For Such A Time As This

I’ve been a Christian now since 2005 and ever since God and I started getting to know each other, He has been putting on my heart that His plan for me is to work with young women.  For many of those years I just felt this on my heart,  and had no clue how it was going to happen or what it would look like.  Basically I had no idea where to begin.

Well, as always, God knew what He was doing all along.  He has literally been preparing me for “such a time as this” for really my entire life.   And the past few years He has been preparing my heart.   Last night began this journey for me.  The one God has been preparing me for.  I sat among 600+ college freshman at UT at a Young Life Club meeting late last night in a huge lecture room on UT’s campus.   It was incredible.  That’s all I can say.

I looked around the room and thought…wow!  All of these 18-year-old kids have their entire futures in front of them.  If only they could fully understand how much Jesus loves them and what they can do for Him if they just give their lives to Him now.  Not wait until they are 34 to do so, like I did. 

However, as I looked around the room and thought that, I knew exactly why God had chosen me to do this.  Because I can share with them the reasons God asks us to obey Him.  I can give them real and painful examples of what happens when we don’t.  I can also share with them what Grace really means and what it looks like.   I knew in those moments last night that I was there for a very specific reason and God planned it a long time ago.  And now it was so much clearer to me.

At church yesterday, Matt Carter said exactly that.   That we are here and live where we live because God planned it to be that way.  There is no other reason.  It is not an accident, it was planned.

Let me illustrate that a little bit.  Brian and I made some decisions last year that were made for a few particular reasons (or so we thought), but now I can see God orchestrating it all the entire time.  We sold our house and planned to move to Central Austin, the we got involved with a new church in Central Austin.  In doing so, I met someone who led  me to  College Young Life and the person in charge of the girl’s small groups (after a year of going to this new church).  Then my church merges with the largest college age church body in our city at the very same time I’m about to begin this journey.  

So, let me go over that again.   I now literally live 4 minutes from the UT campus,  my church has now merged  (as of 2 weeks ago) with the church that has the highest # of UT students, and I am now (as of two days ago) going to be a small group leader for College Young Life.    Happenstance?  I think not.  I know not.  God had this all in his back pocket way before he even put one teeny notion of working with young women on my heart. 

Today I will receive my list of girls.  The young women that will be in my small group.   I will have the opportunity to meet these girls next week and then love on them , guide them, share the love of Jesus with them, and be there for them for the next 4 years of their lives.  I cannot wait. 

God knows what He is doing.  Trust Him every step of the way. 

He will prepare you and when the time comes, you will also think to yourself that you are where you are  “for such a time as this”.  Just like Esther.

When God puts something on your heart, it’s not your job to think of the ways to get there.  Just listen and obey.  Do the next thing.  He won’t give you the destination, He’ll only give you the next leg of the trip.  Follow Him.

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Worry

Why do we worry, when God tells us not too?  Who knows.  I do know that I’ve gotten so much better about this and that is partly due to my husband. 

I just go over things that I have to do or haven’t done in my head.  Over and over and over.  It’s exhausting at times.  I’m always thinking of what I still have left to do.  Why?

Something I started doing as a teenager is still very helpful today and I’ve even suggested it to friends.  Write down your worries.  It sounds simple and maybe even a little elementary, but it works.  I promise.   This is what I do.

1.  I make a list of everything that is on my mind at the moment.  Listing out all of my worries (silly or not)

2.  I look back over the list and one by one add logic to the equation and out to the margin I write a solution.  For ex: If one of my worries was “I won’t finish my project in time”.  Then next to that I would probably write that I just need to develop a plan, set aside time and worst case find out if it could be extended. 

3.  After I’ve written solutions to each “worry” I look back over the list.  It takes away a LOT of the stress. 

I believe that letting things float aimlessly around in our heads is so detrimental.   When they are ambiguous, that is so much worse.  Take them out of your head, write them down on paper and look at them.  Face them, be real about them and dissolve the worry. 

We can only do so much in one day and God NEVER intended for us to carry around the weight of worry…especially about our to-do list. 

He wants us to forget our to-do list and worry about His.

Roadblocks

 

Do you ever feel like there are roadblocks getting  in your way?   Holding you back.  Keeping you from doing what you want to do, what you feel led to do? 

I have to admit, that’s what it feels like for me sometimes.  Actually a lot of the time. What is it that holds you back?

For me it’s useless worry about what I’m not getting done, what I still have left to do, what I need to do better.  It’s fears of failure, doubt, indecision, and way too much hesitation.  These are the things that fill my head and slow me down.  They are all lies the enemy tells me over and over and I choose to listen. Repeatedly.  Not only are these my roadblocks, but I’ve been known to take a few detours as well.

Why am I doing this to myself, I mean really?  What a waste of time.  What a waste of energy.

I know if I could just get that junk out of my way I could accomplish some great things.  I know I need to stop letting anything hold me back and I just need to go after what it is God has in store for me.

Why do I choose to listen to the lies and stay over here, when I need to be over there…..on the other side of the roadblock.

I pray that God can help me to break down each one of my roadblocks one by one.  I need His help because I cannot do it alone.  And I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of being held back. It’s time to drive forward and let nothing hold me back.  God is pulling me forward.  He’s waiting on me to catch up. 

It’s time I did.

Just Trust

Why is that so hard?  I’m currently participating in a Bible reading plan through my church titled “Pursuit”.  We will be reading all the stories about Jesus throughout the New Testament.  It has begun with the preparations of Jesus’ birth and the story of Mary and Joseph.  So far, one theme keeps popping up in my head.  Just trust.  That’s it.  Simple really, right?  Just trust God with everything you have and it WILL be okay. 

I mean really, Mary and Joseph trusted God when their situation seemed so impossible, so crazy, so unbelievable.  Completely and utterly a miracle and they trusted.  I’m pretty sure that’s why God chose them, He knew they would “just trust” Him.  I believe He blesses those that just trust in Him with everything.  When we hang onto our own pride, fear, doubt, etc…..we hold Him back from blessing us.  It’s up to us. 

If Mary  had not believed, not submitted to God’s way….He would’ve picked someone else.  Instead she completely trusted, completely surrendered and continued to praise God.  That’s what I want to do.  I want to recklessly abandon all my fears and doubts.  They hold me back, I know they do.  I do not want to find out later what they held me back from, I want to experience it, live it and use it all to honor God.  I want to live the life God has intended for me. 

If you want to read more about how Mary and Joseph completely trusted God, click below to read this great post on the subject.

Do You Trust Me?

My prayer:  Dear Lord, please help me to let go of EVERYTHING that holds me back from completely submitting to you.  Completely trusting you with every single thing.  Trusting that you will help me when I ask and that you will work through me if I let you.  Help me to surrender…even if it’s 50 times a day.  I want to honor you with my trust.  Amen.

The 100 Thing Challenge

You may remember that I wrote about the “100 Thing Challenge” back in Sept. of 2009.  That was really the beginning of my desire to start living with less.  Well, I just finished reading Dave Bruno’s  book about his 100 Thing Challenge and how it all came about.  In this book he writes about how his life was before the challenge and what led him to create this challenge.

Dave then goes on to describe the process of going through his personal things and making decisions on what to sell or give away.  He talks about his emotional ties to his train set and how he had been hanging on to those trains because of some disappointments from his childhood.  I love how he points out how many of us, himself included, go and buy stuff as an attempt to fix an emotional problem.   That is what shopping does for many people.  It tricks them into feeling like they are solving problems, but really they are only creating more.  

He purged the trains.  He says that letting go of those trains “was inspirational and cathartic.”  I have a part-time organizing business and I would love for a lot of my clients to read Dave’s book.  I wish everyone could experience what it feels like to let things go.  It’s not as scary as many believe.

As I read the book, I felt as if I were sitting down across from Dave and he was telling me the story about his life over the past few years.  His writing is so easy to read and keeps you engaged.  He writes from his heart and lets you into his thoughts and feelings.  He’s transparent, which I love.   He’s real and you can relate to him.  You really get to know Dave and experience the challenge with him through his words. 

I’m inspired by Dave and his story.  I have begun my own 100 Thing Challenge and continue to work on it.  I’m close, but need to continue to pare a few things down quite a bit.  I think it’s a great idea, brilliant really.  Living with less helps us to see what is really important and how much “stuff” we can live without.

I applaud Dave for creating this challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed reading his book and learning  more about the person behind the challenge.

Love God, Serve Others, Live Simply

I work in the bookstore at our church once every few weeks and this past Sunday they had received in some new merchandise.  This one plaque in particular struck me when I saw it hanging on the wall.  “Love God, Serve Others, Live Simply”.  I love that.  If I focus on those three things, my life will become more in tune with God and what He has planned for me.  The two greatest commandments are to “love God with all your heart, soul and mind” and “to love others as yourself”.  The first one is covered and serving others is definitely loving them as yourself.  Living simply is what Jesus demonstrated for us.  He lived with very little belongings, if any, and was attached to nothing other than loving and communicating with God and serving others.  Shouldn’t I live my life the same way?

1.  Love God. This is obviously the most important thing we will ever do in our lives.  Without God as my focus my life would be nothing, literally.  I’ve tried living without God, and trust me it’s so much more fulfilling when you have a relationship with the One who created you.  No one on Earth knows you better or will always be there like He will.  He is what fills me up inside, nothing else in this world can do that.  Nothing.   When I love God with all my heart, soul and mind I have no room for sins that bring me down.  I don’t have time to focus on anything that could ultimately lead to self-destruction.  I focus above and all things below seem manageable.  Nothing can come second to God.

2.  Serve Others.  Serving others keeps me from focusing on myself.  Focusing on me gets me nowhere and that is not where God ever intended my focus to be.  He wants me out serving others, helping those that are in situations I have been in and can help with.  For me in particular, I know He wants me helping young women make the right choices in life.  He wants me to use my past experiences to help those who are just beginning their adult lives.  I’m just working all that out now and how it will come to be, but that is what God has put a fire in my heart for.  Helping young women with the choices in their lives.

3.  Live Simply. This is something I’ve really been working on this year.  Living with less.  Less attachments, less stress, less commitments, and less clutter.  We need so much less than we think we do.  We should be too busy with our relationships to worry about stuff or be bogged down by it.    Who has time to be tied down to “stuff” when you are busy loving God and serving others all the time?

Margin

I finally finished a great book called “Margin” written by Dr. Richard Swenson.  My mother-in-law, Margaret, gave me this book last year and I have been reading it off and on since then.  I have to confess that I’m pretty bad about starting about 5 books at a time and reading them simultaneously. It really isn’t a very efficient way to read books and I very recently decided I am no longer going to do that.  I’m going to finish one at a time.  I’m also trying to set aside more time for reading because it unfortunately gets pushed to the back burner a lot of the time.

So anyway, I just finished this book Sunday afternoon.  It’s a great book with really good analogies and reminders about how much we need to slow down.   The author is a medical doctor who has seen many of the effects of our fast-paced and stressful lives.  Swenson writes this book with the intention to help all of us develop more “margin” in our lives.  He does not want us living “marginless” lives, which many Americans are doing.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Discerning Christians have long known that God is not impressed with our wealth, education, or power.  Nevertheless, we have labored eargerly in those fields.  What if, instead, we were to begin measuring our progress not by our wealth but by our virtue; not by our education but by our humility; and not by our power but by our meekness?”

“We should keep our needs low, our generosity high, and our expectations heavenward.”

“God is in love with his creation…..your being pursued by love.  He courted you; He followed you; He loved you.  If you go to work or school or church, He is there.  If you go to the edge of the universe or to the borders of hell, He is there.  If you go deep inside yourself, He is there.  In the dark of the night, in your depression, He is there.  On your deathbed, when you don’t want anybody to leave you, He is there.  If you look behind you or before you, He is there, waiting to be allowed entrance into your life.”

“To be a follower of Christ means we should follow Him.  No one lived a simpler, more unencumbered life than He.  His birth was spartan, and His life was free from the ties of possessions or money.  He was born with nothing, lived with little, and died with nothing.  His simplicity was not accidental.  Jesus could have chosen any standard, yet He chose to live simply.”

That last quote really sums it up.  I think we get so bogged down with “stuff” that we want or wish we had or wish we could do or that we are trying to do or trying to manage or stressing out about.  We really need to step back and look at all the areas of our lives (physical, emotional and spiritual) and find ways to simplify and create more margin in our lives!

Traveling Light

Mac finished up the Series called “Baggage Claim” at church this past Sunday.  The sermon was on “Traveling Light” emotionally and spiritually.  (I, of course, like to physically travel light as well).  It was a good reminder that we really need to let things go in order to live our lives to the fullest.  If we don’t, we are weighted down with all the “junk” we are carrying around.

He gave us four steps to “Traveling Light”:

1.  Eliminate all unnecessary weight.  (Forgiveness)  Forgiving those that have hurt or wounded us.  Letting go of the hurt.  When we do not forgive others it hurts us more than anyone else.

2.  Carry our own bags.  (Personal Responsibility)  Taking responsibility for our own actions and NOT blaming others.  Learn from your mistakes and move forward, but do not get stuck in blaming others for all that has happened in your life.  This is YOUR life.  Blaming others gets you nowhere emotionally and definitely not spiritually.  God knows the truth and He is just waiting for you to take ownership of your own actions.

3.  Help someone with their baggage.  (Comfort)  Use your past and your “baggage” to help someone else in a similar situation.  Let go of your baggage so you can help someone else carry theirs.  God allows us to go through things so that we can help others in the same situations.  Use your past mistakes for good in someone else’s life.

4. Choose your traveling companions very wisely.  (Community)  Be careful who you do life with.  Always be there to help those in need, but be cautious of those that  you consider your closest friends.  You want those that are closest to you to be on the same page as you are, to have the same values and priorities.  You want those people to lift you up and help you to grow, not weight you down. 

“Above all else, guard your heart,  for it is the wellspring of life.”  Proverbs 4:23

God never intended for us to carry our burdens around.  He knows we’ll have hard times and sadness, but He is here to help us anytime we need Him.  He wants us to go through our feelings, take them to Him and then let go and keep going.  Keep pressing on and moving forward.   Drop the heavy burdens and carry God’s love and grace with you daily.   Allow Him to work in your heart and to work through you in helping others.  Let go of the junk (physically, emotionally and spiritually).  Do not let anything weigh you down in life so that you have the energy, the time and the space to serve others and further God’s Kingdom.  Allow God to use your “baggage” for good and travel light.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30