What could you do in 6 months?

 “When I _____________ I feel God’s pleasure.”

Whatever you do, do your work with all your heart, as for the Lord rather than for men…”  Colossians 3:23

It was October 30th, a year ago this week; I remember, because the next night, while taking my daughter trick-or-treating at I thought, “I picked the worst day of the year to start something healthy.”

A friend had just shared that she was going to drink more water and eat real food for ten days, and did I want to join her?  Then she added that we might as well add some exercise.

I was thinking of going for leisurely walks, but she had in mind a Beach Body “Insanity” workout.  I spend a couple hours on-line reading workout reviews on Amazon and picked out a more realistic sounding DVD program.  (In this selection, I was setting a goal to engage in 30 minutes of exercise 6 days a week  for the next three months, taking me through those yummy-comfy-cozy winter holidays of feasting, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year.)

As one good habit led to another, I began setting and accomplishing other smaller goals.   With each success, momentum built, till 6 months later, …

  • I had run my first race in freezing rain, coming in first in my age group (thanks to the very crummy weather narrowing down the competition),
  • run my first 5K without a friend to pace me and not slowing for walk breaks,
  • run my first 10K,
  • run a 10K in single digit temps with a negative degree wind chill (And I hope I never do that again!  My face was so numb at the end, I felt like I had been given a shot of Novocain.)
  • and had run my first half marathon(All of these felt like MAJOR milestones at the time!!!!)

race finish 01I discovered that I am a “slow and steady” girl.  I am not made for speed, but I can go longer distances (and really enjoy it).

The habit has stuck.  (It helps that I have a friend who is training for a marathon that enjoys company on her “short runs”, aka my “long-runs”.)  And, I’m really looking forward to my next half marathon; this time with confidence that I can finish strong.

I’ve never been a “runner”, but at my first local “Jingle Bell Run” when someone asked, “Are you a really fast runner?”  Instead of saying, “NO!!!”, I replied with a smile and a question, “Do I look like a really fast runner?”   We laughed, and I thought, why are we all so nervous and insecure?  Why I am I comparing myself with others?

We are all running our own race.

(Physically and spiritually.  We all have a course to run.  We must set our goal and press forward.  We our eyes on Jesus, run the race marked out for us, and run for the prize, bringing glory to the LORD as we do our best to steward what is entrusted to us… body, soul, mind, spirit; talent, time, and treasure.)

I decided then that I was going to run for “FUN” and, as Eric Liddell, run to feel the pleasure of God.  And, if I come in last, I’ll add “making everyone else feel fast” to my list of encouraging ministries.  (Sort of like my “fair-skin ministry” of helping others “feel tan” at the beach.)

Jeff Galloway’s goals have become mine, whether I’m running a short 5K race or walk-running a marathon some day,

  • to finish standing up
  • smiling
  • and wanting to do it again.

My first half marathon was one with the slowest required pace available, an 18 minute mile pace.  I was so nervous when I started training for it because 13.1 miles sounded impossible, and I didn’t even know if I could finish.  So when I registered, I signed up for the last and slowest corral.

Not only was I not picked up by a bus, I finished smiling with a most surprising time with energy to spare,  and one of my first thoughts was, “I gotta’ do this again!”  — In every way, I met and surpassed my goal.

I know I’ve written a little bit about this before, but running has been a huge part of my story this past year!!!  I did something that I never thought was possible for this non-athletic girl.  And, I want to encourage you to challenge yourself physically.  Whether it’s like my friend who has fibromyalgia who walks around her house and lifts 1/2 and 1 pound weights or like my beach-body loving, marathon running friends.

This kind of accomplishment gave me so much confidence in my ability to choose discipline over momentary comfort, and it has given me a lingering addiction to setting and pursuing goals.

Now, at the anniversary of my spontaneous 10 day commitment that changed my entire year (and hopefully my lifestyle from here on out), I’m wanting to address another area of my life.

Six months… What do YOU want to do?

  • set a goal
  • mark out a few deadlines/mini-goals to get there
  • invite a friend to join you, for encouragement and accountability
  • learn all you can about it (on-line, books, magazines, videos, related documentaries, seek advice and ask questions of experts and armatures)

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Eric Liddle said, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure. ”  When do you “FEEL” the “PLEASURE OF GOD”. 

I want to challenge you to complete these sentences (with single adjectives/verbs or longer phrases) several times for yourself as a poem:

God made me _________________. 

And when I _____________ I feel His pleasure.”

Soooo many wonderful days!!!!

I love the fall.  What a marvelous window of holidays!

It’s only just begun, and as much as it seemed dreadful in August to think of saying goodbye to summer, already I am happily embracing my favorite time of the year!

It means the beginning of hay rides, bon-fires, long hikes in the woods under falling leaves, and pulling out snuggly warm clothes.

Best of all, when September comes, and holidays begin, the days feel more “festive”.  Every week is filled with history to research and remember and traditions to preserve and pass-along to another generation…  so many reasons to celebrate!
Continue reading Soooo many wonderful days!!!!

Lord of Heaven and Earth

Are you busy?

Seven days… is it “enough” to get everything done?

Do you ever feel like you need one more day in the week? … an extra 24 hours to “get caught up”, or a day to just sit still before you pass yourself coming and going? … or how would you like a day just to rest, to lay back and relax, to pause and step away from it all while the earth spins around once?

heaven and earth 09

Lord of Heaven and Earth, “the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you” (1 Kings 8 – from Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple); “You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, all the starry host, the earth and all that’s on it, the sea and all that is in them.  You give life to everything, and the multitude of heaven worships You.” (Nehemiah 9, after Erza reads the Law, and the people rediscovering the feasts and realizing that in the seventh month, the month of Tishrei they were to live in booths during the feast, they continued to read the Scriptures and the Levites led the people in worship… It was at this time of year.)

haven and earth 09

“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed time and the boundaries of their habituation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might reach for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist…”

(Acts 17 , Dear friend Paul, no English grammar rules for you; I love your run-on sentences.  How could your learned listeners of Athens not be?  Before or since, Mars Hill never heard such truth.)

With Jesus, I say, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” (Matthew 11:25)

heaven and earth 05

Have you even felt too tired to seek the LORD; yet you wanted to worship… deep down you knew that was what you needed?

We need worship; because we need to be inspired in the muck and mire of the mundane.  We need our eyes to be lifted.  We need time… to worship.

Sometimes I don’t even know what has distracted me or what I am seeking, but when I turn my face to You, LORD,You draw me nearer.

You who “searches hearts and minds”, expose all that is fearful, insecure, defensive, demanding, self-protective, controlling, striving, hurried, anxious, and give me Your LOVE that casts out fear, gives me security and acceptance.  You defend me, protect me, provide for me, and I find I have no reason to be anxious or demanding or try to control what is beyond my control anyway.

heaven and earth 06

Here I stand, humbled.  I am reminded of who You are, and I know who I am in You.  Apart from You… we both know I am nothing; I can do nothing.  (John 15)

heaven and earth 02

In a creative class I’m taking, my instructor mentioned that she’d like an additional 24 hours each week, “an eighth day” designated to be a “sleep day”, a “…day of rest… No exceptions.”  I smiled and thought, we have one, the seventh day.  But, that commanded Sabbath (supposedly with “no exceptions”) is overlooked not just by the culture but by the church, too.

This month did you rest on the feast of trumpets?  on the day of atonement? … will you rest on the seventh day of this week?  Will you ever in your lifetime experience a year of Jubilee?

I want to encourage you to enjoy the gift that comes with obeying the LORD in rest.  Come into His presence and BE STILL and KNOW He is God.  (Psalm 46)  I write about it all the time; not because I want you to be lazy, but because there is a secret blessing, a special gift that only those to obey Him ever know.

The LORD of Heaven and Earth, the Maker and Sustainer of Life designed you to be at your best with a Sabbath’s rest.

Every command the LORD has give us is for our good.

  • forgive
  • trust
  • love
  • pray
  • rejoice
  • worship
  • … rest, do no ordinary work.

I was happy to see many stores in the area I am visiting were closed for Yom Kippur, and as I explained to my kids why, and as Handsome recalled a time when stores were closed on Sunday, I couldn’t help but recall once again what my Daddy used to say, “You don’t know what you miss when you don’t obey.”

When we forget the feasts, when we forget the commandments, and when we miss what the Spirit of the Law was pointing to, the abundance that is ours in Christ in, our atonement, our redemption, God’s Grace Revealed.  When we choose not to rest in what Christ has done for us or when we, His children, choose any other way that what He has told us is His best for us, we miss out on freedom, joy, peace, victory, true success.  Once freed from the Law, we have created and subjected ourselves to a new law; we’ve made ourselves slaves to another master, another god.

We have chosen to worship an un-named idol, like those in Athens that Paul addressed, “I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’…what you worship in ignorance…”  (Acts 17) As quoted above, like Paul, I want to point you back to the One True God, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, the One whose kingdom we claim to seek first. (Matthew 6)

Who are you serving?  If your master is not allowing you to Sabbath, then are you really “serving Christ”?  Who is your “master?”  Yoke yourself with Jesus.  He knows what you need.  If your Father provides for birds and clothes flowers.  Trust Him for the Sabbath manna to be provided on the day you obey and rest.

heaven and earth

As you read this, are you feeling trapped?  Is there nothing you can give up, no day you can be free?  Does the idea of a day of rest depress you because it sounds too good to be true?  —  You don’t have to rest.

“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.  One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord… and gives thanks to God.” Romans 14

Rest is not supposed to be a burden but a blessing.  Sabbath was made as a gift for man not vice versa.  (Mark 2:27)

Paul also wrote, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”  (1 Corinthians 6:10)

Here is my advice to you:

“Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.” (Proverbs 6:5)  If this you have fallen for your enemy’s snare, that you cannot rest, you do not have time to observe an “Old Testament” commandment, come to your senses!  He is hunting you, wanting to trap you, seeking to devour you!  Set yourself free.  “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”  (Hebrews 12:1)

Is it possible that your 24-7-365 busyness is sin?

Ask the LORD to show you what needs to go from your schedule.  (Why not begin with an empty calendar?  Mark off your Sabbaths, your prayer days, your “holi-days” and family days, and then ask the LORD where and how to add everything else.)

Do not fight against your Maker?  Cooperate with your Loving Savior.  He wants to rescue you, not only from death and hell, from the futile life, from the ciaos of fighting battles with worldly wisdom rather than being abiding in Him and obeying the still small voice of the Spirit that reminds us of what the LORD has shown us in His Word is His will for us and how He wants us to view ourselves, our lives, our work, our relationships, and our rest through His eyes, from an eternal and spiritual perspective.

“Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

heaven and earth 08

I am praying for rest for you, sweet tired Seeker.

May you take a deep breath and co-labor with the LORD, letting Him direct you as you build your house on the Rock of His Word that you have already heard.  May you surrender your calendar and the expectations of others and no longer strive to build something that will only wash away.

heaven and earth 07

Just a thought:  When was the last time you woke up early to watch the sunrise just for the sake of worship?  When was the last time you paused from cleaning up the dinner dishes to watch the sunset to see the heavens declare the glory of God?  As it gets later in the year, you don’t have to get up very early or stay up late to catch the show.  Your Father puts on a spectacular performance twice a day, changing the sky from darkness to light in never to be repeated shades.  Don’t miss it.

(And if you live in the city where you can’t get a big-picture view of the sky, skim through these pictures again, and ponder that they were all taken on the same morning within about a half hour’s time. What an amazing LORD we have!)

XKA – Day of Atonement

“G’mar Hatima Tova”:  May you be sealed in the Book of Life!

This greeting is my prayer for you.

Yom Kippur:  for my Jewish friends it’s the culmination of days of penitence; for me it’s a day of rest and remembrance.

Atonement =  Impossible.   Being reconciled to God through payment or reparation for debts or wrongs; there’s nothing we can “do” to make things right.  All our regret and hoping, even our prayers, won’t bring us any closer to God.

“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” – Isaiah 59:2

Yet now, because of His great love for us, “All things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23).  Through His Son, our Messiah, our Savior, it’s pretty simple:

  • humble ourselves
  • rest in what Christ has done for us

“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood–to be received by faith.” – Romans 3:25

This evening as the sunsets and tomorrow as the sun rises, I hope that you, sweet Sister, Seeker, and Saint, will rest and remember what Christ, our “merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17), has done for you and who you are today in Him.

Atonement –  — The only atonement for our sin is Christ.  The wages/payment/punishment for sin is death; something we could never satisfy.  Yet, even in the feasts of Leviticus 23, we see a pointing ahead to Christ… an atonement apart from “work”:

26 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 27 “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord. 28 You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. 29 If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. 30 As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 32 It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.” 

Enjoy this wonderful day of celebration and rest!  It’s another opportunity for an extra-ordinary day, to live the abundant life that only we who know Jesus our Messiah can fully experience, to Seek the LORD and find Him as we draw near to Him and He draws near to us!

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” – James 4:8

The Law could not perfect us, but it showed us our need and pointed us to Christ… “the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” – Hebrews 7:19

XKA – Do you pray for yourself?

…ask a better question:

Do you pray specifically for yourself?

“it’s me, it’s me, O LORD, standing in the need of prayer!

Not my mother, not my father, but it’s me, O LORD, standing in the need of prayer!”

The answer, be it “yes” or “no”, is almost always followed by an excuse or explanation that is less than confident.

  • but life gets busy
  • my prayer time is often rushed
  • in a way I do, I pray for the people I care about
  • it’s so hard to pray for myself
  • I start to feel overwhelmed when I do
  • where do I begin
  • there are so many other things to pray about
  • and so many people have more pressing, more important needs…

It’s as though we know we can pray for ourselves, we know we need prayer, but there’s a hint of “guilt” either from not praying powerfully and confidently for ourselves because our prayers turn to worries or a rabbit-trail of vague thoughts in His presence or a sense of “false pride” because we feel selfish and self-absorbed when we should be praying for others.

Our enemy is trying to keep us from praying, and we’re believing a lie.

James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.”  —The context reminds us that our motives are important, and when it comes to asking God for something (like wisdom for example, James 1:6), we need to ask in faith, believing and not doubting God’s ability or willingness to answer. — But, we need to ask, and ask for something specific.

I want to encourage you to do something special this week in your prayer time:  pray for yourself, for your victory, for your testimony, for your faith, for your health, for your use of your time and talents, for your work, for your friendships, for your influence, for your dreams, for YOU.   You need it!

weekToday, on this first day of Tishrei, on Rosh Hashanah, “the head of the year”, write out a specific request for every day of this week.

Write the following heading:

“LORD, I ask that you would…”

  • Monday –
  • Tuesday –
  • Wednesday –
  • Thursday –
  • Friday –
  • Saturday –
  • Sunday –

And then, beside each day finish that sentence, asking the LORD for something for yourself (a personal request), and beginning each line with a VERB (not just the vague word “bless”).

If you’re out of the habit of prayer, this is a great way to get started, and persevere, even if it seems difficult to put your needs into words.  There’s something powerful about naming the need that clarifies and takes away some of our fear and worry, that gives us confidence and builds our faith, and then, especially when the prayer is answered specifically, it is easier to say “Thank You” to the LORD as well as providing us with more boldness to ask.

Then on Sunday, as you start a new week, enjoy a “Sabbath” rest, sit down with the LORD and thank Him for all He has done.  Highlight all the prayers He answered and use your list as a bookmark reminder of answered prayers, and then, start a new list!

If time passes and your prayer are not being answered, ask Him to show you why.  Is there unconfessed sin in your life, are you asking for something that you know is not His will, is He telling you to wait, has He answered in a way that you were not expecting…?  It’s time to grow up in your faith.  Become a warrior in prayer!  Your prayers for yourself and for others are needed, and this is God’s will for you.

week 2If you are a Chi Kappa Alpha gal, and you printed out a holiday calendar for the Jewish year, try to write out a year’s worth of requests in advance.  You don’t need to do them all at once, but over the year, try to ask for 365 different  requests, always staying a couple days ahead on your calendar.  Then as the days come, read the request you wrote and see if the LORD has already answered.  If not, pray about it again.  Then at the end of each week and month, look over the prayer requests you wrote for yourself and highlight all the ones the LORD has answered, and thank Him!

When we ask God to “bless” everything is a broad sweeping prayer, it’s “safe”.  There’s no risk of unanswered prayer because we never asked for anything.   However it turned out was “blessed” by “God’s will”.  There’s also little to thank Him for, and our little faith is ever weakening because it is never used.

Here are a few verbs to help you get started:

  • show
  • make
  • heal
  • enable
  • help
  • give
  • speak
  • let
  • keep
  • bring
  • surprise
  • answer
  • remind
  • lead

Ask for something!

Ask for something specific!

Seek His will, and ask Him to lead you as you pray.  It’s so exciting to mark answered prayers and see scores of highlighted squares!  So get started!!!  Today is a perfect day to start praying!

Chi Kappa Alpha gals, did you have apples and honey (a symbol of having a “sweet” year) today?  Check out this link, if you haven’t had a chance to look into today’s Jewish Holiday.  Chabad.org