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Friday, January 28, 2011

Just "Be"

Do you ever get so busy with the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to just be?

As I lay with my four year-old son, Noah, in his bed tonight, we played our make-believe game of "animals." He's usually the beautiful blue rabbit with the fun floppy ears, and I'm the big brown monkey with the bright red nose. Together we act out silly stories that send us into fits of giggles. Even if we attempt to be serious and act out a Bible lesson we just learned, it's inevitable we'll wind up laughing.

After our game was over, I didn't rush off like I typically do, determined to get one last thing done before a new day dawns. Instead, I rolled over and scooped him in my arms. And in complete silence, I held my precious little boy for several minutes. As I smelled the sweet scent of his freshly shampooed hair and watched his little chest rise and fall, I relished in just be-ing.

Because so often I am busy do-ing.

I'm do-ing homeschooling.

I'm do-ing housework.

I'm do-ing laundry.

I'm do-ing dinner.

I'm do-ing things for Jesus.

And before I know it, I've missed the blessing of be-ing because I'm present in body, but absent in spirit.

In the stillness of silence, the Lord reminded me that do-ing doesn't equal be-ing. I can do and do and do and never be.

Our society measures productivity in terms of what we get done. I'm so thankful God doesn't measure my productivity in parenting that way.

A crucial aspect of loving our children as God commands us to in Titus 2:4 is willingly laying aside our doing at times to just be. And the beautiful thing about be-ing is that you don't have to be do-ing anything at all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

White as Snow

With the tip of my nose pressed against the cool glass of my back patio door, I marveled at the beauty of God's creation. Snow had begun falling hours before, and though it was almost midnight, beams of light danced off the ice. It looked so clean. So pure. So bright.

It's been seven years since my family moved from New Jersey to Mississippi, and I'd forgotten the magnificence of ten inches of snow. I couldn't resist stepping outside to let the flakes fall softly around me. I slid the patio door open, and without any shoes on (yes, I'm a Cajun girl), I pranced in the fluffy white powder.

As I basked in the beauty that surrounded me, the words of Isaiah 1:18 flooded my soul.

"Come now, let's settle this," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool."

Just as the snow blankets the Earth and covers unattractive things under its surface, the blood of Christ covers our sins and makes us beautiful. Because of the shed blood of Jesus, we are pure and clean. We are redeemed!

But not only does snow cover what is ugly, it illuminates the world around it. As I stood in the stillness of the night, I couldn't believe how bright my backyard was. The darkness of the midnight sky was no match for the light reflecting off the freshly fallen snow.

Jesus didn't spill His crimson blood to cover our sins so we can still live like we're dingy. He cleans us up and purifies us so that we'll illuminate the world around us and shine for His glory. Our brightness bears witness that we're new creations in Christ.

But we often get sullied because we forget it's been settled. We mull around in the muck and mire instead of living the victorious life Jesus died for us to live. We allow the Devil to deceive us into thinking things will never change.

God wanted to make sure our fickle minds would remember that He's cleaned us up- once and for all. That's why He started this scripture with "Come now, let's settle this." I'm sure He knew we'd somehow slip back into our sins and forget that He's already won the victory.

What if today you and I decided to live like it's been settled?

How would our attitudes change? Our outlook on life?

Would our Kingdom impact be drastically different?

I believe it would.

Sweet friends, may today be the day we begin to live like we remember. Our sin has been settled. It's time to sparkle like new-fallen snow.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Next Step

Over the last 10 days, I've found myself overcome with emotion. As I've reflected on 2010, I've shed many a tear remembering God's faithfulness and the mountains He's moved in my life. To say I’m bubbling with excitement at what the future holds is a vast understatement!

I'm still in the process of praying about my goals for this year, writing them down, and developing strategies for accomplishing them. But after I’m done praying and planning, I’ll be pausing. And asking God to show me the next step.

Not the next ten steps. Not the next two steps. Just the next step I’m supposed to take.

You see, I often forge full steam ahead, juggling my resolutions while speed skating through life. I develop a Superwoman complex and then pretend I’m the maven of multi-tasking. I attempt to manage multiple goals in addition to staying on top of everyday life. But before I know it my resolutions coupled with my responsibilities result in burnout. And instead of accomplishing one thing, I end up accomplishing nothing—no thing!

Although we’re often focused on the big picture, God usually illuminates our paths just like a flashlight does— one small sphere at a time. He knows we’re prone to wander rather than walk hand-in-hand with Him. He beckons us to seek Him first and love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds (Matthew 22:37). He invites us to rest in Him because He knows the plans He has for us, and those plans will be accomplished in His perfect time (Jeremiah 29:11). He urges us not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow holds enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Proverbs 16:9 reminds us that “we can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” This year, let’s ask Him to determine our steps just one at a time. Once He does, let’s focus our efforts on completing the task He gives us each day and leave tomorrow in His hands.

That way, we’ll never become so focused on the destination that we miss the blessing of the journey. We won’t forget the value of the process because we’re too fixated on our progress. Instead, we’ll rest assured we’ve done only what He’s asked of us and that Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant will one day play like music to our ears.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The One Thing

You know the saying- A New Year, A New You. So I decided yesterday that the new, organized me would begin the process of decluttering my bedroom. I'm the princess of piles, and as I rummaged through old paperwork, I found a list I made a few years ago. Scratched across the top of the page was the title "Things I Want to Change- New Disciplines." And listed below the title were 21 goals I desired to accomplish in my life. Now these weren't just any goals, but lofty ones like:
  • Develop a proactive plan for my life rather than merely reacting, moving from crisis to crisis
  • Have a specific vision for the spiritual growth of my marriage and my children
  • Establish a tighter routine for my kids and a consistent plan for discipline
  • Be accountable to a budget
  • Love others as Christ does
  • Memorize Scripture
  • Develop a plan for keeping my home and stick to it
Sounds great, right? Well, not exactly. Because of those 21 goals, I've consistently accomplished only four. Disappointment stung my soul as feelings of failure crept in. And I wondered why so many times in my life I've made resolutions but failed to keep them.

I got my answer at church this morning. As my pastor preached on goal setting, he said that the source of our frustration is misidentification. The Lord revealed to me that while goals are good and plans make life purposeful, any time I elevate those things over the "priceless gain of knowing Christ," I'll end up disgruntled and miserable (Philippians 3:8). That's because God never intended for me to be satisfied with anything but Him. The fulfillment of any goal, no matter how lofty, will never compare to knowing Jesus in a personal, passionate, and powerful way.

As I write this, the lyrics of a worship song entitled Knowing You echo in my mind, and I pray they'll minister truth to your spirit as you start this new year.

All I once held dear, built my life upon,
All this world reveres and wars to own;
All I once thought gain I have counted loss,
Spent and worthless now compared to this.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You
There is no greater thing.
You're my all, You're the best,
You're my joy, my righteousness,
And I love You Lord.

Now my heart's desire is to know You more,
To be found in You and known as Yours,
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All surpassing gift of righteousness

Oh to know the power of Your risen life,
And to know You in Your sufferings;
To become like You in Your death, my Lord,
So with You to live and never die.

Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you
There is no greater thing.
You're my all, you're the best.
You're my joy, my righteousness.
And I love you Lord.

I know we'll make plans and set goals for the first year of this dawning decade. But in the process, let's never forsake the one thing for which we were created- to know God and be known by Him.