Learning Soul Freedom

Packing and the busyness of getting ready to move has me behind in my writing. But even in the craze of throwing away, recycling, giving away, and packing up, it seems the Lord has lessons for me.

My Recalibrate Life read, this month, is not one of the books I originally chose. In fact, I came upon it as I was trying to figure out if I could part with any of my books. It seems I had started the book before, but like so many other books and projects, I didn’t finish it. This month I am reading, The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst.

I picked it up off the bottom shelf, and found the wisdom within the first few chapters to be just what I needed for recalibrating my life. So instead of putting it in a box to give away, I chose it as this month’s read.

Packing up for a move is filled with a never ending list of questions. Do I want this? Do I need this? Have I used it? Will I use it? Is it a duplicate? Where will I keep it? On and on it goes. These are tough questions when it comes to some things, especially if the things are special to you and you want to bring them with, and you want to believe you will use them.

This book is about choices and choosing the best. When we choose our less than best, we actually are giving those things time and space in our lives that should belong to our best yeses. That makes perfect sense to my brain but has proven hard for my heart.

I had the boxes all packed, and there were too many, even I recognized that. I mentioned it to my husband, that I had filled a lot of boxes even after throwing out a lot of stuff and recycling a lot. He wasn’t happy about it.

I had it all figured out, I would use the stuff I packed, I had a plan in mind. And that is when I found this book. How does the Lord do that? Just when you think you have it all figured out, He has a way of rearranging the plan.

I read this sentence at the end of the third chapter, “Don’t get so locked into your overwhelming schedule that you haphazardly spend your soul.” And tears filled my eyes, convicted. I am guilty and have been guilty of this for way too long. Filling my life with too much, overfilled to overwhelmed. Not just my calendar, but my closets too. And it seems that just as I read that sentence, suddenly I realized the Lord had impressed on my heart that I wouldn’t be using those things. The ones all packed in boxes, the ones I had painstakingly gone through at least three or four different times trying to narrow down my choices so as to not have too many boxes. But Lord

It all seems too important to let go of. There are so many precious memories attached. And I could use them in volunteer work. But is that my best yes? I knew it wasn’t. I know what I want, what my goals and focus need to be, and yet I thought I could do this too. I always seem to think adding one more thing won’t be too much. 

So, a couple days passed and I went back to the basement, back to the packed boxes and I emptied out their contents. I repacked much of their contents in other boxes to give away. Giving away my children’s books from teaching felt sad. I told my husband how I felt, each story had a special activity to go with or a sweet memory attached. It feels like giving away a part of my life. He suggested giving them to a soon to be teacher that we knew. She was thrilled, but my heart still feels sad.

Even so I know the Lord is right. I wouldn’t ever have opportunity to use six boxes of children’s books. I kept some of my absolute favorites and I don’t know if I will have any opportiunity to use them, but maybe. For now I want to keep them.

Things not only take up space but they take up time as well. I can see how my soul ends up in bondage to the myriad of choices I reach for. I am seeing how I need to weigh my options more objectively. Letting go is hard but things come along with expectations within our hearts. Ideas of what we could do or should do, and then soon we end up overwhelmed and we haphazardly spend our souls. It is a hard lesson.

How about you? Do you know soul freeedom? Or are you in bondage to too much stuff, and too many chioices? Are you choosing your best yeses? Or are your choices unintentionally leading you to say no to them?

I realize now that is what has been happening with me.  I choose too many things, put too much on the calendar and in the closet and never have enough time for it all. It seems that I have lived like a child at a carnival filling up on cotton candy and caramel corn, wanting to go on all of the rides, and play all of the games. I need to learn from my past in order to choose my best yeses for the future. It is the way of simplicity. I am still learnimg.

I am continuing to read this book and will share more of this recalibrate life journey in my next post. I hope you will join me.

..

Advertisements

Reaching for Love and Finding His Way

This month has flown by. It has been a busy month of decluttering and packing, readying for our moving. My Recalibrate Life read this month is Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson. It is definitely the book that has impacted my life the most. The truths within the covers of this book have given me new understanding and greater hope. The Lord continues to lead me, heal me, and grow me.

My yeses have often come out of people-pleasing, feeling guilted into doing, or feeling a big feeling of “I should” within. I find traces of the need to earn love and the pressure to find acceptance in so many of my choices as I examine my motives. It has become obvious to me how much the “fear of man” has run my life rather really living under the reality and knowledge of the love of God. God’s love was there in the background, but I allowed myself to believe that getting love, earning love, could fulfill my need. I believed that no one could love me enough as I was. My people-pleasing seemed like it could get me what I needed. And at times it has, but it is/was never enough. I always was at empty much too soon and then started to find another way to get my fix, like a drug addict.

God’s love isn’t like that. His love leads me to rest and freedom. I see that and feel that within. People-pleasing is dishonest and it never fully satisfies the love-hunger within. I am learning. Learning not to grovel with acts or words to gain approval and feel loved.

I am stopping myself from trying to earn love. Sometimes, when someone doesn’t say what I need to hear or respond the way I feel I need them to, I keep on trying to get what I need by restating the question to hopefully have them respond in a way that meets my need. One evening I found myself doing this, like a little child begging for candy, I began to ask over and over. The desired response was not coming. I felt so hurt, I wanted to run away. I thought about going for a walk to get away from the hurt I felt. The hurt was more about my own expectations than about what the other person said or didn’t say. But instead of going for a walk I pulled out my journal and wrote. I told the Lord how I felt. I told Him how much I needed this love right now, and how much I felt like running from the person so I wouldn’t feel the intensity of the rejection. “Rejection?”

A light bulb went on, I had never labelled this feeling as rejection, and although it was totally unintentional by the other person, that is what it felt like to me. They had no idea of the war going on within me. I went on to tell the Lord that I wanted to stop this game, that I needed Him to show me His love in a special way, I needed Him to hold me in it in this overwhelming feeling of rejection. My feelings were totally disproportionate to the issue at hand. The Lord met me in my neediness. I felt a new peace within. I felt like I had obtained a gift, a secret gift, and it made me not need to suck love and acceptance from another. I felt joy within.

The Truth does bring freedom! Larson shares a list of freedoms we can have in Him. And I am learning to reach for each one. I copied the list and will keep it in my planner in a place I can look at it often.

This book is jam-packed with real life examples, and biblical truths, I am not through it yet. And it feels like it is a book I need to read over and over again. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

People-pleasing and living out of the fear of man keep us in a bondage that leaves little space in our hearts and lives to be aware of the Spirit’s nudges, and to learn reliance on the Lord’s love. Both keep us chasing after whatever fills the love-hunger within. And we miss out on what the Lord has for us. We reach for what we think will fill us rather than seeking Him to fill us with His love, and for Him to fill our lives with His best.

Abiding in Him is a constant reaching for. It is taking every awareness to Him in a simple prayer, just a word or sentence. Telling the Lord where you are, what you need, your perception, asking Him for His loving-presence, asking Him for His leading and guidance. Abiding leads to peace, to rest, and to growing in Christlikeness. He gives me new perspective, He helps me see the needs of others, He helps me to love because He loves, not because I need something.

So, I am asking myself often what I am saying “yes” to and why. Is it out of my neediness and striving? Or is it because of His leading me as I “abide and thrive”? I want my yeses to come out of abiding and thriving.

How about you? Are you making choices out of people-pleasing and out of a fear-of-man or out of a place of abiding?

This is a lifetime journey, not an overnight change. It is step-by-step, one decision at a time. It is about a constant reaching for. The Lord will always meet us in our need with His love. And there we find peace and rest, not “stress and striving”. It is where I want to live.

Rooted and Bearing Fruit

This month’s Recalibrate Life’s read is Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson. After reading just the first two chapters in I was convicted.

Larson asks some very important questions about what we are saying yes to in life. As well as, leading her readers to find our reasons for saying yes. She asks if our choices are “rooted in the Vine” and if they are rooted, “is there fruit evident”?

The first two chapters of this book made me do some serious re-evaluating. My re-evaluation process has involved looking at my relationships, my responsibilities, and my ministry activites. I am taking each one before the Lord.

Sometimes we just do and do because we feel we have to, it seems right, we think we should for whatever reason. But we miss what about the doing really matters to the Lord. I am learning more and more how different my ideas are from the Lord’s. What I think is important about an activity or relationship and what makes something seemingly successful is not necessarily fruitful in the Lord’s eyes.

Bearing fruit is not about producing for God, making things happen. Bearing fruit by abiding is about changes in my heart’s attitude, living out His love, and how I behave towards others day-in-and-day-out. It’s about growing in Christlikeness, yielding to Him working through me, no matter what the job is, no matter who the relationship is with. It’s not so much about what we are doing, but rather about how we are doing it. It changes how we do what we do.

You see, I want my life to really matter, yet when I look at much of what I’m doing, it doesn’t feel like it really does or at least not according to my way of thinking. I often think more in terms of what I am doing rather than how I am doing it. The Lord is showing me what He sees. He is showing me what matters to Him.

I tell Him I feel like a failure and I must disappoint Him. But He shows me that He sees me through the lens of Christ’s grace. He wants me to grow rooted in Him. He wants an ongoing, constant, moment-by-moment relationship. But abiding isn’t easy, I go off on my own little tangents of striving and get too busy or distracted to listen.

Have you ever noticed that when you buy a flowering plant and bring it home how when you transplant it, it stops flowering? It puts all of it’s energy into the rooting process. When it is rooted, then it begins flowering again.

Learning to abide means putting all your energy into rooting in Him. I need to put my energy into rooting more and more in Him. I’ll only find true satisfaction when I’m bearing fruit that brings Him glory. Abiding and bearing fruit may simply be loving the unlovable, leading the unsaved one to see the reality of Christ by living Christ-like, or sharing with the needy because of the Spirit’s nudge. It isn’t necessarily big and epic in the eyes of the world, but it is what matters to the Lord. All the rest of my striving to prove myself is just empty busyness that often exhausts and overwhelms.

So my focus and intent are key. I desire that my focus be on just abiding in the Lord. And I want my intent to be living as the aroma of His love. That is the reality of what bearing fruit is.

What about you, are you abiding in Him?

Are you bearing fruit? Or are you stressing and striving to accomplish your own stuff?

It is easy to get off track. Thankfully, He is gracious and knows our weakness. So we keep going back to Him, and He welcomes us in His gracious love. He delights in us, and gives us space to try again. I need many chances to try again, how about you?

*Photo from Unsplash, by Kevin Young.

God’s Grace for My Journey

It is a cool morning, I woke early and came outside with one of our cats. Her name is Oreo, named before we got her. She was a wandering stray. She loves being outside, but we never allow her to run loose for fear she would get hurt. So, we put her in a cage and bring her out, and she is content there for hours. She loves watching the birds and squirrels.

Up until a week ago, we would just put her out in the cage and I would check on her, through the window, every 15 minutes or so. But when our neighbor mentioned seeing a coyote going through our backyards, we decided it wasn’t safe to put her out alone. So, now, a new rest stop for me is sitting outside with her early in the morning. And, then again, after supper my husband and I take our coffee out so she can enjoy the outdoors.

My mornings out here are spent reading my recalibrate life book and journaling, sipping my steamy, creamy coffee, listening to bird songs, and putting my head back to close my eyes and breathe deeply. At first, I’ll admit, I thought of having to go out with her as another thing to do, taking up “my time.” But, it has quickly become something I both look forward to and enjoy.

Isn’t it funny how the Lord arranges rest stops for you when you seem to be having trouble making time for them yourself? God’s grace blowing in the fresh breeze, sending the sun’s shimmer across the dewy grass, opening tiny flower buds into beautiful blooms, and creating space in my morning to take in more of His love.

Just recently, I noticed that I had been falling back into old patterns of busyness leaving me overwhelmed. I had started putting too many things on my to-do list and ended up feeling very frustrated that everything wasn’t getting done. I was becoming short-tempered with others and angry at myself. I felt my neck and shoulder muscles tightening and hurting more and more. My breathing was shallow as I ran from one thing to the next. This is not the way I want to live anymore.

It took me a little over a week to realize all of this. It was around that time I came upon a few lines from Amy Simpson’s blog. I would link the blog but it is no longer available online. What really resonated with me were these words about our need to “intentionally carve Selah into our lives”  and that “Reverent pauses in God’s presence are vital.”  I need to live out those words! I need to say yes to those “Selah” moments, those “reverent pauses.”

Let me share a couple recent examples of a “Selah” moments that I have recognized in my life. Sometimes when I go to refill my coffee cup and gaze out the kitchen window, I look at my birdbath only to see robins lined up like school children. They’re all waiting for a cool bath. And just like children, sometimes, they fight about who is next. I stop and watch, I smile, and giggle just a little at how they splash and play as they cool off and get clean. And I tell the Lord how beautiful His creatures are.

Then there are the many times each week that I get Lulu Jean Loverbunn and Leila Jo Happy Hopper out to play, I watch my two adorable black bunnies hop around, run through their tunnel box, rip up the box of tissue paper, and come over by me to get petted. Sitting with them I thank the Lord for the joy and preciousness they bring to my life. They always make me smile. They are truly a gift from the Lord. He worked out the details of me adopting them in miraculous ways. And for a bonus, I later found out that they were born on my dad’s birthday. Dad went home to be with Jesus in 2014. The Lord touches our lives in ways we cannot even imagine or dream up.

My recalibrate life read this month is Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson. It is such a good book and I am only a few chapters in. It has made me assess my life, what I say yes to, why I am saying yes, as well as, to consider if my yes comes from the fear of man, from putting pressure on myself, or out of what the Lord wants. I am realizing more often than not, it is me putting pressure on myself.

Larson is helping me to see and assess my choices. She asks:
When we assess honestly the time we give away to our various commitments, do we find behind it all divinely inspired soul growing in grace and strength? Or are we a spent and weary soul losing steam by the day?”

What a great question! I know my answer in the past often would be “a spent and weary soul,” but I want to be a “divinely inspired soul growing in grace and strength.” And that is my prayer. I can only become that as I know the Lord’s loving presence in my moments and my days.

So my days continue to change as I journey through this process of recalibrating life. I have changed my mission statement just a little to better reflect what is true and what fits right now. It is “to live firmly and joyously in the moment, encouraging and ministering in grace, as I journey in life, rooted and grounded in God’s love.”

Everything needs to come out of that rootedness in God’s love. My goals center around: 1. Growing in intimacy with Jesus; 2. Serving, loving, and supporting my husband; 3. Discipling women; and 4. Writing truths in blog and story from the depths of my heart as the Lord grows me in Christlikeness.

These four themes form the grid that my life choices are filtered through. They help to determine when and why I say yes. It requires me to go back to the Lord again and again for direction in my choices. And this leads me in learning to live as a “divinely inspired soul growing in grace and strength.” I am finding that it is a wonderful way to grow in the Lord, to know His love for me, and His direction for my life more.

Are you growing in His grace and strength and knowing His wondrous love more each day? Take a little time to reflect on Larson’s question and see what you discover.

My next post will focus on being rooted in the Vine and bearing fruit. I hope you will join me here.

Rest Stops on My Journey

My Recalibrate Life Read for July is Even God Rested: Why It’s Okay for Women to Slow Down by Kim Thomas. This book centers around the themes of ceasing and feasting in the three areas of Emotional Rest, Physical Rest, and Spiritual Rest. There are suggestions, Rest Stops at the end each chapter to guide you in the process.

I have read this book slowly, a little at a time to let it soak in. I am left with a several takeaways but I will just share a few from each section of the book.

I am seeing as I move through this year that my four main priorities in recalibrating my life are to:

1. Learn to linger, savor, and slow down.

2. Learn to be present in the moments of life.

3. Learn to live in simplicity.

4. Learn to rest in the Lord’s love, abandoning outcomes to Him.

They all fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. They are interrelated, and as I grow in learning to live more like this, I am realizing that this growth in learning requires both ceasing and feasting.

Thomas says, “…we have neglected the pursuit of the eternal in pursuit of the temporary.” Looking back on my life I can see this as being true.

It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. The expectations and obligations send us running and in the hustle and bustle of it all, we miss much of what really matters. We are consumed by the stressors of life. And quite often we never really stop to look at what the causes of our stress are, we just keep pushing on.

Stress is the very first thing Thomas deals with in her book. She suggests that we look for the stress triggers in our lives and figure out ways to deal with them. I am learning to recognize where my stress level is at and what the triggers are. I think often in our busyness we may not even be aware of how we are living with overwhelming stress. One book I read said that stress can become like adrenaline to our bodies, pushing us on.

Stress changes how we act and interact. It causes us to react, often in ways that may be harsh. When I am stressed, I often react with frustration out of feeling overwhelmed. Thomas suggests that once we learn what our stress triggers are, that we try to anticipate what is coming rather than reacting. When we do this it is easier to respond in a softer way.

As I learn about my stress triggers I’m learning to respond rather than react. I recently realized how frustrated I was getting when my brother called. All I could think of is what I needed to be doing, and I was short and edgy with him. After thinking about it I recognized that he was always calling when I was in the middle of getting dinner ready, and that irritated me. So the next time it happened I responded by telling him of a better time to call, and since then it hasn’t been an issue. Such a silly little thing caused me so much frustration, and there was such a simple solution. But in my initial upset, I didn’t think about a solution, I only reacted.

Thomas says, “…an unbalanced woman has nothing to offer herself or those around her.” So it is helpful to begin to find some balance in the areas of stress that have kept me teetering.

Along with that Thomas reminds her readers to remember to “replenish your well.For me, replenishing my well means taking time to relax, to read, or journal, or on occasion, even take a nap. I am choosing to gift myself with those things in between tasks on my to-do list. Replenishing my well does a lot for my attitude.

Some other areas Thomas discussed ceasing from in the area of Emotional Rest, are noise, negativity, numbness, and anger. I find that often my negativity and anger arise out of stress. She asks three important questions in the areas of Ceasing from Anger, Feasting on Flexibility. Each of these are important, especially to me, because often I have trouble being flexible. Maybe you will find them helpful as well.

1. “Is it possible for us to become more flexible, to survive the conflicts around us by adapting more appropriately?”

2. “Can I find myself surrendering my need to control in favor of relaxing in God’s ultimate sovereignty in my life?”

3.”Can I put the small stuff in perspective and flexibly move through my day?”

Good questions to take into consideration when learning to choose Emotional Rest.

The next section is Physical Rest. And in this section we learn about ceasing from busyness, hurrying, over-consuming, and crowds. Busyness and hurry were the areas of most interest to me here. As we learn to cease from busyness we learn to feast on leisure, and as we learn to cease from hurry Thomas discusses feasting on slowing down.

In the section on Ceasing from Hurry, Thomas reminded me of something I am slowly learning. “God’s love and acceptance do not depend on what I do. His grace is not opposed to my efforts, but my efforts do not earn grace.” Oh, how I need to remind myself of this when I forget about walking with “slow feet” and begin rushing about.

I know I often have heard myself say, “there is never enough time for all I want or need to get done.” But using the Bible story of the feeding of the 5000, Thomas reminds us, “…if we give God what is in our lunchbox, he will make it be enough.” I need to give my moments to Him and let Him lead me in making the time I have to be enough.

Thomas suggested in this section to make a time pie relating to how you spend your days. She asks, “Which pieces should be smaller, which pieces should be bigger?” This is so helpful to really see how your time is being consumed and to see if you are doing what really matters. I know I seem to easily waste time on things that distract me during the course of a day.

Finally, in the area of Spiritual Rest, she writes about ceasing from fear, hard-heartedness, the need to know everything, and anxiety.

Here ceasing from fear and anxiety interested me most. When we cease from fear we need to learn to feast on trust. In the Spiritual Rest Stop here, Thomas gives a long list of scriptures to feast on. Thomas says, “Putting away fear and feasting on trust, we rest in the reliability of God.” How very true! That is what I am learning as I seek to know His love for me in a deeper way.

In the area of Ceasing from Anxiety, Thomas reminds us of these important truths:

1. “The first step to ceasing from anxiety and feasting on peace is recognizing our need to surrender control.” (Yes, I am slowly learning to abandon outcomes to the Lord.)

2. “We have to remember that even though we have relinquished control, we are not sent untethered into life’s anxious circumstances. God secures our tether and he is still in control.”

So, with these things in mind, knowing that God is in control, Thomas suggests that we can only do what we can do. Anxiety gets us nowhere. But in the Lord we can find peace and we can definitely trust in Him!

Thomas shares the story of the fiery furnace from the book of Daniel. She reminds us of the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they said “if their worst ‘what-ifs’ came to pass, ‘even-so’ they would praise God.” Oh, Lord help us to look at our “what-ifs” in this way, with a willingness to praise you!

This book was another great read on my journey of recalibrating life. I hope you found something helpful here for you as you journey with Jesus.

Rooting in God’s Love

The Lord is using His Word to speak to my heart and give me new and deeper understanding of His love for me. It is truly in His love that we find rest. And it is in that heart-rest that a life of simplicity grows out of.

My study of His love began with Ephesians 3:17-19:

“May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent Home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love. That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it];

[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ,
which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence and become a body wholly filled an flooded with God Himself.]”

Paul writes these verses out of great excitement because he knows in his heart what knowing God’s love has really meant for him. Paul writes these words out of a place of heart experience. He knows the Lord and he knows His love in a deep way.

When I take in the depth of God’s love for me, I can begin to trust and rest in His control, I can start to learn of contentment and live out of that place. I know He will take care of me and give me what I need. It is then I can stop striving and people-pleasing to fill up the emptiness because God’s love fills me. Paul had that kind of knowledge.

Paul desired that we would be rooted and grounded or established in God’s love so that we could really know His love, the width, the length, the height, and the depth of it. We need to be constantly growing in the knowledge of His love for us.

Recently, when I was taking time to meditate on these verses, I found that drawing a silly picture helped me to better understand about His love. I drew a picture of a flower with roots in the soil on one of the pages in my prayer journal. The picture reminded me that my roots are to be growing in the soil of God’s love. And to a flower the soil is a life-giving place where the plant is nourished, it is surrounded by the soil and held stable, and the plant is given room for growth.

God’s love is that life-giving place for me, where my soul is nourished, His love surrounds me, it holds me stable, and He encourages my growth. I look at that picture there in my prayer journal often and it speaks to my heart the truth of God’s love in a very simple but meaningful way.

I feel like so often I get uprooted by pain, worry, frustration, expectations, and obligations; just by life itself, and I lose sight of God’s love. I end up feeling abandoned and needy. Apart from the protection of His love, I find that I go back striving and people-pleasing to get what I need.

My roots are tender and fragile and some are yet shallow in the depths of His love. Staying rooted means security, but I must grow deep to find all I need in His love. I must grow deep to really learn to fully trust. It is not a one-time-and-done process. This process of learning of His love and learning to trust is a lifetime process. He is teaching me how to cope with the fear and the neediness in ways that calm me and help me.

As I continue to delve into God’s Word learning of His love day-by-day and I will be sharing more about it’s impact on my heart and the healing process next month. Later this month I will be sharing my response to the book Even God Rested by Kim Thomas.

I hope that you, too, are feeling the comfort, security, and hope of God’s love in your heart and life as you grow your roots down deep. May you feel held and secure in it!

Photo on Unsplash Garden Room by Eddie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo on Unsplash Garden Room by Eddie

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is at the Heart of Simplicity?

Only as we allow the love of Christ to penetrate our wounds will we be able to love again as children love. Only as we open ourselves to the love of Christ and His people can we begin our journey toward being real.” Claire Cloninger

My Recalibrate Life Read this month is A Place Called Simplicity: The Quiet Beauty of Simple Living by Claire Cloninger.

It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord brings it all together. Somehow He shows us exactly what our hearts need in order to heal. And He teaches us what is necessary for our souls to be cultivated and grow in Christlikeness.

The words of the quote at the beginning of this post touch my heart deeply. The words really resonate with me because the Lord is making their truth real in my life. He has been leading me in learning about His love. My learning is taking place mostly through my practice of lingering and listening.

I am learning that His love truly satisfies every one of my needs. As I grow in willingness in being vulnerable, places deep within are opening. These are places that have been locked closed in self-protection and fear for years. I am finding the healing balm of His love is touching every wound within me. The broken pieces of my heart are being bound together, and I am feeling a new wholeness within.

There have been some very important verses that He has been using in this process. I will be sharing more about these verses in future posts.

Today I want to share generally about what is changing within me in that process. The healing that is taking place is changing my life.

First of all, the way I love others is not as often about striving and people-pleasing. But instead my love for others is coming out of the fullness of the love the Lord is filling me with. This is a big step of simplicity in my life, because I am realizing when I depend on Him and grow in His love I can rest.

Secondly, the way I look at life and plan my days is less about my unending to-do list and getting recognition or people-pleasimg. My new outlook leaves room for a slower pace. I don’t need to earn love. We don’t have to do anything to receive His love, in fact, nothing can make Him love us more.

Finally, I am learning strategies to bring myself back when I fall into the old patterns. I am learning of His love as a respite. Oh, I have known of His love for a long time. The problem is it hadn’t touched my heart fully because my heart was so calloused and walled off in fear and self-protection. But as the Lord’s love seeps into the crevices opened by growing trust.

I see how I can run to Him like a toddler looking for mommy during play. The way they look to see if she is still there, making sure nothing has changed, to know that they are still safe. So, in my moments of doubt and fear, I look to see if God is real, and if He is Who He says and I am finding that He is. I am finding also that He is always there, ready to meet me wherever I am.

Praying His Word has led me in knowing these truths in my life and in my heart. And as they become a part of me I am choosing differently. I am learning to live out of a heart that has found the secret to simplicity in living focused on and rooted in His love. I still stumble and people-please and strive at times, but the Lord is at work within my heart changing all of that.

I am learning that it is focusing on the Lord, learning of His love, and reaching for Him moment-by-moment in the midst of neediness or fear. It changes everything, because when we are not focused fully on Him, we are striving to fill the emptiness inside with things and with what we think people should give us, like love and acknowledgement. We reach for these things out of our fear, emptiness, and neediness in order to fill the God-sized hole in our hearts. And, you know what, no matter how hard we work to fill it or keep it full, it will never happen, Only God and His love are meant to fill it.

I know, I am probably not telling you anything that you didn’t aready know. But I have to admit I always thought I knew God’s love, and I did know about it. I just didn’t allow it in fully, I guarded my heart out of fear. Now, after all these years, the reality of the healing effects of His love is pouring into my heart. His love is finally becoming more real to me. In a way that seems too hard to explain, I just know I feel the difference inside and I see a difference in my response to life.

I will be sharing more about my times of listening, lingering, and learning of His love as I spend time in His Word and in prayer in some of my future posts. I hope you will join me. I hope too, that you will find hope in His love in the midst of whatever life is bringing you.

Recalibrating Life: Halfway through 2019

We are approaching the end of June, which means I have been on this journey of “recalibrating life” for six months. This week I want to share how I am growing and in what areas I need to continue to work at. I also want to share some changes that I am making for the second half of 2019.

I am especially excited that the changes I am making in my life are sticking. Many of these ideas have come out of or have been prompted by the “recalibrate life” books I have been reading.

Honoring the Sabbath has been my intention for the past few years. The last couple years I tried to set the day aside but I probably only followed through 60% of the time.

  • This year I have been able to really keep the Sabbath, by living out a slow, restful Sundays, honoring the Lord in His glory and sovereignty. My day begins with coffee/ breakfast and my personal time with the Lord, then attending worship service. Lunch and supper are simple soup or salad meals. An afternoon nap is often a regular part of the day. The remainder of the day is filled with reading and journaling, watching movies together, taking walks, or time with our extended family. It is consistently a day I really look forward to.

I shared about learning to have “slow feet” in a previous post The Diligent Intentionality of Slow Feet. You can read about that here. I am also learning to slow down in many areas. One of the most important has been in my time with the Lord. And that time has grown to be so much richer.

  • I am lingering with the Lord and really listening. I shared more about my learning about lingering here. I am especially enjoying scripture prayer. The Holy Spirit is leading me in such deep growth and I am basking in His love. I will be sharing more about this in a couple of my upcoming posts.

I know I have gone through seasons of slowing down and being present with the Lord, really lingering, but then I have drifted back into rushing through. This time I don’t think I will be going back, I don’t want to miss something so satisfying.

Setting in place an evening routine is another part of recalibrating life for me that has been extremely positive and helpful.

  • My evening routine usually goes something like this: dinner, dishes, a neighborhood walk, a bath, relaxing with my husband, pet care, then reading, and journaling right before sleep. I am loving it. It is slow and I breathe deeply in it! I move through my evenings feeling peaceful, not rushed and overwhelmed.

I am still tweaking my morning routine, trying to get exercise in it on a regular basis. Making my husband’s lunch for the next day, when I make dinner the night before, has really helped to make my mornings less hectic. I will share more about my morning routine once I feel more settled into it.

I am not rushing through life so driven and constantly striving. I am even choosing to take time for self-care.

  • I am giving myself permission to stop during my days, when I am home, to relax, to read, or to take a nap if I haven’t slept well. I no longer feel like I live in a “pressure cooker.” I can’t even begin to tell you how happy that makes me!

I am realizing more and more the importance of relying on the Lord and I have been seeking Him more in the midst of my days.

  • One thing that has helped me immensely, when anxiety seems to consume me at times, is remembering to do breath prayer. I have a few standby prayers that I rely on and they center me on trusting in the sovereignty of God. It is a wonderful practice that brings me home to His heart of love.

Having too much stuff and not enough time to keep it all organized really has caused me stress! But I am changing that too!

  • I am continuing to declutter and am really enjoying the open spaces. It is bringing a calm deep within. It is helping me get ready for our move, but it feels relaxed. I am not feeling stressed out as I have in the past.

Actually my feeling less stressed is a result of a combination of me decluttering both the house and my calendar.

  • I have cleared the non-essential from my calendar and am choosing to just add a very few special things to look forward to occasionally, like the baroque concert a couple weeks ago. I don’t feel as though I have to fill my calendar to feel worthwhile. I am loving the whitespace. I don’t “need” to get together with everyone. I have a couple of really close friends that I spend time with regularly and being with them feeds my soul because we are sisters in Christ and share deeply! I don’t want to be gone or busy every minute as I have in the past.

Another area that I have made some changes in is that of meal planning.

  • I am choosing to cook simpler meals. They are less time consuming and delicious. I find cooking to be very enjoyable until I get myself feeling overwhelmed because of trying to do too much. So, simplifying the meals has been very helpful and healthy.

There are a few things that I still want to incorporate into this recalibrating life season from the books I have already read. Specifically, right now, those are more spiritual practices that lead me in self-exaination and discernment. I started doing them when I first read about them but they have fallen by the wayside. I feel that I really want to make them a part of my life because they seem very beneficial to my relationship with the Lord.

I will be changing a few of the titles of my Recalibrate Life reads for the remainder of the year. I have decided on some different books that feel like a better fit for me at this point in the journey. I am still reviewing and working through some of the questions and answers in previous books. There has been a lot to take in and a lot to contemplate as I read and study these books. I am enjoying all of the learning that is taking place!

Now, about the changes that will affect you. Next week I will share my final post related to “A Place Called Simplicity” by Claire Cloninger. Then beginning in July and for the remainder of 2019 I will be posting just twice each month. One of my posts will be my response to the Recalibrate Life books I am reading. The other post will be about practices I have incorporated into my life or more about what I am learning as I make life application of some new practices. On occasion there may be an extra post I will share, but that will only once in a while.

I will decide at the end of 2019, how I will proceed with posting for 2020. I am learning so much and really feel so many positive effects in my life. Recognizing this makes me want to spend more time in the actual practice of what I am learning. But I also want to continue to share how it is changing my life. So this is about really finding a balance.

Thank you for being here as I learn and share about this journey. I enjoy your comments and encouragement very much.

Minutes or Moments?

Time, is there ever enough of it? It doesn’t seem like it. My to-do lists always seem longer than the hours in the day.

This month my Recalibrate Life read is A Place Called Simplicity: The Quiet Beauty of Simple Living by Claire Cloninger.

The feeling that we lack time seems to complicate life; it leaves us frustrated, overwhelmed and worried. As we click through the to-do’s on our lists, our eyes are constantly on the clock.

When I am really busy I often time-out my chores on paper from the time I need to be done to the time that I am beginning them, working backwards. This is especially true if I am having guests over for dinner and I want to be sure all of the food is ready at the same time.

Cloninger speaks of two types of time in her book. One is “chronos” which is the Greek word for “clock controlled” time. The other is “kairos” which she describes as “God-controlled time measured by moments rather than minutes.”

I know there are so many times throughout the course of a week that I think or say aloud “I need more time.” Especially when I see the day going by too quickly and only half of my list completed. Cloninger asks an important question, she wonders, “[w]hich kind of time are we really craving when we hunger for more time?” Is it more clock time or “more boring hours that never seem to pass, more frantic minutes to spend rushing around and racing against our deadlines? Or are we really hungering for more meaning-filled God-time, more of the deep, sweet contentment that fills us when we are able to rest for a moment in the timeless present?”

I know I definitely don’t want more frantic frenzied moments, yet I do want to get my work done. But even more than that, I want “more meaning-filled God-time.” I need more of what I call “breathe-deeply moments.” Time where I know my heart rate slows and I take long deep breaths as I totally relax.

I am enjoying some breathe-deeply moments as I write this post. I drove 40 minutes this morning to hear a baroque concert; violin, cello,and flute music. So I am sitting outside on this cloudy, cool morning sipping a cup of creamy, hot coffee and enjoying the smell of the flowers around me. The birds are singing loudly with the music that is being played. Music from the 1750’s-1820’s. I am breathing deeply, watching the birds fly around, looking at the people seated here in the courtyard, just taking in the beauty and holiness of this moment. I am in the courtyard of an Italian renaissance style villa.

It is in being fully present here that I realized the truth of the statement,”the beauty and holiness of the moment.” When I sat down here, the musicians were practicing, the birds serenading, and the reality of the peace I felt within overcame me as tears filled my eyes. The Lord is in this place. He created the beauty that surrounds me, visual and audible. I am all here and writing this post seems so timely as I soak in this God-moment.

Cloninger says “we cannot manufacture a kairos moment.” It would be possible for me to be in this place anxious and fretting over what the rest of my day holds, and not be all present. So it isn’t necessarily about the time and the place. There are times I sit out on my patio and breathe deeply and other times I only see all the weeds that need pulling in the surrounding gardens. It is really all about the way we look at life. We must choose to look at it in a new way.

I almost didn’t come here this morning. I had planned it for a few weeks but that was before I knew about the dinner plans we have tonight, which means for four hours of driving later today. So last night when I looked at my planner, I thought about how I really didn’t want to be gone that much. But this morning when I woke up I felt extremely sad thinking about not going, and I knew how much I would regret it. This concert is something I have really been looking forward to, so I decided to give into the desire. I set aside my time-monitoring for the day and came anyway.

I tend to worry too much about time. Cloninger says, “[w]e should make our plans, commit them to God and then determine to receive today like a 24-hour treasure to enjoy and celebrate.” What a beautiful way to think about time and take in the moments gifted to us by God! She also makes other suggestions of how we can help ourselves find more kairos moments, I will share the ones that resonate most with me.

I know I miss all too many moments because of my rushing about. Cloninger reminds us that God’s Word tells us, in Ephesians 5:16, that we are to make “the most of every opportunity.” I get to choose, will I continue to rush around or will I breathe deeply and allow my soul to be filled as I enjoy the precious gifts God has graced my life with? This morning’s concert was a choice, it was an opportunity I almost missed out on. I am so glad I chose to come!

Cloninger also encourages us to “not wait to be happy.” So often we put off things to some day, and end up missing out. Like the dress you are saving for some special occasion because it was an extravagant purchase. Or the antique dish you refuse to use because it may get broken so it remains wrapped safely in the cupboard because it is too precious.

I get it, I have done those things, but I am choosing differently. I have some of my Omah and Opah’s old china in the cupboard, and I have let it sit for many years, until about a year ago. One day I was having a dear friend over for lunch and decided to eat off the plates and sip coffee from the tiny cups. It gave me more pleasure than I can even tell you. It brought back memories, and led me to share stories and tears. It was a beautiful time, kairos moments for sure. I breathed in deeply the memory of the comfort of being close to my precious grandparents.

The author also encourages us to “slow down, to stop rushing, and to stop focusing on on the destination and begin enjoying the journey.” I am totally focused on the destination all too often, and missing the journey. This is definitely an area I need to work on. Life is all about the journey, but we miss it looking for something better in the future. Be present, be here now.

Another suggestion involves remembering to spend the time we set aside on things that are meaningful. One thing that my journey in recalibrating life is teaching me is to really evaluate my choices. Are they adding to my joy? Are they part of my God-given purpose? Cloninger says that we need to weed out what does not add to life–like time-gobblers. This is something I am also learning. I need to look for the things that lead to rest and renewal. It is obvious that some things are non-negotiables, but there are others that we get to decide on. And with those I am choosing the path of rest and renewal.

I recently read a book that spoke of how the woman knew how to live life with “uncomplicated abandon…” that means spontaneity, not planning every single minute. I am not good at that, but I am going to start setting aside moments in my day to live just that way, and learn. It will be slow, I know, but I have to start somewhere.

Well, the concert is over, and I don’t want to leave. I don’t want these moments to end. I know how quickly I fall back into living with the clock as my taskmaster, and forgetting to find joy in living my God-given life. Change is hard, and slow, but learning this is well worth the effort.

How are you living life? Mostly frantic in the busyness of the minutes in your day or are you enjoying moments that only God can give? Take time to look for the kairos moments and find rest and renewal in your days.

Choices in Simplicity

“If your life is rushed or stressed or complicated. You may feel that circumstances or fate have somehow trapped you in your crazy lifestyle. But I would challenge you to look very closely at your life and see how often your choices are dictating the simplicity or the chaos in which you live.”

This statement makes me realize that more often than not I am the maker of my own chaos. I am looking for better choices. This month my Recalibrate Life read is A Place Called Simplicity: The Quiet Beauty of Simple Living by Claire Cloninger.

This is an older book. There are many recently published books on the subject of simplifying life, downsizing, and decluttering. But I chose to reread this one because it isn’t a how-to book, instead it’s more of a change from the inside-out book. Simplicity begins within us.

When we finally get to the place that the chaos of life overwhelms us and we decide something has to change, I am happy to say we have some choices. We have to learn to make “simplifying choices.”

One of the choices Cloninger shares is that of choosing “to limit our options voluntarily.” Sometimes our options are limited by circumstances, but when they aren’t, we may need to set our own limits.

So, you may be wondering what would that look like. First, you need to decide what you want to set limits on. Will it be the number of the activities you’re involved in? Or will it be limiting your possessions in some way? Or maybe you need to cut back on how many relationships you’re involved in? Or possibly it is necessary for you, like me, to set limits in all of the areas.

There are so many things I just want to have or have felt the need for. There are so many activities I want to do. And there are so many interesting people with whom I want to be involved with. But there are not enough hours in the day.

One of the choices I have recently made has involved a book club I am a part of. I like the people in my book club, but haven’t enjoyed the books being selected. I considered quitting, and then decided not to go every month because I didn’t want to lose touch with the group. So now I am only stopping in occasionally. I don’t read the book, but instead go for the sole purpose of reconnecting. I stay for the first part of the meeting and when the book discussion begins I leave. This has been working very well because I get to stay in touch without a big time commitmentment.

Cloninger says, “Simply paring down the number of things that draw on our time and energy gives us a heightened excitement and a deepened caring for the select few that remain.” This is so true. I have two close friends that I consistently meet with for coffee. We share deeply and laugh hard, and I leave feeling connected and refreshed. There are many other people I want to add into a time slot on my calendar, but being so busy really only leads to me feeling frantic and overwhelmed. I am deeply nourished by the two I meet with regularly. And that is the best I can do right now with the other commitments I have in my life.

I am also making some choices in the area of possessions. We are going to be moving in a few months and I’m working through closets and rooms, deciding what to keep, and what I just need to get rid of. I could pack it all up, but there are so many things that I haven’t used and really do not need. So, boxes of extra, non-essentials are going to Salvation Army and some things are just being put in the garbage or into the recycle bin.

This move is changing my shopping habits as well, I’m choosing not to buy things because I don’t want to pack them. So I choose to buy the necessary and the essential, not the on-a-whim purchases that just catch my eye.

I also am using up leftover shampoo, detergents, and cleaners, as well as other consumables. As I recycle the empty bottles our shelves are slowly looking less cluttered.

Cloninger suggests that our paring down be guided by “a positive organizing principle.” We have to consider “what essential priority…motivates our choices.” She says that, “Each life revolves around it’s own central belief system.” Finding this principle is, “a vital step toward simplicity.”

Unfortunately, I think my belief system has been centered around filling the hole inside, feeding the hunger with things that comfort. And with that belief system, the many purchases that initially brought a few moments of comfort have led to more clutter, as well as, more stress in my life.

Cloninger says that her belief system was all about “people -pleasing”. And it left her feeling “scattered and fragmented.” I am right there with her, running in too many directions with too many things and too many ideas I want to try.

I am also realizing the importance of my “hunger” being filled by the Lord’s unconditional love. I have mentioned this before and Cloninger brought me back to this important truth, I need Him to “quench my thirst.” I need Him to fill the emptiness within. I know this to be true, but so often I get pulled back into the needy-thinking.

Finding the place of simplicity is an ongoing journey with day-to-day, moment-by-moment choices. And it means continually returning to the Lord to find my all-in-all in Him rather than in possessions, activities, or other people. Only He can fill the emptiness and meet the needs that our souls cry out for. No other choices will satisfy.

Next week we will be focusing on the subject of time, specifically, chronos-time versus kairos-time. The subject fascinates me, and I know which I currently live in and which I want to live more of my life in. I hope you will join me.

*The photo is from Unsplash.