What Nakedness Reveals

Fall is the celebrated season to break out the flannel, boots, and pumpkin spice, yet it’s also a time to see immense change happen in nature. We’ve just watched what was once growing, green, and full of life burst forth with bold vibrancy before all-too-quickly fading into drab tones, weathered stiffness, and the preparation for dormancy.

The trees have been shedding what’s left of their leaves, and the storms which are due to arrive soon will likely finish off whatever remains.

Trees can be a window into our soul. It can be good to let go of dead things, but doing so can also leave us feeling naked, feeling exposed and feeling vulnerable. Being uncovered—and letting others see our realness—can be a challenge.

I’ve been gone from the visibility of published writings here for a time, and it may be a while until I post again, but I’m here now. Here…in the moment because of the trees. Much like the trees, life and change can be a process to shed what is seen by others while being brave enough to reveal broken branches, burls of curled wood, and scattered parts that were once full of life and purpose.

Don’t you feel like this at times?

Yesterday, I took a walk in the forest behind my house. The sound of silence from the trees contrasting with the crunch of the dried and fallen leaves beckoned me. To be able to look up, look down, and look around—seeing the divergence of what is alive, what is changing, and what is dead—reminded me of how we are much like these majestic creations that blend together in a forest. There is beauty to be found in every season—with trees and within ourselves, too.

It’s easy to see the forest, yet harder to see the tree within the forest. …that is, until we get up close to see the tree for what it is:

  • The tree is changing with the seasons of its life;
  • it’s letting go of that which is dead while standing strong;
  • it’s giving life to a network of tiny organisms resting beneath its cover;
  • it’s offering fruit to other living creatures;
  • it’s preparing to rest;
  • it’s patiently waiting for the next season;
  • it’s readying itself for rebirth…and growth…and beauty to come.

Those trees—and you—isn’t this what your life has been about, too?

“Trust the journey.”

It’s what I say to myself when forward progress is slower than it seems it should be.

Trust your journey.

Trust in the season in which you find yourself.

Trust in the seeds you have planted while getting to where you are today.

Trust in the change that has taken place.

Trust in the work you are doing to prepare for what is coming.

Faith is not a moment; faith is a journey.

Seasons change.
We change.
Life gives us opportunities to be the change.

As much as you might miss some of what’s been left behind, trust in the opportunity ahead that has been created by being willing for forge a new path after letting go of what may no longer serve the same purpose for you.

It’s okay to be naked and exposed for a while. 

It really is!

 


 

Finding Trust (Because I Quit My Job)

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Trust is a weighty thing. It’s a two-way street in our relationships with others, but when it comes to God, it’s a one-way street. We don’t need Him to trust us, but we do need to trust Him.

Today is a new day, and it’s a first step into the days ahead. That’s the case for all of us each and every day. But today, it’s quite magnified for me.

I’ve taken some steps toward changes in my life—leaps of faith, as I see them—to move away from circumstances that didn’t honor God or me, but now I’ve moved into the unknown as a result of my choices.

I quit my job.

I gave my notice a few weeks ago, and yesterday was my last day. I don’t have another job yet, but I felt as though staying at that one had become something I could not continue to do. My husband has lovingly supported my decision, as he’s repeated to me that I “haven’t quit or retreated from anything,” but that I’ve chosen to “advance in a different direction.”  


My husband’s words of encouragement are extracted from Oliver Prince Smith—a decorated, four-star general and retired Korean War veteran—to encourage me: “Retreat, hell! We’re not retreating, we’re just advancing in a different direction.” My husband has repeatedly repeated the shortened version to me as I wrestled through making the decision about my job, and he reminded me of these words again last evening after I finished my last day in the office.


I’ve been wrestling with trusting God in my next steps. Today was a new day in the wrestling match of trusting Him.

My study time this morning took me into a lesson about time…and about how He knows the plans He has for us…and about how the plans He has ordained for us have already been written. Then I decided to read through Psalm 138 and 139.

My husband’s Bible was beside me in our library room, so I grabbed it and flipped to where Psalms would be found. The page I turned to quickly and randomly had a verse circled:

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

My husband had written “burden” above “cares.”

No coincidence.
None of it.
It’s yet another God-incidence.

When this morning’s Bible study turned out to be about time, I smiled a bit and said a few “Oh, of course it is!” thoughts under my breath. Those of you who know me well have heard me talk about the importance of trusting God’s timing, but I always throw in a “…but He’s so slow!” comment about my own experiences.

But this!…here’s another God-incidence in a lickety-split moment, found as I was moving into the next course of study. I needed to stop to write my thoughts (that you are reading), because I knew Psalm 138 and 139 were going to keep His reminders coming.

He knows the burden and worries I have been carrying. He knows why I needed to leave my job. He knows why I have struggled to trust Him in these next steps. He knows I need to feel His strength and His love and His confidence and His “I’ve got this,” especially today—on this new day into the rest of my days.


Oh, Lord. I thank you for your presence in my life. You are full of such mercy, grace, love…and hope! I am working on trusting you…on surrendering my wondering hopes to you…on having expectant hopes, instead. Thank you for your patience with me. 


Choosing Worry Over Trust

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
~ Matthew 6:33

The Comparison Trap:  Week Three, Day Seven… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

My takeaway is short and sweet today:  When we worry, it’s often because we don’t trust God enough.

Someone once shared that concept with me, and it’s just stuck. If we’re seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness (the condition or state we’re in that is approved of and acceptable to God), then we will be in a place where worry won’t be necessary. If we’re seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness, we’ll know and trust that He’s got control over what I can’t control.

Sandra says “worry is a crutch for things we can’t control.”

Have you ever tried to walk with one crutch? It’s awkward. You feel lopsided.

When we worry, we aren’t trusting God to take care of the circumstances. Worry is lopsided. Worry is a crutch, and it makes life unbalanced and uneven.

Don’t worry.
Be trusting.


 

What He Sees When He Looks at Me

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is a continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Ephesians 1:7-8

Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.
John 6:47

The Comparison Trap:  Week Two, Day One… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

Week One of the study concluded with the weekly gathering of the women to discuss our discoveries and takeaways and to jump into the Week 2 video lesson. It was a good one. Watch it, it’s only 20 minutes long! You can get an app for your phone at the web link above to watch the video for free. The video is powerful.

The video got serious pretty quickly as Sandra wrapped up the first week of helping us to zero in on our tendency to compare, and Andy jumped right into letting us know what God really thinks of us. Some of the video content may have opened old wounds for some women, but for me, it was a reminder of how His presence can heal all of those wounds if we will only embrace His opinion of us.

So, “where do we look to determine how we’re doing in life?”  There’s a voice in our head that tells us to look around at others, and it convinces us that we need more of what others have in order to be acceptable, respectable and lovable.

Andy Stanley took us to the Scriptures into Galatians 4:4-5 to talk about the law, rules, and the mirror which reflects that something is wrong. We all struggle to keep “God’s law,” but we struggle to also keep the standards we set for ourselves. On our own, we aren’t ok, and we never will be… there’s plenty around us to remind us of that. It’s yet another trap of comparison.

But we’ve been redeemed for a price. We’ve been purchased by means of a trade. The value of any specific thing is the price that someone will pay for it.

The images of the lesson made me really wonder what someone would “pay” to know me and have me in their life. What price would I bring? The only way to understand my true value would be to auction myself off to the highest bidder.

This is the Gospel.

That auction DID take place. I was redeemed for a very specific price, in a very specific way, by a very specific person.
God sent His Son into this world to buy me back and to purchase me.
He was the highest bidder
.
He did that for me.
He did that for you.

My faith placed in Him gives me the status as a daughter of God.
I am the daughter of the living God.

When God sees me, He sees a woman of great worth.

Oh, how I struggle to believe and embrace this at times in my life, but renewing my mind to this truth—to His truth—and to how important I was to Him that He would purchase me with the price of His death on a cross… it is just overwhelming to think about.

He loves ME that much. Wow…

He loves YOU that much. Wow…

Instead of taking cues from those around me to determine how I am doing in life and to determine how valuable I am, I need to take my cues from the One who made me, loves me and redeemed me.

I’m excited about the impact of the week to come during this study. The verses above from Day One of Week Two mean everything to moving forward toward more understanding. In the Devotional Book, Sandra suggested that we read them slowly to let their truths settle into our heart.

Do that.
Do it again.
Let them settle.
Let yourself smile.
Let His peace overwhelm you.
Let His love wrap around you.

He wants you to know that, in essence, He says to you, “You are fine, because you are mine.”


 

 

The Day I Stopped Asking God For “Clarity”

I am “re-blogging” this post and sharing another person’s writing today, because it is EXACTLY the mindset I’ve been striving for in 2014. My Year of Trust  verse is Romans 15:13.

Learning to TRUST in His promises, in His Word and in Him provides us with a sense of clarity which is far more valuable than just seeing where one needs to go on their journey through life.

I hope you enjoy this one by a fellow writer. Click on the link below to see her original post.

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Forte E Bello

I held my tongue as I listened. It seemed like ages that I waited and then…. nothing came. I stared longer over the cliff, and down at the ocean waves, across the deep, dark, ever-stretching expanse of water. An expanse that has always intrigued me since the first day I dipped my toes into it….Since the first time I walked beside it under the moonlight listening to the waves and thinking about the God who made them.

But here I am 10 years later sitting above the same expanse wondering why the God who made it in all of its enormity couldn’t give me, His beloved daughter, the direction and answers that I feel like I need in one of the most pivotal seasons of my life. If He cares why doesn’t He give me clear direction and certainty? I continued to pray and alternate my words with silence, listening…

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