Monday, August 30, 2010

Just Walk with Me

Some of my very favorite verses are found in Matthew 11:28-30. And I especially like The Message translation for these verses.

"Are you tired? Burned out on religion?
Come to Me. Get away with Me and
you'll recover your life.
Walk with Me and work with Me -
watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with Me,
and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Sometimes we make things harder than we should. It is all quite simple. Stay closely connected with Jesus, walk closely with Him through the moments of our days.

Just focus on keeping company with Him. So simple. Yet so easy to miss.

Lord, help us not to miss the way to live freely and lightly today ...

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Beginnings

Photo taken along Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
This time of year, even more so than at the start of a new calendar year, calls me to "new beginnings". Maybe it is because, with six children, the beginning of a new school year held the feeling of a fresh start, the anticipation of new focus.

Now that we are in our "empty nest" years, and no longer have back-to-school preparations for our children, I still continue to have that sense of new beginnings at this time of the year. Our work with Student Venture also adds to this, as our ministry with high school students is closely tied to the rhythms of the school year.

So this feeling of starting fresh at this time of year is just in my blood. It has been a good summer ... so many things to thank God for. And now as we start a new season, I have been taking some time to reflect and also to look forward with anticipation to what God has in store.

A few of the things that are on my mind at the start of this new season:

~ a longing to connect even deeper with God each day, reading His Word, listening

~ serving alongside my husband, and encouraging him (and both of us) to take time to rest

~ time for cooking and baking this fall and in the coming holiday seasons (I love this time of year!)

~ connections with our grown children / and also with grandkids

~ organizing and decorating a "toy room" downstairs ... more room for grandkids when they come over

~ joining a community women's group this fall, going through a very powerful study called "Live a Praying Life" ... I have gone through half of this study already, on my own, and am greatly looking forward to being able to go through it with a group now

~ being more faithful with exercising, and starting a plan where Gary and I are accountable in this

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Quieting our Hearts

The little book, Jesus Calling, is becoming one of my favorites. The author, Sarah Young, teaches by her example, how to be quiet before God, and listen. And then record what He brings to our minds. Her book is a collection of words that she has recorded in her journals from her times of listening, one reading for each day of the year.

Each time I read from her book, I am encouraged and captured by the words. We often focus on one-way communication with God, talking to Him. When we slow down our lives, still our hearts, and listen as we sit in His Presence, His Spirit brings truth to us.

I have been trying to have more moments of being still before Him. Sometimes it is easy to rush through reading His Word ... but taking time to be still and letting the truths of His Word soak into my mind and heart, and then writing down the thoughts and words that He brings to me as I quietly wait, has been so powerful.

Even in the midst of our busy days, I want to learn more about quieting my heart, and listening. We recently purchased a decorative little wall hanging for our living room, with these words that encourage being still and listening.

Let us be silent
so that we may hear
the whisper of God.

As we quiet our hearts, we can hear His whisper above the noise all around us. And hearing His voice is hearing truth.

"Be still, and know that I am God!"
(Psalm 46:10a)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Time to Reflect

What a special blessing from God for Gary and me to be able to spend three extra days in Black Mountain, NC, after our 4-day Student Venture Staff Conference ended Friday morning, August 6. Our time at the conference was so refreshing and encouraging, and to spend a few extra days enjoying the area, as well as having moments to reflect on all that we learned is an extra gift from God.

During one of our three vacation days, I walked up the hill from our Mountain Laurel Inn on the Ridgecrest Conference Center grounds, to a secluded little Prayer Garden. I spent a few hours there, reflecting, and soaking in God's presence.

There was a peaceful, bubbling mountain stream that wound it's way through the Prayer Garden. I wondered if I could capture it's beauty on video ... here is a little glimpse into what I experienced.

So much to think on and process from the four days that we spent together as staff, hearing from God through the great worship times, and the various speakers and workshops.

A few of the many things I wrote down in my journal as I listened ...
~ we don't need more programs, or even more people, but ... we need more of Jesus
~ lift Jesus up, and He will draw students to Himself
~ focus on John 15 ... walk closely to God, cling to the Vine
~ it is not about what we do, but about who we are in Him
~ live our daily lives as a "sent one"
~ easy to focus on activity for God, but remember our "first work"
~ focus on our "first work", which is to love Jesus
~ fight to guard our love relationship with Jesus
~ do not serve through SV out of duty, but out of our love for Jesus

These are the main things that resonate in my heart and mind as a result of our time together. And these are the things that have continually filled my thoughts in the past weeks and months.

I spent some time beside the rippling mountain stream, thinking on loving God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind. (Matthew 22:38) And also, on loving others. (Matthew 22:39) The second commandment flows out of the first ... if we are loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, love for others will naturally overflow from our lives.

"As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, O God." (Psalm 42:1)