Do You Fear or Trust When the Road is Scary?

“Guys, start praying. Now!”

Though my husband said these words, I’m confident each of us in that car prayed vehemently on our own before he uttered a word. The situation wasn’t one that left an option other than to pray for God’s hand of protection and guidance.

The silence in the car was loud.

I broke the silence as I prayed out loud. Steve’s hands gripped the steering wheel as he focused on driving our car out of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado through a snow storm that left the roads a sheet of ice covered by snow.

Our van slipped along the road, desperately seeking traction and finding none. Steve’s parents were ahead of us.

At one point we began the ascent uphill and our car slowed to a crawl of no more than 7 mph. Our prayers intensified as we asked God for an army of angels to get us up the hill, to push the van, to not let us come to a stop as we knew once we stopped moving we were done.

We asked for barriers of protection around our cars, to make us untouchable.

The GPS showed 47 more miles of mountainous, snowy, icy terrain.

The silence breaking in between times of out-loud prayer became deafening. My hands drenched the seat I clutched. Then the Lord brought His Word back to me. The portion of scripture I read that very morning during my quiet time before we left our ski vacation headed for home. The verse that hangs above my son’s bed. A verse that calls me to remember – to remember who God says He is.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

My breathing began to slow. My grip loosened on the van seat. I began to instruct my heart and mind with truth. He is here. He is on this mountain with me. He is with me wherever I go. He sees what I can’t see. He tells me not to be afraid. I have the God of the universe with me.

I began to remember.

I remembered who He is. I remembered what He has done. I remembered what He promises. And I remembered the armor He instructs me to put on. I remember reading in Beth Moore’s book Praying God’s Word how she quoted Francis Frangipane in The Three Battlegrounds as saying that our peace is a secret weapon against the devil.

Peace in the face of fear tells the devil he can’t bully us. We are rooted and grounded by the very Word of God, we can’t be shaken because God can’t be shaken.

I remembered that I don’t have to become a victim of my circumstances. I have a choice to rise above the fear.

For 50 miles we prayed. We never stopped. The car was complete silence other than times of praying out loud.

All of the sudden the roads turned from complete ice to wet slush. Our vision ahead became clearer. The falling snow decreased in intensity. We became more confident in our car’s ability to deliver us safely, knowing completely it is the Lord who truly delivers us no matter the circumstance.

A road sign just ahead flashed a message. A message so startling I raced for my camera unable to capture it in time. The neon road sign read “Warning – Bright Sunshine Ahead.”

And just like that the sun shone with all its glory. The roads boasted in their dryness. Every single thing looked 100% different in a split second.

What if I always kept in mind that the road ahead always has bright sunshine when we are led by God?

Life shifts in microseconds.

One minute you are praying for your life in a snow storm, the next you are standing in the sun. One minute you are in the dry land, the next you are covered by the clouds.

If I knew at the beginning of our dangerous journey that within an hour, the shining sun would be the biggest threat, maybe I would have breathed a little easier?

The fact is God guides us for the steps we will take but we can’t see too far ahead. It’s a practice of faith, a discipline of trusting in Him when we can’t see where we are going.

We were never promised this life would be easy or look the way we want. What we are promised is that we have a God who goes with us wherever we go. And on the day we stand with Him in eternity, that is the moment that we will know it was all worth it.

An hour and a half later, we pulled in McDonald’s to meet up with Steve’s parents. Each of us in our own personal state of shock. Each knowing it was the hand of God alone that delivered us.

On the drive later that day, Andrew said, “You know how I got through that drive? I just tried to do like Peter when he walked on the water. I just imagined I was looking into Jesus’ eyes and kept looking there.”

Beautiful.

He is here. With us. We know this, but in the heat of the moment, we forget.

May we practice the art of remembrance. Remembering who God is as revealed through His Word. This is the theme of my heart these days. I shared with you a couple of weeks ago that I’m working on a new audio devotion titled Illuminate – Seeing God by the light of His Word. A 14 day devotion intended for us to journey together closer to the very heart of the truth of who God is.

We know Him, yet we forget on a daily basis who He really is. In order to strengthen us in the battle of life, we will practice remembering together.

Illuminate is almost ready for you and I absolutely can’t wait! Stay tuned this week as I share details about release dates and what you can expect. Be sure to share with your friends so they can be on the lookout. Illuminate will be released here on the blog, but you must sign up for email updates so you don’t miss it.

audio devotional

 

It’s a New Year – Be Gentle To Yourself And War On!

‘”I hope you never know how fragile you are, Isabelle.”  “I’m not fragile,” she said. The smile he gave her was barely one at all. “We are all fragile, Isabelle. It’s the thing we learn in war.”‘ Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale.

A lot of pressure rests on the fresh clean slate of a new year. If we aren’t careful, we can lay burdens on this new calendar disguised as hopes, dreams, and goals.

Some of us limped into this new year, while others burst through with zeal and energy. Some soared high almost until the end when news came that brought them to a crashing halt. Still others rang in the New Year with a sense of accomplishment, achievement, satisfaction, or renewed hope.

Most of us can identify with each of these depending on the year on which we look back.

Some New Years have been glorious. Others not so.

Either way we can enter January with hopes so high for a new start that we begin to handle ourselves quite harshly. We forget our souls are fragile and must be handled with care.

Life is war, even when life is in a season of ease. We live in a spiritual world at battle, and we are major players.

Recognizing this helps us to take care of ourselves so we can war on effectively.

Each January 1, My Utmost For His Highest, by Oswald Chambers reignites my passion to war on with fearless courage.

This year my hope is to war on with fearless courage, while handling my soul with gentle care.

A prayer for the New Year

Lord, we thank You for a new year, a new day. We thank you that Your Word reminds us we don’t have to wait an entire 365 days to start over again. Each breath we take is a new start. If we’ve messed up, may we not walk in shame and guilt. Instead may we confess to You, be cleansed, breathe in a new breath, and receive the fresh start You offer.

Lord, Your steadfast love never ceases, Your mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

We release to You our desires, dreams, hopes, and goals. We ask You to guide us with wisdom.

We release to You our pains, hurts, failures, and fears from this last year. May they not haunt us. Rather, may they be the very things that turn us into Your waiting arms. May we allow ourselves to be fragile in You, tender in Your care. Nurture us and may we allow ourselves to be cared for.

For this New Year, may we learn to see You in new ways.

When the world around us seems too much to bear, may we remember who You are. When the world around us seems almost perfect, may we not forget we still need You.

Let this be a year we accept our fragile soul as You’ve made it, and care for it well in Your Presence.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

I’ve Been Keeping a Secret

 

“Come and listen, all who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for me. I cried out to Him with my mouth, and praise was on my tongue.” Psalm 66:16

If I don’t tell you soon, I may burst. I feel as if I’ve been keeping a secret from you, and I need to let you in.

I have a new project I’ve been hard at work on! I’ve poured hours into creating, writing, praying, listening, pondering. I’ve wondered. I’ve desired. And Lord willing, I will be releasing to you what the Holy Spirit birthed in me.

I don’t even know where to begin. So I’ll back up a bit and give you a little more insight into why this project and why now.

About 3 months ago the Lord impressed on me that He was about to give birth to something new in me. For weeks He poured in idea after idea. My brain was spinning with excitement. But I didn’t know where to focus, which project to start first. I wanted to do them all. And now. Right away.

Then in an instant one day I received complete clarity from the Lord. He gave me the title, the format, and then asked that I let Him lead me day by day.

The next morning I raced away from my quiet time with the Lord. I ran to my writing room while the house slept. I opened my Bible and I opened my journal. And with a speed I’ve never experienced, I wrote as He poured through me.

The writing was by hand, which never happens for me. I always write on my keyboard. But it was as if everything was different with this project. An unfamiliar approach. A different way of listening and creating.

As God directed my time of writing, He brought each day to a feeling of completion. This happened day by day. He didn’t give me the writing prompts and ideas for anything beyond the very day He showed me what to write about.

Before I sat down to begin writing this project, I had a list of what I thought I would focus on. But each day I asked God to fill me with His Spirit and lead me. Each day He directed me in a direction I found surprising.

As I dove deeply into His Word then into my writing, I began to fall more madly in love with God. I found myself unable to stop thinking of Him. My heart felt revived.

What He was revealing to me, I was writing for you. Because I’ve experienced this renewal in my soul, I am literally giddy with excitement to bring it to you.

I don’t have an exact release date just yet, but know it will be soon! And the format is what I’m so excited about it. It’s an audio devotion with a transcript for the reading lover. 14 days reflecting on this question. Who is God? Really.

I’ve walked with God for many years now, but there is so much of who He is I’m still discovering. If I know Him intimately, why do I find my fears continue to drive my thoughts? Why does my anxiety wreak havoc in my soul? Why does my sense of unimportance create a lack of drive in me or a lack of belief that God can and will use me? Or why do I let my past failures and broken relationships define my next steps?

If I know the truth of who God really is, why am I so quick to forget?

I want to remember who God is by the light of His Word. He has revealed Himself to us and given us the power of the Holy Spirit to teach us who He is.

We have relied on the internet to tell us who He is. We have relied on podcasts, books, bloggers, pastors, and teachers, to tell us who He is. While these are wonderful supplements, I wonder if His Word has become the supplement to all else we use to reveal Him to us?

So then why am I not just ending here and saying, “Go read the Word.”

Because as I sat in His Word, He began showing me Who He is and instructed me to take it to you as a journey we will take together. To guide you through this journey you will take with Him.

I will be like your tour guide. For 14 days, I will be your traveling companion. Together we will read His Word, we will pray, we will meditate on His Word, I will share reflections and thoughts with transparency and honesty.

I believe you and I struggle with some of the same things. God wouldn’t cause this passion in me for me to simply experience Him on my own and hoard it all for myself. He’s asked me to give to you out of the gifts He’s given me.

I’m asking for your prayers over me and my family as I bring this project to completion and release it to the world. Writing brings the enemy to alert.

I’m not concerned. After what I’ve just learned in my writing this devotion for you, I’m ready to keep my eyes fixed on the character of God.

I’m going deeper with Him and want you to come along with me!

Stay tuned for release dates and information about how you can help launch when we are ready!

Coming soon…..

written and read to you by me, Renee Robinson.

 

The Best Gift You Can Give To Yourself This Year

I begin the Christmas season and the month of December excited for the slow unwrapping of Advent. The anticipation builds as I day by day, unwrap and reveal a new piece of the Christmas story.

December gives birth to slow, reflective thoughtfulness. Or crazy, insane, and frantic. Seems there is little in between. I tend to slow during December. In December I say no in order to say yes to what matters most.

We ponder. We anticipate. We expect. We focus.

Maybe we need to allow ourselves to unwrap and hold onto the gift of December.

I like December because I stop focusing on me so much. Daily I seek Jesus. I’m overwhelmed with how a familiar story can continue to dive deeper in my soul.

The unexpected gift of December is a month where I think of others above my own self. I think of Jesus. I think of humanity. I think of buying gifts for my family. I think of serving those who need. I think of who I can show hospitality to. To think of others is a surprise gift of freedom to our souls.

I’m finding I want to hold onto December. I want a year of Decembers.

In December people are nicer, decorations are cheerier, givers are more generous. In December homes are open. Parties are hosted. Invites are extended. Hospitality prevails.

In December we give ourselves permission to slow. We’ve allowed ourself a guilt free pass to stop running pace with the rest of the world. We’ve mercifully tended to our soul in the downshifting of life.

In December we become intentional. We carefully plan activities, moments, and memories with our children. In fact, some of us plan something every day.

In December we have fun. We hide elves, make gingerbread houses, watch cheesy movies, and bundle up to sing carols door to door.

In December we are together.

December is the month that brings the year to an end, yet it’s the month that gives birth to the hope we cling to.

December is remembering. We remember a baby that was born to die for us. We remember the stories from old. And we remember our own lives over the past year.

We begin to look back. Amazing how much can change in a year. Or a day. Or even one minute.

For some of us looking back over the year brings sorrow and grief. We’ve had to let go of hands we wanted to hold forever. We’ve had to accept a diagnosis and learn a new vocabulary. We’ve moved, leaving behind what was known to discover new work, new people, new places. We’ve released dreams unfulfilled. We’ve grieved the ending of a season we will never have again, accepting the new season and learning new rhythms of life.

Despite the pain, grief, and sorrow, for the one held in Christ, December whispers birth and hope. Hope never dies because our Savior lives. We cling to the hope that one day He will wipe away every tear. We will dance and run. We will sing forever.

So December, you are an interesting month. A month of reflection. A month of review. A month of renewal. A month of remembering. A month of rebirth.

Remembering the birth of my Savior, I cling to the birth that happens in my own soul. He is the picture of hope. He is joy. He is love. He is forever and unending.

How quickly I’m able to turn a page though.  The day is over. The month closes. We box it up, flip the calendar. Pack away the advent to countdown His arrival, toss the year’s calendar, and we move on.

We match pace with the world. Our inbox  and newsfeed fills with images telling us we need a new ‘us’.

We begin the purge. The focus on a New Year. New goals. New body. We get back to focusing on our life. And for the next 11 months, that is how it goes.

This year maybe I will treat each month like it’s December.

When it’s January, may I think of how I can love others well rather than simply how I can make my body more pleasing to my own eyes.

When it’s February, may I intentionally create activities, moments, and memories with the ones I love. May February hold a small gift each day of time we spend together.

When it’s March, may I open my home and invite others in. May I release the pressure to have it perfectly decorated or spotlessly cleaned. May I stop looking at the Instagram pictures of how others do it and simply do it the best I can with what I have.  May I let the love pour out of us into the ones who come through these doors.

When it’s April, may I tenderly care for my soul by allowing myself to rest. May I allow myself to produce less, accomplish less, and be in Him more. It’s in this place He will renew me so I can do far more than I envisioned.

When it’s May, may I keep unwrapping Him slowly. Day by day. May I find myself surprised that something I’ve read 100 times times revealed a new hidden treasure.

When it’s June, July, and August, may I have fun. The kind of fun that brings a smile back, a reminder to laugh. It’s good for my soul, but it’s better for the ones who do life with me.

When it’s September, October, and November, may I generously give. May my gifts bear fruit in someone’s life. May I give out of my little or my abundance because what I have isn’t mine to begin with. I’ve only been entrusted to manage it well. It’s easy to be a generous giver when it’s not mine to begin with. And it’s not.

And when it’s December again, may I begin again to remember. May I remember who God is. May I remember that though a year has passed again, a year full of joy mingled with sorrow, He never left my side. May I remember that December brings the calendar to a close, but it gave birth to a calendar that will never end.

 

When You Desperately Want To Stop Caring What Others Think

“‘Someday,” said Miles, “I’ll find a way to do something important.’ Winnie nodded. That was what she wanted.

“The way I see it, ” Miles went on, “it’s no good hiding yourself away, like Pa and lots of other people. And it’s no good just thinking of your own pleasure, either. People got to do something useful if they’re going to take up space in this world.”‘

Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting.

 

DO SOMETHING IMPORTANT

I believe in our souls there is a longing to do something useful and important.

 

For some of us, we miss out on because we are looking beyond the place we stand at this very moment.

 

Do we know that our very important work is held in every breath we breathe? It’s at every turn of our day. Right where we stand. If only we open our eyes to the holy ground we stand on.

 

We are looking at the work someone else is doing, and suddenly ours feels like the drawing of a kindergartner compared to work which brings in high bidders.

 

Or worse, we feel we are doing something useful until we realize we are unnoticed, unappreciated, or misunderstood by others.

 

My husband works at an auto auction. One week a particular car has the potential to bring in $3,000 more than it did the prior week. Same mileage, same condition, similar color. Why the difference from one week to the next? The value has a range, but that one day compared to the other, someone comes in who sees that car and places on it a personal higher value. They are willing to pay more because to them, personally, it is worth more. It’s what they came looking for as opposed to the prior week someone wasn’t looking for it but maybe stumbled upon it.

 

 

DO YOU KNOW YOUR VALUE?

 

When you have something to offer, it will be worth more to some than it is to others. And that is ok.

 

Do you realize your value? Or do you place a value on what you give out to the world based on the rejection you receive?

 

With God, we hold infinite value. We should know this given the fact He sent His Son to die for us. When we surrender our lives to Christ, He fills us with unique gifts. He created us unlike anyone else.

 

I wonder if we’ve adopted an auction mentality rather than a proper perspective of our infinite value in God’s eyes.

 

If we would stop for a minute and realize that God is the only one who can meaningfully value us and then realize that what we have to offer from the gifts He gives us won’t be appreciated or valued by all, then we can move forward with the work He’s called us to.

 

 

START TODAY WHERE YOU ARE

 

Use your gifts where you are today in preparation for where He will lead you next.

 

Do you have leadership gifts yet you find yourself under the thumb of another? Walk worthy where you are and practice your gifts in your small circle of influence.

 

Give out the gifts. They hold infinite value. Some will discard it as worthless, but someone will receive the gift you offer as a treasure. To them it’s worth $3,000 more than it was to the bidder last week.

 

When I write, something inside me comes alive. When I fail to write, something inside me withers and fades. The writing doesn’t have to be shared for me to awaken. When I write in my journal or tuck away a document on my hard drive, something is released. I can’t fully explain it. At the same time, in order for this gift to be used to build up others, I can’t keep it tucked away.

 

Just like Miles from Tuck Everlasting says, if we are going to take up space in this world, we need to quit hiding ourselves away.

 

We need to walk as the person He created us to be.

 

When we began homeschooling, writing took a backseat. Full confession, part of me loved, even relished, in this “out” from God. Not because I hated writing, but because of the writing I was called into.

 

In my heart, I was jealous of the callings and giftedness in the lives of other writers. I would read their words and feel soothed, happy, light. I’d laugh. My days would feel brighter because of their words. And then I would look at my own writing. Some posts brought encouragement and inspiration to people. But sometimes it brought conviction or challenge.

 

To be completely transparent with you, social media has made writing from my calling painfully difficult at times. “Friends” back away from me. I notice the strange looks they give me.

 

The enemy has used this to create insecurity, fear, and jealousy. All kinds of ugly. The Lord has allowed me to wrestle deeply through these sins in order that I emerge stronger.

 

After my ulcer episode I had a friend suggest I write on lighter topics considering that some of my writing invites such intense criticism.

 

That only fueled my inner pinings for the calling of someone else. Why can’t I write on topics that simply make people smile?

 

I believe you know exactly what I’m talking about. You may not be a writer, but there is that one thing, that one area that you find yourself saying, “But God why can’t I have that job like they do, or those kids like they do, or that….”

 

If only I didn’t have to do (fill in the blank), then life would be easier.

 

This is a lie from the enemy.

 

We have a tendency to romanticize and glorify the life of another. All the while, the Lord has given us unique gifts and bents to bring Him glory like no one else can do. Right where we stand.

 

HOW TO OFFER WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS MOST

 

Emily P. Freeman writes this beautifully in A Million Little Ways. “Our offerings aren’t efforts worked up inside ourselves. Our offerings are unique responses to a living, giving God. As you take the bread and wine from Jesus, you offer it to others. It is not your job to make them receive it in a certain way or with a certain amount of appreciation. It is only your job to offer it.

 

Live your life like a hostess who serves the people at her table. She looks them in the eye, meets them where they are. She doesn’t spend her time distracted during the party, hiding out in the next room, calling all the people who said they couldn’t come. She doesn’t try to please a group who has already said “No thank you” rather than serve the guests who want more.

 

Issue the invitation. Serve those who show up with what you have and who you are by offering yourself and receiving the offering they bring as well.”

 

 

LISTEN TO THE RIGHT VOICES

 

This entire passage created a shift in me over the past several weeks. You see, God has been speaking to me. He has placed burning desires and passions in me. But I tend to hear the naysayer voices louder than His. I am prone to wander into the path of the discouragers rather than walk confidently where He tells me to go.

 

I listen to the voices who look at me like I’m crazy, or the ones who suggest I write a different way. These are the voices I hear through the megaphone speaker.

 

There are other voices I should listen to. The whisper of God who says, “It’s ok, my child, trust me.”

 

Or the blog readers who send me private messages of encouragement. Or the voices that pull me aside and tell me how the Lord used something I wrote but they didn’t comment or like for fear of what others would think.

 

We have a choice in which voices we will listen to. Choose wisely. Surround yourself with ones who will boldly speak truth and encourage you at the same time.

 

The caution here must be stated. Sometimes the words need to be heeded that seem to challenge us. Sometimes this is wisdom speaking. We must use discernment in order to know when a challenging voice is from the Lord or the enemy.

 

I love Emily P. Freeman’s line to live life like a hostess who serves the people at her table. Those words have echoed in my heart. God did not call me to write for everyone. He didn’t call me to be liked and accepted by all. He didn’t call me to write what feels good and tickles ears. He didn’t call me to write the posts that bring accolades and affirmations. He called me to write out of the prophetic gifts He’s placed in me.

 

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Nehemiah.

 

Nehemiah had a task to do. Build the wall. But the Sanballat types were loud. They were sent to intimidate in order to stop the work of the Lord. Nehemiah kept His eyes on his God and His mission.

 

So he shut out the voices of opposition.

 

What oppositions scream against you? What gifts, desires, or passions are hiding in your heart? What callings do you hear from God but push aside because it’s hard to live for an unseen God when the seen world shouts with wild abandon?

 

And possibly, most importantly, don’t discount the daily, mundane, ordinary tasks at hand. These are important works. Don’t look too far beyond the holy moment where you stand. Your life will be most lived when you stand where God has placed you, offering all the gifts freely where you live and work. Always moving with the Lord in practice and preparation for what will come next.

 

Maybe it is as simple as these two things:
1- Receiving our valuation from God. Infinite value.
2- Living like the hostess who serves the ones who show up

 

Maybe this is how we stop caring what others think. Because if we keep caring much longer, then the ones we were called to serve at our party will leave empty when all the while we held the tray and the pitcher they waited on.

Too Many Choices Suffocate a Soul

“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.” Isaac Newton

The door chimed my entrance as the acetone fumes welcomed me inside.

“May I help you?”

“Yes, I’d like a pedicure please.”

“Pick your color.”

Red. Red is all I wanted. You know how many shades of red exist on the polish wall? Too many.

I picked one, then another, and one more. I tried all three on my nails. If I’d only seen the first, it would have been good enough. But now I knew that something better might be out there. Thus began my search for the best red.

My quest for the best begins to cripple my soul.

I told myself to walk away from the wall. Pick a shade. Be done, girl. I picked Cajun shrimp, which wasn’t actually red.

“Ma’am, which pedicure would you like?”

“I’m sorry, what do you mean?”

“Well, we have the hot stone pedicure, the lavender scrub pedicure, the orange peel pedicure, the ……… pedicure.” She listed about 7 different types of pedicures, and I wanted to laugh. Instead, I answered as kindly as I knew how, “I just want whichever one is like a normal pedicure.”

She proceeded to explain all the differences between each one and my brain began to spin. Now that I knew something potentially better existed I was terrified of making the wrong choice. Can one have buyer’s remorse over a pedicure? If so, it will be me.

“Ok, which is the least expensive? I’ll take that one.”

She led me to the chair and placed a remote control in my hand. More choices. What type of massage would I like? Full body or shoulders only? Hard or soft? What channel would I like to watch on the tv? Or, if I prefer, there is a stack of magazines to choose from at my side.

By the time my pedicure began, I felt mentally exhausted from decision fatigue over choices that made no difference in the quality of my day, life, or eternity.

It didn’t stop there. I stopped by Lowe’s to buy light bulbs. An entire aisle of choices. I just wanted standard bulbs. Plain and simple 40 watt bulbs. I couldn’t find them. Then I found them. But they aren’t the same anymore. There are LED, soft light, natural light, bright light, dimmable, classic styles, funky styles. Oh. My. Word. I just wanted light bulbs.

I realized I am at a decision-making breaking point when I began converting a storage room into a writing room for myself. Do you know how long I spent deciding what color to paint the concrete floor? I’m embarrassed to tell you, so I won’t. I chose white. Then the wall color. White again. Then the back and forth or what if I don’t like it.

I stopped in my favorite store in Omaha. It’s a pop up shop called Rush Market. This store speaks my language because the deals are out of this world. I walked in and the white desk sitting in the hold section beckoned me. I asked the clerk if it was sold and was informed the lady holding it had just passed. I put my name on the tag and continued shopping.

As I meandered through the store, I found another desk. Oh no. Is this one better? Do I stick with the first one? I sent a picture to Steve and my sister. They chose opposite each other. That only made the decision more difficult. I asked the clerk to switch out the desk. I changed my mind.

I continued shopping but the entire time I mentally turned over the two desk choices. Then my sister texted me to go with the same one Steve suggested. Oh no, I’d already had the clerks move the desks around the store once. I can’t believe I did this, but I got those ladies again and apologized that I’m beyond indecisive and humiliated at my own shenanigans but could they one last time switch the desks.

Then I quickly paid and left. At this point I realized something must change. This internal choice debate has gotten out of control. I can make important decisions quickly and easily. But these smaller ones consume me.

Everywhere I turn I’m faced with decisions I really don’t care to make.

I like simple. Simple. Simple. Simple.

I think all day long. I think more than I need to. I don’t want to think about things that don’t matter because I think too much about the things that do matter. And my brain needs a break.

During the course of the day, I can only imagine how many choices I’m making without realizing I’m choosing. I have to think all this mindless choosing is fatiguing my mental capabilities.

Am I choosing well when it really matters? Or am I so worn out on the insignificant choices that by the time the choices that really matter need to take place, I’m out. I don’t care. I’m decisioned to death.

When my kids come to me and need my help making a decision that is important to them, am I quick to brush it aside because I’m mentally spent? When I’m deciding on the best use of our time that evening, do I give little thought because I’m over capacity. I’m mentally tired because all day long I’m choosing and making decisions that are bit by bit wearing me down.

By the end of the day, I’m with the ones I love the most, and I’m so tired I don’t want to make one more decision.

So I think I have another decision to make. Can I find a way to simplify the daily choices that are in my control?

I stood on a stool in my closet reaching for a shirt. Andrew came up behind me. “Mom, what are you doing?”

“I’m about to try a different shirt on.”

“Not surprised.”

After he left my room, his words lingered. Not surprised.

Of course mom is trying on a different shirt despite the fact that she has one on which is perfectly fine. She is afraid she might not have made the best choice in shirts. She needs to be sure she chose the perfect one. What if the temperature changes from the forecast? What if she needs to save the one she is wearing for a different day this week?

I remember a blogger I followed about 7-8 years ago. Her blog was titled One Dress Protest. For one whole year, she wore the same thing every day. Summer, spring, winter, fall. She chose a black dress that she could put leggings under in the winter. She could add a scarf or a necklace to change up the look.

It was part statement and part protest on her behalf. I don’t really know what her goals were, but her idea appealed to me. I was just never brave enough to wear the same thing every single day for a year.

So you know what I did last week? I tested it out. I chose my very favorite shirt. Black, cozy, can be dressed up or down, can even be worn with athletic pants. One shirt, one pair of jeans, one pair of athletic pants. That was it for 3 days.

I don’t think anyone noticed. I mean I live with all males, so they wouldn’t notice. Besides saving myself 30 minutes in the closet, mentally my morning felt clearer, crisper. I felt empowered rather than wearied at the start of the day. I was ready for the decisions that mattered because I simplified the ones that didn’t.

What is one thing that you find daily stresses you out to decide on? Clothes, dinner, activities? Is it social media? Choosing what to read, what to land on, which platform to spend your time scrolling on? Is it possible to choose the way of simple if even for a time?

Maybe you give yourself a break from that one thing for one week. For me it was choosing one outfit for a few days. For you it might be drastically different. I imagine in each of our lives, there are areas we could simplify by eliminating our choices.

“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.” ~ Frederic Chopin

Maybe we’ve bought into the notion that more is better. Maybe there is something to the theory of “less is more”.

Maybe we become more of who we really are when we courageously walk in simple steps along simple paths.

Because you know what? I’m not really the grumpy grumbler who emerges from the closet amongst heaps of discarded choices. If the constant choosing is creating in me someone I am not, maybe that is a hint from my soul that one small step toward simplification could be all that is required.

Maybe when we choose the simple path, removing stuff and clutter and choices, we are finally able to see the beauty that has been buried alive.

Maybe parts of our soul have been buried with the weight of too many choices and decisions that don’t bear their own weight in importance.

Maybe parts of our soul have been buried by the debt to create the Pinterest perfect home.

Maybe parts of our soul have died under the suffocation of the pursuit of the best choice for fear of failing in some area of our life.

Maybe a step to the reviving of our soul is to stop allowing choices, and decisions, and stuff to clutter our lives.

Maybe it can’t be forever, but maybe our soul would find relief from a simple reprieve from the daily grind of too many insignificant choices.

Maybe this is the break we need to clear the clutter in our minds in order to see the simple beauty of life. To allow ourselves to awaken to who He created us to be. Maybe our greatest expressions are found when we walk and live in simplicity.

And really, what do we have to lose if it’s a failed experiment? If you are brave enough to choose one area to eliminate choice and decision so you can simplify your life and choose well in the areas that matter, I’d love for you to share the results with me.

 

The Most Brilliant Marketing Strategy I’ve Ever Seen

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Prior to our Yellowstone trip in August, I asked each of the boys to read the history on Wall Drug Store. Wall Drug made a name for themselves in 1931 in a small town where people were wiped clean. Their marketing strategy was simply brilliant. Free water.

Everyone likes free. Everyone gets thirsty. They had water, which cost them nothing. Extend the invitation and bring the people in.

In order to attract customers they advertised free ice water. As it turns out, people were thirsty. Those parched travelers stopped to quench their thirst. Before long, lines of people waiting to receive their promised free water filled the sidewalk. While they waited, they might purchase a 5 cent cup of coffee or an ice cream cone. The business exploded, and it all began with the offer of water without payment.

This idea of water without payment isn’t new.

Revelation 21:6 “And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”

It was the thirsty who stopped at Wall Drug and received water to quench their thirst. It is the thirsty who come to Jesus and drink from the spring of everlasting life. It’s available to all, but only received by the ones who willingly open their mouths and drink.

Our pastor frequently says, “God isn’t into headlocks.” He’s right. “He won’t headlock you to Heaven,” he tells the congregation, and our pastors won’t headlock you to the altar. The invitation is extended. The time is now. If you are thirsty, come to the spring and sip. You will never thirst again.

“She was able to believe in this because she needed to; and, believing, was her own true, promising friend once more.”
Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

Dear Lord, may today we look to you to quench our thirst. For those who’ve not yet tasted Your Living Water, may today they run to your spring. For the ones who are securely held in your hands, may they turn to you repeatedly as their thirst returns, knowing you satisfy our deepest needs. May we act in love, steadied by faith, anchored by hope. In Jesus’ name we pray.

 

 

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