Lest we feel like less of a God-follower. Lest we feel unspiritual. Lest we feel like we aren’t spiritual enough, good enough, holy enough to have visions and dreams and holy moments that are unmistakably from God. Lest we compare our walk with God to the walk of the ancients, the mystics, the monks. Lest we feel less, God loves our efforts made in faith, our moments crafted in hope, our days tagged by belief.

Yet, I love reading about the early Christians and their mystical exIMG_6765periences with God. I find their stories to be amazing and beautiful expressions of the unfathomable mysteries of our God. Some of them seem far-fetched, yet the authors of the stories – Julian of Norwich, Bernard of Clairveaux, Francis of Assisi – believed in their personal experiences of God.  Visions, dreams, and other special experiences of God are beautiful gifts, sparkling gems in the dark of night! These are gifts to be cherished, yes. Special blessings, yes. Daily occurrences? Not necessarily.

I IMG_6501love my quiet times with Jesus. I need them. I crave them. I miss them when I don’t have one. They are like a healing balm for the chapped places of my soul, a convicting presence in the wayward moments of my thoughts, and an unceasing hope for my weakness and weariness. But not every quiet moment with Jesus is a shining gem of mystery, not every verse is a defining moment for my soul. Some prayers are rife with my own distracting thoughts, some interrupted by the presence of others, some verses lost to the busy of my day. Every day touched by the supernatural God, miraculously blessed, but not every day is rife with visions or dotted with mystical experiences of our Maker.

We don’t have to have the ‘feeling’ of God’s presence to know and trust that He is near.

We don’t have to have the ‘feeling’ of God’s ear to know that He hears the cry of our hearts and the cry of our voices.

IMG_7380We don’t have to see visions or dream dreams to know that God is speaking through His Word and speaking through His world and speaking through His people.

Perhaps we forget that God is in the mundane as much as He is in the mysterious.

Perhaps we forget that God speaks into the daily rhythms of life even as He speaks in the miraculous.

Perhaps we forget that God is always with us and often, it is we who are not present with Him.

Perhaps the spiritual life is not an endless defining moment of overpowering IMG_7443Presence, but a daily cultivating of the knowledge and awareness of His presence. Perhaps the spiritual life is a pressing on, a pressing forward, a growing up into the heart of Christ, the knowledge of Christ, the wisdom of Christ, in spite of the challenges that threaten to hold us back. An intentional effort of belief against all odds, a faith that never gives in despite the world’s pressing in. Perhaps the greatest rewards will come when we believe what God has spoken no matter what we feel. No matter what we’re doing. No matter when.

God is near.

God hears.

God loves.

Do you believe it?

IMG_7380God called Moses to a very special task. A grand adventure, the moment of a lifetime, an incredible opportunity, to leadership, to the desert, to the Promised Land. God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, where they were being mistreated, to the Promised Land, where they could grow and thrive. I can only wonder what it would have been like, to stand there, in front of that burning bush, feeling the heat of the flame and the heat of his own shame as Moses gave God reasons excuses as to why he couldn’t do the task that was set before him. Moses, who came to be known as God’s friend, who broke the tablet containing the 10 commandments, whose face shone with the glory of God, who did incredible miracles, that Moses was called by God and then argued with God when he said:

I can’t do it because I am a nobody.

I can’t do it, because I don’t know what to say.

I can’t do it, because I don’t think they’ll believe me.

I can’t do it, because I’m not a good speaker.

Do you know what happened next? God got mad! Because Moses asked God to send someone else to complete the work that was set out for him. How many times have we argue, not me, God, send someone else? Clearly, God was not surprised by all these reasons excuses and met each one with a plan of action (You can read it for yourself in Exodus chapters 3 and 4). God even had Aaron, his brother, already on the road to meet him in the desert and be the spokesperson for Moses. Seems to me that Moses, one of my favorite Bible heroes, ran out of reasons excuses for why he couldn’t do the work God told him to do. So off he went, on the grandest adventure of his life, side by side with his brother, and doing miraculous works all along the way.

And then there’s me. And then there’s you. And there is a grand adventure waiting for us, too. So think about it for a IMG_1528moment, just what exactly is it that you are called to do? I bet you already know exactly what that is.

Did God give you a dream? A passion? Or a purpose? What are you doing with that dream? Are you going all in and following what God has asked of you or are you just letting it all simmer on the inside, leaving you feeling empty, unfulfilled, annoyed, bored, and wasted?  You want to make a difference, you want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, you want to change the world, or just do something anything to make this dull heartache stop, but you can’t seem to move it along. You are stuck. Stuck in the pain, stuck in the misery, stuck feeling like you’ll never do anything worthwhile or anything will ever change and you just don’t like yourself or your life because you are not where you think should be. It doesn’t feel good to be so stuck in our spaces and stuck in our selves and stuck on our selves and you can feel the heat of your own shame hotter than that burning bush, can’t you? It doesn’t feel good when we aren’t pursuing the path that God has set us on.

Life has a way of never going like we think it should.

Life has a way of making us end up where we never thought we would.

But life can be fulfilling or you can leave your calling unfilled.  I can let those giant reasons excuses that get in my way stop me, stall me, hit the pause button on my life and stand by while life unfolds however it goes and limp along life with a vague dissatisfaction or I can hurdle those obstacles, slay those misery-inducing giants, and power ahead, fueled by purpose and God’s power no matter what circumstances come my way. Which will it be? I’m sure that I, and I’m sure that you, have used those very same reasons excuses Moses used. Who am I to do this? I’m a nobody. Who am I to tell people about You, God? I don’t know what to say. Who am I to tell anyone anything? They’re not going to believe me. Who am I? I’m not good at this, God, send someone else…..

Here, 20 more reasons excuses that stall us and stop us from being everything we should or could or would or even want and hope to be. 20 more reasons excuses that stop us from taking off on that grand adventure that God has called us to. Which one of these giants will you slay today? Which one are you letting define you or defeat you? What plan of action will God give you for each one, until there are no more to get in your way?

  1. IMG_1523I don’t feel like it. We sabotage our efforts when we let feelings control our actions. Most of the time we won’t ‘feel like’ doing the hard stuff, the dirty stuff, the boring stuff… but if we put it off until we feel like it, it won’t get done. So just do it.
  2. I’ll do it later. Procrastination puts it off until later – but if it needs done, it needs done so get it out of the way. The longer you wait, the harder it is, the worse it gets, and the less likely you are to get it done. Just do it.
  3. I’m too tired. Tired, or bored, or just lazy? Take a nap and get to work.
  4. I’m too busy. Maybe it’s time to say no to lesser (but still good) things and focus on the better things. There are so many many things I love to do, but I just don’t have time for all of it. We get to and we have to choose or the things will choose us, keep us busy, and keep us from the best things.
  5. I have to check my email. Sure, but please, only once or twice a day. Any more than that is just obsessing.
  6. I have to see what’s happening on Facebook. Really? You do? Facebook is known to cause depression and polarization. Just close it and move on. Yup, close it. And Twitter, and Snapchat, and Instagram, and….
  7. I forgot. You really actually forgot, or you didn’t plan to remember?
  8. I didn’t know. 
  9. It’s not my problem. Make it your problem and take care of it so it doesn’t trip you up. Or find someone who will take care of that problem.
  10. I don’t care. Apathy is the hardest to cure… what is the thing you are most passionate about?
  11. I can’t afford it. You really can’t afford? Or you need to restructure your budget so you can afford the things that are most important?
  12. I’m too afraid. Don’t let fear be the defining factor in your life. Do it anyway…. because God tells us over and over and over, Do not be afraid.
  13. It’s not my choice. Sometimes, we have to work withing circumstances we didn’t create. It stinks, but are you going to let someone else’s choice define your life?
  14. It’s not my style. So? Trends change and quickly. Besides, anything out of style today will be back in 20 years… 
  15. I don’t like who is in charge. It’s hard when you don’t respect or like the person in authority…. but God puts people in positions of authority, so it’s our job to just roll with it.
  16. I’m better than that. Maybe, but everyone has to start somewhere. And we are always called to serve others before ourselves, even if it isn’t pretty or glamours.
  17. It’s not a priority right now. Does it need to be?
  18. I need to pray. Yes, you do. We always need to pray, all the time. But using prayer as an excuse not to act on what we know we need to do? How is that helpful?
  19. I’m waiting on God. Yes, you do need to wait on God and so do I. But waiting can never replace obedience to what God has called us to do.
  20. I have kids. Don’t use your kids as your excuse, but as a reason to make this world better. Of course we need good boundaries and balance, so our children don’t suffer as a result of our passion, but if God has set you on a path, and you have kids, He’ll give you a way to make it work.

IMG_2507Don’t let reasons excuses keep you from the Promised Land. Don’t let reasons excuses keep you from the path that God has set before you. God is not surprised, He’s already got a plan to help you soar over these hurdles. Maybe He’ll send you an Aaron, or a staff that turns into a snake, or who knows? Give all those reasons excuses to God and pack your bags for the grandest adventure of your life.

 

100_8863When it’s Monday, and the alarm clock is yelling to get you out of your bed and the coffee maker is clogged up yet again and you can’t remember if the kids did their homework or if the field trip is today or last week.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday and all you want to do is sleep, glorious sleep, because it’s your only refuge from the hardness of the weekend but you have to get up because there are tiny hungry tummies and carpools to drive and noses to wipe and work to get done and gardens to plant and music to rehearse and lessons to plan.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday, and you never did get caught up on those bills that need paid and the laundry that’s mounded up in the laundry room and the hallway and the sun’s not even risen but you’re up and you’re taming tantrums and kissing away booboos and you just don’t want to think.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday and you’re still tired from the weekend and you’re exhausted and it hurts to move and the morning feels raw and you have regrets for the things you did and regrets for the things you didn’t do and you think you really just messed up.

God is faithful.

IMG_2922When it’s Monday and the lawnmower is broken and the laptop is barely working and the toilet won’t flush and there are bugs where there aren’t supposed to be bugs and you’re pretty much in the worst mood ever.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday and your week is already falling apart and your life is already falling apart and nothing was supposed to happen this way.

God is faithful.

And when it’s Monday and the sun is shining and the birds are singing and you love your work and your children are happy and everything is right in the world.

God is faithful.

When the kids are singing “King of kings and Lord  of lords” at the top of their lungs all the way to school just because.

God is faithful.

And when the kids are fighting because they were singing “Kind of kings and Lord of lords” at the top of their lungs all the way school and it got to be too loud for their own little ears.

God is faithful.

When your son holds up the entire car line of children trying to get in to school because he just wants you to meet his little friend and they come to the car and run off into school holding hands.

God is faithful.

And when news from work and news from school and news from your friends is nothing but bad news.

God is faithful.

And when you just want life to go back to the way it was and you know that it just can’t ever go back.

God is faithful.

IMG_0906 - CopyAnd when it’s good and it’s bad and it’s both all at the same time and you cannot take it all in so you just don’t even try.

God is faithful.

And when it’s Monday or it’s Tuesday or it’s Friday or it’s Saturday God is faithful.

And when things are going right and things are going wrong and things are completely out of our control all we can do is trust in the one who has always been who always will be faithful.

And when you need to remember that He has pulled you through before and He will overcome again take a big breath and let it out and turn it over to Him.

God is faithful.

We are all so so busy. Can’t eat right, can’t think straight, have to make a list just to go to the gas station kind of busy. Can’t remember if I’m coming, or going, or which day it is, or what appointments I need to schedule, or cancel, or rearrange, and what homework needs done and then there’s always that pile of laundry to do before the busy week begins all over again. And just when I think I’m getting a handle on the busy, something happens. Doesn’t something always happen? Like the flu. Or a little one needing breathing treatments so he can breathe easy at night. Or a car that needs repaired and a dozen or so bills that are still lying on the counter, waiting to be paid. Yeah, something always happens and I lose control of the busy and everything gets derailed and suddenly there are goldfish crumbs smashed in the carpet and the vacuum is broken because the kids tried to help and the laundry’s not done and the dishes have piled up and I know you’ve been in that place where there is nothing but busy. I know you’re busy, too, and you’re probably sitting here reading and drinking your coffee and trying not to think about being busy because you just can’t stand one more minute of the busy.

So make it stop.woman-hand-smartphone-desk-(1)

You heard me. We have control over most of this. So just make it stop. If you don’t want to be so busy, make it stop. I want to stop the busy.

Sitting here, on the sofa, during naps for 4 children with my 10 year old laptop that is barely keeping up with the words I am typing and the thoughts I am thinking, this is my respite from the busy. And I get a few moments of peace so that I can clear my head from the busy and straighten my thoughts out on this little computer screen until it’s time for the naps to be over and some of that busy begins again.

Why should I waste my life on the busy? Busy just makes for stress, and stomach aches, and weariness, and aching bones, and tired all the time because I am up so late at night finishing up the stuff that makes me busy that I don’t get to sleep. And then the next day’s busy is so much harder to complete because I am still worn out from the busy the day before and I just need to make all the busy stop.

I need to stop the busy. Everyone is busy.

There are so many good things in my life, happy things, right things, positive things, hopeful things, great things, good things, but they are all things that make me busy so what I need to is figure out which ones are the most important things and let the rest go.

You heard me. You have to let go of good things so you can enjoy better things more. You have to stop the busy.

We didn’t get in this place overnight. Busy happens gradually, it sneaks up on you in little bits and moments, a little today, and yes, you can coffee-cup-apple-iphonehelp out tomorrow, and ok, you’ll add those projects to your work deadline, and oh, alright, you can help make a few extra dioramas for reading class, and wait, there ‘s a science project, too…. and next thing you know, the schedule is overflowing with things that make you feel busy and you just can’t get anything done because you are just plain too busy and the things you really want the most are getting lost in the shuffle of the busy.

So let’s make it stop.

Problem is, when I get too busy, and I’m tired, and I’m not sleeping, and I’m not getting enough done, the thing that is most important to me is the thing that really suffer and get lost in the busy. My time to spend with God, it just gets gypped because yes, I can pray in the van while I’m waiting in the pick up line, it’s not bad. And I can listen to Christian music on my phone when I need a devotional moment, and I can talk to God later when the kids are in bed, but oh wait, I still have to finish that laundry and do that thing for work and pay some bills that I forgot and I’m just too tired so God will have to wait to hear from me until tomorrow. And then I don’t get to visit with God and my soul suffers and my heart withers and resentment creeps in where love used to be and it isn’t pretty at all. And that is the number one reason I need to stop the busy.

Let’s make a plan. Let’s stop the busy. Let’s let something go. Pick a thing, any thing, it might be a good thing, and let it go so you can be one thing closer to stopping the busy. Together, let’s do it. Let’s stop the busy.

 

 

 

Instant death. Game over. End of movie. End of my hero. End of my world.

I sat there, completely transfixed, eyes unblinking, frozen, sweating, shaking, knot in my stomach worried for my favorite hero as he deciphered the scribbles in his little notebook. No wonder it’s called the last crusade – he’s going to be dead. He’s going to jump from the head of the lion and fall down and be dead. And that would be it. There’s no other way, no hope for survival, he’s just going to be dead and how am I going to get out of bed tomorrow when my hero didn’t survive his own movie? Life cannot possibly go on without Indiana Jones. It just can’t.

At a sheltered age of 13, what did I know about taking a leap of faith?

I followed the rules. I did my chores. I was pleasant and polite at all times (or so I thought, at least). I played it safe. I did everything that was expected of me. And as an adult, for the most part, I still play it safe. I make my bed. I do my chores. I’m pretty sure that I don’t break any laws. I try to to meet other people’s expectations of me. I even get my taxes done on time. I’m pleasant and polite (or so I think, anyway). I’m on time, even with 6 kids in tow. And yet, I am not wholly satisfied with life as it is. I have played it safe. I have played it too safe, I think.  I will not cannot and am not even designed to be content until I am exactly in that spot where God would have me to be. The best choice, the right choice, the choice that God has designed for me to make, may not be the one that seems safe to my finite mind. Sometimes, God would have us take a leap of faith.

A couple of friends reminded me of that recently (one of which habitually jumps out of airplanes for fun and is quite familiar with that terrifying leap of faith). They reminded me that God does His most amazing work when we trust Him. And sometimes, that trust requires a leap of faith. I am more like Jonah, who ran from God’s plan than I am like Daniel, who had stories to tell his grandkids after he had to face a den full of hungry lions for his faith. I dot my i’s and cross my t’s.  I play it safe. I count heads, I double check car seats. I eliminate choking hazards, mini blinds, and electrical cords. A dear sweet relative thinks I over-cook all of our foods in order to stay safe from food poisoning, but I am determined to keep things safe. Maybe I can keep my kids protected from random Legos and salmonella, and rightly so, but not everything in this world needs to be so “safe.”

I’m going to screw this up, aren’t I? When I finally convince myself that it’s ok to take that leap of faith, when I get my courage and my stuff together and I am finally ready to jump, I’m going to mess up and fall on my face and it’s going to be the end of the world because how am I supposed to get out of bed in the morning when I fall down and there’s no hope to get back up? I’m pretty sure Abraham screwed things up a bit, too. He lied about his wife, not just once, but twice, by telling a wealthy, lusty man that his wife was his sister. But he also took that leap of faith, and listened to God, time and time again, and now we know him not because he played it safe but because he had faith.  Faith in God to stand up and make the right choice even when he was afraid.  (See Hewbrews 11 for how to please God by having faith).

I’m not quite sure how God is going to amend my safety first ways. Oh, I’m sure He’s not going to ask me to give up my habitual child-proofing or ask me to go jump off of a cliff or two. But I’m pretty sure He doesn’t want me to sit around and play it safe, either, living life with a dull sense of dissatisfaction and incompletion, mildly bored and annoyed and boring and safe.

I love that Indiana Jones movie, and surely it wasn’t his last crusade because another movie is finally in the works. And it wasn’t that my hero didn’t have fear – it was that in the face of fear, and unknown, and the unsafe, that he had courage. He had faith. He leapt. And lived to tell about it. Sometimes, we just need to make that leap of faith.

What leap of faith is God calling you to make?