be strong and courageous [community].

A week ago, I finally completed what could have been the hardest physical feat I’ve had to date.

I did my first half-ironman distance triathlon.

70.3Throughout the training, I wanted to give up many times. I hated swimming, I never felt like I was improving, and the whole process took so much time. Throughout the race I continually asked myself what was wrong with me for thinking this was a good idea. It was long. it was slow. It was hot.

But you know what, I had to keep going – in training and during the race – because I knew there were people waiting for me. People cheering me on. There were people on the sidelines fighting the good fight with me.

And, like so many times in my life, I learned from this metaphor. I am unable to do anything on my own. I need Jesus, first, but I also need those He has placed in my life to push me. I need them to challenge me and pick me up when I am struggling. I need their words of encouragement. I simply need their presence to know I am not alone, even in the loneliest times (and believe me, when you’re traversing 70.3 miles, you sure are alone a lot).

Are you engaging in community? I heard part of a sermon today where the preacher talked about getting out and engaging with people, loving on people, learning from people, serving people – and this, this is where you find the gifts the Holy Spirit has given you.

To be strong and courageous, we need the Lord’s power. And sometimes He shows that power through those He has placed in our lives. Don’t miss it.

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Deserts of snow.

Deserts and snow make no sense together, I know. Essentially, they are complete opposites. But I find myself feeling deep within a valley dry and alone. Yet, I look outside right now, staring at the snow, and there’s such a peace. I was out this morning shoveling the snow from the driveway and there were birds chirping. The sound of spring, yet in the deepest of winter. All of these things that don’t seem to go together…

As I sat here watching the snow quietly fall with nothing but the sound of those birds outside I began to cry. To weep. Im not sure what the reason was besides just a release of a number of emotions. Mostly frustration and confusion, some anger, some joy. I tried to pray but admitted to God that my mind felt so confused and I had no words to pray. I sat in the quiet, crying, but knowing full well God was with me. And He reminded me of the words to the song “Come to Me.”

And as I listened to it, the tears became the set of thankfulness and joy.

“I am the Lord your God, I go before you now

I stand beside you, I’m all around you

Though you feel I’m far away, I’m closer than your breath

I am with you, more than you know”

So just know, dear friend, whatever the state of your mind, your reality, your past or your future – He is standing beside you, He is all around you. Be at peace in His presence.

Who you are.

I am working on the “renewing of my mind,” per all the scripture (Romans 12:2, ) telling me to renew my mind, as I am a new creation.

Well, if someone wants to tell me how one goes about this, I’d be grateful. I still haven’t figured it out, but I have started the process of learning who God is.

And well, because I am created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), I can better learn who I am, and maybe what I should be thinking about, and maybe this will give me some insight into the renewing of my mind.

Tired yet? I sure am.

Here’s a helpful sermon by my boy Pipes (John Piper… is that offensive? I just feel like you and I are tight). Check it out for some help on the renewing of your mind.

But that’s not what this post is about – I don’t understand it enough yet to write about it.

This is about WHO GOD IS.

Because, brothers and sisters, when you know who God is, you can learn who YOU are!

AH! Is that not exciting? We were made in HIS image! To be like him!

I am very much into recreating quotes onto canvas to hang on the wall. But to do that, I have to look at an image, because I am not the best of artists on my own.

Here are some ideas on some of the attributes, or characteristics of God (via Challies):

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Those are good, and worth learning about. I also love the book The Attributes of God, by A.W. Tozer.

 

But when I think how I want to model myself in the image of God, I think of things like these:

  • unconditionally lover
  • seeker of justice
  • creative
  • beautiful
  • peaceful
  • strong
  • patient
  • humble
  • trustworthy
  • consistent
  • forgiving

What one attribute of God could you work on for yourself this week?

I’m going to work on “patient.”

Sunday Scripture: Psalm 88 & 89

Currently, at my church, we are studying various books of Psalms.

Last week we read over Psalm 88 – it is deep and dark, and not fully of praise and hope like a lot of the Psalms we are used to:

“my soul is full of troubles… you have put me in the depths of the pit…your wrath lies heavy upon me…you have caused my companions to shun me…”

Whoa, okay. Things are rough for the author of this Psalm. “Sorry for him, but really I’m not in that kind of time right now in my life so I can’t really relate, but I’ll take notes for one day (far, far away) when I am feeling dark and lowly,” I thought during the sermon.

Our pastor addressed how the psalmist still prayed during his darkness, whether or not he felt God was near.

He gave us a quote  regarding this Psalm, which sticks with me today (I cannot remember the source), “It stands as a mark of realism of Biblical faith.” We will suffer, we will find ourselves in the pit, we will feel a loss of hope.

And then my pastor stated, “lamentation is the recognition that where we are at in our lives is not where we are meant to be.”

A- to the -men! We are free to lament! God invites us to lament to Him! He doesn’t send condemnation, He listens and I believe offers a little side-smirk, as He thinks to Himself “oh, but if you only knew what is ahead!”

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So… funny how things work, because just 4-5 days later, I found myself in a bit of darkness…

And yesterday, it all came to fruition. I was in that pit the psalmist talked about. I sat down in tears and read Psalm 88 word for word – now from my own darkness. It took some time because the tears overwhelmed my outloud prayer/reading.

And then I continued reading aloud in prayer to Psalm 89. The author is not the same, nor is the tone of the Psalm.

Here, here there is hope! I like to think they were situated in God’s word like this for a reason.

Oh, we may not feel hope, but there is hope. Don’t stop at the pit, keep going, keep reading!

When things are tough, when you feel so dark and there is no hope, when you are deep in the pit – PRAISE!

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You are not Your Circumstance

At #shereadstruth right now we are reading the story of Ruth (and Naomi).

Today we are reminded how

Naomi’s circumstances were indeed awful. She’d buried her husband, lost two sons and said goodbye to a daughter-in-law. She had no hope of a grandchild, no path of provision. “I went away full,” she said, “and the Lord has brought me back empty” (v. 21). Yet, there was no fist-shaking at heaven. No renouncing her faith. Naomi acknowledges God without blaming Him. She believed God was sovereign, even in her tragedy.

 

She still believed He was sovereign.

 

I think this is part of why I have been M.I.A. here on the blog.

I’ve felt unworthy of writing anything, just in a low place spiritually.

But, lately God has reminded me of who He is, and who that makes me.

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It doesn’t matter what are circumstances, what stupid thing we just did, what stupid thing we did years ago. We are renamed when we are His children. We are new, we are beautiful. We can continue to sing praises because despite how the world might try to name us because of our circumstances, He is still calling us beloved, redeemed, and precious. He is still calling us His child.

And He will never stop.

 

Fix Your Eyes

Lately, there are two songs I play over and over. Both are titled “Fix My Eyes.” One, is by For King and Country and the other by Kings Kaleidoscope. The words by Kings Kaleidoscope read:

“When my heart is weary, when my soul is weak When it seems I can’t traverse the trail before me I survey the glory of your agony And I find the will to fight for what’s before me Cause you ran the race enduring for your glory I fix my eyes on you, the founder and the finisher of our faith I fix my eyes on you, the solace in your suffering is my strength As I fight to follow, you’re my righteous guide And you train me to delight in all that’s holy Heal my broken body, cure my crooked stride Throw off every weight and sin that clings so closely I will run the race enduring for your glory You help me breathe, you’re the only life I need You died for me, you’re the only life I need”

They ring so true in my life right now. The road feels weary, my soul feels weak, I feel weighed down by “sin that clings so closely.” And yesterday, God reminded me of those words and spoke softly to my heart, “fix your eyes on Me. Look at the cross; make your identity simply Me. Strive always to be more like Me.” When I fix my eyes on Him,

It doesn’t matter what my body looks like.

It doesn’t matter if I look like a fool.

It doesn’t matter if I mess up.

It doesn’t matter if he breaks my heart.

It doesn’t matter if they don’t approve.

If my focus is on the glory of God, it doesn’t matter.

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I hear the scoffs already – you can’t just do whatever you want, you’ll offend people and that’s not showing Christ’s love. You’ll make them mad. You’ll get lazy, you’ll be sloppy. I get it. But if your focus is truly on becoming more like Christ and dying to yourself, those things won’t have the same meaning.   How can you switch your focus to the glory of God rather than the glorification of yourself?

Bring it.

She Reads Truth is doing something new for Lent – every Friday the reader’s share their own thoughts on a certain passage of scripture. This is my response for the week. 

This week, we are reflecting on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:

You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s master stroke, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified. I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else. (Message Version, emphasis mine)

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As for myself, brethren, when I came to you, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony and evidence or mystery and secret of God [concerning what He has done through Christ for the salvation of men] in lofty words of eloquence or human philosophyand wisdom;For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified. And I was in (passed into a state of) weakness and fear (dread) and great trembling [after I had come] among you. And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power [a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them], So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men (human philosophy), but in the power of God. (Amplified Version)

First impressions:

1. Paul wasn’t trying to impress the people of Corinth, he was just bringing the truth to them, plain and simple.

2. The message he had to bring came through, no matter how inadequate he felt, not matter how much he fumbled his words or screwed up in his own mind. God used him to bring the message that needed brought (I say that with the sass of a 13 year old cheerleader)!

So now what?

What is God calling you to, to which you feel totally inadequate or scared to death?

Let Him work through you today, in all you do.

 

 

image is from my brother! Follow him @an_idiot_abroad on Instagram!