I Dream of Simple Things

SimpleThings

 

Simplicity.

What picture pops in your mind when you hear that word?

Slowing down, catching up with those you love most, taking time to breathe, read, watch nature and have time to think. While these are simple joys, I think the better definition of the above would be relaxation.

Simplicity is not a circumstance, but a heart-stance. Too often we can be swept up in drama, drama, drama in our lives in the form of work or familial busyness, stress, and all the voices clamoring for our attention. The voices with the faces of yes, those we love most, but more often than not, much of social media and keeping up with so many people and everyone’s activities can take a toll and complicate our daily lives.

How often do we unwittingly complicate our daily lives by focusing more on the things happening all around us-yes, even the great things-but not the Author of our lives? Let go and let God is a popular catchphrase and it’s easy to think that it’s a one-time deal. We have got to continually let go and let God be God and leave it at that. He is the giver of all good things, and the bearer of our daily burdens if we but pause and be still before Him.

I believe it is crucial that we share everything, all our little and big messes, with the Lord, but then step back and leave the working out of our worries and drama and stress to the One who is sovereign over all. I’ll be real here with ya’ll; some days, it’s hard for me to let go and let God. It’s difficult for me, at times, to be fully transparent in communication with the One who knows my heart better than even I do. This is my very human pride muddling everything up, but I’m thru beating myself up over it. I am a work in progress sinner saved by the grace of God thru Christ Jesus. I admit, I sometimes miss when life was simpler like when I was younger, but when are we to ever depend upon our ever-changing circumstances for our happiness?

The Lord is so good to grant me moments of simple peace when I need it most and least expect it. I watched a sunset last night and just breathed. The moments are gifts to be cherished. But more than that, I am to cling to my Lord who works all things out together for good, and takes all my complications and stress and simplifies them with His perfect plan.

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Friends Like Diamonds

It seems to me as if there’s something in the water around here-everyone seems to be getting into relationships, engaged or married! This past Friday I was blessed to witness and celebrate the marriage of a long time friend, Morgan, to a fantastic guy-her Mr. Right, Josiah. I’ve known Morgan since she was five. Now she has not one but two rings on her finger. One of my best friends, Michaela, is Morgan’s older sister, and the maid of honor at the wedding. Both of our ring fingers remain bare-but did that deter us from celebrating, dancing the night away and smiling until our faces hurt? Not one bit. I must’ve hugged Michaela a gazillion times Friday night and we just laughed. I am so grateful that I can laugh with all my friends, no matter what stage of life we find ourselves in. Each of my friends is utterly unique-like a unique facet on each and every diamond. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of them recently on the hands of my friends!

Romans 12:6 says, Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…

Through each of my friends, I have been the recipient of much grace. Each of our unique gifts only enhance our friendships, our relationships with family and everyone we come in contact with. What’s funny is that my dearest friends and I-we don’t even go to the same church. But we all serve, love and worship the one true God and further His kingdom in a myriad of ways. Each of our callings is different-but one thing remains the same, one reason I am eternally grateful to God for MOHL. As God’s daughters, our Christian walks are not meant to be walked alone.

Also like diamonds with many facets are the gifts we have that may have been borne through a difficult time or season in life. Diamonds are mined. Then pounded and broken. Then, slowly but surely, diamonds are refined until they gleam and sparkle in the light. Proverbs 17:17 says, A friend loves at all times, and  a brother is born for adversity. Those friends who have stuck by you in the heartbreaking times, the best times and everything in between? Our gracious God gave them to you so you could be drawn closer to Himself, so gifts and skills could be developed by His perfect plan.

I wrote in the back of my book to two such diamond-like friends, I am forever thankful for all you are, all you give, and how you love. Every person we ever come in contact with impacts us and is used by the Lord for His divine purposes, yes, even those no longer in our lives. But there are those you can count on for a lifetime, who have been there for you all along, thanks to the abundant grace of God.

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Friends Are Flowers

FriendsFlowersMOHL

 

I have no two friends alike. There are a scant few I’ve known for the same long amount of time. Others I’ve known for a comparatively less amount of time but am inexplicably close to. Each of my relationships-friends & family-has had their share of ups & downs. As all the beautiful flowers & even the bright dandelions in the yard now that spring’s finally sprung-each of our relationships, present, past & future-serve a purpose.

This purpose is God’s alone. One we may never be able to see, even looking back, until we reach Paradise. When I was younger, I wanted so much to have a whole big crowd of friends to do things with every week & be invited to their birthday parties & sleepovers. As I grew older & saw that many of the girls who went to school together every day were a little inclusive, my shyness morphed partly into being overly sensitive & feeling slighted at the littlest thing. All the while in these formative years I made friends in other avenues, wrote letters back & forth, made up stories & plays & make-believe. And I am blessed to say two of these friends I slightly took for granted at a young impressionable age I am still close friends with. And next year I’ll stand beside one as a maid of honor.

My friends & I  have had our misunderstandings & issues we’ve needed to air. For my long distance sisters, it’s increasingly bittersweet to not be able to visit or see each other in person for special events & moments. But because of each & everyone of my friends, I have been challenged. Encouraged. Embraced even across the miles. I’ve been taught. I’ve been accepted & loved for just who I am. My friends are the hands, feet & heart of Jesus to me.

Think back on the times of utter happiness & the heartbreaking times when your friends were there. When they spoke God’s truth to you even if you didn’t want to hear it but God spoke through them. If you have broken friendships in your past that left scars on your heart, thank God for how He drew you closer to Himself & how He brought your current heart-sisters into your life.

Thank our gracious Lord for those friends who continue to love you unconditionally continuously.
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Hallelujah, He is Risen!

He is risen! He is risen indeed.

A blessed Resurrection day to you & yours!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. When Jesus gave up His last breath on Calvary, the veil of separation was torn in two & we are now gifted with the priceless gift of unadulterated communion with the Lord. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to give His disciples & followers power to carry out the great commission. I’m here to share with you, sisters, that that same Pentecostal power they were given in tongues of fire is ours.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2nd Peter 1:1-15

What does this look like in the day to day? Certainly appears to be a tall order. *smile* It’s so much more than an inspirational encouragement but the calling on all of our lives, in every season. In every moment. Through every trial, triumph, joy & even times of despair. We are new creations. We weren’t once new creations, nor are we trying to attain a brand new identity. We have been cleansed from our sins forever & the Lord casts them as far as the east is from the west. It’s a perpetual, & ongoing renewing, adding all these things to the next in the Scripture above.

These verses are God-inspired, & are a call to rise as He is risen this day. We are vessels made to declare His rule & reign over history, the present & our individual stories. On this blessed Easter morning, I encourage you to breathe deep & let it out. Bask in the Lord’s resurrection power & then, after you pray for these fruits to be cultivated in your day to day, you prepare. Prepare your heart to be tested with gifts disguised as trying people, situations or trials. When I pray for patience, the Lord sends me another short-tempered person or difficult personality or another waiting game to test that prayer.

The Lord does not call the already-equipped; He doesn’t bestow upon us the gifts of His grace & the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts like pixie dust. The Lord equips the called; day by day even in the mundane, we-His daughters & part of His beloved Bride-are refined as gold.

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Future Hope & Present Promises

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.
Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying,
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” 

I love these verses. So full of promise. Countless tiers of God’s promise for the ultimate eternity. What’s so fascinating to me are the multiple facets to promises like this. When Jesus came to earth-fully God & fully Man-died on the Cross the death of a criminal & rose to life again to ascend to Heaven, He tore the veil of separation for all time. He alone bridged the great divide between us & our sin & the Lord & His holy goodness.

That veil I mentioned? It was the veil in the Temple that enclosed the Holy of Holies-where God dwelt. When Jesus took His last breath, the veil torn in two as the earth shook & split apart. This happened in the ancient city of Jerusalem that still stands amidst centuries of turmoil & wars. The place still where God’s chosen people still flock … but this city has seen it’s share of sin. In the books of the prophets, God pleads with His bride, the nation of Israel, to turn & repent. He pursues them with love, teaches & grows them through captivity, famine, wandering … & yet they still stand. And the city still stands even though in the Bible alone it was laid siege to multiple times & a part of a foreign empire for decades at a time.

When the veil was torn, & later when the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, there was no more separation from God. All the Jewish people & the Gentiles could have full, unadulterated communion with God if they but repented & turned from their sin into His welcome arms. While we do not have God with us in a physical sense-we have Him & His promise of coming again & soon, in our hearts. What a matchless gift, that one day we will be a part of the Bride of the Lord-when we can walk with God as Adam & Eve did before the fall.

He shall make all things new one day-as He continues to renew us day by day, moment by moment, because of His marvelous gift of grace, undeserved mercy.

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Behold, a New Creation!

February always goes by fast-& then March sets in. Normally, at least here in the North-East, winter is still very much here to stay. This new year is close to being a quarter gone & those resolutions seem not-so-easy as they first did. At any rate-I think it’s safe to say we are all more than ready for spring. For sunshine, newness of life & renewed vim & vigor for life. Sometimes though, it’s hard to remember that spring always follows winter.

I think this thinking can sink deep into our hearts as well. When our expectations for ourselves fall incredibly short; when plans fall through. When life overwhelms & sucks you in like quicksand & makes us feel like everything is slipping thru our fingers. Sisters-life wasn’t made for us to hold & control. It’s God’s & His story alone to write. How then do we find  a balance between letting go & letting God-& not falling into complacency?

By remembering Whose we are & what we are, through Him. Our great High Priest whose name is Love. Whatever your past; those beginning chapters that may’ve found you growing up in the church, or coming to the Lord more recently. All of that doesn’t matter. We are called to remember the past only so far as to recall God’s faithful hand. Not our mistakes & messes & failures.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17&18 NKJV

I encourage you, beautiful soul-sister, to preach the Gospel to yourself as winter plods on. As those resolutions weigh heavy, & life throws you for a loop. We are not the choices we made, the failures we’ve had, nor the falls that found us flat on our faces. We are more than that, through Jesus our One & Only Savior. Preach Gospel to yourself-open your heart, better yet-still your heart before the Lord for a just a few moments, & His still small voice will remind you of all you are.

In Him, we are …

  • Beloved …
  • Forgiven … Psalm 103:5, 1 John 2:12
  • Rejoiced over & quieted … Zephaniah 3:17
  • Not consumed … Lamentations 3:22-24
  • Saved … Ephesians 2:8
  • Redeemed … Romans 8:23
  • Crowned … Psalm 103:4
  • Renewed … Isaiah 40:31
  • Precious, honored & loved … Isaiah 43:4

I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned … for I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:1-3 NKJV

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Oh Taste & See

MOHL2-16So Valentines Day has come & gone. Winter is still very much here, seemingly to stay … but God’s promises are yes & amen! Spring always follows winter {Genesis 8:22} He will grant us the desires of our hearts {Psalm 37:4}. 

As we look with great hope towards the near & far future, I know at least for me it’s easy to forget all that the Lord has done. Great & small. In our lives & in the lives surrounding us. I think this is part of the “secret” to joyful contentment. Trust me when I say I do not have it figured out.

Recounting the many moments of God’s sovereignty, answered prayers, mighty provision even in the eleventh hour … entrusting our present cares & burdens to His all-mighty hand takes faith, yes. But look back at the times when you have tasted & seen in those many moments, where God provided!

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. When I find myself particularly anxious about an upcoming change, or decision-or a blank page, “What on earth am I to do now?” I write down & physically make my requests known to God. I slip these lined pieces of paper hastily scribbled on into my Bible near verses underlined in pink, notes in the margins. So when I open my Bible, the burdens laying on my heart, I can see them written out-but also see God’s promises right beside them.

Even after the Lord comes through-which He always does, sisters! I leave those prayer requests in my Bible & if I remember, I jot down how, specifically, God answered those prayers. Last month I went on a young adult’s retreat with a great, long time friend. And I brought some burdens with me. Anxiety about my job & a temporary increase in hours I was anxious about keeping up with. I just didn’t know what to do; it is my job. How could I tactfully go to my office manager & present my concerns about some days I’d be working more, that would be 10+ hour days?

On that retreat, I wrote two full pages about my worry & anxiety about work. About my pain level {from my hip disabilityduring the 2-4 weeks I’d be needed to work more hours. I stuck that prayer request in Isaiah 43: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you…Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes I have made him. Is. 43:1-2&7

Just last week, suffice it enough to say God blew my mind at my office manager’s response to my question about the hours I’d be working. As always, my Father God embraced me & whispered, You worried for nothing, My girl. 

This month’s Scripture here at MOHL is Psalm 34:

I will bless the Lord at all times;

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;

The humble shall hear of it & be glad.

Oh, magnify the Lord with me,

And let us exalt His name together…

Read the rest here

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God’s Will

 

The phrase “God’s will” is an elusive one, at best. How do we find it? How do we walk in it? It’s not like the Lord gives us a detailed blueprint or map for every second of our lives. I don’t know about you, but some days, I think that would be easier. But if He did do that-there would be no room for blind faith in Him, & we’d run screaming in the other direction.

I think in every season of life, there is a struggle with contentment. For me, it’s contentment with where I’m at, rather than striving for the next big thing. For those that are married, it may be a forever home, a baby, moving closer to family, or any number of things. Contentment is not a switch we can flip on & off at will, however I will say this-we pray for a stronger faith, & I believe the Lord tests that prayer.

Laugh if you want, but I feel that God lovingly tests my heart with my own words. There have been more blog posts than not where, after I hit “Publish”, my heart is tested by the gentlest, yet pointed whisper of His still, small voice. Contentment is a big one, for me. Another elusive phrase-but it actually goes hand in hand with God’s will. 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV

How often do we breeze by this verse, reminded to count our blessings, keep an active prayer life & be happy? It’s so much more than that-one mere facet of the mystery of God’s character & love for us. My word for 2014 is Abide; I pray for those qualities in the above verse to be cultivated … & sure enough, life knocks me on my behind at times right after I say “Amen”.

But God is faithful. Unchanging. Ever constant. My rock & my salvation. Nothing comes to me-even the things that knock me on my rear-except through God’s sovereign will.

How are you striving to grow in contentment-& joy in the journey-this year?
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The Upward Call

January's theme verse

January’s theme verse

January is over  halfway over. How did that happen?

Middles puzzle me. As much as I love to read, the beginnings-if good-& ends are my favorite part about books. Even some of the middle books of the Bible are the more difficult ones to push through & glean, in comparison to the New Testament or even the Psalms & Proverbs.

I’m a writer-& I have to be transparent, here. When I begin a book, the points most clear in my mind are the beginning rise to the conflict, right down again to the resolution/happy ending. The middle is the part that takes me the longest to complete. Up until then I’m excited & running on the adrenaline of starting a new book. It’s like a writer’s middle of the day slump-you know that time of day. When you feel a wee bit sluggish, cranky even, & the yawns commence.

Middles are a very necessary part of life. However, God did not create those waiting seasons in life in between schooling & marriage/children for our comfort. He works even in the messy middles. Even in this mid-month slump after the holiday excitement & rush. If anything, the middle parts of our work, our day, & our lives should be spent all the more diligently pressing on in the upward call of Jesus Christ. Paul’s words from Philippians, not mine.

Wherever we find ourselves in life this very moment-this nineteenth day of January, 2014-our gracious God does not want us to grow lackluster in complacency & go through the daily motions. Recall the purpose you felt prayerfully jotting down resolutions or your One Word for 2014 … or the purpose you feel in those blessed moments when you can almost literally feel God’s smile upon you when you are doing exactly what He wants you to do.

Most of all, sisters-remember the grace & immense goodness of our Lord. He is the one to give joy in the mundane. Purpose in the pain, & in every moment of life in-between. He is to be our ultimate purpose, aim & goal more than any yearly list. It is when we lose sight of the brilliant hope God & His salvation are, that we slump back into complacency & go on our not-so-merry way through life.

It’s easier said than done, I know-but walk with your gaze focused upwards at our amazing God. He’s the one who’s literally doing 10,000 things at once when we may only see a paltry few in the day to day. Press on when your joy seems snuffed by stress, or your drive hindered by bumps in the road or interruptions.

We’ll always be works in progress-but by grace.

Amazing grace-how sweet is it’s sound?

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected;

but I press on.

Philippians 3:12

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Walk in Newness

WalkinNewness

2014 is five days old.

How have you spent the past five “pages” of this glorious, blank, unopened book?

Now that the major holidays are through, perhaps you’re getting back into the swing of things. Perhaps you’re valiantly adhering to your resolutions scrawled nobly in the last hours of 2013.

Or maybe you have moments like I did on New Years Day. Moments of remembering, cringing, sighing in regret & wondering how on earth progress is truly made. Counting my countless blessings did not happen till later on the first day of this year, I am sad to say. It didn’t help that, with reading some kindred spirits’ New Years blog posts, I compared my 2013 & hopes for 2014 to their’s, & fell quite short. Of what, you ask? I’ll tell you flat out. My own unreachable high expectations.

The expectations that the control freak in me dresses up all nice & pretty & Godly. The expectations that are all very good things-but are elevated to such a high place as God never meant them to be. Therein is my disconnect, sisters. Doing life in such a way that does not remember I am a work in progress. Living my days with an endless to-do list-& I miss the freedom that comes with the prayer of, “Not my will, but Your’s be done, Abba Father.”

Jesus, the speaker of the words above, came to save us from our sins-the ultimate sacrifice of love to fully, once & forever, atone for our sins. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 NKJV. He is Immanuel-God with us. Before the Cross, there was a wall of separation between full, unadulterated communion with the Lord of Lords … thanks to the fall of man in Genesis. Jesus came & tore the veil of separation in two. He bridged the great divide-everything I could ever strive to do to work my way to the Lord will fall short. In spite of that-our best days, our worst-we have hope.

We can walk in freedom as we enter into this blank, 365 page book. Forget about last year-but for the memories, blessings & lessons learned. Walk in the newness of everlasting life that is ours through Christ Jesus-embrace it every day. Let Him fuel your passion. Your drive to complete that list of resolutions. Remember He is our strong one because even on our best days, we are not strong enough.

Walk in the newness Jesus gives-the newness of the fresh start, a brand spanking new beginning, that 2014 is.

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