Leaving the Land of Self Protection

“But he continues to pour out more and more grace upon us. For it says, God resists you when you are proud but continually pours out grace when you are humble.” 

James 4:6 TPT

I used to believe grace was something I had to work to have for others. I know we all need grace, but I thought that having grace for others was a skill to be honed, a discipline to be developed. It turns out, my lack of grace for others is actually an indication that I pridefully believed others needed grace more than me.  

My path to this revelation came through being in conflict with a few people I am close to. These people and the situations we found ourselves in were a catalyst in driving me to the revelation that I am not as generous with grace as I had previously thought. In closer relationships, I tend to believe I know the intent behind the actions of those I know best. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I can see that this line of thinking is rooted in self protection. 

As the name suggests, Self Protection is not interested in truth, it is interested in Self. My emotions would jump in to ensure my perception of the situation put me in the right and all of the unsavory actions from the other were viewed as an attack on me. Any of my unsavory actions were given a pass as they were traced back to my intent which is only ever good in the eyes of Self Protection. Self Protection is a ruthless way to operate. It takes on a “me against the world” mentality. Fight or flight is the go-to strategy, and I become the jury and judge of all that is done to me. 

When we are in charge, we take the role of god in our own relationships. If we are god, our resources to see the situation or relationship with anything other than selfish eyes is impossible. We do not have access to the resources of Heaven or the spirit that dwells in us while in the confines of Self Protection. Grace is a scarcity in the land of Self Protection, because it was never our job to conjure it up in the first place. And when we are operating in Self Protection, we cut off the Heavenly resources that Jesus paid such a high price to put at our disposal. Grace is a gift from Jesus. In Him we have all we need, and dear reader, we NEED grace. 

Ephesians 2:8 says 

“For it is by grace you have been saved. Through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–”

In 2 Thessalonians 1:2 it says

“Our God gives you everything you need, makes you everything you’re to be.”

He offers these gifts (fruits of the spirit) to those willing to accept them. They are there because of who He is, not who we could ever be in our own power. All we need to do is leave Self and follow Jesus. Submit to His ways of being and let Self die daily. Self will protect you, but it will come at a cost that I am only now seeing is far too steep. I was looking for so many relationships to serve me and if they didn’t, I was on the defense at every turn. I had no clue for many years that this is how I was operating. I know what good behavior looks like and I know how to make my actions mirror the good morals I was brought up with. But my heart was methodically looking out for my best interests at every opportunity. Self doesn’t know how to be any other way. 

In the days and weeks and months to come I see myself crucifying old thought patterns and behaviors that only served Self. Some might die instantly and easily–others might go kicking and screaming, but I know there is newness of life being breathed in my spirit daily as I embrace a life of freedom from the land of Self Protection. Stay tuned for a deeper unpacking of how finding grace for myself (read: embracing the free gift of grace that has been waiting for me) unlocked my ability to give grace to others.

Giving Credit: A Lesson in Gratitude

gratitude post

The other day my son (11) and I were in the van alone. I find he is more chatty in those moments running from here to there than when we are at home. Thankfully, I have been aware of this for the past year and I have been using that time to check in. “How is school going? Any big projects? Anything cool happen at school today? How are you feeling about soccer these days?” etc., etc. He will usually give me more than one word answers when he isn’t competing with his sisters for my attention. Well, this particular conversation was one I will cherish as a mom for years to come. It started out randomly.

 

“Hey Mom, God was really kind to me today. He saved me from a bad grade.”

Okay! This was unprompted and I was all ears! He went on to explain how he had this big group project that he had been working on over the past week. Presentations were supposed to happen that day, but because they took so long his group got bumped to the following day. He explained that as he was listening to all the others, he noticed they did something extra that he learned was expected with the project. He said that because he learned this before they gave theirs, he was able to add it to his group project and he and his partner would now get a better grade for having that other aspect added to their project.

This story isn’t in and of itself that interesting, but I want to point out that his first response to this “happy coincidence” is to give God credit. This past year I have felt God highlighting to me how I need to train my kids to see God’s goodness in their life. Help them make the connection that God is good and He is good to them. This little story was a huge gift and I fought back tears as I realized God was giving goodness to me in showing me the work of the daily grind of raising my kids is paying off. We don’t bat 1,000 around here, but I take a win when I can. I sent up a shout of praise in my heart as my boy and I continued our conversation about giving God praise in everything…good or bad. He then blew my mind by agreeing that even when something bad happened (he lost his ipad for a few days) he could see God was making a way (he was grateful that he had enough money in his account to replace it if needed).  I mean I was a wreck by the end of this 4 minute car ride from one place to another.

So I ask, are you pursuing a life looking to connect all things to a way to praise God? Praising Him and having an attitude of gratitude takes practice and intentionality, but I can see it changing my son’s perception on life. I believe in the science behind this too. He is rewiring pathways in his brain and shaping his body’s response system. Simply giving God credit stirs our heart to praise Him. Praise opens our heart to trust and believe He will do it again.

Start the cycle today!

Ask God to help you see His goodness in all the things this Holiday season is about to throw your way. Even the hard/unexpected. Ask God, show me your goodness in this. Be open to a perspective shift.

 

Merry Christmas to all! Christ came and will continue to come for you, every day of your life.

 

Getting Your Word

gettingyourword

In the beginning of a year you will see people posting about their word for the new year, or maybe a verse, or both. I started doing this back in 2012. At first I believed it was a heavy process that you had to work hard for to receive. I thought that there was this one word and like a needle in a haystack, I was charged with searching for it (preferably finding it before January 1). I don’t think that now. The word you take on for the year isn’t some predetermined word that, if you don’t choose it, will wreck the coming twelve months. I want to share how I have chosen my words over the last couple of years. If you already go about it another way and that is working for you, I am not telling you that you are doing it wrong. However, if you stress about this, or feel pressure to “get it right” each year, I hope this post frees you to enjoy the process.

In December each year, I begin reflecting on the year I have just had. I do this in chunks. I don’t sit down and do it all in one day. I take some time in the mornings when I am sipping coffee, reading, praying, and journaling. I begin evaluating how my word and theme for the year played out. As I am doing this, I am asking the Holy Spirit to show me how this word came to life over the year and what my theme will be in the coming year. I start to get a vague sense through this process. Then, I keep my ears perked for confirmation over the next few weeks. As the weeks wind down and a new year is on the threshold, I put the word search to rest. I am not going to toil and lose sight of the more important thing by becoming obsessed with getting a word. We can easily get distracted by seemingly important tasks in the Kingdom. Spending time in prayer and seeking a theme for your year is important, but the task of searching for it will not feed the hungry, or win more people over to Jesus. Let’s give it a slice of our time pie, but keep it modest. This is not a biblically mandated concept or requirement. It is fun to see how your word will unfold and I believe it enhances your experiences throughout the year, but it is not the end-all-be-all of your walk with God.

Here is the other thing I am realizing: it is less about discovering a predetermined word, and more about operating in the freedom we have in Christ to choose a word and watch it unfold throughout the year. He is dwelling in us and as we sit and sift through possible ideas, HE is there–with us. He delights in being involved in the process, and HE is empowering us to speak a theme over our coming year.

In the end of 2015 I was looking to continue a work that God had been doing in that year. 2016 was approaching and I was hearing the word inheritance A LOT! I had even been drawn to a few verses in Psalm 16 (v5-6).


 

psalm16.5.6

( She Reads Truth is awesome by the way check them out here)

 


Although I had this before the year began, it took me a few weeks to officially declare this my verse and word for the year. I was battling the idea that it was audacious to choose such an abundant theme. As I wrestled with this in my quiet time, I realized a few things:

1.) This is not for anyone else.

2.) We are called to an abundant life anyway (spiritually).

3.) I cannot waste my time listening to the enemy try to steal what is mine.

 

As I saw this year develop, I realized it wasn’t just about receiving from Him spiritually, but I faced some difficult things and this verse was there to remind me that in good and bad, this was still a truth. I had this to lean on more than I had it to stand on this year. We had an amazing year as a couple, but we also made some hard decisions that I had to declare this verse over me as I asked for peace going forward.

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This year, my word started with a word spoken over me by another. It was confirmed with my husband, and I feel in my spirit a confirmation that this year will be one of new depths in the Lord. My theme for the year is a phrase not just a word: Go Deep to Soar! I will dig deeper in  my relationship with God and HE will give me what I need to soar to new heights in personal and professional ways. My verse is,  “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31.

Do you search for a word or verse (or both) for the year? If so, share in the comments. I love hearing from others!

A Dream Deferred is not a Dream Destroyed

addisnotadd

Today I was thinking about dreams. Hopes, dreams, goals, and things we want to happen. We talk a great deal about our dreams and what we hope to achieve in this life. I have gone through times when the dreams I have for myself are right in front of my face. For instance, my writing. I have dreamed of being a writer for a long time. A few years ago, I started to see this opportunity come to life as a friend asked me to write for her website. It turned into a weekly gig, and eventually two published devotions! I was sure it would continue to ramp up and I would be writing regularly from then on…not so much.

The website was sold off and I shifted to a homeschool mom who had too much on her plate to really give writing the proper attention it needed. I was frustrated and a little disheartened. It’s not that I doubted that God put that dream in my heart, but it turns out that that specific path was not a straight shot to a career. I know that it played a crucial part in my journey, and I trust that I will have other writing opportunities in my life. But when a path has an end, we have to make a choice: we can see it as a part of our big picture, or we can be consumed by the end of it. I am so glad that the Bible has so many examples of deferred dreams. because I am sure the enemy salivates at the open opportunity that exists at the end of a path.


Biblical Examples

Joseph: pretty sure he had the opportunity to lose all hope sitting at the bottom of a cave that his brothers threw him in. I mean didn’t he just dream about them bowing down to him?

David: Hearing you will be king of Israel is great…but it’s hard to firmly accept while spending years continuing to be a shepherd and then being hunted my the current king.

Ruth: Marriage usually means a new chapter and the beginning of a family, but Ruth experienced loss and displacement well before her arms held her own baby.


 

There are more, but I think it is key to remember that none of us are immune from a deferred dream. If you are in the midst of a dream deferral I would love to encourage you to make sure you are pressing into the Father’s love and comfort during disappointment…or even during redirection. God wastes nothing. He will always use the opportunity to grow your faith, reestablish priorities, draw you closer to himself, set the stage for a bigger dream, or even give you a wake up call that that dream is not HIS best for you. Obviously, there are lots of things God could be doing while you are being rerouted or put in a holding pattern. The best thing to do is seek HIM! He will reveal, in His most perfect timing, some (or maybe all) of the reasons that you are not going at the pace or in the exact direction you anticipated going. Intimacy with Him is ALWAYS a part of it for Him.  Seeking God in a time of delay or rerouting will always be a good thing. Remember the infallible truth that God is good. It is as untouchable as His love for you. You can reject it (just like His love), but it doesn’t make it any less true.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5 

My challenge to you today is simple: spend time talking to God about your dreams. Then, spend time letting all the “missed opportunities” or “finished paths” go and ask God to make the next step in the journey clear. Then listen, write down what you hear. The thoughts that are higher than your own that come in your heart with a banner of love are those of the Holy Spirit. We hear from Him more often than we realize, and He is creative and full of hope.

Ten Years

  
The idea that I have been married for ten years is hard to grasp. I know it is a drop in the bucket compared to the “forever” marriages of those who have been married forty years or more, but this is a big milestone for us! It is a benchmark for marriage in general. In this first decade of marriage, we have nurtured a fledgling business, moved once, had three children and crossed into our thirties. We have shed the naivety of our first decade as adults and have a more eyes-wide-open approach to life together as well as life in general. We no longer hold to the idea that life is a fairy tale, but we know that it can be even better if you let it. Because the reality is that none of us enjoy trials and heartache–they shake up our confidence in what we think we know. However, when we are on the other side we are more sure of what we can count on. 

I can count on this guy.

In ten years we have seen lack and we have seen surplus. We have had joyous blessings and we have had heartahce. We have been in mysteriously-lovely unity and in opposite-sides discord. We have not seen it all, but we have seen enough to know this world can rip you apart if you let it. 

I was asked recently about a good book to read to prepare you for marriage. I answered with two things:

First, I think the Five Love Languages is an excellent starting place. I think each person should know how their spouse feels loved. But secondly, and most importantly, I believe each person should be on a committed track of personal growth with the Lord. This commitment has proven the most beneficial thing in our marriage. The reason being, when you are nurturing an intimate relationship with God and truly listening to Him, He will go to you on behalf of your spouse. He will guide you into deeper love and understanding of their heart. This isn’t a magic bullet as it takes time (like all wonderful journeys do) and it requires humility and a true desire to hear truth from God. But it has been and will continue to be the best path for a lasting marriage. 

As we celebrate ten years, I am grateful for the lessons and the growth. I also know that I wouldn’t want to do this “brutiful” life with any other human. 

I love you Matthew Ferris, forever and always. 

What if We Took Time to Be Us?

timetobeUs

Mamas, I have a tip for you:

Just Be You!

Everyday, I get to see about 100+ articles about this and that–usually posted on social media. I don’t read most of them because they are an opinion about another article that they read. Moms are all up in arms about ev-er-y-thing! We rush to judgment about things that do affect us, and things that don’t. And in this post-modern world where social media gives us instant access to hundreds (even thousands) of people, we feel the need to defend our position. But I’d like to pose a question:

How many times has your individual opinion swayed another on social media?

 

How many times has your individual opinion sparked a debate?


 

I still grab the bait every now and again, but for the most part I don’t put my opinion about hot-topic issues on social media. Why? Because I believe what I believe. I am who I am. Sure that is subject to change, but guess who I confer with about that?

Those that live in my actual real life, that’s who!

(That was said in my best Junie B. Jones voice, and if you don’t know who that is then forgive me as I am knee-deep in her book series with my six-year old.)

I look to God and to those I have a trusted rapport with to make a change.

I have spent many years doing work to root myself in my eternal identity. My hope is found in Christ and who HE says I am. If I pray about a topic, do my research (real research, not a flood of opinion articles), and I have peace about a parenting method, schooling method, or heck the type of sunscreen I put on my kids, then I am okay with that. And I am okay with your choices too. I am not your judge, nor have I been called by God to declare to you what is okay for you to do as a mom. I am just not. If you are in my live circle of people and I feel an open door to have a respectful discussion about something, I’ll take it with careful consideration. We spend far too much time looking sideways at the other moms in our lives (both live and in social media circles) and tallying their wins and their losses and comparing them to our own. And I will be the first to admit I was a high offender of this practice. I was super insecure as a new mom. I did NOT want to mess this up, and if you and I were doing things differently, I calculated the wins and losses at night to make sure my kid was doing well (in comparison). I hate to think of the time I wasted worrying about how I stacked up.

To keep this from sounding like a rant in and of itself, I simply want to invite you to search out your true identity in Christ and spend more energy allowing Him to love on you. When you become aware of the love He has for you, most of the need to be right and the need to be heard on the interwebs fades a bit. If you have peace with your decision, be at peace. Don’t go trading it in on some typed-up debate between someone you haven’t seen in 12 years. Let them have their opinion. Pray for them and practice grace.

Here is my rule of thumb (and I am not perfect so I ignore this from time to time):

  1. If it is your strong opinion or the article really resinated with you, that’s great share.
    • Do your best to stay away from harsh debating. As you type back and forth are you staying kind? It is hard to read a person’s inflection in type so keep your emotions in check so you don’t get defensive.
  2. If someone else posts something that is the opposite of how you believe.
    • Just let it go. If they are a close (real-life) friend and you feel truly impressed to intervene in that area, do so, but proceed with caution. Otherwise, scroll on by.

We are all flawed, we are all getting it wrong in some area, and we are all a work in progress. We as moms love our kids more than we understand and it can make us crazy sometimes. I want to be known for being loving and encouraging more than I want to be known for my strong opinions and my debating skills. Sadly, I think I have a lot of work to do, but that’s okay, don’t we all!

The best news of all is that God’s love is not even a little bit swayed by my stink or my slightly-dressed up stink. It’s all stink compared to Him, but it was never a factor in His decision to love us. He loves us because of who He is. Your “good mom points” don’t mean squat when you get to the Pearly Gates. You get to enter Heaven by the amazing grace of Jesus Christ alone. That is what matters and that is what we need to be obsessed about. Our Savior and what HE has to say about ____________.

So my challenge today is to spend time soaking in your identity before you engage in online debate. Be love and be you, before you try to be right. When we take up the call to be the taste of Christ, too many of us feel the need to be that bitter spray you buy for animals to keep them from chewing on stuff. And people walk away with that scrunched-up look on their face that indicates we left a bad taste in their mouth. But if we choose to be love, we can be a cool drink on a hot day.

This is the kind of love we are talking about–not that we once upon a time loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clean away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

1 John 4:10 (MSG)

 

Is Love Winning in the Church?

islovewinning

Lately, my focus has drifted to how Christianity has come to be known as a religion. Furthermore, how did we become defined by ourselves and the world by the tasks we do (or don’t do). If you stopped someone on the street and simply asked them “What is a Christian?” what do you think they would say? If you asked a hundred individuals this same question, do you think the majority would rattle off a list of things that Christians (should) do? Or is is something that is simple?

Isn’t a Christian a follower of Christ?

Yet in the western culture (probably not exclusively, but I would hate to lump the whole world into something that I can only speak of for certain in the culture in which I live) we have all of these preferences and requirements within our church walls. We are afraid of tainting the integrity of our church culture so much that we have actually tainted our reputation of love. The intent of this trend was—I believe—humble and beautiful to start. But the Enemy in his cunning ways, has partnered with the church in the name of keeping pure. He has polluted the Church into genocide mentality of keeping out those who can’t live up to the standards of the ideal Christian. People are being cast aside for their dirty sins because somewhere along the line come as you are lost its importance.

Although this seems like I am hating on the Church, I am not. I LOVE church. I am a lifer. I was raised in church and for all its warts and scars, I find it to be one of my favorite places to be. But I am pursuing it with eyes wide open. No church is perfect. As long as people are leading people, it will be done with flaws included.

The coolest thing to me is that Jesus chooses to use broken people to lead broken people. I think it is to show off His glory, but I could be totally wrong. I mean if we succeed in life change at all, and we see people choose eternity with God through anything we do. Well if that doesn’t declare miracle at work I don’t know what does! And by our efforts I mean our actions coupled with God. Our efforts—in my mind—actually taint God’s perfect ways, yet He lets us be involved anyway.

This makes me think of when I let my kids cook with me. I can execute a recipe without their help at all. As a matter of fact, it will turn out better if I do not have to involve them in the preparation at all. But when I let them help, I risk mistakes and things not turning out the way they were supposed to. But the joy of letting them help and be involved in the process multiplies the joy of the whole project. See, we are God’s kids and he wants to let us help. Not because he needs our help, but He enjoys joining forces and doing it with us. The memories created and the intimate moments of coming alongside each other are priceless. They are the heart of God. Intimacy, co-creating, being WITH Him. He craves our relationship.

Which brings me back to the start. If you are following a religion, where is the fun in that? What is the purpose? I am a Christian because I fell in love with Jesus and have been eagerly trying to live a life that pleases Him. As I dive into scripture recalling the life of Jesus, love seemed to be the highest thing on His list of things to focus on. He even set love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength as the most important command. One of the key parts of loving God is allowing Him to love you. Opening your heart to His love will be the most life changing thing you ever do. I promise!

As the Church, we have work to do. But Jesus is patient and kind and cheering on our progress.

Wild and Free: Loving my Kids on Purpose

wild and free

Back to school. Return to routine. New chapters are beginning. We are in a completely new season of life at our house this August. For the first time everyone is going to school. My youngest will begin preschool in just a few short weeks and my middle kid started kindergarten. My oldest—a school veteran—is transitioning to a homeschool hybrid (school 2 days homeschool 3 days). Everyone is beginning a new chapter. The excitement of new beginnings is booming within the walls of our home. As a feeler, I am a but overstimulated and finding myself fighting the inkling of tears at the edges of my eyes as I process all that is going on in our lives. Newness abounds and God is growing each of us in some awesome ways!

As my middle kiddo, Rachel, embarked on full-time school, it left her younger sister, Lauren without her playmate. These two have created quite a bond over the last two years of being home together. At almost 4 and 6, they have learned to work together, share clothes, toys, and the iPad when given the chance.

The first week of school was only three days, but by Friday I was contemplating putting the youngest on the bus in place of her older sister. Lauren was driving me to the brink of insanity. She had been very destructive and reckless since the start of school. One day of odd behavior can easily be accredited to being tired or under the weather or something…but three days?! I was concerned we were entering a new phase of testing the boundaries. The timing was bad as I am trying to re-establish my school-year routines and get back to writing on a regular basis—re-training my almost four year old in the ways of our household was NOT on my to-do list! As the week drew to an end I was asking God for wisdom on how to handle the behavior she was exhibiting. My instincts said to bring down the gauntlet and punish her. She needed to know that her behavior will bring swift consequences. Although her behavior was not true to her character (in this extreme dose anyway) I wanted to pick up offense and begin seeing this as an act of defiance. Thankfully, I have wise friends on Facebook and as a reply to my post on putting Lauren on the bus in place of Rachel, a friend commented that when things change the younger ones are quick to test boundaries.

Aha!

A light bulb went off and I stopped plotting to parallel my punishment with her crimes. I spent time in prayer. When I began asking God what to do with Lauren, he said, “Go after her heart.” I felt like he showed me that she was missing her sister and at three (almost 4) she is not able to express the feelings bouncing around in her heart. She was feeling the shift and not handling it well. So on Friday night, I went after her heart.

I decided she needed some time with just me. I put her on the back of my bike and we took off on an adventure. We went to the local dollar store and got a ice cream treat from their cooler and enjoyed every little bite. Then, we biked to the park and played together. I watched her countenance change before my very eyes! On our 1.5 mile trek home, she was laying up against my back with her arms wrapped around my waist and she was repeating again and again, “I love you Mama. I just love you!”

Later that night, I was reflecting on the evening we had and I heard a little whisper of a lie creep in.

“Instead of punishing her you rewarded her. You showed her it’s okay to act the way she wants.”

Thankfully, I knew it to be a lie. I watched a little girl who was feeling overwhelmed with emotions and acting out, calm down and get a big dose of reality: she is loved. She needed to be reassured of her place in the family and that all the attention being put on the other two starting school was temporary. My response to her behavior needs to be through the lens of our relationship before it is put through the rigors of our rules.

This is a HARD truth for me to accept. This is completely opposite of how I was raised and how I have parented up until this summer. I am also not saying that consequences and punishment are not part of the parenting tool box that we tote around every day. However, I am trying to evaluate the situation more closely with the use of Holy Spirit when I can. I want to make a heart connection above all else when it comes to my kids.

We are still learning the flow of our new normal and it will change again in a few weeks when she starts school, but this little lesson will stay with me. When you have a chance to make a heart connection, do it! When behavior shifts, seek God’s wisdom and his perspective—there may be a underlying cause.

We are parenting to the Glory of God and He chose us in our imperfect places to shepherd souls into the future. He knows what He’s doing, even if we just don’t sometimes.

August. Bitter and Sweet, August. You give us a break and break our hearts as we know another year of learning is beginning and being taken away from our hands. I pray that as all my parent readers head into a new school year, you see with supernatural eyes all the things your kids are processing through. Change is different for each person, and even good change can be hard to process. Give grace in abundance and bathe their sweet little souls in prayer!

I just finished the book “Loving your Kids on Purpose” in the first week of August and this scenario was such a cool opportunity to begin to do things in a new and intentional way. I will give a full review of the book in the weeks to come!

Summer is a Time to Simmer

SummerisSimmer


As I wrap up my 4 week theme of “Summer is…” I hope you have enjoyed them. I have some talented friends when it comes to writing and although it is hard to follow their lead, I leave you with the final piece. Summer is now in it’s twilight week as we start school next Wednesday. I have already begun to work on homeschool days with my oldest and am trying not to think about the fact that my middle child is entering the world of Kindergarten…I swear I had these babies mere months ago! Our summer has been pretty awesome. Not because of any mega-extravagant thing we did, but because the days of daily naps died over the spring…it’s a life changer, people. We carpe’d the snot out of this summer! I was also in an interesting place in my journey with the Lord. This summer was about the simmer. The fall is going to bring some changes–some I know of and some I just feel in my spirit. Read below for more on the simmering summer and feel free to comment about what one word (or a few words, I know, one word requests just kill some of us) would you use to describe your summer?


I love to cook! I hate to clean it all up, but that is another post for another time. I am not much for baking, but dinner…savory, colorful dinner…oh yeah. I LOVE to get inspiration from a recipe and then make it my own. As a matter of fact, I have trouble following a recipe to a T (hence the I am not into baking thing). I always seem to put my own touch on whatever it is I am creating. Even when someone else has taken a lot of time and effort to put together a beautiful list of ingredients and a step-by-step process to get me from a package of chicken, herbs and veggies to a plate of perfection steaming in the center of my table, I still insert my own flair. It may be as simple as a few extra doses of a listed seasoning or a sprinkle of lemon juice at the end to brighten the overall flavor (I am a lemon enthusiast some might say).

One of my favorite things to make is soup. I make it every week in the cooler months and no two soups are identical. I like watching all the many ingredients come together in such culinary harmony. I often take little taste tests throughout the process and improve on the base flavor as I go. Then when it seems just right I let it simmer for 20-30 minutes (if I get a chance) before I serve it. In the simmer, all the individual ingredients get a chance to blend and decide on the overarching taste of the soup. Sure you still taste the individual components of the soup, but they fade to the background as the unified taste comes to the forefront. The individual breaks down to become the sum of the whole.

The home cooked goodness of a made-from-scratch soup just can’t happen instantly. I can’t stick all the chopped veggies and broth into a microwave and zap it into a simmered-to-perfection state. I can’t make changes and taste along the way. I would be stuck with whatever mush came out after my allotted time and rotations.

The simmer is the key. In the simmer things become clear, different flavors bond to create a new one. I am in a simmer season of life too. I have so many components of my life. They are all breaking down and melding to create the final product. I am learning to yield to the chef and accept any seasoning he want so throw in to enhance me.

The art of trusting him is what I am learning most right now. I am hungry for a new revelation and to experience more of his power in my life. The sticky part is accepting the challenges in my life that might bring about the revelation and deeper level that I am craving.

So what do you do in the simmer?

You talk to the chef.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

James 1:5

The nature of God is good. He is only light and there is no darkness in Him. If there are hard circumstances in your life you get to be assured of two things:

He did not cause them.

He wants to use them.

So in the simmer you wait, you ask for wisdom, you worship, and you listen. He has something for you. It may be a greater understanding of who He is. It may be an impartation of His power to work through you to conquer your circumstances. It may be a refinement of your character. It may be all of thee above. He is just that creative.

So what one word would you use to describe your summer?

Summer is a Season of Burnout

 

summer is burnout

Being a part of a writing community over the past few years has brought me in touch with some talented writers that I have never met in person. Michelle is one of those ladies. She is a Jesus-lovin Mom who works to bring Him glory in all she does. I asked if she would like to chime in on my Summer is series and she happily agreed to do so. I could definitely relate to her words and I hope they bless you and gently remind you to fix your eyes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith!



 

I wanted to run away, far far away. All of a sudden the scene from Shrek two and heading to the land of far far away seemed very appealing.
I cried at everything. My kids bickered at the silliest of things. I felt like I was in a trap and could not escape. My ministry felt like it was failing, my marriage was void of something. Everything wrong. The trap=Life.
After reaching out to friends in ministry, I reached out to my pastor. I’m so burnout! I just don’t know. I want to run away fast. It was then a dear friend in ministry overseas whom experienced the same feelings had written a blog post he directed me to.
The Holy Spirit spoke to me and awoke my heart so much after reading, I wasn’t alone. And her words shared why I was burnout in the first place.
Where is your focus? Who is your center? Kids, friends, husband? Who should it be? Always Jesus!
I spend the time in my ministry making sure the leaders are happy, doing everything I can appeasing them, NEVER to the Glory of God. No wonder I’m burnout. I am doing it to the Glory of Man, whom will always let you down! We are human. We don’t mean to let each other down, but the fall of man, doomed us to death, luckily we have Jesus!
Some notes I took from her post:
“When we put any other area as the main focus or center of our lives (kids, husband, friends) we are heading towards burnout. We can only take that path for so long before we realize we are deep in the forest that we don’t know the way back to the green pastures that God promised. “


Some things to ask yourself:

What occupies my thoughts most throughout the day?

For me it was making sure my kids were happy, despite the bickering they would do anyways no matter how much I tried to do things otherwise. Make sure my house was clean for my husband to come home happy. Make sure my friends are happy.

Where do I spend most of my time and energy?

Making other people happy. (Start to see the trend?)

How many times does someone else, or myself, determine my choices?

Um….See above.

Have I kept God the center of my life this past week?

I think you can see the answers to my above question and determine this answer.


 

Do you see where burnout comes from?
So what can we do now that we are already burnout?
Thank the God above for bringing you to this because you have now learned he is not the center and your focus needs to change! I was so freed, I became so grateful to be broken! We can take this time to shift focus and the rest I felt after learning this was amazing. Spend time with God, Let him direct all your paths! Not your kids, husband or friends or YOURSELF!
I pray this post blesses you and you give thanks to the one who breaks you to bring you closer to him!

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33