Being Content

It hit me over the weekend.

As I sat a baseball game with my hubby. 11407285_842408325840074_8629597503444942428_n

I am content.

I mean it.

Deep down in my soul.

Finally.

Fifty-six, claiming Philippians 4:11-13 for years.

Now. I am there.

I’ve searched for decades.

Tried new houses.

New jobs.

New friends.

New churches.

Nothing helped.

IMG_1712At least not until I stopped trying.

And I know why.

It’s God.

That’s it.

Just. God.

 

He filled the empty spaces. He calmed my wandering heart. He placed me in the palm of His hand and refused to let go.1305785931_l-1

I can say now with confidence “ Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13

My life verses.

Now true.

Who knew!

Contentment.

Good at any age.

Thank you Father.

For never letting go.

 

 

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Stressed-Less Living – Vacation

I’m going silent for a few days as I head to the beach with my family to relax, refresh and rejuvenate.IMG_0306

It’s time to recharge my batteries and to spend some time alone listening for God to speak to me and hearing His will for my life.

For each of you I pray for peace and rest. For God’s mercies to rain down from heaven and for you to have time with your family to love each other well.IMG_20110507_150545

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14.

Stressed Less – I Don’t Think So!

“Trust in the Lord and do good.Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” Psalm 37:3-5

We’re into week 5 of the “Stressed -Less Living” Bible study and just when I think that I am finally getting a handle on my stress, it rears its ugly head again and smacks me in the face.

And, I have no one to blame but me.

As I told a friend today in a text, I am such a loser right now. I’m over committing, under performing and forgetting way too much.

The reason.

I’m a people pleaser.

Yes. I said it.

I admit it.

My stress is brought on not by any of the people in my life but by my inability to say one simple word.

The word no made from jigsaw puzzle pieces

If I say no to things I am afraid people won’t like me.

I might disappoint them.

I might not get asked the next time there’s

A play.

A concert.

A trip to the beach.

A Bible study with a friend.

A family vacation.

A women’s retreat with my sister-in-law.

So I commit. I say yes.

And then, I disappoint.

Those around me.

Myself.

God.

In the last week, I can think of three separate instances where I’ve committed to do something and then not done it.

Wow!

And right in the middle of these times was a great sermon by my pastor where he implored us to think about how we are perceived by those around us. Do we look like Christians, or just say we’re Christians.

I think right now I fall into the latter group and that stresses me even more.

But, knowing the reason you are stressed is the first step to overcoming stress. And, like Tracie tells us about Hannah in I Samuel, I too need to get on my knees before God and stay there until He gives me what I need.

A release from needing to please everyone.

A renewed love for Him and for what really matters to Him.

An absence of self-induced stress and the feeling of peace that will bring.DSC00088

 

 

Dream Big – Stressed-Less Living

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! Ephesians 3:20

The bracelet that helps me remember God has a bigger plan for me than I could ever have for myself.

The bracelet that helps me remember God has a bigger plan for me than I could ever have for myself.

I have a friend, let’s call her Melissa, who knows first hand the reality of this verse I’ve been talking about. As a beautiful twenty something year old young woman, it would be easy for people to believe that her success is based on how she looks and not on her Christian faith.

But it only takes a few minutes talking with her or hearing her story before you know that Melissa knows that all the success and the doors that have opened for her have done so for one reason and one reason only – she is sold out to God.

It also bears noting that I have known Melissa since she was fourteen years old. I shared with hear several months ago after seeing the bracelet she has with this verse on it that when she was in high school, and I was her English teacher, I prayed this verse, along with the rest of Paul’s prayer from Ephesians 3 over my classroom before my students came in each August. Family Verse

 

Coincidence – I think not! In fact, I know it’s not.

In all the time I’ve known her, Melissa’s faith has been one of those constants in her life that has gotten her through good times and bad times.

Through high school heartbreaks and choosing colleges.

From the first after college job, to her first move for a job, to her biggest break which has landed her a national voice.

With her permission, I am sharing her story here, because I believe it is a true example of God’s grace and how He can work in our lives when we are truly sold out to Him. This, my friends is a God thing. And, this is what it truly means to dream big.

As a senior in college, I was plagued by the same doubts and fears we all experience in those crucial times when our future is uncertain. Just months away from graduating with a double major in Communication and Broadcast, I had dreams to conquer the world of sideline reporting. With an internship lined up in Los Angeles, my immediate future was secure as I planned to lay the foundation for my career.

            One Tuesday morning at an athletic meeting required of me as a volleyball player, I witnessed a presentation by Kids Across America. The visiting speakers were looking for counselors and staff to serve during the upcoming summer. I watched the video, heard the story, and smiled as the program went on. I was touched, but not enough to give up that critical summer after graduation, however, my best friend and teammate was. I followed her to the back of the room, and spoke with KAA-3 director, Ricky Jimmerson for the first time. I agreed to meet with his staff that afternoon, and a half hour meeting turned into three hours late into the evening.

            As the conversation continued, I realized my passion for sports and my love for people could be combined in spending one summer at Kids Across America. Ricky never told me to turn down the internship I had been offered, he simply urged me to take a step toward my dream as I helped others find theirs. Terrified by the unknown, I rejected my internship offer that week and accepted the opportunity to serve at KAA. It was one of the best decisions of my life.

            I wasn’t ready… none of us were. Kids Across America is loud.  It’s crazy. It’s hype. It’s non-stop action training inner-city youth to be champions on and off the field; and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had. I was blessed to grow up in a family that pushed me to be excellent and believed in my dreams. At camp, it was impossible for me to understand some of the circumstances my campers had been pulled out of for seven short days. I poured my heart into these campers so that when each of my girls left, she knew she was loved. She knew someone believed in her dream. My life was forever changed by the kids I thought I was going to save.

Now, if this were the end to Melissa’s story, it would be amazing, but this is only the beginning for this amazing young woman. Since that week in the summer of 2010, she has gone on to host her own daytime television show where she has the opportunity to share love with her viewers, she has been Miss Capital City USA and third runner up to Miss Florida USA where her platform was all about mentoring young women so that they see their value in God and in themselves. Just three short years later, she is now a morning host on a nationally syndicated radio show.

Melissa, however, is the first to tell you that all this has nothing to do with her and everything to do with God. In fact, she says that she has stopped trying to plan her life because nothing she can dream is anywhere near as where God wants to take her. His grace sees Melissa through every day, the good and the bad, and gives her the strength and desire to be more than she could ever imagine.

Making a LIfe Change- Stressed-Less Living

Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

If you were alive and old enough to remember the day, you know where you were and what you were doing on September 11, 2001. World-Trade-Center-9-11-cross-1

I know I do.

And, like thousands of Americans I knew after that horrendous day that I couldn’t continue to just live life as usual without regard to the world around me. For months I had been trying to decide if my life was making a difference. I knew I was running the risk with the demanding career I had of possibly losing one of the most precious things in the world to me, my son, AJ. That morning, watching the twin towers crumble before me on TV, I knew that something had to change. I couldn’t lose AJ and I couldn’t continue to only care about making money.

While the change in my career didn’t happen immediately, the seed was planted that day and was confirmed through conversations with my dear friends Larry and Anna Lawrence. You see, I’m a born teacher and Larry knew that. As the youth minister at our church in Tallahassee, he had spent many days, weeks and months watching me work with teenagers and he knew that this was where I belonged. So, when I walked into youth group one Wednesday night with a postcard my older son had received from some college that read “Pursue Your Passions’, Larry chuckled and said. “Any more questions?” And that was the night that I knew I had to make a change in my life and make sure that I put into practice what I said I believed which is faith, family, friends.pursuetitle

I trusted God that if He really did want me to make this change that He would guide my steps and that He would open the doors to make it possible. I started researching schools and teaching quickly becoming discouraged as I realized that I would probably need to take a state test and be certified before I could teach. It had been almost 20 years since I had been in school, so I knew that was not going to be a good thing. Instead, I began to research private schools in my area and on a whim sent an email to the Personnel Director as a local Christian school in town.

When I got a response and was asked to complete an application and bring it to the school, I was floored. I remember thinking this has to be God, because there sure wasn’t anything in the email that would have generated that kind of response. That day I completed the application and took it by the school. The following week, I got a phone call from the Personnel Director wanting to know if I could come in and spend a day interviewing, sitting in on classes and meeting the Pastor.

Now what!!!

How was I going to manage that since I worked full-time and didn’t feel comfortable asking for time off from work? Then she told me the date and I knew without doubt that is was a God thing because the date she gave me was one I had requested off anyway because of a family obligation. Hallelujah!

I went into the interview that day with no expectations but high hopes, and I was not disappointed. The most interesting thing that happened that day was the way the school administrator kept trying to talk me out of taking the job. But, I knew this was where I was supposed to be and since AJ would be a student there as well, I knew that God would help me watch out for him and protect him.

It would also give me some much needed time with my son to mend our broken relationship. But, I couldn’t just go home and tell him we were doing this. I had made that mistakes too many times in his life and I needed this to be about him, too.

So when I got home from the school, we talked.

The way we always talked,

while playing basketball.

During our game, this precious child walks over to me and as he’s handing me the ball says calmly “Mom, you have to take the job. It’s a God thing.”

See I had told him about my day and how well things had gone and he knew about my conversations with Larry and Anna and my desire to be closer to him, to be there for him.

And, he confirmed for me what I already knew in my heart.

This was the right job, the right time, and the right change for my family.

Being in God’s will, making the change and using God’s gifts. What a glorious feeling.

6321_10151514806476460_1833598396_n

My Hope is in Christ – Stressed-Less Living

Anyone who knows me, knows that I can sometimes be a little stubborn. And, it sometimes takes me more than one time to “get it” so to speak.

Even with God.

I’m like King David in that way.

God speaks to me and tells me he wants me to do something.

And my response is “Really God?’ Are you sure?”

This weekend has been one of those times.

Saturday I attended “Uniquely You” women’s conference with Renee Swope author of “A Confident Heart”. During the course of her workshops, she challenged those of us in attendance to have radical hope and confidence, what she has coined as “Godfidence”.DSC00146

One thing she said really stuck with me especially as I am dealing with adult children, the possibility of a new job (actually returning to an old job :-)) and changing relationships with friends both near and far. What did she say?

“You can’t put your hope in _________ (children, husband, job, friends or anything earthly), it/they will always disappoint you.”

Okay, got it. Right?

Apparently not.

Sunday morning in church our pastor was finishing up a sermon series on the Beatitudes. His message centered around Matthew 7:24-29.

At one point he told a story about his son as illustration and made this comment. “I love Nathan more than anything. He’s my son, but I can’t put my hope in him because he will disappoint me. I have to put my hope in Jesus.”

Sound familiar?

It gets better.

625439_408667745895242_189186595_nToday, I started reading Chapter 4 of “Stressed-Less Living” by Tracie Miles and as I am reading through the suggested verses for the chapter I came across this:

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.” Psalm 118:8.

Well, alrighty then.

If I had any doubt that God was sending me a message Saturday, or even Sunday, I cannot deny it now.

 

When He speaks three times I listen.

Ashamed it takes that long, yes.

Grateful that He pursues me like this.

You better believe it.

I am on my knees with my arms wide open and my hands facing up trusting Him alone to supply my needs.

And, to those God used to bring me the message.

Thank you.

Thank you for being a vessel God can use.

Thank you for heeding the call.

Thank you for being part of the great adventure God has for me.Psal118_8

 

 

Stressed-Less Living – Rest and Repent

God, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel: “Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me—The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do. Isaiah 30:15.

I have gone back to this verse over and over this week. I love the first part where Isaiah tells us that the Lord God wants us to turn back to Him putting our strength in Him and depending on Him for everything. But the part of the verse that keeps drawing me back is where Isaiah say this is “The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.”

Guilty.

And guilty again.

And full of stories of my “silly efforts” to save myself.

I so want to “settle down in complete dependence on me (God).”Isaiah30-15YourStrength

But I can’t. Or, I won’t. And, that causes more stress. And more distance between God and me. And, the never ending circle continues.

I want to say that this time is going to be different.

I want to promise God that this time I’ll make it last.

Does he hear empty promises when I say this?

Will He laugh at me and nod his head like a loving father who knows his child cannot possibly do what they are promising to do?

Or, will he just open his arms again and let me fall right in.

I want him to.

I need hm to.

I beg him to.

And Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 30:18 that

” …the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”

He shows me compassion. The God of the universe who made everything and is everything. He “blesses” me. And then in verses 20 and 21 Isaiah says

“Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

I hear that voice. You know, the one that says “This is the way; walk in it.”

That’s the real secret for me of this chapter.

That’s the key to stressed-less living.

He shows me the way. He provides the teachers. (Thanks Tracie and Melissa and the OBS crew) I just have to listen.

This_is_the_way_isaiah