I Should Be

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Daily I hear the words wringing in my head, “I should be.”
I should be doing x rather that y. I should be farther in my writing. I should be earning money by getting a job. I should be healed by now. The onslaught of the I should be’s can be so distracting that I am missing the I am’s.

This afternoon I wanted to be working on some projects around the house and cleaning. The dog was whimpering to go outside to play as it has been cold and finally the sun was shining. She just had a bath, so of course I had to go out with her so she would not cover herself in mud by digging again. If we didn’t go outside to expel some of her energy she would get into all kinds of mischief while I tried to accomplish my list.

This is one of the moments the I should be’s would usually creep in, but as I sat in that moment outside as my pup roamed and discovered the yard, I realized how incredible the sun was feeling on my face. I heard the rustling leaves falling from the birch tree. The crackle as they fell from the tree top through the branches was a new sound for me. For the first time this week, I was taking in the full moment rather than thinking of all the things I should be doing that I was not. If I had being doing those other things, I would have missed this beautiful moment. Then I wondered, how much have I missed?

The “I should be’s ‘ often come at a time of rest, reflection and recovery. They become so distracting that I can’t take the moment for the gift that it is. There is much to be learned in the process of taking in everything that He has for us.

By being so focused on the next thing I should be doing that I am missing what I am taking effort in, is a form of discontent and comparison. I am comparing myself to that which I think I should be. I am discontent with where my efforts lie.
This is another lie that I am not enough. That I can’t accomplish enough.
Mind you, I know I should be doing everything on my list, but the lie is that I can accomplish it all at once and am failing if I am not. So I have decided, I will take the moments as they come. I will put effort and focus to the task at hand and the other should be’s will be right there waiting for when I can get to them.
I will not miss the moments of accomplishment, because of a lie that it wasn’t enough.

There is only one thing that I should be…. That is what the Lord has created me to be,  nothing more and nothing less. Seeking Him first will give me the clarity of what to pursue and when.

As I reflect, I am reminded of Martha and Mary. I want to chose that which will not be taken away from me.

Luke 10: 38-42

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

 

Even If…

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These last few months the words resonating in my heart are, “Even If.”

We have had many changes in our life recently and I hate change. My body reacts even when I tell myself everything is fine and all the changes have been for a great purpose and plan.

One of those changes involved us leaving a church of the last five years and follow the Lord in His leading to our next. We knew that we were called but not the why, to our calling.
I told the Lord, even if I don’t have the answers, I will listen to your voice. So in faith, we stepped forward in the plan for our life.

Even though leaving the team of people we had grown to love hurt my heart, I had to obey what I knew to be true and serve my God and husband first. Even if it meant uncomfortable change and new people, a new place and a new level of finding my self in the midst of ministry, I had to say yes.
Even if it means admitting that I took on roles at our previous church that were not my own to take on, in order to try to fill up the restlessness within me.
Even if it meant stepping into a new realm of vulnerability. Even if.

I know there are many purposes for following the Lord in the Even If seasons of our life.
I know that God has done many amazing things in the last 4 months and He has not even touched the surface. But in this process, He has stirred a call I had felt at 15 years old in youth group. Life happened and the leading faded but was never gone. I had begun a collection of paintings in the last few months and titled them “Women of the World.” Little did I know I was painting the very call within my heart…
The call to serve with mission teams.

Here the thoughts would rise up as the stirring would come, but then so would the excuses. Most of which was linked to how I am doing in this season physically. But the thought would not leave that I was called to go and serve.
The stirring rose afresh as I sat with the new church congregation and heard about the heart of serving in Baja Mexico at the Door of Faith Orphanage.
I had every excuse, but the tugging kept coming.
We had no money in savings and the trip was coming fast. I have been in an unbelievable flare physically. We just received additional fees to add to a huge bill from hospital tests and then a few days before DHS sent a bill for overpayment when we were foster parents. This doesn’t account for all the other life needs on hold at the moment.
But mostly my heart I didn’t want to hurt over leaving the orphans and I felt as if I had nothing to offer.
I felt that with my physical limits Dan would have to go and he has absolutely told me over the years this was NOT his area of calling. All these thoughts and excuses rushing my head and I still felt my heart-tugging… EVEN IF. Even if there is no way, God can make the way. Even if there seemed to be too many obstacles, God is able to move those obstacles. Even if I have my doubts…HE is faithful despite them.

So I prayed. I said, God if you truly want me to move in faith as your word says, faith without works is dead, then I am going to be as Gideon and request that you show me without a doubt that it is you that I am hearing and not just my over compassionate mama heart.

These were my conditions as I spoke to the Lord:
I need Dan to go with me. I will not ask.
I need the leader to come to me directly who I have not yet met and tell me that He feels I am to join the team.
I need the provision.

Service was over and Dan leans to me and says, ” I feel like I may be called to go on the mission trip.” I kid you not my mouth about fell to the floor. I may even have laughed out loud. You have to know this is absolutely a tugging from God. He would have not been opened to the idea otherwise.
I was stopped by a friend and visiting after church. I looked over at Dan and He was talking to the leader. Dan called me over and as I was introduced, the team leader said, “God highlighted you to me, I feel you are called to go on this trip.” (paraphrasing as I can’t remember exact words). At this point, I knew and I just nodded my head and said as much.
Now we are waiting on provision and believing for the plan to unfold as we walk out the little hiccups of life in the planning process. The trip is coming fast!
With my lack of knowing where the funds would come from and a time crunch, we had started a go fund me even though I felt so foolish in doing so, I said again…Even If.
The fees for the passport came in first at the Go Fund Me site as well as the cost of plane tickets that were mailed to us. I saw how it was exactly what we needed when we needed it.
We are over halfway to our goal and I know the rest is already accounted for. We are praying for the paperwork we need to move forward will come quickly as Dan had to order his birth certificate before getting a passport. We are on a time crunch. But of course, God already knows this.

I am excited. I know there are many purposes for following the Lord’s leading. But I am still reminded to hold fast to those words… Even If… because often His call does not match my human understanding. Even If I don’t see it, I can rest assured that HE knows it. Even… If.

Jeremiah 29:11 – 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.

 

Disappointment in the gift

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We have a full yard of white clover at our new home. I love the wild craziness of the flowers. I am one that does not like to spray the yard with chemicals, especially with a new puppy that likes to chew on the grass.
I will often take a few minutes to see if I can find a four-leaf clover when I pass by the patches of green. For me, it is like a little treasure hunt, looking for the unlikely in the midst of a million possibilities, as the chances of finding a four-leaf clover are 1 in 10,000.
Tonight the thought again crossed my mind that I wanted to find a perfect four-leaf clover, a gift set aside just for me.
I bent down and saw all the tiny perfect little shamrocks with their heart-shaped leaves.
There, right in the midst of them, was my find. A large four-leaf clover. At first, I was elated to have spied one, finally. But then…

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As I examined my four-leaf clover I was disappointed in the straight leaves with no heart shape. I was disappointed it wasn’t tiny and cute like all the sprouts of three-leaf clovers in its midsts. The leaves of my clover were all different sizes and not at all what I had pictured a four-leaf clover would look. Without taking a moment to truly enjoy the treasure I had found there was quickly a disappointment in the gift. 

I knew it was silly to feel disappointed and a knowing rose up in my soul. How often do we get exactly what we hoped or asked for, but when it arrives and it looks different than we expected we have disappointment in the gift? Or how often do we look with disappointment in our own gift within us if it does not look like the shiny gifts and talents that others seem to have?

The phrase ‘be careful what you wish for” comes to mind. Or in my case, pray for. When you seek open doors and new opportunities, It is important to be mindful that what you pursue may come wrapped in a different package than expected. Yet there can still be beauty in a treasure that is uniquely your own.

Looking closer at the four-leaf clover I see a sweet etching of a smaller clover inside. I see that there is a gift within that I almost missed because my mind was clouded with my own expectations. I was thankful for the treasure. Thankful for the moment and no longer had disappointment in the gift.

The next day I was again outside with the puppy. Without any searching, I felt the tugging to look down. There at my feet was another four-leaf clover. Smaller and closer to the ideal in my mind. My heart swelled at the thought, there are many treasures to behold. There is no limit to what can be revealed. Sometimes the treasures come when we are in a place of contentment and not even searching. Will we be observant enough to notice them?

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Love them… Lead them…Let them

67093324_2790312467710925_1143867284050149376_n By: Awakened_Arts 

The first and greatest commandment is to love. So often we hear that Christians are despised because they are judgemental and do not show kindness. Christians often confuse their role of loving someone as they think that because of the love they want to show them the way so much that they do in fact become judgemental.

Looking at the definition of LOVE according to Corinthians…
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

This is THE standard of love. So first and foremost we are to love others as God loves His children. We are to be kind and patient and not dishonor.

With that being said, when we have someone we love we are called to lead when we see a pattern of living in destructive choices. Whether they are a Christian or not, we can lead them. Lead by example, lead by action and lead by sharing wisdom. Sharing is not judging. Sharing is not shaming. Sharing is being honest in love with the hope that abundant life will be the result.
I lovingly shared how I saw all the destruction addiction was having on my loved one.
I lovingly shared that there was a better life. There was a life of goodness waiting. I shared how valuable and loved they were.
Same with my loved ones living an unhealthy lifestyle. I also shared how much I mess up my own walk of healthy choices. Being exposed, real and vulnerable.
The snag here is, often when you lead by sharing a better life, those that are not interested or not wanting a change can get defensive. But I ask you, have they become defensive because you mentioned something that concerns you in love with someone you have an established relationship, or are they defensive because you are pushing an issue that they have given you no place to speak into? Also, are you pushing the issue every time you see them?  There are times you must speak out, no matter the response because you are looking at a 911 situation. But, I admit that I have over spoken when it has not been my place (shocker I know ). I have been so excited for another to receive freedom, that I neglected to see the heart. I neglected the loving them first and foremost. Instead of loving as the father I rushed into the fixing and that is not my place.

We all have choices in this life. We all have the right to live how we choose. There comes a point that when you share what you feel may be healthier and produce abundant life, that if someone chooses not to follow your lead, that you let go.
Love them…lead them…let them.
By insisting someone makes the choices you make and then if they don’t you condemn them, you are giving the very opposite of true love.
This brings to mind, however,  that there are times you have loved, lead and then people living in their choices are in fact destroying you. They may destroy your peace, they may destroy your safety, they may just break you personally because your heart is so attached to them. Again… let them. Let them be in their choices and move on.
Jesus himself said (Matthew 10:14) if they do not receive the message you bring to dust your feet and move on. Invest where the investment is welcomed.

The painting above is titled “Goodbye”. The darkness represents all the hurts and blows from those that have rejected her, shamed her, left her, and not received what she had to offer. But the beautiful colors represent what is ahead as She has loved… She has led…. and now She must Let. It is not her place to carry the weight of an other’s unhealthy choices. It is her place to settle in the JOY of knowing that she did as she was called.
May she never forget that first she was called to LOVE.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

My 7 Truths to a Victory Mindset

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I remember the first time the lie that I was less than crept into my mind.
I remember the first time that my illness had begun to define me.
I remember the time that my husband was laid off and we lost everything.
I remember the loss of my father and the sick filling that he is really not on this earth that hits the pit of my stomach whenever a memory comes to the surface.

All these things and more at one point overwhelmed my mind and kept me swirling in discouragement.

Then one day I was awakened to the truth that I don’t have to let a thought of past hurts, discouragements or defeat be the focus of my mind. I realized I did not have to live in the swarm of messy thoughts. I could remember my promises in the midst of the noise. I have learned how to take steps to a victory mindset.

 

Here are the 7 truths to MY Victory Mindset:

  1. Feel the moment and move on
    I am not saying I never remember the hurts and broken moments. But I have learned to let myself feel the moment and acknowledge that it is painful.  Then I move on to truths that bring about victory.
    For example; if I wake up in a fibromyalgia flare of pain all over my body, instead of being defeated that I am in a flare and all the panic that had once overwhelmed me, I now remember the truths that I have victory over this. I will not stay in a flare. The flare gives me the chance to slow down. I take the time to let my self be frustrated, but I then I move on to victory mindset instead of discouragement.

    2. Fill my mind with the truth that brings life-
    Let’s be honest, sometimes life on this earth can be less than amazing.  But for me, life stays in the gutter longer if I focus on the mess rather than the blessed around me.
    When I am intentional to fill my mind with truths that bring life my whole atmosphere can shift.
    So what kind of truths can bring life when you are surrounded on all sides? How do you train your mind to have a victory mindset?
    I write encouraging affirmations and keep them where I will see them. On note cards or post-it notes. I take the time to remember what I can do, what I have accomplished or my dreams and desires. When a negative thought comes if it is not something that needs addressing I will immediately replace it with a positive thought. If I don’t have my own positive thoughts at the moment I remember other peoples victories. Or I remember my simple victories no matter how small they may seem, even getting out of bed some days is a victory and I can be thankful for it!

    3. Speak the life instead of the mess-
        Oh, boy how this one has been a lesson! I am still having to work on making it a habit of speaking life around me rather than speaking about all the junk I am going through all the time. People will avoid you when all you have to talk about is your mess. I have learned this the hard way and it made my struggles worse to feel so alone. In the season of mess talking, I was trying to explain why I was limited because you can’t always see when I am ill, or I would vent my hurts because I wasn’t sure how to process them. But when the mess became all I saw it became all I talked about. How fun I was to be around… NOT.
    I want to be an encourager. I want to be one that speaks words that encourage and lift up. This may take practice but it can be done. It starts in doing until it becomes your habit. When I have nothing positive to say, I can start by speaking about what I WANT to see. I can prophesy my victory mindset. 

    Prophesy means to pronounce.
    Prophesy your Promise: is a great listen at the end of the post!

    4. Be aware of your influences around you-
    Just as it is important to be aware of your own speaking. It is important to be aware of the words and attitudes of those around you. Let’s face it there are times you may not be able to change your atmosphere. You may not be able to move, or change jobs, or leave a situation that is overwhelmingly negative. But you can be aware of the influence, and when that atmosphere has become draining, put more efforts into your own victory mindset. If you are in an atmosphere that is constantly negative, unhealthy and destructive and you do have the ability to change it, then change may just be necessary for your best mindset.  Surround yourself with people that encourage, lift you up and inspire.

     

    5. Speak life into others-
    One of the biggest tools in my toolbelt for victorious mindset has been to speak life and encouragement into other peoples lives. For me, it was easier to believe great things for others and it was easier to see their worth. By speaking into their lives not only am I speaking the truth and blessed to encourage them, but I also begin to hear back that I too am worth such thoughts and blessings. To see a shift in their day brings victory to my own mindset.

    6. Invest in Spiritual Health-
    I can not emphasize this one enough. I was born to spend time with the Lord. When I forsake that part of me, I just do not function mentally the same way. I get discouraged, frustrated and deflated so quickly. It is much harder for me to walk in the truth of victory when I am not reminding myself of all that has been gifted to me. I find new hope, dreams and fresh vision after my time with prayer, worship and reading the word. This is my must for a victory mindset.

    7. GET TO DOING-
    Ultimately this is the most important aspect to walking in a victory mindset. To be victorious you must take action. You will not achieve anything by staying in the negative, staying in the same old position and making no changes. You want to find those things that bring about life for you and then do them!
    Serve others, find your dreams and interests, take the time to practice your victory mindset. Start with just one consistent action a day, and then add more as you have made that one a habit.  Taking action will propel you forward to living in victory instead of shadowed with defeat.

    This is what has helped me become blessed instead of focusing on the mess. I encourage you, my friend, to share with others what has helped you.
    Feel free to leave a comment on your victories!!

    Prophesy means to pronounce. Get to pronouncing LIFE
    Prophesy your Promise by Bryan and Katie Torwalt

     

Discontent? Perhaps its time to Disconnect!

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My husband is most often a happy go lucky encourager. It isn’t very often that he becomes cloudy and in the dumps. So I asked him the other day if his emotions come in waves at all like the hormonal mad woman that I can be at times lately. I asked if he feels discontent and just doesn’t show it. He thought for a moment and his answer resonated with me.

He said, “I feel a quick rise in frustration or joy when things in life happen. I get mad when someone cuts me off in work traffic or a customer comes at me in ignorance. It is a moment and fades. But you know, what really gets to my emotions is the posts on social media. I have to be mindful to not spend much time on the negative junk that is posted. I can rise in anger at injustice or politics. I can sink in the dumps when I see what others have where I lack in talent or luxuries. I can feel unmotivated when others are doing what I want to be doing but don’t know how or feel I can’t leave my profession. A lot is to be said about what your thoughts are on. Until social media, I was a lot easier going than I am now if I let the junk in.”

I too have felt this very thing. It starts as a little stirring of discontent. Perhaps as you scroll you see someone far more talented than you see yourself. You compare and your brain begins to scramble with all the thoughts of how you can improve or how you can measure up, or even how you just can’t. Then you see a political post that you are the polar opposite of and you grow frustrated how far one way or the other politics has swung. Your mind is filled with even more scramble and emotions.
Maybe you make an innocent comment on a post and you are attacked with bullies hitting you in very personal ways. Add more scramble and discontent. Then you disconnect from those that are around you.
If you are unmotivated and discontent in your creativity perhaps you need to disconnect from comparison and seeing what everyone else is doing.
If attitudes you hear and read are affecting your own attitude, disconnect from the ugliness. The onslaught of thoughts can be so overpowering, the mind becomes scrambled and what is truly important can be tangled in the mess. Perhaps the rise of depression is linked to time spent online and not face to face with others, or tangible creative opportunities and living life without the screen in your way.

Maybe the solution for discontentment is to disconnect from social media outlets for a season, or online gaming. If you are just not resonating and connecting to people that are around you in the flesh it is important to see what is in your way. I saw a little girl crying and completely upset and her mother doing nothing more than scrolling her phone and pushing her child away. Another little boy fell and hit his head hard, and the mother had a very little reaction for her hurting child. We have to disconnect in alarming ways! We are not hearing the heart of others. We are not regulating our own emotions.

Social media, as a tool for marketing business or connecting with people, is great. But when seeds of discontent begin to be planted and the more you submerge into the cyber world the more discontent you can become, It can pour out into the attitude and emotions in the life around you. It is time to disconnect from the source of death and to reconnect with life-giving resources.

I ask you to listen to the words of wisdom of my love. If you are feeling disconnected or ‘off’ or if you are feeling more temperamental then perhaps look at how much time you are spending with screen time outlets as your social connection. Maybe it is time to disconnect from that screen and connect face to face.

Endurance: Follow up on “Painful” post

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Yesterday I had blogged on the issue that making a change is often painful or uncomfortable. The post can be found (here).
I now want to address maintaining our endurance when the pressure is on while making those changes. When we are hit from every side and when things become uncomfortable or we feel week there are tools that can help us keep us pressing on without giving in to defeat.

ENDURANCE: The power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.

I look at the strong athlete, able to overcome his opponent in victory and the sheer satisfaction on the face, the release of tension in the body and the knowledge that their endurance saw them through. They would not have become the victor over another seasoned athlete if they had not prepared for that victory and fought through the uncomfortable. We were created to be overcomers. We have it within us to overcome the things that are weighing us down and holding us back. We were built to be victorious.

How I will endure the difficult:

Desire: Do you really fully want that what you are working towards? Having the desire to overcome and obtain your victory will help you keep your mind on the reward rather than the struggle. If you want a change and if you want the victory, purpose to make it a desire of your heart that is bigger than the comfortable.
I’ve made sure my desire lines up with the word of God and His will for me. Then I can know with all my heart, soul and mind, that I can obtain my goal even in the midst of pain for the moment. He will go before me, as I stay steadfast on the path.

Psalm 37:5- Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

Confidence: Being bold enough to know that you will see victory, in the end, as your flesh comforts rise up and you want to give in, having a deep knowledge that you can, will go a long way to keep your head in the race until the end. HE is my victory.

Philippians 1:6-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.

Focus: Know what you want. Know the goal. Keep your eye on your victory. If I look at the here and now, I may give in to what is more comfortable. Yet, when I keep my eyes on being the overcomer in my present uncomfortable situation, my moment pales in comparison.
Know it, see it, and do it.
For me, I focus on the fact that God is faithful. His ways are higher than my ways. I know He will remain with me and I find my endurance in His truth for my life.

Colossians 3:2- Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Strength: Le’ts face it, we get weak. We want to give up. So building our strength in the downtime, keeps us ready to fight and walk-in endurance during the difficult process. We can build our self up physically but I also must remember that the true strength to endure the difficulties in this life, comes from my Lord. He is my strength and shield. Building myself up in the Spirit is very much as important as building up my physical self.

Colossians 1:11- being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.

Philippians 4:13- I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
These are the few truths that I am thinking on today, as I face the race ahead of me. I desire the change, I desire the health and I desire the victory. I am confident that these desires, are the same desires of my God and He will remain faithful to strengthen me to reach the desires of my heart. I will remain steadfast and strengthened in my endurance despite the unpleasent. One day I will have that smile of victory on my face, the shoulders relaxed from a job well done and I will be able to say that I overcame.