Monday, February 22, 2016
Comfort. That's what my soul is crying out for.
The cold, wet weather outside feels like it's crept into my heart. My soul needs warmth the way my body craves a soft blanket and a steaming bowl of soup. It's easy to comfort my physical body, but much harder to find peace for my restless, worrying soul.
So much in this life is out of my control. Experience has proved it time and time again. Things happen to me, to people I love, and I feel helpless. No matter how hard I try, I can't stop sickness from infecting friends or keep a loved one's heart from breaking. I can't keep storms from hitting. I can't fix every mistake or force someone to make the right choices.
Maybe it's because we're in the middle of Lent. Maybe my heart is more fragile than normal. But lately, life is tearing me down. When I pray, the words don't come, just desperate tears. My neat little prayer list sits useless as I get on my face before God, unable to put my needs into coherent words.
I long for something physical to hold when life threatens to overwhelm me, like a little girl clinging to her teddy bear. I reach desperately for my Father, longing for Him to hold me with physical arms. Countless times I've prayed, "If I could just see You, face to face, even for a few seconds..."
I know He's there, but I wish I could see Him with physical eyes. But I hear Him, whispering to me that it will all be okay, that He has this, that He will never let me go. So I cling to those promises and follow Him through the darkness of this life.
Right now, I cling to my Bible, to the words from my Father, as I long for Him. It's the physical thing that pulls me closer to Him. But one day, I won't need those words anymore, because I'll cling to Him. I'll reach out and touch Him. One day, I can finally worship Him face to face. One day, He'll reach out His hands, wipe away a lifetime of tears, and put all the shattered pieces of my heart back together. I'll be whole and complete in Him. That hope is the comfort my weary soul needs. It's what I cling to.
Monday, February 8, 2016
Renew. I was so excited when God laid this word on my heart for 2016. Last year's word, refine, was so hard. But renew? Sure, I could do that. Renew is a comfortable word, right?
I was so wrong.
Renewal is hard. It's leaving me on my face, begging for grace and mercy and strength. Being made new means dying first. It's painful and scary.
Being renewed is going to take slow, focused time - time with God to renew me spiritually, time working out to renew my body, time resting to renew my exhausted body and mind. I think slow and focus would be perfect complimentary words for the year.
God is calling me to slow down. Not to take things off my plate - this isn't about busyness. This is about intention, about taking time in the midst of chaos to focus on what really matters. It's about finding peace in the middle of the storm and hearing the voice of God in the midst of the noise.
That means daily time with God, taking my spare time back to read or pray or study Scriptures (instead of playing Candy Crush Soda Saga or checking Facebook), and finding routines, patterns, and practices that bring my focus back to God.
A few days ago, I read the perfect words in Jesus Calling: "Through the intimancy of our relationship, you are being transformed from the inside out." That's true renewal - changed from the inside out, giving God control of every aspect of who I am.
As I look ahead this week to my Lent Bible study, I feel like the last few weeks have been preparing me for this time. Lent is about remembering the cross and the price Christ paid to set us free. It's a time of reflection. It's a time to remember that we have to die to truly live - we must die to ourselves to find life in Christ.
Renew isn't an easy word, but it's my prayer this year: Jesus, help me die to myself so I can made new in You.
Monday, February 1, 2016
I haven't had nearly as much time to read as I wanted, but here's what I've been working on:
- A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeline L'Engle - I'm re-reading this series, one of my childhood favorites, and I think it may be even better as an adult than as a kid. Added bonus: I kept my copies from middle school, and I'm reading the same paperback I read when I was twelve. It's made me very nostalgic.
- The Hour That Changes the World - A how-to on prayer that breaks down different aspects of it. Easy to read and really practical.
- The Blacklist - best thing on TV since 24. James Spader's character is just incredible.
- The Killing Fields - This true crime show follows a detective who came out of retirement to solve the cold case that wouldn't let him go. Bonus: It's set in Louisiana, in an area we've traveled through many times.
My fourth short story was accepted by a magazine and will be published in February. I worked on edits for it and worked on another short story in January. I'm not sure what I'll do with the second one quite yet, but it's one of my favorites so far. In about two weeks, you can find Promise Me Forever in the February romantic suspense issue of Splickety Love. I'm also working on my one page synopsis for my novel so I can enter the ACFW Genesis contest, and I'm getting agent proposals ready.
- Bethel Music, especially You Make Me Brave - Hillsongs has always been my top choice for worship music, but Bethel Music is now running in a tie with them. I even bought a Bethel kids worship DVD for my children's church class.
- Ted Dekker's interview/writing course - Ted Dekker is, without a doubt, my favorite author. Hearing about his struggles and his writing process was so inspiring. When your favorite author admits there were times he wanted to quit, it makes your own occasional frustrations seem okay.
- Write From the Deep - This is full of practical advice and really great stories.
- The Simple Show - Still one of my favorites. This is my go-to podcast no matter what mood I'm in.
- Sacred Ordinary Days - A friend in a Facebook group introduced me to this one, and I'm so glad she did.
This month I've been focused on scripture memory. I'm memorizing Matthew 6 with Hide His Word. In just a few days, I'll start the She Reads Truth Lent study and Kris Camealy's Holey, Wholly, Holy.
I am absolutely in love with my bullet journal/traveler's notebook system! Mine isn't fancy. I made it from a piece of leather I bought at Michael's and filled it with Moleskine notebooks from Target because I didn't want to sink a lot of money into one until I tried it for a while. It didn't long to realize this is the perfect system for me. My traveler's notebook obsession is here to stay. I will probably end up buying a real Midori or fauxdori at some point.
My husband got me a FitBit Charge HR for Christmas. I love it! I had the original Jawbone, but it died just a few months after I got it. Jawbone replaced it with a newer model, but I hated it and just quit wearing it. The FitBit has so many great features! I love connecting with friends through the app, charting my progress, and doing challenges. I find myself checking my band often to see how I close I am to hitting my goal. I'm definitely moving more, even if my workout routine still needs to be revived.