Think Carefully about YOUR Ways

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Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas on Pexels.com

I admit it, I have been down and discouraged lately about my health and my weight. In my mind I have tried and failed over and over again. I have asked myself why things aren’t working and have lied to myself to feel like I was working really hard. I felt that I was asking for God’s help and nothing was coming of it. With all my hard work it must not be me causing the downfall of my healing journey so why isn’t God answering?

This morning I was given a healthy dose of truth and the truth ALWAYS sets us free.

I opened my Bible to the Book of Haggai and began reading chapter one. It was painfully obvious that I was being given an answer to my desperate pleas for my health and my weight to change.

Haggai had prophesied the rebuilding of the temple. He oversaw the rebuilding. I imagine He spent time encouraging God’s people to rebuild God’s temple, especially after they had been freed from exile. In the beginning they were filled with vigor and built the foundation and the alter but then discouragement began to spill into their spirits. They became derailed by a lack of focus. After two years, they left the temple to sit while they focused on other things. They had excuses, but the one that truly caught my attention was in v.2 “the time has not come”. They had determined in their minds that the time was not right, God’s timing was not here so they didn’t need to work on it.

I am sure they had some great reasons to feel that God’s timing was not there yet. I am sure the work was very hard. They were broke. (Haggai 1:6) They suffered crop failures and drought. (Haggai 1:10-11) Enemies were resisting. (Ezra 4:1-5) and of course the all time favorite excuse of any human being: they fondly remembered the easier times in the past.  In other words, by speaking against God’s timing they were rationalizing the many reasons they didn’t need to work on the temple.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Action expresses priorities” and in this case, as is usually with all cases, the action exposed the priorities of God’s people. They were more concerned with their own homes (v.3) than they were with God’s house. As a result, nothing was filling the God-shaped void in their lives (v.6) and they were unfulfilled. All the hard work they had put into their homes and their land was for very little return (v.9). Their priorities were way out in left field and no where close to hitting a home run.

I found truth in the command God give in verses 5 and 7, “Think carefully about your ways.”  God’s people should have found no rest until God’s work was prosperous and they should have been willing to sacrifice their own discomfort to make it so. In verse 8 God tells them to do the work and He will be pleased and glorified. When God is pleased we reap reward and we see God’s hand working diligently in our lives. God was waiting for their participation and when it wasn’t there He caused a drought to get their attention. (v. 10, 11)

Think carefully, my daughter, about your ways. Where have your priorities been? 

It was like a major mic drop moment for me as I sat there soaking in the truth. Clarity, although quite difficult to accept, began to flood my mind.  The truth is, my priorities have been off. Healing begins with God and requires our participation. Yes, God performs miracles, and there are also times that He requires our participation. Participation that keeps priorities straight and a heart that  understands no one else can do this but me. God will heal. God will guide. God will provide. He wants my participation and is waiting on me to get started. The drought I have been in with. my health and my weight loss and many other things has been brought on by my priorities being out of sync.  It’s time to put God first and let Him be glorified and in that process healing will come.

Let’s talk excuses now. I often say I cannot eat healthy foods because I do not have enough money to do that. I often say I cannot exercise because today I feel sick and am in pain. I say I cannot focus because I feel overwhelmed. I have a list a mile long. Do you? The answer to all my excuses is priorities. Instead of spending on the clothing that I hope not to fit in because I will lose weight, I could spend that money on healthy foods. Instead of thinking I cannot exercise because I can’t do it like the girls on Instagram, I could do what my body allows. I can do something to exercise even if it only starts out for 5 minutes. Instead of laying on the couch watching tv all day because I am so overwhelmed, I could pick up my Bible and get some focus. I can gain strength in God’s word. I can find direction in God’s word. I can find hope in God’s word. I can find LIFE in God’s word.  It’s time to put away the excuses and work on God’s temple. I am God’s temple. You are God’s temple. It is time to make God’s temple a priority and glorify Him with the one and only temple we have been given!

Vulnerability in the Middle

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I found myself imagining the Israelites as they stepped between the raging waters as shared in Exodus. Exodus 14:29 tells us that “the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on both sides.”  I imagine it was amazing to see but quite unnerving to participate in. They had no clue when the waters would fall. In those moments, walking between the waters of the Dead Sea they were at their most vulnerable and had only their trust in God to see them through to the other side.

Isn’t that what happens to us the in the middle?  When we are in the middle of suffering and no matter which side we look  are walls that seem to want to crash down on us we are forced to allow Jesus into our vulnerability and trust that He has our lives in His hands. In the middle isn’t always pretty. In the middle can be messy. It can be difficult. It can be beautiful or it can be devastating. It can be painful or joyous. The middle is where the meat of life is found. It is where everything is at stake. It is where we are formed and made for more in His glory. It is also where we find ourselves at the peak of our vulnerability.

At the peak of our vulnerability Jesus wants to meet us and get us through to the other side and when we get there, if we have trusted in Him, we find that it is better than we ever could have imagined.  Right now I am at the peak of my own vulnerability. We are in the middle of our adoption journey and I find each moment of the day comes with different emotions. I am trying to hear God’s voice but the waves of doubt, fear and uncertainty are roaring on either side of me and I am in the middle: vulnerable and scared. The need is so great for families that it has overwhelmed my empathetic soul.

Today, I looked around and found myself angry and frustrated. Pushed over the edge by the words of another so much that I wanted to give up but then I heard God say “Be Still”. As I sat I was taken to Exodus and the splitting of the waters. I was reminded that the minute they stepped into the middle they were vulnerable but their trust in God was greater. I have to trust. I stepped into the middle and now I must trust the process. I must trust that the waters will not crash down. I cannot give them a voice louder than God’s.  I have to stand, in the middle, and zone out the waves to allow God’s voice to be heard trusting that moving forward will bring something so beautiful that I never could have imagined how wonderful it will be.

If you are in the middle, trust God. He is leading you toward a future that will go beyond anything you can imagine!

Struggling with 50

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To be honest, I am struggling with turning 50. Im not there yet. I am 47 but the idea of 50 has been an issue since I turned 45. I started feeling out of sorts. Like I didn’t fit in. Im no longer young and I am also not old. I’m in the middle and the middle is not comfortable. It’s the most uncomfortable space I have been in because my youth is gone and I am facing old age. I wouldn’t call it a midlife crisis because I don’t feel like I am in a crisis, maybe a midlife awakening. I am realizing things about life that I never thought of before. I am seeing things much more differently than I did as a younger woman. I am feeling the depths of life changes and how they mold us into the human beings we are meant to be.

Right now I am standing at an edge looking into the unknown just as I have in the past yet this unknown feels more important. It feels like it really needs to mean something. It feels like my opportunity to “do it right” and really make an impact in this world. How big of an impact really is up to God, but now, in this moment of my life as I stand at the edge ready to dive in, I feel the urgency to reinvent myself into a new woman God can fully use for His glory.  This new season of life just doesn’t seem to be a “me” season, but rather a “HIM” season and that feels good.

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But, again if I am to be honest, I am mourning the loss of my youth. There were so many mistakes I made that I wish I could change, but I can’t go back. There are so many moments that I cherish: having my babies, watching them grow, time with loved ones that have long since passed to Heaven. I don’t want to let go because it has made me the woman I am now. Every heartache, every tear, every laugh…they are all a part of me and even though I went through a lot in my youth, I love my life now and I don’t want to watch it end as quickly as it has taken for me to get where I am.

I guess I am mostly afraid that the last amazing half of my life will go just ask as quickly as the first half.

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So what is a woman to do? I don’t want to be one of those mid-life crisis women. Instead, I want to enjoy a mid-life level up. I want to take a good look at the past 40 years and determine what aspects weren’t so great and then I want to transform them. I want to renew things like my health, my spirituality and my relationship with others. I want to take time to be still, truly still and enjoy my surroundings. I want to walk barefoot in the grass, take up running again and enjoy being the free spirited woman that I always have been. I want to read my Bible every day and soak in all that I can so that I can pass it on to others and live my life fully in His grace. I want a deeper relationship with Christ, much deeper.

The best part? I can. I can reinvent myself. I can let go of past strongholds and just live free from anxiety, fear or regret. I can be who I want to be and I can step into a whole new level of living in Christ. The reality is, I would have never figured this out in my 20s or even my 30s. I have figured it out now, in my 40s standing in this big empty space called “the middle”. I believe it has felt empty because I now have a new canvas on which to create the life I truly want to live so today is a celebration of the renewing of my life.

Cheers to the next level!!! I suspect it will be amazing!

WHOLEness | The Cross is Enough

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Integrated Wellness begins within the soul. We cannot heal if we do not include all aspects of our lives and the soul is the biggest, yet most neglected, aspect of our lives.It is the soul that is damaged by hurtful words. It is the soul that is guarded when “enough is enough.” It is the soul that aches when loss occurs and it is the soul that disengages when trauma invades.

In essence, our soul is our everything here on earth. It is who we are. It is where our thoughts and our beliefs reside. It is the light within us and when we leave this earth, it is the only part of us that lives eternally.

It is time to think in terms of our souls when we seek wellness. Our souls play a significant part in our health.  Our thoughts determine our healing. If we truly believe in what we are seeking then we will see true healing. For example, a sinus infection can be treated with antibiotics but it can also be treated with essential oils, food and rest.  If we believe that only an antibiotic can heal the infection then all the essential oils in the world will not heal the infection. If we have a true belief in the healing benefits of oils, then we will see healing from the oils.  The soul is a powerful aspect of our healing.

What happens when the soul is damaged? When pain and suffering invade? The hurt doesn’t even need to be of traumatic magnitudes to invade and darken the light of ones soul. A simple negative remark can cut deep. The soul is also them out delicate of our beings. It has to be protected.

How can we protect our soul when we cannot control the environment around it?  The cross. The man who died on that cross.  Jesus Christ. Our soul protector and healer.  Faith in His abilities. A deep understanding that even our soul crushing encounters are a part of the greatness and will of our Father God.

When hurt invades our souls we will feel it. There is no getting around the human design of pain and sorrow. We will cry. We will grasp our chest as we cry out “why?” We will fall on our knees in despair but we have a choice when we have the cross. With Jesus Christ we can forgive and heal. We can see others through His eyes and find understanding and sympathy. We can seek to love even when we are not l loved in return. We can look past judgement to see the hurt, anger, or jealousy to see the soul of another. We can be free to return light to our souls because He is the light.

In the midst of a hurting soul one thing remains true to the end of time: the cross is enough. Today, let it be so. This week, let it be so. Let the cross be enough and see the changes it will bring to your soul and to your health and wellness. Healing begins at the cross.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

Falling Apart Yet Held Together

 My life is a hot mess at any given time of the day. Hell it’s a mess even in my sleep and if you were able to join in my dreams you would see the truth to that statement. I do not have it all together. I fall apart on a regular basis because I have a damaged heart. My soul has been burdened with so many heavy weights in this world that I often reflect on how I have survived as long as I have. The answer?  God.

There is no strength left in me. I am tired. I am worn.  My heart hurts at the sufferings I see in my world. I strive for goodness and see less and less of it in others. My peace waivers and my soul aches for unity and love to flood my fellow man. I work hard to show that love to others and some receive it while others stab my words with daggers flying from their tongues like warriors of discontent. Its easy to feel the glow of love but it is devastating to feel the blows of negativity.

 Even in the mundane aspects of life the devil seeks to destroy my joy. He takes the daily joys of motherhood, friendship, and family to dark places in an effort to slowly scrape away the bonds so lovingly created and gifted by God. But God. But God. But God.

God has already gone before all of Satan’s attacks. God has held everything together from the beginning. ( Colossians 1:17) He is El Shaddai, the God of sufficiency and almighty power. In Him there is no sting in death, no suffering in sorrow and peaceful, joyous living in the treacherous trenches of daily living here on earth.

 In Him the devils advances are nothing more than an annoying mosquito bite that aggravates temporarily but disappears without any more thought. In Him, strength returns with a flood of fury, peace encompasses our lives bit by beautiful bit, and day by day our resilience is a glorious example of His everlasting love.

There is no need for fear. There is no room for doubt and negativity when the doors to our heart and mind are open to God’s unfailing word and never-ending grace and mercy. He is the healer of all hurts. He is the army that destroys the devil’s minions. He is the power and the glory that heals all of the earth. Negativity has no place here. Satan has no place here. Only God. Only God.

We will have days where we feel misunderstood, shaken to our core and beat down by the evils in this world. There is no question about that. There are days that, in my imperfection, I am falling apart yet His Word is the glue that holds my fallen mind, body and soul together when I feel like falling apart.

Are you falling today? Will you let Him hold you together?  No matter where you are and how dark it feels, pick up the Bible and see light. The light is there, you just have to seek it.

Praying For Answers | Meditating His Word

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I have been overly stressed about our adoption lately. It might be because we are at the end of the process and are about to open. Maybe it is my impatience getting to me at the end of a long process. I’ve been through this process twice in 2 years: once in MS and now here in AR. It is taxing and so very difficult. Especially when you get where I am now. We have inquired about several kiddos. We are open to whomever God puts in our home but in my chaos I have struggled in my prayer and began depending on myself and came close to sidelining ( at least I hope it isn’t) a placement that we have been praying on for 7 months now. Such a lesson in staying close to Jesus, especially in times of great transition like we are going through. This morning I panicked and thought “How will we choose? what if we are chosen for more than one child?” I prayed. I spent quiet time with the Lord and this afternoon He answered.

He gave me a gentle reminder that the best thing I can do is follow the example of Jesus when He made decisions. Before selecting his 12 disciples Jesus “went out to the mountain to pray and all night He continued in prayer with God.” ( Luke 6:12 )  I may not be selecting disciples but I am making a lifelong decision that will change the life of a child and my entire family. It is important that who we choose is in line with God’s will for our family. I want the child that enters our home to be chosen by God so I want to be led in this decision. Jesus knew that He had to step away from the chaos and find a quiet place where He could hear God, where He could come to Him in prayer and petition His guidance.

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I need to do the same.

I cannot make right choices in the middle of loud chaos that keeps circling me like a tornado waiting to tear everything apart in just a few seconds so this evening I will retreat. I don’t have a mountain to go to but I do have a nice quiet bedroom that is separate from the rest of the house. Just as Jesus did, I will retreat and I will pray. I will pray all night. I will pray until I hear God tell me to take a break. I will pray. I will listen. I want more than anything for this to be God’s choice because His choices are always good. I know when the choice was His that there will be strength, redemption and love in all that comes in our future together.

No matter what decision you are facing, learn a lesson from Jesus and retreat to hear God guide your way. His way is never wrong. It may be tough, but it is what He has called you to do. It will have good moments and challenging moments, but all moments will be blessed with His presence.

And in it all…..God is so very good.