Leaving the Old Behind; Pressing Forward

I am betting there are few of us who have not experienced a hard year; one to which we are ready to bid an eager good-bye. Other years we close reluctantly because it was a year full of mountaintop highs. Then there are those ‘normal’ years where life was average with only a few swings in either direction. No matter what our experience in 2013 has been, time marches forward. Now that we are of the cusp of a new year, I can not help but be a little excited and filled with wonder at the possibilities which might manifest in 2014. I find myself looking at a blank canvas, where will I begin? What do I want to make of it? Will I color in the lines others have drawn for me or that I have drawn in past years? Will I retrace the same comfortable image of past years? You know the ones practiced and repeated over and over because it is easy and comfortable, familiar.

Perhaps this is the year…is it possible? The canvas will be fresh, clean, new…dare I? What would it look like to live this coming year wide open, fully engaged moment by moment, authentically, fully focused on what is important without worrying or complaining and holding nothing back? How about a year of only speaking life and blessing over those around me and releasing every word that is not life and blessing that I am tempted to speak or that is spoken over me rather than letting it play on a loop in my mind? While I am dreaming, maybe I could take all my concerns, fears, worries, disappointments, hurts from the careless words that slip from someone I love immediately to my Father, who can handle them appropriately and is the only One who can truly do anything about them. What will this upcoming years canvas look like? How will fit together in the puzzle that is the mosaic of my life?

Will I take a moment to seek a scripture verse for the year and listen for Him to lead me to it? Will God in His sovereignty give me a word for the year that is to be my focus for 2014? Will I immediately understand it’s meaning? Or will understanding unfold as the year progresses? Perhaps the word given will resonate immediately and gradually unfold over the year to have a much deeper meaning than I ever would have imagined! As 2014 approaches and is already right here knocking at the door, I have many more questions, many hopes and dreams and much anticipation!! Yes, I am ready to leave behind 2013 and begin a new and exciting year; a new adventure. With me I will take all the memories of this year, I will treasure all the wonderful and wonder-filled memories and all the rest I will do my best to learn from them, let them go and move forward stronger for them.

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My prayer as we enter this New Year is that we will find ourselves fully alive, fully engaged in life drawing closer to our Creator, Our God; that we find balance between our being and our doing, after all we are human beings. We often live at an impossible pace and when we do we loose our peace, sacrifice our health and relationships, and carry more stress than was ever intended for us to bare.
I pray we choose life and blessing for ourselves and encourage all around us to do the same.

3 John 1:2 (NIV) Dear friend, I pray that you may prosper in every way and be in good health physically just as you are spiritually.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Hebrews 12 (HCSB) 12 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

Releasing Expectations

We all have expectations in our life, some met, others that are unmet and even a few that may never be met. Last night as I talked to a close friend, some unexpected and unacknowledged words came out of my mouth. I really did not think too much of it at the time, but as I lay down to go to sleep about an hour later those words came back to me. ” I am just tired of being the one trying to hold it all together!”

My next thought, or maybe it was His still small voice…”you’re not God, only He holds all things together.” Then I remembered another friend speaking recently on putting all our expectations in God and a Sermon about not drowning in the shallow water. Knowing myself well enough to know if I did not stop, there would be no sleep tonight: I made some notes and resolved that I can not fix anything, nor can I hold it together. I am going to pray and go to sleep, this will still be here tomorrow! And it was!

Yes, I awoke with the revelation that I can neither fix ‘this’ nor can I hold it together heavily resonating through my mind…time to pray! As I took this matter before The Lord, I was given a couple of reminders and a few things became clear to me:
God gave all of us a choice between life and death; blessing and cursIng.  Deuteronomy 30:19
We can not choose for another, only for ourselves!
He holds all things together! Colossians 1: 16-18
I am not Him, without Him I can’t hold me together! Acts 17: 27-29
We have been through a lot tougher things in our lives, compared this is shallow water!
Shallow water… You can actually stand up now and walk! Stand up, breathe deep and walk out of the water!!!
Yes, you are tired, exhausted even…BUT the Joy of the Lord is your strength!  Nehemiah 8:10
He who began a good work will see it through to completion!  Philippians 1:6
I can not change anyone or anyone’s mind, not even my own without Him!
Acknowledge unspoken expectations, let go of them and place all my expectations in Him! Pray!  (Thank you, Katie. Your words echo in my heart.)
Hold on to my dreams loosely, putting my faith and trust in God!  Hebrews 11:6
Walk in both gratefulness and in the rhythm of His grace in my life! Yes, even when it is tough!
Walk in expectation! What is next, Daddy?

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Words for a Weary Warrior

20131106-093537.jpg It happens to us all, life hits us full on at times. Life is speeding by and if we are not paying attention and getting proper rest and recreation it can bowl us right over before we know it. It is so easy to get caught up in life whether it is a prosperous time, a sad or grieving time, a time of great happiness or a time of trial in your life! Even for those of faith who find our hope in God and are lovingly shepherded by The Holy Spirit as we attempt to follow in the footsteps of Jesus are not immune to this. It is so easy to get caught up in doing things, good things; enjoying the company of others; serving others; working and so many other good and normal activities. Can I just say from firsthand experience, go for it! Get out there and give it your best but if you want to finish strong and do not want to grow weary in well-doing, don’t neglect the Sabbath! Mark 2: 27 Then He told them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” HCSB We all need a break, rest. Our Heavenly Father knew this and for that reason He told us to rest every seventh day and to rest the land every seventh year! Almost ten years ago, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Germany. One of the things that stood out as a startling difference: most if not all shops, restaurants, etc. we’re closed on Sunday. This was true here in America in my youngest of years, also. Sundays there were quiet and peaceful, slow-paced and relaxing. Families and friends spent time together just enjoying each other’s presence. Today, most of us have bought into the rush of life, squeezing the most out of the day just like squeezing the very last little bit out of the toothpaste tube. We try to exist on the absolutely least amount of sleep possible so we can finish that project, watch the latest episode of our favourite show, put in just another hour at work trying to get ahead. The simple fact is that our bodies were not designed that way and after a while, we get weary and b. It may not manifest that way. It can show up in many other ways such as: being over sensitive, over-reactive, over-stressed. When this happens we can react to others, often those we love the most, in ways that are very uncharacteristic of our behavior. I believe that is why in 2 Thessalonians 3:13 ‘Brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.’ Why do we do this to ourselves? Have we bought into the got to have the latest and best now? Or perhaps, we simply want better for our kids: better education, better opportunities? Are we seeking to ‘make up’ for something we perceive someone needed from us that we just couldn’t or wouldn’t give? Are we just driven, seeking more? Are we motivated by fear of lack? Perhaps you are like I once was and just find it impossible to say, I’m sorry but no I can’t do that. The reasons are as endless as the as the waves in the ocean! Sometimes it even comes down to doubt. We may or may not doubt God’s goodness, or that He keeps His promises to His children. Even if we are completely convinced of His goodness, His promises and His love, we may question our own worthiness. 1 Peter 5: 4-7 in the Message says, ‘4-5 When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with His rule, He’ll see that you’ve done it right and commend you lavishly. And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for—God has had it with the proud, But takes delight in just plain people. 6-7 So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; He’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.’. Perhaps it is time to begin taking those Sabbath rests regularly. Maybe we can spend some of it quietly resting in His grace, researching in a comfy chair who He says we are in Christ and what He says about us. It is surprising how slowing down and spending a half hour or hour listening to your favourite worship music can refresh us and soothe our weary soul! Isaiah 40: 28-31:

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole eart.  He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.