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.

When We’re More Focused on Next than Now

I spend a lot of time focused on NEXT rather than NOW. My thoughts are toward the next thing that I need to do: When I finish this, I’ll begin that.

After I drop her off, I need to run to the grocery store because we’re out of bread.
While he’s with the tutor, I’ll finish making those calls.
I think I can finish that report when the kids go to bed.

Planning is helpful and wise—but not at the expense of missing the purpose of the present. God is moving right now. He wants us to experience him now—to know he is real and living. He wants to bless and encourage us, to give us insight and understanding, to help us see his faithfulness in the smallest things and in big matters, to show us his glory in creation around us and in how he is at work in our life, our children’s lives, and our relationships.

God gives us each minute, each hour. Time is his. He wastes none of it. My frequent prayer is God, help me be more present to you. Why? My natural tendency is to lead me, rather than follow him. When I lead, my mind gets so busy that I exhaust myself before I’ve even done anything. When I follow him, peace anchors my heart and a welcoming sense of order unfolds.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26.3-4)

God knows what we truly need to accomplish in a day—those things that serve his purposes for our family, for our self, for our work, and for others. He wants to help us, even show us how. His design for our day includes rest, pleasure, and a deepening awareness of his presence and love.

The other day I was in the airport, rushing to the gate for my next flight. My mind was running, Maybe I’ll have time to grab something to eat and attend a few emails. Then one of the kids called, “Hi Mom, I only have a few minutes. How are you?”  God had a better plan for my NOW. I pulled my suitcase to the nearest wall and tuned out the people rushing around me. Five precious minutes, from God.

When I practice being present to NOW, I stop moving in my momentum and I become open to the moment that God has for me.

NOW is significant because it’s from God. We can trust that He has NEXT covered, too.

Dear God,
I want to trust you more. I want to see and experience you more in my day, in my life. Help me learn to be more still and present to you throughout the day. Help me learn to enjoy more moments, to enjoy You, and to trust that you have the way forward for all that I truly need to do. Amen.

Becoming Faith-Strong

img_0896I have that upper arm flabby skin that when I wave, the lower skin has its own wave going on. Ugh! I know the solution is exercise, so, I lift weights some-times, but not enough, nor often enough–and I’m a wimp when it comes to push-ups. Ah, if only such hard work wasn’t required!

I wonder if sometimes we think that growing in faith in God works like this—I need to work on trusting God more. I need to try harder to believe God. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10.17) We receive the gift of faith from God, as we receive Jesus as our Savior. God grows our faith as we engage in relationship with him. Simply, walk closer with him. To believe God more, get to know him more and talk with him more. Invite God to help you, to show you how. He responds. He graces us to experience his faithfulness, and he grows our muscle of faith.

img_1071When I read this, my lungs inhale hope and exhale relief. “That’s right, that’s right” echoes like a refrain on a hard day when doubt or discouragement battle for position in my head and heart. Other days, “So true, so true” whispers as testimony to a small victory or encouragement in the day. This is one verse that I use to help me know God and know He is faithful and know that He is growing my faith in him STRONG as I mess up or struggle in a circumstance.

img_0884And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2.6-7, NLT)(italics mine)

You and I believe in God. And many days we believe God—We look to him, trust and depend on Him. We have faith that He is the fullness of all that the scriptures tell . . . And then we live those days when we don’t look to Him. We look elsewhere—at our self, the other person, the relationship, the circumstance, or the history, and we end up believing one or more of these. We place our faith there. A sinking feeling weighs our heart down—yet, God is with us. He wants us to see our weakness, give it to him, draw closer, and grow strong.

We become faith-strong as we practice and exercise our muscle of faith.

img_0882Dear God,  
I have realized that I spend a lot of time thinking, fretting, worrying about people or outcomes or how to make something happen. You are LORD. You are sovereign. And You want me, all of me, all of my heart to trust you. I need your help to lay down unhealthy patterns of thinking and doing, to lay down fears—and to be still and absorb the peace of your faithfulness. Search my heart that I can unload all to you now. And fill these spaces in me with You. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.