Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Simplify Part II

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23

God has been whispering the same word to me for months. Simplify. Last fall, it began with purging possessions; donating all those things that I was holding on to just in case I need them later, and blessing others who need them now.

But that wasn’t enough.

God continued to whisper, “simplify.” As I’ve been seeking Him over the past two weeks during the fast, the whisper turned to a shout. SIMPLIFY. And this time it wasn’t possessions. It was my schedule.

Like Craig talked about this weekend, I too bought into the idea that more is better. My days and weeks and months were filled. Filled with play dates. Filled with opportunities to minister to other women. Filled with time responding to emails. Filled with ministry. Even though each of these things is good, God was telling me to cut back.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23

I was doing a lot of things. But I wasn’t doing them well. Every area of my life was getting shortchanged. Because I was spread too thin. I was not able to do them with all my heart. I was not able to do them with the fervor that those in my life deserve, that the Lord deserves.

So, once again, I simplify my life.

Instead of filling my days with play dates, I will be filling them with hours of intentionally pouring into my children. Instead of ministering to several other women, I will be ministering to just a few. Instead of spending time responding to emails, I will be spending time with my husband. In this season, my family is my ministry, and I desire to work for them with all my heart.

What is God telling you to cut back? How can you simplify your life?

Heavenly Father, thank you that you speak to us. Thank you that you see areas of our life that need to change, and love us enough to reveal them to is. Lord I pray that we have teachable spirits, and that as you show us areas of improvement, we walk in obedience, regardless of how difficult it is. I love you Lord.

A New Day

“I know I still make mistakes, but you have new mercy for me everyday. Your love never fails.”

-Your Love Never Fails, Jesus Culture

The new year often brings new beginnings. Lists of resolutions and promises of doing things differently. I love the energy and hope of having a fresh start, the beauty of a clean slate. But we don’t have to wait for a new year. As children of God, we are not bound by worldly time. Although New Years is a time when we are more aware of new beginnings, every day has the same potential.

"The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning." Lamentations 3:22, 23

What an amazing God we serve. A God who gives us the opportunity for a new start every day. A God of grace, who loves us where we are. A God of hope, who sees the beauty and potential in us. A God who is faithful, when life is unsure. A God who is unchanging, when the world waivers. A God who is merciful, when we are overwhelmed.

Today is a new day. Today is a day for a new beginning. Today is an opportunity to see God’s faithful love. What is going on in your life that you need to lay down before God and receive his mercy?

Heavenly Father, you are good. You are faithful. You are gracious. You are merciful. Thank you that you know the depths of me and love me anyway. Thank you that you will walk along side me as I lay down anything in my life that doesn’t glorify you; because I know Lord, that I can not do it by myself. Thank you that every day Is a new day with You. I love you sweet Jesus.

Verse for the Year

As the year comes to a close, and a new one is about to begin, many people have New Year's resolutions on their mind. While I have several goals for the upcoming year as well, my “verse for the year” is what is pressing on my heart.

I got the idea from a sweet friend. She begins seeking God as the year comes to a close, asking Him what truth from his word He would have for her for the upcoming year. I loved the idea! So I too began asking Him what verse He has for my life in 2012.

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 NLT

"In Hebrew, the word ‘generosity’ literally means to saturate with water, a symbol of life -- to overflow in a way that brings life to people." Amazing. Through giving, we can bring life to others. Not just through financial generosity, but by being generous with our time, with our prayers, with our wisdom.

As the new year approaches, I encourage you too to seek God. Enter 2012 expectant and ready for what God is going to do in you and through you. What is His verse for your upcoming year?

Unspoken Prayer

There she stood on the porch with a platter of cookies. I couldn’t believe it. I suddenly felt overwhelmed by just how good our God is.

He is our provider. He knows our needs. He is faithful.

It was the last day of the month. We live by a strict budget, which means that sometimes at the end of the month I’m putting together very creative meals. But on this day, in addition to creative meal

planning, I was also supposed to provide dessert for a potluck. Unfortunately the cake I baked that morning was a complete flop, and I was left with an empty pantry and no dessert.

But there she stood. The answer to my unspoken prayer. The proof that God does provide. A beautiful example of how He uses us as vessels of His goodness in others’ lives.

While two dozen cookies may not seem like a lot to you. To me they were a loving hug from my Maker. They were a soft whisper that He truly does know and care about my needs, big and small. They were an opportunity to praise Him.

“Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.” Matthew 6:32.

He knew that I had a need. A need that I was stressed about, yet thought was too insignificant to pray about. But it wasn’t insignificant to Him. He cared about my need because He loves me. Because He knows my innermost being. Because He is good.

What needs do you have that you think are too insignificant? What are you stressed about?

Know this sweet sister, nothing is too big or too small for our God. Go to Him. Trust in Him. He knows your needs. He cares about your needs. He loves you.

Heavenly Father, I am in awe of you. In awe of your ability to know and care for each of us. In awe of your unwaivering, faithful character. In awe of your endless love and provision. I praise you Lord.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


My house is a disaster right now. I have black garbage bags and old diaper boxes scattered throughout every room. They have become the catch-alls for dozens of items that I’ve decided to give away.

Because God has wrecked me.

A few weeks back He revealed to me just how selfish I am. I live in abundance. I have four extensive, different wardrobes (my “regular” clothes, my maternity clothes, my postpartum clothes, and my work clothes). I keep them all…just in case I need them. I have an extra set of pots and pans. I keep them…just in case I need them. I have twenty extra towels in our linen closet. I keep them…just in case I need them. But the fact is that I don’t need them. I haven’t used them in years. By holding on to them, I was depriving others of something they may need, and I was depriving myself of the blessing of giving to others.

Generosity has been an area of confusion for me since I became a follower of Christ. How much am I supposed to give? Should I be living on next-to-nothing so that I can be more generous? Or is it ok to have some things? Where do I draw the line?

There’s a story in Matthew of a man asking Jesus what he must do to receive eternal life. He wasn’t just an average guy. He was good. Some may even say he was righteous. Scripture tells us that he had kept all of the commandments. But that wasn’t enough. Jesus responded to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The man left sad.

Can you imagine if God told you to sell all your possessions? I can assure you that if He told me that, I too would walk away sad!

I have always read this passage, questioning if it is a biblical mandate to sell all of my possessions. As I have spent time studying it, and praying about it, I have come to realize that it is not a broad mandate. The root of this message (as with most messages in the Bible) is the purity of the individual’s heart. Jesus was pointing out that although the man had kept all of the commandments, his heart was still gripped by material possessions.

I share the same struggle with the man in the story. Hence the hoarding. J While God has not told me to sell all my possessions, one day He might. Right now, He is just telling me to simplify.

So I am.

What is God telling you? Is He telling you to be more generous? Is He telling you to simplify? Is He prompting you to be a blessing to another?

Heavenly Father, thank you for your generosity. Thank you that You meet my needs. Thank you that You are my provider. Lord, I pray that you will use me as your vessels to provide for another. That I will not be gripped by the materials of this world, but that I will choose to demonstrate your love by being generous. For I know that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. I love you Lord.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Follower of What?

"For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Matthew 18:20

I was so blessed to have lunch with a friend this week. As we visited about what was going on in our lives, I realized the conversation was consistently focused on God. That wasn’t the goal of us getting together. We were just getting together to catch up. But as we spoke, it became evident that God has permeated every area of our lives. We shared what He is teaching us. What He is bringing us through. What He is convicting us of.

As I drove home, I was reminded of Matthew 18:20. "For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” I have heard this verse countless times. And honestly, I have used it casually when leading prayer. But as I meditated on the verse, I realized I am just now understanding what it really means.

"For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

The key is “followers.” When followers gather together, God is there. What does it mean to be a follower of Christ? A true follower of Christ is obsessed with Him. Followers think about Him constantly. Followers are in continual conversation with Him. Their entire existence revolves around Him. They have eternal perspective. They walk in moment-by-moment obedience. So naturally, when followers gather together, they can't help but radiate Him. He is there with them.

What do your conversations reveal about what you are obsessed with? What do you spend your time thinking about? Are you a follower of Christ, or a follower of this world?

Heavenly Father, oh how I long to be your follower. I know it is not an easy path, but I also know that my reward in heaven far outweighs any reward this world can offer me. I pray that my hunger and thirst for righteousness is never satisfied, that I am obsessed with You for all of my days, and that I radiate Your love to everyone I encounter. I love you, Lord.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Godly Imitation

"I want to take your word and shine it all around.
But first help me just to live it Lord."
Oh Lord, You're Beautiful

Adalyn got her first baby doll a few weeks ago. She held it for a few moments, tried to eat it's nose, and then tossed it aside. Caleb, on the other hand, swooped in and can often be found toting it around. He hugs it, kisses it, comforts it, changes it's diaper, sings to it, brings it toys to play with, the list could go on and on. He does all these things because he is imitating what he sees. Both Brian and I are constantly loving on and caring for our children. We strongly believe that the first step to our children truly understanding the love of Christ, is to understand our love for them. We try not to miss an opportunity to demonstrate that love through our actions. So it warms my heart when I see him being so loving, compassionate, and nurturing. It's such a beautiful example of the power of our actions.

Ephesians 5:1 says, "[i]mitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children." What does that look like? The Bible calls us to love our neighbors (and our enemies). To treat others like we would like them to treat us. To only speak words that are helpful in building others up. To give to the needy. To be slow to anger. To be humble.

What are you demonstrating by your actions? What does your husband see? Your children? Coworkers? Friends? The cashier at the grocery store? What do your actions say about you? What do they say about your Father? Do they see someone who speaks encouragement and truth, or someone who gossips? Do they see someone who gives generously, or someone who is tight-fisted. Do they see someone who gives glory to God, or someone who boasts in their own glory? Do they see someone who extends grace, or responds in anger?

We have a duty to be a light in this world. To share Christ's love. To share His grace. To share the hope that can only be found through Him. The best way to do that is by living as an example. By honoring God with our actions. By imitating Him in everything that we do.

Lord, thank you. Thank you for loving me. For caring for me. For teaching me. Heavenly Father, help me to imitate you in everything that I do. In the big things, and the small things. In all things, everyday. Lord, I am so grateful that I am your dear child, and that I have you to show me how to live. I love you, Lord.