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Seeking Sonshine

"Not all who wander are lost" – J.R.R. Tolkien

Month

February 2016

The Perfect Deception

I have been participating in a Bible Study for a few weeks now that has been challenging, inspiring, and eye opening. (Really good!!!) It is called Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer and it is some life changing stuff. She explains how the enemy crafts schemes against you and knows your weaknesses so well. Well, I had my eyes opened to a lie I believed so long that I don’t remember when It became a part of my character. But it was a long time ago. And it might sound familiar to you, too.

Let me share with you something that I have struggled with ever since ever. I could be such a perfectionist that it would literally halt me from doing something if I couldn’t do it perfectly. Sounds crazy. But true.  I wouldn’t even start.  I could over analyze and talk myself out of anything if I didn’t think I could do it up to what I thought my standard of “perfection” was. So many things fed this but they all had one thing in common… Fear. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what ifs. Fear of faith itself. I thought I was a “black or white” person with no room for gray in my life. What I really lacked was grace. For myself and for others. 

  

How ineffective could I be if I wouldn’t even start? It was a slow death by my own hand guided by the enemy of my soul. But not anymore. I may not be able to do all of the steps perfectly, but I can take one step. It’s an addiction and it is not one that is easily broken. But we have to break it or it will break us. So we make a choice. Let’s choose our freedom. Freedom to make a mistake and not halt our process or make us give up. The enemy is our accuser. He accuses us and gets in our mind and messes with our emotions and our perspectives. He loves to twist situations and have us sit and worry about them. He wants our hearts and our peace.

Good news though. They are ours to give. Or preferably, keep!

  
One of my very favorite Bible stories from my childhood and now is about Queen Esther. When I was young, she was a queen and wore purple in my animated series, so she was cool. Now, what a heroine of faith. She had to have been scared beyond anything what I would know in my experience as persecution and saved her people because of her faith. That’s incredible. She trusted God and stepped out in her faith risking it all, symbolizing our Savior to come and saving  His people. Queen Esther’s perspective was to choose to align her life with God’s will, without knowing the end result and accepting it first.

That is great and all, but how about a story I can relate to? Because last time I checked… Not a queen. (Unless I get to play one in my 4 year old’s plays and those parts are scare these days!) I love Jesus’s best friends, Mary and Martha. I love these girls because I am both of them at times. But mostly Martha. Martha was accomplished. She was the first Martha Stewart I think. (No stock trading fiasco though) Perfect food, hostess, her curtains probably matched the rugs and everything! You know she was talented. And she worked at it and you know it was beautiful. But it also made her frustrated, impatient, anxious and…well, she ended up tattling on her sister to Jesus. 

Because she probably took on more than she could chew? To look amazing? Because she felt she had to be the perfect hostess? Everything has to be perfect right? (I mean, her guest of honor was Jesus.. But still.) 

Mary was different. Mary was deep. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and soaked up every word He taught. Then, their brother Lazarus died. Martha went out to meet Jesus but He called for Mary. She waited for Jesus to come. Her tears moved Him and he resurrected Lazarus. She later cracked open a bottle of perfume and anointed Him with it because of her gratitude. Because Mary understood. 

41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are getting worried and upset about too many things. 42 Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will never be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42 ICB

Mary got it.

It’s not about insert whatever holds you back here because of insert fear here. It’s about doing it anyway, because we have faith that God will equip us to do it and His standards are perfect. 

Which is also the beginning of the word perfection! Who knew? 😄❤️

Photo Credits:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjayK-_uoDLAhUG8WMKHcSrBGgQjhwIBQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinterest.com%2Fall4grace%2Fverses-quotes-lyrics%2F&psig=AFQjCNHt79Li9N507Fs46NB3q0nkWP53mA&ust=1455855402853054&rct=j

http://quotesgram.com/bible-quotes-about-perspective/



Hopeful Grieving

Grieving is a peculiar thing. It sounds like it is a singular description of a destination. Something that is a place, a state, or somewhere you arrive and then someday…leave. But those of us who have truly known it can attest to the complete inaccuracy of this statement.

It’s a journey. 

It is starting at a point from having something feel like it is literally being ripped from your chest and you cannot catch a breath, or stand, or even see. Weight. So much weight, it is physically painful. And then moving toward another point where time passes and our lives move forward. We learn new routines and habits but not because we want to. It’s because we must. Days dawn and suns set. Then, one day, out of nowhere, a particular song pierces your heart or you pass a place of significance to a person that you lost.  And you are right back where you were that day when everything changed and you can feel it all over again. You grieve all over again. If only grieving was a singular state…

  
There’s a woman in the Bible who can empathize with grief and loss. Her name is Naomi (of the Judds from the Old Testament. Sorry, bad prime country music pun here. 😁) She lived during a time of famine and moved with her husband to Moab, with her two sonsin tow.Then, her husband passes away and leaves her alone to raise the boys herself in a new, famine-stricken land. (She could definitely write a country song or two.) Well, she raises them. They marry Ruth and Orpah (not Oprah, like I thought for a few years. The Judds and Oprah. I have now totally messed up the Book of Ruth forever…) and then the sons die. So now you have Naomi grieving literally all of the men in her life because they have died. She is a little bitter. 

She sends the girls away but Ruth refuses to leave her side. God just wouldn’t let her be alone, no matter how much she tried to push people away. He fought to love her no matter what. His love won over and ended up with a beautiful story highlighting Ruth’s compassion and loyalty along with Boaz’s redemption, kindness, favor and love that produced Obed, King David’s grandfather. 

Oh, and later on down the family line, Jesus Christ, Himself. I personally kind of think these traits are hidden gems in these stories leading up to His coming that help us understand who He really is. But that is just a neat way to help me piece the Bible together (and  I probably heard it somewhere along the way!)

  

Photo Credits:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjK5cahgeLKAhVU9GMKHZ-QCDUQjB0IBQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinterest.com%2Fbpsalm%2Fprayers%2F&psig=AFQjCNGbDxVPE8C6oohixxmhRmavfzILDQ&ust=1454809337818644&rct=j

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You Make Me Brave to Become Bold

Have you ever felt a gentle nudge in your soul to do or say something that is completely out of your comfort zone? For me, it’s usually talking to someone I have never met (that honestly usually looks like they do not want to be bothered), paying a complete stranger a random compliment, paying for someone’s groceries, or just something that generally puts me in a position to be easily rejected or scoffed at. At least, that’s the view that I argue internally, even when I know somewhere deep down it is worth it to follow through. I wrestle. I wrestle with convenience versus humility. Will I obey? 

When I do, sometimes, I see what’s on the other side of the nudging. A worn smile lights up a tired face and eyes fill with tears. Mine do too, because I can’t believe I have ever said no to an opportunity to bless someone. But to be truthful, I have. Many times. I was in a funk. Full of my own selfish junk that day and I was blinded to the needs of others because my eyes were completely focused on my own. I could have missed this. A moment on this side of eternity that a moment God reached down and touched someone in exactly the way he or she needed and offered hope in the season they were in. He doesn’t need me to do this. I can stay in my funk stage however long I want to, but He was trying to bless me as well and show me something incredible. It probably would have helped me out if I had chosen to act. But that is the key. I have to actively choose to be open to the call… 

  

I have noticed an curious phenomenon lately. When you smile at a child or compliment them while they are doing something, their beautiful, innocent faces just begin to beam. It is the coolest thing in the world to make a child gain confidence about something they are learning. You can see it radiate into whatever they are doing and activate their confidence. Don’t we all like to be appreciated for something we are working at? Some more celebrated more than others of course, but the need for approval is strong.  Isn’t it funny the very same need (for approval) is what swings the outcome so many times to determine if we follow through and put ourselves out there for God or if we smile, nod and then finish out a perfectly good day. 

 

Jesus wants us to love other people as He loves the Church. Also known as us. We may not sponsor a million children all over the world. But we can sponsor one. We may not be able to encourage everyone. But we can tell that Pinterest Mom in your class how great her Valentine’s she hand made for her daughter was and how much your girl or boy enjoyed getting one! You never know what battle people are fighting. You may be that ray of hope someone has been desperately praying to see. All we have to do is step out. Be brave. Be bold. Be kind. ❤️

I love the lyrics to this song and it is really speaking to me right now:

“You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music

 
  
Need courage? Listen here: http://youtu.be/6Hi-VMxT6fc

Photo Credits:

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