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.

 

Love them… Lead them…Let them

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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.

 

Painful

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Tearing away from old habits can be uncomfortable and even flat out painful.

In my search for a healthier life both physically and spiritually, I have had to cut away people and things that I held on to for comfort that was not healthy for me. In fact, it was painful to let the very people go that were in the long term hurting me far greater than I had known. I cried and I prayed, I missed and wanted to reach out, but these relationships were causing a dependency in my life that was not healthy, for I held the opinions and attention of those people, much higher than I ever should have.

I’ve had to let go of medications that had side effects far greater than their worth, but I had formed a dependency on them after 10 years.  When I stopped taking them, I thought my skin was crawling and my legs were so restless. I had chills and cramping and the reason I took these medications was for pain, and the pain came flooding back in an assault as I was withdrawing. The experience was absolutely painful and the craving to just cover it all up was strong.

Most recently I am having to change my diet (again). I have tried this numerous times but old habits are hard to break and for me, indulgence in food has become one of the hardest. This is very much an uncomfortable process and even at times painful. I am overweight and have diet sensitivities. But man I crave all the wrong things and my emotions are attached to those cravings!
I know I must make a change now before my abilities decrease even more physically. I know when the hard part is over and I have adjusted I feel better mentally and have benefits that far outweigh that cookie or frosting. I must fight all the urges just like anyone else making any lifestyle change. Making a change for the betterment of our life is often uncomfortable in the least, if not outright painful.

I need to build my stamina, I need to regain my physical strength and endurance. I already know from past attempts, this is painful. It is not easy. It is work. My body fights me and one day of working five minutes can hurt for three days. Recovery time, I think to myself, recover from what? What did I really accomplish? But I know, those five minutes can turn into fifteen minutes, then a half an hour, then an hour. I just have to get over the flesh desire to always be comfortable.

And I ask myself, how can I believe for my healing, and continue to do all the wrong things? My very treasure of health is being robbed, and I am absolutely allowing it to happen.
Proverbs 25:28- A  man without self-control, is like a city broken into and left without walls. 


The reward of growth with disciplined lifestyle is far greater than any of the pain that must be walked through. The uncomfortable is a moment but the rewards can be lifelong. Healing, strength, peace, joy and so much more can come from the practice of being disciplined and seeking your best health above all unhealthy habits, despite the painful process.

What have you been fighting because you are afraid or unwilling to go through a period of being uncomfortable? Will you consider that it is time for the best and the uncomfortable will not last forever? Or will you continue to sit in sickness or an unhealthy situation and lifestyle choices because it is not worth the painful process to have better?

I am seriously speaking to my self in this situation. Even now I am craving a candy bar like no one’s business and I am hungry to my core following my recommended calories. I would love to slather a piece of sourdough bread with butter and stuff my face. I know in the past I have tried and failed and tried again.
BUT…

Today, I am choosing one more time to be self-disciplined. Today I am choosing a better life even in my moment of uncomfortable. Tomorrow, I will face the painful workout again even when this body wants to fight me. Because I know that with each victory I gain strength. No longer a slave to the painful, but an overcomer in the uncomfortable. I will not fear, I will not worry and I will not give in to defeat before I have even tried.

Perhaps you have something that needs to be changed in your life. Perhaps you have some things you need to let go of that you hold dear. Patterns, habits, and comforts that are more hurtful than life-giving. It is time to walk through the painful and uncomfortable moments to obtain your best physical and spiritual health, so that not only can you live victoriously but be the most impactful.

 

 

 

 

 

Fight the Battle

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One thing I have discovered with life… there is always something.
There is always an opportunity of one kind or another to fight the battle ahead.

When the battles seem overwhelming our nature may be to retreat. Some of us are fighters and some of us need to learn how to fight. Others are natural warriors that don’t see anything but victory ahead in the midst of it all. This is how I want to fight the battle.

I want to be the warrior that sees their victory ahead of the attack. Just as a good coach, sees victory for his team and focuses on the win rather than the idea of loss, I want to set my sight on a glorious outcome rather than the moment I am fighting the battle.

How do I walk this out? How do I fight the battle, when I feel the onslaught of ‘life’ coming at me from every side?

*RECOGNIZE
I used to bury my head in the sand, instead of looking at the battle head-on. I used to make excuses, and except the battle as just a part of life. Yes, our battles are a part of life, but I don’t have to accept the defeat before even entering the ring. I can’t roll over and just keep getting kicked while I am down. I must stand up and fight not only for myself for all those around me that a defeated outlook or blindness to the situation will effect. If I roll over and am exhausted by the battle, with just a smile on my face, I am affecting my family, my ministry team and others the Lord has placed in my life. It is like a soldier watching everyone get shot around them with a smile on their face that all is fine. NO, it is not fine. It is a battle and I am going in!! This is how we fight the battle. We recognize we are in one!!

Ephesians 6:12- For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

*EQUIP and Position

This is the time to take out all the resources in your tool belt! A soldier going to war would not do well if He forgot all his equipment, and just showed up for battle in his shorts and flipflops.
In this same line of thought, a soldier or a team needs all their partners in the battle. Know your team members. Share your heart, let them back you. Know your source of support. This is key to fight the battle. The most important member you can have to back you is the heavenly creator, that has purposed for you to be victorious. He has a battle plan. He has the equipment ready for you to put on and take your stand. Even if all the other team members have run from the fight, you still have that coach pushing you on. He is ahead of the battle. The battle is HIS to fight. We need to ready our ears and hearts to listen and fight the battle.

Ephesians 6:13-18 

The Whole Armor of God

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

* FAITH
Be ready to fight! Posture your heart in readiness. Walk in boldness that you are mighty in victory. Know that the battle belongs to the Lord and the outcome is always victory. It may not look like it at the moment, but the battle is won, when we are ready to win. When we are ready to fight the battle when we are ready to take ownership of victory. We have won. It does not matter what we are seeing. We see with a different lens. It does not matter what we are feeling, our feelings are fleeting. It does not matter that it all is crumbling and falling down around us, we have a master builder, that is ready to remodel and build fresh and new. The fight in the battle is knowing we have won!

Proverbs 21:31- The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
    but the victory belongs to the Lord.


*CELEBRATE- 

Rejoice in your victory! Be thankful the battle is won. You may not see it yet, well, set your eye on the other side. Celebrate your last victories! See what has worked in your favor. Celebrate how you have come out a victor before in your battles. Your battle does not own you. Your battle does not define you. Your battle is what you walk through and you already have the tools to overcome! Celebrating the one that sees you through, is a mighty weapon in the fight of the battle. Praise and worship, it goes before me. I am equipped and ready. I am the victor and I am seeing the victory ahead! I know the victory may look very different than I expect, but it is mine and I will take it and praise Him for it.

2 Chronicles 20:21- Jehoshaphat asked the people for advice. Then he appointed men to sing to the Lord. He wanted them to praise the Lord because of his glory and holiness. They marched out in front of the army. They said,

“Give thanks to the Lord.
    His faithful love continues forever.”

BE ENCOURAGED WITH THIS ONE : This is how I fight my Battles

COMMUNITY

54730098_10218592822756772_3689364288650084352_o Awakened_arts 

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller.

I had started a very basic purple painted canvas on the first day of spring.
I asked my social media friends, to share what color they wanted on the picture, fully intending to see who matched what was on my mind for the painting. The interesting thing, everyone had a different idea for the secondary color than mine. As I stood and stared at the purple canvas, deciding which color I would pick, the name of the piece came to me, “Community”. 

This painting wasn’t about one or two solid ideas, but about combining the creativity of many into something of beauty. I took each color that my friends had suggested and I thought of them and prayed as I painted their color. I sought where the Lord would have them impact the piece and prayed for individual situations. A few friends had chosen teal, it didn’t matter, as I applied the color again, a new friend came to mind. Another, shared her idea for the technique to add dimension and direction. This was a wonderful example of community, each contributing, every individual uniqueness adding a new depth and detail as we collaborated. 

This piece alone reminded me of how important it is to be in community with one another. I could have said, ew I don’t like that color, it would never look right, but looking at this painting, it needed every single color whether at first, I thought it would belong or not. As I looked at the painting with each layer I was timid to place more colors, yet a sense of belonging came over me as I saw the work coming together. 

You would not know that two years ago, I had my self hidden away, shying away from the world, from being hurt, from being ignored and passed over. I had a horrible sense of my self. I had lost the knowledge of my worth somewhere on the journey of surviving grief and illness that had reared its ugly head like never before and the depression wanted to take over. In the past, I was swallowed by that depression. I cut everyone and everything off and literally wanted to die.

The amazing thing, this time, depression could not stay! While I started blocking people out of my life, there were the solid, the community that would not let me. There were the people who reminded me of who I am. There were the people that pointed out when I was being flat-out ridiculous and that I needed to stop identifying with what I was facing and start identifying on who God says I am. It was my community that picked me up and reminded me how much ground I have gained and even in this hiccup, it was safe to spread my wings and fly again. 

Community: A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Romans 12:5-
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Do I always agree with everything they do? No. Do I enjoy every single personality within my community at every moment? No.  Do I share every single belief and value? No. 

Do I drive people in my community crazy at times? Ah, YAH! 

However, when in the community, despite our human differences we can choose to stay united with a common goal. Intentional to build together, to hold one another up by carrying each other’s burdens and remind each other there is hope in a sea of unknowns.

When the going gets tough, we can be tempted to run from our communities, but all that brings is isolation and loneliness, which in turn becomes bitterness and anger. I think this is why the Lord mentions not forsaking the gathering of our brethren. He knew that we needed far more than to hear our own voice whisper silently to the wind. 

Hebrews 10: 24-25-
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

 

A different lens: Perception

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I recounted a story that changed my perception years ago, at Shaey Anthony on YouTube.
If you are interested, give it a view as it places this blog in a fuller context.