Thursday, September 27, 2012

Grasping His Hand

After a couple weeks of craziness preparing for a writers conference, It's time for Five Minute Friday where a flash mob of writers join to write purely for the joy of it and then share our thoughts over at Lisa-Jo's. Today's word?
Next week will begin a new month. I had to prepare my calendar today. It seems I just changed months. Wasn't it just August? March? Time seems to fly.

There is no way to grasp it right now. It slips through my fingers, silkier than water. Illusive. I can't catch it, bottle it, or buy it. I must use it, and use it wisely.

I'm learning more about making the most of every opportunity. A week in Haiti has created a lasting lesson. "Who of you can add a day to his life?" says the Lord.

My desire to cling is clearly an issue of control. And I need to let go. It's that balance between remembering and forgetting. So many times, the Lord charges His people to remember the things He did for them, the places He brought them from and to. Then in Isaiah, He tells them to forget the former things for He is doing something new. Don't you see it?

When I cling, grasping at thin air, I forget the beauty of surrender. Time will pass. It isn't a question but a certainty. Embrace it, move with it, surrender to the God who holds the clock in His hand. He holds my days and my destination. He knows the journey.

So, I think I'll grasp tightly to His hand and trust the One who controls all things. What a great lesson He teaches me from the beginnings of a scattered post.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dream Big - Worth Fighting For

Without a doubt, there will come a time on the road to your dreams when you will ask yourself, "Is this really worth it?" A major disaster may rock your world, changing your circumstances. Or you may just experience road block after road block.

In J.R.R. Tolkien's "Twin Towers", Samwise Gamgee, speaks a small piece of wisdom to Frodo in a desperate moment when all seems lost.

"There is some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for."

Are your dreams worth fighting for? Do they really matter even in the darkest moments?

Run through a check list...

Are they grounded in eternity?
Do they benefit others or just yourself?
Do they change the world, or at least a piece of it?
Are they capable of achieving with hard work?
Do they utilize the gifts, personality, and passions the Lord has given you?
Is your main motivation money or success?
Can you accomplish them on your own, or are they God-sized?
Are they for His glory?

Pursuing our dreams, making a difference takes courage. You and I must determine that nothing will stand in the way. Seek encouragement from those around you in times of discouragement. Surround yourself with people who challenge you to keep going. Listen to wise counsel if those in your life see that you are veering off track (they usually have a better picture than you do). Pursuing dreams is a journey. Never easy, but eternally worth it.

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Prov. 16:9

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dream Big - When Dreams Break (Part 2)

As Americans in this generation, we have an awful sense of entitlement. I can't tell you how many times I have thought or said that I haven't done anything wrong so I deserve to have good things. I can't count how many times I have heard it said by friends and family. The fact is, we aren't owed anything.

When our dreams break, our first reaction should NEVER be anger with God. But let's face it, that is usually our exact response. Why isn't God answering my prayer? Doesn't He want good things for me? Why won't He give me what I want? After all, I'm a good person!

If this is your heart, you need a serious reality check, friend. That isn't the God of the Bible. He rarely promises to give us what we want. He does promise to give us good things, but His version of good things is VERY different from ours. He does desire to use us in great ways, but often that means dying (literally or figuratively depending on where you live) or suffering for His glory.

When we wonder why things aren't working out, why He isn't fulfilling the dreams we think He has placed in our hearts, we MUST look at His character and realign our attitudes.

Who is He in your brokenness?

Ruins of an old abbey in Bury St. Edmunds, England

"I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you." Joel 2:25-26

"He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." Psalm 23:3

"Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings." Isaiah  58:12

"Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:1-3

"'But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,' declares the LORD, 'because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.'" Jeremiah 30:17

"They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations." Isaiah 61:4

"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

" which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire." 2 Peter 1:4

"If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithfulfor he cannot deny himself." 2 Timothy 2:12-13
He has a PURPOSE
" that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory." Ephesians 3:10-13

Never doubt that He still cares in your seasons of questioning and wondering. His plan is beautiful. He is faithful. The decision to trust Him will lead to the biggest adventure of your life.

Friday, September 14, 2012

In a Different Light - Focus

It's time for Five Minute Friday where a flash mob of writers join to write purely for the joy of it and then share our thoughts over at Lisa-Jo's. Today's word?

Technology has bred a kind of ordered chaos. Or maybe people have. Or maybe we have allowed life to run us instead of living life. In any case, it is rarely peaceful.

Until I focus. 

The world seems to run a marathon around me while my brain desperately tries to catch up. Some days feel like a blur of people, colors, projects. Go, go, go.

Until I focus. 

Then the world seems to slow. I can think clearly. Enough to grab onto each person, each project, distinguish each color and live moment by moment, instead of racing to catch up.

I focus my angle from a wide, overwhelming shot of the world, to what I need to do, this day, this moment. I want to bring purpose. Not just keep up with life, but live it. 

But my focus says there is something more. I can see the person close up. A blurred horizon looms behind them. And I remember. I'm not just focusing on this moment. 

I'm building an eternal perspective. 

And all of a sudden that makes everything sharper, crisp. I have clarity. It isn't a rat race, but a race to a finish line where the King is the ultimate prize. It is a race run together, every moment heavy with purpose, every project an opportunity to make a difference, change a life.

My lens is changing. I focus to make the most of a moment. But more than that, I focus to make the most for eternity. It seems I finally found the right angle.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Live Inspired - The Power of TEAM

"One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team."  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Did you know today is National Encouragement Day?

Nothing is more encouraging than the unity and passion of a team. You become like those you surround yourself with. I am part of several teams: family, work, community. But there is one that I am very thankful for today....

We affectionately call ourselves Team Sidewalk. Our team volunteers at our young adult service every Tuesday night. We have two jobs: host and welcome every person who enters before the service, and pray with, encourage, listen, and share the gospel with people after the service.

A couple of weekends ago, we took a 24-hour retreat and walked away stronger and encouraged. Encouragement is so key on a team. These people...
  • are passionate about sharing the gospel
  • love every person who enters our doors
  • relentlessly challenge one another
  • look for the best, forgive the worst, encourage change and growth
  • speak the truth of God's word
  • pursue people to show them Jesus
  • are honest and authentic with themselves, our team, and those we speak with
  • desire to honor the Lord in all we do
  • desire to build unity on our team and make the most of every person's strengths
  • realize that their stories are not their own
  • practice servant leadership by humbling themselves, even in difficult moments
These people show me Christ. When I'm discouraged, they encourage. When I am confused, they point me to Christ. When I am worn out, they walk with me and help me persevere. When I'm excited, they celebrate with me. When I am broken, they pray for me.

Because of their encouragement and example, I learn weekly how to live more like Christ. The Lord didn't create us to live in isolation. We were meant to be part of a team, a community. Who is running with you and making you better? Who are you encouraging and challenging? Don't miss out on this beautiful journey with the people in your life!

"Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose." Philippians 2:2

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dream Big - When Dreams Break

On the banks of Loch Ness stands the stately ruins of a once grand castle. Jean-clad tourists now trek where jeweled women once ran their keeps. This building was subject to war and weather, but the ruins still stand, a broken tribute to the past success of several Scottish clans. 


This castle got me thinking...what happens when our dreams, our plans break? What happens when dreams die?

It is an inevitable fact of life. We aren't promised anything. A sense of entitlement because of education or accomplishment gets us nowhere. What do we do when everything falls apart?

If I have learned anything over the past 3 years, I have learned that the death of one dream is not the end. It may be the beginning of an even better dream. When my dreams came to an end, I did the only thing I knew to do...

I prayed, and the Lord gave me a new direction, a new dream. I truly believe God is a BIG DREAMER. And He greatly delights in doing extraordinary things with the most unlikely candidates, often those whose dreams have ended.

Moses, prince of Egypt, became a banned shepherd in the desert, yet the Lord used him to fulfill His covenant promise to Israel and lead them to the promised land.

Joseph, dejected and incarcerated, became the right hand man of Pharaoh and saved his family, the ancestors of Jesus. 

Paul, the pharisee who killed and captured many Christians, spread the gospel to Gentiles all over the known world.

When our plans and dreams crash, pain and bitterness can often tear us apart, destabilizing us, discouraging us, instilling feelings of failure.

DON'T GIVE UP! I've been there. God has bigger, more beautiful plans than I can tell you. Can you imagine His delight in planning something better than you expect? "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

Don't hold onto the ruins of past dreams. Rebuild something better, something useful, surrender to the One who can't wait to lead you somewhere amazing. 

No promises it will be easy. But it will be worth it. Will you trust Him to dream better dreams when your current dreams break?

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Just Call Me "Clumsy"

It's time for Five Minute Friday where a flash mob of writers join to write purely for the joy of it and then share our thoughts over at Lisa-Jo's. So, set your timer and clear your head for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right. Today's word?
My name means Grace, gift from God that I don't deserve. I am a walking testament to His goodness and faithfulness in my life. But, that walk is pretty uncoordinated and everything short of graceful.

Ever close your eyes while standing to pray or just be still? Yeah, well, I tend to fall over when that happens. Uncoordinated is an understatement.

Whenever a dish broke in our house, it was usually me. At least it was until I started marching band and had to walk precisely and gracefully as I darted about the field while playing my clarinet. After that, every time a dish broke, I made sure every one in the house knew that it was NOT me.

I guess that is the definition of grace. Redeemable. One day, my lack of coordination will be completely redeemed. I made a choice as a child. I knew I couldn't walk a straight line in my own strength. Thankfully His grace is sufficient and His power is PERFECT in the midst of my clumsy nature.

One day, I'll stand in heaven on a grassy hill with my arms thrown wide, dancing for my Creator, graceful and free. Home. Until then, my praise will just be slightly wobbly. But He doesn't see that quirky flaw. He just sees me, redeemed, covered by grace, a treasure to the King of Kings.