September 22, 2018

When Nothing Feels Complete... A Five Minute Friday post.

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Hey there, Sweet Readers!  Oh my, how I have missed you!  How I have prayed for you... Even when words would not spill out in this space, you have remained in and on my heart and His!

Honestly - I had NO PLANS to do the whole 31 Days Challenge this year. To be fair, I'm still on the fence. I didn't even want to pray about it! I mean, Y'all know how He is bossy about it with me every year. I just wanted to not do it... because I'm tired... and He's quiet... and I'm still processing all the things that He is teaching me. And yet... it seems He may just have an opinion about whether or not I do it! I'm still going to have to chat with Him a bit longer before I decide yes or no!  

Until then... here I sit... ready to tap out something that will be somewhat of an offering --for you and for Him! Let's go! Our one-word prompt is: COMPLETE!

{GO}

I am not sure, really, what is going on with me.

I pause longer than usual after I tap out that opening line... because it's true on all accounts.  I am not sure... and while I am consistently preaching about being authentic and vulnerable, this feels like a bit too much of both, thank you very much.  

But what I do know for sure is we are in one of those in-between spaces and we are being called to sit and wait... to not rush it! To Watch and See... before (or maybe so that) we can Taste and See! I've written about the not rushing recently and it seems we are still in the midst of this holding pattern. 

And it's fine.  It is... 
It's fine but
Nothing feels complete right now.



September 17, 2018

When Your Perfect Plan Doesn’t Pan Out... A Guest Post by Jennifer Dukes Lee


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You guys...  I know it's been quiet around here again as of late. I'm sort of in another transition and it seems God is holding me still and silent, yet again! I'm not writing much --even in my own journals, and I'm not reading much lately either. 

However, I am on a couple of Book Launch Teams and, as always, the timing is perfect!


We don't have Guests here often, but when we do... well, you know it's gonna be good!

Please know that I have been blessed to be on Jennifer's book launch teams for each of her books to date and this one is just as good as the others... just as timely and impactful, encouraging and uplifting! And yeah, you're gonna want it! But don't just take my word for it... read on, and see for yourself!

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When Your Perfect Plan Doesn’t Pan Out – and Why That Might Be a Good Thing


Back when I was a news reporter, I wrote a four-day series of articles on the state of rural America. 



I capped the series with a personal essay that said, in no uncertain terms, that rural life held nothing for me, even though I had grown up there. I had my own plans—and they would unfold in a city, end of story. Well, let me tell how that turned out. Right now, the view from my kitchen window is a farm.


Yep, I am the wife of an Iowa farmer. We’re raising corn, soybeans, pigs, … and two beautiful humans. This is also where God raised up my faith. 


God planted me in a place I never wanted, and that’s where I found what I really needed. From tiny seeds, my faith grew. This is the part of the world where Jesus captured my wandering heart. I shudder to think what would have happened if my take-charge self had steamrolled her way toward her own plans rather than surrendering to his. 


Today, I’m wearing a baseball T-shirt screen-printed with the words “Keeping It Rural.” God willing, I’ll be “keeping it rural” and keeping it real for many years to come on this patch of Iowa. But I know that I don’t get to decide any of that. It’s “all under control,” and that control is not mine. 

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). Let that verse fall upon your heart today. 

What are your plans? Do you ever sense that your plans don’t always perfectly align with God’s? 

As you consider your plans, I offer these gentle words: Tend your seeds wherever they may fall, my friend. You never know what might be growing, even now, in unexpected places. 



When we live surrendered to God, we don’t have to stop making plans. Instead, we hold those plans loosely. We may look into the rearview mirror one day and be relieved that our well-laid plans never came to pass. 

Let me give you an example. 

A few months ago, I found an old prayer journal that I kept for many years. I’d written down names and just enough details so that when I looked back on it, I remembered afresh what I had prayed for. I flipped through the pages to find evidence of broken marriages, severe illnesses, addictions, betrayals, prodigal sons. There were prayers for new jobs, church moves, and absurdly bold dreams. 

With the gift of hindsight, I can see the hand of God. He moved some mountains just the way I asked him to, and he moved some mountains farther than I thought possible. 
I also saw that he didn’t move every mountain. He didn’t part every sea. He didn’t fulfill my every desire and bless my every plan. And some of that stings. There are still unresolved conflicts, great unknowns, and ginormous “whys” when I turn the pages in my prayer journal. 

But through this journey, there are four things I’m beginning to believe about our prayers and our plans: 

1.     Not a single second is wasted when we take our plans and desires before the Lord. 


2.     We will never regret praying bigger than we dared think was possible—the kind of prayer that a smiling God might remark about when we get to heaven: “Wow, child. You remember what you prayed for way back when? That was one ambitious prayer!”
 

3.     We will someday thank God that he didn’t always do what we wanted. 


4.     He won’t move every mountain. He won’t part every sea. But we can trust him still. One day, his plan will make total sense. “As for God, his way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30). 


May these words encourage you as you hold on to your plans, and seek God for his.


 Jennifer Dukes Lee is the wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, and an author. She loves queso and singing too loudly to songs with great harmony. Once upon a time, she didn’t believe in Jesus. Now, He’s her CEO. Jennifer’s newest book, It’s All Under Control, and a companion Bible study, are releasing today! This is a book for every woman who is hanging on tight and trying to get each day right―yet finding that life often feels out of control and chaotic. 


Adapted from It’s All Under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible by Jennifer Dukes Lee, releasing this fall from Tyndale House Publishers.




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And now... for something super fun:


I’m so excited to be a part of a huge giveaway to celebrate the release of It’s All Under Control. Jennifer and her publisher, Tyndale, are giving away 50 copies of the book in celebration of its release! Enter below to win. Giveaway ends September 30. Winners will be notified by Tyndale House Publishers.

Enter to Win HERE!
Good Luck, Sweet Readers!

September 4, 2018

Sonship Over Ownership...

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This has been a season of Quiet and of (once again) embracing a bit of Unproductivity.

Yeah... it's as fun as it sounds!

I mean, sure --at first, it IS great! Because we all tend to run at full speed and a lot of us are tired, Y'all! 

So a little breaky? Yes, please! 
Right?  

But there is also this: Many of us can accidentally take a bit of our identity from all of our production and having things to show for how we spent our day!

So it gradually shifts from being fun to feeling like a really hard ask. The ask is to be small, to be still and silent.  To trust anyway or even though, and to be willing to wait... To lay down our giftings and calling and all the things that we are DOING that so easily sneak in to defining us, rather than letting how we are BEING actually reveal who we are.

Often times, we are encouraged to stand up tall in who we are and in what we can do.  Take confidence in your abilities and giftings - and I agree! All too often, especially as Christians --especially as Christian women, we are told to be humble and to almost dismiss or divert compliments or credit. Of course, humility is important and we all know that pride comes before a fall.  

However, I believe there is a balance is being confident, yet still giving glory to God and knowing how and why we are successful. It's because Jesus invites us into a partnership. We get to go about our days (our work, our ministry, etc.) and do whatever He has put before us to do. But we get to do it with Him!

With Jesus as our example, it seems that there is a growing movement to return to the old ways... to follow His footsteps and to participate both in the Doing and the Being. We must learn to embrace both! Each of these things is vital. We can not simply Be, and never get up and Do... and yet we have discovered that all the Doing, without simply Being too, will quickly lead to burn out and disillusion!

Something about Don't grow weary in doing good... Keep Doing... and make sure that you are setting aside time to just Be as well!  As many have said, remember that saying Yes to something also means saying No to something else. Make sure your Yes is worth it!

I believe this is something that we are learning in the church at large.

Sonship is the Next Step...


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To read the full post, I'd love to have you join me HERE over at LifeLetterCafe where I share a bit about a recent encounter in prayer and what I felt God whisper to me about how we are called Heirs, not owners.


August 31, 2018

When We Can Not RUSH a Season... A Five Minute Friday post.

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I see the Word prompt and I immediately know what He has been speaking to me... I'm amazed at how it all comes into clarity just at the sight of this one little word! It explains why it has once again been so quiet around these parts... and it reveals my longing and how even when my flesh wants what it wants... I have given Him full access and ownership of my heart - so I let Him be the Boss of me... even when I don't want Him to be!

Let's go! Our one-word prompt is: RUSH!

{GO}

Immediately I think, "How many times have I wanted to RUSH right on to the next thing? How many times have I pleaded to just be released to move along already?"

Too many to count, lately! 
  I'd love to rush the transitions.



It's hard enough sometimes to come to the end of something... a season or a dream or a task... and know it's the end. To be willing to let it go or lay it down. That alone is a challenge... But then to be held in a loving embrace that forces all forward motion to cease? I mean... come on!  

This is not how our culture works!

We find
'success' and 'satisfaction' in our productivity and we often accidentally find our sense of identity wrapped up in what we do --even though we know it's really all about the being and not the doing.  

That's super great to SAY... but to actually allow Him to hold you still, and keep you small... hidden, even... That is something else altogether!

August 23, 2018

New Episode Available on The Changing Our Minds Podcast...


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Oh, how I have missed sitting in this chair, tapping out words that help me process my heart and help to remind me of what I already know and what I am learning and maybe even what I have changed my mind about... 


Soon, sweet readers! I hope to be back soon!

Until then, I wanted to let you know that we have a new episode now available on Changing Our Minds.


We are still learning as we go, but the podcast is now available on iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher. (And, as always, you can listen right here on the blog if you go to the Podcast tab up at the top!)

We'd love to have you join us as we chat about real life!

August 11, 2018

A Tribute to a Real Proverbs 31 Woman... A Five Minute Friday post.

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I can't even...

I saw the word prompt on Friday morning and thought of writing a tribute to the Woman my girlie has grown up to be! After vacationing with her for five days and seeing her Mama Lil Miss -- honestly, I was so blown away with her awesomeness!

But the day got away from me and I never did find my way back to this chair.  And then we got news this morning and my sweet Mother-In-Law passed away and I knew... even though five minutes will never be enough time, with the suddenness and the shock - it will be a start of processing and praising, so here we go:

{GO}


I was grafted into this family through marriage some 25+ years ago. 

Ours was a short courtship. I was a new Christian and My Honey was newly returning to his roots as a PK and believer.  This falling in love with the Lord was happening while we were falling in love with each other and I am pretty sure that I was not what his sweet Mama had in mind.  

This was the return of her firstborn... her only son.

But I was different from his other girlfriends... 
I don't know that that was bad
--and in the end, it turned out to be very good... 
but it seemed her first impression of me was not great. 

I was clearly no Proverbs 31 woman. 
I hadn't even HEARD of a Proverbs 31 woman.

August 2, 2018

The Way Maker... A Five Minute Friday post.

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Listen... it's summertime and we are in the midst of a whole lot of hard and holy... so we won't pretend that I even knew what day Thursday was last week - or the week before that... But tonight, He called me to sit in this chair and to lean back into His chest and let His arms of Love wrap around us... holding us close... trusting Him even when we can not see! He calls me to stir up my faith... and to encourage you, sweet reader, to do the same!

Our One Word Prompt is ANNIVERSARY. This is Five Minute Friday! 
Let's go...

{GO}



I made it! I actually made it on over to 'the Twitter' tonight to play with the tribe of amazing writers that make up the Five Minute Friday community! It felt so good to catch up and pretend for a few that life is back to normal... whatever that is! I don't even know anymore... 

But it's good.  It really is --even while it is Hard and Holy, too!  We know we are in the In-Between on nearly all counts... so what was normal is not available anymore... but we have Peace about that. 

And yet... I see the prompt and I'm not so sure I want to play along. 



My first thought when I see "Anniversary" is the anniversary we just reached a few weeks ago --the year marker of losing our brother-in-law.  To see how God has worked and has healed and has comforted our sweet sister and her boys is amazing!  Hard... and Holy.

And then my mind goes forward to the days following our little gathering at his graveside.  The days filled with doctors appointments and ER visits and what we thought was one thing turns out is most likely something else... something worse... but God!

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