the insignificant

Yesterday kicked off my journey back to health. Before and after each of my babies were born, I worked out faithfully – with the last two, up until literally the days before they were born. But after number four, I never quite got back to the gym, as the weight of life’s challenges took a dramatic turn. My emotional health began to plummet, and even when I would excitedly start a new plan of action for my desired fitness level, the struggle to even breath some days pushed exercise to the back burner.

Being a runner at heart (and back in the day, in practice), I understand the vitality of a consistent deep stretching regiment for my body, so I started yesterday off with a pilates class, followed by some time in the sauna to detox. I had only ever done yoga before, and the class seemed a little tame. The moves were small and slow; really quite benign. Being so stiff, it was still a little effort for me, but I wondered if at the end of it all, I had actually accomplished anything of value.

This morning, I am no longer wondering.

I am sore, and there are muscles I don’t quite remember really using yesterday that are joyfully screaming to me that they, too, experienced the burn yesterday. Oddly enough, I am also anxious to get back. The passion is ignited, and it’s on. Oh yes, it’s on now!

From a spiritual perspective, we often can experience the same lax in connectivity between our daily activities and what we are trying to accomplish. Our 5-minute devotional seems insignificant in the busyness of the day…time praying at bedtime seems more like a game of tug-of-war…our consistent reminders to do good unto others and to have a heart for one another seemingly fall on deaf ears…our own choices are glaringly less than lovely and we find ourselves repenting more than praising…

But in time, the fruit of our daily decisions, no matter how seemingly insignificant, become the big things. Evidence of our efforts begin to unfold in compliments from other parents about our child’s behavior, a scripture comes to mind when praying with a friend, our husband notices a more peaceful atmosphere at home, your 6-year-old says, “Wow, mom, God just really blessed us!,” over a seemingly small thing…

When we ourselves pay attention to the little things, we begin to see God in everything!

Whatever you do today, do it with a heart for more. More wisdom, more love, more power, more peace, more of God. The tiniest of shifts can bring the greatest of blessing…

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stepping out

This afternoon I was chatting with my 11-year-old and she asked what I was doing for so long on my computer. I said I was scheduling for Kids (our children’s program at church) and she said, “Well, mom, I am free!” I smiled as she offers to serve, and usually does, every single weekend. After letting her know that the challenge is in finding adults, she looked at me quite perplexed, and stated she didn’t understand why that would be an issue.

Jesus said, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self – your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3
Now hear my heart – there is now NO condemnation found in Christ Jesus, and yet, I would submit to you that those things that you long for might just be directly tied to the capacity at which you give – of your time, your resources, your motivations.
Your WHY.
You see, I also work, until recently full time outside of the house, and 7 days a week managing a household of people. My people also work hard in school and with chores after. And, we joyfully (mostly!) choose to attend 2 services a week, every week, all year long, even when tired, or sick, and even burned out sometimes, because at the end of the day, we love and appreciate the value of being a vital part of a community of people who put all things aside for the sake of…
…creating a safe and loving environment for people to worship, and rest…
…setting the stage for those who are seeking to find Jesus…hope…restoration…peace…healing…
…putting the goal of serving others and bringing joy into people’s understanding of a life in Christ…
…allowing our fellow team members to also flourish, feel supported and know we are all in this together…
…remembering that in the end, nothing else matters, outside of the love we share with those who don’t yet know…
our Savior.
You see, when we know our WHY, it changes how we do everything. I am grateful that Jesus allows us to choose whether or not we bring sacrifice. (That wasn’t always so.) I am blessed beyond measure by those who pour into our house (church) week in and week out. I am humbled and honored to set aside time to lighten the load for those, whose love shown to me, has radically changed my life, and highly motivated to bring to others the same freedom I have been graced with.
Church, parenting, marriage, relationship with Christ…all these things are not meant merely for our pleasure and “filling up,” but rather they are training grounds and environments in which to grow and learn, seek Him more deeply, and then to spill out into the world with His love. When we seek only to receive from these relationships, we will always be disappointed as they are not designed for such usage. It is only in the commitment to pour out into others out of sincere love and servitude that we find we ourselves are then filled. It is only from such a posture, that we find the answers to our questions, our concerns, our hopes and our identity. Until we find our WHY, and align our values with it, we will never find our fulfillment.
“The generous man shall be prosperous and enriched, And he who waters will himself also be watered [reaping the generosity he has sown].” – Proverbs 11:25
If you aren’t serving, do it! Not feeling uncomfortable anymore? Serve somewhere that makes you nervous (and rely on God!). Feeling burned out? Find your why. Only God can fill your empty spaces, and only in the stepping out can He step in…

to envy or to edify

I’ve noticed something interesting about people. It is something that’s been growing in my spirit for quite some time, and while I have made every effort over the years not to take it personally, in recent months I have become increasingly aware of just how small some can be.

We all have struggles and trials, and yet for some reason, these truths don’t translate into a sense of empathy nearly as often as I personally believe they should. The desire to see others lack, or have a little less than ourselves, for whatever internal motivation, is unnerving. Regardless of our blessing, our friends will often be faithful to point out how much they wish they had what we have. And, to shine a bright light into their true heart for us.

My desert season was a long one, made survivable only through times of prayer, internal work, miraculous breaks in the “rain,” and a very small circle of loyal friends. They became my lifeline. Especially when, as God began to do a mighty work in my life, many around me began to express jealously, and less-than-excited-for-me statements, that often stole my joy. For a while I would choose to downplay the good things God was doing in order to not “brag” or seem “too happy.”

God forbid we experience God’s blessing now and again.

Very few people are fully aware that those around them work just as hard, and face just as many challenges, as themselves. Maybe more so. We spend so much time occupied with thoughts of what we wish we had, that we can miss out entirely on what God has for us now. Or, where our current situations are intended to take us. Often, we can entirely miss the reason for the season we are in, and the blessing God had planned in its wake, because we spend our energy on envy of those who seemingly already have what we are striving for.

When you say with an eye roll how skinny I am or young I look, perhaps you don’t know how hard I have worked to take care of myself. Or, how it wasn’t that hard for a while because there was barely any food in the house. That bold smile might just have been the moment I was choosing joy. The family vacation taken was the very first one ever, experienced shortly before my oldest graduated high school, might just be our last all together. Perhaps that romantic trip was a thank you for endless tears and struggle. Possibly that diamond necklace was a gift from years and years ago, and that outfit you envied was actually a supremely good deal I got at the second hand store because the last time I allowed myself to pay full price at Bellevue Square was 20-some years ago…

Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple. Job 5:2

Where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is also disorder and every kind of evil. James 3:16

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30

I struggle with envy at times; it’s an easy thing to do. But more so I strive to be excited for others, to choose to lift up, support, encourage and celebrate with those I am doing life with. I can’t think of a faster way to lose sight of our blessings, rob ourselves AND others, than in choosing to envy over edifying.

Don’t miss out on your blessing while missing out on your blessing…