Sunday, December 4, 2022

Slowing Down



Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with a friend and coworker. 

I think she spent somewhere between 30 min. and an hour in the chair opposite my desk.  She started out with small talk and asking me about me.  Then, talk changed to her life.

I sat and listened.  It was good to see her share and exhale.  I knew she needed it.  

One of the things she mentioned was slowing down.  At our high school jobs, we rarely have time to sit still, exhale, or even THINK most of the time.  It can be an exhausting job, but it is always still rewarding helping young adults and sometimes troubled adults heal and find their pathways.

I got what she was saying.  I face the same things and obstacles in my job, which I will say right now, is not nearly as "giving" as hers.  You get in the car after maybe a 12-hour day and just want to exhale.  You want to put on your music or maybe just remain silent and enjoy the quiet of your 30-min. ride home.  You get home and you just want to REST and not give anymore.

But - so often - that is not how life works.  People want to talk to you; people need you.  And so you - sometimes begrudgingly - "give."  But not so much out of a grateful heart, which - of course - leads to hurt feelings and more giving you have to do.  You end up crawling into bed at night exhausted and wondering who you are.

You lose time at the Cross.  You lose yourself.  What about those side businesses you created?  They are not flourishing.  What about those friends that have messaged and are waiting for an answer?  They are not flourishing.  What about all the creative ideas God is inspiring you to do?  They are not flourishing.

It is so very important to sit STILL and hear God.  Find yourself, and I mean this in a non-New Age way.  If we are not STILL and LISTEN, we will not flourish and our time at the Cross and with those we love and the ideas God has given us will die.  They will never flourish.

This seems to be a common theme in my life the last few days.  I need that time ALONE to reconnect to my own spirit as well as take some time to sit at the Cross.

Fast forward to this morning.  Imagine my surprise when I found this devotion.  I'm going to end here by sharing it in its entirety.  I hope you take the time to LISTEN to this, read it carefully, and then make sure you are carving out time in your life to sit at the Cross and also to find yourself.  Life is exhausting.  You simply cannot give all the time.  You must have times of stillness, quietness, and being alone to reconnect to your Spirit and to the very GREAT Spirit of God - the Holy Spirit.

Happy Sunday to anyone reading this.  I hope your day is good and kind and fruitful.

UPDATE: I wrote this before church earlier this morning.  I got here to church, and the Worship Leader stopped in between songs to talk about the "busy-ness" of the Season and how we should slow down.  Fast forward to the Preacher's message - he is preaching on slowing down and focusing on the word PACE.

I think God is speaking.  Are we listening? 🎄❤️



"Slow It Down

Everyone knows morning comes first, and then evening. Right? So I was surprised to read in Genesis 1:5 that the order was, in fact, reversed: “And there was evening, and there was morning.” God started with evening, a time of rest, and a day followed, in which he continued to create.

We live in a culture where we work all day, and then eventually we might take time to rest. To order our days the way God does—with rest as a priority—is a challenge.




I learned to prioritize God’s way when, at age 32, I was diagnosed with cancer. I told the doctor I didn’t have time for cancer, but cancer didn’t consult my schedule.

My life changed while going through treatment as I put aside activities that previously had seemed vital. Out of that difficult time came a new list of priorities. At the top of the list: to balance my life.

I learned to climb between the sheets and put aside my worries—to rest my body and mind. To slow down when life became crazy and assess what is important. I began to see evening as the first part of my day.

This concept changed my life, physically and spiritually. Recently I had two speaking events sandwiched together. As the dates approached, time with my heavenly Father became “evening.” In preparation for my events, I listened to the heart of my Father instead of going over my notes. Out of that rest sprang fruitful ministry during the day.

Learning to live with evening, or rest, as a top priority is an ongoing process. Many times I ask God to help me reprioritize, make time for physical rest and put “evening” back where it belongs.

By T. Suzanne Elle"

Friday, December 2, 2022

Friends & Mentors

 


"Heavenly Father, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17), please send godly mentors and friends to my husband. You have placed us on earth in the context of community because it is our interaction with each other that promotes our growth and helps to develop our character. As Your Word says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” I praise You for the wisdom of relationships and thank You for the godly men You have put in my husband’s relational circle throughout his life. Please deepen these relationships and bring more spiritual men to him in order to mentor him into a person who exhibits Christ’s character in all he does."

Use that prayer from a devotional this morning to apply to your Partner...or to anyone in your life really.

I love the line that says, "You have placed us on earth in the context of community because it is our interaction with each other that promotes our growth and helps to develop our character.  I praise You for the wisdom of relationships and thank You for the godly men You have put in my husband’s relational circle throughout his life."

I have to take the time out to say this morning that without my best friends (you know who you are) I could not have grown and developed character over the last month.  I was granted their wisdom and, just basically, their love and support.  I was very thankful for the godly women God put in my "relational circle" as this prayer calls it.

"Gracious Lord, please surround my husband with men and mentors who guide him in the ways of wisdom, right living, kindness, commitment, and a deep love for You and for his family. I pray that You bless him with like interests with these men and provide them with learning experiences that they can share together, as well as occasions of fun and fellowship. Help me to be willing to share my husband’s emotions and time so that he can develop and sustain relationships with these men, and I pray that the richness of their relationships will overflow into our marriage and into our home."

I know not everyone reading this post has a husband.  I don't.  But I can use this prayer to pray for my Partner and even for my close inner circle of girlfriends.

Throughout the past month, the Lord granted me time alone to find myself.  Time to grow in closeness to the Cross.  Time to develop deeper friendships with other women in my life I had not known on other levels (other than where our paths crossed each day).  My time of great sorrow miraculously bloomed into a time of independence, growth, maturity, strength, and new friendships.

I am thankful for women and mentors that guided me, granted wisdom, performed acts of service, and showed kindness and a deep love of the Cross as well.  I am thankful for reconnections with old friends.  Travels to cities I would not have ventured off to before.  And spend the night parties I should have had a long time ago.  What an amazing time of growth and learning.

My pathway is not over.  I am still traveling.  I do not intend to abandon the doors God has opened.  I will be traveling back to the cities I live far from.  I will be keeping my friendships close.  I will be having more spend-the-night parties.  I love the love of other women and close friends.  We need and should be mindful of these people and relationships in our lives.

Here is something that Lysa TerKeurst said that struck with me, "Our hope can’t be tied to whether or not a circumstance or another person changes. Our hope must be tied to the unchanging promise of God. We hope for the good we know God will ultimately bring from our situation, whether the good turns out to match our desires or not. And sometimes that takes a while. The process will most likely require us to be persevering. Patient. Maybe even longsuffering."

How true is this!

Your HOPE cannot be tied to a PERSON and their personality, true self, or actions.  It must be tied to GOD.  You can have pain and anguish and hurt and disappointment in people, and in the very same breath, have HOPE for the GOOD we know God is bringing our way and our situation at some point in time.  That GOOD may not match what you have in your head, and that is KEY to remember through your valley.  God ALWAYS brings the GOOD.  Just keep in mind that what He brings may not match what you were thinking.  Keep clinging to the Cross and keep praying!  The GOOD always comes. Be cognizant enough to recognize it when the valley starts to level out and you suddenly realize you are no longer in it; you are now on level ground again.  THIS is your good my sister.




Take the time today to read Psalm 40.  Whether you are in the valley today or level ground.  It is proof that people have already traveled your road and are still traveling it today, 1000s of years later.

"...waited patiently for the Lord...He heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit...and set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth."

Proof that those valleys eventually become level ground again.

Here is one of my favorite Gospel singers, Charlotte Ritchie, singing one of my favorite hymns, "We are standing on holy ground..."



Happy Friday my friends.  The weekend is here.  Pull out the holiday decorations and celebrate where you feet rest today.  Valley or level ground, God is standing beside you.

I love you.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Rebuilding

 



I found this prayer today in my morning devotional.

Devotionals and journaling are a bit tougher now that I'm back at work and off the Thanksgiving break schedule.  I miss waking up, brewing coffee, and journaling.

I am trying to make a new schedule because this journaling thing is so cathartic to and for me.

This morning, I cracked open my devotional and I read this prayer:

"Heavenly Father, disagreements are bound to happen in our relationship. Conflict is a normal part of being human. Rather than pray to avoid disagreements, God, I ask that You equip us to handle our disagreements with honor and respect for each other. Help our marriage to reflect Your instruction found in Ephesians 4:29-32: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” I praise You for giving us the blueprint for how to communicate in our marriage and in our home so that You are always pleased."

Gosh, I love that.  So many good nuggets of information inside there:

  • Conflict is normal
  • Don't avoid disagreements; get equipped for them
  • Honor and respect each other through an argument
  • God gives us the blueprint on how to communicate between each other
Wow.

I love that because it reflects what I have experienced this weekend.  On Sunday, I was able to take my dog for a walk in the park accompanied by my Partner. 

It was a time of openness, being raw, and being transparent.  Love expressed.  Anger expressed as well.  Loss and confusion on each party's part shared.  And, most importantly, apologies and forgiveness offered and accepted on each side.

Honestly, I could not have asked for a better representation of God's Word or a textbook on relationships.

I am very blessed to have a person in my life that respects God's Word, tries hard to reflect and follow that Word, and that loves me, my family, and my world.  I can only hope to try and be half the person they are.  What I lack, my Partner holds.  What my Partner lacks, I think I hold.  Strength and balance between the two of us for sure.

I am not perfect.  My Partner is not perfect.  Together, we surely are not perfect.  We are just trying to read a Book and follow it's Principles and direction.

One thing I have learned the past 20 days is that I am loved.  Loved by a Creator God, loved by coworkers who reached out privately, loved by friends that showed up and gave of themselves and their talents, and loved by family members that all reached out and supported.

I found out I am stronger than what I thought I was.  That I don't need a Partner, and that not needing a Partner helped me break free of strongholds I have always held on tightly to.  Twenty days granted me a closeness to the Cross.  Twenty days helped me heal and find myself.  Twenty days made me stronger so that I could be a better person for my Partner, if he returned.

My journey is certainly not over.  I'm still counting the days, as our relationship is still not fully restored.  It is a tentative work in progress.  I sort of think it should always be like that.  I don't want to be fully confident in another person again.  I want to know I can do life on my own if I have to.  That I can go to the Cross and be restored and strengthened.  Be taken care of.

I have so much to learn in life, and I wish I had learned all these lessons in my 20s and not now, in my 50s.  But I guess this is my path and I have to walk it.  Maybe my path will inspire other paths - others in their 20s that can learn from where I have walked.

Here is another great prayer - not only for marriage or dating relationship conflicts but also for conflicts that arise within your family or friendships.  May I always remember this (although my memory these days is not what it used to be) for my conflicts in the future:

"Gracious Lord, let the words of my mouth and the words of my husband’s mouth bring life to each other rather than death. Words are powerful and so are our tone and body language. I ask that You give us examples in the lives of godly couples to see what healthy communication in the midst of conflict is to look like, especially if we have not witnessed it before. Please help us not to shut down or run from disagreements either. You tell us not to let the sun set on our anger, so please give us a willingness on both our parts to resolve our disagreements in a timely, respectful, and kind manner."

If there is one thing I have learned this morning and over the last 20 days, it is this - be open and transparent in your relationships (all of them).  Love with your words, and do not use them as weapons.  Hold others higher than yourself and cling to the Cross with all your hurts, disappointments (in life and with people), and celebrations.  Jesus will bring you through!