Finding My Center

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

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What a great verse to start 2014 with.

In a year when my heart’s desire is to find my center. To be at peace. What better place to be.

Than in the refuge of the Rock.

My God.

My fortress.

No matter what the world may throw at me.

He is my rockImage

No matter how hard the days.

He is my fortress.

When I am discouraged, he is my refuge.

My center.

Always.

Jesus.

 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you (me), live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

Peace. Refuge. Fortress. Rock.

Not just words anymore.

Lifestyle.

Longing.

I want these for myself.

For those I love.

If I want them for those around me, I must first posses them myself.

This is the year.

As Ann Voskamp says “Word in. Work out. Work plan.”

Everyday.

Father, I give my all to you.

Lead me.

Day by day.

Moment by moment.

Amen

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Living God’s Grace – Peace

Nothing prepares a mama’s heart to help a son who holds a stranger as they die.

And, it doesn’t matter that he’s close to thirty than he is to three. Your mama’s heart cries with him as he agonizes over being the last person this soul ever saw.

He’s trained to deal with these situations. He knows his job well.

But.

That doesn’t prepare him for reality.

Or you for the tug on your heart because you know how much he hurts.

This precious boy who grew to be a giant teddy bear of a man wanting only to serve his community.

This peace officer giving peace.

Holding this man as he took his last breath.

I want to hold my boy. Tell him everything is going to be alright.

To reassure him that he did all he could.

That I’m proud of him.

And God is proud of him.

But, I know that words aren’t what he needs, so I pray.

I pray that peace will flood his soul.

That he will know God’s peace.

Hear his voice.

Feel the arms of angels wrapped around him.

And I send him this

You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,  Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!”  That’s right – he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards.  His huge outstretched arms protect you – under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Psalm 91:1-4.

Words of the psalmist. Words shared by his grandmother when he was a little boy and afraid of the dark.

Words of the Father for his little boy.

“You’re safe.”

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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

 

 

God’s Peace – Stressed-Less Living

DSC00088“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

DSC00081“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.” Matthew 6:27-28

DSC00094The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul. Psalm 23:1-2

Remembering God’s gift of peace

He hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. Psalm 34:17

In June of 1995 my father died rather unexpectedly. I can remember it like it was yesterday getting the call at work from my husband saying “Come home. We have to go now.”

My parents were four hours away. The drive was excruciating.

I called everyone I knew – family, friends, co-workers and just said “Pray.” pray

I called my brother and said I’m sorry. I was the one who told him that he didn’t need to make the trip from Texas because Dad was fine. But, I also told him to hurry. Get here as fast as he could.

And, I thought about my mom. Alone, scared, not well herself.  And I blamed myself.

I shouldn’t have come home. I should have stayed with her. Yes, I had planned to return to their home the next day, but now that obviously  wasn’t good enough.

If only…

When we arrived at the hospital, in the middle of the night, my husband dropped me off and took our boys to my mom’s to put them back to bed. I promised they could see their grandfather the next day.

I didn’t keep that promise.

When I walked into ICU, he was hooked up to all kinds of tubes and there was a doctor standing at the foot of his bed waiting for me.

A heart attack followed by a stroke caused by the medicine they gave him to treat the heart attack.

He was brain dead. I couldn’t let my boys see him this way. Not their grandfather who they both adored.

My mom didn’t want to hear it. The aunts and uncles, my brother, my grandmother, they were all on their way. We would get him through.

That was the most stressful week of my entire life.

But, on the night before he died, I got on my knees and I asked my Heavenly Father to comfort me. To hold me. To tell me everything was going to be okay because I didn’t know if I could survive without my dad. See he was the person I went to for everything, the one I depended on, the one who made everything in my world okay.

As God the Father wrapped his arms around me, I realized that I had allowed earthly things to replace the role of Abba in my life. And He means it when He says He will do whatever He has to do to bring His children back to Him.

He took my dad

But He gave me His peace instead.20130327-081215

A peace I never knew could exist before that night.

A love I had never before experienced.

And I lived that peace for the next ten years without question.

Through the weeks of burying my father, closing up their house, moving my mom, who was ill with Parkinson’s closer to my family, dealing with her illness. I had peace through all of that.

But, in May of 2010, my mom passed away.

And my peace left me.

In its place has been stress.

What did I do wrong? How could I have saved her?

If only I had been a better daughter.

If only I had been a better caregiver.

If only I had tried harder.

See, my peace was replaced by “if onlys” and I’m ready to  give them back!

I want that peace again. The kind that only God can give.

That’s why I’m doing the Stressed-Less Living Bible study and that’s the gift of Christmas I’m reaching out for right now.

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Living a stressed-less life

I started a new Bible study this week all about living a stressed-less life. Only half a chapter in and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt this study is for me!

I thought as I got older I would learn to handle stress or better yet, learn to let go of it. And, I do for a little while, but then something happens, a phone call from a grown-up child, a doctor’s appointment, an unexpected expense, and the stress just piles up again!

So I’m looking forward to learning to live stressed-less along with Melissa Taylor and her online Bible study team. Check them out at melissataylor.org. We’ll be looking at the book by Tracie Miles. If you feel stress like I do. Maybe you should come on over and join us.

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I want to believe that I don’t have stress.

I tell the people in my life I don’t stress.

But the truth is. I stress all the time!

Over everything!

I hate that about myself.

And I’m the one always giving the advice to friends and family reminding them that the only thing they can control is themselves so don’t stress over other people, things and circumstances.

Well, it’s time for me to listen to my own advice. So I’m going to own my stress. No more blaming it on people, circumstances or situations.  And, over the next 12 weeks I’m going to learn how to let it go.

As Tracie Miles says in her book, she had to realize she was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” and I am too!

Look out world! I’m giving my life and the lives of those I love back to the one who holds them in the palm of His hand.

I’m going to live stressed-less.

Lynn

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8