Thursday, December 4, 2014

Embrace the Pace

Have you ever been in a rush?  You know the feeling… you are late, but you think you can still make it.  When you see the time and realize your dilemma, you put your crazy on… you run around grabbing all necessary items and fly out the door.  Your heart is pounding and you are panting as you leap into the car.  You put the car into gear, hammer down the accelerator, and pray for green lights and no old ladies taking leisurely drives ahead of you. 

You aren’t so lucky.  You hit every red light, you have to pull over for emergency vehicles, and you have to break up a fight in the back seat amongst your precious angels.  By the time you make it… only a few minutes late… you are out of breath and a mess of emotions. 

Well, maybe I’m not talking about you today.  This was actually ME for many years.  I rushed around driving like a maniac endangering the lives of my children for what… only to be stressed out when I arrived.   I always had a good reason why I was late, but if I had only planned better the outcome would have been all together different.

I am happy to report today that I have had a break through.  When it comes to being late I have changed my ways… well at least on MOST days.  My whole perspective has changed.  I guess struggling with my health and all that goes with it has helped me out in at least one area of my life.  I have realized that “the rush” doesn’t help anyone.  It brings with it a grouchy mommy, unwanted stress, hazardous driving, and unhealthy consequences.   This mommy has learned to slow down and…  “Embrace the Pace”.

Recently I tried to impart this notion upon my son.  He had made a commitment to be some where, but was running late.  I was the taxi.  Some how he lost track of time and then started that dreaded cycle of the “rush”.  He ran around crazy through the house shouting out the urgency of our departure, all the while grabbing things as he rushed out the door.  I was moving at a slower pace. 
Once we got into the car the crazy continued.  “We have to hurry mom.  Go faster!  Oh, I can’t believe they are going SO slow.  We would hit all of the red lights today of all days.  Now we only have two minutes to get there! These people are going to make us late!   Ahhhhhh!” 

It sounded way too familiar.  This sounded like the perfect time for a lecture on how we should plan ahead so we don’t have to stress on the drive!  My kids gotta love these driving lectures!!!  They are my captive audience.  Hopefully some of these words of wisdom are getting into their heads and hearts.  On this day the words were… “You need to embrace the pace… go with the flow.  Why get upset with everyone else because YOU left the house late.  Just chill!  You can’t do anything about it now anyways except plan ahead next time.”

We are all works in progress… God is still working the kinks out of me and my kids.  But, with His help we will become better at moving at His pace instead of rushing ahead.

What a great lesson to remind myself as I am facing the rush of the holidays and…

I’m heading into a busy season now as a mom.  I knew it was coming, but had no idea what to expect.  I had a friend years ago who faced this season with six kids.  I watched in amazement and wonder as she spent most of her weekends sitting in her 15 passenger van waiting.  When I asked her why she did this, her answer surprised me.  “This season is all for my kids.  Later I will take time for me.  I won’t have them home forever.  I am savoring the moments.”

This is how I remember them during this season
Not only did she haul all of her kids to and from sporting events on the weekends, but she also hauled a van load of kids to church every Wednesday night (and some times two loads on big event nights for youth services). She was and is their greatest fan cheering them on in life.  What an amazing lady!

Now I know how she must have felt.  I am here now in that special place…

I am the taxi for two incredible boys.

During this season I am wearing many hats.

I am hostess on Sundays for a Bible study for boys.  After a radical encounter with God at church camp, my son felt directed by God to lead this group.  Not only am I the hostess, but also his personal secretary.  I help him prepare for this group and a Bible Study he started at school.

I am personal chauffeur for my boys and their friends.  I am convinced that we need bumper stickers on the back of each of our Honda Civics that say “We Haul Kids!!”.  I’m thinking during this teen season that we need to invest in a van.  Some times it takes two vehicles to get everyone to their required destination.  I’m sure the minute we got a van it would be full all the time.

I am cheerleader.  This year my boys are on two different basketball teams.  As a result, my husband and I are running like crazy.  We choose to use the divide and conquer approach.  With varying practice times and games, we live by a calendar with all sporting events scribbled on it to guide us.  We juggle our schedules accordingly. They love basketball!  They don’t want to play any other sport.  They wait all year for this season!  They shoot hoops and practice nearly every day… rain or shine.  Their heart is basketball so this momma will make every effort to try to get them where they need to be when they need to be there… and cheer them on to win!

Why do I do all of this?  I do it for my boys.  We are in a season of sacrificing so our kids can thrive.  We are investing in their future.  We are helping build character.  We are teaching them leadership skills and helping them learn the importance of being a godly example on and off the court.  They are growing, thriving, and learning to lead.  It is amazing to watch!

I remember daydreaming with my husband years ago about a day like this.  We talked about how we wanted it to be when we had kids.  We had decided that when our kids became teens that we wanted our house to become “THE HOUSE” everyone wanted to be at.  We knew it would take some work on our part, but we were prepared to pay the price.

You see by being “the house” we would have a greater advantage.  We would be able to see who influenced our boys and be able to be a POSITIVE influence back on those connected to their world.  It’s would be a win-win situation.

It’s hard to believe that we are smack dab in the middle of that season right now.  We are beginning to pay the price to make it happen.  It’s actually a lot harder than I thought.  It takes a lot of sacrifice… time, money, and my desires being set aside, to make a focused, purposeful effort on our part to invest in the lives of these impressionable boys.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  It’s totally worth it!

Without us saying one word about wanting our house to be “the house” for our boys, they are already making it happen on their own.  They are asking kids to come hang out before basketball practice.  They are volunteering our car to give kids rides home.  They are having Bible Studies, sports parties, and overnighters.  I can’t count the number of boys that have stepped through the doors of our house just this year.  It’s overwhelming.

God is using my boys and our open house to reach their friends.  Spiritual growth, discipleship, leadership development, and radical times with God are all happening here.  Our house is becoming a refuge for broken, hurting boys and a sanctuary for those hungry for more of God.  I love to watch God move through my boys.  It makes my heart smile. 

SO, I do all of this gladly… I “Embrace the Pace” of this season.  I savor each moment as I am helping these amazing boys make memories that will last a lifetime. 

I don’t know what season you are facing today friend, but I challenge you to give it to God.  Don’t rush ahead without Him.  Hold His hand and walk at His pace.  I know with God’s help you can make it through.

Living to leave a legacy,

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"It Stinks!"

Recently we had a birthday party for my youngest son.  He turned 14!  I was sad.  He is growing up WAY too fast.  He had a sports themed party with almost 20 boys attending.  They played basketball, flag football, and dodge ball. 

In the middle of the party we had everyone come into our garage to take a break before eating to warm up since it was cold out.  We cleared an open space for a circle of chairs so they could play a few indoor games while waiting.  

Once they were all gathered in and sitting down playing their game, 
it hit me like a sack of potatoes… “IT STINKS!”

I know they couldn’t help it… they were having fun playing games.  Even though it was cold outside, the sweat poured out leaving them helpless to the smell.  When you add that much sweat to a small room packed with almost 20 boys, it’s bound to stink, right? 

As I bounded in and out of the garage making food preparations the stench became a little unbearable at times.  I did what any other disturbed mom would do… I grabbed the Febreze and attacked the problem.  As each boy walked by to get their food I sprayed the floor secretly by them hoping some might get onto their clothes without them noticing.  Despite my efforts, the smell continued to linger.  I was SO tempted to just spray down each boy individually, but my husband restrained me assuring me “it’s okay…. just let them be...”

I surrendered to the smell and buried myself in the kitchen.  Later, as we continued the Birthday celebration in the house, I was surprised to find that their smell was actually neutralized.  How could it be?  Well, I must admit I do have some secret weapons I use to defuse the stink in my home on a regular basis.  I had no idea it would work on such a large group of boys.

Because inquiring minds want to know how I do it, I am sharing all of my secrets below.  Here goes…

“Tips for Managing a Stinky Home and Stinky Boys”

Stinky Home Help

General Clean-up: 
Just keeping things clean around the house helps a lot.  Some things to watch for would be:  dirty clothes lying around, dirty dishes in the sink, full bags of trash in the kitchen, and un-flushed toilets (using a toilet brush & cleaner helps a lot too!)

Room by Room:
Give each room a smell check.  Where does it smell the MOST?  Those are the rooms that will need the most help.  I focus specifically on bedrooms, bathrooms, and the high traffic areas.

Neutralize it:
Those extra stinky areas will need on-going extra help to neutralize the smell.  Some of my secret weapons are: 

Candles- for main living areas (kitchen, dining room, & living room areas).  I generally stick with scents like: vanilla, ginger bread, cinnamon, or butter cream… calming scents.  They are less offensive to people who might visit with allergies.  Floral scents stir up sneezing fits and can give headaches… believe me I know this from first-hand experience.

Wallflowers- from Bath & Body Works.  I put these outlet air fresheners everywhere around my house.  I use similar scents as listed above.  I try to put a Wallflower in each of my most stinkiest rooms and the high traffic areas.  Can I say that?  SO… for my house I have them in the hallway, living room, bathrooms, and my boys’ bedroom.  Their bedroom requires one Wallflower and a stand up air freshener to neutralize the smell (Both Vanilla scented).  In order to neutralize with this tool, you need to use a lot of the same scents throughout the house.  Using different scents in each room can work against your efforts causing a different kind of stink all together.

Over the Top:
If after doing all of this, the smell still lingers there is one last thing I try.  I get a room freshener spray or body spray (usually cinnamon, vanilla, or sweet pea) to use throughout the house.  I spray lightly all furniture, bedding, dirty laundry, rugs, and curtains.  This is not an every day thing.  I do it randomly maybe before visitors may come or if I notice that the house is starting smell bad.

Not only have I been asked about my house, but inquiring minds want to know 
how I deal with stinky boys too.  So here goes…

Stinky Boy Help

Ever since the boys were little we pushed the importance of good hygiene.  When they hit puberty we kicked it up a notch.  We enlightened them to the fact that they would soon begin to stink MORE.  It just happened naturally and is a part of growing up, but we needed to work extra hard to keep the stink under control.

I must admit as a mom I pushed everything to the extreme.  I encouraged showers so they wouldn’t get acne, brushing their teeth so they wouldn’t get cavities, changing underwear so they wouldn’t get fungus between their legs, and wearing deodorant and body spray so they wouldn’t be known as the stinky boy at school. 

Now that I vocalize this to the masses, it doesn’t sound so good.  I sound like a crazy mom.  Maybe I am.  My goal is to help these boys develop good habits that they will hopefully carry into their adult life.  Some day their wives will thank me for all of my hard work, right?  Hopefully my efforts to raise less stinky boys will inspire you in some way to do the same.  If not, I hope you enjoy a laugh or two on me as you read the list below.

“Tips for Managing Stinky Boys”…

Encourage Good Hygiene:

Start Out Clean-
Have your boy start his day by putting on clean clothes.  This includes changing undergarments daily too.  Buy enough so he doesn’t have a reason not wear clean ones.  This will help immediately with the smell.

Boy BO-
Have you ever had the privilege of being in a room full of stinky boys?  Its powerful bad!  Body odor rages out of control within these young men and it takes hard work to manage the smell.

Our weapons of choice are Men’s Deodorant & Men’s Body Spray.  We get the cheap kind and buy several to stock them up (Right Guard Sport Deodorant & Axe Body Spray).  We encourage them to put both on in the morning, deodorant after they play sports or have P.E., and both before they go anywhere special like church.  They keep some in their gym bags, I keep a spare in my purse, and we did keep one in each car until they melted with the summer heat. 

Bad Breath-
Another side effect of puberty is bad breath.  We encourage the boys to brush their teeth at least twice a day and I keep mints in my purse for smelly mouth emergencies.  Mouth wash is a good tool to keep close by too!

Stinky Feet-

Foot odor is inevitable for boys especially if they play sports.  They should start their day with clean socks and change later to new socks if they play any sports.  Special socks and inserts are available in stores to help with the smell if it’s over the top with stink.

Shower Power-
We encourage the boys to shower every other day normally.  But if its summer time or they are playing sports it’s an every day thing with no arguing about it.  The sooner they shower after sports, the better it will smell in your house.

Do you struggle with a stinky home or a stinky family?  Hopefully my crazy, yet creative ways of keeping my house and boys stink-free has been helpful for you.  If nothing else maybe it has brought a smile to your face.  Enjoy the giggles on me!

Living to leave a legacy,

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It happened… AGAIN!

It happens everywhere… It happens at the bank, in the hospital, at parks, restaurants, in waiting rooms, and at school programs.  It’s all types of people in all seasons of life… nurses, neighbors on lawn mowers, people walking by with dogs, the gas station attendant, frazzled mom’s dropping their kids off at daycare, and lost teenagers to name a few.

The list seems to be endless of people that I cross paths with that pour out their hearts and life stories to me in strange places.  Last night it was at the grocery store and I was in a hurry.

My son conveniently forgot to tell me (or maybe I missed it as he says) that he needed me to make “Chicken Enchiladas” for his Spanish class today.  The only problem was that I didn’t have all of the ingredients I needed.  I also had a busy night of errand running ahead of me.

When I entered the grocery store I was rushing.  I was glancing at my list, marking items off, and flying through aisle by aisle systematically.  HE found me in the frozen food aisle.  I was looking for popcorn chicken with no luck.  We were the only two spanning this area of the small store.  He was pacing the floor looking into the glass cases frantically, which was making me nervous.  If I could only find the blasted chicken and get out of there I knew I would feel better. 

I rushed hoping to sneak on to another aisle before he engaged me in conversation.  “How are you doing tonight Ma’am?”  I was friendly and cordial, but continued to move down the walkway looking for my lost chicken.  I was about to throw in the towel for this long lost item when he spoke again. 

“I’m ready for this year to be over, how bout you?  I smiled friendly not sure what to say when he continued on… “I lost my mom in April and this has been a hard year.  I talked to my mom every day about EVERYTHING. It’s been really hard.”

I felt a little uncomfortable for several reasons.  One, this man was alone and I didn’t want him getting too attached to me.  Two, I didn’t have my wedding ring on.  I haven’t been able to wear it for a few years now with all of my flare ups with my health.  My hands swell and it won’t fit.  I didn’t want to be advertising availability by accident.  Three, this man was pouring out his heart and sharing his hurt with a stranger in the frozen food aisle…why did he choose ME? 

It was another divine appointment as I call them.  A meeting of sorts set up by God.  I was unprepared.  I didn’t engage him completely in conversation about God, but I feel I conveyed God’s love through my responses.

I responded to the man with “Wow, it must be hard especially with the holidays coming up.”  He said, “Yeah, Mother’s Day was really bad, but it’s getting better now since I moved here… my kids are really helping me a lot.”  I left him with this… it wasn’t anything super spiritual or fancy.  “Take this holiday season to focus on your kids and I’m sure that will help a lot.”

Maybe I could have said more.  It was an on the spot, spur the moment meeting, and I wasn’t studied up (not that I needed to study or I do before I meet with people).  Despite my shortcomings, I believe God moved.  God spoke peace, hope, and love through imperfect ME.

I made a commitment to God a long time ago.  I offered myself to Him as a tool to reach others however He desired to use me.  I am available, ready, and willing.  I consider myself to be on call for God.  When He needs me to be an instrument to show His love to others, I want to be there. 

Some times I feel ready and other times I miss the moment.  I try to walk spiritually aware each day to the whispers of the Holy Spirit directing me. My goal is to be a light for God daily reflecting His love to others no matter where I am or what I am doing.

A verse comes to mind that reminds me of this…
“In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven” 
Matthew 5:16 (NCV)

I love how the Message version describes this…

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”  
Matthew 5:14-16

I love the descriptive words used here… “We are lights to bring out the God-colors in the world”… “We are going public with this…” We are “light bearers” and “light stands” meant to SHINE!  Love it!  That’s exactly what I want to be for God.

As I am doing my best to shine brightly for God, you know what?  These “divine appointments” started happening all the time.  It still catches me off guard and surprises me.  Some how these people know “I” care.  It’s amazing to watch God work right before my eyes.  It boggles my mind.  I don’t use fancy words or pour on the scripture… my approach is totally relational.  It’s just ME being me… hang ups and all and some how God uses my imperfections to reflect His love to others.  He is very creative!

I don’t think you have to be a scholar, go to Bible College, or have read your Bible a hundred times through for God to use you.  I think He is only looking for a couple things… your willingness and availability

You don’t have to do anything fancy… just let Him SHINE through you and He will do the rest.  You will be amazed at what God can do through a willing vessel.  Ready, set, go shine brightly for Him and watch Him work in remarkable ways. 

Living to leave a legacy,

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall Adventures...

Have you missed it?  Don’t miss out before it’s too late!  It happens fast and if you aren’t looking, it’s over before you know it.  For years I missed it.   I must admit I walked with my head to the ground distracted, busy, and overwhelmed with life.  All I had to do was lift my head up, open my eyes, look around, and peace would come.

What monumental event am I talking about?  …the FALL COLORS of course….The beauty of God’s creation.  It’s gorgeous!  I don’t know how someone could lift their eyes up and look around outside during this season and NOT see the handiwork of God.  It’s amazing!

Well, for some reason this year was different for me.  Maybe it’s because we took our fall break to go visit my husband’s homeland… MICHIGAN.  He wanted to show the boys all around where he grew up and expose us to the “true” fall colors... brighter, richer, and bolder colors.  Fall comes sooner there. 

I guess this year I looked a little closer at the colors since of course it was the whole point of our trip.  It was stunning!  The pictures I took couldn’t adequately capture the beauty I beheld.  The colors were astounding!   The views were jaw-dropping.  I kept asking my husband to stop so I could take more pictures.

We camped while there and it was beautiful!  We were right by the water.  The only down side was that it was COLD.  We had a heater to stay warm at night, but day adventures were a bit frigid for me.  We limited our boys media time while we were on the trip which about killed them.  I think sometimes a simpler lifestyle is better.  When we can slow down, enjoy the scenery, and connect one on one as a family… it’s good and healthy. 

Limiting media at times allows us to gain a new perspective.  It gives us time to re-evaluate.  Is media adding to or taking away from our family?  Media isn’t all bad, but I think scheduling regular breaks from it helps keep things more balanced.  It helps us find other things to do like… talk to each other, read, play board games, go outside and be active, and be creative just to name a few. 

I learned from this trip that we need MORE media breaks… more time to connect with one another.  I am only going to have these boys for a short while.  I want to make this time count!  I want to help them learn to connect their hearts with God and their lives with others.  In order to help facilitate this, media is going to have to become LESS of a focal point in our home.  I know it will be a challenge, but well worth it in the long run.

While in Michigan we visited old friends and one of my husband’s cousins.  The boys got a great taste of hard work and the simple life while at cousin Roderick’s house.  Their eyes got big when they were asked to help cut and stack firewood for their winter supply.  Al’s cousin and his wife live off the land… they cut wood for the winter for heat and cooking on their wood stove, grow their own vegetables & herbs, milk goats, and care for animals… It’s a working farm!

While the boys helped cut wood with Al’s guided instruction, I was asked to cook up some Sloppy Joe’s on their wood stove.  I didn’t quite realize how primitive it was until I asked if we could turn the burner up on the meat to cook it more quickly.  The lady of the house assisted me with a smile.  She leaned down gently to open the door below the stove revealing bits of wood and ashes.  She stoked the fire, blew on it with a special stick, and positioned the pan in a new location.  The heat was up!  WOW… I never did this before… cooked on a wood stove.  This was an experience I would never forget. 

Later we even hand cranked our own ice cream to add to our dessert.  It was a very eye-opening experience for us.  The simpler life seems to be a slower pace enabling more quality, family time.  Don’t worry.  I’m not ready to sell everything and move up to northern Michigan into the deep woods… yet.  I’m just seeing that there seems to be some positive elements to this kind of lifestyle.

So all in all it was a good trip.  Despite the cold, frigid temperatures we got to spend quality time together… talking, eating, exploring muddy roads in the country, visiting old friends & family, and making some new friends.  It was fun!  We made memories that will last a lifetime!  And this year I can honestly say I didn’t miss it…the beautiful canvas of God’s creation displayed right before my eyes.  Breathtaking!


There is still time to catch the colors if you hurry.  Run outside the minute the sun comes out and find a patch of trees… take a few moments to get lost in the beauty of God’s creation.  You may never be the same!

Living to leave a legacy,

Friday, October 3, 2014

Lessons learned from RESTING (Part Two)

What comes to mind when you hear the word….REST?  Slowing down, taking a nap, giving yourself a much needed break, or maybe the ultimate rest…“Resting in Peace”.

Did you know that RESTing can actually be a spiritual thing?   For some resting is required for their physical health, while others may need a spiritual rest to regain their focus and connect more with God. 

A spiritual rest for me is taking a “time out” if you will from the busyness of life.  It is limiting some activities or commitments for a season (how ever long I feel led) to focus MORE on God. 

When I feel run down, spiritually empty, or emotionally drained, I know it’s time.  It’s time to slow myself down and calm my heart.  I want God to have all of my attention.

In my last post I shared some lessons I learned from resting (  
Today I would like to add to my list.

1.      Gives me a fresh perspective
2.      Challenges me to re-evaluate

3.     RESTING refocuses my attention on Him
Have you ever felt just plain dog tired.  You run and run and feel like you can never get a break.  Your mind is scattered with all of the things you have to do, need to you, and want to do some day soon.  It’s overwhelming to think about and there is never enough time to do it all.  Sleep and rest seem like the last thing on your list… and when is there enough time for that!  Your list seems never ending and the stress is through the roof!
Am I reading your mail today?  I must admit I have been there at times.  In fact, I remember a time when my boys were little that I was the poster child for stress… the boys were probably 1 and 2 at the time (they are 16 months apart) and I was stressed out.  They felt like twins at times… I lacked sleep and energy, I needed a shower and desperately wanted some alone time.  I was a weary, tired mommy.  I remember sitting on my couch in a moment of despair, taking a deep breath thinking… “When am I ever going to get a break”…  I was maxed out! 
Almost immediately after my emotional pity party began the doorbell rang.  It was a group of little kids.  The leader with them explained that they were from a church down the road.  These kids were given a special challenge.  If each child quoted their memory verse to a certain amount of people, they would win a prize.  He asked if I would be willing to listen to them quote their verses and sign off that they did it on each paper.  I said sure… my kids were distracted in the toy room for the moment so why not.  I must have been a sight to see with my unkempt hair and unsheveled mommy attire.  The first child started out…
  “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
It wasn’t until the third and fourth kids repeated the verse that it started to sink in deep within my spirit.  I am weary… I feel burdened down… I NEED rest.  Wow!  That verse was overwhelming, powerful, and life-changing!  I have been longing for rest, but avoiding unintentionally the ultimate place and person of rest… JESUS.  If I go to Him, He will lift my burdens, and bring peace to my weary soul.  WOW… it only took about 8 kids at my door for God to get His point across to me.  I guess I am a slow learner.
As the dust begins to settle from our running circles in busyness, something incredible happens…in our RESTING we begin to see Him more clearly. 
I don’t why, but it seems like my physical resting is always tied in to a much needed spiritual rest.  When I have to slow down and stop at times, I seem to hear God more clearly.  Not only is my body strengthened, but He breathes life into my spirit.  The word comes alive, His whispers to me are more frequently, and I feel energized deep within.  In the quiet of resting…God shows up!
Psalm 46:10 reminds us of this… God says, “Be still and know that I am God”
RESTING refocuses my attention on Him. 
4.     RESTING prepares me for what’s ahead
I am a planner.  I like to know what is coming up so I can make the adequate preparations to be ready.  I make lists, I have a family calendar, and I even have a weekly schedule laid out on a pretty little dry erase frame I made for the occasion (A Pinterest project win!)
Even though I make plans, everything doesn’t always fall right into place.  At times I think God messes with my plans to remind me that I can’t control everything.  Me a control-freak… never!  I just like to prepare for what’s ahead.  The problem with this is that I don’t really know what’s ahead.  I have a general idea, but there is no possible way for me to factor in unexpected surprises, circumstances that may come beyond my control, family emergencies, natural disasters, or the like, but God knows.


Proverbs 16:9 says…

 “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (NLT)



I can make MY plans, but I need to trust God with the details.  He knows what is best for me and what needs to happen when.  He sees the big picture.  RESTING helps me learn to trust God with the details of my life… “What’s ahead”.



Proverbs 3:5-6 says…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (NLT)


We don’t have to be afraid of what’s ahead if we trust Him!
RESTING can be a time of preparation for what’s ahead.  God may need to teach us a few things so we are ready.  Maybe that might be… learning to hear His voice better, so we can hear Him more clearly in the midst of the raging storms life might throw at us.  It might be learning to dig deeper into His word (the Bible) so we have a place to draw strength from in our times of weakness or we are ready to share His truths with others when given the opportunity.  Maybe God might want to grow our faith stronger (deeper roots in Him) so we are able to stand no matter what we might face.  Life is unpredictable. 
Sometimes RESTING is a great time for God to feed, water, and cultivate godly fruit in our lives.  This process might include some pruning or pulling out deadly weeds that might threaten to suffocate His presence in our lives like… bitterness, anger, un-forgiveness, resentment, jealousy, hatred and the like.  Getting to the roots of these weeds can hurt at times, but the end result is a healthy heart and life connected to the life-giving source of Jesus.
In this season of “Spiritual rest”…
God may be preparing you in the quiet of resting for a new chapter of your life, a new ministry opportunity, a new spiritual challenge, a season of stretching your faith, a leadership role, or more… only God knows what’s ahead for YOU.
REST… soak in His presence.  Listen to His instruction.  Allow Him to remove what is unnecessary in your life and replace those empty spots with MORE of Him.  Invite Him to mold you and make you into the person He created you to be.  Let Him reveal Himself to you in new ways.  Learn to recognize His whisper and obey His leading.
It is in resting that God speaks, directs, transforms, heals, delivers, restores, refreshes, and sets free.  In the quiet of resting, God shows up!
RESTING prepares me for that next step.  We don’t have to face our future with fear.  Just obey God's leading for that next step for YOU.  God will give you one step at a time.  Draw close to Him and when He whispers guidance to you… follow through.  Learn to hear and obey quickly.  Each step He gives you will be a step in the right direction of where you need to be.  Before you know it, you will be amazed at where God takes you.
It all comes back to this passage again…

Proverbs 3:5-6 says…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (NLT)

Trust Him friend in the midst of your season of RESTING.  He is forever faithful!
I read an article recently that has given me a fresh perspective on the whole idea of RESTING.  As I read it, God breathed life into me.  Here are some bits and pieces I have gathered for you to read from it (To the Girl Who’s Tryingat

She writes….
A woman who loves me sat me down about a year ago.   She looked me in the eyes and told me that if I ran around and tried to do every single thing now, that I might burn out. And, even if I didn’t burn out, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the process along the way. I wouldn’t be able to celebrate the victories in life if I was always stressed about moving on to the next accomplishment.
I felt like she gave me permission to slow down, to be ordinary. There was no expiration date on any of my goals. There was no great rush.
She didn’t diminish my gifts or hopes. But, she did say, I’m afraid that you’re going too fast. I’m afraid you’re not resting or finding your identity in Christ alone. She worried that I’d be tempted to place my value in my production…what I did or created in the world. She challenged me to hold metaphorical hands with the Lord and just move forward, making sure to have energy to be in constant communion with God, making sure I had energy to love my people well, and even making sure I had energy to take care of myself.
She then challenged us from her heart of rest…
You being exhausted by the end of the day every day after day does not serve anyone well. I know you’re doing your best. I know you’re trying to live up to the potential people have always seen in you. I know you’re trying to stand out and make an impact and not waste any bit of life. 
I’d love to see you live from a pattern of rest. Not rushing, not striving. Swinging into work, swinging back into rest. Always, always, tethered to the Lord.
You’re going to do great, sweet girl. Celebrate the victories. Take note of all the good. Keep track of your progress, because you ARE making progress! It’s going to be great–and the world will keep spinning when you stop to take a rest. I promise!
I LOVE, LOVE, her heart on this topic… SO inspiring!  I want to live from a pattern of rest.  Not rushing, not striving… always, always, tethered to the Lord.
As I continue to practice the art of resting, I pray you are inspired to try it yourself…
Living to leave a legacy,

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lessons learned from RESTING… (Part one)

In case you missed it, we moved recently.  Previously I posted about an awesome house we hadn’t yet seen, but sounded incredible.  We were filled with faith, overwhelmed with peace, and trusting God with the details.  Well… we got the house and it IS everything we were hoping for and more.  God is amazing!!  There is lots more room, I have my own office for the first time ever, we inherited 9 chickens which the boys are super excited about, my dog can finally run the yard with out being on a chain, the boys have a basket ball goal to play on which makes their hearts happy, and Al is lost in the space of the office he has gained.  We couldn’t be happier. 

The only downside has been the endless supply of boxes I have filling my house.  They call out to me.  “Julie, why aren’t you unpacking me?  Don’t you want everything to be in its place so you can be settled?”  Yep… I feel the pressure to finish the job, yet my body has NOT been cooperating.  I guess preparing for the move, packing, pushing, pulling, lifting, and hauling has taken its toll on me.  I did too much!  I over worked myself and didn’t rest enough... now I pay.  I am stubborn like that!  You would think I would know better by now… but nope.  

So lately there has been a war waging in my head….”STRESS or REST”.  The choice is up to me, but the battle goes on daily.  I’m trying to learn to be okay with my mess.  I hate walking around boxes, wondering where things are, and seeing piles of stuff lying around waiting to be put away.  I don’t know why, but it stresses me out.  The best cure for my wiped out, run down body, when my autoimmune disease flares up is… REST.  I know this, but it is SO hard to do. 

What comes to mind when you hear the word….REST?  Slowing down, taking a nap, giving yourself a much needed break, or maybe the ultimate rest…“Resting in Peace”.

Did you know that REST can actually be a spiritual thing?   For some resting is required for their physical health, while others may need a spiritual rest to regain their focus and connect more with God. 

SO, I’m sure you are thinking… “I know what a physical rest looks like, but tell me more about this spiritual rest.”  Well, a spiritual rest for me is taking a “time out” if you will from the busyness of life.  It is limiting some activities or commitments for a season (how ever long I feel led) to focus more on God. 

When I feel run down, spiritually empty, or emotionally drained, I know it’s time.  
It’s time to slow myself down and calm my heart.  I want God to have all of my attention.  

For this reason, this special time may include fasting or removing something from my life to focus more on God.  Creating a screen-free time daily, weekly, or monthly may be necessary (no tv, internet, social media, etc…) to eliminate distractions.  I would replace this time of course with MORE time with God… more time talking to Him, reading His word, listening to what He might be trying to speak to my heart, and more time being aware of the divine appointments all around me He might be setting up.

I don’t always come to God with a plan during times of spiritual rest.  Some times I am SO wiped out that all I can do is just lay myself at His feet.  I give Him what I have… my 100% for that moment.  Our 100% changes all the time based on circumstances, health, moods, etc.., but the goal is to give Him your best in that moment.  

Some days you won’t have the words to pray.  Just listen.  Some times you won’t have the energy to read the word.  Play worship music.  Do something to connect your heart with God.  At your weakest moment, enlist friends to join you in prayer for a spiritual break through.  There is more my friends.  God meets us in our pursuit of Him at whatever condition we find ourselves.  Don’t give up.  Press in for more!

Believe it or not, but there are actually benefits to resting. 

Now that I think about it… from all of the times I have been forced to rest physically and chose to rest spiritually I have learned a few things.  

1.  RESTING gives me a fresh perspective.
Rest for me when it comes to my health means sitting or lying down... not necessarily sleeping just giving my body a break.  It’s rejuvenating.  The only problem is that I like to be on the go.  To tie me down to a chair is almost torturous.

When all you can do is sit and rest…. and you CAN’T do all of those things you feel you HAVE to do… your perspective begins to change.  You have time to think. Think about what you have been wasting your time on and think about what is truly important. 
It has been said before that… “If you want to know where a person’s priorities truly lie, you need to look at their checkbook and their calendar”.  Priorities change when your calendar has to be cleared completely and you don’t know when you can reschedule what was there before.   Resting slows things down quite a bit.  The chaotic non-stop running ceases and the endless hours of thinking begins.  Well, I guess I am speaking more of a physical rest here, but sometimes a spiritual rest can end up the same way.  You run and run, give and give, until there is nothing left and you are completely drained and emotionally empty.   You need God to re-charge you!  You need Him to strengthen you, refresh you, and settle deep within your spirit.  Peace comes in resting.
Colossians 3:2-3 says it perfectly.  I LOVE the way the Message version reads.

“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.”

I don’t know about you, but some times I don’t see things from “HIS” perspective.  I get all wrapped up in the busyness of life and miss out on what is really important.  RESTING helps me fix my eyes more on Jesus.  It’s a good thing!
Perspective…. HIS perspective.  It helps my heart become thankful…thankful to God for what I have and appreciative of the simple gifts He has given me…. Life, family, friends, an awesome church, etc…  Resting gives me a fresh perspective.  

2.  RESTING challenges me to re-evaluate
Not only does resting give me a fresh perspective, but it challenges me to re-evaluate my priorities.  What is really important to me? 

A couple verses come to mind as I think about priorities… my landmarks you might say on this journey of re-evaluating. 

James 4:8 says…

“Come near to God, and God will come near to you.” (NCV)


Matthew 6:33-34 says…

“Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.  So don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NCV)

I have revisited the topic of priorities often.  What is really important to me?  That’s a tough question, right?  How can we really narrow it all down?  Well, for me… it really comes down to my Faith & Family.  I want to know God personally and make Him known to others.  I want my relationship with God to be alive and active... life-changing!   I want my boys to own their own relationships with God (be personal for them).  As we as a family draw closer to God, I want us to draw closer to one another.
In an effort to help keep our faith and family a priority, we have had to make some tough decisions as parents.  We have to say NO to some things that might be good, in order to say YES to God’s best.  Our goal is to help our boys build a strong foundation in God… that will last a lifetime!  
As a result some time consumers may need to wait, be restricted, or go for now like: video games, ipods, phones, TV time, sports, being a part of every club, extra time with friends, or filling up every weekend of the month with stuff (even if it is with good things). 
We also try to capture special moments together to try to build on this godly foundation… dinner at the table with no distractions where we can connect with each other, prayer times in the car and before bed, and family nights (if we don’t schedule it on the calendar, it doesn’t happen).  I am thinking at our next family night maybe we need to pray over our checkbook and calendar for God’s direction.  God blesses humble hearts submitted to Him and I so want His blessing on our family.  
We want God’s best, right?  As we draw closer to Him in our resting, He will help us choose what is best for our family during this season.  He will help us decide what commitments we need to make personally (to things that may fill up our calendars) and give us wisdom on how and where we should spend our money.  I have learned that taking time to build a godly foundation for the future over rules everything else.  We strive for a healthy balance with God’s direction all of the way in this endeavor.  Resting is a good thing.  It challenges me to re-evaluate my priorities.
After thinking about all I have learned from resting, I realized this post really needs to be in two parts.  SO more tips on what I learned from resting will be coming soon.   I challenge you to take some time today to rest … seek His perspective and re-evaluate your priorities.  Are you where God wants you to be?  I pray God’s peace be with you as you pursue more of His presence.
Living to leave a legacy,