Get Some Rest

Rest is a good thing. I am so prone to try to fill my schedule to the brim, but it’s not healthy. This idea of stopping to rest is one that has been quite prominent in my mind the past few weeks. I realized how much I needed to reevaluate this recently for a multitude of reasons, but one of the simpler reasons was I came across a quote by Bob Goff author of my favorite book Love Does that said “It’s easy to confuse a lot of activity with a purposeful life. Get some rest.” If that isn’t me to a T I don’t know what is. I have recently found that the more I allow myself to rest the more I remember the things I enjoy. The more that I rest the more that I am able to not just survive the hour, the day, the week, whatever, in addition I am thriving.

I am often led back to a rather haunting thought: what’s the point in doing everything if you aren’t able to stop long enough to experience any of it? When my schedule is so full I’m so focused on surviving that I often miss opportunities to soak up the incredible moments.

Coming to the realization that rest is good is always incredibly freeing, because so often I feel obligated to do things that clutter my schedule and freak me out. I want to love God, others and myself well but so often I get focused on the first two and ultimately I fail because I get caught up in doing things rather than actually loving God and others. Honestly it very quickly and easily becomes me doing things for the sake of doing them and feeling good about myself because I’m doing things. In short I ignore the fact that I am only human and I need rest.

There are so many passages that I could point to that speak to this topic in some way, but I’m going to go back to creation. God created the earth and then took a day to rest. Later in the Ten Commandments He established keeping the Sabbath as a day set aside for worship AND rest. Why did He set these examples and expectations? Because He knows that we are only human and we need rest. Our need for rest points us back to Him and quite frankly that is beautiful. Lovely human as you read this remember that rest is a good thing that helps equip us for loving others and more importantly God.

Get some rest.

It’s All About Thinking of Yourself Less

For this particular post I am shamelessly taking inspiration from one of the songs we are going over in children’s choir for the upcoming musical. The song is called “Self Less” and shocker it’s about being selfless. I absolutely adore how they go about taking on such a common and easily forgotten topic. The entire musical does this in a very cutesy way, but I love this particular song.

The song starts off talking about the little boy who gave the two fish and five loaves of bread when Jesus fed the five thousand. Actually when I went to the gospels to find whether the little boy was a part of feeding the four thousand or five thousand I was not able to find even a mention of the little boy being the one who gave the food until the gospel of John (chapter 6). This honestly makes it pretty clear to me how insignificant this little guy was in the eyes of society. It would have been easy for him to say “How will my food help feed thousands of people? I won’t even bother.” However he did and because it was Jesus, he was used. Our Lord and Savior uses insignificant people like you and I who just want to love and bless others.

The next part of the song is a chorus that I’ll talk about later, after the chorus is a verse about the Good Samaritan. For this passage I went to Luke 10:25. The poor traveler was robbed and beaten almost to death. You would think that the religious guys who passed by him would have helped since they were devoted to doing the work of God, but for various reasons they were both too holy to help. Now the passage never says why they passed by on the other side, but there is certainly commentary and speculation out there if you are more interested in the why. The third guy was a Samaritan since our poor traveler was on the way from Jerusalem it’s a pretty safe bet that this guy was a Jew and in an area in which Samaritans weren’t welcome. Once again if you are interested in the why on either of these things there’s certainly commentary and speculation out there. Since the Samaritan was in a place where he was so unwelcomed it would have been easy for him to also pass by, but he didn’t. He took care of traveler and paid for him to be cared for even after he left. This Samaritan was very clearly not liked by the people surrounding him. There was a lot of prejudice against him, but he helped anyway. Our Lord and Savior is one who loves those that society does not and He uses them to bless the lives of others.

Now for the chorus, honestly it’s my favorite part of the song because it ties these two stories together so well. It says “If you’re looking for ways to be like Jesus, how you can live so people are blessed. It’s not about thinking less of yourself, it’s all about thinking of yourself less.” Both of these stories could have easily ended with “I’m not significant enough” or “I’m not welcomed in this area, staying to help this guy could mean bad things for me”, but they didn’t. Both people helped even though they weren’t likely candidates. They didn’t let their shortcomings or the fact that they felt uncomfortable stop them, instead they focused on the need at hand and gave what they could. I love that this chorus focuses on not thinking less of ourselves. I can’t count the amount of times that I let a pity party ruin an opportunity to bless someone else, I was so focused on myself and my shortcomings I completely forgot about the other person. Remember it’s not about thinking less of yourself, it’s all about thinking of yourself less.

The Majesty and Power of God

I wrote this the summer I was in Canada. On the day I wrote this I was on a canoe trip doing what they referred to as solo day. Essentially this means they dropped us off at secluded location near camp and we spend several hours spending time with God. I naturally did quite a bit of writing and this is one of the poems that I wrote that day.canada-pic

The Majesty and Power of God

As I sit by the water hearing waves crash on the rocks because of the intense wind I praise God

As I see my canoe shake and all the tree limbs around me blow this way and that I praise God

As I look up to dark ominous sky and feel my fear of the rain and my lack of shelter I praise God

As I think of how small I am and how minuscule my time here is compared to all of eternity I praise God

My God is a powerful one stirring the lake and the winds around me. Proclaiming His majesty in the beauty of the waves crashing on the rocks. The wavering tree limbs bowing in awe at His strength. All I can do in this moment is praise God.

 

This Child That You Delivered Will Soon Deliver You

The only way I know how to start this is by stating that the Christmas season is stressful, sad, and hard. This is not new no one is reading this and going “What?! It is?!” it’s something we all experience and try our best to ignore and/or hide. Something I’ve been thinking about over the past few days is the fact that we get so busy and caught up in the “mandatory” good things about Christmas that we forget why it’s so important and amazing. We get caught up in being with family, doing nice things for people, and yes even celebrating a precious child in a manger. We get so caught up in and stressed out because of these things that we forget that the reason Christmas is one of the best holidays is because that precious child grew up and made himself a human sacrifice so that the imperfections that we are trying so desperately to hide -especially this time of year- can be covered and we can have a relationship with the God of the universe.

A song that has also been on my mind the past few days is “Mary did you know?” It was written by a hilarious Christian comedian named Mark Lowry, now for this song he took a quite serious turn as he contemplated how incredible it is that the child Mary delivered would be the one who would deliver us from sin. To be honest the entire song does a great job of hashing out this idea, but the most striking line to me is “This child that you delivered will soon deliver you”. Yes, Jesus was a baby and we celebrate his life coming into the world this time of year, but what is even more important is the life that we receive through that life.

Psalm 124 says

“1 If the Lord had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
if the Lord had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters
would have swept us away.

Praise be to the Lord,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Friends as we face stress, sadness, and hardship particularly during this season when there is an expectation to constantly be happy remember that the Lord is on our side. He is so much on our side that He gave his son to cover our imperfections and make a way to have a relationship with Him.

Merry Christmas!

You Will Survive

I wrote this last May the first little part of this came to me whilst having a panic attack in the middle of the night six months prior in November, but it took me months to have the courage and emotional capacity it took to really write about my deep struggle with anxiety that happened about a year ago. As I near finals and pass the anniversary of when I decided (at 4 AM when the best decisions are made) to to move home I am so humbled and thankful to be in the mental and emotional place that I am now. I truly can only attribute this growth and healing to God’s grace and love.

You will survive

My nightmares don’t happen when I’m asleep. They happen when I’m awake, because the monster I live with resides not under my bed, but in me.

The anxiety monster. The one that can literally paralyze you, but look innocent enough to make others say “just brush it off, stop worrying” as if it’s that simple.

It’s a tricky monster, because by the time you realize it’s an ugly merciless monster out to destroy you it’s been part of you long enough to make you hesitant to fight it.

The monster that is destroying you feels like it’s your only safe haven.

How do you fight it? How do you overcome such a thing? Don’t fight it alone. Enlist an army to help with God as the commander. You don’t have to live like this.

You don’t have to miss life, because you can’t leave your house. You have the courage and strength to overcome this monster, but not by yourself.

Your strength is likely long gone as it has been a brutal battle, but with your army of friends, family, and most importantly God you will survive.

It won’t be easy, it will be painful, and there will be people who have little to no compassion for you, but I promise you will survive.

Toy Towns

I was traveling a couple of months ago and I have to say my favorite part of flying is on a clear day I look down and see what looks like toy towns. I can’t help but think about the fact that to someone way down below that toy town is everything, but from my vantage point this toy town seems like it could fit in the palm of my hand. It’s a humbling experience as I can’t help but think about my own toy town that is everything to me. It’s a beautiful humility that I think about every time I fly regardless of the weather that day. It makes me excited for the adventure ahead as I leave my day to day life behind for a short amount of time. Why am I so fond of this humbling sensation? This answer is quite simple: It reminds me of just how incredibly big God is and just how small and insignificant I am. More so I am reminded that this huge God love me and wants a relationship with me. Me! Small insignificant me and all of the other small insignificant people that make up these toy towns I pass over. I am eternally grateful that I love and serve such a personal and gracious God. Happy Travels!20160730_093633.jpg

The Encouraging Letter

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

1 John 4:16-21

I recently received an encouraging letter, it was a lovely boost of encouragement at the perfect time. It’s cool, because as encouraging as it was it was equally humbling to have someone say such beautiful things about me that I could only attribute to God. It got me to thinking about how often we have the urge to reach out to someone and we just don’t. We skip the random heart felt thing, because we don’t want to be weird or vulnerable. How sad it is that so much joy and love is not being spread due to fear. 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear. The passage surrounding this verse is a beautiful reminder that when we live in love we live in God and God in us. When we get passed our fears, insecurities, and hesitations by acting in love towards one another we are showing them the love of God. Send the encouraging letter, make supper for your busy friend, ask how you can pray for someone. It might seem random and it might be a bit uncomfortable for you, but it might come at the perfect time for them.

To the Fast Food Worker Dude

Some months back I went to Wendy’s and quite frankly the worker was kind of creepy, he kept hanging around our table and checking on us. He was probably just bored, but he gave off vibes that made me uncomfortable. Therefore, I later wrote this poem type thing expressing what I so very badly wanted to say to him.

To the Fast Food Worker Dude

Dear sir it is simple when working at Wendy’s pretty girls will come in, let me layout some guidelines that if followed will improve your interaction with them.

First and foremost the most useful guideline I will give you is this: admire their beauty from afar. It doesn’t matter if these ladies are average or the most stunningly gorgeous creatures you’ve ever seen. Chill and check on them no more than once.

Which leads me to two a crucial guideline, because it’s true. Checking on the ladies once is just good manners. Checking twice is a little weird, but understandable. Check on them three times or more and they will be telling stories about the creepy guy who wouldn’t leave their table. Is that really how you want to be remembered?

The third my dear is important as well for it will keep things going swell. Now that you’ve learned to give the ladies their space and check no more than once I bet you’re thinking “aaaaah but I can still clean right next to their table. I’ll pick up every crumb at least 3 times” Let me stop you there that is also not an option. Listening in on their conversation by pretending to sweep right next to their table will simply make them ready to leave.

When it comes down to it if they want your attention and company they’ll seek it. Then and only then can you casually and calmly respond. Trust me my dear they’ll suck down sodas, create spills, and “forget” important items like napkins, straws, and spoons, plus they’ll need your helpful hands to take their trash in separate trips. Until then make yourself scarce and please just do your work.

 

A Cord of Three Strands is Not Quickly Broken

There was a man all alone;
    he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
    yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
    “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—
    a miserable business!

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:8-12

If you’ve ever read Ecclesiastes then you know that it’s focused around the phrase “everything is meaningless”. Many people go through life and they chase after the things that are meaningless putting their faith in things that will fail them. Therefore, we fear God and we trust in Him, because He does not fail, instead He provides exactly what we need like people to work beside, encourage, and love.

Ecclesiastes 4:8-12 shows this beautifully as it describes a man who has wealth but no one to stand beside him. His wealth is meaningless and he has recognized this. The passage goes on to say two are better than one, because they can help each other in times of trouble, but even better than that is three. “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”.

This is not to say that we place our faith in each other that still goes to God. However, we need to realize that one of the most precious gifts we have been given is each other. God works in many ways, but my personal favorite is through people. When we are going through a time of trial or sin He often sends people to help us prepare for that or help us through that time. He gives us the body of Christ to walk with us through life, because we are too weak to handle it on our own. He works through people, because He knows that we are stronger when we work together. “A cord of 3 strands is not quickly broken.”

Life Lessons Learned While Weeding

I was doing some gardening on a mission trip about a year ago, while working I came across a weed that was deeply rooted. I wanted to pull it and get rid of it, but it just wasn’t that simple. I could pull and pull, but I didn’t have the right tools and experience, so it did no good. There were other weeds and soil that needed to be cleared first. I couldn’t just attack the problem all at once I needed a plan and help. At one point I just did what I could at the time and said I’ll work on the weed later. No, I didn’t do exactly what I wanted, but I did make progress. I could work with the patch of land now. It was much less messy.

In life sometimes we have deeply rooted problems that we want to get rid of, but it’s just not that simple.

Later I came back to the same little patch. An older woman who has been gardening for years had totally cleared the space, and it looked great.

When we have deeply rooted problems we need to go to God- He is the “Ultimate Gardener”. He clears the nastiness out of our hearts better than anyone or anything. Through His word, His people, and His presence he gets us through difficulty and teaches us important lessons we would not have learned any other way. If the problem just goes away like we originally wanted it to we wouldn’t be nearly as strong or trusting in God’s plan. Sometimes we need the process of getting rid of the problem as much as (or more than) we actually need to get rid of the problem.