April 30, 2014

Steadfast and Firm


Hello friends…

It's been awhile since I've checked in here. Actually, I've checked in a bit and I can tell by my stats that you have as well… thank you for that, for reading and following along even when things grow quiet around here… but I haven't been writing much over the past few weeks for various reasons. My kids were out of school for spring break, so I took the week off to hang with them and enjoy the slower pace. Then, Easter came with hope and new life, but I got sick with a stubborn stomach bug that lasted over a week. And then, on top of that, life unraveled during those days in some ways that sent me scrambling for solid ground and looking to find my feet again.

Whew.

We never know what the days will hold, do we? We never know what's ahead, what's coming around the bend. We journey along and all seems smooth sailing until a fierce storm blows in and knocks us off course. I can't imagine my life without Jesus to guide me and lead me, to hold me steady when the winds howl and the ground shifts beneath me. He is my anchor, my one true constant.

Just days before Easter, before I got sick and life got super messy, Jesus gave me this verse… these beautiful, life-giving words that I've been clinging to and holding close ever since.


"I will have no fear of bad news; my heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord."
~ Psalm 112:7


I say them out loud when I'm folding clothes, and on the treadmill, and when I'm driving in my car. I say them silently in my heart and pray them through my mind as I chat with a friend, or walk the grocery aisles. They keep me focused. They give me context. They keep my eyes fixed firmly on Jesus, and they're so very true of my deepest heart, the way I want to live.

There's great power in the spoken word, in claiming truth over our hearts and lives. It's good for my heart to remind myself of what's true… to dwell on it, simmer in it, speak it aloud, and hold it close. And it's also very good as well to remind the enemy of what's true. To say outloud… "This is what's true. This is what I believe. This is what I'm claiming. This is my heart, and I make no agreement with anything else, anything contrary to this truth."




We have to fight for the life we long for, the life we so desperately prize. We live in a world at war… there is good and there is evil. There is God and there is Satan. We have to stand firm, guard our hearts, and set our minds on truth. It makes such a difference in the way we live, in the way our days play out. It's so incredibly worth the fight. 

Whatever it is that you're facing, my friend, and we all face something... claim what is true. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Stand steadfast and firm, trusting in him. You have nothing to fear. He will come for you. He always does. Just watch and see...

"Jesus, I love you. I worship you and give my life over to you. Every bit. Every part. All of it. I will have no fear of bad news because my heart is steadfast, firmly rooted in you. Anchored. Nailed down. Safe and secure. I trust you with all of my heart, with all of my life. I am yours."





"Let it be Jesus" by Christy Nockels, Kari Jobe, and the Passion Band




This song is currently playing on repeat, often and always, around our house these days. It's lyrics are my heart and I sing them loud, though not well, and I hold them close and claim them as truth. What are you claiming as truth these days, friends? How is God speaking to you and coming for your heart? I would love to hear...



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April 11, 2014

Stop with the Rules

I can be my own worst critic sometimes, and to be perfectly honest, no one is probably harder on me than I am on myself.

YUCK.

I hate even admitting that... to myself and to you, and realizing there's a lot of truth to it makes me sad. Jesus isn't even as hard on me as I am on myself. In fact, he's not hard on me at all. His heart towards me is mercy and grace and love... 

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." 
~ Romans 8:1-2

His voice is never condemning or shaming or blaming. He never says, "Get your act together. Now." like I sometimes say to myself. He's kind and gracious and patient and forgiving. Constantly and continually. All the time. He doesn't demand things from me, and get frustrated when I don't follow through. He doesn't hand me a list every morning and say, "Do these things. Get this stuff done. Live this way… and you'll be good with me." 

Nope. 

He doesn't do that. 

Oh, but I do that to myself.

(Insert pause, deep exhale, and sigh)

And that is so very sad… so terribly flawed and wrong, and it keeps me from experiencing and living in the freedom that Jesus gave his life for, the freedom he longs for me to know and experience. It keeps me from resting in his love and knowing his delight, and it causes me to strive and arrange and perform, which looks only like bondage and absolutely nothing like "just being."

So...

Stop with the rules, Jenny.




Enough already. Stop handing yourself a mental list of, "If I do these things today and act this way and look this way and pray this way and live this way and parent this way and wife this way and all the other ways, then I will be happy and good with myself." God does not love and accept you based on how well you perform. He loves and accepts you just as you are. Not as you could be, would be, should be, or will be. Just as you are. Right here. Right now. Today. Simply because you are his. Stop with the rules and the lists, and love and accept yourself just as Jesus does. Kindly give yourself the grace to be and the room to become.


"Come Jesus... I lay down the rules and the crazy lists that make me crazy, and I repent of my striving and arranging and performing ways. I welcome your love and mercy and forgiveness and grace. Heal my heart and set me free in ways I have yet to know, so I can run with abandon the race you've set before me. Living freely and just being."



It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (…and that includes the mental list of rules that we heap on our own heads and hearts.)
~ Galatians 5:1




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April 4, 2014

Making the Most

Spring is finally springing here in Northern Virginia and it's simply the most glorious thing!

I'm afraid we thought it would never come… that winter would never release it's strong, firm grip and we'd be shoveling snow, bundling up in coats, and turning up the heat forever.

But, alas, the warmer days are here, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and birds are singing, and I'm so deeply grateful because WHEW… it was a long winter!

Unfortunately, though, along with this much awaited and hoped for season… with the budding of trees and the blooming of flowers… comes that powdery, sticky, yellow dust that lingers in the air and covers your car and causes headaches and scratchy throats and itchy eyes and lots of sneezing.

Lots and lots of sneezing.

Every time I blow my nose or get a sinus headache, I try and remember just how very happy and grateful I am that spring is here. I can handle the runny nose and the headaches and the itchy eyes, but I can't handle the cold, dreary days of winter any longer. Not even for one day. I am so completely done.

I don't think I've ever been so happy in all my life to see spring.





But spring's pollen is working hard to get the better of me and I woke up this morning with a raging headache. I took two Sudafed and two Advil to try and ward it off and while I stood at the dryer folding clothes and holding up my head, I remembered the verse from Ephesians that says "make the most of every opportunity." (5:16)

How could I make the most of this headache? How could I push through the pain and enjoy the day? I knew I was pretty worthless until it passed. I wouldn't be working out, folding more laundry, or cleaning up the breakfast dishes until I felt better. But I didn't want my day to get tanked... didn't want to waste it away waiting for the headache to pass, and so there were those words whispered to my heart by the One who knows me well, loves me dearly, and cares about all the little details of my life.

"Make the most of every opportunity…"

So for the last several hours, I've been doing just that…. making the most. I put on George Winston's "Winter to Spring" album, lit a "Spring Blossoms" candle, got comfy on the sofa, and started writing and reading and commenting and posting and texting and it's been such a rewarding, enjoyable morning. I've gotten so much done, and now that the pain is fading and manageable, I can move on to tackle the dishes, fold the laundry, and squeeze in a workout.

I love how Jesus is always so present with us. How he knows all the events of our days. How he sees and knows US. He whispers to our hearts the words we need to hear, and he guides us and leads us in all things… in every opportunity.

Making the most.

May I have the strength and grace to live that way each and every day.




"So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 
Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days." 
~ Ephesians 5:15-16

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."
~ Philippians 4:19

"But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head."
~ Psalm 3:3



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