“Waiting” Is Not a Bad Word: For When there Is No Clear Direction

“The best thing to do when you don’t know what to do is the hardest thing ever, waiting.”

From the moment we awake, we are on the go. Even when we don’t know where we are going or what to do, we are moving … somewhere.

We’ve developed the mentality that somewhere is better than nowhere. But we forget, the gift of here and now can be a place of great refueling and staging for that next journey. [←Tweet this.]

Blindly going when there’s no clear direction is wearing on the soul.

Sometimes we need to be content to wait until our path, or at least the next step is revealed. [←Tweet this.]

Oh, but that can be the hardest place to be! It feels like time wasted. 

Yet God has a plan for that “in-between” waiting time too. The trick is to wait well. 

Wait for the Lord-

Waiting Well

There are effective and ineffective ways to wait. I think you know the ineffective ones: complaining; remaining close-minded about what you are waiting for; sitting passively–waiting for life to happen, trying to force something to happen. 

I’m in that place right now. Waiting for God to reveal His plan for me, or at least His next step and I’m tempted to whine, adopt someone else’s path as mine, give up, or push through with my own ideas of which way to go. 

But God has graciously allowed me to see that there is a way to wait well. His strategies are revealed in the pages of Scripture.

Throughout His Word God continually called His people to wait:

We remember the shepherd boy David waiting years to take his throne after being anointed king.

Moses waiting for God to act to free the Israelites in Egypt and waiting (and wandering) through the dessert for 40 years afterward. 

Abraham and Sarah waiting for their promised heir Isaac.

Elisha, Elijah, Samuel, Mary and Joseph …

Even Jesus waited for just the right time to launch His ministry. 

You get the picture. Waiting is not new. 

Scriptural View of Waiting

So how do we do that dreaded waiting, so it is not so dreaded? Let’s take a quick look at some scriptural passages that give us guidance, with my emphasis added. 

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
    in the morning I lay my requests before you
    and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3

Lord, I wait for you;
    you will answer, Lord my God. Psalm 38:15 (with assurance)

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5

I will wait for the Lord,
    who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him. Isaiah 8:17

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
    I wait for God my Savior;
    my God will hear me. Micah 7:7

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 1 Corinthians 1:7

Did you notice the guidelines for how to wait? 

  • Expectantly
  • With assurance
  • With your whole being
  • In trust
  • Open to His blessings
  • In hope
  • With strength and courage
  • Eagerly

Waiting is not a passive, “do nothing” period. Waiting is an active step of faith. [←Tweet this.] It is a time where great growth and discernment can be gleaned. 

It’s still tempting at times to hurry through this waiting period, but I’m discovering a richness in God’s waiting room. 

Don’t shy away from those moments the Lord asks you to wait.

But embrace waiting periods expectantly, with assurance that God is working, whole-heartedly, in trust, and open to His blessings as you hold onto hope, courageously and eagerly waiting for Him to complete His work in you and call you to that next step of faith. 

In so doing, you’ll find strength, direction, and passion anew for the race He’s asking you to run. 

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 40:31

Reflection: What have you learned about waiting on the Lord?
This post is part of Bonnie Gray’s Finding Spiritual Whitespace Blog Tour, which I’m excited to be part of. If you’re looking to find soul-rest and would like to check out Bonnie’s book, you can order one here Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

whitespace-badge

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Stay Connected (and receive my Fruit of the Spirit Audio Series free)!

* indicates required
Which options would you like to connect to?
Posted in Daily Living, Faith, trust

Three Reasons for Our Negative-Sightedness and How To Improve It

Too often all we can see are the hard things in our days–the struggles, valleys, pits, and roadblocks. Yet no matter what our circumstances, goodness and beauty are just a look away.

If that’s so, why don’t we take better notice? 

Negative-Sightedness

As I see it, there are three reasons for our negative-sightedness:

  1. We feel entitled to only good things in our lives (as if we even deserve one good thing).
  2. We have a mindset that easy is good and difficult is bad (not usually true in the end).
  3. We are just too busy to notice the daily moments that don’t require noticing. Our busyness blinds us to the gifts in our lives.

Our propensity to see the negative is the reason books like Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are  become bestsellers. We need reminders and near-daily encouragement to notice and acknowledge the positives.

The Lord says,Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). He’s not saying give thanks because everything is good, but through the grace of God, He will bring good out of everything.

And while we wait, He sends grace-drops, such as rainbows and sunsets and songbirds, to encourage us. 

Yet because the hard stuff draws our attention so readily (and does a dandy job of holding it captive), we often miss the beauty, joy, and blessings surrounding us. [←Tweet this.]

To notice the good that permeates our lives, we first need to open our eyes to its possibility. May I gently suggest resting in these promises:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18)

Seeing the Good

Finding space to breathe in God’s glory, to take a few minutes to put aside the craziness of the day and rest with Him, to bare my soul to Him, has been instrumental for me to notice God’s whispers of love. Bonnie Gray addresses this in depth in her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest.

One of my other favorite (and highly effective) strategies for noticing the gems in my days is to take Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare; i.e., to count 3 gifts a day.

Here are some of my favorite blessings recorded during my recent “unplugged” vacation to the northern border of  Minnesota:

blueberries2-resized

Wild blueberries–enough to have in pancakes and still bring some of Rachel’s favorite berries home to her.

Fishing was great, with plenty of fish to eat every day!

Fishing was great, with plenty of fish (walleye, crappie, northern pike, and smallmouth bass) to eat every day!

Such a blessing to this mama's heart to see how much the boys enjoyed all their togetherness.

Such a blessing to this mama’s heart to see how much the boys enjoyed all their togetherness.

A favorite view

A favorite view.

These guys - the whole lot. Love them!

These guys–the whole lot. Love them so!

Soaking in a natural whirlpool.

Soaking in a natural whirlpool.

Gorgeous flowers.

Gorgeous flowers.

Swimming!

Swimming!

Misty mornings.

Enchanting mornings.

Dragonflies.

Dragonflies to eat mosquitoes.

Loons

Loons and other critters.

Gorgeous sunsets.

Gorgeous sunsets.

(My complete list from this wonderful week of rest can be found tucked in the middle of the bulleted list below.)

Granted, it is more difficult to be negative while on vacation, but the practice of scouting out blessings and counting gifts remains helpful in any circumstance.

God doesn’t give promises He does not keep. In Christ, there is always goodness and blessings. [←Tweet this.]

Next time, tough circumstances invade your day, may I challenge you to stop immediately and take notice of something good, beautiful, or helpful instead of allowing negativity free reign. Give thanks in it.

You will likely find your vision a little clearer and your day just a bit brighter. 

Let’s live each day standing on the promises of God. And His promises include a plan for our good. For that there is reason to give thanks. 

Enjoy “Standing on the Promises” sung by Alan Jackson. 

 

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11)

Reflection: Noticing the blessings in a broken world takes some intentionality.  Through the grace of God, the blessing of my daughter with special needs and Ann’s Joy Dare have transformed my eyesight to 20/40 positive and improving every day. How has God provided for your improved eyesight? Or are you still struggling in this area?

I’m once again linking up with Ann Voskamp’s 2014 Joy Dare, and catching up from the past 3 weeks. Find the linkup at A Holy Experience. Since beginning nearly 3 years ago, I’ve counted over 3,000 gifts!! What a blessing! #3050–3114, read the entire list by clicking here.

  • Zachary is released from cardiology followup–praise God!; Refreshing day spent with Zach–he always makes me laugh; Seafood!
  • Enjoying an evening with friends–a rare treat; Watching the boys interact with there special sister–heartwarming; Lightening bugs over the prairie
  • Successful night last night in the sleep disorder room w/ Rach; Early brkft at IHop w/ my girl;Clothes dryer that works!
  • Morning Bible time on the deck with hummingbirds playing chase around me; Watching first part of Sound of Music with the kids; These beauties–it’s like bringing the sun in
  • Last day of vaca prep before R&R begins!; Riding in a car w/ mobile app expert; Sharing blessing of extra garden produce
  • Those thoughtful people God places in our lives who help things be okay; Rach safely at Camp Courageous; Rest of us arrived at our destination
  • Great news of no permanent damage to our young friend’s spinal cord; Entry into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area; Relatively easy portages; Found one of the last open campsites before dark
  • Finding the campsite we wanted open; Getting into the fish–walleye for supper; The fun our boys have together
  • Enchanting foggy morning; Drying out from the nighttime storm; Fresh fish sandwich for lunch; Playing at Curtain Falls; Sitting among the dragonflies swooping around us eating their fill of mosquitoes
  • Finding peppermint plants; Exploring Iron Lake; An evening meal of butter-fried fish and Teriyaki noodles; Swimming with Zach and Joey
  • Jumping in Rebecca Falls; Laying on the rock with the boys as the stars and moon came out; Finding an large blueberry patch to pick to take home to Rach; Playing Hacky Sack in the middle of the BWCA with my boys; Canoeing and fishing with Joey as my canoe partner–he’s growing up so fast! 
  • Dave’s enjoyment of catching Crappie in the BWCA; Full moon over the lake; Readily finding a nice campsite on Lake Agnes; Seeing pelicans and a type of falcons, perhaps merlins
  • Safe leg out of Boundary Waters; Stopping to see Dave’s sister and brother-in-law on the way home; Greeted with all good news upon reconnection with family and friends
  • Orange and black flash of a morning warbler; Reunited as a family with Rach; Seeing how well our young diving accident friend is doing–thank you, Lord!
  • Entire family walk with a crazy funny Rach; Memories of Zach’s high school acting relived as he heads off to college tomorrow; Wildflowers brightening up the dinner table
  • Dan’s company to take Zach to Wheaton College Passage; Leaving Zach at college knowing it’s where he belongs; Prayer power = God’s peace
  • Good doctor report for Daniel; Results are in: No sleep apnea for Rach!; Traveling mercies for the more than 14 hours of driving we did over the past 2 days
  • Porch swinging with Rach; Peach jam canned; This little fellow sharing my morning Bible-reading spot
  • Afternoon of editing made better by being next to my girl on our deck swing; Dan “cooking” supper–frozen pizzas; Sounds of families enjoying time together in the park

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Stay Connected (and receive my Fruit of the Spirit Audio Series free)!

* indicates required
Which options would you like to connect to?

(Affiliate links are found in this post.)

Posted in Grace, Gratitude, Multitude Mondays, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Thankfulness

Discover What Can Happen When We Make Space for the Spirit to Breathe

Not all that long ago I wrote about the need for spiritual whitespace. Actually, I wrote about that need in the context of a review of Bonnie Gray’s new book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest. 

I began that post with this quote from Bonnie: “What would emerge from my life if I paused long enough to let his spirit breathe?”

This past week on vacation I let His Spirit breathe in my life. More accurately, I allowed myself space to hear Him. And it allowed my spirit to soar.

What emerged was a renewed desire and plan to pursue whitespace/margin in my life:

>To  become intentional about my time, so it doesn’t control me.

>To open up space to just “be.”

>To use the gift of each day in a way that pleases the Lord and doesn’t just satisfy a temporary desire in my life.

>To simplify my life around four core priorities, God, family, friends, and vocation.

>To create room for the Spirit to breathe more regularly in my life (for me to hear His whispers).

I-will-give-rest-

A week of no Internet and no phone connection is good for soul-rest. I prayed and actually had time to listen  to God’s answers. I slowed down, read for fun, had uninterrupted time with my hubby and boys, and took time to notice the grace notes God slips in, like falcons playing far overhead or a toad in the lake or the fascinating dragonflies. It was inviting.

I found it difficult to return to an online, connected world. It took my husband’s insistence to get me to just turn on my cell phone. I waited as long as possible before powering up my iPad.

To be honest, I was afraid. Afraid of stepping back into the chaos and craziness of being connected 24/7, of feeling the pressure to perform, of the never-ending bombardment of information and expectation.

I was, no am, afraid I can’t manage the online world within a simplified lifestyle. Because there’s only a certain number of hours to go around. And social media can quickly claim them.

I don’t want to go back to the chaos of a life overflowing with “things” and “activities.” I don’t want to live physically and emotionally overwhelmed and spiritually undernourished.

Make Space for the Spirit To Breathe

So I’ve decided to make space for the Spirit to breathe in my life by bringing a bit of the unconnected life into the connected world. [←Tweet this.]

To do so, I have to incorporate a few principles.

  1. Be led. Creating whitespace doesn’t carry much meaning if it’s main purpose isn’t to connect with the Lord in a deeper sense. Listening to the Holy Spirit’s leading creates more whitespace, which allows more connection, and the cycle continues. 
  2. Be disciplined. So I don’t fritter away my time on something of lesser importance. creating a schedule is imperative for me.
  3. Be flexible. Seemingly contradictory, flexibility and discipline are equally important, with flexibility opening up space for the Spirit’s leading and life to be fully lived.
  4. Be reminded. I need to remind myself regularly of what’s important. Not the numbers. Not the accolades. Not the amount of production. But the people and eternity.
  5. Be reflective. It’s too easy to let life happen. Things have a way of snowballing. We say yes when we mean no. We say yes when we mean yes but shouldn’t. We say yes to things of lesser importance, which prevents us from doing the more important. Periodically I need to reflect on why I’m saying no to more, why I’m turning away from Internet more, what soul-rest looks like and why it’s important. I’ll need to take a look at how I’m doing in these areas. Photos and my journaling from this extended trip will help serve as reminders of the freedom found in margin.

Being unconnected for a week gave me a taste for living life in the here and now, not the “what could be” or “what happened in the past.” It cleared away the fog of doing and allowed me a taste of freedom from the shackles of performance.

A taste I want more of in the months to come as I let His spirit breathe more freely in my days.

I’d love for you to join me in structuring our days so soul-rest isn’t an exception but a given.

Reflection: Do you struggle with the “connected” life? How do you manage the gift of instant/constant connection with the real need to create margin to let the Spirit breathe in your life?

Then He replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Exodus 33:14

Click here to purchase a copy of Bonnie’s guide to soul-rest.

Next Monday, I’m excited to give you a glimpse into my vacation whitespace and share with you the gifts of the past couple weeks.

 

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Stay Connected (and receive my Fruit of the Spirit Audio Series free)!

* indicates required
Which options would you like to connect to?

(There are affiliate links in this post.)

Posted in Daily Living, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, Renewal, Rest

Remember This When Letting Go Is Too Hard

I cried and took pictures (not in that order) when my children went off to Kindergarten. In the last 15 years nothing’s changed much there, I still cry as each one moves on to a new stage.

Letting go has been anything but easy for me. Although I’m grateful for the growth and maturity I see in my children, I’m never ready when it’s time for them to move on.

Today, I’m facing a biggie as our second son, Zachary, heads off to college. It’s time, I know. He’s ready. Me, not so much. 

The Difficulty of Letting Go

As individuals made in the image of God, we are naturally drawn to be in control. To orchestrate what happens and when. To hold onto the familiar. To know the details of the path we will walk and the end result.

We love big because God loves big. And loving involves pain. [←Tweet this.]

It’s risky to let go of those we know and love. But playing it safe does little for our spiritual growth. Clinging to our children signals a lack of faith, an unwillingness to trust God ‘s plan for us and our kiddos. And it certainly doesn’t do them any good either.

young_with_snake-smaller

So although my heart still holds tightly to this little-boy-grown-man, my hands have opened, releasing him, letting him fly. Letting him follow the path God has laid out for him. Encouraging him to embark on the adventure the Lord has planned for his life.

And I will rejoice through my tears as Zachary spreads his wings. I hope the world’s ready for him. It’s in for a treat.

Zach-northern-resized

Remember This

Whatever/whoever you are being asked to let go, lean into the Lord. He’s there. Waiting for you. Wanting you to trust Him. Wanting you to believe there is nothing we can let go that is more important than the One who will never let us go. 

The only thing we should cling to is the One that we don’t need to fear losing. [←Tweet this.] God promises He’ll never go anywhere; He’ll always be just where we need Him.

That’s not saying it should be easy to let go. It often isn’t. It can be messy and painful, twisting and shredding our hearts. But that makes it all the more necessary.

Letting go. The hard letting go. It’ll lay us open, raw and hollow, to be filled with His glory.

The hard letting go creates space in our hearts for the Lord to occupy. [←Tweet this.]

And leaves us in the end more fulfilled than we could ever imagine.

I’ve sung this song to you before in church and now I’ll play it for you, dear Zach. Love you more than I can express! 

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height; to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19

Reflection: What steps do you find helpful in letting go? What verse(s) encourage you in this area of releasing?

Linking with Rachel at

 new whimsical wed

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Stay Connected (and receive my Fruit of the Spirit Audio Series free)!

* indicates required
Which options would you like to connect to?

Posted in Change, Faith, Struggles

I’m On Vacation, But Don’t Miss This!

I am on vacation with my family in the thick pine woods and deep clear waters of northern Minnesota where mosquitoes rule and stillness rings loud. Here I will inhale the richness of God’s creation, letting Him breathe peace into my busy little mind and heart.

He-satisfies-the-soul-

Being without Internet (or even phone) access allows me uninterrupted time with my hubby and with those precious boys all-too-soon gone. But even more important, it offers (forces) me a much slower pace so I can hear the Lord’s whispers. Here I hope to get a clearer picture of His plan for me and be refreshed in the depths of my soul.

While I’m off, don’t miss entering my Three-Year Blogging Anniversary giveaway posted this past Saturday. [←Tweet this.]

The giveaway will be open through Monday, August 11, when I’ll be back. I’m excited to be gifting 3 fabulous DaySpring items from their Redeemed collection to one winner. View all of DaySpring’s inspirational resources by clicking here. 

Most importantly, don’t miss creating space daily for yourself  to connect with the One who loves you for all eternity. [←Tweet this.]

Take time to note God’s whispered love notes. Let the peace and grace of our Lord fill your soul. 

“For he satisfies the longing soul,
    and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9 ESV

P.S. I’ll be noting God’s little grace notes while I’m gone and will post two weeks worth of gifts for my Joy Dare at that time. 

In Christ’s love. 

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Stay Connected (and receive my Fruit of the Spirit Audio Series free)!

* indicates required
Which options would you like to connect to?

Posted in Rest

Free Audio Series


Fruit of the Spirit Audio Series

Sign up to get my blog posts and/or updates via email, and receive my Fruit of the Spirit series in audio format FREE. Begin to understand how the fruits of the Spirit fit into day-to-day life.

Privacy policy: Your information is safe with me, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
* = required field
Which options would you like to connect to?


Thanks for stopping!

Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's BLESSINGS to get lost in its HAPPENINGS. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 10:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

Find Inspirational Resources



All My Past Posts

Categories

Inspiring Quotes

“You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done, but simply because you are.” — Max Lucado

One Word 2014

One Word 2014

One Word 2013

One Word 2013