I’m Learning to Be a Noticer

I’ve been processing a lot of stuff these last couple of weeks.  Anyone in or around the Springfield MO area had to process the news of Hailey Owens and the impact this senseless death of this beautiful 10-year-old girl had on all of us.  By all accounts her death has made am impact not just locally but globally.  The Tuesday night of her disappearance I, like so many others, heard the news and got the Amber Alert and I went to bed praying for her safe return.  When I got up the next morning, Wednesday,  I prayed that the news I would see would be of a joyful reunion with her family.  Alas, it was not to be.

The emotions so many of us experienced have run the gamut from disbelief to shock to grief to anger to fear and anything and everything in between.  We are still healing.  It’s a process.

Where am I going with this and why did I choose to start a post with such sadness?  Well, in the days or maybe weeks prior to this I was thinking of a different event.  My Dad, who I loved dearly, was no longer here on this earth.  He had passed away and come this February 19th of this year it would be 10 years since he had gone to be with Jesus. I was missing him a lot and had been thinking about him and the anniversary milestone coming up and just trying to process that fact it had already been 10 years.

Well, that day, this February 19th ,turned out to also be the day we all found out that Hailey would not be returning to her family and had also gone to be with Jesus.  So, I had a bunch of other emotions to deal with that day other than the anniversary of Dad’s passing.

I’m still growing and learning who I am and who God designed me to be.  I’ve learned that I don’t want to miss any opportunities or blessings He may have for me.  My emotions tend to trip me up sometimes and I just don’t notice things that He has put right in front me.  I want to be grateful for what I have or even what I don’t have.  What I desire may not be what is best for me and I want to discern God clearly. So, I have been trying to be more intentional in my thoughts, words, and actions.  You know the old adages of “look before you leap”, “think before you speak” kind of things.  I have prayed that I see God’s hand in everything.

Well, as God likes to do he provides a lot of opportunities to work on these aspects of my growth.  And in many of the readings or studying I had been doing in the few weeks leading up to this 10 year milestone they of course spoke to me on being grateful in my circumstances (no matter if good or bad), choosing my words carefully, and not letting what should be a minor inconvenience turn in to a big mountain.

What finally hit home with me, however, was the numerous times I was encouraged to strive to notice God in everything.  Absolutely everything.  No matter how big or small.  No matter if it’s good or bad.  No matter if it directly impacts me or not.  He’s there.  All the time.  He’s there if we need to praise Him or thank Him, cry out to Him in joy or intense sadness, or even in anguish or anger because we just don’t understand the unfairness of it all.  We can just simply speak the name of Jesus when no other words will come. I’ve known this of course and thought I did a pretty good job of seeing God’s hand in things but I realize now I probably only scratched the surface.

One of my favorite authors Lysa TerKeurst, posted several entries on her blog the week or so prior to these events that really hit me hard.  I know this wasn’t coincidence of course.  Basically what she said was that we need to Be a Noticer.  Be a Noticer of and love your story – whether orderly or chaotic, thank God for the moments.  Be a Noticer with your words – be a noticer of the good in every situation. This part isn’t easy and even in difficult circumstances we can look for how God can teach us through it.  This one I struggle with more than others.  And finally Be a Noticer by developing a heart of thankfulness.  Find something to be thankful for in every situation. This helps me remember God is there and I can focus more on Him instead of the situation which may be difficult.  This will release God’s supernatural peace.

Philippians 4:7 says  “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.  I sure have needed some peace over the last couple of weeks.  There are times when all I’ve managed to say was “Jesus” because I couldn’t find the right words.

So, I am boldly going forward and declaring I will be a noticer!  I know I will still miss some things but God’s presence will never change so all I need to do is refocus and there He is!  Amazing isn’t it.

"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:7

Advertisements

I’m Not Good but I Want to Be Great

Have you ever taken the time to notice how many of our responses to questions we are asked are pretty automatic?  We may be asked “How are You?” and our response is usually one of the following – I’m Fine/Fine/Pretty Good/I’m Good/Good/Doing Well, etc.  You get the idea.  Now, in a lot of social interactions these responses may be perfectly acceptable. I don’t believe someone we don’t know very well really wants to know how bad our day has been, or that a child has been ill, or that the washer overflowed, or the car battery died, or anything else that interrupted our otherwise normal day or week.

What got me to thinking about this was my response to a How are You Doing question the other day by a friend of mine.  When asked the question I automatically responded with “I’m Good”.  Well let me tell you God immediately opened my eyes in regards to that response .  I instantly realized no, I’m not actually good.  As a matter of fact, I’m struggling right now.

I’m struggling to be the Me God wants me to be.  I am running hard after God right now.  I’m praying for direction and for God to open doors.  I’m longing to really use the gifts He’s given me.  I want to know I’m on the right path and I need discernment.  I want to be a blessing to others, show God’s love,  and make a difference.  I come alive when I am interacting with people and bringing encouragement, hope, reassurance, etc.

I want to be bold.  And I want to be courageous.  Those two words actually strike a little bit of fear in me because I certainly don’t ever remember being bold or courageous growing up.  Either one would have meant that I took a risk, did something out of the norm, made waves or even a small ripple.  Gasp!

Well, as of right now I am ready to step outside of my little box that I’ve called home for a long time.  It’s been quite handy and very comfortable but sad to say it never allowed any room to find “Me”. I know that I built the box out of the home life I grew up in and in response to the “perfectionism” instilled in me.  I’ve actually dealt with quite a bit of sadness when the realization hit me on just how much I may have missed in not taking a risk to try something new or step outside my comfort zone.

I don’t know what path this journey I’m on will take me or how many curves, lane changes, or speed bumps I may encounter.  I’ve got to be willing to take a chance and step out in faith, completely trusting God to direct my steps.  I know He has all of this under control  As a matter of fact, I like to think that He’s smiling.  Smiling not only because He loves me, because I know He does and I feel it.  Smiling also because He is a proud father and one of his “kids” is striving to walk a path that will bring us closer together.

I want to bring my Father joy.  I want to be filled with joy every day knowing that I am trying to be the best I can be for Him and doing what I am designed to do.  I love the Psalms and I especially love Psalm 139. Below are a few verses that speak volumes to me right now.

Psalm 139:13-14 (NLT) –  You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT) – You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.  How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!  I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me!

How glorious is this!  That my Heavenly Father had every moment of my life laid out before I ever existed.  He knows the struggles I’ve had and the path I’ve walked or strayed from to get to where I am today.  He knows I’m not perfect and that I will stumble and fall at times but He loves me anyway!

I just want to honor Him by using my gifts and talents to the best of my ability, showing His love in whatever way I can.

And yes, I want also to be bold and courageous in the process!

Psalm 139:14

Am I Talking Loud Enough So God Can Hear Me?

Today I got told that I wasn’t talking loud enough.  Taking just a second to set the stage I am attending a training seminar to become a facilitator for chronic disease self management workshops in this area.  I’m really excited about it and it has loads and loads of awesome information. Part of the training is practice teaching sessions wherein we teach some of the things we are learning to our group and the instructors and members of the group provide feedback.

None of us are flawless in our delivery at this point in our training so these are learning experiences to build our confidence and enhance our techniques.  One of the members said that I wasn’t loud enough to be heard by the entire group, which of course is an important aspect of effective leading/facilitating.  So, I will take that and other feedback into the next practice teaching session and make sure I am loud enough to be heard.

I’ll admit I did initially take the feedback a little too personally but then realized I was slipping into an old pattern of beating myself up because what I had done was not perfect, at least not in my eyes.  And all over something as simple as not being loud enough.  Good grief!  I’m in a class.  I’m learning something new.  I’m not expected to have perfected it and probably won’t ever be perfect when I teach the class.

However, this got me to thinking.  Speaking loud enough to be heard by a target group of people does more than just let your words be heard.  It instills confidence in the members of the group in you as a leader. Whether or not you truly are confident all the way down to your toes it can at least give the impression you are and you know what, it actually builds your confidence.

So, where is all this going?  I got to thinking about how I approach God in how I pray and how I express my desires and needs to him.  Am I confident when I pray?  Am I bold?  Do I clearly express what is on my heart?  Do I truly believe that He hears me?  Do I talk “loud enough” to God?

In the Psalms David certainly didn’t hold back any emotion when he cried out to God.  Yes, God already knew what was on David’s heart but we are to be confident in our prayers, not holding anything back from God. David knew that God heard him and trusted Him to deliver out of whatever situation he was in waiting on God’s timing.

John 5:14 – 15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”  One word really sticks out to me in this scripture – confidence. How truly confident am I when I pray and submit my requests and desires to God?  Is there still some small part of me that holds back just a little, thinking that there must be something I need to do to make something happen and maybe, just maybe,God needs me to “help”? Oh boy, how wrong is that if that is what I have truly been doing.

I know I am so much better at trusting God to work out a situation instead of trying to do it all myself.   Yes, I know there are things he may/will ask me to do during the process.  However, I must be confident in submitting my needs to God and trust He will work it out in His timing.  It’s that waiting thing that I have a problem with some times, but that’s for another posting.

In Jeremiah 17:7 is found this promise – “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence”.  I like that – my hope and confidence.  Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see”.  (NLT)

We should be both bold and confident in our prayers.  We should express what is on our heart, no matter what our emotions are.  God already knows anyway.  If what we desire is His desire for us as well then He will bring it to pass in His timing.  We should pray to sense God’s leading and prompting.

Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”.  That image of seeking Him with all I am makes me joyful.  It’s what I truly desire to do.

And yes, I want to talk loud enough so God will definitely hear me!

Jeremiah 17:7 - God Loves you, Click like if you feel his love - http://www.facebook.com/pages/God-Loves-You/177820385695769?ref=hl

Give Thanks

During the month of November I always see a lot of daily posts on Facebook from people listing what they are thankful for.  The things listed range from basic necessities to more complex issues.  Of course this made me think about what I am personally thankful for and I realized that I am very blessed.

It also got me thinking about the use of the words “thank you” or “thanks”.  How many times each day do we use these words?  And, more importantly I think, how often do we actually attach any meaning to them?  As children we were taught to say “please and thank you” which is great.  However, I fear that with the development of this habit we tend to lose some of the true meaning of the words and say them without thinking of the impact they may have.

We all want to be appreciated for what we do, no matter how big or small the gesture.  Honestly, it makes us feel good.  I’ve wondered how often a simple “thank you” may be the only affirmation that some people receive for the entire day!  The more I’ve thought about this the more it has occurred to me that I need to truly cultivate an attitude of gratitude within me and demonstrate that thankfulness to others.

I need to have an attitude of gratitude each and every day in everything I do, not just in the month of November.  I’ve realized that I haven’t been doing a good job of being thankful in everything (both the good and not so good); nor have I given God all the praise for all his favor and blessings.  I’ve received a number of confirmations from devotionals, scriptures, and other readings so I know that I am on the right track. Additionally, a couple of weeks ago in church we received a “gratitude rock” in church to carry to remind us to be thankful.

Now, while I can’t boast that I always remember to be thankful my goal is to look for something to be thankful for in every situation.  I’ve found there is always something to be thankful for, even if considered trivial by some.  I’m asking God to help me stay focused on Him and how he provides for me each and every day.  How nothing that happens is outside of his plan; and even when things don’t go the way I think they should there is something I can be thankful for in the situation.  Yes, even when the not so good happens we can find something to be thankful for.

I also want to be more intentional in my everyday interactions with people.  Especially those with who my “thank you” may be the only time I ever speak to them.  I want these people to truly hear a thank you from a heart that appreciates what they did.  I want my thank you to not be rushed or hurried as I head out the door to my next appointment.  I intend to make eye contact as I say thank you.  I want that individual to know they are appreciated.

Being thankful this year took on a whole new meaning for me.  I intend to continue giving thanks every day and in every situation.  I’m not perfect at it.  I will still get frustrated when things don’t go exactly “right” according to my way of thinking.  God lovingly reminds me that His ways are much better for me than my worldly ways and He brings blessings that are too many to count when I obey.

So, just a reminder to “Give Thanks”.

give thanks