It never ceases to amaze me how well God really knows His children. He knows what we can handle, who to put in our lives at what time, what we need, all of it. Amazing, right?
Well what really amazes me is how He knows what makes us ticks and how to reassure us that He is still there, even if we think He has disappeared. Recently I have been going through a season of waiting. A lot of things are changing in my life and all that I can really do is just wait and see what God has in store for me. However, during this waiting stage, of course I have gotten impatient and have felt abandoned. I feel like I keep asking God to show me signs of what I am supposed to do and where I am supposed to go. And instead of His voice, all I hear is my constant worry of what is to come. Well like of all His children, He knows me better than I could ever imagine knowing myself. He knows that like most people, if I hear His voice directly, I would freak out and not even hear the message, so instead He uses something that He knows I will see and understand. Social media. As a millennial, Mass Communications student, I spend a good portion of my time using social media. So whenever I feel alone or like He isn’t answering, I see a post or get a notification that encourages me or directly relates to what I have just asked or have been worrying about. It’s His way of letting me know, “I hear you.”
Now I know it may sound crazy or dramatic that God would use social media to speak to me, but too many times have I almost made a mistake or cried out for help, when a post comes across my phone, that couldn’t be anything other than God. It is like He is meeting me where I am. How amazing is that? He loves me enough to talk to me in my comfort zone. It’s been proven that God has a sense of humor, so why wouldn’t He have social media?
So when you think God isn’t listening or answering, pay close attention to what is going on around you and I guarantee your answer is close by.
4 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2
“One final word, friends. We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance.”
It is interesting to hear the stories of where people come from. I often will look at someone and just wonder where they have been, seen, felt, and endured in the past. What their lives looked like before Christ, before they were mature in their faith, in times they were scared or in a trial. This is especially true with people I admire. Powerful pastors, leaders, writers, artists, entrepreneurs, athletes, and friends. This interest was reignited recently when I was listening to a local pastor dip his toes into a bit of his testimony. Even the very little bit of raw insight he opened up with, was powerful, not only to how I saw him but to the overall message of his sermon.
After the end of the message I kept thinking through my head, what does my story sound like? What is my testimony? Many people seemed to have a pivotal moment when they decided to give their lives to Christ, but my life did not look like that. Did that make my story less impactful? I didn’t know, I had never thought about MY testimony, MY story, I cast it off as without significance, but is that really true? Could my life story significantly impact someone else’s? Every story has the ability to impact when the Holy Spirit has intervened. That was one thing I knew was absolutely true, God showed up for me time and time again. And His holy spirit was undeniable to me. I knew it was time to start hashing out my story. Now don’t get your hopes up, I am not sharing my testimony in this post (That will come soon!), but I am going to discuss 4 important things about living your life as a “Spirited Dance” rather than a “Religious Plod”, something I think goes hand in hand with Acknowledging the work the Lord has done in our lives so that not only we truly swallow what this means, but so that when were asked (and we WILL be asked) we are ready to share the relevance of the Gospel in EVERYONE’s lives. This relevance we can confirm through our stories, no matter what form they take.
These methods I am about to share are more about authenticity than they are about action steps. But really, what better action step is there than becoming authentic in your faith? So here are the four ways you can Shake off that Religious Plod.
- Encountering Your Past
Now this is not a prompt to “Contact your ex-boyfriend or hash out broken relationships from 10 years ago” type of prompt my friends. I simply mean that you should thoughtfully and prayerfully considering all you have been through to get you to your “Now”. Pray and ask God to highlight things in your past that have had significance. Capture your favorite memories and hardships, and write them down.
Why is this good to do? To keep you moving forward. The past has significance. Not to remain in the past but to use it as a catapult to learn from and blossom from. We all have roots, regardless of where they were planted, God intended them for good. This practice left me feeling overwhelmed with gratitude to God for transforming my life. Not in an instant, but still radically significant.
“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.”
- Honoring Your Present
Those who know me will giggle that this is Number two on this list. I have a deep struggle with the “Now”. It is never as fast or slow as I want it to be. I am never where I think I should be, doing what I think I should be doing, and I always feel behind. But something that I have been really trying to overcome is the Sin of not being grateful for where the Lord has planted me. I often giggle with my best friend that I feel like the Israelites wondering around in the wilderness when they were right next door to the Promise Land. She knows that I use humor to cover up the pain that I actually feel about this reference. I am constantly worrying if I am missing the mark, and if I am TRULY living in the purpose God has called me to. I analyze my life until there is no more joy to be had. Every essence of me is exhausted by worry. If this is something that you struggle with, I pray that you can break through this distractive mind and heart set with me! I have been working diligently on this with God (praying, reading books, and most importantly God’s word EVERYDAY) and I ALREADY feel so much lighter from the weight of the unknown. You, sweet friend, can feel this too when you surrender your hurt and be REAL with God. Tell Him where you’re at RIGHT NOW.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
You don’t need to be overly religious in your conversations with God (Always highly respectful) but He wants you to commune with Him! I cannot tell you how many times through out my weeks and days that I just chat with God. “Okay God, what the heck is happing in this situation right now?” or “Haha God I see where you’re going with this” or my current necessary prayer, “Lord, bring me to the end of myself right here and NOW.” “Blooming Where you are planted” is a cliche encouragement, but it is increasingly relevant in our walks with the Lord!
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
- Remove Insecurity
Whoa. The event just writing this down made me a little uncomfortable. But the reality is, Insecurity steals Joy, Boldness, Faith, Life, Purpose and brings only death and distraction. Sounds all too familiar doesn’t it?
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.
This is a big area of struggle for me for many years. But thanks to the Lord, I have been able to overcome it. My wounds are still a little tender I will admit, and there are areas that this weakness has effected that I still need to address, but God met me in an intimate place in my life that I thought He could never touch. I kept it hidden because I CHOSE to not believe it would ever change. I believed the enemy, rather than the truth of God’s Loving Word!
I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly”
I treasure that these two sentences are side by side in scripture. God gives us the antidote to the paralysis that the enemy hopes to create within us! Where do you have a struggle in your life that you believe will never change? Come on girl, lets be real right now. I was not able to make any headway on my self-image until I let down my wall, peeled away how I saw myself, laid it all at the feet of God, and Prayed for him to forgive me for listening to the enemy. I prayed that He would search my heart, remove the lies, and awaken me to MOVE in His might and in the purpose He designed me for. You catch that? Insecurity steals purpose and living it out vibrantly! Don’t we all WANT a vibrant and purpose-filled life that positively affects others!? So as soon as that creep (yes I call the enemy a Creep!) starts to infiltrate… you SHOUT OUT John 10:10 if you have to! People will think you’re crazy, but OH WELL! You remind the enemy that you know exactly who he is and what he is doing. But most importantly You remind that Devil WHO YOUR GOD IS AND WHAT HE IS DOING, and he will have no choice but get the heck outta Nashville. (Or in my case, Oahu haha)
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
This is the moment we all were created for. Do you believe that? Right now right where you are God has manifested. On top of that, God is OMNIPRESENT! He is with us, within us, and alive in His word. Our God is intimately intertwined in the smallest of moments in our lives! The mundane is not so when you realize that God always shows up!
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
Acknowledging that God’s word is alive is vital to our walk. For the longest time in my walk, I chose to skim, to read words, and not take to heart the breath of life within each passage. (Yes, even the sections of 50 names of descendants is alive with the power of God!) I had to recall when I first experienced being on fire for God. I was 13 and I was a girl on a mission. I would hunker down in my room, open my bible and marvel at His word, excitedly jotting down every scripture that resonated with me. With that intensity and excitement about God’s word, every scripture jumped out at me. That enjoyment and fulfillment of reading His word is when God gave me the vision of my calling to be a full-time Missionary one day. Clear as day, I would not just go on missions. I would live with a mission as a FULL-TIME missionary. I want to be back in that place! That childlike wonder that Christ loves so much opens the doors for us to embrace the Word of God and allow it to penetrate into an event the thickest of heads! When my mind gets muddy, I remember the crystallized visions and passion I had in those times I genuinely LOVED God’s word.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
You catch that? If we do not get this Child like wonder back, we WILL miss out on the Promise Land. We will be frantically stuck in the “Religious Plod” of trying to earn our way to heaven. We SHOULD know that salvation is NOT going through the motions, its acquired through a faith-filled surrender. Spiritual Maturity stems from that surrendered heart space, and marries righteous diligence in fulfilling the Law of The Lord, which primarily is to LOVE and LOVE HARD!
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”
Indeed, it is time to Hunt. We are to hunt after God’s word, His presence, His will, His Holy Spirit. We are to seek out those who need His salvation, who need HOPE. We do this through sharing OUR stories of salvation! We are to hunt after new eyes that see and new ears that hear. Friends, we are warriors in this life. We have the battle to fight. Until we regain the wonder back into our walks with The Lord and an awe at the Word He has left for us, we are stuck wondering in the wilderness.
But sisters! If we Seek Him we WILL find HIM! Can you believe that!? He knows our hearts and if we want to know Him, then He WILL give us the desires of our hearts! Share your story and others will not be able to deny the delight you have in The Lord!
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
So lets dance! And praise that we have a God that is a LOVING GOD, who wants us to WANT Him! He always shows up when we need Him. He has the power to move mountains, raise the dead, and transform lives of the lost.
Believe this, live this, and you will have no choice but to dance!
Have Grit Sweet Ones,
Ever since I have been a Christian I have felt this tug on my heart and a sense of action needing to be taken. Whether I was walking strongly with the Lord, or if I had taken a selfish turn away from Him, that sense of calling never left me. It is something I think we all feel if we really take a good look at our hearts and I think it is by design. Mother Theresa has long been someone that has inspired me to live more closely to how Christ has called us to live; selflessly. While reading her book “No Greater Love”, she really helped me to refocus, once again, on the importance of living out our calling.
In the United States, we are in a position where we live in the excess constantly. We have excess food, resources, money, and even excess opportunity. We often see ourselves as untouchable, however, in almost every situation, we are completely unaware of the immense blessings we have and yet, still do not use them to bless others. We have become hoarders of blessings, of love, respect, and even of the Gospel. I know that this may sound harsh, and I myself often get told that I am overly critical of myself. However, I do not see it as criticism…. I see it as a call to action and a wonderful opportunity for us all to take up the TRUE meaning of what being a Christ follower is! Mother Theresa said that “There are thousands of people who would love to have what we have, yet God has chosen us to be where we are today to share the joy of loving others. He wants us to love one another, to give ourselves to each other until it hurts. It does not matter how much we give, but how much love we put into our giving.” I have never thought about giving…. “Until it hurts”. That is a degree of love that instantly makes me uncomfortable…. I don’t like it…. but I have no doubt that the work the Lord could do through someone as minimal as me could be MIRACULOUS, IF I could give of myself this much!
Other religions even recognize that if we were living out Christian lives as Christ has designed, then they would be unable to deny the power of the cross! That says something! How powerful this change could be, and it would be simply through us losing the focus of ourselves and putting it in those who need Love in action. Mother Theresa got a quote from Gandhi that confirms this, he said “If Christians were to live their Christian Lives to the fullest, there would not be one Hindu left in India.” Wow. People are admittedly desperate for Christ! Are we going to be too selfish to give them that promise, something that is not ours to even withhold? This flips the script when viewed from this action based standpoint. Do you feel that burn in you yet? If not…. you will.
I want to make sure that I am not confusing things here. There is nothing wrong with the American Dream. We all have to work and take care of our families. Working hard to do so is not a bad trait or even desire. In fact, that is our first step in being disciples, caring for those who are nearest to us. However, I think that the American dream has morphed from bettering the generations to come and stumbled into the pit of Pride and Selfishness. Focusing our love on those nearest to us with the intention of serving is amongst the most hardest of our callings. However, Mother Theresa explicitly used a viewpoint that really changed how I looked at serving those who are nearest to me. “Since we do not see Christ we cannot express our love to him. But we do see our neighbor, and we can do for him what we would do for Christ if He were visible. Let us be open to God, so that He can use us. Let us put love into action. Let us begin with our family, with our closest neighbors. It is difficult, but that is where our work begins.” This statement is what started to crumble down the lies that I had been fed… and the lies that I have started to believe.
As a mother I am aware of the war against our roll in our home and with in our families. Mother’s are under the microscope no matter what she chooses to do and how she chooses to mother. Yet, the reality is, is that mothers are in a wonderful position to live out the life of a Christ follower in a beautiful way. Who serves more than a mother? This reinstated how important my role to my family is…. and the Legacy my husband and I hope to leave to our next generations. This movement will start with me, being present in our family as someone who puts love into all of my actions. “Mothers are at the heart of the family.” How powerful is a mother who helps children build foundations of love and selflessness into their lives? This is a powerful calling, calling to change the values of the World.
It is so easy to get caught up in “Getting ahead”, in the “Prosperity Gospels” that are spread all over this generation, the “Get Rich Quick” Schemes, and they all feed into one thing: Ego. These ideals create “Work-a-holics” that do not spend time with their families, or serving the Body of Christ! “Do not pursue spectacular deeds. We must deliberately renounce all desires to see the fruit of our labor, doing all we can as best we can, leaving the rest in the hands of God. What matters is the gift of yourself, the degree of love you put into each one of your actions.” I love that Mother Theresa deflates that whole mentality by revealing the Truth that God is the one who deserves all the Glory because… well, He is the one in control and he controls what bears good fruit! I had a dear friend tell me that God’s will is “None of my Business”, it is my job to be faithful and continue serving the Body of Christ in every way I can. I still have to tell my self “ITS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS BRAIN!” That helps me to move on and allow God to do the work He needs to without me getting in the way. Mother Theresa went on to examine that, “Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches. Children have very little time for their parents and parents have very little time for their children and for each other. So the breakdown of peace in the World begins at home.” I do no believe that this means to stop being ambitious, or intentional about your goals in life. In fact, those things are very good, so long as you are doing them with a heart full of love and you’re focus is to serve others and glorify God.
Being called to live this way should not make us sad, or make us feel deflated. In fact, there is a tremendous sense of purpose and joy in realizing how important this work really is! Mother Theresa encouraged me when she wrote, “Jesus is going to great things with you if you let Him, and if you don’t try to interfere with Him. We interfere with God’s plans when we push in someone or something else not suitable for us. Be strict with yourself, and then be very strict with what you are receiving from the outside. People may come with wonderful ideas, with beautiful things, but anything that takes you away from the reality of what you have given to God must remain outside.” This, I believe extends into our careers, our social circles, and our extra curricular choices. There are so many decisions that come across our tables, but they are people or things that do not push us along the path that serves the Lord most closely. If this happens then we need to take a pass and choose to not take it on board in our life! This is a REALLY hard thing to do, and something I honestly feel cannot be done apart from the Holy Spirit and intense prayer. However, when done to its full extent resisting things that are not for our lives as a Christ follower is extremely liberating, and I know makes God smirk.
The beauty in all of this is that God loves us, NO MATTER WHAT. And NOTHING can separate us from that love. Even if we stay exactly as we are we are able to access eternal life, and forgiveness and an amazingly intimate relationship with Christ if we want it. Mother Theresa revealed her angst for following Christ by admitting, “With our will that is whole I will love God, I will opt for Him, I will run toward Him, I will reach Him, I will possess Him. But it all depends on these words: “I want” or “I do not want”. I have to pour all of my energy into “I want.”” We do not HAVE to live out the Gospel, it is free for the taking. But if we truly believe in the power of the Gospel and what Christ has called us to do, and what He has already done for us on the Cross then how could we not want to spend our lives sharing that with others, and loving on our brothers and sisters in this world? They go hand in hand, I know now that one cannot exist with out the other. “We are collaborators with Christ, fertile branches on the vine.” This work is not easy, and the enemy will be absolutely be out to stop you, but we cannot be discouraged if we feed our fire with the word of the Lord and a faithfulness that cannot be broken. Mother Theresa urged her readers that, “What we need is to love without getting tired. How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. What are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are small things of daily life: faithfulness, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking,and of acting”, and “Let nothing disturb us, so fill us with sorrow or discouragement, as to make us forfeit the joy of the resurrection.” These two statements really set that vision and yearning in me a blaze! I hope it does the same to you!
I hope that this encourages you to honor this life by using your amazing gifts and passions from God to expand the kingdom! No matter who you are or what you do, you are someone of amazing value, and your life was designed to touch the lives of others and give them a joy that in turn gives them strength! Don’t wait to live out this calling! I had a friend who was told that her spiritual gift was Joy (It radiated from her, and was undeniably from The Lord), but she felt like that was not a powerful gift. But I hope that her, along with all of you (and even myself) truly can meditate on the power of a being a Joyful giver….. of ourselves. We have the power to strengthen one another, and to truly raise each other up to be warriors! And it all starts with Love.
“I shall keep the silence of my heart with greater care, so that in the silence of my heart I hear His words of comfort from the fullness of my heart I comfort Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor.” -Mother Theresa
“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” -Jesus Luke 22.27 RSV
Have Grit Mighty Ones,
Prayer “O Jesus”
You who suffer, grant that, today and everyday
I may be able to see you in the person of your sick ones
and that, by offering them my care, I may serve you.
Grant that, even if you are hidden under the unattractive disguise of anger, of crime, or of madness
I may recognize you and say, “Jesus you who suffer, how sweet it is to serve you.”
Give me, Lord, this vision of faith, and my work will never be monotonous, I will find
joy in harboring the small victims and desire of all the poor who suffer.
Dear sick one, you are still more beloved to me
because you represent Christ. What a privilege I am granted in being able to take care of you!
O God, since you are Jesus who suffers, deign to be for me also a Jesus who is patient, indulgent with my faults
who looks only at my intentions, which are to love you
and to serve you in the person in of these children of yours who suffer
Lord, Increase my faith. Bless my efforts and my work, now and forever.
We all have seasons of planting seeds in our lives, and then a time of harvest. This cycle is constant. Even during the midst of our harvest, we are planting seed through our behaviors toward others and how we act during our seasons of blessings. It’s much easier to maintaining a heart of gratitude when all things are going well in our lives and great things are happening. However, how do we respond as we walk through the journey in the valley? Do we fight for control? Do we try our best to keep our composure?
When we encounter seasons in the valley—the best things we can do is simply be still and rest in God’s peace. In Philippians 4: 6-7 reminds us this:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
When you’re praying about all things (and truly believing those prayers are in good hands), it becomes hard for you to not give thanks in the midst of your trouble. By doing so, your life will change forever. Your peace of mind will not reside on things or people on this earth.
Strive for peace and gratitude through prayer not because of all things, but IN all things. Through the stillness of your soul, gratitude will abide.
In general, as Americans, I do not think that a single one of us can claim that we have nothing to be grateful for. We are privileged. Especially for me, as a Colorado born woman living in Hawaii amongst many cultures, some indigenous and others from overseas, I am constantly reminded of how privileged I am. Hawaii is a common ground for many who traveled here generations ago to work for the Dole Plantation, or for local farms and some for the cane fields. These are cultures that derived from third world countries, where poverty was their motivation to flee to the land of Aloha, out of a necessary means to provide for their families. This molded Hawaii into a hub that is desperately clinging to its Hawaiian traditions, while there is a wide variety of cultures embarking on it. I heard someone describe Hawaii as “A third world country, with first world amenities.” Many see Hawaii only in movies or in pictures in magazines, but the reality of Hawaii is so different than many will ever know, and it takes living amongst the people to fully understand it. My husband is a local boy who grew up on the North Shore of Oahu. His favorite memories involve his dad fishing with him early in the morning, tending to his roosters, and living in Haleiwa in a communal home with his entire multigenerational family and only fire to heat the water for their single outdoor shower.
My husband is a man, that came from a life that some would describe as little or maybe even lacking, but with his big heart and open eyes, he sees his life growing up as having everything. He grew up having the values of a world that has long been passed on the mainland and usually is only found in small farming communities. They value family above all and honor God with their thankfulness no matter what. This is what drew me in about the Islands, the people. This is what is TRUE Hawaii is.
It is no secret that living in Hawaii is hard. With prices of food, the ratio of supply and demand with housing out of balance, and the difficulty in finding suitable work, making a living is better described as, “Completely remolding your standard of living”. I for one have gone from my single days in Colorado in a 1 bedroom apartment for about $500 a month right in the heart of the most desirable part of town, to now looking for a rental, for my WHOLE family, and considering a 1 Bedroom apartment, for over $1800 a month. For most, when they realize that remolding standards and changing life styles are a necessity to survive here, they usually decide to leave. Like I said, Hawaii is not only what you see in the Magazines. Others, like us, come to a point where they see what Hawaii is about, and they deem it as necessary to be where their souls feel called. And the life style change for me has been a wonderful process of simplification that I think many could benefit from. Leaning on God has been something I have struggled with for years and now, slowly God is working on my heart, gently as He always is. I cannot even count the amount of times where my husband and I looked at each other knowing full well that our bank account and ice box were empty, and prayed that we could make it another week in this condition. Seems impossible, even to me sometimes, but with out fail every time God stretches our food, and reminds me that the Spirit of Aloha is abundant here in Hawaii. I cannot even count the number of times our family has been invited to a cook out and my husband’s aunty will send us home with enough home cooked food to last us through until the next pay day, in fact she insists and will pile your arms full of food as you’re walking out the door, simultaneously kissing you on the cheek. If that weren’t a blessing enough, our neighbors and friends continually bless us with fruit, avocados, mangoes, eggs, and the funny thing is, is that we haven’t told any of them that we were worried about having food to put on the table. This is the culture in Hawaii. It is hard for everyone here, and yet everyone gives and shares and cares for their family, their neighbors, their friends, and people they do not even know.
The spirit of Aloha I have no doubt is just another name for the Holy Spirit. Every time I return to the homeland, I will step off the plane and the Holy Spirit will sweep over me and uncontrollable tears of Joy flow, sometimes with out me even realizing! On the days that the pressure of life seems to get to me and my husband, we will stop what we’re doing, head to the beach to catch a sunset and in that moment, God gently reminds us the TRUTH of His amazing presence we have unlimited access to! The indigenous flowers here have time and time again been used for the Lord to speak to me, to guide me, and to fill my heart with so much joy. Hawaii, is not like it is in movies or in magazines, because if you live here, and you struggle here, and you bond together with the local people, then you know that it is so, so much better! I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else right now and I am so grateful that God continues to be our provision in EVERY aspect of our lives! I pray that more people get to experience this Spirit of Aloha and that it contagiously spreads for generations to come!
Mahalo Nui Loa,