Friday, February 12, 2016

Quest For Joy-Part 1

 photo credit: Krys Keylor
It's something we all desire.  We yearn for it. We strive to attain it. We work harder for it.  We set our minds to achieving it.
We even condemn ourselves for lacking it.
Joy. It seems so hard to possess and even harder to maintain in this life.

And it get's worse. We not only lack joy, but we possess anxiety and worry in abundance!

We worry about our finances. We worry about sickness. We worry about our children.  We worry about our loved ones. We worry about the day to day; getting the laundry done, the house being clean, the millions of items on our to-do list. We worry what others will think of us.  We worry we will fail. These and so many more, we would probably categorize as selfish worry.

Then, we have worry over all of the people starving in the world. Worry over the millions who are trapped in slavery of various kinds. Worry over the millions who at this very moment are lost and on their way to hell.  We would probably categorize these as selfless worry.

But guess what?  It's all selfish. Wait. What?
Yep. It's all SELF-ish.
We take the weight of the world on our shoulders as if it were ours to bear; as if the weight has not already crushed our Savior.

Listen, a heart that is bound up in worry and fear cannot overflow with joy. It is bound.
Our overflow of worry and fear and lack of joy is sinful. It doesn't point to Christ. If that's why we exist, which it is, then we should not take this lightly.
Let's look at some scripture about worry, fear and anxiety.

"Therefore, humble yourselves under the Mighty hand of God that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." -1Peter 5:6-7
(humble yourself, trust Him and His timing)

"I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears." -Psalms 34:4
(seek Him)

"It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;for He gives to His beloved sleep." -Psalms 127:2  (rest in Him)

"Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved." -Psalm 55:22 (He will sustain you)

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."  -1 Corinthians 10:13
(we should not fear what this life brings, God is over it all)

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." -Matthew 6:34
(God has given us enough grace for today. When tomorrow comes, He will give us what we need.)

On our quest for joy, it is absolutely necessary to look at why we do not already possess it.

The root of worry and fear is often the love of earthly treasure.
 Do you have great desire for others to love you or think much of you?
love of self?
Love of earthly possessions?
Has family become an idol to you?

So broken down, the above looks like this:
-pride, selfishness, vanity
-idolatry-loving the blessings from the Creator more than the Creator Himself

Fear and worry are often just indications that treasure is buried nearby. 

This is hard stuff.  However, if we are serious about the love we proclaim for the Lord, the love we proclaim for others, and the desire to truly live out joyful lives, then you have to seek, search deep, and ask the hard questions.

Let me leave you with two questions.
1. What do you worry about losing the most?
2.What makes you most happy when you think of gaining it?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

It's Supposed To Be Messy's supposed to be messy.  Wait. What? You mean it's not supposed to look like it does in the magazines, movies, and even what we assume it looks like for everyone else?

Yep, that's what I mean.

We are messy. Our hearts are messy.  Our lives are messy.  Then you go throw people together and it's a perfect mess storm!  I'm not sure where the lie that life is supposed to be easy came from.  Oh wait, that was satan.  

First off, expectations will kill you.  They will literally rob you of the beauty that lies right in front of you.  Every. Single. Time.
So, let's straighten this out now.  Expect me to be human. Expect me to mess up. Expect me to eventually hurt your feelings over something.  Then when I don't, you'll be happily surprised with me! Ha! I am only half way kidding though. I'm human. I reside in sinful flesh and I hate it but it's true.  I know the ugliness of my own heart and it's not a pretty place to visit sometimes.

But you know what?  If all I did was put a mask on and pretend that life was always grand, would that help you? Would that help anyone?  Would that bring God the most glory?
I think you know that answer to that.
If I have in any way misled you, let's set it straight. ;)

Life is m-e-s-s-y! I am M-E-S-S-Y! My heart is even messier! I am in great need of my Savior.  It hurts my heart to hear women say things like this:  "I could never do what you're doing." I understand the heart behind it is not against the other person.  I am guilty here too.
I don't take that personally but listen, I don't take it as a compliment either.  Here's why.  The cry of my heart is to be real with people.  It's to be honest about life and love them right in the middle of it because I want my God to get ALL of the glory.  I want to point people to Him, not to me.  It breaks me heart to hear such things because I think one of two things: I have obviously failed at being real and two, "yes, you can do it because I only do anything by God's grace!"

I know so many beautiful amazing women in my life right now and so many from past years too. I mean, truly incredible women who have touched my life and continue to touch others lives too.  Do you know what makes them beautiful? Do you know what I think of when I am thinking of their beauty?  
It. has.NOTHING. to do with their appearances or their accomplishments. NOTHING.  I think of their big, loving, giving, caring hearts.  I think of the intricate ways in which God created each one of them so beautifully yet so different.  I think of the way He has purposefully planned out each day, each minute of their lives and bound it together into this sweet story that He is using and will use to glorify himself and speak immense love and grace to so many.  

Ladies, friends, can we take off the masks?  Can we stop looking and comparing and self condemning?  Can we be real about our lives, our hearts, our struggles?  Can we spend less time thinking of ourselves and how we look and how we'll look to others and more time soaking up our Father's love for us?  Can we see past these things and see to the hurting hearts?  Can we see the value and worth that we each hold simply because we were made in His beautiful image?  
That changes everything.

Today, our pastor encouraged us to come to service with messy hair. To embrace the mess as we go through this sermon series learning together. It was meant to be fun and also hold meaning.  
I loved the idea personally because I long for women to find their beauty in Him and the story He has written for them.  It took me YEARS to see this for myself.  I don't have it nailed down.  I still have moments or days where I struggle and my thoughts fall more in the "vain" and "shallow" category.  But, He has spoken freedom to me in this. Freedom from the bondage of trying to look and be something and feeling as though that is where all of my value existed.
He allowed me to see His beauty and that because of His beauty, I am beautiful.

It's supposed to be a mess.  But guess what?  He works and moves and does GREAT things in the middle of our mess!

I hope and pray that this speaks encouragement and freedom to your hearts.

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
-Proverbs 31:30

Saturday, February 6, 2016

This Beautiful Mess Called Life

I awake each morning at 6am, grab my running shoes and head out for a good run to start my day. I return to bake muffins and scramble eggs and make coffee for my family. We eat, we clean up, we do laundry and we tackle school work but first we sing Kumbaya hand in hand. It's all just so......NOT TRUE!

There are days and even seasons where life looks similar to this (minus the Kumbaya) and those are the days where I excitedly msg my husband with something like this, " killin it!"
But most days look more like this...
Do you see my favorite orange retro chair?  Yeah, I don't either. I rarely ever see that sweet chair. The days when the chair is revealed in all it's awesomeness, I sit in it and enjoy a moment because let's face it, it'll likely be a while before we see one another again!

The days when it is covered in clothes from our family 6, I can choose to do one of two things: let the mountain overtake me (believe the lie) or see the purpose in my day (choose truth).

"You cannot do it all" rings in my head and guess what?! That is NOT the lie! That's actually true my friends. You cannot do it all. We load our lists down until they are nearly impossible for one person to tackle.  And even worse than that, we load our lists down so much that there is ZERO time in our day for people. The lie is that you "should" be able to do it all and everyone else is doing it ALL and way better.

The truth is this: You cannot do it all.  You were not meant to do it all.  Laundry is never done. Hear me on this because it's freeing if you let it be! Laundry is NEVER done!!! I promise you it happens every. single. time.  I work and work on my tunnel vision mission to get it all caught up! And I mean, out of my way people.  And then I look at that clean floor and those empty hampers and just mere hours pass and it's piled up again!

Am I saying to neglect your laundry and make your family wear dirty, no.  But I am saying two things: put those kids to work learning the life skills of laundry AND.......breathe.
Maybe your pile looks more like dishes or school books or to-do lists..whatever it is...

Stop. Stop trying to do it all.  Stop for one second and look at your life.  All of those things that you wish you had time for: having that friend over for coffee, taking the kids to the park, going to serve with your friends...whatever it may it! Make time for loving people, whether it is the people in your home or people you bring into your home or people you go to.  Make the time. It's there if you look for it.

Enjoy the craziness! There can be so much good in it. It's life. Stop waiting for it to look like Pinterest. Stop waiting for it to "slow down."  Stop waiting for the neon sign to drop in your lap.  Start living your life.  Believe it or not, there is beauty in the mundane. It's whether or not you choose to see it.

"We all get to decide how happy we will be because we all get to decide how grateful we are willing to be." -Ann Voskamp