Archives for October 2012

Nothing is Too Small [Day 30 of 31]

Nothing is too small.

Not a thoughtful word or a thank you.

Not a smile and eye contact.

Not a value meal from McDonald’s for the man with the “will work for food” sign.

Nothing.

No gesture you make to show another human being they matter is ever too small or not enough.

Today as we traveled through Tegucigalpa, Honduras we stopped at a Burger King for bottled water.  Any time your car is stopped in Honduras – at a stop light, a drive thru, or in traffic – some one will come to your window and try to sell you something.  Flowers, balloons, or (mostly) food.

As we sat in the BK drive thru, a young girl came to my friend’s window.  She was selling a pastry with red sauce.  Because we know it’s not safe for our stomachs to eat from roadside vendors, we started to say no thanks.

  

We just couldn’t.  She offered us six pastries for 100 lempira – or about $5.00.  She even gave us extra red sauce.

Her smile made my day as she bagged up the pastries.

Now…what to do with the pastries?   Give them away. We started looking for a recipient and  found the perfect pastry recipient:  A man pushing a wheelbarrow with his all his belongings.

Jen rolled down the window and offered him the pastries.  He looked like a kid on Christmas morning.  He took them with a huge smile and a “God bless you.”  (all in Spanish of course:).

We stopped at a church and later passed by him again…he was halfway through a pastry.  Smiling. Waving.  Thankful.

$5 and some pastries made the day of two sweet individuals.

As we drove away toward the mountains, I was reminded of the verse “whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.”  I looked it up this evening:  Here’s the verse in context…

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separatethe people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 

33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdomprepared for you since the creation of the world.35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me,I was sick and you looked after me,(I) I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me,you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.

Matthew 25: 31-46

For some reason, I always look for the “big” things.  I want to start this or that.  I want to volunteer here or there.  I am planning to help so and so.  I will organize a group and brainstorm solutions. But, God gently reminded me today…whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.

You don’t have to be in Honduras to do for others.

You can pull over and offer the homeless cash or a meal.  In fact, you can buy the meal and offer to sit and talk with them as they eat it.

You can donate to food banks or serve at a soup kitchen.  The holiday season is approaching and demand is increasing – they’d love to have you.

You can smile and make eye contact with a lady in Wal-Mart who seems down.

You can prepare a meal for a new mom.

You can….well, the list is endless.  You can do both big and small – in Honduras or in your neighborhood.  It’s not about the place; it’s about the heart.

Less Me, More Others is definitely a step toward Less Me, More Jesus, focusing on Him and the work he wants to do through us for his beloved creation.

I pray you look for opportunities this week to love and serve others.

Do Not Fear: Flying and Hurricane Sandy

I’ve had coverage of Hurricane Sandy running in the background all day.  I keep thinking…I am about to get on a plane. YIKES!

Will my flight be cancelled?  Delayed? On-time?

I am flying from Columbus, Ohio, to Houston, Texas, to Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  While that’s not in Sandy’s direction, the cancelled flights and closed airports in other states are causing a domino effect.

I can handle cancellations and delays.  Turbulence?  I’d rather skip that.

I hate flying.  I really hate flying.  Most control freaks don’t like flying because we aren’t in control; this includes me.

I’ve felt anxious all day.  What if I get there, but can’t get home next Tuesday?  I was texting a friend, sharing my apprehension, and she said something like…If He hung the moon, I think He’s got this, Sarah.

Yes, He does.

God already knows.  He has a plan for my flights and my trip.

He also commands me not to fear and not to worry.

I’ve written about God’s sovereignty, I’ve written about not worrying and putting aside fear.  I KNOW these things.  But, I’ve begun to realize just how much I KNOW that I never transfer to my heart – to belief.

Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is pointless.

I can quote the verses…Matthew 6:24 – “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.  Psalm 115: 11 – You who fear him, trust in the LORD– he is their help and shield.

But, my actions, my life, my heart do NOT reflect that I truly believe these verses.  (and other verses)

God’s been pointing this out to me lately: “You know it; you just don’t believe it.”

It’s time to practice what I know (and often preach).  I am not scared; I am not anxious; I know He is in control.  Period.

Even if I can’t find my “flying medicine”;)

What verses do you KNOW but have trouble applying or truly believing?  In what areas is God leading you to take Him at His Word?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word and for the many chances you give.  Your unconditional love and never-ending grace always amaze us.  I’ve argued fear and worry with you before, and you still answer with the same:  Do not fear and do not worry.  Lord, help our unbelief.  Help us to take you at your Word, to quit collecting knowledge for the sake of knowing.  But, instead, to pant for You and Your Word as the deer pants for water because we long to know You more – to believe You – to grow closer to You.  We rest in knowing You are in control.  You have the flight path and the entire week in Honduras in your hand. We are inexplicably grateful to you.  Amen.

With that prayer, I am relieved and ready.  Now…I really need to pack!

NOTE: I can’t wait to share with you from Honduras over the next eight days!

Cleaning Out the Garage – A Heart Issue? [Day 25 of 31]

Cleaning out the garage.  Yuck!

That’s what we (ok, mostly Steve;) are doing on this beautiful day.

We moved in May and have been remodeling our house while living in it . Just FYI, I don’t recommend doing this.  Ever.  The remodel is almost done and anything from the garage that needs moved inside is on its way in.

Except, 95% of the garage doesn’t belong in the house.  Or in the garage.  It’s just stuff and books and…well, more books.

Here’s the sad part:  We’re cleaning the garage because we don’t want to pay for our storage space anymore.  Yes, you read that right.  In addition to all the stuff in the garage, we pay for a storage space.

We have too much stuff!

So, Less Me, More Jesus is about to be applied to my stuff too.

Standing in the garage, I feel convicted – very convicted – about how much stuff I have and my need to hold on to it.  In fact, Matthew 6: 19-21 is on replay in my head:  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,where moths and vermin destroy,and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Ugh.  Where is my treasure?  Where is my heart?

Why are we holding on this stuff?  What’s the heart issue?

I told my husband, “the heart issue is…I am trying to save money.  If our microwave breaks, I may need the spare one that’s in the garage.”  Before I even finished this sentence, I mentally slapped myself.  Really?  A reserve microwave?  Ridiculous.  I am sure someone can use it.  (If you need it, let me know – it’s yours!)

So, Steve and I are looking at everything in the garage with fresh eyes – and hearts.  What should we keep? Toss?  Give away?

Ummm….most of it.

Sadly, I don’t think it’s just my garage that needs an overhaul.  My closet is bulging, my plastic wear is spilling from the cabinet, my Bath and Body Works stash could be mistaken for a store, and boxes of books sit in my basement – and the bookshelves are full.

Less Stuff, More Jesus.

Note: I didn’t say stuff was wrong…I said my stuff evidences where my heart and treasure are leaning.  I am reminded of the Parable of the Rich Fool, specifically verse 15:  Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

I don’t think God’s commanding me to donate all the stuff in my garage, but He is asking me to examine my heart…my reason for keeping all this stuff…the reasons for buying all this stuff in the first place.

What is that about?  I need to be on my guard against all kinds of greed.  Life isn’t measured by how much I own.  I want to store up possessions in heaven, not in my garage or storage space or closet.

What about you?  Does the clutter in your house, storage shed, or basement frustrate you?  Are books falling off your bookcase?  Are you always looking for a place to store or stuff something?

If so, I’d encourage you to examine your heart – you never know what might God might reveal there.

Meanwhile…back to the garage…

I Surrender [Day 24 of 31]

On Tuesday I’ll be traveling to Honduras.  Last night as my friend prayed over the team she said, “Thank you, Lord, for inviting ordinary, broken people into your story.”

That’s me.

Ordinary.

Broken.

Still, the Creator of the universe has invited me into this part of His story.  There’s really no better way to empty yourself and refill with Him than to realize that the Lord of all is sending ordinary, broken you to Honduras as His hands and feet.

Woah.

Last week, I didn’t know I was going on the trip.  I met a friend for lunch and over a Panera Thai Chicken Salad, we talked needs and airline tickets.  I felt as if I’d been punched in the gut.  God was sending me – clearly – and I hadn’t helped Him one bit.

See, I like to “help” God.  Surrender doesn’t come easy for me.  But, on my Emmaus Walk I learned complete and total surrender to God’s will and His WAYS, especially when His ways aren’t mine.

Surrender.

Matthew 16:24-27

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

When you’re truly surrendered to Him, willing to follow Him wherever he takes you, willing to take up your cross daily, willing to lose your life for the sake of Christ to find your life, you think less and less about your plans and wishes.  Instead, you’re consumed by Him, His promises, His plans, and His ways.

Through my surrender, God showed me He always knows best by providing me with an oppotunity to do what He created me to love most:  Talking to people, engaging with their stories, and sharing those stories through writing –  in a country whose people stole my heart in 2007.

He knew all along this is how it would be.

Wow.

When I embarked on this 31-day Less Me, More Jesus journey, I never in my wildest dreams considered I’d be in Honduras by October’s end.

But, here I go. An ordinary, broken person, praying God uses me.  And, as my friend, Jen, says, “if it smacks of me or pride, get rid of it, God.”

What in your life smacks of pride?  Smacks of self?  Have you fully surrendered all areas of your life to Him?  Is there a part that you like to hold on to?  Do you feel you know best how to navigate certain areas of your life?

Give them over to Him today.  (And, again tomorrow…and again the next day…see the pattern?:)  He has a plan greater than yours.  While it might include suffering and brokenness (actually, it probably will), He knows what he’s doing.  He knit you in your mom’s womb.

He knows what’s best.  I am just kinda sad I waited so long to trust Him completely.  I hope you won’t wait.

The Power of YOUR Story [Day 23 of 31]

I have learned much by intentionally dedicating October to Less Me, More Jesus.  In many ways, I feel like a new person.  I know this new thirst for God is mostly a result of my Emmaus walk, but I believe all things have worked together for good.  It’s not been easy, but good!

One of the best things about October has been meeting new people and reconnecting with old (not age;) friends.  Their stories are inspiring. They have increased my faith.  When I see God at work in the lives of others, I am in awe of Him.

I’ve come to believe it’s important we share our stories…no matter how painful or humbling.

In Kingdom Journeys, Seth Barnes writes, “By allowing people to see my flaws, I find God uses them to set people free…by sharing our weaknesses and failings, our own dignity may take a hit, but others are encouraged to consider themselves differently.” 

So true.  We share to shine His glory.  Our stories give hope, show His love, demonstrate His glory.  When we hear how God’s shown up in the midst of suffering and carries others, there’s hope for us.  The God who redeemed David, Moses, and Paul…can and will also redeem me, my neighbor, and a woman across the world.

I know God uses story, so when I felt Him nudging me to commit to another 30 days of writing, story seemed obvious.

I hesitated.  The risk of failure too great.  He was asking me to write stories  – 30 of them – all in November. Craziness.  I would need to ask 30 people , and those 30 people would need to write – right now.  Asking for a guest post or story that quickly isn’t professional or even doable. Besides, I don’t like to ask for help.

Still…that’s what I felt God calling me to do.  So, I started with a group of fellow book launchers.  I am so excited to say  many of my blogger friends and personal friends have said, “yes!” to the challenge.

Beginning November 1, I’ll be sharing stories from a variety of people,who come from a variety of backgrounds, who have suffered greatly, and who love Jesus.  These precious people live from California to New York.  Arkansas to the Carolinas.  One I know from high school.  They are a unique group who love Jesus and want to share His work in their lives – all glory to Him and Him alone.

Here’s a few of those brave souls:

Marla Taviano, Leigh Anne Hudson, Pilar Arsenec, Lisa Copenhaver, Elisa Pulliam, Kathy Krueger, Sarah Weingarden, Morgan McKeown, Aidan Rogers, Marilyn Yocum, Maria Keckler, Tiffany Board, Laura Waits, Brooke Fradd, Ruth Chowdhury, Ali Hooper, and Jennifer (McCoy) Rollins.

These ladies are simply amazing.  Laura is a missionary in Honduras who is about to start a middle school.  Jennifer was hit by a drunk driver while walking one morning.  Leigh Anne…I’ll let her tell you.  Simply amazing!  They all have trusted God to carry them and have grown closer to Him as  a result.

If you’re a good math student, you know I need 13 more stories to tell.  If you’d like to share, please email me. sarah.b.farish@gmail.com

Everyone has a story.  If you’re not a writer, it doesn’t matter.  Tell the page as if you’re telling a friend!

I hope you’ll join us.

Psalm 107: 1-2 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe.”

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! [Day 19 of 31]

This day has been filled with cleaning, exercising, idea swapping, brainstorming, and packing.  The Four Farish’s are heading out for a wonderful (even if chilly) weekend of soccer.  We love these times together; plus, we get to spend time with some awesome friends!

I have so much I wanted to write today…my grandma’s doing GREAT by the way…but time didn’t allow.  I have three voices telling me to “get in the car.”

So, I thought I would share some podcasts/sermons that have helped me with Less Me, More Jesus over the past few weeks.  All of these deserve their own post. But, alas, time is not on my side.  I hope a few of them bless you too!

City on a Hill by Matt Chandler from the Village Church – This a series. I simply can’t choose my favorite.  They’ve all spoken to my heart.

The Danger of Worldly Desires and The Hallelujah Chorus by David Platt from Brook Hills  – Both of these are part of Platt’s series on Revelation.  I have been blessed by every single one. It’s a new take on Revelation for me.

Ghost Stories, The Spirit Cycle by Steven Furtick from Elevation Church – This is part 2 of Furtick’s new series on the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Died a Better Death and Jesus is a Better Mediator by Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church – These are parts 4 and 5 in Driscoll’s Esther series.

Unleash! Unleash Your Weakness by Perry Noble from NewSpring Church – God’s been pointing out my weaknesses lately, so this one hit home for sure!

The Other Side by Pete Wilson from Cross Point Church – Part 2 of Wilson’s Love Recklessly series.  This podcast highlights how in all areas of our lives we take a side.  If you cheer for a football team, vote for a political candidate, or sit in a pew, you’ve chosen a side.  Very convicting…beware.

I often get asked how I listen to podcasts.  I listen using an app called Instacast. It’s worth $1.99 for sure!  After you download the app, simply search for the churches to which you’d like to listen and subscribe.

Hope you all have a Happy Weekend!

I Am So Excited! [Day 18 of 31]

Today, I am sitting in a hospital room.  My grandma is waiting on her heart doctor, and I am the “in the meantime entertainment” according to my mom.

I’ve talked more Jesus in the last hour than I have in the past week.  My grandma’s roommate is a sweet woman of faith; we’ve discussed everything from Jesus’ birth to his death and resurrection.  Her servant heart is evident; she’s shared her vision for a new ministry to inner city kids and her calling to teach. (Not to mention my grandma’s nurse is the son of a Pentecostal minister…lots of Jesus in this room;)

I am smiling at God’s hand in this meeting.

This sweet lady listened as I told my mom I am returning to Honduras in two weeks.  My mom doesn’t like for me to leave the country.  It (understandably) makes her nervous, but the roommate chimed in and told my mom, “Don’t let your fear be bigger than your faith.”  

I thought about her words and all the verses about fear I’ve been studying in Psalms…

The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? Psalm 56: 3-4

The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Psalm 118:7

Deep down I agree with my mom; I am a bit scared this time too.  I don’t like to fly.  I have never been to this part of Honduras.  And, my role on this trip is to write/blog and take pictures/video.  My flesh says, “What if I can’t think of anything to write about?  What if?  What if?  Or, what if?

So, I began to answer those what if’s, and every single one of them led to Jesus.  Regardless of what happens, Jesus loves me and He remains.

[A deep sigh released!]

And….

I AM SO EXCITED TO SHARE HONDURAS WITH YOU!!!

I leave on October 30 with the amazing Women of Purpose ladies.  The purpose of the trip is to hold a three-day Revive retreat for women missionaries serving in Honduras.  We hope to pour back into these ladies some of what they pour out on the mission field.

I can’t wait! I am in awe of how God worked this trip out…His hand is evident and humbling.

When I decided to dedicate October to 31 days of Less Me, More Jesus, I would NEVER have believed the work God would do in my life.  I am still in the “in-between” but am content to sit there – in His love.

As we prepare to leave, we still have missionaries who need sponsored.  If you could partner with a sister across the continent who needs revived, we’d love to have your help and prayers.  You can use this link for more information.

For now, I am content to chat with my grandma, mom, and this new sister I just met:)

Saying No to Good: A Lesson Learned from Emmaus [Day 16 of 31]

Do you ever wonder…why in the world did she say that?  Me too!

There’s such power in words for lifting up or shooting down.  With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  James 3: 9-10

But, I have discovered that words aren’t always black and white.  Sometimes it’s not the speaker of the words; it’s how the listener  “hears” the words.

Sigh…I learned this yesterday.

At the end of my Emmaus weekend, I received letters and cards from my friends and family. This was (oddly) one of the most difficult parts of the weekend for me.

Some writers praised me for who I am or what I’ve meant to them.  These letters were particularly important to me because during the weekend God revealed to me that I’d lost much of my confidence in the past year.  Through a variety of struggles, I’d begun doubting every decision – every word I said was carefully considered and censored.  (More on this “identity crisis” in days to come – I am telling you, this Emmaus weekend blew me away.  I’d need a 5,000-word post to cover it all;)

These “complimentary” letters and cards reminded of who I am and WHOSE I am.  It was as if I expelled a huge sigh of contentment and peace after reading these. I have actually read them a few times!

To those who wrote them, my deepest and sincerest thanks.

A few letters took a different path.  I felt a bit chastised after reading these two letters.  Both said, “here’s what is wrong in your life and here’s what you need to do.” Not that directly, but that’s how I felt – and they came from two people I love and respect.

Sadly, I allowed those two letters to overshadow the other 15.  I got so focused on those two, I couldn’t see the other 15.  In fact, I later described all my letters as if they belonged in the “not nice” category…

Sometimes hurt clouds and distorts our view.

When someone’s hurt you or you’re living in a difficult season, it’s so easy to focus on the “two” instead of the 15.  Yes, the two might hurt, but look at the other 15 (or more!) amazing parts of your life.  Often in life it truly is a matter of perspective.  Focus on the 15 and pray about the two.

I prayed about the two:  God, you know the hearts of both people, and you know what I need in this moment.  You see the big picture, and I see only the small “Sarah-only” picture.  Help me to see this your way.

I stuffed the letters away and “left” my confusion with God.  At 3:00 am that night/ early the next morning, I revisited those letters – surprised by my earlier assessment.  This time, I saw the 15 and not the two.  And, in the two I saw something a bit different. Maybe the “chastisement” came from a place of love. Maybe these two people see something I can’t – or won’t – see.

One letter spoke of my penchant for spreading myself too thin, especially in service to my Creator.  The letter expressed fear that I’d burn out or exchange what could be great for what is simply good.  My immediate reaction?  Really, Writer of Letter #2?  You’ve been singing this same song to me for years.  You could’ve been nice this time. Grrrr! 

Then, as God would have it, Monday morning brought a plethora of new opportunities.  Humbled, grateful, amazed at how God answers prayer…the dreams first breathed by a 3rd grader coming true over 25 years later.  And, as I looked at my schedule and available time, guess what the Holy Spirit reminded me of?  A quote from Letter #2.

He reminded me to let go of the good and choose the great.

As I looked at the opportunities before me, I felt God saying, “these are all good.  They all serve Me.  But, which one is great?  Which one glorifies Me most?” In other words, don’t say “yes” to every good thing that comes along – even if you really want to do it (and I do!).  Say yes to only the great.

No, no, no!  [Picture me kicking and screaming on the ground.]

Saying no is hard for me because I love people.  I don’t want to disappoint people.  I want ALL people to know Him.  And, I fear that if I don’t say “yes” then I will miss planting a seed, showing His glory.

Yet, if that’s true, then I serve a very small God.

God desires to use me – in some places, but not all places.  And he doesn’t NEED me at all.

Thank you, Letter #2.  [Picture me swallowing a big gulp of pride.]

Friend, God wants great for you, not good. When it seems as if someone is criticizing you, take a deep breath, say a prayer, and ask God to reveal the truth in those words.

What about those words make your chest tighten and your hair stand up?  Maybe there’s some truth in them?

We serve a big and mighty God.  A God that doesn’t need you at all, but He wants you.  He loves you. He delights in your heart turning to Him in response to the gospel.  He smiles upon your service to Him and others.  His ways are not our ways.

“For my thoughtsare not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55: 8-9

He doesn’t think like we think.  He sees a picture that’s much larger and greater than the one we see. So, take a deep breath, pray, and rethink the ugly words, the difficult situations.  See the 15 good, not the two bad.  Then, stop and ask:  Are the two really BAD?

Regardless, praise Him always.

A Messy Heart: My Walk to Emmaus [Day 15 of 31]

Sometimes you need a break.  A break from everything…from your family, from your iPhone, from the computer, from your friends…from life.  You need time to sit at the feet of Jesus, stare up at him, and listen carefully to His words.  There’s really no better way to get more Jesus.

From Thursday to Sunday, I was able to take this break thanks to my husband, my friends, Chad, Angie, Mike, and Amber, and my mom and sister.   And, it was anything but easy.

I went on the Walk to Emmaus: “The walk to Emmaus is an experience of Christian spiritual renewal and formation that begins with a three-day short course in Christianity. It is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ in a new way as God’s grace and love is revealed to you through other believers.”

The walk is inspired by Luke 24: 13-35.

It was just as the website described (italics above), and so much more.

The distraction-free time provided me with space to focus on my life, my family, and my Creator.  I was amazed at what I found in my heart when I asked God to reveal any junk there. **

Mistrust, loneliness, anger, and fear.

When you’re hurt by some people (and that’s ALL of us, folks), you can’t stop trusting all people.  I knew I had a little mistrust in my heart, but did not realize the depth of my self insulation.  I am a surface level friend at best.  I don’t ever get too close, fearing hurt, rejection, and failure.

That’s not who my God calls me to be, for loving others is second only to loving God: 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’3The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. “There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 28-31

 

Hurt is a part of life – everyone’s life.  You can’t drop out of the game just because you get hurt, just because people don’t live up to your expectations.  I have always known this in my head, but I am so thankful God used this weekend to transfer it to my heart.  (I’m betting this won’t be the last time he has to help me with this either:)

In the midst of this mistrust and fear leading to loneliness, I also discovered anger.  I was already aware of my anger.  I have “exploded” too many times in the past year.  When I examine my reaction post explosion, I always discover the reason for the outburst has little to do with its target and more to do with something else.  Something else that I’ve allowed to sit and simmer in my heart.

So, I made a list of what’s sitting and simmering, prayed over it, and let it go.  I modeled my prayer after David’s in Psalm 51 as he repents for his sin. Asking God for mercy, forgiveness, and a heart change.  Thanking Him for His faithfulness, grace, and love.  Acknowledging and confessing my rebellious heart. Begging for a new sense of His presence…a new beginning.

I feel different today.  More peaceful and thankful.  Thankful for a God of second (endless) chances who will never leave me or forsake me.  (Deuteronomy 31:6)

And super thankful for a group of women I met as we “walked.”  Women who prayed with me, laughed with me (we laughed a ton!), cried with me, shared with me, inspired me.  More on these amazing gals in the days to come.  I am still processing all God taught me this weekend and hope to share more as God unfolds His story for me.

What about you?  Have you asked God lately what’s lurking in your heart?  Unconfessed sin?  Anger?  Fear?  Mistrust?  You don’t have to go away for 72 hours to sit quietly before him and ask, “God, what has me down? What’s holding me back?  Why am I rebellious?”

He wants to help.  You just need to ask.

 

**While I found junk in my heart, I also discovered missing pieces in my heart.  Pieces that are essential for Christ followers.  More on those in the days to come:)

A Different Life [Day 11 of 31]

Today, I am completely overwhelmed by God’s love, grace, and mercy.

I have so many things to write about, but all I can think of is…God took my messed up life and redeemed it.  He is (presently) redeeming it.

Sometimes our dreams as a child, teen, or adult don’t happen.  When I was younger if you’d have given me a preview of my life, I’d have been shocked.  My dad will be gone?  I will go through what in my marriage?  I will be a mom when?  I will do what with my life?  I will live where?  I will go to what country?  For what?  Huh?  THOSE would have been responses.

Disbelief.

I am not living the life of MY plans and expectations today.

But, sometimes on the way to a dream you get lost and find a better one. Well, it’s actually not you, it’s Him. He knows better and redirects you to the better one.

I am living the life God planned.  The one HE knew about, “For He created my inmost being; He knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139.13

While I wasn’t always thankful in the midst of my circumstances, I am ever so grateful today.

Grateful that I serve an all-knowing, all-powerful God who knows MUCH better than me.

I am leaving soon for the Walk to Emmaus.  No communication with the outside world, including my family, until Sunday evening.  But, there’s no better way to get Less Me, More Jesus than to ditch the distractions and focus solely on him.

I am expectant and excited.  A little nervous. But, I trust in the One who’s brought me this far.  I am so thankful HE goes before me always.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8