burning bridges?

dirt-path_thumb.jpgThere’s been one too many times in my life I’ve had the overwhelming urge to “make a run for it.” I’ve actually seen a few people do this lately, selling out, packing up, and moving away in search of a new thing…in search of peace. Running from something or someone or themselves…leaving behind all they know, leaving family and friends.

We all entertain thoughts of this kind of great escape at times. We yearn to burn all the bridges, cut ties, and start over. Maybe we even want to just burn “it” all down in one dramatic cleansing moment of frustration.

roadinmaui-edited3.jpgLooking back, I remember running away, making a dramatic “move” of some sort to escape the circumstances I’d found myself in. But, this kind of impulsive “move” in life rarely pans out the way we want it to. The newness of the new thing or place always wears off. We are then left with just another daily grind.

The universal truth is, wherever we go and where ever we live, some things are absolutely the same. There will always be someone we can’t tolerate or who challenges us more than we care to deal with. There will always be conflicts of some sort. There will always be things that must be done that brings about the “daily grind.” There will still be bad weather and environmental difficulties over which we are helpless. The grass or pavement on the other side of all fences may be different and enticing but isn’t always better.GA-PATH-BW_thumb.jpg

The deep restlessness many feel comes from discontent. The cure for discontent is finding the source of true joy. Truth is…that peace and that joy only comes from within and being filled with God’s Holy Spirit is the only way to successfully fill in all those aching empty places in our hearts.

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I’m thankful that we don’t have to trek far to find this kind of joy and peace in life. We can  find it “being still” and letting God’s goodness and mercy catch up with us. “Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell forever {throughout all my days} in the house and in the presence of the Lord.”(Psalm 23:6 AMP)LastingImagesByLisa_2009 10 13_3181_edited-1

However, if life leads you to wander for the pure joy of seeing and enjoying God’s great “wonders” then do so with gusto! And if your heart leads you to wander far from your usual stomping grounds in desire to serve God, then trust Him with  your adventures and go bravely in that direction!

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You. (Isaiah 26:3)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)

Blesses are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matt. 5:9)

 

 

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So very far from Eden…

I’m trying desperately to muddle out of this new chaotic “thing” that’s reared its ugly peace wrecking head in our lives. The tension in the back of my neck and the deep sorrowful ache in my heart is consequence of attempts to find reason in what should have been so simple. It will be a miracle if the sleep comes tonight. Most of the time, I choose to see the good in a situation. I choose the joy. Even if it seems to be hiding, I seek it out…call it forward. 
And then there’s these kinds of days. You know, the ones that scream with all the force of darkness…dredge up every negative emotion. 


The world is so very broken. There is so much pain and suffering. So much selfishness and pride. Sometimes I am amazed at how comfortable the majority seems to be in this darkness. God, we’ve come so far from the beautiful Eden you created. We still turn our backs away from the bountiful wonders you set before us…always seeking more or different…As if there just might be something better…as if You were holding out on us. Our greedy hearts always aimlessly wandering towards what ultimately only brings misery. 


How long will we all walk in this desert circle? How much does it take for some to see that You and You alone are all we need? 

My soul is in such deep thirst for your comfort and protection tonight. I need spiritual shelter under Your all-seeing, all-knowing power. I am laying down every burden of my heart and leaning into Your peace that passes all understanding.

Psalm 42:5-8The Message (MSG)
5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?

    Why are you crying the blues?

Fix my eyes on God—

    soon I’ll be praising again.

He puts a smile on my face.

    He’s my God.

6-8 When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse

    everything I know of you,

From Jordan depths to Hermon heights,

    including Mount Mizar.

Chaos calls to chaos,

    to the tune of whitewater rapids.

Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers

    crash and crush me.

Then God promises to love me all day,

    sing songs all through the night!

    My life is God’s prayer.

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It’s a choice 

 All these things truly are choices, although we sometimes live as if we are shackled by our daily circumstances and obligated to be sucked into a vortex of busyness and living a joyless life.

Jesus came to give us a life more abundant, not one where we daily struggle to barely survive because we’re so stressed out.

If you have been living on the verge of a total meltdown or just barely surviving the daily grind, dragging through your days weary and broken inside- ask yourself “why?” Are you choosing to allow your circumstances to enslave your heart and mind?

Joy really is a choice.

 Choosing to live joyfully requires changing how we think about what’s going on around us instead of  being tossed about by a sea of emotional reactions. As the annoying, yet oddly wise, Disney song says “let it go, let it goooooooo oh….!”

Today, I’m choosing joy…in spite of it all! I’m choosing to slow down and live more intentionally. I’m choosing to not let worry squash my mind in its crushing vise. I’m choosing to “let go” of the negatives and grab hold of the overflowing mercies of God!

 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

 

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Stop flogging yourself and go color…

The other day some ladies and I were talking about those new adult coloring books. Several of us in the conversation admitted to owning one and how surprisingly fun they were. Then a comment was made that actually spurred a flurry of introspection on my part. She said, “Oh, I could never sit and color! I’d be too busy thinking of how I could be up doing something more productive!” The comment was her honest opinion and may be the opinion of many others, but it struck an uncomfortable chord with me. An old and familiar dogged emotion began nipping at my heart- guilt and shame.  But why?

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So, the next few days, I over-analyzed my reaction to her words because that’s pretty much the way I roll- I’m an avid over-thinker (which is probably why I write). I came to the realization that I have struggled my whole  life with feeling guilty when I am in recreational mode and only feeling valuable when I’m being productive. This struggle is complicated and aggravating because I’m an artist- I’m truly in my element when I’m singing, playing piano, drawing, painting, taking pictures, doodling, creating, etc. Some of what I like to do with my free time doesn’t “produce” anything profitable.

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Google the definition of productive and here is what you get:

pro·duc·tive
prəˈdəktiv/
adjective
  1. producing or able to produce large amounts of goods, crops, or other commodities.
    “the most productive employees”
    synonyms: fertile, fruitful, rich, fecund

    “productive land”
    • relating to or engaged in the production of goods, crops, or other commodities.
      “the country’s productive capacity”
    • achieving or producing a significant amount or result.
      “a long and productive career”

     

Google the word “productive” and you’ll get tons of articles and advice on how to “cram, crush, and shove more productivity into less time.” Keep reading and you’ll soon realize that we live in a world that places the highest value on how “productive” you are and how much work you do in the shortest amount of  time.

So, is an activity only valuable if it produces something or brings monetary profit?IMG_0525Is it a waste of precious, fleeting time to do something for the pure joy it brings?

There are so many things I enjoy doing but some produce nothing but the shear pleasure of doing them – such as painting, drawing, singing, or just goofing off with my kids. Yet, I also like sewing, crocheting, and photography. I suppose one could argue that the latter activities are more valuable since they produce something of value. Crocheting will bring warm items such as scarves, blankets and hats. Sewing creates clothing and useful things for housekeeping. Photography creates a permanent record of a moment in time proving to be useful for record keeping or instruction.

But…what of the recreational activities? We all have them hopefully. Do we fully engage in them without the nagging guilt of “I could be doing something more useful?” I’m sure there are those blessed with the ability to be immersed in some much needed down time without flogging themselves mentally. I wish I were one of them.  But…I struggle with that nagging voice-over in my head…”you are too behind and busy to be doing this…what about the laundry, wouldn’t it make more sense to use your energy to reorganize that messy drawer, etc etc, blah, blah, blah.”

 

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I make “to do” lists every week. I nag myself silently if they aren’t crossed off. I pick up that ole bag of guilty regret and drag it into my day. Ugh! This is truly one of the things about myself I absolutely strive to change. Every. Day. Its my “thorn in the side.”

Now before anyone gets the notion that I’m ditching the idea of a lifestyle that contributes to those around them, please hear me out.This is not at all what I’m getting at. This whole wordy purpose of this blog post is to argue the value of recreation. I truly believe that we should live meaningful, purposeful, Godly lives filled with doing good things for others and, yes, for ourselves as well. But, there is great value in recreation. Its actually a God-given gift, in fact.

 

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Rest, recreation, and doing something just for the pure joy it brings is not a sin.  The world will not stop spinning on its axis if you sit for a while and color in your adult coloring book or drink coffee and watch the sunset. No one will fire you from the human race if you decide to doodle mindlessly while listening to your favorite band on iTunes. You are not a disappointment to our monetary-reward-driven society if you keep an art journal filled with paint splattered pretties that only you will ever see. And its perfectly alright if your idea of a “good time” is watching your favorite sports team and napping during half-time.

We should never measure our value as human beings by what we “put out” in terms of productivity. It really is alright to enjoy our lives….even “waste time” as some may define it.

Look at this definition of the word “recreation:”

 

 

rec·re·a·tion

(rĕk′rē-ā′shən)

n.

1. Refreshment of one’s mind or body after work through activity that amuses or stimulates; play.
2. An activity that provides such refreshment.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

recreation

(ˌrɛkrɪˈeɪʃən)

n

1. refreshment of health or spirits by relaxation and enjoyment
2. an activity or pastime that promotes this

3. (Education)

a. an interval of free time between school lessons
b. (as modifier): recreation period.
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

rec•re•a•tion

(ˌrɛk riˈeɪ ʃən)

n.

1. refreshment, as by means of agreeable exercise.
2. a means of enjoyable relaxation.
[1350–1400; Middle Englishrecreacioun (< Middle Frenchrecreation) < Late Latinrecreātiōamusement, Latin:restoration <recreāre(seerecreate)]
rec`re•a′tion•al adj.
Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
Notice the Middle English? Recreation is simply “restoration.” {{{Yes!!!}}}
It is in these times of recreation or relaxation that God restores my soul. Its when I sit and watch the sunset that I hear Him speak the clearest. And its when I’m creating something in my art studio that I allow rest to wash away all the weariness the duties of daily living can bring. Will any of my drawings or paintings bring a profit? Maybe never. . Will my singing and piano playing be recorded as the next hit song? Obviously not. Will I ever get paid to blog? Well… maybe someday…But also, maybe never… And this is alright and acceptable- simply because the act of doing these activities brought joy to my life. They restored my mind and put a dash of pizzazz into my world. They’re the rainbows after my storms and the butterflies in the middle of my winters. They’re that little spark that lights my fire again.  I always come to the other side of them with a sense of renewal. I feel re-created. And I smile more. And I feel inspired afterwards to get on about the duties that call out to my sensible, responsible, to-do-list-crossing-off-task-driven side. So…there truly is priceless value in our little free time pleasures in this life.
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What do you do that restores and renews you? How do you recreate? Do you struggle with guilt when you do?  Here’s some bible verses to help with that:
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.(Proverbs 15:13)
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.(Proverbs 17:22)
Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens. (Proverbs 23:4-5)
“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.”(Matt.11:28-30)
Our ultimate rest and restoration comes from God. He has instilled in us the desire to be useful but also to find enjoyment in the fruits of our labor in this life. There is joy in work, especially when it helps others.  And, undoubtedly, there is satisfaction in completing tasks and even making money to support the needs and wants of living. But, there is also joy and contentment in those seemingly less “productive” activities in life. They are the fuel that recharges our batteries to do the things our daily lives require.
If you’re curious about what the bible says about rest and relaxation read this interesting article here: http://www.gotquestions.org/rest-relaxation.html
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and Jesus understands!

IMG_1651I woke up this morning before dawn with the same  nagging heartache I struggled to sleep through last night. I gave up on trying to redeem any sleep and decided to make coffee. On only 4 hours of sleep, it needed to be strong.

The upside of being up this early is that the little ones are still sleeping, so I have uninterrupted prayer time. My prayer this morning was for peace and power over this present nagging heartache. Often I ask God to lead me to some scripture or devotional that is pertinent to what I am going through or will go through for the day. The following excerpt from John Eldredge’s book, Beautiful Outlaw, is the devotional He led me to read right after my prayer.

          Jesus enjoyed people. Not everyone does,you know. Many stories find him feasting with a rowdy crowd. He invited twelve men to spend day and night with him for three years. His longing for companionship intensifies to a crescendo in Gethsemane: “He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him…’Stay here and keep watch with me'”(Matt. 26:37-38).Don’t leave me alone, not now. How urgently human. Yes, Jesus knew loneliness. He’s not pretending. The one who created the human heart-whose own heart was so kind and so vast-this man felt deeply. He who created love and friendship longed for it.

This is no superhero, steeled and impervious to the human condition. Far from it.

And loneliness is something we all share with him. To be missed, or misunderstood. To be judge unfairly. To be wanted for what you can do, rather than who you are. to go on for years unappreciated, even unknown by those closest to you. Imagine living your entire life in a world where the people closest to you don’t get you. Oh…you do live in that world. And Jesus understands.- Beautiful Outlaw (by John Eldredge)

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And Jesus understands! Those last words reached out and wrapped me in the supernatural comforting arms of God’s Holy Spirit! Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with the love of Jesus and how He used this book excerpt to speak to me.

Through thankful tear-filled eyes I am seeing more clearly this morning of not only His great and inexplicable peace but of how He makes all things new…even me…and sometimes daily.

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I’m watching the morning sun shine through almost bare late Autumn trees…they are adorned with frozen dew now warmed into sparkling drops of water. I am thankful. I am comforted. And I am in peaceful awe.

 

 

 

 

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Needing Renewal?

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Yesterday, I fell under the grips of what felt like smoldering burn-out. I was locked down, imprisoned, unable to climb out of this mental funk that was fogging up my usually optimistic attitude.

The everyday struggle and the mundane had me feeling colorless and weary. My zip and zeal was at zero! So…I crocheted a few rows on a crochet project, read a couple of chapters in my current read, and turned into my warm bed for sleep. I was hoping that a good 6 or 7 hours of temporary unconsciousness would reset my melancholy mood.

me with coffee

This morning my craving for a hot cup of “get up and go” roused me to my Bunn coffee machine. While priming the glorious-mechanical-giver-of-dark- and-steamy-eye-opening-elixir for my waiting cup, the words “renew my strength” was running through my mind like a loudspeaker.  And no, it wasn’t the great brew resonating, although it is a really good coffee…it was the Holy Spirit beckoning me to God’s word.

Yes, Lord,” I answered while sipping that first glorious bit of coffee, “I do need my strength renewed.” So… while fueling my still-waking body with caffeine, I opened my bible to my favorite passages. Here’s what jumped out at me first:

28  Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable.

29  He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might he increases strength.

30  Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;

31  but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

We all get weary. Sometimes the weariness isn’t physical; our minds are overloaded or our spirits are exhausted from life’s sorrows. We need wings. Only the Lord can provide this remedy from the heaviness we fall under. God lightens our loads. He helps us to soar above our troubles. This relaxing picture of me soaring effortlessly over what had bogged me down was renewing my mind already. Why is it that we forget to fly? We let ourselves get grounded in discouragements…we struggle until we feel stuck in a rut, imprisoned and resentful. Its only when we look to God for our strength that we find our “wings” to soar above our circumstances.

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The other verse that the Holy Spirit reminded me of was II Corinthians 4:16-18:

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner

self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is

preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look

not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things

that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

The earthly struggles and trials that we see daily can wear us down if we let it. But, thankfully, they are temporary; they’re mere passing afflictions not worthy of taking us over. We have so much more in store for us in eternity with God. This pours refreshing hope all over our mundane moments and extinguishes our smoldering bouts of burn-out!

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As you can see, I take a lot of pictures of beautiful skies. I love to look back on them to remind myself on the gray and dismal days that there were and still will be beautiful days. God’s word reminds me also that there is “better things to come” on days when I am dangling by the last thread on an already frayed rope.

My prayer for you today if you are experiencing that burned-out, discouraged, and weary feeling is that you will rise above it with the power of God’s love. Open the word, read, pray…embrace his promises. I pray that you find renewed strength in our loving Father and his ever present help. So, breathe…Go ahead, do it now- take a nice easy deep breath in and then slowly out… now repeat after me: do not lose heart… God is my strength!”  Now… let Him be the wind beneath your tired wings, and soar!

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the pages turn too quickly…

089I feel like the pages of my life are turning too quickly.
The days are melting into each other…bright busy mornings overflowing into exhausted evenings…each moment building into the next until they are but years behind me and only memories.

My heart is aching tonight for the precious time wasted on what doesn’t really matter and how we often don’t realize we are squandering those hours dutifully moving through our daily tasks and so many times missing the opportunity to pause…

to really revel and relish in this life we’re living…

how many beautiful “roses” have to wither and fade before we realize its winter?

093redskyHow many tenderly quiet crimson and golden sunsets will fade into darkness before we find that night has settled in?

Life is moving at a dizzying pace that spins my mind…

am I as powerless to its centrifugal force as I feel? Am I really?

He said to “be still” and know that He is God.IMG_7548TireSwingTree Why did he say “be still?”
Could it be because He knew how prone we are to being swept away and so helplessly caught up in the busy spinning of our own lives like voluntary victims of tilt-a-whirls?

I watch my young children sleeping...no longer are any of them babies.IMG_4035 My heart skips a beat, aches at the thought of how fast they’ve grown. I’ve taken my turn watching all seven of them breathing peacefully while they dream. They have grown faster than my heart can handle…

I wanna press the pause button.

My youngest is four years old now…still so very tiny for his age but insistent on being a “big boy.”


Some of my babies have w~r~i~g~g~l~e~d out of my arms and into adulthood…now living on their own. I’m proud, of course. But…still...those pages! Those pages have turned too quickly!

As I watch my four youngest sleep tonight… I’m wondering how to press the pause button on this fast forwarding speed of life.
I want to hold the sweet expressions, the kisses, giggles and adoration of all my children just a few more moments longer, imprint them on my heart forever.  I don’t want to miss the gentle fragrance of another”rose” or the 2010 06 28_6459flowersflaming reds of another sunset.

I want to capture each passing moment and hold it just a little tighter, to really notice the here and now… to be grateful, alive, to be still...because I know all too well how quickly those precious moments will melt into years of just memories.

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