Give Careful Thought

 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.

Haggai 1:5 (NIV) 

Channeling circa 2000 Britney Spears…

Oops… I did it again.

To be honest that tagline started out as a joke… in fact this line was going to read “No, no I didn’t get lost in the game…” But then- I realized- that yeah I did, I did get lost in the game.

B Spears and I may not be talking about the same game but I did do it again… and I didn’t mean to… I just…

I just got too busy.

Working through papers, reading through course books and deciphering class materials in preparation for final projects and exams…

If you toss in some everyday life and purposefully set aside time for family… well, it is really easy to get caught up in the busyness.

Especially at this time of year.

It was the middle of November the last time I looked up, and now we are sitting less than 10 days to Christmas…

13 days to a New Year… a New Decade.

And unfortunately for me, I get caught in the busyness trap more often than I like to admit- and much more often than any one person should…

I keep thinking I have learned my lesson, fast forward a couple months and *bam* back in the busyness trap I go.

And the reality is that school work aside, if given the opportunity I am sure I could present dozens of other reasons behind “being behind.”

The worst part is, I know exactly what I am doing. I take my proclaimed “first priority” and place it on a back burner while I knock out all the “miscellaneous” tasks.

It is at the top of my to do list, forefront of my mind and on fire in my heart- and I do everything I can to set it aside until “the right time” or “enough time” or “the time.”

First priority- placing God first. In placing God first, my next priority becomes doing what He has called me to do.

But gee, sometimes I feel He just doesn’t understand how awkwardly it fits in my schedule. “I really want to do that God, you know I do but… I really need to ________ and then…maybe…”

And as I keep putting my first priority off for the sake of accomplishing whatever it is that I have deemed in need of being accomplished first… the distance between me and my first priority grows.

Eventually that distance becomes unbearable. I am asking where He went and He is standing next to me wondering why I am yelling.

Per usual He never left, I just turned my eyes away.

Thankfully God never tires of shaking me out of the busyness trap, when truly no one- myself included- would blame Him for leaving me there to figure it out on my own.

This time around, as I was explaining about how I know “this and this” was on our to do list, but that “this and that” had shown up on my to do list- God sent me to Haggai.

To be honest, I had never paid too much attention to Haggai. Lesson learned. Haggai has a word that God knew I needed to hear:

 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.

Haggai 1:5-9

Ta-Da! Lightbulb 💡

And conviction. A fair amount of healthy Spirit driven conviction.

This past month as been a struggle. And now I know why.

Because I got lost in the game. I got caught in the busyness. I was overwhelmed with concern for my house, that I neglected His house.

It is one thing to pray constantly. (And it is an important thing).

But it is another thing to purposefully stop and be still and to know. To stop and worship and to stop and praise.

Stopping and being still is important, essential really. Because in the moments when you truly stop- even if only for a few minutes- you are saying that there is no task- big or small- that is worth a portion of this moment to this privilege.

Take a moment and recall those in the Christmas story who stopped- the shepherds ran and wise men traveled.

By stopping you are not giving half or part of an offering but a whole sacrifice, whole heartedly.

And that offering, that whole, complete moment of worship and awe builds castles for the Lord our God.

As you proceed from that moment you realize that God’s call never fits awkwardly around your schedule/plans but that some of the plans you’ve placed may fit awkwardly around His.

As we enter the final countdown to the celebration of God’s ultimate plan; our deliverance through the birth, life, death and resurrection of His only son- I am overwhelmed and eternally thankful that God did not find our deliverance, my deliverance, too awkward for His schedule.

I am reminded that one character at the First Christmas was so caught in the busyness trap- he missed the miracle right outside his door. No one blames the Innkeeper, he had a full house, and certainly we can all relate to the feeling.

But this Christmas and into the New Year, Friends I encourage you to do as the wise men and the shepherds did and give careful thought to your ways, follow the star and make haste to the King.

Prayers Friends and Tidings of Great Joy ♥️✨

 

 

Here’s to 28

“Lord, you understand me; remember me and care for me. Avenge me on my persecutors. You are long-suffering- do not take me away; think of how I suffer reproach for your sake.” Jeremiah 15:15

28. Another year. Remarkable in its own right, the feat of the passing of time.

And what a year it was. A few weddings, a couple of road trips, graduate classes, youth group, birthday parties and childlike laughter. Friends and family. Driving through the Scottish Highlands. The sight of the Appalachian mountains and the vision of the picture beyond hope and yet lovingly delivered of Jamie and Jesus.

The places we’ve been and the wonders we’ve seen, both abroad and on home base. All the works of His glorious hands. From mountains and campfires to paintings and papers.

Dreams that were laid to rest and dreams that were born. Startling loss and miraculous healing. Running the race and being carried through the storm.

So much has changed and yet so much remains the same. The more I learn the more I realize I don’t know.

I don’t know where I am going.

I don’t know where every path will lead.

Sometimes I don’t know what to say.

And oftentimes I don’t know if I have it right. These places I am and these things I am doing and the priorities I am placing.

So the big question is… What do I know at 28…

I know that not knowing can be overwhelming.

I know that not knowing can be scary.

I know that not knowing is unacceptable to a world which depends on the security provided in an answer.

Most Importantly, I now know that not knowing is actually okay- as long as your eyes are on the One who does know.

The One who is not surprised by your weaknesses.

The One who is unphased by your doubts, fears and hard questions.

The One who loves you completely and uncompromisingly.

The One who understands you.

One big thing I learned this past year my friend, is that I had one more unaddressed fear to face. Honestly, it had never came across my mind as all out fear. But as I sat and discussed with God the events that had passed and events yet to come, it was as if a light was turned on.

As you know, I kicked the word fear out of my vocabulary back in year 26. Aside from the fear of the Lord, there is no room for it in my life. And knowing that, calls for a celebration of its own.

But, there was still one more fear to address. Can you guess it bud? It’s one that I hadn’t realized didn’t exist before God called you home. With you here, there was no room for it. With you gone, it came quickly and in full force. To be honest, it really didn’t have to come at all because I know it was already there at the door, waiting for its moment to make its appearance. Your friendship and love kept it at bay, in the darkness I fell in  following your heavenly birthday it began to dig in its roots.

The fear of being misunderstood.

I have always used a lot of words be it speaking or writing. And this is partially because I enjoy “using my words”. However, God has shown me that it is also partially because at times I fear that my words won’t appropriately convey my meaning. That they will fall short or be misinterpreted. Sometimes it keeps me from saying anything, or from saying the “whole” truth. The fear of being misunderstood.

It’s an actual fear. And this past year I was given the official diagnosis.

As I was praying and words were flowing too fast and thoughts running at full speed, I caught the statement “God, please understand” as part of the mantra coming from lips. God please understand.

They won’t understand why I feel this way, they won’t agree with this next step or know why I have to take this chance. Oh God, please, they don’t understand. They don’t see it and my words are not sufficient. Am I wrong? Are they right? Can you give me a clue? Like a little one… like playing the hot / cold game? I have been wrong so many times. Am I close? I think I have it, but what if I don’t? What if I don’t get it? What if I am wrong and fail? What if I am not understanding?

And then above the noise running through my mind I heard the silence, and the silence whispered, I understand you.

Not scathing or annoyed. But lovingly and reassuringly. He didn’t calm the storm or fix all the things. He didn’t even tell me I was right or give me a little clue.

But He told me everything I genuinely needed to know- He understands me.

And He still loves me.

And maybe I will fail. Maybe it is all in vain. But maybe it’s not.

At 28 I have realized that I am not supposed to know everything, all I have to know is Him.

And my friend, that has been a game changer.

You knew my heart and that made all the difference. God created my heart and that makes all the difference.

So going into 28 I am happy to let you know I no longer fear being misunderstood.

Your light is still continuously right beside me and your legacy continues to shine.

We still love and miss you, possibly more than ever, but when we see you again, there will be no more goodbyes.

In the meantime God has a plan I don’t understand, but He understands me.

And I know He will teach me the lessons my heart needs in His own way and in His own time, no matter how bad I would prefer a cheat sheet now.

I am still going to use a lot of words, but only because I enjoy “using my words”.

You always said I would write a book. I think 28 may be a good year for that.

Here’s to 28 my friend (give mom all our love),

God, let the shenanigans continue, I may not understand but I know You and that is all I really need to know.