When Rest Feels Like a Prison Sentence {Link-up}

“Take the keys and go,” my husband said.

It wasn’t a question. From the time he’d walked in the door my tone had been short and snippy. He knew I’d had a long day and needed time to myself, even though I was insisting on cleaning up the dishes.

After stalling several times on my way out the door, I left. I played worship music in the car and talked to God about the things that were bothering me.

I didn’t take much time to listen. I didn’t pause to see whether he had an answer to my endless list of concerns and complaints.

But since our God is faithful and more patient than I deserve, he kept speaking.

One day in early February the weather was crazy warm. Spring warm. Our family went for a walk, and our five-year-old paused every five seconds to pick up rocks and sticks. He found his favorite bridge (a slat of wood) and hopped across, quite pleased with himself as he ran down the other side of the ravine.

Of course, I was trying to keep up the pace and burn some calories on the first nice day we’d had in weeks.

“Come on, Gabe! Bye, Gabe!”

“Wait for me!” he cried, running up from behind.

He was all dramatic but he knew we weren’t going to leave him. Within a few minutes, he was pausing again to explore.

I felt the cool breeze on my face and sensed that little nudge in my spirit.

You could learn from him, you know.

And it was true. I knew it. But was I willing to be taught?

They say knowledge is power, but is it really?

Knowledge may bring power, but wisdom comes when we’re willing to change.

For months I’d known what God wanted me to do: Rest. But I’d resisted. He wanted me to let someone else shoulder some of the load, but I wouldn’t open my mouth to ask for help.

I lived in a prison of my own self-sufficiency. Instead of receiving, I insisted on pouring out.

And pouring some more. But you can’t keep pouring from an empty cistern.

Even when I gave myself time to rest physically, I knew what I needed was spiritual. Soul nourishment. Time listening instead of talking. Time noticing his gifts instead of racing past them.

When we don’t see immediate fruit, we often think our time is wasted. But friends, time spent resting is not a waste.

Some of the most abundant fruit we produce will come after seasons of rest. Seasons when we’re willing to let someone else yield the harvest. When we’re willing to sit at the feet of Jesus instead of running ourselves ragged.

Fruit needs time to ripen before it is harvested. And the time God spends refining us is just as important as the time spent reaping the benefits.

If you feel called to a period of rest right now, do yourself a favor and take it. God will use it to teach you and mold you.

He may even show you some scenery you’ve been missing along the way.

#RaRaLinkup Time!

1. Link up your inspiring & motivating post with the button below. (Click the button and it will take you to the linkup page.)
2. Grab the Kelly Balarie & Friends button (on the right) to display on your blog or just link back.
3. LEAVE A COMMENT ON THE POST LINKED UP RIGHT BEFORE YOURS. Visit others & be encouraged.

Today, Don’t Forget

 

life unstuck intro

Whatever you do today, take a moment to stop and remember that life is precious. Remember to savor the time with the people you love. Take a minute or an hour to do something that makes you feel alive, whether it be a walk, a run around your neighborhood, or a painting season.

Notice the passing of the seasons and how God makes everything beautiful in its time, even the leaves which are changing vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow. And when each one takes one final breath and passes to the ground, it will provide nutrients for the soil and the earth beneath.

Take time to see. Because when we don’t see, we become stuck. We turn into drones which are just going through the motions of life, not enjoying anything or savoring any of it.

And as Emily Dickinson once said, “That it will never come again is what makes life sweet.”

dickinson quote

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this challenge here.

4 Things to Learn When Your Tools Are Rusty {Renewal Through Christ Series}

renewal series

Today I am excited to welcome my friend, Carmen Horne, to the blog. Carmen’s writing draws you in and makes you feel as though you are sitting on the couch with her, enjoying a hot cup of coffee or tea. She invites you to not only take part in the conversation, but to ask questions and deepen your faith. After reading one of Carmen’s pieces I always feel like I’ve gained a new nugget of truth to carry with me through my day and share with others who may be dealing with a similar experience.

Carmen Horne bio pic

Wife, mom and Jesus girl best describes Carmen. She loves family and friends mixed with laughter, hugs, dark chocolate and the beach! Carmen’s writing comes from a heart that God is mending. She invites you to stop by for a visit and talk about life together.

Carmen would love to connect with you on her blog, Facebook, or on Twitter.

Today Carmen will be talking about the fifth and last aspect of renewal we will be exploring together: the renewal of Spirit.

When Your Tools Are Rusty

I had awakened not feeling myself. I just felt bad. Something wasn’t right. This cannot be happening. Today is party day. Our daughter’s kindergarten class would be at our house in a few hours.

Those beginning weeks of school had been difficult. She and I struggled to adjust to her being away and her immature immune system was assaulted with unfamiliar germs. Doctor and hospital visits had filled us all with dread. Our girl had been the picture of health. Can you see where this school thing wasn’t our favorite?

Winter had been a struggle. Along with school distress, my grandfather who I adored was diagnosed with lung cancer in October and died in February. I was ready for spring. I needed spring.

The tide had changed. School was no longer the enemy camp and we were all looking forward to fun. A piñata stuffed with candy, goodie bags lined up like little soldiers, colored eggs galore and, I could hardly move.

What was wrong with me? We partied but, I awoke in the wee hours of the following morning with my heartbeat out of rhythm. I knew it. I could feel it. This time I was the one in the hospital and for the next 6 months my body just took a break from life.

As Christians, when our bodies grow weary, we hope our faith will rise to see us through. But, what if our faith is weak too? Mine was.

As I fought the discouragement and depression that came with my health issues, I felt so unprepared for this battle Satan was waging against me. I had no idea how to fight back.

How do you live most of your life as a Christian and have no tools (weapons) “to stand against the schemes of the devil”? Or, the weapons you do have are so uncared for they are rusty.

Abby McDonald Guest Post

A few things became apparent as I limped along.

  • When we are weak and weary, it is not the best time to sharpen our weapons. It sure would have been comforting to have them ready. Bible reading and prayer today helps me be ready for tomorrow.
  • We are not indispensable. Life goes on. Easter happened. My duties at church were fulfilled by others. So why do we fill our plate so full? Do we think we are the only ones that can do a certain task? Sounds like pride doesn’t it?
  • Difficult times don’t last forever. Lary hired someone to help clean our home. This dear lady once told me, “In six months, you will look back on this time and realize this is not as big as you think it is.” She was right. Seasons change. People change. Life is not always good or bad.
  • Growth happens in ground watered with tears. Although to me it seemed I was doing nothing useful, I was actually in a growth spurt. That spring in 1991 when I found myself in the worst crisis of my life, also found me in a spring that became an amazing spiritual renewal.

I hungered for God and wanted to hear His voice. Although numb in many ways, I did remember that God promised His word always produces fruit (Isaiah 55:11). So, I read and searched for a Bible translation that was easy to comprehend. My love for the New Living Translation was born. When my memory failed me, I trusted God to hide His word in my heart. Psalm 91 and James 5:16 consoled me – “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.”

Boxes and bookshelves of books never opened were mined for something to encourage and grow me. I listened to message after message on television. God was pouring into me what I needed and for once, I was still and hungry enough to dine at the table He set.

I had contracted a virus that physically changed my heart and along the way, my heart had been changed spiritually as well. The cry of my heart was heal me. God allowed me to see that my heart needing healing in many ways. My prayers were answered.

*Linking up with Susan B. Mead and Barbie Swihart.

When Dreaming Is Just Too Scary {Renewal Through Christ Series}

renewal series

Today we welcome back one of my favorite writers, Brandi Rennemeyer, to the blog. Brandi’s writing is like putting on a pair of warm slippers and curling up with a cup of hot tea. She has a vivid style of describing environments and experiences in a way that brings them to life and immerses you into the scene. She is a source of continual encouragement to me, and I can always count on her words to bring truth in a way that says “me too” rather than “how to.”

brandi blog photo

You’ll find Brandi Rennemeyer sipping coffee with her feet propped up on an overflowing laundry basket. Three children and a dreamy husband may fill her house with joy and lots of laundry, but Jesus is her heart beat and she loves to writes about authentic faith on her blog.

Brandi would love to connect with you at her blog, Faith 2 Shine, or on Twitter.

Today Brandi will be talking about the third area of renewal we will be exploring together: the renewal of God-given dreams and passions.

When Dreaming Is Just Too Scary

I wish I could tell you that I’ve always dreamed of being a writer or a speaker. Or that I practiced preaching to millions of my toys and autographed my construction paper books for the crowds. I didn’t have those dreams. In fact, I don’t think I even dreamt of being a mom or a wife. Oh I played house, and teacher and ponies, in the back yard with great fervor and imagination. I even officiated a wedding for my brother and my friend in our playroom. But dreamt of a real future, no.

Dreaming was just too scary.

It only took one letdown, one disappointment laced with shame, to teach me the treachery of dreaming. What if what I’d dreamt of never came to be? What if I invested all sorts of hope only in the end to be utterly shredded by the disappointment of a failed attempt? What if I really wasn’t capable of (or worthy of) having that dream fulfilled?

For the longest time, that possibility was too much to bear. Any dream was too precarious and I was too fragile to overcome.

I’d been a shell and dead to any dream, any passion, any talent in my soul. If you were to go back over my journals throughout high school and college I begged God to make me “good at something”; I begged Him to reveal “what made me unique”.

But my eyes were clouded by cataracts of fear, fear that I wasn’t worthy enough. It would take staring death in the face to see the wretched decay already permeating my soul and over taking the truth.

I had forgotten who I was, who I was created to reflect. Wearing the cloak of failure and the shameful colors of “not enough” is not who I was created to be.

Isaiah 43:1,4,7 says:

Listen to the LORD who created you.

O Israel, the one who formed you says,

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.

I have called you by name; you are mine.

Others were given in exchange for you.

I traded their lives for yours

because you are precious to me.

You are honored, and I love you.

Bring all who claim me as their God,

for I have made them for my glory.

It was I who created them.’”

We are God’s handiwork, His masterpieces set apart to display His majestic splendor. I was created for His glory. And He wouldn’t forsake me or leave me empty and barren. As I bled out all of the lies and shame-filled venom and then allowed the transfusion of His blood to fill my veins with life, I began to see, really see.

He dreams dreams of me. He has plans and designs for me. He created me with purpose. And He created me with unique passions that will glorify Him. It is my choice to believe Him, to receive His truth.

The power of redemption is so much more than overcoming sin and being rescued from the depths of hell. It is an abundance, a security, a freedom.

brandi's graphic

With His blood comes approval and honor, not for what we do but for who we are. I am not the sum of my failures, or even the sum of other’s perceptions. I am a complete sum of His redemption.

And so are you.

As we lean into Him, fully embracing His love and redemption for us He begins to nurture the creative seeds of purpose already planted in our souls. As we grow in confidence in our identity as a child of God, dreams and passions begin to bloom as well. His creation cannot help but praise Him with our gifts and passions.

And dreaming of how to fully worship my Savior with all that I am is not so perilous after all. In fact dreaming out of a place of acceptance and redemptive love is a level of satisfaction I never even imagined.

I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, Oh God! ~ Psalm 139:14

Dream on dear dreamer, dream on.

 

*Linking up with Susan B. Mead and Barbie Swihart.

Renewed Strength for the Uphill Marathon Days {Renewal Through Christ Series}

renewal series

To continue our Renewal Through Christ series, I am thrilled to welcome my friend Betsy back to the blog. Betsy’s words always exhort and point me back to the truth of Christ in a simple yet profound way. She makes me feel capable of tackling that next task and reaching my full potential in all the various roles God has given me. Today she is talking about the next area of renewal we will be exploring together: the renewal of strength.

Betsy de Cruz pic

Betsy de Cruz enjoys God, life, and dark roast coffee. She and her family live in the Middle East. Most days she feels privileged to live overseas; other days she wants to pull her hair out and catch the next plane home. Betsy’s vision is to encourage women to get God’s Word in, so their faith can spill out, even during life’s bumpy moments. You can find Betsy at faithspillingover.com , on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Renewed Strength for the Uphill Marathon Days

I always say I would have had 10 kids if only children didn’t get sick. I can handle diapers, meal time, story time, bath time, and getting them to bed. I can handle home schooling and sky rocketing hormones, but sickness? Sick kids leave me worried and weary.

I’ll never forget checking my 18 month old boy into the hospital at 5:00 a.m. After 6 months of intestinal infections, he got a virus that left him severely dehydrated and unresponsive. As day broke we sat waiting for the doctor, and my heart broke to see my big, strong husband cry.

The same kid later developed an asthmatic cough. He’d cough five times a minute. That cough kept us up nights and sent us to the emergency room and countless doctors. Total strangers approached me all the time to ask what was wrong with my son.

Then there was the week he spent flat on his back hallucinating from fever, unable to lift his head, open his eyes, or eat. Those seven days turned me into one distraught, dog-tired mom!

And that’s only one kid.

Motherhood: It’s worth it, but it’s a marathon.

Any mother would tell you. Nothing compares to the joy of feeling a newborn’s breath on your cheek or watching your girl twirl around the room in a princess dress. Your heart bursts with pride when she walks across that stage at graduation.

But if the joys abound, so do the heartaches. Mothering is a marathon, and sometimes you’re running uphill. You take your boy to a learning specialist. Your girl comes home crying. The marathon stretches ahead of you, but you’re not sure you can take another step.

On the uphill days your strength ends, and you come to the end of your rope.

That’s when God pours His power onto your weakness.

Are you there today? The road continues steep, and you’re running on fumes. Remember that God rides across the heavens to help you. God’s presence, God’s promises, and God’s power will renew your strength.

renewed strength

Plug into your Power Source

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)

Nothing renews our strength like staying close to the One who’s the Strength of our Hearts. Everything else may be giving out on you, but God will get you through. Plug into his power through prayer, His Word, and fellowship with His people. Keep close by Him on those falling apart, dog-tired days. Before you know it the day is over, and God gave you the strength you needed.

Live Grounded in Him

Keep yourself grounded in His promises. Read His words, remember them, repeat them, and request that He fulfill them.  God says, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9) He’ll renew your strength as you come to Him and claim His promises.

Step into the Flow

Ask God to pour on His power; then walk in faith even if you can’t feel it. Say, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13) Step into the flow of His power and take the next step. Prepare the next meal. Make the next carpool stop. He’ll renew your strength when you ask Him to pour out His Holy Spirit on you.

Whether potty training has left you powerless, or waiting up for your teen has wiped you out, God will renew you strength as you call on Him. Plug into your Power Source. Stay Grounded in Him. Step into the flow of His power. He’ll come through for you every time.

Now it’s your turn: How do you get through the uphill marathon days?

 

GIVEAWAY:

The winner of last week’s giveaway of Contagious Disciple Making is Bev Duncan! Thanks to everyone who participated!