thoughts on being still.

I took a long walk this morning in the pre-dawn glimmer.  Just to clear my mind.   Cluttered thoughts whirling, twirling since I opened my eyes, way too early.  I really just wanted to close them again, pull up the covers, and drift back into a dream, but knew such a gift was an impossibility. I was awake.  It was done.   Bombardment of a myriad of thoughts clamoring for attention, burdens pressing hard on my spirit, plaguing my mind, too many things to be contained in one heart. 

You may understand, all too well. 

Usually I run.  Today, I walked.  Long.  Took cues from my dog. Stopping a lot along the path…breathing in fresh, cool morning air…listening to sounds, birds, wind…noticing things around me that normally would never catch my attention.  Dogs are really very wise.  If only we would listen more to what they try to tell us.  Slow down.  Listen.  Look.  Breathe.

Thoughts swirled.  Conversations with Him.  Time passed.  Peace came.

for the weary one

So often in life we run.  We’re busy.  We’re pressed for time.  We rub shoulders every day with people who are desperate, hurting, lonely.  Sometimes we notice, but often we don’t.  We’re just too busy, preoccupied, or overwhelmed ourselves.  And to be quite honest, many days, “we” are those people, the desperate, the hurting, the lonely.  Just needing someone to notice.  To slow down.  To take time. 

Crazy world we live in, huh?

We desperately need joy-givers, hope-bringers, those in our lives who will help us remember what it is to breathe.in.grace.

We desperately need to BE those kinds of people for the ones who are starving.  For joy. For hope. For grace.

For many of us, running comes naturally – active, moving, stirring, going – it’s what we’re all about.    It’s the slowing down and stopping to listen and notice, that seems very, well, unnatural.

We’re rewarded for how much we accomplish, we live in a culture that praises movement, we tend to get impatient with those who are too slow about anything. 

Nothing wrong with running.  Or being active.  Except this one thing. 

We often never stop. 

We’re too busy to stop.  We even forget what it feels like.  So much so, that when we finally do, we feel like we’ve wasted time.  We feel guilty for being “lazy.”  Or we feel some sudden pressing need to check an electronic device, to see if someone needs us, or to make sure we haven’t missed something really important in those past few minutes that we tried to slow down.

Slowing down takes work.  Stopping and just breathing – takes practice.

Maybe that’s why God says it so clearly…

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Seems simple enough.   Yet often the hardest thing in the world.  

Be still and know, be still and know, be still and know that He is God.

Breathing in His grace today.  And slowing down…

 

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a reminder for the mom who struggles…you are powerful…you are mom

Linking this post up today with (in)courage at www.incourage.me/2014/05/the-power-of-encouragement-a-link-up.html. The theme is – The Power of Encouragement.  And whether that encouragement comes across your day through the sweet words of a child, or time with a friend, or straight from His whispers to your soul, as you breathe in beauty around you, the truth is – it’s life-changing. Praying today that God, lifter of our heads, will soothe our hearts with the power of His love and peace surrounding all we do…blessings friend. He is Grace.

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“Mom,” he paused, “You know what?  You are the most pretty and powerful mom in the whole wide world.”  His sweet, heart-felt words came out of the clear blue, yet breathed life into my weary soul that day.  I certainly wasn’t “feeling” very pretty.  Hair pulled straight back in need of a wash, no make up on, weary eyes from lack of sleep and in need of another cup of coffee, I felt immensely drained…tired.  And, as far as powerful – I struggled with deep feelings of failure in even keeping up with life.  Laundry had no end.  Too much to do with too little hours in the day.  I battled to keep it all afloat but constantly felt I was in sinking sand.

I knew the truth.  I knew that reality said I was certainly not that – “the most pretty or powerful mom in the whole wide world.”  But to him, I was.  And that’s all that really mattered.  The reality that spoke a surge of  hope into my very being.  That made me lift my head.  That brought a  surge of renewal to my battle with defeat.  “Maybe I am making a difference,” I whispered down deep, “Maybe I am somehow leaving a positive and lasting impression on their lives. Even in the midst of all the mess and struggle…”

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His words reminded me that God had a plan in bringing our family together.  I was destined to be their mom.  Dawson’s mom.  Noah’s mom.  Gracie’s mom.  No one else could be their mom like I could - however imperfect that might seem - He was the One who brought it all together with incredible timing and flawless design.  His plans indeed are perfect.  There is truly nothing that brings me greater joy – than to be their mom.  “Just a mom.”  I hear that phrase sometimes and I wonder where it came from.  What do you mean “just” a mom?  What better, more powerful, more influential job in the whole wide world could one ever possess than being called “Mom”?

I was reminded that day…

My feelings of inadequacy or not ever being “good enough,” didn’t matter.  My measuring stick about how I compare against all the other moms had suddenly lost all significance.  Because though I may never feel like I can quite get it together like so and so, they think I’m the best mom in the world.

And I am. For them. Because that’s how God designed it to be.

Dear mom friends who, like me, feel like you’re not good enough…who are struggling to keep it all together…stop comparing yourselves.  Your children want you.  Only you.  Not the mom in the magazine.  Not the mom on Pinterest.  Not the mom on the blog.  Not the mom on TV.  Not the mom in the office.  Not a stressed out mom who feels like she has never has enough time to get it all done.  Not a constantly discouraged mom who is desperately trying to be more like someone else.  They want simple, wonderful, powerful, beautiful – YOU.

There will always be someone else doing “more,” doing “better.”  Let it go.  God’s given you a treasure to raise, and YOU are the best mom for your child.  You have the power to make a difference in the world through these young lives.

You have the influence to remind them daily of who they are – of “whose” they are.  You have the ability to unleash mighty warriors in future years - those destined to be a strong and positive presence in a dark culture.  Your children need you.  They need time with you.  God arranged it perfectly that way.  You are uniquely created to live the life that only you have the power to live.  You are enough.  You are more than enough – through the greatness of our Savior.

Stop the negative self talk that drives you to compare yourself with others.  Be free to be yourself.  Remind yourself today of how God sees you, of how much your children need you.  Look in the mirror and say it out loud.  “I am beautiful.  I am powerful.  I am the best mom in the world - for my kids.”

The opportunity to make a lasting difference in the world is at your fingertips…it’s called being a mom.  You are powerful in the life of your child.  You matter.  Don’t ever forget.  You are blessed to be “Mom.”

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.”  Psalm 3:3

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20 Great Verses and Quotes on Freedom to Remind Us – It Is Not Free

Freedom.

Definition – the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Freedom is powerful.  It is a gift.  A treasure.

The most significant, important gifts in life are always worth fighting for.  And they often come with a great price.  They are not free.  Somewhere along the way, someone paid dearly for the liberties we enjoy so freely today.  But often, we forget.  It’s easy to take them for granted.  We enjoy freedom, but most of us alive today, have always had it.  We may not even be fully aware of just how many men and women have paid dearly for the gifts we enjoy today.  The price was paid through many long years.

Today is a day to remember.

Today is a day to be grateful.

Today is a day to say thank you.  To those who have gone before us.  To those who protect and serve our nation today.  And most importantly, to our Savior, who paid the ultimate price, so that we can live free.  Forever.

Freedom is a precious gift.  Thank God for it today…

20 Great Verses and Quotes on Freedom to help us remember – it is not free:

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:36

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm…” Galatians 5:1

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”  1 Peter 2:16

 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  2 Corinthians 3:17

 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”  Galatians 5:13

 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” Isaiah 61:1

 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 8:1

 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10

“But now you are free from the power of sin. You have become a servant for God. Your life is set apart for God-like living. The end is life that lasts forever.”  Romans 6:22

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Thomas Jefferson

“In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Only our individual faith in freedom can keep us free.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation and freedom in all just pursuits.”  Thomas Jefferson

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”  Nelson Mandela

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”  Ronald Reagan

“Freedom lies in being bold.”  Robert Frost

“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”  Malcolm X

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”  Abraham Lincoln

“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”  Maya Angelou

Prayer of Thanks for Freedom: 

Dear God,

We thank you for the freedom you have given to us, and for the price that was paid so that we could live free.  We remember today.  The cost of it all.

We will choose to walk in the ways that you lead, we desire to follow your voice, to press in close and hear your heart for our nation.

Father, forgive us where we have gone our own way, show us the path to a closer walk with you, help us to live every day that you give, with purpose and passion, never forgetting the sacrifice of your Son, on our behalf.  Help us to live our lives in a way that brings full honor and glory to you.

You are loving, you are forgiving, you are redeeming, you are Lord.  We give you praise.

Lord, bless those who have given, and continue to give, so sacrificially of their own lives, so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms in our nation today.  Bless their families, protect them and their loved ones, provide for their needs, fill them with your strength and grace.  Help us not to take our freedom for granted.  May we always remember that our freedom cost others their very lives.

Today, we are free to worship you. We are free to pray.  We are free to read your Word.  We are free to speak.  We are free to share. And for this, we are incredibly grateful.

In His powerful name, in His amazing grace,

Amen.

It’s a great day. Celebrate!

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He choose for His inheritance.”  Psalm 33:12

god bless america

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Summer of Psalms…Refreshing for Your Soul

summer of psalms

We’re into the heat of the summer now.  Calls for some refreshing.

Join me?

Into one of the greatest books ever written.

The book of Psalms.

Because really, whether you’re having a great summer or one that’s been filled with some challenges, there’s something here for you.  For all of us.

The book of Psalms contains some of the most quoted verses in the entire Bible.  It flows easily with praise, prayers, and honest, real thoughts about life and God.  Written as a book of poetry, you will read words from both sides of life, crying out to God from the depths of despair, to celebrating His goodness with joy and thankfulness.

And isn’t that real life?  One day you could be down in the dumps, the next day could be the best in your life.  I love the freshness and raw emotion so many of these chapters reveal.  I relate.  You probably do too.

So here’s a few facts about Psalms and the Bible that you may or may not know, some of them I’ve just recently learned.

 Facts about Psalms:

- It contains 150 chapters, making it the longest book in the Bible.

- It’s written by more than 7 authors, some of them unknown, and David being the author of at least 73 of the chapters.

- Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the entire Bible.

- Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the entire Bible.

- Psalm 118 is the middle chapter of the Bible and Psa. 118:8 is the exact middle verse.  It says this, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”

- Follow me here on this one, it’s amazing. There are 594 chapters before Psa. 118, and 594 chapters after Psa. 118.  594 +594 = 1188.  The exact middle verse of the Bible.  Wow.  Now isn’t that so amazing?  God stuff there.  Love.

- Most quoted Psalm is from Chapter 23.

The entire book is divided into 5 sections – each paralleling the first 5 books of the Bible:

1.  Psa. 1 – 41 – written mainly by David, these first Psalms are similar to Genesis, written about the the creation of man, the fall into sin, and the promise of redemption by God.

2.  Psa. 42 – 72 – written mainly by David and the sons of Korah (Who were they you ask? So did I. To make a long story short, they were the sons of a rebel, but God still had purpose for their family line, the prophet Samuel came from the line of Korah, and many of the descendants of Korah were mighty warriors with King David and worship leaders and doorkeepers of the tabernacle.), these Psalms reflect the book of Exodus, how God rescued the nation of Israel and so rescues us. Very thankful for these truths.

3.  Psa. 73 – 89 – written mainly by a man named Asaph or his descendants, paralleling the book of Leviticus. Many of these Psalms talk about God’s holiness, the tabernacle, God’s power and that He is deserving of our worship.

4.  Psa. 90 – 106 – written mainly by unknown authors, these books are similar to the book of Numbers, where we see the relationship Israel has with other nations.  In these chapters of Psalms, the relationship of God’s kingdom with the troubles we face on earth are given a similar perspective, making us aware of His sovereignty and power.

5.  Psa. 107 – 150 – The last of the Psalms were mainly written by David, and parallel the book of Deuteronomy, giving voice to songs of praise and thanksgiving about God and His Word.  Many worship songs stem from the words found here in these chapters –  Psa. 108, Psa. 113, Psa. 118, Psa. 121, Psa. 136, Psa. 140, Psa. 145, Psa. 149, among many others.  Many of my fav verses from Psalms are found in these chapters.  Can never read them enough.

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Ways to read through the Psalms:

- One Psalm a day over 5 months.

- Two Psalms a day over 2 ½ months.

- 5 Psalms a day over 30 days.

Here’s a few ways you can do that. Read 5 per day consecutively. Or read a psalm, skip 30, read another, skip 30, read another, etc… until you’ve read 5.  For example, Day 1, you would read Psa. 1, Psa. 31, Psa. 61, Psa. 91, Psa. 121.

So, over the course of the next weeks of summer, we’ll take a look through some of these chapters, some well-known, others not so familiar, and lean in to the heart of God for us, finding His encouragement, strength, and refreshment for the soul…

Hope you can join me over on the facebook page, much grace to you as you read.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”  Psalm 150:6

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