Take Care

“Take Care” ~ this is a common phrase in the English language.  People sign their emails with this sentiment, we end a phone call speaking these words, we tell our loved ones to do this.  But what does it really mean?  This blog idea actually came to me from a very unlikely place.

A darling young girl that used to go to my church, recently reconnected with me on Facebook.  It’s been fun to see the new journey she has embarked on…health, eating good food, and exercising.  We had a little “back and forth” with some messaging and she asked how my family and I were doing.  I wrote an update back to her with updates on everyone.  The response I received back startled me a bit…only because I needed to hear this.  She said, “You mention taking care of the girls and Tony but don’t mention that you need to take care of yourself too!” Whoa!!

I wrote back and told her that she was right!  We talked about a few other things and she ended the conversation with, “Don’t forget to take care of yourself first! otherwise you can’t take care of anyone else.”  The sweet words of encouragement from the heart of my Lord through a willing vessel who felt lead to speak truth in love.

This happened about a month ago, and sadly I haven’t done a whole heck of a lot to really take care of myself better.  It’s so easy to put everyone else on my list first.  I love being a wife and mom, a daughter and a sister, a volunteer and an organizer, a friend and a mentor.  But if I am only concentrating on the “out-pouring”, there will soon not be very much to pour out!  For one, my devotional life and bible reading has been extremely lacking in the past few months.  How interesting (and not too surprising) that the Lord will allow a variety of circumstances to bring me running back to Him.

Here’s the part I’m hesitant to share ~ but I feel I’m among friends when I tell you that I want to be closer to the Lord but I’m a bit afraid to see what He will require of me next.  Because I know a bit of what that’s going to look like.

Let me back up a little bit, and go back to “take care” ~

To take:  to get into one’s hold or possession by voluntary action; to hold, grasp, or grip; to get into one’s hands, possession, control, etc.,by force or artifice; to seize or capture; to receive and accept willingly (something given or offered).

To carea state of mind in which one is troubled; worry, anxiety, or concern; a cause or object of worry, anxiety, concern, etc.; serious attention; solicitude; heed; caution; protection; charge; grief; suffering; sorrow.

So when we tell someone to “take care” ~ we are guiding them to pay serious attention to whatever it is they are holding onto; to proceed with caution in their actions; to be aware of protecting what it is that they have received or what they’ve been given. Even as I read through these definitions (www.dictionary.com), I may rethink using this phrasing as easily as I have been in the past years.  Do I take care with all that the Lord has given me?  My family, my friends, my home ~ it’s all His.  But the one thing that is at the top of the list when it comes to my life, as a born-again believer in Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit ~ am I truly taking care of René??

Tears are threatening to run down my cheeks and there’s a lump in my throat.  I don’t like to be in this place. However, it’s the best place to be ~ the place of a softened heart that can be molded to what God intends.  Do you ever feel like this?  That there is a physical change that happens literally, when you cry?  Like the chemical make-up of our tears can physically alter the muscle of our heart?  I think it does ~ our God is amazing and as part of His creation, that means I’m pretty amazing too!

About one year ago, I was at a women’s day conference at our church, and the whole time I felt God whispering eight little words with huge implications to me…”I am calling you to be set apart.”  Um, no thank you!  I don’t want to be set apart…I want to stay comfortable.  I like the way things are going!

I have not felt settled in my spirit since then ~ but I haven’t run off to Tarshish completely. (check out the story of Jonah – chapter 1 –  in the bible if I’ve lost you.)

So at the day retreat, during the sessions, I kept finding myself without a “seat saved” for me by anyone!  At first I was so sad…and that was the first time I heard God say, “I am calling you to be set apart.”  Well, I was doing a part of the introduction to the morning, so I was sitting up front with the other amazing women that I’m on Council with.  We all did our thing and went back to sit down…but I was the only one who went back to sitting in the front row…by…myself.  Then I heard it again, “I am calling you to be set apart.” Uh, yeah…I get it…I’m literally sitting in the front row BY MYSELF.  Well, the speaker was about 5 seats away from me, but once she got up to speak…oy vey!  And I hate sitting by myself!

Guess what?  I didn’t hate it that day.  

Guess what else?  That scared me!

After lunch, we went back to the main sanctuary for the last session and I ended up walking in just before things started…and no one save a seat for me.  And I heard the kind whisper of the Holy Spirit, “I am calling you to be set apart.”  So I went back up to the front row….to sit…by…myself.

Guess what?  I wasn’t by myself ~ I was surrounded by the greatness and glory of my Heavenly Father.  

I didn’t hate sitting by myself.  

I felt free.

I think maybe part of the reason that the Lord has put this particular story to come to mind today, is to remind me that He is still calling me.  I am called to be set apart.  It’s frightening but freeing all at the same time.  Today, I’m embracing anew the call I know that is on my life.  I don’t have to have all the answers, but I need to pay attention to God’s direction.  Where to walk and what direction to take!

Life is full of various experiences that God uses to grab our attention.  I’m going through a few, shall we say, interesting situations (yeah…that’s code for frustrating, sad, irritating, and ridiculous) and out of all of it, I know that God is STILL on the throne and that He is STILL in charge, and that I can STILL trust Him fully with my whole heart, mind, body, and soul!

I Peter 5:10-11 says, Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.  The dominion belongs to Him forever.  Amen.” 

YES!  There isn’t anything that I’ll go through that the Lord doesn’t already have control over!  This is a great source of joy for me!  It’s not that God allows difficult circumstances to come into my life, it’s that He will use those times for my good and His glory.  I may not always understand them, but that’s not the point.  The point is that I continue to run to Him and His Word, to bathe in the truth of His grace and love.

Colossians is a beautiful book of the New Testament full of so much encouragement and direction in how we need to be living our life as true followers of Jesus Christ.  I love chapter 3 the most I think ~ balm to my soul on many occasions.  Verses 1-4 say, “So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” 

To follow the road that God has called me to, the way that He has called me to allow Him to set me apart ~ it has a simple first step ~ to look up and set my mind and heart on the things of the Lord.  The next logical step to help accomplish that goal ~ be in His Word daily and have many times throughout the day that I’m in conversation with my Lord.  How else can I know what He wants from me and where He wants me to go?

Guess what?

God has called YOU too!

You have a unique purpose that only you can fulfill ~ that’s how God works.  He’s so creative to fill this world with people who have talents and gifts to do His will.  But we have to surrender our own comforts and desires ~ trusting that God’s best is better than we can ever imagine!

Galatians 1 verse 15

When you hear the whispering of the Holy Spirit, reminding you that you are called to be set apart, don’t run to Tarshish ~ run to Him and embrace the adventure!

Blessings,

René

 

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Life Quakes

Have you ever experienced an earthquake?  If you live in Southern California….I bet you have!  With the current El Nino going on, there’s been a lot of information in the news lately about natural disasters ~ floods, rains, winds, and even some earthquakes.  In fact, yesterday (1-17-16) was the 22nd anniversary of the devastating 1994 Northridge Earthquake.  I will never forget that event.  And I still can’t understand how they went from declaring it a 7.9 all the way down to a 6.7 ~ it’s got to do something with insurance and what they pay out after a certain pointage.  But that’s another blog for another day.

That day, in the wee hours of the night, my husband and I awoke to the most violent shaking and rolling ~ it was absolutely terrifying!  I remember standing up in bed because I couldn’t get my footing on the floor; I jumped off the edge of the bed, through the doorway and landed in the hallway.  Still haven’t figured that one out yet, but that’s really what happened. Our oldest daughter was only 4 months old at the time and in her own room.  Because the quake was rolling up and down, AND shaking side to side, we couldn’t get her bedroom door open.  We finally did and it took us a bit to find her…bouncing all over her crib.  Those minutes we experienced are something that will always live with us; and will always be thankful we survived!

My parents and sister were living just a mile from the epicenter.  My sister woke up looking out her bedroom window…which was about 5 feet ABOVE her bed!  True story!  My parents have a CalKing bed and they weren’t able to grab on to each other because the shaking was so violent.  Once they could get out of the house, they ended up staying in our little 600 sq. foot apartment for about 8 days before they could go home.  One day when I came in from the daily washing of bath towel, everyone was watching a video clip of a man shoveling the bits and pieces of kitchenware into a trash can, items that had previously been dishes, bowls, platters, cups, mugs, and family heirlooms.  Now, when I had left the apartment to put the towels in the dryer everyone had been watching the news.  So, upon returning and seeing the video clip, I thought they were still watching the news.  I commented on how awful it must be for that family who’d lost everything.  My husband, parents, and sister all turned and looked at me as if I’d said something odd.  I reiterated that I felt really bad for those people and how it’s going to take a long time to get back to normal.  That’s when my Dad looked at me, tears in his eyes, and said, “Rene’, that’s OUR house.” I was stunned….words failed me.  It did takes years to recover, but recover and rebuild they did!

A few years ago, when I was homeschooling our youngest daughter, we were studying earthquakes in her science book and it talked about the Northridge quake…so of course, I recounted the story of our experience.  🙂

While we continued studying together, it was interesting to me as I read through the points and terminology they used in the science book as it related to earthquakes: focus, fault, creep, and epicenter.  We’ve all heard those words before, and living in California, we hear those words A LOT!  But as I was reading through the definitions with my daughter, I couldn’t help but feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit revealing to me how these particular words relate to us in a spiritual sense.

Let me share with you these definitions:

Focus: the point underground where an earthquake starts.

Epicenter: a sudden movement of Earth’s crust.

Creep: slow movement of Earth’s crust along a fault.

Fault: a crack in the Earth’s crust.

So, have you had any “Life Quakes” lately?  Anything been creeping down a fault line in your life?  I found it very interesting that it is not the epicenter that is the place where the earthquake begins and originates – that is called the ‘focus.’  So where is our focus? What is at our center – what is centered at the core of our heart?

Earthquakes happen when there is too much pressure in the core of the earth and along the underneath area of the earth’s crust.  When pressure builds up near a fault line, there is sometimes a sudden movement (epicenter) or a slow movement (creep) in the earth’s crust to relieve that pressure.  Earthquake!

I bet you didn’t think you were going to get a mini Science lesson this morning when you woke up!  Well, hang in there with me…by the time I’m done writing this post, I hope you can see how we experience “Life Quakes”, but thinking in terms of the above definitions.

When we have cracks in our facade, and the pressure builds from all the stuff we have going on underneath, my friend, there is gonna be movement that happens ~ some will be a slight little shudder that we barely notice; some will be a shaking so intense we cannot help but to seek cover and rebuild.

Life Quakes come in many different shapes and intensities ~ car accidents, bounced checks, losing a home, losing a family member, difficulties with friends or children, job loss, marital issues; and the list can go on and on.  Sometimes when God shakes things up in our life, we wonder “Where the heck did that come from?” And sometimes, we know exactly where it has come from.

Sometimes the pressure that builds up in our life is from our own doing ~ worry, fear, anxiety, sinful actions, etc.

Sometimes the pressures comes from spiritual bondage or warfare.

Either way, the Lord IS going to allow a “life quake” to happen in order for that pressure to be released; for the sake of rebuilding to occur!

Isaiah 43:1-3 says, Now this is what the Lord says— the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel— “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.  You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you. For I Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior, give Egypt as a ransom for you, Cush and Seba in your place.”

These verses have long been a calming passage to me.  It’s not “if”, but “when.”  Our response to the shaking is not only an indication of where our focus is but it is a visible sign to those around us of how we are choosing to deal with those events that shake up our life…those life-quakes.

If we go running and screaming into the unknown, we may experience severe injuries by falling debris.  But when we stand firm, under a stronghold, with our head down and our neck covered, we can walk away from the disaster virtually unscathed.  We can walk through the rubble, out into a clear space.  We can look back and get rid of the unimportant stuff that was causing confusion, and we can sift through the pieces to find what really has true meaning.

Psalm 9:9-10, The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.  Those who know Your name trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, Yahweh.”

Psalm 18:19, He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”

During the Northridge earthquake, numerous new stations shared a variety of survival stories.  Some were humorous ~ yes, there were plenty of folks who ran outside in their birthday suits!  Some were terrifying.  Some were extremely tragic. Everyone had a story to share. Everyone experienced the very same earthquake, but depending on how close they were to the epicenter of the quake made a difference in what kind of story they had lived through. My little family and I were 14 miles away from the epicenter.  We had a few things fall off shelves, but did not have any damage or loss.  My parents were less than one mile from the epicenter and lost everything in their kitchen, most of all their photos fell from the walls, their house moved off the foundation, and every single window in the house was shifted out of their framing.  Because of the varying proximity to the shaking, our rebuilding and recovery time was vastly different.

Psalm 34:17-18,The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.”

When those tremors begin in our spirit, we must pay close attention to them.  The Lord is getting ready to do some remodeling ~ and maybe even some relocating.

LET HIM!!

God has brought me nearer to Him in the past decade as never before, and it’s all due to a variety of life-quakes our family has experienced.  But the remodeling and rebuilding I have personally gone through with the Lord is completely worth it!  It doesn’t mean that I’m not freaked out a little when I feel a tremor.  However, in the back of my mind I can choose to be excited to see what God is going to do next!

Read the following verse and let it wash over you as a balm to any “quake wounds” you may be experiencing today ~ Psalm 19:14, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

Just as we cannot predict earthquakes, we cannot necessarily predict life-quakes.  But as with earthquakes, we can be prepared for them when they occur.  We can do the same with life-quakes ~ we can prepare our hearts and minds as we daily read God’s Word and choose to trust Him with our life.  We can put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) so that we are protected in the stronghold of the Almighty Hand of God.

Take heart my friend ~ He will provide a way out!

Psalm 34 verse 17 and 18

Blessings,

René

 

 

 

I want to…but I just can’t!

How many times have you said this phrase….”I want to, but I just can’t!”  Whether it was to a friend who wants to meet for coffee, a meeting that you’ve been asked to attend, to keep to your new daily planner schedule, or to exercise and eat more healthy; or just say “no” to an amazing dessert…like big slab of homemade chocolate cake with chocolate orange filling and chocolate hazelnut icing with chopped hazelnuts on top?

** Okay…that last part…seriously was the best piece of cake I think I’ve had in a very long time…and shouldn’t have again for a VERY LONG TIME!! **

But I digress…..

So, what made me think of this title and idea for today’s blog?  It was actually from something I saw in a facebook post by someone on a weight loss journey.  They’ve been plagued by failure for years, losing every weight loss battle because she realized that she had the mindset of “I want to eat that, but I can’t have it.”  She was constantly in a state of negativity.  Then she changed a few words around and now feels like she has a handle on the journey ahead….

“I can have that, I just choose not to.”

What a concept!  I tried finding her posting again to give her credit and alas, I could not…but whoever you are ~ thank you!

Instead of looking at the dessert portion on a menu or the table full of sweets at a party, and saying, “I want that dessert but I just can’t…I’m being good.”  I can say, “I can have that dessert but I am choosing not to so I can be healthy today.” My attitude goes from a place of negativity to a place of positive thinking.  That little shift can make all the difference in how we view ourselves and the world around us.

Honestly, satan wants us to continue coming from a place of negativity so that he can veil our mind and heart away from thinking in a way that is pleasing to the Lord; to keep us from acting in such a way that is honoring to Him and giving God glory.

So how can we live from a place of positivity ~ and not be sucked into what the world calls “positive thinking.”? I think the best way we can do this is learn and know who we are and what we are called to be by the Lord.  We are created in His image, so all that He has for us is good.  He does not guarantee a perfect life and does not expect us to be perfect, but He does require obedience.  There are no tricks we have to resort to in order to follow what the Word says.  And when we don’t know what to do, we can call on the Lord at any moment and ask for His help and guidance.

Psalm 118:5-6 HCSB, “I called to the Lord in distress; the Lord answered me and put me in a spacious place. The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

I read this list in a book* recently and think it is an absolutely fantastic way to remind our self who we are and Who we belong to.  I’m going to write it below exactly how it is in the book, but I would love to challenge you to do something after you read through it once.  Read it again, out loud, and replace “I” with your name.  Personalize it as much as you can to make an imprint on your heart and mind about who you really are!  Come on…let’s do this!

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

I am being renewed daily. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

I am the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I am created to be the reflection of His glory. (Ephesians 1:12)

I am exalted to the right hand of God the Father Almighty, a joint heir to the kingdom of God with Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:17)

I am forgiven. (Colossians 1:13-14)

I am a new creature. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I am led by the spirit of God. (Romans 8:14)

I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (Ephesians 6;10)

I am above only and not beneath. (Deuteronomy 28:13)

I am more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37)

I am an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony. (Revelations 12:11)

I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

I am casting all my cares upon Jesus. (1 Peter 5:7)

I am blessed coming in and going out. (Deuteronomy 28:6)

I am an overcomer. (1 John 5:4)

I am blessed. (Ephesians 1:3)

I am called by God. (Romans 8:28)

I am provided for all things by God. (Philippians 4:19)

This is not a bunch of magic words to say and then we’ll feel better.  These are promises from God’s Word about who we are.  But He wants us to be actively participating in seeking Him.  We aren’t meant to sit around waiting for things to happen.  If we are truly seeking Him, we will be alert to the subtle ways God tries to get our attention.  Sometimes those ways are pretty straightforward, but our Heavenly Father is not about the business of bopping us on the head.  Even in trials we can find Him and experience peace.

John 14:27“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”

As you move forward in your day, be filled with peace, positive that God is for you and not against you.  That He has good plans for your life. Whatever you choose to do, choose it because you want to glorify Him.  Whatever you choose not to do, choose in order to honor the Lord in your actions.  Both of these directions will bring you good and will cause you to grow closer to the Lord in your relationship with Him.  The more intimately you understand what God wants for you, you will in turn want those same things.

You CAN do just about anything ~ but are you doing what the Lord has asked of you?  

You can WANT just about anything ~ but are you wanting what the Lord has for you?

Blessings,

    René

2 Corinthians 5 verse 17

*Seymour, Rick. “Chapter 12.” God In Your Goals: Reconciling Your Spiritual Walk with ‘success’ in the World. San Bernadino: Rick Seymour, 2015. 100-01. Print.

 

If You’re Happy and You Know it……..

I bet you’ve heard that old song, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” I’m sure you know the rest….so are you?  Is your new year’s resolution to be happy? How about just wanting to enjoy every moment?  EVERY moment…really?  Or do you want to be better?  What does that even mean by the way?  To “be better”….better than what?

I looked up “happy” in my handy-dandy bible app and found that (depending on the version you like), being happy is mentioned between 20-45 times in the Old and New Testaments.  If you are apt to take verses out of context, you could argue that God wants you to be happy.  Well, you’re partially correct.  The ways in which we can be happy are:

* When we are saved from our enemies

* When we speak with wisdom

* When we experience the goodness of God

* When we receive correction from the Lord

* When we do not follow the path of wicked men

* When we take refuge in the Lord

* When we remember that God chose us for His own

* When we care for the poor & show kindness to our neighbor

* When we find our strength in the Lord

* When we delight in the Lord and praise Him continually

* When we walk in the presence of the Lord

* When we seek the Lord with all our heart, mind, body, and soul

* When we wait patiently for the Lord

Best thing that I see in all of these references ~ it’s NOT about ME!  It’s ALL about HIM!  Is this as much a relief to you as it is to me?  I cannot be happy on my own.  I will never be able to be happy simply because I choose to be and live in such a way to make that happen.  That is not the reality in which God has laid out for us.  When we put ourselves aside, follow the Lord’s leading, and walk in the direction He has chosen for us, praising Him no matter what comes along that path, THEN we will be happy.  THEN we will have happiness that comes from a place that is beyond our control.

But really…..is it happiness that you want and are striving for?  I think the underlying emotions that we are searching for so much in our lives is that of contentment and peace.  Now, hang on to your hat….contentment and peace are absolutely intertwined with being happy. However, BOTH come from resting in the Lord and trusting Him with all your frustrations, messes, irritations, sadness, and in your joyful times too.  In all of it!

There are over 300 verses that talk about peace, and again, there is absolutely nothing you can do to gain peace for yourself on your own terms.  Same goes for the 7 verses that speak on having contentment.

One of the most difficult times in my married life is when my husband and I (along with two other amazing couples from our church) felt called by God to start up a faith-based children’s animation company.  All six of us, with greatly differing personalities, were all on board for the entire time we had our company; that this is what God had called us to.  Had we not all had the unique commitment to find our contentment, peace, and happiness in the Lord, I don’t even want to think about where we would all be today.  Little did we know that God was going to ask our three families to truly live out the verses that Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13, I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Before we started our company, my husband had a very successful career with a major animation studio ~ pulling in a generous 6 figure yearly salary + bonuses.  And we left it because God asked us to.  Not quickly, but we did jump off the proverbial cliff of faith God called us to.

The lowest financial point when we had our company, was when we had about $80.00 total (like, yeah, eighty dollars….that’s it) for the month.  And then we were invaded by ants.  I seriously, VERY seriously, HATE ants!  Long story short, although my sweet husband was angry that he would have to use his $5 allowance for lunches (think Costco $1.50 hot dog special!) to buy me a can of ant-killer spray, he did it anyway.  That day, at a VONS in town, my man walked out of there somehow only paying .05 for a huge can of Raid.  Yep…no misprint there…FIVE CENTS!  We went back to the that location several times looking for the checker that helped him find the right store promotion and use our rewards card to get this deal, and never found her again.  Angels are real people ~ we met one and she helped us kill the ants!

Relating this very small part of our story, brings tears my eyes even now as I remember the hardship we experienced.  But the tears are not because I’m sad.  The tears are not because I am disappointed that God apparently didn’t mean for our company to last.  The tears are for the joys within the trials that we learned….individually and together as a family.  I honestly wouldn’t trade what we went through because it made my faith in the Lord stronger.  It made me know beyond a shadow of doubt, that God fully and completely cares for me and what happens to me.  It taught my daughters to know that God is always there because He loves us and wants the best for us.  We learned to live out in practical ways, “for my good and God’s glory.”  He cares more about my relationship with Him, than in what my bank account says!  🙂

God’s peace passes way beyond our understanding!  Our minds are incredibly finite when it comes to such things.  I want to encourage you to look up scriptures on peace, and read them over and over again.  Ask the Lord to wash over your heart, mind, and soul with the words of His promises.  His peace comes to those whose trust is in Him; to those who believe in His words; to those who reside within the borders of obedience to Him; who are faithful to follow Him.  Then peace, no matter the circumstance you find yourself in, will envelop you like nothing else.  It doesn’t mean you are skipping down the street throwing confetti & glitter in the air.  It means that your happiness finds itself generated in the overwhelming knowledge that God calls you His own and loves you more than you know.

Oh, and God has a sense of humor!  I have a TV channel playing a contemporary Christian pop music station.  A song called, “Happy” came on and I found it on youtube, so of course, I’m adding in the link to this blog.  My favorite verse is this one:

“No, I cannot count the ways
You have made my life so blessed
All I know is that You came
And made beauty of my mess”

Isn’t that beautiful!  I love music that reminds me of the greatness of my God and how very much He cares about me.  And no wonder ~ God is the creator of music! Part of the reason is written in Zephaniah 3:17 because He had something special planning for music and it involves YOU! It says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  Just one more way that He wanted to connect with us on a spiritual level.

The days I want to simply stand in church and NOT sing, are the days I know that I MUST sing.  I can feel the groaning of the Holy Spirit calling out to me to lift my voice in praise ~ to unveil my mind from the prison of hurt, anger, or pride, and humble myself before the Lord.  There’s nothing that snaps me out of a bad mood faster than trusting my heart to a time of worship to the Lord.  The musical chords and words of the song, literally wash over my heart and shine the light of the Jesus on me!  Whew!  If you have ever had this kind of experience, you know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t ~ my friend, get to your nearest radio and find a station that plays great praise music.  I’ll listen to just about all of it, but anything from Hillsong or Bethel Music will absolutely and positively minister to you!!

So I don’t want you to be happy ~ not in the way the world calls out to our sinful nature to be happy.

I want you to be happy because you have found peace and contentment in the Lord.  Because you have found delight in honoring the Lord and in obeying the call He has on your life.  Because you have chosen to put yourself aside and step out in faith as the Lord directs.

Then, you will be truly happy!

Blessings,

René

Psalm 34 verse 8

https://www.biblegateway.com/

http://www.metrolyrics.com/happy-lyrics-ayiesha-woods.html

Do you have enough Steam?

Well, it’s January 2nd…Happy New Year and two days in already.  Do I feel ready for a new year? Do I feel prepared to do all that in rolling around in my brain to do?  CAN I do everything I want and hope to do? Do I have enough steam?  Stop the madness already!!

I was ironing a shirt the other day and didn’t feel like refilling the water tank in the iron.  No big deal…it’s still going to get hot enough to iron the shirt.  And it did…sort of.  There was enough heat to begin the job, but the steam is what completes the job.  So, I stopped, got the water pitcher and filled up the tank.  Within a few seconds, the water and the neat of the iron connected and huge plume of steam burst out of the iron ~ magic!  Now, my shirt would be ready sans wrinkles very soon.  That little transaction made me think about my life.  Yes…it did…doesn’t take much for God to make a point to get me to pay attention.

How many times this year did I use a “hot enough” iron to get the job done, when I really needed the steam?  It’s a little thing really.  How much time did it take me to fill the iron with water ~ about 20 seconds.  But I had to stop what I was doing, and I didn’t want to because I was kinda in a rush.  I didn’t want to have to concentrate on pouring water into the tiny little hole at the top of the handle area. If I didn’t concentrate though, I’d have a river of water flowing out of the iron and all over my shirt and the ironing board and then I’d have to stop and mop that mess up!  UGH! Was it worth it?  To pay attention for about a minute and do the job right?  Absolutely!

So in this new year…I’m not going to make any resolutions.  Nope.  Not gonna do it!  Because then I beat myself up when I don’t accomplish those resolution goals.  Sometimes it’s simply because I put too many restrictions on myself, or make unrealistic goals.

What I am going to do in this new year of 2016 ~ I’m going to make sure I have enough steam to accomplish what is set before me.

That “steam” is going to take a lot of different forms this year.

*Eat well & drink more water ~ this means I’ll have the energy I need for my mind and body to flow through the day.

*Bible study time ~ this means I’ll have enough spiritual energy to tackle whatever comes my way.  And not just a scheduled 15 minute “read my devotional”, but to really dig deep and fall in love with God’s Word more and more each day.  I will have to make a concentrated effort to plug in to what God is wanting to teach me so that He can pour in His living water!

*Family meal time ~ this means having purposeful time together with my sweet family.  We already do a pretty good job having dinner together every night, but I need to inject more “steam” in cooking dinner and not picking up something from a restaurant or resort to breakfast for dinner as often as I have in the past few months. (Hey…there is definitely a place for waffles and scrambled eggs for dinner….don’t get me wrong. 🙂  Just not as frequent).

*Friend time ~ this means making an actual phone call to a friend to plan a coffee or lunch date.  NOT texting back and forth to confirm it.  But go the old-fashion route of calling them and hearing their voice.

*Electronic Free time ~ this means not carrying around my phone and checking it a million times a day. We don’t have a land line, so I do need to have my cell phone close by if someone calls, but I don’t have to be holding it and looking at facebook or instagram updates every five seconds.  This will also mean that I have time to do another “old-fashioned” thing ~ it’s called writing a letter!  You know, when you get a card or just a plain old piece of paper, and write down your thoughts  and mail it to another person!  Hand written letters are a treasure ~ trust me when I tell you that if you take the time to write someone a letter (or even jot a short thought down on a postcard), the recipient will feel like royalty!!  Definitely something that will be treasured!

So, will I have enough steam this year?  My prayer is a resounding YES!!  My reality may fall short sometimes, but I’m not going for perfection.  That only happens on TV.  Everyday that I wake up, I’m going to pray and ask the Lord to show me how I can get enough steam for the day….and where to direct that steam!  Direction is very important!!  When you’re ironing a shirt, and you get your hand too close to the front of the iron & you hit that “steam” symbol button and you end up steaming your fingers…OUCH!  Or if you are ironing very fast and end up creating new creases in your shirt than when you started out with.  Those are tougher to get out than just regular wrinkles.  They seem “set in” and are so crisp and perfect.  That’s when you have to use that other button, the “sprayer” and get a larger amount of water down on that one spot, then hit it again with the hot iron and steam.

~ Concentration ~ Direction ~ Commitment ~ Time  ~

Hebrews 4:16, “Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”
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Jump into this new year and leave all the old junk in 2015!  You don’t need it and it’ll just weigh you down.  Gotta keep things light so that the steam can carry you throughout your days.  Keep your eyes on the task that God has given you and trust that He will fill you with His living water, heated by His compassion and love for you, with enough gracious direction to help you flow from one day to the next.

Happy New Year!!

Blessings,

René