Tuesday, August 25, 2015

No More Pack Mule

By myself at a random table in a Starbucks post dropping off my kids at school. 
That statement in itself is weird. 
Me? By myself? Weird. 
Kids at school? Weird. 
Me at Starbucks? Ok...that's pretty normal.
But I feel way out of my skin eating breakfast and drinking a fancy flat white- instead of my plain old coffee- and no one across from me at the table. 
I don't quite know what to do with all this- the here and the not here. 
I am caught thinking about all I want to do and then, all I don't want to stop doing. 
And then the Spirit whispers deep: 
In order to pick something up, you have to lay something down. 

You cannot carry all the things. 

When my kids were small, my father in law always called me a pack mule. Why? Because every time he saw me, I was carrying all the things. 
From a kid to diaper bags to Batman to trash. Times 3. 
I carried it all. 

Carry all the things. 

But that can't last forever. 
Kids grow, bags shrink, Batman gets lost, and well...they still give me their trash. 
But the truth is, we can only carry certain loads in life for a season.
And then it's time to set one thing down to pick another up. 
Better still? 
We set the good things down to pick the God things up. 

The load we have been used to carrying becomes too familiar. We tell someone wanting to help, "No don't grab anything! I've got it balanced. If you take one thing it will all come tumbling down." 
And maybe there are parts of what you're carrying that God wants you to keep. 
But maybe what's in my hands isn't meant for me to carry? 
Maybe someone else is standing there empty handed because I am carrying the good thing that's supposed to be their God thing. 

I am not meant to carry all the things. 
I am meant to carry my God things

Because that load is light. 

It may not be easy, but it is in proportion to the strength He has released for me to carry it. 

So I am sitting here, letting go and laying down what isn't mine to carry. Not knowing what it all looks like to pick up what He has put in front of me. 
I know it's a God sized load that I was designed to carry. 
There are a lot of good things that I will have to lay down. 
But the God things can't be left behind
And you have to lay something down to pick something up. 
I won't be grabbing all the things, but I will be holding His things...and that is a load I can bear. 

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 NLT


Monday, August 24, 2015

Will Love Provide?

My mama loves to feed people.
If you are around her and you're hungry- then she feels she has failed. 
I had a friend tell me once that she "thinks in food" when it comes to planning an event. This would be my mom. We often say my mom could take a can of beans and a loaf of bread and turn it into a four course meal. 
We are only half kidding. 
She always has food prepared or shortly available- long before we are ever even hungry, she has already thought of what she will serve us in love. She expresses her deep love for us through providing. She longs to meet our needs- and we all have to eat.

In John 21(after Jesus's resurrection), the disciples are back to the business of fishing- and having no luck- when Jesus unexpectedly appears to them on the shore. After He calls out to them, they miraculously catch a huge net full. And then, they head to shore-to Jesus. 
But for me, this verse stands out:
"When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread." 
These men had not known what their night would bring- that they would catch nothing until Jesus intervened; that they would be coming to a random place on the shore to connect with their risen Lord.
But Jesus knew. 
Jesus knew their hunger before they knew it. 
Those coals, the fish, the bread- Jesus had been preparing for them what they didn't even know they would need in a place they didn't even know they would be. 
He was already there, provision waiting- nourishment for hungry souls.
Jesus was showing them His deep love for them. Reminding them as He met their need that fullness only comes from Him. 
I think about the quiet moments on the shore as Jesus prepared the meal long before the disciples were even in sight- as He thought about them, cooked for them, prepared the provision before they ever arrived- and the love that was in every step. 
Just let that movie play in your mind a moment. 
It was His joy to meet their need...and it is His joy to meet yours as well. 
Trust. Love will provide. Maybe not the way or time you expect, but He will always provide. 

That sea you are sailing? The one that has left you tired, boat and belly empty?
He has a place of provision already prepared. He's simply waiting for you. He's waiting for you to hear His call from the shore to meet Him- even if it's not the way or the when you expected. He knew your hunger even before you did, and the food is ready and waiting. 
The smell of provision is already in the air. 

Jesus longs to express His deep love for you.
Will you stop the work of casting your net long enough to come ashore and let Him love you and provide for you? Those overflowing nets of fish you're catching- that busy, full life? They are from Him anyway. 
The very thing you need, He has already provided...even before you know you need it. 
Trust Him, get near to Him, so you don't miss the meal He has prepared for you! 

So...my mama may be feeding us a meal, but it's the provision of love we devour. And fueled for the next steps, we go on, knowing the next meal is already cooking in her heart...just like my Jesus. 
Never doubt: Love provides.  


Monday, August 17, 2015

Perfect Peace in my Pieces

I was scrambling in my living room to have my time with the Lord, while my mind was scrambling a thousand other places, a thousand miles an hour. 
I was thinking about everything ahead in this coming season...all I knew and didn't even know-  and it had me in a dead panic in my mind. 
And then, before I even sat down to get in the Word, the Holy Spirit brought this verse up in my spirit:

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
Isaiah 26:3 NLT

Perfect peace. Not some version of peace- but perfect.
Perfect is defined as: "having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be. Absolute. Complete."
In other words, it is exactly what we need when we need it. 
Perfect peace.
From the inside out. 
It's learning to trust IN Him, rather than trusting things around and about Him.
Where you trust FROM determines the kind of peace you live IN

As we trust in Him, He secures us with the unwavering assurance that abundant life is His promise(John 10:10); therefore every battle we are facing is to bring about that very purpose.

He is the anchor for my thoughts in the raging sea of worry, doubt, and condemnation in my mind. When I fix my eyes on Him, I am no longer dizzied by the whirlwind of the world. I am locked into His gaze and I see what He sees, I can know what He knows: that every bit of it is for my good because He is Good. He is a good Father, giving me every good and perfect gift. 
(James 1:17, Romans 8:28)
Maybe not always the ones I want...but it's always the ones that I need

I have to live my life with open eyes and open hands:
Eyes open, fixed on Him.
Hands open, filled by Him. 

I have to stop looking in every direction hoping to see some answer for my questions- because HE IS THE ANSWER. 
I have to stop reaching in every direction to grab what feels and fills like I want it, when I want it- because HE IS MY PROVIDER. 

When I scurry around and try to piece together peace in my life, it only results in stress, failure, frustration, anger.
I am playing a game I will never win.  
It's time for me to stop worrying about the win and start focusing on the One.

What are you fixed on today? 
Believe me- I know it is hard to see past all that is screaming for your attention. 
But only One focal point will bring perfect peace

He doesn't promise to remove whatever is raging in your life, but He promises to love, grow, and be with you through it. 
That is perfect peace. 


“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.”
2 Thessalonians 3:16 NLT

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Knowing The Way

The unknown can be paralyzing. 
Feet turn to lead.
Mind fills with fear.
Heart beats out of chest.
And worry comes running to be my friend. 
I have to walk forward. Because stopping isn't an option when I have a way to go, a journey to walk. 
But sometimes? I just want to know the way. The whole way.
I want to see the Maps version of His plan pop up on my smart phone so I can see it all in a picture or in enumerated steps or even 3D satellite view. 
I want to know the way. 
But then, I remember that Jesus promised to be a "lamp unto my feet, a light into my path". A lamp at my feet assures I can see just enough to keep walking and not stumble and fall. A light on my path shows me the way right in front of me, not miles down the road. 
Jesus shows me His way in my here and in my now. When I lock my gaze on Him, He doesn't just show me the way- He IS my Way...no matter the ease or difficulty of the path beneath my feet. 
While I am concerned with knowing a way, Jesus draws me to Himself so I can know THE Way. 
We all have a way we are wondering about and wandering around. 
Let's stop our worry and let go of fear. 
Trust The Way for His way on your way. 
You may not know it all, but you know Him- and I promise that is enough. 
That's may prayer for us today. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Leaving: Hope for a Mama's Heart

It's an unspoken mommy truth: one day they will leave.
This baby in your arms that you have waited on, prayed for, dreamed of, will one day drive away into their own dreams.
And so we push that truth down and blink away tears and keep that little unspoken dammed up behind our mommy wall so we can live the day.
Not because we wish it away or believe we can delay it, but simply because the thought of living without your heart seems paralyzingly impossible.

When they seek you out for a hug, advice, snuggles, quality time...the unspoken flashes before you, and you linger in that moment to help stand on your feet in the soon to come.
But how did we even get here? How are these little feet even walking, running, driving, going out into this big world without us holding those stubby little fingers in ours?
How did time sneak up on us?

No one tells you in those endless, sleepless nights of vomit and nightmares that it is inching closer. 
No one tells you in the sibling squabbles and slamming doors that it's closing in on the horizon.
When we wish any of it away, we move past the very moments that unite us in the days beyond the leaving. 
Every ache, every tear, every fight, every stumble are opportunities for roots to dig deeper, so they can fly higher.
Every laugh, every accolade, every face to face moment, every I love you, wire us for a lifetime of connection that distance cannot undo.

So yes, our hearts will ache with love and pride that swell as they stand up in who they are, this grown up human they are destined to be. 
And yes, that unspoken truth behind that wall in the depths of our mama hearts may even burst and result in a massive flood of tears and emotion.
But it isn't because we haven't known it was coming- it's because we didn't see how quickly it was approaching. 

Mommies know their babies will leave.
But we breathe deep because our babies know the truth we have been imprinting on their hearts every moment before this leaving one: they can always come back. 

Your baby may walk out of your door, they can never walk out of your heart.
Release the leaving and hold onto that mommy truth. 


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Spit and Mud to Heal My Mess

Spit and mud: Jesus uses it in John 9. Seriously. 
And for what? A miracle. 
Jesus sees the blindness-this mans point of need- and meets him there with spit and mud. 
Sometimes I get mad about an area of "blindness" in my life- places in need of His miraculous. I get bitter in my blindness. I don't understand why I have to live life saddled with physical frustrations and impairments...storms camped out over me spiritually, emotionally, situationally, relationally. 
But then when JESUS approaches my need with spit and mud...I lament over messy methods and delay or even miss my miracle. 

When asked about this man's blindness Jesus simply says this: "...but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."(John 9:3) 

What if I took this approach, had this mentality toward every occurrence and every area of my life?
What if I lived with that level of pure, simple confidence that Jesus WILL display His glory through the miraculous in my life...even if His intervention is unconventional by my standards? (see spit, mud and a face washing!) 
Will I embrace spit and mud from the Master in order to see my miracle? 

I'm blind in so many ways. But I know God has a plan for His glory in it all if I will just surrender to His process. 
I don't love the method every time...but I love and trust the Master. 
And that is enough for me. 
I'm praying you embrace the spit and mud, too. 
#simpletruth #first5 @first5 @proverbs31

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Posture of Grace

John 8 begins with a bang. 
An adulterous woman, caught in the act. I know many of us recognize sin in our life- but how many of us can say that the thing or things we are most ashamed about, we have actually been caught in the very act of doing, and then had it announced in the town square before religious leaders?! 
Let that sink in a fat minute. 
This is a for real moment in this woman's life. As in- how do you even stand up under the weight of all that shame? But they stood her before Jesus and her community and declared her sin for all to see. 
What strikes me is what Jesus does: he stoops low. He bends down. 
He took the posture of Grace. 
Philippians 2 reminds us of that:

“And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name,”
Philippians 2:8-9 AMP

He lowered himself so she could stand in the midst of her accusers. 
And that is what the cross and empty grave have done for you and me. 
All her accusers dropped their stones and walked away, "...until only Jesus was left with the woman, standing there."(John 8:9) 
Only Jesus. Alone in His presence. That's when you see the truth of who He is and who you are in His eyes.  
I'm afraid that as soon as the stones fell, I would have run away in shame, bearing the weight of the condemnation that brought me to that place. 
But she remained...and in doing so let Jesus declare the opportunity for new life over her.
"...And Jesus said, I do not condemn you either. Go on your way and from now on sin no more." John 8:11
In the same place they declared her sin and shame, JESUS declared her righteous through His grace. 
When I am accused, when I am judged- right or wrongly- how do I respond? 
Do I run from Him or to Him? 
Do I dare remain as this woman did and glimpse this unconditional Love? 
Am I willing to position myself to receive grace from the One who is postured to issue it? 
Only then can I step into who HE says I am- when I allow His declaration of truth to redeem me. 
Jesus disarmed her accusers to arm her for LIFE. 
That is the power of Grace. 
Let that marinate in you so it can pour out through you in every place you enter. 
Let's position ourselves for Grace, but let's take a posture of Grace in our lives so that others can see this crazy love of Jesus. 
I am asking the Holy Spirit to help me embrace it AND live it. 
That's my prayer for you today, too. ~Julie 
@first5 #first5 @proverbs31

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Most Important Thing About You

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."- Tozer

Jesus is polarizing. John 7 reveals that. Verse 43 tells us people were divided because of him. 
Why? Because what we believe about Him is the most important thing about us. 
It determines if we live FOR or if we live FROM. 
We live FOR our thirst to be quenched or we live FROM the Thirst Quencher. 
We live FOR righteousness or we live FROM His Righteousness. 
We live FOR victory or we live FROM His victory. 
We live FOR satisfaction or FROM our satisfaction in HIM. 
We live FOR love or we live FROM His perfect love. 
Jesus says in verse 38, "Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow FROM within him." (my emphasis added) 
FROM is inside-out living. FOR is outside-in.
FROM is transformational. FOR is temporary.
FROM is grace filled. FOR is effort filled. 
FROM is empowering. FOR is draining. 
FROM is focused. FOR is afraid. 
In every part of our lives we are choosing to live FOR or to live FROM. 

I am asking God to show me where I've chosen FOR...asking Him to rearrange and add to those letters to help me live FROM. 
That's my prayer for you today, too.
#simpletruth @first5app @proverbs31ministries #first5 

Monday, August 3, 2015

When Reality is Rough

*** I am currently walking through the book of John with Proverbs31 ministries using the First 5 App. 
This post is part of what the Holy Spirit is teaching me and revealing to me personally as I dig into this part of His Word. 
Jump into this study with me by going to www.first5.org or downloading the app for your device.***

John 6: Jesus feeds the five thousand; Jesus walks on water. 
This chapter is full of miracles but it's also full of moments that can sometimes get glossed over because of their magnitude. I can't help but think about the people IN those moments, witnessing those miracles. These were real problems, real hunger, real storms, real fear, real questions, real uncertainty. Those stories we read and summarize and throw into sentences were their realities. 
And when you are in the middle of your reality, believing for a miracle isn't as easy as reading ahead a few verses- because when it's YOUR reality, you can't read past the verse you're in; you can only believe that Jesus has already perfectly written it. 
So today it's taking everything I have to put my pen down and let Jesus write the miraculous in the current reality of my life verses. Instead of pining over all the drafts cluttering my mind and my soul, I am using every ounce of who I am to draw close to the Author and Perfector of my faith. 
I can be like Philip who could not see the way so decided it was impossible, or be like Andrew who even though he didn't see how, chose to go to Jesus and surrender what they had. 
What I have today doesn't feel like a lot, or look like a lot, but Jesus is my abundance. He is the Multiplier. He is the Miracle Worker. He is the Way Maker. He is the Storm Calmer. 
I'm inviting Jesus into my reality. He's already written the miracle- I just have to surrender the pen and believe the Author. 
That's my prayer for you, too.