How to Embrace Seasons of Change

Change: we all go through it at some point in our lives and it happens whether we want it to or not. So what do we do when the winds of change start to blow and we simply don’t want things to change? Do we stomp our feet like little kids and cross our arms, forbidding change to happen? Do we jump on an imaginary surfboard and ride the waves of change like a free spirit? Do we go through the motions of change, doing what we gotta do, all the while wondering, “what just happened?” If you are anything like me, you’ve probably done all three at some point or another in your life. This year though, has been different. This year has been all about change in every single arena of my life. Okay, so not every single arena. I am still very much happily married, but pretty much everything else has changed and this has proven to be one of the most emotional, gut wrenching, spirit checking, soul searching seasons in my life. I’ve always pictured myself as an “adventurer” type of person. The one who leads change, blazes new paths, plows right ahead. It wasn’t until everything changed that I realized just how comfortable my life was and how much I liked it that way. Isn’t that usually the way it is in life? You think things are one way, then quickly realize you were off in your view of reality. This has absolutely been the case for me, and while I wrestle with all the change, I’m slowly starting to let the words from...

be Still

In our society, we are always on the go. Our to-do lists are constantly running through our heads and chances are even as we skim over this we are thinking of all the other things we still have to do today. Oh my, sweet friends, it’s time for us to stop the running, the chasing, and the endless pursuit of what the world tells us that we should want– – money – status – stuff – more _______ (fill in the blank) …and stop long enough to simply be still. Just for a moment. Come on, try it. Just be still, take a deep breathe in then exhale slowly. Don’t text, tweet, instagram or update your status (ha, caught you!) — there’ll be time for that later. Right now though, let’s try to simply be still and see what God does. Listen, I’m not great at this either, I’m about as “Dory” as they come, but it is something I’ve been challenged on lately and wanted to share some of what I’m learning through it with you. Here’s what you can do to get started on learning to be still. Ask Him to join you in your be still and silent moment. Release all the distractions clamoring for your attention. Take a few deep breaths in and really start to slow yourself down a bit. Wait for Him to come sit beside you. I’ve found that it’s best to do before your days gets away from you, but here’s a little heads up as you get started. I can guarantee you that it will not be easy at first. Everything around you...

Winning is Helping Others

“What’s wrong with me?” “Why can’t I be like her?” “I’ll never be that gifted.” “If only I was like….” Comparison and jealousy are the problems: not my perceived lack of gifts. All good things come from God. When there is love, it flows from Him. Where there are gifts, they’re from Him. We don’t create our gifts. Our talents and abilities don’t originate with us. Yes, we nurture and practice them. We choose to grow them or hide them, but we did not create the seed. All of our gifts come from God. We are the caretakers. He is the Master. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 What can we take credit for? Nothing. What will we answer for? How well we invested what He gave us. Did we hide our gifts or use them? Multiply them or let them grow stagnant? Any boasting goes to Him. All glory goes to Him. The call is to see Him in the gifts of others, not competition. See His hand and glory. Jealousy is questioning God and how He chooses to show His glory. We’re all on the same team, running in the same direction. Winning is helping others. Winning is when God is glorified. Self-exaltation is defeat. Leaving others behind, shutting them out, resenting their gifts, not loving others, and putting self first are in opposition to God. “…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows...

The mess that’s called life

**reposted from May 2015. Maddie is still Maddie. She’s now in grad school figuring out the next steps of this “messy life.” She continues to struggle with directions and singing off key, but she’s living intentionally and can often be found resisting the temptation to overthink. Perhaps you need this reminder today.  You probably don’t know me. Hi, I’m Maddie. Here’s a glimpse into some of the things that I call my life: There’s a big difference between the energy I’m exerting when I say I’m “going for a run” and when the METRA train pulls into the College Avenue station and I’m a block away from the platform. The only points I got marked off on my driving test (despite not having actually taken a real driver’s ed course) were for not following directions. Evidently I “left the course” when I was trying to back up next to the parallel parking cones. I didn’t even know that was something you could do. I’m pretty much perpetually cold. So naturally, I decided to go to college in Chicago. Two years later and I still never remember to keep an extra pair of gloves in my backpack. Speaking of being cold, I’m currently in one of my dad’s old sweatshirts that I found in the basement. Don’t tell him I’m wearing it. I’m just freezing and despite having carried 140 lbs of clothes home (literally one of my bags was 57 lbs. The lady at the airport made me take some of the clothes out and wear them – no joke, I walked through the airport with 4 shirts on,) I didn’t think...

Does Your Life Have Good Lighting?

Evening passed, and morning came. This was the third day. Then God said, “Let there be lights in the sky to separate day from night. These lights will be used for signs, seasons, days, and years.They will be in the sky to give light to the earth.” And it happened. Genesis 1:13-15 While we each experience seasons differently because of where we live, consider the four seasons of the year. What’s your favorite, and why? According to Genesis, seasons are inextricably linked with the lights that separate the night from the day. Isn’t that what often seems to separate our spiritual seasons as well? Consider it from an experiential perspective. Winter is seen as the most depressing and depraved season. There’s a lack of direct sunlight as well as less sunlit hours through the day. Our spiritual winters feel dark. The clouds seem oppressive. The damp cold chills us. We long for direct sunlight to part the skies and shine directly on us for warmth and refreshment. Knowing the depressing effects of shortened days and lengthened darkness through the winter months, some people opt for light therapy or strategic vacations to help them sustain a balance of mental and emotional health. On the other hand, summer’s extended daylight hours and direct sunshine invite us into increased energy and opportunities to stay active through outside work and play. Bleakness is shoved aside by illumination. Chill is blown away by breezes warmed by sunlight. We fully experience life, taking our hats off to feel the sun’s warmth and digging our bare toes into soft grass and sparkling sand. How would you...

You Can Go Your Own Way Or You Can Seek God’s Will

 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. ~ 2 Corinthians 8:5 Have you ever tried to do things your own way? When the focus is on trying to do what you want instead of what God’s will is for the situation? Me too! Truth be told, I am somewhat of a “control freak.” There, I said it. Whew, I feel a little better now. You know you are a control freak when you will do whatever it takes to make sure that things are done “just right”–whether it is the dishes, the laundry, the project at work, or even your hair. The catch twenty-two with this though is that people around you like that you things get done and that they can count on you when the going gets tough, but it can also frustrate and tear down some of those same relationships, not to mention the fact that it keeps us focused on what “we” can do. When our focus is on what we can do, handle and get done then the weight of the burden rests completely on our shoulders. We start to feel the weight of all these things we’ve picked up along the way because we are get it done girls who like things done the “right way”. Each step we take throughout the day seems harder and heavier until we feel like we can’t take another single step. In our pursuit to do things our way we somehow managed to sidestep God. We left Him out and...

why you should just be you & I should be me (because who are we kidding anyway?)

I grabbed a shopping basket and headed to the produce. Note: I grabbed a basket. I have no idea why, other than I had a brief lapse of identity – which led to this post. I’m a mom of 5. I haven’t used a grocery basket since college. In fact, once upon a time, I had two 2 year-olds and a new baby, and I finagled two carts – pushing/pulling with one cart for the baby in the car seat and another for actual groceries, with one two year-old in the front of each cart. Those grocery trips inevitably ended in tears and meltdowns. My tears and meltdowns, that is. So anyway, there I was, with a cute little grocery basket on my arm. And, I was wearing a white coat, a lovely, tailored-looking thing with big buttons. I should mention it is a hand-me-down, as I’d never spend money on a red juice stain waiting to happen. And, suddenly, I feel quite put together and professional – and, well, not like a mom of 5. But. Then, I saw the kids’ favorite snacks on sale for 3 for $5.00. I just couldn’t help myself, shoving them all in the basket. Then, my heart warmed at the popcorn, after all, it was a cold day and we could have a family movie night. (Always more ideal and smiley in my mind’s eye.) And then, well, Maggie just loves bagels in the morning, which called for cream cheese as well. And, Samuel, yeah, he’s had  rough spell and strawberries always make his day. Not to mention, I’d need to feed the tribe...

It’s Time to Move On

Sometimes we think we’re done. It’s time to move on, or so we believe. We’re ready to be done with a season because we’re exhausted or we see a better offer. Things aren’t going well, or things are going exceptionally well. For whatever reason, we assess (or rationalize) that God is prompting us to take a step away from where we are and move on to something else. Especially if it takes time for us to adjust to the idea of moving on, it’s hard when God says, “Wait just a minute.” Jesus did it to Simon in Luke 5. Simon and other fishermen had been trying to catch fish all night. They were done. In fact, they were washing their nets, which wasn’t a simple task. They definitely did not want to dirty them again and restart the clean-up process. It’s like having everything wrapped up for the day, all accounts reconciled, notes written, reports submitted, electronics shut down, doors locked, then someone asking you to open up and get everything started again. Only Jesus didn’t ask. He stepped into the boat, began teaching, and told Simon to fish. Simon felt the need to report to Jesus what a waste of time fishing would be based on what was going on. I can hear our similar responses: “But God, these people just don’t respect me any longer. In fact, I’m not sure if they ever liked me. Don’t ask me to stay. It’s just not going to work.” “I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to do. I finally find myself wrapping everything up. It seems like it’s time...

Oh, what a happy soul am I!

Francis Jane Crosby was the author of over 9,000 hymns. Did you know she wrote so many that she began using pen names so that the hymnals would not be filled with her name alone? Beautiful hymns such as: Blessed Assurance Safe in the Arms of Jesus All the Way My Savior Leads Me Rescue the Perishing Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross Born in New York, Fanny was ill almost from the beginning. Their family’s regular doctor was out of town and another man, who claimed to be a doctor, prescribed hot mustard compresses to her eyes. She got over the sickness but the treatment left her blind. Blindness didn’t deter her from her love of life and her love for the Word of God. She memorized scripture every day, five chapters a week! Fanny loved poetry and wrote her first verse at the age of eight: Oh what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see. I am resolved that in this world, Contented I will be. How many blessings I enjoy That other people don’t. To weep and sigh because I’m blind? I cannot and I won’t! The Apostle Paul was also one to be acquainted with grief. He had lived through many, many persecutions. Most of them were physical. “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own...

Blessings Don’t Always Feel Good

We were sitting in Applebee’s when he said it. It was over steak, potatoes and salad with too much ranch dressing. “My cancer saved me, Holly.” That was the last thing I expected to come from my father’s mouth. The cancer had plagued him, kept him awake in the middle of the night due to debilitating pain and intense fear. The cancer  had robbed him of his physical health and made him look like a concentration camp victim. (he always joked he was trying out for the next Holocaust film) How in the world had cancer saved him? He continued, “Before I got cancer, I was so consumed with me. There were things I was holding onto that I would not fully give to God, until the cancer. I am at a place with God now like I’ve never been. I have peace and feel Him with me like never before.”  That day as I sat looking at him, I saw a different man before me. He didn’t look the same — his outer appearance was fading — but his inner spirit that dwelt with Christ was gleaming. Oh friends, we look at blessings so incorrectly sometimes. We always equate them with good health, prosperity, and warm, fuzzy feelings. We say, “I had a blessed Christmas” because we got a lot of things and gorged on yummy food. True, these are blessings, but what about the person in the hospital whose body is wracked in pain and feels alone? Are they not blessed? I was studying the word blessed today and the Greek meaning. When Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor...