Friday, February 28, 2014

Legacy: What do I have to offer my kids (pt.1)

I imagine I will have a lot more to add to this topic in the future. It's such a full topic, one that means a lot to me.

But for today, I am excited because we just ordered Financial Peace University JR for the kidlets. Financial Peace University has been such a blessing and tool that the Lord has used to free us as a family, in more ways than one, and I am excited to learn how to relay these principles to my kids on their level.

For this to be part of how they view money and stewardship from the beginning.

A sure foundation for them to build on.

And to be honest, usually when I think God gives me something to teach the kids, I end up learning something new as well. So, looking forward to what the Lord has to show me.

Yay for awesome resources to empower parents, and double yay when you find them on sale! :)

PS-If you ever want to hear how the Lord has used FPU in our lives, I'm more than happy to talk about it. We're passionate for what it has meant for our lives, and also how we have had the privilege of seeing God use it in others as well through 3 years of coordinating the program.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Gift of Expectancy

I woke up with an expectant heart this morning. It's apparent the Lord is moving and I have this sense of excitement and anticipation. I honestly can't wait to see what He has in store.

This is not the norm, by the way. I don't often have very focused Kingdom eyes. I usually struggle with seeing only what is right in front of me and the minute details of my situations. I miss the forest for the trees often (or however that saying goes).

However, this morning is different. Evidence of the Holy Spirit moving. Exciting.

So, I started looking up about expectancy. I want to cling onto this new-found and often scarce creature and let it really take hold of me as well.

And I ran across these quote:
Rather than having expectations, remain expectant.

"Rather than having expectations, remain expectant."

Rather than having expectations, remain expectant.
Rather than having expectations, remain expectant.
Rather than having expectations, remain expectant.
Rather than having expectations, remain expectant.
"We need to be expectantly waiting to see what God will do next." (Source Unknown)
The post went on to talk about how we often focus on our unanswered questions and seemingly unanswered prayers, making the object of our focus more of what we think needs to happen instead of just waiting for the Lord to move. (Letting Him move in the ways that He desires and sees fit.)

Again, the Lord bringing me back to the concept of focus and how important it is that I pay attention to what I fix my eyes on. (Hebrews 12:1-2) Maybe after two years of this passage, it will finally start to take root in my heart and bring some new life.

It also made me think about this.

One of the enemy's schemes, at least a big one in my life, is to make me lose sight of Hope (Jesus) and that things can change. Deception that things will always be like this, never improve, light will never break through, I will never overcome this specific obstacle/struggle/relational issue/whatever.

BUT, Jeremiah 29:11 reminds me that God has been and is still moving on my behalf.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

This goes hand-in-hand with the amazing privilege and opportunity I have to pray, to ask the God of the heavens and earth to do His thing.

To redeem. To save. To heal. To bind. To forgive. To give us strength and power. Life.

Will you join me in this?

And then let us sit back and watch Him do it.

(Maybe not in the ways I expect, so I better ask Him for eyes to recognize His answers as well). :)

So, today I am thanking the Lord for the gift of expectancy. For the awesome reminder that with the Lord, anything is possible for Him and that the One that is in me is greater than the one in this world, able to do immeasurably more than I could even think to ask or imagine. (1 John 4:4) (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Radical Faith

I ran across an inspiration point today:

"Radical faith looks a lot like faithfulness." - Sarah Bessey

And it got me thinking about this year of embracing that God has called me to. 

About being faithful with what He has put in front of me, what some days may look small (depending on my perspective and heart's focus), and what other days I recognize as truly monumental.

I have recently been perusing some old journals, even back to my college days, and have seen how long I have been striving to find 'my calling,' this one thing that the Lord purposed for me to do, this one thing that offered a sense of identity and meaningfulness and security. 

I grasped at some many ideas. It's actually quite humorous, this far removed, to see the wide spectrum of speculations I had of this thing that the Lord has doing in my life.

Somewhere along the way, I believed the lie that there needed to be this one thing. This pillar I could cling to that would tell me

who I am
and what I was worth
and what I had to offer. 

Little did I know that He was there the whole.entire.time. 

It was the moments and seasons of confusion, when the latest 'thing' didn't work out and I was left once again clueless, that I would catch a glimpse of the True Thing.

That Jesus was there, pursuing me fervently despite my fickle heart. He was calling me to see His love for me, to know that He was there for me to cling to. To tell me that

I was His
and I was worth His death
and that I now had Life to offer others. 

If I would but partake. Receive. Accept Him as the One thing I had been searching for.

My idea of radical faith, with my perspective on the water walking and not the Jesus that Peter was walking to, was and still is an idol.

If I would stop and just ask myself some questions, maybe I would have recognized it earlier.

Do I think that Peter wanted to show off for the other guys in the boat?
Did he have something to prove?
Or was he just so compelled to be with this Jesus that he couldn't stay where he was, even if it meant doing something crazy?

And what about the moments that led up to this event?
What about the faith-building steps of obedience and recognizing that Jesus was the One he were looking for, had been waiting for?
Why was he in the boat in the first place?

Because he had been with Jesus that day and Jesus had sent them on ahead. He had been walking with Him - abiding - and so this was just the next step of faith for Peter to take (although a bold one, for sure, but from what I gather, that was who God had made Peter to be).

So, it just makes me think about how sometimes even the good stuff gets way to much weight in my mind and heart.

What if the most amazing radical faith walk I can ever have is to do the mundane tasks that are right in front of me, to the best of my ability, in love, with Jesus.

There may never be anything 'exciting' about it that calls for others' attention, but the more I get to know Jesus, the more exciting and meaningful I am finding those 'little' things to be. Because He is there with me. And I get to see Him in them.

They aren't so little anymore. My perspective has changed. When I choose to focus on what the Lord has entrusted to me right now - not guessing about future tasks or looking back at previous pursuits - their weight and purpose have grown.

As I embrace my life, I gain this wonderful new front-row perspective where I glimpse things I wasn't in position to see before.

Beautiful hidden treasures the Lord has entrusted to me.
Priceless pearls I hope to store away in my heart and ponder over them for the rest of my life. 

For me, a radical faith would look a lot more like consistently setting my eyes on Jesus in the midst of a world (and a heart) that constantly beckons for me to turn my attention elsewhere. That I would stay with Him. Find my home in Him. Lay down my head and rest there, in His Presence. Build my nest at His altar. Psalm 84:3 (Thank you, Shelley Giglio).

I pray that the Lord can grow that kind of faithfulness in me.

For those of you that know me, you would know. That would be pretty darn radical.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Faithful Grace: Embracing Builds Muscle

I did something hard last week -something new, something a few months ago I wouldn't have even considered, let alone committed to.

And even though it was hard and I was tired (physically, emotionally, mentally), in some ways it was exhilarating.

This may be no big deal for some of you more adventurous types.

But for me, yep. Biggie.

AND I embraced it.

Despite all the change that we have currently experienced and are still settling from, I chose to do something different. Why not? What's a little bit more newness, right?

Before you get the wrong impression and think I'm just using my blog to toot my own horn (or whatever comparable saying might sound a little cooler here), let me explain where I am going with this.

There will always be something that is intimidating, no matter how adventurous and bold you are. There is something that threatens you, that maybe you avoid or push to the back of your mind anytime it pops up. But it's there all that same, gnawing at you and whispering lies that you aren't _________(good enough, talented enough, loved enough, etc.) to possibly considering doing the thing.

And whether we realize it or not, when we allow a lie to persist in our hearts and minds like that, it affects us.

Anything that does not line up with the Word of God in us will lead us away from what the Lord has for us, the abundant life that He so graciously offers through His sacrifice on the Cross and through His Holy Spirit.

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5

And what does this knowledge of God include?

That we are more than conquerors through Christ.

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39

"nor anything in all creation" - that pretty much covers it.

*Let me make one thing clear. I am not saying that because we are more than conquerors in Christ that this means that we will achieve the results we desire every time we step out and tackle what lies outside of our sweet, precious comfort zones.

What I am saying is that if we dig deep enough, I believe what we will find is that it's not really the thing that we're afraid of, but more the thought of the potential failure associated with it (whatever that looks like for you).

And why is failure so bad? Because I believe that somewhere deep down we equate failure with these statuses:

I am deficient.
I am undesirable.
I am unworthy.
I have nothing to offer.
I am unacceptable.
I am unlovable.

Maybe it's just me, but I have fed into the lie for far too long that I needed to accomplish or 'do' in order to be acceptable, in order to be really loved.

But that's not what my God says.

He says that Christ did what I couldn't, and that Christ is the final word over my life.

"It is finished."

No more need to try to do what I was never able to do for myself in the first place.

And because of this AMAZING salvation that I'm offered through Christ, I now also gain the freedom to try new things.

I may fail, but ultimately, it doesn't change my status in Him.
So - that was my BIGGEST take-away from this past week. But here are a few more related ones that I gleaned as well.
  • When I step out and try something new,  it is no longer as intimidating.
    There is a level of intimidation that only comes from the unknown. Once we've experienced something -gotten close enough to examine it and grapple with it, there is knowledge that comes from that experience that helps you stand up to those feelings of intimidation and put them in their place. The Lord shows up and gives you a greater glimpse of Himself and who you are in Him. And therefore, they are no longer quite as intimidating.
  • When I don't avoid hard situations, I learn how to maneuver them better.
    No huge real revelation here. We learn from experience. If you've been down a path once, it's easier to know your way the next time. HOWEVER, there is quite a difference between knowing this intellectually and actually walking it out. Easy to say, harder to practice.
  • When I step out of myself and my natural skill-set, I experience God's faithfulness and grace. Faithful Grace.
    I just love the sound of that. And it's true. When I am no longer relying on my own personal strengths, it gives the Lord room to show up and show out in and around my life. If I choose to get my eyes off myself and my immediate circumstances, and focus on Jesus, then I get to experience Him in a new way.

Each new, intimidating, hard thing I face offers a new step that I get to take with my Savior. He promises to be an Ever-Present Help in time of need, to never leave me or forsake me.

He is my Constant Companion.

If the Lord is for us, who can be against us?

So here is a victory yell for anyone that has stepped out of their comfort zone lately!

We all need to celebrate the little victories. Sometimes that is where we gain the most ground against the enemy and against our own fears, and where the Lord does some of His greatest work in and through us.

Don't underestimate the little things.

I'll close this with a personal challenge from me to you, in love (which I am taking myself as well):

Ask the Lord to reveal an area of your life that you may be shying away from out of ________ (fear, feelings of insecurity or inadequacy, past failure, etc), and ask Him to go with you through it. I'm not talking mammoth steps here, unless that is where the Lord leads you, but rather something small that will help build your faith and trust in the Lord as you experience His faithful grace through it.

And I pray, sincerely, that God will bless you through it. I believe it brings His heart joy when we ask Him to reveal more of Himself to us, and we put ourselves in situations for Him to grow our faith.

And if you are so bold, I would love love love to hear about it. My comment section is always open - I would offer you a cup of coffee as well if that were possible!

(While I was writing this post, this song was playing through my head and I added to my rotation as my own little personal theme song. Find one for yourself that you can cling to as you pray and step out!)