I was talking with my friend yesterday about the pressure we tend to put on ourselves to “get along” with everyone, to “like” everyone, and to even be “friends” with everyone. I am air quoting the fool out of that sentence because the interpretation of what each of those looks like is different for everyone.
Some of us are people pleasers so it is harder. We want to like and be liked by everyone. And if we don’t or if we aren’t then feelings get hurt. Typically the feelings that are hurt are caused by the missed expectations we placed unbeknownst to the other person. Man, oh man, we are silly sometimes.
We continued talking and sharing with each other about how we’ve grown out of those tendencies to fret over, or even guilt ourselves over all of that. But still those feelings come up and we have to check ourselves (before we wreck ourselves or start acting foolish). I mean, sometimes life just feels like an extension of adolescense that no one signed up for, am I right?
And we all have friends (some more than others), but it’s almost as if we have friends specific to different places… like we have work friends, church friends, school friends, play date friends, family friends, and the list goes on and on. It’s not that we wouldn’t still be friends with them in different settings, but it’s just that those are our friends related to or formed from those specific places.
Have you ever thought any of those friendships were headed one direction and then all of the sudden you’re like, “wait I thought we were headed to Happy Friendshipville, but we somehow got re-routed to Crazy Town!” …surely I am not alone. Maybe it wasn’t that dramatic. Maybe you just got to know someone and realized they weren't who you thought they were, or maybe that you didn't have as much in common as you thought. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. We are all different.
So after talking with my friend she shared something her mother had said to her that helped put all of these feelings and irrational thoughts into perspective. This isn’t verbatim but you’ll get the gist…
There’s someone for everyone,
but you don't have to be everyone’s someone.
…that’s some good stuff right there. Let that marinate for a minute or two. Now flip it over. Soak the other side in. Okay, ya got it?!
have to be
That was never how friendships and relationships were designed. I think our pride and need for approval have developed some of those false precepts about what those should look like.
How exhausting is it to try and be the “someone” that “everyone” is looking for?!
And if we are being honest, it’s likely disingenuous aka NOT REAL!
Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) tells us, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
The same verse in the NKJV reads, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Those seem to say two different things, but I like what John MacArthur’s notes say regarding the NKJV of this verse…
“The best text says 'may come to ruin' and warns that the person who makes friends too easily and indiscriminately does so to his own destruction. On the other hand, a friend chosen wisely is more loyal than a brother.”
"Indiscriminately" means to do something in a random manner. I can be pretty random at times, but I will tell you that choosing my friends is not the area that I would want to do things randomly. I believe we should have a criteria for choosing friends and, as Christians, we should look to Christ and His love and treatment of others for just that.
Yes we are to love others, to serve others, to meet the needs of the least of these, but friendship is deeper. It is more guarded, more trusted, and more sacred than being everyone’s someone.
So look around...look at your circle, your community, your tribe, your PEOPLE. Are you investing your time and energy into a few intimate and lasting relationships? Or are you trying to be everyone's someone?
Because after all, the only “someone” that will ever be meant for EVERYONE is Jesus, and there is only ONE of Him.
I posted this a year ago on Facebook and thought y'all might enjoy reading it as well. The Vine can speak to you in mighty ways...
I have a muscadine vine in my backyard. It was here when we bought the house, but it is my pride and joy! I dream of having a garden one day, so I just pretend with this precious grapevine.
The Lord has used this to speak to me in such an impactful way. Just a couple of months ago there wasn't a leaf on it. There was, however, a leafy green something growing on the top of it. Not knowing much about plants, I asked a friend what it was. He told me it was a weed. To my untrained eye, I had no idea. The vines had no leaves, yet this weed was flourishing.
Fast forward a couple of months and I now have an abundance of leaves and a little bit of flowering has started. Last week I noticed that there were a couple of jack and the bean stalk-looking swirly things springing up about a foot above the top of my vine. They looked pretty, vibrant, and green. I thought perhaps they were new vines so I asked Richard and guess what? They were weeds!
Today I purposed to work on my vines and get rid of those bright green WEEDS. As I took my shears back there and began to work, the Lord began to speak to me. At the base of these "vibrant" weeds were large thorns. Way too many to count and they ranged in size from my thumb nail to smaller sizes. The base was wide, thick, strong, and thorny. What appeared as vibrant, green new growth on the vine was actually a weed stifling the vine's growth and stealing nutrients from the soil. On the surface with the other leaves, it was beautiful and interesting. On a deeper and closer level, it was just the opposite- ugly and a nuisance.
As my daughter Ava was helping me, it brought to mind her starting to build relationships with people now and in the coming years. She is young, naive, and impressionable. She may only see the surface level charm and beauty, and she may miss the heart of the person. This is what I have to guard her from... to teach her about...to give her scripture to reinforce.
The Lord called to my mind Matthew 7:15-20. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."
This can be a warning to any degree on the character of people, ourselves included. Even the weeds flower and bloom, but guess what, they do not bear good fruit. They have no good thing to show from it. Let me tell you, it was WORK to clean up these vines and there is still work to do. The weeds act like vines and wrap themselves around the healthy grapevines to blend in. I have to literally rip and tear them off of each other. They are trying to become one.
Surely this sounds familiar to someone... Relationships can be life giving or exhausting. They can take from you and never replenish your soul. The Lord knows that! He warns us of these. What does a healthy relationship look like? What does it feel like? Who could love like that? Who gives, requires no work from us, and simply asks us to accept this gift? Jesus. God sent Him just for that purpose, so that we could abide in Him. Think about that.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me." John 15:1-4
Last week Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and the entire southeastern coast of the U.S. shared a common bond. We were all experiencing one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the area. Winds blew like trains passing and water raged totally non-threatened by seawalls, sand dunes or dams. As the often taken for granted electricity put city by city into creepy black darkness, I think I could speak for the majority saying that we knew only an act of God could turn this monster storm away. The news (when we could get it) reported of devastation after devastation but let me relay a different side of things - a side which doesn't always make the front pages.
We are in a season where we hear bashing remarks about and from politicians on a daily basis. It's often ugly and incredibly inappropriate. Everything in the media's reporting on hurricane Matthew last week was dismal as well. That is, until South Carolina's highest ranking official, our governor, took the podium just before the hurricane hit our coastline. Somewhat surprised by the act but extremely grateful at the same time, I heard our governor ask for a prayer of protection to be sent to our Heavenly Father. It wasn't a moment of silence and it wasn't just a reference asking God to be with us. This prayer was also not flowery and self serving as to say "Hey, look at me and notice how spiritual I am". The prayer that day didn't show hesitancy with thoughts of what might be politically correct or incorrect. The words were words of genuineness and smallness, true concern and compassion. There have been little to no backlashes of "they shouldn't mix church and state". The feelings and comments seem to have been of thankfulness in publicly calling in a higher power. These leaders knew they would need help and wisdom. Hurricane Matthew was bigger that any human being and the southeastern coast knew that. Believe me when I say I'm not endorsing or putting anyone on a pedestal. I certainly don't intend to appear to do so. What I am doing is noting that we as a nation seem to innately know that when things are at their bleakest there is only one place to turn. So why does our nation at other times seem to push that knowledge away?
On a more local scale, I want to relay some of the kindness I saw and experienced personally. I know there were SO very many random acts of kindness but these were just some I saw.
One young mom posted that her home would be open for a simple meal of tacos to those who she knew did not have electricity in town.
One church in town threw a free four hour post hurricane party for children. The party included pizza, games, hanging out with friends and also a service project... A SERVICE PROJECT! 1 Peter 4:10 says "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." What a great thing to teach these children as they also provided time for them to get their wiggles out! Another group of moms organized a play date at a park for mother's of preschoolers and their children.
Personally, I posted that I was looking for a generator to borrow from someone who might have already gotten their power back. Within the hour, I had one. Then I posted a question inquiring if anyone had seen ice for sale in town (without electricity it's difficult to keep food fresh, right?). There were people who offered ice from their own commercial ice machines, one offer came from a staff member who said I could fill up coolers from the church kitchen supply, three people offered extra bags of ice they had in their own freezers or coolers, one not only offered the ice she had in her refrigerator ice maker but also a warm shower and s'mores around the fire pit! All these wonderful servant hearts went above and beyond. What would our country be like if all our nation's leaders prayed publicly and privately for help and wisdom while asking for prayers from others to do the same? What if we also prayed daily for our leaders? What if we all had servants hearts not only in times of extreme stress and need but every day? What if....
Walking the road with you,
Last year, while outside playing with Clara, she was looking down being very curious but she reached up for my hand – she never looked up to see if it was going to be there she just reached up and took it. For her it was an automatic, that I was there and that my hand, her safety and security would be there. And, of course as a mother, I was right there with my hand dangling ready to catch her or to just hold her.
Later that night as I put her to bed and realized how much this little person depended on me but never questioned my presence, never worried that I would be there for her, and continually reached for me – it made me think of my relationship with God. Do I really believe that He is standing next to me with His hand out, just waiting on my little hand to grasp His? Did I really believe that He cared about my small problems, the equivalent of Clara’s scraped knee, or nearly imaginary boo-boo? At the time I don’t know that I did. I think more than a year ago –I would have said that God has so much on His plate, people are in so much more hurt than me, that whatever I was dealing with was like a skinned knee –yes it hurts right now but it will be fine.
I think part of the hurt I am experiencing is God trying to teach me that He is My Father. That he has been there all this time with His hand outstretched just waiting on me to grasp it. Waiting on me to bring my skinned knee and not shrug it off as a small hurt. My child doesn’t, she wants kisses and love for every little bump or scratch. I have always known God – but partly reserved Him for the bigger stuff. Shrugging Him off as too busy to really care about my day-to-day needs.
But this year to get through each day, to keep it on the rails as I have said a time or two, I need Him every day with the big and the little with the depression, anxiety, insecurity, loneliness, heartache, worry, etc. He wants me to know that He cares about everything I am going through and not to minimize my situation just because it isn’t as big or as scary as someone else’s. Just as we can’t compare our homes or our children –we can’t compare our struggles. What I am facing, is big to me, just as what someone else is facing.
So on days when things seem too much – I pray the childlike prayers that Clara has taught me.
Lord, thank you for this day and help me serve you today.
God our Father, We give thanks, for our many blessings Amen
Be with me through this night, please keep me in your gracious sight, watch over me while I sleep, please give me rest and perfect peace. Amen
Our prayers don’t have to be eloquent or elaborate to catch His attention. They only have to be sincere, given with an open heart and with an outstretched hand to our Father. He is waiting.
My whole life I have been an “I can do it myself person” I don’t need ….. (Need to me has always been a 4 letter word) Maybe it's because I was a single career women or lived by myself for 11 before marriage. But through the last almost 7 years of marriage –I have gotten better at it. I still don’t like the word NEED.
Recently on a trip to Chicago, a friend had recommended I read the Gifts of Imperfection by Brene’ Brown (which is amazing and I highly recommend it) Much of the beginning is about being vulnerable and opening up and asking others for help. I distinctly remember –thinking yeah well not me – I can manage just fine on my own.
Also not well thought out for this trip was that I was still nursing Sam Henry and would be gone from him for almost 3 full days. For some insane reason, I decided I needed the break and the rest and took NO and I am mean NO, breastfeeding supplies. Not one pump, not one bottle, not a nursing bra –nothing. I packed like I could just pretend for 3 full days that my body wasn’t continually making milk for a 20 lb. baby -like my body would just forget to make milk!
By the first break from the conference, after I had last fed the fat baby almost 24 hours before, I realized I was in big trouble. Not just -I might leak through my shirt and be embarrassed trouble but a - I am going to be in serious pain –not make it through –starting to run fever trouble. Let me be clear. I am not a total idiot. I usually can make it through a day or even longer without pumping or feeding with nary a twinge. I am not a big milk machine.
I firmly believe God was testing me- so you don’t think you need anyone, you think you can manage this all on your own, well, let’s see about that. Also to complicate matters, I was in Chicago with no transportation besides a timed bus route to my hotel and back to Willow Creek. And I wasn’t in downtown Chicago where I could pop out and find a CVS. The campus of Willow Creek is in a suburb and sits back several miles from the main drag.
At that break, I sat on this beautiful stone edge of a fountain while everyone milled around and made phone calls and I tried not to cry (crying, while I have done a lot lately, is also something on my list that I am not a fan of). I looked around at all the wonderful staff standing about waiting to be helpful and literally felt God push me off that ledge toward a wonderful woman named Karen. I started off saying, "I am a nursing mama..." and before I could say more she ushered me into this beautiful room with soft rockers and dim lighting and told me I could use it as much as I needed.
Here is where I broke down and confessed my stupidity – "Yes, I am nursing mama and I didn’t bring a thing and I don’t know how to go anywhere and I don’t know what to do next". Karen with a bright welcoming smile asked, “What do you need?” I muttered, "I guess a ride to a store". She asked again, “No what supplies do you need?” As I told her what I thought I would need to get by for the few days.. hand pump, bottles, Advil, etc... She hugged me hard and said, "I will text you when I return". I went back to my conference AMAZED. She helped me with not one eye roll, not an ounce of condemnation, no "well that was dumb planning on your part", no "let me call you a cab", just a simple “What do you need?”
Less than an hour later, I returned to that beautifully appointed nursing mother’s room with a tidy gift bag with a hand pump, bottle, Advil and water. She wouldn’t even let me pay her. I have never been so grateful for another person’s kindness in my whole life. Her actions completely changed my entire trip.
In telling that story to a friend when I got back –still in amazement of her actions, her kindness and her gift- my friend said, “You would have done the same thing. Why were you so scared to ask?” She is right. When we are called upon as women we step up, we are there for each other, we drop what we are doing and we do all we can to fix the situation. If I had been in Karen’s shoes, yes, I would have run to the store and helped a girl out. Why then, did it take everything inside of me to ask?
Why is that? Why are we so hesitate to be vulnerable and admit we (GASP) NEED help? Help for that one time we were let down, for that one time we were vulnerable and were hurt… it is going to happen. No, I am not advocating crying on everyone’s shoulder in the coffee shop but it’s time we are REAL with each other.
There is a new song I love that says (and I am paraphrasing), Things aren’t fine and I am not okay... Sometimes we need to find that one women or mama or friend that instead of saying “I am fine” (with that fake empty smile) we know we can say, "I am not okay, but here is one thing you can help me with that can make it better..."
Try it this week – I hope it makes a difference
Nancy Lee Zimpleman
On many mornings I’ve started waking up earlier and driving across town to walk in a great park our town has graciously provided. My mornings started out as a way to get healthier following a class my husband and I took together at our local YMCA. In this class I realized I truly wasn’t as “healthy” as I had convinced myself of. I believe the term they used was “skinny fat”. What! Talking about getting bowled over! However, if you know me, you also know I live by the old adage “If there’s a will, there’s a way”. Call it stubborn or call it pride but this “skinny fat” thing wasn’t going to describe me for long! So off to the walking paths and weight room I go!
I’ve been walking for awhile but the last 2 of 3 walk days were different. The end of last week I got news that I perceived as a light bulb moment. Something that has been a longtime fear appeared to be materializing into reality. Unfortunately, it is causing a deep hardening of my heart. Another blow to an already tough situation had me flat on my face before the Lord. The sudden realization of its implications caused a rolling thunderstorm of doubt, insecurities, and loss. The light bulb moment began taking its toll but as hard as it was in the moment, the Lord knew this point was actually the beginning of my looking back up to Him.
When my eyes opened on that particular morning three days ago, my first thought had been, “I need to go walk. I need to walk hard, fast and far! I need some serotonin flowing and I don’t need to stop until my mind is numbed to my thoughts!” Ever been there?
So there I went… one mile… two miles… three miles… then at the four mile mark I felt a strong pull to just stop and sit on the soccer bleachers to rest. I am not a spring chicken any more ya know!
The awesome thing is what I thought was going to be physical rest was actually a God orchestrated rest for my soul. Be still and know that I am God. The walk full of anxiety and worry and struggle became a quiet time filled with honest exchange of feelings. It became a time of my Heavenly Father holding my every tear. He understood. I felt His presence along with His strength. I felt my soul renew and the struggle begin to leave my body. He took some weight out of the bag I had been emotionally carrying and the relief felt good.
The sad thing was that two days later I allowed Satan to put that weight back in my baggage. I let my eyes drop off him once again and slowly drift toward my insecurities. So I am back on the track again. Yep, that fast, hard, long exercise moved back on the agenda and it may from time to time often pop its head up.
As I now am again walking, I remember a quote from something I read just last night. The reading was something a good friend and I vowed to read together this week. We did this once before and it was such a blessing we decided to do it again. The book, The Shack, is about handing over our burdens and the difficult journey to expect in doing so. Good Christian friends like mine can help hold us accountable when we start to slip back down the slope of insecurities. It's a great partnership to consider.
The quote in this fictional story that has helped me more than once turn things around is “When things are difficult, each time we choose to love, or make a decision based on God’s will not ours, or pray or speak truth, etc., we put another building block in the bridge of healing that will eventually allow us to walk across to the other side – the side of complete peace and joy in the situation”.
After I was reminded of that quote, something about my walk on the all too familiar paths of Patriot Park changed. The familiar steps took on new meaning. The landscape was speaking truth to me, the songs coming through my earbuds spoke more clearly. I began to sense Jesus walking beside me clearly raising my awareness to that. Then the song “Jesus Calling” by 33 Miles came on and the lines “How you see your circumstance is all about a choice …. Do you hear that still small voice saying, it’s okay, you’re not alone, you may be scared to death but I won’t let you go. You may think the sky above is falling, but can you hear Jesus calling? Cause the darker the night, the brighter he can shine…”
Those words spoke so loudly to me. The book quote, the words in the song… they were deafening. As I was about on emotional overload, I rounded a corner on the path I was on and saw this sight that stopped me dead in my tracks.
I felt I was being asked to make a decision... was I going to allow Satan to fill me with worry and insecurities or was I going to let Jesus guide my steps to the right path for me in this situation? Easiest thing... wallow in my hurt and feel sorry for myself. More difficult path... opened up in what I saw around the next corner in my walk...
My Heavenly Father truly has to get concrete and literal with me in order to get his point across so please bear with me.
There it was... the bridge illustration William Young used for his character in the book when God told him, "one building block in the bridge at a time". How about that timing! I had walked this path a hundred times and never thought anything about that old metal bridge except that I'm glad it gets me back to the shady side of the pathway! This time though it reiterated about the way to get to where I wanted to be... one intentional choice at a time.
I suspect I may allow a block to fall back into that water every so often when I'm trying to rebuild my bridge. I may even take back one or two of those blocks at some time along the way. However, if I don't start at some point moving forward, I will be assured to never reach the other side, the place where I desire to be.
God truly never designed or intended our bodies to carry all the worry and heavy loads that result from our human shortcomings. That's why our bodies and our emotions wear down so frequently.
So my journey begins here today. I'm unloading my first block and I'm beginning the foundation for my bridge. There may be points in the construction of my bridge in which I feel I can't rivet even one more piece of metal by myself. I may begin to feel the steel is too thin and heavily dependent on another person's desires or reactions. It's then that I will have to remind myself not to worry about or dwell on the actions of others. I'll have to ask my friend to hold me accountable at that point and encourage me to keep connecting each of my pieces on the bridge. At the same time, I will need her encouragement to continue taking the blocks out of my baggage one by one as I rely on my Father's strength. The path he will lead me on will ALWAYS be the right one and the only one for my soul to rest on.
Always walking the road with you,
Greg and I have been blessed with the most precious little granddaughter. She is developing quite the personality and has her own ideas about almost everything. She is involved so deeply in play most of the time that its impossible to get her to notice who is in the room. She lines up her babies and let me see...there's Allison, Minnie Mouse and, oh yes, we can't forget Bar-B-Q (I think I used to call a similar doll Barbie). Our little Harper is funny and her own unique little person but she is and will always be pure joy in our hearts.
As I remember times gone by with her I smile, yet, I can get deeply melancholy too. You see, my son and his family live in Colorado and we seldom get to see them in the flesh. I do thank God for our once a week Facetime dates though! Memories and the Iphone screen will just have to sustain us for now. I'm sure many of you grandparents can relate to that situation... not ideal but reality none the less.
As I quietly reminisce about staying with her while they were still in Charleston, I realized that as cute as she was there was still a strong-willed little person behind that precious face. I remember changing a diaper through the twists and contortions that a nearly one year old could make proved to be quite a feat. She would want the toy she saw in the distance, then she would want the photos that were above her on the wall, then she would just get exacerbated and want me to be finished!
Truth be told, I wanted to be finished too. I never liked to see her unhappy and she would get that way fast! If she could have only realized that being still meant we would have been done in a flash. All of this thrashing about only prolonged the inevitable! We were going to change that stinky diaper one way or another. After all what’s the alternative? Well, she could stay in the mess, get diaper rash, have mom and dad question my adeptness at taking care of their precious baby girl. (Not a chance that I would let that happen! I wanted to continue babysitting!) So with a forearm against her chest, a leg braced against the furniture, and my tongue hanging out I remembered we would finally close the last tab on the Pamper. (Well, maybe I exaggerated a little but you get the picture.)
Do you think God ever feels that way about us? Does He ever look down on us from that place of authority and love and say “Girl, what are you doing! You are looking at the short term uncomfortable situation and resisting at every turn. Don’t you realize I know the plan? Don’t you realize if you don’t go through this inconvenient and difficult time now you won’t see the joy I have for you later? Trust me, I know best for you in this moment. I’m only allowing it because I know the end result. I’m allowing it because I love you. Yes, that’s right. The loan falling through for that new car is to teach you contentment doesn’t come through ‘stuff’. Trouble in your marriage is because I want you to pull close to me in your pain. The cancer diagnosis, although I did not bring it to you will teach you compassion and wisdom for others in similar situations as yours. The wayward teenager can show no matter how perfectly you think YOU parent them, outside forces are still at work in the world. Yet nothing happens without my full knowledge of it. I knew all of this would happen. I even knew you would fight against me as I tried to guide you through it with the best of parental intentions. I knew you wouldn’t understand right away but I took that chance. I took the chance that you might turn away from me. I took the chance you would say you didn’t love me anymore. I took the chance because as much as that would hurt me, seeing you miss out on the molding and pruning and growth would hurt me more. I’ll wait until you stop thrashing. I’ll wait so I can pick up the broken pieces and put you back together stronger in ME than you have ever been. I’ll just wait….”
I hate to admit that frequently when I am in the middle of struggles and hurts, I’m like little Harper just tensing my neck and thrashing about trying to get out of the situation all by myself. I become like a viper ready to attack. That's an ugly picture but it's true. It’s hard to see that through the anger, hurt, and pain that my Father stands close by patiently waiting for me to relax my muscles and give up the fight. But goodness, if I could see that sooner I would sure sail around some heartache instead of right through the middle! That’s not what He wants though. He wants growth from us. He wants growth toward trusting a Father who would never let us fall without being there to hold us and guide us when we finally looked up… when we realized the last diaper tab has been fastened and the difficulty was over. He wants us to realize that we have traveled through the hard stuff and am better for having faced it hand-in-hand with our Father.
Traveling the road with you,
If you saw me on a day to day basis, you might not notice or realize that I struggle with anxiety and worry. Some of it is exasperated by sleep deprivation and hormones (as I have been pregnant or nursing or both for almost 4 years or 3 years and 7 months and 20 days but who is counting…)
Several passages have come into my life lately to draw my attention to what God wants me to focus on. He wants me to focus on the moment he has in front of me NOW not the what ifs that might happen later. He does not want me to focus on the long list of tasks to do ahead or the future that is not promised as I tend to do.
Joseph had a tough life. He was sold into slavery, lied about, cheated and even put into jail unfairly but he eventually was very successful. Joseph’s eventual success came from his faith in the Lord to do his divine will and he invested himself fully. He understood that some of his situations were out of his control and he entrusted God fully to bring good to his life. Joseph couldn’t see how God could work out all that was going on in his life –from his trials to his successes- but he worked at the task of the moment and trusted God to the big picture.
After thinking about Joseph and his focus on the present, I picked up the book Jesus Calling only to read this: To find joy in today you must live within its boundaries. I knew what I was doing when I divided time into twenty-four hour segments. I understand human frailty and I know that you can bear the weight of only one day at a time. Do not worry about tomorrow or get stuck in the past. There is abundant life in my presence today. (*)
As women we are often multi-tasking several projects at once and there are times that it is necessary. I encourage you though to take time today –even 30 minutes- to focus on one thing you enjoy even if it is work. Notice how much better you feel after spending 30 minutes blowing bubbles with a little one and not looking at Facebook or checking email while you do it. Notice if the work product is better when you spend these 30 minutes doing that one thing instead of doing 4 other things and being on the phone too. Spend 30 minutes in a calm place seeking God, asking for his guidance, rest at his feet. LIVE really LIVE within His boundaries of today.
Worry and anxiety can steal your joy but God reminds us to take one day at a time – even one hour at a time. Focus on what is most important in that time and realize that everything does not need to be done going forward.
Matthew 6:33-34 says: But seek you first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
-Nancy Lee Zimpleman
(Excerpt from Jesus Calling, April 11).
Thanks Nancy Lee! We certainly needed this reminder today!
My phone was blowing up in my purse as I sunk my teeth into an oversized petit four. As it turns out, the texts were more of a treat than the miniature cake with a rosette on top. After leaving my OB appointment I had composed a text to let people know when my new baby would arrive, that she had finally moved positions, and that my favorite doctor would officially deliver. After I pressed send I looked back at the list of recipients. Each lady represented so much of the Lord's graciousness and provision in my life. Each lady lived in a different state. Each lady prays for me.
I have moved eleven times and lived in seven states since 2004. I have begged for egg boxes at IGA, bought bubble wrap in bulk, solicited help from any one that would help. I have cried, I have sobbed, I have been lonely. I have felt disoriented. I have had to accept help when my prideful soul wanted to pretend I didn't need help. I have learned to pray, what it really means to memorize scripture, and to go meet people when I really just want to run to my hometown and be with my people who have known me since before I was born. I have experienced deep joy and witnessed Christ work in my heart and around my family like I could never have imagined. All because of the game of football.
Moving and learning to move; there is no class. It is emotional and physically draining. Throughout these twelve years I have learned that you can't give into that, and you can't stop there. You must begin with the idea that the Lord will go before you orchestrating all of the best for you and your family. In the beginning it was only important to me that I lived somewhere safe, found a church, made friends, and that I would land a good hair colorist. Today I still look for those things, but my list has grown as my family has grown. I make a physical list of everything that begins to overwhelm me, and I pray that list, continually lay it down before the Lord as any one of the items begins to creep in and create anxiety. I watch the Lord check EVERY single item off. At times it has taken a year or more for some items. The Lord is all about details, our details. He longs to show up big, and for us to give Him the glory for what He does. "He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)
When I was little my mom managed to get the most delicious biscuit recipe from our neighbor, Mrs. Lawson. These little bites of heaven are light, and buttery, and can be cut round, or heart shaped, or even into your home state's shape when you're needing that. When you make these biscuits, as you would any biscuit, you have to use your hands. Your hands get sticky, and floury. The dough is everywhere. It always seems that when I make this recipe someone calls when my hands are covered. I always feel like I have to stop, regroup, and quickly answer the phone. Moving has been like making Mrs. Lawson's biscuits for me. You just kind of have to dive in. You must go and meet the neighbors, they don't always come to meet you. You go visit the church and the bible study in a room full of women you don't know. You go again. You don't compare to what you used to have when you lived in the last town. You live in this town, and you pray that the Lord makes it your home, and that it will feel like home. You get your hands in the mix and you seek His face. Even if you never gain a heart for your new town, you will know the Lord deeper, and you will know how much you need Him.
In Arkadelphia, Arkansas the Lord gave me a wonderful neighbor who loved to make homemade marshmallows. I remember one cold night I heard a pounding on my front door. When I peered through the peep hole I saw her holding a huge rubber spatula and her hand cupped underneath so as to prevent any marshmallow "drippage". That night she ran inside my house and we ate real marshmallow cream. She reached out to me and we pressed through the awkward and we still keep in touch today. As a child I grew up in First Baptist Church Sumter, South Carolina. My mom sang in the choir and my dad sat with my siblings and me. One quick way to make me homesick is going to a new church. If I just let myself go and my eyes drift to the choir loft I realize I don't see those familiar faces, and I don't hear my dad singing next to me in the pew. Before long, if I reach out, and allow people in, I do know those faces in the choir loft, and I benefit and grow. I have story upon story like these. That doesn't mean these people are common, but instead that our Lord is gracious and extravagant with His children.
There are those times that there are gaps and I don't feel God. I don't sense His way for us, and his provisions of the past seem like a blurry mirage. It is in those times that my husband and I go back to our time line. We've created an actual Brown Family timeline and the only dates on it are dates that we see God move in our lives. In those times He cared for us so obviously that we could do nothing but rejoice. This timeline guides us through the "gap" to remember He is gracious all of the time; when we notice and when we do not. The Lord is always active. Always. We must train our minds to see Him at work.
-Rachel Jones Brown
A most grateful "thank you" to Rachel for sharing her heartfelt and very transparent story. Sometimes it's hard to admit our insecurities and struggles. It's hard as moms to put out there that we don't have ALL the answers and we don't have it ALL together ALL the time. If we are honest, we are all Rachels. We cry, we scream, we get to the end of our ropes. Isn't it merciful of our Heavenly Father to send us "a Rachel" to share and to empathize with us until we feel strong enough to reach out and take His hand once again. You are a blessing girl! Thank you for your words.
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