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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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 Giver or Gift? {Sunday Specials}

Living by faith, not sight, is difficult, at best. What more aptly describes this pillar of our relationship with the Lord are words like terrifying or nerve-wracking. When  must we walk by faith &  not by sight? Every moment of every day, sisters. Certain seasons, however, can jar us quite out of our comfort zones & onto our knees, & we’re faced with a choice. To trust the Giver of the grace-filled gift of salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord … or we can turn away in hurt thinking the Lord surely is not as good as He should be for allowing such bad things to happen to good people.
It is in those good seasons of relative plenty where we get almost too comfortable. We praise & thank God for all He’s given us-the gift of our individual lives we lead-only until a shoe drops or the rug is yanked out from under us. We either cling to Him, or run away when this happens. And that is because we, in becoming too comfortable, had trusted too fully in the good, fleeting gifts in our circumstances God gives us, rather than Him-the Giver. Beyond all the heart-cries, the running & the “why’s?”, God still moves mightily even when our circumstances suggest other wise.

God’s providence works through loss, that there is a ministry to us through failure & the fading of things, & that He gives the gift of emptiness.
-October 5, Streams in the Desert
by L.B. Cowman


Whatever you may be going through, try to rest in the One who holds all your tomorrows, as well as your yesterdays. Praise Him both in the days of plenty & sunshine, as well as in the storm. The whole world may fall around our feet-but God has always stayed the same. It is when we feel as if we are poured out to the dregs of our strength, when He gives us the gift of emptiness so He may fill us up to overflowing.
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When Worry Has Its Way


written mid-July

It hit me in the church bathroom one sodden summer Sunday morning. The semester would start in a little over six weeks. My heart seized in my chest as my mind went through the checklist of all I had to do to prepare: order schoolbooks, check my closet, evaluate my supply inventory (where do those pesky pencils plod off to?), and, oh, yeah, consider the fact that this will be my last year of college.

Gulp.

My thoughts swirl on in school-is-starting circles. I force a deep breath, return to reality, and think-truly think-about these last six weeks of summer. 

Is this really what I want to remember about the precious months of “freedom” that preceded senior year? Is worry what I want in my mind and heart before I even jump into my truck the first day of school and head off to face the pressure and plump to-do list that college always brings?

No.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by 
The truth is, school is school, senior year is senior year, and I am me. And then God is…God. He is so much bigger than anything I could ever wrap my mind around. And He has a plan I could not wrap my mind around, either. And His love? Beyond fathoming.
So today I’m taking a deep breath (sounds suspiciously like a sigh, but I promise, I’m working on it). And I’m trusting Him. Because worry is worry-it fits inside this finite mind. 
But He is so much bigger. 
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{Sunday Specials} He Fights Our Battles

by Meghan

You know those times when you just feel overwhelmed? Burdened with fear, doubts, & anxiety? Or those times when issues flare up either in your own soul or through circumstances that just make you want to hide under the covers. Life is filled with battles; some seem to go on forever, while others have the length of a skirmish. Civil War geek coming out… 

This is why we have the Armor of God, as Paul writes about in Ephesians 6:10-13 NKJV: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

What triumphant verses! We are-not will be, nor have been-more than conquerors. But what does this look like when not one iota of a particularly trying circumstance is alleviated? When coworkers get on your back for a particular belief, when situations at home or with extended family only worsen? What do we do, how do we respond, when yet another health issue comes up in a family member who we feel is already suffering enough.
Ladies, it boils down to surrender.
It boils down to letting go, & letting God in full assurance of our faith. This is a scary thing to do, because we think we have to control everything & make everything right. 
We so often forget that our battle is the Lord’s.
And He is never late in coming to our rescue…but seldom early. 

And God’s timing is one of life’s great mysteries, only to be unraveled in full when we reach paradise with our Savior. Living a life walking on the narrow way in the Lord & for His glory, is not always easy. In fact, the way the world walks can appear infinitely easier than what we are called do as heirs together with Christ. This is why Jesus tells us to take heart, for He has overcome the world. This is why He calls us to be salt & light in a world of darkness. To take His yoke upon our shoulders, for it is easy, His burden is light when it replaces the burdens we so often take on our shoulders.
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance.”Ephesians 6:14-18 NKJV
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