Thankful Simplicity

Wildlife *JKSWL051 "His Majestic  Small Wonder"

As a little girl I was constantly skipping and singing. Wherever I went I didn’t walk, I skipped. It was just more fun to get anywhere that way. Between skipping and swinging I was always on the move.

I wasn’t raised in a home where Jesus was priority, in fact I only thought bible stories were just stories, not real; we went to vacation bible school in the summer as an activity and church on Easter as a dress up experience.

But, some how when I was skipping all by myself I would sing a little song of thanks. This little song was never the same because everything I saw was different every day. This little song wasn’t even directed toward God since I really didn’t know him. This little song was one of thankful simplicity. It went something like this – thank you for my eyes, thank you for my feet, thank you for that bird, thank you for that bug…..etc. As I skipped along I simply called out simple thanks about all that surrounded me.

As I was reminded of this my heart swelled; even then the love of Jesus was obvious to me when I didn’t know him. Today I find myself contemplating the importance of that thankful simplicity in our lives.

Ps 118:1. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

In a society of constant sound and busyness we move through our lives without seeing the beauty around us; thankfulness is not part of our chaotic day. But to live and walk in the peace of Christ that is part of our inheritance, a thankful rejoicing heart is a priority. Even in the midst of the hardest circumstances we are promised that peace. It starts with a simple thankful response.

Philippians 4:6-7 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.

It’s a choice! It’s a decision! In the midst of tough times and in the center of your busy lifestyle His peace is always available – it will still your anxious heart and settle your racing mind. But it all starts with refocusing your eyes – looking up and realizing the key is in simply being thankful.

Be child-like again – try moving through your day (even skip if you like) with an attitude, a song of thankful simplicity.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall – I Don’t Know This Person at all!

In reality this transformation had begun many years ago. As I began knowing His love and sitting at His feet – through the good, the bad, the tears, the joys, His spirit began to change me. As I walked a journey that taught me to bring everything to His feet, to trust Him through every event that transpired, pieces of the old me were chiseled away.

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I recently was given a birthday gift that shocked me to my core; a simple blank black notebook. It had been lovingly filled with comments from people who know me – those from high school, those from different states and different churches, those I have worked with as well as family, friends, kids and grand-kids. It was a very special gift. The next morning I picked it up with tea in hand and proceeded to enjoy this gift. Not expecting the impact it would have, I sat down to read this little book.

For the next hour I sat with Kleenex in hand as tears seeped down my checks, a few smiles and chuckles erupted and one or two outright sobs escaped my heart. I was confused – these descriptions didn’t match whom I see. It was like looking into a mirror and not recognizing the reflection looking back.

I set the book down – contemplating, meditating and asking God’s explanation of this dichotomy placed before me. Soon this question was stated as I prayed – “Ok, God what are you showing me?” “I don’t know this person at all, is this who I really am?”

I soon realized that this little book was a gift that was a glimpse of me through the eyes of Jesus. The person I have seen is so different. I have been looking at me with an out-dated blocked lens. Who I have become is no longer me, but Jesus in and through me.

As a Christian we always hope our light will shine and that the love of Jesus will permeate our lives but my thinking has been “it’s just me”, “it’s just who I am”.

“How do I see this person when I don’t know her”, I asked? His quiet loving response resounded in my heart like an explosion, as He whispered, “It’s just me – it isn’t you. It is my transformation as you have yielded time after time to my love”

In reality this transformation had begun many years ago. As I began knowing His love and sitting at His feet – through the good, the bad, the tears, the joys, His spirit began to change me.  As I walked a journey that taught me to bring everything to His feet, to trust Him through every event that transpired, pieces of the old me were chiseled away. Over years of life, this faith has created and transformed me into who I never really saw. The emerging transformed person is no longer “just Judy” – but has begun to shine out as “just JESUS”.

Do I shine out Jesus every day? Nope – I have to lay my human thoughts, words, desires, and actions down every day. But I believe He has shown me a glimpse of me through an unexpected mirror held up in the hands of those in my life, and I am humbled by that possibility.

I Corinthians 13:12-13 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then fact to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (ESV))

Faith Like Honey

Faith is like honey! It is a substance that is thick, it changes anything it touches, it draws things to it, it only requires a small amount to achieve its effect and it is addictive in its flavor.

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I recently pulled out a bottle of honey and noticed it had begun to crystallize. I dipped my spoon in anyways and it quickly adhered. However, it was so thick the spoon wouldn’t lift out, but as I placed the jar in a pan of warm water it soon softened back to it’s normal yummy consistency.   As this little morning event transpired I was drawn to a spiritual parallel.

Faith is like honey! It is a substance that is thick, it changes anything it touches, it draws things to it, it only requires a small amount to achieve its effect and it is addictive in its flavor.

Faith requires only one thing – that we believe. With honey we must believe it is sweet before we reach out to taste it; so it is with Faith.

Once we believe, faith is ignited and begins its transforming effect.

As we have looked at honey’s qualities so should our faith qualities parallel. Our faith in Christ should also be deep and thick – a relationship that has substance. A substance that transforms who we are and everything we touch. Our faith should be contagious – drawing others to us. Our faith should be sincere not pushy or overly sweet in its presentation, but full of love. Our faith should be addictive both to us as well as those around us.

This transforming effect isn’t something we can “work at” but just is – as we walk by faith not by our sight. Our love of Christ and desire for his presence will ignite our mustard seed faith and produce a tree of faith that will draw into our lives all that the Kingdom of Heaven has for us, just like the honey sucked in my spoon.

How is your faith consistency? Is it rich and thick? Is it crystallizing?

If it is rich and thick then keep it flowing and watch the transformation around you. As you dig deeper into His presence it will keep flowing, it will draw others and its addictively sweet flavor will fuel your desire and love for His presence more and more.

However, sometimes we carry our faith through years of life without using it. Like the honey, it becomes crystallized, thick and unusable. But, just like my honey; it only takes a little warming to adjust its consistency. Our faith can be re-warmed by simply stepping back to the place our faith began – the feet of Jesus.

II Cor. 5:7 (ESV) for we walk by faith, not by sight.

I John 5:4-5. (ESV) For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Fight – Forward

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When we are weak and weary

where do we find that strength to stand up again?

What does it mean to be strong?   To be strengthened?

Somewhere deep inside of us is a HERO. The “I can do it” spirit waiting to keep on moving, keep on taking the front line of battle. This warrior is destined to win and the war cry of “Fight Forward” erupts.

Just when we think we are at the lowest place, the most helpless and unusable – we reach down inside of our spirit and are able to pull out that one tiny bit of hope to rally – to take the hill one more time, to rescue the other one that lays prone before the enemy’s attack. That hope, that strength doesn’t come from us – it is from the Spirit of God. The story Brave Heart is a great one to ruminate over – His purpose wasn’t about him, his desires or needs – it was for a greater (much greater) cause.

Being on the front line requires us to take hits now and then, some are minimal and we keep moving forward. Some require us to be carried for recovery to the rear. Then there are those that are near fatal and require major homeward bound recovery, rehabilitation and re-purposing of what and where we thought we were going. During each of these we must reach inside, dig deep, pull from our faith and trust in Christ. Here we find strength, to be strong enough to stand up again and overcome.

Often, we too, whine and complain about “our” weaknesses, inabilities, and needs – when what God is asking from us is to look outside of ourselves and see what He is calling us to. His desire is for us to be the Hero for someone else, to bring glory to His name. When we chose to see Him only – respond, rise up, and fight forward for others – then all our stuff will fall away. When we dig deep inside, we will find the ability to stand up, take the next hill, and rescue the broken before us. At that time, we will walk in faith toward the fullness and abundant life He has for us. Will our lives miraculously be healed or made whole? Probably not, but it’s in this place we will find strength – we will be strong – not in our own strength but in His.

Every human spirit has a place where they can reach inside to “keep moving forward” but there are times that just like the energizer bunny – the batteries must be changed. We can accept that, wait on the Lord and those He places in our lives for that purpose or we can wallow in this rough spot and lose hope.

My choice, my cry is one of faith in a God who is good to me ALL the time – and I shout “Fight Forward”.

Ps. 40:31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (ESV)

2Corinthians 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)

“You Better Soak That”

As we wait at the feet of Jesus, as we are still in his presence, as we listen in our prayer closets – we are “soaking” in the very present environment of a life giving, life changing, life speaking Holy Spirit that loves to speak. In this place we receive the peace that passes all understanding.

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Today words that I have spoken probably a hundred times in my lifetime – “You better soak that” – jumped out at me as a source of pondering.

To soak something means that it becomes saturated for a purpose. We soak a grim covered pan, a stained piece of cloth, and even a dried up pot of soil. The purpose is to change it – remove the grim, the stain or, in the case of soil to till it – prepare it for something new to take root.

In the Christian church culture the word “soak” has run its course of the “in thing” – but in reality it is where we are changed. As we wait at the feet of Jesus, as we are still in his presence, as we listen in our prayer closets – we are “soaking” in the very present environment of a life giving, life changing, life speaking Holy Spirit that loves to speak. In this place we receive the peace that passes all understanding.

Our busy lives find it difficult to slow down and take that time to be still but if we don’t, we live in a constant spin of chaos. Peace comes from that quiet place of trusting our Jesus.   It is during these times that we allow our grim and stains to be removed and our dried up soil to be saturated and tilled; then we are ready to receive something new that will take root and bloom in our lives.

Take time to “soak” – sit, be still, listen and receive – you will be amazed how his presence will refresh you, give you strength for the day ahead, and transform all areas of your life.

Ps. 46:10a “ Be still, and know that I am God.” (ESV)
Phil. 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

One Missing Piece

Jesus came to make us whole-to bind up the places that are frayed, broken and missing. He gave us-free of charge-the missing piece.

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 I love puzzles, and several times a year (usually during winter or a nasty cold bug) I binge on them. Inevitable to this process is the end result of “one missing piece”. With two little dachshunds at my feet, getting to the completion of a puzzle without having lost one to their love of eating cardboard paper is almost unheard of. However, I still love the process and have learned to enjoy the picture that has presented itself. But, there is just something disheartening when I see that one gaping hole.

 As I look at my recent creation with its one missing piece I am struck by the thought that our lives are often like this puzzle. Pieces are fit together and begin to create a beautiful picture that represents our journey in this life. Each section of the puzzle shows our life’s endeavors – our relationships, our jobs, our adventures. But that picture will never be complete with the empty space that begins to loom. That one missing piece is what holds the whole picture together. You can look at its overall beauty but that gaping hole is obvious, and you can’t fix it by yourself. But, it is fixable, for we have been given a solution.

 Jesus came to make us whole – to bind up the places that are frayed, broken and missing. He gave us – free of charge – the missing piece. The piece that completes our lives, that makes us whole, that brings all those other pieces in our lives together into one beautiful picture. That picture is one of a life lived in abundance that was given to us from the hand of a loving Heavenly Father. We just need to reach out and pick up that offered piece from the nail-scarred hand of Jesus.

If you find your puzzle missing that one piece – simply say YES and pick it up.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (ESV)
John 10:10-11  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (ESV)