Release. Be filled.

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I have been so tightly wound. Circumstances and chaos have spun me around and around. The horizon is lost and so I hold fast to whatever I can. But, unaware, I’m holding on to the things that hold me back. Tonight, I thought I would write out some things that have been pressing on my soul…but the list kept growing. And I realized how much I have been trying to control, how much I have been trying to regulate, how much I’ve been trying to find my horizon.  It is time to release.

Release all the self-expectation. Release all the perfection. Release all the striving.

Release the inadequacies. Release the deficiencies. Release the insufficiencies.

Release the emotional chaos. Release the career chaos. Release timelines.

Release the half finished home projects. Release budget imperfections. Release retirement plans.

Release dress size. Release missed workouts. Release failed meal planning.

Release missed opportunities. Release limitations. Release perceptions. Release judgements.

Release the disappointment. Release hope deferred. Release anger. Release confusion.

Now may the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in Him, that I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Release. Be filled.

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The one thing I won’t stop saying…

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After thoughtful consideration, I thought I would reply to an article that has been circulating about Christians who use the term “I’m blessed” to describe their material prosperity…and why I will continue to say it.

The prosperity movement did Christians a huge disservice when it equated God’s blessing with material possessions. It excluded all the other intangible ways we experience the blessing of God. The pendulum had swung to the extreme and Christians were left to figure out if it was even possible to experience the blessing of God in the hard times.

The reality is that we are called to give thanks to God in every situation. When our bank account swells, we are blessed and we give thanks. When we are navigating incredible sorrow, we are blessed and we give thanks. We experience the tangible and intangible of God’s blessing in all seasons of our lives.

Mostly, it seems like when we have financial success we shout it out from the rooftops. But when we are experiencing great loss, we whisper it so quietly that no one hears us.  But we still give thanks to the One who blesses us.

While the author, Scott Dannemiller feels like he is “splitting hairs” over the semantics, but I think that words are very important. I take great care in saying “I’m blessed” and not “I’m lucky.” In saying it, I deliberately shift my heart towards the Giver of all things and keep my hands open to what He gives in every season.

This doesn’t necessarily answer the large questions of inequality or suffering in this big world. I will leave that to the apologists and the theologians. But it does answer the large questions in my small world.

Heart towards God and hands wide open. This is doxology. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

Showing Up

showing up“…meditate within you heart on your bed, and be still. Selah.” Psalm 4:4b

I am horribly inconsistent when it comes to having a devotional time. I like my morning routine of coffee and Facebook.  I see it as my opportunity to check in with the world before my day gets started.

Not to mention that the term “devotional time” has always been a little loaded. If I wasn’t doing some kind of comprehensive study in Hebrews, I didn’t really feel like I was having a serious devotional time. Go big or go home, right?

But recently, I realized that I don’t have to emulate Beth Moore every time I spend time with God. And truthfully, comprehensive studies have their place, but what I needed was something small to get me through the day…like scriptural manna. I just needed to find one verse that I could go back to during the day when work was a challenge or life felt unmanageable.

So, with absolute hesitation, I committed to starting off my mornings with God instead of Facebook. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out…I mean, I’m barely awake at 5 am…how meaningful could this possibly be?

Every morning for the past 31 days, I have shown up with blurry eyes and a steaming cup of coffee. There have been some mornings when I kind of stare at the verses on the page until I realize that my eyes aren’t focusing. There are some mornings when I’m distracted by how cold my room is. There are some mornings when I wish I could have slept for another 30 minutes.

But, I showed up. And God showed up too.

It isn’t glamorous, but it has been so life giving. God knows what we need to get through the day. Sometimes it’s a broader Bible study with a notebook and the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance…and sometimes it is one verse in Psalms that you find early in the morning and meditate on during the day.

He will give you what you need…all you have to do is show up.

Don’t Lose Heart

heart“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27: 13-14 (NKJV)

I will freely admit that I have spring fever! And just when I think the long Colorado winter is over, another storm rolls through and buries my hope for spring under 8 inches of snow.

In the same way, my soul has been going through a winter season. Hope is elusive, joy seems more like wishful thinking and my prayers are lost in a snowstorm of harsh realities.

So, I wait on a God whose goodness appears to be far away; the perpetual waiting erodes at my hope and quickly evolves into disbelief.

And yet the Psalmist encourages us to “wait” even though we are losing heart. Truthfully, the word “wait” is better translated as “look eagerly for.”

In our waiting, let us have a sense of expectation. Even though we struggle to have hope in these seasons, we WILL see the goodness of the Lord…not when we get to heaven, but in our lifetime.

Beloved, don’t lose heart in the winter. Believe.

 

Room to Breathe

photoThe king shall have joy in Your strength, O Lord; and in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! Psalm 21:1

This past week has been incredibly difficult for me. With exhausting coordination, each area of my life presented a trial. Some trials were old and familiar, but upgraded to a new level of intensity. Some trials were new and required immediate attention. I know you’ve been there too. Perhaps you are there now.

Times like this cause us to feel hemmed in at all sides and that experience is so suffocating to the soul. My prayers have been something like, “oh, God…I feel like I can’t breathe…I just need some relief.”

In Psalm 21, we find David experiencing something similar. He is engaging with God as a leader, a king, and a person weighed down with responsibility. But he still finds joy in the Lord’s salvation.

Salvation can be described in a lot of ways, but in this verse, it simply means “ample space.”

…space between you and your suffering

…space between you and your anger

…space between you and your sorrow

…space between you and distress

It goes without saying that we will continue to experience the hard challenges of life. But because of the ample space that He provides, there will be relief and we will have room to breathe.

Filtering God

filteringPsalm 12:6

The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

These past couple of weeks, I have been working hard to take the promises of God in scripture, meditate on them, and apply them to my life. And, truthfully, it has been harder than I thought it would be because I have this really bad habit of filtering what God says in scripture the same way I process my conversations with people.

Our dealings with humans have taught us to proceed with caution. Human nature is fallen and our interactions with each other, no matter how well intentioned, can lead to disappointment. If someone promises something to us, we automatically surround those words with hesitancy and disbelief, filtering what they say through our entire history of disappointment.

And I do the same thing with the promises of God. I assume that there are preconditions and ulterior motives…that, in effect, I am being set up for disappointment.

When I stumbled on Psalm 12:6, I realized that the words of the Lord are pure. I could put His promises on trial seven times, and they would still be the same. What He says is true, and I don’t have to filter His promises because God “is not a man that He should lie.” (Numbers 23:19)

So, here are some unfiltered truths for you to meditate on:

You are eternally loved. (Jeremiah 31:3) You are blessed (Psalm 3:8) You are safe (Psalm 4:8) You are have a place of refuge (Psalm 9:9) You are surrounded by a shield of favor (Psalm 5:12) You are one of the King’s daughters (Psalm 45:9) You are clothed in robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10) You are all glorious (Psalm 45: 13)

There is such power in actually believing that what God says is true.

What He says, He means.

Simple as that!