I knew that today would be full of “do this and do that” so I purposed to wake early and spend time with the Lord. It was through my Bible reading that I kept pondering the ease of idolatry in my own life.
It all started as I began my reading about King Hezekiah.
2 Kings 18 1-7
“Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did.
He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.
He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses.
And the Lord was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.”
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., 2 Ki 18:1–7). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
My morning study led me through several passages, but it was in this passage that I discovered the words, almost like a neon sign, beckoning my attention. We’re told that Hezekiah broke the brass serpent that Moses used in the wilderness because the people had started to worship the brass serpent instead of God.
That’s when I began to ponder the ease of idolatry.
I’m sure if you asked most of us if we worship idols we’d say, “Of course not.”
Maybe we should really ponder this question some more.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
In Numbers 21 God had told the people if they wanted to be saved from the bite of the fiery serpent they had to look upon this brass serpent on a pole that Moses had made. What once was established by God to heal them had now become an idol to them.
I began to examine my own life and consider areas where I might have easily misplaced my gaze.
I wrote to my Joe saying,
“There is an ease in idolatry that I hadn’t considered until this morning. Perhaps it’s because idolatry puts my attention on my efforts and is tangible in some way to stimulate or satisfy my senses.”
Friends, let us remember that our good works, important traditions, right words, or proper clothes won’t bring us one step closer to God. If we begin to put our gaze on any of these things other than Him we’ve fallen prey to the ease of idolatry.
I am confident that God deserves all of our worship.
My thoughts and study will continue until I fully consider the implications of idolatry in my own life. I hope you’ll take a moment to consider the importance of this topic as well.
May our eyes be fixed on the Author and Finisher of our Faith.
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Until our next chat,
Mrs. Joseph Wood
Joy comes in the morning, but that doesn’t mean this morning or tomorrow morning.
Psalm 30: 5
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life:
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
Have you ever waited for morning to arrive?
I’ve been considering the life of Sarah for the past few weeks. She knew a lot about waiting, didn’t she?
I told my daughter over coffee, “I am probably more like Sarah than I’d like to admit.”
I can recall those younger years of motherhood when I would take multiple pregnancy tests just waiting to see those pink lines announcing that God had placed a gift in my womb.
There were seasons between children that seemed so long, but nothing like Sarah’s wait.
After living for 80 years barren, God spoke a promise to Sarah that she would have a child.
If it were me, I would have been taking a pregnancy test as soon as I went back to my tent.
I can’t even imagine what she must have been thinking month after month passed with no child. In fact, it was ten years before she would hold the child she had been promised.
Why wouldn’t God wait to tell her of His promise or hurry the promise into existence?
One of the things I’ve learned in life is that God’s work isn’t just the exclamation of each promise but it’s also in the commas of life, the pauses, the ellipsis of waiting for what’s next.
It’s in these moments when Sarah found herself in-between the promise spoken and the promise held that she grew weary.
I can see myself doing the same thing (just a lot sooner than she did!).
I can picture the conversations I’d have with myself. The thinking that I must have misunderstood what God meant or God must have wanted me to do something to help him.
I can’t count the times I’ve traded God’s best for my best all in the name of “helping” God.
God’s timing is typically not our timing.
Without an eternal perspective, we can grow discouraged waiting for the promise to arrive.
I am convinced, that just because we become tired of waiting for His promises, doesn’t make the promises any less real. Even when we forget the promises, God remains faithful to His promises. He will unveil His promises in His timing and for His glory.
The morning will come.
I’ve had those seasons of life where I’ve grown weary waiting.
I would tell myself it’s better thinking of something else than to wake every morning expecting the promise to appear only to be disappointed once again.
I’ve grown tired (no wholly exhausted) waiting for Salvation to come to my home, hoping for healing, praying for relationships restored, searching for Truth, and longing for His revealed promises.
Through the years, I’ve learned that it’s in this waiting, this ellipses of life, that God is doing something magnificent in me. I can honestly say, I am not the same person. Those journeys to His promises transformed me. I wonder if Sarah felt the same way about her journey of waiting for the promise of Isaac.
Joy comes in the morning.
When I read the Scriptures, I get a birds-eye view of the journey from promise to promise. As I flip from chapter to chapter, it’s easy to forget that some, like Sarah, waited years to see the promise manifested. Time does not change the validity of His promises. Each promise was made complete at the exact moment God ordained.
Personally, I have witnessed Joy arrive, and more glorious than I ever imagined. Multiple times in my life, I have seen God’s promises revealed. Yet, not once, can I recall witnessing it appear on my timeline. Reminding myself of this fact gives me hope to wait on the Lord again and again and again.
Have you ever felt that way too?
Have you been waiting for the morning dawn to appear?
Let’s remember to wait on the Lord. Let’s learn from Sarah that God doesn’t need our “help” (really!), and we certainly don’t need the hardships that come from orchestrating wannabe promises in our strength.
Wait on the Lord:
Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart:
Wait, I say, on the Lord.
Friends, Joy is coming!
Until our next chat,
Mrs. Joseph Wood
God makes provision for my tomorrow’s, today. I have seen this Truth woven into my life, but none so evident as when we lived off the grid near Yosemite National Park.
It was 2006 when Joe decided it was best to move the family back up to the California mountains to live off the grid. We had lived this lifestyle before. Our first experience included five children, a tent, and the high Sierras. This time, we would have ten children, a 1000 square foot miners shack, and Yosemite National Park as our backyard.
What we lacked in housing, we made up for in the fertile landscape. Forty acres of picturesque property, rock waterfalls, natural springs that flowed year round, crystal clear creeks, a pond, pastures, and trees. We found ourselves tucked back into the mountains near Yosemite National Park, surrounded by government land.
For our family, it was a dream come true. Joe wanted our family to know the work and blessings of raising and growing our food.
Bliss meets Reality
However, it wasn’t long before our fairytale experience turned into a nightmare.
What we didn’t know was that our secluded location, as beautiful as it was, also made us a prime spot for squatters (someone who unlawfully occupies an uninhabited building or unused land), drug dealers, and criminals.
Shortly after we sold our home in the city, we moved the family up to the “farm.” Immediately, we tackled the hard work of remodeling and clean up. The children woke with the sunrise and played until the sunset. They would hoot and holler without disturbing a soul in the world. Everything was going just as we had imagined until the unexpected visitors arrived.
An older man and woman who knew of the property from years before just showed up one day with their beat up old trailer and fourteen chihuahuas (no, I’m not exaggerating!). They didn’t just bring the chihuahuas with them; many challenges arrived as well.
We had to go into government offices which were hours away to request that they evict the squatters and list our reasons why. It took six months for them to complete the “eviction” process. As you might imagine, our new neighbors weren’t pleased with us. They used those six months to retaliate against us in countless ways.
- They stayed up all night (and I do mean all night) making loud and obnoxious noise.
- In the middle of the night, they would shine bright lights at our shack so that we couldn’t sleep.
- They would continuously yell at the children as they did their morning chores.
- Intimidating the children with guns, pacing the property, and watching them as they played.
- Stealing fuel and anything else they wanted from us became the “tax” we had to pay unwillingly.
There’s a book worth of details I could share, but for today’s conversation let me say that things got crazy, really crazy!
Life in the midst of squatters
As I continued to unpack the boxes and make our shack feel more like a home, I kept having a thought that I should give away a set of books that I had spent years and a large sum of money collecting. Day after day I would battle my thoughts and reasons why I should dismiss this idea. Finally, I shared with Joe about my internal argument when he wisely said, “Jeanette if God’s leading you to do something just do it.” I shared my concern about being wasteful with all the money and time spent. Again, Joe encouraged me, “Jeanette, obey God.”
That’s when things started to get interesting.
I called the first family that came to mind and asked if they might be interested in this set of books for their children. They were surprised and delighted by my call. As it would turn out this was a set of books they had wanted for years. I packed up the books and made the mountain drive to deliver these treasures to their new home.
I still remember the smiles and gratitude from the children and their parents.
Before I left, the mother asked me if I might be able to use a water purifier. It wasn’t a cheap DIY water purifier; it was the same purifier that I had put on my wishlist.
I was delighted to have this gift; I set it up on the kitchen counter as soon as I arrived back home. A few moments later (yes, moments!) I heard a knock at the front door. I figured it was a child playing and was surprised to a see the sheriff standing on my doorstep.
“Ma’am, it’s been reported that you’re giving your children spring water and don’t have any water purifier.”
I was a bit baffled. I had no idea someone could call the police on you if you didn’t have a water purifier.
“No, sir. I have a water purifier right here.” Pointing to the new gift that I’ had just brought home. He visited for a bit and then left agreeing that all was well.
The false reports continued
A few days later, another sheriff arrived saying they received a report of us living without a working toilet. I took them into the newly remodeled bathroom that my parents had bought for us. Again, we talked for a bit, and he left agreeing all was well.
The days and weeks went on with the squatters behavior becoming more and more unpredictable.
We continued to turn the shack into a home. We had engineers and solar representatives come out to the property to share their ideas on how to optimize our off grid living experience.
The provisional refrigerator
A friend called to let me know of a free propane refrigerator that was available. She knew I had one of these off-grid treasures on my wish list and had heard about this opportunity, instantly thinking about us. Joe and I loaded up the old Suburban and drove to the address given to pick up our new refrigerator. We were excited; everything we needed was coming together.
Our new refrigerator probably sat outside for a week or more. Joe saw no reason to bring it in the house since we were limited on space and didn’t have propane yet.
However, I couldn’t get over how “red neck” I felt with a refrigerator on my front lawn. My persuasion finally won, and the fridge came into the house where I used it for storing all our dishes.
The squatter situation wasn’t pleasant.
It got to the point that I would leave first thing in the morning to visit friends and family and not return until late at night. I didn’t want the children exposed to our uninvited guests any more than they had to be.
Another visit from the Sheriff
One evening, it was pitch black when I arrived back at the shack with the children. I had just got everyone settled inside when I opened the front door to go turn the generator on. There stood the sheriff again.
“Sir, can I help you?”
“Ma’am. I’m sorry. I know you guys aren’t doing anything wrong, but we have to go out on every report.”
With a deep sigh, I replied, “Okay so what did this mysterious person say we’re doing wrong now?”
“Well, Ma’am they say you don’t have a refrigerator, but I can see it sitting right there.”
Without even giving me time to explain he turned and walked away.
I shut the door and sat in the dark with the children processing all the times of God’s provision.
I don’t know if it was uninvited guests calling in the reports or someone else.
It wasn’t important to me who was making the calls. What was important was who was making provision for us and protecting us from harm.
“God makes provision for our tomorrows today.”
God’s provision can be found over and over again as we turn the pages of Scripture yet it’s an entirely different experience when God’s provision shows up vividly in our daily lives.
Throughout that season of trials, I asked the Lord to remove the struggles. Yet, God, in His sovereignty, saw it best for us to live through the trial instead of avoiding the trial.
It’s not for me to argue with God on when He should speak to the storm or when He should speak to me.
I have to be responsive to His plan that focuses on eternity instead of my plan that is easily fixed on what I see, hear, and feel.
I don’t know how our trial would have been different if it had been scattered with disobedience. There have been several times when His mercy met me in my defiance and, there are plenty of times my disobedience caused unnecessary roughness.
Friends, It felt like this six months would never end. I felt like I was wadding with my nose barely above water yet, Joe and I had committed to keeping joy and not doing anything that would reflect poorly on our testimony.
It wasn’t easy.
There were times the momma bear inside me was awakened, but these three steps made all the difference in the world in keeping my soul calm.
Read the Word consistently
Praise God continually
You probably remember that last week we spoke about living a responsive life and not a reactive life. I firmly believe that these three steps are needed if we choose to live responsively.
Over the next several weeks I am going to take a look through the Scriptures at women who made Faith driven responses and when those same women fell into doubt driven reactions.I hope you’ll join me as we learn and grow together.
If you’re in the midst of a trial remember, God makes provision for our tomorrow’s today more often than we even realize.
Until our next chat,
Mrs. Joseph Wood
When it comes to reacting versus responding, far too many of us are reacting to life instead of responding. It’s too easy to feel like we have no other option but to throw in the towel on our parenting, tap out on our marriage, and retreat from our friendships.
Often it reminds me of those action-packed shows my husband watches.
You know the ones.
Someone runs onto a battlefield, screaming some crazy battle cry, unprotected from the bullets that breeze by, while you cringe and cry, “NO! Don’t do it!”
That’s how I feel when I watch women running out onto the battlefield, crying some crazy mantra or latest fad quote, unprotected while the enemy is taking shots at them and their family!
Truthfully, that’s exactly how I look more times than I’d like to admit.
A few weeks ago, I sat talking with my cello instructor about all the hats we wear as women. We were talking about the emotional toll that life can take on us if we live in this reactive state. We both shared the lessons we’ve learned on how to handle full lives.
Friends, there is a lot of conversation about living in the moment, being present, and living intentionally. I even travel to speak on the subject, but the reality is we can’t do any of these things if we’re living life like a ping pong ball bouncing from one crisis or task to the next.
That’s when I have to tell myself, “Stop. Slow down, and stop reacting to life.”
Reacting versus Responding
How can we know the difference?
First, we have to acknowledge there is a difference between the two. We can’t treat reactions and responses as synonyms in our thought process, language, or actions.
According to Psychology Today, “A reaction is typically quick, without much thought, tense and aggressive. A response is thought out, calm and non-threatening.”
Once we clearly define the difference between reactions and responses we need to learn how to incorporate thoughtful responses in our daily tasks.
How to become more responsive and less reactive.
Learning this life skill can take a good part of our life, and while we’ll get better over time that’s no excuse for us not to pursue growth in this area each day.
I’ve developed a three-step process for me to consider as I grow in this area of responsiveness, maybe it will be helpful for you too.
Let’s start with the power of processing.
I define processing as the act of slowing down (sometimes even removing myself from the situation) to consider and test my thoughts and actions against the will of God. When I take this time to consider MY thoughts and MY actions compared to taking time to steam over someone else’s words or actions it helps me quiet my heart and respond instead of reacting.
James 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
Proverbs 21: 23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
Science agrees. Dr. Henry Cloud shares, “ Neuroscience shows us that if you just take a moment to identify what you are feeling, especially in a frustrating situation or relationship, and name that emotion, it can mean all the difference in the world … The reason is that labeling a feeling brings brain functioning to a much higher level … engages other parts of yourself vs. your “reactive” brain which will usually get you into trouble at such moments. But to stop, look inward, observe yourself, and label what you are feeling, slows down the reaction and gives you lots of other resources to choose a better response.”
The power of Prayer
There’s no sense processing a situation or a relationship if I’m not processing in prayer and mindfulness of the will of God. Believe me; my flesh doesn’t need more time to “process.” However, I am always rewarded when I take more time in prayer and reading the Word. It slows my actions and clarifies my thoughts. The process of prayer creates a more responsive nature in me.
Daniel 9:18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
Phillippians 4:5-7 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Psalm 34:15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
The Power of Purpose
Living a purposeful life may appear to some that we are too slow when the truth is, we’re deliberate, thoughtful, and responsive. Responsive women know the dangers of an action chosen or a word spoken in haste.
We also know the power of our words the depths of our influence that can cross the boundaries of time and impact generations not yet born.
Because of our awareness, we choose to be responsive women who have first spent time with God before we speak or act.
In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. ~ Proverbs 10:19
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. ~ Proverbs 12:15
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. ~ Proverbs 15:1
Friends, learning to respond instead of reacting is difficult for many of us. It can be challenging to respond appropriately in the midst of critical moments. I’m confident we’ll only get better at it once we spend time with the Lord in prayer and the study of His Word.
Before we close today, I want to invite to join me on the blog for the next few weeks while I continue to share on this topic. We will be discussing the women in Scripture who chose responsiveness instead of reactiveness and what we can learn from their lives. I hope you’ll join me and share your comments and thoughts as well.
May we each grow in this area of responsiveness and reflect the character of God- All for His glory and our good!
With much love,
Mrs. Joseph Wood
I’ve been thinking about heartbreak lately, not for any specific reason.
Maybe it was the news of Kate Spade’s death or the fact that a friend confided in me that she wants to end her life.
Perhaps it’s the fact that every year, here in the US, almost 45,000 people end their life.
Whatever the reason, I’ve been pondering the reality of a broken heart.
I know that not all of us will wrestle with feelings of suicide, but all of us will experience heartbreak in some fashion.
Heartbreak comes packaged in all shapes and sizes at different seasons of life.
There is the heartbreak of loss, betrayal, rejection, empty promises, loneliness, sin, and countless other ways we experience brokenness. I don’t know what heartbreak you’ve experienced or what heartbreak lies ahead of you, but this is what I know; heartbreak happens to each of us. While none of us escape life without heartbreak, I am confident that there is hope on the other side and mercy in the midst.
The reality is that not all of us will find hope or recognize His mercy in our seasons of brokenness.
Maybe that’s because we fall captive to the fables of a broken heart, or the weight of loneliness, or perhaps it’s because we fail to see the purpose and beauty that brokenness reveals.
Myths of a broken heart
- It’s my fault.
- Time will fix it.
- If I were stronger, it wouldn’t hurt so bad.
It’s my fault.
If I had just done “insert whatever lies you tell yourself” or if I were simply better at “insert next lie” There are a thousand lies that try to creep into our thoughts when we face heartbreak, it’s so important that we learn to take captive all thoughts that are contrary to the word of God. This myth is devastating, and it’s not just our thoughts we battle against, we have to battle the negative thoughts of others. “Helpful friends” who try to reason and make sense of hardships often like to point out what we’ve done wrong.
Let me stop right there.
Friends, bad things don’t just happen to bad people. Job knew this better than most of us will ever know. The very first words written about Job were how he was perfect and upright, he feared the Lord and rejected evil. His story goes on to share about brokenness, sorrow, and trials; none of what he experienced were the result of his failures.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had countless times in my life where something was challenging as a result of my personal choices. I reap what I sow, just like you do.
Galatians 6: 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ga 6:7). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
At the same time, there have been countless times that I’ve experienced the depth of heartbreak, and it had nothing at all to do with my wrongdoing, sin, or failures.
Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Mt 5:45). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Time will heal your broken heart.
No, no it won’t. Only God can heal our brokenness, and yes that process can take time, but time alone will not heal my broken heart or yours.
Good intentions or not, it’s vain for us to suggest that time will heal a broken heart.
Time doesn’t heal anything.
For some, time may do nothing more than ferment bitterness. For others, it may grow an abundance of gratitude. Time is a tool that God uses as He completes the good work He has begun in each of us, but no, time won’t heal our broken hearts.
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Php 1:6). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
If I were stronger, it wouldn’t hurt so bad.
Maybe you’ve thought these thoughts before:
“I should be stronger than this.”
“If I was stronger like (insert whoever you compare yourself with) I would be able to deal with this.”
The truth is, you don’t have to be strong enough for your trials.
I distinctly remember the moment I accepted the freedom to be weak.
Sobbing on my bathroom floor, I folded the pile of red towels I had just dropped.
Silently I prayed, “Lord. I quit, I can’t do it anymore.” It could have been a dozen things that brought me to my knees, but like most things in life, it was the straw that had broken the camel’s back.
Through my tears, I gasped for breath when the verse from 2 Corinthians came to mind.
2 Corinthians 12: 9-11 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., 2 Co 12:9–10). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Whenever God changes us, it becomes life-changing. No matter how many years pass, we remember what we were doing and where we were at. This moment was no different- It was life-changing for me. I began to embrace my weakness and my inabilities; praising HIm for His strengths and His perfection instead of worrying about my weakness and shortcomings.
I believe that once we get over those myths, we can move forward to finding mercy in the midst of brokenness and hope on the other side.
Responding to Heartbreak
Brokenness isn’t something we get to choose. There are times when we can see brokeness approaching and other times brokeness takes us by surprise. In either situation, we must prayerfully choose how to respond instead of reacting.
My first response to anyone who asks me how to get through a challenging situation is,
“Spend time in the Word like your eternity depends upon it.”
Actually, that’s how we should face every single day. Spending time in the Word helps us respond purposefully, with grace, and courage. This is much better than reacting in our flesh that gets scared, overwhelmed, and doubts.
As I went through my devotions this morning, I was encouraged by David’s example to praise God as a response in His brokenness.
Psalm 34: 1-4
I will bless the Lord at all times:
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make her boast in the Lord:
The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; And saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ps 34:1–4). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Purpose of Brokenness
Sometimes it can feel that the only purpose of brokenness is to destroy us. We don’t see any beauty that can possibly come out of the pain and yet that’s exactly what God does. I know there have been seasons I thought I would never dance again, and yet He traded my sorrow for gladness.
The Lord is merciful to us through the heartbreak.
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing:
Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness
To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ps 30:11–12). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Friends, take heart. There is hope on the other side of heartache. There’s also mercy in the midst of it.
If you feel like your life is a mess of shattered fragments and that nothing good can come out of it, let me encourage you that God makes mosaics out of messes. He brings beauty out of ashes.
He’s done it for me, and I’m confident He will do it for you. God’s not like man, He doesn’t pick favorites. The Scriptures tell us that He is no respecter of persons.
For there is no respect of persons with God
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 2:11). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
With much love,
Mrs. Joseph Wood
Living an intentional life requires us to maximize ordinary moments. Maybe you’re like me, and your mind instantly starts to race with all the details of work required when we’re optimizing anything in life. If that’s the case, take heart! Today’s post isn’t about creating more work; instead, it’s about recognizing opportunities around us, taking nothing for granted, and living with purpose and focus. Today, I’m talking about intentional living.
I’m talking about making deliberate decisions to live in the present moment nstead of steamrolling past them. It’s the type of living that requires us to ponder the goodness tucked into each task. It’s mastering the art of living with a spirit of gratitude. Gratitude for the butterfly that flutters around the grandbabies as they play. Appreciation for the breeze that blows or the shade a large maple tree provides in the heat of summer days. It’s experiencing ordinary moments that would go unnoticed if we didn’t pause and capture the beauty and value they contribute to our lives.
Don’t be like some who confuse ordinary with mediocre. Ordinary moments are a canvas of opportunity revealed to each of us at a specific moment in time. So how do we maximize them to create the life story we want to live out?
Three tips for an intentional life.
Say no more; say yes less.
Warren Buffet said, “The differences between successful people and very successful people, is that the very successful people say no to almost everything.”
I think we could benefit from applying this strategy to our daily lives as women, wives, and mothers. If you’re like me, you might question every “no” that you muster up the courage to speak. You second guess yourself and wonder if you’re being selfish or question your priorities.
Let me stop you right there and share how I overcame that battle in my mind.
When I need to say no, I tell myself, “Every no you give, gives you 100 ways to say yes.” Yes, I can keep the family schedule on track, yes, I can get to bed on time, yes, I can keep up with the laundry, yes, yes, yes!
As a young mom who struggled to say no, I remember driving to deliver a meal to someone in the church who was sick; I was completely frazzled. My home was a wreck, and my children were cranky. I prayed, “Lord, I’m trying to be a blessing; please help me in this.” As I continued to pray and finally made my way home, I began to realize that just because Jeanette has a good idea, it doesn’t mean that God’s blessed the plan. I have to say no more and yes less.
Cultivate a positive mindset.
Many of us are familiar with the famous quote from Iron Lady, “What we think we become” In fact, the entire phrase went like this,“Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become…habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become.” There is nothing new under the sun is there? The Scriptures tell us to think on what is pure, lovely, and a good report.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
We can purpose to think about these things that are pure, but what do we do when those negative or cynical thoughts invade our mind without an invitation? Friends, God’s been good to give us instruction in this area too. It’s in these times that we must take our thoughts captive. 2 Cor 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
The Scriptures go on to tell us that our words have the power of life and death. Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
If we want to begin living more grateful filled lives, then we need to start with our thoughts!
I share this point last just in case some of you overachievers take action promptly and unplug immediately. I want to make sure you read the rest of the post. HA! Just teasing you all, but seriously we won’t ever be able to fully live in the moment if we are even unconsciously aware that people may be contacting us be it by phone, social media, or email. I remember the awkward feeling when we lived off the grid, and I knew no would be stopping by unannounced, calling, or needing me to reply to an email. It was surprising how much more I accomplished with ease. I deliberately schedule the time to unplug to this day, and you know what? I never regret it, in fact, I find that I crave more of it.
Friends, it’s time for us to stop talking about living an intentional life. It’s time for us to stop talking about being fully present and living more grateful. It’s time for us to do it! How will you start maximizing on the ordinary moments of your life? I think I’ll start by sharing a bowl of ice cream and giggles with one of my children.
We could add more tips to this list, couldn’t we? Post your suggestion in the comments. I would love to hear from you.
Until our next chat,
Mrs. Joseph Wood