If you have ever had the pleasure of pulling up beside me in traffic - you might have witnessed what you thought was an audition for The Voice - right from the driver's seat! Nope- just getting my singing on - and sometimes my latest dance moves, too- depending on the day, my mood, and of course the beat ! My car is always noisy- from tunes turned up, my boys bantering in the back seat or my concerned husband giving drivers' education in the most loving way of course -
lots of distractions - just like my daily life - noisy - What needs volume MAX? - What needs to be muted ?
About two weeks ago, as I was thinking about an upcoming blog post - God gave me "Make a JOYFUL noise- but also LISTEN to the JOYFUL noise " _ i have been asking for clarification or direction. Hands open- listening -
Over the weekend - I received a text containing words that weren't so uplifting to me - the noise of disappointment and failure were loud to me then - joy on mute. As I tried to choose self control in my reaction- pulling from what God is teaching me about my value in Him and my choice of how deep words land on my heart - I turned to the radio in my car on way to work. Hands open, tears in my eyes, I chose to worship - to make a JOYFUL noise - louder than that of the words in that text. As I lifted - shouted - my words of praise to the song- my attention was removed from hurt - to awe of Jesus - His healing presence- His love for me - worship was projected - and love was received !
Often times, we may not feel joyful in our own daily lives- we are trapped in our own personal circumstances - but open your ears - to your community of friends or others who are experiencing joy. Listen to what God has orchestrated in their life this week - rejoice at the birth of a new baby, be thankful for simple provision, listen for the simple joys in what your children are telling you about their day on the playground or how they stood up for their friend today at school, listen for their singing worship songs to help them overcome fear - Listening for the JOYFUL NOISE of God and HIS people - its contagious - it should not be missed - listen to the whispers of answered prayers in the making that may go unnoticed if the worldly noise is too loud!
May we lift our hearts up in joyful worship and praise - not looking down with whiny hearts - facing up in worship we declare JOY in our hearts - not unrest and dissatisfaction ! Get your JOYFUL NOISE ON!
If you are currently in ANY stage of parenting, I feel certain you feel as if you are on repeat when talking about self-control to your little people. I know we are ! My boys are probably as tired of hearing it as we are of saying it some days. There is no area of life or no relationship that is immune to the need for self control. Holding your strong, piercing words, controlling your body movements (even the small ones you don't think others can see), and reigning in the attitude (my personal fave) are evidence of learned self control. In school, home, the athletic field, in the workplace - including the eventful staff meetings, in marriage interactions and in friendships - God desires us to use self control - He teaches us this throughout His word. We drive home the power of our actions and words towards others.
But what about the waves of words and actions coming towards us - crashing in to us ? There are not from us - not within our reach or grip - yet launched TO us. Maybe they are a results of what we did or said - or maybe NOT - they can be uplifting, encouraging, healing, humbling- but I want to know what you do with the ones meant for damage - the ones that pierce - the ones that have power to change us - and not for the better.
Has there every been any doubt about the power of words? We have all been wounded.
"The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Proverbs 12:18-19
They are the same as a weapon - they injure - they penetrate our very soul. Many leaving wounds. So if we are not able to control the actions of others towards us, how should we respond ?
Remember, they are TO us but DO NOT define us.
Without a doubt, I have a damaged self with wounds from others' words, actions or anger towards me - some from those closest to me. I have allowed words from others to build tall, sturdy walls of shame and guilt as they have been allowed to take residence in my heart. They have replaced what I know to be true about me. The walls must be torn down - if not they will promote fear, inhibit relationships, fertilize anxiety- it gets heavy. The walls become a fortress we hide behind- not living in the freedom God desires for us as His children.
No one chooses our value other than Our Creator - and He was sure to show us our value when He sent His Son to die for us. Every action, response and those tiny, whispered thoughts should be rooted in His love for us. Again, God desires for us to live in the fulfillment of our being His creation - not the murky depths of others words, actions or thoughts towards us. In the same way, we should use our own words and actions - using self control - to give freedom, encouragement and love to one another - helping them to know and claim their value in Christ Jesus.
Live in the Truth - Speak the Truth - our words will either help to heal or to destroy. Choose carefully both the words we speak to others' hearts and the words or actions we allow to settle on our own hearts.
How would our stories as adults (or our childhood) look different, if only our parents had been honest with themselves? What if they had pursued the Lord's desires for their heart? What if when they desired change in the family they had started with themselves rather than point fingers - or even some choosing to walk away ? What if they had not been too fearful to stare at themselves in the mirror for a deeper - honest look ?
My mind or heart can barely tread in these waters- truly - divorce would perhaps not be a part of my story. Wedges would not be so deep - my heart less wounded. Truly , only God knows how different it would be- but He wants me (or you) to desire more for our lives. He wants His Power to allow change in us and through us. He desires His best for us.
I am 37 - as of now (unless I get a crazy whim) I am done with my years of formal education. I probably won't make any drastic career change ( I can hear my husband cheering for this statement). So, where does that put my brain and heart that craves change, growth, lifelong learning? I believe it places me in the fertile years of constant growth as a student of God's heart. This path can be emotional, rocky, barren, dark, and looming at times because I must first stare into my sinful ways by looking at my heart's yuckiness. I must acknowledge the desire He has for us to become more than adults in a pattern of life - but that He urges and pushes us to become more like Him. There is no final diploma or degree for this task - it is a constant cycle of honesty, growth awareness, alignment with God's heart - and from this comes change from within.
I don't know about you, but as a parent, my flaws have never been so visible. My need for control - my quickness to anger - my impatience - at time my downright seedy disrespect - seem highlighted, bold-faced, and underlined as I parent and as I interact with my family- husband included. At times, my sins are directly named and pointed out by my precious kids (this one hurts for sure).
How then could I ever consider myself a completed creation - a person no longer in need of brutal honesty to push forth change? As someone once told me, "If you don't feel stretched or feel as if growing pains have ceased, then you are not only stagnant in your Christian walk- but even worse - you are losing ground - withering."
So, I hope my children nor my husband got dealt a withering, stagnant, stale mother and wife -
I am pushing forward, digging up old habits and fears, taking long looks in the mirror - all the while keeping my eyes upward towards the Son to grow into the full creation God has for me. I cannot lie - this task is sweaty, tearful difficult work, but I can see new sprigs of growth, the death of fears - God making me NEW again. I pray my boys desire to do the same will ignite. I also pray and hope they can see God loves the imperfect and God makes all things new in His time when we align with Him. We are never tool old or too accomplished to grow and change with the Lord.
" Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, he new has come! "
2 Corinthians 5:17
Do you ever feel weighted down - but when you look around there is nothing on your shoulders, your hands are empty, no visible ball and chain on your ankles- Yet, you know the weight is there. At times, it can be suffocating. What is it that you are carrying around ? Where does the weight come from? and most importantly - how can you rid yourself of it ?
Just the other day, as I was in a "morning catchup call" with a bestie, I was describing a dilemma. I knew I was about to make a decision and I was concerned about someone else's reaction to my decision. My friend said, "Ivey, this is not your bucket to carry." Wow! Such wisdom at 755am and had not even made it to work yet ! This picture resonated with me - How many unnecessary buckets am I toting around ? Have these buckets been given to me by God - or have I chosen to carry them? Can i drop them or hand them over ?
So fast forward a week or two - the 7:55 am wisdom has stayed with me and I have been peering into each bucket. The awareness has been freeing. I am desiring to turn them over to my loving God - but the releasing is as exhausting as the carrying- at times more exhausting that holding a tight grip.
A bucket of a broken relationship with a parent that I cannot heal - HEAVY! I have been carrying it for years. Coming to know peace on my side and in my heart - extending forgiveness - loving the best way I can - and waiting on God's timing. Passing the bucket - stop the prodding, shame , worry, guilt - handing it over for good. Trust the Lord's love for me - He knows my heart. I crave to experience His abundant love as a Father to me. The outcome and situation are not within my reach - He will gladly carry my bucket of burden. With constant prayers let your heart be known and let God take it.
A bucket filled to the rim with questions and concerns about the future: my kids, my job, my health, my marriage, this crazy sinful world, the thousands of "what ifs" -
"But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:33-34
We cannot live life in the "what ifs"- God desires us to live FULLY in the present and FULLy for Him. This bucket is my heaviest - and darkest at times. I seem to pick it up at some point everyday. Somedays it feels more like shackles - stealing my freedom. But I have been called to LIVE out the truth God has shown me in His Word and through His followers. You see, God shows us the truth - we ingest the truth- but the ACTION - the doing - the handing over of the buckets- the choosing to LIVE in the TRUTH - that is His sweet spot. A resting place for HIs love to be lived out through His creation. If we are carrying buckets- we are not available to love Him fully or others fully.
So What does He want us to carry ? Carry His word in our hearts. Carry His love to the lost and broken.. Carry the burden of loving others so well - that God is irresistible to them. Carry His light - Experience the freedom God so desires for us - His children.
One by one - let your buckets drop - settle in to the sweet spot of God's love & grace He has for you.
I don't know if you are a little like me - but I often struggle with calling myself a "sinner." On most days, I feel like an "okay" person or pretty decent person. I have never been to jail; I dont have alot of enemies (that I am aware of); I try to be giving, understanding, and likeable. I feel like I can usually make a good choice - or do the right thing. Personal labels such as friend, wife, mom, hard-worker, good listener are affirming to me - but a SINNER - not so much!
But it is the truest label of me - its roots run all the way to beginning of mankind and of me - it is who i was first, before ... Before I was saved. I grew up in Church, heard of God's grace, forgiveness, and since since I was in the nursery at First Baptist Church. So, my story does not have 180 degrees moment - or pivotal turn from a life ravaged by sin, addiction, darkness. I walked down the Church aisle at age of 12 - to the hymn of "Turn your eyes upon Jesus" - a sinner in need of a Savior then - a SINNER now -
A relationship with our Savior - and relationships with a God-focused community are the urge for us to grow. In these conversations- we can see the reflections of our sinful ways. We are able to stir our dirty hearts, our ugly feelings, our selfishness, our need to REPENT.
"Even now - this is the Lord's declaration -
turn to ME with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God. For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster." Joel 2:12-13
Not just the open/ blatant sins that are so visible to those around us - but those deep hidden crevices - where jealousy, anger, impatience, greed, and selfishness reside and proliferate. God desires and commands for us to repent - to pivot- from sin - to move towards Him. In those humbling moments of weeping alongside of Jesus over our sins - He works IN and ON us to complete His work. I AM A SINNER - WHO NEEDS TO BE SEARCHED - SAVED! Gods grace awaits me!
Pray. Search. Confess. Repent. Receive.
Search my heart OH God !
Just a few years back, I could not relate to my friends, patients or even my husband when they spoke of their overwhelming anxiety. My response, "It's okay, just turn it off. You are fine," Super helpful - I know! Well , now, I see it differently, I have been in the battle of light and dark. I have felt my heart pound uncontrollably, my muscles twitch, my breath shorten - I could NOT be OKAY - I was surrounded by darkness - Who turned the light off ?
There are days where I still fight this battle, but God has allowed me some victories. I am not sure at what point or what one life event (because it was a culmination of many) placed me in the middle of the battle. However, I now have a constant awareness of ongoing battle of light vs dark. A FIERCE war - not with the flesh- but with Satan - the dark. Fear and anxiety can be paralyzing, stifling, all-consuming, robbing, and overshadow all JOY - All working to hinder us from God's work. Surrendering or succumbing to the darkness HAS eternal consequences - for us, for our families, and for those God allows in our daily path.
"When a person is going through hard times, his mind wants to give up, Satan knows that if he can defeat us in our mind, he can defeat us in our experience, That's why it is so important that not lose heart, grow weary and faint."
- Joyce Meyers in Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind
To have fear is NOT to fail! We are there in the battle so God can meet us and lead us in the struggle to Provide us with HOPE when we can not see it. At times God may ask you to reach out for help in the arenas of counseling, community, even medications - give yourself permission to surround yourself with support and be authentic - the presence of fears and anxiety is not a reflection of the strength of your faith. You may be surprised by who else in is battle alongside of you. I have learned this is NOT a 24 hour turnaround - rather a process - a daily development - a daily CHOICE NOT TO SURRENDER - But to continue to advance towards enemy lines. Those around us cannot see or even comprehend the battle, but they can see the proof of our choice to fight and to choose LIGHT.
So CHOOSE LIGHT TODAY amidst the darkness.
Choose. To. Fight.
VIctory is ours in JESUS.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
It's 9pm you have finally made it to the couch - just in your favorite cozy spot - your finish line of the race of the day. You want to mentally check-out - get absorbed in some reality (not really) show to wind down and prepare for tomorrow's race. But if you are anything like me, your mind often goes elsewhere- a mental playbook of the day - assigning yourself a score. Did I yell too much today? Did I gossip? Did I spend money unnecessarily? Was I kind to my husband and family? Did I let anyone down ? Did MY day - as hurried, frantic, and busy as is seemed - Did it or did I make a difference ?
This mental journey is common for me. A full-time working mom of two strong, competitive boys- trying to fulfill my obligations - both those set FOR me by others and those self-inflicted. Busy! Busy! BUsy! How do I measure up?
It's not the question that may be the problem - rather, who do we expect to answer the question. Did I set out with clear focus today? Did I obey my Heavenly Father? Did His tasks come first or did He get my puny leftovers?
Sometimes themes in the Bible may be too complex or BIG for me to securely grasp, but the clear instructions for our focus to be UPWARD & ETERNAL are firm and foundational. To Live the Resurrected LIfe - to be born again- is a daily rebirth - an active re-focusing or re-aligning ourselves with God's work. A setting aside of the "busyness", quick service idols, time-thieves of our daily lives. We are not capable of praying for this renewal once - but presenting ourselves in daily prayer with a resetting of our heart - as if nothing has been done the day before -
"Relying on God has to begin all over again everyday as if nothing had yet been done." - C.S. Lewis
Here in lies the theme or title of this blog that God so placed on my heart - relentlessly. Everyday Eternity - the idea of how would our days look different if we asked, "What will I do today for Eternal outcomes?" Choose love over hate - service over selfishness, grace over guilt - for others and myself. God wants more from us and IMMEASURABLY MORE for us - His Children. He wants to be the proud Father to answer our questions at the end of each day - "How did I do today?"
"Well done - good and faithful servant."
Ask. Him. What can I do to further Your Kingdom today?
a mid-thirties mom and wife seeking truth, peace and joy in my daily life. mom to two wild, snuggly, and fierce boys - and wife to my best friend and bearded man of my dreams. My joys are giving and receiving gifts (its my love language- not materialistic) - pushing my limits and extinguishing my stress in the workout room- serving others in the medical profession and in my community of friends . i love doing life with others - the phone calls on way to work, the couch discussions, the annual camping trips - My community of friends would tell you I am as authentic and outspoken as you can get - sometimes you can find my husband hiding behind a pillow! My parents thought I would always be a lawyer- I have a strong passion to get the last word - I just cant walk away. Marriage, Motherhood, and my walk with the Lord continue to push me, shape me, and change me. I pray this blog will bless just ONE - and the point to the ONE-