Lemon Drop Memories

Another road trip to the new house, another stop at Kwik Trip for more coffee. And there I saw them, a bag of lemon drops. I pulled the bag off the metal piece it hung from and immediately tears stung my eyes. Lemon drop memories. It’s funny how little things can cause liquid grief to flow as the memories pull on your heartstrings.

Dad loved lemon drops, I thought as I held the bag in my hand. And the missing feelings overwhelmed me. Dad went home to be with the Lord a little over five years ago. I think about him nearly every day. He was full of fun and loved to joke around. He could always bring a smile to my face. My tears surprised me.

Pushing the painful away use to be the way I chose to live. I use to hate fragility, and neediness. I would do anything to avoid tears. I would even try to keep others from crying so I didn’t have to deal with their sadness, or feel my own. I still do sometimes. But I am finding that when I allow myself to be touched by the pain of loss, healing begins. It is okay to miss the ones we love and allow tender memories to move us.

Burying my feelings use to make me feel strong. It helped me believe the lie that nothing could hurt me. But believing lies and building walls left me alone in the pain I was afraid to feel. I locked others out.

Sometimes it feels like our pain and tears can annihilate us. They feel too big, too overwhelming. And it seems that if we allow the tears to start they will never stop. It feels like we will crumple under the heaviness of our deep feelings. But that too is a lie. When we can open up about our feelings, and be held in them, the load is lightened.

Slowly I learn these truths, and release the lies. More lessons on my path of recalibrating life. But actually these lessons are ones I have been struggling through for a long time.

My fear of allowing the pain to touch me is still a very real part of me. But on that drive, sucking on one of those lemon drops, I told my husband about the sadness I felt, the missing dad feelings and the need to hold him near in my memories. I shared my grief, and it was okay. When you are willing to share the tears and talk about the hurt, you often find community and compassion.

Satan wants us to remain in the bondage that his lies create. He wants us stuck in the fear, debilitated by the grief. He wants us to feel like we need to hide. He wants us alone and walled off. Because in our alone, he can destroy our faith, he can shred our hope, and he can leave us for dead.

But Psalm 56:8 reminds me that the Lord collects my tears in a bottle. My tears are precious to the Lord. And He meets us in the grief we feel. He comforts our hurting hearts with His love, and gives us the hope of seeing our believing loved ones again. He brings restoration and healing to our brokenness and grief.

Our souls are refreshed once again in knowing His loving-presence. And we truly are not alone. He knows our fragility, and when we are weak He is strong. His grace truly is sufficient (2 Corinthian’s 12:9) for whatever life brings, for whenever memories roll over us like a tsunami. He will collect our tears as if they are precious diamonds, because He loves us that much. He will strengthen and uphold us through it all.

The bag of lemon drops is still in my car. As I am driving, I often pull one out of the bag, and the bittersweetness of the candy reminds me of the tears and my lemon drop memories. Life is bittersweet like those lemon drops. We taste the bitter and the sweet in life. Sweet memories can bring tears. I am learning to realize the preciousness of both.

What about you? Have you had “lemon drop memory” experiences? How do you deal with your grief and pain? Do you wall it off so it doesn’t touch you? Have you found the Lord’s comfort in the midst of it all?

May the Lord refresh your soul today with His loving-presence no matter what life brings your way.

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What Really Matters

What really matters? The Lord has been showing me where my focus lies. And, in doing so, He is helping me to see what really matters to Him.

It really matters to Him that I walk closely with Him. In order to do that I need to be intentional about looking for Him in the daily. I need to be mindful of Him, seeking to know His presence.

When you walk with someone you stay near, often your steps are in cadence with one another. You share in the moments you walk. You check-in with the other and discuss the route you want to take. If one turns, the other follows after, because you desire to be together.

While walking there is often conversation involved. You share about life, you listen, and you reflect. On the route, you take notice of the things around you. You are present, looking and listening, you are aware of your surroundings.

But, I am realizing what really matters to me is more about selfish concerns. Do I have time for this? Do we have to go so slow? Is this the best route? Could we walk a little faster? My to-do list is only half done. Let’s not go that way, I don’t want to run into them and get tied up in a long conversation. Let’s not stop there now, I need to get somewhere. I need to get something done.

It’s as if I am telling the Lord, just follow me around and be there for me when I need you. After-all I have a schedule to keep, I have a lot to do. And He is showing me that what really matters to Him is the walking with, my being with Him. He wants me to really seek Him, to have my soul refreshed in the being together, and to learn from Him.

He doesn’t see that my completing the things on my to-do list as being the most important. But, all too often, I live as if they are, and everything else takes second place. In living with that mindset I focus on the doing and miss the being. And it is in the being, the being with, really being present, that is where the relationship takes place. And it is in the relationship we learn what really matters, we learn His unforced rhythms of grace for all of life. We can only learn that as we walk closely with Him and look how He is at work, what He is doing, and how we can join Him. We only learn that in the quiet times together, when we are ready to really listen.

The Lord knows us so much better than we know ourselves. He is showing me myself and in that, teaching me what really matters to Him. He is showing me where my focus is skewed and how my skewed focus leads me astray. He is showing me my selfishness. He is showing me how I focus on me and how everything affects me, and I miss so much else. The Lord wants me to focus fully on Him and trust Him to take care of me in the living of my life.

Actually, He is showing me some things I already know, but they are things that get lost in my day-to-day living as I fall back into old patterns. He makes His way clearer as I view my life through the lens of His Word, His promises, and His love.

The Lord calls us to come alongside, to find the cadence of His unforced rhythms of grace. The rhythms of grace are about His way, and when we go off-track, focusing on us, our own stuff, He calls us back. He calls us back repeatedly if necessary. It is in this calling back that we learn of His patient love.

As you look at your heart and life what do you see? Where is your focus? It isn’t always immediately apparent. Talk with Him about it. He will show you what He sees and He will show you what is important. He will show you what really matters.

God’s Word Refreshes, He Restores our Souls

Do you ever feel defeated? Everything is going wrong. No matter what you try it seems things just don’t work out. You feel frustrated and at the edge of despair. And you are just ready to give up. Can anything else go wrong?

In Psalm 143:3 AMPC David says,

For the enemy has pursued and persecuted my soul, he has crushed my life down to the ground; he has made me to dwell in dark places as those who have been long dead.

David was at that place. He felt “crushed down” by the enemy. The enemy of our soul, Satan, desires to crush us to the point of despair and even unto death.

1 Peter 5:8 AMPC tells us,

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion. [in fierce hunger], seeking  someone to seize upon and devour.” (my emphasis) 

He wants to steal and destroy (John 10:10).  He wants to steal our hope and joy. He wants to steal the victory we have in Christ.

Sometimes God’s Word is given and you don’t even realize how much you need it,  or how much you will need it. A few weeks ago I was studying 1 Chronicles and read this:

What a friend we have in Jesus! The words from this hymn by Joseph Scrivener have a special place in my heart. Read them and be encouraged.

  1. “What a friend we have in Jesus,
    All our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
    Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
    Oh, what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry
  2. Have we trials and temptations?
    Is there trouble anywhere?
    We should never be discouraged—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Can we find a friend so faithful,
    Who will all our sorrows share?
    Jesus knows our every weakness;
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
  3. Are we weak and heavy-laden,
    Cumbered with a load of care?
    Precious Savior, still our refuge—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
    Take it to the Lord in prayer!
    In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
    Thou wilt find a solace there.
  4. Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
    Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
    May we ever, Lord, be bringing
    All to Thee in earnest prayer.
    Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
    There will be no need for prayer—
    Rapture, praise, and endless worship
    Will be our sweet portion there.”

Our Ally, Our Friend, Our Hope for every moment of every day. He restores my soul. May you find refreshment and restoration in Him today! He is our Light in this very dark world.

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Practicing Simplicity

Last week I shared about how I was learning soul freedom. Seeing my scatteredness and my many distractions more clearly has pushed me forward in practicing simplicity in my moments. It has encouraged me, even more, in walking with slow-feet in my days.

I have been greatly helped this past week by an online course I am taking. This wonderful course by Mary Gallagher is such a blessing. You can find it on her website Simple Life Simple Faith. The course is called Find Your Simple and it has led me in finding more focus in my life.

It seems that only a few words at the right time can make all the difference. The words I am referring to that resonated with me are these. “Everything isn’t meant for me. I must choose wisely.” Wise words by Mary Gallagher.

After reading, “Everything isn’t meant for me.” I had to ask myself what really is meant for me? It quickly became very clear to me that I only really want my everything to draw me to Jesus, that is what is meant for me as His daughter. Busyness does not do that. Busyness leaves me frantic and distracted. But, I am finding that slowness leads me back to Him throughout my day.

Practicing simplicity in my moments allows me space to breathe. When I stop multitasking and do one thing to completion, I find I am present in that one thing. I am available to His words and the Spirit’s nudges. As I went through my day yesterday, one thing at a time got checked off my to-do list. Running errands, raking leaves (it’s fall), making a vegetable salad with the tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers from our patio garden, cutting back dead flowers, reading a chapter in a book, working through four loads of laundry, folding each load as it was finished, taking a walk, and doing some yoga. I didn’t rush, and I didn’t feel overwhelmed.

What surprised me is that I found I had a spirit of gratitude in my heart throughout the day, (well, most of the day). Overall, I felt gratitude, not frustration. I enjoyed the process, and my joy in that overflowed with thankfulness to the Lord. Besides that, I found I didn’t end up with a bunch of loose ends when my day was over. My tasks were complete and there was order. And that filled me with a feeling of peace and satisfaction.

Focusing on the task at hand gave me space to think, to be mindful of the Lord’s presence, to talk with Him as the moments went by. Not my normal, frantic cries for help, out of frustation, but rather to just be with Him in my day.

I have found a lacking in my ability to concentrate and make good decisions in my rushing and busyness. It begins before I even get out of bed, when I am racing through the coming day in my mind. This crazy-thinking has led me away from my routines. When the day starts out with me thinking about twenty things at once, it is hard to begin the day focused on reading the Word and praying. My mind wanders, and thoughts scatter. I think about all I need to do. It is hard to keep my mind stayed on Him, and to know His peace within.

I recently found that it is helpful for me to write my prayers as letters to the Lord. That too is slow. I write whatever is on my heart. I write about the verses that come to mind as I “pray.” I write responses to what I have read or studied. I write about my feelings, my worries and concerns, and the needs of others as they come to mind. I go back every few days and read through my prayers to mark down His answers.

I wrote my prayers years ago, but this “letter writing” is more relational. Now it is just heart-scribbles in an old journal that lead to connection in the quiet of the morning and in the sleepiness of bedtime. And I am loving it! My soul is refreshed.

I can’t do everything. I must choose wisely what I can do in the given moments of my days. What will draw me to Jesus? I am finding that slowness leads to less fretting, and more gratitude and joy. Practicing simplicity in life gives me space for cultivating connection and creativity. These are good things.

Recalibrating life isn’t just for this year. The learning process will be ongoing. I learn, I try, I fail, I learn more, I try again and again. It amazes me how quickly I fall back into old patterns after I just learned an important truth for my life. But one day at a time, moment-by-moment, I keep trying, I keep learning.

What about you, are you practicing simplicity in your moments and in your days? What leads you back to Jesus as you move through your day?

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.

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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