What A Break From Social Media Taught Me

The red dot popped up again so I dropped what I was doing to check my notification only to realize that I was invited to yet another direct sales group.  I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t something more exciting.  Something more pressing.  Something more significant.

What is it about that red dot?  Why do I feel the need to drop everything, whether I’m reading my Bible or having a sweet conversation with my daughter?  Why is it so compelling?

When I was little, there were no red dots.  There was a mailbox on the porch and a phone with a cord but nothing quite so instantaneous – nothing that beckoned my attention so strongly and discreetly.

vintage phone

This stage of life has been a challenging one.  As a stay-at-home mom and blogger, I have struggled with remembering that my significance is in Christ alone.   In my prior life before motherhood, I had a high-profile job on a church staff.   To a degree, I put my identity in my role and my seminary training.  As a result, I often find myself grasping for significance where it simply cannot be found.

When I get to the heart of the matter, I get excited about the potential of someone on the other end of the red dot who related to something I said, looked at my blog or just liked the funny meme I posted.  My true intention is never to seek the approval of others but sin is subtle and the enemy knows our weaknesses.

Especially as women, who think 12 thoughts while simultaneously juggling just as many tasks, the enemy likes to fly under the radar.  Our most destructive thoughts are the ones we are least aware of and it is absolutely no coincidence that these temptations emerge when we least expect them – usually at the most chaotic of times.

Renovated Faith

It’s difficult to admit that those dots gave me a subtle, but present, feeling of being needed, wanted and valued – nevermind the fact that it was in a social media realm that doesn’t truly exist.  All the while, my Creator and Savior sits waiting for me to open my eyes to where my true significance lies.  He beckons me to cultivate the one relationship that matters most but I’m too caught in my own web of self-involvement that His grace-filled invitations often go unnoticed. 

As an experiment, I decided to delete facebook from my phone at least for a time.  I left it on my computer because it is still a tool I use it to keep up with friends and to share blog posts.  Deleting it from my phone made is much less accessible and therefore less enticing.  Here are some things I discovered:

  • Drug-like Habit – Even after deleting it from my phone, I would mindlessly pick it up with the intention to scroll through my newsfeed. Almost like an involuntary reflex, I picked it up over a dozen times the first day out of pure habit.
  • What I Missed Out On – At the end of the day, I looked forward to going to my computer to see ALL the amazing content I must have missed.  To my surprise, I missed nothing – unless you count some empty notifications and the chance to learn about these beauties from a friend’s post.
TopShop Jeans
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  • New Focus – I completed tasks faster and was much more focused as I worked on them.
  • Mental Excuse – My mornings were smoother.  I realized I would lay in bed and scroll through my newsfeed purely out of hesitation to “start my day”. I would often use my phone as a mental excuse to not do something I dreaded or feared.
  • Pray Instead – When I got the itch to check my phone, I decided to pray instead. After just one week, my prayer life has been much better am giving my fears to God instead of just avoiding those situations by checking my phone.

 

The problem isn’t social media so much as what social media provides – instant gratification – quick and easy access to the things we desire most.  In our eyes, it can be a catalyst to what we hold dear – but in reality, it only supplies quick delivery on flawed goods.   Like hoping to find a rare diamond in a gumball machine, we look to the wrong place for what we need most.

The things that give us true meaning and fulfillment take time, work and commitment:  Relationships, job fulfillment, contentment – “there’s no app for that”.

Social Media Addiction

So often, we fall into the trap of seeking good things in the wrong location.  This is the very crux of our humanity.  Just like Eve who sought knowledge – but from the forbidden tree, or Sarah who sought motherhood – but in her own time-frame by having her husband lay with her maidservant.

Fortunately, our significance doesn’t come from how much others notice us.  It’s quite the contrary.  What God has called you to do, although seemingly insignificant is important simply because He has called you to do it. 

Significance

We are significant because our connection to Him and Him alone, no matter our status.  Don’t confuse your significance with your station in life.  Whether you are a stay at home mom or a CEO, we all play an important role in God’s plan.

What if we evaluated Mary’s significance by her station in life at the time of Christ’s birth.  She was an average Jewish woman giving birth in today’s equivalent of a barn, and not the white shiplap type.  However, her intrinsic value as a child of God and the mother of our Savior makes her an invaluable tool for God’s purposes.  Our surroundings and status are independent of our worth as they are props on the stage of His divine plan to bring about His will in our lives.

Our significance comes not because of how many see what we do but significance comes because of our connection to Christ.  God loves to use ordinary things and make them extraordinary.  Simply say yes to God’s plans.  Use your ordinary life to serve and extraordinary Savior.

If you find yourself constantly checking your phone often and for no apparent reason, what are you hoping to get from it?  Is it significance or something else entirely?  What do you feel like you are missing and where are you running to fill the desires that only Christ can?  Take a minute to pray about that and you’ll be amazed at the freedom of remembering where your significance lies.

‘Til Next Time,

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Social Media

Beauty From Chaos: How to Find Peace in Any Situation

You might remember my pristine DIY Entertainment Center that I featured on the blog a couple weeks ago.  Now marred by water damaged and covered with dust, these pieces currently sit in our garage…..entertainment-center-2Last Sunday night, we woke at midnight to our daughter screaming.  I ran into the living room to check on her, sure that I would find her in the midst of some frantic search for her mermaid doll that fell off the bed.  Apparently, her mermaid not only fell off the bed but went for a swim because she picked it up to find it was covered in water – as was most of our house!

Living Room

Two inches of water from a broken toilet valve now covered most of our home.  We sloshed through soaked carpet to try to move most of our furniture into the garage.   A company came to pull out the carpet and set up industrial fans and dehumidifiers for a week.  Carpet has been pulled up from every room,  much of our furniture is in the garage and the contents of every closet was left in a huge pile in the middle of each room in order to remove carpeting.  The wind and noise from the fans only reminded me that the state of our house was now a swirl of chaos.

For someone who likes to surround myself with order, beauty and solitude, my home quickly became a wet, concrete-laden, obstacle course of wet furniture, carpet tacks and confusion.

I had some unfinished furniture pieces in our garage and decided I needed to finish them up to make extra room.  I pulled a half-completed secretary into our living room (aka ground zero) to touch up.  This was a piece I worked on for my friend Rebecca to use as her daughter’s desk.

Secretary before

I began put the hardware on the secretary and soon a peace came over me.  The drawers had been strewn all over the house as I waited for them to dry.  It was no nice to see them finally come together to make something beautiful. I am reminded that in spite of chaos, God’s peace can still reign in our heart’s and minds – not matter the mess, no matter the struggles or disaster that surrounds us.

Priscilla’s Shirer’s The Armor of God is a Bible study that brings to light the spiritual warfare that surrounds us on a daily basis and how to combat it.  In it she states:

“Anywhere peace is lacking you can be sure the enemy is at work.”

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This quote stopped me in my tracks.  I realized that my heart felt as chaotic as our household because I was allowing Satan’s lies and deception to steal my joy and contentment.

I was blaming my discontent on the state of our house but, in reality, the peace that God gives is not as the world gives. Just because I was surrounded by disorder, my heart can be calm because God can be trusted with even the messiest of situations.

The Lord recognizes that we will have hard times, but God’s overwhelming peace has the capacity to give you rest in the most turbulent of circumstances. 

So many times I have read Philippians 4:6-7.  It is a well-known verse that commonly adorns coffee mugs, picture frames and refrigerator magnets.  Unfortunately, when it comes to this verse, I often confuse familiarity with apathy.

Do Not Be Anxious

 

This is one of those powerful verses that the enemy would love for us to forget.

But how do we really experience God’s peace in the midst of horrible circumstances? 

Priscilla points out that this verse is intrinsically tied to Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

When we make a conscience effort to pray with thanksgiving, instead of allowing anxiety to rule our thoughts and emotions, we are expressing a firm trust in God and His care for us.  By taking this step in faith with thanksgiving, we are affirming that God has the capacity to overcome anything that life brings.

This is the key to unlocking the peace that so often alludes us…

As Priscilla Shirer says, “This kind of faith catches His attention and He response by activating His peace within us – a peace that will not only guard but also guide us by helping us to discern the direction God is leading us to take in our lives.  Note the progression: trust leads to thankfulness and gratitude activates peace.”

As I wrote in 7 Tips To Find Your Calling, let your fears and anxieties become a reminder that you have something to bring before the Lord in prayer.  When we trust our situation to God by submitting our concerns in prayer and thanksgiving, He will be faithful to release His peace in our lives.  Before you know it you will to see the beauty of his plans even in the midst of chaos.

My prayer is that your every anxious thought would filter through this truth leaving you with the peace that only He can give.

Even in the aftermath of the flood, I was able to complete this secretary.  If you look closely, you can see concrete floors in the background.  What a testimony to how God brings beauty from ashes, growth from decay, and hope from destruction.

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Enjoy some of the pictures of the finished secretary!  If you liked this post, you might also like:

DIY Faux Painted Signs (Free Scripture Printables)DIY Faux Painted Signs (Free Scripture Printables)

When Anxiety Knocks and God Answers, Part 1

‘Til Next Time,

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When Peace is Lacking

 

Living a Legacy of Faith

The relevance of this discovery was not lost on me…. A couple weeks after the funeral my mom started going through his things.  In his wallet she found a torn scrap of newspaper.  No other quote could better exemplifies the character of my grandfather and childhood best friend:

“Resolve to be tender with the young,
compassionate with the aged,
sympathetic with the striving,
and tolerant of the weak and the wrong.
Sometimes in life you will have been all of these.”

After retiring from the refinery as union president, Fairburn Moseley took on the job of chaplain for a hydrant/valve corporation in Beaumont, Texas.  My grandfather’s job was to visit and pray with employees that were sick or injured.  He thrived in this capacity as someone who showed mercy to others with an attitude of humility.

For as far back as I can remember, he was always present in my life. He was there at my piano recital.  He was there at my ballet performance.  He was there when I busted my knee in the driveway.  He even took me fishing.  So many times, we would sit together on the wrought iron swing in the back.  We would swing for hours on end.  Sometimes we just sat.  Sometimes we would talk.   But always, he was there.

 

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Every Sunday after church we would go to my grandparents’ house as they lived just down the street from the church.  We had a weekly ritual of ordering pizza and eating it on tv trays in their living room while watching tv and talking.   Our Sunday lunches were definitely low-key, but that didn’t change the fact that they made a big impact on me.   I can still smell the pizza and feel the warm sunshine that streamed through the windows over my grandma’s sewing machine.

Late one Saturday night, I talked to my parents and decided to invite the Lord to “live in my heart,” as Baptists say.  Basically, I invited Christ to be Lord of my life by asking forgiveness of sin and professing my trust for salvation in Him because of Christ’s sacrifice.  This was the beginning of my relationship with Christ.  This was not an empty act but the first day of the rest of my life. 

My grandpa recognized that…

I “walked the aisle” that morning at church and we went over to my grandparents for lunch as usual.  As everyone went into the kitchen to get their pizza, he sat with me and solemnly said, “Karin, what you did today was a really good thing.”

There was nothing profound about those words but by his heartfelt demeanor, I knew He valued what I had done….rather, what Christ had done in me.

His presence in my life was vital to understanding how God loves me.  I learned that humility and mercy go hand in hand.  Out of his mercy, my grandfather wanted to give me the very best but was humble enough to realize that the best he could give me was not of him.  He was a conduit of love, grace and peace that was straight from God.  In my grandpa, I saw Him.

The same applied to how he loved others.  No matter their age, not matter their social status or intelligence, he loved them with the very love of Christ.

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What God needs most are men and women like him, who are willing to be present, to be full of grace and to exemplify the very qualities of God Himself.  Because of my relationship with my grandpa, whom I called Baba, I was able to better understand the same kind of characteristics in God. –  He approves of me.  He never leaves me.  He wants to spend time with me.

So often I struggle as a parent to know if I’m doing enough to encourage her faith.  In reality, the biggest impact I can make on her is focusing on my own faith – spending time with Him and allowing her to see Him in me.  My greatest parenting strategy is nurturing my own relationship with Christ.  

The greatest impact we can make in the life of another person is loving them well and encouraging their relationship with their Creator.  True ministry means getting out of God’s way in order for Him to intercede through us to offer grace, mercy and love to a lost and dying world.

This is not a flash in the pan ministry strategy.  There is nothing hurried or showy about God’s most important means of discipleship – establishing meaningful relationships with others.

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Leaving a legacy of faith means desiring to give someone your best, but recognizing the best we can give is not of us.  We make our greatest impact on others by living a life that points to Him.  God designed us to reflect His characteristics by leaving a legacy for others like a bright light for others to see.  Through an attitude of mercy and humility that comes from God Himself, we can do that.

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Free Scripture Verse Printables HERE

My grandfather lived out Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you: to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”  God desires to free you from the burden of slavery and sin.  He is gentle and humble in heart – not giving us what we truly deserve but instead, lavishing us with grace and love beyond measure. 

baba

 

As I pass by this quote on my bookcase, I’m reminded not of the words on the page but the man who made them come to life.  I only knew him for 12 years but the lessons He taught me about how God cares for His own will last me an eternity.

 

 

Here’s a poem I wrote about him as a senior in high school:

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Thanks for taking the time to read about my grandfather that is still so close to my heart and memory.

Til’ Next Time,

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7 Tips To Find Your Calling

So often when trying to define God’s call on my life, I felt like His plans for me were elusive and intangible.  In reality, however, I had placed obstacles in my own life that made it hard to hear what He was so patiently and clearly telling me. As God’s handiwork, we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).  Our one job is to be obedient to Him and He will take care of everything else.

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1. Just Go With It

When God repeatedly told me to write, my mind was flooded with thoughts like “But what will this lead to?”, “Will this be worth it?” and “Am I SURE this is what He is telling me?”  It was in the midst of this doubt that I read Luke 1, where the angel Gabriel tells Zechariah about the imminent birth of his son, John the Baptist.  Zechariah answers in disbelief saying, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

The angel responds to his lack of faith by taking away his voice until the day of John’s birth.   In other words, believe God when He tells you to do something the first time.  Don’t spin your wheels by questioning Him but be obedient to the last thing God told you to do – even if you don’t understand it.   He will be sure to show you the next step in His perfect time.

2. It’s God’s Calling, Not Yours

C.S. Lewis once said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself.  It is thinking of yourself less.”   Pray for God to redirect your focus to “HIS WILL” instead of “his will for ME”.    Don’t chase your call but chase the God who calls you.

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God is our only source of power and strength so if we focus on ourselves, even while trying to do good things, we will surely fall flat on our face.  God has given us each different gifts and talents but without His power burning bright in us, we are like a candle without a flame.  A candle can have a uniquely colorful glow and aroma, but without the flame, it cannot fulfill its true purpose of providing light.

3. You Have Gifts and Talents

There are various spiritual gift surveys online including this one that can give you an idea as to what your God-given gifts are.    In addition, be aware of your talents.  Maybe you are great at decorating, gardening or baking.  Perhaps God wants you to combine your gift of encouragement and baking skills to make gifts for neighbors as a means to reach out to them.  Be prayerful about God can use your gifts and talents to honor Him.

4.  Uncover Your Fears

Don’t allow fears to deter you from following God’s plans.  Allow them to be the very catalyst that drives you to the foot of the cross.  Be mindful of fears when they come into your thought life.  Take those opportunities to not only hand over the fear to God in prayer, but to submit the entire situation over to Him.  For example, maybe I realize I am nervous about a meeting with my daughter’s teacher.  Instead of giving just the fear over to God in prayer, pray to give the entire situation to Him in prayer.   Let your fear be a prompt or reminder that highlights opportunities to allow God to intercede through you as you give the entire situation over to Him.

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5.  Your Calling Is Closely Tied To What You Enjoy

In most sports, there is that feeling you get…just like when you hit a tennis ball on the sweet spot of your racket. You get a good spin on the ball and you know the racket was used exactly how it should be used. Always be watchful for that same feeling. When you find yourself in the middle of a task, hobby or job and notice that same satisfaction, know that you have found the point where your God-given talents align with the tasks He has laid before you. When you approach the point where your gifts and calling intersect, have found your sweet spot.

6. Be tenacious in pursuing your God-given goals.

Sharpening our gifts and talents will take work.  Within the work lies the preparation, growth and character-building that will be necessary when His plans are fully realized.  Development is part of the process because God wants us to make sure we are ready for all He has planned.  It’s through working towards our God-given goals that He prepares us for the task at hand.   The work God does within us while we wait is just as important as what we are waiting for.

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7. Stay in the Word

It’s much like drinking coffee for the first time.  At first, you drink coffee in the morning because you know it will help you get through your day.  But before you know it, it’s a habit, something you crave and can’t make it through the day without.  Know that time in God’s Word is not wasted and God’s Word cannot return void.  As it says in Isaiah 55:11, “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

My favorite verse is 1 Corinthians 2:9, which states, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard and no mind has conceived what God has planned for those who love Him.”  Know God has plans for you that are so much greater than anything you have imagined.

Which tip was helpful to you and why?  I’d love to hear feedback and your tips below!

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The Forgotten Art of Being Yourself

If you have been around a four-year old for any length of time, you soon come to realize their expertise in question asking…endless, relentless questions.  As an introvert, I am amazed at my extrovert daughter’s capacity to ask a barrage of questions over such a long period of time, only stopping for minutes at a time to “reload”.

Here are a few of the questions that stick out in my mind:

  • Why did my pet ants decide to go to heaven instead of making their tunnels?
  • How did I watch Ipad when I was in your tummy?
  • When is the cheeseball I planted outside going to grow into a cheeseball tree?

I can’t say I’m always attentive to these questions, with my answers often ranging from “I don’t know” to “why don’t you ask Daddy.”

However, there’s one question that would stop me in my tracks…

Can you imagine your child asking you “Mommy, am I enough…Am I smart enough?  Am I good enough?  Am I pretty enough?”  What would your answer be?

No doubt, you would stop what you are doing to reassure her she is more than enough – that you love her just the way she is and more than she can possibly imagine.

Now imagine how God would feel if we asked him the same question – “Am I enough?” 

Now, let’s stop and think about this for a minute.  If you are a parent, think how much you love your child and try to grasp the fact that God loves you exponentially more than that.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John3:1).”  

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When you look in the mirror in the morning what do you see?  Do you see a woman who isn’t ___(fill in the blank)___enough or do you see a woman with tremendous value because she is loved and cherished by her Creator.

God loves us more than we can possibly fathom, no matter how many times we yell at our kids or make snarky political comments on Facebook.  God is not waiting to love some future version of ourselves.  He is absolutely thrilled with you in this very minute.  He loves you just as you are –  fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139) and cheers you on daily.

Often social media is a barricade we can hide behind so the true world can’t see how unhinged we really are. The window we peer though into each other’s personas is rose-tinted.   No one shares their insecurity and fears about not being enough and the God-given peculiarities that make them uniquely them.  So we offer a cleaned up, whitewashed version of ourselves….at the very cost of being ourselves.

When we give a false impression of who we really are, we are saying that what we have to offer is not good enough.  “How God made me is not good enough.” 

However, authentic engagement means lowering your guard, allowing yourself to be vulnerable and attune to the fact that God loves you as you already are.

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God designed us in His image (Gen. 1) and God promises to abide in us.  To abide means “to remain, he to or follow.”  We are also called to abide in Him which means keeping his commandments which encompasses loving the Lord with our hearts, soul and minds and to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22).

 “For anyone who hears the word but does not carry it out is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, and after observing himself goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like (John 1:24,25).  We are never more ourselves than we are abiding in Him by obeying His commandments and loving others.  When we withhold our true self from others, we limit what God wants to show others about who we really are – and how He works through us.

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To “be yourself” means you submit control to be who God created you to be by abiding in Him.  By abiding in Him we allow His light to shine in us to empower us to be whom He created us to be.  Just like a prism, the colors of the rainbow cannot be defused without a source of light directed into in.   We gleam hope from the one who infused hope into us.

Below are some of the mirrors in my home that I see everyday.  When you look in a mirror, who do you see?  I pray you see a woman dearly loved by her God.

‘Til Next Time,

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Writing Desk Makeover

When I stumbled on this antique writing desk, I knew it had incredible potential.  The previous owner has painted portions of it in gold acrylic paint.  This piece took a lot of sanding to repair some water damage on the top but the results are well worth the process.

before-desk

I’m pleasantly surprised with the outcome as it doesn’t look like the same table.  I also refinished and covered a chair to match.

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As mentioned, there was an incredible amount of sanding that had to be done on this piece before coating it in Zinnser’s Bullseye 123 water-based primer.  I painted it on and it was dry in 30 minutes.

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I then put on my first coat of blue paint.  I mixed a few colors I had to get just the right shade but it is almost identical to Behr’s Sonata Blue, except maybe a tad grayer.  After the first coat, I sanded the piece lightly with a fine grit sanding pad on my mouse sander.  Then, I added my last coat of blue with some floetrol mixed in to reduce brush strokes.

I thought this desk would be an ideal piece in someone’s living room or bedroom  as a small work space that was still inviting.  My friend Katie bought this piece for her bedroom to do just that.

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I also recovered the chair I painted to match, adding upholstery trim to give it an extra pop.  Miss Mustard Seed would be so proud!

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I couldn’t find a drawer liner I liked so I used this Waverly fabric instead.  I ironed it with lots of spray starch.  After cutting it to size, I attached it to the drawer with Elmer’s spray glue.

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What stands out to me about this project was the massive amount of sanding that had to be done before I started priming or painting. The top had some water stains and I had to let the desk sit in my garage a few weeks to make sure it was dried out.  Then, I put on my respirator and started sanding off the damage until I could see a fresh, even wood surface.  Here is a picture of said water damage and also how the surface looked when I finished.

I spent so much time sanding that I burned up my sander, but I knew there was no way around this excruciating task.  To achieve its beautiful finish, a process had to take place.  Rushing the process or skipping over steps would be a detriment to the finished product.  Although painful (especially to my sander), this was a step that had to be endured.

In my last post on Goal Setting, I stated that development is a necessary part of the process.  If you are waiting for God to work in your life for something you’ve always dreamed, know that He already is.  He has not forgotten you and your current phase in life.   Although difficult, your current waiting game  and stage of development is vital to see His plan come to fruition.

He knows what we need to learn and where we need to grow.  That often comes with some sanding but He also knows the end result is worthwhile.

If you have been waiting for God to bring about His Plans, know that the “when” is just as important as the “what”.  There is nothing worse than being where God wants you to be before you are truly ready.

Know this period of sanding is just for a time.  This too shall pass.  For this season, rely on what He has shown you and trust Him for He hasn’t yet.

‘Til Next Time,

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Intentional Goal Setting (Free Printable)

God has graced each one of us with unmistakable dreams, desires and plans for our lives.  He has interlaced those dreams with talents, blessings and spheres of influence unique to each and every one of us.  While God is totally in control, work and discipline on our part are still necessary to see our dreams come to fruition.

In the past, I felt it was my job to sit and wait for God to fulfill His plans for me – like maybe I wasn’t trusting Him if I tried to work towards those goals.  However, anything worth doing will involve a lot of preparation and character-building on my part – and I can’t think of anything more worthy of my time than following God’s Will.

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Goal-planning basically involves making a road map to where you know God is leading you.  The Lord wants us to actively participate in His plans for us by relying upon Him to fulfill our God-given dreams and aspirations.  Within the work lies the preparation, growth and character-building that will be necessary when His plans are fully realized.

Development is part of the process because God wants us to be ready for all He has planned.  As Tony Evans once said, “The worst thing you can have is to be somewhere God wants you to be and not be ready to be there.”  It’s through working towards our God-given goals that He prepares us for the task at hand.

Plan your work and work your plan.   One of my dreams is to be a writer but I’m not going to just wake up tomorrow morning and be an amazing author whose eloquent words just spill onto a blank page.  Not only does it take work to develop the necessary writing skills but also the character-building to be able to handle it when I get there.

Here are fool-proof steps to implement goals:

  1. As mentioned in my post When New Year’s Resolututions Don’t Work, fix your eyes on God and He will show you the goals for your future. There is no accident that you are in your current stage or situation.  It’s liberating to rest in knowing that God is fully aware of where you are at any moment.  Achieving goals has less to do with control and more to do with surrendering your present and future to Him.
  1. What fears pin themselves between you and your dreams? What is the basis for these fears?  For every fear that comes to mind, write down “I fear _____ because__________.”  This is a great exercise to understand what is holding you back.  Submit these feelings to God and learn from them.   When we alleviate these fears from our path, we clearly see the next stepping stone God has laid before us.  Allow your fears to be swept away by faith in your Creator, knowing this kind of fear is never from Him (2 Tim.1:7).  www-renovatedfaith-com-52
  1. Write down areas in which you would like to set goals. This can be any area you would like to improve or any ongoing commitment.  I’ve made a printable below to help with this process.  Here are examples of areas I’d like to focus on:

Helping my daughter to try new foods

Becoming a better writer

  1. After setting your focus area, it’s time to look ahead to see where you would like to be in 3 months.  I recommend setting quarterly goals and reassessing them after each quarter.  As Shana Shutte has said, “God’s revelation is limited and progressive – your goals may change.”  Like in Genesis 12 when God tells Abraham to “go to the land He will show him”, we don’t know the final destination.  God so often shows us to only the next step, whether it’s to build our faith or because we are simply not ready to know His full plans.  Here are some examples for goals in three months:

Focus Area:  Helping my daughter to eat more foods

Goal – What I Envision in Three Months: Less whining and table and she is trying food on a regular basis.

 

Focus Area: Becoming a better writer

Goal – What I Envision in Three Months: I’d like to have read a book on writing and have submitted something to a local Christian magazine.

Notice my goals are not very lofty and some are vague.  There’s a reason for that.  Be sure to be kind to yourself during this process.  Nothing sabotages your goals faster than the guilt and discouragement of setting unattainable goals.

  1. Write out action steps. Start with monthly and then narrow the focus down to weekly and then daily.  Record these baby steps in your calendar or planner.  For example, to get my daughter to try more foods, we are going to set up a sticker chart.  When she tries a new food she gets a sticker and when she fills up the whole chart, we are going to do something special.
  1. Now that you have a plan, you want to reassess and repeat the same process every three months.

Here is a link to a free download to help you make this process more streamlined.  The key to goal-planning with God’s purpose in mind is surrender.  When we stop to be intentional about following His plans for us, we glorify Him and have greater fulfillment in how we spend our time.

www-renovatedfaith-com-54

If you think this post will help someone else, please share it!

Til’ Next Time,

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God’s Reaction When We “Just Show Up”

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Hardly Pinterest-worthy is the picture above.  In my meager attempts to live a shiny, compartmentalized, ‘I’ve got it under control’ kind of life, I often forget what’s most important.

This post was going to include a recipe for Stove-top Potpourri and explain ways to get to know your neighbors during the holiday season, and it still is…sort of.   When trying out the recipe, God showed me in greater depths how he wants me to engage with Him and others.

After realizing I cut the orange “wrong”, and that my lemons were too moldy to use, I noticed a sad, crusty French fry from last night’s gourmet dinner on the stove.   Although some might see this picture as a Pinterest-fail, I was reminded that this is still a beautiful picture in God’s eyes.

In 1 John, the apostle starts out by saying, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest and we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.”

The word manifest means “clear, obvious.”  With every sense, God wanted us to recognize the truth of who He is – that He sent His son out of His great love from us to deliver us from sin.  God made clear the truth of Christ by engaging us on every level.  He made his truth evident by sight, sound and even touch. 

When the disciples saw that Jesus filled their nets with fish, when the woman was healed after touching His robe and when a little girl was brought back from death upon Jesus only hearing her story, Jesus made it clear that He wants to engage with us on every level possible.  Notice that He didn’t wait until these people had their act together or got well, He engaged with them at the time of their greatest need.  God wants us to come to Him as we are.  He doesn’t care that we don’t have it all together (and no one does), He just wants us to show up and to seek to engage with Him.

The picture of my Stovetop Potpourri will never make it on the pages of a magazine, but it still counts.  I still “showed up.”  It brings glory to God in that He knows my heart’s intent to build relationships with my neighbors to hopefully be a vehicle for His love.   He doesn’t care that the process wasn’t perfect.  Your Heavenly Father doesn’t want you “clean yourself up” before presenting your requests to Him.  He wants to engage you in your greatest time of need and come as you are.  He is delighted when His children “just show up”!

The same can be said in how we engage with others.  A couple months ago, I didn’t take a rare opportunity to talk to my neighbor because my hair wasn’t done and I wasn’t wearing makeup.  Ironically, sometimes the things that we try to hide from others are the things that can form a bridge to connect on an interpersonal level.  Often when others see that we care more about them instead of maintaining appearances, it makes us more approachable and so much more real.  In making an effort to be transparent, perhaps our next conversation won’t be just be a quick exchange of pleasantries, but an opportunity to engage in real conversation.

God wants us to be transparent about the depths from which He has saved us.  Thankfully, He doesn’t want us to engage with him as a sterile, June Cleaver, ‘my lipstick is always on’ version of ourselves and neither do our neighbors.

God longs to engage your every sense in such a way that we are no longer focused on how we are perceived but only on how HE is perceived by others through us.  God does not require us to be perfect but He simply wants us to be presence.  He wants us to be real with others about the difficult and pain that life brings, knowing that God can heal our every wound and alleviate every fear.

As in 2 Corinthians 2:15, may we be the “pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”  The reality of ourselves might not always be pretty but there is an opportunity for others to see His love when the abundance of His all-sufficient love meets our insufficiency.  Don’t forget the power in just showing up.

 

Stove Top Potpourri Recipe

  • 1 orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 T. whole cloves
  • ¼ c. cranberries

Use this download to make your own labels for your neighbors.  I tied them with baker’s twine and my daughter and I had fun putting them in each neighbor’s mailbox!

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Do your Words Bless or Backfire?

When we post a comment on social media, it’s permanent.  It is indelibly stamped onto some recess of the internet, available for anyone to see at any point in time.  The same can be said of the words we speak.  However, our words are not just passively recordable, but they have an eternal effect on others and ourselves with ripple effects lasting into eternity.

Words are hurtful.  We have all been on the receiving end of this truth, knowing that a hurtful word can penetrate a soul deeper than any sharp object.  Our words have the profound ability to affect and influence people for the good and bad.

James 3:4-5, 8-10 states, “Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.  So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things…. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth comes blessing and cursing.”

James says that it is full of deadly poison, as its venom can easily strike and maim anyone in its path.    Our words are a windows into our hearts.  Matthew 15:18 says “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”

your-words-are-a-window-into-your-heart

As I read the James passage, verse 10 stuck out to me – “with it we bless our Lord and Father and with it we curse people.”  God didn’t design an instrument of praise to also be an instrument of harm.

Our words must be consistently aligned with the truth of God’s Word.  Controlling and redirecting our words is vital for building up others.  It’s not enough to bless others on social media while cursing them in private. 

2 Timothy 2:20-21 states, “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use some for dishonorable.  Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

Here Paul is telling Timothy how to be a person God uses.  It has little to do with biblical training, church attendance or even your gifts.  It has everything to do with your willingness to seek God and cleanse yourself from sin.

God uses people that pursue Him and flee sin.

Imagine sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner and the hostess comes to the table with a large crystal bowl of what looks like cornbread stuffing.  Instead of putting it on the table, she proceeds to put it on the floor next to the dog’s water dish, where the dog comes over to eat his canned dog food.    As the bowl has been made dirty by the dog food, is it now better suited for scraps for the dog or for dressing on the table?  It’s a gross analogy but it goes to show how a vessel meant for honorable purposes can quickly be allocated for dishonorable purposes once it has become dirty.

With the same mouth we bless God and curse men and then wonder why He doesn’t want to use us?  (I speak to myself more than anyone else.)  Just as a the crystal bowl was made dirty by the dog food, so are our mouths made dirty are not as useful to God.

Fortunately, just because a bowl is dirty doesn’t mean it can’t be used again.  It simply must be cleaned.  If we want to be useful vessels of honor, we must cleanse ourselves of sin by confessing it to Him.

Our words have a boomerang affect.  What comes out of our mouth ultimately affects others into eternity.  Our words play a role in how God uses us.

Fortunately, when we used our words to reflect His goodness to others, God will continue to use us.  As we know that our words have tremendous power, we can harness this power to encourage others.

kind-words

Kind words cost us nothing but their effects may be eternal.  One kind word can change someone’s entire day, week or even lifetime.  As a habit, when you see something beautiful about someone, speak it.  Proverbs 16:24 says that “Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul.”

Make a point to never suppress an encouraging thought. May our lips be tight when we are tempted to speak critically and may they be loose when we see good in someone.   Let’s pray the tremendous power of our words are used to build up others so they may see their true Source.  If our words are a window into our hearts, may others see nothing but the light of God’s Love.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it so it hopefully encourages someone else.

‘Til Next Time,

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In God We Trust

So many reactions to this election swing between the two pendulums of fatalism and panic.  While one person dismisses our role in voting, feeling that God’s sovereignty deems it as irrelevant, another supports the idea that an individual simply cannot be a Christian if he or she does not vote for a certain candidate.

Matt Morton, our teaching pastor at Grace Bible Church’s Creekside Campus in College Station, Texas spoke on the role of God and government yesterday.  It provides a lot of clarity to the above views and gave me a peace about what lies before us this Tuesday and in the years ahead.

Please find some time to listen to the sermon at the link below.  God blessed me through these words and I pray they give you peace and comfort in these chaotic times.

http://www.grace-bible.org/resources/sermons/god-and-government-creekside