[surrender]

Surrender – it is a dirty word to this rebellious spirit.  It means giving up control and I love being in control.  My body starts to go into mini convulsions when I feel like I am not in control or when I see control slipping through my hands.

It is not easy surrendering to Jesus, but it is so worth it.  He is so much more capable of handling situations than I am anyway.  I am learning this more and more everyday now that my oldest baby has flown the coop, albeit temporarily.  I cannot control where he goes, whom he hangs around, and who he chooses to listen to.  I can only trust that God loves him much more than I do and that everything we tried to teach him growing up is enough to help him make good decisions.  God has a plan for his life, and His plan is better than anything I could ever imagine, I know it.

This reminds me of Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  Abraham surrendered everything a second time.  First, he left everything he knew to go to a place that God had not even shared.  Now God was asking him to do the unthinkable.  However, Abraham knew without any doubt that God keeps His promises and that He had promised Isaac as his heir.  He may not have known how God would fulfill that promise but he trusted that He would somehow.

Surrendering my heart has been a journey, learning to give everything over to Him, instead of handling myself.  It’s always easier if we do it ourselves, right?  Maybe if I want the towels folded in a certain way, it is easier if I do it myself.  But does having the towels folded in a certain way really matter?  Does it teach my children anything if I do everything myself because I’m just that particular about how the towels are folded?

It sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  Maybe that’s how God feels when we try to do things our own way, whether it’s out of wanting control or just being too comfortable where we are.  I want to be uncomfortable; I want to surrender everything I have to the One who gave it all for me.

[simplify]

I have been praying over what word God would speak over me for 2018. Or if He would give me a word at all. Is it that important to focus so much on a word? Nevertheless there were three words that came to me…trust, forgive and unplug.

I dissected each word and why it would be important for my life in 2018. Trust is something I struggle with and it has affected my relationships over the years, especially with other women. I find it hard to open up and share the sacred pieces of my heart. But God has put a few women in my life over the last year that He has entrusted to me. Not all of them have blossomed the way I envisioned but one has and I am very grateful for His favor.

Forgiveness has been hard. My husband and I have been hurt over the last few years by someone in a leadership position in our church. Oh don’t get me wrong…we share in some of the blame but the relationship is superficially reconciled, but not what it used to be. I’m not sure it ever will be. It has affected our ministry but I’m tired of the bitterness in my heart and am ready to trust God with that person.

Unplug refers to how much time I spend on social media. And while much of who I follow and much of what I read is on spiritual things, it is still a distraction from my relationship with Jesus, my family and friends.

I came across this quiz by Dayspring to help determine your one word for the new year. You answer a few questions about what you want in 2018 and it spits out a word. I took the quiz hoping it would confirm one of the three words above. But it didn’t. It brought back “simplify.”

I pondered on that word most of yesterday. It wasn’t what I was thinking of at all. But then it started to make some sense. My life has been complicated by unforgiveness, bitterness, social media and a fear of going deeper in my relationships. Simplifying, decluttering my life, could help with all three areas.

Opening up my home more often and inviting others in, not only for dinner or dessert, but for meaningful conversation and building life long friendships. Of course this means decluttering my house to be able to invite others in so they have a place to sit down.

Simplifying my heart or uncluttering it will be more difficult. It will take effort and a lot of prayer for God to “create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10 CSB). I will be reading through the Bible this year. I’ve read through the Bible before but this will be the first time reading it in chronological order. Focusing on the Word, I know my heart will be softened and I will be able to hear from Him more clearly. Simplifying social media (or reducing it significantly) will help to make more time for more important things.

So my one word for 2018 will be simplify. Happy New Year!

[revise]

Today is day 24 of the write 31 challenge and I haven’t done a great job at all.  I started out strong in week 1 and floundered after that.  But the very wise Kate Motaung said, “just write.”  So here I am, starting again and revising my outlook on this challenge.  It’s ok to miss a day, or a week, but we get back up and start again.

I like the five-minute Friday challenge because it really is a challenge to just write for five minutes and be satisfied with the words.  I find myself revising my words over and over again to get them just right.  I question whether what I wrote really came out as I intended, or is it just a rambling of words that aren’t connected?  I think I think too much.

So for the rest of the challenge I will just write and fight the urge to revise my thoughts.

[write]

I have so many thoughts in my head and I think about putting them on paper (or a blog), but when I sit down to write out my thoughts, many times I draw a blank, even when I’m only supposed to write for 5 minutes.

I had this grandiose idea that I would start a blog and just write.  It really serves more as a public diary more than anything else, I guess.  I find it hard to “promote” my own words through social media.  It seems like bragging, but it’s probably more about a fear of self-promotion, or worse, no one reading what I write.

After finishing graduate school this summer and writing more than I ever wanted, I learned that I can write.  Now I just have to pray and see what God wants me to write about.

[hold]

I remember holding you for the first time twenty-one years ago today. After 9 months of holding you in my womb, you were finally here. You made me a Mom. I would hold you as you nursed and as I rocked you to sleep.

As you grew into a toddler, you would hold my hand as we walked anywhere. You would never leave my side back then.

As you grew into a teenager, you didn’t hold my hand like you used to but I knew how you felt.

As you’ve grown into a young man, I hold you close to my heart and in my prayers every day. I love you.

[story]

What is my story? To me, it’s not very exciting. I had a great childhood, graduated high school and college, got a good job, got married, bought a house and had three kids. Sounds like the American dream, doesn’t it? But is that story good enough? By most people’s standards, it probably is. But if I think about what God’s story for me is, is it still good enough?

Every decision we make in our story should be a result of much prayer and time with the Lord, but what if they weren’t? I did not become a believer until my late twenties, so the decisions I made prior to that were out of my own power, not as a result of prayer. Some were great decisions that I wouldn’t change, but others I might. But I know that God knows our story from before He formed us in the womb. He can use every decision and outcome of our story for His good to make His name known. My desire is that my life today, my decisions today, will make His name known.

[trust]

I have struggled with trust most of my adult life.  As a perfectionist, I find it difficult to let my guard down and open my heart to others.  I lead a weekly ladies Bible study for years, but have really stayed in the facilitator role and encouraged the ladies to share their hearts while hiding mine.

Over the last two years God has burdened my heart to disciple other woman.  God has brought three woman into my life over the last year.  All three are strong Christian women and my relationship with all three has been different, but each in their own way have helped me to open up and trust certain areas of my life to each of them.

This has helped me tremendously to be a better facilitator and to trust that God has a purpose for me to not only love on these women and listen, but that God can use my experiences if I trust Him to guard my heart.

Relationships are messy but so worth it.

[hope]

This week has been tough. So many things happening in our country and the world. I wonder what the future holds for my children and future grandchildren. Will they live in country that is more unified than divided? I hope so. Will the violence around the world become less? I hope so.

Will this fallen world turn to Jesus? I hope so.  Our hope only comes through Him.

Scripture tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We can’t see the future, but my faith tells me that whether the things I hope for happen on this earth or in the heavenlies, they will happen because God is good and He is faithful.

[create]

Genesis 1:27 tells us that God created us in His image. What does that really mean? We are not God nor will we ever be. I wonder what the earth would be like if the Fall had never happened and everyone was in a right relationship with Him and we lived in Paradise. Of course He knew His creation would screw up but He loved us anyway and He so desires a relationship with us. But it has to be our choice. 

How many creations do I have? Have I created a perfect life, marriage, kids? Have I created a perfect image on social media? No, none of that exists no matter how hard we try to make others, or even ourselves, believe so. And adding #blessed to our tweets and don’t cut it either. 

What I desire to create most is time with my Lord and Savior, worshipping Him, praising Him in the good times and the bad. I want to create an atmosphere in my home, my family, my job, and all that I come in contact with, that radiates His light. 

I have a long way to go, but I know if I am obedient to His will, He will give me the desires of my heart.

[tell]

I was struggling with what I could share with the prompt “tell.”  Unfortunately I received tragic news this afternoon that has given me some words.  I work with a basketball ministry that serves kids mainly from subsidized housing complexes.  Every Saturday night, these beautiful kids hear the Gospel and have an opportunity to respond. Some are there just to play basketball, but many are there for “church.”  They are hungry for the Word. 

One of our precious 6 year old little boys was hit by a car last night and passed away. I had to tell a few people today about what happened and ask them to pray for this sweet boy’s family. When I get home tonight I have to tell my 14 year old daughter what happened.  She works with this age group every week and I know her heart will be broken, just like mine is broken right now. 

What will we tell people when they ask how God could let this happen?  We will tell them that while we don’t understand God’s ways, we know He works all things out for good.  That probably won’t make them feel any better right now, but we will tell them about Jesus and how much He loves them and how much they need Him.  My prayer is that they will receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior and one day they will see His hand in all of this. 

Go and tell someone today about Jesus.