Could you use a little “re-prioritization?” Stop, Look & Listen!

Stop, Look and Listen A summertime re-prioritization guide Stop! For many of us summer is a time to re-group and re-focus but let’s be honest for a minute, what often happens is that summer slips away and all too soon and the leaves begin to change, temperatures cool, Christmas arrives just around the corner faster than we can say “sunscreen,” and we’re back to making New Year’s Resolutions! What if we took the summer to pause mid-year to prayerfully see where we’ve been and where we’re headed?  Summertime is a perfect time in the year to re-prioritze and reflect on where and how this year is going in your life.  Pausing mid year to evaluate is a perfect way to assess life; the perfect time of year to “Stop, Look & Listen.” It just may be the re-prioritization you need to begin the second half of 2017 refreshed and renewed, there is no need to wait until January! Here’s how to begin: Write down each and everything that fills your day. (ALL of it!  No cheating! I KNOW how tempting it can be! Include Household duties, commitments and ministries at church, outside and part time jobs and ANY other commitments that you regularly schedule into your week. This INCLUDES blogging, and social networking ladies!) It will also help to include HOW MUCH time a week or month is dedicated to these activities. There may be several ministries or groups that you belong to or participate in, include them each as a separate category in order to see later which ones need another look. DAILY ACTIVITIES & MINISTRIES:     WEEKLY...

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...

When The Good News Gets Easy

We boil it down to the basics: Love Jesus. Help others love Him, too. But we have different approaches: Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words. Help people. And if you can’t help, at least, don’t hurt them. Give what you can, and you will receive more. Helping others achieve their dreams will help you achieve yours. We like to boil things down to the simplest form. We like quips that affirm and encourage us. If it sounds good, we think it is good. If we can’t readily see how something contradicts Scripture, we assume it’s consistent with Scripture. That’s not always the case. We have to know Scripture well in order to find what is consistent and what isn’t. In many cases, we can find or recall a verse that supports just about any perspective we want. That approach only affirms us; it’s not a reliable approach to a faith-filled life. That kind of life requires humility, which we don’t always like because it makes us feel vulnerable and gets us out of our comfort zone. Vulnerability and discomfort often describe living out the gospel, too. We prefer living out and sharing the gospel in more comfortable and convenient ways. Lifestyle evangelism—living out the good news in our everyday lives—is an excellent approach to sharing Jesus with others, because we have established influence on those in our immediate circles and regular routines. However, we can sometimes fall back on a distortion of lifestyle evangelism as if we’re falling into a comfortable couch. It feels good. We don’t have to do much more than what would...

Planting for the Harvest

I love this time of year. The summer has cooled and gone for the year, leaving us crisp days as things change. Living in the country means I get to watch the farmer’s fields. It’s a busy time of year as they work hard and fast to pull the crops from the fields. Harvest is the focal point of their year and everything they do shows harvest is the key issue for them. While their fields are covered with snow, the farmers are planning and working on machinery they’ll need for the season. During planting season they’re out there as early as they can be and put in as many hours as possible, knowing if they don’t get the seed in the ground, they can’t reap the harvest from that seed. In the summer they’re fertilizing and spraying and mowing in order to maximize their crops. They do what’s best for the crop so it can grow and produce as much as possible. Finally, harvest comes. They’re ready for the long hours they know it will take to pull their crops out of the fields. In fact, the longer they’re sitting in the combines, harvesting crops (not broken down or stuck and waiting for help to arrive), the happier they are because it translates into an abundant harvest for them. Around here, it’s unusual to see fields sitting idle. It’s just not done. And if a field is empty, there’s a very good reason for it. Farmers plant their fields because they want the harvest. Each and every step of the process is done with harvest in mind, not...

Living in the Tension

Tension:  The state of being stretched tight or mental or emotional strain. That definition sums up what I feel about my life most days; a constant state of being stretched beyond what I feel like is humanly possible. As a wife, I live in the tension of being the best spouse possible by meeting my husbands needs without losing myself in the process. As a mother, I live in the tension of loving these little people so fiercely that I want to protect them from harm at all costs and knowing that my job is to prepare them to live in this broken world, where they are almost guaranteed to feel pain.  As a Christian, I live in the tension of walking out what I say I believe on a daily basis. As a friend, I live in the tension of finding time to nourish friendships with a schedule that is borderline chaotic. As a woman, I live in the tension of finding the time to tend to my body, soul, & spirit without feeling guilty. As a student of life, I live in the tension of questioning what and why I believe what I believe about God, people, relationships & myself, while being open (and teachable) to new information. I am constantly being stretched…but it is in the tension of the stretching that I find myself. I love being a wife. My husband is amazing. We spend a lot of time and energy taking care of each others needs spiritually, physically, and emotionally. This is our relationship today… In the past our relationship has been extremely unhealthy. We...

Our Mission Field

Brian (my oldest) and Tyler are seniors. Tyler works at Sonic and the only time I see him these days is when I go for a half-price milkshake, but there was a time when he was a big part of my life. Tyler and Brian played little league baseball together when they were boys. Tyler lives with his grandfather just down the street from us, so many times the boys would ride to and from baseball together. After baseball, they’d climb trees and race bikes and do whatever little boys do on Saturday afternoons. In Brian’s words, they were “tight.” Now, Brian had a system when he was little. When he realized that one of his friends didn’t know Jesus, he’d invite him to spend the night on Saturday so they could go to church with us on Sunday. He’d just keep inviting him to spend the night until we had opportunity to talk to them about Jesus. This was easy with Tyler because he usually came home with us after baseball anyway. Eventually, we’d pick Tyler up for church when he didn’t spend the night and, when my kids decided it was cool to ride the church bus, the bus picked Tyler up too. His mom was deployed back then, so when Tyler got saved, we waited until she could get leave to come home for him to be baptized. It’s amazing to me how things worked out… all because our boys just “happened” to be on the same little league team. When the boys hit junior high, Tyler went one way and Brian another, but Tyler is one of several boys that hold a special place in my heart because...

Should You Quit Social Media?

I want to quit Facebook. Can I do that? My friend’s question was in response to the frustration of scrolling through her news feed and finding vague accusations and threats, gossip, and one-sided claims that blatantly disrespected people. And…all those posts were by Christians. Can you quit Facebook? Yes, you can. Should you? I don’t know. Sometimes we feel victimized by social media, and we get frustrated, but what about the positive influences? What about the encouragement we give and receive? What about the support (the healthy kind, not the “I’m going to jump on your bandwagon and say, ‘You go, girl’ when I should actually be telling you, ‘Whoa! Take a breath and calm down.'”)? What about the opportunities to reach out to and catch up with people (again, healthy connections)? Just like you have choices about who you hang out with on the weekend or who you call when you have a crisis or need an ear to listen, you have choices about social media. You decide how often you check social media. You decide who you connect with. You decide what you look at the most, which determines, to some degree, what floats to the top of your news feed. You decide what to post and how to engage others. Maybe God is leading you away from social media. And maybe He’s leading you to be more discerning. Apply some of the same lessons to your faith. You might complain about your church or specific people in it. You might get into inappropriate conversations with people, ask for affirmation when you really need accountability, or work...

Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up, Part 4

I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen you may believe. John 14:29 Jesus repeatedly declares “so that you may believe.” He continually reminds us to submit. We choose to follow over and over again. We choose to believe Him over and over. We choose to trust Him over and over. Faith isn’t a one-time commitment. We don’t get to check the box and move on. Knowing the pure meaning of submission is important to our lives. It reflects the truth. It makes a way in and for life. It’s persistent, just like God Himself. On a regular basis, do you fully take advantage of Jesus’ reminders to believe? How well do you listen to what He has told you? What then? Are we any better? Not at all! For we have previously charged that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin. Romans 3:9 Submission positions us to see the truth alongside hope. We don’t arrogantly claim we’ve received, accepted, or achieved something others haven’t. Humility prompts us to want what we have for others. If we ever point out a lacking, it is only because we see our own and can encourage someone. We can help them see the possible hope. But the moment we let pride taint our attitudes or efforts, we weaken. Submission strengthens us. When have you thought yourself better than someone else, particularly in faith? How did you move on, or how can you now? Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We...

960 Minutes Today

Days often seem to fly by, especially when we have a lot scheduled. We want to use every moment well, but once we fit in nonnegotiable responsibilities, unplanned delays, and distractions–some that we must attend to but others we welcome for the mindless activity that helps us avoid everything else scheduled for the day, at least for a several minutes or so–we glance at the clock and wonder, “Where did my day go?” On average, we have 960 waking minutes in a day. That sounds like enough. And if we’re honest, it is. Maybe it’s not enough if we try to cram too much into the day. Maybe it’s not enough if we have a rigid idea of what our day is supposed to look like, or if we define a successful, productive day with any distortion of what those words truly represent. Maybe it’s not enough if we begin to idle away a minute or two at a time with mindless activity…or if we refuse to intentionally rest our minds to approach the next moment with renewed focus. Maybe it’s not enough if we try to push out the things we should do with things that are less important. Maybe it’s not enough if we don’t take responsibility for our schedules and choices with a humility that acknowledges we aren’t in control. We aren’t victims of our busy schedules. Sifting through what we can and can’t, should and shouldn’t can be tough, but we’re capable. We need to make some of those tough decisions if we want to fully live the 960 minutes we have each day. Acknowledging...

Taking Care of the Temple

I will never forget the conversation that took place several years ago now and since that day, I have watched several friends walk through breast cancer, three this year alone. If this reminder causes just one woman who joins us at the Cafe, to make that appointment, then we just may save a life. One precious life. Flashback to October 2010… We sat at breakfast and I reminded everyone that I had a doctor’s appointment. “For what?” asked my 9 year old at the time. “I have to have a test done that detects breast cancer, a mammogram.” “Oh yeah, I saw the NFL players all wearing pink shoes and helmets because it’s breast cancer month. It was cool.” He dumped his cereal milk in the sink and he was off. The girls lingered. “What exactly do they do at a mammogram?” I described the procedure and they looked with twisted faces and giggled, “Have fun!” I laughed at them and quipped, “Just taking care of the temple.” The older one smiled and they were off. It was certainly NOT the way I’d choose to spend a glorious October afternoon. You KNOW what I mean! Truth was that insurance issues at the time and the fact that I would have to go through the tangled loop of interstates that run across Atlanta, tempted me to just “skip” it this year. The insurance hassle that I had gone through nearly had me throwing up my hands and saying, “I don’t have time for this.” And then the subtle voice that recalls a verse at the right time….the Holy Spirit whispering....