Monday, December 19, 2016

Color Your Year

This time last year I was in a desert. It was the first anniversary of
my mom’s passing, and only five months after my step-mom’s passing, who lived in Mississippi with my dad.

I did not want to do Christmas.

At 80 years old, this would be my dad’s first Christmas alone, ever; as far as I knew.

I traveled alone to Mississippi to be with Dad, where we would robotically go through the motions of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Just the two of us.

On Christmas day, after the last dish was cleaned and leftovers put away, I was relieved. I sensed his relief too.

We got through it.                

I was glad to be alone during the eight-hour drive home the next day. I simply needed to process and give myself permission to grieve.

This desert season also included shallow fellowship with the Lord. 

I was spending the bare minimum of time with Him, in His word and praying; just getting by. Checking it off my list.

It’s no wonder I was thirsty. Hungry. Drained. I knew why I had this longing in my heart and that only Jesus could fill it.

I was tired of the desert. Over it.

My best friend (thank God for those!!!), Sande, has always been strong and consistent with her personal times with God, especially during hard times.

The most grounded woman I know (the one on the right), she passionately studies God’s word. Of all the women Bible-study teachers and writers, she surpasses them all.

One day, during my dry season, we were talking when our conversation turned to Jesus, as it often does. She shared how she’s asking God for their theme for upcoming 2016.

"Theme?" I asked.

She shared how every year she asks God for a theme and color for their daily dates together. She never misses a day of time alone with Jesus. Not one. Ever.

In her words, “I have a date everyday with Jesus!” She further shared how He would never stand her up, so how could she. She emphasized to me how she needed this time with Him; that it wasn’t because she’d arrived in any way, but because of her need.

After our talk I decided to copycat Sande’s prayer. I asked God for a theme and color to represent what He wanted to do in me in 2016. 

I made a new commitment to meet with Him daily, even when it meant getting up before the roosters.

Wow! It was one of the quickest prayers He’s ever answered! It resonated with me completely.

GREEN. GROW.

All shades of green are some of my favorite colors. Spring and Summer are my favorite seasons because of the fresh green life taking root and growing.

Excited, I prepared by buying a green journal, pens, selected a three-year Bible-reading plan and got ready to grow on my dates with Jesus.

Finding a new place to be alone with Him was important. Part of our attic above the garage is finished and makes a perfect solitary place away from distractions. I incorporated some greens with blues and yellows (together they make green), in my new surroundings. 

I never explained to my husband why I disappeared every morning behind a closed door in the little room above our garage. Thirty minutes quickly turned into the quickest hour of every day!

God has been faithful! He shows up every morning. I can’t say it’s all been feely-good, spirit-filled warm fuzzy times.

There has been gentle discipline from Him, and coming clean on my part. Each time I could feel roots going down into the fresh soil of grace and mercies He met me with each morning.

He refreshed my heart. He placed a new passion in me for prayer. He sent living water into my desert, making it like a well-watered garden.

Now I’m hooked.

We have only two weeks left in 2016. I asked the Lord again for a theme and color for 2017. I’m telling you the truth when I say that before the words came out of my mouth, He showed me.

Red. Love.

I’m not a big fan of red. And I’ve always felt I didn’t love well and have difficulty receiving love. And since He knows this about me, it makes perfect sense. Once again I’m excited about my dates with Jesus!

Now it’s your turn.

Do you long to be close with Jesus, but you struggle with knowing where to read in your Bible? Do you have problems focusing; fighting distractions?

Ask Him to show you a theme and color for the upcoming year. He longs to date you. He longs to tell you many things.

Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

After you ask Him, and He shows you, I want to hear back from you. Come back here and share below in the comments your theme for your dates with Jesus in 2017. 

Staying the course,
Terri


Monday, December 12, 2016

Big Decisions? Where's wisdom when you need It?

An unexpected crisis. A big decision. A hectic, out-of-control schedule.

How do you know what the right thing to do is? How can you handle the crisis; your big decision or know what to remove from your busy life?

How often do you exhale these words, “I need wisdom”?

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past. Wrong assumptions. Times when I thought God was leading me in a certain direction, only to find out I was off the path.

I went through a season of doubting my ability to discern and hear God’s voice. I avoided decisions that required stepping out in faith. I questioned whether I’d ever heard God’s voice or truly experienced His leading. 

I know not to trust my heart completely because I’ve been led astray by it before. I’ve found that Jeremiah 17:9 is true: The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

That’s hard to swallow when the world’s motto is follow your heart. When we follow our heart's wisdom, we get tossed to and fro by every wind and wave. There is no stability in following your heart.

In hindsight, I see where I’ve heard God, but then stepped ahead of Him, instead of waiting. I assumed He meant NOW, right NOW. 

Then there were those times I jumped in with my emotions, without further confirmation from Him.

I’m learning that when I feel a nudge or tug in my heart, rather than ASSUMING it’s from God, I simply ask Him. Then wait while coming to Him and His word daily.

God will never withhold guidance, instruction or wisdom when we ask for it.

Wisdom is not hidden from us. Wisdom isn’t silent. It’s not a mystery or big secret only available to certain people.

Wisdom isn’t quiet and can be easily heard from anyone who asks, listens, adheres to, watches and waits.

Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding 
raise her voice? At the highest point along the way, 
where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the 
gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries 
aloud: To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to 
all mankind. Proverbs 8:1-4

The question to ask is, are we listening?

I’m a visionary type of girl. God sometimes uses mind pictures to show me something.

I picture wisdom packed in a treasure chest. Kind of like the old ones you see in attics and garages or in a movie. You know, where the actress is staring at the big old trunk with anticipation of what’s inside. Will she open it or not?

In my mind, this trunk has W-I-S-D-O-M across the front and
packed inside are all its attributes. What would you do? Open it? Leave it? Or would you pull everything out, gratefully scooping it up and putting it to use?

Here's what you'd find:

Understanding
Prudence (cautious reasoning)
Truth
Knowledge
Trustworthy advice
Justice
Discernment
Instruction
Discretion
Counsel
Sound Judgement
Insight
Riches and honor
Righteousness
Justice

How can you apply all this sound wisdom to your life?

Begin here:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and 
knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

Fear, as in reverent fear, not scared fear.

Throughout Proverbs 8 we’re instructed further:

Now, then, my children, listen to me; blessed 
are those who keep my ways. Proverbs 8:32

Listen to my instruction and be wise; 
do not disregard it. Proverbs 8:33

Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily 
at my doors, waiting at my doorway. Proverbs 8:34

Fear God. Listen. Keep His ways. Watch daily. Wait. Do all these to gain priceless wisdom and direction. He will never steer you wrong.

Staying the course,
Terri


Monday, December 5, 2016

Need Direction? Feeling Frustrated?

I was frustrated…with God. Downright irritated. 

I know. Who am I to be frustrated with our sovereign, Heavenly Father?

In my tired and weepy state, I approached His throne; not in humility and reverence, but with frustration. Complaining.
“Lord, You’re the One who opened these doors. I wasn’t seeking it. You’re the One who made this vision reality. We need direction. And funding. The needs are great. I’m terrible at this.

Naturally, I desire favor, a good name, fruitful outcomes. Not only in ministry, but in my personal life.

I yearn to be nearer to God; to enjoy peaceful paths, provision and confidence when I step out to do His work.

I want God’s blessings, grace and His eternal riches; to walk through this earth and feel safe, enjoying sweet sleep, trusting in His protection and future plans for me. Not fear of sudden disaster; fear of things that may never happen.

Who doesn’t? Surely I’m not alone in this.

As I often do, I turned to the Book of Proverbs, hoping to find some wisdom; a tad of knowledge. Whatever the date is, is where I always begin. This particular morning was the 3rd.

I began with Proverbs 3:1-2
My son, (or daughter) do not forget my teaching, 
but keep my commands in your heart, for they will 
prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.

It’s as if Father God started speaking. Not in a finger-pointing disciplinary way, but as a Loving Father. Daughter, don’t let the cares of this world choke out what I’ve already taught you.

Next I read in verses 3-4:
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them 
around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 
Then you will win favor and a good name in the 
sight of God and man.
Translated for me, this means to operate any ministry, as well as my personal life, with love and faithfulness as the mantra. Love and faithfulness wins favor and a good name.

Verses 5 and 6 is a biggie, and we all know it.  
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean 
not on your own understanding; in all your ways 
acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

There’s no need to wrestle with Him over this. Trust Him, not in my finite understanding. He will provide direction as I continually seek and acknowledge Him.

Following in the next two verses…

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. 
This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

I’d come to Him weary, achy, tired and struggling with joint pain. My wisdom will lead me to exhaustion. His wisdom brings health and nourishment.

I next read in verses 9 and 10:
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first-fruits 
of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to 
overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. 
With regards to the ministry to single moms, He just then instructed me financially, to give outside of our ministry to others also working hard for His kingdom. Another biggie for me.

Are you feeling distant from God today? Sometimes it’s because of His discipline, which is His way of bringing us closer to Him.

As stated in verses 11-12:
My son, (or daughter) do not despise the Lord’s discipline 
and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines 
those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Finding wisdom and gaining knowledge, is always His desire for us.
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who 
gains understanding, for she is more profitable than 
silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more 
precious than rubies, nothing you desire can compare 
with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand 
are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and 
all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who 
embrace her; those who lay hold of her 
will be blessed. Verses 13-18

The rest of Proverbs 3 exhorted me to preserve sound judgement and discernment, to never lose sight of those two things. His promises of safety, sure-footedness, sweet sleep and confidence encouraged me as I read more about the benefits of wisdom.

There was nothing else for me to say to Him. He had spoken.

Whatever burdens we think we’re supposed to carry or when we need direction, the Lord has given us what we need right here in Proverbs 3.

I invite you to share below what you do when you need God's direction and are feeling frustrated. 

Staying the course through His word,

Terri