Finding Rest

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

I think of the biggest struggles we all face in this day and age is exhaustion, mental, emotional, and physical.  If we don’t watch it we can become robots on steroids.  We run busily from one activity to another barely having time to eat, yet alone breathe.

I know as a mom of multiple children it is easy to get into this mode.  There’s work, church activities, parties, sporting events, etc.  We so often hear the term, “taxi mom” or “soccer mom” meaning your life is being ordered around events in your children’s lives.

There is a price to be paid for this kind of lifestyle.  Of course we all have times and seasons in our lives where we will be busy, but continually living in the “tornado mode” lifestyle will surely leave a path of destruction behind.

So how do we find rest amidst life’s craziness?  I was talking with a friend the other day and she was explaining to me that her mother once explained to her that “resting in Jesus” was like sitting down in a chair.

That picture immediately resonated with me.  I envisioned it like this, the biggest, puffiest, comfiest chair there is (possibly with seat warmers) like the fancy cars have, and then plopping down into it.  Suddenly you feel comforted, relaxed and soothed.  The weight of your body is now resting in the comfort of the “glamour chair.”

Yes, this is how it is when we rest in Jesus.  He takes the load of our burden and says come bring it to me sit in my presence while I comfort you in my love and wrap you in my security.  Jesus knew we needed rest, he commanded it.  He himself took “time outs” to get away from it all.

One of the major problems I see in life is that we have life so scheduled out, that we don’t take time to enjoy it.  Our focus gets blurry and we think we have to be continually doing something to be making progress.  Yes, we are to work, but we must also take time to rest, to live and to enjoy life and the many blessings God has given us.

Our number one priority should be taking the time to “be” with our creator.  This is in keeping “first things first” and this helps to give us the proper focus and help set priorities straight.

Living in “crazy mode” to me is not living.  It’s rather like blurring many colors together and soon there is nothing but grey.  In life we must find balance.  Balance is found when we give the first of our time to our creator and learn to rest in and continually abide in him.  Resting in Jesus is putting our full trust in him and learning to bask in His presence.  It’s a discipline like anything else in life.  It must be practiced with regularity to become a habit and then a lifestyle. Will you find time to rest “In Him” today? He wants you to sit down and take a load off!

Traveling Light

Yesterday morning I met with my dear friend Colly to take a jog along the oceanfront.  I have always enjoyed our time exercising together, but more importantly I love what a blessing she is to me and the great encouragement I always receive from our conversations.  These days I am treasuring every moment because in less than a week, Colly and her family will be leaving overseas to Taiwan to be missionaries.

As we were running we were discussing different things that were happening in both of our lives.  All of a sudden a rather large feather dropped from the sky falling to the ground between us.  It rather startled us both as we looked up, shook our heads and thought of how strange that was.

We continued to run and on the way back I stopped to pick up the feather that was still lying there on the ground.  Our discussion continued with all the many details of their trip that had fallen into place and of how exciting it was to see God working in it all.  We also discussed with a bit of sadness of what a bitter/sweet thing their soon departure will be.

Of course Colly has become one of my dearest friends and her daughter and mine are best friends as well.  Through the years our families have spend countless hours of fun times together.  We have also done a in home bible study group together for a few years now and all have grown so much in our relationships with one another and in our faith in the Lord as well.

It will be extremely hard for us to see them go, as we will miss them tremendously. But on the other hand, we are excited about how God is using them and for the work they will be doing there in Taiwan.  Our discussion continued about the thoughts and concerns for the future and what might look like and how that can sometimes bring a sense of anxiety.

At that moment still twiddling the feather between my fingers a scripture came to my mind as I shared it with my friend . . .Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Matthew 6:27

Worry, fear, anxiety we all experience them from time to time (let’s face it, we’re only human). It’s knowing how to properly handle these emotions when they arise that make all the difference.  It’s in the releasing them to God and letting him ease our burden, this is where we experience his peace.

I just recently read a post on Facebook saying something like . . .walking by faith is not always easy, but walking by faith makes all things possible (and that is the solid truth). Sometimes in our obedience to God, he asks us to do things, and sometimes to even go to unknown places. Oftentimes these things that can sometimes seem rather frightening because the unknown can be a bit scary to ALL of us.

Sometimes it’s not necessarily the doing or the going that is worrisome, but the leaving behind or letting go of the very people God has blessed us with in our lives.  This is an area where we have to execute trust and know that God is working out his purpose and plan for each of us. And that he is working all things out according to his will.  Because we don’t know the future, we have to trust the one who does.

When we are part of the family of God, isn’t the whole world our neighbors? No distance can separate the love that we share together when we are “In Christ.” We are all connected as part of the body of Christ through his spirit working within us and working out his purpose for us.

I’m SO thankful for the modern-day resources we have available to us.  Even though we may be worlds away from one another, we still can still stay connected through modern technology.  I’m thinking we have it SO much easier than the apostles did during their time here on earth.

A recent quote I jotted down from author Ann VosKamp stated it so beautifully. . . “God’s Kingdom is the only dominion with no distance, with no miles to ever separate but only extra miles to willingly go.

Thank you Lord God for the willingness and obedience of my dear friends to go to the unknown places that you have placed on their hearts.  Thank you that we can rely on your promises to ease our heavy hearts. Thank you for how you are working out your overall plan which is far beyond anything our human minds can understand.  Help us all to trust you daily, to fully rely on you.  One day at time, one hour at a time, one moment at a time.  Help us to trust that your grace really is enough. Thank you for who you are and for all you have done. Also for the gentle feather reminder of your faithfulness in every situation. You are an amazing God! We Love You! In your name we pray! AMEN

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Climbing . . . Climb On!

This was something I wrote back in November 2011 before I had a blog, thought I would re-post!

When I first met my now husband Bob, he was really starting to get into rock climbing. He would climb with his best buddy and his two sons. I remember vividly the first time they took me climbing. It was pretty exciting stuff for me, a city girl who had recently moved from Chicago to Northern California. I’ll tell you about it in a minute, but first let me first explain the method and objective of climbing.

The method they would use for climbing was called “top roping.” It is the safest method of climbing. It works by setting an anchor in the cleft of a rock at or near the summit. Then a rope is threaded through the anchor and is attached to the climber who is wearing a special climbing harness. The other end of the rope is attached to another person wearing a harness, this person is called the belayer. (The word belay means to secure of make fast.) It is the belayer’s job to keep the rope taut while the climber is making his assent. The belayer is also responsible to keep the climber safe in case of a fall.

The whole objective in rock climbing is to vertically climb up the face of a rock formation in hopes of reaching the summit or some other designated stopping point through a pre-defined route without falling. You would have to strategically pick a route and then climb looking for hand and foot placement as you make your assent.

Thinking back on my first climb, it was exciting and scary at the same time. To begin with, there is a little bit of climbing lingo you have to learn. You begin by saying the word . . .Belay and the belayer then replies with . . Belay On, meaning he has you secured. Secondly you announce that you are ready to begin climbing by saying . . . Climbing. The belayer responds by saying . . . Climb On. Sometimes moves up the rock would be easy, other times very challenging. You would have to carefully consider then next best move before making it. You need to look for crevasses or hand holds that would be big enough or secure enough to make the next move. Sometimes there would be points at which you would get stuck because there were hardly any possible hand holds.

I remember the first time I lost my grip and fell backwards, it was pretty scary.  But once I did fall, I realized that I was safely secured by the belayer below. Climbing can be a very physical and mentally straining sport. You needed upper body strength to pull yourself up and mental strength to determine the best possible route. Sometimes I would get so tired I would tell the belayer below and then let go and just fall back knowing I was secured. That would bring great relief. The times when I’ve made it to the top, there was an incredible sense of accomplishment. Then the fun part would be getting to repel back down the rock by leaning back in your harness and bouncing against the rock while the belayer slowly lets of tension on the rope as you descend.

Thinking back on my “rock climbing” adventures, it reminds me of some parallels in my walk with the Lord. As I look to God in my daily life, he helps guide me on the best possible route. Psalm 32:8 says. . .I will instruct you and teach you in the say you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Sometimes when I’ve taken my eyes off God and choose my own route, that route most times that leads to my fall.  But as long as I return to God, he in his loving grace and mercy allows me once again to begin my climb. 1 John 1:9 says . . . If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Other times I’ve come to a point where I see no possible “next move.” Proverbs 3:5 says. . .Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to thy own understanding, in all you ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. This is where God wants me to trust Him and know that whatever happens, He’s got me, he is my belayer, my sustainer. Sometimes it’s been through some of my toughest trials and falls that I’ve learned to trust God the most. And as I‘ve learned more and more about God’s true nature, it’s helped me to grow and know that God wants me to trust him in EVERY area of my life. We cannot pick and choose to trust God here and there or surrender this or that to him. He wants ALL of us and our spiritual growth depends on our surrendering and our obedience to Him.

Thank you father God for your finished work on the cross. Thank you that in that transaction you have secured me. Thank you that I can put full confidence in You. Thank you that as I look to you, that you guide my path and make my footing sure. Help me to die to self so I can be more like you. I thank you for the full assurance of my future home with you in your kingdom. To you be the glory forever and ever! AMEN

Are you on the right path?

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean to thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

The other morning, I was strolling along the beach cooling down after my morning run.  I noticed a man playing a game in the sand with what I assumed was his toddler daughter.

He was running carrying a big stick, and tracing a line in the sand.  The toddler, rolling in laughter and giggles, was running behind him at full speed. She was doing her best to stay on the exact line he was tracing.

The father sometimes ran straight and then would abruptly make wiggly, squiggly lines all the while the daughter was trying her best to stay on the line he was tracing.

At one point the daughter strayed a bit and the father lovingly went back to her and re-engaged her in their fun little game.

I couldn’t help but join in on the smiles and laughter as I watched this beautifully sweet, father-daughter scene.  It really touched my heart.  As I continued to walk on, I would occasionally glance back, only to smile once again.

This painted a vivid picture in my mind of us and our Heavenly Father.  As his children, we are to be followers of Him, following in his footsteps (1 Peter 2:21).

As believers, God gives us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is our constant companion and as we seek to walk in the spirit and follow Him, the spirit guides us unto all truth (John 16:13).

In childlike faith, God wants us to be imitators of Him. In loving trust, he wants us to follow his lead.  Daily looking to Him for guidance and direction for our lives.

When we live in childlike faith, we can cast all our cares on God because we know he is in ultimate control.  He will never steer us wrong and when we keep our eyes on him, he helps us stay on the path he has set before us.

God never promises an easy road.  It is full of twists, turns and trials along the way.  But God is there, ever before us, and he never leaves us or forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:8).  And when we lose our way (and we oftentimes do), God is there guiding us by the hand back to the place we need to be.

It’s when decide to trust God and fully surrender to him, leaning not to our own understanding  but to Christ’s lead, that we discover we are most free.  Free to be who Christ designed us to be, free to walk in love and obedience to Him and follow him along the path he has marked out for us.

The steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord.  Psalm 37:23

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Need improvement on your driving skills?

I was just recently pondering the thought that soon my eldest daughter will be old enough to operate a moving vehicle.  Ah, the thought of that is quite frightening to me. Not because she wouldn’t be competent enough to drive (she’s an awesome kid and has a great head on her shoulders) but maybe, just maybe it might be the thought that I might be getting old(er).  For goodness sake it was just yesterday that I learned to drive (or so it seems).

Ok truth is, umpteen years ago when I was taking behind the wheel I had an excellent instructor.  He would set his cup of coffee on the dashboard and would tell us that if we made his coffee spill, we would automatically flunk the course.  How’s that for a hard-nose.  He may have been a tough instructor, but he taught me a bunch of great tips that really helped me to be a skilled driver.  To this day I still impress my friends with my ability to parallel park in tight spots.

Sometimes I think that learning to drive is somewhat like learning to navigate in our faith.  As we step out in faith and get behind the wheel, here are several points that will help us to become a skilled driver.

First of all, when operating a vehicle, safety is the highest priority.  It helps to know how your car operates and all the functions of the equipment before you are in motion.  Likewise as children of God, we are to know the manual (God’s Word) and know how we are to function as his children.  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15  In order to know your stuff, you must be diligent to read up on it!

Secondly, learning to be a good and confident driver takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight but only through (behind the wheel) experience.  .  .We must . . .grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18 Again we do this by through exercising our spiritual disciplines.

Thirdly, we must obey the “rules of the road.”  In the same way God gives us rules for living.  They are for our safety and well as the safety of others.  So be careful to obey all the commands I give you. You must not add anything to them or subtract anything from them. Deuteronomy 12:32  Following the rules is a must!

Fourthly, when driving it is paramount that we always stay focused and free from external distractions.  Likewise we must keep God at the center of all we do.  So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31  If we can’t do something to God’s glory, we probably shouldn’t be doing it at all.

Fifthly, always be on the lookout for the other guy.  In our faith it is important to surround ourselves with those who are like-minded, not for those who will willingly steer us off course. He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20

Sixthly, pay attention to the blind spots.  Blind spots are areas that cannot be seen directly by the driver while behind the controls of the vehicle.  Blind spots in our faith are known areas of weakness that may cause us to stumble. Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

And last but not least, make sure the fuel tank has plenty of gas in it.  We don’t want to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere.  We cannot be effective in our faith if we go to long without refueling our faith by reading God’s word, meditating on it and applying it to our lives.

So as we get behind the wheel of faith, remember, we that have the best driving instructor ever.  He is there to teach us, to guide us and to instruct us in his ways. On this journey, we will be taken on super highways and sometimes on scenic byways.  Learn to trust the instructor fully, he will never steer us wrong and with him at our side, we will be sure to arrive safely at our final destination!