Preparing my heart for BEAUTY

I’m transitioning from one month to the next… preparing my heart to L.E.A.P. again.

I’m L.E.A.P.ing from being attentive to being beautiful.  What a natural step!  It’s as if the previous month trained me to really see and hear so I could appreciate beauty.

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Yesterday, the LORD began to reveal to me how I NEED BEAUTY.

Mostly out of habit from taking pictures this past month, I took a few minutes to step outside to “just breathe”.  I didn’t think I had time, but I’m so glad I did.

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Just Breathe

Have you heard that song yet?  “Just Breathe ” – Jonny Diaz

I heard it for the first time last night, or parts of it I should say, while winding in and out of radio signal, between hills pink with buds ready to burst.  I was pondering the phrase, “all scripture is God breathed”  (or, as the ESV puts is, “… breathed out by God”, 2 Timothy 3:16).  I took a deep breath, let it go, and prayed…

“LORD, You are as essential as the air I breathe.  Your Word, Your inspired breath, sustains my life.  I want to breathe it in and speak it out, breathe it in and speak it out, breathe it in and speak it out, until I am  completely filled with You  from the top of my head to the tips of my toes; every artery, vein, and capillary.  Breathe Your life into me.”

…when the static suddenly cleared and the chorus rang clear.

“Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be…”

Oh, the beauty of fellowship with the LORD!  What timing!  It’s as if He said “Amen”  to my prayer.

Just Be.

Just LIVE.

Just L.E.A.P. by faith, into His presence, into Beauty.

LIVE, ENJOY, ADD, PRAY

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In and out.

Like the cold morning air filling my lungs… wakes me up and brings me to my senses.  I feel alive!

His Word, in and out.

Conversations, Meditations, all in His presence

Where is all this coming from?  Ramblings of breathing and beauty.

A few days ago an acquaintance shared with me a challenge she heard, to take 3 deep breaths a day:  intentionally inhaling fully and then slowly letting it all out.  She mentioned some of the benefits of using our full lung capacity and how few people do.  — The lecturer she heard recommended even posting a reminder if necessary to encourage the daily habit.

  • Seeking and abiding in His presence, breathing in the Word, how few people do it!  Oh the benefits!  I highly recommend posting a reminder if necessary.

Job 33:4 -6 says, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life… Behold, I belong to God… I too have been formed out of the clay.”  God is my life.  This Word, His breath.  I will take His words in fully and speak them out, meditating on them, letting them change me as I slow down the racing pace of my busy heart.

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As I take this next L.E.A.P., I’m taking a deep breath

To all the pressures, demands, disappointments, and manipulations that leave me divided, I sense the LORD saying,

  • “This is not your yoke to bear. ‘My burden is light.’ (Mt. 11:30) and ‘My grace is sufficient’ (2 Cor. 12:9) for what I call you to do.  The yoke you carry is heavy because it is something I never asked you to lift.
  • “In fact, if you want My best, My grace, My blessing, My peace, then you must choose to throw off this ugly burden you carry and step under my yoke and into the beauty of my Presence.  Experience My deep reviving beauty, that is only known through fellowship that comes with obedience.”

To know the beauty of the LORD is to return to the Garden of Eden, like stepping into a green house, full of life regardless of the season of year.

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Often it is a teeny tiny step from encouraged to discouraged and vice versa, and both ways, it usually involves people.  Yesterday, it was as if I was teetering on the brink and someone could have either coaxed me away from the edge or pushed me right over.

But today, I sense the Holy Spirit warning me with this question,

“Why live so close to that fatal line?”

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Why give anyone but God that power over my thoughts, my joy, my peace?  I’m not wrestling with flesh and blood.  This power-struggle is warfare for my soul, my effectiveness, my vision, my life, my attitude.  I am a servant of God and am under His authority and protection.   My merciful, kind, and faithful Master has generously given me everything I need for life and godliness, and His gifts are beautiful!  

I would be a fool to settle for ugly when His beautiful blessings are so abundant and free.  

Oh, how I am to be pitied when I miserably become weighed down by circumstances rather than remember and take advantage of (or simply notice and appreciate) the many benefits He offers.

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When I feel myself pulled in two directions, I have a choice.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  (Mt. 11:28-30)

And with every truly beautiful choice, I find my burden growing lighter and lighter until it is no burden at all; it actually becomes my delight.

So, I’m choosing to fill my life with BEAUTY!!!!

  • the most beautiful WORD of GOD
  • beautiful Music (especially songs of faith from my childhood)  This morning it was an old instrumental CD, violin played by Bill Murk. It started with a medley “He Has Made Me Glad / I Will Sing of the Mercies / What a Might God / Blessed Assurance” mixed with Aaron Copland’s famous “Hoedown” rodeo song.
  • the beauty of Nature (especially the early morning and twilight hours) — Today it was the sunrise with a frost.
  • the beauty of a Home at peace, in order, well tended
  • beautiful Friendships, prioritized and nurtured, but with space and room to grow
  • the beauty of Spirit-led Balance (waking, sleeping; time alone, time with others; eating just enough healthy and special treats; work-outs and rest days; ministry and private devotion; healthy lived-in comfort and company-clean; … “He has made everything beautiful its time.” (Eccl. 3:11)

He has given us every thing we need for life and godliness and to live beautifully today.

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One Final (“beautiful”) Thought and Challenge

I sense and underlying theme for this month, a phrase from a song,…

"beholding Your beauty is all that I long for"

“Lord Of Lords” – Hillsong United

Beholding Your beauty
Is all that I long for
To worship You Jesus
Is my sole desire
For this very heart
You have shaped for Your pleasure
Purposed to lift Your Name higher
Here in surrender
In pure adoration
I enter Your courts
With an offering of praise
I am Your servant
Come to bring You glory
As is fit for the work of Your hands…

This is my prayer and challenge for you today:

May every “ugly” thing cause you to seek and appreciate the grace of Jesus, our Beautiful Savior, and may every beautiful thing cause you to respond in worship and inspire you to do something beautiful for Him.  (see Mark 14:6 and Matthew 26:10)

L.E.A.P. – beautifully (March 29th)

Beauty…

God has put beauty all around us.

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And, the LORD especially wants to create beauty INSIDE us!!!

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Spring!  What an inviting month to L.E.A.P. beautifully!

  • Live beautifully!
  • Enjoy beauty!
  • Add beauty!
  • Pray for beauty!

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… a beautiful attitude, beautiful character, beautiful friendships.

… a beautiful home, a beautiful smile, a beautiful day!

… beautiful thoughts, beautiful sunrises, beautiful walks.

I am ready for BEAUTY!

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It’s Spring!!  I’m ready for color and life!  I have the much needed motivation to clean in-doors and an energetic desire to get out-doors and get moving.    What a perfect time to L.E.A.P. into a life of abundant BEAUTY!

If you're just joining in on this L.E.A.P. year challenge, check out the main page for more background and links.  You are welcome to start with BEAUTY, or last month's word (attentively), or choose another word that motivates you to LIVE, ENJOY, ADD, and PRAY in a new and creative way!

This month’s printable challenge has a four options.  You can choose just one, a couple, or do all four!   Then, mark the columns on your checklist throughout the coming month:

 LEAP march 29

 

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After printing the document on the link directly above, read these instructions to help you focus on L.E.A.P.ing with Beauty for 29 days in the coming month of April:

  1. Live in Beauty29 verbs are suggested to help you live in beauty  (You don’t need to do these in order.  Circle one that you’re “in the mood” to do each day.)For example:  “smile”.  Make your face beautiful by intentionally smiling throughout the day.    — (If you didn’t already make a L.E.A.P. reminder, consider tying a ribbon on your wrist or writing the word “smile” on the palm of your hand to help you Live in Beauty throughout the day.)   — All of the words are just FOR YOU; so if you are a little embarrassed about dancing, singing, drawing, etc, then dance in your bedroom, sing in the shower, doodle an illustration in your journal, etc.  — Some of the words may be more personal for you, like “forgive” or “worship”; but I hope you choose to apply these privately and in your heart especially since internal beauty makes us most attractive!
  2. Enjoy Beauty – write one or two words describing what or where you noticed beauty.  (This is an extension of last month’s “L.E.A.P.ing Attentively”.)  For example:  a flower, a sleeping child, a poetic phrase or line from a song,…)
    • If you enjoyed the bonus 29 day picture challenge from last month, you could continue with taking a picture of something you find to be beautiful.  Or, take a photo of how you “added beauty” in this next suggestion (or take a before and after photo)…
  3. Add Beauty – write one or two words to note how you added beauty during the day —  Need a suggestion?
    • make your bed, pick up the clutter in the livingroom, clear a table and put a center-piece on it, line up the shoes in the mudroom, sweep the porch and put out a welcome mat, rearrange furniture,…
    • paint your nails, take a shower, put on some make-up, get a hair cut, put on an outfit that you feel beautiful in,…
    • open the curtains and open a window, or wash a window, go for a walk, sit on the deck, weed a flower bed,…
    • buy flowers, set the dinner table in a special way,…
    • make a craft, sew, paint,…
    • Bonus Idea:   At our house, we try to use the last 30 minutes of the afternoon before Handsome comes home to tidy up the front of the house.  It’s just a quick once over to create a bit of beauty and make things more inviting for my hard working Man-of-the-House.
  4. Pray for Beauty – Each of these prompts relate to the verb listed for the day; so when you choose your word, use the corresponding suggestion to begin a pray asking the LORD to help you see beauty.  Then mark that column by circling the phrase.  Be expectantly watching for how the LORD beautifully answers your prayer.

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Now, just incase you’re thinking:

“I’m too busy.   I’ll enjoy beauty when I have more time.”

or

“I need to ‘order’ before I can ‘add beauty’.”

Consider this…

Beauty creates energy!

Beauty makes us more motivated and productive!

Beginning with beauty initiates momentum!

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For example, lighting a candle in the kitchen and putting on a kettle of water for tea changes my whole outlook on tidying up a sink full of dirty dishes, clearing a counter, or mopping a sticky floor.  I am encouraged by the immediate reward of a pleasant smell and the cozier change in the atmosphere of the room.  —  Also, I have the anticipation of an even better reward to look forward to when the task is done:  a relaxing cup of tea in a clean kitchen.  It’s as if I’m in a mini-race to see if I can finish before the water boils.

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(This same principle applies to other rooms of the house.  What is more motivating than lighting a candle and running water for a hot bath.  It’s so much more pleasant to soak in the tub without piles of dirty clothing on the floor, sloppy towels shoved over the rack, and hygiene odds and ends scattered all around the sink.)

When I look to create beauty, rather than clean and organize, I find the one inspires the other.  I start with the easiest and most obvious changes that will have the biggest impact.

So go ahead, look for beauty, enjoy beauty, add beauty; a little effort brings big rewards.  Pray for beauty and LIVE beautifully, making your mind a garden in full bloom.

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Come on!!! Let’s spend more time LIVING and ENJOYING beauty all around, enjoying the wide variety of beautiful people in our lives.   If nothing else, let’s linger in the presence of Beauty, the Creator of everything we see and enjoy; after all, He is what makes life truly beautiful!

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Many thanks to my Handsome Husband for the BEAUTIFUL corsages he gave to my daughter and me for Resurrection Sunday!  What a special way to start this month of beauty.

20 Days Toward Victory Over Sin

Yup, we did it again.

Little One lied.  And, I yelled.

  • a “little” lie grew because she wouldn’t admit it
  • a “little” aggravation grew because I lack self-control

We both have a sin problem.

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Little One needs TRUTH

and

I need GRACE

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I can be such a Pharisee, focusing on her sin and excusing my own.   She desperately needs a splinter taken from her eye

before she grows older and it grows into a stronghold,…

before it grows into a plank like the one I have in my eye.

I need to take the plank out of my eye so that I can patiently, lovingly, consistently, and objectively help my Precious Treasure with this sin that so easily entangles her.

We both need God’s help so we can see!!!

We need His GRACE and His TRUTH to set us free.

We’ve come so far and victory is within reach.  I know it.  She knows it.  It’s obvious; the LORD just won’t let this go in our lives.  He’s keeping a tight reign on us, and we’re miserable when we try to fight against His discipline in our lives.

So, we’ve mutually surrendered.  We want to cooperate with each other and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

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Here’s what we’re doing to encourage each other and celebrate our success in this battle for victory over sin.

  • On a mini, sticky-post-it pads, we’ve numbered 1 to 20.
  • Each day that Little One does not lie, or immediately confesses, I will rip off one layer at bedtime and tape in it on the next clean page of her journal.  Then the next morning she can start her day with the happy reminder of victory.
  • Each day that I do not raise my voice (I’m trying to only whisper sternly, because I can only do that when I intentionally think about it… and because it’s such a grey line between a “serious mama voice”, “raising my voice”, and “yelling”.) when giving correction, she will rip off one of my tabs and tape it into my journal.

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(One of the best bits of advice an older and wiser woman gave me, that has worked wonders in attitude and obedience, is to give out a job rather than lecture or repeat.  This works!!!)

We have them hung in an obvious location that we will see often as a reminder of our goal.  Little One has hers hung over her bed, and mine is hung on my prayer board in my room.

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Rather than demanding “control” (aka “our own way”:  getting what we want, when we want it), we  mutually decided we want the Holy Spirit to control us.   We want His way, all the time!   So, this is a tool to help us hold each other accountable in a positive way.

Having trouble with your tongue? Here's a simple suggestion: memorize or post a scripture verse that applies to your struggle ("...everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger... if anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless." - James 1: 19,26)

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Everyone struggles in some area.  We are aiming for 20 days without lying or exaggerating or intentionally misleading /correcting calmly without raising my voice or repeating myself.  Is there some area of your life (and yours child’s) that you could use a little encouragement and positive accountability?


 

If you’re reading this, I’m praying for you, and I’d appreciate your prayers, too!

If you’d like prayer about a specific struggle, post it in a comment.  As with everywhere else on this site, if you mark it as private, it will not be shared.

________________________

If you struggle with lying and are looking for help in telling the truth, here is a place to start that has helpful advice and a free e-book about lying:

How to Stop Lying (part 1)

How to Stop Lying (part 2)

Little One’s Prayer Bag

Early this morning, Little One crawled in my bed while I was having my prayer time.  Looking at the new prayer notebook I’ve been using, she said she’d like a new prayer book, too.

In her “very-mature” elementary voice, she said, “l think I’m starting a new season of life, and I want to pray more.”   (Where did she hear that????  hmmm.  I think I know.  — How much a child learns from overheard conversations!)

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So, after getting everyone else started in school, she picked out paper and started designing her notebook.    I was her paper-cutter and glue-girl.   Even the bow “to tie the book closed as it gets fat” was her idea.  (Now I’m wishing I had a bow on mine!)

I can’t show you what she’s writing on the inside; it’s her “work in progress” (and I’m not sure if I’ll have permission).  But, this will give you a basic idea of what she had in mind…

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First, she picked a gift bag and paper (mostly PINK!!!); then, we decorated a blank book to make it her own design.

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(a peek inside the bag)

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It contains a clear zipper bag with supplies, an envelope of blank prayer cards, and her prayer book.

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The prayer cards are just 12×12 scrapbook pages cut into a variety of smaller sizes.  She can choose a card to write a specific request on or to write a promise or verse that applies to one of her prayer pages.

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The paper we used is white on the back; so it is easier to read the prayers and scripture verses she writes.

(I gave her an old paper back “Promise Book” with verses arranged by topic to keep in her bag to help her find verses that might apply for the different things she wants to pray about. )

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Larger papers and bookmarks can just be tucked in.   These sizes are great for lists, quotes about prayer, and longer verses.   (The tie she asked for will be perfect for keeping things from falling out.)

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Her zipper bag holds some old scrapbook odds and ends (words, letters, tiny tags), a glue stick, washi-tape and paper clips for holding verse cards and promises on particular prayer pages, colored pencils and pens, and a small ruler for making lines to help her write neatly on her pages.

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I gave her a couple family photos to tape in as prayer reminders, and we glued in a few envelopes for other reminders that she picks up along the way.   (Clippings from Christian magazines, prayer requests from church or friends, business cards from missionaries she meets or businesses she wants to pray for, etc…)

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She chose the different colors pages in her book to be for special areas she wants to pray about:

  • yellow – family
  • pink – herself (school, dreams, future husband, …)
  • green – the world (neighbors, missionaries, Sunday teachers, …)
  • blue – friends

She has titled pages by name or category (Daddy, Grandma, Pastors, School, …)  and is writing out prayers and lists she can add to later for each.

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(picture above:  the back of her prayer book)

While working on this post, I could hear Little One singing to herself as she worked on her book…

Typing as fast as I can, I got down as many lines as I could.   These were her own lyrics to the tune of Disney’s Little Mermaid “Part of Your World”.

(I asked her permission to share.)

  • “Look at this stuff isn’t it neat, wouldn’t you think my prayer book is complete.  Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl who has everything…
  • Look at this bag, treasures untold, how many prayer requests can one person hold.  Wouldn’t you think I’d pray more, I’ve got everything! …
  • I’ve got washi-tape, bookmarks, and pictures.  I’ve got glue sticks, colored pencils and scissors…
  • Do want a thing to pray about? I got plenty!  But, who cares?  You can pray all the time…
  • I’m ready to know what the Christians know.  Ask God my questions and learn more about Him….
  • When’s it my turn, wouldn’t I love to explore heaven above, out of the earth, I want to be part of God’s world!”

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Ladies, let’s be Seeking Ones, women who pray and seek God’s face and His blessing on our homes, our families, and our friends… for the sake of our children, that THEY might also be Seeking Ones, boys and girls who grow up into men and women who pray and seek God’s face and His blessing on THEIR homes, families, and friends.

If you’re reading this, I am praying for YOU!!!!!

L.E.A.P. – “Spring Ahead”

 Spring ahead!

Do you really need another reason to L.E.A.P. (live, enjoy, add, pray)?

Well, you have one…

day-light savings

It adds an hour to the “standard time” for the purpose of “giving us more time”, or at least helping us to make better use of the time we have.

With an additional hour of sunlight from starting the day an hour earlier, our entire country is encouraged to become early risers.

So what will you do with that extra hour of daylight?
  • Will you go for a walk with your sweetheart?
  • Will you sit on your front porch and visit with a neighbor?
  • Will you watch the sunset?

Along with making better use of the daylight hours, Daylight Savings Time (DST)was intended to help us conserve energy.  While the nation focuses on better stewardship of energy, why don’t we do the same and makes some intentional choices about our life, our limited time and energy, that we’ve been given by God.

  • How do you want to LIVE this year?
  • What do you not want to miss?  What are you longing to ENJOY more?
  • What do you need to ADD to your life?  What “good things” do you need to remove from your life to make room for “the best”?
  • When will you PRAY?

Nothing has really changed with DST except our perception and perspective.  The sun hasn’t moved, the earth is still rotating at the same speed.  Yet, we call the hours something different, and overnight, the clock tells us the sun rises and sets one hour later than the day before… suddenly, we have “more time”.

But, this window of new opportunity will soon close.  In a week, or maybe even just a few days, we will adjust to the time change, and unless we choose now, nothing will really change.

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Let’s rename this L.E.A.P. year.  Let’s give each month a new name, a new reference point.   As we turn the pages of the calendar, we will keep the memories and a few choice habits we pick up along the way and L.E.A.P. forward with a new focus

  • Let’s LIVE simply, naturally, actively, …
  • Let’s ENJOY quietly, thankfully, attentively, …
  • Let’s ADD beautifully , lovingly, humorously, …
  • Let’s PRAY patiently, generously, intentionally, …
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http://www.theseekingone.com/l-e-a-p-year/

To see a quick outline of the monthly challenges for the year check out this “L.E.A.P. YEAR” post. 

or

http://www.theseekingone.com/retreats/1-1-1-1-prayer/

Take a look at the complete “1-1-1-1” / “L.E.A.P.” challenge page,

There you will find tools to help make each day, each week, each month of this year more victorious as you Seek the LORD and enjoy Him in a personalized and intentional way.