Browsing Tag

Jesus

Tuning In to God’s Voice: 3 Things to Turn Down the Static Buzz

I come to you today with an apology. Because I don’t have it figured out. Not yet, at least.

What is “it” that I don’t have figured out? Well … all of it.

Allow me to explain…

I was asked to write about “tuning in” to God voice. I had every intention of writing and posting for you yesterday.

I had good intentions.

But then Independence Day happened, and fireworks keeping everyone in my family awake happened, and then work called in, and then the toddler fell and got hurt, and then there were burgers to make for the cook-out, and then and then and then…

To be honest, “and then” has been the theme of my life this year. It’s days weeks months like this where I feel like I have whiplash from all the directions I’m facing on this walk through life. A chain of events follows the whiplash, where I ask if I am facing the right directions in the first place? And then I wonder if I’m tuned in to God’s will for me? Am I tuned in to Him at all?

So I wonder if I am the one who should be writing about “tuning in”?

Because I wonder if what I’m hearing is His voice or the static disguised by all these good intentions?

I also wonder if I’m not alone?

At this point, can we even tell the difference in the static of our everyday and Our Everything?

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)

So let’s take a minute to do what needs to be done. Would you join me in taking some static inventory and then the steps to turning down the buzz and turning up His voice?


Take Inventory.

I’m personally in Transition Mode right now. We’ll call it a “season.” (That’s correct Christian speak, right? *wink*) I’m in a season where I have a new job, my volunteer responsibilities are shifting, I am traveling for other obligations, there are extended family issues needing to be handled, vacations, deadlines to meet, oh yeah… and then I have my husband and kids. (Minor details, right?) (Oh, and it’s summer and the kids are ALWAYS hungry or bored.)

Sound familiar?

The static of daily life crackles loud. Maybe your static doesn’t involve a new job or travel, like mine.

Maybe your static involves middle of the night infant feedings or night terrors from a 5 year old.
Maybe your static sounds like a sixteen year old reving the engine of a 12 ton Honda Worry Machine on wheels.
Maybe your static is the peace and quiet of an empty nest.

What is the current buzz in our ears right now? What are the things trying desperately to fill the God-sized space in our hearts?

Have you thought of yours? (If not, I can wait right here while you do … if so, continue reading.)

 

So what do we do about this static? Well, I have three things that if done in order, I believe know will lead to hearing less buzz and more of His clear voice.

Since we’re on the topic of typical Christian speak (*wink*), I’ll go with the typical Christian answer for everything …

Pray.

It may be a typical answer, but it’s because it works. No matter the circumstances, just do it.

Sometimes our prayers feel like they fall flat. Pray anyway.
Sometimes our prayers feel self-indulgent. Pray anyway.
Sometimes our prayers feel weak and non-profound. Pray anyway.
Sometimes our prayers feel silly. Pray anyway.
Sometimes our prayers are already in abundance. Pray anyway.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers of the people offered in this place. (2 Chronicles 7:14-15)

God hears our prayers and He will answer them in some way, shape or form. So do it anyway.

The second Christiany-term I want to toss out there is …

Abide.

There are lots of theological strategies out there on how to correctly or effectively “abide in Christ,” but an easy and practical way for us to do so is by reading the bible.

Easy enough, right?

Wrong. The static gets louder when we go to crack open and flip through His tissue-like paper.

Even when we are exhausted and want to sleep in a few more minutes. Read it anyway.
Even when our kids are screaming for breakfast, a snack, lunch, a snack, dinner and dessert. Read it anyway.
Even when we don’t like reading. Read it anyway.
Even when we’d rather listen to worship music. Read it anyway.
Even when we know what it says already. Read it anyway.

The enemy knows his voice is silenced when we read God’s Word. So let’s shut him up and read.

Pay Attention.

After all of that, then it’s time to pay attention. Pay attention to everything. Our thoughts, our feelings, our friends, our words, our circumstances… Ask questions that guide us in a more specific direction.

What is the thing that makes us stronger and fills us with hope?

But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. (1 Corinthians 14:3)

What is the thing that makes our insides churn and our hearts burn?

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)

Line the clues up against what scripture says and ask what is God presently speaking to me?

When we do all of this, I think we may just hear His voice, loud and clear.

Pray ~ Abide ~ Pay attention ~ Repeat

*originally posted on Moms at Hope blog*

When Your Quiet Time isn’t so Quiet

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

Yes. This. Everything about the above verse makes me want to type in all the praise hand emojis. Because quiet, alone, unseen, rewards, secret … all these words tug at my busy-mom-of-three emotions.

Then … reality hits.

Mark 1:35-37 is more my reality …

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

“Everyone is looking for you!”

Is this your life too? I assume I’m not the only one who gets up and goes to a solitary place to pray, only to be followed by little people. *wink*

Even if I wake earlier than usual, odds are one of the children will wake up and interrupt me. They will need breakfast or help going potty or help finding their favorite shirt or something. That’s how it is. This is my reality in this season.

So yes, many of us have very, very little time to ourselves right now.

I’ve included below a few captured “quiet times” of my own so you can see what I’m talking about.

I used to think because of this lack of privacy and silence, my quiet time wasn’t meaningful or productive, so often I’d grow frustrated and even resentful for not getting “ideal” time with God.

But I’ve learned – am learning – that God can and will use my not-so-quiet moments to grow my knowledge and relationship with Him.

No matter how hard I try, some days my “quiet” times are going to be filled with doll babies, nursing real babies and feeding eggos to older babies. All with Peppa Pig blasting through speakers.

But I know God is with me wherever I am, whatever I’m doing and no matter who is around me.

While I still crave and love the literal “quiet” times I get with Jesus, I’m learning to roll with it and recognize not every moment with God has to be perfect and serene, with all the spiritual type of feels. Because REAL LIFE, friends.

So how do you have a productive quiet time in a not-so-quiet scenario?

Here 4 things that help me have meaningful Not-So-Quiet Time.


Keep Him handy.

This is number one for me. Keeping scripture quotes, bibles, devotionals, even prayer prompts handy is great for when I do find a few silent moments throughout the day. If His Word is right there, it’s easy to take advantage of the time that does pop up.

I keep my phone close by me almost all day long (I know, I have a problem), so it’s easy to hop on a Bible app (YouVersion and the First 5 app are great for quick and short reading) or listen to an audio Bible.


Plan ahead.

Okay, so we’re going to devote time to God, but we don’t know how it’s going to turn out, if we’ll be interrupted or sidetracked.

Pick a bible reading plan to follow or a book that studies the Bible. When I wake up, I know which book I’m going to grab (right now I’m finishing up Wendy Blight’s I Know His Name: Discovering Power in the Names of God) and get through what I can. If I have to stop in the middle, I have to stop in the middle. I don’t waste time flipping through the Bible, wondering “where should I start?” 


Plan to not follow the plan.

Let’s be real. It isn’t always going to play out how we imagine it. So if you are currently trying to read through a bible study book, and you’ve been unable to sit down that day to read it, you’re going to have to engage a new tactic for the day. Sometimes, I will go back to the First 5 app or something similar, where there is a ready-made and short devotional quickly available that I am not currently following.

Here are another couple strategies I use as a back-up plan (adapted from [re]SOURCE, by my good friend and pastor, Jessica H. Morris).

[re]THINK – Reflect on what you learned or read in your last quiet time. Re-ask some questions to yourself about the subject and ask yourself what stands out most to you about it, that applies to you most personally.

A good strategy here is memorizing scripture, as well. Take a scripture verse and meditate on it all day, write it down in an email to yourself, chant it over and over, write it on sticky notes posted all over your house, or whatever you need to do to keep thinking about God’s Word.

Here, the goal is to re-engage your brain to meditate on scripture or what God is telling you.

[re]PRAY – Pray a prayer familiar to you. Maybe you re-pray what you prayed about yesterday, because it’s still relevant. Or you pray the Lord’s Prayer. Maybe you speak to God through a Psalm of Thanksgiving or Psalm 23, both effective and familiar to many.

The goal is simply to speak to God. Speak to him while you drive, while you shower, while you climb each stair in your home. But to simplify it and keep persistency, pray what you’ve heard or prayed before.

Be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, giving thanks to God. (Colossians 4:2)


Do it out loud.

Okay, so you’ve woken up early, settled in for some QT with Jesus, and your little one sneaks downstairs.

This is often an “UGH” moment for me. But I have to force myself to remember it doesn’t have to be, nor does it for you.

We can pull them up next to us and read out loud, pray out loud, or explain to them what God is teaching us. Remember in Mark 1:35-27 when Simon exclaimed to Jesus during His quiet time, “everyone is looking for you”?

Well, do you also remember how Jesus responded?

“Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 1:38-39, emphasis mine)

He taught.

Let’s take a page out of Jesus’ book, and when people are looking for us, let’s teach them and pray for and with them. He reminds me our people should be inclusions, not interruptions. Because this is why we are here.


So there you have it. These are some of my tricks for meeting with Jesus during a non-quiet or restful season of life.

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for connecting with Jesus during your Not-So-Quiet Time. Post them up so we can all learn from each other.

 

Breaking Up With Perfect — A Book Giveaway

I just finished Amy Carroll’s book, Breaking Up with Perfect, and have so many thoughts swirling now.

Breaking Up With Perfect is just what the doctor ordered.

Amy shares her concept of the Good Girl and Never Good Enough Girl who chase Prince Charming in disguise, Perfect. Perfection, especially in our day and age, is seductive and quite attractive, but a horrible friend who steals our joy.

Cover-669x1024By looking at everyday situations and her own personal stories, Amy shows how a life surrendered to Perfect verse a life surrendered to God, is a life never satisfied. She helps us learn to end the stress of chasing Perfect and embrace the joy God holds waiting for us.

Um, sooooooo….

When Amy wrote an ENTIRE CHAPTER on replacing tasks with people, I may have curled up into a little ball and wallowed for a bit. (Okay, that’s slightly dramatic, but you get the point…)

Amy’s wisdom tore through that concept (among others) for me. Because I love my lists. I mean, I love my people too… but I love my lists.

So I’m working on what she suggests in order to end my own personal pursuit of perfection. The lessons she teaches are hard and not easily learned, but she walks and talks you through the issues like a good friend sitting over a cup of coffee.

I can’t giveaway all her secrets and wisdom, so I recommend you go ahead and read it yourself. 🙂

(Hint! She has a rockin’ list of 50 Ways to Leave Your Perfect in the back of the book!)

Amy is hosting a free Online Book Study on her blog and Facebook page from August 1-September 5, and she’d love for you to join! CLICK HERE to read more about her book study!

Good news! I’m giving away a copy of her book!

 

*GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!*

The winner is listed BELOW in the comments!

(Click HERE to sign up for my newsletter to hear about more giveaways!)

 

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With Amy (also my new speaker coach!) at She Speaks 2016

Damn it, I Don’t Have to Listen

If you’ve been here long, you know I love to read. And you also know how much I love to write. Over the past year, I’ve learned what a perfect recipe that makes for being a member of a book’s launch team. I’ve been a part of 3 or 4 over the past 15-ish months and may have found my calling in life. 😉 

So what does that mean?

It means I get an advance copy of the book from the publisher, I read it and then share information about it online. 

What does that mean for YOU? It means I do the “dirty work” of reading it, rating it and then writing a review on it, so YOU can know if it’s worth your time or not. (You’re welcome. *wink*) 

This month, I was thrilled to be accepted onto the launch team for the book, Wild & Free.

The evening I received it, I shared with Jess & Hayley that I cried through the whole first chapter. I told them they had better not do that to me the rest of the book or all the ink and mascara would smear. (Because ain’t nobody got time for that!) But they did it anyway.

I finished Wild & Free in a day(ish) and I can tell you that this book is absolutely worth your time. 

I don’t know about you, but I needed a reminder that I am a prize worth fighting for.

And while I may be told by this world what it thinks I am and what I should be, I am free to be me in this crazy culture and its captive expectations. 

Because before our culture evolved into what it is today, the Creator of the universe “didn’t just love and speak {me} into being, He also called {me} GOOD – the same word He called the massive, majestic oceans and sun that lights our solar system and keeps us all sustained…” (chapter one/Wild & Free)

I am and always have been good in His eyes – not because of who our culture has morphed me into.

And definitely not because I fall into sin so often.

I was before all of that junk molded me and held me captive.

contained, domesticated, terrified living is not the kind of life christ died for me to live.

To be honest, until I read this book, I didn’t even know I WAS living life as described in the above picture.

But not anymore… I know now.

This world I live in is going to tell me what to wear and how to act and what to say.

But damn it, I don’t have to listen.

Because (as cheesy as it may sound) I am wild & free.

The female mustang knows exactly who she is without being told. She’s not caught up in the trappings of this world, because she is wild.

So from now on, I’m living that out too. Living how He originally intended.

Knowing who I am is where I start.

Because I (just like you) am wild & free.


 

Today is Wild & Free’s birthday!

Friend, you need to read this. And I want to hear what you think! Go read it and then message me your thoughts! I would love to chat about it!

(Or message me whenever I’m down to chat anytime! Even if you haven’t read it yet!)

CLICK HERE to order your copy now!

This is the Week to Get it Done

This is Holy Week, one of my favorite times of year. (And not just because Easter means all the FRESH TULIPS are in my house right now… though that helps for sure! *wink*)

Holy Week began yesterday. It was Passover; a day we remember Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. It’s probably the most monumental week in history. And it ends on a low – Saturday.

But before Saturday arrives, this week we have plenty of opportunity to make the significance of Holy Week monumental in our everyday. And plenty of opportunity to celebrate the impending holiday. Will you join me? 

Because this… THIS is the week to get it done.

This is the week we can choose to glorify God.

Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:8-9)

This is the week we accept or deny Him.

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” (Mark 14:72)

This is the week we eat the bread and drink the wine.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them.” (Mark 14:22-24)

This is the week we either sleep or keep watch.

“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Simon,’ he said to Peter, ‘are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” (Mark 14:37-38)

This is the week we decide to wait on Him.

“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.'” (Acts 1:4)

This is the week we choose watch on the sidelines or get involved.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

This is the week we choose to believe.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'” (John 20:29)

 

After Saturday, Sunday kicks off a new week – a new beginning. And I can’t wait to celebrate!

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
(John 20:1-2)

I Am Chosen

Most days, I just can’t seem do it right – any of it. The work thing, the friend thing, the wife thing, the parent thing.

Sometimes I wonder if life’s big joke is on me.

Because I am not good enough for what He’s chosen me for, I doubt myself. And therefore His decisions.

It’s easy to fall into this mind-trap the enemy sets.

But what I read about God’s faithfulness gives me hope that the joke isn’t necessarily on me. Because He chose every person in scripture to fulfill His divine plans. Adulterers, liars, murderers, cheats… all of them were chosen to carry out something bigger than they and their problems were.

And so am I … I am chosen.

And so are you.

We are bigger than our problems, our insecurities, our weaknesses. Because Jesus chose us to dwell in.

We are chosen.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:4-5.

*Originally posted at Beloved Clothing Co.’s Instagram*

 

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The One Constant

Gosh – so much can happen in just a short time.

I feel like the summer months tend to be a turning point in the year. A time for a lot of changes.

… the coolness of the winter and spring bring on the heat
… the longer days
… children graduating
… friends moving
… jobs changing
… babies arriving

Change can be great. It can also be scary.

Have you ever felt like you’re on the cusp of change? That’s how I feel right now. I can’t quite put my finger on why, though. Maybe it’s my pregnancy (because ummmm, TALK ABOUT A CHANGE on the way) or how I’m constantly surveying Realtor.com for new homes to further drive my longing to move. (Hey – this coming baby needs a bedroom. And we ain’t got it here. I’m still trying to convince the husband we can afford at least a 5 or 6 bedroom, 4 baths, pool, tennis courts, Calumet fencing, and acres of Thoroughbreds frolicking home…) Or maybe it’s because I’m about to go do something I’ve never done before.

Whatever it is, change can be nerve-wracking. When there are situations you don’t know about or people you aren’t familiar with, it can put us on edge.

Maybe this summer hasn’t been much of a change for you. Maybe it has held a steady rhythm and you need a change. (This was me last summer and the summer before – so I feel you.)

Even if you aren’t experiencing a summer of change, it’s coming.

Whether you like it or not.

We should be used to the idea of change by now, right? Because change is real and necessary.
Physically we change. Emotionally we change. Spiritually we change.

They say the only thing constant in life is change.

But that’s wrong.

Our lives revolve around one constant.

Our unchanging God.

No matter where I move…
No matter what politics and laws are put into place…
No matter who I am newly surrounded with…
No matter how much I change…

He is the same.

Always.

That constant is the One I’ll want change from and for.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed [changed] by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2 KJV, emphasis mine.)

Sunday’s Coming…

Today is Good Friday.

I get Friday.

Friday is a day of loss, a day of despair, a day of discouragement, a day that breaks our hearts.

I get it…

 

I get Sunday.

Sunday is a day of rescue, a day of celebration, a day of joy, a day of redemption.

I get it…

 

What about Saturday?

 

Before Friday, Jesus proved to those around him that He was the Messiah. His followers believed with everything they had that he was the Son of Man. He performed miracles – healed the sick, raised people from the dead, walked on water. There wasn’t a reason to doubt.

So why would He make them wait three days for His return? Make them mourn? Make their stomachs turn in anticipation? Make them doubt? Make them wonder?

Because we must live through Saturday before we can get to Sunday.

Today… right now… this side of heaven is Saturday. We live in Saturday.

And we are in good company. Jesus’s disciples lived through Saturday. His BFF’s. His family.

They waited.

And now we must wait.