Intentional Me

So the funny thing is, this post tried to take over Monday’s spot, until I pulled it, to show it who’s the boss!  So, if you saw it on FaceBook or got it in the mail and then couldn’t find it here, that’s all me.  If websites had bloopers…

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You know how they say the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions?  Well, that might be a little harsh for this post, but let’s just say I seem to have made my life’s work in the planning, but not always the actual execution of the plans.  And y’all, this has just grieved me!  Looking back, I have many regrets.  Sometimes, I like to take them down from the shelf, and dust them off, and hold them close, and look at them.  This is usually when I am feeling too fat for my jeans and guilty about a bowl of ice cream and too much laundry is piled up…you get the idea.  Do you do that too?

So, this is just sample from my lowlight reel: Missing the childhood of each niece and nephew – military life.  Small, dinky wedding – not that I wanted a big one…just something more…special.  Almost no professional photos of my kids when they were little.  Girls, can I tell you that every day was a struggle for me at that point, and the thought of raising the bar for my day by planning something that needed to look perfect – well, that was just too much.  I had no one to enjoy those early years with…not much family near us…my husband was gone, or sick, or in transition at work, so most of the time I felt all alone and I held it together as best I could, but I was living in survival mode.  For years.  It was my normal.  And last year I realized I don’t know another way to live.

When you live in survival mode you don’t plan much, because you aren’t sure it will happen.  You don’t risk much, because you can’t bear the disappointment.  You stop dreaming because you’re afraid to hope for something better, and not get it.  Sometimes, you even stop praying because it hurts so much when you get a “No” or nothing at all in reply.  And you understand what Jesus was offering when called Himself the Living Water, because you know what it is to thirst:

  • Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:14).
  • For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants (Isaiah 44:3)
  • And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail (Isaiah 58:11).
  • They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Rev. 7:16-17).

Then, God brought us to the Arizona desert to water our family.  He is so ironic.  The Lord has given us good friends, and a great church, and all those lessons from the dry and thirsty years.  And, now that I have learned how to breath in and out, I know I need to learn to drink deep and live, really live.

I started brainstorming about what it might mean to grab a bucket full of life and live it, and here is my stream-of-consciousness-bunny-trail about how to write a Bucket List:

  • Be Intentional
  • Be a Planner
  • Be Spontaneous
  • Dream Big
  • Enjoy Small
  • Get Creative
  • Get Real
  • Build upon the Word – remember that every day, in your response to your experiences, you are building your worldview
  • You are not an island.  You are part of the Body of Christ, so act like it.

On Monday, I will post our more specific Back to School Bucket List.  My plan is to keep running bucket lists for each season and document my progress.  I would love for you to join me!  I am going to set up a Pinterest Board and FB Group.  Please let me know in the comments if you would like to be a part of The Bucket Brigade!  I’ll be partnering with a familiar friend and a new one too…my cup runneth over!

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Bucket O’ Bliss

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Last week we finished up the Summer of Joy series with Life Coach Carey Bailey.  It was such a rewarding process for me!  Last week also, I finished the first draft of my very first eBook, so now I am going through it with a fine-toothed comb.  So excited – more on all of that in the coming weeks!

By September, we will finish the video study of Putting on a Gentle and Quiet Spirit (F2F Friday, “Face to Face Friday”).  Kortnee is busy with a career change and will be leaving us.  Tracy is starting on a big new project too, so she is taking August off from writing.  Things are changing again here on the Blog.  But endings make room for new beginnings.

In the same way, we have had some changes in our home life.  On the homeschooling front, after two years of meeting with wonderful families in our Classical Conversations community, the kids and I have decided to simplify our weekly routine.  We will be schooling 100% at home.  We might be adding singing lessons to the music, dance, and martial arts.  We hope that having increased flexibility will allow us to visit Daddy at work and do field trips more often.

My husband has become the new Clinical Flight Commander at the dental clinic, requiring more leadership and responsibility, but he is definitely up to the task.  He has new a Commander, his big boss at work, that he really likes (an answer to prayer).

Oh, and we are getting rid of our Satellite TV and going with Amazon Fire, Netflix, Hulu…All of this is just to say that change is afoot at our house.  And it is the kind of change that feels like opportunity.

I think that we must constantly re-evaluate our choices, routines, and commitments.  Don’t we feel stuck when we stay here: “I’ve always been the one to do this” OR “I’ve always done things this way” OR “If I don’t do it, then who will?”  Here is the God we serve:

  • He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5).
  • The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lam. 3:22-23).
  • Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert (Is. 43:19).
  • I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh (Ez 36:26).
  • if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor 5:17).

As we start a new season on the blog and in my house, it is also the time to get our school supplies and start sharpening our pencils.  It is the perfect time to rework our schedules to make the most of the time that God has given us.  It is an important time to rethink our commitments, to pray for a discerning heart before we “say ‘yes’” to everything that crosses our path. Don’t “say ‘yes’” out of guilt or remorse or desperation.  Don’t “say ‘yes’” to keep up appearances or to be a people pleaser or to honor yourself.  “Say ‘yes’” to being intentional.  “Say ‘yes’” to obeying the Lord, to seeking His counsel first, to taking advice from Him.

With the lessons of the Summer of Joy ringing in my ears, I feel a real call to simplify and enjoy.  I think that, for too long, I have tried to be too many things, to too many different people.  I have spread myself thin.  I have compared myself to others and fallen short.  I have set goals based on what I am “supposed to do.”  Now is the time to shake off these chains and live in the freedom purchased for me by the death of Christ.  Above all, I am accountable to Him, and my choices should reflect this.

Won’t you join me in living more intentionally?  This next month we are all about Being Intentional.  I want to fill my “Bucket” of time with Bliss.  More on Buckets and Bliss and Being Intentional next time.  For now, what is on your priority list that isn’t really a priority?  What needs to go? I would love to hear!

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F2F Friday: Achieving Victory

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Today’s Verse:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world (1 Peter 5:6-9).

In the video I mention a few resources.  Here are the links about the Adversary:

And here is the book by John Piper that I mentioned: Acting the Miracle (amazon link).  Here is today’s video.  Please refresh your browser if the video doesn’t begin.  :)

 

Have a great weekend – enjoy your victory in Christ.  It has come to us at a high cost.

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Answers for Life’s Trials…

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In 8th grade I was confirmed in the Lutheran church. One step in this process was to choose a lifelong Bible verse. Psalm 23:4 became my verse.

If you fast forward to high school my family was going through a lot. My mom moved out of state with her husband and my sister, my dad moved away to get off of some pretty hard drugs, and my grandma was really focused on helping a loved one who was in prison in Mexico. It all felt like a Lifetime movie.

Those years were really dark for me. I felt neglected, unwanted, unimportant, and really depressed. It truly was a dark valley I walked through. There was no hope for my mom coming back. My dad came back but left again leaving another, deeper wound. And the weekends traveling to Mexico took a toll on my friendships and my relationship with my grandma. I saw no end in sight and no hope that things were going to go back to normal or even a new normal.

The worst part of it all was that I didn’t have Christ. I had a psychiatrist with medication but I had no true hope. I had no idea how to take my anger, frustration, and depression and give them up. I didn’t know I could leave them with Christ. I had no one to comfort me.

If only I was reading His word, praying to Him, and listening to Him, I would have found the hope and security I was looking for for so long. Instead, I leaned on my own understandings and focused on only what I could see: the lack of hope, the dark valley, and the lack of light on the other side.

Now, even though Christ has changed my heart, I still have trials. I still have really deep valleys and really dark times that I go through. I’m in one right now! But God has made me to trust in Him more fully and I no longer have to be worried or concerned because God’s rod and staff comfort me. I now repeat specific verses, like my lifelong Bible verse, and they help to regain perspective.

If you are struggling with a trial, fear not! Rest in His words and he will guide you. I know this because He has promised this over and over again. Here are some of my favorite hopeful and encouraging verses:

    • Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all (Psalm 34:19).
    • And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:10).
    • Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).
    • Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12).
    • I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
    • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
    • The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent (Exodus 14:14).
    • Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
    • Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind (James 1:2-8).
    • For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).
    • Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you (1 Peter 4:12).
    • Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).

And these are only some! The pages of the Bible are filled with God fighting for his people and restoring them. Be encouraged; take heart!
Kortnee

How to Trailblaze Through Trials

Here is an encouraging word from my friend, Life Coach Carey Bailey. We have teamed up in June and July for our Summer of Joy series. We would love to hear from you using #SummerofJoy with FB, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram through the rest of the summer…but the end is near, so hurry!  

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Last week was a hell of a week. Please understand my hell of a week is relevant to your hell of a week. You could have had a HELL of a week. Here is a mini glimpse into mine:

  • A routine teeth cleaning for my daughter ended up turning into a referral to an oral surgeon which led to a removal of a spot in her mouth for biopsy which led this mama’s mind down the road to news of cancer.
  • My husband landed on jury duty last Monday which means he wouldn’t be in the office all week. He works in sales and on commission. If he is not in the office actively on the phone making calls and doing demos then there are no sales and that means not fun news at the end of the month.
  • My husbands grandfather died last week. And while that wasn’t personally stressful there was just a sense of sadness for family and wondering if I needed to figure out how to get four people already in the midst of a crazy week to Minnesota stat.

Like I said your week could have been sooooooooooooooo much worse than mine and if it was I am sorry. As my week grew with stressors I found myself asking three consistent questions.

1. What IS possible?

As the doctors appointments started mounting I instantly knew my ideal weekly rhythm was getting tossed out the door and scorched by the over 100 degree sun in the desert.

Option 1: PANIC!!!

Option 2: Grab hold of my non-negotiables.

I choose option 2. The normal routine of laundry, dishes, and following my calender of meal planned meals wasn’t going to be possible but what was going to be possible?

    • Time in God’s Word – check!
    • Prayer time with my kids – check!
    • Scripture reading with my kids – check!
    • Prayer time with my husband – check!
    • Clean kitchen sink – got a 1/2 check!

Knowing what I can accomplish at the end of any day (crazy or not crazy) AND that those “to-do’s” fall in line with the priorities God has set for our family allows my mind to let go of the rest. Does it mean there is lots of catch up this week and some tweaking and adjusting to do? You bet! But, at the end of the day I can lay my head down on my pillow and trust in my heart that I loved God and reflected Jesus. THAT is possible.

2. Who can help?

Often in the midst of trials we sit. We sit by ourselves with thoughts spinning and running like hamsters in our minds. I am 110% guilty of that last week. For days last week I imagined being told my child has cancer. How would I react? Feel? How would I respond to God? What would our life look like? None of that helped anything. What can help? Wisdom. NOT Google…real wisdom ladies!

    • Wisdom from scripture. Seriously, there is not a scenario you are facing that isn’t referenced in scripture. Look at Job for goodness sake. We have example after example of how to and how to NOT handle trials from those who have gone before us. Go to them, learn from them, implement the good of what you see and hear from them.

For me I headed straight to Psalm 121:1…

“My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”

I said it, sang, hummed it, professed it to my kids constantly.

Don’t live in your perception.
Live in the reality of Truth!

    • Wisdom from friends. Last week I had to bail on what was supposed to be a Wednesday post (it became a Thursday post) from myself for Summer of Joy. I emailed Britta with a confession that the post was not coming her way. She kindly asked if she could be praying and I let her know for what. Well, low and behold Britta had worked in a Periodontist’s office and had so much helpful knowledge for me to assist my little on the road to recovery. Don’t be afraid to ask for help/prayer. You never ever know how God is going to use it to support you in your current circumstance.

3. How can I find rest?

During the week I work towards Sabbath. I get up early,early and I stay up late,late Sunday night through Thursday night knowing that Friday afternoon till Sunday early evening I rest. I am good with this. But, this week my mind wasn’t in it. One day I made the choice to lay in bed, with my two littles, during the late afternoon for close to two hours watching shows. Could I have been up taking care of busyness? I could have. But, it had been a long and hard day and we just needed to be vegetables that veg. One night I threw in the towel and went to bed at 9:00 p.m. rather than my normal 11 p.m. because if I didn’t I was just going to be wasting time mingling about everyone else’s lives on Facebook rather than caring for my own life that needed sleep. Where can you find rest this week?

Trials of any kind bring about a human anxiety filled response in our mind, body, and heart but God is clear. He has already paved the trail for us.

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There is nothing easy about this verse. Nothing. Words like ALWAYS, IN EVERYTHING, and DO NOT make you want to shake your head and think this is impossible. But, with God NOTHING is impossible. {insert another round of head shaking}

If you find yourself in the midst of trials right now then bow your head, close your eyes, and choose hope by handing it all over. Choose joy that comes from an active Holy Spirit residing inside of you that wants to be used to bring you peace. You can do this!

It has been an honor serving along side Britta this summer bringing you a #SummerofJoy. Even though you will no longer have a bookmark telling you to “buy yourself flowers” my hope is that it is now a habit you will not break.

P.S. – Curious about establishing your non-negotiables? Get in on the Pocket Planning craze!

IMG_1814-2Carey Bailey is a woman who loves to dance around the living room with her husband to Michael Jackson, loves Blue Bell Pralines and Cream ice cream, loves reading to her kids in a tree house, and loves having Jesus as her BFF!

She is self professed candy junkie but sugar will never match her deep desire for helping women satisfy their cravings for abundant life. She does this through life coaching, speaking, and by sharing a one-of-a-kind devotional she authored, Cravings {The Devotional}.

You can connect with Carey through her web-site, facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.