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Sunshine & Rainbows?

Sunshine & Rainbows?

Happy Friday friends!

Can you believe we made it to Memorial Day weekend?!! You guys, it’s summer! Kids are finishing school. Life is beginning to breathe again. And the sun is shining.

At the same time, I am hearing reports of people I know and care about being laid-off, companies closing, businesses and families struggling. We are still facing a difficult time and possibly an uphill climb for some time. Fear is lingering, and anxiety and worry threaten to spill over at any given moment. Even in the middle of outwardly positive circumstances (like kids playing in the sprinklers, baby bunnies running free, iced tea on the patio…); internally many of us are dealing with some serious negative battles.

So what do we do to keep our minds going in a good direction, to push back the fear and dread? Don’t you wish we could pray one prayer and immediately life would be full of sunshine and rainbows? The “Sunshine & Rainbows Prayer” would be very popular right now! But we all kow it’s not that simple. These situations and emotions are so real and very difficult to navigate. As I was thinking about this today, the words “Don’t Dread” came to mind.

I searched the scriptures to see what God had to say about dread…(man, that sounds so spiritual! What I actually did: open Bible Gateway on my computer and type in the word: dread…lol.) Either way, he lead me to an amazing passage! It’s filled with promises for our current situation, our family, our future. In fact, I pulled out 10 promises I feel most apply to us today. I hope as you read and reflect on this, God will encourage your heart, and maybe you will feel at least the tiniest of rainbows in your heart.

Everyone who loves the Lord and delights in him will cherish his words and be blessed beyond expectation. Their descendants will be prosperous and influential. Every generation…will experience his favor. Great blessing and wealth fills the house of the wise, for their integrity endures forever.

Even if darkness overtakes them, sunrise-brilliance will come bursting through because they are gracious to others, so tender and true. Life is good for the one who is generous and charitable, conducting affairs with honesty and truth. Their circumstances will never shake them and others will never forget their example. They will not live in fear or dread of what may come, for their hearts are firm, ever secure in their faith.

Steady and strong, they will not be afraid, but will calmly face their every foe until they all go down in defeat. Never stingy and always generous to those in need, their lives of influence and honor will never be forgotten, for they were full of good deeds. (Psalms 112:1-9)

Look at these promises! God is so awesome! I’ve written these 10 promises as first-person statements to personalize them and make them easy to remember…

I love the Lord. My family and household love the Lord. These promises are for us!

We are blessed beyond expectation.

My children–and descendents–will be prosperous and influential.

Every generation–me, my children, my grandchildren–will experience his favor.

Great blessings (health, peace, prosperity, joy, life, light…) fill my house!

Even in dark moments, God’s light will burst through like a brilliant sunrise.

My circumstances will never shake me.

I do not live in fear or dread of what may come.

I am steady, strong and not afraid; I will calmly face every foe until they all go down.

I will remember those who lived lives of influence, honor and good deeds, and teach my children to do the same.

I especially love the last one for Memorial Day weekend. This is such a good time to reflect and remember those who give their lives to serve us. I encourage you to read these promises every day this weekend. Watch a sunrise as you imagine God’s light bursting through your situations. And please, find a way to honor those who lived lives of honor–and our current heroes on the frontlines.

Have an amazing weekend, friends!

Sue

God’s Pleased with You. Really.

God’s Pleased with You. Really.

Last week we talked about delighting in the Lord, and allowing ourselves to find joy and have fun even in the midst of our current situation. Today I felt like the Lord just wanted to delight in us…to remind us how pleased he is with our attention to him, how much joy he gets when we just reach out to connect with him (mothers, we can relate, right? How much joy do you get when one of your kids finds you or calls you, just to say hi?? ikr.), that the highlight of his day is spending time with us. 

I think the challenge we have in believing this is our own feeling of unworthiness and falling short! We believe the voice in our head reminding us of all the things we “should” be doing, “should” have done, and so on. (CLUE: God never tells you you “should” do anything. He will tell you what you need to do or what he wants you to do. But his voice never blames or adds guilt….) 

So, let’s put aside all of the voices we are hearing from the world about how we should be using this time to DO all the things. Let’s choose today to listen to him as he delights over us, as he loves us, and as he accepts and enjoys us right where we are, with no expectation or pressure to be more or do more. If you have a few quiet minutes today, read these verses asking God to really show you his heart in them. 

God has a constantly flowing river whose sparkling streams bring joy and delight to his people. His river flows right through the city of God Most High, into his holy dwelling places. (Psalms 46:4) 

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear. (Matthew 11:28-30)

God’s Narrative in Uncertain Times

God’s Narrative in Uncertain Times

Monday we talked briefly about the importance of choosing our narrative during this time. Our narrative is what we say to ourselves, mainly, but also what we say to others. What we choose to believe–and repeat–about this season sets a tone; for our minds and emotions, our expectations, for our family and friends and everyone we interact with. And yes, we can choose what we will believe in this time! 

I was talking to my dad the other day. He’s 88 and lives in an independent living apartment. He was struggling the first few weeks, especially as my sister could no longer visit. He really can’t do anything but watch TV and take walks in the hallways. It’s a pretty dreary existence at the moment. I was talking to him about other things he could think about or listen to on his Google Echo. I suggested getting the Bible app or one that shares daily sports or historic moments–anything to not be focused on the news most of the day! 

I told him that I rarely watch the news anymore. I watch headlines on a news app and check out the occasional briefing, but overall I’ve stopped tuning in. I’m sure this sounds naiive, but I’m not getting anything from listening to the world try to make sense of this pandemic. I told my dad, “What is happening in the world will go on whether or not I worry about it.” 

I think God offers an alternative narrative for us to consider. Look at Proverbs 23:15-18: My beloved child, when your heart is full of wisdom, my heart is full of gladness. And when you speak anointed words, we are speaking mouth to mouth! Don’t allow the actions of evil men to cause you to burn with anger. Instead, burn with unrelenting passion as you worship God in holy awe.Your future is bright and filled with a living hope that will never fade away. (Proverbs 23:15-18 TPT)

I love the phrase: when you speak anointed words, we are speaking mouth-to-mouth. This phrase “mouth to mouth” has two meanings. One is the picture of us being face to face with God. His face turned toward us, he is listening to the words we speak. Numbers 12:8 says God and Moses talked “mouth to mouth.” This is an intimate, personal conversation with God, speaking his word and his promises over our lives. 

Mouth to mouth also means that God breathes his life and his word into us. The picture I got immediately was actual CPR–God resecitating us with his word and his hope. Simply put, God wants to breathe his promises and his peace into our situations. Our part is to simply open our mouths and agree with him. 

Then he makes a beautiful promise: Your future is bright and filled with a living hope that will never fade away. Sit with that for a while. Repeat it. Believe it. This is the narrative God wants us to absorb. I believe it is the narrative people need to hear right now. 

Thanks for listening today! I feel like this was a bit heavy, but I’m hopeful it is encouraging to you as you walk through another week…

What Would Delight You Today?

What Would Delight You Today?

Coming to you today from the middle of my dirty kitchen. So. many. dishes. I don’t understand how two people can create such a mess! I don’t envy you with a houseful of little ones, or worse, teenagers! (at least not from a cleaning perspective.) I don’t know about you, but I am tired. 

I know we talked about this last week a little in the email on endurance. But for some reason it is coming up again today. Maybe because I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I have so many directions I want to go, things I want to do–ya know, with all this “extra” time we have being home! You know, the Bible studies, books I’m finally going to read, online webinars on how to be more productive at home (!), the side hustle we are going to start. I’m just excited I got dressed this morning. 

(Side note, Mark came into the bedroom and commented I smelled good this morning. I had just used the body spray I use when I don’t take a shower! I told him, “No, it smells like failure. And shame.” I’m sure someone can relate…I hope!) 

My favorite social media post this week was simple. It was a permission slip giving us permission to rest, to process, to just deal. This was refreshing to my striving soul. I’m sensing a lot of self-effort, expectation and even self-judgment that we should be more: motivated, disciplined, inspiring, strong…the list goes on. 

My dear sister, can I tell you something? That’s not God’s voice. If there is even a hint of accusation, condemnation or lack of grace–that is not your Father’s voice. Plain and simple. 

Hey-I’m all for chasing goals and making the most of every opportunity! But I believe there are things happening around us, yes, even in the spirit realm, that are adding unrealized pressure, stress and are wearing us down. We may not even be aware of it happening. I’m not advocating that we just give up or give in. I am saying, let’s take a break. Breathe. Recognize how much additional work has been added to our plates. (Literally-just look at my kitchen!) Then forgive yourself and ask the Lord what is on his agenda for you today. You may be surprised at what is on his mind compared to yours! 

The only verse that connected with me this morning was this: Delight yourself also in the Lord,

And He shall give you the desires of your heart (Proverbs 37:4); a verse we can all quote I’m sure. But what if, all God is asking us to do today–is to delight in Him? Delight means to take great pleasure in, to find contentment and satisfaction in, to receive joy, amusement and entertainment from. That sounds more fun than cleaning my kitchen! (Ok enough about my dishes. I will do them when I’m done writing this.) 

What sounds fun to you today? What would amuse or cheer you…or entertain you? Why not do that? Or at least start there and see what happens. I know this is a very different message today, one I’m wondering if I should even send! Yet, I think the message is so important! Yes, God wants us to chase our dreams and to accomplish things in the earth…but he also wants to care for his daughters. He wants to see you smile, laugh and enjoy your life. Take this challenge and do something you really enjoy today. Tell God you are doing it in love for him…choosing to delight in him as an act of worship. 
What am I doing today? I created a “Throwback Worship” playlist with old Hillsong music! I’m having a blast singing these old songs. See what you can come up with. Note, a nap, a luxurious cup of tea or coffee or even a quiet glass of wine is just fine. (Maybe later, though…) Hope this helps today!

Controlling the Narrative

Controlling the Narrative

There are a lot of stories being told right now; stories of panic and fear, stories of who’s to blame and who should have done what and when, even some stories of hope and optimism. In the middle of all this, it’s hard to know what to think and what to believe! 

When you interact with people (or read their social media streams), you can almost immediately tell where they are getting their stories. Those who are glued to the media outlets often repeat the fear, blame and negativity we often see there. Those that are finding some positive in the situation tend to want to share positive stories. Others are lost in their own stories of discouragement and anxiety based on their own circumstances, (this is certainly understandable!). The point I’m making (or trying to make…it is Monday!!) is that we have more control over our narrative than we realize. 

In this pandemic, everyone has a spin and unfortunately, some have even taken “sides.” We can’t control what is happening in the world, what our leaders do, or how our economy rebounds. What we can control is the story we choose to hear, believe and yes, speak! 

I want to encourage us this week to stop and consider what narrative we believe and agree with. Sometimes, we need to take a step back and think about what we are thinking about! We get to decide what story we will believe, what narrative we choose to tell, both to ourselves and others. We may not be able to control much right now, but we can control this! 

Listen to Proverbs 15:30: Eyes that focus on what is beautiful bring joy to the heart, and hearing a good report refreshes and strengthens the inner being.

Take some time today and reflect on this verse. Ask yourself if you are spending more time on the good reports or if you have possibly allowed a more negative narrative to take root. Determine to focus on the beautiful and the good reports–they are out there! Ask God to refresh you and strengthen you as you realign your thinking with his.

All Kinds of Endurance

All Kinds of Endurance

A scripture came to mind this morning that I want to share. I sense we each have our own set of struggles right now; possibly disappointment that Easter is coming and our normal traditions and celebrations will be different, possibly missing family and people we would normally spend time with, or facing financial stress as a result of the shut-down. I hope this scripture will give us strength and courage no matter what we are facing…

What stuck out to me in today’s verses is the promise that we can “attain every kind of endurance.” I sense we could each use some kind of endurance right now? Endurance to live with family 24/7, homeschooling kids, missing family and friends (and freedom!), having NO time to ourselves anymore. This takes all kinds of endurance.

Consider these definitions for a minute. Are you in need of any of these? 

  • Endurance is the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina. 
  • Perseverance is the steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. 
  • And to forbear is to be patient or self-controlled when subject to annoyance or provocation.

Ok, the last one. Really. How many of us need some forbearance right now with our husbands or kids!? Or pets? I mean 24/7 is a lot of time together. Let’s be honest. Are we loving extra time to slow down and enjoy one another? Of course. But we also are being pressed in all kinds of ways if we are not used to being together all the time. This takes all kinds of endurance and perseverance and patience! 

Just dealing with the unknowns and onslaught of fear in the media is enough to discourage. Then we add to that the stress some of us may have in our households and I can understand why the Lord brought us to this verse today. 

Let’s not miss the last promise in this verse. Two little words: with joy. Not only can we endure this–we can do it with joy. This is a supernatural promise. We can’t do these things in our human strength or will. We must ask God to fill us, to energize us, to invigorate us with his presence…that we could have the endurance, perseverance, forbearance, patience we need. And to experience his joy in the midst! 

Make this your prayer this week: Lord, energize and invigorate me in your presence! By the power of your Holy Spirit living in me, give me every kind of endurance I need for this season. Help me persevere in what you have for me to do in this moment; and to be patient and self-controlled as I deal with daily annoyances. Above all, I want to experience your joy in a fresh way, today! I choose to shut out the negativity of the world and focus on all I have to be joyful about: your faithfulness, the promise of your presence, the hope of the resurrection, and the knowledge that I can not just endure but enjoy this time. Amen.

I encourage you to continue this list of what we have to be joyful about. Post it somewhere. Share it with someone.