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.

Advertisements

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Response to GodSpace: Time for Peace in the Rhythms of Life

My recalibrate life read for March was GodSpace: Time for Peace in the Rhythms of Life, by Christine Sine, M.D.

The focus of this book is to invite its readers to “make space for God” and “discover a Christlike pace that liberates us from the frenzy of a culture enslaved by time.”

She begins the book by leading the reader to see the problem of chaotic busyness in life and how it “constantly leaves us gasping for breath.” She helps us to recognize that God desires rest for both our bodies and our souls.

As Christians our lives should look different, we should be living with different priorities. Our life rhythm should be fulfilling, yet it seems that many believers live a life of frustration in the same kind of rat-race as everyone else.

Sine encourages her readers to be intentional about putting forth effort to “develop spiritual practices that put our faith and its rhythms at the center of all we are and do.”  This immediately caught my attention, as I know that I have not lived this way. I have only started to make a few changes in this direction as I work to recalibrate my life this year.  She says that “we need spiritual rituals to anchor our lives and give them meaning.”

I initially cringed at the word “rituals” because I usually equate a ritual as a go-through-the motions activity that lacks whole-heartedness. But I came to a new understanding, and am beginning to look at this word a little differently. I see rituals now more like “pillars” in our days, pillars that lead us back into the doorway of deeper relationship with the Lord.

When we set in place a plan of spiritual rhythm and set aside specific times throughout our days to find our way back to Him in the busyness of our day, we find there the reality of His loving-presence.

These “pillars” can look different in each of our lives. It may be times of short prayers, like breath prayers, or meditating on a section of Scripture at various times during the day. Or maybe you choose a different attribute of the Lord to concentrate on each day at lunchtime. It could be setting aside time for a weekly prayer-walk or planning for Sabbath rest, even just a few hours during the week. It may mean that you attend an annual spiritual conference or plan for quarterly personal prayer retreats. There are so many options! Sine suggests many different ideas.

Most importantly, you must decide what nourishes your heart and feeds your soul as it draws you into deeper intimacy with the Lord. What quiets the chaos that races through your mind? What brings you back to center?

Sine explains that although we recognize our need for prayer and Scripture reading in our lives, it seems that in the midst of our busyness these spiritual practices that are the first things we let go of. Life begins to feel out-of-control and we try to gain control by cutting back on a few things. Unfortunately, we cut back on the ones that are most necessary.

So, it comes down to, once again, this matter of being intentional. You start out by choosing to set aside the time and make some important choices of spritual practices. I am trying to do this, and it takes time to see what fits. I am starting out by finding a daily/weekly spiritual rhythm. My quiet time has been a set part of that rhythm, but I want more “pillars” in my day. Right now some of my “pillars” are as follows:

  • I am writing a breath prayer out of my Scripture reading to take with me through the day. And I am trying to remember to say it at times when I feel anxiety building. It takes repeated practice to make that happen, I often forget, but it is definitely a pillar I want in place.
  • I am choosing one to three Psalms to pray each day. My goal is one for morning, one for noon and one in the evening, but I am not there yet. I am getting one or two in on some days. But I know that benefits of praying Scripture and I love the Psalms, so it is something I will continue  to work at.
  • I am working through the book Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray. She has a beautiful way of leading you into the presence of the Lord through her writing. It is all about learning to rest in His love (something I definitely need and want to do). During this time, I respond to questions, journal, and pray. She has a one-word theme for each day to help draw you into the Lord’s presence.

The practices I have chosen are not direct suggestions from GodSpace, but I am seeking to find what works for me. I need practices, or “pillars” as I choose to call them, that invite me into God’s presence. The ideas that you choose for your own spiritual rhythm can be directly from Sine’s suggestions (if you choose to read her book), or they can be different ones you find and decide on. It is not about the “what” you use. The importance of all of this is being drawn back to the Lord and deepening the intimacy of your relationship with Him.

So, I have to admit, I have not read all of Sine’s book yet. I still have a few chapters to read, and I am working through the questions at the end of each chapter as I go. The questions are thought-provoking, they are helping me to take a closer look at where I have been and where I want to go in my walk with the Lord.

In the past I probably would have rushed through the book in order to say that I am finished in time to write this post, but finishing the book isn’t my goal, living a recalibrated life is. Seeking to know the Lord’s presence more in my day, being intentional about, both, remembering to breathe deeply and to have slow feet; those are some of my goals in this process. This journey will be one of trial-and-error as I try different practices and see if they are successful in helping me meet my goals.

Sabbath rest is another one of the spiritual rhythms Sine discusses in her book. It is a practice I want to learn to live, and I have been choosing certain practices of Sabbath that work in my life. Next month’s blog posts will center around the subjects of Sabbath-keeping and Sabbath rest. I hope you will continue this journey of recalibrating life next week as we delve into that.

The Luxury of Lingering

My goal of recalibrating life is leading me to desire simplicity in everything. Last month the sermon series at my church concentrated on the subject of prayer. Prayer can be a complicated part of life mostly because of our personal understanding and expectations of it.

Too often prayer becomes a time of laying out a laundry list before the Lord of the needs we know we and those we love have. At least that has been my experience. And, in time, that can become cumbersome. In fact, in reading off our long lists we can become bored, at least that has been my experience. It begins to get repetitious. Unfortunately, it seems that I circle back to this problem time and time again. I go for a while praying the Scriptures, and then one morning I will lazily pick up my list and read it off. It will be a disconnected task that I try to complete in a short amount of time, just to get it done.

When we concentrate on a list we can lose sight of the relationship we are suppose to be living with the Lord. Our requests get made and we are ready to move on with our days. Does that ever happen with you? Maybe it’s just me, because I do know people who do just fine with a prayer list. I just know that I want the intimacy of a deeper relationship with Him and the list method does not seem to take me there.

As a part of our church services during the month of January we have been breaking into small groups to pray. One Sunday as I was joining a few people to pray it occurred to me that prayer is meant to be so much simpler than I often make it out to be.

That Sunday the sermon had been about the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray. Jesus turned to prayer often in His life, and it is obvious that His disciples had observed this and were interested in learning more.

Jesus saw the neediness of the people surrounding Him, He recognized the effects of sin on mankind, and although these were pressing issues He needed to share with His Father, I think that His time of prayer was more about abiding and finding restoration. Jesus simply wanted to linger with His Father. Sadly, that is not what prayer is for many of us.

But I am learning to linger with my Heavenly Father. And I am learning that in the lingering I receive luxuries of the Lord’s compassion. I am finding that I want to linger with Him more and more to know His heart in a deeper way. I think you too will feel a desire to abide with Him in that sweet spot, the place where He teaches you of His endless compassion for you. So please take time to use the following verses as places to linger. Before the verse is the topic they fall into and then before each verse I will share with you what it is that touches my heart about that verse, what makes me want to linger.

Love:

He loves me so much that he sings over me, he delights in me. I yearn for His song over me and His delight in me.

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

His love is unfailing, no matter what. Unconditional and forever! I need that kind of love in my life.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”  Isaiah 54:10

His compassion never ends, His love is that great. He does not let us be consumed, (and some days it feels like the overwhelm could quite literally do just that.)

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumes, for his compassions never fail.”  Lamentation 3:22

Instruction

He promises to give us the instruction we need and to teach us the way. I know I need direction for my day, for my life. Life is complicated and confusing, but He sees it from beginning to end and knows the path He has for us. 

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8

His Word lights the way, we need not stumble through the dark.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

The Holy Spirit gives us truth for the way and helps us to know about the future.

“But when he the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13

Nourishment

He meets our needs for all of life. Life, at times, can seem so empty and we can become so discontent. The Lord fills us and quenches our thirst.

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

Grace

He promises us grace and mercy in our neediness. He wants us to call upon Him.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

He promises us forgiveness and purification. I am realizing more and more the sin-sickness of my heart. But the Lord gives me hope in knowing He will forgive me and that I have righteousness through Jesus.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

He grants us eternal life through our faith in Jesus.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Encouragement

God is always available to us, He helps us in our times of trouble. I can always call on Him, I just need to choose to do so.

” God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

We can find peace as we take our worries and anxieties to Him. I get caught in the quicksand of worry and anxiety all too often instead of knowing the peace the Lord promises.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

God is our salvation, our strength and defense. He is trustworthy. There is no need for fear. Fear ties me in knots and paralyzes me, I get stuck in it. But I have a Deliverer, He is showing me that, more and more, as I linger with Him.

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.”  Isaiah 12:2

Rest

In our overwhelm, He promises rest. Rest is something that He has most recently shown me in Psalm 23, but the verses below are verses I visit time and time again.

“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.” Matthew 11:28-30

He promises His presence, as well as to give us rest. I am finding the reality of His presence more and more as I remember to call on Him through the use of breath prayers. These little prayers are bringing me into connection with Him throughout my days.

“The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

He is our Fortress, and Rock, our Resting Place of safety. This verse has been especially helpful just recently when I was struggling.

“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2

In lingering, we are restored. As I continue on with recalibrating life, I am learning to linger with the Lord and receive from Him what He has for me. For me, it is much less about asking. It is more about learning to be with and take in His Word for me in those moments, receiving what I need to help me through the day. And daily I have been taking a breath prayer with me. Some of them have been:

“My Sweet Abba; Help me abide.”

“My Shepherd Guide, Restore my soul.”

“On Life’s rough terrain; Lord help me be surefooted.”

“Make my heart steadfast; Fully trusting in you.”

One day I just took the word “Fortress” with me because I felt shaken by what was ahead of me. So now it is in those times of fear or upset, I continue to call out to my Fortress. I need His help to trust and I need His protection (most recently in icy travel).

He has brought me to short passages or sections of Scripture that speak to my need and then have restored me as I linger there. It is from those portions of Scripture that I choose a word or find a breath prayer to take with me for the day.

Lingering with Him in the quiet or in His Word, He gives me just what I need for the day. Oftentimes the verse will remind me of requests I have and I will seek His help through deeper prayer. But the simplicity of lingering in these luxuries of His love has been a path to restoration. It is all a part of me recalibrating life.

Take time today to linger with Jesus and learn more of His love.

The Catalyst

Too busy, I have been too busy. And although I have been planning and thinking about how to work towards recalibrating my life, taking steps toward doing so have been small.

One thing I have noticed in my busyness, is that my stress and exhaustion have kept me from praying consistently. I think about taking time to pray, and then I get distracted. Or I feel too tired to pray, and I choose to do something mindless, something that I don’t have to think about.

I have been becoming frustrated with myself. I felt stuck as if I wanted to pray but just couldn’t. And then on Christmas Day my heart was touched. We were visiting Mom in her new home and she had some things that she had gone through and was deciding if she should get rid of them. So, I was looking through some containers of jewelry, just checking to see if there was anything I might want to keep. Something silver sparkled in the menagerie of pins and necklaces. I pulled it from amongst the other pieces, it was a silver necklace with a small oval pendant hanging on it. The oval part had folded hands, not etched in the silver, but raised. I flipped the oval over to look at the back, and etched in fine print were the words, “God answers prayer.”

Tears filled my eyes and emotion caught in my throat. How had I let life become so overwhelming that I no longer had time or energy to pray or spend with the Lord? How had I forgotten His faithfulness?

I put the necklace on and fingered the praying hands. My heart felt a tug and something inside released. I had felt as if in a vice grip of anger, frustration, and overwhelm. Resentful! And in the midst of it all I think I pushed God away. It really makes very little sense to me, because He has been working in amazing ways in my life, making things happen that only He could do. Ye I think I felt buried under all that was and is left undone. And somehow I still felt left very much alone. But I didn’t cry out to Him, I didn’t seem to have the focus or the energy to say anything.

This necklace, the folded hands, the words of promise on the back, encouraged my heart and made me feel my need again. My need for the Lord, my need to pray and to share my heart.

It feels like He reached for my hand, for my heart, and reminded me, hey, I’m still here, you don’t have to continue to carry that alone. How had I forgotten?

How very tender and sweet is my Heavenly Father who knows my wayward heart when it feels stuck in quicksand and reaches for me in such an unexpected way. He can use anything as a catalyst to pull us close, to help us feel His love and desire for our intimacy with Him.

Since that day I have been learning of some changes needed in my heart. The Lord is showing me daily where growth needs to take place.

I got together with a dear friend for coffee, to share our responses from a study we are doing together, to exchange Christmas presents, and to chat. We had a beautiful time. Just before we got ready to leave we shared pour personal prayer requests. She shared her struggles and need, then I shared mine. I told her through my responses to the questions and as I verbalized my requests how I had been so overwhelmed and preoccupied that my prayer life had been suffering. I shared how I needed to be quiet before the Lord instead of frantic and rushed.

The next day as I read in my Recalibrate Life read for January, I found myself in a chapter on prayer. Here in Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Sacred Rhythms I learned a little more about “breath prayers.” I saw what I had previously underlined and wrote in the margin. I noticed the breath prayer I had chosen. As I reread a few paragraphs giving instruction in deciding on your personal breath prayer, I noticed that I had missed an important part in how I wrote mine. I had not voiced a need, instead I had just made a statement. The self-sufficiency of that so-called prayer glared at me. How could I have missed that? I knew the need was the same, but this time I would voice the neediness. I wrote my new breath prayer in my prayer journal. “My Sweet Abba, Help me abide.”

I can’t do it alone. In order to continue to grow in my relationship with the Lord I need to find that quiet place of abiding on a regular basis. I need that place of intimacy and rest.

I closed my eyes and whispered my breath-prayer, tears immediately filled my eyes. At first it seemed puzzling to me, but a picture came to my mind. When a small child is in need of a nap but is fighting you as you attempt put him down, and the chase is on. Then, at last, when you catch the little one and hold them tight, usually tears ensue in the midst of the wrestling for calm. The child recognizes the comfort they have found, and their exhaustion catches up with them. They finally find rest.

There I was, tears sliding down my cheeks, recognizing I was where I needed to be. My tears came because I have wrestled so long with self-sufficiency and at last there in the abiding I found what I needed. A peacefulness settled over me. And the Lord brought a few verses to my mind.

Psalm 91:4 NLT “He will cover you with His feathers, He will shelter you with His wings, His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

Psalm 63:7-8 NLT “Because You are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to You; Your strong right hand holds me securely.”

When I abide in the shadow of His wings, in His loving presence, I find there I can stop striving. I can just be there without words. A sweet place to rest. It is my hope to find this place often throughout my coming days. To just sit with my Lord. I have known this place before, but busyness caused me to lose my way.

The verses above are now printed in my planner on a page just before my daily pages. A small reminder of my neediness. I see the folded hands necklace every day, and choose to where it some. It has been a precious catalyst to help me find my way back from the chaos. And my breath prayer is only a whisper away to lead me into the Lord’s presence as He draws my heart to know it’s neediness for Him more and more.

How sweet and gentle is the Lover of my soul! How is He drawing you? What is He showing you that you need? Draw near to Him today to know His love for you more!

My 2019 “Recalibrate Life” Reads

My theme phrase for this new year is “Recalibrate Life.” I have shared in previous posts how I want to intentionally recalibrate my life. My focus will be on slowing down, on choosing rest, on learning Sabbath, and on living in simplicity. So, I have chosen a book to read for each month to lead me in practicing these things. I have had many of these books for some time. I may have read them or skimmed through them but I did not intentionally put them into practice. This time through I want to glean practices to apply to my daily life. So, as I read I will be taking notes and journaling responses. At the end of each month I will share my response to the book with you. I will discuss what I learned and if or how I will be applying it to my life.

Let me start by sharing the book titles and a short synopsis of each as well as my thoughts on what I hope to take away from it.

Sacred Rhythms

by Ruth Haley Barton

Sacred Rhythms discusses seven key spiritual disciplines. Barton lays out practical ways to weave these disciplines into our busy lives. At the end of each chapter she gives you opportunity to try the discipline, leading you through a practice of it.

I have read this one years ago, and already started it this year. I am getting a lot out of it even after just a few chapters. I will be trying to incorporate some of these practices in my life.

Abundant Simplicity: Discovering the Unhurried Rhythms of Grace

by Jan Johnson

This book is about being intentional about our choices in life, choosing those that lead to living a simpler life in “an engaging and relational way” rather than filled with obligation and pretense.

I have read this one before also. There is a lot to learn and put into practice in this book. I will try to choose a few that I can do. This year is about simplifying, not adding more to-do’s.

GodSpace: Time for Peace in the Rhythms

by Christine Sine MD

First, this book explores spiritual rhythms and then, secondly, the author examines practical ways to incorporate these essential practices into our lives.

I want to learn rhythms to incorporate into my life to keep me from racing and running constantly. I want my focus to be more on the Lord! I like that it is both about GodSpace and GodsPace. Taking time to be with Him and going with Him in His timing!

Keeping Sabbath Wholly

by Marva Dawn

This book is a written invitation to learn to experience joy and wholeness through choosing to observe the Sabbath. The author shares reasons why this is important as well as methods for putting it into practice.

I want to learn more about ways to practice Sabbath. Not to practice it in a legalistic way, but to practice it in a way that gives me rest and honors the Lord.

A Worn Out Woman: When Life is Full and Your Spirit is Empty

by Alice Gray and Steve Stephens

This is a book of practical solutions for the stressed-out woman. This book promises to help its reader to “trade in a life of running on empty for a life that is meaningful and fulfilling.”

Our lives can feel so empty when we are living in the place of stress and overwhelm. I am definitely ready to trade that in for fulfillment and meaning!

A Place Called Simplicity: The Quiet Beauty of Simple Living

by Claire Cloninger

I have read this one and loved it, but will gladly reread it. It takes you on a journey of simplifying many different facets of life. It has a “step-by-step plan based on a personal inventory to help you unclutter your life.”

I am constantly working on decluttering or at least it seems that way. This year I am trying to be more intentional about it!

Even God Rested: Why It’s Okay for Women to Slow Down

by Kim Thomas

In this book, the author shares how to cease from the things in life that are draining us and instead feast on the delight and refreshment God offers.

That is exactly what I need to learn! Life can feel so draining, we all need delight and refreshment!

Sabbath Keeping: Finding Freedom in the Rhythm of Rest

by Lynne M. Baabs

This one offers to be a practical and hopeful guidebook to help each of us slow down and really enjoy our relationship with the Lord.

Really enjoying relationship with the Lord and slowing down, those are things I need to learn to practice more in my life. It is too easy to just come to Him for things or try to prove self to Him.

Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in our Busy Lives

by Wayne Muller

Muller “shows us how to create a special time of rest, delight and renewal. “He “teaches us how we can use this time of sacred rest to refresh our bodies and minds, restore our creativity, and repair our birthright of inner happiness.”

The words “rest, delight, and renewal” caught my eye in this title. I want more of each of these in my life.

Your Sacred Yes: Trading Life-Draining Obligation for Freedom, Passion, and Play

by Susie Larson

In this book the author shares “biblical ways to

  • learn how and when to say no without guilt or shame
  • find peace and perspective that matches God’s best for you
  • discern man-made obligation from God-given invitation

These are definitely areas I need help with as I live my life! I get bogged down with expectations and obligations that may not be what the Lord has for me.

Oxygen: Deep Breathing for the Soul

by Keri Wyatt

This book is described as a “perfect guide to help you deepen your walk with Christ.” A few of the important practices discussed are:

  • being with God rather than doing for Him
  • how to spend time in solitude
  • how to journal and pray
  • how to listen to what God is saying to you

I am hoping to glean a few new ideas from here to encourage me as I continually learn to grow deeper in my walk with the Lord.

SoulRest: Reclaim Your Life; Return to Sabbath

by Curtis Zachery

This one is a call to examine and restructure our days around purposeful and sustainable life with Jesus.

That sounds wonderful. So much of what we try to do does not fit into those categories in our lives. We get caught up in checking off our checklists that overflow from page to page. And, for me, too often it is more about the “getting done” than about the process. Purpose and sustainability are lost in that.

So, there is my list. I realize there is a lot of repetition in the topics and practices. I am hoping that I can filter through all of the information and come away with a life recalibrated. I will be sharing with you monthly about what I am reading and learning. If I get bogged down with a book, I may choose a different option as I had a hard time limiting my list to one book for each month, so I do have other choices available to go with. I am looking forward to sharing this journey with you.

Many blessings to you in 2019!

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?

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.