Embracing Life with Jesus…….

Embracing life. The past Friday’s Five Minute Friday prompt was “Embrace.” I initially had an idea I wanted to write about which was on embracing that following Jesus is simple, the concept of a simple life. I am reading a book by Richard Foster that is on the topic and talks about how it is paradoxical. Simple yet complex. That the disciplines of the Christian faith are simple, yet they are hard. The practicality of that paradox came out with the bump in the road of life happening before I even set down to write the prompt and I realized how the call to embrace life is one of those choices that has to be made. What life am I embracing? A life of ease? A life without the Lord Jesus at the center? A life with the Lord Jesus at the center? A life where I have embraced that I was redeemed from a judgment of death to a life of freedom and eternity with God Almighty. A life saved to live for Him.

Life will always have ups and downs, potholes, waves, curve balls – our society has a lot of different ways to describe when life doesn’t go according to “our plan”. I am challenged to look at myself how do I choose to embrace life? When life gets hard what is my default. Is it to bury my head in the sand? Is it to fill my time with distractions? Or will I pause and pray. The word embrace implies the holding onto, the grasping of. What do I want to grasp on to? As I process all of this more, I want to embrace the life of following Jesus.

The world sees the outward. The outer shell. It sees how we act. How we look. How we talk. How we respond. The world does not see the heart. The inner man’s dialog. The inner man’s true thoughts. Scripture tells us “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b (NKJV)

I am challenged to make the connection more and more between the heart (inner man) and what occurs for the world to see. There is a connection, the more I allow the light of Jesus, the Holy Spirit to work in me the more the inside should be looking like the outside and look more like Jesus. There is a tension between when life is smooth and life is rough to follow Jesus. Is this easy when life is going smooth? What about when life is rough? I don’t think its easier one way or the other, when the walk of life is bumpy our need for the Lord God Almighty often we see our need to stay embraced but not always. Sometimes we don’t want to face the struggle that is on the path but rather avoid it, go around it, ignore it, anything but lean into the tension of the bump and the unknown and the uncomfortable and allow God to use it to perfect us and show His glory to the world around us. On the same token when the path of life is smooth often we think we can handle this thing we call life rather than be thankful for the reprieve of the difficult and maintain a humble stance.

One of the definitions of embrace is to “put on” (Webster 1828). The definition brings to mind Colossians 3, where Paul talks about putting off the ways of the world and putting on the things of Christ, to “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Col. 3:12-14 (NKJV)

Embracing Jesus.

“If you then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on things on the earth.” Col. 3:1-2 (NKJV)

Simple. But not easy.

Follow. Obey. Be in the Word.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Col. 3:17 (NKJV)

Thoughts for the new year #2016 #bold

The new year is a time for goals, for resolutions, its the big “tomorrow” for changes wanted to be made.

Middle of January, and one of my resolutions is to be more consistent in my writing. Yet here I sit and this will be the first blog post of the year. Life is full. Full of busyness. Full of dramatic scenes. Full of peaceful scenes. Full of chaos and order. Full of variety. Reflecting on last year and wondering what this year will bring. If I am not careful I can waste the time of today wondering about the details of tomorrow.

Before me is the challenge of walking in faith, seeing God in the every day, the minute to minute. Looking for what He is doing. Joining Him. Letting Him see the mess of me and choose what we are going to work on. What do those goals and challenges look like? Here are a few of mine…… what are some of yours?

Physically:: working on exercising regularly, being specific about what I eat and how much I eat. Changing my habits to include less sugar, dairy, and grains. Not easy when I thoroughly enjoy cheeses, ice cream, and chocolate!

Spiritually:: being consistent in my time with Jesus in the word. Working on memorizing the Word into my heart. Growing and applying in different studies I do. I am working thru reading the Bible chronologically this year (old and new testament); it provides a different perspective. It takes discipline to make time with Jesus not a check box on the to do list of the day.

Organization of life, this seems to always be an ongoing battle. But each day provides an opportunity to tackle an area, improve, and build upon it.

Using my fringe hours to their maximum. Two ways I enjoy doing this is thru reading books and needlework projects. You can see here on the blog the latest book finishes as well as updates on the needlework projects.

Skills that I want to improve upon and use more…..writing and photography. This is definitely an area of growth for me and one that I have found myself quietly, contemplatively, and somewhat fearfully walking towards.

In each of these areas what God is showing me is that I need to trust Him more. Leaning in towards Him, trusting Him, and following Him.

Let us therefore come BOLDLY to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16 NKJV (emphasis mine)

2016: the word is BOLD
Bold in prayer.
Bold in goals.
Bold in trusting.
Bold in trust.
Bold in looking at my heart and life and letting God change me.
Bold in my willingness to do what God wants.
Bold in taking risks.
In praying more.
Bold in what I say.
Godly boldness, not a loud and look at me kind of bold; but that quiet, strong faith centered boldness.
Bold in tackling things I have put off (can you say procrastinator!)

Bold is at the opposite end of fear, of doubt, of worry. What is on the same end with bold? Courage. Strength. Trust. Faith.

And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.” Ephesians 6:19 NKJV

What are your goals for 2016? Do you have a one word for the year? Would love to hear your thoughts here on the blog.

Gail

The Struggle of Yes and No, I really do care!

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The dialogue in my head has gone something like this recently.

“You need to say no.”

“But I want to help. I could ……..”

“Is that the thing you should do though? Is that the best way to be helpful? Is that what God is asking you to do? Is that what you are supposed to do?”

Have you found yourself in a situation similar, an opportunity has arose and you have a choice to make? On one hand is the opportunity to say no, which is awkward, hard, seems right but seems so wrong. Or you have the opportunity to say yes, which seems easy, the right thing to do. Yet when you play out the scenario and lay it before the cross, what becomes clearer and clearer is that your answer should be no. As you see the no, you can almost sense the responses that will be given, the snowball effect, yet you also see Jesus asking you to trust and do what He is asking. Let go & say no.

It is difficult to say no.
It is hard to say no.
It does not always make sense.
Yet, the word no, can be the best tool to show that you care.

The word no, frees and challenges me. It challenges me to step out of the center of the situation so God can move. There are times that when I say yes I am really getting in the way of what God wants to do and delaying what He wants to happen next. Even typing that seems very paradoxical. It frees me from the pressure I have placed on myself to figure out the solution, to be the solution. I am not walking away from responsibility, I am simply being careful what responsibility I am taking on.

Lysa Terkerust in her book “The Best Yes” talks about the difference between confidence and conviction. Lysa says “It’s not a matter of gaining more confidence. It’s a matter of being more certain of our convictions. Confidence is being more certain of our abilities. Conviction is being more certain of God’s instructions.” (pg 148) In the situation I was walking and debating thru, it really was about my conviction of God’s instructions.

Praying for God to help me see clearly on what to do, where to go with the request before me, I started reading where I had left off in the book; what I read next was Lysa’s call to be strong and courageous and the reference to Joshua 1:7-9. I love when God sends Scripture my way, it is His word. Doesn’t get clearer than that, He loves to answer our questions, our cry for help & what better way than His word. I often miss His help because I think it should be something grandiose.

Joshua 1:7-9 says this “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (NIV)

The Israelites were about to enter into the Promise Land; they had just wandered the desert for 40 years because of their lack of faith. Here was an opportunity to try again. God told them to “be strong and very courageous.” He also told them to obey and not deviate from what He had told them to do.

I don’t see myself as very strong or that I have a lot of courage, yet that is what I am called to do. I love the last part of the verse, I can be strong, I can have a lot of courage because GOD is with me. He is walking with me. What an amazing reminder.

The God who created the world, is right here with me.
The God who walked on water, is right here with me.
The God who allowed Himself to die on the cross, take on my sins, conquer death, and rose again is right here with me.

Now why am I scared again?

Why am I hesitating?

Because I care.

I care what people think of me.
I care about the fall out of my choice.
I care about how people will see me when I make this choice.
I care about who will be effected by this choice.
I care about heart change.
I care about trajectory.
I care about God getting all the glory.
I care about all us being more like Jesus, even if it hurts.
I care about not getting in God’s way.

The question now becomes, which do I care about more? The painful disobedience that makes this about me & pleasing people OR the painful obedience that is striving to keep God at the center.

I would rather walk in painful obedience than in painful disobedience. Either decision is going to be painful, it will hurt. I choose painful obedience. The fruits of that choice outweighs choosing the painful disobedience.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9b

Today…..learning to follow, listen and obey; trusting in the ONE who loves me and HE loves you too.

#thebestyes,

“Quotes from The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst, Copyright 2014”  You can grab a copy at http://goo.gl/ZFUZbD

Scripture quotations taken from the The Holy Bible, New International Version
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Copyright 2014 Gail Campbell

Delight

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Sparkling.

Peaceful.

Stormy.

Green.

Brown.

All the colors of the rainbow.

Nature. I can tell if I am slowing down and enjoying life by my response to nature and creation around me. When I am busy and not restful, I miss the creation around me. The sun shining. The rays of sun breaking thru the clouds of the northwest. The stormy winds whipping the waves up. The calmness of a summer day when the water is still. The birds playing.

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Our backyard is still an array of flowers and plants growing. You can see the plants beginning to finish up their growing season & preparing for winter, but still there is new growth & flowers appearing. To be still and take notice of the world around us. Life has seasons. Sometimes its growth evident to all. Other times its pruning, cutting back so that the growth is healthy and continues. Winter is often the hardest time because nature looks like it is asleep. Yet without a seed dying how can it become a plant and transform into what God designed it. Learning to delight in each season of life we find ourselves in. Learning to rest in Him. Learning to trust Him deeper than before. He sees, He hears, He answers. He loves me. He loves you. It’s hard to see and understand sometime that God loves me so much He is allowing a season of pain, hurt, questioning. We learn more about God during those times in the great times. Mountains don’t go just up, they also go down. In between mountains, are other terrains such as a valley, a dessert, possibly a river.

Delight in today. In all of its highs. All of its lows. Take account of the world around us and let’s delight in it. Let us equip ourselves to find joy in our day.

An Early Summer Morning

This morning as I journaled and read my Bible, I watched the world lazily wake up. It matched my mood; hard to wake up. Summer on the peninsula usually means an overcast morning and then it burns off to enjoy the direct warmth of the sunshine. Today is no different. I don’t want that to be the descriptor of my day. Its a new day with a new adventure awaiting it; yet a tad apprehensive is how I would describe myself at the moment. Apprehension, anxiety and worry are struggles I have had my entire life and I find I have to implement various strategies each time it raises its ugly head so that it doesn’t dictate my day or my thoughts. I find it tends to be a struggle when I don’t show myself grace and there are steps I need to do and/or when I am unsure of where I stand with people in my world. Neither of these are truth based, but I am beginning to recognize the trigger and that is half the battle. It loses its foothold. I have a choice. Will I let my struggle to not worry and to be confident in who I am dictate how my day goes OR will I choose to shift my perspective .

Today I choose to believe that I am….
A woman loved by God.
A woman not defined by her circumstance.
Saved by Grace thru Jesus’ work on the cross, and nothing I do or did myself.
Following Jesus on this walk called life; learning, growing, listening to His voice telling me which way to go.
Not perfect, nor am I expected to be perfect. Mind – cut yourself some slack.
Learn from my mistakes. Grow. Don’t let it hold me back from being real and authentic with the world around me.
I able to love like Jesus loved.
To have joy & be thankful in all things.
A woman who will take her concerns & her thoughts to the feet of Jesus.
Walking with Jesus, His yoke is light. He has this. He has my day.

When I look at the world around me will I see the cloudy, dreary sky OR will I see how the red on the plum tree is darker & crisper? Will I see the problems I need to tackle today OR opportunities to connect with others, problem solve and learn? When I feel my blood pressure raise, a sigh want to escape, a inkling to worry or stress will I let those rise to the front OR will I choose to be thankful, choose to have joy, choose to lean into Jesus and not my own strength?

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Today I hope others see and experience His hope, His love, His grace, His peace, His mercy, His kindness, His gentleness, His patience thru their interactions with me.

“Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. ” Philippians 4:6-8 NKJV

 

Thoughts from an early morning

IMG_0902“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.” (Ps 145:3)

Unsearchable. God’s greatness is unsearchable; unable to clearly understand. There are a lot of phrases that I would use to describe God’s greatness but that is not one of the first ones that comes to mind. Something happens to the spirit when we pause and ponder God’s greatness. All that there is to praise Him about. Yet words and our human understanding do not completely comprehend His greatness.

Life ebbs and flows. We have three boys still at home and they keep us very busy. Work keeps us busy. When life is discouraging, looking to God’s greatness allows something powerful to happen. It encourages. It brings hope. It strengthens.

“The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.”(Ps. 145:8-9)

No matter what the day brings today, God is gracious and full of compassion. What a powerful reminder. An aspect of His greatness and a model for how I should be living and interacting with the people around me.

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Ps 145:18)

The Lord is near. Not far. Not at an arms distance.

Near.

Right here. Walking with me. Leading the way.

Life can be daunting and overwhelming at moments. It is full of highs and full of lows. Failures and successes. Laughter and tears.
Life seems anything but consistent at times. It can be easy and then it can be difficult.

Yet.

I have the promise that Jesus is near.
I have the truth that God is great.
That He is gracious.
He is full of compassion.
He is good.
He loves me.

No matter what the day brings, I know that Jesus is right here walking with me.

When its “one of those days”

“What if the Lord had not been on our side? Let all Israel repeat: What if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us? They would have swallowed us alive in their burning anger. The waters would have engulfed us; a torrent would have overwhelmed us. Yes, the raging waters of their fury would have overwhelmed our very lives. Praise the Lord, who did not let their teeth tear us apart! We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap. The trap is broken, and we are free! Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Ps 124 (NLT)

“What if the Lord had not been on our side? “ v1

Have you ever woken up and a series of things will happen and without effort your day will become one that is responding to the ‘emergencies’ that have arose.

What do you do? Do you allow the situation(s) to shape your attitude, your day? Or do you find a way to lean in & not let it dictate how the day goes. Its a struggle to not make the outcome of the day from the response of the situations.

This was the scripture I was reading on a day that I was having “one of those days”, and I was reminded of a couple of things.

1 – The Lord is on my side. In that statement I find comfort. Peace. Security. A reminder that I am joining Jesus on His mission. That I am following Him, as long as I follow very closely no matter what hill, rock, valley or mountain top we need to climb, if I trip He is right there.

2 – Rest in Jesus. A wide variety of things can happen in day. The list in this Psalm range from raging water to war; it mentions ‘overwhelms’. Because He is on my side I don’t have reason to be overwhelmed. HE is right there. I need to hold on.

Practically I choose to live this out by
1 – Praying thru each moment I am threatened to be overwhelmed.
2 – Following very close to Jesus
3 – Reminding myself when it feels overwhelming or that the situation wants to take over that my help is from the creator of the universe & He is on my side. He will guide & walk with me thru each and every step of this day. I serve a God that has my back & loves me. There is no fear in that love.

Some days I have to be more intentional with these steps, and others not so much. I am so thankful that Jesus is right there. That nothing surprises Him. He knew all the details before we got there. Growth and change come from walking thru the hard times & celebrating the amazing things God is and has done.

A Reason for Growing

This year has sped by. So many things that were on my radar to do but yet for one reason or another I have not gotten to them. My writing is one that I have chosen to let take the back seat. It has been an interesting journey this year. I know that I have been called to write. To stop & see what God has for me in it. To choose to let it be a part of who I am, to invest in it – not ignore it. I wonder what stops me from working on it? I think it is my pride.

As a leader, my pride is something that Jesus has brought before me to be brought in check. It’s easy to see ourselves as the only solution. To think that we are the ones suited to do something best, but how is that being a servant. It is not. I think I let my pride also rear its in head in keeping me from trying things because I choose to let fear of others reactions and responses dictate what I should be doing. Or I see how far others are and believe I will never get there. None of these ways that pride shows up is good. They both take Jesus out of being the center and following Him and place me in the center.

Learning to follow Jesus means I learn.
I learn to listen to His small voice.
I learn to be flexible.
I learn to be stretched.
I learn to grow.
I learn its not all about me.

Cause me to hear your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.“
Psalms 143:8 NKJV

“Cause me to” this phrase grabs my senses. Its not something that I do but God does for me. I want to see Him at work in me, drawing me near to Him.

Cause me to have…..
Curiosity for what Jesus is doing.
Boldness to share what He is doing in my life.
Courage to act.
Courage to live out what He has called me to do.
Courage to lead right where I am.

Cause me to hear and to know Jesus’…
Love
Grace
Power
Leadership

To walk where Jesus walks.  To follow Jesus so closely that when I stumble I stumble right into Him.

Reflecting on 2013 & Readying for 2014

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Trust

It’s what God has taught me a lot about this past year and is stretching me to embrace in the year to come.

Trusting Him to take risks of faith.

Trust that HE is good.

Trust that His Presence is ever present.

Trust that He loves me so much that He does not want me to NOT grow. Growth requires change. Requires some pain. Requires loosening my grip on my plans so that I can trust that God’s plan is better. Reaching farther. Pointing others to Him. Trusting Him for my confidence and security. Trusting Jesus to help me see Jesus in all I meet.

One of the biggest lessons in trust that I have learned this year is about letting God do what He wants with what I have to offer. Choosing to trust that He will walk by me, walk with me, and guide me when HE speaks. Obedience comes in many different forms, many different requests; but it boils down to “do I trust Him, do I trust Him enough to say YES.”

See my trust in Jesus shows my love for him. Why? Because when I trust, I obey. I walk. I don’t question –but act. I listen. I lean in even when it’s tough. Because I love Him, I trust that He is bigger than my fears.

As I approach the beginning of 2014, Jesus is asking me to trust Him more; to continue to seek His face as never before; to obey & step out in faith – believing and trusting that HE has ME.

HE has me in His arms, in His sight, wrapped in His love.

HE is calling me to abide & remain in HIM.

Abiding in Him means going where He goes; I don’t think we are going to stay where I am comfortable. An amazing adventure awaits this year.  When we are willing to trust Jesus. Trust that He loves us. To believe & take it to heart; the blessings we will experience and the redemption will be many.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. John 15:14 (ESV)

Will you join me on this adventure in abiding? What is Jesus calling you to in 2014? Will you trust Him for it?

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