Yesterday was not my most shining moment. It wasn’t a terrible day, but I did receive some criticism (considering the source, I did not take it to heart, but it’s never pleasant), felt like I let a friend down, and didn’t prepare well for a training that I did. All in all, just a day where I felt disappointed in myself. Do you ever have days like that?
As I was reading before bed, trying to put the icky stuff behind me, God came in and overwhelmed me with a sense of His grace, covering my inadequacies and disappointment. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt a lifting of my heart in that way before. He is consistently showing me lately that I need Him moment-by-moment. It’s sometimes painful, but I suppose growth always is. Grace calls us higher, but not by trying harder; it’s simply the gradual removal of our selfishness and pride, replacing it with Christ himself within us. That gets me excited– how about you?
I’m listening to a CD by National Sales Director Pam Shaw. Her topic is the Proverbs 31 woman, but she spends some time also talking about other Proverbs, in particular 3:5-6. Many of you are probably familiar with this one: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
I want to share with you how she elaborated on this verse because it struck me and I listened to it several times, really trying to absorb her message from this seemingly simple verse.
Trust in the LORD, not in your appearance, not in your career, not in your house, not in your friends, not in your abilities, not in your marriage. TRUST in the LORD.
with ALL your heart, not with a piece of your heart, not with a little bit of your heart, not with a corner of your heart, not with a bit of good intentions in your heart, with ALL your heart.
don’t lean on YOUR own understanding– God does not ask us to work from our understanding, but from His. His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts.
In ALL your ways, in the way you think, in the way you parent, in the way you engage in relationships, in the way you conduct business, in the way you love others…
acknowledge Him– in order to acknowledge Him, we must know Him. How do we know Him? Through His Word.
He WILL direct your paths. Prov. 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.” Don’t tell God, “this is what I’m going to do and I want you to bless it.” Instead, commit your life and your heart to Him and listen for the direction He wants to give you.
I’m becoming more and more convinced that God’s purpose in this blog is simply to get me to examine my own life and become more open to the work He wants to do in me. Anything that the rest of you get out of it is just gravy! That’s not to beat myself up about all the work I need done on my life, but merely to point to God’s incredible grace and patience in conforming each of us more and more to the perfection for which He created us. One definition of perfection is an object fulfilling the purpose for which it was designed. I’m thankful that God doesn’t give us just one chance, aren’t you?
I’m reading a book by Matthew Barnett called The Cause Within You. He is a pastor and the founder of The Dream Center in the inner city of Los Angeles. He talks about how he used to define success with numbers: how many people attended his church, how much money was raised for ministry, etc. He goes on to say:
All of that is fine, but none of it is what Jesus died for. He died for the well-being of people– to see their lives totally transformed by love and verified by their own acts of service. The real measure of success, then is obedience to God’s principles and calling. Success is about influencing lives, which requires us to be mission-minded. Put differently, success is a by-product of your hard work that bears fruit for the cause that God has placed within you.
None of us will know if we’re a success till we get to heaven anyway. After all, we don’t see things the way God does, so how could we really measure it? And if we can’t measure or gauge it, why stress over it and wrap our lives around it? God has given us a cause to focus on and that cause is always about helping people; it is never about how successful we can set ourselves up to become. When you set your mind on the things of God– loving people and giving Him the glory– you are liberated from the stresses and snares of the world. If you have influence, use it to make a difference by helping people.
Focus on faithfully pursuing your cause, and don’t worry about persuading the world that you’re a success.
I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people lately about God and what He’s up to and how do we know Him and what does it mean to be surrendered to Him. And I have to tell you, the freedom that I have in Christ and the love that drives that freedom really does compel me. Part of the beauty in the sacrifice of God is the freedom it brings to live from the purpose for which we were designed. In plainer language, we were made for MORE than just doing things OUR way!
Christianity is not a “toe the line, or else” kind of world, despite what you may have been told. Rather, it’s an “I died so you could live in the freedom that comes within a life of surrender” kind of adventure with God. Not a cold set of rules, but a warm invitation to follow Him.
Don’t run with scissors; eat more fruit, fewer donuts; never wear a fanny pack. I think we can all agree that these are helpful, wise, and universal “rules” (none of them are found in the Bible, just for the record!). How about what is found in the Bible?
Don’t get drunk, which cheapens your life (Eph. 5:18)
Don’t use anger as fuel for revenge. Don’t give the devil that kind of foothold in your life. (Eph. 4: 26)
Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph. 4:32)
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. (Eph. 4:29)
Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity (bottom line: one man, one woman, in marriage only– Eph. 5:3)
Obviously this is just a few places in a couple chapters of one book of the Bible, not an extensive treatment of how God wants us to live. We didn’t even touch on relinquishing our hold on our possessions by tithing, avoiding lies and deception, eliminating gossip. But get this: when you choose to live by these “rules”? Freedom results! Not everything-works-out-perfectly-and-you-have-no-problems. Just the amazing ability to live above and beyond, to live as you were designed and destined to live.
Let me close with this. “Watch what God does and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious, but extravagant. He didn’t love us in order to get something from us, but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” Eph. 5:1-2 That’s what I call free.
Today’s happiness tidbit is a list of tips for being awesome, so here goes:
Do the unexpected. Example: tell someone they look stunning; give a hug instead of a handshake.
Show up for work early, prepared, and with a good attitude (thank you, Chris Guillebeau for this one). Even if your job is Mom or business-owner. Whether you work for yourself, your family, or an employer, just do it!
Write 3 thank-you notes today
Graciously receive compliments and lavish them on others.
Ask God to show you where He is at work in your world and join Him there.
Audit your words today. Every time you catch yourself complaining or speaking negatively about yourself, others, or circumstances, stop and and rephrase with a positive rebuttal. Example: I am so overwhelmed. Stop. No, I’m not! I have plenty of time to accomplish all that God has called me to do today.
Give others the benefit of the doubt. We’re all fighting battles that others know nothing about.
Don’t put up with whining– in yourself or others. Choose with whom you spend your time.
Try something new today.
Do the “and then some”. Going above what is required of you will set you apart as remarkably awesome and will bless others in the process.
What tip of awesomeness will you be implementing today?
Hello, fabulous readers! I’ve missed you! I am finally back to the land of the living, after moving 3.5 miles from our old house of 10 years, to our new house. My happiness tidbit for today is: do not, I repeat, do not EVER be without internet access because you will feel as though you are missing a limb. Oh wait, no. That’s not the happiness tidbit, that’s just my personal hassle of the week. Sorry, I lost it there for a minute.
I imagine many of you have moved many more than once in the last 10 years. In my first 10 years of life, I lived in 6 different houses, 2 of those moves were cross-country. Bless my parents’ little hearts, they were INSANE! Now I’m a girl who likes change and who is up for adventure, but that is just craziness.
Here’s what I’ve learned about moving. I don’t know that this is terribly profound, but I’ve lost approximately 850,000 brain cells in the process, so you’re going to have to take what you can get from me today.
I’m glad I’m a throw-er away-er. After 10 years and adding 2 additional family members, you accumulate a lot of stuff. But, I regularly go through things and toss/donate/recycle so we had much less crap-o than the average non-thrower-awayer.
You can choose to let the hassles of a move shut you down or you can go with the flow. I’m not a master of going with the flow. I really like things to run smoothly and go my way and be convenient. However, I expected things to be less convenient than normal and it was easier to deal with those times when they came along because I was expecting it.
Except when I did let it shut me down. And in those times, I got to choose how long I was going to be mad and frustrated.
Who do you know that is dealing with something frustrating today? How can you lighten their load by just reaching out with an encouraging word or helping hand? Be intentional about stepping into the little moments of people’s lives and being a bright spot of hope in their world. I challenge you to do that today!
There are lots of things that I do to fill my cup, but being at church on a weekly basis is at the top of the list. On Sunday, we had a guest pastor from a church in Kansas City who spoke about What if the Church Were a Verb? Most of the message was about living out, taking our faith and putting it to work outside the walls of the church and impacting our world. He compared church to the gas station where we get filled for the week to take our vehicles out and go where God has called us to go.
The happiness tidbit today is to prioritize getting spiritually filled up. I look forward to being with my “family” each week at church, hearing from God, finding ways to serve, so that I can be more effective the rest of the week. It’s obedience, it’s surrender, it’s putting myself in a place and carving out a time that I intentionally listen for God’s voice.
In addition, I crave quiet time alone with Him during the week. A once-a-week fill-up doesn’t cut it! There have certainly been times in my life that a daily quiet time didn’t happen (i.e. when my kids were babies!) and other times when it was drudgery. I imagine I will have those seasons again. But, let me tell you, I can tell a difference when I miss it a day or two.
Are you getting spiritually filled up weekly and daily? Do you regularly put yourself in a place where God can speak to you, where you hear truth, where you’re drawn to be more like Him? Fill up! Make it a priority! It will never be time wasted.