The Empty Box

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I got this prayer box necklace from my aunt years ago and recently it got me to thinking.

Looking at the empty box, I could have worn this as just a pretty necklace over the years, or I could take my prayer and place it in the box, close to the heart. I chose to write my favorite scripture and put it in the box and whenever the necklace moved or I saw it in a reflection I would meditate and believe that word was qualified in my own life.  The empty box did not remain empty.

I use this, as an illustration, to show how we may take the time for our empty box during our downtime. We have spent all day, pouring out our energy and when we stop we are depleted. When we take the time to recharge,  we make choices. Those choices are to leave that box empty, fill it with distraction, or fill it with life.

For a season I found myself filling the empty box with distraction. Such as binge-watching Netflix or spending hours on my social media accounts when I wanted to just ‘chill’. Not before too long it became habitual and without any thought, I pick up my phone first thing in the morning and throughout the day, all day, and mindlessly scroll.
Then there is the other box in the room that grabs my time. As soon as I sit on my couch I would reach for my remote and scroll for an hour looking for something to watch.
Then one day it hit me, did I really just waste an hour (or hours)  scrolling nothingness?

There is a danger for me personally to use ‘nothing’ or distraction during down time. Before too long it becomes same old’ same old’ and if not careful I slip into the melancholy of nothingness and the empty box turns into a life of meh.

Think of your own life, are you working and going home and doing nothing? Is the place that you want to be in 5 years? I ask this because if you are filling your free time with nothingness or distractions, then in 5 years time, you will accomplish only keeping your box empty.

I know this may be an extreme thought, but for me it became extreme. I was created to write, paint, minister and to be present, yet I filled up a season of my life with nothingness and wondered why I was not getting anywhere. It all turned so quickly and without notice went from a few minutes of decompressing daily, into a lifestyle.

I am being exposed here. Not because it is fun to admit it, but because I know I am not alone and my hope is that others will see before the melancholy or time thief sets in. The thief of your time can also be a thief of your joy.

So what can you fill the empty box with?

I am determined to fill my life with things from the Lord through prayer, worship of all forms and pursuit of my future that He has planned for me. I want my empty box to become filled with life. So that I may pour it out onto others and not be running on a nothingness.  So that I may remain young and strong.

Psalm 103:5- He fills my life with good things so that I stay young and strong like an eagle.  

Heart Connection- Intimacy

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The truth of the matter is, you can know someone, know all about them, even be in a relationship with them and still miss out on the deep heart connection of intimacy.

There is head knowledge of our salvation: This is the same as walking in life with someone, knowing they are always going to be there, but stopping at that and continuing on with your life without the heart connection. A knowing without intimacy.

John 5:24- Most assuredly I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me, has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.

You can have the head knowledge that you are saved. You can know because you dotted your I’s and crossed your T’s that you will enter heaven. But what good comes from a relationship that has begun, but has not been cultivated.
You can miss out on a deep-rooted heart connection intimacy with the Lord and all the glory that comes with it if you do not seek it.

♥ Heart Connection takes investment:

So often in life, we become distracted in the different seasons that we face. We become overwhelmed, feel inadequate and exhausted. Often our messes in life become our focus, and slowly without meaning to our hearts grow distant.
Just like any earthly relationship, you must invest in your relationship with the Lord.
For a deeper heart connection get to know Him by spending time set apart only for Him.

Invest in:

Prayer
– is our communication with the Lord. An opportunity to talk and share. Cry out and be real.

Word-
The Bible reveals His heart for us, His plans, and His hopes. Loved saved, thought of and not forgotten.

Praise and worship
– Reveals our heart for Him. This is our chance to pour out our love on Him and lift Him up.

When you are feeling lost, disconnected, frazzled, and overwhelmed, make sure to slow down and set time to be settled in your heart connection. It makes all the difference.

♥ Heart Connection takes pursuit:

In this life, you must pursue the ones you love. Lack of pursuit and interest leads to stilled relational growth. At times lack of pursuit can lead to opening a door for another to enter.
It is in our lack of pursuit that the enemy comes in with lies. When we are not fully pursuing the Lord, it is easier to believe that we are less than or lacking. We are not building our relationship on His truths.
Then life comes and smacks us in the face and we can begin to develop resentment. We risk growing angry with the Lord when disaster and hurts have stood to in the way of pursuing him. Resentment turns into resistance.  Examine what is holding you back from pursuing Him. Is there anger, bitterness or distrust there? In order to overcome, you must pursue His heart for you, and not listen to the lies the enemy is trying to win you over with.

♥ Heart Connection takes vulnerability:

Vulnerable – To be exposed.

We are taught to hide the ugly. We are taught to toughen up, don’t be so sensitive, shake it off and to be good. We have learned that when we show our true selves, anywhere that we are lacking others will reject us or ridicule us. We have been hurt in unspeakable ways, rejected and unwanted. So we build walls, we hide, we self-protect.
It has become a habit to hide away anything that is not perfection. The danger in this with relationships, you are holding back your full self. Everything that is hidden, is becoming a barrier between you and the one you love.
The sin areas in our life that are standing in the way of our growing need to be exposed. We do not need to self-protect with the Holy Spirit. God knows our mess, He wants us to be able to trust Him enough to let Him love us through it.
The enemy wants to keep you bound up and hiding. He does not want you to experience the full heart connection that comes from being raw and real with the Lord. It is through exposing all my junk to the Lord, that He is able to come in and do His work. It is recognizing I need Him in a way only He can fill. I can’t do the cleansing and the healing on my own. His amazing power comes in and does the work and I get to rejoice. For being exposed, leaves me open to being held.

As I am held close in the Father’s arms, there is hope. HOpe builds within the Spirit man within us as we experience the Father’s love.

ROMANS 5:5- Now Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given us.

It is in our weakness that makes us whole. He wants all of us, not just what we think we have together. He wants our ugly, He wants our flaws, and He wants our weaknesses. For In Him He makes us strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10- But He said to me my Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so the power of Christ may rest upon me.
For the sake of Christ then I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecution, and calamity. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

When the Lord makes us strong in our weakness, all the glory goes to His power and not on ourselves. I tried to do it all myself for years in my own strength.  I got nowhere, except broken and exhausted. It is our testimony to what God accomplished when we have overcome in Him.

Reflection- Often times we base how we have been treated by others, on how we think the Lord will receive us. Others judge harshly that is how we see the Father. Others reject us or abandon us, we may expect the Lord to turn away when we are a mess. BUT His word says;

Psalm 27:10- “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.”

No matter who leaves us, or abandons us, hurts us and betrays us, the LORD is ready and waiting to embrace us. Arms wide open. Ready for a deep heart connection intimacy. One that does not forsake.

Give a listen to this song:  INTIMACY by Jonathan David Helser

I once failed at love- Until I learned what it truly is

In my past, I had a world full of people around me, yet I felt so alone.
I had been hurt that others in my life were not listening or there for me in the ways that I thought they should be. I read recently that those that overshare on social media are often the loneliest people and that was me. I was so lonely. Yet, the lonelier I felt the more isolated I became. Shutting people out, to avoid the feelings of hurt.

I lived in a world where others were not being aware of MY needs. When these trials arose,  I would often pout, shout or shut down completely into a world of poor me.   I began to get bitter and turn people away.

I can see where this destructive pattern began. There was one that cut and hurt me so deeply, it shook my very worth.  I was done with living and I was done with people. So one by one, I deleted them from my life. I was not going to face that abandonment again. I would dispose of them before they disposed of me.

While my flesh was saying that this was the way to self-protect, God pointed out ever so gently in His amazing ways that I was on the road of self-destruction.

Where my immediate family is concerned, In the early days of wife and mother, I had completely ruined the atmosphere in my home with my grumbling and complaining.

I would blow up when my comfort levels were disrupted or when they were not meeting my need as I felt they should. If I called for the kids to stop arguing and talking back and they ignored me I would yell, react in the flesh and get bitter rather than giving the soft answer that the Bible calls for. If my husband wasn’t giving me the attention I wanted I would complain about every other little thing he would do, rather than discuss the issue. I would shut down and hide inside myself, making the problem worse, not better.

I was unhappy, depressed, to the point of suicidal. Nobody was there for me (my perception of the moment) and I didn’t know why. I was in the darkest place and when I asked the Lord why. His answer shook me.

The issue was not them, but me.

I was not loving!!! I did not LOVE myself, my family or others.

Love is not self-seeking.

Why is it that I find their actions concern me so much? Why was my comfort level controlled by their actions? Were my desires so much more important than theirs?

In order to understand the fullness of joy the Lord has for us, we MUST comprehend love.

When I am not seeing my needs be met by humans, I need to seek the Lord to meet those needs. I need to ask God how can you use me to help show your love to others?
God has made it very apparent to me what love was a while back. And for the most part, great joy has come in as I settle on the word and apply love like His in my life. I have become more patient, more kind, more peaceful overall.

I do fail and I do miss it, but thankfully I fail and miss it less and less as I learn more and more.

Love is an action. It is not a feeling. When I am irritated, self-seeking and impatient I am not acting in love. Criticism and judgment is not love. Manipulation and tantrum throwing is not love. Bitterness and impatience is not love.

The bible is very clear on the actions we are to take in love. Jesus was loving, he was giving, he was kind and I am to be Christ-like. I want my friends and family to see the kind of love that lives and dwells in me when I allow my self to get out of my own way.

Challenge this day my friend: Find areas that we can exhibit love that we never thought was an act of Love before. Look at the individuals you have cut off and ask yourself… was that an act of love? Sometimes God calls us to walk away for a healthier us, but sometimes, we are a healthier us by growing in the act of LOVE.

 1 Corinthians 3:4-7

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 in truth.

It always protects, always trusts always hopes, always perseveres

 

There is a difference

“YES, I will pray for you!”

I used to be guilty often when someone would ask me for prayer, of confusing thinking of them as the same as praying for them.
Thinking of someone periodically throughout the day is not the same as prayer, there is a difference.
To pray you go before the throne of heaven on another persons behalf and take the time asking for the Lord to meet THEIR need.

So the last few years, when I get a request for prayer I have made a point to stop and pray in that very moment. Then I will think of that person periodically throughout the day.
I have to make a point when I think about them to lift them in prayer.

There is a difference between having someone on your heart and lifting someone to the heart of the Father. Be intentional with our prayers. Be intentional with the answer we give another. Just thinking about them, is not enough, when they need prayers.

We know that the Lord answers the prayers of the righteous. I have been teaching my Sunday school class the Lord’s prayer. The way Jesus said to pray and when I pray for another I put their name in there.

Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come thy will be done in _______ life here on earth as it is in heaven.
Give ______ their daily bread.
Forgive _______ their trespasses as they forgive them that trespass against them.
Lead_______ not into temptation but deliver _________ from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever, AMEN.

The Lord already knows the need, but I will bring that up too.
The word says where two or three are gathered in Jesus name it will be done.
Prayer vs. thinking about someone, there is a difference. So friend, know that if I am saying I am praying for you. You are covered!

 

 

 

Lord be the calm in this storm

 Psalm 107:29 –

He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.

 

My body has taken a turn lately. While I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia for over ten years, the last two years something has been going on that I thought was related, only to find out that it is not. I cry out, Lord be the calm in this storm.

For two years I have allowed a doctor to shrug away many symptoms, only to find out I shouldn’t have. Lord be the calm in this storm.

While these new symptoms may be nothing too concerning, I am tired. I am tired and frustrated with the set back. I have had to cut out most activities and leave my jobs. Lord be the cam in this storm.

I physically am exhausted. But one thing that I am finding, that when I press in to praise and worship, for those moments with my eyes set on Jesus, all falls away. My symptoms fall away. My heartache falls away. My depression falls away. My eyes are the one whom created me and in Him I find my strength. Lord you are the calm in this storm.

Yesterday I could hardly move when I woke up. Every part of my body was stiff and hurting. As I got up to get ready for Easter service, the dizziness was increased and the muscle weakness discouraging. I had to use my cane and I did not want to give in to that need. I walked into church with my cane. I stood worshiping holding on to my cane. As the worship continued I grew stronger and stronger. I started worshiping without my hand on the cane for balance. By the last song I was able to put the microphone down, and dance. Now my dance was limited in comparison to a time before all this, but the dance was there nevertheless. He was faithful to give me that gift in that moment. An encouragement that He still is my strength. He never fails. Lord you are the calm in this storm.

I find each day in this trial that the Lord takes me deeper and brings me farther than I could ever imagined. He speaks into my inner being in a way that only my weakness would allow. I have developed such a compassion for others in similar struggles. I am learning how to step back and hear what they are going through. I am learning to use my time resting to still develop my giftings He has placed in me. Lord you are the calm in this storm.

I will find beauty in this season. I will rest in Him and know that He already knows my every day and I can have peace in that.  Lord you are the calm in this storm.

Lord be the calm in this storm, as you faithfully always have been.

My song for this season that stirs my hope….may it bless you as well.
Do it again

 

 

A treasure found this day

This was an old post I had begun and never finished. It was found in the drafts from years ago.

I felt like I had opened a treasure chest full of the Lord’s reminding in the list of drafts. There were many to open and this one I decided to share today. It is a new year. Time to abandon old things and start fresh!!

Surrender : To abandon

I am finding the more I abandon the garbage in my life, the more joy that fills my heart. When we hold onto anger and bitterness it clogs up the flow of joy just as cholesterol clogs the arteries.

When we let bitterness rise again and again and then complain that we are depressed pointing a finger at the one that offended us, it is no different from ramming our head against a brick wall over and over again and then blaming the wall for our headache.

We need to look at our own selves in the situation.  How are we holding on and what can we do to surrender it? Do we really want to keep walking around with it?

We all have our reasons to feel like we have a right to hold on to that anger. But it hurts us, not the one or the circumstance that we are angry with.

There was a person who hurt my family. I hated this person. Many days all I could do was think about how I would murder them if I could get away with it. I hated them vehemently and for what most would think was good reason. But my hatred of this person was taking over my days, consuming my every thought. There was no peace as I focused only on what they had done and how they should pay.

I realized if I wanted to walk in freedom I needed to surrender all the anger, bitterness, and guilt. But the question for me was how did I start? How could I abandon the feelings and leave them  down and not pick them back up over and over again?

 

ADDED TODAY: 1/4/18  from the wisdom the years has brought me and the freedom I now get to walk in.

Question: How do yo let go of the bitterness and anger without picking it up over and over again.
1. I forgive…

Matthew 6: 14- “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

                   Luke 17:4 – “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

I let go of the circumstances and take off the personal attack. I depersonalize the situation. I work to set it apart from me. It was a situation that happened it does not have to cling to me. When I find  it extremely hard to forgive I ask the Lord’s help. I ask for His peace. I ask Him to help me love my enemy.

2. I pray for my enemy…

Matthew 5:44-But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

I use to struggle with how in the world to pray for an enemy. I would ask, ” seriously God isn’t it enough that they hurt me and they don’t care? How do I pray for them?” God said, “just start.” So now, I pray for the one that has offended me to know Jesus and to break free of the bondage that hurts people. I pray for them to have VICTORY in JESUS.

3. I rejoice that the Lord has set me free…

2 Timothy 2:26- and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

When I walked in my wrath of bitterness I was held captive by the enemy. I am no longer bound up in the bondage of un-forgiveness and bitterness!!! That is MY reward, my gift from the Lord.

I praise, I worship, I shout and dance. Then when that ugly thing tries to rise up in me I praise louder, worship longer and dance like never before. Instead of using that reminder to take my focus, I use that reminder to take me deeper.

The year 2018 is a great opportunity to break off offenses, walk in freedom of forgiveness and grow deeper in loving.

And I say…. “YES LORD!”

 

Yes Lord….Desire of my heart

My word for 2018 is YES LORD. He has placed in me to seek His will first and to YES LORD all that He lays on my heart.

Psalm 37:4 (ESV)- Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

In my prayer time today, I had some desires rise up and then I felt deflated during prayer. I asked the Lord where this was coming from and I saw clearly;
Yes, the Lord gives us the desires of our hearts but I realized lately that when the desire rises up, the lack of it leaves me discontent. My desire has become my focus. I am missing the BIG picture of delighting myself in the Lord!!!!

Also, I often over look that He gives us the desires of our hearts when we line up with His will for our lives. When we delight ourselves in the Lord and keep our focus as it should be, His will then becomes the desires of our hearts. It is then that He is faithful to see our desires fulfilled.

I have been walking in some discontent with a big desire of my heart not fulfilled. Now this desire may or may not line up with the will of God ( I honestly don’t know yet). Because, I have been so busy focusing on the desire and not seeking the WILL in it I have been left spinning between my want and lack of having it.

Through my prayer time today, my spirit jumped when I realized that somewhere the desire of my heart crossed over to being the full focus of my heart, time and attention.

Often during the day, that desire rises up, and then discontent follows because it has not happened yet. I ask myself, how often have I prayed and sought the Lords will first that day? How often have I sang His praises that day? Is it more often than this petulant child whining for her desire to be fulfilled?

God’s message to me today, in this year 2018, is to take my focus off of my desires and set my heart in tune with Him again. My peace comes and I know He has everything covered. I do not need to obsess over the I wanna’s. Be anxious for nothing He says, and I am ready to say…

YES LORD.

Philippians 4:6- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God.”

Supplication ( asking or begging, earnestly or humbly )