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Before I Say Yes

Guys, I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. Totally. In fact, the wagon is so far ahead of me that I’m now running behind trying to catch up, gasping for breath. What wagon, you ask? The NO wagon.

I don’t know about you but opportunities to serve and help out are like flies on a hot day. They are swarming around me. And by nature I’m very much a YES! person. That word jumps into my mouth before I can choke it down. But over the past couple of years, I’ve had to watch it. My body and brain have been through a lot and I’ve had to step away from a lot of commitments. I learned to say NO.

Until recently, that is. Christmas came around and suddenly I found myself doing all these things. New Year and my schedule is packed. How did this happen? I ask myself. Ah, I fell off the NO bandwagon. Let me be clear that all of these are GOOD things! All of them! Some of them were asked of me, some I volunteered for, and some nobody volunteered for so I…ummm… volunteered for.

An idea that’s pretty popular in my church (and I think a lot of others too) right now is to “say YES before God asks you.” I first heard this phrase in relation to missions. And I get it- really, I do. I understand the heart attitude it’s driving at. The attitude that gives up what you desire in order to obey the Lord. The attitude that made Isaiah say, “Here I am! Send me.”

But sometimes, the RIGHT answer is NO. This is a rarely taught concept in the church. I was telling my schedule to someone the other day and he said to me, “You know you don’t have to save the world every month, right?” That really stuck with me. It is okay and sometimes RIGHT to say NO to good things. I would rather do a few things excellently than all things half way. Or more accurately, I would rather do a few things excellently and not have to take a week to recover every month because I’ve drained myself of everything I have.

The more I thought about this, the more I thought it would be wise to have a plan. A decision-making plan. So I literally wrote one up the other morning. It’s pretty simple:

Before saying YES:

  1. Have I prayed about it?
  2. Does this honor and glorify God?
  3. Does this move me towards my life goals for this year?
  4. Does this conflict with any previous commitments and/or work schedule?
  5. Is the THOUGHT of this already stressing me out?

This has been SO helpful for me already! Freeing really! The first two are musts, the third is almost a must. That fourth is negotiable. My schedule is flexible but I want to stay committed to the things I’ve said YES to first. The Bible actually has a lot to say on following through on your word. (Eccl. 5:5, Matt. 5:33-37, Num. 30:1-2) So that’s important to me. That last one is a big one for me. Stress is a huge thing for someone with epilepsy and constant headaches. If just thinking about committing to something is giving me more stress, it’s probably not a good idea to do it. I’ve found the stress doesn’t go away, but usually increases. ๐Ÿ™‚

I want to be wise with the time and energy that’s been given to me. It’s not endless (believe me, I KNOW.) So if I say NO to something you ask me to do, you can know that I’ve thought it through and prayed about it and it’s almost NEVER because I don’t want to do it. I just can’t always say YES.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2019 in growing

 

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Pointing to the Cross

Well, happy 2019 folks! I’ve been seeing tons of posts about New Year’s Resolutions, year-end recaps, and goals for the next 365 days. It’s funny how one tick of the clock changes how people perceive the world and makes them want to live differently.

Speaking of which, I know you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats to hear my 2019 prayer request so I won’t keep you sitting there much longer. It’s a little…different.

I want to learn how to evangelize better. Maybe this sounds really weird to you. Here’s the thing. I think most people walk away from interactions with me thinking that I’m a really sweet, responsible girl and I HATE that. I want people to walk away from talking to me having heard about Christ. I want the smallest of conversations to point to him and his incredible work on the cross.

I’m not talking here about going on a huge mission trip or anything like that. I mean everyday life. I’m talking about my neighbors, the guy who owns the gas station down the street, my co-workers. These are people I encounter all the time and know that I’m a quote (emphasis on the quote) “good person” but have I actually shared the GOSPEL with them??

To be honest, sometimes I clam up. Either out of fear that I will sound preachy, superior, or unsympathetic, I don’t mention Christ when that’s really what I’m thinking. I’m tired of overthinking things and not letting what he has done flow out of me.

And here’s what I know: We are commanded to be ambassadors for Christ and to spread the gospel. (Matt. 28:18-20) But I was also thinking this week of the verse that says:

“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
Luke 12:48b

I think most times that verse is used in relation to money but as I thought about it I realized that the most precious thing I have been entrusted with is the gospel. How will I use what has been given to me?? I want to be like the faithful and wise steward. We don’t know when Christ is returning and I want to be burdened for those that don’t know him and make the most of the time I have.

That’s my heart’s cry for this year. I know practice will make it more natural. I’ve got some other things up my sleeve too. ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Day! Do you have anything specific you are praying for this year?

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2019 in evangelism

 

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The Contentment Prayer

Is there some kind of award for posting so much in December? Because there definitely should be. Pretty sure this is a record for me. I usually get so busy and posts go out the window. I guess I’ve just been inspired! (People who have been reading the December posts scoff…)

Anyway, if you have read this post or maybe this one…you know that I do something at the beginning of every year. I don’t really make New Years’ resolutions but I pray for a specific thing for God to teach me each year. And I pray for it all year long. Usually it’s an area of weakness that I know I have and I want to work on it through the year.

This year, I was praying for contentment. My life has changed a lot in the past couple years and I knew I wasn’t really happy with it. I felt restless in my walk with the Lord and what he wanted me to be doing with my life. And so on January 1st, I prayed. And I didn’t stop. I also did some studying on contentment and talked with mentors.

*sigh* I had grand plans for this post. I keep a pretty thorough journal and I wanted to go back through it and see how God has worked this year. There have been times when I was going through something and I would be frustrated and suddenly realize, “Oh my gosh! This is about contentment!” And my whole perspective would flip because I could SEE God teaching me. So I picked up my journal to read through it (which is something I never do.) Wanna know how far I made it? January 7th. Sometimes God’s lessons are hard, people. And even though I’m beyond grateful for them, it was painful to read back over it so soon.

I learned a lot about Paul this year. I wanted to know more about this guy who could be content in every circumstance (Phil. 4:11) so I studied him a lot. And one phrase continually stuck in my head. Paul says that he had learned to be content. I think I’ve come to realize that contentment isn’t what I thought it was. Contentment isn’t something you ARRIVE at, it’s a continual process of learning. Your situation changes and you learn to be content over and over again and the reason you (and I) can do that is because

Christ. Doesn’t. Change.

There it is. I’ve preached the gospel to myself more this year than any other and even though my life has drastically changed, funny thing, God hasn’t. He is still the same as he was three years ago, ten years ago, 2 thousand years ago. Knowing I can rely on that is a HUGE source of contentment.

I’m SO thankful for the way that God has answered my prayers this year. I do have mine for 2019 but you’ll have to wait for my next post to read about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2018 in contentment

 

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Tradition! Tradition!

I’ve always been a sucker for good, old musicals. Oklahoma, Singing in the Rain, The Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and the list goes on. Yup, I’m one of those people. So a couple of weeks ago, when I noticed that Fiddler on the Roof was on Prime, I put it on my watchlist. 

But everyone knows you can’t just jump into a 3 hour movie without forethought. It didn’t take me too long to decide that it wouldn’t be a waste of my life to watch it again and plus I’d probably only watch the first half anyways….yeah….I watched the whole thing.

There are a couple of things that really stood out to me this time. Which is saying something considering I grew up on that movie. My sisters and I would sing those songs on car rides and while we did dishes. Harmony and everything. I have it memorized to the point that I left the room for a minute just as the line came up, “We’ve been waiting for the Messiah our whole lives; wouldn’t this be a good time for him to come?” And I called out from the other side of my apartment, “He’s already come, Motel!” (Yeah, I talk to movies when I’m by myself.)

But back to life lessons, people. I was SO struck by how much Tevye talks to God throughout the whole movie. He’s literally in constant communication about every single thing. I’m not saying he always has the best attitude but I’m saying it actually really convicted me to look at my life and see how it compared.

Also, when I watched the scene before the Sabbath it suddenly reminded me of church. They are rushing around crazily to get everything done before the Sabbath comes. They are arguing with each other, shouting, everything is chaos. And then suddenly it’s like, “Okay, hush, it’s the Sabbath now.” Whoa. Have you ever had a Sunday like that? Have you ever had a crazy morning where nothing goes right, you fight on the way to church, and then get to church and pretend like everything is perfect? Yeah, me too.

And lastly, I got a huge chuckle right at the beginning of the movie. Tevye is, of course, explaining the basis of the whole story line: TRADITION! He explains about the traditions and then says, “You may ask, ‘How did this tradition get started?’ I’ll tell you!…..I don’t know. But it’s a tradition!”

And I laughed because there are SO many things in our churches today that are like that. Things we do simply because that’s the way they have always been done and no one even remembers why. BUT IT’S A TRADITION! And sometimes you can look at Scripture and see why a certain thing is done and other times it’s not clear until you try to change it. There may or may not be a reason. I’m thankful to be a part of a church that is becoming more open to new ideas little by little.

Sometimes I need to remember myself that change is okay. Feel free to remind me anytime. I’ll try to be like Tevye and examine to see if it’s something that really matters or not.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2018 in movies

 

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Forced to Rest

It’s no real secret that I am tired all the time. Literally. I wake up tired and with a headache and that’s how it is all day long. I’m learning to be content with that. But what most people don’t know is that I have a really hard time resting. I can’t remember the last time I took a nap. My friends tell me all the time, “Oh honey, why don’t you just go curl up with a blanket and take a nap?” And I will smile and say that sounds like a wonderful idea. Because it really does.

I’m on three strong medications that CAUSE sleepiness and wear me out but the one also has a side effect of insomnia that really works. No naps for me. Sad day. I have been known to be so tired that I tell my friends I wish they would just knock me out so my body could get some rest!

Which actually brings me to the point of this post. (Don’t worry, I was getting there.) A month or so ago, I was in a Sunday School class on prayer. And it was a wonderful class. One of the lessons was on praying Scripture and we were talking about Psalm 23. As an example, my teacher asked if someone would be willing to pray that passage and an older lady at my church volunteered.

But as she prayed, something new struck me. Verse 2: “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”

Hmmmย makes me? Like forces me to lie down, to rest? If I’m honest, there have been many times in my life when I don’t want to rest. When I get so crazy busy and I have seen God slow me down. And if I’m totally honest, I didn’t like it. I wanted to do things my way at my speed. But now that physical rest is SO desirable and out of reach for me, I recognize the importance of it.

But of even greater importance is spiritual rest. Verse 3: “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Whenever I read this I’m reminded of how utterly thankful I am for soul-restoration! How when I’m worn out and tired, my SOUL can still be at rest because of Jesus Christ! How when I can’t find the energy to do anything, somehow I find energy in talking about my Savior and his incredible love! What a thing to praise the Lord for.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2018 in blessing

 

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A House of Prayer

I had a new revelation at church this week. Cue the flashing lights and trumpets! Everyone leans forward in their chairs! Because, as we all know, everyone wants to learn about new stuff! But what I actually mean is, God did NOT reveal something other than his Word to me, he revealed something about his Word as it relates to my life. Sorry to disappoint. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, the past few weeks, I have felt really BUSY at church. My brain has felt scattered and cluttered, filled with things I need to do while I’m there. I usually walk to church and on that short walk, my mind starts coming up with people I need to talk to when I’m at church and I start planning how I’m going to fit it all in. For instance, this Sunday alone, I had 4 people I needed to talk to about different ministry things, I needed to connect with the other Young Adult leader about some things, I’m the secretary of a committee and needed to confirm a meeting for this Wednesday, AND I had a meeting right after service. It’s a lot to fit in if you count trying to find all the people and talking with everyone else you bump into.

And the problem is, IT’S ALL GOOD STUFF. And it all does need to get done. But by the end of church I was frustrated because first of all, my list wasn’t complete, and secondly, there were other people that were hurting at church and my heart WANTED to talk with those people but because of my “to-do list”, I didn’t have time.

And that’s when my focus cleared up. Verses from Matthew and Mark quickly popped into my head and I realized that I had made church a place of business instead of keeping it a place of worship and prayer. Once my “have-to” stuff became more important than ministering to those that needed it, God quickly convicted my heart. And I’m so thankful he did!

I also realized that there was absolutely no need for those things to be done on Sunday. In my mind, I just always say, “Oh, I’ll see them at church and talk to them then.” BUT I DON’T NEED TO! Why in the world do I have phone calls, texts, and emails if I’m not going to use them?? I don’t NEED to push everything to Sunday because it can be done before then. What I need to do is restructure my mind to think this way and diligently plan ahead of time.

Ok, so maybe this wasn’t a new revelation for you at all. But it was for me. And now I have a list of things to do before Sunday gets here. I’m sure things will still pop up on Sundays but that’s ok. I’m praying my mind and heart will be able to focus a little bit more on the reason I go to church this coming week.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2018 in church

 

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Praying When You’re Crazy Busy

Do you ever feel like you’re crazy busy? Or maybe just crazy? (Either one works for me.) I think when I ask my friends how they are doing or how their week was, one of the most common answers is, “Busy.”

For me, I don’t feel like I have a lot of events or activities going on, my brain feels busy. Like it’s overloaded all the time and trying to catch up. I’m sure others feel that way. So maybe you can relate to this: You sit down to do your devotions in the morning (or whenever is best for you.) What I usually do is open my Bible, ask the Lord to clear my head and focus on what I’m about to read, and then I read a little. Then I spend some time in prayer. And here’s what happens:

“Ah, Lord, you are SO good to us and we totally don’t deserve it…(text comes in, looks at it and puts phone across room to avoid further distractions)…I love how you used Gideon in that story even though he wasn’t strong, it showed your strength and pla…(Geez, the cars are loud today. I wish they would change theย  traffic lights back to how they were before.)…Father, please help Natalie today at work to be a light for…(Light bulbs! I forgot to pick up light bulbs at the store! And toilet paper! And toothpaste! Where’s my phone?? I need to make a list before I forget all this!)”

Yeah…anyone relate? I’ve always struggled with the verse that tells us to pray constantly because all I could think of is the amount of focus that would take! BUT I recently read a book that really helped me. It’s very fittingly titled “Crazy Busy” by Kevin DeYoung. How can you not like a book with a tag line that reads, “A (mercifully) short book about a (really) big problem?” I highly recommend it.

Anyway, in one part of the book, Kevin is talking about prayer. Sorry you aren’t going to get any direct quotes but I loaned my copy out so you’re stuck with my memory for today- buy the book. He talks about a concept that has really helped him. The idea is whenever you hear or think of something you should pray for, you do it RIGHT THEN. Pray right then. And then put it out of your mind and trust that God has it.

Maybe this isn’t a mind-blowing concept for some people but it was for me. For some reason, I had the idea that praying constantly meant keeping every single thing I was currently praying about on my mind ALL. THE. TIME. and trying to remember it all. Do you know how exhausting that is?? This idea took such a load off my mind. Now, whenever something comes to my mind that I should pray for, I do, and then I trust that God has it handled (duh), and that he will bring it to my mind as often as I need to remember it. I’ve actually been praying MORE this way. You see, instead of using my brain power to remember my prayer requests, it’s actually being used to pray for them! Who knew?

And in some way, this method has also helped my morning focused prayer time too. Because I pray more through the day, I don’t feel like I have a giant list of things to get through every day and I can just spend time talking to the Lord.

But seriously guys, get the book. It’s full of wisdom AND it’s a short, easy read. You won’t regret it.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2018 in prayer

 

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