guard your heart.

Walls are everywhere. Every day, new ones are created while old ones are destroyed. The boundary concept, however, is not new; in creation, God corralled the sea with the land and Adam with the plentiful surroundings of the Garden of Eden.

“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good … And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.”– Genesis 1:9-10, 2:8-9, ESV

Emotional walls. We all have them. We build them, and we tear them down. Though our circumstances will vary, our motive is always the same. FEAR, both rational and irrational, will drive us to quickly erect a Great Wall around our hearts in record-breaking time.

Some of us fear a broken heart or wounded pride. Others fear disappointment or discouragement. Either way, these emotions are as real as the pain that accompanies them. We always hear that we should guard our hearts, to keep them protected from such dangers, so we build emotional walls to protect ourselves. However, if you are anything like me, these protective measures have a rather low success rate.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” – Proverbs 4:23, HCSB

Throughout my dating life, I have striven to keep my heart guarded by building emotional walls around myself. Another heartbreak comes, I add another layer of fortification to my wall. The longer I live and the more pain I encounter, the thicker and taller my wall becomes. Soon your wall becomes so impassible that you are numb to all emotions in the world surrounding you. You struggle to feel joy and elation while still experiencing pain from each new addition to the fortification.

Can you relate?

This place of confusion and defeat, of despair and resentment, is exactly where I have landed in the past. We hear that we should guard our hearts. But what does that really mean? And what exactly are we guarding them from? And how will we ever find love with our hearts are locked up tight?

And then amidst my maze of questions and emotions, a thought hit me like lightning: It is not my job to build protective measures for my heart or to do the maintenance work on these walls. That is solely God’s job. He never asked me to do his job, nor am I able. God created boundaries to give us life abundantly.

I realized I had been trying to be the gatekeeper, the guard to my heart, instead of letting God do the work that only He can do! Hear the same passage from another translation:

“… Keep [my words] within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4: 21-23, ESV

Life. Healing. Yes please! When we allow God full access to our hearts, He will heal us and renew us in a miraculous way. ASK GOD TO GUARD YOUR HEART. ASK HIM TO LET BOUNTIFUL LIFE FLOW FROM IT.  He is willing and able. Behind God’s protective shield, we are free to be ourselves and enjoy life abundantly. We are made to abound in the confines of His merciful grace and unbounding love. This means we have a safe place to abide with zero judgement and unfailing and unlimited love. 

Ladies, building a wall is man’s work. Let’s leave it to God. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Check out http://www.thelightblonde.com/ to shop for the tee in the photo and lots of other super cute tops created to spread the gospel of love! 💗💗💗

 

never a dull moment.

There are times when I feel that my life is lacking somehow because I am not married, nor do I have children. I imagine we all have these thoughts at times.. that our lives are just not complete somehow. We are blind to the richness of our current situations when we become focused on what we lack, or what we THINK we lack.

It is just too easy to feel less than or inadequate because our lives do not match up to those of our peers. We quickly fall into a tailspin of worry over our external timelines and internal time clocks. My previous posts Standing on an hourglass and my plans. both speak to those worries.

God never fails to remind me that my life is complete, just as it is.. right here, right now. Whenever I start to feel down (please note: not IF I feel down but WHEN I feel down), God always reminds me of my blessed life in the most simple and sometimes humorous ways. I remember that it is He that dictates my completion, my wholeness and my worth. He deems me valuable; therefore, I am.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17, ESV

Just last week, I was having an off morning and feeling that my life was sub par and boring. I feared that I was missing out on the excitement in life that surely comes with a husband and children. Woe is me! Near the peak of my supposed boring day, I hear a splish-splash in my bathroom. I realize with horror that I left the door ajar while I was running a mixture of bleach and detergent through my tub to clean the jets. Oh yes, Annabelle was in the tub playing and drinking the potent cleaning concoction! Just having a grand time! Just a little bleach!

After the initial shock and mild profanity, I got her out of the tub and washed her off and then begin to laugh. I was laughing so hard that I was nearly in tears. I realized that God was showing me that there is never a dull moment in my life! There are no limits with God. He is the author of creativity. He showed this pity party planner. that her life is indeed full through the devious act of a mischievous cocker spaniel. He will do the same for you.

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act… Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” – Psalm 37:5,7, ESV

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is all about perspective. There will always be someone who has more money, a bigger house, a better job, a better wardrobe. Perhaps you envy the family or the doting husband of your friend. Remember that where we are is where God has placed us, and we are to trust completely and wholly in His purpose, even when we cannot see His reason or the road ahead.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction things not seen… And without faith it is impossible to please [God], for whoever would draw near to [Him] must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” – Hebrews 11:1,6, ESV

So even though we are not where we thought we would be in life, or we are longing for more in our current situations, we just need to have faith? Surely not! I find that talking about having faith and trusting God and seeking Him is far easier than the actions. The words alone are simple; the words in action are daunting and scary.

Trusting my future completely to God is scary at least, and attempting to draw near to Him seems impossible. I am a mere human. How can I possibly please God? Through God’s loving grace.. that’s right, G-R-A-C-E! This grace covers all our human short-comings and doubtful tendencies and allows us to draw near to the Almighty God with eager hearts of trust and open minds of faith.

Let us spend less time worrying about what we have not yet achieved or do not yet possess and spend more time seeking God and strengthening our faith in Him and His promises for us. Take comfort in knowing that you are RIGHT WHERE God wants you to be. You may be in a season that is short but bearable or a season that you never want to end. Either way, know that you are never alone, and that God has great purpose for your life in the right here and right now.

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” – 1 Timothy 4:4-5, ESV

You heard the man! Paul tells us that everything God has made is good. That includes you and your life. What we need is less complaining about our situations and more action to better ourselves. Be thankful. Look at your life with new eyes, and count your blessings, even if running water and coffee is all you can think of! Open your Bible, read His Words of truth, and talk to God! A moment spent with God is never a moment wasted. The same is not true for time spent complaining.

ESV = English Standard Version Bible

my plans.

Ever feel like God did just not get the memo you sent him about all the plans you have made for your life? I sure do. I work so hard to construct this perfect schedule and timeline, but God does not even follow it! Not even close sometimes! So frustrating! I thought planning was one of my spiritual gifts!?

“For I know the plans I have for you, declare the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11, ESV

Chances are you know this verse from Jeremiah by heart. Outstanding, so do I, but how often do we truly apply it to our own lives? It is so very easy to read the first half of the verse and move on, half-heartedly believing God and going right back to our planners. We read it.. a verse a day to keep the devil away.. now back to our busy days!

Let’s look at the passage with fresh eyes and open hearts this time, with consideration to the background of the passage. These words of the LORD were spoken to the prophet Jeremiah during a tumultuous time in Judah’s history. The 600s BC were marked as a time of rampant idolatry and spiritual bankruptcy, until the nation is defeated by King Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah sends these words of hope to the Jewish exiles in Babylon.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declare the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declare the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” – Jeremiah 29:11-14, ESV

A HOT MESS! So the people of Israel had turned from God and been worshipping idols and following whatever superstitious cultic practices had been deemed by the throne. They never stopped being God’s people, just stopped behaving like God’s people. Then King Neb saw an easy target and captured Jerusalem. An even hotter mess! Slight change in plans, Israel, you are now moving to Babylon! Can you imagine?

Isn’t that always when we suddenly remember God and call out to Him desperately? We forget to talk to God until disaster strikes. Don’t you know they were calling out to God from Babylon? God hears, and God responds through Jeremiah. Hear His instructions:

“Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters … multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” – Jeremiah 29:5-7, ESV

What?! Why not a quick rescue or a swarm of locusts to let the people go? Jeremiah tells them that they will be there for 70 years! Not 70 days, 70 years! Help! My planner is only 18 months! God, can we discuss this please? I can only imagine their anguish and anger.

God tells them to be content in the here and now, with instructions to settle down and plant a garden. Start a family and meet your neighbors. None of those are overnight tasks. Their instructions require obedience and patience and trust in God. In addition to seeking God and being content with their semi-permanent detour, God also instructs them to seek the welfare of their new cities and to pray for them. Talk about praying for your enemies!

Can you relate to the Jewish exiles in Babylon? Perhaps you are frustrated in your current situation that is nothing like what you had planned? A layover turned into a never-ending rerouting, with no desired destination in sight. 

We can plan all we like, but we must remember that God is in charge. Try as we may, things will not always go according to plan and our destinations will not always be of our choosing. Just like the Jewish exiles, God calls us to find contentment in our here and now, no matter how messy or undesirable it may be.

We are to make the most of our circumstances and pray for our cities, our detours in life, with grateful hearts, even when we do not want to. God changes hearts and surroundings, and He is faithful! GOD DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES! He can and will use any situation, any mess we get ourselves into, for His ultimate good. He will deliver us out safely on the other side with blessings greater than we can imagine!

ESV = English Standard Version Bible
Shop glasses and planner in photo: Where do I shop?

radiance.

I have been burdened with feelings of shame before. These uninvited senses of remorse over poor choices I had made would haunt my whole being. My energy and emotion would be rendered in attempt to suppress these wretched feelings and regrets. Voices in my head would tell me that I had gone too far, that I had messed up too much, and that I was not worthy of another chance, nor would I ever have one.

I was convinced that I was unredeemable and undesirable, unforgivable and unworthy.

I was overwhelmed with disparaging thoughts that told me that I was just not enough. I questioned how God could even love someone like me, a sinner.

LIES. All lies, and my mind believed every single one. Forget the red flags of evil, I stubbornly and selfishly chose to listen until the lies became a false-truth and dictated my self-perception and perspective, and I was ashamed of who I had become.

Then one day, I read a Psalm that changed my life. My entire outlook brightened, and the more I read it, the more I believed it. I realized that I had been harboring these feelings of shame from past mistakes that I had never once taken to God. I assumed that since I was disappointed in myself, that God would be too. Since I saw myself as unworthy, God must too. I was too wrapped up in this blanket of lies to recognize the sources of evil orchestrating the  shame I felt. I failed to realize that my theory did not align with the character of God displayed throughout His World.

“The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” – Psalm 34:22, ESV

“Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.” – Psalm 36:5, ESV

I began to understand that God does not make mistakes. He only offers total forgiveness and unwavering love. There is nothing that I can do that would be too much to disqualify me from His love and forgiveness. I am very worthy to him, very precious and very important in His eyes. He loves me. He forgives me. He does so because he wants to.

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” – Psalm 34:4-5, ESV

Take heart! God loves you and is ready to forgive you too. You are worthy and precious and important to Him as well. The moment you seek Him and ask His forgiveness, you will be showered with this amazing love. God does this not because He has to, but because He wants to. He wants to love you and have a relationship with you.

My redemption through Christ reversed all signs of damage, both visible and invisible. He removed all my shame and replaced it with His unfailing love.

In spa terms: God reversed the signs of aging, exfoliated and removed all the dead cells, and left my skin glowing with radiance. It’s like a heavenly facial!

This heavenly spa is open 24/7/365. Walk-ins are always welcome. No appointment needed. All you must do is seek God. Call to Him, and He will hear you. (Psalm 34:15)

These beautiful words are a prayer of confession from my church service yesterday. Make this prayer your own. Remember we are never too far gone for God’s redemption.

“Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo.

Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a weight too heavy to carry.

Set us free from a past we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us to grow more and more into your likeness and your image.”

ESV = English Standard Version Bible

pity party planner.

We must remember that on this journey of life, we are never alone, though it often seems that way. We do not perceive life clearly when we are focused on the world around us. Instead of hearing God’s truth for our lives, we hear the world’s lies. We stumble and fall and conclude that God has abandoned us. Why else would we feel alone?

“Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” – Psalm 10:1, ESV

Then the pity party begins! Don’t we all love to host a selfish soiree?! If pity party planning was a real career, I would be retired to an island at the ripe age of 34!!

Take heart, ladies! We know that every grand event always has a PARTY CRASHER! Something or someone reminds us that we are not alone, that we do have a God that loves us. That little glimmer of hope gives us the strength we need to refocus and to remember that God is there. He always has been and always will be.

“And now, O LORD, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” – Psalm 39:7, ESV

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8, ESV 

We only see what we gaze our eyes upon. Of course we surmise that God has abandoned us when we take our eyes off Him and focus on the world. I assure you that God is present. We must look up and not down, toward Him and not all around. If you cannot see through your tears, do not worry! Speak His name, and He will hear.

“When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:17-18, ESV

“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law,” – Psalm 119:18, KJV

We are human. The world distracts us, and we take our eyes off God. Know that pity parties will happen, and be a smart party planner! Sometimes we just need to cry. Let your tears be therapeutic and releasing, but do not allow the self-pity soiree to last all day!

It is in my feeling of destitution that I find God is closest to me. In my life, I have felt His presence most tangible and near in times of weakness, sadness, and despair.  

I keep verses posted all over my house and several easily found in my phone for the sometimes unavoidable surprise pity party that arrives. I also try not to party alone! When I am feeling down, I call a friend to help me crash my own party! A dear friendship is a blessing soaked in God’s love that always reminds me that I am never journeying alone.

ESV = English Standard Version Bible,  KJV = King James Version Bible

 

 

bad hair day.

I have a lot of hair. It’s thick and long and a process to blow dry after its been washed. However, if I want my hair to behave, then I must not skip any steps! A hair dryer is not a necessity to live, but mine greatly improves my life!

Not all hair dryers are the same. Some of you may can relate. (If not, then please just stick with me anyway; I’m going somewhere deeper than hair with this!) I have tried so many different dryers from every make and model and every newest function and ionic-whatevers. I found that the newest, flashiest model did not necessarily do the best job. I would find a great one, only to have it quit on me later. I needed something dependable, solid, that I knew would not let me down. My Dry Bar Buttercup hair dryer is just that.

When I travel, I carry my travel-size hair dryer with me, because I know that without out, I am guaranteed to have some serious bad hair days while I’m away from home.

We try any and every new shiny thing that promises to bring us joy, instead of just sticking with what we KNOW works. Sometimes hair is no different from life. We put our trust in the world to give us smooth locks and joy and end up with tangles and frizz.

We must put our trust in God to provide and take care of our every detail, from our hair to our future.

The world is constantly producing the newest, greatest thing with empty promises of unending joy and satisfaction and lifetime guarantees, but those things never deliver.

We need something we can depend on for our entire lives. Not just today, not just for one season, not just for one year, but for an entire lifetime. God is that answer!

Just like a hair dryer, we must take God with us everywhere we go. Please note, I am not suggesting that you find a travel-sized God; there is no such thing! He’s one-size-fits-all and mighty and not to be squeezed into your carry-on. However, I am suggesting that you purchase a travel-sized Bible to carry with you, or perhaps download a Bible app on your phone!  Just like traveling without my hairdryer invites bad hair days, leaving home without God invites a bad day period!

Remember the Israelites? The ones that Moses led out of slavery in Egypt? The ones who wandered in the desert for 40 years in route to the Promised Land?

God provided for the Israelites from the moment their journey began.

“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar… did not depart from before the people.” – Exodus 13:21-22, ESV

God had already planned the trip from Egypt to the Promised Land. Everything was mapped out, meals planned; they could not have asked for a better tour director! The journey under God’s direction is going so well, until the people decided to leave God behind. They no longer need His guidance or protection once the flashy world caught their eyes.

In the South, we say ‘the grass always looks greener on the other side.’ For the Israelites, the sand must have looked lusher on the other side that was not under God’s guidance. Their choice to journey without God resulted in quite a delay! God set them to wander in that desert for 40 years because of their stubborn disobedience.

“And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them… I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.'” – Exodus 32:7-9, ESV

God tells Moses the people have ‘corrupted themselves! They have turned aside quickly from His ways!’ Halfway through the journey, they decided they could plan the trip better than God had. They attempted to desert God and change His travel plan, but instead, they traded a direct journey to the Promised Land for a 40-year delay in the desert. The supposed upgrade the world offered them was a scam, nothing more than a downgrade!

There are no direct flights for the disobedient, no upgrades for the ungodly.

Each day we live is a journey. We have the choice to be stubborn travelers or smart travelers. Be smart! Choose obedience and travel with God! He guarantees a good journey!

The encouraging words of the LORD to Joshua before they entered the Promised Land: “…Do not turn from [my Law]… This [Book] shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success… Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:7-9, ESV

ESV = English Standard Version Bible

 

Standing on an hourglass

From ‘My Hope is Built on Nothing Less’ by Edward Mote:

on Christ the solid rock I stand/ all other ground is sinking sand / all other ground is sinking sand”

How often do you feel that you are stuck in sinking sand and that time is working against you? No matter how hard you try, you just cannot go fast enough to beat it. Despite all efforts, you cannot achieve enough to make it out. Some days feel like you are drowning in the sands of time, barely able to catch a breath, seeming as though you are standing atop an hourglass with the sands steadily slipping away from underneath you as you sink further and further down.

Like flood waters creeping up, this fast-paced world can very quickly sweep us away. It tells us daily that we are running behind and have unmet deadlines. Everyone’s deluge may look different, but the residual feelings are the same: empty and discouraged souls, exhausted from efforts to reach an ever-rising level of achievement.

Modern conformity comes only at the price of your sanity and your soul. 

Think of an hourglass. The sands of time are slowly trickling down to the bottom chamber. Once the hour has passed, our time is up. This very time device is what the wicked witch used to scare Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Some 80 years later, the world uses the same trick as Hollywood did in 1937 to scare us today!

We feel this insatiable pressure from many directions, yet we cannot identify the source.

None of these worldly timeclocks were set by us or with our consent, but they are the gauge on which we are measured. This is the standard by which our success is measured, our value is measured, and if we are not careful, our self-worth is measured.

Who set these socially accepted standards for measure? God? Oh no, the world did. The world, comprised of flesh and human minds, moral and unmoral, ethical and unethical, godly and ungodly, set these standards.

How many times as women do we hear:?

  • You better hurry up and get married before you get too old!
  • You better hurry up and have babies. Your time clock is ticking!
  • You haven’t even made partner yet. What are you waiting for?

So why do we even acknowledge these worldly standards? They are nearly impossible to ignore. They are everywhere: social media, TV, magazines, billboards, radio, etc. The worldly standards have even crept into our churches and into our homes.

“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” – 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, ESV

What if these standards are means to distract us from God’s direction in our lives? Just little lies, small voices telling us we are not enough, have not done enough, do not have enough. When does it end? We get close to the next level of enough-ness, and to our dismay, the standard of achievement has been raised. We may not can stop these worldly lies from spreading into public places, but we can control what enters our homes and our minds.

“Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping…  He [God] only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken… Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” – Psalm 6:8, 62:2,8, ESV

 

ESV = English Standard Version Holy Bible

Grudges make smudges.

What happens when we hold a grudge against someone for something they did or didn’t do, or did or didn’t say? Perhaps we hold a grudge against someone for never meeting an unspoken expectation that we had set for them in our minds.

“Guard you heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” – Proverbs 4:23, HCSB

So what’s the big deal about a grudge? It takes up valuable real estate in our hearts, space that could be given to God and used to love someone.. maybe even ourselves. Grudges we hold are not limited to OTHER people. Sometimes we detest some quality or lack thereof about ourselves so very much that we build up feelings of anguish and discontentment that overflows in negative thoughts.

  • “I hate my ___________ [thighs, nose, etc]. I’d be happy if only mine were ______________ [smaller, bigger, thinner, etc].” 
  • If I was a little less / more _________________ [organized, in shape, etc], I’d be so happy!”
  • If only I had _____________ [a husband, a better job, a cleaner house, more time], then I’d be so happy!”

Do any of these sound familiar to you? The if only scenarios seem to be blocking our happiness. But maybe there is something more, something deeper?

Let’s take a step back and really look at these if only thoughts.

  1. Did you get this information from a credible source? That you won’t be happy until you achieve / obtain _____ .
  2. Are any of these goals CONCRETE things that will sustain your happiness, or are they fleeting and temporary feelings?

God knows us and sees us for who we really are. He forgives us of our many shortcomings and imperfections and still loves us anyway. Why do we struggle to forgive and love “as is”?

Perhaps you have some area of brokenness in your life right now. Maybe a relationship in need of mending, a habit you can’t seem to kick, a neglected duty, or just a pile of grudges against someone. God is calling us to look deeper and find those areas where we are withholding forgiveness. Look closely. These grudges may be towards another person, towards God, or even towards yourself. When you find these grudges, give them to God. Allow Him to shine His light on the areas of smudgy darkness. A clean heart is a healed heart. Only God can miraculously erase smudges long engrained on human hearts.

“That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.” – John 1:5, HCSB

Let God heal your broken and smudged heart. His light can outshine, overwhelm, and overcome any pain that you have. His laser of love will mend your broken heart and make you whole again.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” – Psalm 139:23-24, HCSB

ab-grudge
Annabelle holding a grudge

[HCSB: Holman Christian Standard Bible]

New Year. New Time.

The beginning of a new year brings rushes of excitement and dreams of change. It represents a seemingly rare opportunity to hit the reset button and have a fresh start on life! A do-over. A clean space. A new page. A new time.

With the new year, we find blank space in which we get to create and choose. The possibilities are endless! We have a chance to erase the mess from the previous year and start all over again. We must not be so quick to move forward that we miss any valuable lessons to be learned from the past year. Whether you have gathered small subtle tips or large life lessons, I encourage you to carry the wisdom forward with you but leave the regrets and frustrations behind. No time for that in 2017!!

“… let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.. ” – Hebrews 12:1b-2, ESV

We start the new year with a blank canvas full of room for our hopes and ideas! I encourage you to choose wisely what you allow on your canvas. Look past what the world deems important and focus instead on things above, things that truly matter and will last. Things that will strengthen you rather than weaken you, encourage you rather than lead you astray, comfort you rather than ignore you, and love you rather than entertain you. The world is full of flash and eye candy, but these sparkling moments of happiness are fleeting. Seek the joy that truly lasts.

This [bitter jealousy and selfish ambition] is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual … For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder … But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:13-17, ESV

I assure you that God will outshine anything fabricated by the world. When we seek these  temporary worldly joys, we focus only on ourselves and our own personal gains. James points out that disorder will likely ensue on a group filled with jealousy and selfish ambition. The first church did not need chaos and neither do we!

Seek God to find the joy that truly lasts. Make spending time with Him a priority in your day. Carefully choose what will be allowed to fill your life and enjoy each new day!

 

cropped-e-background.jpg
Annabelle

Check out this article from Proverbs31 Ministries on Time Well Spent!

http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/time-well-spent/

 

Start 2017 with 40 Days of Prayer Scripture – LifeWay Women All Access

With 2016 coming to a close, take a moment to reflect on the past year. Praise God for all the blessings and seek His comfort for all the rest. Realize the mind tends to overshadow the gains with the losses. Allow Him to heal those painful areas and make you new.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  – Ezekiel 36:26, ESV

With a new year comes new ideas and resolutions, desires for growth and improvement, and plans for change. I encourage you to consider a new kind of resolution in 2017… one that will result in more growth and change than you [and Pinterest] can ever imagine! Spend time with God every day in scripture and prayer. Resolve to make Him a part of your everyday life. Be intentional. Seek Him with a genuine heart and an open mind. He welcomes us all, whether we come mourning with heavy hearts, dancing with light hearts, or flaming with angry hearts.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”  – Colossians 3:2, ESV 

Lifeway Women has developed a plan to help us be present in the Word and spend quiet time daily in God’s presence. 40 Days of Prayer is a guide with daily readings from the book of Psalms along with prayer and time / space for your personal reflection.

Just think of the power of women around the world praying and reading the beautiful Psalms together for 40 days! Think of  just a few of the magnificent stories in the Bible of those who obediently accepted God’s invitation to be in His presence for 40 days:

  • Noah built a boat in the desert and then spent 40 days and nights with his family and animals aboard. He survived a devastating flood! (Genesis 7-8)
  • Moses entered God’s presence on Mount Sinai and neither ate nor drank for 40 days and nights, then received the Ten Commandments. He maybe lost weight and watched a miracle take place! (Exodus 34)
  • The giant Philistine stood ominously before Israel for 40 days and nights before young David slayed him with a sling and stones. David became king! (1 Samuel 17)
  • Jesus spent 40 days and nights fasting in the wilderness, with wild animals and Satan’s temptations. Angels ministered to him during that time! (Mark 13)

This series starts January 1st! Follow the link below to sign up online. You may choose to receive your daily lessons via email or download a PDF version for viewing or printing.

2017. A new year full of new possibilities! A new space with time for God. A new heart to desire and seek God. Start the year off right. Seek God joyfully each and every day! I hope you find this resource from Lifeway Women inspiring and inviting!!

“I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” – Psalm 145:1-3, ESV (David’s song of praise)

 

Source: Start 2017 with 40 Days of Prayer Scripture – LifeWay Women All Access