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Archive for June, 2011

“He leads me beside the still and restful waters.”  Psalm 23:2

Summer is full of activity.  Vacations, camping, barbecues, yard work, etc.  It’s about fun and refreshment after the long winter season.

I never understood the wonder of being still and taking time outs to refocus and renew.  When I did, it was in the summer season.  I would sit outside in the sunshine, near some water and take time to journal and reflect.  It was during that time that the most personal growth of my life took place.

Here’s a few being still tips.

1. Find a quiet place and reflect on the things that are important to you at the core.  Journal about them and how you implement those things in your life.

2.  Find a place in the shade or sunshine that you can rest. Put on some quiet “soaking” music and clear your head.  Don’t think.  Just reflect on the music.  You might even fall asleep.  Let it take you where it takes you and you might be amazed at what you realize.

3.  Take your Bible and notebook and read outside.  Journal about how the verses you read apply to your life at this moment.

4.  Create a dream board.  Summer is the perfect time to be still and think about where you want to go in life.  Create a dream board with pictures and goals.  This will help you refocus on what is important.

5.  Don’t crowd out those quiet moments.  In the midst of activity, you can still “steal away” a moment or two of reflection.  While you are making a potato salad, “think” about Jesus.  While you are driving to the picnic, play a worship tape.  When you wake up take 5 minutes to meditate.

Hope you have many moments beside God’s still and restful waters!

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Psalm 23 is a great summer sip passage!   Can you picture a shepherd and his sheep on a summer day?

I love the analogy of Jesus being our shepherd.  Who better to feed, guide, and shield us from harm?   There is nothing we need or want that is not found in Him.

Verse 2 is our summer sip for today.  “He makes me lie down in fresh, tender green pastures:  He leads me beside the still and restful water.”

The first thing that caught my eye was that the pastures are fresh, tender, and green.   Left to our own ways, we often revisit the old, dry, stale places and things in life.   We look to the same old things to fill us or satisfy our hunger.  As one person put it, we do the same things over and over again, expecting a different result.

But our shepherd is different.  He understands the need for fresh places.  He knows the things that will really nourish and satisfy our souls.  His ways are new every morning.   He doesn’t feed us with stale bread.

When a sheep wanders away from the fold, they not only put themselves in danger but they risk not having the good food and restful places.

If you need a fresh start, the answer is clear.   Follow the Shepherd.   He’ll always take you to the fresh, green, tender grasses of life that will satisfy your hunger.   He’ll always lead you to the quiet, still, and restful water where you can center yourself again.

What can you do today to follow Jesus to fresh food and quiet water?

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Life is so rewarding and fulfilling when you are what I call in the flow.  There is really a place when you are moving being guided by the Spirit day in and day out.  Even when trials come at you, there’s a inner place of refuge and sometimes you don’t miss a beat.

There is also a place where every little thing can cause us to stop in our tracks or experience an uneven plane of emotions, up and down with every joy or every pain.

So what creates a life of flow?  John 7:38 says: He who believes, cleaves to, and trusts in Jesus will experience a continuous flow of living water from their innermost being.

If you aren’t experiencing the continuous out flow of a full life, from the inside out, you have to ask yourself:  What do I believe about Jesus?   Where am I not trusting and hanging on to Him?

A stopped up flow is the result of incorrect beliefs or who or what we are leaning on and trusting in.

Join me this summer in living in the the flow of the Spirit.   You won’t regret that kind of life.

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River Run Wild!

There are times when a sip of water just won’t do it.  When you are parched and dry it seems you just can’t get enough.

Life can be like that.  Sometimes we are so thirsty for something new or different, nothing seems to satisfy.   We have gone so long without hope, or used up all the strength we had in reserve and it seems like our lives are like a desert, barren, cracked, and dry.

One drop of water can’t wipe out the dryness of land or repair it’s cracks.  One glimmer of hope won’t help us quench our dry and barren places either.

That’s why God doesn’t give us just one drop.   HE POURS LIVING WATER on us!   Isaiah 44 :3:   “I will pour water upon him who is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground.   I will pour My Spirit on your offspring and blessing upon your descendants.”

God’s promise is to POUR out His Spirit.  He describes it as a river of living water.   It’s not only vast enough to quench our thirst but to spread to our kids and grandkids.   There is not just enough.  There is more than enough.

Summer is the time for river rafting.   It’s so refreshing and cool to feel the water and for the adventurous types to ride through and over the more rapid water waves as they envelope our bodies.

You have an open invitation to jump in the river of God’s Spirit.  It’s a river ride that is wild and free as you explore the promises of God and discover more of who He is.   It’s a river ride that will repair your dry places and quench your thirst for a fulfilled life.   And best of all it’s a river adventure that will never end.   There is a boundless supply of living water.

Lord, let this be a day when we jump into the river and let you pour your spirit on us!

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I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like something for free.  Summer is the time of garage sales, bargain hunting, and looking for free things to do.

Love today’s summer sip.  “Wait and listen, everyone who is thirsty!   Come to the water.  You don’t need money.  Come buy and eat. Come and buy this priceless spiritual drink without money or price.  You simply need the self-surrender that accepts the blessings.”

It’s kind of like jumping in a pool on a hot summer day.  You have to take the plunge.  You have to get in the water.   Let go of everything….your will, your burdens, your past, your future……and jump into the water of self surrender where you will find the drink that really satisfies every thirst in your soul.

Awwwwwwwwwww!   Refreshing!

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Don’t know of a woman who doesn’t love romance. You know, flowers, candlelight dinners, a gallant prince, a walk in the moonlight, intimate conversation……the list goes on.  But as one guy said when asked, “Why don’t you ever act like that?” while he and his wife were watching a romantic movie: “I don’t have a script!”

God wrote the script on romance! Jesus, the lover of our souls, is the ultimate romancer.  Here’s today’s sip:  “Drink, yes drink abundantly of love, O precious one.  For now I know you are mine, irrevocably mine!”  Song of Solomon 5:1 (Amp)

When we give our WHOLE heart (mind, will, and emotions) to God, surrendering ourselves and our lives to Him, we enter a divine romance. He can share all of who He is with us because He knows we love Him too.

If you long for intimacy, you must drink deep of the love.  That means you look deep into the heart of God and allow Him to look deep into yours.

Drink deep of His love.  He doesn’t disappoint.

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Summer Sips

Nothing like a cold glass of iced tea or lemonade on a hot summer day.  Everyone is busy now that the sun is out including me.  We are switching it up for the summer.

I’ll post a summer sip (short ……blog or quote ) every day.   No long blogs for a while.  Hope they refresh you while you are on the run.  Enjoy the sunshine but don’t forget to add a little SON SHINE to your day.

Here’s today’s summer sip:”You cause them to drink of the stream of Your pleasures.  For with You is the fountain of life. In Your light do we see light.”

I’m excited about this verse.  God delights in showing us His pleasures!   Try asking Him to show you what pleases Him.  Ask Him to give you a drink of His water.

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Yesterday I posted this thought on facebook.  “In life and relationships if you haven’t honored or been grateful for what you’ve had, you can be certain you’ll never have what you want.”

I mentioned before how messed up I was emotionally as a young woman.  My experiences with my own torturous emotions are why I believe so strongly that women need to be healed and strong, before they begin married life.

But this isn’t just about marriage. It’s about life and relationships.

Let’s start here.  What do you want from life?  More money, a better marriage,  a dream job, more faith? You name it.

If I asked you to make a list of what you think or your feelings about the current state of whatever your thing was, I’m willing to bet you’d easily be able to point out all the negatives.  That’s the way we all tend to think.

I strongly believe that one of the enemies tricks is to keep us focused on the problem instead of on our contribution to the solution. For me, there was a time when  I was so consumed with what I didn’t like , my  fantasies, and expectations of others I never even stopped to consider what I could contribute to a better result.

When I made a decision to refocus and become grateful for what I had, God gave me more of what I wanted.

Here’s some steps to consider.

1. Make a decision to be grateful.   Decide to look at the good in your finances, marriage, job, church, relationships,  what ever your thing was.  What are you grateful for?

2. Make a decision  to honor.  For example, if you want a better marriage, make a list of the honorable qualities in your spouse.  Begin to speak of the things you appreciate to them, to the the kids, and to everyone else.

3.  Make a decision to be honorable.  For example, if you want more money or a better job, ask how you can show that you honor the money or job you now have.

I was talking to a woman in a difficult marriage once.  She had just made a list of the things that were important to her, the top one being honesty.  She had been looking at all the places her husband was not honest with her and focused on his mistreatment of her.  She was stuck and some of it was because she was not being honest in the moment with her husband and allowed him to cross boundaries, then covering up for him in public.

Then I asked her, where have you not been honest or could you be more honest in your marriage?  Once she saw where she had not lived up to the very thing she wanted,  she shifted.  She began to speak truth, set boundaries and move forward.

What we do with what we have in this moment in part influences our future circumstances. Honorable actions bring good things into our life.

When we focus on gratefulness instead of the things we don’t have, at the very least we will learn contentment with today.  We will find joy in the midst of difficult times.

So what could happen if you began to focus on what you are grateful for about “your thing”?  What could change if you began to bring honor into the picture?

 

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Repost:  Daddy’s Hand

Not every one can say they had a good relationship with their daddy.  Mine was a sweet one.

Oh he was a strong willed Croatian disciplinarian who expected his children to behave but he also loved his kids very much.

As a family, we struggled financially.   He worked as a blacksmith for the Anaconda company and just when things were getting stable they would go on strike again and set us back all over again.

What we didn’t have in money, daddy would make up for with gifts he’d make. He once made me steel knitting needles because we couldn’t afford to buy them and I wanted to learn to knit.  He made us the backyard swing set. It was on that swing set where I learned the art of worship.  Pumping my legs to the heavens, I would swing for hours as a little girl singing Jesus Loves Me at the top of my lungs.   My favorite gift was a ring he fashioned out of a nut.  He smoothed it into a round cylinder perfect for my finger and engraved a heart into it.  I still hear him singing an old tune….”Heart of my heart,” as he handed it to me.

Unfortunately I didn’t have dad in my life for long.  When I was 11 years old we found out daddy had a brain tumor.  As we came home from Halloween festivities, the ambulance was in front of our house and daddy went to the hospital for the final time.  Gradually slipping into a coma, we were allowed to go see him one last time.

I’ll never forget standing at his bedside watching him breath.  I believe it was my cousin’s wife Colleen who was a nurse in the room with us.  She told us to go ahead and talked to him.  I must have said something he heard because suddenly my dad squeezed my hand. It meant everything to me.

After he died, as I laid in the living room hide a-bed with my younger brother so we could be close to mom’s room, I called to her.  She came to the bedside and I said, “Do you know the last thing my daddy ever gave to me?”  She answered, “No what?”  My reply with tears streaming done my face was “His hand.”

I’ve thought about that many times through the years when I think about my dad.  The other morning I woke up thinking about that in relationship to God.

Life is rarely easy.  Every day brings new challenges.  There are times of unspeakable pain and joyous triumph.  Touch is important during those times. A hand is such a special gift.

A hand can hold you, make you feel safe, snatch you from danger, lead you to someplace unknown to you.   The touch of a hand can get your attention, even awaken you from sleep.   It can lift your chin up, massage your stress away, or slap your back in celebration of a job well done. These are all the things a daddy should do.  And this is exactly what the hand of God looks like.

He does all that any good earthly daddy would do plus more.   The Hand of God can do even the impossible!

We may not be able to feel his physical hand but it is always there.   As we sit in stillness meditating on Him it’s there.  As we cry out it’s there.  As we walk through the crowds in day to day life hoping that someone will touch us or that we can touch someone, it’s there.

There is no doubt.  The hand of a dad is important.  God’s hand even more important.  You may not have had a good father.  It may be difficult for you to imagine God as a father because of that.  Maybe you can put yourself in my story and imagine what it must have been like as a little girl to have been given that gift of her daddy’s hand.

That is what God is offering you.  Wherever you are in this moment, I pray you’ll reach out and put your hand in your heavenly father’s hand.  Let Him be your daddy.  And as you hold on tight to Him, would you reach out and be His hand to someone else?

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Fill Your Own Lamp

Yesterday was a day of struggle for me.  We are in the middle of a family crisis that is affecting those we love.  I want to fix it and I can’t.

It has been yet another lesson on how wounded people hurt wounded people and the cycle continues through generations until someone breaks the chain.

So in my struggle to love unconditionally, forgive, and let God be the judge, I wrestle!  Interesting that I woke up this morning with the story from Matthew 25 on my heart.

I read this parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins again with fresh eyes.  What does it have to do with where I’m at Lord?

Here’s what I saw.

These ten women were on a journey to meet the bridegroom.  So are all of us.  Believer or not, we are all walking through life with a desire for connecting with God, our creator and the one our souls long for.

They all had a lamp.  So do we.  There is a lamp inside of all of us meant to guide us in the journey.  I think it’s our conscience and how effective it is depends on our mind, will, and emotions.

Five were foolish.  The amplified version tells us that foolish means “thoughtless, without forethought”.  Not thinking through the consequences or seeing the big picture is definitely a sign of someone who is foolish.

Five were wise.  Sensible, intelligent, and prudent.  A wise person can see common sense solutions for difficult problems.  They think it through and their judgment is sound.

On the journey…..the foolish didn’t take any extra oil. The wise took extra oil. Being wise requires that we have an extra reserve of oil and plan and are prepared.

Both of the groups fell asleep as they waited for the bridegrooms arrival and only woke up with a midnight shout.  It’s nice to think we aren’t sleeping through life but most of the time, we only wake up when crisis hits or a sense of urgency shows up. Life just has a way of lulling us to sleep. It’s natural to let routine, mundane, day to day stuff take the place of looking forward, dreaming, and moving toward our innermost desires.

I love the midnight shout!  God loves us so much He always announces His arrival!  He announces it all the time but we don’t always hear it.  Usually we wake up just as He is announcing LOUDLY through our circumstances that He is on His way.

And here’s where God really spoke to me.  In the middle of the rush to meet the bridegroom, the wise didn’t share their oil with the foolish when they recognized they didn’t have enough.  Sometimes we just want to share all we have with others hoping it will fix whatever crisis they are in.  But the truth is we all have to worry about our own oil reserve!

That seems so selfish to me but I’m learning that it’s the way God planned it.  In the end, we are all accountable for ourselves alone.  It is always our choice.  It is always our desires.  It is always are actions that we are ultimately judged by.  And it is always those things that determine whether we are plugged into the divine connection.  Not because God ever denies us His presence but because those things create a clear or unclear pathway for Him to show up in.

Sometimes you just have to worry about your own lamp.  Hopefully, as it shines bright with the oil of God’s spirit, empowerment, and life-changing grace–the foolish will see the light and fill theirs too.

What could you do today to fill your own lamp?

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