Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Life We Live

Do you ever really stop to think about the life you are living?  Do you ever think about the lives our generation are living and the impact we are making on culture?  I do.  More often than I’d care to admit.

I look at my daughter and see the unbridled enthusiasm and joy that bubbles out of her   I pray about how that can be nurtured, encouraged, and kindled into an unquenchable flame for the life she is to live.  I want her life to impact the world with the gifts and talents God placed within her.  There is so much hope, so much passion, so much untainted love that dwells in her.  As a parent, there is anticipation of the impact she and her generation will make on this world.

Yet, why do we lose that hope for ourselves?  Why do we lose that hope for our generation?  While we are alive, while we draw breath, we have the ability to share hope.  We have the ability to change the course of things. Just because we have been through tough times or aren’t where we thought we’d be doesn’t mean that we don’t have many opportunities ahead.  Just because we aren’t 5 years old, doesn’t meant that we shouldn’t still retain anticipation as to what the rest of our lives will hold.

My thoughts come to these things this week because, to be honest, I’ve been feeling old.  I’m not old by most people’s standards. Maybe it’s because relatively, I’m older than most of the other parents with 5-year-olds.  Like the dad of one of my daughter’s best friends who was getting old because he was turning 29!!!   Yeah, I’ve got a few years on you – like 15.

But God is so faithful to remind us that He holds times and seasons in His hands.  I have some Dove Chocolates in my office and last week I was in need of some.  If you are familiar with them, Dove Chocolates have sayings inside the wrapper, little adages such as ‘Ignore #hashtags today,’ ‘Hit snooze again.’  Sayings that are meant to be encouraging, make life easier, or simply make you smile.  I don’t think I’ve ever had 2 of the same sayings come up at the same time.

Last Sunday, I opened a much needed chocolate, and the saying was “Be proud of your age.”  Now I had been feeling ‘old’ for a couple of weeks now, so I laughed a bit and decided to have another chocolate.  It’s saying was also “Be proud of your age.”  My thoughts were, “God, are you trying to tell me something?”  I believe He was and is encouraging me to live my life as He lays it out.  (Yes, I saved them and pinned them to my bulletin board)    He is telling me not to be concerned with the number or the view that the world has of what is and is not associated with that number.

Then, as if I needed another encouragement, I found 2 pennies.  One is shinny and the other dull and old looking.  I looked to see what the dates were, fully thinking the shinny penny was rather new.  The shinny penny had a date of 1986 on it!  It is 30 years old, while the dull penny was a full 20 years younger, minted in 2006.  The age of the penny hadn’t been the main factor on it’s condition.  Our lives can be so much like that.  So many factors can effect the condition of our heart, of our life.

We have to guard our hearts to guard our life.  Our effectiveness can increase over time.  Our wisdom, our abilities, our knowledge, our intimacy with God – all of these are things that can grow over time.  All of these are things that can increase over time.  But we have to actively seek after those things.

It’s our life to live.  God has set before us life and death, and each day we choose.  We can choose life every day.  We can choose to grown in God’s peace, His wisdom, His knowledge, and our gifts and talents can increase as we follow His leading.  All we have to do is to choose.  We get to choose how we live.  We get to choose hope.  We get to choose expectancy.  We don’t have to give them up and believe that tomorrow will never be as good as yesterday.

It doesn’t matter what age we are – Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that the Lord knows the plans he has for us – they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give us a future and a hope.  It doesn’t say that He will give us a future and a hope when we are children – the promise is for today.  It is today that He gives us a future and a hope.

Whether you feel you are too young or too old to truly be effective, those feelings are not the truth.  Truth is that God is working in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)
So hold onto hope.  Hold onto His grace for all of the things you have yet to do in your life.  Don’t let today’s culture tell what you can and cannot do at your age.  If I want to have an effective life, I have to listen to the voice of God and walk in the new things He is bringing my way!

My desire is that we should all live the life God is calling each of us to live.  It’s exciting, it’s an adventure, it is LIFE!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Being Intentional

There are days and times that are meant to be fun and relaxing holidays, but they get overlapped with other life events that can pile on responsibilities and pull the joy out of our expectations. These can be good things, but none the less things that require our attention, work, and focus.  Honestly, I can struggle to keep my joy and expectation during these times.

This past weekend was Mother’s Day weekend.  There were also a few other things happening – It was also my husband’s birthday (which I was very excited to celebrate!), the start of a 4-day event where I work (which would require many hours of work), and a need to get with family to celebrate my husband’s mom.  There were also the stresses my husband is carrying with his job and commitments.  Needless to say, the weekend was busy and filled with running from one thing to the next.  It is so easy to become stressed in moments like these.  In seasons like these.

I can find myself so stressed and focused on what is being demanded of me that I can’t even enjoy a holiday.  I can’t even laugh at the joke my daughter comes up with in the back seat.  I can find myself short-tempered.  I can find myself so stressed by the demands that what should be fun and a blessing is just another stressful requirement in life.

Knowing what was required of us this weekend and the coming week, our family intentionally set aside time on Saturday morning to just hang out as a family.  Just the three of us.  We went out to breakfast to one of our favorite local spots (one of our little family’s Saturday morning traditions).  Then we went straight to the beach.  It was restful, fun, and filled with laughter.  It was the perfect antidote to the demands creeping in on our lives.

We were intentional about it.  It is so important to be intentional about creating time to just be together.  No agenda.  No distractions.  Just being.  Just enjoying.

It’s like that with the Lord.  We have to be intentional about spending time with Him.  We have to set aside time to just be.  No agenda.  No distractions.  Just being.  Just enjoying His presence.

That is where our peace is found.  When I think back on how I walked through really difficult times in life, it was out of an overflow of the intentional times I had spent with the Lord.  I knew God’s presence.  I knew Him.  I knew He is good.  I knew He had my best at heart.  I knew He had a future planned for me and I could hold onto that hope.

Have you listened to the hymn “It is Well” and heard the story behind it?  How did Horatio Spafford honestly pen those lyrics of peace flowing like a river when contemplating the loss of his daughters?  It could only have been out of the intentional times of fellowship he had spent with his Savior.
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”
How does “Peace like a river” flow in our lives through difficult times?  Only from a reservoir that comes from Peace Himself.

There is no substitute for intentionally spending focused time with those we love.  Intentionally learning those we want more of in our lives.   We have to be intentional to truly be relational.  We have to be intentional to truly have peace in our lives.  We have to be intentional to truly have joy in our lives.  Otherwise we allow chaos to reign.  Otherwise we have nothing to pull from when we find ourselves wanting.

God is faithful.  He is always there.  He always has peace waiting for us.  He always has love waiting.  We only have to partake of it.  We only have to turn and recognize all that He wants for us.  We only have to turn and tell Him, ‘here I am and I need You.’

He is there. He is our anchor.  He is our lighthouse.  He is our peace. Be intentional about looking to Him and you will find all of those things.