When God is Getting Your Attention

A friend called me several days ago and wondered if I had any suggestions for small inexpensive devotions she could give to her team at a retreat she was hosting for her business.

A tiny little booklet I hadn’t thought of in years popped in my head. I first heard about this little gem from another friend and ended up buying 20 copies of it to keep on hand to offer out as the need arose.  Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles E. Hummel.

She stopped by and picked up the copies I had on hand. I thought to myself, “I should read it again.” But I laid it aside and went about my business.

Last night I hosted the final session of a Bible study I led in my home. We went through Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer.  Can I just pause and say, please do this study. Even if on your own. Good gracious, it will be the thing your soul thanks you for for the rest of your life!

At the end of the video, Priscilla referenced this tiny pamphlet I hadn’t thought of in years. I’ve never heard it mentioned by anyone other than my one friend years ago. And here I sit learning how to better hear God’s voice when she mentions something that has only days before come to my attention again.

My friend sat across the room. Our mouths dropped, we met each other’s gaze with silent gasps. He had both our attentions.

Sometimes God speaks in whispers. But sometimes it’s like a shout in the ear in the middle of the night. Startling.

I climbed into bed with a full heart last night. A Bible study completed that we all stuck to through the summer. Not an easy thing in today’s busy culture. But they showed up week after week. Hungry and thirsty.

I opened that little black book and began reading. I got to a sentence that made in inhale sharply.

“Many of us have experienced Christ’s deliverance from the penalty and power of sin in our lives. Are we also letting him free us from the tyranny of the urgent? In this message he points the way: “If you hold to my teaching.” This is the path to freedom, continuing day by day to meditate on the Scriptures and gain our Lord’s perspective.

P.T. Forsyth once said, “The worst sin is prayerlessness.” Does this statement surprise us? We usually think of murder and adultery as among the worst offenses against God and humanity. But the root of all sin is self-sufficiency – independence from the rule of God.”

I stopped reading immediately. I needed to sit with this. Sleep on it. Roll around in it. Wrestle it down to the ground.

I closed my eyes. The next morning I awoke. I felt the Lord calling me into an even quieter time with him this morning.

I went to my writing room. I left my phone upstairs. I kept the lights low and opened His Word. I prayed. I asked Him to speak to me and let me hear Him. After I sat in His Word, I opened another book I’ve been slowly reading through each morning for the 2nd read through. Prayer – Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller. Absolutely amazing book.

 

Y’all. The very page I was on this particular day said this:

“Prayer should be done regularly, persistently, resolutely, and tenaciously at least daily, whether we feel like it or not. ‘The worst sin is prayerlessness,’ wrote Peter T. Forsyth.”

God had a word for me. Pray.

Last week I told my husband I felt God telling me to get on my knees. Literally. Posture into submission.

One of my greatest struggles is self-sufficiency. I know in my head that God supplies the power I need to do everything I do. Yet, if I’m totally honest, I often get from Him a touch of what I need then race forward leaving Him behind.

He gently calls me back. Wooing me to Him. Tender and sweet.

He tells me to lay down my first born drive and simply surrender it all to Him. Rest. Cease striving. Be still and know that He is God.

Is He calling you to spend more time sitting at His feet? To stop racing to the urgent demands and tend to the most important instead?

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Don’t Miss the Miracle Because It Looks So Familiar

If you’ve been following along over the last couple of weeks, you know I’ve been sharing stories I’ve not shared here on the blog. Today I’m hitting the pause button to share this post. I felt the Lord had someone who needed this reminder today.

Before anyone in my house awoke for the day, I sat with my calendar. I had many plans for this particular Monday. I quickly jotted down all I hoped to accomplish and instantly heard the faint whispers of overwhelm rising with threat in their voices.

Laying my pencil on the table, I lowered my head. No, this isn’t how I want to start this week. I needed a day to catch my breath. The previous weeks were filled with hosting multiple sets of houseguests, running children to all the activities, starting a Bible study in my home, launching a new business. And all the other life stuff.

I am well familiar with what happens in my soul when I run on little margin. It’s not pretty.

I whispered a tiny prayer. God, I give my day to you. Help me to see where you want me to invest my time today. What should my priorities be?

Within minutes of that whispered prayer, my blurry-eyed youngest stumbled into the kitchen finding his favorite barstool.

“Well, hello there.”
“Hi,” he forced out while laying his head on the counter.
“I’ll run out to the garage freezer and grab some waffles.”

Opening the freezer door, warm air greeted me. No welcoming hum sang from within. All the food seemed to be clinging to its final moments.

Frantically, I began touching all the food determining what could be saved and what would be tossed. I instantly calculated the dollars soon to fill my trash bins.

This was all so familiar. A pattern of sorts. I’ve been down this broken appliance road one too many times. I know what to expect. And riding the coattails of this familiar feeling were discouragement and frustration. Feelings of almost giving up on the situation. Ready to throw my hands up, throw in the towel, and be done.

In the last 6 weeks, we replaced our washing machine and vacuum cleaner, repaired our broken refrigerator twice, and repaired the air condition, which chose to quit over a holiday weekend when temperatures hung out at 100 degrees.

I’ve found a fear of broken things taking up residence in me. When something threatens to break, I feel this panic try to set in. I’ve begun to assume the story will be the same with each incident.

I heard another whisper. A gentle one. It seemed to say, “It’s o.k.”

I turned away from the freezer, walked back into my house, and felt a calmness take over and joy rise up. It was the strangest of feelings.

That’s when I heard God whisper, “Just because it’s been one way before doesn’t mean it’ll be that way again. Trust me with your day and situation.”

How many times have I faced situations that seem to come at me in cycles? A relationship conflict, a misunderstanding, a problem that seems void of solutions. How often do I face these with the same expectations each time assuming because it turned out one way in the past, it’s destined to turn out the same way again?

How quickly do I allow discouragement to lead my thoughts rather than hope? How often do I give fear the freedom to speak when I should allow trust to do the silencing on my behalf?

I pulled out pans and began browning meat I could freeze. I turned on the oven and cooked bacon. I plugged in the Instant Pots and had brisket cooking in one and chicken in the other.

The kitchen was a flurry of mess and activity over the next 2 hours. When it was all done, I had dinners cooked for the entire week. Unplanned and unprecedented. That was not on my checklist or agenda, nor would it ever have been. A miracle for sure.

I cleaned up the kitchen and stored away all these unexpected dinner dishes. That’s when I remembered the freezer issue still remained.

I’d made a choice to not believe that because all our other appliances were breaking that it meant this one was doomed as well. I walked with confident assurance to that dusty old freezer.

I looked inside as if I knew what I was looking for. I noticed a seal missing in the back and a crack. Possibly the culprit? But no, I reminded myself. I won’t yet believe that it’s broken based on past history.

I followed the trail of cord to the outlet. So much dust and dirt back there. I moved in slightly closer. It was barely noticeable. The cord somehow had been nudged just the slightest bit out of the socket.

With a gentle tap of my fingers, the familiar hum signaled the freezer’s resurrected life.

I returned to my kitchen and found my calendar and to do lists. As I surveyed the nights ahead, I realized the gift these prepared meals will be to us. More importantly than the meals, I knew God had multilayered gifts for me hidden in what appeared broken and familiar.

He’s teaching me to hold my plans in my open palm. He’s teaching me to listen to His voice before any others. He’s teaching me to always believe and hope in the new things He’s doing. He’s teaching me to look for the miracles hiding in familiar situations.

Today, if you find yourself facing a discouraging situation filled with familiar, open your hands and offer it back to Him. Maybe the time is now to watch Him do something miraculously new.

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19, NIV

 

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How to overcome the overwhelm, achieve your goals, and celebrate victory

 

The last time I posted, I told you I’d share some stories I’ve not shared here before. I feel it’s important to understand some of these stories in order to see where God is leading me now. I also think that in simply sharing these stories, you will find your “me too” moments.

A reader wrote me an email in regards to my post about saying Never. What spoke to her was my admission to my Coke addiction a few years ago. Actually I had a couple people connect with that one. This reader was quite surprised I had a Coke problem.

“I recall that from time to time you’ve referenced talking a walk or a run for exercise.  So in my mind, I just think you’re one of those ‘skinny, healthy, exercising’ people and I allow that to create distance, even if only in my own heart and mind.  I believe this division in my mind is another tactic from our enemy.  He would like nothing more than to cause me to feel strange, ashamed, unable, different, and unworthy.  So, I think that’s why your (seemingly offhanded) comment about Coca-Cola spoke to me.  It was a ‘me too’ moment.” Blog Reader

Ya’ll this struck me straight in the heart. I’ve tossed it around for days now because actually I relate to what she is saying. When I see people posting their beastly workouts or their incredibly out of this world healthy meal, I feel just like this reader. I immediately find I can’t relate to that person. I really dislike exercising. It’s really not fun at all to me. I only do it because I know it’s critical to a healthy life. But I haven’t always exercised.

I only eat healthy (now) because I’ve been working for 13 years on it. And I’ve only just now found something that helps make this so much easier. But it’s been a struggle. (If you want info on what I’ve found, just hit reply to this email or the contact form on the blog. I shared a little on Instagram yesterday.)

Well-meaning people post their healthy lifestyles out of excitement and victory. But at times we receive it in shame, embarrassment, and failure.

My journey started with one conversation. My sister’s friend. She shared about her leaky gut….13 years ago when this was almost unheard of. I mean it existed but no one was talking about it.

I remember the one change I made was how I grocery shopped. To that point, if it were sold at the grocery store, I considered it food. I had no idea what was put in our food. I had no idea that FDA approved doesn’t mean it’s safe or intended to be in our bodies. I had no idea that 75% of what I put in my buggy was actually fighting against me. I had no clue. Until my friend shared her knowledge.

I remember beginning to research and wondering how I’d not known these things my whole life. I remember feeling guilty. I also remember feeling powerless on a daily basis. I felt overwhelmed. How could I “get healthy”?

Another friend asked me what goals I had. She asked me this because I often complained about the state of my health, yet I’d swing through the drive-through or eat the 2nd – or 3rd- piece of chocolate cake. I had 3 goals at that time.

  1. Have a daily quiet time
  2. Drink water (I only drank Coke all day long until after my 2nd son was born.)
  3. Exercise

But guys, this seemed like it was too big to accomplish. I focused first on water. A friend gave me an action plan and held me accountable to it.

Having a friend journey with us makes all the difference. Someone to cheer us on and push us forward.

My friend gave me a plan for how to drink water. I hated the taste of it. I’d pour a glass and “sip” all day making no dent. I’d fill a giant water bottle and stare at it hoping it would supernaturally get into my body.

Here’s the plan she put me on:

  • Wake up and chug a small 8 oz glass of water. Don’t sip. Chug.
  • 8:00 am chug another 8 oz
  • 10:00 am chug
  • Lunch – Reward myself with a Coke after drinking 3 glasses of water.
  • Follow same plan to afternoon
  • Reward 2nd coke after accomplishing afternoon tasks
  • Evening follow same plan

Focusing on small action steps gave me exactly what I needed to take a step in the right direction. For years I spent time focusing on the end goal with no attention paid to what to do to get there because it was too overwhelming.

Small bites. Small steps. Small glasses chugged.

I focused on only that one day. And not even the whole day initially. I segmented the day into thirds, focusing on 1/3 at a time. When I made it through the first 1/3 I felt elated.

Here’s what really began to happen after about a month. When I arrived at my lunchtime reward, I chose to bypass the Coke. When my body was filled with what truly satisfied, my cravings for what harms me decreased. When I had water in my body, I felt more awake and alert. I had more energy. I didn’t want to negate the progress so I stuck with it.

Over the course of time, my 4-5 Cokes a day became 1. Then it became only when eating out. Then it became only when eating pizza or mexican. And then it became never at all.

I have total freedom to drink a Coke. At this point, years later, I don’t have the mindset that I can’t have a Coke. But the desire is totally gone. The taste literally makes me gag. If you told me that years ago I would have doubled over laughing at you.

6 Simple steps to overcome the overwhelm

1. Write down your goal. Be specific not vague. Don’t write “get healthy”. In my case it was “drink 8 glasses of water a day”.

2. Write down specific action steps. I’ve been known to think things will just happen. I trusted in God without participating. Writing how I would drink that water gave me a plan rather than a simple hope that would lead to discouragement and frustration.

3. Have an accountability partner. My friend checking up on me forced me to follow my action steps. I wanted to make her proud.

4. Celebrate the small victories. Then prepare to celebrate the big win.

5. Pay attention. Change happens over time. Often we don’t notice the change because it’s gradual. Spend time looking back and marveling at how far you’ve come. My son struggles to read. Often he focuses on his current struggle and I remind him to look back at where he was a year ago. It doesn’t compare. We have to focus on how far we’ve come then keep on moving.

6. Focus on this moment and this day only. Your goal is longer term, but you just focus on victory for today. Looking at victory forever is overwhelming. His grace is for today. Rest in his daily grace to guide you one step at a time.

So yesterday I posted on Instagram a post I never thought you’d see me post. Remember that whole never say never thing? Y’all we say we shouldn’t say that but we still keep doing it. I have a lot of pride the Lord continues to work right on out of me.

If you aren’t following me on Instagram, I’d love to connect with you over there. It’s the only social media platform I’m currently on. I can offer a little more personal insights and more frequent postings. Here’s my post:

This is my humble pie eating post 🙂 You may be rolling your eyes. I did. Or you may be thinking “That is totally unhealthy and nothing but a fad.” I did.

Gonna be honest, my pride kept me from paying attention a long time ago.

In 1 month:
-My sugar cravings are gone. This is a miracle almost as big as the water to wine.
-I don’t crash at 2:00 & 7:00pm anymore. I have normal, healthy, stable energy all the live long day. No afternoon coffee needed.
-My thinking is clearer and sharper. I’m not forgetting all the little things anymore.
-Not only are my sugar cravings gone, but all cravings are gone. Saying no to unhealthy choices is actually easier when your body is balanced! Who knew??? -All my bloating disappeared. A month ago I couldn’t button a single pair of shorts from last year. I didn’t need to lose weight and didn’t. But all my shorts fit comfortably now! (People who want to lose weight drink it before meals. I drink it after I eat my full meal.)

God made me in such a way that when I love something, I tell everyone. I can’t hold the goodness inside. We were meant to live for others not ourselves.

I did a business similar but not nearly as generous years ago. I promoted to the 2nd highest level of the company, earned the Mercedes, and replaced my CPA income. It was the tool God used in our life to answer the prayer we’d prayed for 2 years – “God, make a way for me to stay home with our kids.” I know it works when you believe and share. It changed our life forever.

Here’s my question for you: Are you looking for something to help you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle? If yes, DM me. I won’t “sell” you anything. I’ll share what I know and trust the Lord to lead you where you need to be.

Here’s my 2nd question: Are you looking for a way to create a 2nd stream of income? Just a couple hundred dollars a month? Or bigger dreams like 10s of 1000s extra a month.
I desire to be a funnel of God’s blessings in all areas of my life – my health, gifts/talents, and finances.

I believe God has led me to this place to lead a team passionate about health and pouring out God’s blessings on the world around us. Join me?

So here’s where I am right now. I’m sharing my heart with you here on the blog. I’m running an online store while working to place physical products in stores. And I’ve started to build a business sharing what I’ve discovered as a breakthrough for people desiring a healthier lifestyle.

Some people are doing all the “right” things but there is a root issue not addressed. They can eat clean, exercise, but still can’t figure out why they have stomach issues, bloating, sugar cravings, migraines, fatigue, etc. And some people desire to do the right things for their health and need someone to come alongside them to encourage them to fight for more willpower.

I’ve been in both of these places which is why I’m passionate to help others.

If this post resonates with you and you want help in this area, please reach out to me. I’d love to help you along your journey and share what I’m learning with you!

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We need to share our stories

Are you on Instagram? You may remember I broke up with Facebook at God’s prompting. I’ve switched over to sharing more on Instagram. If you don’t follow me there, please do. I share shorter insights.

But also something new and fun is IGTV. Instagram TV. I have a channel and a few videos uploaded.

I don’t always have time to sit down and write. So IGTV makes it easy for me to share a little with you about what God is doing.

I’m also thinking I might begin reading my posts there so if you are too busy to read, you can just click and listen. Easier for me than Soundcloud. Anything to simplify these days is helpful.

So today I posted a video, cried through the end of it. Lovely. But I invite you to watch it anyway because I need you to hear my heart.

I’m a firm believer in sharing our stories transparently and authentically. I can’t be anyway other than that. Instagram presents you the very best picture of us. You will only see the top moments of my life. This isn’t because I’m trying to create that image. It’s because I have to protect the lives of my family. I can’t show you everything that I’d freely tell you in person. But what I can be totally vulnerable about is what God is doing inside me personally.

Do you remember a few years ago I said if I ever wrote another book it would be called ‘Rebel in a Good Girl’s Skin’? I think I still need to write that book. I tend to find myself often doing things differently than the “norm” or what the experts say to do.

For instance all the memberships and classes I’ve participated in for blogging say to have a set schedule, post on certain days, at certain times. Write no matter what. Ya’ll, I can’t do that. That feels so unauthentic. I have to write when the Spirit leads me to write. He doesn’t work on my timetable and is constantly teaching me to lean into His schedule not my own.

All that to say, I’m going to blog a little differently over the next couple of posts. If you are new here, welcome! If you are a long time reader, you know me well by now. I think you can trust me that I’ll go back to my more traditional posts.

I need to share some of my stories I’ve never shared with you.

Here’s what I want you to do. Sit back and just enjoy the story. I’ve said it over and over, I’m convinced when we share our stories, others find theirs as well. I’m trusting as I share with you over the next few posts, you will find your own story as well.

By the way, when you send me emails how the Holy Spirit spoke through something I’ve shared with you, you can’t imagine how much it encourages me. I always respond to every single email. If you don’t hear from me, assume the email was lost. Hearing your heart is my favorite thing about writing here. Encouraging you and inspiring your journey is why I pour so much time and money into running this blog.

For today, I invite you to watch my video. The next piece of the story will be coming through a post in the next couple of days.

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Blessings!

Renee

 

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About that whole never say never thing

Have you ever said there is something you will never do only to find yourself doing that exact thing at some point in your life?

These nevers sometimes are spoken only inside the quiet of our own hearts. Yet, the Lord hears them.

I wonder if it’s His kindness towards us that draws us to face the nevers we proclaim with such staunch boldness.

I wonder if the nevers I proclaim are sometimes the voice of my own fear? My pride? My will? My way? My desires and likes.

I forget He is so good. When He stands me face to face with my spoken or heart-muttered “I’ll never”, it’s because He is good beyond my wildest ponderings.

Let me share some of my nevers with you.

“I’ll never speak in public. Thank you, Lord, you called me to writing and not speaking.” I uttered this prayer of thanksgiving as a manipulation tactic to the Creator of my soul. 3 months later guess where I stood? You got it. At a MOPS group speaking on enjoying the journey of life.

You know what happened that day? Something inside me came alive. Like alive in a way I’d never experienced. I’d spent years leading women online. But standing in front of their precious faces, speaking with them, connecting eye to eye, changed my ministry.

That first speaking event my voice shook and cracked, I stood on trembly legs, my sweaty hands clung to the microphone as a lifeline. But the Lord knew I needed to stand face to face with my fear. He knew I couldn’t live life bullied by fear. He needed to see I left gifts He had for me on the table if I allowed fear to keep me behind a screen only.

Here’s another. “I’ll never homeschool my kids. Thank the Lord we have a school we love that loves our kids right back.” Guess what happened? Yes, again. We are entering year 3 of homeschooling. I specifically said I could never homeschool my youngest because his strong will and his learning challenges. I felt sure I’d ruin our relationship forever.

The Lord saw more at stake than I could ever know. In this post, I can’t even begin to tell you all the Lord has done in our family by this act of obedience to homeschool when He led us this direction. But I can say it’s changed everything. I believe one day I’ll look back and shudder to wonder what life would have been like if we’d not listened to God and done what we wanted instead.

I wanted to write and speak more. The Lord wanted me to lay down my dreams and desires at the cross. He wanted me to submit those plans to Him and trust Him to keep them safe for me. He wanted me to know that He wouldn’t take a dream away from me for the sake of taking away a dream. He had bigger dreams. I dreamed too small. I needed to trust and wait.

Sometimes the biggest dreams come true from the smallest of daily sacrifices.

I needed to learn to let God shape my dreams. I needed to allow Him to break my own strong will so He could use me more fully.

“I’ll never write another book again.” I wrote Seeking Christmas naive to the publishing world. I thought I was obedient to write the book and the Lord would do the rest. I had no idea how much marketing would be involved. It was incredibly challenging and I never ever ever wanted to do that again. So I told the Lord in the secret space of my heart to count me out.

audio devotional

Well, I wrote Illuminate. It wasn’t a book. It wasn’t published by a traditional publisher. You know what? I’ve had to do the exact amount of work sharing Illuminate that I did for Seeking Christmas.

Here’s some smaller nevers.

  • I’ll never stop drinking Coke
  • I’ll never lose my sweet tooth and intense love of desserts.

Ya’ll these two right here came from a place of wanting to hang tightly to my own likes and fleshly desire. I gripped so tight and said I’d never let go.

The Lord knew how tight I clung and with the most gentle touch I’ve ever received He removed my Coke addiction before I ever realized it was gone. This is an entirely separate post altogether and I will write out more of this journey soon.

But there is one more thing I said I’d never do again and I think you can guess the outcome. I’m doing it.

A little backstory first….

In 2005, after 2 years of praying for a way for me to stay home with our kids and help me find a way to replace my income as a CPA, God brought an opportunity. It took work. Money didn’t fall in my lap. I went for it, worked hard, and in 5 months I replaced my salary, earned a car, and 3 months later began staying at home with our 2 year old and newborn.

You know what I was doing during those months? Leading a team of women. I’d never been in a leadership role before. Suddenly, I found myself with all these women looking to me for guidance, encouragement, and motivation. I fell in love with this team of women. I fell in love with leadership.

Saying yes to that opportunity changed the trajectory of our entire lives. Financially for sure. But serving in that role prepared me to lead women spiritually in the years to come. I never guessed God had bigger assignments down the road to lead women closer to Him.

After the season of working with this company, building a successful business, life got busy. We moved states. I started writing and stopped working my business. I looked at it as having served its role and time in my life. I thanked God from the bottom of my heart. Then secretly said, “That was awesome. I’ll never do that again.” Because, well, it’s work.

Back to the point. I said I’d never do it again. The first time around we desperately needed the finances. As it stands today we are in a different place financially than 13 years ago. But over the last 9 months, God has been drawing me towards something. I started plugging my ears initially.

“God, I don’t hear you. Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah.”

Then He brought me face to face with two things. One is bringing all my experiences with health issues in our family, all the research over the last 13 years I’ve done in this area, my passion for helping people, my desire to share all good things all the time, and then something so unexpected in a doctor’s office. But all these things came together and the Lord said, “Look. Pay attention.”

I sat with my husband in the office of an eye specialist. Andrew had weeks of testing done to determine the level of his visual processing disorders. It was clear we were about to spend the next year in weekly therapy to train his brain and eyes to communicate and process properly.

This therapy could change his life forever.

It’s expensive. Incredibly expensive. The Lord provided the money via the sale of our home in North Carolina last year. I began to wonder, how does the average person who didn’t just sell a home pay for this type of therapy?

I’d read an article recently about the percentage of children who have these disorders who never receive therapy services. Many are in low income situations and have no access. The statistics were frightening about the children who without intervention would go on to become involved in drugs, gangs, serve time in prison, etc. I felt that familiar movement in my heart. The one that says, “We have to do something about this!”

As we sat in the doctor’s office, God began speaking to me. He showed me the why behind what He was drawing me into.

I’d felt God drawing me toward a particular business. But it made zero sense at all. None. Not an ounce. I homeschool, which is full time. I write. I just launched an e-commerce business. Nope. Didn’t want to hear it.

The Holy Spirit is quite persistent though.

As we left the office I asked one of the staff members if there were scholarship opportunities for these children who need services and can’t afford them. The answer. No.

I stood at a point of intersection. All of my experiences of leading women, leading a business team, researching and learning so much about health over a 13 year period that all began when I began having unexplained stomach issues, hosting orphans causing my heart to never be able to ignore the hurts of children again, watching God shape me into a person who wants to help people all the live long day. And then there was this extended hand of opportunity waiting. All while I’m leading a bible study by Priscilla Schirer, Discerning the Voice of God, in my home.

I got in my car and began to cry. The Lord has grown, changed, shaped, and molded me since the very first I never was uttered by my heart. Each never He’s pushed me towards has turned into blessings I can’t bear to think about having missed. And yet, here is another one. I have a choice. I can go my way. Or I can take the road of opportunity. I can release fear. I can live freely in Him. I can receive all He has. Or I can walk the “safe” road. But oh what we miss on that path of “safety”.

I stepped into another “I’ll never”. I said yes to building another business. Not because I have extra time. But because when I saw how the products were changing me and I saw the potential I had to use this business to change the course of the lives of others, I simply couldn’t say no.

My big why is that I want to live free in the abundant life He promises. I want to live a healthy and whole life so I can pour out my healthy life for the sake of others. I want to create a scholarship fund for kids who can’t afford vision therapy that can change the rest of their lives. I want to watch my friends and family gain their health back because that is the life we were intended to live. Abundantly. Bearing fruit.

Why do I share all this with you? Because I process my heart as I write. Because my desire is to encourage and inspire you. And because I trust as I share my stories with you, you are finding your own stories tucked inside mine.

So what “I nevers” are you carrying in your back pocket? Might it be time to lay them at the foot of the cross?

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5 Ways To Invest In Yourself & Why You Are Worth It

Invest in yourself.

These were the only words written on a page of notes my son wrote at a youth event.

I focused on these lone words and paid attention because I’ve been pondering this exact phrase recently.

I think the tendency for many of us is to focus on investing solely in our families or others at the expense of ourselves. The money we spend on youth sports, the time we give sitting at recitals and tryouts, the hours we spend taxiing our kids to their friend’s house, their job, or next activity. The time we give serving in all areas we are needed. The hours we spend cleaning or organizing to invest in a warm, comfortable environment. The time we spend meal planning, preparing meals. The hours we spend at a teen’s bedside talking that we’d plan to spend asleep. All of these daily duties play a role in investing in the lives of the ones we love most.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

May we not grow weary. May we not lose focus and hope. May we also see the value in the investment of ourselves. Because others deserve the best version of us we have to offer.

Investing in ourselves isn’t selfish. It’s life-giving to everyone we encounter.

The temptation in this culture is to wear the busy badge and play the martyr mom or wonder woman role. The one where we give all we have and run ourselves into the ground as a sacrificial offering. While this may look noble for 5 minutes, the long-term effects aren’t so noble.

How is there time to invest in ourselves when life is so demanding? How can we squeeze in one more thing?

This is where I’ve been camping out recently. For me, I’ve found it means letting go of a few things. Some of those “things” are actually expectations. I may simply not be able to do all the things I want to the level I want. I’m learning to be okay with less in order that I have the energy for the things that matter most.

Last year I shared about my journey through a stomach ulcer. This was a major wake up call to me. What I learned is that my physical body will break down if I don’t care for my total body – physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional.

I invest in taking care of my car because it’s paid for, and I want it to last for as many years as I can get out of it. I invest in caring for my house because I want it to offer to our family and others the best it can. I take care of my family because I love them and want to see them flourish in life. Why would I not think investing in my own well-being is as important as investing in anything else I invest in?

Our Heavenly Father’s heart is that we love ourselves, children of the King, seeing our worth in Him as so valuable that we invest in caring for ourselves because we know how loved we are. Caring for ourselves is critical if we desire to care for others.

Before I share 5 ways to invest in yourself, I may need to share with you why you are worth the investment of both time and money.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

1 Peter 2:9

You are worth the investment because you are:

  • a child of the King
  • created in the image of God
  • loved enough that He sent His Son to die for you.
  • His prized possession. A holy treasure.
  • special.

How do you handle the things in your life you deem as special and valuable? Probably with extreme care. You might even spend money on taking care of them so they last.

So the why is simply because He says you are worth it! And then – so you can be poured out for the greater work of the Kingdom.

5 Ways to invest in yourself

  1. Pay money for something you believe will be good for you.

  2. Do something that is totally fun and not one bit productive.

  3. Change one habit today that will benefit your physical health. Commit to 30 days.

  4. Invest in time with people with no agenda other than community and companionship.

  5. Add one spiritual discipline.

Here’s the breakdown:

1- Pay money for something that you believe will be good for you. Pay actual real dollars. Why? Because it holds value and when we pay our hard earned dollars for something, we are more likely to treat it seriously.

What could you pay money for? Well, is there a talent you want to develop? A craft? A hobby? Something for your profession?

I paid actual real money investing in myself over the last few months. I’m taking an online course to learn all things Pinterest in order to learn how to use it effectively in sharing my writing and my shop. I paid actual real money to join a writer’s membership site because I want to grow in the areas of writing, marketing, and entrepreneurship I feel stuck in.

Typically, I wouldn’t spend the money on myself in these areas. But I began feeling God’s leading in these areas and realized how quick I am to pay for my children to get better in a sport or hobby or anything they love.

2- Do something that is totally fun and not one bit productive. Seems hardly an investment but it actually is. Doing something simply because you enjoy it helps you to experience rest and joy in doing what you love. We often neglect ourselves from having fun because we take ourselves too seriously.

One way I’ve been doing this is by reading fiction. Reading is something I love and is totally fun to me, yet it seems to be the thing I’ll never take time for. However, recently I’ve heard the boys remind me to take some time to read. They see I am a better mom when I’ve taken even a brief time out from chasing life to simply sit and enjoy it.

This is an investment in a time out of sorts for ourselves. Time out from the seriousness of life in order that we find the fun and lovely again. Investing in our souls.

3- Change one habit today that will benefit your physical health. Commit to 30 days.

  • Replace one can of soda with a glass of water
  • If you don’t exercise, add walking 3 mornings a week
  • Eliminate desserts and sweets
  • Add in an extra vegetable everyday.

The options here are limitless. No matter where we are on this journey, we can all make one small adjustment today that will invest in our physical bodies. Often this requires dollars spent for me. When I invest in healthy supplements or healthier food options or a gym membership, I feel held accountable to stewarding that investment well.

4- Invest in time with people with no agenda other than community and companionship. Simply be with a friend.

  • Invite one friend or several friends over for coffee.
  • Call a friend on the phone and have a catch up conversation.
  • Invite a friend to walk with you.

I often hear people say they don’t have time for friends or to simply go to coffee with another person. In other cultures, investing in relationships is priority over productivity.

We were created by a relational God to be in relationships with others. We were not created to be productivity machines who could create the perfect life and keep up with all the increasing demands. Yet, that is the temptation in today’s culture.

Open your home, invite someone in, invite someone out. Just go be with someone. Invest time (and potentially dollars) in building deep, meaningful relationships.

5- Add one spiritual discipline. Commit for 30 days.

  • Do you struggle to pray regularly? Set an alarm. Add in even just one minute. Starting starts somewhere. Don’t focus on where you start. Just start. It’ll change your life and become 2nd nature.
  • Do you read your Bible daily? Wake up 10 minutes early. Read for 5 minutes.
  • Scripture memory. Write a verse on a card. Keep it nearby and read it a few times a day. Tape it to the mirror or the car dash.
  • Never fasted? Choose one meal once a week to fast from.

Each of these 5 things, when added in, will invest in our total lives for the better of everyone we intersect our lives with. Investing in ourselves is worth it.

We are valuable to our Father. He knows every hair on our head. He cares deeply and tenderly for us. To invest in caring for ourselves is simply aligning with the way our Father thinks of us. We are a holy treasure. Therefore, we should handle with the best care.

When we begin to care for ourselves by investing well, we offer the best of us to the world. One step at a time we impact the world for good.

If you find yourself wanting to invest in your spiritual growth, I have something I think can help you along that path. In the writing and recording of Illuminate, I can’t tell you how much God has grown me. Spending 14 days focusing on who He is completely changed how I view every situation I find myself in.

Now when fear speaks too loudly, I’ve practiced for 14 days turning my heart and mind back to who He is. Fear shrinks. When anxiety threatens to take me down, I’ve practiced for 14 days laying down my worries and remembering the magnitude of God.

Illuminate is a 14 day audio devotion, with transcripts, with the goal of creating in you the spiritual discipline of renewing your mind. It’s practicing the art of remembrance of who God is by the light of His Word, no matter what storms of life may blow our way.

It’s gentle and kind to your soul. It’s 10 minutes or less a day. It’s yours forever. At the end of 14 days, you may find you are ready to start again with another 14 days. It’s $10 that you are more than worth. It’s one small way you can invest in yourself spiritually.

audio devotional

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Create an intentional summer the easy way – some of my favorite summer posts on life, memories, traditions, and experiences

Summer time is my favorite time. Summer is easy if we let it be easy. Spend much time on Pinterest and you will feel like you must create amazing systems, schedules, and creative experiences. But just let all that roll by you and embrace the beauty of a simple summer.

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite summer posts over the last several years. Here’s links for a few of them.

We Only Have 18 Summers

“I’ve said it before – Lord willing, we only get 18 summers with our children. That’s it. 18 summers.

I do believe that living intentionally allows us to move from stage to stage with a deeper sense of satisfaction. There is a sense of fulfillment that comes from knowing we chose to live fully in the moments. Doesn’t mean it won’t be hard, but we can at least look back with fewer regrets over how we spent our time.”

Summer is for simple moments

Summer doesn’t have to be complicated with filled with expensive bucket list items.

Summer is for taking back time.
Summer is for championing for our families and friends. For cheering and celebrating life.
Summer is for friends. Summer is for simply investing in life-giving relationships.
Summer is for simple moments.
Summer is for slowing down and simply being.
Like all of life, summer is a gift.

Mission Mondays – A Summer Tradition

Sometimes summer can turn into a time of “all about us”. We become so focused on creating a summer to remember for our kids, we fail to remember one of the greatest things we can do for our kids is create hearts of compassion that care more about others than themselves.

Blackberry Moments (P.S. This was one of my very first blog posts when my blog turned from simply a family yearbook to an intentional ministry. While the writing has changed over time, the heart of this post remains one of my all time favorites.)

“To grab the moments, we must be available. Life needs to be a little less complicated, a little less distracted, a little less busy. Buffers of time must exist in order to capture the moments that sometimes crop up unexpectedly, without warning.

We have one chance to paint a beautiful life. Lord willing, the day will come when we have more time on our hands than we know how to fill. Our houses will be quieted. Our homes will look the same way at 7 am, 12 pm, 5 pm, and 8 pm. Because there will be no block towers built, no army scenes created, no pillow forts constructed, and no sword fights fought.”

Don’t Blink, Then I Blinked

#dontblink – a common hashtag when celebrating graduations, birthdays, a new school year, or a life change.

#theniblinked -it’s like a sudden realization that time actually does move at a pace that is frighteningly slow in real time yet megafast in the replay.

One day we are wiping smashed peas off chubby cheeks, then we seem to blink as we watch that same child wiping milk from our new grandbaby’s mouth.

Each blink is a gift full of opportunity. How do we blink through life without missing a moment?

What if we never stopped playing?

I have to work to play. Work comes easy. Play – not so much.

My kids want me in the pool with them. On the basketball court. Not on the sidelines.

I’ve come to a new conclusion on play. Play is important no matter our age. In fact, maybe play is even more important for grown ups than it is for kids.

Maybe if we played more, we’d snap less.

Maybe if we played more, we’d grumble less.

Maybe if we played more, we’d let the little things go with ease.

Maybe if we played more, we’d sleep sounder.

Maybe if we played more, we’d laugh harder and linger longer.

Maybe if we played more, we’d listen closer.

Maybe if we played more, we’d love more intensely.

Maybe if we played more, we’d rekindle what’s dwindled.

How Not To Waste A Life

I’m living my life fully spent. I’m not saving an ounce for the future because I don’t know what tomorrow holds. Each day I’m falling into bed exhausted with nothing left to give, yet sleeping with complete peace knowing I’m exerting every ounce exactly where He has me right now.

It’s a different kind of exhaustion, the kind that comes not from overcommitting or trying to do everything placed before me. It’s the kind of exhaustion from living fully right here.

I’m trading in being a saver of life so I can savor life.

 

Ok- so creating this post for you today was more for me than I realized. That is typically how God works in me through my writing. I sit down wanting to minister to you and serve you. But when I’m done, I feel God has given me an incredible gift. I stopped after 7 posts.

I don’t intend you to sit and read them all in one sitting. Save today’s post and read one or two a day. Let the Lord move you in the direction of intentional simplicity. Living life to the fullest. Life is a beautiful journey. Each moment is unique and will never exist again in the same exact way. Embrace and live.

In case you’ve missed it, I’ve created a tool to help you simply sit with Jesus. There’s a sweet joy in letting go of the frantic pace of life for 10 sweet minutes to sit at His feet. I tend to be more like Martha than Mary, working more than sitting. Jesus loved Mary’s offering.God is inviting you to simply sit at His feet. You don’t need a book, or a group, or an extra night carved out of your schedule. You simply need an email address.

When you order Illuminate, it will arrive quietly into your inbox. It will patiently wait on you. And when you listen, God will speak to you. I’ve prayed for your time with Him as you allow Illuminate to help you to focus your heart and mind simply on God, the lover of your soul.

It’s $10. It’s yours forever. It would make a sweet gift to someone the Lord brings to your mind who could use some encouragement and reminders of who loves them with a reckless love. Click the picture for more information.

audio devotional