… may we be filled

Romans 15:13
“May the God of HOPE fill you with all JOY and PEACE as you TRUST in him, 
so that you may overflow with hope by the power the Holy Spirit.”

I doubt there’s a coincidence in being filled with joy and peace as we learn to wholly trust our God. I know it’s impossible to remain hopeful for long in the midst of trial after trial, disappointment after disappointment unless you have tethered yourself to something much more steadfast and secure than the people and things of this world… The things we believe are our safe places and cutesy quotes we have penned all over the place. Those quotes become frustrating, people move on, and our safe places provide us with possibly fun and needed breaks and distractions but nothing lasting and fulfilling.

While I was at Created for Care this past weekend, one of my car buddies whom I met at the airport felt led to pray for me specifically about believing. Ironically, that’s exactly what I was praying about when she tapped me on my knee and we started talking.

It’s exactly what another mama and I were talking about laughing at how “smart” we are as adults when God tells us something or leads us some place and we have a ton of questions, our own methods, our own agendas to push through. And, of course, his time table must fit with ours or else we’ll try to find some way to multitask and figure out how we can get what we want of before, during, or after his plan is set in motion. All of this when he tells us to be as children. Children who believe in literally anything you tell them – a chubby man who flies through the sky as he’s led by reindeer (one with a red flashlight for a nose) delivering gifts to EVERY child across this world in a matter of hours or the tooth fairy who flies around exchanging funds for teeth…. or any other mythical creatures we come up with. They believe without a shadow of a doubt… without any other proof besides the money under pillows and gifts under a tree. (I mean, that is enough, right??) Yet, we grow to learn that it’s foolish to believe in a real someone who truly existed and who has shown up for us time, after time, after time, after time. In the lives of our friends and families… in the situations we so desperately cry out to him about.

It’s so difficult for us – ME – to believe that this dude loves me to my core in spite of all of my wretchedness…. that I am his beloved…. that he cares deeply for me…. that his plans are much more amazing than anything I could imagine… that he hears me…. that he can comfort me… that he is ENOUGH.

Jesus told his disciples time and again how he was going to resurrect after three days…. he told them in parables, he told them in plain English…… English in my Bible, some other language in real life. Which is fine. But, he told them many times, in many ways. The man that healed sick people, raised other people from the dead (numerous times), caused the blind to see and the lame to walk…. THAT guy said “yea, I’m dying but I’ll be back. No worries.”

Mark 16 tells us of how Mary (his mama), Mary Magdalene, and Salome went to the tomb but didn’t find Jesus. Instead they found a couple of guys in really nice outfits who told them to spread the word that Jesus had arisen – they were scared, so they didn’t. (Sidebar – they were worrying about things like moving the stone, when the stone was already moved and taken care of. Can we say a little something about how we don’t trust God but worry about what we think may be an issue? Just a note. Moving on.)  Then, he appeared to Mary Magdalene….. She went to the disciples (who were mourning) and they didn’t believe her. Jesus showed himself to two disciples, they went to tell the others and they still. did not. believe. What was it going to take?!

No matter who came, Mary Magdalene or Jesus himself,  to tell of the resurrection from the dead, they wouldn’t believe them until He came and spoke to them himself. A total lack of faith. And, in a very Jesus like manner,  he rebuked them. And, then being the forgiving kinda guy that he is, he moved immediately from discipling/reprimanding/correcting them to letting them know that they were still his – no matter what they didn’t do or didn’t believe. He commissioned them to go spread the word, serve people, and change lives.

I admit, I have a hard time believing. When I have a bad day, although I may pray about it and spend some quiet yet distracted time with God, I still need my Chipotle bowl, possibly some ice cream, a chat with a friend, and…. and…. and…. and…. in order to feel “better”. I hear the whisper of “… but, aren’t I enough?” And, my immediate response in word is “YES! Yes, you are enough” but my response in action is faithless, because then I go buy candy and order a large fry from Chick-fil-a. Not even giving myself SPACE to be FILLED by God. I’m trying to fill this God sized void with a bunch of stuff that is a terrible habit at the least and totally unsatisfactory at best.

I’m crowding his voice out with music and my favorite movies because I feel so badly that only love stories and snacks will make me feel better. A run will help me clear my head, writing, painting, coloring…. all of those calming, peaceful activities will do the trick. But, the thing is – they don’t. I’m still needing and craving and crying and asking and begging to feel better or for my situation to change when I am not even going to the source that gives a drink that will forever quench my thirst. (John 4:8-14)

I’m busy believing in things that will fall away and increase my body fat, things that have proven to fail me…… instead of believing in the one in whom I gave my life and who sustains me daily. The one who has done great things for me and my friends. Things that are tangible. Things that I have witnessed and seen for myself. Just as the disciples saw and witnessed and were on the front row of God doing amazing things.

He gives peace and joy as we trust…. not when we have learned to trust (as in completely finished learning). Not when we have grown to trust at a level 10. But, as we trust. day by day, moment by moment leaning and depending on a God who can do all. As we learn to trust that He is capable of doing far more than we can even drum up in our minds. Isaiah says there’s no limit to his understanding so I believe that he knows its difficult to trust that some pretty major and miraculous things can happen in some pretty hard situations…. I get it. I appreciate it… so He isn’t going to wait for us to “arrive” before He grants us peace and joy as we walk through the valleys and endure the really difficult stuff He has put before us for his glory. (You gotta appreciate that… I mean, its kinda thoughtful. lol)

He will fill our cups if we allow Him room to. He’s not going to fight for space just as we don’t want to beg for attention or constantly ask to be a priority in someone’s life. He’s not going to compete against Chick-fil-a and Rachel McAdams…. He doesn’t have to. He will patiently wait with every spiritual gift, with all of his peace, with all of the comfort, and miraculous plans he has stored away for us until we recognize His greatness. Until we begin to moment by moment, and step by step believe that he is enough. More than enough. He will fill us to overflowing. Not fill to the brim of the glass so nothing will spill out… his goal is to cause us to overflow. He knows that when anything overflows it seeps under doors, saturates carpet, causes wood to expand, its soaks everything around it…. even when the overflow is stopped, it soaks and fills that which attempts to stop the spread.

The overflow causes change and effects everything around it. He knows if joy and hope are overflowing, we are actively being light to a dark world. Others will see that our circumstances aren’t shaking our faith, that bad days aren’t causing us to despair, and the unkind are being met with a grace, forgiveness, and peace that they can’t comprehend……. and, they are won over because of the overflow. They are curious. They begin to wonder “how is it that you are so…… in the midst of ….??” Just as after each and every miracle Christ performed while here on Earth, someone said “Well, who is that?” He didn’t heal because he felt bad for the people; yes he loves us, but he heals and comforts us for his own glory. Everything he did caused more to look towards him, more to become a part of the family of faith, gave more opportunities to see how trustworthy, faithful, compassionate, forgiving, and loving He is. We get to see who he is, his character, in the midst of our trials.

As we believe and as we trust in our God who is everlasting, we not only are we benefiting ourselves, serving our God, and serving others, but we are also bringing glory to his name.

Emptying ourselves so that we are filled in order to spread the gospel and serve others. So that we and others can glorify God.

And, that what this life is all about.

Y’all, will you believe with me? Will you ask to be emptied and filled to overflowing for the Lord’s sake?
He doesn’t ask us to be perfect, he doesn’t expect nor need a bunch of perfect people to work with. Just a bunch of regular folk willing to serve and be filled.

… here’s to making changes to how I “self-soothe” and living a life of faith as I actively in word and in deed trust and believe in our God.

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… close & open

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 20131216-172503.jpg

I always get really sentimental around the end of the year.
I believe it’s because my birthday is in early January, and I feel as if I have the opportunity to end one calendar year and begin another, fresh calendar year before I’m ushered into a new birth year.

I like it that way.
Almost like walking into your home after it’s been cleaned. You just feel better.

Everything sparkles.
There’s no clutter.
Everything is put in it’s proper place.
The need-nots (a new word I just made up for things you don’t need) are tossed.

When you clean house, you have an awesome opportunity to really see.
You realize what you don’t need and what you do. You find things you forgot you had but really valued….. And, you have so much more space.

You get rid of things you thought you needed.

The older I get the more I realize how much stuff I don’t need…… And, I’m embracing the freedom that comes with not being bound to so much stuff. Stuff (for me) is fun shoes, clothes, bags, vacations, lots of friends or likes on Instagram, multiple retweets on twitter or double digit comments on a Facebook status, anything new, & everything girl.

Ehhhh…… UNNECESSARY STUFF.

We are so good at collecting and hoarding so many things that we really don’t need, but are horrible at getting a good grip on the things we do need.
I can be horrible at getting a grip, but so wonderful at collecting and buying and making!

This year, I want to end this calendar year with a good grip on understanding that stuff will never satisfy. I enjoy likes on Insta & the back & forth on Facebook, but at the end of the day, and in the grand scheme of things…… Those posts mean nothing.

We work hard at making sure the pictures or status’ we post are “likeable”- that they look as if we’re having fun, or focused, or whatever we’re attempting to convey at the moment. The right angles, the right filters, & perfect wording get us what we’re looking for —> confirmation, validation, attention, conversation, etc. Emotional responses that make us feel accepted.

But, a few minutes pass and it’s over. It’s done. Friends & family forget about your post, mindlessly scroll right past it, or just plain don’t like it. They aren’t in the mood. They didn’t find it funny. They’re mad at you. They are uninterested. They logged off & never saw it. And, there goes our confidence. And, quick.

My point.
Stuff never satisfies. Not for long. Never fully. There’s no longevity. No true depth.

But, in Christ.
We find all that we’re looking for and more than we ever imagined existed. A perfect protection. An incomprehensible peace. And, a forever friend.

He isn’t going to forget about us three minutes after we come to Him. He won’t ever scroll past us- he sees us. And, he truly cares for us. He doesn’t miss a beat. He became like us, but he is not like us. He loves us in a way we won’t ever understand. And, gives us a comfort that will have us calmly riding out any storm we find ourselves in.

I want to grip that. Yea, I know it logically. I know it better now than I did before. But, I want more.

But, I’m always craving more. More of his peace and comfort when he’s taking me through…. I want to trust Him mightily. When He tells me not to fear and do not worry – I want to believe without a shadow if a doubt that I can in fact not worry. We can NOT worry. We can NOT be afraid. But, not by our own power. We have to trust Him.

We can notfear. We can not worry. We can trust Him. And, believing Him is the only way to do that.

That life of hope & encouragement begins with a choice to accept what Christ so freely gives.

I want to end and begin with an unwavering heart.
There’s safety in the shadows of His wings. And, I need to find myself there because Lord knows I’m scared.

… here’s to pushing further away from the need-nots and choosing to cling closely to the giver of everything good.

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… peace

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A couple of things came to mind when I found this promise. The first thought centered around unworthiness in relationships & the other is more about having a Biblical world view of life.

One thing I love about all of my relationships is the good in them. Every person I have a relationship with is a benefit to me. They are good for me in some way or another. And, I pray that I’m a benefit to those around me, as well.
The thing is, our circumstances, pasts, & world views can effect our definition of what it means to truly benefit from and be a benefit to another.

Sometimes we find ourselves in relationships where we have nothing tangible to give to repay or contribute to a relationship. We are embarrassed and constantly question the purpose of being involved in such a relationship when we feel more like a hefty liability than an asset. We feel inferior & wonder how we can even be wanted.
Then there are times, when we are the one to constantly give in such a relationship. And, become frustrated, annoyed, self-righteous, and arrogant in our position.

That is when, if we truly look at our relationships from a Christ centered perspective, we can truly learn what it is to be like Christ. We can see how possible it is to be loving, compassionate, forgiving, and faithful in serving while being taken for granted or just unable to be given back to.

This promise reminded me of just how much I am given in both quality and quantity and how I could never give God anything that would compare to what’s He’s done for me. Quantity for sure but in certainly in quality. How can a sinner, someone who is broken & useless, a repeat offender ever be able to give someone such as GOD! anything that would be of much worth? But, yet He gives and gives and gives good gifts freely and without reproach. And, He does this for my benefit. With no complaints or condemnation even in my sin.

He’s given us an example of how selfless acts of love motivated by a Christ centered faith can change someone’s life – just as He is changing ours. Luckily for us, if we humble ourselves enough, we will see that the relationship we have with someone who is unable to give much in return, is able to teach us lessons that are worth much more than anything money could buy. We learn to sacrifice, to love as Christ loves us, and to be patient. We learn how to persevere and act in love even when we are tired and drained. We learn that the most joyful & truly fulfilling moments are spent serving and being drawn closer to God. We benefit from those we are sacrificing for. We are able to recognize the bigger picture that is the backdrop of the gospel.

This verse also reminded me of all the times we, well, I, have been drawn away from the glory of God by the faux shine of the culture. Now believe me when I say, I do enjoy nice things and have nothing against any of it or those who take part in enjoying them. If I did, I would be a complete hypocrite. Lol.
But, lately I’ve been struggling with the concept of more. More stuff, more access, more of this or that. Nothing bad within itself but detrimental when it causes feelings of discontentment. I realized that my focus had shifted from appreciating what God has blessed us with and seeing how He is moving in our lives to looking at what seems better. I forgot that He is truly more than enough, His grace sufficient, and His peace a sure thing. That the life He has given me can be completely and overwhelmingly fulfilling and more than anything I could have ever thought it could be. The sacrifice is worth it.

God says He gives to us in a way that is not of the world. His gifts come with price tags that are marked out by the blood of God and covered with grace. The world gifts us when we are “on” and takes away when we have fallen. The world’s gifts come with strings that constrain and control. But, not the gifts of God.

He tells us that He has given us HIS peace. A peace that calms us – a clarity that allows us to see past the hurt, confusion, and dysfunction of any situation and see God standing right next to us. His peace allows us to walk in faith, trusting that His plan is full of His grace and it encourages us to seek Him even when things are scary or difficult. We know that He will be there for us on the other side. His peace confirms that even though right now things may be bad, His glory will be seen in the end & we will have been molded and shaped into exactly who He has designed for us to be.

His peace is better than any temporal fix that we could ever find in the world. It is solid, pure, and lasting.

Why trouble our hearts with costly gifts in ways that overshadow finance when we have a priceless gift of salvation in one who never stops giving good and perfect gifts?

Why would I have such issue with giving when I’ve been given so much extra? Why aren’t I moved to give more? Why become frustrated at someone in need? Someone who holds the same position I do? We’re both unable to do good on my own and be better without guidance and see things from a certain greater perspective of what could be in the future “if I would just…..” (Btw, saying “just” is always much easier than doing “just” anything).

… here’s to seeing God’s glory in every situation and realizing how merciful He is in our day to day! I pray that we are able to take even more cues from the greatest example and challenge ourselves to focus more on Christ than we do our own situations.

Smile.
He’s good, right!?!

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