Pay Attention

Recently my mom told me a story of when she was on a bike ride and a bird kept flying in front of her and landing. Right as she thought she was about to run it over, it would fly a little further in front and do the same thing. It made her think of that definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Of course, she had enough wisdom at the time to immediately check herself to see if she was falling into that same trap.

Sometimes God does that. He gives us examples of our very own pitfalls, but we will miss it if …

a)we aren’t paying attention, or

b) we aren’t willing to humble ourselves and check our motives to look at the reality of some of the choices in our lives.

I can think of two instances in the Bible where God uses nature to paint a picture of how we are to live our lives.

The Ant: Proverbs 6:6-8

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard;  consider her ways, and be wise.

7 Without having any chief,  officer, or ruler,

8 she prepares her bread in summer  and gathers her food in harvest.

The Birds & the Lilies: Matt. 6:26-30

26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

While walking this evening, I almost forgot to pay attention. As I turned around to go back from where I had come, I noticed a doe and her two deer babies. I was able to stand and marvel at the wonders of his handiwork, and as I walked further, found two more deer grazing by the lake.

deer

Are you paying attention?

What does God have to show you that you are too busy staring at your phone to recognize?

Will you take the time to be present and pay attention today?

Discipline and Creating New Habits -Part 1

Summer is a time where many of us have that little bit of extra time in our schedule to do with as we please. For me, that means I finally get around to all of the things I have been wanting to do, but simply did not have enough time for during the rest of the year. AKA Goals, aspirations, book lists, exercise habits, eating habits, money budgeting, the list is endless. It seems like every day I find another thing to add to my summer goal list. The hard part, however, is actually creating the time and space to accomplish those things and do what you want to do. Life happens, you get tired and want to veg on the couch or sleep in that extra five minutes, and before you know it, the summer is over and it is back to a packed schedule and shorter days.

This summer, I am stepping up and not letting the long days pass me by. But, I did not realize how hard it is to form new habits. Sleep seems so much more vital in the morning than when I set my alarm the night before, and it seems so much easier to watch a quick show on Netflix (or maybe two, or three) than to read a couple chapters of that book, or my Bible.

Thankfully, quite a long time ago, I wrote this verse on a notecard and placed it on my wall. Normally I walk right past it, but today I paused and read it over again and thanked God for his sovereign timing and wisdom.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11(NIV)

I would encourage you to read Hebrews 11 and 12 in their entirety to fully understand the context and direction of the entire passage. Chapter 11 speaks of all the great people throughout the history of the Bible and chapter 12 goes on to encourage those in the present day to not give up. Now the content of this particular passage in chapter 12 discusses discipline as discipline in the form of hardship or similar to that of a father disciplining his child. Discipline is a part of training a child in the way he or she should go, meaning it is not always an act when the child misbehaves or makes a mistake, but a constant presence guiding and directing the path of that child to help him or her learn and grow to one day become a mature adult.

Sometimes God can give us the direction or desire and it is up to us to obey and take those steps of forming the habits that will set us up for success in what he wants to do in us and through us.

How are we able to do this?

Verses 2 and 3 tell us to look at the life of Jesus for our example of someone who did not give up and lived a life devoted and disciplined, because his eyes were focused on the joy set before him.

What is the result?

Like verse 11 above says, discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace.

Maybe the discipline you are experiencing is in the form of a trial, or maybe it is in the form of creating new habits to take you to the next level in your relationship with God or his call on your life. Whatever it may be, I encourage you to keep pressing on and take a look at the two verses following verse 11:

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NIV)

The discipline, that leveling of the paths for your feet, is worth it, the harvest of righteousness and peace is coming!

to be continued

 

 

This blog post is one of a two-part series about discipline and creating new habits.

Wisdom and trials

Wisdom and trials

James is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Over the years, I have had the privilege of doing a few in depth studies on the book, which have only grown my love. 

Recently, I was given a copy of the Voice translation of the Bible and decided to read James. 

One part in particular really stood out to me in a way that I had never been able to read it before. On asking for wisdom in chapter 1, this is what we are to do: 

The key is that your request be anchored by your single minded commitment to God. Those who depend on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused. 
James 1:6-8(Voice) 

I italicized the last sentence because that point screams loud and clear, that if you are not all in, if you are riding the fence, trying to please all parties, you will only be left dizzy and confused. In the verses before, James speaks of how trials produce patience in us, and make us more mature. We have the opportunity to ask God for wisdom and he will give to anyone who asks. BUT, the key is the single-minded commitment to God. God often uses our trials to get us to that point of complete surrender. 

James is not my favorite book because I love trials–I’m not sure if anyone loves them. However, I do love what trials produce. Maturity and completeness, patience and other godly characteristics that would not be there had it not been for a trial. 

That is why I am thankful for James, and I am thankful for trials. Because I am reminded to look at the complete picture and the end result, not just the moments of pain or sorrow. 

Grief

A poem I recently wrote for a friend who lost his wife.

For every moment remembered,
every heartfelt “I love you,”
all the days serving the Lord
and the times when you never got bored.
Your kingdom-sized dreams
of mansions side by side,
worshipping the king,
walking streets gold and wide.
You were truly best friends,
a dynamic duo.
And as your heart mends,
I pray God gives you hope.

There is more awaiting you,
all those tears will be gone.
Those dreams that you grew
are so very close,
Longer than you may like
but closer than you know,
just a little while longer,
and you will see that kingdom glow.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Tuesday Morning Tea

This lovely Tuesday morning has been off to a beautiful start. First there was the sunrise. Then the love that I received from my Heavenly Father, and now the tea that combines all of my favorite flavors into one. Trader Joe’s coconut green tea with lemongrass and ginger. Could there be a better combination? Today I am thankful for the little things. Today I pray that there can be less of me and more of You, God. Today I am, my Father is the Great I AM. He needs no other name but has countless others. His majesty and glory are on display for the world to see, we simply need to awake and arise out of our slumber. That is all for this morning. Renewing my mind and my spirit, resting in God alone.

IMG_3175-3.JPG

Roots of truth

IMG_2281

The whisperings of the wind

Flutter and surround my being.

I often get caught up in this whirlwind

And sometimes stop thinking.

I stop knowing,

Knowing the truth.

The constant, steady tree with roots.

Roots that go down deep

And spread out wide.

That will always keep

Me still inside.

Peace

That flows like a river.

Sometimes the breeze makes me shiver.

I want the truth with deep down roots instead of the wind

making the air increasingly thinned,

all of its noise fills up my ears, with little room left to think or to speak,

I hopelessly feel like I’ll slip because I’m weak.

Those roots, and that river, that steady slow growth,

remind me I’m loved and give oh so much hope.

Father, Please help me!

To remember your truth,

Not forgetting the words that I memorized as a youth.

I pray that I will forget the words of this world,

That strangle and poke at this weak little girl.

May your truth reign in my life and over this earth,

So people may see and know of YOUR worth!

 

Poem by Ella Stewart