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.

Necessary Changes

Christmas is over. And now the New Year is nearly upon us again. I have been thinking about the changes I need to make in 2019 for about the past six weeks. My phrase for the new year is “Recalibrate Life.” I want more whitespace in my days and on my calendar, and that won’t happen without focus and intention.

It seems second nature to me to want to “do.” I choose to be busy every moment. I rescue and respond. I plan and press on. So, in order to create more whitespace, I need to evaluate my choices more closely.

I especially need to consider why I am choosing to do the things I choose. Because for me it is often about earning love, even though I make it look like I am giving. But, in reality, it all leaves me resentful and exhausted.

So what do I need to change? I need to give serious thought to what is life-giving. Pushing and pressing-on constantly are not life-giving, instead they are sucking life right out of me.

Creating whitespace does not mean emptying time for staring into space and being bored. Instead for me it means taking time to breathe, to breathe deeply, to be present in the moments of life. I need to slow down and enjoy the “living of” and “being in” life.

You know, like the slow chat I had with a friend as we watercolored in our journals and had lunch in a local coffee shop. Moments like that where time slows and you are only attentive to what matters. In this case it was sharing with my friend and brushing colored water across my journal pages.

I am realizing in order to have more of those moments I need to expect less of me. It will not happen if I have 20 to-do’s on my daily planning page. It won’t happen if my mind is racing and I am buried in “being responsible” for everyone and everything. So I have to say “no” more. I think, in reality, for me that means telling myself I can’t do it all. I have to slice out the unneccesary and intentionally focus on the essential.

I need to ask for help more and let go of so many expectations. It means less proving and looking for acknowledgment.

Life-giving moments of whitespace will be ones that are about creating, enjoying, breathing, and playing. Those moments need to be tucked in all of life. In solitude and in time I share with the Lord and with loved ones.

I am realizing too much of life has been about the end result, the accomplishing the end goal. And in being so hyper-focused on that, I have missed the actual moments of living and loving this gift of life the Lord has given me.

Along with these, I will be focusing on knowing God as my Provider, the One Who knows and sees my needs. A big part of this will be an intentional study of rest, space, simplicity, and Sabbath. I have made a list of books I want to read in 2019, just one book a month. I want want to really take it all to heart and live out their practices in my day-to-day life.

Learning about rest, space, simplicity, and Sabbath will naturally lead me to know the Lord more as my Provider. Just as choosing to abandon outcomes teaches me of His Sovereignty, learning to trust Him with my time will help me me see His prevision and provision for me. He holds my time. He has a plan. He is in control. He is responsible. Trust.

Trusting more, and learning more about trust will be key as I walk through this new year of recalibrating life.

What about you? Are you contemplating any necessary changes for 2019 in your life?

God Will See to Our Need

A few days ago I had lunch with a sweet friend. As we watercolored in our journals, we chatted. She shared about the word she chose for 2019 and then explained that she was also choosing a name of God for the year. I really liked that idea of choosing a name of God, and immediately my brain started trying to decide on one. I didn’t come up with one at that moment, but later prayed for the Lord to show me what He wanted me to learn about Him.

In Genesis 22, we read about Abraham obediently taking Isaac to the mountain so he could follow the LORD’s command to sacrifice Isaac. The horror of it must have ripped at Abrahams heart, yet that is not what the Bible tells us about. Instead it shares about Abraham’s trust and obedience. And then, just when he is about to kill Isaac the LORD stops him, and Abraham sees a ram in the thicket. There the LORD provided the sacrifice, and it is from this place in Scripture that we learn of the name of God, Jehovah-Jireh. God will provide.

The Lord has shown me throughout this year my need to abandon control. He has consistently demonstrated His faithfulness in so many situations in so many amazing ways. So as I look forward thinking about 2019 I realize this is the name of God I want to focus on. I want to look, with an evermore abandoning trust, for Him to provide in my life. Well, the abandoning trust will have to grow in my heart as the Lord works with me, but that is my hope.

Jehovah Jireh can be translated God Sees, God will Provide, or God will see to our need. As I studied this a little, I learned about the word “prevision”, God sees our need before we even know it, and that prevision leads to His perfect provision. He has made this truth real to me in many ways in 2018. He has been leading me to learn to trust Him more. I now am realizing how my understanding of the concept of “prevision” really can help me to trust. When I realize, recognize, and acknowledge that He sees to my need and prepares the provision apart from my worrying and fretting, I learn to rely. I can then find peace in the trusting. I know I knew this cognitively, but I feel like He has made it real to my heart in deeper ways. I want to continue on that path in 2019.

We can see God’s prevision throughout the Old Testament as we see verse after verse pointing to our coming Savior. And, in a few days, we will once again celebrate His provision. Jesus, our Deliverer, born as a baby, sent to us out of the Father’s love. He saw a our sin-sickness, and knew our desperate need for hope and He provided.

Thank you Heavenly Father for giving us the greatest gift! You will see to my need, Jehovah Jireh. You are ever so faithful. You will see to our need. Help each of us trust you more!

Again, I must say, what an amazing God we serve. The way He weaves all of life together to teach us His truths is mind-boggling.

Merry Christmas!

Roadblocks and Forced Stops

Have you ever taken a road only to find it’s a dead-end or there’s a roadblock keeping you from traveling on? It can be extremely frustrating, especially if you are running late or just in a hurry! Or if you are dead-set on having your way!

I was all ready to go, and so looking forward to the women’s Christmas event, then I went to the garage only to find my left front tire extremely low on air. I immediately knew I couldn’t drive my car like that without ruining the tire. So I went back in tbe house in tears, I had so been looking forward to attending this and now I was stuck. I felt sad and frustrated, and rather than seeing my being stuck home as a gift, I saw it as me not getting what I wanted. I pouted like a little child after being told a final “no.” I cancelled the other plans I had for the day and pushed through working at Saturday housework.

Now this past weekend came with our church’s Christmas sing-along, and early on in the weekend I found myself coming down with a cold, my sinuses plugged and a throbbing headache. I went to sing-along sick, but only sang a few songs. It felt disappointing.

I have been pushing hard through life being all-responsible in making sure my mom has gotten the care she needs and taking care of everything involved in that. I didn’t stop doing anything else in my normal schedule, my “plate” overflowed with too much. I refused to say “no”, I refused to give in to my exhaustion, I pressed on.

I had breakfast with my brother last week. Sometimes the Lord speaks through the unexpected. My brother and I have been arguing about how I am handling things. I felt misunderstood, unappreciated, and angry. He finally told me, “You have to stop, you can’t do it all, either you choose to stop or you will be stopped,” He went on to list ways I could be stopped, telling me it could be a heart-attack, or cancer, or a car accident…and the list of horrors went on. I heard his words and set them aside, I didn’t have time for any of that! Well, when you refuse to listen the first time the Lord will repeat His words.

I am reading Shelly Miller’s book “Rhythm’s of Rest” and a few days ago I read about forced stops. She says,”We can interpret interruptions as roadblocks to peace or as moments for deepening relationship, trusting in the path God dictates.” Reading it made me stop and think about what my brother had said as well as the things that have been happening. I interpreted both “interruptions” as roadblocks to peace, because I only wanted my way. Later in the chapter Miller goes on to say, “God wants our attention no matter the circumstance, we must be willing to surrender.”

The tire with low air, and the sinus gunk were opportunities to say no to good things because the Lord knew my body desperately needed rest. I didn’t get it. Like a stubborn child, I wanted what I wanted!

The Lord loves us so much and wants the best for us. He knows the fragility of our human bodies. He knows we just cannot keep going and going pushing on overwhelmed with stress.

He lovingly gave me two opportunities to take time to rest and I chose my own way. The first time I set to work out of anger and frustration. The second time I chose to go to an event even though I was sick.

Sometimes the good things we plan are not really the best things for us. I see now that I need to be more aware, and look and listen for the Lord to really show me what He wants for me. When my schedule is already overflowing and I am already beyond exhaustion, I do not need to add more to my to-do list even if it seems like they are fun and relaxing activities.

My eyes need to be on the Lord rather than on all I have to do or want to do. He wants relationship with me, He wants to show me His loving-presence. He wants the best for me. He wants to take care of me even when I forget or lose sight of caring for myself.

How are you doing this busy Christmas season? Are you taking time to listen to the Lord? Are you finding time to rest?

Where is Your Treasure?

A big part of recalibrating my life is simplifying. It seems that we are very good at accumulating. Year-after year we purchase or acquire more things, and we add more activities to our calendars, saying yes to people along the way.

Moving Mom has been a huge amount of work. Through the years she collected a menagerie of things, and has put her treasures in a box to save for someday-maybe. You know, “I may need this…” or “I would like to read this but there isn’t time now.” So now, there are stacks of boxes with items from years ago, and it seems there may be unknown treasure in each one.

Do you have those kind of boxes too? The ones with things that seemed too-precious to get rid of at the time, so it ended up on a stack with other boxes.

Christmas is nearing, and many are bustling about buying gifts, more jewelry, more appliances, more technology, more toys, and the list goes on. I have to confess, with all the chaos of moving Mom, any shopping for Christmas has been left for another day.

I come home from hunting for another “treasure” Mom knows is somewhere in a box that she definitely wants to keep and begin looking around my house only wanting to get rid of things. I don’t have much desire to go out and buy more stuff. Our stuff may initially seem like a treasure but in time becomes a burden. The cleaning, sorting, reorganizing; it all takes time. So, I ask, where is your treasure?

I want my house, my calendar, and life itself all to be lighter. I am realizing how easily I can be pulled off track, distracted by this want, or that desire. Oh, it may just be a passing whim, but somehow I accumulate stuff to satisfy it, and then as time passes the desire is replaced with a new desire and it starts all over again. It becomes a vicious circle of greed.

The Bible says, “For where your treasure is, there  will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). Jesus wants our hearts. He is God’s Christmas gift to us, and He truly is to be treasured above all. All of life needs to flow out of life with Him. And life with Him is about the “easy yoke” and “the unforced rhythms of grace”(Matthew 11:28-30).

This month I am gleaning from the book of Luke, a chapter a day. Jesus’ life was about what came out of His time with His Heavenly Father and that abiding. It was not rushed or hurried. He focused on loving others, spending time with others, enjoying meals together, talking with, teaching, and healing. He developed relationships, and touched lives.

Simplifying life means narrowing my focus and intention to the essential. The track of recalibrating life by simplifying means getting rid of the unnecessary and focusing on the important and for me I want to focus on treasuring Christ and what is important to Him. Holding less tightly to things and all that makes you crazy-busy.

This month, as Christmas fast approaches, I have not had time to shop feverishly for lists of gifts. But I have been trying to set aside a few hours, here and there, to spend with those I care about. All too often in the past I have gotten caught up in the shopping and decorating craziness. This year I have not had time nor energy. But I am going to bake 20 big fat gingerbread men for putting together plates of Christmas cookies for gifts at church. I will attend a women’s Christmas gathering at the church a part of my extended family attends in order to spend a few hours with them. I plan to go to a Christmas sing-along at my church. I am going to take time to make some cinnamon dough ornaments to enjoy the relaxation and the smells. And I also will make a simple dinner for a few guests we want to have over through the holiday season. My husband and I already have had special  moments of time together, grabbing lunch, sitting in a favorite coffee shop, helping a neighbor, and watching a movie. We are continue to make choices for quiet. Choices, focus, intention. I can’t do it all, but I can do some things. I still will need to buy a few gifts to wrap, but it will be much different then in the past. As I said the treasures we pack away, soon become burdens, but the memories we pack in our hearts can be treasured forever. We can help boost our memories by taking a photo, or making a journal entry about the special time. These are always fu. to look back on.

I started a small “recalibrate life” journal where I am just recording those special quiet, precious moments where it isn’t all about the hustling and bustling, but instead about the breathing deeply and enjoying.

And as I walk around the house, looking in a closet, glancing at a bookshelf, I am constantly evaluating each items necessity. The boxes that are accumulating in my garage are boxes for Salvation Army, not storage.

I don’t want my “treasures” accumulated in boxes on shelves in my basement and garage. I want what I treasure to be about loving, creating, playing, finding joy, celebrating, breathing; and I want it all to be slow. Not frantic and rushed, not overwhelming and exhausting. I want quiet moments where I share time with others in focusing on mutual interests. I want it all to center around and flow out of my love for Jesus and His great love for me.

He has blessed us with the love of family and friends, with talents for creating, with reasons for celebrating, and with time to play, maybe that means building a snowman with a child, making dough ornaments with a friend, just for fun, or playing cribbage with a neighbor. Time spent together is a wonderful gift to give and it is a beautiful demonstration of love. I want my heart to be filled with Christ’s love and then I want to share that love moment-by-moment.

So, once again, I ask you where is your treasure? Is it in a box somewhere? Or in a relationship in which you celebrate special moments? Is it about love or greed? Our motives are hard to determine at times, but being intentional in how you think about “treasures” may help. I know it has helped me.

Cultivating a Peaceful Heart

My life has been anything but peaceful the past few weeks. It has been crazy busy as I am helping my mom get moved into a safer environment.

I had forgotten how much there is involved in a move. Especially when it is a move requiring downsizing and there is so much left in the house, so much that still needs attention.

Even so, I do not want to lose sight of recalibrating life. I need to constantly cultivate peace in my heart despite the chaos in my life. Have you been there?

Peace is such a beautiful word and such a tranquil feeling. But where can you find it? How can you live in a state of tranquility?

Colossians 3:15 says: “Let the peace of Christ control your hearts, for you were, in fact, called to it in one body.”

When life gets overwhelming, and your heart grows anxious, and fretful words stream from your lips, you soon recognize need for peace within.

Anxiety, worry, and overwhelm scream fretful words in our heads. “You’ll never get done.” “There is too much to do.” This is impossible.”

God’s Word tells us not to be anxious about anything. Instead, pray. Offer up your requests. Give thanks. And then God’s peace comes. “The peace that passes all understanding.” It makes absolutely no sense to our human minds. But this peace fills our hearts and minds, it stands guard. These are the truths of Philippians 4:6-7.

Peace also is given as we keep our minds “stayed” on the Lord (Isaiah 26:3). Perfect peace is promised. My mind is often like a bouncing ball, rambling about from one place to another. My mind needs to instead be like a tether ball, attached to the Lord, like the rope that holds the ball to the pole. When I focus my mind on Him, Who He is, and what He is able to do, as well as all He has done, new peace fills me. Feeding on His faithfulness, remembering His goodness, these can bring great peace to our hearts. My heart and mind need His perfect peace to help me find rest.

Psalm 29:11 tells us that “The Lord gives strength to His people, He blesses them with perfect peace.” What encouraging words when you are feeling weak and overwhelmed. When your body feels weak and exhausted from too much work, and your mind cannot fathom how it will all get done, the Lord promises strength and peace. He meets us in those impossible places, renewing our strength, somehow replenishing our depleted energy, and filling us with peace to calm, which in turn renews our hope.

It is too easy to fall back into the old pattern of needing to control everything and feel responsible for it all. Peace is not a by-product of a life trying to keep it all under control. Be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10)! But in walking the path toward recalibrating life, I need to remember to let go of control, and learn deeper trust in the One Who truly is in control, that is where true peace is found!

So with aching muscles from lifting, packing, and unpacking…with a tired mind from five hours of driving almost daily for about a week, I find rest. Not because the work is done, but because I know I am not alone in the doing. The Lord continues to faithfully provide. He knows my weariness and He touches me with His love in sweet and unexpected ways. My husband heating up dinner, Mom’s neighbor offering to rake up all of the leaves that have fallen. Another neighbor promising to get the mail, take care of the garbage and recycle containers, as well as cleaning up any snow that may come. And then there is the Christian realtor who has access to many other helpful resources. The Lord never ceases to amaze me with His goodness and loving-kindness. His mercies really are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

He knows my overwhelm, He knows my worries, He knows my neediness, and He has it all under control. He is able (Ephesians 3:20)! His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9)! He meets, He supplies my needs “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

His peace is real, and I find rest in the hope of its constant availability. He is present with us through all of life. Pray. Keep your mind stayed on Him. Remember His faithfulness. Look at how He has been at work. Your heart can know peace in the midst of anxiety and overwhelm. He only wants us to whisper a prayer, tell Him our need.

Cultivating peace means the need to weed out worry, and choosing to focus on Him.

The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

What do you know about grace?

Have you ever thought about the phrase “learn the unforced rhythm of grace? ”

I have been giving a lot of thought to recalibrating my life and those words from that verse have intrigued me. It sounds light, easy, peaceful, and restful. It sounds, quite honestly, like just exactly what I need. How about you?

Life can get messy, busy, difficult, painful, and overwhelming. And in the midst of it you grow exhausted and needy. You may come to recognize your own fragility.

Ok, it is not like I haven’t been in this place before, similar feelings brought on by different situations. I have found myself needy and fragile in the past. But my response to it often was one of choosing to keep pushing through. I did not want to give into it. I wanted to stand strong even though I felt as though I would crumple into a heap at any moment.

This time I am realizing my neediness is a place to invite in God’s grace. He is waiting for me to do just that each time I get to this place. He wants me to learn the unforced rhythms of His grace.

Grace. It is about Him, actually the word describes so much of who He is. It is about His love. It is about His presence and His going with me. It is not about me trying to do anything on my own. It is about connection, the connection of my abiding in Him. It is about me trusting Him. Doesn’t it seem like it always comes back to that word trust?

I have to trust Him enough to allow Him to show me the way through, to guide me in a gentle way. And in that He helps me to know that I am not all alone. His presence, His grace help me to know I do not have to go it alone, the pressure is off. I can stop, I can cry. I can say, “I’m tired.” I can be real and vulnerable.

The rhythm, the cadence of His sure-footedness is steady. Not racing or rushing. Just moving me forward. He isn’t forcing me or pushing me. He isn’t dragging me along unwillingly, He is by my side, always with me.

It has become so vivid to me now. His grace, His love are always here. He is with me. He has been with me, but I have been walking way too fast, super-focused on the mission at hand, pressing on to get my own way. And I have missed the tenderness of His gracious presence.

This time I see it, I feel it, I truly am learning of the unforced rhythms of His grace. His grace is for me all of the time.

Yes, we learn about grace mostly from the cross, but I am realizing my depth of neediness for tender grace in all of life. I am looking for it more and more as I walk through the rough spots in life.

How about you, is your life making you aware of your neediness, specifically your need for His tender grace?

The picture this verse gives talks about “yoke.”  A yoke we may be slightly familiar with is the yoke placed on two oxen at work. The stronger one showing the way to the weaker one. This gives us a picture of guidance, and helping to carry the weight.

Yoke here also speaks of the yoke of a rabbi, the yoke if a rabbi was his teachings, and if you chose to follow him it was said that you came under his yoke. This is another helpful picture. When we come to follow Jesus we come under the yoke of His teachings. Jesus’ yoke of teaching isn’t heavy or ill-fitting. That is to say it isn’t filled with expectation and obligation to fulfill the law on our own. Jesus has fulfilled it for us through His work on the cross. Now as we take on His yoke He walks with us through life gently leading us in His perfect way. He takes off the heavy yoke of sin that weighs us down and leads on the paths of righteousness.

I can stop striving under His yoke, I have nothing to prove. He knows my true nature and apart from Him I can do nothing. As I trust Him and walk in His yoke I can rest when I stop fighting for my way, or struggling to make it under the weight of my life’s burdens. You see He carries the burdens for us. And ahhh, yes, with the weight of sin and striving lifted we can rest in the saving grace He provides. True rest.

Abandoning control. Choosing His yoke. Choosing the way of trust. I am not good at this. In fact, I often struggle and strive to have my own way. And I choose the yoke of sin and the burden is heavy and I have to once again come to the place of realizing I can’t do it. I need Jesus. I need His tender grace and I need the rest I find in Him.

His yoke is easy when I choose to trust His heart and walk in His way.  His love calls us, “Come to me,” will you run to Him or find your own way?  I have run my own way too often but His grace definitely is the better way. It is there that we can find rest.

Being Intentional with the Essential

The busyness of life so often keeps us focused on the world, our possessions, and our to-do lists. We get thoroughly bogged down and we frequently are blinded to what is essential. I must admit I have been hi-jacked by my to-do list, by the overwhelm of life, or by the want of more material items, etc. This has been the case more than I care to admit.

As I continue to look toward Recalibrating Life in 2019, I want to refocus my lens in order to make it all about what the Lord tells me is essential in living for Him. Too often it is and has been all about me, what I need and want, what will fit into my schedule, what will make me happy. Well, quite honestly, I have found that in the end self-focus is not very satisfying.

A few years back I went to a conference. My mom had given me a sweatshirt that said, “It’s All About Him” with a couple Bible verses on it. The gift was one I had requested. Anyway, I decided to wear it to the conference. The Lord had a lesson to teach me there. That day we broke into small groups to discuss something the speaker had spoken on and I felt very excited to share my opinion, except everyone took a turn, I seemed to be invisible and suddenly time was up. I never got a turn. My shirt said that it is all about Him, but in my mind and body that certainly was not true. It was all about me and what I wanted to say, and how upset I felt that I did not get a turn to share. Self-focus at its worst. I couldn’t even concentrate on what the others had to say, and I left when the speaker called us to go back to our seats. I have not worn that sweatshirt since. I want it to be all about Him, but my flesh says it’s all about me in all too many incidents.

Living to control everything or manipulate it all, to get my way or to be heard or to protect myself or check off more things on my to-do list, all of these end up leaving me empty. I realized, that day, to a greater degree my selfishness and my need to be seen and heard. It is a lesson I will never forget. It is these kind of lessons, when the Lord helps us to see self clearly through His eyes, that make me want to make some changes.

So, as I think about Recalibrating Life and recognize all that the Lord has taught me so far in 2018. I decided the place to start is in regard to what is essential according to God’s Word. There are some key verses that are essential to the way of intent that I want to live by. Here are the verses:

Psalm 62:8 NIV  “Trust in him at all times you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

Luke 10:41-42 “Martha, Martha” the Lord answered,”you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed– or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.”

Psalm 62:5-7 “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Proverbs 4:26 “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

Proverbs 19:20-21 “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevails.”

I want to learn to live intentionally out of each of these essentials. But how? My times the overwhelm paralyzes me, rather than leading me to, as Elisabeth Elliot says,”just [doing] the next thing,” I get stuck. I forget that it doesn’t need to be big and epic. The Lord isn’t taking my performance into consideration in order to decide how much love He will pour into my heart and life. His love is unconditional.

Each one of the essentials can stop us in our tracks if we think that we must do them in a perfect way. Just think about it with me for a moment. Have you ever sidestepped praying or seeking direction because you were fearful that you could not do it well enough? What if you prayed the wrong thing? What if you misunderstood what God was directing you to do? Or what if you sought counsel but like Rehoboam took the wrong advice?

When my intention becomes about proving myself or about controlling things to turn out for my benefit I am in error. The Lord looks at our hearts and He searches our motives. He knows we are dust, He knows we are sinful. Yet, He also knows whether our error is born out of selfishness, hatred, or if it is because of honest misunderstanding. God is a loving God. He knows the depths of our heart better that we do.

Fear can be a guard rail of protection or a prison cell. I want my intentionality to be coming out of a heart that just wants to grow in intimacy with the Lord. Intimacy with Jesus is the bottom line of all the essentials I have listed. Each one is either a pathway to intimacy or a pathway out of learned intimacy.

So, seeking to grow in intimacy with Jesus changes how I approach each essential. You see, many times we confront our intentions like a checklist of things to be done, with the goal just to get it done. But this is about being relational, not about an accomplishment.

As I look back over my walk with the Lord, I see Him being the One drawing me into deeper intimacy through life lessons, through meeting me in His Word, through speaking to my heart as I pray. But none of it was anything I could control or make happen. The soil of my heart is what matters here. It is about my readiness and willingness and the Lord’s perfect timing.

So, my intention her must not be about accomplishing things on a list but instead about using these essentials as pathways to drawing nearer to God’s heart.

As I contemplated this, I came up with a list of intents to focus on, they are as follows:

  • to pray out of a heart of desperation and vulnerability.
  • to set aside the busyness and enjoy times of quiet before  the Lord, developing and practicing out of desire, not another thing to do.
  • to look for His love in His Word and moment-by-moment in my life so I grow in knowing Him more.
  • to choose to abandon control in life, resting His control, acknowledging that He is God, and letting Him work.
  • to rest as I wait for His deliverance in whatever the situation may be, rather than fretting and manipulating.
  • to learn His “unforced rhythms of grace” and rest, rather that seeking to prove.
  • to seek His direction and listen to the counsel He provides rather than trying to figure it all out on my own.

These are the intents of my heart that I recognized as I realized the error of my ways in the past. No, I am not beating myself up, the Lord has worked in me and through me despite my bulldozer style, despite my need to control, and despite my checklist and pencil. He is slowly teaching me and growing me up, growing my trust, helping me to know His love in a very personal way. And as I look back over this past year I see clearly how I want to grow in intimacy with Him in a new way. Not methodical and calculated, but in trusting Him in a love relationship as He refines my heart.

I must say once again, what an amazing God we have! How patient and gracious He has been with me through the many years I have walked with Him. He loves me and works with me where I am at. He is gentle and kind. His yoke truly is easy.

I am slowly learning to trust and learning to rest. I praise Him for showing me His loving presence and perfect understanding.

Journeying with Jesus truly brings joy even when we are on the rough, rocky roads with sharp rocks cutting our soles, or our souls. He never leaves us and He is always loving.

How is your journey going? What is He teaching you? Is He taking you on a new path? I pray that His lessons bless you as He has blessed me.