping for the next thing – we miss the opportunity he has given us today. We lose contentment and fail to see the goodness of God. And we wonder how we got stuck? Hmm…

 

January 9, 2011

In A Word

I try not to jump on the band-wagon too often but this is just too great to pass up. I first heard about this interesting “year-long experiment” on my morning commute but later reconsidered it when my friend and fellow blogger, HopefulLeigh, recently wrote on about the One Word 2011 project. I had to pass the word on (and also say if you don’t read her blog you should its great). The One Word concept is simple. Instead of making a list of goals, think of one simple word to live by for the next year. Let this word guide you in your decisions and goals. Build your commitment to it throughout the year. Do you want to stop gossiping? Maybe your word is “speech.” Do you crave adventure? Try “risk.” Do you struggle with worry? How about “trust?” Focus on your word to help you stay centered through the year. I think we’d be amazed to see how God can show up and move in our lives through a simple word.

My word is “faith.” This is an area of my life I’d like to see myself grow in and cultivate an increased dependence on God. I’m excited to see how God will move in my life this year – in my career, spiritual walk, relationships, family life, etc. This year will be the year I depend on God even more than last year and expect Him to show up because He will. I’ve also chosen a passage of Scripture to accompany me on this One Word journey (Hebrews 11:8-12). Though I also created a list of goals in addition to my word, they all exercise faith. I’m eagerly anticipating a year full of growth and adventures as I use my one word, scripture passage, and smaller goals to guide me on the path I believe God has revealed for me this year.

Choose just a word or your word plus a list of goals, but join me in making this year different from last year. Live with intention in 2011. Take some time to seek out what God has for you this year. I believe He’ll give you a few of his own words. What is your word? What will God do in your life this year?

 

January 3, 2011

Top 5 Blog Posts From 2010

2010 was an interesting year – full of unexpected and expected blessings and challenges. As I spend time thinking about what 2011 will hold, Philippians 1:6 keeps coming to mind. This verse reads, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” While the year ahead is quite hazy at this point, I am confident that God will show up and continue the work He has begun. Each January I am refreshed and excited by the promise of a new year and encouraged by the numerous opportunities to try again or to create a blank slate. So as I take a moment to think about the year ahead (I hope you have a chance to do the same), I will leave you with my top 5 favorite posts from the last year.

Thanks for reading and for all your encouragement as I’ve embarked on this new blogging journey. I’m excited to see how this silly little blog of mine will be used in the next year. It is my hope that it can be a source of encouragement and honesty.

And in no particular order, here they are…

  1. Praying the Impossible
  2. From The Desert, With Love
  3. On Faithfulness, Glory, and God’s Character
  4. The Blessing of Friendship
  5. Choosing Joy
%d bloggers like this: