Just Breathe

This place of “rest” is where His grace flows, the Spirit refuels and where His mercy adjusts life’s pressures.

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A light dusting of snow materialized during the night and a quietness settled over my yard. As I watched the birds float in and out to the feeders, they too, seemed to slow down just a bit. The stillness – a reminder to slow down, rest and “just breathe.”

This time of year, with all of its joy, excitement and wonder also stirs-up chaos. Our “to-do” list grows as the urgent needs tug at our time and energy while sneaking in and assaulting our minds – stealing our peace. The “gotta-get-it-done” of getting the house and tree decorated, gifts bought and wrapped, planning, buying and preparing of special foods, party attendance, baking, as well as, the continual growing “other” details that call out for our attention; all seem to steal the beauty of the season.

How do we adjust this, how do we bring our lives back to the simplicity of the season?

Mark 6:31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.(ESV)

The disciples had just come back from a very busy mission trip where they had been barraged day and night meeting needs as they shared the gospel. Jesus knew and gave them the answer – come away and rest!

This is our answer also, come away and rest! Even in the midst of all that screams it’s need.

The space we create – time to rest at the feet of Jesus – is just like the dusting of snow over my yard – it brings a stillness that allows us to breathe. It is a resetting of our body, mind and spirit. In this place of rest, even if it is a 10-minute respite, Holy Spirit will come to bring peace. Here in this quiet place, you will find a place where those nagging pressures will begin to dissolve.

This place of “rest” is where His grace flows, the Spirit refuels and where His mercy adjusts life’s pressures. Here, in this place of rest – sitting at the feet of Jesus – your priorities, as well as your relationships will be re-aligned and restored with His plans and purposes. It’s here, where you “come away and rest for a while” that you find the simplicity of peace. His stillness will bring a reminder to “just breathe.”

Surrendered Silence

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In a world where we are inundated with noise, it is hard to fathom what silence and solitude look like. Periodically we experience a glimpse of this mirage; an early morning sunrise in the desert, a breathtaking walk in the rain forest, the stars eruption as you sit high above the city, or a morning wake-up to a deep blanket of snow. But how does it look within our spirits, our hearts, our emotions or our minds? That place of complete stillness that allows peace to reign. To find it – even for a few minutes – is a practiced discipline.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Ps, 46:10 (ESV)

This scripture is known well, but do we really know what it means? It sounds peaceful and it’s great on a refrigerator magnet, but practicing this discipline is not easy. Try it – spend just five minutes, stilling your thoughts – don’t think, pray or look around – just be still, soak in that silence. Once you have gotten through a few days of practicing, you will find something amazing begin to happen. Sitting silent before the Lord will stir a desire to live in this blissful place.

Finding this place of stillness stirs within a divine depth of peace. Here in this place we find intimacy with our God. In this quiet place of silence, we hear His voice. Adoration and worship – an “awe” of knowing our God – begins to surface, as all of the noise of our world disappears. Here, we step into a place of worship that is found past the music and all of our words. This place is where our words – our requests, desires, needs and prayers – are not needed. This stillness will transform your busy, clattering life into a humble place of just “being” at His feet. Here, you will surrender; be laid bare, open, yielded, and ready to move only as He directs.

The discipline of stillness and solitude require practice, but soon in the midst of your chaotic life, you will find the ability to be still and know the presence of God.

Join me in developing this discipline. As you begin, don’t get frustrated if five minutes seems like forever. It will soon be fifteen minutes and before you know it, sitting in stillness for extended amounts of time, will be time that you will desire and willingly run to. Let’s joyfully surrender to a place of stillness found only at the feet of Jesus.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.  Ps. 62:5 (ESV)

Worries of the Heart

When there is no peace – stop, back up, ask and wait for His peaceable wisdom. It’s always available – even when you somehow end up taking a few spins on that roller-coaster first.

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Decisions, decisions, decisions – they loom over and around us every day. Some are small and easy but then there are those “heavies”. When we are faced with major decisions that are overwhelmingly life impacting, our thoughts and worries of the heart become extremely heavy and peace is nowhere to be found. It’s in these times that wisdom is critically needed and often very hard to find.

In the midst of a month of one of those times I found myself emotionally riding a roller-coaster. All the natural solutions spun my heart and mind further and faster downward. But still the decisions kept asking to be made, drawing me closer daily to that undesirable deadline. Crying, praying, researching and reaching out to “those who surely knew the answer” – all to no avail. The more I opened myself up to hear others opinions the more I had NONE and the more confused I became. I KNEW I did not need man’s wisdom – because I had heard so much of that – I needed God’s wisdom.

Where there is no peace – fear and confusion reign. That is where I sat and that is NOT where the Lord wanted me to sit!

Asking for wisdom, when we really want to hear His wisdom is a prayer that He always answers. However, we must get to the end of us in order to hear it – that’s why we often take that horrific roller-coaster down-hill-speeding-bullet ride. We must get to the end of us and our efforts to “fix” the situation.

Thus, began my prayer for the Wisdom of God to intervene. In the midst of confusing and frustrating circumstances (God’s directed intervention) I waited as He unfolded that gift. I ended up on the end of a phone line with God’s appointed distributor of His wisdom. With patience, knowledge, compassion and wisdom that conversation brought the answers that flowed like honey and instantly peace flooded in. Within a short conversation, amazingly all that indecision and emotional struggle disappeared.

Not to say, all is now well and good – those decisions now must be walked through, but often the decision is what stifles and causes us to sit in the mire of fear and confusion. Once His wisdom is dispensed the burden lifts – His love pours in and fear must leave – leaving the peace that passes all understanding.

When there is no peace – stop, back up, ask and wait for His peaceable wisdom. It’s always available – even when you somehow end up taking a few spins on that roller-coaster first.

James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

Life’s Unexpected Pauses

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In the midst of life’s busyness, abrupt unexpected pauses come crashing in. Those unwanted, unexpected and usually unfortunate pauses bring everything to a halt.

It’s in these times – when the flu bug puts you to bed for a week, when you break a rib while enjoying a ski trip, when you lose your job and bills are still due, when you get the call to the hospital bed of a critical loved one, and when the final goodbye has to be said to one whose time here is complete – these are the times when life instantly is set on “pause”.

Here in the midst of these, life seems to just stop.

Just minutes before, our calendars were full, plans made and life was in constant movement. It’s in these times I find myself realizing that none of those calendars and plans really matter; everything is expendable and ultimately unimportant. For what we thought HAD to be done when it comes down to it CAN be skipped. Not much really matters in the face of these times.

Priorities are often not set by what our heart and emotions dictate but by the small busy details that can often be swept under the carpet when the BIG pauses come to visit.

 So, what really does matter?

From the flu to the loss of a loved one, these pauses cause us to STOP. It’s during these times of stopping the busy activity that we sit back (once we process the “in your face” reality) and look up to the only place our healing and strength comes from. What really is important is walking through this unexpected pause knowing we are loved and not alone – the love of Christ begins to lift the confused emotions that ride along on these journeys – as we focus our eyes upward.

There are none of these pauses that make sense –  but if our mind, heart and eyes make a decision to REST in HIS presence we will find that which matters most. His peace and love will wash over us and we will make it through this journey and out the other side with a new and stronger understanding of how much we are loved.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 

Living a Road-kill Lifestyle

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“I have such a crazy busy day, I don’t know how I’ll get everything done.”

     We have all said those words – felt the build up of stress they evoke – experienced the exhaustion as that day ends only to begin again tomorrow in the same fashion. How do we get off this crazy cycle?

     Expectations wait for you at every corner, every event, while every individual seems to elicit more of your life. Even worse, they are all good – nothing you’re involved in says, “This isn’t worth doing”. But, still the chaos swirls around you whispering “more, more, more”.

     A day must come when the brakes are applied. The screeching of tire meeting pavement must fill the air because without that application the next sound will be the uninterrupted crunch of metal and breaking glass as you become the road-kill beneath your “I can do this” chaotic lifestyle.

     Living in a constant “flurry” of activity leaves no place for the whisper of the Holy Spirit to direct you to that broken young mother, that lonely old man, that friend who needs a listening ear. No time is available to dig deep into the Word searching for the nuggets He has stored there just for you – just for today. No time left to “pray” for your friends needs that you carelessly regurgitate “I’ll pray for that”. The enemy loves to keep you at this pace for when he does you are of no threat to him and of little value to those you love.

     The application of the brakes – the NO – has to be a choice, a very specific decisive choice. It is NOT easy but once applied – in time – you will find the rhythm of walking under the grace of God. Waiting, listening, hearing and moving as He directs. Will you never again feel that “busy” day syndrome – No – but it will be with a different mindset and with an outcome that will be eternal.

     Hit the brakes today – avoid becoming the road-kill of your chaotic lifestyle – step under the peace of His presence and learn to walk in the rhythm of His grace.

Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (ESV)

Who’s In Your Boat?

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The darkening clouds began to swiftly swirl around them as the waves surged. The sea had been tame as the short journey began but now waves crashed over the bow and threatened to take their lives. They had seen His hands do many miracles – how and why was He sleeping as they struggled in the midst of this aggressive storm? Waking him from his slumber brought rebuke – first for their lack of faith but then of the very wind and waves that threatened their lives. Quickly the tumultuous sea became still as they stood astonished at His authority.

As we walk through life’s journey we are also surprised by storms that threaten our lives – some mild, some crashing the bow and some that have begun to sink our boats. How we respond – How we get through it depends on WHO is in our boat.

     All of us – in the midst of the storm begin to falter, question and grow weary. However, if we know Jesus is our rock – our salvation – our hope; we know He is in our boat. He is always there for us and has our back! Going down with the boat is NOT His plan! We need to wake up – look up – and with faith reach out for His hand.

     It’s not in our ability to silence the storm. We only need to look to Him and He steps in. He rebukes the winds and waves – He calms the storm.

Matthew 8:26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.