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20.1.17

Character Over Comfort & Control

Control.

We all want it.
We don't always get it.
Sometimes we get it, then decide we don't want it.

Sigh.

In my life I've come to recognize control as an old familiar acquaintance, continually proving that my sense of having it is simply an illusion. Just when I think I have it, it's often yanked from my groping hands and there's not much I can do about it. 

When we feel like we are in control, we often feel pretty comfortable with it.

You may tell yourself you've earned it.
You may snatch it away from someone else and justify it.
You may hoard it, thinking no one can hurt you.
You may sacrifice pieces of your character to have it.
You may hide behind it.

When we feel out of control, we often feel frantic.

Why are we afraid to let go of it?
we feel weak
we feel uncomfortable
we feel ineffective
we feel frustrated
we feel exposed
we feel like we are floundering, grasping
we wonder what will happen and how we'll deal with it

Could it be that God is more interested in your character development than your comfort?  Could it be that growth requires being uncomfortable?


Image result for images of frustration

Often, Christians get this notion of the "abundant life" (found in John 10) to flesh out as the perfect life, being in control of all circumstances, a comfortable existence, all our dreams coming true, instant answers to prayer and 100% happiness.

All. Day. Every. Day.

The truth is this: life is not easy. It wasn't meant to be. This is not Heaven!

When we pray with control in mind, we treat God like a vending machine.
He is not a vending machine, a genie in a bottle or a drive through.

Consider these wise words...

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
-James 1:2-3 

“Take on an entirely new way of life — a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you”

-Ephesians 4:22-24  

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
-Romans 5: 1-5

We grow when we experience discomfort.  That means letting go of our need to control.

Want to grow in character?

Embrace the uncomfortable.
Let go of your need to control everything.
Let the pressure do it's work in you, so you will grow in wisdom and tenderness.

12.1.17

You Can't Pour From an Empty Cup

You can’t pour from an empty cup.
It always sounded good in my head, albeit a bit cliché.
Until my cup was crumbling. Then I understood.

We've all been there.
We've run ourselves ragged trying to fulfill the expectations of others.
Or ourselves.

How can we find a healthy balance?

Check out my new post on this very subject:


With God's help, we can do better.

New year, new start.

New year, new grace.

New year, new perspective.

New year, new creation in Christ.

Happy New Year Friends!

28.11.16

When You Wonder Why

When life smacks you upside the head, do you ever wonder why?
Why is this happening to me? To my family? To... whatever!

I took some time to reflect on this in a recent post I wrote for Seedbed.com.

There are four things I identify that help me during seasons of "why."

  1. Hold on to what is good and true.
  2. Relax and know that He is still God.
  3. Watch for the little, gentle reminders of His love.
  4. Guard your mind.

There are ways to get beyond the spiral of the "why."
You can find peace. You can find hope.
Most often, it takes being a bit intentional.

For more detail on each of these, 
I encourage you to read my Four Steps to Take When You Wonder Why.

Blessings on you friend!

Michelle (a.k.a. piano girl)


7.11.16

Stillness in Times of Trouble

Perhaps you've heard this famous verse from the Bible a 1000 times like I have:


Be still and know that I am God.
(Psalm 46:10)

I even have it on a beautiful piece of art hanging in my kitchen. This framed photo captures a bare tree in the winter surrounded by snow, cold and complete stillness.




In the past year especially, this verse has taken on new meaning for me as our family has been through the ringer. We have endured trials of many kinds; including personal betrayal, slander, rejection, moving to several different states in one year, job losses, death of a close family member and more. All of this, on top of a previous year of burnout and major medical issues. 

Not whining, just being real with you.

Honestly, it's been hard to be still through all of this turmoil. How does God expect me to do this? There are problems to be solved here! There is justice to be had here! God, where are you?


It was one of those moments I was asking Him this very question when this picture came into my mind:

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I AM.

Be still and know.

Be still.

Be.

I looked at this verse differently from that moment on.

You see, I think what God is saying here is to simply relax. He's got me. He's got my family. As His children, we can relax (cease our striving) in His Lordship, knowing He's got it under control. He has a plan and a heart of redemption. He can redeem hard times for our good and His glory.

Relax and know that I am God.

Relax and know that I AM.

Relax and know.

Relax.

There's something else. There's a second half of that verse we often overlook:

He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

To me this means no matter the injustice, trial, loss or betrayal, God will be exalted in the end. He will make all things right! He is the final judge and jury.

You may feel like the tree in the winter scene.


...It's the middle of the winter and you're not sure you will make it until spring.
...You may feel you've been so wounded, there may be no healing for you.
...You may be so gripped by rejection, grief or pain; you can't hear Him.
...You may be wrecked by betrayal, wondering how you can go on.
...You may fear you've lost your passion.

If this is you, please know there is hope. 


Be still and know that I am God.
Stop striving! Relax.

Be still and know that I AM.
Almighty God and Creator of the Universe is in control.
You can let go now.

Be still and know.
Know He sees you. Know He loves you. Know He's got you in the palm of His hand. Know He will redeem your pain. Know justice will be done. Know He will be exalted and His glory revealed in you.

Be still.
Listen. Rest in His love and grace. Rest in His peace.

Be.
Simply be in His presence. Breathe in His life, His goodness. Embrace silence.


Practicing stillness is not easy for everyone, especially in times of hardship. Still, it is an essential soul care practice. 

How do you practice being still?
What does Psalm 46:10 mean to you?



















16.8.16

Showing Love and Honor to Your Pastor's Wife

Recently I wrote about something that is near and dear to my heart: ministry spouses. 

Being one myself, I've observed how people often are unsure how to relate to them, so I offered a few tips in my new blog post called 5 Ways to Love Your Pastor's Spouse. 
(click on the title to read) 

This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but a good start... and really, these are things anyone would appreciate!

How do you honor your pastor's spouse? I would love to hear about it!