Looking Toward Possibility


“For nothing is impossible with God.”   Luke 1:37

     At our previous church in California, we hosted a week-long day camp for Vacation Bible School each summer. Every day, we would lead kids in chanting that VBS was F-U-N, and at the end, VBS was D-U-N. But one of the songs we sang that year, Nothing is Impossible, continued to play in my mind. God proved those words to me over and over during that year’s VBS, and I want to live according to that truth every day.

     As the VBS traffic directors for the first time, my husband, Brendan, and I really didn’t know what we were doing. We certainly had tremendous help from the previous director; we had the notebook containing all the guidelines for what to do and expect; and we had abundant encouragement and support from our VBS director. Still, as VBS drew closer, a bit of anxiety began to stack up against the peace I felt during the previous couple of preparation months.

     Within thirty minutes of arriving on Monday morning, I had a meltdown. My walkie-talkie wouldn’t work; I was on the wrong channel; people had questions for me, but I had no answers – AND cars we were supposed to be directing continued to steadily stream in while I struggled with my equipment and fought back frustration tears.

     Our director and her team were wonderfully helpful. They provided me with working equipment, showed me how to use it and prayed for me. Then she said something like, “Laura, VBS is going to happen. Cars will park and kids will arrive no matter what we do or don’t do. God is in control, and He will make it happen.” It clicked. Something I had known in my head shot straight to my heart, and I was able to grasp and actually believe it. What a relief!

     Then I recalled how at prep day, one of the guys had talked about the “nothing” he felt he had to offer. Like the widow with two small coins (Luke 21:2), or the boy with a meager lunch of bread and fish (John 6:9). I could relate. I felt like I had nothing to offer. No real grasp of the job I would be doing and not enough people to help us do it, but I could offer the “nothing” I had and let God make the impossible happen.

     And He did. Each day that week, God brought unexpected people to help us, and he gave us the ability to do our job. He even gave us some new ideas that were helpful. The week turned out to be—believe it, or not—easy, or at least relaxed, even in spite of some unforeseen traffic situations.

     In the years since then, I’ve attempted to live in that place of believing that NOTHING is impossible for God to make happen – in myself, in my marriage, in my family and in every aspect of life’s daily challenges. I think we can all agree that this year of 2020 has needed the hope that God will make good things happen, and nothing is impossible for Him!

No matter what the remainder of this year brings or looks like, we can be confident that God always has possibilities ahead for us. He promises that when we put our hope in him, we will not be disappointed even if circumstances bring pain, or people let us down. With God all things are possible.

Full or Empty Cup?


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Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

An empty cup can be filled, but a full cup can’t hold what God wants to pour into us.

What are we full of?

Fear, hurt, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, anxiety, dread, depression, anger?

OR

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faith, hope?

Do we fill our cup each day with “what if’s” that breed fear?

OR

Are we filled with excitement, dreams, possibilities and “God will”?

Jesus said that for all of us who are heavily burdened to come to him and trade whatever is weighing us down for his life of love, joy, peace, and hope. Laying everything down at his feet, we can let him handle our concerns and let him lead us by still waters.

Sometimes we find it hard to empty ourselves.

Pride, fear, shame, and disappointment can cause us to not trust God. We feel the need to control. But every step of faith that gives God more control yields relief and a lesser weight on us. Then we are free to let God determine our journey.

And his ways are far better than what we think we need or want.

He blows my mind with the healing, blessings, fulfilling ways my life expands and gets to touch others. His word says he gives us the desires of our hearts. I testify to the truth of that!

So today, are you empty or full? What is your cup full of?

Peace Be With You


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This week I was reading in John 21, and God spoke to me about peace. He asked me to share what he said, but first let me set the scene.

The followers of Jesus are cowering together in a room together with the doors locked.

Why?

Because their leader, who they thought was going to bring about political freedom, has been murdered. Tortured, mocked, and nailed on a tree to die for “no reason” according to the man who released him to be crucified. And even though some of them have seen him alive after he’s risen from the dead, they are hiding because people are hunting them to kill anyone who has followed Jesus.

Chaos, riots, turmoil in the streets. Fear permeating through the locked doors. Sound familiar?

And then Jesus shows up in the midst of their fear and says “Peace be with you.”

Today I heard him speak through his word and the whispers in my spirit. This is what he said:

No matter what is happening in the world right now, when I am with you, you will have peace. Do not get caught up in the drama of the times. Sit with me. Abide with me, and I will bring peace. I will cover you with peace. Not the peace the world claims void of racism and pandemics and turmoil and killing and riots, but peace outside of that, beyond it, in spite of it. Peace is not the absence of turmoil, it is my presence that is perfectly right and transcends what you can see. If you seek me, you will find me. If you trust me, you will rest in me. If you align yourself with me, it doesn’t matter what is happening in the world, you will be in peace, surrounded with peace, covered with peace. I AM WITH YOU. Peace be with you. Let me breathe on you. Live in forgiveness. Stop doubting. Stop looking for something in the world to bring you peace, just believe the I AM, and I AM with you. Peace be with you.”

May you find peace in Jesus today.

Isolation or Hibernation?


Isolate – to set or place apart; detach or separate so as to be alone.

Me at my desk

We may have to be isolated, but we don’t have to think of it as isolation. With technology, we can still connect with friends and family. We aren’t alone. When we go take walks or a drive in our 1991 Mazda Miata convertible, we see other people out and about. Even if we remain six feet apart, we are not detached DSC_0091completely from civilization.

What if we chose to think of our time as hibernation instead?

Hibernate – to withdraw or be in seclusion; retire.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

During hibernation, animals spend a season in resting, preparing, and slowing down. Their heart rate lowers, they eat less, and they are less active. Their bodies are preparing for the coming season of activity.

How does that relate to us?

What if we’re intentional about using this time to rest, slow down, focus on what matters most and prepare ourselves for a new season of activity?

Suddenly, we’ve been granted the blessing of more time with our family. Outside activities have come to a standstill. We have time to rest and reset our priorities.

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cropped-20170720_195840.jpgAnd I believe we’ve been called by God to turn our eyes to him. Seek his face. He longs for a personal, spend-time-with-me relationship with us. Jesus gave his life so we could have life. Forever with him. Whether that eternity comes now or ten years from now, the time in between is still full of hope, life, joy, peace and loving kindness with him. All characteristics we need at a time like this.

So maybe we simply need to embrace a different definition of this season. Spring always comes after winter. New strategies will arise through the creativity God placed in us. Life will continue, even in sorrow and loss. Let’s turn our hearts to the one who loves us best and most and find comfort, hope and peace in his arms.

Love Dispels Fear


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“Perfect love casts out all fear.”

I know the Bible tells me this, but there are times when I’m still afraid.

Maybe fear comes from a job loss, a diagnosis of illness or an approaching storm. We can feel afraid when the power goes out, a car swerves into our lane or our child isn’t home on time.

And while some fear is a God given way of keeping us safe, living in a state of fear is not what God intended.

He wants for us to be so intimately acquainted with him that we trust he’s got our back no matter what.

Knowing God loves us causes us to feel safe. In his love, we become who he created us to be. He loves us no matter what we’ve done or neglected to do. His acceptance of us, as his wonderfully made sons and daughters, drives away fear.

Remembering what he says in his word and holding fast to those promises of faithful love will banish fear in those situations which threaten us.

I must keep choosing to stand on his word because it is true. All else is a lie.

And in that place, in his presence, fear evaporates. Peace comes. I can rest.

Contentment or Settling?


I’ve always struggled with settling.

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But I believe God is teaching me that being content doesn’t mean settling.

God is the God of more.

He takes us from glory to glory and tells us Jesus came to give us an abundant life.He says he wants to prosper us and provide for us according to all the riches in Christ Jesus.

 
 
Not just in our finances, although his word makes it clear that he desires that for us, but in every area of life he wants us to be rich.
 
In relationship, creativity, passion, love, kindness, goodness, peace and joy – all of the fullness of who he is, he wants to bestow on us.
 
And yet, we settle.
 
We think that good enough is good. That mediocre will suffice. There couldn’t possibly more, could there? Isn’t that what it means to be content?
 
I don’t think so.
 
In the Bible, Paul tells us he learned to be content in all circumstances. He wrote that from a prison cell after being beaten. But he had also been rich in his day as well. He said he knew both and could settle into each one with contentment knowing that in each situation, God had more.
 
As I consider the meaning of contentment, I think of God creating the world and saying “it is good” at the end of each day even when he wasn’t finished yet. He was still building something, but was able to lay it down each day with a sense of rest and peace knowing more was to come.
 
Can I do that? I believe that describes contentment.
 
Lord help me to live in a place of contentment today. And each day.

Doing vs Being


DSC_0141It’s easier to do something than it is to be honest.

Think on that for a second.

God puts it this way:

“For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule, a little here, a little there. Very well then…God will speak to this people, to whom he has said, ‘This is the resting place; let the weary rest,’ and ‘This is the place of repose,’ but they would not listen. So then, the word of the Lord to them will become Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there – so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured.” Isaiah 28:10- 13

Sometimes we just want to have something to do. To have a rule to follow. A formula for getting us were we want to go. A quick fix.

That’s what religion is, isn’t it?

Give us a list of rules. Let’s get caught up in the rituals. Then we don’t really have to face the truth about ourselves or the fact that God is speaking to us. Calling us into a relationship with him.

Because relationships require honesty. Vulnerability. Uncovering ourselves and baring our hearts with their scared, broken places and fears. With our weaknesses and selfish motives and pride. With our two-year-old “I want this” attitudes.

It’s easier to simply eek out an hour every other Sunday. Or throw a five dollar bill in the offering bucket. Displaying a Bible on the coffee table or bookshelf proves we’re religious, right? We certainly will celebrate Christmas and Easter–the important holidays about Jesus.

The crazy thing is, maintaining religion is exhausting. But God calls us to rest.

God never planned for us to get caught up in a religious facade. Proving ourselves better than our neighbor because of the fish sticker on our car or the way we vote. He didn’t give us a list of rules and rituals to keep in order to earn a place in heaven someday.

Maybe. If we’re “good” enough.

God loves and longs for us. The children he created. And he simple asks us to be with him in his presence, resting there, listening to him, enjoying him and who he made us to be. He asks us to be.

And he wants us free.

When we get stuck in doing and living by rules or formulas, we “fall backward” in life. We become captured and ensnared. Doing the same thing, in the same ways. The way we think is best. But it doesn’t ever pan out.

Ever feel like that? Like life just isn’t working?

I’ve been there before. Striving to figure out what to do next but never really getting ahead or feeling free. Exhausted, striving, empty.

“…for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.”  (vs 15)

Sometimes we think we’re doing all the right things, but we’ve believed a lie. We’ve embraced a falsehood because it’s easier than being honest. It’s easier than letting go of our own understanding or pride. But the very place we’re hiding has become an exhausting trap.

God’s answer is simple.

He tells us to come to him in our weariness. He wants to exchange our way of thinking for his. His was is easy, light and comes with humility. He tells us to stop leaning on our way of thinking, but instead, acknowledge him–that he is God and knows best.

That is where we find a place of repose.

Peace. Rest. Freedom. Surrendering ourselves to Jesus. To simple be with him and be ourselves. Flaws, scars, weakness and broken places. He loves us no matter what and doesn’t require do and do, do and do.

Just an acceptance what he’s already done for us.

5 “Steps” to Peace


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I don’t believe in formulaic approaches to a life with God.

God’s too vast and creative to limit him to five easy steps. But he’s also pretty obvious about simple actions that set us up for success in life. Sometimes in my Bible reading, I discover he’s given us  some clear-cut ideas that will bring us good.

God’s all about good for us.

Recently, while reading in the book of Matthew, these simple truths jumped out at me. God didn’t write them as a list, but I found a list as I read. A simple, uncomplicated, set of actions that ultimately lead to peace. Here goes…

  1. BE who you are – God tells us we are chosen, beloved, children. He cares more about being in relationship with us than what we do for him. He made us each with unique personalities and traits. Learn to “just be.” If we don’t know who we are, we can ask him. He’ll tell us.
  2. GO where God leads – God will tell us what steps to take, where to take them and when to go if we ask. Once we learn to rest in being, God will lead us into action that fulfills desires he puts in our hearts, blessing us and those around us.
  3. WAIT – sometimes we have to wait for God to tell/show us what our next steps are. Sometimes he gives us a step and then we wait for the one after that. While we wait, we can remember to BE.
  4. REST in God’s presence – God’s got us covered so whether we’re being or going/doing, the results are always on him. If we follow his lead, we can trust him to take us in the best direction. Sometimes circumstances may not look like what we expect or even want, but if we rest in him, trusting he knows the bigger picture, we will end up in a good place.
  5. GIVE back – when we learn or experience something, we can give what we have to someone else to help or encourage them. If we keep what we learn, we stagnate. Think river flowing rather than Dead Sea.
  6. THANK – give glory and honor to the God who loves, leads and covers us. When tough stuff happens, we cry out to God, but when good stuff happens we can tend to forget the God who cares for us. And, thanking God even in the midst of difficulties reminds us of how big God is and helps us trust him no matter what our situation looks like.

While God doesn’t give us a formula for following him, he does offer some simple (not always easy, but simple) steps to gain more freedom in our lives. As I focus on these, I find my internal life becoming less complicated even if external circumstances aren’t.

But isn’t that what peace is all about?

 

So What About the Goals I Set?


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I don’t often do this.

While I’m always honest in sharing my heart here, I don’t always give all the details of my life. Usually, it doesn’t serve a purpose to talk about me apart from what I’m learning that may be helpful to others.

But this post is different.

On occasion I read back through my journals to see what God has done, how I’ve changed or where I still need work on something God’s been teaching me. This week I had some time to do that and found some words I had written that I felt God had spoken to me.

 

Words about goals, plans and schedules.

It seems so appropriate for this time of year when we’re all struggling to get a handle on our New Year’s resolutions or goals for the year. When maybe we wonder what we were thinking when we planned on that situation being accomplished or expected a particular thing to work according to plan.

Here’s what I believe God told me…

“Set a schedule, set goals, make plans, but let Me rule and lead you within that. Those things aren’t wrong, but they can’t consume you so that you forget your God first. So I will destroy your goals and plans and anything you set as more important than me – your marriage, life, children, business, books, job, etc.

When you can live intentionally while letting me direct you, you will find peace and success.

I want good for you. I have good for you, but I must be first and you must allow your goals and plans to fall or bow to me. I will restore you because I restore. I will provide because I provide. If you look to your goals and plans as security, it will come to nothing.

I know you try to put Me first. You give Me first fruits. You spend time with Me and in My presence. You ask for wisdom and for Me to lead you. All good – BUT then you look to your plans and despair if I lead you outside of them.

And you ignore Me when I speak. When I tell you what to do, you decide what you want instead or what you “feel” like doing or not doing. That is not letting Me lead you. When you disregard your plan for your own whims, that is not allowing Me to lead you either.

But if you are completely submitted and surrendered to Me, you don’t have to be afraid. I will lead you in ways that are good.”

My response?

I’m so sorry, Lord. Please forgive me. I feel my prideful heart rise up with objections. “I don’t.” “I’m not.” “I didn’t.” But the truth is clear and the fact that resentment comes means I’m doing exactly what you say I am.

When I don’t heed your lead, I’m lost indeed. 

The truth is, I can’t ask God to lead me and then question His leading and pull to do my own thing.

Goals and plans are good. Even God tells us to make plans. God is a planner. He planned for the temple with great precision. He gave plans to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. And He planned for his son, Jesus, to come to us to make a way for us to have relationship with him restored by his planned death and resurrection.

Now there’s a plan!

But God’s plans prevail. God makes our plans succeed. God is the one who goes ahead of us and behind – he was and is and is to come so he’s already been where we are and where we’re going. Why wouldn’t we ask him to clue us in and lead us in the best way?

I didn’t plan to write this today.

But God must believe that someone out there can be helped, blessed or encouraged by God’s words to me. So I’m going with his plan today.

From my heart to yours.

What are some ways you keep surrendered to God and focused on his plans?

What Are Your Next Steps?


Mt Hermon Canopy ToursWe’re well into the new year and everywhere we hear about people failing in their resolutions.

How discouraging is that?

It’s as if we expect to dive in for a few weeks and then abandon our resolve until next year. Setting ourselves up mentally for failure doesn’t seem like the best way to tackle the new year. I’d like to know my forward momentum will carry me…well, forward.

So what if our success isn’t so much about setting goals as it is setting our hearts in the right place?

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”    Psalm 73:26

How weak are our resolutions and will power? Pretty pitiful. But when we start with God as our focus, our steps will fall into place each day. Whether that is in our work, taking care of our bodies, changing our attitudes, or being a better parent.

We can set goals…

Or we can set our heart on God and let him direct our steps. Consider some of these wise words from Proverbs:

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” 19:21

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” 16:9

“…a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” 14:15

I’m finding that when I wake each morning and ask God what he has for me today, he leads me through his word, circumstances, something a friend says, song lyrics, a nudge to my heart to do something or even whispered words in my head. And no amount of resolutions can top that.

I’m not saying goals are bad or wrong.

I believe in being intentional with our lives and goals are part of that. But I believe even more that God has the final word on what is best for my life and how best to bring good to others so by all means, we write down some goals for the year. But each day, asking him for direction fulfills more than just the resolutions.

Peace reigns in that place.

God reminds us in the Bible to “Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts… “(Col.3:15) and I’ve found that his peace rules when I seek him first and let him direct my steps each day. No matter what happens, if I’m focusing on him, it will end up being successful.

How are your resolutions coming?