Living Out The Journey of Your Calling

Christianity, mission, Uncategorized

Do you feel like your life’s calling is a mystical thing?

Maybe it’s a very simple, practical thing that we can all do, every day, no matter where we are on the globe.

God calls us to Himself. The rest is geography.

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Keeping it simple and practical.

Be with Jesus.

Know him.

Love him.

Allow yourself to BE loved by him.

When those things happen, we will be compelled to evangelism, and to service.

But first we must BE with Christ. Geography will be less of an issue.

I’m convinced that there’s not a wrong answer of geography when we’re truly abiding in Christ.

This watercolor was inspired by this video on Calling by Propel Women.

Living Out The Journey of My Calling

It is well.

Attitude

vision

Funny how not seeing well is helping me to see some things better. My friend asked how I was seeing today, the kind of “How are you?” where she really wanted to know, and I told her that my vision isn’t good today. But I feel good and my outlook on life is good. It is well with my soul. I didn’t say that last part, but sometimes I say it out loud when asked how I’m doing.

Not because I want to be churchy or a throwback to an 1873 hymn (yes, I looked it up) but because it IS well with my soul. I get what Mr. Spafford meant as he penned these words. My circumstances are lame at times, as far as my eyeballs are concerned. I’ll have a couple of good days in a row when I can drive myself around in freedom, then a few bad days when I have migraines and have to call on friends to take me to work or errands. My short-term memory is almost always on the fritz. It annoys my family and it’s often embarrassing when people who don’t know the situation are repeating a conversation because I ask what looks like a stupid question. Again. Even so, it is well with my soul.

How can that be? I hate weakness. I am learning not to abhor it. I am uncomfortable being weak and helpless. But God is allowing me to be weak right now in this season of life. I choose to depend on Him in my weakness and allow Him to be my strength and my peace. If I didn’t do that, I would only be a very angry, bitter and sad, weak person. Instead, I am a weak and joyful person, being strengthened, day by day, and growing in perseverance.

Do you see the beautiful paradox? I am still weak. I am still sad. I grieve that I don’t have the “normal” carefree experience that I “deserve”. But because I choose to lean into Jesus daily, I am stronger than EVER because of him. He is my strength when I cannot do anything but cry and feel sorry for myself. He is my hope when I can’t imagine a future and don’t know what’s going to happen the next day with my plans. He is the one thing that I know of for certain in my life. That is why I can say, it is well with my soul.

What does fashion have to do with Jesus?

Jesus

Well, I’ll tell you.  Jesus doesn’t need fashion to proclaim His great story to the world. But why not use it?

Early Tuesday morning, my friend Lynette and I packed our bags for a day trip, and hit the road for a two-hour journey to talk about Jesus and how to “dress like a million bucks without spending it”.  I’m one of the rare people who actually enjoys public speaking. I don’t just enjoy it, I LOVE it.

However, I wasn’t real sure how I could pull off a feat like this day trip. Especially considering that I’m not physically able to drive myself most places lately and I have serious short-term memory loss along with word retrieval difficulty. Good thing nothing’s too difficult for God.

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These Austin, Texas ladies were delightful. Best of all, I got to see God work one of the greatest miracles of all….a changed life.

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We discussed the fun stuff of fashion: accessories, self-confidence, and the basics that every woman should have in her wardrobe.

1. A great fitting pair of jeans. In your current size, not the size you wish you were.

2. A classic white shirt

3. Trousers

4. Jacket that coordinates with trousers (aka a pant suit)

5. Little black dress

6. Cardigan

7. Blouse

I transitioned into the story of my life. Pain, self-destructive choices, and then crisis that led to the best thing ever: Realizing I’m a messed up woman who needs a Savior, Jesus. I think it’s really cool that with a captive audience of women who are having fun thinking about wardrobe and fashion, we can look at the reality that we are people who don’t just need a makeover, we need a Savior that can give us a new life and new mind.

That’s what fashion has to do with Jesus.

And I’m glad.

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God is constantly at work in us

Jesus, marriage, Uncategorized

Today’s text from our friend Brian Haynes will speak for itself:

God moments happen all around us all of the time. I love that God is constantly at work in people, in marriages, and in churches. If you need hope for your life, your family, your marriage or your church, take 6 minutes to watch this short documentary. It is a God story.

Prayers for healing and health

suffering

If you have every prayed for healing, and not received physical wholeness, you are facing a quandary.  There are many assumptions that flow from not receiving full healing. My previous post doesn’t take you through all of the assumptions, only straight to my acceptance. However, I believe that it’s important to de-bunk these wrong ideas that I assumed about my prayers not being answered the way that I wanted.

I have prayed, my family has prayed, my friends have prayed, and we have done as James 5:13-16 instructs Christians who are sick. We continue to pray for complete healing in my body, yet I’m not fully healed. We’ve prayed for many months, and I have no doubt that most of us praying actually believe that Jesus Christ performs healing miracles. We believe He raises the dead back to life, He makes the blind see, and the mute hear. So when our prayers aren’t answered with a “Yes” it caused me to feel several things:

1. I believed that I must not have enough faith.

2. I felt forsaken and unloved by God. It felt as if I was completely unheard by Him.

3. Deep down I felt that I must have done something wrong to be afflicted physically.

I can’t tell you that I don’t think of these things at all anymore, but something about the truth of hearing Isaiah 55: That God’s ways are higher than my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts resonated deep in my soul. This truth corrected my assumptions when I heard this Scripture related to our prayers for healing, and Pastor Brian answered the BIG QUESTION we all have when God doesn’t heal our loved ones. (See this post to link to Pastor Brian’s sermon)

I still struggle. Sometimes what I know in my head to be truth about God doesn’t match up to my feelings. But today I know, deep in my soul, that God loves me and hears my prayers, even when I’m not completely healed. He’s moved and listens to our prayers. You and I can trust His heart when we don’t understand His ways.

Good books

Books

Books.

They are relaxing. Stimulating. Thought provoking. Life changing. Entertaining. Practical. Educational. Inspiring. Convicting.

I love books.

Yep, that's quite a stack!

Yep, that’s quite a stack! These are the good books I’m currently reading.

Now, before you start thinking I’m a librarian, I must explain that I read in bits and pieces. Sadly, my schedule doesn’t allow me to read all day long. I read as I’m waiting in carpool and steal a few minutes here and there throughout the day. It’s also a great way to wind down at night, when I can keep my eyes open!

The book that I treasure above all is God’s word. The Bible. Yet I know I don’t treasure it as I could. I was recently listening to a woman tell a story about her childhood. She was raised in a Communist country by parents who loved Jesus. In fact, both her parents died as martyrs because they refused to renounce their faith in God. She admonished us living in free countries to read our Bibles.

When she was a child, she remembers the times that her father was home. (His times at home were intermittent because many times he was imprisoned as a result of his faith.) He had a practice of reciting three Scriptures to his children in the morning, and they were instructed to write them out and memorize them. They did this on a regular basis. She said that Christians in Communist countries can live their entire lifespan without owning a copy of the Bible. Therefore, she encouraged, “Don’t let it sit on a shelf. Read it.” She said although they did not own a copy, she and her siblings knew the Word of God because of their father.

I want to be that faithful and consistent. Almost every morning for me begins with a steaming hot cup of coffee and the Bible. Mine’s dark pink, as you see above. Sometimes, I feel a little aimless when I open the Bible. If I don’t have a reading plan, then I’ll usually start with the Scriptures in my daily devotional book, Jesus Calling. I like this devotional so much that I’ll usually read it at some point in the day, or I’ll catch up the next day. Some days I even read ahead! God has spoken truth to my heart countless times through this little book.

Boundaries has a workbook with it, too. I’m doing a weekly book study on this with some ladies at a brown bag lunch.

Clutter Busters is AWESOME!! If you are a pack rat or just have trouble, like me, getting motivated or don’t know how to start decluttering, then this book is for you! I just rechecked it from the library. It discusses our emotional attachment to our clutter stuff, and why it’s so hard to minimize clutter.

China Study…compelling. That’s all I can say.

A Woman’s Heart is a Bible study workbook that I’ve recently started that goes into the Tabernacle of the ancient Israelites.

His Princess A little book written as love letters to women from their Father, God. Very short, sweet, and poetic.

My other bedside reads are The Explicit Gospel and Voice in the Wind. (not pictured) I’m switching between the two, depending on if I feel like having deep thoughts or if I just want to read for entertainment.

Books. I love ’em!

Followup thoughts

Jesus

I clicked on “Publish” a couple of hours ago on a post about my mind-bending thoughts on God, healing, and hurts. Imagine my delight when I plopped down on the couch this afternoon to read today’s entry for the devotional book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It’s written from the perspective of Jesus talking directly to us about our circumstances:

January 29

Keep your focus on Me.  I have gifted you with amazing freedom, including the ability to choose the focal point of your mind.  Only the crown of My creation has such remarkable capability; this is a sign of being made in My image.

Let the goal of this day be to bring every thought captive to Me.  Whenever your mind wanders, lasso those thoughts and bring them into My Presence.  In My radiant Light, anxious thoughts shrink and shrivel away.  Judgmental thoughts are unmasked as you bask in My conditional Love.  Confused ideas are untangled while you rest in simplicity of My Peace.  I will guard you and keep you in constant Peace, as you focus your mind on Me.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.

My favorite Christmas season

Christmas, Jesus
our mantle

our mantle

So far, this has been my favorite Christmas season to date….the least stressful and most relaxed. I have been reflecting on that, and wondering, why?

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

1. We don’t have a huge list of people to buy for. We have never practiced the Santa tradition in our family (gasp!) but since our kids are high school and college, we don’t feel the need to go nuts with presents. They’ll have some things to unwrap and hopefully a couple of surprises. One of our extended families (mine) played the draw-a-number-then-pick-a-present-or-steal game instead of the huge, expensive normal gift exchange this year, and it was fantastic. I highly recommend it!! Lots of fun and we all went home with something we liked but wouldn’t have bought for ourselves.

2. I’m not going crazy baking, cooking, or crafting. I love doing those things, but I’m just doing them throughout the year as I feel like it. No pressure to do anything added to our normal stuff this Christmas.

3. Minimal Christmas decorations. One partially decorated tree in the living room, a wreath on each window on the front of the house (which I think looks really cute and simple), some greenery with berries and stockings on the mantle. The end. Still looks a little festive, but nothing crazy around here.

4. No Christmas card with Christmas letter. Are you thinking, what a Scrooge? Well, at our house it’s kinda opposite….If you have all kinds of Christmas craziness going on, then you probably have one cranky mama on your hands. I’m a little cranky today, but not because I feel pulled in million different directions with Christmas craziness.

I don’t think Jesus minds that we’re celebrating Him this year with a little less excess and a little more joy. That equals a Merry Christmas around here.

christmas mantle

christmas mantle

Our simple but festive house

Our simple but festive house

Jesus: Why we celebrate Christmas

Christmas

If you need a feel-good moment this morning, then have a seat. Take five minutes of your life, grab a coffee or hot chocolate, and join in celebrating Jesus as you watch this video:

 

I love holidays, but especially as we celebrate Christmas, let’s remember Jesus: He’s the Christ in Christ-mas. He’s the Holy in holi-days.

Pretzel brain

MS, suffering

There are times when we can be our own worst enemy. Take the past two weeks, for instance. Facing the real possibility that I may have MS has been on the forefront of my mind. In the past two weeks, there have only been a handful of days that I have been well enough to do some of my normal activities. That’s got me thinking a lot about suffering and why God allows it.  I have asked so many questions:

Is this a chastisement for a sin? Is God really enough for me? Why??? Will I ever feel better? Jesus is a Healer; will He heal me?

I’ve had plenty of time to think since rest has been mandatory, make that TOO much time to think….sometimes it felt like my mind was twisted into a pretzel!

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Honestly, I’ve been wracking my brain and studying the Bible to see how Jesus responds to the sick and suffering. I’ve read blogs and books on the topic. Friends have given their perspective. Nonetheless, I felt like I have been hitting my head against a brick wall trying to make sense of it all. It’s finally boiled down to these simple truths that I know: God is love. (1 John 4:8) He is good, and everything He does is good. (Psalm 119:68) When I don’t understand my circumstances, I can trust the heart of God to do good things in the midst of difficulty.

Here are some of the things I’m learning:

1. Humility. Self-sufficiency is being stripped daily. I am having to admit that I am weak right now. Words cannot express how much I hate that! Admitting that I am physically weak and need help is good for me; I just don’t like it. A friend recently pointed out that this is a good thing, because if we aren’t needy people, how can we recognize that we need God?

2. To accept help. I’m learning that I can only accept help from others after I have embraced humility and let go of self-sufficient pride. I’m American, so I was born with the “pull up your bootstraps and git ‘er done” mentality. Accepting help flies in the face of all that Americans hold dear. There is a balance here, because if I let myself get into a victim-type of mentality, there would be the temptation to just give up on an active life and let people do everything for me. Accepting help has been really hard for me. It’s simple things, like carpool and making dinner or cleaning the kitchen, or laundry, that are revealing the sin of self-sufficiency in my heart. I believe God’s heart is that instead of self-sufficient, we should be God-sufficient. How can we accept free gifts from God like love, salvation, or grace, if we can’t let our friend help us with carpool?

3. People love me. Wow. People love me. And they want to help.

4. Some things are beyond my ability to understand. It’s healthy to read and research a topic concerning God, asking Him for insight and clarity. However, there comes a point when we must accept the reality that our finite minds can’t comprehend the magnificent complexity of God.

franchisefool.com

Psalm 119:68 You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.

1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.