You Are More Than Known, You Are Chosen

I-chose-you-

We all want to be known. To be acknowledged as someone. It’s an age-old desire.

Likely you’ve longed for that very thing at some point. Perhaps you are now. A desire to be mentioned by name—like Susanna in the Bible was. 

Susanna? Yes, she really is one of the women whose name is found in the Holy book (see Luke 8:1-4).

Susanna, only mentioned once for demonstrating gratitude for God’s healing by following Him and ministering to Him and His disciples, but mentioned nevertheless. 

Wow, imagine having your name written in God’s Word! How wonderful that would be. Wouldn’t it make you feel good? As if you were really someone.

It may just wipe away all those feelings of unworthiness.

You Are Someone

Well, dear one, let me assure you, you are someone! Someone very special at that.

You are a child of God. You are beloved. You are an heir to the Kingdom. And you don’t have to do anything but accept the Lord as your Savior. 

You don’t have to do great and miraculous deeds. You don’t have to earn a name or your place by His side. 

In fact you can never do enough to be accepted into His Kingdom. And you don’t have to. Woo hoo! 

I-chose-you-

You Are Chosen

I love how God just drops Susanna’s name in the Bible. Don’t you? Just once. With little explanation. And as I read the passage I wondered why. 

Perhaps it’s so we would see that we don’t have to be noteworthy to be named by God. [←Tweet this.]

Maybe it’s because those who are the most name-worthy aren’t necessarily those who do the most note-worthy things. [←Tweet this.]

As far as we know, Susanna didn’t preach to thousands. She didn’t lead multitudes to the Lord. It’s likely she didn’t do anything particularly fantastic or out of the ordinary.

The Bible says she was “helping to support [Jesus and His disciples] out of [her] own means” (Luke 8:3). Following Jesus, giving thanks for what He has done. Encouraging, ministering, worshiping, and praising—in her own way and out of her own means. 

She did the very things you are doing. You are demonstrating your love for God by fulfilling His calling right where you are. 

You are ministering to Jesus by sharing His love and supporting others in His name. In little town Midwest, in big city West Coast, in rural country USA, and some perhaps in Anywhere overseas. 

It matters not where you live or how much you have to offer or who else notices you or writes your name in a book.

You are chosen. God chose you as His child, an heir to His heavenly Kingdom.

You Are Loved

Because He loves you! 

And just like Susanna, God does mention you in His Word. He calls you chosen and friend and beloved and His child.

Best yet, by knowing Jesus as Savior, your name is written in the Book of Life.  You are a chosen member of His family, for all eternity.

And that’s better than any manner of human recognition, don’t you think?

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10

Reflection: How does knowing you are chosen by God change how you feel about your worth and how you live your life?

I’m once again linking up with Ann Voskamp’s 2014 Joy Dare. Find the linkup at A Holy Experience. Beginning where I left off in 2013. And I’ve counted over 3,000 gifts!! What a blessing! #3029–3049, read the entire list by clicking here.

  • Sleeping in a tent with my niece Samantha–Rach opted out; Raucous game of football keepaway with the guys; Hanging out clothes in the dark–peaceful
  • Baking frenzy with my niece –including a quadruple berry pie; My prairie garden blooming lovely; Cousins having fun
  • Lovely scent given off by my rose bush blossoms; Unusual line of “floating” mist in the evening sky; Sister encouragement 
  • Afternoon of canoeing/kayaking/sandbar play; Helping nephew Ben tip son Joey out of the innertube; Rach’s enjoyment of canoeing/kayaking 
  • Rachel making progress tonight in a difficult area–a bit of bribing has helped :); God’s personal provisions today with more than one issue, always in His perfect timing; Needed rain
  • Stir-fry: easy to make, uses up leftovers, and delicious; Watching the morning geese antics and realizing I don’t speak geese-talk; New motherhood role unfolding with my older boys–weird but good
  • Rach’s surprise at me noticing she turned the radio on after light’s out–too cute; Attending church with entire family one more Sunday and worshiping to son Daniel’s trumpet playing; Unexpected witnessing on a campground walk

 

And also linking with Rachel on Wednesday at

 new whimsical wed

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in Multitude Mondays, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Worth

When You Want What Is Not Yours to Have (pursuing contentment)

This is an excerpt (with a few tweaks) from a post I wrote to my sisters-in-Christ who are attending the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference this week. I thought it might be insightful and encouraging to some of you as well. 

grass-is-greener-sow-contentment-

On the eve of another She Speaks conference, I’m finding myself once again not going to the conference and without having “moved” much tangibly in my ministry. As much as I’d like to say I’m above a bit o’ jealousy, I’m not. Most of us are not, I’d guess.

I attended the conference in 2012 and had an amazing time, learning tons, being incredibly encouraged, and meeting wonderful people. (Read my takeaway from that conference in this post.)

“My” plan was to go back to She Speaks the next year and the next, get a book published, begin speaking, then we’d see. But God has other, better plans, I’m sure; and once again I won’t be attending this year. So I’ve been wrestling with obedience and learning to rest on His timing.

That’s my message for all of you She Speak women (and everyone of us, really) who may have your next few months or years planned out or who may be feeling left out because you will be home this year instead of jetting to NC:

We all go through different seasons in our lives. Right now, God knows best that I need to be here as I release the second of my boys into the great big world. When the timing is right, He will open the doors and even lay down the path to conferences and ministry opportunities.

So as you see others do “great” things for the Kingdom, take your next step–the great Kingdom step that lay before you in this season; pray for your sisters in Christ who are propelled into the writing, speaking, and ministry world; and rest in God’s plan.

After all, we don’t want to be shoved into the limelight before God properly prepares us. God knows. He’s weaving an incredible adventure for each of us; it may just look a bit different than we expect.

Praying for all of you, dear sisters.

Seed of Contentment

When we are tempted to covet, when we are facing down jealousy, when we see the grass as greener on the other side of the fence, it’s time to sow the seed of contentment. [←Tweet this.] Resting in God’s promise of love and purpose and hope.

Praise and thanksgiving are the best practices for sowing contentment. [←Tweet this.] Even when you don’t feel grateful. 

The Lord has a plan, a good plan, the best plan, for each of us. It’s our job to learn to see the adventure of each season and the gift of each moment and to rest in the space of now as we wait on His always perfect timing. 

And in Christ is the strength and perspective to do just that. 

“And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial:

to one is given a message of wisdom
through the Spirit,
to another, a message of knowledge
by the same Spirit,
to another, faith by the same Spirit,
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
to another, the performing of miracles,
to another, prophecy,
to another, distinguishing between spirits,
to another, different kinds of languages,
to another, interpretation of languages.

 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:6-11)

Reflection: Is their something that sparks an ember of jealousy in your heart? How can you begin to replace that ember with the seed of contentment? 

This post is part of Bonnie Gray’s Finding Spiritual Whitespace Blog Tour,

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

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.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in Blog hop, Endurance, Faith, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, Ministry, trust

What It Really Takes To Be Brave {and free Scripture printables}

My boss knew with one look: something was wrong. As a teen I nearly always sported an upbeat attitude, so he noticed my dark mood immediately. 

I didn’t try to hide it, but openly admitted the problem I had. Sharing somehow made it all less painful. 

Jump forward a decade and even two and notice the difference. Sharing no longer comes so easily for me.

My default is to keep problems to myself and handle them on my own. Unfortunately, this isn’t my default alone. It seems to be the cultural norm.

The Brave

We think it’s brave to put on a good face. To never let anyone past the pasted-on smile.

We don’t want to admit things are less-than-ideal. We pretend to handle the misbehavior, the piles of laundry, the crusty dishes with a smile.

Even in the church, we answer the age-old question of “How are you?” with “Just fine, thanks!,” when inside we’re really dying. 

But maybe the brave are those who answer, “Not so well, really.” Perhaps the courageous let the tears slip down their face in the presence of sisters.

The valiant may be the ones who realize how weak they really are and in Whom their strength lies. And are willing to share it. 

Being brave isn’t hiding your weakness, but sharing it.

Being brave is letting others see it’s okay to lack the fortitude to go it alone.

Being brave is being genuine and open about our lack; thus, encouraging one another to seek the only One who is enough. [←Tweet this.]

True courage is letting go of the pretense of our strength and resting in the guaranteed strength of the Lord. 

Throughout Scripture, the Lord encourages us to be brave. Not to have courage because we are adequate but because He is more than enough. [←Tweet this.]

May you be encouraged to be brave and share your true heart as you rest in the freedom of the Lord’s strength.

Feel free to download these printables of four of my favorite courage Scriptures for your own use (just click on the image). Use them yourself and share them with others needing a shot of bravery. 

Be Brave In the Lord-lighter-

Be Brave In the Lord-orangehue-

Reflection: Is it difficult for you to share the real you? Meditate on these verses and take courage in the Lord’s strength. 

I’m once again linking up with Ann Voskamp’s 2014 Joy Dare. Find the linkup at A Holy Experience. Beginning where I left off in 2013. And I’ve counted over 3,000 gifts!! What a blessing! #3008–3028, read the entire list by clicking here.
  • Sleeping in a tent with my niece Samantha–Rach opted out; Raucous game of football keepaway with the guys; Hanging out clothes in the dark–peaceful
  • Baking frenzy with my niece –including a quadruple berry pie; My prairie garden blooming lovely; Cousins having fun
  • Lovely scent given off by my rose bush blossoms; Unusual line of “floating” mist in the evening sky; Sister encouragement 
  • Afternoon of canoeing/kayaking/sandbar play; Helping nephew Ben tip son Joey out of the innertube; Rach’s enjoyment of canoeing/kayaking 
  • Gentle breezes for drying clothes; Playing at the swimming pool for niece and nephew’s last day with us, even Daniel was there, but working; Ending the day watching the second Hobbit movie
  • Long bike ride with Joey that left me delightfully exhausted; Snuggling with Rach in bed reading books; Sam’s Club samples–yes
  • Taking an afternoon break to fish; Pizza, rootbeer floats, fellowship, and learning more about Jesus–hard-to-beat combo!; Zach playing “Lori” with Rach 

 

And also linking with Rachel at

 new whimsical wed

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in Courage, Daily Living, Multitude Mondays, One Thousand (or more) Gifts

What To Do With Those Moments That Look Like Interruptions

My stomach tightened and teeth clenched. The words dared to leave my mouth, but I held them in.

I refused to utter the words I have so often said in the past. Those words that destroy connection:  “I have so much work to do.”

This phrase has become my refrain over the years. “I’ll play with you even though I have so much work to do.” “Okay, I’ll be right there,  but I have so much work to do.”

And I do. Don’t we all?

Yet there are so many interruptions! Children, breakdowns, children, unexpected arrival or phone call, children, husband’s request, children.

My life is filled with all kinds of things to do—most of them good. So is yours, I’m sure. But with so many disruptions to the schedule, it’s difficult to get anything done.

pay-careful-attention-to-walk-

WWJD; i.e., What Would Jesus Do?

Dealing with interruptions is not exclusive to me, nor is it limited to modern times.

In His 3 years of ministry, Jesus Christ was arguably the busiest man to walk on earth. He had only 3 years to fulfill His entire mission. And once it began, people would not leave Him alone.

Everywhere Jesus went, people interrupted Him. Demon-possessed men, bleeding women, blind beggars, little children, those trying to kill Him, even a dead man’s sisters. It seemed every time Jesus turned around someone was in His face.

So what did Jesus do? How did He handle it?

He said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them” (Mark 10:14), “Let’s go to him” (John 11:15), “I am willing” (Luke 5:13), and “Call him here” (Mark 10:49).

And He “went with him” (Mark 5:24) and “wept” (John 11:35) and “healed/cleansed” (Luke 17:14).

He allowed interruptions. In fact, Jesus seemed to embrace them, welcoming them as not interruptions at all but instead opportunities. Opportunities to express His love, to minister and serve, to teach, to bless.

Instead of completing a job, Jesus was after relationship.

Interruption? Maybe Not

There’s direct application for us in how Jesus ministered to those “interrupters” and handled unexpected occurrences.

  1. Be intentional about seeing the one who is requesting your time and really listening to the request. When someone came to Jesus, the Lord stopped and considered the person, not just the request. He took the time to turn and look at the one requesting/interrupting. Obviously we can’t always stop what we are doing or even honor a request. But we can focus on the person, not ourselves, while we ask them to wait or direct them elsewhere.
  2. Never let the dreaded response, “I am too busy” pass from your mouth. Strike those words from your vocabulary. As far as I can tell, Jesus never uttered that phrase. He had much to do, for sure, but that never kept Him from showing the person she was more important than His to-do list. (This is so difficult–I said the words to my daughter even as I was writing this!) Plus, you may miss a great opportunity for growth or to minister if you are always perceived as too busy.
  3. If you must, graciously defer the request/interruption to another time and then follow through. Jesus didn’t always immediately drop what He was doing to take care of the request, but He did follow through. In fact, Lazarus died while waiting for Jesus to arrive, but He still went and ministered in an amazing way.
  4. Choose to see interruptions as opportunities. The Lord can use anything for our good. Jesus even took Satan’s interruption/temptation as an opportunity in His earthly life and ministry.

No doubt we have tasks worth doing, but it doesn’t mean they need to be done right now or even by you at all. The better thing might be to welcome the interruptions.

Replace “I am too busy” with “I am willing,” “Let’s go to him,” and “Call him here.” Go with others, weep with them, minister to them.

Because really, there are no such things as interruptions only opportunities. [←Tweet this.]

Opportunities to grow personally and reflect the love of Christ in this hurting world.

“Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17

Reflections: Do you struggle with being “too busy”? Do you handle interruptions graciously or with difficulty?

Linking with

new whimsical wed

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in Daily Living, Relationship

Asking for Understanding and Grace While Setting Priorities

Intentions may be good, but sometimes they become misguided.

Afternoon threatened to become evening as I continued to drop berries into the bucket that hung around my neck. My self-imposed quota hung heavy as the goal–at least one full bucket. No fewer. 

Sweat dripped down my back. The zipped jacket warded off mosquitoes that liked the later hour but created a sauna in the 80-degree temperatures. 

But no matter how uncomfortable I became, I couldn’t quite quit. Not until my goal had been met. There were still berries to pick and I needed to pick them. 

everything-permissible-but-not-under-control-

Too Driven?

I’m driven that way. In more areas of my life than I like to admit. Driven, sometimes beyond what is necessary or good. I see or create a goal and become near obsessed with obtaining it. Sometimes through time the goal shifts to a less healthy one and shades out the nobler mission. 

Have you ever experienced that? 

Lately I’m seeing it with my writing. Although I still rejoice in each person who is encouraged through the words I type, I’m becoming more focused on how many are reading it. I’m beginning to judge the worth of my message by the number of tweets it gets or the number of people who Like or follow me. 

I’m not apologizing for wanting to build my ministry platform. A larger following will  increase my ability to reach more of you with the encouragement of God.

I want to share God’s love and grace with everyone, so they know they are not alone in this journey called life. 

I want to reassure more people that there is life after a difficult diagnosis or a chaotic time or a sorrowful situation. That those of us who are strong can never do it all or carry it all–and we don’t have to nor should we try.

I want to proclaim the message of letting go and flying free in Christ. 

Enlarging my ministry is a worthy goal. Pursuing your work, outreach, and hobbies are worthy as well. So is raising your children, caring for the elderly, being with your spouse, even cultivating relationships on social media and in person.

But they all need to be pursued bathed in the light of Christ, not in the shadow of our driven natures. They need to be carried out in God’s timing not our’s. And not at the expense of other priorities in our lives.

We need to make sure we are focusing on the right One when we move in life.  

And if at times we see signs we need to leave the bucket only three-quarters full, then we must be willing to do so. [←Tweet this.]

I’m beginning to see the signs.

Asking for Understanding and Grace

So as I ask the Lord’s help in putting in proper context the Facebook Likes, Twitter tweets, Google Plus shares, and blog follows, I beg your grace and understanding. 

For as I take time to refocus, my blog posts may be a bit delayed. My social media posts may be more sporadic. 

As I try to balance the incredible blessings God has poured out on me this summer, including all of my children home again and you, my dear readers, I would appreciate your prayers. Please pray

  • That I take time to play my daughter’s favorite pretend-game “Lori”
  • That I spend a few extra minutes to prepare my college sons’ favorite foods
  • That I leave room to create precious memories of family togetherness 
  • That I would make space to just listen
  • That I would cultivate those things that are most important, not just the ones that create the most noise [←Tweet this.]

And while you’re praying for me and my priorities, I’ll be doing the same for you. 

May we all use our time with great wisdom as to the Lord not to men. 

“Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12

Reflection: What about you, are you the driven sort? What most often threatens to draw your focus off the most important priorities? 

I’m once again linking up with Ann Voskamp’s 2014 Joy Dare. Find the linkup at A Holy Experience. Beginning where I left off in 2013. And I’ve counted over 3,000 gifts!! What a blessing! #2987–3007, read the entire list by clicking here.

  • Smell of wildflowers in the meadow; Bike riding the trails with hubby and Joey; Danny arriving safely in Florida
  • Cottonwood puff floating on the breeze; Fawn racing around the apple trees; A visit from Mom
  • Manning our church booth at the fair and visiting with many wonderful people; Outdoor Francesca Battistelli concert; Freedom to let go–and recent recurring encouragement to do just that
  • Gems mixed in w/ the “coal” of the day; Welcoming purr of our kittens; Prepared meat in the freezer for quick meals!
  • Joey and Allison performing well in the piano contest–proud they were willing to stick with their commitment; Ice cream bucket full of black raspberries; Hanging lazily with my kids in the evening grass 
  • Daniel home from Florida and the #AllianceDefends Collegiate Academy; Day spent with Zach ending at Mom and Dad’s; Sleeping in this morning, lulled by the pattering of rain
  • The joy and love shared by our special kids at church this morning, even when they are strangers; Black raspberries bigger than my thumb; Another little one brought to the Lord in baptism today

 

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in Daily Living, Ministry, Multitude Mondays, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Perspective, Self-Control

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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.

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