Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Rerouting...

Five little words.
None over four letters.
19 letters in all.
Such little words with a BIG impact.

Several days ago, my husband and I (along with our oldest and her best friend, though they had a different seating area) had the wonderful joy of attending a Casting Crowns concert (also featuring Unspoken and Danny Gokey).  CC has been one of our favorite groups for many years and this was I *think* our 4th to attend as a couple.  The night, start to finish, was phenomenal.  Not only was the music, worship and performances TOP NOTCH, but each artist took the opportunity to speak from their hearts, to bring the Word or encourage, challenge, and even convict.

It was during one of those moments of sharing that I heard those five little words.

STEP BACK INTO HIS PLAN

Those words have taken deep root in my heart and God has been completely at work with His whisperings of what those words mean to me.

It's like when you're driving around and relying on GPS to get you where you need to go.  Perhaps you miss a turn completely.  Perhaps you couldn't change lanes quickly enough.  Maybe you come upon construction and detours.  Maybe it's the annoying situation of driving in a city and coming upon a one way going the opposite direction of what you need or it's one of those situations where the direction changes according to traffic needs.  Or maybe you see somewhere else you want to go first or your kids (or husband!) needs a pit stop.  It always results in that little voice and words on the screen showing...REROUTING. A new calculation is made and with some little tweaks and changes, you're put back on the correct path to your destination.

Do you need a reroute today?

In what areas do you need to step back into His plan?

Are you walking a path you know is leading you AWAY from instead of TO Him?  Maybe you're walking in sin and you know it. No denying it.

Maybe you've just made some little wrong decisions here and a little there.  You didn't mean to get off course, but those little gray areas caused you to deviate more and more until you no longer know where you are.

What about some of those other areas of being out of His plan?

Did you give up on a dream or calling He gave you because it was too hard, others doubted you, or you doubted yourself? Did you give up on those dreams because they may have needed a temporary wait that you turned into never fulfilling. As a mom still in the middle of raising children, I know I have dreams that may be on temporary hold in this season, but in my heart, I may have completely stifled them in the waiting season. Even in the wait, there are ways to still be moving forward and keeping those dreams alive. They don't have to die when God gives us a temporary wait.

Are you walking in bitterness, have an unforgiving spirit? Those aren't in His plan.  Those are like weeds out of control.  They can wrap around anything and everything good in your life and suffocate them if you don't cut them down and fully remove them.  Stepping into His plan means letting it go. Then you can truly be walking in His plan for your life.  Bitterness and unforgiveness are chains.  So are jealousy, anger, comparison, and lack of gratitude.  They all just keep you locked in place and not in a place of growth and productivity.

Maybe, oh this is a tough one, maybe you've got on the track of go, go, go.  We tend to glorify busy in this day and age. Are you going so fast and have so many things on your plate that you just can't find the time to SIT at His feet and just soak Him in.  We can even be out of His plan in over-serving and over-doing. Ouch. We can be completely investing in good things, but even good things can be too much if we are losing sight of the one we serve.  Are we serving for accolades? Are we serving out of duty or thinking we can cover an empty place in our heart? Are we serving as a result of saying yes when we knew in our heart we should have said no? Has serving become our idol?  Is our level of busyness our gauge of our spirituality?  That's a dangerous place to find ourselves in.  Sometimes stepping back into His plan means letting some things go. Sometimes we can find ourselves so busy (either doing good things or doing things that have the wrong motivations) and we can't even hear Him whispering to our hearts because we have no margin to listen. Or we find we've been neglecting the nearest and dearest in our lives because we didn't have time to give them our full attention.  Ouch. Double ouch.

Maybe God has been asking you to do something and you have been walking down a different path, one of avoidance or denial. If He is asking something of you, you can run as far as you want, but it will never be far enough.  His calling will remain. That avoidance and disobedience will lead to such discontentment in your life.  Until we surrender, FULLY, we never know just how amazing it is to be in His plan.

I don't know about you, but my heart needs some rerouting. I need to be taking some steps BACK into His plan.

You know what, it's ok to not know what that plan is.  It's ok to not know where a particular request is taking you. Perhaps your path is very painful right now or uncertain.  Maybe He's asking you to walk with Him in faith down a path that you can't see an illuminated destination.  Maybe you don't know the coordinates to enter in for GPS to lead the way.

We trust anyway.

We keep walking.

We let His Spirit convict and redirect when we stumble.  His mercy and grace welcomes us back even when we've taken the most defiant steps of running the opposite direction of Him.  We've found ourselves traveling in unfamiliar areas and GPS lost its signal.  We never have to worry about that with God in our lives.  If we ask, He answers.  If we are lost, He finds us.  If we are broken, He fixes us.  He's our chainbreaker and gap filler.  Only a whisper away. In His great love, He gives us the opportunity to step back in.  Forgiving and merciful.

Today, ask yourself "Am I in His plan?"  If you know that answer is no or you've taken a few wrong steps or lost sight of what the path He has for you is, just reach out to Him.  Simply surrender.

One foot in front of the other.
Step back into His plan.
It may be a giant step or it may be a series of small steps.  Just step.

He'll be waiting!








Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Work in Progress

I can't adequately express the feeling of getting up every morning and seeing little changes happening around our home.  More evenings than not, a reno project is tackled.  Some nights it may be as minimal as changing out some outlet covers or rewiring a switch.  Other nights it may be replacing a door or rebuilding some frames (seems like nothing in this house has been plumb or square!). Some projects have been much larger such as a complete bathroom overhaul.  MANY, MANY nights have been spent painting walls or dark trim white. I'm loving seeing every single surface being touched by our hands and made our own.  It's what we wanted (even with the headaches, stress, and overwhelming days). We wanted to make something old new again, even on a limited budget. Even our oldest son came home from a weekend trip away and walked around looking for what was different. He says it's like a game of hide and seek every time he comes home from being gone for more than 24 hours.

This morning the change was walking into our schoolroom and it finally being painted.  Everything hasn't been put back in place since we still have touch up to do and baseboards to replace. However, just seeing the walls done was a source of joy, even with everything now disorganized again. It was also the smile that came from walking past the first replacement door completely finished.  Seeing the final result of ONE gave me excitement and encouragement to hang in through the chaos and the days of everything being mismatched as we do one by one.

As I was looking around this morning and just seeing how far we've come, what's left, and everything in between, there was a whisper to my heart.

"I'm at work in you, too."

My heart is like our home renovation.

When we began looking at houses, we saw many that we thought were beyond repair.  We saw some that were too perfect or lacking in character.  When we walked into the one we bought, we didn't buy it for what it looked like at the moment.  We bought it for its potential, knowing it had solid structure and no major hidden issues that were of safety concern.

When Christ looks at my heart, He doesn't turn away because I'm too much work.  He doesn't see me beyond repair.

I'm a broken mess.

He sees my beauty despite the flaws.  He sees my potential.  He knows I have the right make up to create something worthwhile in.

But, do I see it?

Recently I saw a facebook drawing of a body completely covered in words.  Though I don't remember the exact caption, it was basically asking a question.  What if every word we said was written on our skin? In that particular case, it was referring to how we speak to each other and the division our nation has been facing.  In other words, watch your words.  Watch how you speak to each other or about each other.  Though I thought that was VERY powerful, I though of it from a different perspective.

What if every single thing I said about myself on the inside was written on the outside? Would my skin be covered in beautiful encouraging words or negativity?

Ouch.

Would I want to walk around with those negative words and feelings I hear myself speaking in my head? We can be our own worst critics.  Things we would never say out loud, we can park our thoughts on and absorb. We can say them so often we believe them to be the truth. They are lies. The lies have to be replaced with the REAL TRUTH He speaks over us.

I'm not good enough.
He says: You are more than enough.

I'm fat, ugly, old, or this or that is too big, too small, too wide, too skinny, too floppy, too bumpy....
He says: You're beautiful.  You're made in MY image.

I'm incomplete, unseen, unworthy, alone, etc...
He says:  In me you are complete, I see you ALWAYS.  You are worth every sacrifice I made for you, even to the cross. I'm ALWAYS with you.

I'm weak, incapable, not worth the effort.
He says:  Operate in my strength, let me teach you and mold you.  Let me equip you.

I've messed up too much.
He simply and powerful says:  You're forgiven.

And so many more.

IF we are willing to submit our lives to Him, He can change us from the inside out.

It's an ongoing process.

Just like in our home reno, we are finding some things take MUCH more time than we thought. As we begin to pull back one layer or remove one part, we find there is something else lurking underneath. We can't just leave it, it must be fixed underneath or the outside fix won't last long. The same in our hearts, we HAVE to let Him go deep.  Just a little patch on the outside of our hearts may be a temporary fix, but if we don't get to the root, we will still rot.

House renovating just like heart renovating isn't quick, easy, or without mess. It's downright chaos and filthy.  You can get one thing accomplished and cleaned up, but as soon as you start something else that mess just spreads.

We can feel like God is at work in us so much that we can't get one change in our hearts rooted, established, and "cleaned up" before another one is overtaking and leaving us all over the place again. Our hearts are complex and messy.  I dare say that none of us have just one single area needing work.

THAT feeling drives me crazy.  I can easily get discouraged knowing that I have so many things to work on at once.

So what do we do when we have a long list of things for God to change in our hearts or tasks at hand?

I have to apply the same things to my life that I'm applying in home reno land.

Prioritize-
We can't do everything at once, either financially or with our time. We have to decide what makes the biggest impact, be logical, and be willing to wait on some things. We aren't giving up on the other projects, we just realize that they aren't immediate.  They make take extra planning or extra prep work.  Some may take multiple steps.  No different with our hearts.

Expect mess. Be willing to get dirty. Be willing to fail and try again.
Enough said.


Keep a goal in mind and remember why you started in the first place-
In the middle of the chaos, when you're stepping over paint cans and supplies, when your clean floor or your fresh laundry or dusted furniture is now covered AGAIN, or when something you just got unboxed and organized has to be moved AGAIN....you HAVE to remember why you are doing what you are doing and keep looking towards the finished project you have in mind or YOU WILL LOSE YOUR MIND.  When you're making heart changes or working towards a physical goal (like fitness or weight loss), you have to keep looking towards the results you are wanting or you will easily give up on the hard days. Know your WHY and WHERE you are going or it's easy to get lost.

Focus on the positive changes-
Today I can look at the finished door and be proud of what's done.  I can look at the schoolroom's walls and be excited.  OR I can look at the undone and things left to do.  Which do you think brings the most peace? Focusing with gratitude and accomplishment or getting bogged down about what still isn't right or in process.  When we are allowing God to shape us, we can look at what He's already done in us and let that encourage us to keep on the path.  Or we can choose to focus on the negativity and drown.  Our choice.

Embrace the flaws-
It's ok to have imperfections.  We will never be perfect.  God doesn't expect perfection.  He knows our hearts and motivations.  Let me add, some things we see as flaws aren't actually flaws.  They are things that make us unique. We aren't meant to be identical to someone else. We bought this house despite it being a very unique shade of green.  To some it's a "flaw" that needs to be changed.  To others they love it because it has character and uniqueness.  We all have some things that might annoy us or make us self-conscious, but they really are a part of us and a part that makes us who we are. For example, I'm extremely introverted.  For so long, I saw that as a flaw.  In reality, that same personality trait makes me more intuitive to the needs of others and gives me a deep level of empathy. Some things aren't flaws at all and just need to be embraced.

Work as a team-
No project in our home has been done alone.  It's taken each and every one of us.  Some of us have more vision, some of us have more skill, some of us have knowledge and some of us have hands on experience.  We all have our talents and gifts.  It takes all of it. When we don't have the skill, tool, or know how:  we ask, we borrow, we research, etc...  In our heart reno, we have to ask for help when needed.  First of all we ask God for help. We ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We also ask for help from others that can rally around us and help us. A friend who has walked our path, prayer warriors, encouragers, etc...

Above all, we don't quit when we don't see the progress we want or when the task is taking MUCH longer than we thought.  When it gets more complicated we don't run away.  We dig in. We try harder. We try a new approach.  We step away and regroup, take a break if necessary.

Renovation is time consuming.  As I'm learning first hand, it's a constant work in progress.  One task leading to another...

But...

When you see a finished project you KNOW it was worth the blood, sweat, and even tears.  (Yes, there's been all of that involved at some point or another).

When you reach a goal, you know it was worth it.

When you see your heart being shaped to be more like His, you know it was worth the uncomfortable refining and pruning.

So beyond worth it.












Thursday, February 23, 2017

Getting Back Up

As we were doing school this morning, I looked across the room and saw my 10 year old's knees. This week's spring teaser has given us the daily joy of getting outside. If you have children, especially BOYS (or active girls!) you know that outside play comes with scraped knees, bruises, and constant need of TLC.


Have you ever noticed that kids just seem to go for it.  They give it their all.  They play hard. They have gusto about life.  They are daring and willing to try things.  When they fall, they typically get back up and try again.  

This week we got outside A LOT and that meant lots of bike and scooter rides.  Along with that came new lovely shades of blue and purple on his knees and scrapes on his hands. Inevitable. Both knees also sport scars from previous accidents. 

What if?

What if we attacked life with the same attitude?

What if I we were more like a child and lived life with gusto, willing to try new things, and be risky?

I know that with being an adult comes wisdom, knowledge, and responsibility.  We can't quite be dare devils and may be beyond climbing trees, riding downhill with no hands, or jumping curbs on a scooter. 

But what if...

What if we applied that same attitude to things that might feel risky in other ways?

What if we stepped out of our comfort zones and risked our hearts being bruised? 

Have you ever really watched a toddler learning to walk or climb, a young child learning to ride a bike or a skateboard? They fall often.  They end up having to get up time and time again.  But, that's what they do.  They get back up.  Try. Try and try again.

Have we fallen down so many times that we've stopped getting back up and trying?

Have we decided being risky is just TOO risky for our emotions?

What about just trying new things or recommitting to things we put on the backburner because we failed too many times before?

Maybe we've given up on restoration in a relationship.  Maybe we've given up on making better choices for our health. Maybe there's a skill we really want to be able to do, but we've given up after a few tries.

Maybe there's someone in our lives that might feel a bit risky to invest our time and hearts in because they've hurt us.  Or because they do life differently than we do. 

What if we lived willing to take some occasional bruises?

Today I'm asking myself what do I need to try again or try for the first time because I wasn't willing to risk enough?  What have I fallen down doing too many times before but might succeed at if I give it one more try?

Where might you end up if you took off downhill riding with your hands off the handlebars? 

Might you crash.  Yes, Yes and yes.

But what if...

What if you reach the bottom and find it was so freeing?

Who might we bless, encourage, and inspire?  What might we change in our own life?  

I'm a chicken little.  I definitely like my feet firmly on the ground, low speed, and in control.  Total understatement. 

But what if...

What if I tried something new? 

More importantly, what if risked going deeper, walking in more faith, or being obedient to something God has asked but I've been too afraid of? 

Our hearts might get bruised, we might fall before we stand up tall, but...

Look who is there to catch us.  Walk with us.  Strengthen us. 

Just like my son comes back home knowing we'll take care of whatever bumps and bruises he's acquired. Whatever battle wounds need attention, he knows we're there.

No matter who has failed us.  No matter how many times we've messed up. No matter how deep our battle wounds.

Our Father awaits us.  

Maybe we should start living a bit more risky and living life like a confident child that gets back up even though they've crashed over and over. 

I know I do.

Just by looking at my child's knees. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sprouts of Hope

Ever had those days, weeks, months, or even LONG seasons of feeling defeated, depleted, and just beat down.

I know I have. Often, if I'm being honest.

But then...

God enters in.

He whispers, "Just hold on", "Don't give up", or simply "I see you."

Just enough hope trickles in to face the day and to keep moving forward in faith.  It doesn't have to be profound or extremely grand, though sometimes He does give us that abundant blessing of something big.  Usually it's just that little bit of comfort that lifts your heart.

It may be something you see, something you read, a note from a friend, a heart-to-heart with your spouse, or just a new revelation in His Word.  Just that "little" something.

Today, that little something came to me in the form of tiny little sprouts.



A few months back, we didn't even have moving on our radar. It was something we had talked about and prayed about many, many times, but the answer was always no or not now. When we did make the decision to start the looking process we didn't anticipate moving until end of March as our target date. We started looking online early October and driving neighborhoods getting a feel of where we wanted to be that would put us in the price range we wanted, but yet give us the most value for our money.  We purposely wanted to go less instead of more to alleviate financial burden should we ever be faced with a financial crisis or job changes.  We've been there, done that, and don't want to walk that path again. At that time, we had no plans of rushing or jumping in.  Two weeks later, we met with a realtor to look at some of the properties we kept coming back to.  Again, just really getting an idea of the market. By the end of that weekend, not only had we found a house we felt "fit us" (despite the exterior being a very unique shade of green!), it was in the perfect location for us (two minute walk to church). Best of all, the sellers had dropped the price that very day, placing it in our price range.  We had discussed it before the drop and had taken it off our list because though it was workable it was above what we had committed to. Our realtor had told us that she had one more property to show us that wasn't on our list to see, but she felt like it met the majority of our "wants" and needs.  On the way to meet her, I asked Kevin if he thought that perhaps the house she wanted to show us was the one we'd been considering increasing our budget for.  Indeed it was! Thanks, God.  We knew that we wouldn't be able to wait several months and the house still be around.  We KNEW that despite it needing some work (ok, LOTS of work!), it was meant to be ours.  So, we took the plunge, knowing it would put us in a rush to move.  Unfortunately, that also meant moving during the holidays.  Even bigger unfortunately, this also meant moving in the winter and winter around here means cold, ice, bitter wind and snow.  Wouldn't you know it, EVERY single day we cleared Kevin's work schedule to move, just happened to be the nastiest days.  But we did it. (Completely on our own somehow!)  We're happy and thankful.  Every day brings us closer to what we envisioned when we walked in those doors the first time.

Back to the sprouts.

Viewing the house in late fall gave us no idea of what the actual landscaping looked like. By the time we moved in, the ground was completely covered in leaves since the property has many mature trees.  Add to that snow and lots of overgrowth and we just really don't know what we have. We knew we were capable of doing the work needed, so we weren't scared away by the condition. We've had a few tolerable weekends of weather and have done lots of cutting back and raking bag after bag of leaves.

Then today, we saw it.

Those little sprouts.


Signs of new growth on this GORGEOUS glimpse of a February "spring". As the first one was discovered, it encouraged digging for more and more as the excitement grew with what we we're finding.

As I was searching, I was thinking about not only how I was excited and GRATEFUL, but I was also thinking of how important hope is in our lives.

It only takes a little.  When you grab on to that little, it makes you just want to grab and grab for more.  Hope, like joy, is contagious.  The more we look for it, the more we find it and the more we spread it, the more it grows. Who can we be hope for today? Who can we encourage?  Who can we forgive? Who can we mentor and teach? Who can we show the love of Jesus?

What if we were like those little sprouts beginning to peak through the ground? I don't imagine they had an easy winter. I don't imagine their breaking through the ground was easy.  Some sprouts probably had a harder path than others and it was a struggle. They all aren't the same size.  They haven't all broken through the ground at the same time.  Underneath the hard ground, there's no telling what else is waiting to erupt and some may not even make it.

We are the same.  We can feel buried.  Dead.  Struggling to break through our problems.

However, do you know what brought those sprouts to the surface?

Looking for the sun.  Soaking in nutrients.  Following their path. Sticking with it.

If we do the same, we can also sprout.  We can look to Him. We can soak in His Word.  We can follow the purpose He has for us and we can follow Him. We can remain faithful even when those around us are falling away or giving up.

We have to throw off the dead debris and the leaves (our chains, our sins, our burdens) and look towards the sun (the Son).

Today, as many of us experiencing a beautiful day of spring like temperatures, may we also allow spring to penetrate our hearts. May we also share that with someone else.  Spread Hope. Spread Joy. Point each other to the Son.

Beautiful reminder that "His mercies are new every morning."

I can't wait to see what the morning brings.






Sunday, January 29, 2017

Gratitude Is the Best Filter

Over and over these last few days, I keep coming back to how perspective changes everything.

Friday I woke up and immediately knew I felt different.  It actually took me a few minutes to pinpoint what "that" feeling was.  Then it hit me that I actually felt GOOD.  I honestly hadn't physically had a "good" day since October.  Over three months is a long time to wake up feeling weighted down and enslaved to lupus, knowing that the flare you are in is just not going to give you any reprieve. Or sick from whatever germs the family has been sharing. It had been so long since I'd felt good that I didn't remember what it felt like. Yucky, in pain, swimming through peanut butter with concrete blocks on your limbs, lack of mental clarity, and depression nagging to take over.  Those things had become the normal and I just dealt with it.  But, to wake up, feeling ALIVE gave me a new found perspective. IT reminded me what good felt like, how much more I could accomplish with less effort, and the need to not have to plan EVERY little moment around what part of the day I'd feel the best, in order to give what best I could.  My perspective is once again changed by gratitude.  The good days, when they come are that much sweeter when you've been through struggles.

Today I was literally overcome with tears to be cleaning our bathroom.  While it's not a task I hate, it is something that is typically done out of habit and need.  I don't necessarily jump for joy at the thought of cleaning it.  However, today, as I cleaned it for the first time since we finished remodeling it, my heart was just extra grateful.  I was reflecting on how God brought us through every step of starting over, providing in countless ways.  I was thankful to have a husband that could tackle such a big project and was WILLING to do so, even multiple nights still at it at midnight despite the fact he goes to work at 4 AM.  Gratitude changes perspective.  A not so joyful task can be filled with joy when you remember where you've been, where you're going, and WHO brought you through it.

Today at church we were reminded of what a PRIVILEGE it is to be able to pray and personally have a relationship with God.  Reminded how God desires that connection with us.  Our Pastor, also with sons in the military, related it to how he felt in recent days of being on base and welcoming his son home from a long deployment.  As much as it was an overwhelming joy, such an overwhelming moment to hug him, it's the same way when we go to God and connect with Him.  It's as if He is waiting there with that same enthusiasm and open arms to embrace us.  Prayer can be just a habit, half-hearted, a quick check mark, or even dropped so low on our priority list that it is ignored until it is a last resort or we're desperate. However, when we frame it from the perspective of gratitude, a new passion arises.  We remember that it is not only a privilege, but it's a life-giving force. WE become changed when we've been in His presence.

I read tonight that "Gratitude is the best filter".  I LOVE that.  When we look at life through the filter of gratitude, our eyes are truly opened and our hearts can overflow with true joy.  Not finicky happiness.  True Joy.

May this week we all look through that filter.  You only need to spend .2 seconds on social media to quickly find yourself overwhelmed with darkness, frustration, division, vulgarity, hatred, etc...  Look away from the screen this week.  It's not about putting your head in the sand or being silent on important matters, but it is about choosing where to focus and remaining in a state of gratitude. Focus on how you are fueling your thoughts.  Be grateful.  Change your filter.

Oh boy---change your filter---I KNEW there was something I was supposed to buy on our multi trips out to the big box DIY stores this weekend.  Ugh.  :)


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Why Hello, 2017

Hello, 2017, I'm happy to see you.  I really am.

You see, 2017, I saw you roll around and I knew I was supposed to traditionally make some resolutions.  I was supposed to pick apart my life and find those things that I needed to do better or weren't working and commit to a long list, or even just one, and resolve to "fix" it.  Oh yes, I need to eat better, lose weight, exercise, etc...  Oh yes, I need to spend less time wrapped up in technology. Yes, yes, yes.

But, I didn't make any resolutions.

Wasn't setting myself up for failure.  Wasn't going to be one of those January people that pack the gym and then leave it empty in February.

But, 2017, without realizing it, I apparently made some resolutions about you.

The one thing I did do was choose a word focus of the year.  I've done that and blogged about it for many years now.  Some years that word was hard to come by and I wouldn't settle on it until several weeks into the year.  However, this year, I knew my word weeks before the year rolled around.  It just was whispered audibly to my heart in a way that was an instant perfect fit.

Abide.

Five little letters.  Life changing word.

Abiding in Him is changing me.  I had reached the point that everything seemed scheduled, a to-do, or just forced.  I prayed because it was necessary, the right thing to do, or habitual.  I read my Bible or participated in a study because it was what I had always done or what I knew the "wise" women did. Right actions, but wrong motivations.

Reframing everything from the point of "abiding" really has changed everything.  Spending time with Him because I want to know Him, hear Him, see what He has for me has restored vitality to my soul. Reawakening and rejuvenating. From a chore to a deep desire.

In doing so, He is changing my hardened heart.  Showing me things I need to change, let go of, or things I may have been approaching from the wrong viewpoint.  Sometimes He's showing me things about me that others may not like, but He is pleased with.

Along the way, I've noticed that maybe I did throw in some resolutions without actually saying, "In 2017, I'm going to.....".

By "Abiding" and growing closer to Him, it has trickled down into making differences in my life.

For one, He's given me a contentment and peace like never before.  I can now much better focus on today.  Just today.  The to-do list of tomorrow doesn't paralyze me or leave me in overwhelming anxiety.  I am definitely a list maker, have planners and notebooks to the extreme, and plan ahead A LOT.  Probably to the extreme if I'm being honest. Though those things always kept me on track and let me know where I'm going, worry and anxiety still plagued me.  When I'm in a lupus flare mode or life is really busy, I'd get overwhelmed with how in the world I'm a going to pull so and so off, get this or that done, etc... Always worrying about the next day, the next week, or even the next month.  "Abiding" has given me a contentment to just focus on right now.  Get through and conquer today.  He's with me in the middle of my chaos, right now, and I can be assured He'll be with me in it tomorrow.  When tomorrow becomes today, I will focus on it.  Even as we've just finished moving and are in the middle of multiple remodel projects, I have a contentment instead of panic and anxiety. Today is what matters.  When I focus on just getting through what needs to be done today or even just this hour, I have the freedom to do it instead of carrying the weight of the next thing.  "Abiding" in Him has reminded me of His faithfulness, His promises, and His track record.  Plus, when I'm going through a hard day, I can remember this:  So far, I'm 100% in surviving my hardest days. Let tomorrow worry with itself.

Secondly, oh this is a BIG one, I've found the strength and self-worth to let go of one sided relationships and the heavy burdens of others.  Not necessarily "written them off" or turning my back, but releasing them from my grasp.  I'm fiercely loyal, sometimes to a fault.  My tender-hearted, sensitive to the needs of others, and the giving nature of my personality often leaves me depleted and empty.  Because I'm empathetic and deeply intuitive, I often expect that from others.  I've often deeply taken on the idea that it's the Christian thing to give and give of yourself.  Yes, it is necessary and yes it is the right thing to do at times, BUT there is a healthy boundary.  "Abiding" in Him is helping me to find that boundary.  I'm finding it is ok to not be stepped on.  It's ok to not completely give and give of myself.  It's ok to let God do HIS part.  I'm not Him and I'm not the Holy Spirit.  Obedience is my part, results are His.  I can encourage someone in my life and do it again and again, but I can't then put the weight of their actions or inactions on my shoulders.

One sided relationships were suffocating me.  I kept finding myself in the place of being there on demand for others, as soon as they needed something, but then when I would share something on my heart, there'd be no response.  He's been helping me see the difference in supporting a friend or acquaintance through a hard season and needing NOTHING in return from them and on the flip side being in a relationship of only a "taker".  Sometimes you really don't need a response back from a friend because in this particular season they are in NEED and your best gift to them is to just keep encouraging them and lifting them up.  That's perfectly ok.  But in others, you do have to learn to step back and release, when habitually they expect things of you that they aren't also willing to give a fraction of.  Or even those friends that you constantly support in social media by interacting with them, but out on the street you don't exist. Or they can't reciprocate and take a fraction of a second to share in your highs and lows.  What about those that make it obvious that you only exist when they need something, want you to buy something or support their newest fundraiser, or just want to complain.  "Abiding" in Him is giving me the confidence to LET IT GO, CUT IT LOOSE.  At first, my tender nature just couldn't do it.  How dare I step back, change direction, or even completely walk away?  That isn't the right thing to do, right?  Wrong---sometimes it's the VERY right thing to do.  As a result, my joy is getting deeper, the dark voices of defeat aren't as loud, my self-worth is restoring and I'm finding freedom to DIG deeper and invest my heart in the RIGHT places.  When I sit down to work on something that demands attention, I have more clarity and peace in my heart.  Not so weighed down.

You know what else, it's taking the pressure off.  The pressure to be "just right" for someone.  The pressure to perform.  The pressure of unmet expectations.  It's also taking some of the pressure off of my HEALTHY relationships.  I'm finding as each day goes by, I'm less distrustful or looking for the "catch" less often.  More present in the moment. My disappointment in others and hurt I feel from them is not trickling over in my healthy relationships because it's much easier to differentiate the two.  I'm also less likely to expect those healthy relationship to fill in the gaps the unhealthy ones had been creating.  Whoa.  Light bulb, a-ha moment.

So, 2017, I guess I did have some resolutions.  I guess I resolved to live in today, not tomorrow.  I guess I also resolved to find healthy boundaries in giving of my heart and time.

You know, those are pretty great resolutions because they snowball into many other areas.  They also help to keep priorities on track and my heart free to be obedient to Him.

Oh, I guess I also resolved to kick the HORRID habit of a gallon a day diet coke as well.  I didn't plan on it.  I just decided one night to say, "No Thanks", when my husband offered to bring one home while he was out.  Don't know where that came from because my typical response is, "Well, duh!".  As in, do you really need to ask. Apparently that one unplanned "no thanks" was all that was needed to snowball a much needed kicking of a bad habit (once again!).  I think my family has survived my getting over the hump.  One, two, three, four, five....yep, I think we're all here and still alive. :)

So, 2017, I do welcome you.  I look forward to seeing what you have in store and where this adventure goes.