Silence and Solitude

I can hardly believe we are at week 6 of this study!  Last night at our small group we all agreed that out of all of the weeks, this week may be the hardest.  Being silent to pursue God is different than being silent so I can think or plan.  I’m excited to see how God draws me to Himself in greater ways this week!

 

Week 6: Silence and Solitude

In quietness and trust is your strength Isaiah 30:15

“By periodically distancing ourselves from schedules, noises, and crowds, we become less captivated by the demands and expectations of others and more captivated by the purposes of God.  In this way, we measure and define ourselves in terms of what God thinks rather than what people think..” -Kenneth Boa

Silence involves learning to keep our mouth quiet while solitude is simply abstaining from people’s company.  Both these disciplines were seen multiple times through Jesus’ ministry on earth.  He began his ministry by retreating to the desert for 40 days.  He spent the night alone in the hills before He began choosing His disciples. He fed the 5000 and then he retreated to pray.  Over and over again we see Jesus retreating into solitude and silence so that He can communicate and listen to God.  If Jesus saw the need for time away, we can definitely understand the importance of practicing solitude and silence.

Silence is defined as setting aside regular times to be quiet and always involves the act of listening.  This could be as little as 10 minutes a day or as much as a whole month!  This type of silence is simply a time for us to quiet the thoughts that seem to shout at us during the day and listen to God.

But silence doesn’t just have to be in time increments.  We can also practice situational silence.  Situational silence teaches us how to speak in moderation.  This involves making an effort to control your tongue and simply be silent instead of having the last word in a discussion,  or making sure our opinion is heard, or interrupting others to tell our thoughts, or even silencing the mind and truly paying attention to what others are saying.   Situational silence is an excellent way to learn wisdom about when to speak and when to hold your tongue.

Both solitude and silence are essential as we pursue Christ simply because it quiets our soul and gets us out of the way so we can begin to hear God.  Richard Foster describes solitude as “inner fulfillment”.

And don’t get stuck thinking that solitude is a place you must go to!  Solitude is more of a state of mind and heart than it is a place.  Once you learn to quiet your heart and mind, you can practice solitude anywhere!

 

Activity #1: Discovering Our Fears

  • Spend time praying and asking God to reveal any fears you may have about being alone.  Are you lonely, afraid of losing control, feeling helpless when you don’t speak, afraid of what others will think of you if you don’t speak?  Are these fears driving you to pursue crowds and noise instead of time with God?  Talk with God about your fears and surrender them to Him.  Ask Him to teach you how to be alone and silent and learn to trust Him more.

 

Activity #2: Taking Advantage of the Small Moments

  • Take “little” steps into solitude today.  The few moments when you wake up but before you get out of bed, quiet your mind and heart before God.  The drive to work, shut the radio off and enjoy the silence and solitude of your car. The few moments when all the kids mouths are full of food and they are quiet, enjoy the few minutes of silence.  There are many little moments of silence throughout the day that we often miss.  Make an effort to find those moments today and use them to quiet yourself before the Lord.

 

Activity #3: Situational Silence

  • Think through the idea of situational silence.  Do you have a tendency or feel the need to always state your opinion?  Do you find yourself not really listening when others are talking?  Spend a few quiet moments with the Lord and ask Him to reveal to you areas where you need to practice situational silence.

  • Then all day long, make an effort to only speak when ABSOLUTELY necessary.   At the end of the day, journal your thoughts and feelings as you held your tongue.  Was it freeing?  Did it make you feel helpless?  Try doing this activity every day this week and see if your feelings and thoughts change as the week progresses.

Activity #4: Extended Solitude

  • Find 1-3 hours this week where you can escape from all people and responsibilities.  Turn your phone off and simply be still before the Lord.  It may feel uncomfortable and awkward at first because we have programmed ourselves to need noise and constant communication, but don’t give up!

  • Write down your dreams and goals for the next week, month, or year.  Talk to God about those dreams and listen for His voice as you seek refreshment in His presence.

 

Downside Up

This book is a self-help type book written from a Christian perspective. I received this book free of charge in exchange for my review, and I initially thought this book would be pretty surface level, but I found myself truly enjoying her perspectives, insights, and understanding of interpersonal relationships.  I was presently surprised at the depth of this book and how each chapter was extremely practical and insightful. In fact, at times I found myself unable to put the book down, and I think I’ve discussed this book and things I’ve learned with almost everyone I have had a conversation with recently =)

Mitchell does an excellent job tackling hard and emotional issues while giving the reader practical steps to overcome the pitfalls of life, and overall I strongly recommend this book and truly enjoyed reading it.

Fasting

Week 4: Fasting

“The purpose of fasting is to loosen to some degree the ties which bind us to the world of material things and our surroundings as a whole, in order that we may concentrate all our spiritual powers upon the unseen and eternal things.”  -Ole Hallesby

Fasting is such a great way to abstain from food or certain activities (such as watching TV or participating in other activities) IN ORDER to replace that time with pursuing God.  By denying our self and our own desires, God will not only begin to reveal sin in our life we may not even know was there, we will also begin to learn to be content with God when we don’t get what we want and to rely on Him to meet our needs.

Fasting is essentially dying to self and learning to trust God.  We need to learn to still be cheerful and content by the power of the Holy Spirit instead of by the power of chocolate, or FB comments, or instagrams likes.

The danger of fasting is that it can quickly become more about you than about God because you are the one who will feel the sting of fasting.  So start small and daily check your heart and remind yourself you are fasting SO THAT you can meet with God.

Activity #1:  Time Audit:

  • Every 30 minutes write down what you did.  Include every time you check your email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, search the web, watch TV, text,  or eat snacks.  At the end of the day, notice what you spend the majority of your time doing or eating.  Is there something that seems to consume most of your time or thoughts?  Pray and ask God if there is something on your list He desires you to “fast” from so that you can seek Him instead of the “thing” you have been doing.

Activity #2: Fasting

  • Decide on one thing you are going to “fast” from and how long you will fast from it.  Every time you start to crave what you are fasting from (either an activity or food), go through one of the prayer or meditation activities from the previous 2 weeks.  Remember, we are fasting in order to seek God so train yourself to look to Him and rely on Him when fasting gets difficult.

Activity #3:  Breathe Prayers

  • Throughout your fast, practice “breathe prayers”.  As you breathe out, you pray short phrases reminding you of God’s goodness and character.  “strong and cheerful”   “trusting God today”  “God will sustain me”

Activity #4: Journal

  • At the end of every day you fast, journal your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and anything you learned.  Spend time talking with God about what you felt during the day.

 

This week begins a week of intentionally denying something in order to seek God more.  As I spent a week meditating and memorizing God’s word last week, it was already really clear to me I needed to fast from FB, twitter, and games on my phone.  The Lord quickly revealed to me this past week how I turn to those things when I get stressed.  So this week I’m focusing on turning to God, instead of those things, when life gets crazy.  What about you?

Meditation

I am not sure what it is about the area we live in, but the internet is very unreliable here.  In fact, over the past 48 hours, EVERY time I have opened my computer to post this, the internet has died in the middle of the post.  You don’t realize how much you use the internet until its unavailable =)  But here is Week 3…better late than never.

Week 3: Meditation

“What happens in meditation is that we create the emotional and spiritual space which allows Christ to construct an inner sanctuary in the heart.” -Richard Foster

Sometimes when we hear the word “meditation”, we think of all the Eastern religions in the world.  We picture humming, legs crossed, eyes closed, and an attempt to empty our mind of everything.  This is NOT what Christian meditation is all about!

Christian meditation is an attempt to fill our mind with Christ.  We meditate in order to detach from the world around us and attach to God.  It is in this “attaching”, that we are able to make heart changes which allow us to begin to think the thoughts of God, delight in His presence, and desire His way and His truth in our life.

But meditation is not easy.  You must truly dedicate yourself this week to this practice while removing those things that may distract you.  Meditation is different than Bible study.  It is a slow process.  One of my favorite authors, Dietrich Bonhoeffer,  states, “often we are so burdened and overwhelmed with other thoughts, images, and concerns that it may take a long time before God’s Word has swept aside and come through…This is the very reason why we begin our meditation with the prayer God may send His Holy Spirit to us through His Word and reveal His Word to us and enlighten us.”

By committing to meditate on God’s word this week, you are committing to hear and obey God.  He will speak to you as you sit with Him.  Not because you have special abilities or because you do things right, but simply because you are willing to listen to him!

Begin each activity by praying and asking God to give you the desire and ability to meditate.  Then find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted! (no TV, no phone, no husband, no kids) I know it may be difficult to find a quiet space, but really try this week!  Ask your husband, your neighbor, or your family for help.  Get up early or stay up late.  Do the activities in the shower when you are by yourself.  Lock yourself in a closet.  Get desperate and truly make an effort to connect to God through meditation this week.

Activity #1: Using Your Imagination

  • Take a single event, parable, or simply a few verses in one of the Gospels and read it multiple times.  Close your eyes and let your imagination truly experience the passage.  Think through the emotions you would have felt if you have been present during this event.  Truly engage your senses as you visualize this scripture passage.

Activity #2: Turning things Over to God/Receiving from God

  • Sit or stand in a quiet place and quiet your heart before the Lord.  Think about something that is bothering you, causing anxiety, or is simply on your mind multiple times throughout the day.  Place your palms down and state (either aloud or in your thoughts) “I realize _____ is consuming me.  I give _____ to you Lord.”   Then turn your hands palm up and tell God you are ready to receive from him what He desires for you.  This is something that may need to be done throughout the day whenever you feel the concern, the emotion, or the stressor creeping into your thoughts.

Activity #3: Connecting to God Through Nature

  • Talk a long walk through God’s creation.  While you are walking, truly notice how intricate  and beautiful God has created all things.  Spend time in His presence just marveling at His beauty.

Activity #4: Meditating on Scripture

  • The scripture tells us to hide God’s word in our heart THAT we might not sin against Him. (Ps 119:11)  Simply memorizing and meditating on scripture can keep us from choosing sin throughout the day.  It also gives us access to God’s thoughts, wisdom, and ideas as we walk through our day!

  • Pick a short passage of scripture.  Try  Ps 121 and memorize and meditate on God’s glory.  Or use your concordance and pick verses that directly deal with a specific topic of your choice.  The choice of the passage is up to you.  The point is to have God’s word in your mind continually throughout the day.

    • Helpful hints when trying to memorize

      • If you have a smartphone, you can use the verse as your screen lock. Your phone is usually with you, so you can review the verse throughout the day on your phone.   If you don’t have a smartphone, write the verse on various notecards and place them in your car, on your mirror, outside your shower, on the fridge, at your desk, on your computer screen, etc…

      • Every time you stop at a red light, review your verse.

      • Before you open your computer to check email, FB, twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or whatever, review your verse.

      • Before you go to sleep at night, review your verse.

Activity #5: End of the evening meditation:

  • Let the last thought of the day be of Christ.  Instead of watching TV or playing on the computer, decide to let the last thoughts of your night be ones focused on Christ.  As you lay down in your bed, picture yourself wrapped in the peace of Christ.  You might even want to go through a prayer such as the one below….

 

“In peace I will lie down, for it is you, O Lord, You alone who makes me to rest secure.”

 

Two weeks of intentionally seeking God and meeting with a group of women who hold me accountable and push me towards a deeper relationship with Christ has been incredible.  I have noticed my thought patterns and my attitude/frustration level has radically changed.  Cannot wait to jump into week 3 and watch God continue to work in me and through me!

 

 

Then Sings My Soul book 3

Then Sings My Soul book 3 is a great collection of hymns.  Robert J. Morgan has divided this book into sections containing  biblical hymns, ancient hymns, medieval hymns, German hymns, English hymns, Gospel songs, and contemporary praise.  These sections make the book easy to read and helpful to better understand and simply enjoy the hymns.

I bought this book for my husband who is a worship pastor.  He absolutely loved this book and used it as a resource for his job. Overall I would recommend this book and have truly enjoyed reading it.

 

 

I received this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a review.

Pursuing the Study of God’s Word

Week 2: Study

“I have never known someone leading a spiritually transformed life who has not been deeply saturated in scripture” -John Ortberg

Reading Scripture is a discipline that is so vitally important but yet is often pushed to the side.  However, studying God’s words is what will transform our minds.  Paul urges us in Philippians 4:8 to think about whatever is noble, true, pure, praiseworthy, or excellent.  The analyzing of scripture is one of the first ways that we can begin to condition our mind to really think these thoughts.

As we truly concentrate on scripture and then comprehend a verse or verses in a new way, we begin to understand God’s desire for us and can discern His will for our life more.  Study leads to a freedom that only comes from a deeper knowledge of who God is. So before you start the activities this week, take some time to pray and ask the Lord to open your mind to comprehend what He wants to say to you this week.

Why Do We Study the Bible:

  • We desperately need to know how the Bible intersects with our life

  • We don’t want just head knowledge ABOUT God, we want to truly come to know the God of the scriptures which will lead us to fall more in love with Him which in turn makes us live with a deeper commitment to God.

  • We engage our minds and focus our attention on the scriptures in order to understand and apply the truth of the scriptures to our lives

  • We desire to live in freedom.  The “truth” of the scriptures permeating our souls is what will set us free.   “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free”  John 8:32

  • Study produces joy.  It may be difficult at first, but given practice you will find great joy in a deliberate, intentional, focused study of God’s Word.

 

This Week’s Activities:

 

Activity #1: Set Aside Study Time

  • Think through your week and pick a time during the day when you will put aside everything else that vies for your attention and will spend time in the Word.  Make it the same time every day so you will remember,  and it will become part of your daily schedule.  Be very careful to not just check it off your daily list though!  Really enter into your study time with a humble heart seeking after God.

  • After you have picked a time, text your group members and tell them when you will be intentionally studying the scriptures this week so they can be praying for you.  Make sure you pray for your group members during their designated time as well!!

Activity #2: Pick a New Method to Study Scripture

  • Experiment with new ways to read the scriptures this week. Pick one of the methods below or try them all!

    • Artist Method:  Pick a short passage of scripture and slowly read it three or more times.  Try reading it aloud, rewriting it in your own words, or simply visualizing the scene as you read the passage. Then, read your passage a final time and draw a heart around the word that speaks to your heart.  Draw a light bulb next to the new thought or idea that occurs as a result of your reading.  Draw a hand beside the words that push you to action.

    • Detective Method:  Read a short narrative passage from the gospels. Imagine the scene.  Observe the facts.  Ask the questions who, when, where, and what.  Once you have the facts, interpret the facts and ask the why and how questions.  Decide what the characters’ actions means.  Then apply all that knowledge to you….how does this change your life today?

    • Lectio Divina:  (You can do this on www.examen.me on any of their scripture examens or you may write in your journal)

  1. Start with silence before the Lord.  Simply sit in His presence and focus on Him.

  2. Read a short passage of scripture slowly out loud.  Stop on any word or phrase that resonates with you.  Think about that word or phrase knowing those are God’s words for you today.

  3. Read the passage again and listen for how this passage can apply to your life today.  Use your imagination and all your senses to put yourself in the scene as you think through what it would have been like to experience this passage first hand.

  4. Read the passage a third time and listen closely to see if God is calling you to respond in a particular way.  Allow the Word of God to lead you in an honest and open time of prayer.

Activity #3: Concentrating on One Book

  • Pick one book of the Bible and read through the entire book every day this week.  If this is a new practice for you, start in a smaller book such as Philemon or I, II, or III John.

  • Every day as you read, make a note in your journal of anything you noticed or things that stood out.

  • Read expecting to find new thoughts or ideas every day.

  • Really concentrate on the words and take your time as you read.  Read the entire book in one sitting as well.  Don’t just read a few verses throughout the day.

  • At the end of the week, go back through your observations from each day and note anything you learned or experienced.

Activity #4: Word Study

  • Look at a passage of scripture.  Preferably one that is a bit familiar to you.   Read through the passage slowly and pick one word in that passage that seems to stand out to you.

  • Use either the concordance in the back of your Bible or an online concordance and find where that word is used in other places in scripture.

  • Notice how the word is used in different verses.  After reading many verses containing the same word, do you notice any patterns?  themes? Did you get a deeper understanding of what that word really means?

  • Journal what you discovered about your word

Activity #5: Character Study

  • Pick a character from the Bible

  • Using a concordance, read every verse that mentions this person in the Bible.

  • Write out verses that stand out

  • Note in your journal what you noticed, discovered, and came to understand about this particular person.

 

Some websites you may want to use to study:   www.biblestudytools.com,   www.biblegateway.com,   www.biblesuite.com,  www.blueletterbible.org

 

Prayer

“The person who wants to arrive at…spirituality has to leave the crowd behind and spend some time with Jesus” -Thomas Kemp

Summer sets itself up to be a lazy, relaxful, vacation filled few weeks.  I don’t know about you, but summer also becomes the few weeks out of the year where my spiritual and physical discipline seem to fade.  There’s just something about summer that makes me want to sleep late, schedule nothing, and completely live in a spontaneous, do whatever I feel like at that moment, state.

Which I’m not entirely sure is a bad thing.  Relaxing and just enjoying God’s creation is good…as long as you continue to pursue the One who truly gives you rest.

So this week I’m pursuing Christ by focusing on prayer.   I’ve been making prayer cards, setting the timer throughout the day to remind me to pray, and ending my day with prayer…all things that can be done around a swimming pool, on the back porch, or sitting in my PJs sipping a cup of coffee.  A perfect study for lazy summer days!

I shared the study with you last week, but I’m going to post each week’s focus every Tuesday as well.  I hope you will join me as I learn to truly seek Christ’s presence every second of every day so that Christ can continue to change me to be more like Him.

Week 1: Prayer:

“Prayer-secret, fervent, believing prayer-lies at the root of all personal goodness” William Carey

What is Prayer: Prayer can be bringing requests to God, being quiet with God, listening to God, waiting on God, or even bringing questions to God.  Simply put it is “thinking in the presence of God”.  It is not difficult to pray.  Prayer does not require a lot of words or emotions or feelings.  It is simply honest and open communication with God about whatever is on your heart or occupying your mind.  Prayer is what pushes us into communion with God.

And communion with God is what we are desiring!  So as you practice this week’s activities, learn to still yourself and pray as you feel God leads you.  Don’t be intimidated, and even if it feels weird at first, keep going!  We must never wait until we feel like praying or even like we are good at praying.  Just pray!  And trust that God hears you, loves you, and is listening.

 

Activity #1:  Prayer cards

  • Get 5 note cards/sticky notes/ or small pieces of paper.

  • On the front side of each card, write an activity you do daily that does not require you to talk to someone else (shower, load/unload dishwasher, brush teeth, drive, cook, eat, etc…) You should have 5 different cards with 5 different activities (1 activity per card)

  • Now flip the cards over to the back.  On each card, write 1 prayer request.  (a different prayer request per card)

You have now just attached a prayer to 5 different daily activities you complete.  Today as you walk through your day, every time you do one of the activities, pray the prayer you attached to it.  (For Example:  Shower = marriage….As I shower, I focus my mind on God and pray for my marriage)

Activity #2: Moments of Prayer

  • Today, set an alarm on your phone, microwave, computer, etc… to go off every 4 hours.  When the alarm goes off, stop for 3-5  minutes and simply focus your heart and mind on God and talk or listen to Him.

  • The next day, set the alarm to go off every 2-3 hrs and repeat the same activity

  • The third day, set the alarm to go off every hour to remind you to pray.

Make note of how easy/hard it is to stop throughout the day to pray.  The more we practice, the more we desire to be in God’s presence, and the easier it becomes to pray throughout the day.  Don’t give up if day 1 is hard! Simply wake up and try again.

Activity #3: Prayer of Examen

  • You can do this activity online or in your journal.  The Prayer of Examen is designed to be done at night after you have finished most of your day.  It is a time to simply sit with God and allow God to show you where you lived out what He has taught you and where you need to submit to Him a bit more.  It is amazing how peaceful your sleep will be when you end your evening this way!

  • Log on to www.EXAMEN.me.  This website is free and completely confidential.  NO ONE can see what you write.  If you create an account, it will save all your journal entries for you.  If you don’t want to create an account, simply scroll to the bottom of the screen and click, “start an Examen” and then choose “Prayer of Examen”.

  • Don’t want to go online?  Then answer the following questions in your journal

    • Begin by praying and asking the Lord to draw you into His presence

    • Next, look back over your day and thank the Lord for all the blessings He gave you throughout the day

    • Next, ask the Holy Spirit to give you the eyes to see your day as God saw it and not as your emotions or feelings would like it to be

    • Think back through your day and list all the areas where you lived out what Christ has asked of you.  Also note any areas where Christ may be teaching you.

    • Now, look for any areas where you may have fallen short or pursued your own agenda instead of God’s.  Spend some time confessing and talking to God about this.

    • Finally, end your prayer with The Lord’s Prayer.

 

Pushing Forward

Working out is one of my favorite pastimes.  I enjoy the challenge of pushing myself and the feeling of complete exhaustion and utter satisfaction when finished.

Yesterday’s workout was one of those grueling workouts where you think to yourself you kind of wish you would pass out so you didn’t have to finish.  Plus there were burpees….burpees are my workout nemesis.  Burpees in small amounts I can handle, but you start getting up into the hundreds amount, and I ALWAYS struggle.

The struggle first starts in my head…”I’ll  just not do them all…I really should listen to my body and just stop…”  Then the struggle goes physical and my legs start screaming and my stomach begins to feel like I need to start looking for a trash can.

Its crazy.  I could do the same workout with similar moves for a longer amount of time and not have any trouble.  But throw in those burpees, and I start to break down.

So back to yesterdays workout….120 Burpees thrown at the end of a grueling workout.  I truly didn’t want to finish.  I mean I had already done a pretty intense 40 minute workout; it wouldn’t be too bad if I just left out the burpees. But then my workout buddy stepped up next to me, and we started to do them together.  We got in this rythmn and just kept going until we finished.

What seemed impossible just moments earlier was now an accomplishment.  And the accomplishment was due to a sidekick; someone to step up next to me and take my mind off myself and push me to reach a goal.

I so often think of all the workout analagies that Paul uses throughout the Bible when I’m in the midst of one of these intense workouts.

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

The workouts are hard, I have to push myself to keep going, and most often I need a friend working out next to me in order for me to accomplish all I need to at that moment. The same is true for our walk with the Lord. We have to decide we want to pursue Christ, push ourselves to keep pursuing Him, and allow our friends around us to keep us going when life gets tough.

Its so easy to be content where we are spiritually.  Oftentimes, we fail to realize how much more God has to offer to us if we would just learn to walk with Him continually.  But it takes dedication and discipline to focus our hearts and minds on God continually.  You have to push yourself to get out of bed, to shut off the TV, to put Christ first when life seems to scream distractions at you. And most often, if you have a friend pushing toward Christ with you, you will keep walking forward and wouldn’t even think about standing still in your relationship with Christ.

That’s one of the reason I wrote this Bible study for the women at our church. I want us to join together, to discipline our hearts and minds, to chase hard after God, to learn to walk in His presence continually, and to do it in a group of women who will push us forward even when our minds and bodies want to quit.

So this summer, the women of Westwind are breaking up into small groups, meeting all over the city of Des Moines, and truly pushing into Christ as they intentionally add some spiritual disciplines in their life.  We are purposefully putting ourselves into a position where we can meet God, seek Him continually, and be changed by Him.

And we invite you to join us.

Just think what God could do in us and through us as we join together across the states and seek God.

What do you say?  You in?

 

“The Summer 7: in Pursuit of His Presence”


Hiding Among the Baggage

I Samuel 10 is such an interesting passage. As we read it, we get a glimpse of Saul that we don’t normally see. Usually Saul is portrayed as the over the top personality, and we only really hear stories of him after he goes crazy with his jealousy over David’s fame.

But 1 Samuel 10 is where his fame began, and Saul hid from it.

Samuel anoints Saul as king, prophesies over Saul, and predicts the events of the next several hours in order to convince Saul that God truly was anointing him.  But there had never been a king in Israel before, and Saul was not about to eagerly jump into the position.

Three important statements from this passage:

  1. “Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you”
  2. God gave him another heart.
  3. he has hidden himself among the baggage

Saul was anointed, changed into a new man, had the Spirit of God rush upon him, and he knew exactly what God had called him to do, but yet he still hid among the baggage.

I’m a lot like Saul.  I have the Spirit of the Lord.  I can testify to the fact that God has changed me and is continually changing my heart. But yet at times I still try to hide among the baggage.   Not literally “baggage”, but maybe behind my kids? or behind my husband? or behind my quest for significance?  If I evaluate myself honestly, I spend plenty of time making excuses or justifying why I haven’t fully embraced what God has called me to do.

Listening to God can, at times, be scary.  People often say God won’t give you more than you can handle.  Complete lie.  God will definitely give you more than YOU can handle.  Just not more than HE can handle.  Complete reliance and trust in God that He will equip you to do what He asks of you can be really scary but yet completely freeing all at the same time.  In fact, the more we jump out from behind the “baggage” and embrace what God has before us, the more we experience the freedom He desires for us.

What is it that God has anointed for you to do?  Be still and ask if, like Saul, you are hiding instead of walking into the scary unknown in front of you to accomplish the purpose God has set up.

How Are the Kids Doing?

That seems to be the most asked question, and overall they are doing great.  Of course there have been moments of sadness, but for the most part they are being rockstars about all the transitions.

However, along this journey, there have definitely been some memorable quotes said.  Here are a few of my favorites =)

First Sunday here, Avery was asked by the pastor how she liked her new church.  Her response,  ”This isn’t my church.

While walking out of Costco, Justus handed the receipt  to the lady at the door and stated, “The Costco in Texas is better than this Costco.”

Waking up to more snow falling, the kids stood at the window, and Justus asked, “Does all it ever do here is snow?!”

The other day Avery asked me, “Do you think maybe you could homeschool our cousins next year?  I think I would like living here more if they could be homeschooled too.

We were going outside to play, and Elliana stated, “I’m staying inside.  Maybe when all this snow melts I can go outside again.”

All three kids were complaining they haven’t been able to ride their bikes in FOREVER, so I took them out to ride.  They lasted 5 minutes before the wind got the best of them, and they decided riding bikes might be more fun in the summer =)

The first time I put the kids into the car and said we were going to Aldi, cheers erupted from the backseat.  As they calmed down and I asked why they cheered, the response was, “We’re driving to Texas!”   I guess I had forgotten to mention there were Aldi’s in Iowa too.

While driving by a Panda Express, I hear Justus gasp and then scream, “They moved Panda here from Texas!!!!  Oh, I’m so happy!”

And finally, just last week, both girls were having a conversation about our new church.  They talked back and forth about how nice people were and the new friends they were making and finally stated, “I think this is going to be a really fun place.  I think we are going to like it.”

The last quote definitely made my heart happy.

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