The Best Way To Work Through

What are you trying to work through?  If you’re like me, often it’s not just one thing. Whatever it is, it can consume our thoughts, drain our energy, and sink us low.

. . . heartbreak . . .a frustrating job . . . an unfair outcome . . . financial issues . . . a stressful relationship . . . an ongoing health matter . . . overcoming a fear . . . completing something  . . .a devastating loss.

I have been studying the book of Haggai, a two-page history near the end of the Old Testament. It’s been several years since I read it, and I thought I’d zip through in a couple of days. I was wrong. God is holding me in His words here, helping me learn more deeply Who He is and how He loves us. God speaks through the prophet Haggai and tells His people to first consider their past way of living and now to consider Who He is and how He wants them to live forward, how they are to work now.

And when God knew He held their attention, He assured them of His love: “I am with you, declares the LORD.” (Haggai 1.13)

Their obvious work is to rebuild God’s temple, a daunting and monumental job. Yet, I imagine among all these workers, they are working through personal struggles with any number of the themes listed above–not to mention the fear of attack from enemies. God knows this. He sees their heart and assures them of HIs commitment to them.

God sees how you and I sometimes work through things—by self-determination, by denial or avoidance, by complaining, judging, or jealousy. He sees our fear, grief, anger, or waning hope. I have wasted much time working through circumstances and relationships leaning on my emotions, on what I think, on whatever evidence is tangibly in front of me—rather than leaning in to God who is right here with me.

God loves us in our weakness, even when we lean away from Him. He doesn’t scold or shame us. He doesn’t ridicule or react as though He’s surprised by our behavior. He doesn’t leave or step back to give us space to figure out that we need Him. God remains near. He keeps His word:

“I am with you, declares the LORD.”

Back to Haggai…  God speaks again to His people, as they work.  “Be strong . . . Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts . . . My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.” (Haggai 2.4-5)

This. God is making us strong warriors.
He assures us that we can be strong as we work through anything because He is with us, because His Spirit is in our midst.

God knows the strength you and I need when circumstances wear us down or cause us to worry, to fear. He wants us to rest secure in His strength. How do we get there? We practice every day by getting to know Him through His Word, talking to Him, and learning to listen to Him.

This strength He calls us to is poured in to us and grown as we walk with Him. His pour is not like an energy drink that lasts for a few hours. When you and I lean in to Almighty God, He provides a sustaining stamina that compels awe in us.

When we depend on God’s strength, trusting HIs presence with us, His peace transcends the circumstance and He grows our faith to trust, He’s got this. We partner with Him and work through—and continue to become who He created us to be, all to His glory.

Dear God,
I don’t want to work through any thing on my own anymore. I am sorry for all the times that I have leaned away from you, rather than toward you. Thank you for your patient love. Thank you that you are always with me, in my midst. Help me believe this and trust you more. Amen.

What To Do With Our Hopes

“Can we talk to God about our pets?”  His soft-spoken question and curious eyes exposed that his understanding of prayer was broadening in the moment, as our little group learned about talking to God. The other 1st and 2nd graders listened, as he added, “My fish is sick.”

“Yes, you can! And we’ll also pray together for your fish in a minute.”

HOPE.

This precious little boy hopes his fish will get well. Even better, now he knows he can talk to God, about what he hopes for. Before, his hope was only a thought.

Do you have any hopes that are only thoughts—or maybe, only wishful-thinking conversations with friends?

We hope . . . it doesn’t rain during our event that’s going to be outdoors . . . she believes we’ve forgiven her . . . he realizes the consequence if he disobeys . . . she knows how much God loves her . . . we handle a situation the right way.

“…we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4.10)

Throughout a day and many a night, I have wrestled, stressed, cried, feared about a hope I have. Hope is hardest when the focus of our hope is a person, a relationship, ourself, or a circumstance. We watch—the person, the relationship, the circumstance. We watch for what we want. Possible outcomes—founded on evidences we collect by sight and experiences—flood our mind, and our thoughts often swirl into a torrent of negative feelings and outcomes.

When I take these ‘hope-thoughts’ to God, my soul rests. In the handoff, my focus shifts to God and He fills those places in me with His peace.

At the same time, hope can be hard even when God is our focus, because we have to learn to trust Him. You and I have lived a lot of life relying on people, circumstances, and our self. We have to practice trusting God to learn to trust God. . . just like we practice reading to learn to read.

As we practice placing our ‘hope-thoughts’ in God’s hands over and over again, we open our heart to try on trust. The focus of our hope becomes God.

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.  (Ps 146.5)

God sees and attends our heart according to his view of our genuine need. He pours grace so that His love, healing, and strength inspire us look to Him, listen to Him, and loosen our grip on the object of our hope—that He becomes our HOPE, our TRUST.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit.”  (Jeremiah 17.7–8)

. . . Whether my new little friend’s fish gets better or not (let’s pray it does), he engaged with God and God heard him. Their relationship grew because this is what God does. He gives growth–to our knowledge and understanding, our faith, our relationship, as we engage with Him.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15.13)

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Also, I want you to know…

Becoming A Peaceful Mom is only $9.00 on Amazon!   Here’s the link:  https://amzn.to/2Kxmi8Y.

The price returns to $15 on July 1.

I’ve had so much fun over the last year speaking and sharing the book, and it’s fun to hear the many ways you all have shared it!  (Thank you!)  Want to hear a few of them? … Birthdays … Welcoming moms to your church … Moms of teens … New moms … Moms having another baby… Moms of moms 🙂  Older moms mentoring younger moms … Small group studies!

Sooo… maybe grab a few copies and have FUN blessing some women around you.

The Quickest Way to Slow Down

Have you ever tasted something so delicious that you slow down to savor the flavors mesmerizing your mouth?

I enjoy eating, so I’m pretty expressive when I taste something delicious. I make savoring-type sounds, and say This is so good! over and over again. Even the next day, I might reminisce about it. Do you ever do that?

In the final weeks of living in our old home, I savored memories as they flooded my mind. Holidays and treasured visits from our children…gathering with friends to know God better through His Word…laughter…tender and hard conversations. Some conversations echo—and reveal how those words furthered relationships. Even vivid days that held stress, strain, or worry fade into feelings of relief to have overcome, by the grace of God.

When we savor food—or a memory—we slow down a bit, in a good way. We appreciate the moment, the experience, or the person.

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Psalm 34.8a)

God wants us to savor him—to feed on his Word and claim This is so good!, to tell him how we feel about him, even if we say the same thing every day, to see that it is his goodness behind every memory we savor.

Savoring stirs gratitude. Gratitude strengthens our focus TOWARD God. The more our focus is toward him, we learn to slow down and we learn to savor the present as God unfolds it. 

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” 

“is”—God wants you and me to savor him and his goodness today.

…watching–or even better–joining our child while he’s immersed in imagination land.

…enjoying flowers in bloom, an afternoon rain, a blue sky–reminders that God is always at work among his creation which includes us

…smiling as we wash a child’s yard-dirty clothes because these represent fun and adventure in a season that passes so fast

…wiping sticky hands and food-smudged mouths—that one day soon won’t need our touch

…celebrating children’s loud voices—because our child has a friend to make happy noises with

…loud music or instruments—because the kids have chosen our home as their gathering place

Dear God,
Thank you for such grace, that you give us the opportunity to be lifelong learners as your disciples! Help us to slow down and learn to savor you and your goodness. Thank you for the many moments you provide for us to taste and see you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.