The Lord is near to all who call on him. (Psalm 145:18)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

My intentions are not always yours, and I do not go about things as you do.
My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you, just as heaven is far from your reach here on earth. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

The holidays are upon us once again, and I am amazed how fast the time flies year to year. I am reminded in the stillness, the beautiful glow, that we are really, truly, completely blessed. Every year as this season approaches and unfolds, my goal is always to intentionally carve out time with my immediate family to simply rest. To breathe in the moments and savor the time we have to not have a plan. Nowhere to go, no need to step outside of our dwelling, but to simply enjoy time together at home. As many of you know, our lives have been considerably busier this year with two in college: my oldest child, Rylee, and my husband, Ryan. That on top of two full time careers and an additional part time worship ministry position for Ryan with a new church plant in Springfield. With four children, we have additional responsibilities to manage as they participate in extracurricular activities. Then, as we carve out time to help and volunteer in our community, the time we have together shrinks even more so. All that busy aside, my priority is to always start with the focus on God’s priority for my life, for my family, and then organize and schedule everything else secondary. When time with my husband and time with my family gets sidelined, and doesn’t occur as it should, well, you can imagine the frazzled, frustrated state I am in. It is not good. So, sometimes that means we bow out of something to regain balance, prioritize. If the people we work with, minister with, do life with are not understanding, supportive and encouraging of that, and insist everything should be secondary to them---something’s not right. When that happens, consider who you are doing life with and choose to be transparent, expect and provide accountability. I am thankful we have that in our lives. Not everyone can say that. Perhaps for you, this is a moment when you gotta do inventory on a personal, spiritual level.

When was the last time you sat down with your family, and had a meal? A conversation about nothing in particular? Just sit, eat, listen. When is the last time you did that?

When was the last time you took time out to have devotional, discuss with your children the depths of a particular scripture passage or a subject that has caught their interest along their faith journey?

When was the last time you stopped everything and prayed with your partner, your children?

I have to be transparent here and confess we do it, but not often enough in response to all of the above. It is a struggle, and it should not be. So, I was praying again this morning in my quiet time, acknowledging to Father God my weakness, my need for order, for getting through my checklist of day to day tasks, and my apparent lack of recognizing my desperate need for Him at ALL times. It is a shame when it takes something upsetting our plans, our idea of how things are supposed to go for us to recognize HIS plan. My plan is only good when I recognize it’s because of His good. His plans, His ways, are higher and better than mine. Something doesn’t go right, my natural response is to shake my fists at Him, when instead my reaction as a child of God should be to throw up my hands in surrender and acknowledge the One who holds THE plan for my life all along.

What are you doing, and why are you doing it?

If you are getting accustomed to or feel you have no choice but to go along with the frantic pace of life, ask yourself this: Why? What’s my priority? What will it take to hit the Reset button? What will I do to make an appointment for myself daily to Reset?

We need to do this. We should do this. When our Priority is set on Christ first, all other priorities will fall into place. That may require a sacrifice on your part, acknowledging you have given something higher priority in your life that is not deserving of it. Identify it, set it, and choose to reset it every single day. This is what personal accountability looks like. He is good Father, and He is waiting for your surrender every single day because He knows and understands our humanity; He is ready to hear you, to accept you, to love you, and to inspire you to step out more in His likeness. Every. Single. Day.

Join me in the Reset. You are not alone. We can do this. Thank you, Father, for the Reset.

The battle belongs to the Lord.....

Every day something other than God threatens to control me. It is a reality of life and what we must face, endure, push through to get to the end of the day saying we accomplished A, B, C. For some of us, the pressure to perform, to please, to anchor ourselves in what we do and how we do it is almost overwhelming. We are very hard on ourselves, we are hell bent on not just the satisfaction of knowing we did it and can check it off the to do list, but to hopefully hear someone say, “Wow! You went above and beyond! You are amazing!” Why is it that the God who created us, established in us upon our receiving His salvation, that we are loved, cherished, highly favored and beautifully purposed, is not enough? Do we realize when we adopt this mindset, this way of living, what we are saying with our lives and to our God? Without realizing it, we are setting ourselves up for immense disappointment and dissatisfaction. This is not the mindset that God intends for His children. The funny thing is, He knows and understands why we behave the way we do. He gets us. It is only human, to want to hear we’ve done well in this life from our family and friends, our peers and colleagues, our leaders and mentors. I don’t like admitting my struggle, but it is a very real battle that takes place in my mind. I don’t like asking for help, I don’t know why it gets in my head that somehow this is an indication I am weak and incapable and that will result in that particular person seeing me as weak and incapable. Well, it doesn’t take long for me to hit a wall when I realize I can’t go any further and in fact need help to accomplish the task I have before me, so I have a choice to either ask for help or waste time stewing about how frustrated I am because I am stuck and I’d rather not stoop to asking for help. The battle becomes even uglier when we have had words spoken to us without thought of impact, such as “I don’t need the distraction”, and “I’d rather not have us looking incompetent”. The perception and intent others have when they speak to us is not often received that way, is it? Those words “distraction” and “incompetent” stick personally, and threaten to haunt our mindset in our approach to the tasks yet ahead that we must accomplish. How do we stop this maddening mind battle? We call upon the Source, the One who set us free and established the Holy Spirit in us the moment we came into relationship with Him. We must choose to stop the battle before it completely takes us over, and release it all, ask God to take what has trampled us in this life, and infuse us with His good and perfect strength and peace. He is good. No matter what we must punch our way through day to day, He is always good and His purpose is great …. but we must choose to trust Him. When we stop the maddening battle in our minds, by breathing deeply, speaking the name of Jesus, praying and speaking the truths of scripture, determining our mind to be set on our Father God, we can stand with confidence and kick all that threatens to control us to the curb. No guilt, no shame, just release the battle, struggle, the ick we weigh ourselves down with---job stress, parent worry, marriage struggles, financial struggles-and trust Him!

You have a choice, you always have a choice and nobody can make that choice for you!

Depend upon Him, or depend upon yourself. The result is either freedom or frustration. (Daily Hope with Rick Warren)

“Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires …. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God” (Romans 6:12-13 NLT, second edition).

I’m not typing this, saying this, or thinking this because it is easy. It is not. Life is hard. It will always be hard. But God is good. He is always good. I know from personal experience, as I am walking through this battle right now, the result of choosing it is much more freeing.

We put ourselves in a prison when we choose let the battle control us. I am choosing to trust Him. I am choosing to depend upon Him. Join me in the battle. I am praying you choose Him too. We are all in this together.

my Ebenezer...

“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12 There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet my...