hands in surrenderThe Lord is so faithful! I don’t remember the exact timing in 2014 but the Lord began to impress upon my heart that transition was (is) coming. Little did I know all that it would entail but I am so thankful that He prepared my heart beforehand. As some of the change begins to unfold I felt the Lord give me a picture and a word that I will specifically need this next season. The picture is much like the one above, of my hands held out and open and the word is to “live surrendered”. One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, says,

I came into this world the way every person on the planet does – with clenched fists.

Unfortunately, I’ve also lived most of my life with them clenched. I have thought if I could just try harder, do more, or hold on tighter then things would work out the way I wanted. But the Lord is patiently teaching me that His way is different. It is through surrender and opening up that I can receive the gifts in life, even the ones that are hard to receive.

So here is to a new year and hopefully one that I live with my hands held open and my heart surrendered! Happy New Year!

Today I am thankful for grace and freedom from perfection. I am thankful that this is a space to write when I can but not feel bad when I can’t.

Today I am also thankful for letting the Holy Spirit be my alarm clock. I was trying to get up early on my own by setting my alarm but I feel like it would always wake up a kid or two so I was getting discouraged. This week I am praying before I go to bed for God to wake me up. Even though this morning felt a little earlier than I wanted I am still thankful for the time I get alone before kids are waking up. Plus it is always better not waking up to an alarm!

Day 4

Today I am thankful for fresh starts and essential oils. I had been making some choices based more out of the fear of man rather than out of what I really wanted to do. Today I did some of those things. I may find myself in the same position again down the road but I hoping today is a fresh start of making this change for the good. I don’t want to do or not do things because I am afraid of how someone will react. I mean, c’mon, do I really have that kind of power and do I want to have that kind of power? No, I can only control me.

I have been familiar with essential oils for a while and I really enjoy them. Their cost keeps me from getting very many but my friend recently gifted me with one. I put some in my little diffuser necklace and wore it all day. When I took it off at night I found myself longing for the smell. I know these things start to sound a little weird but I do think the oils can help support our bodies just like vitamins and supplements can. Anyway, I appreciated having it on all day!

Day 5

Today I am thankful for leftovers. Since we don’t tend to eat a whole lot of convenience or packaged foods that are quick, making three meals a day starts to wear on me after a while. I was thankful that we had enough random little things leftover to make up our lunch today. Yay leftovers!

Give Thanks: Day 3

Today I am thankful for family days. One of the reasons we decided to homeschool this year was so that we could have our family day during the week. Mondays are usually our day. Today we visited a new regional park nearby. I love this place! It is so nice to get outdoors away from the noise of the cities and to be surrounded only by nature. I love my kids’ excitement for what they are seeing around them (like the geocaching box that Older Boy exclaimed, “I know. It’s a mailbox!” Which may have made sense if it wasn’t in the middle of the woods.). I am thankful for these days and feel so blessed to have them together as a family.

For the past few years I have taken the month of November to write something I am thankful for each day. I have decided I’ll try to do it again this year.

Day 1

Today I am thankful for coffee and more specifically morning coffee with my dad and any other family members present. This past weekend (which is Thursday-Saturday for us) we were able to visit my parents in South Dakota. The first morning we were there my dad mistaken a text* for the alarm** that my mom had set for him because he had men’s breakfast that morning. I was already awake because I couldn’t sleep so I heard him get up and make coffee at 4:30am. I tried really hard to go back to sleep but just decided to give up and go upstairs. In the quiet of the early morning my dad and I each enjoyed a cup of coffee and talked a little before he had to go to the church for the breakfast. Then I enjoyed another cup while I read a book. P.S. Why does coffee always taste better when I am not the one making it?

*The text was from my sister about a bat underneath her bed. She is renting a house my parents purchased.
**My parents hardly ever use alarms but my dad had previously overslept on a morning of the men’s breakfast so just to be sure they had set the alarm.

Day 2

Today I am thankful for the sun and how it comes through the window. One of the kids was sick today so I stayed home from church. I opened up the curtains in our room to let the sunlight in. I was able to lay where the sun was shining on my face. Little boy was laying beside me so I told him about how I have always found ways to lay in the sun coming through windows since I was a little girl. I have always loved light. In fact when the day comes for us to purchase our first home one of the most important things to me will be how many windows and where they are located. But I also had the thought (prayer?) that I want to be someone who always looks to the “Son” for comfort and warmth and I want to live my life bringing the light and hope of Jesus wherever I go.

You know the pit, right? The one talked about in Psalm 40:2:

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.

For me the pit consists of feelings of despair, self-pity, helplessness, powerlessness or as I have heard it called, orphan thinking. I have felt really close to the pit lately. There is so much about my life right now that is wonderful. In fact, I feel content. But at the same time I am working through some different areas of pain in my life right now. And daily I feel like I could slide into the pit so easily if I let myself. I do feel the Lord protecting me and perhaps it really is all Him as to why I have not slipped in but I do feel like there are a few things that are helping me right now as well. I thought I would share them so I can look back at this again when I need it another day. Perhaps it will help you too.

Tools to Stay Out of the Pit

1. Exercise. I am trying to start each morning with some stretching and a few sit-ups, push-ups and doing the plank. We are talking 5-10 minutes here. Nothing huge. Then I get outside and take a walk. No 5Ks here or really long walks even though I would love it (well, not the running part anymore) but just a 20 minute walk. Which leads me to my next tool.

2. Listening to the Bible or Messages. While I take my 20 minute walk I listen to the bible  or a message on my phone. I am surprised how much I am enjoying listening to the Bible. I have always thought I am very visual but I am loving it.

3. Practice Gratitude. For me this one always take intentionality. It doesn’t just happen. I am not doing great right now but I know it is important to staying out of the pit.

4. Prayer. Most of the time these prayers are very short and more like a groan but I at least try to turn my gaze to the Lord knowing that He is faithful to meet me.

5. Feel my pain. I am not trying to stuff my pain but I am also trying not to wallow. Wallow = falling in the pit. Feeling my pain (while turning my gaze to the Lord) = healing.

6. Taking My Thoughts Captive. This is the one where I feel like the Lord is really helping me. As I am feeling my pain or thinking difficult thoughts it seems I don’t stay there long because that is where it leads to despair and slipping in the pit. But I can’t say I am always consciously taking my thoughts captive. I feel like the Lord helps redirect them or reminds me that I do not want to be in the pit.

I have lived too much of my life in the pit and I don’t want to go back. I want to live as the victorious bride of Christ. His beloved daughter of whom I am an heir in His kingdom. A co-laborer with the Creator of the world. A pearl of great price. This is the reality I want to live in.

Thank You Father that You lift me out of the slimy pit and set my feet on new ground and give me a firm place to stand. Help me stay standing there Lord. Amen.

It has been a long time since I have posted on here. It isn’t that I haven’t been thinking of things to write. I have. Almost daily. I have even sat down to write with an idea but the words never seemed to flow easily and so I would decide to save it as a draft. Maybe some day I will be able to write those posts.

Today I am trying again. If you are reading it then I guess it made it through!

First, a little update on me and my life right now. Hubby and I felt peace about me letting go of my part time job at our church so now I am “just” home. We also decided to try to home school our oldest this year. Both me being at home and homeschooling have to do with creating space for family time. We have a weird schedule as a ministry family and we want to protect our family time. Monday through Friday school days didn’t really work with our schedule and so we are homeschooling. So far it is going well. We have our bad days but mostly it is good!

Second, this is a weird season for me. On one hand I am completely at peace and even content being at home and being teacher. On the other hand this season with my kids the ages they are has been one of my loneliest seasons. When I only had one or two kids it still seemed doable to get out and do things or go to a friend’s house for play dates. Now that I have three it just doesn’t seem as easy. We do school in the mornings and the toddler (what happened to my baby??) sleeps in the afternoon. I am asking myself what I can do to make time for fellowship with others and trying to leave what I can’t do to the Lord! Anyone want to come over and hang out with us sometime? We are especially trying to find some friends to hang with on Saturdays since Saturday services are starting at our church again.

Third, this has to do with the being afraid thing. I belong to a health group on Facebook. One of the women admitted that she is kind of scared with the whole ISIS thing and was wondering what she can do to be prepared (mostly in the physical sense with food, etc.). Another woman admitted to being freaked out by the recent news of the Ebola case confirmed here in the U.S. Not gonna lie that I have wondered what is happening in our world and what the days ahead are going to look like. Thankfully I haven’t felt a lot of fear over it though. But as I was taking my walk this morning, I was listening to the bible app on my phone. I picked five random chapters in different books to listen to and I was once again reminded why the bible is so important to us as believers. It has the promises we need for getting through whatever lies ahead. I wanted to share some of them here.

The first is from Psalm 27. When I googled it I found that it is called “A Psalm of Fearless Trust in God”.

Psalm 27
The Lord is my light and my salvation;

Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
12 Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.

The next one is also a Psalm and is one of my favorites right now.

Psalm 34 The Lord, a Provider and Deliverer.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
O fear the Lord, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.
10 The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.
11 Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous will be [e]condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be [f]condemned.

I also found Proverbs 1 to be very interesting in light of the ISIS situation. Verses 16-19 say, “For their feet run to evil and they hasten to shed blood. Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited net in the sight of any bird; But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence; It takes away the life of its possessors.” I do want to note that our only enemy is the enemy. Muslims or people associated with ISIS are not our enemies. They are a very lost people in need of being reconnected to their one and only Creator, God Almighty through Jesus Christ! And as I was reminded in a message earlier this summer, the descendants of Ishmael (which Muslims are) are a promise, not a problem. Nevertheless, I also feel it is important we do not sit back and act like nothing is happening. If nothing else we must be fervent in our prayers.

But most importantly, we need to trust God. He can be trusted. And that is why we do not need to be afraid. “He delivers us from ALL our fears”!!!

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