Focus

I don’t know about you but I don’t recognize this world anymore. Some say we’re getting better. Some say it’s worse. I was watching the 80’s Top Tens on Disney+ last night and began to travel back in my mind to my personal memories of growing up in the eighties. As I watched, tears filled my eyes. It was like another lifetime. A time where I was naive about a lot of things. A world where things were simple and people were kind.

Like the picture, we live in a world where things are upside down. Evil is called good, and good is called evil. Focus is so important. Terri Savelle Foy says, “What you think about, you bring about.” It’s why you have to make a valiant effort to focus on the promises of God. To believe God for the impossible. To use your gifts and abilities to change spheres of influence. The Bible encourages us to, “fix our thoughts on what is true, honorable, and right and pure, and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8). Does this mean we should ignore the problems? Bury your head in the sand and pretend that since it’s not in your backyard that it doesn’t affect you? No- It means we charge into the culture and take a stand. We change it by our presence. We change it with our actions. We change it with our voices. Together, as believers in Jesus.

When you’re looking through the right lens, the things that are out of focus are made clear. Sharp. The path is made visible. And straight. There’s greater clarity, and with that clarity comes peace. On the outside of the lens, there’s still confusion, cloudiness, chaos, uncertainty. This may seem obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. Our lens for clear living, peaceful living, and purposeful living is the Bible. I’m praying that you will make a habit this year to renew your mind in the word of God every day, so that you can maintain your peace, grow in wisdom, and experience a greater revelation of who Jesus is and who he’s calling you to be.

A word from the Lord:

To stay in the flow of my spirit, it’s vital that you do not allow distractions to hinder your time with me. What I have to say to you is important for this time. I need you to focus.

Scripture

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Light Switch

Today in my quiet time, I was led to this passage in John 1.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made (that includes you); without him nothing was made that has been made. (You wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t part of his master plan).

In him was LIFE, and that life was the LIGHT OF MEN (Jesus is our light, and when we receive him into our hearts, his light and life shine through us.). The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it (Those without the light know that we’re different, but they don’t understand why.).

He (Jesus) was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him (Those he foreknew, he predestined, and not everyone will recognize or receive him). He came to that which was his own (the Jewish people), but his own did not recognize him (Their books prophesied the coming of their Messiah, but their hearts were hardened to him.).

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, not of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (He created you by his design and for his purpose. You are not an accident. You are not a mistake.)


Jesus was in the beginning. The life inside of him was the light of men, the calling on his life to save them. His calling and his purpose are to save those who are lost in life, and even his name Yeshua means Salvation. His name was his mission statement to the world!

Right now you might be thinking that you’re not wanted. Right now as you’re reading this, you could even be in a room full of people and still feel all alone. You might be surrounded by everything you’ve ever wanted, but there’s still an emptiness or a dissatisfaction that you can’t explain.

You might have lived your entire life feeling rejected by your parents, your siblings, and the people you encounter at work or at school. You’ve just buried it. You’ve covered it up with denial, by hardening your heart, with sarcasm. But I’m here today to show you that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from or what you’ve done. Jesus is the missing piece. Whatever you think is missing from your life right now, Jesus is the key. In fact, I challenge you to define what it is you think you need to feel complete and put that thing in the blank of the next sentence:

“Jesus is the _________ I need in my life right now.” He’s the joy you need right now. He’s the peace you need right now. He’s the assurance you need right now. He’s the hope you need in your life right now.

Jesus said all who receive him become children of God. Adopted. Chosen. He offers this gift to you. He has been standing at the door of your heart gently knocking, waiting for you to let him inside. Those God moments you’ve had that you’ve tried to explain away as coincidences, those miracles that you’ve excused as luck– that’s Jesus. It’s his grace calling out to you. He has so much more in store for you. Just say yes. Receive him into your heart. Let him flip the light switch on in your life today. One moment you’re in the dark, the next moment you’re in his light. Just.like.that.

His light will lead you along the right path. His light in your life will be light and warmth for others. What are you waiting for?

God in a box

Is your thinking too little? Are your dreams too small? Did you put God in a box?

You cannot contain the creator of the universe, but you can limit his power to do the impossible in your life by limiting your belief in what he’s capable of.

God.does.not.change. PERIOD. Scripture says he’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The same God that saved Noah, that delivered young David from the bear and the lion, that provided for widow and Elijah…that God manifested his physical presence in Jesus. Jesus performed thousands of miracles of healing, deliverance, and provision. He’s still doing it today. He’s still doing miracles. I’m not talking about tiny miracles (you know, the kind we explain away as coincidence) either. If you want to see God do miracles in your life, take him out of your box. Seek him. Just ask. He’s a good God and he loves his creation. He loves his kids.

I was praying one morning, literally begging God to do something that I had been asking him to do for a while. I heard him say, “You don’t have to beg me, just ask me.” I am guilty of sometimes forgetting that his love is continually unconditional. It’s unmerited. And he gives it in abundance.

Isn’t it refreshing to know that we don’t have to do anything to deserve it or be worthy of it? I’m still learning that even at 41 years old (after feeling unworthy of love for most of my life) he doesn’t see us through the lens of our mistakes or our deficiencies. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. He’s looking at us through the eyes of a loving father. Let that sink in for a moment.

It doesn’t stop there. He has good things for us. His word says he knows the plans he has for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future. Plans like that can only come from a good GOD. It’s our responsibility to be open and willing to the plans he has for us; to submit to his will for our lives. At one point in my life, I interpreted that to mean that accepting God’s plans for my life meant that I just had to deal with suffering and lack, but that’s out of alignment with Jeremiah 29:11 (quoted above). I didn’t realize it at the time but I had put God in a box.

I want to encourage you to reflect on your beliefs about God and Jesus today. Do you really believe that he’s still capable of performing miracles? Because miracles aren’t Bible stories. They’re accounts that are meant to build your hope to dare to believe. Do you receive that he wants to do miracles for you because he loves you? He wants to do miracles in you AND through you. You’re meant to be a miracle for someone on his behalf.

When you finally catch this thought and let it take root in your heart, you’re going to see the miracles of the Lord begin to manifest in your life. Take him out of the box you have built for him. Let him be God, and let him use you.

Choose Your Hard

My pastor Keith A. Craft (Elevate Life Church in Frisco, Texas) shared this one Sunday, and I’m sharing it here because it’s in alignment with what it means to live a Gritfull Life. When I first heard this, I thought truer words were never spoken. It’s easy to get into the short-sighted game of comparison and think that life will get easier when you finally “arrive” at your place of achievement. Or maybe you think the grass is greener on the other side (which we all know it’s not, but still). Let this remind you that no matter what you choose for your life, choose to do it with Jesus. There will be mountains and there will be valleys. There will be peaks and there will be pits, but you can conquer any hard with his help.


Galatians 6:9 | So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

If doing good was easy, you wouldn’t grow weary.

Being your best is hard.
Being your normal is hard.

Making wise decisions is hard.
Making bad decisions is hard.

Being in shape is hard.
Being out of shape is hard.

Losing weight is hard.
Being fat is hard.

Working out is hard.
Being weak is hard.

Being disciplined is hard.
Being lazy is hard.

Getting out of your comfort zone is hard.
Staying in your comfort zone is hard.

Starting a business is hard
Working for someone else is hard.

Making a lot of money is hard.
Making a little bit of money is hard.

Being rich is hard.
Being poor is hard.

Having great relationships is hard.
Having bad relationships is hard.

Having friends is hard.
Having no friends is hard.

Fighting for your marriage is hard.
Divorce is hard.

Having a lot of things is hard.
Having nothing is hard.

Living on purpose is hard.
Living off purpose is hard.

Doing life God’s way is hard.
Doing life your own way is hard.

Everything is hard!
Choose your hard!


Keith A. Craft

Cease Striving

I can always tell when my energy reserves are depleted. My thoughts and actions come from a place that is not Spirit-led and it’s as though I revert back to primitive coping methods. I am short-tempered and generally low on patience. I start scrutinizing the attitudes and actions of others from a place of judgment, which is never a good look. Of course, this comes far after I’ve ignored the signs that I need to pause and rest. And those who usually end up paying the price for my inability to give myself a timeout are my husband and my son, and the last thing I ever want to do is make my home a place of frustration or hostility.

I’m sure that as a woman, you can relate. How did we get here as a gender, thinking that we should be able to carry it all well? Sometimes I think it’s seeing a need and wanting to help, or taking on that extra task that just pushes timeline for the day over the edge. I think as women, we should encourage each other to take a break– if even for half a day, just to rest, breathe and fill our cups back up. And I think we should celebrate and affirm women who have the self-awareness and grit to say, “These things can wait. I need to take care of me right now.” I mean, after all, are we really being effective in being productive when we are running on empty? Or are we just being busy but serving no lasting purpose?

This morning in my quiet time, I cried. I’ve been coasting on fumes trying to get to the finish line of some of my deadlines for school and work. I was thinking to myself, I just need a break. I told God that, and I asked him to show me what’s most important right now because I’m literally so tired, I don’t feel like doing ANY.THING.

I heard the gentle whisper of the words, “Cease striving,” and it hit me.

Thinking back, my whole life has been about striving. About fighting life. About struggling. Struggling for and against things that I was never meant to go to battle for ( i.e., lack of boundaries and codependent-driven actions). Someone ( I can’t remember who) said that if you have to struggle for something to the point that you are no longer healthy, you might be fighting the wrong battle. Well, I’m there again– full-on striving. My thoughts and my actions indicate that I’m feeling the need to control the balls I’m juggling rather than surrender those things into God’s capable hands.

I flipped open my Bible to Psalm 46 and began reading. Here is what the scripture says:

Psalm 46: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at the break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes war cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.

Cease striving and know that I AM God; I will be exalted above the nations, I will be exalted on the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

While the Psalmist is referring to God’s message to Israel and her enemies, the message applies to us today, right where we are in the middle of life. God lovingly speaks a word of encouragement to his daughters, knowing that in this time and this place we would be afraid, tired, and taking on too much. He sends his word to remind us that he is always with us, he is our helper, our fortress. We don’t have to do life in our strength, we can rest knowing that God is God- not us. He’s in the details, he’s already seen the future. We can truly experience his divine rest on earth right now knowing that he’s got it.

Friends, God never asked us to carry our burdens. Thanks to the shed blood of Jesus, we don’t have to. I’m praying for you today. It’s time to cease striving.

Come to me, you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. I am meek (gentle) and lowly in heart (humble); and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. -Matthew 11:28-30

Cue the song of the day.

Fast. Slow. Trust.

Every birth is a miracle. If you’re a mom or a dad, you probably have some recollection of the wonder of pregnancy, the excitement of meeting your baby, the long nights, and the deep feelings of loving someone else so much more than you ever dreamed possible.

Then time moves on and you get caught up in everyday life, activities, challenges, and teaching moments. It’s like you have a baby, then you blink and they’re 8 going on 18. And just when you think you’ve got a season of parenting down and you kind of think you know what you’re doing, life changes again and you’re starting all over in a new season. But with the same team. And more hormones.

Life is fast and life is slow. Today, as I get my son ready to start the third grade, I have mixed feelings. I remember having those thoughts of, “Are we ever going to get out of diapers?” “Are we ever going to sleep through the night again???” “Are we ever going to sleep in our own bed again?” The answer is yes. A bittersweet yes. Life is slow sometimes. Our kids need us extra sometimes. This past year, our family made the choice for me to stay home and teach our son because it was what he needed to thrive. Then there are those moments where, developmentally, they learn to fly beautifully and they graduate to the next phase of growth.

Today, I’m sitting here thinking of how fast the time passes and how there were times that I did not treasure the gift of time with my child. Not one bit. But this week, as I watch my son confidently rise to the occasion of starting a new year, I’m wishing time would slow down, just a little. There is part of me that wishes I could keep him at home with me forever.

As I was praying for Andrew and his school, his teacher and his friends, God took me back to His announcement of Andrew’s birth, at a time when the doctors told me I would not be able to have a child. He reminded me that Andrew’s life, along with every child’s life, is a miracle. A gift. He reminded me that he provided confirmation to me 3 times by three different people (all strangers to one another) who said the same thing verbatim about the birth of Andrew. He reminded me of the man and his wife who operated with the gift of prophecy who, without knowing anything of my diagnosis, prayed for my womb after my doctor told me I couldn’t carry a child. Andrew’s birthday on 10/10 serves as a numerical reminder of God’s perfection and completion, signifying that when God makes a promise, he carries out to completion EXACTLY as He said He would.

Then, the Lord took me to the gospel of Luke which documents the life of Jesus, pre-birth to resurrection beginning with the announcement of the promise of Jesus to his mother, Mary. Supernatural promises. Miraculous circumstances. Fast and slow. Mary treasured the promises of God in her heart, and while she did not fully understand the things that would ultimately take place, she took her role seriously. She cooperated in doing her part to prepare her gift, her child, for the world so that He could change it forever.

I don’t know exactly what God has planned for my son, but I remember the miraculous circumstances of his birth, and now all that he is becoming. This year I am recommitting to cooperating with the plans He has for Andrew. They’re so much better than what I could dream up anyway.