The facts of your situation may be scary, but God asks for your faith in His Truth.
“Do what is right and let the consequences follow.”
– Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
In 34 years, here’s what I’ve learned…
Who says the first of the year is the only time we can begin new things? It’s Spring. A season of renewal and the perfect time to make a fresh start on those dream/goals most of us have abandoned since the first of the year.
I am right there with you.
So I blew off the dust on my crumpled up plan and renewed the vision by starting with one step. This new website. Then I took another step. A video blog.
It’s difficult to persevere in our discipline when progress is slow, distractions are mounting and the dream is yet too far out to see. Here’s an idea that may help you get back on track with your purpose.
Accomplishing a dream isn’t just about how we spend each day but also with whom we’re spending it.
Everyone needs a dream team. A team of people you dream with; a core community who encourages dreams into reality.
I believe who we surround our life with reflects what we believe about our own heart. Who they are, is who we will also become.
“He who walks with wise men will be wise.” Proverbs 13:20
It is okay to be selfish and hang around people who will make you better.
It’s easy for my days to become unfocused, distracted, and wasted. Yet, I have responsibility to use my time wisely. So I hand-selected wisdom as accountability, while I hustle out the details of my dream.
Together, we expect breakthroughs and snafu’s. We climb the mountains side by side, and scout new horizons ahead.
Everybody is dealing with something. There will be things that frustrate you, things you don’t understand.
We can’t see God’s best if our team is weak. Evaluate your inner circle and who you’re investing in. Get the right people in your life. Those seeds you sow will create the harvest you need that will not only take you out of the valley—It will lead you to a new level.
When you have a great team, no matter where you are in life, no matter what comes against you, you won’t be alone. You will not be forgotten. The star of the team, God, remembers you. He never forgets the dreams He’s put on the inside.
Stack the deck of your dream team and prepare to soar into your destiny.
God’s commands aren’t as vague and gray as we like to think they are in the moments of contemplating compromise.
Stepping up to the treadmill, my body is aching from the 3/4 quart of ice cream I binged on last night. I regret the lack of brilliance in that decision now, but the Academy Awards were on! My lack of self control around sweets is a story for another day. However, because of my addiction, it also didn’t phase me a few months ago when a cookie company was “erroneously” charging my credit card nearly every day for spoonfuls of sugar. Back to this story though…
Some of the best thinking I do happens when I’m running. And for this, I wish they made treadmills with voice command so I could work out of the mind as I work out the flesh.
Side note here: the other day I watched a man carry in a bowling bag with a tabletop fan, that he plugged into the treadmill outlet and bung-ied to the front of the machine interface… in. the. gym! For an hour he ran like this and it has me thinking possibilities of a laptop tied to the front of my machine could be a reality.
Today in mid-run, I began to daydream about the smoothie bar on the main level of the gym, which should be considered free with as much as some gym memberships cost (not naming names but just because it’s a nonprofit, doesn’t make it cheap, so I have learned).
Surely after that sweet potato pancake and eggs an hour earlier, I was not hungry for a smoothie. Yet, the thought was there and I could clearly see the hand-painted, wood plank sign hanging above the bar that read, “Christie’s”.
That name was resonating in my mind a bit because it sounded similar to that aforementioned cookie company I circled with over identity theft some weeks back. Seriously, I cannot believe someone was spending $5.60 daily on cookie calories! Sounds like a waste.
But in all fairness, I spend that much in smoothies almost daily, so I understand compulsive purchases.
Do you think…?
Nah, the likelihood of a cookie company owning a smoothie bar in a gym seems far stretched to me. But that is strange how the series of cookie charges showing on my statements were consistent with what I think I spend on smoothies.
Then, it hit in the snap of a second. My face went from beat red running to a whiter shade of pale as I stopped stunned in my steps.
There are no coincidences.
I made a mistake! Oh no, I made a mistake!
Over weeks of conference calls and open investigations combing through evidence, the legal departments concluded someone swiped my card, but it wasn’t me. Nearly $100 was credited back to my account and the case was closed. I had won.
Winning in this life isn’t everything. In fact, compared to the paradoxical freedom in following God’s precepts, winning in this life is nothing.
Liberty is discovered through the will of God rather than our own desires. Sometimes we need to forfeit winnings here to gain earnings in heaven.
It is a cookie cutter choice to make. You’re either in the will of God or you’re not. You either trust Him or you don’t.
Trust me, the devil asked if I really wanted to go through the hassle of reopening a closed case. And he gave me four more chances to walk away with the money and my time in hand, as the bank, credit card, dispute department and fraud division all attempted to talk me out of the work unfolding from this decision.
There is nothing worth more than our love and desire to obey God.
Oh Lord, your reminders of how good you are just blow my mind and break my heart. You are so good to us. Help me to remember your goodness always and give me the strength to never trade it in for something less than the freedom You alone provide.
When God has a breakthrough for us, the devil brings a breakdown. The more faith you live with, the more fear the enemy stirs up.
Essentially, the enemy releases resistance to hold you back, but God uses that resistance to strengthen the heart muscle for an increase. When you are met with push back, this is the time to push through the burn and work that faith muscle to exhaustion.
Hold out your hope! Rest is around the corner.
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
Exercise doesn’t evoke excitement from many people. But we push through to build endurance. We burn out muscles til tiny tears break into the deeper fibers of our strength, and repair themselves when we rest. This is what produces results! Here’s where we see the increase.
Here’s another truth about breakthroughs: You can’t live out today on yesterday’s faith.
As your strength increases, so must the weight of resistance and level of endurance. As you stretch those muscles to reach new goals today, it will require heavier lifting and longer distances to see the benefit and growth tomorrow.
Yesterday’s routines won’t work on what’s required of you today.
You may need the edge of additional experience or education. Perhaps it’s an increase in peace or prayer. Maybe it’s more like-minded relationships or intentional living.
If you’re ready for the rise, it’s time to press into the pain and prepare for a gain.
Here’s a final story I want to share with you.
Last week, I woke up the morning of an important meeting that would circle the completion of a book I’m writing. Locking up my house before dawn even broke the horizon, I stood stunned in shock. It appeared as if a violent storm took place within the confines of my car. Opening the driver side door, I noticed a mess in my passenger seat; a scattering of invitations to church that once sat neatly in the console.
Is it strange my heart smiled with compassion at this?
It reminded me that God meets us all no matter where we’re at or how deep we’re in it. We could be making a mess of a situation and He’s there in it, reaching out to invite us back to Him.
Naturally, my hope is that one of these invitations to church made it into the burglar’s bag of my belongings and in this moment is nudging him/her from a nightstand. Not because I care about getting my stuff back (although the RayBans would be nice), but moreso that a hurting heart who felt there was nowhere else to turn that night would find Jesus is all he/she ever needed.
Maybe your heart is breaking over a lost dream or relationship… God is meeting you there. Maybe you are breaking through… He is on the other side waiting on you.
Lean into the resistance to see results. Whatever you’re facing, just remember a showdown with the devil is God’s opportunity to show off; He is the one and only, great I AM.
Christmas could barely go on clearance before St. Valentine claimed every corner, clothing the shelves in his deep crimson and dark chocolates. My December decorations are still being dusted because I believe in buying lots of red and letting it roll over into February’s festivities. That’s efficiency!
This time of year gets me giddy. My cupid bow draws back and aims arrows at admiring, unsuspecting targets. I began praying for people to share God’s love with when my pastor challenged the church with a message that struck a string in my bow. He cited Acts 20:35, “it is more blessed to give than receive” and followed it up with an extreme example out of 2 Corinthians. Paul was trying to inspire the Corinthians to give to the Jerusalem church, so he shared a story about how the Christian Macedonians (a people group) lived in deep poverty and yet gave a massive gift.
In the midst of a severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. 2 Corinthians 8:2
Then my pastor pressed in with his question, When is the last time you gave as much as you were able?
Setting aside fear of a financial repercussion, the next day I withdrew stacks of five dollar bills from my bank. Instead of offering “ones” every time someone had their hand out, I would round up and give them five.
Sometimes my heart does deceitful things, like wishing there wasn’t a homeless person in my path so I don’t have to dig for a dollar. I get wrapped up in my own inconvenience and lose sight of the blessing that is received when I give.
There’s one intersection I pass by every day where I can count on someone standing by with a cardboard sign or a bundle of newspapers trying to make a buck. With my mint mass of fives tucked deep in my purse, I offered a crisp bill to the man. His eyes stared intently as his words cut deep into my soul: Don’t think we don’t bless you ma’am, because we do. We bless you from the bottom of our hearts.
For hours my thoughts were disturbed. The Spirit was summoning me for more.
A dear friend mentioned he prepares bags of water and granola bars to hand out to the homeless versus cash. It’s a clever idea considering the cost savings to buy in bulk. While a box of granola bars may cost three dollars, for a coupon clipper and strategist like me, a variety bag of snacks and water wouldn’t be much more than four quarters.
Here’s the other thing though, I love how thoughtful this idea is. The time it takes to shop and prepare packages in advance to hand out means something to the heart. To me, it displays God’s love for us before we ever met. It moves my heart to know He was thinking of me before I laid eyes on Him. That’s the kind of love I want to pass on.
During brunch on Saturday, I was sharing this idea with a girlfriend. She noted her own struggles with being generous and a desire to do something different. Before our plates were empty, we had upped the ante by placing a 90-day challenge on our generosity.
God, we are expecting you to show up in our lives even bigger than before during these next three months as we step out in faith to give like we’ve never given before.
Valentine’s day is coming up, in case you needed another reminder. But it’s a perfect opportunity to share love with these unsuspecting homeless hands. So, we bought candy bars and sorted through stacks of valentine cards for inspiring words. Then we prayed for God’s message to write on the back.
From: The Name above all Names. Your Peace, Provider, and Constant Companion who is still on the throne. I AM, the one who is for you!
Packed in bottles of water, granola bars, peanuts, crackers, and the valentine is also an invitation to church.
My girlfriend and I have decreed to purposely pursue one person a day to share God’s love with. For 90 days, we will pass out these packages with expectation! After the three months, at least 180 hearts will be impacted by our irrational love and generosity.
Now that feels about right.
I am journaling the journey and can’t wait to share with you!