Easter, Faith, healing, joy, Uncategorized

Propelled by joy

Everything felt strange. Nothing about today was ordinary. Nothing about today was going as she had thought it would, and with every passing hour things seemed only to get worse. An eerie quietness settled over her as she stood at the base of the hill, powerlessly watching Him suffer. It was all so surreal. Images of all they had shared flashed before her eyes: the miracles, the love and friendship, the words of life, the simple moments together. Present-moment reality rattled her with a cruel jolt.

Now Jesus, her Jesus, the man she knew and loved, was gone.

Keep moving she urged herself. She had to keep moving or else, fall apart, so she followed them to the tomb, watching as they laid Him to rest. The pain was unbearable, yet she clung desperately to every moment to be near His body.

There were still things to be done before the sun set and Sabbath began. She knew she had to leave Him and run to the market to buy all the spices and oils necessary to honor Him, wanting nothing to delay her return to the tomb on Sunday morning. But leave him? How? Numbness, having replaced the pain, left her paralyzed. Her only consolation was the opportunity to care for Him in death as He had cared for her in life. That was all the fuel she needed. The tasks were accomplished in a determined haze, and now, if nothing else, she could provide a proper burial.

But first, the Sabbath.

How could she possibly rest with Jesus gone? It seemed almost impossible in this moment. A hot flood of memories washed over her again, as she recalled the example He’d set. She managed a half-smile through welled eyes, whispering ‘even now, He’s still caring for me.’ Jesus was her model and no matter what was going on in His ministry, He had known how to rest. She had learned so much from watching Him. He had shown her the freedom and joy found in obedience, in always living in response to the Father’s love. In humble determination to honor the Sabbath in order to honor her Lord, she yielded.
Oddly, the forced rest was good, giving them time to process and grieve. One emotion gave way to another. They were angry—He was innocent! They were confused—why didn’t He fight back? They were resolved—they must keep His ministry going. As they voiced their questions and reflected on all the things He said that hadn’t made sense in the moment, many of His words became chillingly clear. Hadn’t He told them this would happen?

No one slept much those two nights and the moment the sun began to rise on Sunday morning, they made their way back to where His body was lain. What started as a walk, quickly turned into a run. They were desperate to get to Him. Devotion and love carried them the whole way.

But as they approached the tomb, anticipation turned to fear. The ground began to shake; lightning and thunder stopped them in their tracks. They exchanged startled glances. The men who were guarding the tomb fell to the ground, unconscious, the stone pushed aside. The tomb was empty. Jesus was gone. Horror overcame her.

A man (or at least he looked like a man, yet so bright and blinding) appeared and began to speak. His words pierced into her soul. She was in shock but what she heard changed everything. “He’s not here. He’s alive. GO. TELL.” It made no sense but at the same time this was the truest thing her soul had ever heard.

The desperate ache within was telling her to stay—to stay where Jesus had been, but revelation was inviting her to go.

And so, she ran.

Even though she hadn’t seen Him yet, the truth that He was alive propelled her forward with a joy that overpowered her pain and fear. Tears streaming down her face, heart pounding, and her legs moving faster than ever before, she had one goal—find the rest to tell them He was alive! They needed to know. Everyone needed to know. But would they believe her?

She ran without care or concern for her dignity. None of it seemed to matter now that her Lord was alive. Her lungs burned but she kept running. And then, just there, ahead in the distance, she saw Him. She froze. Standing in the middle of the road they locked eyes, and even from afar, she knew it was Him.

Jesus.

Time stood still and nothing else existed in the brilliance of that moment.

She fell at His feet. Her tears soaked them as she poured out her love upon Him—it wasn’t the first time. This was a familiar posture. She didn’t know what to say to Him, her words meant nothing compared to how she felt.

Jesus had met her. He had come for her.

He had come for them and for us.

It was true. He’s alive. Go! Tell!

 

Joyfully,

Season

Published in Joyful Life magazine, Spring Edition 2019.

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Faith, friendship, joy, Uncategorized

The joy of FOMO

FOMO

Fear Of Missing Out.

It’s real. Have you ever experienced it? When all your friends are going somewhere great and you’re stuck at home with the sick kid, the big project due tomorrow, or without any money to put gas in your car. The isolation shouts, “They’re having fun without you!” FOMO happens even when things aren’t fun. When there is a tough moment and people bond around it, if you weren’t there, it feels like you missed out on something important. You are no longer on the inside and therefore you are out.

It’s why we are often glued to our phones for the latest update on social media, news stories, or why we keep one ear to the proverbial ground of happenings.

One day I was feeling particularly down, left out and isolated for one of the many seemingly silly reasons, and I thought to ask the Lord how he felt about my FOMO.

It may seem hyper spiritual or weird, but to me, I have learned to simply include the Lord in all my feelings, thoughts, and actions. Ok, when I say I include him in all, what I mean is, I intend to include the Lord in all – like right away. My intention and deep desire is to be aware of and include the Lord in every moment. But often, that looks more like swirling around the drain of some feeling or negative thought for a bit while experiencing all the pain, frustration, and other stuff associated with being human, and then going, “Oh wait! Lord, what do you have to say?!” Either way, no matter when I do it, it’s so helpful.

So, I was having this moment of FOMO and it was proving to not be life giving and producing joy in my heart, so I said to the Lord,

How do you feel about my FOMO?

To which he replied,

FOMO about them?! They should have FOMO about us!

Jesus cracks me up.

And he’s right! What the Lord and I have is awesome! I am not missing out on anything because what we have is EVERYTHING!

My attention was then turned to the very real presence of the Lord and I began to talk to him, laugh, discover, and adjust my awareness of the reality of my situation and life from God’s perspective. Suddenly it didn’t matter that I wasn’t with “them” and experiencing the latest and greatest thing. I was with HIM!

You may be thinking, what do they have that is worth FOMO? Well, when you spend time with your Creator, the one who loves you more than anyone ever could, the one who sees the best in you and believes the impossible for you, that time is far beyond what you could experience with anyone else.

But the good news is, you’re not actually missing out on what we have – you can have your own! God is always with you – yes, always. Even in the moments you think he wouldn’t or couldn’t be with you, he is. Even when you don’t feel him with you, he is. Even if you don’t believe it, he is. All you have to do is pay attention.

So what really causes that pain and fear of FOMO? Frankly, it’s when we place more weight on others than on the Lord. There is a more formal and ancient phrase used for this…. Idol worship. I know, just when you think you don’t have to worry about that commandment because you don’t have a literal shrine to a god in your home, I come along with this bomb.

However annoying, it’s still true. We hold people, things, and experiences in higher regard than the Lord. They become what we try to please, what we strive for, and what we long to have and suddenly our ladder of priorities has shifted.

FOMO has a way of revealing where our hearts have laid up treasure Matt. 6:19-20). We tend to be easily persuaded with our affections and therefore we get hurt. The Lord knows that what he offers is far greater than any earthly experience. The Lord will never quit on you. He will never disappoint you. He will never overlook you. He will never hurt you. He will far exceed all your expectations.

Your heart is safe with the Lord.

The fear of missing out is a tell. It will reveal to you what has a hold on your heart. I bless you to know that what you can have with the Lord is so good you’ll find joy in FOMO.

Joyfully,

Season

Faith, joy

STOP SINGING NEW WINE!

There’s a song we sing at our church (and I am sure many of you sing it as well) called New Wine by Hillsong. At first hearing I was captivated and deeply moved. It has a beautiful sound and a powerful message of surrender. I get caught up when I sing it and think, “YES! That’s what I want, God!”

But is it?

This blog is intended to make us aware of the words we sing in worship and help move us from merely Sunday singers who give lip service to the Lord, to a life of real growth and power. So read on to see if you should stop singing New Wine.

It begins,

In the crushing, in the pressing, you are making new wine.  

Have you thought about how wine is made? It is a literal process of crushing and pressing grapes to squeeze out the juice. Sound fun? Maybe if you’re the barefoot one in a giant vat of grapes in the countryside of Italy. But the reference in this song isn’t grapes, it’s us. Do you really want to ask the Lord to press you? We want the good stuff – the metaphorical wine to flow out of us, but in order to produce wine we must go through a process that may require crushing. CRUSHING. And we sing it like it’s nothing! It’s a strong statement so we need to be sure of what we are asking.

In the soil, I now surrender. You are breaking new ground,

For something new to grow, there needs to be a surrender to the process: Death of the old, burial, breaking open, sprouting new growth, pushing up through the dirt towards the surface, blooming in the sun, being watered. All of these steps are necessary in the cycle of growth. Are you ready and willing to let the old die? Some of us may say, “YES! The old hasn’t been working very well for me, I gladly lay it down!” But others of us may get stuck there. What we’ve been doing is working just fine. Do we really want to give it up, let it die, and and endure the crushing to squeeze out something new? Well, if you believe the next phrase, then yes, you actually do.

The song goes on.

So I yield to You and to Your careful hand.
When I trust You I don’t need to understand.

If you trust that God is a loving and careful Creator, then it does become easier to surrender to the work the Lord wants to do in your life. But let’s not be fooled, it’s not that simple to surrender to something you don’t understand. In fact, you wouldn’t be wrong to be leery of the idea.

So how to we get to the point of surrender? How do we agree to the process when we don’t know what’s ahead? Furthermore, how do we ask to be pressed and crushed?!

The answer for the future is often found in the past. Look back. How has the Lord touched your life? Have you been rescued? Has the powerful and loving hand of God interceded and guided you into something new and unexpected? What was your life like before God?

When I look back I can see the are moments when doors were shut, walls were built, and times when I was yanked by the hair away from the edge of the cliff. Those moments weren’t always easy, in fact they were often very painful, but with hindsight I can see the loving and powerful work of the Lord doing something greater in my life. I didn’t understand then, but I do now. It reminds me of a quote I love from Dag Hammarskjoid, “For everything that has been, thank you. For everything that will be, yes.”

If you need even more proof of the faithful and careful hand of God, go to the Word! The big-picture narrative of the Bible is the beautiful love story between God and humanity. It’s amazing to see the constant mercy, love, and grace given to us with the freedom to choose to receive it. I challenge you to read if for yourself (it’s especially interesting to read it in chronological order. You can find all kinds of reading plans on the Bible app).

When you look back and see the Lord’s work in your life, it becomes easier to open the hands that grasp for control and surrender to His leading and we are then able to sing,

Make me a vessel, make me an offering. Make me whatever you want me to be. I came here with nothing, but all you have given me. Jesus bring new wine out of me. 

Do you ever get frustrated when cleaning out bottles?  My family puts much more than water in them and leaves them all over the place. You never know what’s growing inside! They are hard to clean because you can’t see all the way in and around the edges. So you shove a brush inside, shake the soapy water around, and rise, hoping for the best. We too are vessels, filled with the fresh, living water Jesus gives us.  But because of our sin, when we go to pour out that water to others, it is often tainted – like the hidden mold or residue in the bottle.

Something powerful happens when we realize that we are vessels filled with the spirit of the living God! Through faith in Jesus Christ and the repentance of sin, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit who lives in and works through us. What a gift!! Because of this, we are invited to do the work Jesus did – spread the good news and empower others to do the same. In fact, Jesus said we would do greater things than he did. WHAT?! HOW? Because of the power of the Holy Spirit living within us, we have the ability to do far more than we can imagine. But there is a giant IF right here….IF we follow his leading and surrender our time, attention, gifts, and agendas to the Lord. When we offer our lives to the Lord as an offering, to be poured out, He is faithful to take what we offer and do infinitely greater things.

Scripture says that new wine can’t be put into old wineskins. Why not? This idea isn’t something familiar to our modern sensibilities. A wineskin couldn’t just be refilled when empty, it had to be replaced. New wine would expand when put into a container and an old used wineskin was already expanded to it’s limits, therefore new wine would cause it to burst.

We love to sing it loud…..

Where there is new wine there is new power
There is new freedom and the kingdom is here
I lay down my old flames to carry Your new fire today.

Oh, it’s so fun to ask for more! More power, more freedom, more fire! But do we really mean it? The reality of this request, the passionate cry of our hearts is, “I want to be used by you! Do something new in me, Lord!” but that requires us to exchange our old skins – our old flames, for something new.

That’s not easy! Our way, the old way of doing things, works well for us. We’re used to doing things one way and getting a pretty satisfactory result (or we wouldn’t be doing it that way). So, in order to have something new, something better, we have to sacrifice the old…even if it’s not broken. The song says, I lay down my old flames…it doesn’t say, I want you to start the fire because mine burnt out. If you are laying down your flames, that means there is already a fire.

Are you willing and ready to lay down what you have now for something new? Are you ready to be pressed so the deeper, richer stuff can come out?

One more thing. In the Bible, wine is often a sign of freedom and joy. Are you ready more of both? If you are, SING OUT! If you’re not, stop singing New Wine.

Joyfully,

Season

 

Faith, joy

How to gain influence

I asked the Lord this question this time last year. I was working so hard to build my social media platform and blog following in preparation for shopping my book to publishers. When it comes to publishing, it’s often a numbers game. It’s exhausting and yet necessary for any kind of public platform.

But I was exhausted and found it draining to my soul, so I asked the Lord,

God, how do I increase my influence?

In total God fashion, he immediately popped back with one word.

Intimacy.

I was surprised and yet not at all shocked by his response. I didn’t quite get it, but was up for the challenge of finding out exactly what he meant. The thing is, I thought I was intimate with the Lord! Cearly, he had deeper places to show me.

To be honest, I was disappointed and a bit frustrated. You see, I’m really good at getting things done. God knows this about me, which is why just about every time I’ve had big promotions or leaps forward toward my goals it’s after he’s asked me to do nothing – like zero. I have been told the following,

  • Sit down.
  • Just look at me.
  • Who better to speak for you than me?
  • I’m going to do it and when I bring it to you, you’ll know it’s me.

That’s right. When God wants to do big things in my life he asks me to step out of the way.

So what do I do? I obey! I’ve learned that his ways really are better than my ways. Yes, I know how to do things and get them done, but what I can accomplish on my own is not nearly as significant as what He can do.

If there is anything I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that God wants to do amazing things in our lives, but we have to work with him, not against him!

And don’t worry, there will be work ahead! When the time is right, He’ll say,

Ready, GO! Do what I’ve created you to do! Be you and watch me do the rest!

We are so much more productive when we are working with the Lord, not arm wrestling him to do it our way. Because that’s the crazy thing about God’s love, He’s not a bully and we have the choice to do what we want and how we want to…It’s just way harder and less effective.

So once again I’m looking to the Lord this year. Focusing on attention and gaze on the love of my life. I’ll work hard at the things he puts in front of me and listen and obey when he tells me to back off.

If you’re like me and wondering how to become more productive and influential, the best practical advise I can give you is to dive into the Word of God like never before. If you’ve never been a Bible reader, start now and try reading one book of the Bible, or 1 Psalm a day. If you are an occasional reader, get on a consistent plan. If you’re a lover of the Word, try a new translation.

You may not see it right away, but you’ll soon discover the change in your heart and in your perspective. Things will shift and ways will become more clear, and this time next year you’ll be able to look back and say, “hallelujah! He is faithful!”

I believe the power of your influence is directly related to your connection with the Lord. The more your mind and heart is in tune with the Lord’s, and your steps are in line with the Spirit, the less energy you have to spend cleaning up the mess of sin, and the greater your love grows.

You can’t have authority over that which you don’t love.

Love. Love for yourself, for others and for God. That’s the greatest influence one can have.

And let me be clear… That love does not need to be returned – just given. You’ll be filled as you look to the Lord – His is the most sufficient love you’ll ever know.

I bless you this year to be more intimate with Lord than ever before and watch as your love influences the world!

Joyfully,

Season

advent, christmas, Faith, joy, Uncategorized

Day 17 – HARK! – JBA

Today’s Christmas song lyrics are ones that fly under the radar, but have the power to literally destroy sin and death!

Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born king.
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinner reconciled.

Do you wonder if God has something against you? That he holds you at an arms length and doesn’t talk to you as much as others? Or, because of all kinds of things, you just have to work extra hard for his approval. Maybe you are trying to avoid him because you’re afraid of his reaction to your current state or past decisions. There is a gap between you and God and sometimes it just feels too big to do anything about.

But, the angels in the song were right!

Hark! Listen up!

Jesus is here!! And because of him, we have been reconciled to the Lord!

He has come to bridge the gap of our sin and the holiness of God. He doesn’t come with pointed finger and condemnation. Jesus came as a gentle and humble baby. He comes to us with love. He comes to us with peace. He comes to bring us into deep and loving relationship with our Father in heaven.

God and sinner reconciled.

And the best part is that it isn’t something you can earn. Jesus did it just for you, before you even knew about it.

Are you living as one who has been reconciled with the Father? Or, do you walk around believing that there is still a disqualified stamp on your record preventing you from receiving the fullness of your inheritance?

HARK! Listen up! You are a child of the Most High, and through your faith in Jesus, you get all that is His.

Glory to the new born King!

Joyfully,

Season Bowers

Joy Bringer’s Advent

advent, christmas, Faith, joy, Uncategorized

Day 15 – Did Mary Know – JBA

Mary, did you know?

It’s a great song…but also an interesting question.

As I think about Mary, my heart is stirred. We only have a glimpse into her heart, mind, and life, and the rest is, well, unknown.

“God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” – Luke 1:26-28

How did she feel about her arranged marriage? What did her heart long for? What was she doing the moment Gabriel came to her? I imagine she was in the middle of chores; fetching water, cooking, or cleaning perhaps. Maybe she was daydreaming about her upcoming marriage, or meditating on her favorite psalm.

He calls her favored, but did she know that? Did she feel or believe that she was favored by God – set apart? I imagine that she was a young woman of purity — in heart, mind, and spirit. She knew the Lord, and he knew her. She was obedient and faithful, but this was a real moment, and Mary was a real girl….

“Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.” Luke 1:29

I love that we are privy to this reaction! When the Lord calls us favored we often don’t see it. We are not judged by our initial reaction, the Lord gives us so much grace to process in our humanness. She was confused and disturbed, not by the angel’s message (he hadn’t told her the big news yet!), but by the label, favored.

She wasn’t favored by the world’s standards. She was a poor servant girl who didn’t have much going for her, accept the thing that really mattered – her heart was pure.

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” – Luke 1:30-33

In this moment, the angel reveals to her that the her baby will be the King! But did she know more than that? Was she able to process the full extent of what he said? Like most of us would, she had a hard time getting past the reality of her perspective and current life situation…

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” – Luke 1:34

No matter how big our faith, or our love for the Lord, we can’t help but assess our situation from our own perspective. We want to believe but often we cry, BUT HOW, GOD!?

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.” – Luke 1:35-37

God is so faithful to meet us where we are and provide for our every need. Mary wasn’t punished for her questioning – he answered her. The Lord even provided her with someone to link arms with – someone who was also in a miraculous situation. He thought of everything. He is so faithful.

“Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” – Luke 1:28

There it is again – a pure and faithful young woman. Trusting, obedient, and even though she probably didn’t completely understand, Mary was going to walk forward through the fear.

And there was plenty to be frightened of!

Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.” – Luke 1:46-55

Mary was not perfect, but she was chosen to carry the perfect one. We will never know all she knew and when, but we can learn from her story.

Like Mary, we are chosen to carry the perfect one. All it takes is a willingness to believe and receive him into our hearts.

We can trust that God is doing things in our lives far beyond our capacity to understand and all it takes is a, Yes, Lord.

And finally, we need to hold loosely the gifts the Lord gives us. Mary was given Jesus, but only to give him away. The gifts we receive from the Lord aren’t just for us. They are for us to bring him glory by giving them away to others.

Today, my prayer is one of gratitude. Like Mary, I rejoice that the Lord has taken notice of me, and you, and given us the gift of Jesus.

And in case you haven’t been told lately, you are favored by God!

Joyfully,

Season

Joy Bringer’s Advent

 

advent, christmas, Faith, joy, Uncategorized

Day 13 – What Color Is Your Christmas – JBA

White?

Black?

Red?

Green?

Blue?

Let me explain.

For many of us, our childhood Christmases were red and green and sparkling with hope and possibility. Bright lights twinkled with our heart’s desire. The smell of food and the sounds of laughter are carved into our memories and all it takes is one sighting of the infamous red and green combination to bring that feeling to the forefront of our hearts.

But at some point, for many of us, the colors have changed.

I’ll never forget the year that not one, but both of my grandmothers were in the hospital….and no joke, same hospital, same floor, a few rooms away from each other. Talk about a grey Christmas! My parents and I spent both Christmas eve and Christmas day going back and forth between their room trying to bring as much cheer to the gloomy situation. Of course, the hospital’s cafeteria was closed so we ventured out to find an open restaurant to have some kind of Christmas dinner. The truck stop we found didn’t help to bring any color to the moment….Just grey and very sad.

I don’t have to go into too much detail to tell you about when Christmas was black. Fresh divorce, living alone, no family (almost all recently diseased), and ugly crying all day on the couch.

There have been times when Christmas has felt more green than anything. A few years ago, my husband and I found ourselves both unemployed, penniless and totally at a loss as to how to pay rent or any of our bills, let alone provide even one gift for our girls on Christmas morning. We were thankful that our daughters were with their mom that year so we didn’t have to disappoint them with our financial reality.

You’ve never seen two more downtrodden people than my husband and I on the couch all day on Christmas with no kids, no money, and no cheer…only silent prayers and football on tv. But just like the Lord in his faithfulness, a friend of my husband stopped by late at night on Christmas day and gave him a card to thank him for helping with some personal fitness goals. In the card….$500. The friend said, “please use this money to bless your family.” He knew nothing of our situation. We were able to hit the stores early the day after Christmas and buy each girl a few things so that when they came back to us that night, we had gifts under the tree (and money left over to get groceries).

There were many years of blue Christmases where nothing sparkled because without my mother and grandmothers, I couldn’t grab hold of the hope and promise that was supposed to be celebrated.

But then there was the yellow Christmas. Christmas day 2011, the day I met my future daughters. Hope and light came back into the picture. I never thought it would happen that way, but the Lord knew. I was given the best Christmas present ever…a family of my own.

And now, after a kaleidoscope of Christmases, I can honestly say Christmas is now red. It’s full of love, warmth, and truth. I’m able to see and celebrate the reason for the season. I am struck by the power of my Savior’s love and I marvel at the beauty of God’s great plan.

What color is your Christmas?

White: peaceful and pure?

Blue: painful and lonely?

Green: full of financial strife?

Black: hopeless and dark?

Whatever color your Christmas, the truth is, all color is beautiful. No matter what color, you have permission to feel and be just where you are. But, if I may, as one who has been through the many colors of Christmas, let me encourage you with this. It will change. Your black Christmas will not be black forever.

The colors are endless.

At its core, Christmas is full of color. The black of the world in turmoil, desperate and in need of breakthrough. The shining yellow star of hope piercing through the darkness. The white and pure Savior who was born to bring peace to the world. And the red love that was poured out from the throne room of heaven to a world in need.

Whatever color your Christmas, be encouraged and remember, a beautiful rainbow doesn’t exist without all of them.

Joyfully,

Season

Joy Bringer’s Advent

advent, christmas, Faith, joy, Uncategorized

Day 12 – Makin’ A List – JBA

Making a list, checking it twice…..

Ok, I get that this song is in reference to Santa, but I was just asking what the Lord what he wanted me to write on today and those are the lyrics I heard.

I am not going to write about being on the naughty or nice list…although I am a very good girl. Today, I feel led to write about our wish list.

Do you have a wish list?

Mine was not a family of Christmas wish list makers. I am an only child and my mom never needed a list to know what I wanted. She was a professional gift giver – especially to her one and only daughter. So, I’ve always found it odd when people make lists of what they want and give it to others. Que the personal epiphany! Maybe this is why the Lord wants me to write on this today! (Welcome to my external processing! This is really happening as I write this!)

I’ve had a problem over the years asking the Lord for what I want. A few years ago the Lord called me to dream again. You see, I had lived my dream – dream job, marriage, house, etc. I had it all and then it sort of turned. There was another side of it all and it didn’t turn out to be what I thought. So I gave the reigns over to the Lord, thanked him for fulfilling what I thought were my dreams, and surrendered my life and dreams to him. I said,

“You dream for me now, Lord. Whatever you have for me, wherever you want me. You have full permission to do anything with me and my life.”

And thus began a few years of surprise after surprise:

  • Getting my Masters of Divinity in Seminary
  • Meeting and marrying my husband Kris (in 10 weeks!)
  • Becoming a mother to 3 daughters
  • Moving to another city
  • Becoming a pastor

I could have never dreamed these things! They were so far off my radar that it literally took the hand of God. So, as I settled into these new roles, I began to hear the Lord say,

“It’s your turn to dream.”

BUT HOW, LORD?! My new life was so far beyond what I expected I didn’t even know where to start.

The Lord is so patient with us. In a kind and gentle way he encouraged me to just start with something.

“State your dreams.”

So one night, I thought real hard, closed my eyes and squeezed out, “Lord, I want to go on a missions trip with my husband.” I felt like I had just dropped a bomb and waited for the fallout.

THE NEXT DAY….isn’t God crazy like that…..THE NEXT DAY WE GOT A CALL! Not only were we invited to go to Mexico with a group, it was all expenses paid, AND (here’s the kicker) the guy had thought of inviting us the night before AT THE SAME TIME I WAS PRAYING! Glory!

I think the Lord gets such a kick out of doing this to us. That began a series of me stating a dream, and in an instant, him making it happen. I was shocked! He kept saying,

“Dream bigger, Season!”

But it was hard! I felt like I couldn’t dream too big. I had lived a great life. I had gotten all the things I thought I wanted….was there room for more?!

I was under the false impression that we can only experience so much goodness until we meet some kind of Christian quota and we can’t have any more or it would be bad.

WRONG!

The Lord has taught me that it’s his joy and delight to give good gifts to his children when we connect to him and are in line with his heart. It’s the same with our own kids. When they earn our trust with what we give them, they can have more.

I have come into a season where the big dreams I have stated to the Lord are really coming true. It’s taken a lot of trust, patience, prayer and deep connection with Him, but it’s all real and it’s all happening on His time. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

As I write this, friends, it’s for two reasons.

First, I want you to hear what the Lord is saying. It’s time to dream. And for some of you, it’s time to dream again. He wants you to know that he cares so much about your old, dusty dreams. He loves to make them a reality! All it takes is a turning to him! That’s the thing. In all this that I’ve gone through, he’s asked me to rely totally on him and not try to make my dreams happen on my own. That’s been so hard!! When I asked what I needed to do for these things to become a reality he simply said,

“Look at me.”

He wants you to lean in. Cuddle deep into the arms of the Father and rest. Tell your daddy in heaven your heart’s desires and watch what happens.

The other reason I am sharing this with you is for my own development. I hear the Lord saying, again,

“You’re not done, Season. Dream bigger.”

Dream with me friends,

Joyfully,

Season

Joy Bringer’s Advent

Faith, joy

Just another day

As I was driving to pick up my daughter, I didn’t want to be in the car one more second! I drove almost 100 miles that day but never went farther than 3 miles! 3 MILES AT A TIME AND LOGGED 100 MILES!!

Here’s what it looked like…

3 school drop offs

1 kid back home because she was too sick to go

To Work

Left work to go to, Dollar store, drug store, post office, 3 different grocery stores

Back to work

2 school pick ups and drop off at home

Back to work

Home from work

Took 1 kid to youth group (back at work)

Picked up kid from youth group (at work)

Back home

It was a good day, don’t get me wrong, but it was certainly a day full of running. As I got up the energy to get back in the car to, once again, head back to work to pick up my daughter from youth group, I made the conscious decision to be filled with gratitude. But in all honesty, it was 10 pm and I was battling weariness from the day. It would have been easier to be focused on the negative, but I’ve been there and it doesn’t actually help. So instead, I began to thank the Lord for everything in front of me.

Thank you Lord for,

-my car!

-the gas in my car!

-the ability to drive

-street lights that work

-pavement to drive on

-drivers on the road who obey the rules

The list went on until my daughter got in the car. At the same time she hopped in, my phone notified me that I had a FB message. It was a direct message from a gentleman who goes to my church. I had never received a message from him and seeing that it was 10:15 pm, I was curious. He told me that he felt led to send me a song….As we pulled into the garage and my daughter got out of the car, I clicked on the link to listen to it.

It was an old gospel song….I mean old! I had never heard of it, but as it played I started to laugh.

Just another day that my Lord has kept me, yes it is
Just another day that I've been in my saviour's care, yes it is
Wanna say he threw his loving arms all around me, yes he did
And there I found peace and joy right there

Another day, I've been working in Gods vineyard, oh yeah
Another day, you know he kept me by his side, oh yeah
He said I know just how hard you've been laboring, mm hmm
He said I want you to sit down and rest a while 

I replied to the gentleman and asked when he thought to send this to me. He told me he felt the Lord nudge him with that around 10 pm….right when I was being grateful to the Lord for the little things! Thankful for just another day!

How sweet is the Lord!? He was so faithful to meet me in that praise and gratitude. He was generous to encourage me as I chose to focus on the small stuff when I really wanted to focus on grumbling about my crazy day of driving and non-stop and, frankly feeling very much unappreciated.

God is so good! He sees us! He knows us! He even uses other willing servants to deliver sweet messages of love to us.

When you are weary and the desire to grumble and complain, when life feels overwhelming, choose gratitude! Even if you can’t think of anything to be grateful for, try being thankful for the mundane, the laws of nature, or even the simple (but powerful) heartbeat inside you.

The truth is that the Lord does everything with JOY. There is never a moment when God gripes about you or feels anything other than delight over you. Let’s partner with the Father and turn grumbling into gratitude.

Grateful for just another day,

Season

Faith, joy

Broke and holy?

I LOVE a bargain….can I get an amen?! For me it’s even deeper than that. I REALLY LOVE to get things on the cheep. I mean, I don’t want to buy it unless it is under $20, but $10 is even better! It shocks me at how much things cost, and when you know you can find it (or a version of it) for less, why pay more!? Isn’t that some store’s slogan?  I mean really, why pay more?!?!

How many of us, when complemented on something we have on or an item in our homes, respond with “dude, this was 10 bucks at Target on clearance!!” We all giggle and high five each other over our ability to find a steal. And it’s fun! We love to save our family’s money and still look great. We love to treasure hunt for that great piece to go on the side table in the living room and brag about it. To me it’s the equivalent of bragging about catching the big one….but it’s not a fish, it’s the perfect black sweater for under $12.

Maybe it’s because I have always been on a tight budget…a theatre actor turned pastor, both not known for the lucrative paycheck. I have petty much always worked for not-for-profit companies (churches and most theatres). There is a very different sensibility of how money is spent because the majority of that money comes from donations.

But something has come to my attention of late and I’ve really been wrestling with it. I don’t think it’s just that I want to save money or enjoy the thrill of the bargain hunt. I think there is something in me that isn’t comfortable with the idea of spending the money because I don’t believe I’ll ever have it. Or, that I don’t deserve it. It’s called the poverty spirit. Now, I’m not about to preach the prosperity gospel and claim that the Lord wants all of us to drive fancy cars and have privet jets. But what I have discovered about myself is that somewhere along the line I decided that being poor is more holy. And I love holiness. I love being set apart for the Lord. I don’t want anything to get in the way of my communion with God so I don’t embrace the things that would distract me….like money… right?! Wrong!

Money isn’t evil…poverty isn’t holy.

I’ve discovered that I have believed the lie that being poor, or living without, is more holy than having money. I’m thinking, and probably have said something like, “I’m broke for Jesus!” It’s not surprising that that notion is out there. Monks and nuns (those we often point to as the most holy) take vows of poverty. Then it most be holy!

But the truth is, it’s all a heart issue. The Lord wants all of my heart and yours. His message was never, money is evil and poverty is holy. Rather, his question is, to whom or what does your heart belong? Contrary to my thinking, spending $12 or $85 on a prefect black sweater doesn’t matter to the Lord. What matters to him is that I trust him. He actually enjoys when I treat myself to a cute new shirt…he thinks I’m adorable in it! He’s a good father! He gives good gifts to his children. He delights in us and wants us to be tethered to his heart.

I’m doing my best to break the agreement with the spirit of poverty and walk in freedom to receive all the blessings the Lord has for me. I will be cautious and steward well the money we earn or are given, but I will also stand tall and know that I’m not called to minimize my value or possibility in the name of holiness. I believe that I can be successful and we can have money all to that glory of God!

Rich with holiness,

Season