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.

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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.