Slow Down and Trust

Today’s message from Jesus Calling (one of my all-time favorite devotionals) is very appropriate for me, so I thought I’d start out by sharing it with you:

I am with you and for you. When you decide on a course of action that is in line with My will, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop you. You may encounter many obstacles as you move toward your goal, but don’t be discouraged—never give up! With My help, you can overcome any obstacle. Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but do remember that I, your very-present Helper, am omnipotent.

Much, much stress results from your wanting to make things happen before their times have come. One of the main ways I assert My sovereignty is in the timing of events. If you want to stay close to Me and do things My way, ask Me to show you the path forward moment by moment. Instead of dashing head-long toward your goal, let Me set the pace. Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My Presence.

[Romans 8:31; Psalm 46:1–3 (NKJV): Luke 1:37]

Although the word “trust” is not actually used in that message, I believe it is implied. The closing words could very well be, “Slow down, trust Me, and enjoy the journey.”

Stop Thinking

I am one of those people who gets an idea in her head and then pushes forward full-force, trying to plan out every detail. I feel better when I am actively taking control of a situation. And I get frustrated when things begin to spiral out of my control or they don’t happen as quickly or the way I think they should. But I know that this is not the best way for me to go about my life. In fact, the more I try to control things, the more stressed out I get, and the further I may fall from God’s actual plans for my life. Or by trying to do everything myself, I realize that I may miss out on the opportunity for others to witness the amazing things that God can do despite obvious circumstances.

That’s why my word for 2016 is TRUST. There are many areas of my life where I need to let go of control and just trust God. So, this year, instead of worrying and fretting, I am going to trust. Instead of planning and manipulating, I am going to trust. I will do my very best to slow down and wait for God to reveal the paths He has laid out for me rather than rushing forward on my own.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything
you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.

(Proverbs 3:5-6; The Message)

If I trust in God’s plan, and I wait for it, I won’t have to be worried or afraid that things won’t happen according to my plans. And I can be confident that I am taking the right steps for a better future. Is trust an issue that you deal with? Below are some other passages and images that might help you as they have helped me.

Trust in the Father

Although I don’t like to wait, God always has a plan to work things out for my good. So I must trust His “wait” is either to protect me or to prepare me for what’s ahead. (Glynnis Whitwer, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day)

Lead Me and I will follow

God always keeps His word. If He has given you a specific promise, you can be assured that He will fulfill it. It may not be according to your time-table, but it will always be according to what is right in line with His will for your life. (Charles F. Stanley, In Step with God: Understanding His Ways and Plans for Your Life)

Those Who Trust in the Lord

Lord,

May we all become people who pray. May we also learn to leave the burden with You, rather than pick it up and carry it with us after claiming that we’re trusting You. Right now, Lord, take the burden. We cast it upon You, knowing that You’re better able to handle it than we ever will be. (Charles R. Swindoll, Insight for Today: The Importance of Prayer)

I know you heard my prayer

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We Are ALL Called

On Sunday, Nov 1, my husband’s nephew (KJ Weisheit, the new Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church Celina) preached on “The Church.” His message spoke to me, and so I wanted to share some of it and some other thoughts on this topic with you here.

KJ PreachingKJ started off explaining “What the Church Is Not.”

The Church is not a building. It’s not meant to be a social gathering. (Meeting in fellowship at the church is good, but socializing shouldn’t be our main focus or reason for going to church.)

Then he went on to share “What the Church Is.”

We are the Church. The people … wherever we meet, and whenever we gather in His name. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

We are one body with many members. And every member has a specific job. Some are called “to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service …” (Ephesians 4:12).

“… each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6–8)

I’ve always liked this passage from Romans. It reminds me that we each have been called to fulfill the mission of Christ in different ways. We shouldn’t envy others and their roles or diminish the importance of our own roles within the Body of Christ.

As KJ reminded us — How we feel about our part in the Body does not matter. Even those parts of our physical bodies that seem to be weaker than others are still indispensable. We are ALL called to be a blessing (see Gen 12:1–3); we are ALL called to be salt and light (see Mat 5:13–16); and we are ALL called to be love (1 Cor 13).

In a blog post from Holley Gerth, “Psst…You’re Making a Bigger Difference than You Know,” I read a little more about what I believe our calling (as the Church) is and how God equips us:

Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit” {John 7:38}. This is good news for us: We are not the source. We are not the supplier. We are simply the server. We pour out what God pours into us. Then He fills us up again. [Isn’t that awesome?!]

SmallestKindness-e1445886531810

If you give even a cup of cold water
to one of the least of my followers,
you will surely be rewarded.
{Matt. 10:42}

If you give even a cup of…
patience to a cranky toddler.
kindness to a challenging coworker.
hope to a struggling stranger.
peace to a conflicted family.
joy to a discouraged friend.

What may seem small can make a big difference. One cup of living water can refresh a heart. One cup can save a life. One cup can even change the world.

2015-11-06 11.54.12

Another good post that I think ties in to this message of finding ourselves and our place and role within the Church comes from Shannon Martin at (in)courage — “When Judgment and Self-Doubt Derail You.

She says, “Church culture has taught us to talk pretty and play nice, but what about our hearts? … I’m a believer that we should be the church we long for. We don’t get far toward clearing a new path when our feet and our hearts aren’t willing to make a shift.”

10302015_ShannanMartin_Church

Be the Church you long for. … If you need a friend, try at first to be a friend. If you need help, ask … but don’t forget to reach out to others to help in whatever capacity you can. Think about the aches and desires of your own heart, and realize that there are probably many people all around you feeling just like you. Your weaknesses may very well be just the thing that connects you to someone else in need. But if you are not confident enough to approach someone else first, there’s still something you can do, and that is to simply pray for others. Share your love … share God’s love … through your prayers.

“Sharing makes you bigger than you are.
The more you pour out, the more life
will be able to pour in.”  Jim Rohn

We are all given a choice. Will we be who God created us to be and play our part in the Body of Christ, or will we try to be who others expect us to be? True joy and authenticity is found only when we align ourselves with God’s plan.

“Effectiveness in God’s work depends on
what He calls each person to do.” Charles Stanley

Few will be given a task on the scale of Moses’, but the Father has a calling for each believer. Whether His plan is that we raise a godly family, reach out to a neighbor, or run a business with integrity and consideration, He wants us to do so in His power. (In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley)

LeAnne and Brittany

LeAnne and Brittany (KJ’s wife)

Before I close this post, I want to mention another family member who really seems to get this concept of fully living as a part of the Church, and that is KJ’s sister, LeAnne Weisheit. LeAnne is an active member of Watermark Community Church. Whenever she is not at work (as a teacher) she can usually be found participating in a Christian camp; assisting with a ministry event; or, in some way, reaching out to connect with others, helping them to grow in faith. She lives her faith and shares God’s love all week long. We are so proud of her and her loving spirit.

We believe that each believer has received a special gift
and should employ it in serving others, as good stewards of the
manifold grace of God. Spiritual giftedness and maturity determines
where and how a believer serves. (1 Peter 4:10) Watermark

We are all called to serve.
Have you found your place in the Church?

**************

Dear Lord, thank you for the gifts and talents you have given us. Please show us where we can be most useful for your Kingdom. Help us to see how much you love us and how much you want for us. Help us to trust in your divine purpose for our lives. Lord, whatever I want for myself, help me want what you want for me more.

Father, help us remember to be present for one another, to strengthen and encourage others, to give generously of ourselves and our resources, and to simply listen when that is what is needed. Help us to use the gifts you have given us to build up the Church, and to share your love with those who may not yet know you. Give us boldness to carry out your will.

Thank you for your grace, your love, and the opportunities you place in our lives to serve you and others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  

     

Write today’s story with an open and grateful heart!

My focus word for 2015 has been gratitude. At the moment, I am grateful for those of you who remain subscribers on my blog even though I am really bad about posting on a regular basis. I’ve got a book review I’ve been wanting to post, but I felt like I needed to write a personal post before adding another “book break,” as there hasn’t been much real content on my blog to break from lately. The good news is — I have been too busy to write. Well, I guess that’s also the bad news. I know it is important to slow down to allow ourselves time for the things that we enjoy and that make our lives meaningful. I also recognize that I need to be more purposeful about how I spend the hours in my days. Perhaps you are noticing the same thing in your life?

Here are some words from others that I found inspiring:

“If you itemize your activities and their time consumption over the course of a week, you might be surprised at the dominating events. Each moment is a gift, so set aside a few minutes each evening to plan. Then revisit the way you spent the last 24 hours. This will help you to live purposefully.”  (In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley)

*******

“When we slow down, we give ourselves time and space to really think about things, to be present, to embrace what’s happening right in front of us, as opposed to flitting from task to task, never quite spending time in the now. …

If we waited until the house was immaculately tidy and work was quiet and the kids were perfectly settled and we had no stresses, then we would still be waiting for permission from life to slow down.

It doesn’t happen like that. Life is messy and layered and there are always things going on. It requires constant tilting.

… It’s amazing what comes to the surface when we slow down and stop cramming stuff in to life. …

We think clearly. We pay attention to the moment. We learn things. We come away feeling rested and rejuvenated and at peace, because we’ve spent time living in the now.” Brooke McAlary (Slow Your Home: The Simpler Life You Want)

Be GratefulThinking about the now, here are a few things I am grateful for today:

I am grateful for my husband, who still works hard and plows ahead, despite some setbacks he experienced in his career this past year. I am proud of him and his determination to find and forge his next path with the company he has worked at/with for over seven years.

I am also grateful that I can continue to work from home, and that he supports that choice, even if the alternative (9 to 5 in an office) might put us in a better position financially.

I am grateful for my sister Gabrielle, whose company finds and provides the source of my current work. [And I’m quite certain she is equally grateful to have one of the best editors around working with/for her. 😉 ]

Although, it is perfectly normal to worry a little bit about the days ahead, since I can’t see what the upcoming months will bring in terms of projects, income, health issues, etc., I also recognize that worrying about the future only takes away today’s joy.

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However, as I reminded one of my other sisters recently, it is okay to feel what we feel and to acknowledge it even when we are aware that some people have things harder or worse than we do. It’s good to have perspective, but we don’t have to pretend that we aren’t hurting or frustrated or worried or confused. We should acknowledge it, maybe even give ourselves a moment to wallow in it, “then take a breath, push the bad thoughts away, and move on.”

As Lysa Terkeurst shares: “Be joyful: Intentionally look around for measures of joy each day. There is joy in simply being alive and in being redeemed by God. Remember, joy is a choice we make, not a feeling we hope to get from our circumstances. It’s good to look for the good, to celebrate it even in small ways. Doing so is a moment of victory!”

Look for something positive

So, grab hold of today. Slow down, and pay attention to the moment. Recognize any negative thoughts and/or feelings that might be stealing your joy. Then tuck them away, and reach for the things that give meaning and purpose to your life. Write today’s story with an open and grateful heart!

Having a Bad Day? You Are Not Alone.

Despite our best efforts to keep our lives on a steady track, like a carousel, life is typically more like a roller coaster. We have our ups—things are great, life is good, we’re on top of the world. And then we have our downs—those trying times when it seems that everything that can go wrong does.

Personally, I am only on a small slope right now as I experience a little uncertainty about my income in the upcoming months and continue to deal with the on-again/off-again issues of carpal tunnel and fibromyalgia. However, among my family and friends, there are several people experiencing more traumatic issues like the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, multiple surgeries, major medication and rehabilitation, long-distance moves, and various other shake-ups.

Today, whether you are experiencing a steady decline or you feel like you are descending at a rapid rate, remember: looking back does not change the course; every down is followed by an up; and finally, whatever you are going through, you are not alone.

Roy Lessin image

Virginia Knowles, who writes about motherhood on her blog (This Mom Grows Up!) posted this today: “When Life Is Not a Bowl of Cherries”

“So much we go through, the good and bad mixed together. It stretches our faith. It teaches us life lessons. It connects us to those who want to help us. It draws on our capacity to love others. It shows us where we need to put forth more effort.”

Another blogger I follow, Susie Middleton (at SixBurnerSue.com), shares some of the crazy downs experienced in farm life:

“It’s … easy, this time of year, to look around a farm and get discouraged. Weeds are ravenous, pests are ravenous, farm stand customers are ravenous. (And our egg supply isn’t keeping up with demand.). The pretty green frilly stuff of spring has fled, replaced by dying pea vines and bolted lettuce and plants ravaged by potato beetles.

But wait. That’s only one way to look at it.”

She goes on to comment on the cheerful sunflowers and zinnias, the bountiful tomato harvest, and the fresh black raspberries now ripe for making homemade berry ice cream.

Copyright © 2014 Susie Middleton

Copyright © 2014 Susie Middleton

Sometimes, how you look at your surroundings and what you choose to see is more important than what appears at first to be the overwhelming “reality.” Changing your focus is not always easy to do, especially if you are experiencing financial difficulties or overwhelming grief, but you can often find the silver lining in many situations if you try and/or if you give it time. (Of course, there are some things that we will never understand or see the good in … at least not during our earthly lives. For those things, we simply have to trust in God and His plan.)

JoAnn Potter, shares some really good thoughts on bad things in her blog post, “God Never Says ‘Oops'”:

“Whenever something bad happens to me, my first reaction is to think that I don’t belong in my situation. Surely, there’s been some kind of mistake.

My son shouldn’t be sick. I shouldn’t have constant conflict with my boss. I’m not supposed to have broken my mother’s prized china. My husband wasn’t supposed to be downsized out of a job. Our car shouldn’t have broken down. …

Regardless of what I want to believe about my situation, I am in it for one of only two reasons: Either God has willed it, or He has allowed it.

If I do not admit this, then God becomes subservient to my will, to the devil, to chance, or to something else. And He can’t. If He does, He is not God. …

God is not selectively perfect. He is not selectively knowing. He is not selectively loving. God is these things all the time.

He does not make me do stuff, but He does work all things together for good. He can turn my bad decisions, eventually, into good. He can turn evil inside out. He does it all the time.”

PEACE - I Have Overcome the World

Whatever you are going through, I pray that your burden will be eased; that you will receive encouragement through your connection to God, friends, and family; that you will find relief from your pain and comfort for your sorrow; that you will discover the desires of your heart and the path that will get you there; and that you will find rest, peace, and renewal at the end of the “ride.”

Dr. Charles Stanley says, “Perhaps the hardest part of receiving the desires of our heart is waiting for them to materialize. Yet God’s Word insists that we rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. This means relying on Him to work out circumstances even when achieving our desire seems impossible.”

 “Now then, stand still and see this great thing
the Lord is about to do…”
1 Samuel 12:4

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.”
Jeremiah 17:7

“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.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Stop Worrying

Broken … but Loved As Is

As the slender needle slipped into my wrist, I felt an electric jolt travel through my palm and up into my thumb.

“Feel that?” the doctor asked?

“Mmmhmm.” I got out through clenched teeth.

I thought you weren’t supposed to feel the needles going in with acupuncture. At least that’s what I had read and what I had heard others say. I discovered for myself that this proved to be true more so for my back, but not so much for my hand and forearm.

Acupuncture Treatment

I was at the acupuncturist’s office because my carpal tunnel and arthritis in my right hand/wrist had started getting worse. Numbness had begun affecting my thumb and two fingers while working on the computer during the day, and numbness in my whole hand had started waking me up at night. I was also experiencing pain in my palm with various movements throughout the day.

The cortisone shots that the hand specialist had given me had worn off after only a month. The last shot I got from my orthopedic doctor had helped for a good six months. On top of that, my fibromyalgia was flaring up again (my shoulders and lower ribs felt tender and bruised). I knew it was time to try something else to alleviate the pains I was experiencing. So I thought I’d give acupuncture a shot.

Although, technically speaking, Chinese Medicine doesn’t treat “conditions,” it treats “patterns,” the doctor thought that she could help with my carpal tunnel. And the brochure said that acupuncture could help with arthritis and fibromyalgia as well. However, after half a dozen visits, I didn’t feel like it was making any difference, so I have decided not to go back. I plan to talk to my regular doctor as well as the hand specialist within the next couple of weeks to determine a new course of action. It’s possible that surgery might be on the agenda in the near future, but I don’t even know what my other options are at this point, so I will need their input to make that decision.


So … besides sharing a specific experience in my life, why am I writing this? How is it connected to the topic of spiritual whitespace that I have been writing about lately? Well, in Chapter 8 of Bonnie Gray’s book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest, she shares her experience with insomnia. Some of her thoughts and words resonate with me and I think they might be useful for others who are currently experiencing various health issues as well.

Xxxxxx [insert your specific issue here] “is a soul’s journey to find rest. Self-care is one movement in that journey to make room for whitespace and fill it with rest. Self-care is a step of faith to take care of our body and soul.”

Sometimes we feel guilty or selfish focusing on ourselves; sometimes doing so requires us to make major life changes; sometimes we find that we have to ask others for help on our path toward healing.

“Every movement that gives your body a chance to heal gives your soul room to breathe. Prioritizing self-care is an act of faith to tune your heart with God.”

Nurture Your Voice

“When we care for our well-being, our hearts become tender. We become moveable. God can prompt us. Without whitespace, we become emotionally disconnected. …  Because the focus of God’s heart has always been your heart, self-care is really a soul’s journey to fully receive his love.

Here are some of the things I have discovered while reading this book and/or through my own personal journey:

  • I need to be kind to my body.  I need to begin taking my supplements more regularly again. I need to nourish my body with better foods. And I need to get back to exercising, even if it is just stretching and walking at first. (Bart tries to remind me of this, but ladies, you know how it makes you feel when your husband does this. Not good.) I found out about a yoga class that meets twice a week at the library; I am going to try to go to this, starting Monday.
  • I need to take time for friends and fun. Sharing our stories with others and allowing them to share theirs with us brings us deeper connections and friendships.  Surface friendships may help you get through the day, but “in-the skin” friends (those who can handle the weak, tired, or troubled you) help you get through life. Luckily, I have been able to make more time for friends and fun lately. So, I’m already on the right path there.

Reach for Joy

  • I need to remember to ask for help. I’m a pretty self-sufficient person most of the time. I enjoy helping others, but I don’t always feel like asking for help myself. Especially with my hand in a more sensitive state at the moment, I need to quit trying to act like there’s nothing wrong with it. Until I get more feedback from the doctors on what will help or hurt it, I have to stop lifting, turning, and gripping things as if there’s nothing wrong. I don’t want to make the problem worse. (Don’t worry Mrs. Avis, if I end up needing your help, I will call and ask you to come up.) 🙂 [ And thank you Bart for steam-cleaning the living room rug tonight.]
  • I need to seek the expertise of professionals and the will of God. Sometimes I try so hard to figure things out on my own when I really don’t have the knowledge or background to do so. I also forget to seek God’s answer and/or lack the patience to wait on a response. I read somewhere that sometimes God invites us into an encounter with Him and other times He waits for us to extend the invitation. I need to remember to ask and then to be still enough to allow God to speak to my heart. I am working on this, and will also be calling my primary care doctor this next week to get in to see him and consult with him.

“Even in the storm … God is alive and faithful to make something beautiful out of us. We don’t need to understand how it will happen, how he can carry us through … It doesn’t matter. … God won’t abandon us. … He’s carrying us in his arms, no matter how bruised or broken we feel. He’s planting beautiful seed for our journey … That seed is Jesus. Alive in us.”

Every time we invite Jesus directly into our situation, whenever we allow the seed of rest to grow in our lives and hope to triumph over despair, we are caring for our hearts and bodies and creating spiritual whitespace: space for self-care … space to be loved. As is.

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“Hope is secure when it is aligned with God’s desires,
which are revealed in the Bible. However, our expectations
are often based on wishes, feelings, and personal preferences—
we yearn for job promotions, good health, or quick solutions
to problems. Such desires can be strong, but we have no
sure promise from God that they’re part of His will for us.
… Ask Him to clarify and direct your desires to coincide with His way.
Then rest in His goodness and keep your hope in Him.
(Dr. Charles Stanley)

Bonnie Gray is the writer behind FaithBarista.com. She wrote about her own heart-breaking but inspiring journey to find rest in Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest. I have found so many nuggets of insight and words of wisdom in this book. I invite you to read it and join me on the journey to rest.

You can get your own copy HERE.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace