Facing the Future or Fearing It?

Thank you Kathi Lipp for today’s message.

Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:33-34, ESV).

When I was a young adult, I would often tell myself, “When I become really successful, I will give away so much money! I will support orphans and the needy. I need to work hard so that in my later years, I can do a lot of good in the world and for God’s kingdom.”

At the same time, I was in a constant battle: me versus my stuff. My home was stuffed to the brim with things I bought and used (or not). I would try and try to declutter, but everything in my house, to me, was completely essential. Maybe not right now; I couldn’t get rid of anything that I might need, someday. It seemed wasteful to have bought the heart-shaped muffin pan, use it once, and then give it away. (What if, five years later, I had another child who wanted little heart shaped cakes for Valentine’s Day?) My entire house was brimming with “what ifs.”

So as my house kept bursting at the seams, my plans I had to care for the poor never magically happened. I knew the next step was to earn more money so I could serve the poor and buy a bigger house so that we weren’t always so crowded, and I could concentrate on loving others well. Right? Isn’t this what the world tells us?

All of this was faulty, future thinking. Instead of doing what I could, in the moment, to serve those right in front of me, I kept saying “someday.”

  • About my clutter.
  • About my helping the poor.

When it came to clutter, “What if I need it someday?” is the cry of the fearful heart. Because for the fearful heart, what we once decided would be “enough” to start helping the poor, “enough” to have in our homes, will never be enough.

The only way we will have enough in our homes, enough to help those who need the help, is to get to the place where we trust the God who has already given us so much.

It took me well into my forties to believe — really believe — that I could get rid of the “extra” in my house, the “just in case” in my house, without fear. Have I given away a few things I needed again? Occasionally. In those instances, I’ve had the peace of knowing that my extra was being used by someone else who needed it, and I could, if I really needed it, buy or borrow those items again.

But the most exciting part of this journey has been the ability to help people — not “someday” but right now.

Instead of selling our couch that was still in wonderful shape and people had offered to buy from us, we were able to give it to a single mom who just moved to our community.

And when our friend was raising funds for clean water in Africa, I had a piece of jewelry (given to me by someone who was no longer in my life) that I was able to sell for money to help build a well.

I would rather carry these acts in my heart than extra stuff in my house.

Don’t let your abundance be what you put your trust in. Instead, trust your abundance to God.

Have a blessed day!

Love Lives Here

Thank you Kathi Lipp for today’s message.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid  – John 14:26-28, NIV

For years, home was not my happy place. There were tense words, loud conversations, lots of noise, and a whole bunch of chaos. I remember thinking, “When these kids grow up…When my husband is nicer…When we have more money…things will calm down.”

But peace isn’t determined by our circumstances; it’s determined by the way we respond with God’s help to those circumstances. God sent His Son so we could experience peace, not just in the quiet of life, but also when chaos hits.

If you are approaching your home with dread at the end of the day, perhaps your place needs a peace makeover, like mine did. Here are a few things you can be intentional about when it comes to creating a peace-filled home:

Speak Words that Build Peace

So much of what determines our level of peace is the choice of words we use in our home. Are we speaking words of respect and kindness? Are we lifting up the people we live with? How can you build into the lives of those you love with an “I love you!” and “I’m proud of you!” A “You make me happy!” and “I forgive you”?

And it is not just the words we speak, it is the words we allow into our home. Carefully consider TV programs, music, and especially sites you visit on the internet. All of those words that come into your home can promote or tear down peace within your four walls.

wERA4ybWWc6eW6phrckP8CBe3W5wG8seBzQdA87T6tacfepC_4_600.jpgCreate a Home that Promotes Peace

One of the main biblical definitions of peace when translated from the Greek includes “to be complete or whole” or “to live well.” A home that promotes peace is one where healthy food is served, clutter is controlled, systems are in place and people are cared for. These may feel like the everyday acts of a woman just keeping her home running, but really, they are the hundreds of small decisions we can make every day to promote peace and live whole lives in our homes:

  • Create meal plans for healthy eating.
  • Put things away when we are done using them.
  • Balance our bank account.
  • Pay our bills.
  • Invite others over to share a meal.
  • Serve our neighbors when there is a crisis.
  • Tend to a garden.

Be a Woman Who Promotes Peace

When someone insults me online, on the phone, or even in the line at the grocery store, I need to commit deliberate, defiant acts of peace toward that person. Those acts of peace can be, depending on the situation and the person, quick forgiveness, kind words to quench the hurt, or praying for them instead of responding. Peace is not powerlessness but refusing to give someone else the power over your response.

As you drive home tonight, think about what feeling you have as you approach your front door. Is it relief that you are finally home and have a soft place to land, or do you hesitate because inside your house carries the same amount of chaos as the rest of the world?

If peace doesn’t meet you at the door, make the decision to be someone who doggedly pursues peace in your home starting today.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

In Want or in Plenty: Real Ways to Create Contentment in Your Life

Thank you Kathi Lipp for today’s message…

On that sunny August day, I thought my life couldn’t get much worse.

Recently separated from my husband and with no support from him, I was teetering on the financial edge. My kids and I had just moved in with my parents, and I was desperately looking for a job to support my two middle schoolers.

I thought about our old life where the only thing I needed to get them ready for a new school year was a debit card and a couple trips to the mall. With school only a few weeks away, I didn’t know where I’d get the money to buy clothes and shoes or pay for annual physicals.

That was fifteen years ago.

Today, I do have enough, but the dread of not having what I need can still make me sick to my stomach.

We live in a tiny house, but one that is situated in the most expensive county in the US, with plenty of food, enough money to buy clothes we need and go out to dinner occasionally. Even take an occasional vacation.
This is the land of plenty. No doubt about it.

But what I’ve discovered? There are benefits and drawbacks to both.

When I was in want, we pulled together what we needed with the help of my parents, hand-me-downs from friends, Goodwill, and a small amount of surprise money that showed up in our mailbox. We didn’t have extra, but we had exactly what we needed.

Living in want is a scary place to be, whatever your want may be. But the other thing I discovered about living in want? It gives you plenty of room to see and experience God’s provision first hand, evidence of God’s care and provision for me and my kids.

Now, living in plenty? Whew! Finally, you can be relieved of the day-to-day worry about how you’re going to pay the rent, or the next car payment. But there is a drawback to living in plenty: You can forget to notice all the miracles around you.

We falsely believe we are making things happen—and that can even turn into thinking if only people were as ______________ (conscientious, hard-working, smart, etc.) as us, they would not be in want.

And suddenly we forget about the love, graciousness and strength only God can provide in both of these times.

So how do we stay content in a world that actively works to keep us discontent?

Limit your time around agents of discontent.

Where does your discontentment grow? For me, it’s looking at Pinterest or home decorating sites. I see all-white country chic homes and am transported into another world—until I have to come back to earth and see my stained carpets, saggy couches and 1970’s bathroom. Not only can I become dissatisfied, I can project that dissatisfaction onto my husband, who works hard to provide for me.

I’ve learned to limit myself when it comes to my house. Currently, we are replacing our carpets with flooring. Instead of spending months perusing different websites, I’m heading to Home Depot. No muss. No fuss.

Get radically, ridiculously grateful.

This is an exercise I do when I need to recalibrate my gratefulness. Notice how many things you have directly around you.

As I write this, within a foot of me are:

2 Bibles
A notebook and pen
A coffee cup with hot coffee in it
A banana peel from the banana I just ate
A tray a good friend gave me
A couch I’m sitting on
A quilt my mom made me
My dog cuddling with me
Just noticing the blessings in my immediate surroundings changes my perspective.

Here is what I know from reading God’s word: We need to set our hearts on God and not our circumstances. We must learn to live both in want and in plenty.

God will meet us, no matter our situation. Our ability to be content is not determined by our circumstances, but our connection to Him.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Love Lives Here

Thank you Kathi Lipp for today’s message…

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid  ~ John 14:26-28, NIV

For years, home was not my happy place. There were tense words, loud conversations, lots of noise, and a whole bunch of chaos. I remember thinking, “When these kids grow up…When my husband is nicer…When we have more money…things will calm down.”

But peace isn’t determined by our circumstances; it’s determined by the way we respond with God’s help to those circumstances. God sent His Son so we could experience peace, not just in the quiet of life, but also when chaos hits.

If you are approaching your home with dread at the end of the day, perhaps your place needs a peace makeover, like mine did. Here are a few things you can be intentional about when it comes to creating a peace-filled home:

Speak Words that Build Peace

So much of what determines our level of peace is the choice of words we use in our home. Are we speaking words of respect and kindness? Are we lifting up the people we live with? How can you build into the lives of those you love with an “I love you!” and “I’m proud of you!” A “You make me happy!” and “I forgive you”?

And it is not just the words we speak, it is the words we allow into our home. Carefully consider TV programs, music, and especially sites you visit on the internet. All of those words that come into your home can promote or tear down peace within your four walls.

Create a Home that Promotes Peace

One of the main biblical definitions of peace when translated from the Greek includes “to be complete or whole” or “to live well.” A home that promotes peace is one where healthy food is served, clutter is controlled, systems are in place and people are cared for. These may feel like the everyday acts of a woman just keeping her home running, but really, they are the hundreds of small decisions we can make every day to promote peace and live whole lives in our homes:

  • Create meal plans for healthy eating.
  • Put things away when we are done using them.
  • Balance our bank account.
  • Pay our bills.
  • Invite others over to share a meal.
  • Serve our neighbors when there is a crisis.
  • Tend to a garden.

Be a Woman Who Promotes Peace

When someone insults me online, on the phone, or even in the line at the grocery store, I need to commit deliberate, defiant acts of peace toward that person. Those acts of peace can be, depending on the situation and the person, quick forgiveness, kind words to quench the hurt, or praying for them instead of responding. Peace is not powerlessness but refusing to give someone else the power over your response.

As you drive home tonight, think about what feeling you have as you approach your front door. Is it relief that you are finally home and have a soft place to land, or do you hesitate because inside your house carries the same amount of chaos as the rest of the world?

If peace doesn’t meet you at the door, make the decision to be someone who doggedly pursues peace in your home starting today.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

When It Never Feels Like Enough

Thank you Kathi Lipp for today’s message:

As I stand in the middle of Sur La Table, my favorite kitchen store, I pass over the cookware and utensils that beckon me (I’m a sucker for kitchen gadgets.) and head straight for the cookbook I came to get. It’s my stepson’s birthday. Jeremy is a talented chef and I know that the new Alton Brown cookbook will be exactly what he wants.

But then, right there in the middle of the store, I start to panic. Will it be enough?

Will it be enough to show Jeremy how much we love him? Step-relationships can be tricky, and I want to make sure that Jeremy knows he is a priority for me. Will this cookbook, along with the party and the other gift, be enough for him? I start to doubt myself and the book I hold in my hand. So, I start marching around the store, throwing utensils and towels into my basket so that I can make sure the gift looks like enough.

This has been a common theme throughout my life—feeling like not enough. And when I’m feeling like I’m not enough, I hustle by doing more, buying more and trying to be more than I am to make up for my lack of “enough.”

But hustle is the world’s answer to fear: work harder, do more, buy more and you will feel okay.

God’s answer to fear is dramatically different: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV) God wants us to reject what the world thinks—that hustle is what will get us peace—and instead renew our minds. God knows that the world’s pattern will never lead to peace, only the radical, counter-cultural act of replacing our worldly thoughts with His thoughts.

So, when the ugly, broken thoughts of being not enough start to invade my thinking (and my shopping cart) I need to break those patterns of thinking and replace them with these truths:

· The goal of giving gifts is celebrating the person, not building the relationship.

· It is presence, not presents, that builds relationships.

· I will never become more by buying more.

· God has promised He will provide everything I need. I don’t have to hustle when I’m in God’s perfect plan.

God says we are already enough, not because of who we are but because of who He is.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!