Your Second Chance Is Called Today

Today is a second chance. While you can’t change the past, you can change the present.

The crushing convictions you may have experienced in the aftermath of your past are not lost. That burden of conviction on your heart is a guilt between you and God, and He is a God of second chances; it’s called today.

“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.” – Jonah 3:1-3

second chance, change, jonahToday is your second chance. You can change how you respond to frustration. You can set new boundaries and protect what you have left. You can get help. You can walk away from that addiction. You can honor your loved ones by putting new priorities in place.

There’s still time to pick up the phone, text, reach out, show up. Perhaps for you it’s not picking up more but putting down what you already have; the pain, the blame, the worry.

Conviction is between you and God, the Author and Creator of your soul. He uses this kind of remorse and guilt on your conscious to change the course of your days ahead. He’s guiding you with a hand on your heart to steer your steps into more blessings, more favor, higher places with more responsibility.

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” – Luke 16:10 NLT

Your Father will not give you more work or more burden than you can bear. He gives you and I a choice every day as He waits for change to reveal your growth, your strength, your resilience.

There is no shame changing who you used to be into the person you want to be, the person you know you can be.

Here is an opportunity to respect failed attempts yesterday by taking the second chance to change today. If you don’t know how to begin again, a good place to start is with “I’m sorry.”

The past carries casualties of our ignored convictions. May your present be the change God is calling you to be.

Strength to Give Grace

If we don’t guard our hearts and minds, we begin to think God is so good to us because we have done something right.

We might conclude that escaping tragedies like divorce, depression, or addiction is a sign of dignity. We may determine healthy kids and a wealthy household is based more on merit than on God’s mercy.

Truth, God is good, God is loving, God is right, waves of questions

Truly God is compassionate. Not a tear falls without Him knowing, collecting and reaching out with comfort.

Listen, we will never be able to figure out why God responds the way He does. We can’t know why this devastation was ‘allowed’ and ‘that’ life was spared.

Be careful with any desire to have the answers. We might rob today with skepticism. We may waste this moment searching for reasons that go deeper than what we can see. We could potentially strip an innocent heart of it’s worth while chasing down blame, when the purpose was simply timing all along.

The questions can stir up doubt that God even cares about our concerns. Confusion can shake the foundation of faith that God is even in control here.

Beneath the waves of questions is this Rock of Truth: God is always good, always right, and always loving. If you’re brave enough to stand up in the storm on this bedrock of Truth, you’ll find the strength inside to love, to forgive, to extend grace in a sea of what doesn’t make sense.

Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Your Good For His Glory

God made a decision about you.

“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.” Isaiah 43:18

2016 was quite the year. Challenging for many of us. It carried such glorious and gut wrenching moments. Some of the most sacred and then shocking of events. God gave so much and He took too. The enemy sent arrows that sunk deep, piercing peace, breaking love and bleeding out joy. There were words that barreled through our boundaries and stirred up the dust on bitterness.

Satan’s attacks were meant to disrupt and divide us; to push the pain, stir up shame and bully beautiful hearts into despair. The past may have opened up doors of depression while the future shook you with worry and fear. Some of the things you walked through were not pleasant. It was unprecedented. Dramatic. Revealing.

Isaiah 55:8, working for your good, His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughtsIt was a year that fell short, as most things that end with the number ‘6’ do. 2016 carried weapons that HURT but here’s what I want you to know, they did not prosper. They brought the warfare but they could not win; goodness and mercy were following you all those days buried in the confusion and turmoil. The devil had his moment but it’s over now. The purpose of last year has run its course. Your trouble is about to be put in its place.

God was not taken by surprise in all this, you know. He has a plan and you’re right in the middle of it. The hand of heaven is in control and hovering over the gates of hell. Everything you survived will ultimately swing in your favor. His purpose in allowing this hurt is for your good and ultimately for His glory.

God is so good, God does good and God can work together all things (even the not so good) for our good and His glory. I hope you live fully expecting great things in a year that ends with ‘7’, for He who promised is faithful. He’s working to complete His perfect plan and I think 2017 is a great place for our Father to finish some things in our life; healing in some hard places, redemption from the wreckage and restoration in our promised land.

Don’t assume that because it doesn’t feel good that it isn’t working for your good. His ways are not our ways. God is not haphazard in handling us. He is strategic and intentional. God is restoring and He’s rebuilding. Your past may have actually been a painful gift of maturity and growth.

There’s brand new opportunities, fresh grace, restoring mercy just waiting for your knock at the door. He’s going to complete it for His glory. The seeds sown and prayers prayed last year may just show up seven-fold this year.

Get into position. What you lost is on it’s way back around in ways you never imagined!

Warrior On In The Wait

Waiting takes the most vulnerable parts of us and puts them to the test. In this place between the death of a dream and anticipating the arrival of a new one, is a battleground of learning how to trust God.

waiting, advent, season of waiting, ChristmasAdvent is all about waiting. We anticipate the arrival in these days leading up to the birth of our Savior. Advent is the question and Christmas is the answer. Jesus is the response to our pleading howls in the night.

Our tears tell the truth, it’s hard to celebrate in the wait. When we feel rejected or forgotten by God, this kind of brokenness can keep us in bondage to emotions of longing and loneliness. Yet, it’s in the long days that God leans in. “I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” Isaiah 45:3

When we quiet our thoughts and emotions that compete with God’s attention, we find in the stillness this profound grace of His presence. These painful places of waiting can offer a glimpse of the face of God if we let them. When we don’t feel very merry, Jesus offers us mercy. He holds the power to fill what’s empty, mend what’s broken, and find what’s lost.

“It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.” 1 Peter 1:3

Can you relate to a season of waiting? The yearning is very real here. Strangely, the strongest thing we can do when we feel stuck is to surrender. It takes more strength to let go than to hold on. The death of one thing brings life of another.

While we wait with eyes of faith, Hope sustains a burdened and weary heart. In the weak places is where Jesus releases His power. It’s okay to grieve in the wait without giving up on God’s promise. Peace can come from just knowing the Author and Creator has a plan.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11

When it feels like Heaven has pressed pause and Earth has gone silent, face your fear of being alone and embrace this quiet place. The still, small voice of God speaks louder to a heart in the silent nights.

It’s easy to blur our focus of God with busy schedules this time of year. We might drown our days with distractions in hopes that the noise will suppress the sadness of the season. Time won’t heal the wound; only Jesus can.

You get to decide what your focus will be. If you shift your focus from the object of your wait to the One who forms your faith, you find this rich place of communion and healing. His companionship is meant to do a work in you before God goes to work through you. When you seek more of God with your thoughts, your words, your walk through His word, the scene changes.the gift of grace, grace

You might be waiting on a miracle or maybe you’re just waiting on an answer, if you believe God is for you then this time won’t go to waste. When you trust God with the desires of your heart, you can surrender your ways to His will. Here’s a few ideas on how to wait well in this season of Advent:

  • When you’re tempted to sulk in the pain, pray for someone else who might be suffering. Out of the overflow of God’s grace for you, you can give this same grace to others.
  • Encourage your mind by recalling the ways God has been faithful in your life. 
  • Start in the Word and thank God for the promises He has already made to you. Then thank Him for the fulfillment of those on their way.
  • Ask God for a renewal of your thoughts, the root of joy which is this Hope and lasting change in the deepest parts of your heart. 
  • Surround your soul with community.

“So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.” 1 Peter 1:13-14

What situation in your life are you giving more attention to than your devotion to God? Your soul will be most satisfied when you are where God wants you to be. I pray that what is right and good and worth believing will outshine these days of darkness and brokenness that’s within and around us.

His love is stronger than the death of your dreams – even IF things don’t turn out better than expected. Do you believe that? Do your actions and words believe that? Keep this moment here close because the sun will shine soon and you’ll need this reminder of what God has done a year from now.

What are you waiting for?

Surrender in the season

peace, the presence of peace, fruit of surrenderDuring Christmastime we find ourselves tempted to abandon Christlikeness in favor of lists and lines. The season that centers around a silent, holy night, the star and a Savior being born quickly becomes the season in which we overspend, overeat, overindulge, and overcommit. We can get caught up in all the activity that the only gift we have to share with those we love the most is a very chaotic version of ourselves.

Your choice to slow down and soak up His presence can change things this year.

Remembering Loved Ones

The evidence of a story is in the lines they leave across the face.

Distance can deliver a hard truth that separates two souls. But time, time is a treasure that heals with all the parts it won’t let us forget.

20 years have blown by, the seasons have changed many times, sometimes with the bite of a howling winter wind.time, healing, losing a loved one, death

A tidal wave of thoughts will still soak my face in memories, though all I can do is learn to swim. The calm eventually comes because strong is the only choice we have here.

My lips lead with thanksgiving for all the stories we shared. I wouldn’t trade the storms; that’s where we lived the dance and leaned in with tender care.

Thank you, Father, for the change this one life has made, in his living years and even after death. The depth of loss sheds light on the richness of life. Without knowing the valley, we cannot really know the height.

Time does not separate us. The echo of a voice and the outline of a sweet face is never too far. All these years later, his life still touches a place in my heart. Time is what changes us.

May our hearts remain sensitive to the brevity of life as we breathe in love and peace and blow out the joy of this grace we have in Jesus.

In Loving Memory of my beloved brother, Michael.
(October 17, 1982 – November 14, 1996)

Courage in the Quiet

Sometimes A Brave Heart Waits

I waited patiently for the Lord… (Psalm 40:1)

Waiting can be much more difficult than walking. It requires patience. Not a very natural fruit of the spirit we’re born with. As babies, we cried until we were content. As children, we ignored the stop signs. In our adolescence, we found ways around the rules. And as a teen, we flat out rebelled against ‘no’. And now, here we are as adults. Now, we can buy our way through the delay.

Did you know that God has a purpose in ALL His delays? And the ‘stops’ too.

When we don’t rush the race, this steady walk provides a renewal of strength. We are empowered by our self-control in the stops. Edges are chiseled as we wait. The wait is growing endurance and perseverance below the surface. It is refining the steps in front of us. But so often we see standing still as failure and being forced into inaction – required to watch the tides of life as we stand on the shore.

It takes a fierce faith to submit to the will of God and give up opportunities for work and leave honors to others. To be quiet. Confident. And even rejoicing while the busyness rushes past you.

In a cloud of isolated quick thinking, our fleeting feelings are apt to react with coward logic when life isn’t moving. Poor decisions are made. Life-staking choices. We exchange God’s best for an offer of immediate gratification. Almost always, we regret it.

The winner’s circle is a quiet waiting. Stay still. Surrender your schedule. When the pressure in life hits your tender places and the reflex is to react, remember it requires more courage to stand still, wait and still not lose heart or hope.

Instead of running for relief, relax. Rest. Push through the crowded thoughts that are limiting time and self-defeating in light of your submission. Your words carry weight and create reality. Your words in your own mind, about yourself, circulate the truth. What truth are you telling yourself?

In the heat of pressure and resistance, reach into the vault of God’s Truth and align your thinking with the path of faith and perseverance.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

You are His masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

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)

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.(1 Corinthians 9:25)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

Be still. And know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Visualize yourself in the winner’s circle. You have the power of Jesus to create life or death with what you think about. Speak the right words into your situation. Push your thoughts around. Pray the burdens down. Get your faith and focus set on His strength. Nothing is impossible for Him (Matthew 19:26). He holds this world securely in His grip. His supernatural love surrounds us and can break through the heartache of letting go.

“There are seasons when being still is the hardest, most obedient thing we can do. God doesn’t require you to do everything. He does ask for your obedience.” — Christina Patterson, Daughters of Fire

Be still. Watch Him work. Waiting and keeping yourself steady, faithful in His leading is the secret of strength. Anything that does not align with obedience to His will is a waste of time and energy.

Sometimes the most effective thing we can do is to let go of the reins and trust Him. Do you trust God enough to just be still? It’s tempting to fill the stillness to distract us from the discomfort of feeling alone. Yet in the stillness is where we realize God is enough.

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Courage in the Quiet by Trisha Keehn first appeared on LiftUpYourDay.com on August 26, 2016.

The Richness of Your Life

richness in your story, difficulties produce character, trishakeehn.comHow often are you thankful for even the hardship in your life? It’s difficult to emulate a spirit of thanksgiving when the storm is raging through your situation but here’s the truth about the wind and the waves wreaking havoc in your life: they all had to pass through the palm of our loving Father before they could touch even a hair on your head. No matter what kind of chaos is swirling about, every ounce of hardship went through God before it was allowed in your life.

A broken relationship. Sickness. Loss of a job. Financial woes. No place to call home. Rebellious children. Loneliness.

Don’t give the devil any credit for even the pain. That pain is tempering a soul, breaking a hardened heart and softening all the edges to lean in to others facing the battle, to lean in to the Almighty for a miracle you cannot fathom, to lean in to even the questions you often run from in your own mind. I’m sorry that it hurts so much at times. If you let it, this pain will produce such rich character and flavoring that seasons your story. This is what makes you set apart and unique in a land of 7 billion people. We need your story and your pain. Praise the Father still. Give thanks always and for everything.

15 Ways to Find Peace

When the struggle is still strong

Finding peace is simply making it a priority. It’s a choice in the midst of our circumstances that we have to consciously make. When we set our minds on peace, everything else will organize around it.

Colossians 3:15 reminds us to ‘let the peace of Christ rule our hearts’. Peace is to lead our lives and be the director of the performance, not become the

Rest can come at any hour at even the smallest price. Though, it will always require sacrifice. We must give up one thing to spend time on something else.

If we’re not careful, we will forfeit our own peace of mind in an effort to help someone else unravel their problems. Other times, we get caught up in what practicing what peace needs to look like, that it prevents us from experiencing even a fraction of it at all. Here’s some guidance to cultivate the calm in your soul.finding peace, calm,

  1. Reframe what kind of time solitude requires. Often our own vision of what something should look like, or what we want something to look like prevents us from experiencing anything at all.
  2. Try 15 minutes sitting down to just breathe. Soak in the stillness of a moment. Oxygen clears the head. Much like breathing correctly during exercise is important for proper form and a deep stretch, so it is for your thinking. A shallow inhale doesn’t get deep enough to create an oxygen flow in the blood. Stretch your body.
  3. Grab a journal. Drive to the edge of town. Go anywhere you can sit in the early one morning hours to begin with peace. Focus on what you appreciate about the people in your life instead of wishing they would change. Catch critical, blaming, or self-victimizing thoughts. Instead of ruminating on what someone else did wrong, express yourself and ask yourself what you can do to create the change you’re seeking.
  4. Close your eyes and listen. I find a rock when I’m hiking to sit and take it all in. If you’re not near nature, try the ‘Calm’ app or light music to drown out the noise in your mind. These thoughts will clear the head space and unwind tangled up anxiety. Turn your thoughts onto the freedom that rain has when it calls. As it washes away and strips away the burdens.
  5. Schedule a date with yourself—a time when you don’t need to meet anyone else’s requests—and do something that feeds your mind and spirit. Go to a museum or take yourself to your favorite restaurant and simply enjoy your own company.
  6. Declutter your surroundings, like a corner in your home or table space in your office that you spend most of your time staring at.
  7. Take a prayer walk in the morning to meditate on scripture, God’s promises and positive affirmations that help you feel present and empowered.
  8. Write down everything that is draining you mentally. It’s a form of getting it out and letting it go. Instead of holding in your feelings and developing resentment, write them down.
  9. Tap into your childlike senses and get creative with art. Doodle. Play music. Dance. The creative adult is the child who survived. Have fun with someone you love. Forget about everything that feels like a problem and do something silly.
  10. Muster compassion for someone who hurt you instead of wallowing in bitterness, which will make it easier to forgive them and set yourself free.
  11. Set aside some time to actively enjoy the good things about the present. Recognize the purpose in every place the Lord has called you to; your work, your church, your neighborhood.
  12. Create a list of things you love about yourself instead of dwelling on how you wish you were different.
  13. Start reading that book you bought about dealing with the challenge you’ve been facing.
  14. Tell the truth in your relationships. When we hold in our true feelings, we create stress for ourselves. Be kind but honest and share what you really feel.
  15. Do something kind for someone else. Volunteer your time to help a charity you’re passionate about. Put all your energy into helping someone else and you will inadvertently help yourself.

These are just a few ideas to help you get started. When we have peace leading the way, problems won’t weigh down the decisions we need to make for the day. What do you do to cultivate the peace in your life?

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This post, 15 Ways to Find Peace, by Trisha Keehn, appeared first on LiftUpYourDay.com

The Beginning of Community

Starts in your soul

Minutes pass slowly, as I breathe in the gentle air of Heaven. The resistance in life that tugs on every string I try to pull has frustrated my once settled soul. All these outward cravings clouding the inward search are a clue that my living has become a cover up to the cries beneath what can be seen.
He says it’s courage that has led me down a difficult road, beyond the grave of woundedness and denial, to enter into this desert of being alone.
“Do not run,” He says, “just be still and quiet. Listen to your own struggle.”
It seems that while the silence grows deeper, I become more and more aware of a presence embracing my soul. And as a deep peace fills the empty space, I know it can only be Christ in me that recognizes Christ in all that is surrounding.
“Here I am!” I yell.
community, community with God, peace, community with othersThrowing his arms around me, the warmth holds me like I am His. Like He has been here the whole time waiting. We look at each other for a long while, until the corners of my smile tremble and the tears flush away the last remnants of fear.
Collapsing on this trail of mercy all my thoughts are safe with Him. “I am tired, Lord. I’m not sure which way to go. Tether my wandering heart. Every anxious thought, secure it to your promises. For the love, Lord! I want nothing without You. You know this. I’m not looking for answers. I’m listening to the questions. Breathe, O breath of God.”
He offers me the chance to stay alone and take the risk of entering into my own experience, without being immersed in more knowledge or illusive advice.
So I remain.
He assures my desperate heart that unknown beauty is growing just below. “One day this desert will be a garden,” He insists.
Bringing my heart to this place of community with God alone is the beginning. My soul sways with the breeze. Spirit, breathe Your heart in me. Carve your ways into the fibers of my being.
From now on, wherever You go, or wherever I go, all the ground between us will be Holy Ground. And this is where my community begins.