Month: January 2021

  • Intentional Living Through Curiosity

    Imagine waking up to a life that energizes you in every possible way. Imagine carefully crafting every aspect of your life (relationships, work, rituals, health) in a way that is uniquely designed to make you feel more alive, more joyful, and more fulfilled. Maybe you are thinking to yourself right now, that it seems like a pie in the sky dream because for you, life just isn’t working. Most days you feel like life is happening to you, not for you. You feel disempowered, overwhelmed, and stuck. How could you possibly wake up energized in this chaos we are experiencing?

    A lot of times when we are feeling this way, it is because we have forgotten to live intentionally, the way God designed.

    Living intentionally doesn’t just happen by accident, rather it is about being curious, making conscious choices and taking deliberate actions every day to bring about the outcomes and feelings you desire in your life.

    Intentional living means to live by design not by default. To live by design means that you no longer live on auto-pilot. You are learning to let go of the belief that your life is the sum of your circumstances. Intentional living is about co-creating your life with the Creator of the Universe (God) to make your highest contribution to the world.

    Intentional living starts with curiosity. Christina Crook, Author and TEDx speaker once said, “curiosity is a crucial condition for feeling fulfilled and alive and our need to nourish our capacity for wonder grows as we age.”

    In the Bible, we see first-century crowds being curious to hear Jesus teach and that interest, for many, led to hope, healing and a purposeful life. Jesus also encouraged the people He encountered to stop and reflect on what they really were truly desiring and seeking in life and from Him. For example, when Jesus encountered the blind man by the Jericho road, he asked the man “what do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41, NIV) When is the last time you paused and got curious about what an intentional life really looks like for you? If Jesus asked you what you wanted from Him would you know how to answer that question?

    Designing your life together with God begins with nurturing a holy curiosity about the Lord and His plans and promises for you. Do you take time to learn more about God or do you feel you’ve gotten so familiar with passages over the years that you can just carve your own path without checking in with God? Curiosity can be the invitation to dig deeper and ask good questions in order to see things through fresh eyes.

    The next step to living an intentional life is to set your intentions. For many years, I confess I did this without God’s input. I would ask questions like: What is my life for? What do I want to achieve? And then write down my dreams and desires and go after them. Unfortunately, this practice was all about imposing my own will and not aligning myself with God’s will. When we are operating under our own will and motivations, our identity becomes cemented in the things we do, rather than in the One who called us in the first place. Our perspective is limited to our own imagination instead of leaning into the One who can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

    Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’”.

    James 4:13-15 (NIV)

    Notice that this is not about making plans apart from God, but about being curious about who God wants you to be and what God wants you to do.

    One useful exercise is to ask the questions, “Who does God want me to be in regard to my (spirituality, health, mental wellbeing, work, restoration, etc.)? How will I commit to living that out in my daily life? Here are a few examples:

    • God calls me to be content (1 Timothy 6:6-8) therefore I am committed to living abundantly with fewer things so that I can spend more time with the people I love and less time managing the things I have and/or worrying about the things I don’t have.
    • God calls me to honor my body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) therefore I am committed to being strong and healthy so that I can have energy at the end of the day to give my best self to my family.

    Once you’ve set your intentions the third step is to align your daily actions. For example, if you’re committed to being strong and healthy, ask yourself: “what broad goals will help me achieve these intentions?” For instance, you could have some broad goals like eat healthier or be more physically active. From there, ask yourself “what day-to-day actions can I take that will add up to my desired result over time?” You may want to set daily goals like eat 4 cups of vegetables per day or walk 3 miles every day.

    Know that intentional living is a lot like taking a cross-country road trip. Along your journey, you’ll need to pull over and refuel. You’ll need to stop, put gas in your car, grab a bite to eat and stretch your legs – not once, but multiple times. On your way to living your best life, you need to do the same, which is why the final step in intentional living is to reflect, re-evaluate and revise your plans based on these questions.

    • Is this what God wants for my life?
    • How’s my progress in regards to the intentions I set?
    • What has God been able to accomplish so far in me and through me?
    • What have been some of the most powerful learning moments so far?

    As you take time to reflect, don’t forget to pause and pray and listen to what God wants to say. Then make a conscious choice to either continue pursuing your goals as is or make revisions to your plan as needed. An intentional life isn’t about perfection, but progress. It’s about being curious and having the courage to step into the purpose that God has called you to. Living an intentional life empowers you to start:

    • Becoming a woman who is hungry for God and His word.
    • Creating possibilities for your life that energize you and glorify God in the process.
    • Living each day on purpose and not just coast through your life.
    • Courageously taking leaps of faith and not just wait for better timing or more signs.
    • Confidently choosing, even if imperfectly, actions that add to your life, not take away from it.

    Wherever God may lead you, know that He desires for you to live intentionally and to live with Him, so that you may experience life to the fullest.

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  • This is the year!

    “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

    Okay, so we are a few weeks into the new year. If you are like me, you have set some new goals for yourself and started the new year super excited to achieve them. Maybe you’ve even been chanting, “This is the year!”

    One of the most important goals we can set for ourselves is one that will help us grow in our faith and relationship with God. I have found that when I put my faith first, my other goals in life tend to fall into place as well. But far too often, I have limited myself with an “I can’t” mentality that has kept me from reaching for the bold goals in my life.

    One of those goals is to conquer early mornings! You see, I am not naturally a morning person. My bed is warm and cozy and my eye lids would rather not open until the sun is up (which this time of year, is fairly late!). But for years now, I have had a desire to get up before my family and have some time in the early morning to spend with the Lord. I can picture it now: the house is quiet and peaceful, I’m sitting in my comfy chair by the fireplace, curled up in my fuzzy blanket, sipping on my chai tea while I’m spending time with my Lord.

    And, while, yes, over the years I have still found a way to make time with God happen, I have always looked longingly toward that early morning picture. It just seemed out of reach, until I realized that the main thing that has gotten in the way of me achieving this goal has been the “I cant’s”. The “I can’t get up that early because I’m just not a morning person.” Or the “I can’t function that early so even trying would be unproductive.”

    I am determined this year to stop limiting myself with the “I cant’s” and have the courage to say, “with God’s help, I can!” While I know it will be hard at first, with possibly many difficult, half-awake mornings, I believe that I can get to the other side and reach my goal of that vision I have for my mornings. I know that if I can persevere through the hard stuff at the beginning, I will get to the place where it isn’t so hard and I will reap the fruit of my persistence in seeking the Lord.

    While early mornings might not be your goal, what is one goal you can set that will help you grow in your faith and relationship with God this year?

    Whether it is to have time with God each day (even if it is only 15 min), to be in God’s Word, to pray more often, go to church consistently or finally check out that small group bible study, God will bless your efforts. Any goal that draws you closer to God is a good goal!

    Is there a faith step that you have not taken because of the “I cant’s? If you are willing to trust God and give Him that “I can’t”, He will turn it into something beautiful. He will strengthen you to do what you didn’t think was possible and grow your faith in the process.

    I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

    Philippians 4:13

    It is my hope that by the end of this year, you will be able to look back and see growth in your faith and a list of ways you have been stretched, trusted in God and experienced Him more fully.

    May you find joy in seeking the Lord this year!

    P.S. If you have a faith goal that you would like us to pray about for you, please email us or comment below and we would love to be praying and encouraging you in your walk of faith!

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  • Clearing the Clutter

    Ah, January! The long-awaited, longest month of the year, famous for inspiring millions to make resolutions of forward progress and to clear out the old to make room for the new.

    Also (in case you hadn’t noticed) we have officially entered 2021! Although it has already swooped in with some pretty sticky messes, we will, and must, keep pressing onward with our sights set on Jesus. Always.

    All things considered though, I think we can all appreciate the beginning of a new year and the opportunity for a fresh start. Personally, I find the beginning of each new year to be an especially helpful motivator to declutter my home. Anyone else relate? Webster’s dictionary describes clutter this way: 1) n. a crowded or confused mass or collection; 2) adj. to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.

    I don’t know about you, but I do not like clutter impeding my movements or reducing my effectiveness. I often don’t even know where the clutter in my house comes from, but oh boy, does it come! I also know that once it lands here it immediately becomes my responsibility to figure out what on earth to do with it. Whether the clutter needs to be thrown out or “re-homed,” it generally falls to me to make those decisions around our home and to remove the excess of things no longer serving myself and my family.

    It can take a lot of time and energy to clear out our physical clutter, but in the end, it is always hugely rewarding. Clearing out spaces in our homes that help us to be more efficient and effective in our daily lives is totally worth the effort!

    But there’s more than just one type of clutter that comes at us and can impede our lives. The type of clutter I want to talk about isn’t any of the things I just listed. In fact, it’s not anything you can hold in your hands at all: it’s what I call emotional clutter.

    I’m going to guess that all or most of us are familiar with the idea of emotional baggage. This is a term I’ve heard tossed around for years, generally in relation to unresolved pain and memories from the past which we can often end up hauling around with us (not by choice) that can interfere and weigh us down from living the beautiful life we were born to live.

    When severe enough, emotional baggage can hold people hostage from living any life at all! I won’t dive too deeply into that level of emotional baggage here, but I hope you know that if you find yourself needing to unpack a significant amount of baggage, this ministry would love to point you toward safe and appropriate resources.

    What I do want to address here is the smaller, often less noticeable collected moments of emotionally negative “clutter.”

    Emotional clutter can show up in a variety of shapes and sizes and can genuinely impede our effectiveness on a daily basis. It could look like a lot of things: like being in a nasty funk all day after getting stuck in traffic that morning; not being present with our family because we’re actively worrying about things we can’t control; it might look like not trusting an authority or other important figure in our life because we’re focusing on a time when someone else close to us betrayed our trust in a hurtful way; it could look like finding someone to blame for that thing that went wrong at work and gossiping about that person behind their back, or criticizing our partner for the one thing they forgot that day instead of thanking them for the things they did well.

    We can have all types of clutter gathering dust in our hearts at any given time, muddying the waters of our mind and spirit. If we’re not making time for self-reflection and introspection on a regular basis, we can often remain unaware of how much that clutter is impeding our movement in the world and reducing our effectiveness. Once that clutter begins to gather dust for long enough, it attracts more clutter, and more, and before we know it we are packing yet another suitcase of “baggage.”

    In order for this not to happen, it’s crucial that we begin to learn sustainable ways of partnering with God to clear the clutter from our hearts and minds. It might take some time and energy but trust me – just like cleaning out that closet, it’s going to be so worth it!

    Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

    Romans 12:2

    When we examine our thoughts and take stock of our emotional clutter, it allows God to help us discern what His perfect will is for us. We are able to see ourselves, the people around us and our circumstances from His eternal perspective, instead of our limited view.

    I encourage you to take some time this week to pray and ask God what kinds of emotional clutter might be collecting in your own heart. What types of emotions are weighing on you right now? Is there a conflict happening with someone in your life? Are you struggling to make a difficult decision but you don’t want to disappoint people?

    Try to name the first things that God brings to your mind without judging yourself or others for it. Ask God to help you sit with some of the clutter that He shows you and take a deep breath. These things aren’t too hard for God to handle! He understands, and He loves you, and He wants to carry your burdens for you. He’s that good!

    Remember that your clutter doesn’t define you, but it can sometimes impede your movements and reduce your effectiveness, just like physical clutter. It can limit our perspective and wisdom to what’s right in front of us, instead of being able to hear God’s gentle guidance and see His perfect provision. When we allow emotional clutter to accumulate, we can miss out on the fullness of all of the blessing and goodness God has for us.

    2020 might not have been my favorite year, but it taught me (along with a host of other lessons) that no matter what craziness life throws my way, my hope does not and cannot rely on the circumstances of this world. Instead, I am compelled to reaffirm my faith and trust in the One who never changes, who never becomes weak or weary – the One who hung the stars in the sky and causes the seasons to change – the One who put you and me on this earth for such a time as this. He is the solid rock in shifting sand on which we would do well to build our house. (Matt. 7:24)

    To an uncluttered New Year in Christ!

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  • Good Things on God’s Horizon

    Each new year brings a sense of a fresh start–an opportunity to hit the “reset button”. This year, more than any other year, we definitely want to move past 2020 into the hopefulness of a new year.

    Whether you are a resolution maker or not, the new year is an opportunity to leave behind the things of the past, whether bad habits or simply bad memories, and look forward to new possibilities.

    This year especially, I am drawn to these verses in Isaiah 43:16, 18-21:

    This is what the Lord says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters…“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland..to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.”

    I love these verses because they are a reminder to me that God is asking me to no longer focus on what was, but keep my eyes ahead on what He is about to do. The same God who parted the sea so His people could find a way through, is now asking us to leave behind those things that are not of Him and not dwell on what has been. Instead He invites us to focus ahead on what He has prepared for us.

    It is so easy for the trauma of this past year to stick with us like a lead weight. We want to move ahead but we are still living in the aftershock of all the challenges of 2020. It was a difficult year and the effects of it continue to linger in our lives, but God is asking us to turn our focus toward Him–toward His presence now and to where He plans to take us in the coming year.

    Because when we dwell on the past, we just might miss something new He is doing in us or around us. We can lose sight of where God is taking us and the wonderful things ahead. When we shift our perspective from “what was” to “what is”, we can more clearly see the new things He has before us.

    If you are feeling like you are coming out of the wilderness of last year, take heart, He is making a way through that wilderness and bringing His living water to the wasteland. His hope springs up before us! We are His chosen people and He is making us new each day. We are His beloved! He delights in making all things new and providing for His people.

    As we go into this new year, my prayer is that we can have eyes that see all that God is doing around us; that we will see His wondrous works springing up before us. We have a new start in Jesus. He is our hope and our future!

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